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Minimalist recording setup

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 11:16 am
by joppo
I've been playing with a really simple recording setup (the kids have a band and want t make their own CDs :shock: ), but haven't been really happy with the quality of the recording. I have tried taking the output from the headphone socket from an amp (no line out) into the computer through the mic on the computer (no line in). Mic'ing the amp has sounded better, but it would be nice to get direct input so background noise doesn't spoil when they do get the track right. Has anyone used a usb audio interface to do recording, or what a other peoples experiences with a cheap setup?

Re: Minimalist recording setup

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 2:09 pm
by Dan
All you really need for a decent clean sound without getting into buying a bunch of gear, is an Mbox, which as far as I know, you can still get in a bundle deal with Protools.

Re: Minimalist recording setup

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 4:43 pm
by john
what program are you runnig? pro tools maybe a bit expencive for a minimal set up. have you got a mixer or access to a mixer before you insert into the amp?

Re: Minimalist recording setup

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 4:55 pm
by Dan
Protools may be a bit much indeed, but an Mbox is just an interface to get good quality sound into your pc, and very good for a little home setup.

Re: Minimalist recording setup

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 5:08 pm
by joppo
I've got Mixcraft 3 already, but most of the USB devices I've found on the web seem to come with their own Software mixer anyway so what I am using now may be academic. We're recording one instrument at a time which suits at the moment, because they are 10-12 years old, and the chance of all of them getting it right in a single take is rather slim. One of the best options I think I have found so far is a Line 6 Toneport GX. It just has a single 1/4 inch in, earphone and usb out and a volume control, then you have all of their POD effects in software for them to play with to their hearts content! But the next model up in the Line 6 range (and their competitors products) seem to have a bit more control over the signal, as well as being able to record at least two thing simultaneously.

Re: Minimalist recording setup

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 6:13 pm
by Dan
You said you were just plugging into the mic input of the pc though right? :?

Re: Minimalist recording setup

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 7:09 pm
by joppo
Yes - I haven't got any hardware between the amp and the PC yet. I'm just plugging in direct from the amp into the mic plug (my notebook doesn't have a line in). I have figured out that I probably need to get some sort of USB device (like the Toneport or the Mbox). I had a look at the specs for the Mbox, and it looks awesome, but the Toneport would probably be a lot cheaper. I guess the qurestion is how cheap is too cheap. My googling has revealed at the very cheap end you can get guitar leads that have an inbuilt ADC but no controls, and there are obviously some really nice bits of hardware that I'll never be able to justify, and somewhere in the middle is what I want.

The worst bit about this all is that they have bumped me from their recording sessions,! They either record the bass themselves or use a pre-recorded bass loop that came with Mixcraft. How rude is that! :?

Re: Minimalist recording setup

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 7:12 pm
by Dan
Hah cheeky buggers.

At the end of the day, you don't need to spend much at all (anything will be better than going straight into your computers mic port!).

Re: Minimalist recording setup

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 7:25 pm
by joppo
Thanks for your help Dan. I'll keep researching and see how much I can get past the treasurer!

Re: Minimalist recording setup

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 7:28 pm
by Dan
Sorry I couldn't be more help though mate, its so subjective to what you want to get out of it, the dosh factor amongst other things. Let us know what you decide to do :)

Re: Minimalist recording setup

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 8:59 pm
by beagle
Not sure what you consider a lot to spend Joppo but I've had a play with this Zoom H4 unit and for $599 you get a 24bit 96khz stereo usb computer interface (mic or XLR sockets) with Cubase LE software plus a good quality builtin stereo mic & 4 track recorder. Seemed very good value to me.
http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/h4/index.php

Re: Minimalist recording setup

Posted: Tue Jul 24, 2007 4:22 pm
by joppo
Thanks Beagle. My favourate guitar shop recommended one of those too, but didn't have one in stock for me to look at. They look like they are awesome and really good value as you said. However, I was looking more for a unit to plug into a usb port and use an existing mic. I bought a Line 6 Toneport XA1 today which looks like it fits the bill, and was on special for $200. I'll post a report in a few days when I've done a bit of recording.

The cheeky little buggers aren't going to get their hands on it though until they agree to let me be the bass player :lol:

Re: Minimalist recording setup

Posted: Tue Jul 24, 2007 5:23 pm
by beagle
No worries. $200 is great value for $. The zoom would be overkill.
I'm sure you'll invent some great ways to blackmail your kids into letting you jam with them.... I recon that could be a whole new topic on it's own :lol:
Let us know how well it works etc :)

Re: Minimalist recording setup

Posted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 4:54 pm
by joppo
Time I posted an update on how I have gotten on. I have spent a few weeks playing with the TonePort and am really happy with what it produces. Basically, it is just a simple audio interface which plugs into the USB port on a computer. Inputs include a port to plug your bass/guitar straight into, and XLR microphone port, and then some stereo input ports to attach a mixer if you want to. It will record mic and instrument as separate track simultaneously.

Now, the nice stuff is that it has a program call Gearworks which sits in between the device and your recording software. You can just record straight through, but it models various amp/cabinet combinations and whatever effects you care to throw at it. To make it easy for newbies like me, there are a good number of presets, but you can customise to your your hearts content. There are a good number (15-20) of straight bass presets. It took me a bit of trial and error to figure out recording level on different settings, but it is going really well now. Have done some recording of the kids (guitar and keyboard) for the Grandparents, and they are thrilled (or at least very polite! :D ).

So, a very good basic setup, although it would be nice to get a mixer as well to be able to record more than one instrument at a time.

Re: Minimalist recording setup

Posted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 6:12 pm
by beagle
Good stuff Joppo. Surprising that you also get some pre recording amp simulation effects. Sounds like a really good buy.