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Thread: Amateur Recording advice

  1. #1
    all around psycho
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    Amateur Recording advice

    I have two questions. Me and my friend have been recording music together for a few months, and we're about ready to record a full length album. Keep in mind we've always been more the musician type than the sound engineer type, but we still use a lot of external effects and production techniques in writing our songs. We'd like to do everything ourself, because we've already made products on a tascam digital 8 track recorder that are hi-fi enough for our liking, and we don't want to spend money to get professionally recorded. Frankly we like the lo-fi DIY sound we get, but my questions are

    1) For recording our final products, we'd like more than 8 tracks. As I've said the only thing we've been using is a tascam digital 8 track, with external effects and whatnot used. Now would we be able to record onto a computer (we both have macbooks) using some sort of software, and not have it take away from the quality? Would we just need 1/4" to usb cable adaptors to connect to the computer from our guitar amps and whatnot or what? Keep in mind neither of us are "Protools experts" and although I have a copy of pro tools, would that be too advanced for us to use without learning loads of **** involved with pro-tools?

    2) If we decided to just use the 8 track and bounce tracks to allow for more than 8, what would be a good program to mix down our final recordings, and add effects and whatnot AFTER the actual recording is done?

  2. #2
    all around psycho
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    Oh and what's the best way to go about learning how to use effects in advanced ways? I also produce electronic music on the side of writing acoustic and electric music, and I'd like to learn how to use effects to a larger extent, like delay (how to get specific pulses of delay, and whatnot), and even more basic stuff like how and when to use compression etc. As I said I'm no sound engineer/recording expert, I consider myself more of a musician, but I'd like to learn how to get the best of both worlds. I've tinkered around with stuff before, but like, I can't even hear a difference between a recording with compression applied and without it, just because I've never learned what it even is or how to effectively use it.

  3. #3
    Registered User Madaxeman's Avatar
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    I am not sure what features the Tascam has. There are digital recorders out there that allow you to burn individual tracks to a CD (most have the burner built in). From there you can rip them onto the computer and use whatever program you like to edit and mix them. For me, it was well worth learning how to use the software.
    If you just want to put an album out for the sake of putting one out, lo-fi and basic inexpensive 8-track recording should be fine.
    If you are looking to compete with a large market and actually try to get a career out of it, you will have to be putting out a product that will sound professional. There is no need to pay a studio to record you these days, but having an album professionally mastered is a good idea.
    There are many books and educational software that can show you the basics of all the mixing and editing features of whatever software you choose. ProTools has an advantage here, but most of the major products are also well supported.
    As for mixing, you just have to learn to use your ears. Try to imitate some of the sounds of your favorite albums by matching levels of their instruments-mix-sound etc...
    Almost every album you've ever listened to has compression on it. What this does is bring up the level of low sounds, and lower the level of high sounds. It makes a song fuller and punchier, but over-use has led to what is called the loudness wars.
    You lose the dynamic range of the song and it becomes a wall of sound with too much compression.
    Other effects add much to a mix, but again suffer from over-use. Reverb and delay are very common. With delay, it is important to match the delay with the song tempo, and there are charts to figure out what delay setting to use. Short delay <50ms can fatten up a guitar by making it sound doubled, and can simulate reverb.
    Anyway...lots of stuff there, hope some of it can help.

  4. #4
    all around psycho
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madaxeman
    I am not sure what features the Tascam has. There are digital recorders out there that allow you to burn individual tracks to a CD (most have the burner built in). From there you can rip them onto the computer and use whatever program you like to edit and mix them. For me, it was well worth learning how to use the software.
    If you just want to put an album out for the sake of putting one out, lo-fi and basic inexpensive 8-track recording should be fine.
    If you are looking to compete with a large market and actually try to get a career out of it, you will have to be putting out a product that will sound professional. There is no need to pay a studio to record you these days, but having an album professionally mastered is a good idea.
    There are many books and educational software that can show you the basics of all the mixing and editing features of whatever software you choose. ProTools has an advantage here, but most of the major products are also well supported.
    As for mixing, you just have to learn to use your ears. Try to imitate some of the sounds of your favorite albums by matching levels of their instruments-mix-sound etc...
    Almost every album you've ever listened to has compression on it. What this does is bring up the level of low sounds, and lower the level of high sounds. It makes a song fuller and punchier, but over-use has led to what is called the loudness wars.
    You lose the dynamic range of the song and it becomes a wall of sound with too much compression.
    Other effects add much to a mix, but again suffer from over-use. Reverb and delay are very common. With delay, it is important to match the delay with the song tempo, and there are charts to figure out what delay setting to use. Short delay <50ms can fatten up a guitar by making it sound doubled, and can simulate reverb.
    Anyway...lots of stuff there, hope some of it can help.
    Wow thanks, that was very helpful (I haven't posted on here in a whiiiile and wasn't sure I'd get any replies). The thing about what you said is, while we're mostly doing this project for ourselves and for fun, we're actually pretty damn proud of the songs we have and our friends have told us we should make it into a hi quality demo to see what happens. Maybe for now we'll just go the lo-fi route, and when I'm back at university in a month (my band mate is taking a year off, that's where we met) me and him can read up on some stuff in our spare time and maybe have another go at it this spring.

    Any good websites or literature you'd recommend that have things like what you just told me about compression, just a bit more in depth? Thanks!

  5. #5
    Registered User Madaxeman's Avatar
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    Glad to help. I have a couple of books on mixing and mastering from Barnes and Noble but the mastering one isn't all that helpful. It really is an art form.
    The web is full of video tutorials for most recording techniques and effects.
    http://www.xowave.com/doc/recording/compression.shtml
    Just doing a quick search and found that link on compression. There are many out there. Musicians Friend and others have some online guides and tutorials for basic stuff.
    I am just about to put out my first album. You never know what will happen. I look at people like Liz Phair and think anything is possible, but you have to have it out there.

  6. #6
    Metalhead JustinR's Avatar
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    this site is awesome for recording info:

    here


    best in depth guide to home recording i've seen anywhere.

    If you are recording digital than anything cd quality or better would be fine (16 bit 44Khz). the only issue you would have would be bouncing back and forth from the unit to the computer, there the signal quality would be affected by the quality of your signal converters. I know pro's tend to use 24bit @ 96Khz for projects for that few extra decibels of headroom it gives them.

    about 10 years ago I switched from a yamaha 4 track to computer based recording, and haven't looked back. Honestly, with virtual instruments and plug-ins, superb sound quality, unlimited tracks (well, limited by ram and cpu), unlimited routing options, and easy cut and paste editing, why stick to just the "box" alone? Use them both!

    look into garage band, and if you are ready to take a plunge, check out the pro-tools program, but remember there is a learning curve involved with any piece of software. Logic is supposed to be really good as well, along with Cubase. I use Sony's Acid Pro and Soundforge on a PC and get decent results.

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