Want to start recording at home... which way to go???

Discussion in 'Home Recording and Studios' started by srd4d, May 12, 2016.

  1. srd4d

    srd4d Squier Talker

    Apr 2, 2016
    guys,Ive wanted to record some music for a long time and decide to start researching and gathering some equipment...
    what is idealy the best way to start a simple recording set up.
    I have guitars,amp,effects,keyboard,interface etc.. just never got a round to using the recording side of things

    do I go for a multi track unit(like the zoom r8/16 etc.... with built in mic,effects,bass simulator etc... or go software based program,but guessing Ill still need an interface for a Mic and guitar.. the one I have is single input only beringher unit..
    where do I start... what do you home recorders recomend...
    dbrian66 likes this.
  2. ElRey67

    ElRey67 Squier-holic

    Jan 10, 2016
    Chandler, AZ
    I'm just now getting set up for recording, but haven't started yet. Weeks before, I did tons of research on interfaces, daw's, etc. I ended up going with the Focusrite 2i4. It has four inputs. I plan on only using two: mic and guitar. While the 2i2 would seem to fit my needs, the only reason why I went with the 4 model is because it had one feature not found on the 2: a PAD button. This eliminates clipping for high gain frequencies from a electric guitar or mic'd amp.
    The 2i2 had this problem and a lot of users complained about that one limitation.
    However, overall, Focusrite has received very positive user ratings.
    Hope this helps in case you go the Focusrite route.
  3. SoundDesign

    SoundDesign Squier-holic

    I started with a Motu Microbook II and Reaper on Windows, which is a fairly "on the cheap" way to go. When I upgraded it was driven by 3 things:
    1. The friends I was collaborating with were all Mac / Logic Pro
    2. I never bonded with Motu's "Cuemix" software; and
    3. The single XLR input really handcuffed me.
    My interim step was to build a Hackintosh and I had the Motu running on that under Yosemite with the occasional hiccups. Upgrading to El Capitan "broke" the Motu entirely and where making music was concerned, I ran out of patience with the Hackintosh.

    I am now using a 15" Macbook Pro w/ Retina and a Focusrite Clarett 2Pre. It's probably overkill but it does crush the (potential) latency problem and gives me that "everything just works" platform I wanted.

    If you don't have friends / colleagues in the mix, you are basically looking for the best marriage between the computer hardware / OS you have, the DAW you like/want to use and the Interface with the hardware features and proven track record for working well with your OS, hardware and DAW.

    Drivers/support are really important. Without them, the nicest Interface in the world is like a Pontiac GTO with no tires...
    nitro, dbrian66 and IronSchef like this.
  4. ksandbergfl

    ksandbergfl Squier-Meister

    Sep 7, 2015
    the easiest way to start home recording is to get an all-in-one unit like a Tascam digital portastudio... plug in your instruments, press the Record button and go. this method is the easiest and fastest for laying down ideas/demos.. you dont want to get bogged down with computer problems or tweaking 99 parameters, you'll spend more time troubleshooting than making music.

    if yu already have an iPhone or iPad, then the logical choice is Garageband. It costs $5. Also, buy an Apple "camera adapter" for your iPhone/iPad - this will give your device a USB port. then get USB audio monitors like the Alesia M1 or Akai RPM3's... these serve as both the USB audio interface and the studio monitors. The Akai RPM3 has 3 pairs of audio inputs, so you can leave your guitar, keyboard, and microphone all plugged into the back. Garageband will also recognize a USB keyboard plugged into the camera adapter, so you can play the synths/pads/piano patches that come with Garageband. Garageband is surprisingly full featured and IMHO it serves the needs of 99% of home recordists. if you've already invested in Apple iPhone/iPad, leverage your investment and get Garageband.

    if you have money to burn and time to kill, then there are many "pro-Sumer" options out there, like Apple Logic, ProTools, Roland Cakewalk. etc etc. I would recommend not getting hung up on features, but focus on what helps you get your music recorded most efficiently and with the least headaches.
    dbrian66, so1om, LutherBurger and 2 others like this.
  5. plangentmusic

    plangentmusic Squier-holic

    Jul 4, 2012
    Garage Band, hand's down.
    dbrian66 and IronSchef like this.
  6. gearobsessed

    gearobsessed Squier-holic

    Aug 21, 2013
    new zealand
    Get the focusrite scarlet 2i2 package, and garage band or reaper. image.jpg
    duzie, dbrian66, Caddy and 2 others like this.
  7. IronSchef

    IronSchef Dr. Squier

    Jun 18, 2012
    Flew here on my Dragonfly
    Great advice so far!

