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my band wants to record...recording equipment?

DarkSymphonyDarkSymphony Registered User regular
edited February 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
so my band and I wanna record very soon (within a month at the most) we've got a few good songs so far so we're looking for some good recording equipment. We've never recorded before, so I'd like to the ask the people around here who might have some insight:

What equipment should I get? I wanna sound less like we're recording in a hallway.
How much should I be looking to spend to get some decent stuff?
What brand names? Types of mic's, etc.?

I'm not looking to spend thousands (because I don't have that much). I'd like to get away spending $400-800 if possible. I just want people to be able to hear our music without it sounding like shit due to bad recording.

DarkSymphony on

Posts

  • RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Assuming you already have a PC that could run it, ProTools tends to be the system of choice. Setups of this type are going to start in the 2-5 thousand dollar range (including PC).

    Unfortunately I don't know of any cheaper professional or semi-professional grade equipment.

    Ruckus on
  • JHunzJHunz Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    If you don't want to sound like you're recording in a hallway...don't record in a hallway. Look into renting a local recording studio. It would certainly be much easier than trying to assemble a decent set of equipment for under a thousand.

    JHunz on
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  • DarkSymphonyDarkSymphony Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    yeah we're looking at any studio's near by too. I was just getting ideas of what to get because I'm interested in recording myself as well because I've got some solo songs I wanna do.

    DarkSymphony on
  • Dark_SideDark_Side Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    There are a couple different ways to go about it. You could just buy a portable mixer/recorder, there are many on the market and for the most part they work extremely well. But good digital ones usually cost around 800 dollars. You can find cheaper 4 tracks and with a good mic and proper recording techniques should be fine.

    The other route would involve a computer and a small mixer for your inputs. This can be a cheaper route, but you have to be a little careful, as recording on computers can be a murky mess. Apple's OS comes with garage band which works extremely well for this kind of stuff. On PC you can find quite a few different software choices, really it's just a matter of finding one at a price point you like. You will also need a decent sound card, since most PC's that ship come with terrible sound hardware. (I can't speak for apple's stuff). Then you will need a nice mixer to mix your inputs into the computer. Mackie makes very nice ones. You can also find software/hardware packages that come with small external input boxes. I think the big thing you need to get though, is a decent mic, if you're going to spend any money on something, that's one of the more important things. A nice condenser mic will do you so much better than a cheap radioshack special.

    Other than that, you have to practice recording, and it's not going to be completely easy at first. Learning how to get a sounds you like, and then properly mix a track down, is a learned process. My recommendation is to go to a place like GuitarCenter, go back into the sound dept and tell the guys at the desk what you're trying to do, normally you can actually get decent help back there.

    Dark_Side on
  • DarkSymphonyDarkSymphony Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    awesome! thanks. that's great info. I'll definitely give some of these options good research. From the sounds of things, the computer route (decent interface + software) or the mixer/recorder would be good.

    We've been practicing a short while now and wanna get some track put down. I've been in bands for a few years so I definitely know certain things are done, I just had never recorded before. I love getting into something and figuring it out and such so this should be a good project for me and will benefit all 4 of us.

    I'm excited too, we just hired an incredibly good singer (she's pretty damn cute too) so now we can have a good looking front person.

    DarkSymphony on
  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Thing is, software still costs money. I had a friend of mine who hadn't recorded on a computer before who wanted to record an album. So I hooked him up with a hardware multitrack device, some mics, and he went to town. He had some complaints about the finalizing of it all, since he was used to just editing things in [a pirated copy of] Soundforge. But he figured it out and was able to do it all in-the-box.

    A good 4 track or 8 track hardware HDD recorder would get you mic pres, mixing capabilities, and more and all you'd have to learn was how to arm a track and record. That might be a lot easier than buying an audio interface, buying multitrack recording software, and figuring out how it all works. Depending on how familiar you are with the software, of course.

    I personally use software so I'm not pro-hardware, but software definitely costs money and, if you end up never using it again past this one album, you can't resell it. If you buy a Fostex whatever for $500 and then sell it in 6 months for $450, that's a good deal ;D

    Are any of you familiar with the mastering process? Or mixing? IMO, recording is the easy part -- mixing & mastering is what requires some skill and experience. That's also what will make or break the end product.

    EggyToast on
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  • ShawnaseeShawnasee Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    8 track digital recorders are around $500 and you can plug your instrument of choice right into it. Drums need mics however.

    If you go this route, get online and research the manuals and user generated manuals. The manuals that come with the machines can be confusing. In addition people with hands on experience are able to relay the ins and outs far better than a manufacturer generated manual. This isn't counting the valuable "how to" tips and tricks people have.

    Good luck with the recording!

    Shawnasee on
  • Typhoid MannyTyphoid Manny Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    For software, Reaper is fantastic and forty dollars. It's mildly buggy and the interface is kind of obtuse, but forty bucks is better than five hundred and it does basically everything that the professional apps do.

