Techno Question

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jim stone
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Techno Question

Post by jim stone »

If there is a place where this should go, the mods are welcome to put it there.
I think people here are as well positioned to advise me on this matter
as anybody.

I want to play flute with another musician, a string musician of some sort. I have tunes
and duets in my head that I can't play alone. This other musician isn't forthcoming,
I'm afraid. But it occurs to me that I can play guitar and mandolin. So now I need a way to record
myself so I can play, and record duets and maybe trios. It would be nice to have three or four tracks.

The difficulty is that I got off the recording-bus after the age of cassettes. How does one go about
getting the equipment to make multiple track recordings? Recommendations welcome. Thanks.
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Terry McGee
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Re: Techno Question

Post by Terry McGee »

Hi Jim

These days most people do multitrack using a DAE (Digital Audio Editor), sometimes called a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). These run on computers of most persuasions. You can have as many tracks as your computer's resources will allow (and that's usually lots!). The cheapest is Audacity (free!) but it does lack some desirable features for multitrack work. You might like to look at Reaper. It's only $60 for domestic users, and they offer you a 60-day free trial to help suck you in.

Suggest don't start your free trial until you have everything else ready to go. Everything else will include:
- a microphone and whatever you need to connect it to the computer (a USB condenser mic is nice and they are really cheap these days!)
- a suitable stand for your mic (the back of a kitchen chair and some duct tape if you have blown all your money on flutes!)
- some (preferably enclosed) headphones, to listen to playback while adding the additional tracks
- decent speakers are nice for mixing down. You could snitch them from the HiFi ....
- a couple of sets worked out in principle and practiced as much as you can without the technology....

https://www.reaper.fm/

I'm sure there are many of us who can help with any issues you encounter.
jim stone
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Re: Techno Question

Post by jim stone »

Great. Thanks!
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Peter Duggan
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Re: Techno Question

Post by Peter Duggan »

Terry McGee wrote:You might like to look at Reaper. It's only $60 for domestic users, and they offer you a 60-day free trial to help suck you in.
Definitely REAPER. It's not only inexpensive, but both powerful and user-friendly. It's used by many professionals, but also my choice for teaching beginners at school where I need to get them going quickly and remember how to do things.

For a good demonstration/starter, I'd recommend Hop Pole Studios' first two REAPER tutorials on YouTube:
Reaper DAW 101 Part 1:- Basics and Getting Started
Reaper DAW 101 Part 2:- Routing
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plunk111
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Re: Techno Question

Post by plunk111 »

You might also look at one of the Zoom recorders. I have an older Zoom H4 that allows up to 4 tracks and even provides a metronome to help you sync your playing. I’m sure the newer ones are even more capable. Sound quality is also excellent.

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jim stone
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Re: Techno Question

Post by jim stone »

Thanks to all. I did buy an older Zoom a decade or more ago, but couldn't really figure out
how to operate it. As mentioned I'm a refugee from the Age of Papyrus and Cassettes. However
I may have an opportunity to see if it's more refugee
-friendly now.
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Re: Techno Question

Post by fatmac »

My Zoom can be used as a USB mic, maybe yours too. :)
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Re: Techno Question

Post by swizzlestick »

My first generation Zoom made a fine USB microphone before I moved on to a more conventional mic. My Zoom came with a screw-on handle that allowed me to use an inexpensive desktop microphone stand. It was a versatile setup for recording one or two people in a small setting.

I am also a big fan of Reaper -- one of the best purchases I have ever made. But it does have a bit of a learning curve. One of my friends, now a dedicated Reaper user on the Mac platform, found Garageband to be a good, inexpensive software to start on.
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Re: Techno Question

Post by jimhanks »

Some good PC suggestions. If you have an iPad I could give you some more suggestions for that.
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Re: Techno Question

Post by Tor »

I've used a Zoom H4 in the past - it has good mics (stereo), and that's what I used to record guitar.
But I put it somewhere I couldn't find it, so recently I bought a Zoom H2N to replace it. The H2N is even easier (or even much easier) to use. Basically it's just to turn a wheel with your thumb to check that the sound doesn't go above -12dB, and then press 'record' (and it has a pre-recording feature so that it startes recorcding 2 seconds *before* you press record), and press it again when done. Then connect cable to PC and copy the file(s). Mix&match in Audacity. Maybe it's possible to overdub on the H2N.. I won't bother with figuring it out, as I can do it on the PC. The H4 can definitely overdub. If you think you can figure out how to use the H4N (the later model) then that would definitely be a good option Probably the perfect option - record one track, record another, listen (via headphones), copy result to PC.
The H2N can by the way of course record directly into Audacity (or Cubase or Wavelab, included software. But I use Linux so I don't use Windows or Mac software).

The main difference between my old H4 and the H2N is that the former also has two XLR inputs.. but I never used that. The other thing is that I couldn't immediately figure out which way the mics are (the H2N has 5 of them, but they are 'hidden' unlike the H4), and in X/Y mode the direction is opposite of whatever the other mode is called. But by studying the manual I figured it out. Oh, and the H2N has much better battery time. 20 hours vs (IIRC) 4 or thereabouts.

In many ways I also come from the age of papyrus and cassettes.. so unless it's very easy to do I usually end up with something that stays in the drawer. So I've sometimes been thinking that maybe the Zoom R8 (or similar) is something I could handle.. it has real handles and properly (visually, mechanically) separated channels (instead of clicking through menues in a single LCD screen) and is not expensive. But I would need external mics then, so no. Not yet anyway. The H2N has mics and recording and files and USB mass storage interface (or USB mic interface), which is something I can handle. Audacity isn't so tricky either.
Last edited by Tor on Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Techno Question

Post by fatmac »

Like Tor, I don't want to be searching through menus, so I bought the H1, even simpler to use. :D

(I too, use Audacity on Linux, when recording.)
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Re: Techno Question

Post by highland-piper »

We have a zoom H2, and H4n and an H5. The H4n and the H5 both have 4 track recorders built in that work basically like 4 track cassette recorders. You can record a stereo pair of tracks with the built in mics, then play it back through headphones and record a stereo pair to the other two tracks. Then you can mix them and bounce the four down to two and add another pair. With an external mic, or with any electric instrument, you can record single tracks.

To me, it's a lot easier to record on the computer because the computer allows you to record as many tracks as you like (use as many takes as necessary and then pick the best). It also lets you see the waveform, so you can click into a spot visually. This is really handy if you just let it run as you play the part six or eight times and then stop it. You can click right before the last take and review it, and then easily delete the rest. With the zoom recorders you have to FF and RW through the part to find the areas of interest.

So if your guitar/mando have pizeo pickups and if your musicianship skills are high, then the zoom recorders will get you up and running with minimal expense and minimal time. To get set up recording on a PC you'll need to buy an audio interface, a microphone, and software, and then learn how to make all those things work together. Ultimately, the PC gives you more power and more flexibility. The zoom gives you portability.
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Re: Techno Question

Post by Tor »

The last few days my wife and I did some acoustic recording, and I used the H2N for that. This time I didn't use the standalone record feature, I just plugged it into my laptop's USB port and selected USB mic (instead of mass storage) in the selection that popped up in the H2N LCD when I connected.
I used Audacity on a Linux laptop, and the H2N showed up as an USB mic without any trickery from my side. So we recorded lots of tracks, the only thing I did on the H2N was to use the wheel to adjust the level (to the recommended -12dB as per its booklet), which, incidentally, was a match between the H2N LCD display and the Audacity level meter, very convenient.
The result was as good as I could possibly have hoped. And to zero additional cost.. just using the H2N that I already had, plus Audacity (free).
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