All right, I know most of us "starving" musicians cannot afford the professional studio fees. Don't get me wrong, after our musical ideas are written down or recorded on a digital pocket recorder, we need a talented master/mixing engineer who can make us sound like a million bucks.
I like laying down my ideas on both my Tandberg TD20A reel to reel (You Old Schoolers still remember the Revox and Tandberg recorders, don't you?) and the Cakewalk Sonar 6 DAW. I have the Boost 11 Sonar sound enhancer plug in. For my percussion work, I really like the Toontrack E Z Drummer expansion packs. They have a new one (Funkmasters) coming out this month. For the strings/brass/background vocals I like the East/West Quantum Leap Orchestra program.
Would anyone else on the site like to share their secrets in terms of aquiring a good equalization, compression, sound processing? I have the MIDIVERB sound processor and it seems to work well for most of my applications.
I have a question: After we complete our music projects and record it to a master cd in the mp3 file format, can a professional studio do a good re-master of the CD?
I thought this forum topic might enlighten those who are just starting out or, in the intermediate range (like myself), to get help in deciding what's best for their "pocket". Thanks!
Ed Baran - Joppa, Maryland
That's a tricky issue for the empty wallet. Iknow, to get a really good, I mean GOOD, sound, you practically have to go to a pro studio. There are ways of getting ok sound with less money and so, but even if you get a decent recording and crude mix, for all intents and purposes there's no other option but going to a pro studio to get as good a remix as possible with the material you have. Some people might have the tools at home, but they are scarce I think. And a good sound engineer/artist can make miracles with your stuff. But if you do it digitally, you can get quite good sound from even a simple app like Garageband, there are effects built in, and more to be had on the web, I have a good example on my page here, an old thing we did back in -86, on a 4 track Tascam, in my teenage room. I found a tape, a C-90, old wrinkled and ready for the trashbin, but a friend of mine said his father could fix it, he took it to his studio and remixed it. Now You can actually hear all the instruments, and it was sooo bad, so for all intents and purposes I'd reccommend letting a studio do a remix, and I can almost promise they can do wonders with very poor material. Otherwise, I think your tunes are very good indeed, so the way you do it seems to be fine to me. I'll try some stuff later on, but as you said, we are not the richest people, us artists (or artist wannabes) so I'll stick to Garageband and Band In A Box, it's good enough for me 'til I'm a better player. And if needed I'll discuss things with the pal's father, he can patch it up, if I need good quality, I suppose. But I love the remix presets in Garageband, and the guys setting the parameters knew what they were doing, because you can just tweak the compression a bit, set the hall size, and fix the bass and treble, and it sounds ok. Then there are all those effects built in, so if you wanna play around the sky's the limit. But a clean sound is best for me, so I don't. Then there are other apps for the mac, sound apps, but I don't think it's worth it 'til I can play better. But if you want to, well, it's the wallet size sets the limit...
Skei (the poor artist wannabe but happy anyway one)
I read an interesting article in Vintage Guitar Magazine last month which discussed recording with a budget in mind.
The equipment list included: microphone,headphones, preamp, digital recording software, and mention of pocket recorders.
My notes show software = Audacity v 1.2 for Macintosh, Protools and Krystal for the PC.
Headphones = Grado SR-60, SR-80,
Preamp = Belkin Tunestudio ( which I think is a device that accepts an IPod, ad- hoc pockt recorder), or Micport
Microphones as AKG Blueline, Alesis GT-40, Schoeps Collette
I am always interested in recording techniques and non-overly complicated recording. Any one with tips tricks and advise is encouraged to write.
davefg34 on the jazz matrix or email@example.com.
Thanks for the comments Skei and Dave!
I agree that technology has given the average musician new sources for very good home recordings.
I'll have to check out the magazine, Dave.
I do know that if a musician records the "one man band" technique on a CD, he/she has to very careful in making sure the "lead" instrument is up front. We tend to sometimes put all of our instruments at the head of the class and thereby destroying the balance/stage effect. I always use a good pair of headphones to listen for a good balance in the mix, while adding EQ, and sound processing. I don't have studio monitors but I do have a good Bose Acoustic Imass System.
Thanks to everyones comments. Your ideas help a greenhorn like myself who has just scratched the surface on doing some home recording. I am from the old school of reel to reels and cassette tapes and now learning about digital. But, mostly throughout my music career I have just perfromed and stayed out of the recording side of the trade. With all of the new buttons and whistles and things we have today I decided to at least try my hand at some of the toys.
Looking forward to anymore information you guys can share.
Talking about what is the best recording set up is like saying Chevies are better than Fords. Everyone on this web site will heve different opinions and that's a good thing....
Here's my three cents (inflation):
1. You have to select a home recording studio DAW or software program that allows you to record, mix, master, and provide effects to your music. Note: this is what I have in my studio and works well for me - Cakewalk Sonar 6 Home Studio
Pro Tools and other DAW's are very good choices - each have different features but do a good job.
2. A good computer sound card and MIDI interface ensures better latency time.
3. A good condensor mike for any instruments that cannot connect directly into the interface. I find it's best to record electronic instruments into a direct box and use the mike for vocals/acoustic instruments. A mike pre-amp is helpful to avoid clipping in the mix.
