First steps to recording

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TADodgerTADodger Frets: 21
I'm going to start this question in guitar and move it if needs be.

As part of my getting back to feeling the inspiration for guitar playing, I want to get set up to make some recordings. I have an iMac running iOS 10.11.6 and have a Zoom G3x (which can be a sound card I think). I am happy to buy an audio interface and know I will need a DAW of some kind (can I use Garageband - do I want to?).

I would prefer as close to PnP as possible, but recognise that this has been done before and I am reasonably able to follow tech instructions if people can help..... so, what is the best way to start recording?

I would prefer not to have cables strewn around my small office / music emporium, so, when recording, is it possible to have the sounds playing through the PC speakers rather than linking in to an amp (if i need monitors then which?).

BTW - I tried downloading Reaper and connecting the Zoom by USB (with drivers) but although I could see the Zoom input I couldn't get any sound from the PC either from recordings, or while playing guitar.

Thanks


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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 8732
    Garageband will get you started - it's easy to use and perfect for learning the basics.

    (er, and it's free..)

    A fairly cheap and simple USB interface will do - others will be along to recommend (I use my Helix) or (dare I say it) a Katana would be a good cheap option..

    Get some headphones too..

    Recording is, frankly, brilliant. 
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  • TADodger said:
    I'm going to start this question in guitar and move it if needs be.

    As part of my getting back to feeling the inspiration for guitar playing, I want to get set up to make some recordings. I have an iMac running iOS 10.11.6 and have a Zoom G3x (which can be a sound card I think). I am happy to buy an audio interface and know I will need a DAW of some kind (can I use Garageband - do I want to?).

    I would prefer as close to PnP as possible, but recognise that this has been done before and I am reasonably able to follow tech instructions if people can help..... so, what is the best way to start recording?

    I would prefer not to have cables strewn around my small office / music emporium, so, when recording, is it possible to have the sounds playing through the PC speakers rather than linking in to an amp (if i need monitors then which?).

    BTW - I tried downloading Reaper and connecting the Zoom by USB (with drivers) but although I could see the Zoom input I couldn't get any sound from the PC either from recordings, or while playing guitar.

    Thanks


    There's a couple of things you need to do in reaper to get live sound. First, is make sure record monitoring is switched on for the tracks you are currently putting in. Second, click on the very top right of the screen and select the correct sound device. It gets a while lot easier with an audio interface though. 

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  • notanonnotanon Frets: 151
    Reaper has lots of online youtube - tutorials. Have you tried those? 

    Actually looking at most of the tutorials they are overly complicated. If you haven't sussed this out yet then PM me and I will send a step by step but your Zoom G3 should be identified By Mac OSX within Reaper straight out of the box. However when you open reaper you will need to click on Options (top menu) --> Preferences -> In the audio section click on device --> You should see you zoom G3 device (that will play back too). --> OK --> then from the menu at the top insert new track --> Name the track immediately by clicking in the black text field between the brown round button and the silver volume control that (all this appears in the left hand side) Call it something like Rhythm1. Now arm the track by clicking on the round brown circle on the left of the text field you just named Rhythm1. When you hit a note you should see the recording levels flicker up and down with volume. 

    At the bottom of the black panel on the left there is a similar brown round button (cmd + R) to record hit that to record and press space bar to finish.

    I can do screen grabs but not easy on TFB - let me know if you need further help.
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 1489
    TADodger said:
    Is it possible to have the sounds playing through the PC speakers rather than linking in to an amp 
    Yes, it is possible to play back through the built-in loudspeakers but there are several reasons why this is not particularly desirable.

    1) If you are recording an acoustic instrument or your voice via a microphone, any sound played via the computer's built-in loudspeakers will be captured by that microphone. (Spill.)

    2) Whenever a sound source is fed via the monitor loudspeakers back to the microphone that originally captured it, there is a possibility of howl round feedback.

    3) The built-in loudspeakers of most computers lack the full range frequency reproduction capability necessary for critical monitoring. 

    The lack of low frequency response in built-in computer loudspeakers will tempt you to lay on more low end is actually necessary/desirable for the music that you are making.

    Similarly, the intentional bass boost designed into many external 2.1 loudspeaker systems will cause you to think that you have more low frequency content in your music than has actually been recorded.
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
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  • grungebobgrungebob Frets: 843
    edited November 15
    You can get the Focusrite  itrack kit for about £150, this coupled with garage band will get you started and provide a good knowledge base going forward. 
    I did it this way for a year then moved on to logic for Mac with ezdrummer 2 and it’s been all I’ve needed ( except talent obviously, that I’m still waiting for).
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  • TADodgerTADodger Frets: 21
    Thanks all some really great info to start with here. I have managed to get the zoom identified in Reaper and managed to get one track to show signs of recording but coolant hear it playback either on PC speakers, or headphones (in PC not zoom, just realised I didn't try that!). Also count seem to set up to record another track so gave up for the night. will try again later. 

