Getting started with recording

219Dave

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Hey guys. I’m 52 and your basic classic rock/blues drummer. I have been asked to collaborate with some old bandmates on some recordings. I am looking to go 4 mic setup and Glyn Johns method of recording. Have an idea of what mics I want. My questions:

1. which DAW software? I am not going to be recording full bands, or doing crazy mixing. Want user friendly.
2. Going to get a macbook pro. How much RAM, storage etc for my needs?
3. Thing of a 4 mic input audio interface, maybe focusrite scarlett 18i8. Should I go for one that can handle 8? I play one up one down kit (Gretch USA customs) without a ton of cymbals.

On a budget, but don’t want to waste cash on stuff I’ll regret. Can space out purchases, and want to get it right. Oh, studio will be in basement.

Thanks in advance!
 

lrod1707

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I've never recorded before so my advice doesn't count, but I'm gonna try my hand at recording anyways. But I can tell you after doing a lot of research, the route that I'm taking. I'll just be recording at home. For now, I don't want to deal with a DAW, I wanted an out of the box, all in one solution with lots of expansion possibilities. I chose to buy a Tascam DP-24SD portastudio which should be arriving this week. It's a 24 track recorder, 8 inputs, audio interface (for post production if you choose to use a DAW) and mixer. I also for now bought a Tascam condenser mic as an overhead and a Shure dynamic for the bass drum. I bought those to start off with and experiment and will expand as I go along. I spent $499 for the machine and $180 for the 2 mics, stands & cables. Good luck!
LRod
 
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cochlea

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I've never recorded before so my advice doesn't count, but I'm gonna try my hand at recording anyways. But I can tell you after doing a lot of research, the route that I'm taking. I'll just be recording at home. For now, I don't want to deal with a DAW, I want an out of the box, all in one solution with lots of expansion possibilities. I chose to buy a Tascam DP-24SD portastudio which should be arriving this week. It's a 24 track recorder, 8 inputs, audio interface (for post production if you choose to use a DAW) and mixer. I also for now bought a Tascam condenser mic as an overhead and a Shure dynamic for the bass drum. I bought those to start off with and experiment and will expand as I go along. I spent $499 for the machine and $180 for the 2 mics, stands & cables. Good luck!
LRod
Interesting. I just looked this unit up on Sweetwater and noticed that they are offering the the 32 track version for the same price ($499). I just started getting into home recording using the Yamaha EAD10 to monitor and improve my playing. The unit works well but is limited because the two mics are located in a housing placed on the bass hoop. I've been looking into configuring something that would allow me to record with several individual mics that can be positioned in different locations. The configuration you describe is very interesting. I'm looking forward to reading your review once you get everything set up.
 

marc3k

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Interesting. I just looked this unit up on Sweetwater and noticed that they are offering the the 32 track version for the same price ($499). I just started getting into home recording using the Yamaha EAD10 to monitor and improve my playing. The unit works well but is limited because the two mics are located in a housing placed on the bass hoop. I've been looking into configuring something that would allow me to record with several individual mics that can be positioned in different locations. The configuration you describe is very interesting. I'm looking forward to reading your review once you get everything set up.
I'm also looking into a potential upgrade from the EAD10, the same way as you describe. But I'm currently looking at the Zoom R24 as mixer / recording device. It seems to be in a similar price range.
 

cochlea

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I'm also looking into a potential upgrade from the EAD10, the same way as you describe. But I'm currently looking at the Zoom R24 as mixer / recording device. It seems to be in a similar price range.
My son, who is a high school senior, just completed a recording whereby each member of the school's concert band recorded their own part to a song at home. They emailed their parts to him and he used Audacity (a free program) to compile a final version of the song. My son is a drummer and he recorded his drum set part directly to a flash drive using the EAD10 module. The final recording was certainly not professional quality but given that it was a surprised going away gift to their band director who is retiring after 30+ years of teaching, it came out quite well.
 

