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iowamensan
Dec 10, 2006, 05:03 PM
First of all, I have never used my mac for recording, so this is a very beginner question.
My church has a band, and I am wondering what I need to have in order to record the music and burn it to a CD. The church has a mixer board where they adjust each input level, and it has an RCA out that they send into a tape deck where they record the service. They have told me that they would let me "intercept" this signal for my computer. If I just put in a splitter there and ran that to my mic-in jack would it have decent sound at all? or do I need to do something different. I have thought that it would be nice if I could keep all of the inputs separate so I could adjust them to my preferences. Every so often I wish I could bring in more guitar or tone down the vocals. Is this what a firewire interface does? Does it basically "intercept" each input line before it hits the main mixer?
Next, what software do I need for this? Is GarageBand all I need to record? If I get an interface, does GarageBand have the capabilities to record each input as a separate track so I can adjust them individually?
Mainly, I just want to record the songs so I have them for my own listening pleasure. I want them to sound as good as possible, without me needing to spend a ton of money.
Thanks!
Geoff



CanadaRAM
Dec 10, 2006, 05:24 PM
mixer board .. has an RCA out..If I just put in a splitter there and ran that to my mic-in jack would it have decent sound at all?
Ptentially - if you balance the levels properly so that the signal is not driving your Mac's input, you will be able to record a stereo representation of what's coming out of the live mixer. Managing those levels is key.

I have thought that it would be nice if I could keep all of the inputs separate so I could adjust them to my preferences. Every so often I wish I could bring in more guitar or tone down the vocals. Is this what a firewire interface does? Does it basically "intercept" each input line before it hits the main mixer?

This is a whole different kettle of fish. You would need to split each input BEFORE it goes to the live mixer, then you would have to have a mixer with an interface, or a multiple-input Firewire interface, to accept those inputs and record them. The more signals you want, the higher the price will go. Four live inputs roughly $300, 8 live inputs roughly $800 this will vary widely with the features and performance of the interface. USB interfaces often do not have the bandwidth for 4 or more simultaneous inputs. You will also have to have large enough and fast enough hard drive storage to accept the data.

To intercept the audio, you would ideally use a Direct box or active splitter on each input. The Interface usually does NOT come with pass-through outputs for live sound. Remember though that you will now be responsible for mixing the instruments and voices totally - you will not be recording the live mix, but getting the direct, pre fader pre EQ signal from the mic or instrument.

Next, what software do I need for this? Is GarageBand all I need to record? If I get an interface, does GarageBand have the capabilities to record each input as a separate track so I can adjust them individually?
Mainly, I just want to record the songs so I have them for my own listening pleasure. I want them to sound as good as possible, without me needing to spend a ton of money.

GarageBand 3 can record up to 8 simultneous tracks. Earlier versions of Garageband were limited to 2. What Mac and Software do you plan to use? (MR note: Keep in mind that the information in your Signature is invisible to other members as they are Replying to your post.)

Flexibility and performance increase with increased budget. You can't do the second part of your vision for I would guess under $1000 for interface, direct boxes and cables. If you are very lucky, the live mixer has line outs for each channel and you could skip the expense of the direct boxes.

zimv20
Dec 10, 2006, 05:56 PM
to follow on canada's excellent post, i see two as-of-yet unmentioned areas of trouble:

1. using the multi-track setup, you're going to have to insert all that gear between the mics and the existing mixing board. this would require a non-trivial set-up and tear-down for each session, which may exceed your permission for tapping in.

2. the biggest key to getting good sounds here, especially in a very live environment like a church, is mic placement. i don't know how much control, if any, you have over this, or how well they're set up now. but if the answers are "none" and "badly", it's probably not worth the effort to multi-track.

iowamensan
Dec 10, 2006, 11:37 PM
Thanks for the responses... If I am understanding Canada's post right... are you saying to make sure that the RCA out of the mixer isn't too high for the mic-in jack? I assumed it was line level out, since they run it into a tape deck. I have an Intel iMac or a MacBook I can use, obviously the MacBook would be easier, but would it be enough to record on?
If I go the route of just recording the line out from the mixer (which it sounds like is the best route) is GarageBand still the best route? Or is there another freeware/shareware program that would work better? I will most likely record one long session, then would want to later easily break it into separate song files and save them as mp3.
THanks!
Geoff

zimv20
Dec 11, 2006, 12:00 AM
are you saying to make sure that the RCA out of the mixer isn't too high for the mic-in jack? I assumed it was line level out, since they run it into a tape deck.
yes, that would be a line level out, probably at a -10 dBV reference level. i don't know if the line in of the mac is going to also be at -10 (in which case your reference levels match), or if it's going to be at +4 dBu (in which case the incoming signal will sound weak).

regardless, canada means you must carefully set the levels when matching the gear. the mixer should be putting out a signal at its sweet spot -- strong, but not too strong. too high and it overloads the mac, too low and you don't get a very good signal to noise ratio. use your ears.

GB is fine for 2-track recording purposes, but you'll have to experiment to see how long the maximum record time is. honestly, the quality of going digital like this won't be any better than recording to a good, clean cassette deck.

CanadaRAM
Dec 11, 2006, 12:40 AM
IIRC it used to be GB had a 1 hour maximum for a single piece?
Someone with GB v3 please respond if this is (or ever was) a problem.