Help With Recording

Hi all.

I need some help. I need to start recording as part of my learning journey. I have some but the quality is not something I’d really want to share mostly because I’m only using my logitech webcam with the included software. The mic is not for recording music at all. I have other equipment I’ve been gathering but I’ve never quite pieced anything together as I have a tendency to disappear down rabbit holes. Every time I start researching what I need to piece together a decent way to record I get overwhelmed with all that goes into recording. Next thing I know I have thousands of dollars worth of “essential” components in my shopping list. Problem is, like most, I don’t have the funds or time to get that involved. I just want a simple way to record something decent, both for learning but also for recording originals. I want super simple but with an end result that’s decent quality.

I have the following equipment so far:

Logitech C922 Pro webcam
Blue Yeti USB microphone
CAD u49 USB microphone
BASN Bsinger+Pro ear monitor
Marshall MG 100 DFX amp
Fender Acoustasonic 40 amp
Cheap acoustic, acoustic electric, and electric guitars
A computer

I’ve read that I need software like Reaper of something. With that it also seems I need an interface? I’ve looked at various ones, mostly looking at the Focusrite Scarlett line. But, again, I end up down these rabbit holes. I simply want to record something decent yet I also want the best bang for my buck. Like many, my disposable income has limits. I don’t want to buy the 4i4 if the 2i2 is good enough. I don’t want to buy the 4i4 3rd gen if the 4th gen is really the best in terms of cost versus capability. If that makes sense. I also don’t want to over-complicate things to the point I can no longer put time into learning guitar and writing songs because I’m now spending all my time learning how to operate a recording studio. I want something that’s easy to get going with but that I can also grow into without needing to buy more later. I want to be able to just record (instruments and vocals) easily at the moment yet also have what I need to do more as I grow into it. So I kind of just need someone to save me from the rabbit hole and tell me what to get to go with what I have and how to piece it together and get started. I’m hoping some here might be so inclined.

TIA!

If it helps … I’ve just bought a Focusrite 2i2 to replace an older Emu 0404 unit I’d had for years. It comes with Ableton Live Lite, and an absolute shed load of plugins. The only thing is that you’ll need different mics to use with it, as it has nowhere to accommodate them: TRS or XLR only. I have an AKG C1000S, Shure SM57 and a Rode Video mic 2 and they’re ok for what I do so far. Adding that lot up could get costly, though. Earlier generation units have the same bundles.

The Rode Video mic could offer an interesting solution, as you can hook it up to your computer, mobile phone or tablet and let it handle the audio while you record video. Experimenting with it so far gives good results, recording both acoustic and amplified in a room.

Depends on what you want exactly from them, but there are a few solutions that don’t have to break the bank.

I use focusrite 2i2 3rd gen., SM57 and Ableton live lite. I used Audicity for a long time before, but finally recently learned enough to switch to Ableton. This is simple enough now not to cause a major headache when I want to record, but it required a decent amount of time to educate myself with all of this.

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Being honest, installing, registering and unlocking the software bundles / plugins was a bigger pain than learning to set Ableton up for basic recording. Took me hours, even though it’s easy enough :grin:

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With the kit you’ve got, you could start with recording with one of your USB microphones: a USB mic is, basically, a mic with a minimal built-in audio interface.

Note that, with USB microphones, you’ll generally only be able to use one mic at a time for recording.

For basic recording, you could start with Audacity. It’s good enough for a lot of things, and simple to use. It does, however, have some limitations, especially if you want to add additional tracks with instruments.

You could step up to using a DAW which has better support for multiple tracks, including software instruments (e.g. drum tracks). Bear in mind these come with a bit of a learning curve, as they are usually designed for professional level recording.

For DAWs, I recommend you try Reaper or Ardour. Both are cheap (I think Reaper is about £60 and Ardour starts from a monthly subscription or one off off payments of just $1 to get the supported version, or a one off payment of $45 to get an upgradable version.

Ardour, by the way, is the core behind the very professional (and very expensive, at around $400) Mixbus 10 Pro DAW.

