newby looking for help

“front end” requirements

I want to record vocals via a mic and guitar directly into my PC…


I understand I need a condenser mic and a phantom power unit with some inputs for the mic and guitar, and “bells and whistles” , with an output into my soundcard.


Questions:

1) some units I have seen have an output via firewire and USB…which seems to me to bypass the soundcard…can Ntracks handle this or does the output have to be into the soundcard???

2) what “hardware” configurations do you experienced users recommend??

Thanks all

hi there, you don’t necessarily need a condenser mic to record… although a few of the newer off-brands are so cheap, you may as well get one… while some can use batteries for power, most will require a phantom power supply… a good beginner’s unit is the art tube mp… behringer makes some very inexpensive mixers that will have phantom power as well…

now, my opines:

1) consider USB and firewire as nothing more than cables to connect stuff together… many sound cards now are little boxes that will connect to your computer using either usb or firewire… i’ve only used usb, so i’m not sure how n-track will react to a firewire device, although i expect it will be fine… you will have to tell n-track, or whatever recording software you’re using, to use that external box as its recording source… once you’ve done that, you can ignore the fact that you even have a sound card built into your computer…

if you want to avoid the cost of a new sound card, you can use your built in card, although the sound quality may be lower than that of an external device…

no matter which you use, be sure to locate the “line in” input on the sound card… just plug your mixer/direct-in box OUTs into the sound card’s LINE IN… then make sure that the windows audio mixer isn’t muting the line in…

at that point, you should be golden… i’m sure others will jump in with more info…

2) asking a question like that is sure to start a flame war!

as mentioned before, you can use your existing sound card to start… if you’re still interested in recording in a month, go out and look for new devices… some will need to be installed in your computer, others will be usb/firewire… there are plenty on the musician’s friend (http://musiciansfriend.com) website to keep you entertained for hours…

of course, these are just starter points… some of these characters on here have been doing this longer than i and have far more time and money invested, so their input will be of more value…

hope we can help!
isaac

If you want to spend money on a firewire or USB interface you can and n-track will work great. but all you really need to try it out is a mike preamp and mike.(a dynamic mike is cheaper and easier then a condenser) and for the guitar a preamp or “pod” like outfit that will let you output directly into your sound card.

You might want to look at
www.audiominds.com

there are so many variations that you’ll want to investigate and think really hard about what you want to do now and what you will want to do in the future. FWIW it is a mistake to get “something that will work” but that will not work for you in a few months - e.g., most of those cheap condensors. Get a decent dynamic, like an audix i5 instead.

my 2 cents.

Thanks for the quick replies so far folks. Some good info…

I’m glad I’ve learned to be sceptical about what sales people say…yeah man, that condenser mic is a must have…can’t use a dynamic…oh yeah, and this little box… and you’ll need cables…altogether ony $450 and you’re set to start…shall I write up the order now????


I will investigate more…

Oh and if anyone has anything to add, please do…

i agree with toms… yes, i did suggest that buying a cheap condenser will do the job… i will add that getting a good preamp is just as important, if not more, than the microphone… however, i will stand beside my comment about the ART TUBE MP… for the $70, i think it is a great preamp… tube preamps offer a natural compression that solid state just can’t match…

as toms suggested, the audix is a great mic, but you can get a great sound with just an SM57/58 and a good preamp… be sure to check the frequency response of any mic that you consider… it should be as “natural” as you can afford… the mic isn’t there to “color” your sound, only to collect it… any respectable microphone manufacturer will post their response chart online with the description of their mics…

you’ll soon learn that there are a LOT of choices to be made when picking equipment… everyone here has their own opinion about these things… maybe you should check the forum where people have posted their already recorded songs… i assure you that if you like something and ask about the equipment and technique, that you’ll be overwhelmed with info… no matter our political or cultural differences, we all have one common denominator – engineering nerds…

isaac

Before you go spending tons of cash, get a recording primer and start learning:

This is not a bad starter book.

More and more thanks folks…


I’ve just spent some time on audiominds and what a great resource…


Biggest lesson learned so far… there, and here…


I already have a jvc md260 dynamic mic (@ 20 25 years old I’d say) and what I really need is a good pre amp to get started…


But I will research more. Thanks for all the great links to get me started!!

One thing to keep in mind is that a LD condenser will be a lot more sensitive than a dynamic (which is why they are good for recording acoustic guitar and vocals).

But if you have a noisy environment to record in (eg. your bedroom) then you may end up picking up a lot of background noise (cars driving by, birds singing outside etc.)
A dynamic like an SM58/57 can still give you a good recording and maybe easier to use in a less than perfect environment.

That said I use my NT1 most of the time to record guitar and vocals inmy bedroom and just hope that no loud car drives past whilst recording :)

Rich

The bottom line is it depends what you are going to do with all the kit.

Because I do a lot of live stuff, I have equipment that I can use both for performing/leading and recording. The only kit I own that is deliberately restricted to just one of those activities is an MXL990 (very cheap) condensor mic. It only cost £69 (GB) and gives me a significantly better sound for recording than my SM57 & 58.

However, that mic was a gift and I probably wouldn’t have gone out and bought it off my own back as I was getting pretty good results already with the dynamics.

When I started out three years or so back, all I had was one cheap mic that I picked up for about £10 from the local electrical store. It wasn’t great, but it was enough to get me started, and I then picked up other (better) gear as I went along, and as I started to understand what I actually needed.

That last bit is important. We all work differently, and record different styles of music, so you need to understand your sound and how to achieve what you want (which will take time) and that will then guide your gear purchases in the future.

I have also found that eBay is a great source of recording gear - quite a lot of new stuff is available on there much cheaper then in the stores - but of course you have to know what you want/need first.

HTH,
Dave

idover, I’m going to have to disagree just a little, with all humility. :) I have an Art pre, and it’s OK, but just OK. I also have a little Bellari MP 105, same basic deal except the tube plate volage is 250 rather than 12 or whatever the Art is. With a good tube the difference between the two is not even subtle. Plus the Bellari has socketed op amps that can be switched out - the folks at Black Lion audio suggest an Analog Devices one that really made a difference. The Bellaris go for about 50 bucks on ebay.

I suggested the audix rather than the 57 b/c it’s a bit flatter, and for idiots like me easier to work with.

There are some other interesting pre options. I got a symetrix 202 pre - 2 channels, phantom, one with phase reverse - off ebay ofr about 150, and it is very very flat and clean. At rsolinski’s suggestion I also got two pres from a Yamaha pm1000, an early 70s board that was discrete, transformer based. The two plus a power supply cost about 175, and they sound an awful lot like really nice expensive preamps of the neve variety.

Other things to think about: hux, who you’ll probably find over at audio minds (I think) got a webcor tube reel to reel, and uses that as a pre for vocals with a 57, I found one of those for 25 bucks, and it has lots of tubes at high voltages and a tranny and really kicks for rock vocals. Stuff like that can be a cheap way to get a really good sound.

Also of all the low priced mics, at this point I am totally sold on Rode.

Again, I’m just learning about this, YMMV. :)

Wow I’m very thanksful for all the replies and help.


I’m going to start simple, as suggested, using a dynamic mike and a pre amp, and go from there, knowing that when the next steps come, there’s a community here willing and able to help.