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View Full Version : Ugrading My Basic Recording Gear




Major Sparky
Jun 21, 2011, 05:52 PM
Hey, I have some questions about upgrading my basic recording equipment. First off, I really only record my guitar, occasionally vocals, but they aren't a priority at all.

What I have now is a SM57 Mic, and a Tascam US-144 USB 2.0 interface. And my new MBP will get here Thursday and I will be using either Garageband or Reaper as my recording program.

What should I upgrade? I think the Mic is fine, but the Tascam isn't the best. I was thinking about getting a PCI card to replace the Tascam but I'm not quite sure what else I'd have to get. Does upgrading the PCI card void the warranty on my MBP?

If I don't get a PCI card then I was thinking about just upgrading my audio interface. I was also thinking about getting a mixer, but I'm not sure if that will help.

I have about $200 to use, maybe more if I wait longer. What should I do?



dj-anon
Jun 22, 2011, 03:23 AM
Do you mean updating or upgrading? $200 won't really upgrade or improve the quality of your sound. With that amount of money the best you can do is to buy a pre-amp; that could definitely enhance your sound.

mroddjob
Jun 22, 2011, 05:24 AM
Acoustic guitar or electric guitar? IMO the SM57 is definitely not the best mic for acoustic recording.

As dj-anon said $200 isn't really going to really be any sort of upgrade, what's actually wrong with the recordings you are doing? What doesn't sound right?

If you do want to spend some money i would suggest a nice recording microphone. The rode NT1-A is quite a popular microphone for recording hobbyists and will be found in lots of recording studios. It'll work better for voice recordings and acoustic guitar (if that's what your recording). I think you can get them for close to $200 and IMO would give the biggest improvement in recording quality for that sort of money.

On a side note, i don't think you can put a PCI card into a MacBook Pro if that's what you mean your getting. PCI cards will only fit into desktop computers i.e the Mac Pro. If your getting a MacBook Pro then you have to go for a firewire or USB interface (or thunderbolt when they start coming out)

Sackvillenb
Jun 22, 2011, 09:03 AM
Since you have a macbook, you'll need an external interface. If you want better sound quality, and upgrade to your interface would be necessary (e.g. something with great sound quality, like the Apogee Duet 2 perhaps). But, you need to provide some more specifics on what you want to improve and address.

Major Sparky
Jun 22, 2011, 01:32 PM
Ok, I didn't realize that you couldn't put a PCI card in a MBP.

I play electric guitar. My recordings sound a bit sterile. They lack warmth and life.

So the best I could do is basically save up more money? Or would buying a mic pre be a decent upgrade?

zimv20
Jun 22, 2011, 09:52 PM
I play electric guitar. My recordings sound a bit sterile. They lack warmth and life.


sm57 is plenty good for mic'ing an amp.

do you like the sound coming out of the amp? how are you mic'ing it? what's the room like?

Major Sparky
Jun 23, 2011, 06:36 AM
Yeah I like the sound from my amp. The room I'm playing in is my bedroom. Probably around 10x20 feet. The problem is that the recorded sound sounds much more sterile and lifeless. I don't know what I should do to fix that.

mroddjob
Jun 23, 2011, 07:49 AM
read up on mic'ing technique, how and where you set up your mic really makes a difference as well as what's in the room and where the amp is. If you can, try just experimenting with different mic positions. Wear headphones and keep moving the mic stand around play a bit then try a different position, see if it changes what you're hearing though the headphones. Try changing the distance from the amp, closer to the centre of the speaker cone or further to the edge, even changing the angle that the mic is pointing at the cone will make a difference.

HoldernessMedia
Jun 24, 2011, 02:05 PM
read up on mic'ing technique, how and where you set up your mic really makes a difference as well as what's in the room and where the amp is. If you can, try just experimenting with different mic positions. Wear headphones and keep moving the mic stand around play a bit then try a different position, see if it changes what you're hearing though the headphones. Try changing the distance from the amp, closer to the centre of the speaker cone or further to the edge, even changing the angle that the mic is pointing at the cone will make a difference.

Great advice. Work on this first for a bit before getting a new interface or mic.
SM57 should be plenty good enough to get a good recording of your guitar, even with the Tascam, but all the other factors mentioned by mroddjob have a HUGE effect on what you capture with the mic.

Also, sometimes when you're recording an amp, you may need to adjust your amp tone a bit different than you might think.

For instance, if you're using a really distorted guitar sound with tons of gain, try backing down the gain a little on your amp or distortion unit when you're recording. The recording will likely come out with more clarity and actually sound more powerful, opposed to mushy and lifeless. There's no definitive right or wrong here, just some general guidelines and using your ears.

Combine this with adjusting your mic placement and you may surprise yourself with the results you can get out of your current gear. :)


Also, Garageband has lots of virtual amps and effects, you should try playing around with them, recording your guitar direct.