Both of these have free trial versions.

If you want to go further, you should look at a better audio interface. I recommend one with at least 2 inputs, as that will let you connect two microphones, or a mic and an instrument (such as a guitar) and record them at the same time. If you are going to go that route, you really need to step up from Audacity to a DAW.

For audio interfaces, although everyone tends to follow the bandwagon of Focusrite, I recommend the Behringer UMC series, such as a the UMC204HD. They are one of the best bang for your buck interfaces around, and have a better specification than many audio interfaces costing a lot more (including the Focusrite).

Note that your USB mics cannot be used with external audio interfaces, so you would also need to buy standard microphones to use with it.

But I would start with either Audacity, or Ardour or Reaper, and your existing USB microphones, to start to learn the basics. This will then help inform future direction and purchases.

Cheers,

Keith

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Hi Ed,

Similar journey here, been recording for a while now. I started with Audacity, really easy to use but as Keith says does have its limitations. I quickly moved to Reaper (I know others use Ableton) and have found Reaper easy to use for the level that I’m at which is basic 2 input recording and adding EQ, and Fx.

I was going down the Scarlett 2i2 road then took a detour after some advice and landed a Behringer UMC202HD that i’m very happy with and works well for me. I think I may end up moving to a mixer somewhere down the track but I think for ease and cost effective options I’m happy I went with the 2 input AI.

Good luck.

Lots of good advice from everyone, especially Majik.

I know all about going down rabbit holes, so perhaps this can also be of help:

  1. In my opinion you do need an audio interface, BUT - it doesn’t matter too much which one. At least when starting out. So you can strike that one from your list, and simply pick one that is available and within your budget. I’m a Focusrite guy myself and think they work well. The small ones will be fine for you. 2i2 means 2 inputs and 2 outputs, and that’s enough to track a guitar… or a guitar + vocals at the same time. That’s all you need.

  2. If you’re ok with software then I suggest trying to learn the basics of a DAW. I recommend Reaper, it’s cheap AND has a very long free trial… so you have plenty of time to try it out without investing a single dollar. Lot’s of people around here can help you get started with Reaper, which might also be of value…

Good luck!

Kasper

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Ed, seems like ya got most everything you need.
Short of a daw and interface and a regular mic.

I’m by far no recording specialist in any sense of the word. But I am able to lay down a tune.

imho, just get your focusrite. I’m hip, there’s a bunch of them out there. But seems like many use the focusrite, me too. I just got it since it seemed it was popular with others. I still have no idea about the other interfaces. All I know is that the focusrite does what I need it to do. I went 2i2 bundle. I figured that way at the very least the mic and headphones would be compatible with the 2i2. After 15 or so recordings, I find this combo works well enough for my minor home recording. You’ll also cure your only having usb mic’s issue as the focusrite comes with a condenser mic. I assume it’s not a great mic. But it does work. Albeit, being a condenser mic, it records everything, and I mean everything, like air flow from my furnace being on in the winter. It’s very sensitive.

Nobody here seems to recommend waveform daw. I don’t know why. It has worked well enough for me. Granted, I don’t understand near what it’s capable of. But in my recordings, I don’t want to add a bunch of stuff to it. I want to record me. That it does and it lets me control and mix me with others or separate parts too. It’s also just plain free. Just download it and your hip. I’ve not been told I have to buy in and I’ve been using it for well over a year now.

I don’t think I have a bunch of recording gear.
Just them two things above.
I run my interface out’s to my stereo. This eliminates the need for powered speakers.
I use the headphones mostly through the focusrite. You will need to be able to hear what you’ve recorded, but not have it be auditable to the mic. Hence the need for headphones of some kind (looks like ya might have that covered).

I don’t have a fancy modeling amp. I don’t use line out of the amp to the interface. I either plug my guitar right into the focusrite, or put a mic on my guitar amp, the mic to the focusrite. Both ways get my sound to my daw where what I recorded can be manipulated.