    Good point about the spill, I thought the internal microphone was / could be disabled in the PC or Reaper settings?
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  • WolfetoneWolfetone Frets: 612
    edited November 15
    The biggest investment in my humble opinion is your time. Learn about music production. Top notch equipment doesn't necessarily equal success and a skilled technician can (within reason) get a mediocre set up to sound brilliant and inversely a man that thinks his wallet can by stardom will be disappointed. 

    Don't underestimate some of the stand alone DAW's that can be bought very cheaply. I ditched my computer based recording set up and went back to a KORG D16 that outputs digital files for cleaning up on Audacity and then re-imported for mix down back into the D16.

    It's a very clean and inexpensive set up that cuts out the endless fiddling/tinkering/crashing that a computer based DAW can cause.
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  • horsehorse Frets: 368
    As I recall using reaper on a mac, it prefers that you use a single device for input and output at any one time, so it may be trying to play back through your zoom? You might actually hear playback through the zoom on headphones plugged into the zoom if you try it, I'm not sure. It does works like that if I use my helix lt as the interface for reaper on a mac, but the zoom may not have that function.

    Now I think reaper will let you check an option to use separate input and output devices, but doesn't recommend it. So you could set zoom as input device and 'built in audio' as output.

    Or, I think that they prefer that you create an 'aggregate device' in OSX which can combine 2 interfaces, but I never got that to work using my helix and focusrite interfaces together
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  • BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 717
    Here is my 2p worth, from someone who was basically in the exact same situation - and also a Mac user rather than Windows....

    - Yes, Garageband is absolutely fine for your purposes. There are more feature rich programs available, but I would wager that GB will do everything you want it to and more at this stage. There are great tutorials out there on YouTube etc for GB with it being so widely used.  

    - I don't know anything about the Zoom but I use a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface and it does everything I need it to. It has mic and guitar inputs so you’re covered for guitars, either direct in or micd, and vocals. Takes power from the computer so no power cables needed just a single usb to the computer. Hardly any setup was needed, just plug in to the computer, fire up GB and go. 

    - I use a £20 pair of Logitech desktop speakers which are connected to my laptop via the headphone socket. They work perfectly for monitoring for my purposes and are light years ahead of the built in laptop speakers. I will get some decent headphones eventually I expect. 

    I actually bought some £150 monitor speakers and prefer the setup I have with the cheap PC speakers. The monitors were bulky and far too loud for my small home ‘bedroom’ style setup. 

    YMMV but I can’t see why you’d need expensive professional monitor speakers for simple home recording purposes - of course depends on your goal but as a beginner just looking to make clips to share with family and friends, and as an aid to practice, my £20 speakers do a great job. 
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  • I had a very expensive set of studio monitors but have now replaced them with these some much smaller but still excellent mini monitors. 

    https://www.pmtonline.co.uk/m-audio-studiophile-av-32-powered-monitors?utm_source=google&utm_medium=shopping&gclid=CjwKCAiA6K_QBRA8EiwASvtjZeCJI7Zz3I0JeVKIsqpRseVbmc0yvonilWJxf5BQFVPBVQ1JhclwsBoCGT8QAvD_BwE

    They sound great and are perfect for just using as good computers speakers when you're not recording. 

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  • The_Whisper_ThiefThe_Whisper_Thief Frets: 22
    edited November 15

    I would thoroughly recommend the small Presonus interfaces. They come with a slimmed down version of their incredibly easy to use DAW "Studio One" so you get all the components you need to get started. The upgrade path from there is easy if you get into it and want to progress but there is more than enough to get going that is included for "free".

    A decent set of headphones will get you going as well if you wanted to wait before getting monitors. All the "experts" will say you can't monitor through stereo/hi fi speakers and, while they are right and they aren't ideal, if you aren't tracking loud sources and are using them purely as playback monitors there's no reason why you can't use anything you already have. Saying that, there are some very reasonably priced studio monitors these days and there are always used ones on the usual classified pages and sites.

    Bottom line; don't let the gear, or lack of it, stop you! Get a small interface and GO!

    "Lady" R8 /  "Fizz" Echopark Clarence Tennessee / "Marina" Fano JM6 / "Thandi" Custom Shop Nocaster Thinline /  "Jonny" v1 Tele Plus / "Rose" Luther Dickinson ES335 / "Clanger" Ricky 360/12 / "Angel" '02 SJ200 / "Roxy" Novo Sectis
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  • MrBumpMrBump Frets: 305
    Just to add to this - I've done a fair amount of recording with various degrees of success.  I suspect the Mac route is probably far more rewarding than (my) PC route... Macs just seem to handle DAWs better.