    I'm assembling a small setup right now myself - just got one of these:



    I have heard that the Focusrite gear is great as well, but I have had a couple of different Mackies over the years and they all have been fantastic - had to go w/ what I know (and its a great deal for $100)
  8. grizmit

    grizmit Squier-holic

    Jan 25, 2015
    If you have a good computer (Mac or PC) I definitely recommend a software DAW over multitrack hardware recorder - way more flexibility with editing and mixing. A graphical user interface is key as well. And the ability to apply an endless supply of third party VST amp modelers or post effects is crazy fun for tonal exploration. Best of all, it's all "non-destructive" editing, so you can change your mind at any point in the post process and turn your Marshall stack into a Fender tweed and back again if you like. I'm a Mac guy, so Garageband is the one I learned on. Simple and powerful. I now use LogicX. These days, most decent audio interfaces come bundled with software like Ableton or similar. So maybe start there.

    Tons of I/O interface options out there. Prices vary wildly - I lean toward TASCAM for price conscious meets good quality. Not sure what all you'll be recording (number of inputs?), but for starting out I recommend the US 2x2 USB unit (or US 4x4 for room to grow). Has both line and/or mic with preamp (xlr) inputs and also a midi input which is important for keyboards, control surfaces, drum machines that use traditional midi ports (not USB). It comes bundled with Cakewalk and Ableton Live 9 DAWs - both lite versions, but will get you started.

    FWIW, I use the big brother to these, the US 1800. I need a lot of inputs (it has 16) for recording live band with acoustic kit and midi keyboard. It connects via USB to my MBP, works great, never had an issue. Fantastic sound quality at 96khz/24 bit. Mic preamps are very nice which is key. Good luck!

    main-2.jpg main-1.jpg
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  9. novamax

    novamax Squier-Meister

    Aug 18, 2015
    I'd also suggest software DAW - It takes a while to understand the editing details, but the most elementary things work intuitive, and the rest you can learn when need arises.

    If you're a Mac guy, there is plenty advice above. I'm not, so I'd suggest Reaper - Real fair pricing for hobbyists, test for free for 30 days (or even 60?), and written from musicians for musicians.

    As for the interface, I was flashed by the high end quality of the Steinberg UR-22 with Yamaha pre-amps (extremely low noise, a lot of amplification). It lacks the pad which I miss when recording hot pickups / humbuckers, because the pre-amp works so strong even on position 0, but that can be easily added in other ways (adapter with soldered resistors, or extra box if needed). For a good 100 bucks prefect for my needs (I record one track at a time). Had Midi in/out as well.
    dbrian66 likes this.
  10. Toddcaster64

    Toddcaster64 Squier-holic

    Apr 1, 2013
    I love the Focusrite, and have the 2i4 as well. Works great and the MIDI is nice to have. With keyboard emulations in the DAW software, my old Yamaha keyboard suddenly becomes a vintage Vox Continental.

    As for software, if I'm using the Mac I stick with Garage Band, while on the pC I use a program called Mixcraft, made by s company called Acoustica. It is an amazing combination of a very powerful program that is extremely user-friendly and not that expensive. I've been very impressed with it. As opposed to Ableton Lite which came with my 2i4 and was the exact opposite as far as being used-friendly.
    dbrian66 and ElRey67 like this.
  11. chemobrainkid

    chemobrainkid Squier-Meister

    Sep 20, 2016
    I have been working with Propellerheads Reason from it first release. I'm upto Reason8.1 I am going to have to get a new P.C with the intel i5 processor and windows 10. Reason has an user interface that a dyslexic can use, that would be me. Reason record very nicely, thank you. editing in Reason 8.1 is so cool tI'm talking about the dog barking spoken word with cadences that are out there but work in time to a loop or or mixed track of rhythmic weirdness that would make Phillip Glass or Terry Riley proud . these were created in Reason
    dbrian66 likes this.
  12. StillSourDiesel

    StillSourDiesel Squier-Nut

    Dec 21, 2013
    I use Reaper and an box that i can plug 2 things in at once and record. Brand of choice. I also a guitar sim on my pc that uses VST plugins for in Reaper.