    Typhoid Manny on
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  • Dark_SideDark_Side Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I have to agree in that the digitial multi trackers are superior in a lot of ways to computer setups, simply for ease of use, and teaching you the basics of multi-track recording. And not all computer audio software costs lots of money, you can usually find decent slimmed down versions to do what you need. The key is to understand what you want to do, and how you want to do it, because a lot of places will try to upsell you on shit you don't need, and it's easy to end up with a bunch of crap you don't need or use.

    Dark_Side on
  • blakfeldblakfeld Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I would look more into buying something like the persounous firepod, you can typically find them cheap on craigslist. For better recording advice, we need to know what stuff you'll be recording, and I could probably get you a list of cheap mics that don't suck as I'm a sound engineering and recording is a pretty hardcore hobby of mine and has been for years

    blakfeld on
  • DmanDman Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    If it was me I'd use some cheap-ass recording equipment & software.

    Listen to my music, adjust accordingly and practice till it was perfect.

    Then I'd go to a recording studio and make proper recordings.

    Honestly, even if you buy expensive recording equipment and software where are you going to set it up? If you plan to use your living room you should know: it will still sound like it was recorded in a hallway.

    Dman on
  • Dark_SideDark_Side Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Dman wrote: »
    If it was me I'd use some cheap-ass recording equipment & software.

    Listen to my music, adjust accordingly and practice till it was perfect.

    Then I'd go to a recording studio and make proper recordings.

    Honestly, even if you buy expensive recording equipment and software where are you going to set it up? If you plan to use your living room you should know: it will still sound like it was recorded in a hallway.

    Not necessarily. Many bands are moving to the DIY aesthetic these days. You can record in your living room and make it sound good, it just takes work, a little education, and proper set up. It also highly depends on the type of music you're making. Arcade Fire's "Funeral" was recorded in a band member's place, and it is one of the best rock albums to come out in years.

    Also, you're in complete control of your sound, which can be both an awesome and a terrible thing. But I have heard stories before of guys who booked studio time and ended up with recordings they didn't care for because either the sound guy was phoning it in, or just didn't have the experience for the type of music being played.

    Dark_Side on
  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    A buddy of mine uses a line6 pod with usb to record guitars and vocals with acid pro and then uses sampled drums in fruity loops. All the equipment, including the computer, cost less than one trip to the recording studio they were using before. It took him about a year to get the hang of EQing everything nice and stuff, but his recordings are starting to sound better than the ones they were getting out of the supposed pro studios.

    MushroomStick on
  • CrashtardCrashtard Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I don't have any advice on equipment, but I do have a couple thoughts about recording in general. First, it's a pain in the ass with multiple people. Be prepared for one person to play something 4 or 5 times in a row to get what you want. Along with that, be prepared for recording sessions to last for hours at a time, and don't expect to get more than one song recorded in a night unless things go REALLY well or you know the songs so well you can play them upside down in your sleep. Also, unless you're in a studio with someone who really knows the recording software, be prepared to start a song from the beginning if someone makes a mistake. That's all I can think of at the moment.

    Crashtard on
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  • wasted pixelswasted pixels Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Since folks seem to be shying away from making specific gear recommendations, I'll be a little presumptuous and give you a basic little shopping list to look over. That's a very similar setup to what I've used over the last year or so, and I frequently get comments to the effect of "it must be nice using [local recording studio] for tracking out demos, bastard", so I guess it sounds pretty solid. You'll probably want to add in a mixer and a few more tube preamps if you're planning on recording the whole band simultaneously.

    As for words of wisdom, well... the big thing is to learn the ins and outs of your new gear BEFORE you start recording with people, not during. Nothing is more embarrassing than admitting right after a wicked take, "yeah, um, it looks like I was only recording the drum track. Go again?"

    wasted pixels on
  • blakfeldblakfeld Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Since folks seem to be shying away from making specific gear recommendations, I'll be a little presumptuous and give you a basic little shopping list to look over. That's a very similar setup to what I've used over the last year or so, and I frequently get comments to the effect of "it must be nice using [local recording studio] for tracking out demos, bastard", so I guess it sounds pretty solid. You'll probably want to add in a mixer and a few more tube preamps if you're planning on recording the whole band simultaneously.

    As for words of wisdom, well... the big thing is to learn the ins and outs of your new gear BEFORE you start recording with people, not during. Nothing is more embarrassing than admitting right after a wicked take, "yeah, um, it looks like I was only recording the drum track. Go again?"