This is a big obsticale imho. You will spend much time learning to operate a daw. At least I did/do. I’m still only scratching the surface of what it’s capable of I think. But the simple moves (skills) to operate the daw can be learned pretty quick. The simple skills will be enough to get what you want to get what you’ve played onto the computer.
The focusrite interface, and I assume others are just kinda plug and play, I don’t do much with them other than change what I plug into it.
The daw is the obsticale to me.

This comment is where I’m really deficient in my recording skills.
I had to get a movie program (davinci resolve). This allows me to mix a video of me + add the audio track that is better than the logtech c922 (that’s what I got too) can do. And I agree. The logtech audio just plain sucks for recording music. Unusable. All the logtech does for me is capture my video. Then ya gotta mix the two, audio/video together in the movie program. I’ve not done many of these recordings as of yet and I find it very painful to figure out how to do it. But, each time I do it, it does get a shade easier.

One last thing. I had a teacher for when I was getting gear to record with.
The teaching was done because I was collaborating and to do that, ya gotta be on the same page. My teacher was way more skilled in recording than me. I knew nothing so having someone show me the ropes so to speak was a real big help.

Bottom line.
Do the recording thing. It really is fun.

Do either of your amps have a usb port that you can connect directly to the pc?
If not, have you tried connecting the headphones socket on the amp to the mic socket on your pc? I seem to recall that’s how I got my guitar sound into my pc (via my Trio+ pedal) before I figured out how to do it via the amp.
No matter which DAW route you go down, each one will be a rabbit hole and will require many hours of fiddling to learn and get what you want.
The advantage of Reaper is the extensive online tutorial library as well as community members you can ask.
If you’re not happy with your usb mic sound, it’s well worth singing into your mobile phone and sending it to your pc. Many phone mics are fine :smiley:
As you can see, I’m a fellow 'don’t want to buy’ guy :rofl:

Ed, what exactly do you want to record. If simply playing and singing an acoustic then I would imagine your Blue Yeti would do a reasonable job to get started. And you can make the recording in OBS (an application to make video recordings). You would plug in the webcam and USB mic and be able to make recordings good enough to assess your progress and gather feedback.

May be more difficult if an electric guitar, but as Brian says there may be the means to plug the amp into the PC via USB.

You may then run into a challenge as others mentioned if wanting to record two sources in the PC via USB concurrently.

But if playing an electric with it amplified softly and singing, the USB mic should work well enough to start.

I think you only need worry about the DAWs like Reaper if you want to start mixing multiple tracks together, such as recording the electric guitar and then adding the vocal afterwards.

Thanks all for the responses! Lots of helpful information. Still a bit intimidating but the feedback makes it a little less so. Maybe the rabbit hole won’t be quite as deep now.

Most likely I’ll end up going with a Focusrite 4i4 4th gen. I may never fully utilize all of it’s capabilities but they’ll be there if and when. For the DAW I’ll look into Audacity and Reaper to start.

I do not have a USB port on either amp. I did manage to get my Blue Yeti working with Logitech Capture yesterday. With it’s pattern settings it actually did a decent job on both instrument and vocals despite my own shortcomings in both. But I feel it’s decent enough to capture basic recordings for my own use. I stumbled across a thing called ASIO4ALL. It’s and audio driver that is supposed to let you use multiple mic inputs. I’ve not yet studied it but perhaps it could allow me to use the Blue Yeti for vocals and CAD u49 for instrument and still record with Logitech Capture until I get a DAW setup going.

As for what I want to record… everything. Not necessarily true right this second as I’m mostly concerned with getting some decent quality recordings for learning purposes. I have a bit of a chaotic mind though so I’m learning whilst simultaneously trying to play original music. So I’m going to need a better way to do that. Ultimately I will need to be able to play and sing simultaneously but, for now, I will need to be able to do each separately as well. I’m no vocalist by any stretch so I’ll need to be able to record the music and vocals separately so I can get the best sounding vocals, mostly for my own self confidence as I learn and grow. And at some point I’ll want the tools to be able to make the best quality recordings I can and have a good deal of flexibility to record whatever whether acoustic, electric, vocals, or any other instrument I decide I need to learn.