4. An acoustical "dead" room - a room which does not add excessive brightness or echoe to the mix. These effects are added after the intrument is recorded and in moderation along with equalization/compression/ etc.
Maybe some other musicians can help Clevland fill in on today's technology that I missed.... I have to demagantize my Tandberg TD20A reel-to-reel heads, now - LOL!
Seems to me I'm about 2 months ahead of you Cleveland - and they haven't been very fruitful months either. I initially grabbed about 6 different freebie VST/DAW's from the net palnning to try them all out. It was all too much. I heard a home-made soundclip on another site, I liked the sound so I just asked what he used. I got rid of everything except Acoustica Mixcraft - not because it's better (I really wouldn't know anyway) but because it was the one I was making the most progress on. I'm not even looking at anything else for 12 months because I honestly won't know until then what I'm looking for. As a guitarist I am fortunate in that the music stores are full of machines, gizmos and recording utilities for guitar. I've got a Behringer USB interface, a Behringer X V Amp - like 40 stomp boxes in a digital form in one box - and a Shure Mic. I have decided not to buy anything else until I've learnt this stuff to the full extent of it's limitations
This, then, is a late addition to an old thread.
I just discovered how extremely good Ableton Live is for recording without destroying a good sound from an amp, lined in, haven't tried microphone, can't, live in apartment, noise.
Anyway, made a string arrangement in Garageband, as it is a sequencer as well as a daw. then imported into Ableton, added a guitar track, all controls neutral, no messing with tone or anything. It's a very intuitive app, simple to handle, and the real plus: it leaves the sound as it is from the amp, or microphone, I guess. But if you have a microphone I suppose you'd have to have a pre-amp. Have to make sure that one won't mess up the sound, then. You can download a demo, if you choose the variety with a trial serial number it is limited to a short period of testing, but if you take the download without a serial there is no time limit, but you can't save or export, only try it. I have tried so many daws, Ableton and reaper are by far the best ones I stumbled upon. Garageband is super for its ability to import midis and even write your own music with notation or tab, with instruments sounding almost scaringly good. As I mostly write tunes in BIAB I often use the export as midi from that one, and then the extremely fine instrument sounds in Garageband are a lifesaver, but for recording guitar, and getting what I call the 'Wakenius' sound, which I have out from the microcube, the only one leaving it perfectly as it were is Ableton live. It's worth trying, as the trial is free. And, of course, I am in no way connected to any manufacturer of daws or anything, I just love music and if I find something worth trying I like to spread the word. An example of Ableton's excellence, paired with a les paul and Garagebands ability to write violin/cello arrangements and give very warm and fine sound is 'Nightingale in Berkley square' - my arrangement, in my player...
Skei (the found his daw one)
Since I was on this forum last time (at its birth), I have spent a lot of time learning about home recording. And going through some frustrations and dead ends.
I tried a couple of OLD software apps/DAWs, on my old Mac and PC systems. They were slow and unwieldy.
I tried (like Ulfskei) Ableton Live, and it was fast, slick and useful. But the documentation SUCKED, the support sucked, and the community of users was totally oriented to DJ and groove issues, which did not suit my compositional goals. They charged too much, and kept forcing me to upgrade.
Here is what I am doing now, and I am having a ball.
I found REAPER, a wonderfully power and yet simple program with a great community. You can buy it for peanuts. There are good manuals for beginners. The forum on their site is chock full of details and troubleshooting, and the people in the Reaper community are helpful, as well as being good musicians.
So I am doing digital (MIDI) and audio (acoustic guitar and voice into mic and electric gtr and bass gtr into preamp/interface) recording and arranging on a shoestring. I compose on my guitar, write that stuff onto paper, then use that notation to input into the DAW.
I have an Audix OM-2 dynamic mic, which serves well for a small price. Good for both my voice (learning!!) and acoustic guitar. The mic hooks up to REAPER via the FastTrack preamp, and I can adjust volumes and levels both with the preamp and inside the DAW software.
Using a relatively old laptop (Compaq Presario running xp - screw Vista!) I get audio input via an M-Audio FastTrack. While I have a small MIDI keyboard [M-Audio O2], I have come to get very good at simply entering MIDI data in the keyboard-model MIDI editor, using the mouse to click and drag notes onto the piano-roll representation.
Based on the MIDI notes, lined up in REAPER into separate tracks, I can assign VST instruments to each voice, and use the REAPER sequencer and mixer to get the voices to blend the way I want. Various plugin processors (reverb, chorus, synths, etc) are available and work well together with REAPER.
So I have a home studio that does a good job and only spent a few hundred dollars on it.
The hard part is the musical part.
I'm really a dinosaur when it comes to recording. I've been using Cakewalk Sonar 3.0 forever with Waves plugins. I just do single tracks - one at a time, and use a Art Tube MP preamp and an SM57 mic on a Marshall with 4x12 cab or a fender amp. Also recording direct in for keyboards is quite easy. I don't use MIDI.
I recently got a Zoom H2, and i'm very pleased with it. true HD quality in stereo, and it's actually viable for recording in the studio. Also if you want to record ambient noise such as water, wind, birds, etc, it's quite good for it.