    Thats actually not a bad setup. My only advice I'd offer is I perfer this condenser mic:
    http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/AudioTechnica-AT2041SP-AT2020-AT2021-Microphone-Pack?sku=270455
    I have one, and it has a very loyal reproduction, at least for me anyway

    And really, if recording is something you want to consistantly do, go the computer route. What you learn will be invaluable. Also, remember that buying cheaper stuff to start out with is great, but in the long run you will have to spend more money getting the better things. I personally haven't had a lot of luck with Nady mics, however the general rule of thumb is even the shitty brands make good products, you just have to find them.

    Also, something I'm surprised hasn't been said, Studio Magic doesn't exist. A microphone's job is to reproduce what was put into it.l

    blakfeld on
  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2009
    Dman wrote: »
    If it was me I'd use some cheap-ass recording equipment & software.

    Listen to my music, adjust accordingly and practice till it was perfect.

    Then I'd go to a recording studio and make proper recordings.

    Honestly, even if you buy expensive recording equipment and software where are you going to set it up? If you plan to use your living room you should know: it will still sound like it was recorded in a hallway.

    I think this is actually pretty good advice. My boss admins a music forum in his spare time and he says they get this question all the time. The bottom line is, there is no way to set up your own recording studio for $800 and have it not sound like shit.

    Szechuanosaurus on
  • ScrubletScrublet Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    A buddy of mine uses a line6 pod with usb to record guitars and vocals with acid pro and then uses sampled drums in fruity loops. All the equipment, including the computer, cost less than one trip to the recording studio they were using before. It took him about a year to get the hang of EQing everything nice and stuff, but his recordings are starting to sound better than the ones they were getting out of the supposed pro studios.

    I heard someone get phenomenal results with this using TuneTrack EZDrummer instead of fruityloops. I personally worked in a project where we were using a Lexicon Omega with Acid Pro. These produced average results with just doing a direct-in...when we got a proper mic for the amp, the guitars GREATLY improved.

    Scrublet on
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  • wasted pixelswasted pixels Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    The bottom line is, there is no way to set up your own recording studio for $800 and have it not sound like shit.

    Szech, I normally want to sit under a tree with you and hold hands, but I really disagree with you on that.

    For one thing, it doesn't matter if your audio fidelity is god-awful if you have an amazing vibe -- Elliott Smith's s/t album was recorded in people's bedrooms on a creaky 8 tracker, and it's widely regarded as a classic.

    For another, some of the best sounding albums I've heard in the last few years (take "The Meadowlands" by The Wrens, for instance) were done on the cheap in home studios.

    For still another (and while I cringe to use this joker to make a point), Soulja Boy spent seven weeks at number one with a song he made using fucking FL Studio.

    Lastly, if you're micing your guitar cabinets with an SM57 ($100), piping the signal through even a cheap tube preamp ($30), and recording with a 44.1k/16-bit multi-tracker (something like a DP-02CF or MR8HD), you have pretty much the exact same signal path that you would in a high-end studio (minus some signal loss from the patchbay and mixer).

    The benefits to recording in a studio at this point in the technological curve are having a room with good reverb and a qualified engineer on hand to field questions. And given that there are a couple of rooms at my gf's parents' place that sound better than any of the St. Louis area studios I've worked in, well... if you're on a budget, it gets pretty hard to justify the studio approach these days.

    wasted pixels on
  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2009
    Well, TBH it's not really my specialist subject and I was just parroting what my boss told me after a few drinks on our christmas night out and neither of us want to sit under a tree holding his hand.

    Szechuanosaurus on
  • GrennGrenn Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Good quality mics are probably going to give you more bang for your buck but other simple suggestions which will improve the quality of the initially recorded tracks include putting new strings on guitars/basses (stretch 'em good!) and tuning the drum-kit. Leave everything set up for a couple of hours, so everything's the same temperature and won't start to drift out of tune...

    If you've never had any experience in a studio I would sort of be inclined to suggest you give it a go, as you will learn a lot from the process (providing you have a good engineer).

    However, the DIY approach is much more forgiving since you can essentially take as long as you like, and learn as you go.

    It REALLY depends on the music your band play and the vibe you're going for but if you have decent instruments/amps and a good room, nowadays you can get a great deal of character from a recording.

    Grenn on
  • AmphetamineAmphetamine Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Yeah I think the big question here is what kind of music is it?

    Amphetamine on
  • NotYouNotYou Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    things to buy to make you sound pro:

    pro tools

    a nice mic.

    Available room. Buy egg cartons and cover the walls with them. It works really well to stop echo-ing and gives it a studio sound feel. carpetting works too.

    NotYou on
  • deadlyrhetoricdeadlyrhetoric "We could be two straight lines in a crooked world."__BANNED USERS regular
    edited February 2009
    Yeah I think the big question here is what kind of music is it?

    Yeah. If you're trying to make lo-fi music a la Wavves, then I think you're going to want to record in a bathroom or hallway.

    Besides, I'm just curious, now.

    deadlyrhetoric on
  • blakfeldblakfeld Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Quick point of order

    pro software != pro sound.

    blakfeld on
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