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Author Topic: Recording equipment suggestions needed  (Read 4773 times)
Riverbend
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« on: January 06, 2015, 08:09:26 PM »

This recent splurge of forumite's self recorded work has made me want to do a bit of the same. So, keep in mind that I've only within the past few years started playing again after way too many years with the guitars stashed in the closet, and that playing now is pretty limited to church and a summer in the park jam. I'm way out of touch with recording equipment and the likes. Want to keep it simple and inexpensive, don't need anything elaborate, just something to fool around with and maybe do a few guitar and mandolin tracks. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Rich
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2015, 09:26:43 PM »

Riverbend if you have an ipad you can buy an adapter and record in Garageband 
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2015, 09:30:52 PM »

     Check out Musicians Friend and see what Zoom they are offering now. I use an older Zoom 2 and noticed that Roger used a Zoom 4 for some of his songs. I don't know if the newer ones have extra tracking, but these are not very expensive and can get you started.
      Others here are like professors when it comes to recording, so they should give you more advice.
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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2015, 10:43:52 PM »

It just depends so much on your budget and your expectations. What kind of end result are you looking for? Demo quality? Studio quality. What kind of mics will you be using? Best to do a bit of research first. The first, I thought, good recorder I bought was my Boss BR-8 and it is a pretty cool little unit. However, it records onto 100 meg zip discs which I soon discovered are expensive, have too little memory and are getting hard to find. The next year, Roland came out with the the BR-1200 which records on an internal hard drive and allows you to burn your tracks directly onto a built in CD. Big improvement. I did like the ease of use and quality of the Roland unit, however, and I've upgraded to the BR-1600. I would sell the BR-8 but I have all these masters on zip discs which will only play on, you guessed it, my BR-8.  

For quick, easy recordings with very little set up, I use a Roland Edirol R-09, about the size of an electric razor. If something pops into my head or I make something up on the spot and I don't want to forget it, it is extremely handy and the results sound surprisingly good for such a little device. I recorded a living room concert last year by Alan Fraser and it was great for that too. Just set it at the back of the room and hit record. No multi tracking ability though.      
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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2015, 10:48:07 PM »

To some extent, everything out there these days is pretty good, especially compared to the old cassette multitrack machines.

Audio only with overdubs?  I use a Tascam DP-004.  Old school layout and function and the onboard mics are ok.  If you ever used an old 4 track cassette machine, it'll be a natural.  You should be able to find one used for under $100.  There is also a Tascam app for iPad that is similar...  and similarly easy to use.  You'll probably want a better mic though.  For audio and video I use a Zoom Q3.  I don't do overdubs with it.  Again, used around $100.

Hmmm...  not much help.

Ed

as an add-on, agreeing with Duck...  the sky's the limit depending on what your expectations are. 
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Riverbend
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« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2015, 11:17:48 PM »

Thanks for the kind replies. I'm not an Apple guy, so no "I" anything, but thanks. Checked Musicians Friend and it seems the latest and greatest Zoom is the 6-H2 or something...in the $350 range. Looked at a few of the Tascams and they seemed like a possible good fit, as did the Zoom. Ducktrapper made an excellent point with his "what are your expectations" comment, and also brought something to light for me. First the light: I am always noodling, it seems, always playing with melodies and chord formations and progressions and occasionally stumble onto something I really like, something unique to my ears. So then I play it often and try it different ways and try and grow it into a real song form. And then I eventually noodle something else or whatever but it seems that some of those old tunes are harder and harder to remember if it's been a while. Just today I was playing for a bit in between moving all the new snow around and remembered some old tune and seriously struggled to recreate it. So something easy to use, and easy to store the files, would be a priority of expectation. I'm liking the small & portable ones I've reviewed. Overall I'm not looking for studio or demo quality, I have friends with those capabilities (though not nearby). Just a toy to start, maybe a couple hundred bucks tops at this point. Less is always better.                                     
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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2015, 11:45:07 PM »

My Zoom H2n does a fine job of recording stuff. Its real simple and it sounds great.
Do your homework. No need to buy more "features" than you need.
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2015, 03:38:49 AM »

I've had a Tascam DP-01FX for many years - it's VERY easy to use and works great.   Any recording I've posted is using that - an inexpensive but great Behringer C2 on the guitars, and a Blue Encore 200 on the vocals.  All was purchased used for under 200.00.

Hard to go wrong.
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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2015, 02:09:51 PM »

Found this on Amazon and seems like a nice package: http://www.amazon.com/Zoom-Recorder-Bundle-Control-8-Inch-/dp/B002XF0Q7M/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1420638573&sr=8-3&keywords=zoom+h4n+remote
I'm still a little confused by the track capabilities...this one mentions "simultaneous". What's actually involved in recording and merging, say, two or three tracks of guitar and/or mandolin?
My only real experience recording goes back 25 years and having a friend with some fairly sophisticated equipment record a demo for myself and a friend's duo. Before that it was laughably playing around with two cassette decks, hoping they played and recorded at the same speed! Yep...been a while! Doing plenty of due diligence, still over my head much of the time.     
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« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2015, 02:26:02 PM »

! Yep...been a while! Doing plenty of due diligence, still over my head much of the time.     

