Digital multi-track recording on a budget?

Digital multi-track recording on a budget?

Postby Emoto » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:29 am

What do folks like for digital multi-track recording on a budget these days? I'd like to put together fresh recordings of various originals that I and some friends have written over the years, and I have a few new ideas, and think that some kind of digital 8 track thing would be good. The plan would be to record "live" either by myself or as an ensemble with other players and then go back in and overdub/add as needed. Thoughts?
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Re: Digital multi-track recording on a budget?

Postby eric » Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:52 am

There's so many different ways to go on this ... My current portable recording rig is MacBook> ProTools 10> M-Audio FTU 8r( 8 pre's) .. Tons of flexible routing options, however, I think the best small scale rig right now is the Presonus Studiolive, since the mixer and interface are combined... I also run a small Focusrite interface to capture Stereo room recordings... I think this gives you the best live feel. Tracking the entire band with no room mics can lead to an anemic sounding recording...
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Re: Digital multi-track recording on a budget?

Postby playingdead » Mon Mar 26, 2012 9:54 am

Presonus is also making a less expensive StudioLive that is eight mono tracks plus four stereo ones. You can find it under $1000 as a B-stock item.

Not meant for live FOH use -- it doesn't have the four monitor sends that the one we use has -- but it's good for recording at home if you're doing multiple tracks simultaneously.
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Re: Digital multi-track recording on a budget?

Postby Emoto » Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:40 am

playingdead wrote:Presonus is also making a less expensive StudioLive that is eight mono tracks plus four stereo ones. You can find it under $1000 as a B-stock item.

Not meant for live FOH use -- it doesn't have the four monitor sends that the one we use has -- but it's good for recording at home if you're doing multiple tracks simultaneously.


Hmm. All I am finding so far are mixers that can feed other devices that do the recording. Am I just lame in my searching skills? :lol:
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Re: Digital multi-track recording on a budget?

Postby FretfulDave » Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:53 pm

Maybe look at something like this:

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audi ... ion-studio

or the newer model

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audi ... ion-system

Not sure how it compares to the Presonus but the Zoom is fairly inexpensive. Interesting about the recording of the room when micing instruments. That makes sense to add depth. So you have a base recording of everything and then mix the levels for each track of individual instruments.

I am sure the Zoom has less features than Presonus but would get one started for what you want to do. Just need a bunch of instrument mics and cables and you would be good to go.

Good luck.

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Re: Digital multi-track recording on a budget?

Postby eric » Mon Mar 26, 2012 3:36 pm

Multi track recording live opens a whole new can of worms ...you would now have to learn how to be a live sound guy, a recording engineer and a mixing engineer ( which can be pretty fun stuff) .Combing room mics with direct sources leads to phase issues. And then some ESP if you are new to digital recording
In or out of the box.. I think another super simple way to go is the tascam mic adaptor / interface for the iPhone.. You record in stereo ( the iPhone mic is mono) , and you can listen to your jams on the way home... You can directly link it to soundcloud and share them with your whole band very easily.... No screwing around with a DAW...Also the zoom options are a great way to go .... Consider just a very basic setup of Mac>PT>interface can run at least 1500-2000 bucks, there are a ton of options under $150... Just not real multi tracking. I also thing tapping the board mains isn't great in a practice environment because small rooms are using it for reinforcement, not the whole picture, so it's a pain in the ass to get any balance ...
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Re: Digital multi-track recording on a budget?

Postby eric » Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:36 pm

I'm just south of Providence at the moment...that can't be far to anywhere in SE MASS....I know you don't know me from shinola, but I would have no problem headin up there with my gear and recording a live session of you and your guys on some day in the future. You could record however many songs you could squeeze in 2 or 3 hours. Give me 3 or 4 weeks to edit and mix and I could do 10 or 12 tunes for you. I'd send you the masters in 32 bit .wav and and 16 bit .mp3 and my word that I would never do anything with your tunes. I would do it completely for FREE. I need a new project to mess around with. It won't sound like it was recorded in a million dollar studio, but it will sound pretty decent. I wouldn't make any "production" decisions about your music, I would just do some basic post work ....edit/eq/comp/levels type stuff through PT and put out whatever was put in. My setup is quick and I have enough gear to supplement or integrate into your existing setup. And perhaps it will help me justify my recent purchase of Ozone 5 iZotope and Alloy.... The offer's out there man...
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Re: Digital multi-track recording on a budget?