TheBeachBoy

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1. Audacity is decent, especially if you're starting out. It's actually quite robust for a free program. Reaper is a bit more complicated, but it offers quite a bit more. It's free for trial then $60 after that.

2. Get as much RAM as you can afford. Minimum 8gb. My computer has 16gb and still bogs down when I have 20+ tracks with FX. It's also an older processor so that has an effect on performance. A new Mac with 8gb would probably be fine, especially if you're not mixing a ton of tracks. Same goes with hard drive. Get the biggest you can or budget for an external USB hard drive. Also, I'm not sure what options there are for Macbook pro, but go with the fastest hard drive option.

3. Personally, even if you think you only need 4 inputs, down the road you may need 8 and you either have to get another 4 input interface and daisy chain it, or sell it and move up to the 8. You'll probably be fine with just 4, but if you get bit by the recording bug, even 8 won't be enough eventually.

That said, the Focusrite is a great interface. Down the road I may get the Scarlett 18i20 to have a dedicated studio setup. Currently I have a Zoom R16 and that works great too. I recently gave a short review in another thread so I won't repeat myself here, but its primary advantage is portability. Take it to a gig and mix on the Zoom or can connect it via USB and dump the audio files onto your computer to mix there. It can connect directly to your DAW as well and behave like a controller which I think is pretty neat.
 

Tornado

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If you're going Mac, Logic Pro X is awesome. Plus, there are countless videos on YouTube about recording drums in Logic. It seems to be the YouTube drummer's choice of DAWs at least. A number of drummers here use it too.

I'm of the buy once cry once mentality, so I went with a Universal Audio Apollo x8p for my interface. It sounds amazing, especially with the on board pre-amp modeling. I can't believe I get such good sounds at home.
 

paul

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I have been using a Zoom R16 for several years, and have been really pleased. Having the ability to record 8 tracks simultaneously is really nice, as is the ability to record tracks at different times. I've recorded ensembles of myself just for grins.

I've also used it to record my small jazz group (piano, guitar, bass, drums, vocal) live and we've successfully used the results for a demo.

If I were starting over I'd probably spring for the R24 for the extra capabilities, but feel no need to upgrade from the R16.
 

dcrigger

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Hi 219Dave -

Wow - what an adventure you are setting out on.

Software - If you're getting a MacBook Pro (great choice - I'm a Mac guy myself) - then I would highly recommend getting Logic Pro - the bang for the bucks is pretty unparalleled. And it gives you access to everything you need no matter where this journey takes. Particularly if you have any thoughts of dipping your toes into songwriting, composing - it comes fully capable of supporting that journey through the pro level. Same bit with engineering - 99% of all the sonic tools are there. Now with version 10.5 - all of the dance music production tools are there as well.

Not saying you have eyes in those directions - just that those are common paths once folks get their feet wet in this stuff.

I would (and have in the past) payed $1000 for far lesser audio work environments. Far lesser. So for $199, Logic is an incredible steal.

That said - you can do what you immediately want to do with the Garageband software that should come for free with your MacBook Pro. So obviously starting there can make a lot of sense as well.

The Glyn Johns method -

IMO there are huge misconceptions about this approach. Or misunderstanding might be a better way to put it. The main one being how it's ease and simplicity implies that each should just work great in all situations... here's the factors I see that are often skipped over.

1. The quality of the mics matter... a lot. I've had guys record me with a handful of 57's and couple of budget condensers and make it work great. But they had tone able to tweak the various signals to do so - toms separate from overheads most specifically. With four mics, you can't do that... thus..

2. You get what you get. Which makes recording drums for someone else to mix difficult. Tons of balances between instruments is baked into a 4 mic capture. Not always the end of the world. But there's no denying that 95% of the recordings you hear are not recorded that way - at least not since the early 70's. And if this method worked that wonderfully - then you'd think more would be.

3. Like the mics - the room matters more. The room always matters a lot. But the more you pull the mics away - which you have to do for coverage with GJ - the more the room is baked into the sound.