    I've been a long time Cakewalk user, in various guises.  I've recently started using Reaper - what I found with Cakewalk was that I was getting bogged down in the process of recording rather than actual creation of music.  Somehow, Reaper - even though it's cheaper and maybe less feature rich - got me producing end results more quickly.

    I quite like what @@Wolfetone ;has to say about the physical mixer - that's a good idea, and I'm actually tempted by it.  Although I suspect I'll still be sucked back into the digital world.

    I use a Focusrite DSP Pro24, by the way, which is excellent, and not hideously expensive.  And a couple of M-Audio monitors, again not mega bucks.
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  • notanonnotanon Frets: 151
    If you set device to zoom the output will go there. I plug zoom into the amp or you can use headphones
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  • notanonnotanon Frets: 151
    @MrBump what functionality is missing in reaper?
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  • thermionicthermionic Frets: 3794
    Wolfetone said:
    The biggest investment in my humble opinion is your time. Learn about music production.

    I learnt most of what I know from reading Sound on Sound articles, and a couple of books by the excellent Paul White who writes for the magazine. You won't be disappointed if you buy one of his books.
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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 2690
    notanon said:
    @MrBump what functionality is missing in reaper?


    Reaper does all the basics but doesn't have all the built in stuff that some of the others do. When I was using Logic, it had built in (crappy) amp simulation.  It had built in drum loop stuff.  The version I had came on something like 8 DVDs most of which were sound samples.

    Reaper does have a basic set of plugins like compression, reverb etc built in but it doesn't have the complex stuff.  Given that most people use 3rd party plugins anyway it's not a huge issue.

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  • WolfetoneWolfetone Frets: 612
    The problem I had with computer based recording is that I found that I got distracted by almost unlimited options and infinite settings. I also suffered an unreasonable amount of conflicts and computery issues.

    With my physical recorder, everything is a little more in my face and easy to access. I discovered that I can focus more on the music rather than the method of making it. When I have the raw files, I export them to Audacity, normalise, trim, silence, compress and any other things I have to do and then import them for mix down and final polish.

    My experience will possibly be anathema to those that are completely settled in the full on computer based workflow but I find that my method is just a bit more accessible for me.  
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  • Monitor speakers = Tannoy Reveal. I got mine from @Jalapeno and they're excellent. Monitor amplifier = Quad 303 (easily come by on ebay, but the prices have risen somewhat, recently. They are good). Or, if you can afford it, Quad 405 (they are damn good).
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs.
    Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 8732
    Also if you have an iPad or an iPhone then GarageBand is pretty decent with a cheapo audio interface..
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  • Wolfetone said:
    The biggest investment in my humble opinion is your time. Learn about music production.

    I learnt most of what I know from reading Sound on Sound articles, and a couple of books by the excellent Paul White who writes for the magazine. You won't be disappointed if you buy one of his books.
    wis @thermionic I have (somewhere) his Recording Techniques and I'm sure he's updated it since the days of tape, but a lot of what he says about panning, EQ, FX &c I'm sure it still holds.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs.
    Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!
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  • NikkoNikko Frets: 1762

    @TADodger , I have a cheap Behringer audio Interface at home (cant remember the model number but can check later), that I bought when I wanted to start doing some recording. As it happens, I ended up getting a Katana and just use that straight into Studio One now, so never used the Audio Interface at all. Took it out of the box once to look at it...

    Ill be happy to shove it in the post for you if you wanted? Don't want anything for it.

    Let me know.

    **Signature space available for a reasonable fee. Enquire within**
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  • modellistamodellista Frets: 350
    Wolfetone said:
    The problem I had with computer based recording is that I found that I got distracted by almost unlimited options and infinite settings. I also suffered an unreasonable amount of conflicts and computery issues.

    With my physical recorder, everything is a little more in my face and easy to access. I discovered that I can focus more on the music rather than the method of making it. When I have the raw files, I export them to Audacity, normalise, trim, silence, compress and any other things I have to do and then import them for mix down and final polish.

    My experience will possibly be anathema to those that are completely settled in the full on computer based workflow but I find that my method is just a bit more accessible for me.  

    There's a lot to be said for this approach.  After many years of Cubasing I've just bitten the bullet and gone for a hardware recorder for use in my practice room.  It only arrived yesterday, but within five minutes I had it set up and recording.  Now it's set up, it's simply switch on and go.  No messing with conflicts, drivers, that why-am-I-scratching-my-head-for-hours-instead-of-making-music feeling.  Just a few faders, buttons, meters, and music.

    The R16 is has a proper 8-track mixer which is necessary if you have a few sources like synths, guitar, and microphones, or if you want to record a full band with drums all at once, or you could go for something smaller if you don't need all that functionality.  The R8 is about £230 and the R16 £280.