Postby Emoto » Tue Mar 27, 2012 5:20 am

FrefulDave: Yes, those Zoom units are very intriguing, especially the newer one. I have a Zoom H2 that I used for live recording of jam sessions and band practices and it made excellent recordings, so those Zoom units are in the running. I am hoping to find someone on a forum or somewhere who has used one to get some real hands on feedback.

Eric: Good points. I've done a fair bit of (analog) recording over the years, including studio stuff and mixing, etc., as well as run a few PAs for live sound, so I'm thinking my skills there are adequate for this. So far, my only digital recording experience has been with the aforementioned H2, and that has been ok, although nothing to brag about. I don't know that 4 figures is really in the budget this year, but we'll see.

And thank you for the kind offer to swing by and do some recording, but I am far from the point of doing anything like that. I don't currently have any players lined up for this stuff, so there are many miles to go before I could even consider it. Thanks, though.
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Re: Digital multi-track recording on a budget?

Postby RiverRat » Tue Mar 27, 2012 5:45 am

Emoto wrote:
playingdead wrote:Presonus is also making a less expensive StudioLive that is eight mono tracks plus four stereo ones. You can find it under $1000 as a B-stock item.

Not meant for live FOH use -- it doesn't have the four monitor sends that the one we use has -- but it's good for recording at home if you're doing multiple tracks simultaneously.


Hmm. All I am finding so far are mixers that can feed other devices that do the recording. Am I just lame in my searching skills? :lol:


That's the way the world is going... Embrace technology baby!

A decent computer can be had for short money if you're looking to stay under 24 tracks and/or won't need to add a ton of effects to tracks. If you go the Digital Audio Workstation route, you have 2 choices: devices that just handle IO and devices that offer IO and a control surface. Under $1000 is doable, you just have to plan and purchase accordingly.

Stay away from Apple/ProTools if you're on a budget, you're paying a premium for a name and a logo.
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Re: Digital multi-track recording on a budget?

Postby tcsned » Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:21 pm

Heck, if you're going for super cheap - depending on how many tracks you want to do at once, an iPad/iPhone w/the Garage Band app and the iRig works pretty well. Even the amp simulators are reasonable - amplitude has a free fender amp app too.

I use a Mac --> Meteric Halo 2882 MIO and Logic though not particularly cheap.
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Re: Digital multi-track recording on a budget?

Postby Emoto » Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:28 am

Spoke to an old friend yesterday who is a real gear nut and he though I should take a look at the Presonus FireStudio. Anyone have experience with one? Apparently they can be had for a few hundred bucks and act as the input panel to let you record onto your PC. They come bundled with multitrack recording software that looks kind of nice.

http://www.presonus.com/products/detail ... roductid=5
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Re: Digital multi-track recording on a budget?

Postby FretfulDave » Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:54 am

While I don't have experience with either the new Zoom or the Presonus Firestudio, it looks like choosing between those, other than the bit of cost difference, would be portability. I think the Zoom stuff would be a little more portable.

The Firestudio requires a PC with a firewire port and you may have to get a firewire cable. Many newer laptops come with a firewire port but if you were thinking of using a desktop system, you may have to purchase and install a card. Outside of those items, it looks to be pretty nice. Look closely at the system requirements before using any old laptop. New laptops will have the memory and processing power necessary but those just a few years old may very well not.

