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Recording voice and acoustic instruments
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 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2012 04:17 am
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songbird7812
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I have been reading a lot of threads on this forum, but would still appreciate some advice.  I have never recorded onto the computer before.  This is what I think I would like to do:  normally, I play the piano and sing.  I also play the flute quite often.  I would like to be able to record piano on one track, voice on another, and perhaps the flute on another, and perhaps other acoustic instruments that suit my fancy.

I know I need some kind of software.  Would Audacity suit my needs, or do you think another would be better?  I have a Toshiba laptop and an HP wireless desktop (which happens to be next to the piano).  Both have Windows 7.  A friend suggested something called Kristal, but I have never read anything about it anywhere.  I prefer something free, but will spend a little money if it seems worthwhile.

I also know I need some kind of microphone.  I was just reading a thread recommending this:  http://www.sweet***er.com/store/detail/SnowballBK  Would that be a good choice for me, or is there something else that would work better?  I have a cheapie $10 Walmart mic, but I am fairly certain it is not of good enough quality.  I do not have much in the way of funds, so definitely won't go over $100, at least at this point.

As for what else I need, even after all the reading, I still am pretty clueless.  At a certain point within all this stuff, my brain goes into "sleep" mode.

I would so appreciate any advice anyone can give me!

Janet the Clueless One



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 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2012 12:46 pm
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HankTheTank
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Hey Janet,

If you listen to my stuff I record the guitars and vocals separately, just like what you're talking about. 

I use Ableton Live Intro which costs ~$100.  It's a good program and I use the included MIDIs for drums and bass.  I have looked into Audacity, but I'm mostly unfamiliar with it.  My advice would be to look on YouTube for Audacity tutorials and see if it would work for you.  I think there's another free recording program but I'm drawing a blank.

I started out with a cheapy mic.  It worked but it just sounded horrible.  I bought a Samson Meteor Mic.  I wouldn't recommend it but it's far better quality than a cheapy.  If you listen to my song Instant Gratification, that's the best quality recording I have managed so far.  I have done a bunch of research on mics lately.  Blue Microphones, like you linked in your post, are considered a good quality choice.  I would check Amazon and Zzounds though because their prices are usually a little cheaper.  I have never bought from Zzounds.  I have been very impressed with Amazon.  I'm going to buy an Audio Technica AT2020usb mic.  It sells for ~$150 so it may be out of your price range.  I'm tired of fighting my Samson Meteor Mic.

I hope this helps. 



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 Posted: Fri Jul 27th, 2012 11:55 pm
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songbird7812
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Thanks, Hank, for the info.  After doing much more research, I realized that to record the piano I really need two mics, one for each side of the keyboard.  And those mics are not necessarily the best for vocals.  So I need an interface.  I decided I would prefer to have at least three mic plug-ins, so I can do piano and voice at once if I choose to.  Finally I got the courage to order some things and hope I made good decisions.

I am spending much more than I planned or wanted to, but eating is overrated anyway.:laugh

So, taking your advice into account and advice from another forum, plus reading a huge amount of reviews and figuring out best prices, I ordered my equipment.

I ordered a matched pair of Niant x-o mics for recording piano and instruments.  I ordered an audio-technica at2035 for vocals (advice from the Niant guy).  I ordered a tascam us-600 interface (4 mic plug-ins).  It comes with Cubase-LE software.  I just received my first delivery, three mic stands with three cables.  I so hope all this stuff will be at least satisfactory!  (and that I can figure out how to use it correctly).  Of course, it ended up all came out the cheapest by ordering from four different places (Niant, geartree on ebay, b&h photo, and musician's friend on ebay).

I am hoping to be able to share my songs with you all soon.

Janet :Guitarman1:



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 Posted: Sat Jul 28th, 2012 12:07 am
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HankTheTank
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It sounds like you're all set up!  I'm looking forward to hearing your work.  :D

As far as spending too much money, I totally understand.  When I first started I was just looking for a cheap way to get song ideas out of my head and into the world.  Now I'm three guitars, an amp, a couple of microphones, and various odds and ends into it.  Not to mention all the time I have spent learning to play guitar.  My cheap little songwriting hobby didn't stay cheap very long.  lol



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 Posted: Sat Jul 28th, 2012 01:27 am
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songbird7812
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Yeah, I decided it was silly to get the minimum or cheapest equipment and then want to upgrade a year or two later.  Hopefully I have avoided that.  I tried to settle for something in the middle, which still is not cheap by any means.



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 Posted: Fri Aug 17th, 2012 03:49 am
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LuisFV
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Hi Janet,

I was curious if you tried the tascam us-600 interface yet? I too am trying to record my songs and know that an interface is needed for my laptop. I would like to either purchase that or another mid range quality interface. Also, is the Cubase software easy to record with?

I'm also wondering though if sound proofing my room is still necessary if recording through an interface and into my laptop? Anyone have thoughts on this?

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 Posted: Wed May 29th, 2013 08:04 pm
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seriousfun
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@songbird - I am unfamiliar with matched pair of mics you have ordered but all else seems a pretty good choice to me. I am sure the matched pair will be fine as well. I used cubase LE for some time before upgrading to cubase 6 studio edition. You will like it. It does all that you will need. As for recording vocals and piano at the same time, by all means try it but I would recommend against that plan of attack for two reasons.

1. It is easier to concentrate on one task at a time, so results should better. It is frustrating if a wonderful piano performance is spoiled by a bum piano note or vice-versa.

2. by recording piano and vocal at the same time you will get bleed from the piano into your vocal track and any processing ie effects, that you place on the vocal track will therefore have some impact on the piano track.

All is not wasted with the equipment however as the vocal mic will be a better option for vocals than the matched pair. Another thing you may consider is micing up the piano with three mics. Two inside and one outside to capture a little of the room. You will then have more options at the mixing stage by being able to up and down each mic's levels to sculpt the sound you like.

@ luis - don't confuse soundproofing with sound treating. Soundproofing is the act of ensuring no eternal noise enters the room and is a difficult process as just the noise from your computer fan is often intrusive. I use a temp shield which I erect to reduce this. Soundtreatment on the other hand is to reduce unwanted sound waves from bouncing around the room both at the time of recording and later at the time of mixing as well. you certainly will want to record a bad sounding room and gin most cases will want to reord as dry a signal as possible. Later when mixing you want to be able to hear as pure a signal as possible so that when you add reverb and delays etc you can better judge when you have the right amount added. You don't want to be fooled by hearing the natural ambience of the room. Unless you have a noisy environment I would concentrate on sound treatment as that will most likely serve to help in the breakup of unwanted noises at the same time. Blankets hanging on hard bare walls and corner bass traps are a good start.

As for cubase being easy, there is, like all software, a learning curve involved but its pro software so it is very good. Just start off slow with it and introduce yourself to new features of it as and when you feel ready to expand.

I know this is an old post that I am replying to but I am sure these are all issues that many people face when starting out or upgrading.

Last edited on Wed May 29th, 2013 08:05 pm by seriousfun

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