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Recording set

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by onelivewire, Jan 9, 2007.

  1. macrumors newbie

    I have been trying to use my mac with garageband to record my band for a while now, all with sub-par results. Right now I have our guitar, bass, drum mic (1 overall until we can afford a decent set), and vocal mic all running into a Mackie CFX12 Mixer. From there, I am running the (component, a.k.a. RCA) "Tape Out" to the 1/8" mini-jack audio in on my mac. In garageband I create a new 'real instrument' track. From there, I just hit record and we play. Afterwards the audio quality is quite poor. I am sure it isn't the cables or the mixer [being broken], and I am quite sure I am setting all gain, as well as all other settings on the mixer correctly. I am thinking I may have to buy an Mbox, or something to run the Tape Output or Speaker Output to in order to get a clear and digital signal. All suggestions are appreciated. Thanks
  2. macrumors 601


    the three ingredients to getting a good recording:
    1. good gear
    2. good room
    3. good skills

    from what you've listed, you're using subpar preamps and subpar a/d conversion. that's going to hurt quite a bit. so is mic'ing drums w/ one mic. if the others are lacking as well, then you've got an uphill battle.

    are you multi-tracking, or are you playing all at once and mixing on the fly down to stereo before even getting to the mac?
  3. macrumors newbie

    Yea, I figured that would hurt, I'm hoping to grab a 5 or 6 peice drum mic set when the cash comes in. Anyway, we are running the instruments straight into the mixer and adjusting levels (low, mid, high, volume) there, so, yes, we are doing everything there before streaming into the mac.

    Heh, skills- We do alright ;)
    (although I wish I wasn't spending upwards of 45 minutes for teaching each new set of song riffs to our guitarist)

    ---ahh, and there's no preamp right now, if I am spreaking in correct terms, I was told that I wouldnt need any between the instruments, mixer and computer. The levels are coming out high enough on the mac, though the lack of the preamp may still be a quality issue.... <pondering>
    as far as instrumental gear, I am using Shure SM58 mics, and my guitarist is using my Shecter C-1 Hellraiser. I'm not sure what our bassist uses, but he's been playing since he was ~7 and plays the cello or whatnot, so he's invested in a decent bass.
  4. macrumors 601


    mics need preamps, if you're taking the guitars straight into the mixer, you're using the Hi-Z line input, not the preamps.

    i don't want to bum you out too much, but reckon on spending a few thousand on room treatment and some years getting experience to get really solid sounds. to say nothing of the $$$$$$ for good gear.

    the more skills the engineer has, the less the other two matter, but know that guys spend decades becoming great engineers. i've been a hobbyist recordist for a few decades, and i'm only a mediocre engineer -- but i have great fun doing it and for anyone else who has great fun, i say keep at it. but expectations must be managed.
  5. macrumors 601


    oh yeah -- do yourself a favor and get a multi-tracking setup. mixing live to "tape" is an artform in and of itself, and you don't need that added complication.

    drop some money on a firewire interface so you can track the instruments separately. that way you can mix properly, and any of those boxes will give you better conversion than what's built into the mac.

    you can spend your way into some better preamps, too.

    then do yourself another favor and buy as many GIK 244's as you can afford / fit in your room. your room is an instrument and treating helps everything from producing better sounds to being able to actually hear what you're doing.
  6. macrumors G5


    Re-examine your statement that you're sure you have all the levels set correctly. Chances are you don't have your gains properly set, either under driving or overdriving the Mac's audio input, or introducing distortion in the mixer/signal path.

    Grab some books from the library and read up "Home Recording for Mucisians" is a classic -- also magazines: Sound on Sound, Electronic Musician, Recording, Computer Music, Future Music, Keyboard, etc. They are full of how-to articles.

    Mic placement is one of the key skills -- the mic will record only what it hears. If it is not placed just where the sound is the best from the (amp, mouth, cello, drum, whatever) then it'll sound less than best.

    These are the skills that Zim was referring to, not your instrumental skills.
  7. macrumors 601


    ooh -- good point.
  8. macrumors newbie

    Hehe, yes, as you can see, I am quite new to this.
    As for the recording interface, won't it be quite a bundle to get one with enough inputs for a 6 piece drum set, guitar, bass, vocals and possible backup guitar? I realize it's a lot of cash- but I should mention that this is merely a highschool band. We just want some decent recordings to get around. Any ideas for a decent low cost option?

    I will mos def check out the books. On the note of gain, I am sure it is set well, I was taught by my school's Radio Broadcasting teacher, who has been mixing/DJ-ing for 30+ years at various radio stations and my cousin, who does mostly live mixing, but with 100+ inputs. They both said I was doing it correctly -- Although, I may need to change other settings. I will check my levels, they seem right, but I could be way off.

    Just wondering, what is the difference between using the computer interface and a real mixer? I just personnally like the physical feel.

    BTW, thanks so much for your guys help.
  9. macrumors 601


    "a bundle" is relative, though i'm sensitive to the fact that high schoolers may not have much money. in the $500 range, you could get a presonus firepod. i can't vouch for the sound quality, though i'd bet money it's better than you're using, and it's got the features you need (8 pre's, conversion, line inputs, monitoring section).

    what it'd allow you to do is multi-track, which i can't stress enough. you don't actually need your mixer, really -- a lot of project studios are mixerless. there are ways you could incorporate your mixer while tracking, but i'd suggest against it because i think your mackie mixer is going to do more sonic harm than good.

    "it" is a little amibiguous. i reckon your cousin could help you with mic placement and gain staging -- two very important skills. if "it" means mixing down to 2-track before committing to "tape", i'll have to say they're giving you bad advice.

    i don't know if you've read the primer, but i think it may help clear up some confusion for you.
  10. macrumors newbie

    Sorry 'bout the "it"s I was referring to gain.

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