    I didnt set it up, not surr how it all works, sort of, but i onow how to make it turn on and record.

    Well, I did. Until i packed it up in a box to move..... May be a different story when i set it all back up in a couple weeks.
    dbrian66 likes this.
  13. radiotech

    radiotech Dr. Squier

    Apr 23, 2014
    I've heard almost everyone I know in meatspace who has attempted home recording in the last decade say almost these exact words

    Actually, it's free now. Great suggestion on the camera adapter and monitors over mediocre offerings like iRig.

    On the ultra-cheap/simple: Any device that is seen as a windows USB audio in (not ASIO), can record to Audacity (yes, I know there's a ASIO install hack, but I said SIMPLE). This is truly the quick,
    Cheap, & dirty way to get tracks down, but I digress...

    The main thing you need in an interface is live monitoring (which fortunately, most currently built devices have), this solves the much hated and feared "latency" issues. Yes, it's nice to have a low latency device/computer setup, but with a live monitoring device, on even an older PC, you'll hardly notice any issue (with not a big cash outlay). Basically this means the device has a place for you to plug a headphone/monitor in on the front end of your device (before the signal is digitized). Older devices didn't have this, so you would hear the signal after it was digitized and came back out of the computer (converted again back to analog), causing a partial to multi-second delay that was the bane of many failed home recording enthusiasts.

    All the devices mentioned here meet that requirement, as does my years old Line 6 ux1 (still being made after eight years, its that good).

    I'll also applaud the Garage Band and Reaper
    dbrian66 likes this.
  14. Davey

    Davey Squier-holic

    Mar 31, 2015
    Monroe WA
    Myself, I like hands on digital stand alone units. I only recently started getting equipment again........ well two years ago :) still have the old Yamaha MT 120 that I bought new in 93.

    Bought and sold off a few trying things out and settled on the Yamaha AW16G which is a 16 track with CD write etc.
    I really liked the Korg D-16 but the fan noise bothered me. It had adjustable parameter drums and very good effects and a touch screen.

    Eventually I would like to get the big Roland , can't remember the numbers but it is HUGE and will take a VGA monitor, but they are about 600 bucks used. Almost traded my browning 40 cal for one but they guy got nervous.
    dbrian66 likes this.
  15. gearobsessed

    gearobsessed Squier-holic

    Aug 21, 2013
    new zealand
    I've had tascam, presonus, Yamaha and focusrite recording interfaces before. Focusrite is hands down the best unit. The mix control (mixer software) is a tad hard to use but so is a lot of the other ones.
    I now have a 18i20 focusrite, and the benefits of multi tracking are huge. I'm looking into getting an octopre unit to double the inputs.
    dbrian66 likes this.
  16. Armada50

    Armada50 Squier Talker

    Jan 26, 2019
    Texas USA
    You don't really plan on recording guitar music or drums in that container? Bump thread.
    symphonic winds.jpg
    Image 1. University of Southern Mississippi School of Music. State champs, over Mississippi State & Ole Miss. ​
    dbrian66 likes this.
  17. totheMax

    totheMax Squier-holic

    Jan 30, 2011
    Chesapeake Bay, MD
    If you're just starting you can download audacity for free, get a basic usb interface, look on reverb.com and your digital audio workstation (DAW) is ready. It's an easy place to start and the concepts will apply any DAW you eventually go to. Most recordings start with one track at a time, so two channel USB interface will give you two channels to work with (guitar and vocal mics). You'll need a Mic or two and Mic stands and cables. Shure sm58 or clones are the industry workhorses. That's about the minimum to get started. There's a good learning curve so I would start basic and upgrade as you become more familiar with recording.
    dbrian66 likes this.