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Thread: economical option to record myself

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    Default economical option to record myself

    Looking for an inexpensive option to record myself to assess progress. I would just be recording mandolin and maybe a guitar backing track. I plan to use Audacity but need a decent microphone. I bought a cheap mic to plug into my sound card mic in, but the sound is terrible. Is there an frugal USB mic that would work for this or another option?. I don't need studio quality but I need reasonable sound. Thanks in advance for any suggestions

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    Default Re: economical option to record myself


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    Default Re: economical option to record myself

    Small zoom recorder, audio Technica USB 2020 or for a little more, one of the headphone/condensor mike/interface combos from focusriet, presonus, etc. If you already have headphones you can sell one or the other pair

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    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
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    Default Re: economical option to record myself

    Your phone’s voice memo app?

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    Default Re: economical option to record myself

    The Zoom handy recorders (the H series) will double as USB mics/interfaces for overdubbing so can provide 2 uses for you.
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    Default Re: economical option to record myself

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianWilliam View Post
    Your phone’s voice memo app?
    That a bit too low-fi. Right now I am using a cheap eBay mic that plugs into me sound card. The quality just isn't good enough even for my needs

  8. #7

    Default Re: economical option to record myself

    My bet is, your phone is better than that mic

    I recorded the demos for my first CD with an old iPhone and audacity back in the day. It was surprisingly good for what it was. (then again, my band name is the the LoFi Decibels

    Otherwise, how about a used Snow ball by Blue? They run what, $50 new these days?

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    Registered User Toni Schula's Avatar
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    Default Re: economical option to record myself

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianWilliam View Post
    Your phone’s voice memo app?
    +1

    We use this at band rehearsal. Then we share the recordings for practising at home.
    I would not use that for producing a CD, though ;-)

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    Default Re: economical option to record myself

    Check out the Focusright Scarlet or similarly priced interfaces (I think I have the Behringer version but haven’t used it in a while so can’t remember with 100% confidence). Run a SM 57 (or something similar) or Rode NT 1, and you’re good to go. I did some recording with a USB condenser mic that was advertised for that purpose, but really was only good for pod cast volume levels; my daughter overdrove it without even really wailing on it. With a good interface you may be able to get away with your current mic, but maybe not...

    I’m sure there are better USB mics out there, but doubt they’re cheap.
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: economical option to record myself

    Economical?

    Most economical (if you already have a late model smartphone): Smartphone

    A-little-less-economical economical: Shure SM57 (or 58) plus audio interface (like the Scarlett Solo) if you have a laptop or desktop computer.

    -------------------------------

    If you could buy a cheap USB mic that you were happy with and use audacity, that would be great. I don't know of one to recommend, though. I tend to agree with mojocaster, your late model phone's built in mic is better than many of those. When I got done with just using my iPhone, I bought the Focusrite ScarlettSolo and an SM58 for vocals and an AT PRO35 condenser clip on for mandolin and used that for past 3 years. Also now have the Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD with four input channels for mics/instruments and recently installed K&K pickups in instruments as an option rather than the clip on mic.

    IMO, it's a good idea to buy stuff that can serve multiple purposes down the road. The Shure microphones mentioned in this thread are rugged industry standards that you could use to play gigs as well as use in home recording studio, and they don't break the bank. You're just assessing progress for now, granted, but just in case you want to play at a birthday party, at a family gathering, at a small church, etc. in the future?

    Zoom recorders: These get great reviews from most everyone who uses them.
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    Default Re: economical option to record myself

    I did not know much about the Zoom recorder so I spent some time looking into it. It seems more capable than I expected. Just ordered a H1N

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    Default Re: economical option to record myself

    I'm not sure about Audacity, but I had to set the Zoom as my output device in Reaper and use the headphone jack on the Zoom to monitor when overdubbing. That took some figuring out. Just an FYI. PM me if you run into any problems getting it going.
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    Default Re: economical option to record myself

    Phone works for recording basic single tracks - which are perfect for jotting down song ideas etc. If you want to do any multi-tracking (like record a guitar backing track and then record a mandolin over that), phone's aren't going to cut it well.

