Home Recording

Explore why and what you need to start recording yourself playing the guitar at home!


View the full lesson at Home Recording | JustinGuitar

Do you have any recommendations for guides to Logic Pro X? Or are you even considering doing one yourself?

I prefer Presonus Studio One. But just like any other professional quality software, there’s a steep learning curve if you’re a beginner.

Looks like I will have to miss out on this one seeing as I’ve not even got a laptop,let alone any pc equipment

@Bam actually you can get away with a lot lot lot less…just a phone will work perfectly well to get started and if you want to see what can be done visit #all-about-your-music:audio-video-of-you-playing section of the forum where people regularly post their recordings.

if you want to record yourself slightly better (and don’t have a PC/Laptop) you might want to look at some standalone recorders by Zoom (H2, H4 would be obvious ones) or Tascam do similar…one step further and you can get some basic multi track HW recorders like the Boss BDR80, Tascam dp004,006,008 or Zoom R8 etc. Ebay is probably your friend for these second hand.

If you’ve got a ipad or other tablet plenty of options there for running DAW e.g. Garage band and then you just need an interface like Focusrite 2i2 or something similar/cheaper.

Plenty of options for every budget.

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A daw recommendation I would like to add would be Reaper. Reaper’s completely free and has a lot of tutorials on youtube; if you get into music production, it’s also great for that.

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@SoGuitar Vincenzo, Reaper offers a free trial period for 60 days I think it is, then it’s a paid product, but in my opinion very affordable. As well as the vast number of videos put up by Kenny Goioa on reaper.fm, he has an excellent channel on YT Reaper Mania

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A mixer is a super handy thing for a musician to have, and many mixers have USB connectivity so they can serve as an interface to a computer. Then, with free software like Audacity, you can record what you are doing.

The computer can also send sound out to the mixer, so whatever music references you are using, like backing tracks, you can get that in the mix too.

The Mackie Pro v3 line is a good value and they even include hi-Z instrument inputs. Maybe a Focusrite interface sounds better, I don’t know, but I have found my Mackie and Yamaha mixers with USB to be real workhorses.

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That is true. It’s not 100% free. You can keep evaluating your free trial, but since it costs $60, it’s more worth it to pay. Reaper mania by Kenny Goioa is one of my favorite channels for Reaper. Hop Pole Studios is another channel I love; Adam Steel goes through everything a beginner should know in order series of videos. Sorry for rambling a bit there but thank you for pointing out the flaw in my comment. Cheers!

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@SoGuitar Thanks for the link to Hop Pole Studios Vincenzo.

Very useful ‘rambling’ :grinning: I’ve bookmarked it.

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I think a mixer (with USB interface) shines if you want to setup a small homestudio where you can leave it setup permanently, monitors plugged in and use with multiple devices. At the lower end pricing tends to be quite similar nowadays to standalone USB interfaces such as the focusrite, although they tend to have a smaller footprint. The differences usually between these devices are the quality of the preamps. Quite often difficult to tell unless you can compare things side by side but they do exist. Also some of the cheaper mixers with USB don’t have automatic 2 way interfaces so you press a button to allow the sound to go OUT to your PC/Laptop and then have to press it again if you want to listen back through it. One which has a full 2 in/2 out interface is worth it.

The obvious big advantage of the mixer approach is that for playing live you can do some onboard EQ, FX and panning between tracks. Just as you’d expect as they are designed for live use. Obviously with an interface you’d be doing all of that in your DAW. For those planning to do a virtual OM it’s an advantage over the pure interface as you can mix your sound nicely whereas you don’t have that control on an interface.

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Just be wary of mixers which only provide 2 stereo outputs (ie L and R). These will provide a nice pre-mixed output using the EQ and onboard FX if available but not individual track inputs for recording. Behringer Xenyx range fall into this group. Great for a mixed output for live or online open mics but restrictive when recording. Having bought 3 Xenyxs over the years, I learnt the hard way when I started singing and playing and found I could not split vox and gtr for recording. Check first or check here if unsure. BTW I now have 18 in 20 out so well sorted! :sunglasses:

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Actually I think a lot fall into this category…forcing you to record one track at a time (which actually if you are mixing a final song is no bad thing). On most interfaces you get individual outputs into your DAW so can record - for instance - the guitar on one track and the vocal on another.

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TL;DR: use a mixer for live use, and an audio interface for recording.

Yes, most mixers with USB interfaces only support 2in-2out audio. Typically the output to the PC comes from the master bus, although it may be possible to change this. But it does mean you can only record one thing at a time (or two if you are recording mono and pan the channels hard left/right).

That “one thing” could be an individual instrument, or a mix of several instruments. But the result will be a pre-mixed track which you cannot then separate into individual instruments.

Personally, I would not recommend a typical mixer of this sort to anyone for recording use. I would only recommend it if they needed mixing for live use, where they need to mix multiple tracks into a front-of-house PA or similar.

The input from the PC to the mixer may appear as a separate stereo channel, which allows you to mix that as if it was a physical input. Often this is a switch on one of the stereo input channels which allows you to switch between treating the channel as a real physical input channel, or to use the USB from the PC. By the way, this can be useful for “mix minus” setups that are often used for podcasting.

On analogue mixers, like the Xenyx series, the number of busses and the routing options are often quite limited.

Unlike a mixer, an audio interface will normally match the number of recording/playback channels with the physical inputs, so you can record multiple inputs at a time onto separate tracks.