    Both those units can be used as an interface and controller for DAWs too, but the great thing is you can use them as a sketchpad for getting ideas down, or for tracking your parts initially, then bring the files into a DAW for production.  The best of both worlds IMHO.  There's loads of units available for all price brackets, particularly if you consider buying used.

    Obviously a computer is more powerful, but your story of having to fiddle with software for ages just to make a sound is so familiar.  A hardware unit is much more convenient and intuitive.
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  • ExorcistExorcist Frets: 205
    MrBump said:
    Just to add to this - I've done a fair amount of recording with various degrees of success.  I suspect the Mac route is probably far more rewarding than (my) PC route... Macs just seem to handle DAWs better.

    I've been a long time Cakewalk user, in various guises.  I've recently started using Reaper - what I found with Cakewalk was that I was getting bogged down in the process of recording rather than actual creation of music.  Somehow, Reaper - even though it's cheaper and maybe less feature rich - got me producing end results more quickly.

    I quite like what @@Wolfetone ;has to say about the physical mixer - that's a good idea, and I'm actually tempted by it.  Although I suspect I'll still be sucked back into the digital world.

    I use a Focusrite DSP Pro24, by the way, which is excellent, and not hideously expensive.  And a couple of M-Audio monitors, again not mega bucks.
    I was with Cakewalk through Sonar too, then gave up and switched to Reaper, it had become so unituitive, I love how intuitive (for me) reaper is. As just because its cheap doesn't mean it isn't pro - I was just reading an interview with the guy that scored the new Call of Duty game, all in Reaper!
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  • I found when I started playing again you have a very basic recording solution with just a simple Blackstar Core 10 amp or a Katana (and probably others, those just happen to be the ones I have that record through USB) and a program like Audacity.

    Was thinking of putting an entry in for the Xmas competition recorded this way.  Mine will undoubtedly suck when compared to all the talented sorts on here, but you can but try.
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  • NelsonPNelsonP Frets: 227
    I've been thinking about getting into basic home recording and eyeing up a Focusrite Scarlett. But having read this I've been checking out the hardware options, as my pc is getting on a bit.

    The zoom r8 or r16 have caught my attention, but they are now 7 years old. Is there anything more recent which is better?
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  • WolfetoneWolfetone Frets: 612
    NelsonP said:
    I've been thinking about getting into basic home recording and eyeing up a Focusrite Scarlett. But having read this I've been checking out the hardware options, as my pc is getting on a bit.

    The zoom r8 or r16 have caught my attention, but they are now 7 years old. Is there anything more recent which is better?
    You need the facility of creating and exporting .WAV files from the unit. Some of the older digital recorders needed a real time analogue download. Just make sure that there's a USB connection and check the specs. I have noticed that the 16/24/32 track recorders aren't going so cheaply any more.

    Have people realised how easy it is to record with hardware DAWs? 
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  • JalapenoJalapeno Frets: 3048
    Monitor speakers = Tannoy Reveal. I got mine from @Jalapeno and they're excellent.
    He did. Still miss them.
    Imagine something sharp and witty here ......

    Feedback
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  • siraxemansiraxeman Frets: 1594
    TADodger said:
    Thanks all some really great info to start with here. I have managed to get the zoom identified in Reaper and managed to get one track to show signs of recording but coolant hear it playback either on PC speakers, or headphones (in PC not zoom, just realised I didn't try that!). Also count seem to set up to record another track so gave up for the night. will try again later. 

    Good point about the spill, I thought the internal microphone was / could be disabled in the PC or Reaper settings?

    If you using your Zoom as the interface to record, then you also have your sound played back through that device - so have you got speakers plugged into the Zooms outputs? That's all it is! Otherwise go back into devices and switch back to your pc's soundcard and then when you press play you will then hear the audio you can see recorded but as of now are not hearing.........its something I can relate to - I was there myself and thought "derrr!!!" when the penny dropped!! Noob error...I so can relate!
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  • notanonnotanon Frets: 151
    Nikko said: Ty

    @TADodger , I have a cheap Behringer audio Interface at home (cant remember the model number but can check later), that I bought when I wanted to start doing some recording. As it happens, I ended up getting a Katana and just use that straight into Studio One now, so never used the Audio Interface at all. Took it out of the box once to look at it...

    Ill be happy to shove it in the post for you if you wanted? Don't want anything for it.

    Let me know.

    Behringer interface I got with my Vamp3 means lots of cables but impressive in terms of lag. My laptop was quite happy with Behringer but with my zoom G5 loads of issues
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  • TADodgerTADodger Frets: 21
    Thanks again - still reading and picking up tips. 

    @siraxeman - I was working on the basis that by setting the preferences in Reaper to Zoom for input and PC speakers fro output I would have sound out via the PC, but will try headphones / speakers from the zoom.
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