    For recording, I typically use a Shure PG42 connected to USB to XLR adapter. I forget the name of the adapter I use but there's so many on the market, I'm sure you can find something. The Shure PG42 is a great mic for recording and runs ~$100 - $200. That said, nearly any decent mic will be fine for your purposes. The XLR to USB adapters are about $20 - $30. These will work with Audicity (as well as basically any other program like garage band etc). So all in, you can get better quality audio recordings for under $200. BTW, I use a mic stand that clips on to my desk where my computer is - so much easier than using a standard mic stand. I'd highly recommend unless you have space for a mic stand. The Zoom recorders are also great and very versatile

    That said, based on what you're looking for - I would suggest video recording instead of straight audio. With the video recording, you get to both hear and see your playing which can be a fantastic way to correct technique errors - like how you how the mandolin, how you shift, etc. For that, I use iMovie with my iMac's built-in camera (along with the Shure PG42 since the internal mics on iMac's are horrible) but there are many other video recorders that work for this as well.

    If you have a mac or apple computer - I would strongly recommend garage band at a minimum over audicity. Audicity is great for some things like mixing but it leaves a lot out for multi-track recording. Just my $0.02
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    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: economical option to record myself

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Grieser View Post
    I'm not sure about Audacity, but I had to set the Zoom as my output device in Reaper and use the headphone jack on the Zoom to monitor when overdubbing. That took some figuring out. Just an FYI. PM me if you run into any problems getting it going.
    I use a Zoom for overdubbing all the time, with Audacity. I plug both the Zoom and the analogue headphones into my laptop, with the Zoom as USB input device and the headphone socket as output for the pre-recorded backing tracks. This works fine, but there are two important points to consider:

    1. To set the correct latency correction, generate a click track, then place the headphones next to the microphone and record a few seconds of the click track through the microphone. The correct latency correction is the difference (in milliseconds) between the peaks in the original and the re-recorded track.

    2. You cannot use this setup to monitor your own playing through the headphones in real time as there is an unavoidable latency delay between the headphone output and the input. Disable "monitoring" in Audacity so that what you hear through the headphones is only the pre-existing backing tracks. That's not a problem when recording an acoustic mandolin -- I use DJ headphones which cover only one ear so that I can hear my own playing in real time without delay through my "free" ear. However, you may have be an issue when recording electric instruments.

    Martin

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    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Re: economical option to record myself

    I used to use free Audacity software on my PC. It's not perfect but you can mutitracks in full bandwidth, use effects, and mix it down to a mp3.
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    Default Re: economical option to record myself

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Jonas View Post
    I use a Zoom for overdubbing all the time, with Audacity. I plug both the Zoom and the analogue headphones into my laptop, with the Zoom as USB input device and the headphone socket as output for the pre-recorded backing tracks. This works fine, but there are two important points to consider:

    1. To set the correct latency correction, generate a click track, then place the headphones next to the microphone and record a few seconds of the click track through the microphone. The correct latency correction is the difference (in milliseconds) between the peaks in the original and the re-recorded track.

    2. You cannot use this setup to monitor your own playing through the headphones in real time as there is an unavoidable latency delay between the headphone output and the input. Disable "monitoring" in Audacity so that what you hear through the headphones is only the pre-existing backing tracks. That's not a problem when recording an acoustic mandolin -- I use DJ headphones which cover only one ear so that I can hear my own playing in real time without delay through my "free" ear. However, you may have be an issue when recording electric instruments.

    Martin
    Martin, this is exactly what I want to do. I did the click track test and I came up with 1142 milliseconds. That seems like lot. I used the normal speakers on my desktop to play the click track and recorded the overdub with the Zoom as a USB mic. After adding the compensation value, it seems to line up but that high latency has me worried. Any thoughts on this?

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    Registered User Brian560's Avatar
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    Default Re: economical option to record myself

    BandLab might be another option to consider. They also have a variety of interfaces at reasonable prices. For quick recording you can use the phone microphone with BandLab as they have a phone/tablet app. BandLab does allow for multiple tracks and for several people to collaborate on a project. It also is simple to use and free. I use a Zoom H2N which is something a lot of people mentioned.The problem I have with that is it picks up to many background sounds like breathing and foot tapping.

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