So obviously I would suggest an 8 input interface - if you can at all afford it.

What I've found works best for me when recording drums for others to mix (which sounds like your situation)

Is to put the guide music and/or click tracks into Logic starting at bar 1 beat 1 - make sure your bandmates creating the guide tracks include a count off - or a certain numbers of clicks in front of the actual music. If done to a click. I'll also set the DAW tempo to match the guide track tempo.

Then I record the drums with each microphone being assigned to it's own track (or stereo overheads to a stereo track) - I apply no processing at all on those mic signals - just mic to interface to disk or mic to preamp to interface to disk. There is no point in me "fixing the sound" only to have the next guy have to unfix differently. I just get the sound the best I can with mic placement and capture it.

Then when finished - I bounce each of those tracks from bar 1 beat 1 (or the beginning of the originally guide track file) and send those various files onto to whoever is mixing.

You haven't shared what style of music we're dealing with here and what microphones you have - both big topics. Though I don't think either would change any of what I've written above.

Good luck - David
 

thejohnlec

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There’s so much out there that I won’t comment on the gear. My advice is practical: don’t forget to budget for little things like mic and instrument cables, mic stands and clips, monitor speakers, adapters, headphones, mics, etc. All that little stuff adds up pretty fast! I’ve seen a few people use up their budget on some sweet main gear and have to wait a few months to use it because they didn’t have any cables.
 

phdamage

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heya, I've been recording records for over 20 years, so hopefully this is useful to you:

as for a DAW, if you don't have one already in some capacity, get Reaper. you can download a fully functional version for free. after 45 days, you get a nag window after you open it to buy, but it will still work - also only $60, so totally worth it. it's super easy on your processor - I could mix smaller (under 24 tracks) on my ancient comp with 8GB of RAM without it crapping out my CPU. each DAW will have its own learning curve, but they all effectively do the same thing. I just think Reaper has a lot more resources/folks willing to help out - I mean, the developers themselves are on the damn forums all the time.

as for memory, if you're not mixing and using a ton of plugs, any computer less than 5 years old can easily handle what you throw at it, especially if you've got a fairly stripped down mic setup. plug-ins/mixing is what will start to eat up your processing power.

as for the interface, i am a maniac and often put 15 mics on a full kit, but you can get away with 4. 8 would allow you some expandability and allow you more close micing capabilities if your room sounds bad. for example, if you find yourself, after some time, wishing you could put mics on each individual drum and/or put spot mics on your ride or hats.

the glyn johns method can work well in a lot of circumstances. for minimal micing, a spaced pair just off the drummer's shoulders, looking straight ahead, along with a kick mic can work pretty well, too. these methods are going to leave the balancing up to you, the player. you will be fairly limited with what can be done in mixing to address any balance issues. also, placement is rather critical. if possible, get someone else to play, while literally moving your ears/head around to where things sound best - the smallest adjustment can make all the difference.

as mentioned above, the room definitely matters. if you have a good sounding room, congratulations - half your battle is easy. if not, i would do the best you can to negate the room, and those minimal mics techniques are going to be all the more challenging. you can somewhat negate the room by covering things with absorptive material - blankets/sleeping bags/mattresses/carpets/anything to cut down reflections.
 

lrod1707

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Interesting. I just looked this unit up on Sweetwater and noticed that they are offering the the 32 track version for the same price ($499). I just started getting into home recording using the Yamaha EAD10 to monitor and improve my playing. The unit works well but is limited because the two mics are located in a housing placed on the bass hoop. I've been looking into configuring something that would allow me to record with several individual mics that can be positioned in different locations. The configuration you describe is very interesting. I'm looking forward to reading your review once you get everything set up.
I saw that at Sweetwater when I was buying it. The reason I got the 24 track vs the 32 was because Amazon offered me a 0% interest, no credit check 5 month payment plan on the 24 track (they only do this on certain items). Amazon sells the 32 for $599, Sweetwater has a temporary $100 price drop on the 32. I wouldn't have had that payment plan at Sweetwater. The 32 has the same connectors as the 24 and just adds 8 more tracks. I would never even get to using the 24 tracks in the one that I bought so I was fine with that. But if someone has no interest in the payment plan and doesn't mind payying the $499 in one shot, the 32 track at Sweetwater would be the way to go. I will be posting when I get it and set up and do my first recording tests.
 

