View Full Version : Basic recodring

Feb-06-2004, 12:02pm
Hey there, I would like to record some music but have never used any recording equipment before. I want to record a track of acoustic guitar and then a track of mandolin. Neither instruments have pickups. Im basically looking for the cheapest, easiest way to record mandolin while the guitar track plays. Any suggestions on equipment?

Feb-06-2004, 12:09pm
I have had problems with tascam 4 tracks in the past, the dont take wear and tear too well.

but I am considering the new digital tascam . $300 neighborhood.

if you want decent sound, you should get a decent four track, digital or analogue. analogue is real easy to work with.

Feb-06-2004, 2:12pm
OK, 4-track was kind of what I was thinking. But since I am pretty ignorant in the ways of recording, how do I record acoustic instruments? Do I need a pickup or a microphone? Or will either work, and which is better? If I had a digital 4-track, do I need a computer? Do analog 4-tracks record straight to an ordinary cassette or do I need a special something? questions questions...

Feb-06-2004, 6:01pm
Standard cassettes , but playback only in that machine as its 4 parralell tracks on one side only.
stereo music cassettes use every other [1&3] track one way and the other 2 on the reverse direction.
unless there is a built in mic,on the machine, (unwieldy to play into the tabletop that the machine is setting on) either a pickup or a mic, mic stand cable etc. is needed as a signal source.
plug and play kits are available with the whole assortment combined.

Feb-06-2004, 6:41pm
Once you've decided on a recording device, I'd suggest taking what you have left in investment capital and get the best microphone you can afford. Pick ups are ok but there limited on timbre, and if you ever decide you want to do vocals you'll need the mic. I spent along time recording with a Sure SM48 and it was ok but when I broke down and bought an AKG the difference was night and day.
The only other suggestion I would have is if you can afford to go digital do so you'll save your self loss of signal at mix down and alot of tape hiss.

Feb-06-2004, 7:00pm
I got a computer based recording combination, but needed a brain transplant to begin to understand how to run it.
I'm going back to a simpler setup in order to feel less stoopid.
Troubleshooting why it isnt happening is the challenging part, as I find now.


Feb-06-2004, 7:11pm
Thanks alot for your help guys. As for sound quality in this endeavor, I could care less. I simply want to add mandolin to some guitar intrumentals I have. It could sound like like a fischer price tape recorder. I just want to hear my guitar playing to help me think up mandolin parts and then to hear them both together. Its almost purely personal interest. Perhaps one day Ill go for something a little more. Maybe some rental equipment is what I really want.

J. Mark Lane
Feb-06-2004, 7:21pm
I confronted the same question a while back. I bought a Tascam 424MKIII, a tape based 4 track. I never really used it much. It was kind of a pain. Fine machine, worked fine and all, but it was just a pita the rewind, replay, etc etc etc.

A year or so ago, I broke down and bought a digital recorder. I got the Boss BR-8. I think I paid $300 for it. I now realize why I never used the other one. This one is so easy to use, so quick, convenient, workable. I now used it constantly for educational purposes. I can dump a file from a CD or cassette into it, set markers for the beginning and end points I want to play, then set repeat, and turn off one track, and play back forever and ever while playing along. Or I can record a track and use that, over and over. Or I can just record myself playing and listen back to it to see how I sound and pick areas that need improvement... all in the snap of a finger. Or many other things, and it is all so simple, fast, convenient. I highly recommend spending the extra money to go digital. You will get much more out of it. Plus you will be able to send music files by email, etc.

You can get a BR532 for around $350. (The BR-8 is discontinued, but you can find them used.) There are small Fostex and Tascam digital machines in the under $300 price range, and I bet they are all fine. There is a bit of a learning curve with digital, but with a good book (not the literature that comes with the machine!) you can learn it all with a little effort. And the effort can be fun. You are entering a new world. (BTW, the "Dummies" book for home digital recording is pretty darn good.)

For the most part, you will not need mixer functions to do the basic stuff you are talking about. But most of these machines have some level of digital mixer built in. I still don't like using these. So I bought a small analog mixer (a typical looking thingy with lots of knobs), a Carvin SM162. If you don't know what mixers do, don't worry about it. Buy the Dummies book or any other book on home recording and read about it. You don't need it, but it does make things more fun. (I use two condensor mics to record the mando, and I run them into two channels on the mixer, then they get "mixed" and run out in "stereo" to the recorder. You can plug dynamic mics directly into the BR-8, and many small recorders will accept dymanic or condensor mics. So the mixer isn't necessary for basic recording with one mic per channel.)

For mics, I agree about splurging here. I used a Shure SM57 (about $100) for about two years with my little home toy studio. It works. But I recently bought two Octava MC012 condensor mics on sale for $100, and those (with the preamp provided by the Carvin mixer) sound WORLDS different from the Shure. Such a pleasure.

So, figure $300 for a recorder, maybe $100 for a mic, $25 for a cable, $25 for a mic stand... Under $500 and you are in business. You can reduce this by maybe $100 by going with analog instead of digital, but I think that would be penny wise and pound foolish.



Mike Buesseler
Feb-07-2004, 10:56am
#It could sound like like a fischer price tape recorder.

I was going to withhold my input here until I read that line. #

I found a FREE version online of a little program called
AUDACITY. #Mine is a Mac version, but there is a Windows version.

Pretty simple to use, some effects (echo, bass boost, reverb, etc). #I record straight into my computers' built -in mic. #I can't imagine a crummier setup. #And I get very passable recordings. A better external mike would no doubt improve things.

You play your first track, record the second (and subsequent) tracks while listening through headphones. #Then adjust amplitudes or whatever, and mix them.

I don't know how many tracks you can record. #More than I need. #You do have to adjust track positions after the first one, to get them to play back in real time. #Not all that hard--you just drag the whole waveform and listen.

I have a couple of samples I'd email you privately.

Feb-07-2004, 5:18pm
There is software for your computer called "Cakewalk Guitar Tracks Pro". This is what I use. I dont have a fancy mic or anything. I use the mic that came with the computer and am amazed at the quality of my recording every time. It also has a built drum machine, lots and lots of effects, editing/mixing controls, metronome, and a tuner.
I think the version I have, has 29 availiable tracks, if you need more you can compress them all to one track and still have 28 free. Pretty cool little program, and it only cost me $100.

Feb-08-2004, 3:03pm
A friend of mine had a similar program on his mac. We used it to record mandolin once for some animated shorts he was doing. The sound quality on that was fine for what I want. But since I live where I work and the two computers I have access to dont have speakers and theres a big sign next to me right now saying DO NOT INSTALL ANYTHING, I guess that idea wont work. I have an imac in storage, kind of. Whenever I see that again Ill look into those recording programs.