I'm right there with you, and that's why I've opted and stayed with what I have for several years now.

I do the main guitar and vocal part by "arming" two tracks, then simply monitor what I've recorded in headphones while I add harmonies and any additional guitar parts on separate tracks.   With the Tascam, everything is right in front of you, no massive learning curve......
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« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2015, 03:42:09 PM »

You could get a half decent USB mic like a Blue Snowball(under $100) and then download free software like http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Audacity is a great free program and it has built in effects like delay, chorus, reverb....etc. 

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« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2015, 05:03:20 PM »

Thanks Denis...you've offered me a new avenue that's definitely got possibilities. I found a Blue usb mic, brand new, for around $50 online, and I'm planning on downloading the free software. Love that shareware stuff!
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« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2015, 08:07:58 PM »

Thanks Denis...you've offered me a new avenue that's definitely got possibilities. I found a Blue usb mic, brand new, for around $50 online, and I'm planning on downloading the free software. Love that shareware stuff!

As shareware goes, Audacity is pretty cool and the sound quality is good, clean.  Multitracking, effects, everything you need to get started.  $50 for a Blue USB mic is a good deal.  A friend of mine has one and she can go cardioid, figure 8 or omnidirectional.  Very cool!

Good luck and let us hear your recordings when you've got some finished. 
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« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2015, 08:21:40 PM »

I've found that trying to record directly into a computer just doesn't work for me. For one, the computer is in another room and two the mouse is hard to use with a guitar in hand. Personally, I would need someone else to operate the computer while I played and sang. I prefer just being able to (quietly) reach over and touch record, stop or play. The BR's also come with a foot switch for stopping and starting.   
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« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2015, 08:49:27 PM »

The BR1600 looks like a pretty nice piece of equipment. I found a couple on ebay for $300-400. Lots of parts and pieces, hard drive upgrade stuff, storage cases, etc., as well. Must be lots of them in use, which speaks volumes. Kind of waffling at this point between going small and simple at first with an eye towards upgrading down the road, and going all in now. But I do know a whole lot more about this subject now than I did earlier today! Thanks everyone for your responses and insight. Much appreciated! S'why I love this forum... +1     
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« Reply #15 on: January 07, 2015, 09:12:15 PM »

The BR1600 looks like a pretty nice piece of equipment. I found a couple on ebay for $300-400. Lots of parts and pieces, hard drive upgrade stuff, storage cases, etc., as well. Must be lots of them in use, which speaks volumes. Kind of waffling at this point between going small and simple at first with an eye towards upgrading down the road, and going all in now. But I do know a whole lot more about this subject now than I did earlier today! Thanks everyone for your responses and insight. Much appreciated! S'why I love this forum... +1     

I bought a used one from eBay for $400.00. Works great. 40 gig memory. 16 tracks. Easy enough to use but it turns out that it does way more than I use it for. A little more complicated than first meets the eye. I sent for a DVD to explain how to get the most out of it. Helped immensely. 
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« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2015, 09:20:55 PM »

For something small and portable I use Boss Micro BR BR80

Sounds fine, super easy to use for casual recording and has built-in backing tracks for playing along.
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« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2015, 12:46:02 AM »

For something small and portable I use Boss Micro BR BR80

Sounds fine, super easy to use for casual recording and has built-in backing tracks for playing along.

Oh crikey! I want one! I'm using one of these and that looks so much better.

  http://www.rolandus.com/products/details/757

So, reinforcing what I said earlier about another truth to buying recording equipment. The thing they come out with next year will have you kicking yourself for whatever you buy this year.   
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« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2015, 03:03:42 AM »

Which Blue mic did you get?  At least one of the "ball" mics from them is an electret condenser mix.  Most of their higher end mics are excellent.
Be wary of very low priced TASCAM products sold as new.  These are usually discontinued products because they don't work and TASCAM is unloading them.  I have personal experience with the US-800 and got it for a song, but it was unbelievably buggy and TASCAM would not provide real tech support.  Go for TASCAM products that have a solid multi-year sales history.  They have no official company support forum.
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« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2015, 10:05:10 AM »

Which Blue mic did you get?  At least one of the "ball" mics from them is an electret condenser mix.  Most of their higher end mics are excellent.
Be wary of very low priced TASCAM products sold as new.  These are usually discontinued products because they don't work and TASCAM is unloading them.  I have personal experience with the US-800 and got it for a song, but it was unbelievably buggy and TASCAM would not provide real tech support.  Go for TASCAM products that have a solid multi-year sales history.  They have no official company support forum.
Haven't ordered anything yet, but the Snowball I looked at was classified as a "cardioid omnidirectional condenser". I did download the Audacity shareware to have a look, plus watched a uTube tutorial. Still not 100% on anything, and I appreciate the heads-up on the Tascam issues.   
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