There are, these days, devices which blur the lines somewhat. The Behringer XR18 that I have, for instance, is a fully-fledged mixer for live use, but can also be used as an 18in-18out USB audio interface.

Such devices provide massive flexibility. If you really wanted you could, for instance, mix tracks 1 to 6 into an aux bus, and then send that stereo mix to the PC on 2 channels so it got recorded into a single track. And, at the same time, you could record tracks 7-12 into individual channels on the USB and, therefore into individual channels on the DAW.

However, I’m really not sure why you would want to do this in practice. If you are recording, it’s generally best to keep the tracks separate and then you can mix them in the DAW.

And this flexibility also adds a lot of complexity.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend such devices for home recording use because it does add cost and complexity, and you are unlikely to need the flexibility of such a unit for most recording purposes.

I have one because I sometimes use it for live performances, where the mixing capabilities are required. For instance, we recently used it for our local Pantomime production where we were mixing multiple mics (stage mics plus radio mics), sound effects and backing music, and the individual instruments of the band into a PA. At the same time we were creating a sub-mix for the band’s monitors.

When I’m not using it as a live mixer, I use it as my main audio interface. In this case I map analogue inputs 1-16 through to individual channels 1-16 on the USB (and, hence, on up to 16 individual tracks on my DAW)

I also have a sub-mix onto Bus 1 & 2 (bus 1 is the left channel, bus 2 is the right channel) which goes to channels 17 and 18 on the USB which I can use for applications where I want a stereo mix of all of the inputs:

Cheers,

Keith

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For those that don’t understand what a “bus” is, it’s basically where individual tracks get mixed to. Every mixer will have a “master bus” which is connected to the master outputs (i.e. to the speakers) Normally, master buses are stereo, whilst individual channel inputs are mono, although some mixers combine adjacent mono channels to create stereo channels.

Many mixers will also have an “aux bus” (or several of them). An mixer with one or more aux busses lets you connect selected tracks into the aux bus to create an intermediate mix. You can then connect this intermediate mix (or “sub-mix”) to the master bus.

A reason you might want to use an intermediate/sub mix with an aux bus is because you want to group together individual tracks and apply something, such as level adjustments, EQ, or compression, to all of those tracks at the same time.

A good scenario where this might be useful is when recording drums, where you may have multiple microphones on different parts of the kit. You can then combine these inputs into an aux bus and make sure the relative levels of each of the drum mic inputs into the aux bus are correct. Then you can feed this into the master bus and have a single fader to control the overall level of the drums as a whole.

Another scenario in a live setting is where you want to create “monitor mixes” which get fed to the band’s monitors. Usually these will have a different mix than the main output going to the PA.

Note that modern DAWs also have a similar bus concept. The difference really is that on a mixer the bus is used for mixing live audio, whilst on a DAW it’s mostly for mixing pre-recorded tracks. Although it is possible to use a multi-channel audio interface and a DAW to perform a similar function to a mixer for live use.

Cheers,

Keith

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I tried some DAWs and for Windows user I can recommend:

Cakewalk (former Sonar)

Reaper

Abelton

There are a lot of DAWs and they are all a bit different in their workflow. I can highly recommend to try out different DAWs (they all have free trials) and find out what suites you best.
I struggled with Reaper for years and then realised that the other ones like Cakewalk & Abelton work a lot better for me.

Also it depends a bit on the kind of music you want to do. Reaper might be best for a classical band set up, where you record real instruments, while for example Abelton might be better, if you want to do electronic music and use virtual instruments.

P.S.: I’m not sure about Audiacity. The last times I used it, was many years ago, but then it wasn’t a full DAW but rather a audio recording & editing tool.

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Any suggestions for those of us who just want to record a phone or tablet video with better than built in mic sound?

I don’t want anything fancy and expensive. I also don’t want to have to mix the audio and video to put them together.

The only place I am likely to post anything is here.

What I am struggling with is recording from my amp (katana mkii) to the built in video of my android tabled or iPhone. I can record to a DAW, but no video.

@Jamolay

Joshua, to be sure I follow correctly. Are you plugging the amp into the tablet or iPhone via USB? I don’t know much about how input sources are managed on either the tablet or the iPhone but would expect that if you can pick up the amp as an audio source for a DAW on the device then you should be able to configure the video recorder to use the same audio source.

Perhaps a decent external mic that plugs into the tablet or iPhone is the way to go?

Or you can get an audio interface that plugs into the iPhone. Lots of options, look here for example: https://www.sweetwater.com/c1058--iPad_iPhone_Interfaces

Maybe the same could be true for the tablet?

Do you have a PC or laptop?

I make videos very simply ie no mixing, now on the PC.

I should probably try the PC.

The particular tablet I am using, a Galaxy note S3, specifically can’t do this via usb. It is a quirk unique to it. I also can’t figure out how to use its trrs input, which also has a pin out unique to it🤦🏼‍♂️.

I really don’t want to buy a new tablet. I will have to figure out the iPhone.

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Joshua, if you use the PC then you can use OBS to record the video. You can set it up to use any audio source on the PC and even route audio to it from a DAW. You can either use a USB webcam for the video or stream video from your phone (with or without audio) or even both concurrently. Naturally there’s a learning curve but not too steep and a few Topics that get into it, either in #gear-tools-talk:hardware-software-recroding or #community-open-mic-events:tech-talk-audio-video-help-setup-help-for-oms. Once you have it set up then making videos becomes simple with no need to use a DAW.