Again, thanks for the feedback. Very much appreciated. Hopefully I’ll soon have some kind of recording I think is good enough to share so I can come back and get more feedback.

Recording with Fender Acousticsonic

Check out the diagram at the link(a picture is worth 1000 words). You would need to confirm that this would work. This is good for audio/Video recording to computer. If you just want to capture a single instrument and a vocal I would not suggest a DAW now. This set up would work to record Electric Guitar or Miced Acoustic Guitar and a Vocal. You would need a new Mic and an interface/Mixer. This is an option using the acousticsonic to shape your tone for your guitar and your vocal before being recorded. Audio to the computer would be Mono. I think this would get you started with minimal cost for now. If you stick with it you can spend more later as your journey and experience progresses.

I think a DAW is a steep learning curve in the beginning. DAW’s are good if you want to lay down multiple track or over dub but may be overkill at this point. If you want a rhythm, 2 vocals, and another instrument than you would want a DAW but you don’t need one at this point. You could always add a DAW later to this set up.

Phil

Yes, this might work for you although it has a reputation of being a little tricky to use in this way.

Others to check out include JACK and Voicemeeter. JACK is free (and very good) but only offers flexible audio routing. Voicemeeter is commercial, but also provides a mixing panel (there’s a free trial).

I’ve never used Voicemeeter, but I’ve used JACK for years.

I would seriously suggest considering the Behringer UMC404HD. It has more capabilities than the Focusrite: 4 combo XLR inputs (compared with 2 on the 4i4), physical Line/Inst and pad settings on the main inputs, more flexible monitor/headphones settings, and XLR outputs.

(It also has a send/return capability, but I doubt you would use that anyway).

The UMC range also tested to have a lower pre-amp noise floor than the Focusrite, although with modern audio interfaces, they are all so low that most of us couldn’t tell the difference between a $100 interface and a $1,000 one.

What’s more important for someone who is funds constrained (and who of us isn’t) it’s $100 cheaper than the Focusrite.

If you don’t need more than 2 combo inputs, then you can opt for the UMC204HD, which is $150 cheaper.

For balance, the Focusrite does have some fancy LED monitoring on the front panel (on the Behringer you would use the input monitoring on the computer, which is what you should be using anyway), has software control of the Line/Inst buttons using a separate app for those who have problems with physical buttons :roll_eyes:, and an option they call “air mode” which colours the input with EQ and additional harmonics. Oh, and they have an auto-gain adjustment mode, which could be genuinely useful.

The Focusrite 4th gen also uses USB C instead of the older USB A, but, frankly, the main difference in practice is the cable is slightly different. IMO the older USB-A connectors are more rugged and less likely to be damaged.

If you are looking at multi-tracking, I would dive in and start looking at DAWs as you will need one sooner or later, especially if you plan to record multiple tracks at a time.

The great thing is that just about any DAW you choose will have an extensive online tutorial library as well as lots of community support.

Cheers,

Keith

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Thanks for the additional info. The picture helps for sure. I’ll definitely need to look into a DAW. Playing and singing at the same time is still very much a work in progress. When you don’t know how to do either, it can be challenging to focus on doing your best with both at the same time. I’ll look into the Behringer as well.

Can you please list the website where you download waveform DAW? Thank you

Randall, looks like Matt’s got ya covered.
tracktion.com is it. Thanks Matt.
I like waveform because it works and it’s just plain free. I get solicited a little bit to upgrade, but not to much compared to other free stuff.
It’s really a good program and I’ve been more than satisfied with it’s performance.
There is tutorials on the you tube as to how to make it work. If ya never seen a DAW, like I hadn’t, you’ll need some kind of instruction as to how to get it to work. I did anyway.
Good luck.

Yes, every DAW you use will have a learning curve. That’s partly because most people haven’t got a background in things like audio routing, gain staging, bussing, channel strips, etc. and need to get to grips with those concepts as well as learning the DAW application itself.

The great news is, almost whatever DAW you choose, there’s a wealth of online support and resources out there for it.

Cheers,

Keith