Interesting option, though. I myself, like you Emoto, use the H2 for recording jam sessions. I basically try to set it up "in the midde", turn on double stereo recording and let it rip. I picture the other Zoom units as the same and have been looking at buying one. That amongst other gear I just haven't pulled the trigger on yet :roll: . So I was looking for the situation that you just set the mic levels kind of even and low enough not to distort and just hit record, stop and save, record, stop and save type thing. Worry about maximizing the envelope and adjusting the track levels afterwards. I started reading the manual online to determine if this method is feasible but that is another project in the works.

So I guess to some extent, usability comes into play also depending on what you are looking to do. For me it is record jam sessions, loose and free. For you it might be more of a studio situation with more structured approach to the recording and such.

Good luck with it. I am sure either the Zoom or the Presonus Firestudio would be a good solution for you.

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Re: Digital multi-track recording on a budget?

Postby eric » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:47 am

First to the mods... Maybe perhaps time to add a digital recording forum ?

So it sounds like your more leaning towards the DAW home studio route... The Presonus is a nice unit with tons of expandability ..ADAT/Lightpipe.. You can chain it to the Studio live I believe. However, If you want to use the maximum bit depth and sampling rate of that unit, a regular computer wont even come close to cutting it. The amount of CPU it would take to record that many tracks simultaneous, even just 8 (or 16 if you were to stack units) is severly substantial. To record 8 tracks at once, you're going to need at least 2gb of ram but more like 4-8. Also if you have shitty monitors, what's the point of all that sonic cabability.. So a new set of monitors will be in need as well. I love my Yamaha HS-50's...Budget friendly and they sound amazing... I've used Sonar, Sony Acid, Abellton , on windows based pc's and laptops , GarageBand and Logic,Pt SE, LE Mp8/9 and now standalone Protools 10..Yes , you pay a premium for the name , but it's is by far the most solid combnation I have used.( even though some say pt is written on old code versus something like Reaper)...Its like a SMS and a Mcintosh.. Your just gonna keep losing money by trying out so-so combinations until you get yet the end all ..The two work as seamless together as possible..Do the right thing now, and concentrate on the main component , the brain of your operation. Then you can concentrate on an interface . Tons of good options..I like the Focusrite stuff right now.. Come up with a plan .. Get a used Mac tower with at least a dual core, 8 gbs of Ram... Get a cheap used LCD off eBay.. Preferably 2 for split Edit/Mix windows.. Use the included GarageBand or step up to Logic for $250..Pt will set u back 699 at the moment ..or if you're looking for portability , get a used MacBook... Save yourself the time and hassle and frustration .. Do it right the first time..
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Re: Digital multi-track recording on a budget?

Postby Emoto » Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:09 am

Well, it's very easy to spend a LOT of money on this, and I really can't do that right now. I would like to have as professional sounding a result as possible, though, and be able to add tracks as needed. I need to investigate the presonus software more carefully and see how that might work. I'd like to record songs with as many instruments as possible for basic tracks and then go into edit mode (for lack of a better term) and re-do any tracks that could be done better, and also work on adding tracks like more vocals, more percussion, etc., etc., so any recording software that will let me do that will catch my eye.

I have some PCs kicking around that might or might not work as the receiving/recording device, but if I go the presonus route, at least I can split the costs between the front and back ends and not have to do everything at one time. Nothing is going to happen right away anyhow.
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Re: Digital multi-track recording on a budget?

Postby hgregs » Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:34 am

i wouldn't let bundled software drive your decision. the stuff you get w/ presonus is weak... it's a watered-down version of the pro stuff and they want you to pay for an upgrade. i just started using REAPER... it's got a free 30 day trial, and then only $60 if you want to keep it... pretty robust stuff. i haven't used protools, but i've heard it's on the same level. in terms of cheap computer input there's something like this http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audi ... -interface which is usb instead of firewire... a little cheaper than presonus. you can almost always get 15-20% off at MF just for asking (so that's $260 plus $60 for the software - is that in your budget?).

if you want to go the mf route, and want that discount, try emailing forums@musiciansfriend.com




edit: don't want to discourage you from presonus if it's in your budget - that's what we use, and it's great stuff.
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