lrod1707

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I'm also looking into a potential upgrade from the EAD10, the same way as you describe. But I'm currently looking at the Zoom R24 as mixer / recording device. It seems to be in a similar price range.
I have been using a Zoom R16 for several years, and have been really pleased. Having the ability to record 8 tracks simultaneously is really nice, as is the ability to record tracks at different times. I've recorded ensembles of myself just for grins.

I've also used it to record my small jazz group (piano, guitar, bass, drums, vocal) live and we've successfully used the results for a demo.

If I were starting over I'd probably spring for the R24 for the extra capabilities, but feel no need to upgrade from the R16.
That's good to hear! I think these all in one multitracks are the way to go for people who want to avoid the whole computer DAW thing.
 

Neal Pert

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I’m gonna recommend Dan Bailey’s “The Bailey Method” to you. He’s got special pandemic pricing for the two part series (see his Instagram for the discount code) and the information therein can’t be beat.

I’d mostly agree, as usual, with dcrigger and phdamage, but I’d add that if you are planning to stay small potatoes a four mic set up might be ok and might really help you to learn to balance your volumes and sounds at the source— ie, your limbs. I’ve been using this as a practice method for years, so it’s made recording significantly easier. Two overheads, bass drum mic, snare mic will work, especially if you’re always in the same place and playing a fairly basic set up.
 

owr

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Mark, if you don't mind whats the general idea of his 4 mic approach? I watched the previews for his courses and they look great, discount seems to be 2.3rds so $50 for the material? I'm intriguied, looks like something I could benefit from more directly from rabidly consuming random you tube videos.

I’m gonna recommend Dan Bailey’s “The Bailey Method” to you. He’s got special pandemic pricing for the two part series (see his Instagram for the discount code) and the information therein can’t be beat.

I’d mostly agree, as usual, with dcrigger and phdamage, but I’d add that if you are planning to stay small potatoes a four mic set up might be ok and might really help you to learn to balance your volumes and sounds at the source— ie, your limbs. I’ve been using this as a practice method for years, so it’s made recording significantly easier. Two overheads, bass drum mic, snare mic will work, especially if you’re always in the same place and playing a fairly basic set up.
 

lrod1707

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I’m gonna recommend Dan Bailey’s “The Bailey Method” to you. He’s got special pandemic pricing for the two part series (see his Instagram for the discount code) and the information therein can’t be beat.
Do you have a link? I looked him up on Google and it linked me to his website. All I see on his website is the 2 part Masterclass for $150.
 

owr

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The heck with it, I'm in. $50, thats like the price of one lesson - 15 years ago. Thanks for the recommendation, I'm tired of the you tube rabbit hole.

Dan's name sounds familiar, was he one of the holic guys back in the day?


View attachment 445403
 

lrod1707

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I ended up ordering another Tascam condenser mic for the overheads and a bass drum mic. I figured, why not? Might as well start on the right foot with 2 overheads, 1 snare & 1 bass drum mics. Once I receive my portastudio, mics, cables etc.. I'll post some pics of the setup and start learning from scratch how to record. I even ordered a mixer stand as to not just have that portastudio thrown on a table. I failed to mention that in my drum room I also have a computer with a decent amount of horsepower that my son uses for his engineering classes. So I can use that as a DAW for post production if I decide to tinker deeper with the master mixes. (I bought the Portastudio to avoid that computer work but who knows!) I've been looking forward to doing this for years. It should be a nice & fun learning experience!
 
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