Guitar and voice recording on the mac

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by guitarzanman, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. guitarzanman macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2006
    I read your beginners thread on recording with the mac and still lost! What do I realstically need to record guitar and vocals on my powermac.

    Here are my plans

    I plan to 2 people singing and 2 people playing guitar or bass (which may possibly be all at the same time and get reorcded like that but possibly to different tracks (if that is possible)) so would I need 4 inputs corrrect? Also which gives better sound for the money a pci sound card or a usb or firewire audio interface?

    At least one of the guitars will be electric guitar or bass and the other possibly acoustic with pickups. On the acoustic guitar (it is a dean) would you reccomend using the pickups or getting an extrenal mic. If you say to go with a extrenal mic which kind of mic would be best? Also what amps would be best for the electric and acoustic guitars (if they are needed)? and can the same amp also be used for vocals or bass? If not what amp would good for vocals? and also what mic would be good for vocals?

    Also, do I need a mixer for all of this and will a mixer aleviate the need for a preamp or sound card / auido input device and allow it to still sound good? Finally I have buget of roughly $700. So waht you reccomend should be in that price range.

    any help would be appreacted


  2. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    the vocals won't be amped -- you'll record those direct:

    mic -> mic pre -> a/d converter -> mac (or)
    mic -> interface box -> mac

    for the electric guitar, it depends on what sounds best. personally, i prefer to mic cabinets, but if you're really amping an electric guitar and bass and having vox recorded at the same time, there will be bleed. how much that bothers you is up to you.

    for the acoustic, it depends on what sounds best. if the room is nice, you could get a nice sound with a condenser mic, if it's the only thing playing. for bleed purposes, you might want to use the pickup.

    for a total budget of $700, you're really scraping the bottom of the barrel for (possibly) 4+ mics, 2 amps, 4+ input interface, stands and cables. you haven't even talked about monitoring or headphone distribution. forget the mixer, btw, what you want is to record the 4+ channels separately. UNLESS you get the mixer for the mic preamps and take the direct outs to the interface box, but know that any preamps you get in such a cheap mixer won't be any better than what you'll likely get in the interface box.

    i'm not sure i know of any full-input 4 channel interfaces. you may have to step up to 8, like the presonus firepod (that's not a recommendation, just an example. i've not used the firepod).

    for mics, about the only cheap condenser that i can recommend is the AT 2020, which is $100. that'd work for any/all of the vox, acoustic, elec guitar cab or bass cab, though you may want to swap in an sm57 -- or use both -- on the cabinets. and then you're looking at more than 4 simultaneous inputs.


    is there a reason this all needs to be recorded at the same time? you could save yourself gear cost, bleed, and retake headaches by overdubbing. it sounds like you have a specific client in mind, so whether they want to play together, or feel comfortable overdubbing, is something you can find out.

    definitely consider overdubbing the vox, so you can get a good, clean take.
  3. guitarzanman thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2006
    so the vocals would go (mic -> converter -> mac) right?

    Which way gives better sound for they money in my price range?
    bleed does not bother me and the bass would most likely be dubbed anyway.

    How do you get a total of 4 mics? are they all really needed? Does an electric even electric guitar need a mic? I thought that it you just connected it to the amp and then the to audio converter with no need for a mic? or does a mic make it sound waaaay better?

    I can spend a little possibly more money, and possibly remove one of the vocal mics if that mould make my budget a little easier.

    Can you reccomend one that you have used or know is good that would fit into my budget?

    We could possibly overdub and may have to with the vocals. But definitely feel more comfortable playing together, and In my opinion things recorded together sound much better than over dubbing.
  4. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    good separate components tend to be pricey, so you're probaby looking for a budget box. or maybe check out the mackie onyx mixers with the firewire option -- i haven't used one (and in fact, i hate the older mackie VLZ preamps) -- but an engineer friend of mine got some good results with the onyx.

    with your statement that you'd rather play together, that sounds like an odd candidate to be overdubbed if there's no percussion. is that because the bass player is doubling on another instrument?

    you said 2 vocalists (definitely need mics) and 3 instruments (bass, electric, acoustic), 4 of which would be recorded simultaneously. though you *could* do all the instruments direct, you mentioned amps. that could easily be 4, if not more, mics:
    1. vocals
    2. vocals
    3. acoustic
    4. guitar cab, dynamic
    5. guitar cab, condenser
    6. bass cab, dynamic

    there's 6 right there. there's no right or wrong answer for how it should be recorded, but there are technical limitations, or in your case resource allocation concerns. i don't know how many mics you're going to end up using, it depends on so many things that happen during the session.

    your choices for the electric:
    1. inst -> interface
    2. inst -> amp head -> interface
    3. inst -> amp head -> amp cab -> mic -> interface
    4. inst -> DI box -> interface
    5. inst -> amp modeler -> interface

    you can record without a mic, and many people do. as i said, i prefer to mic cabinets. but if you're dealing with bleed and gear considerations, you might not. i can't tell you the right answer for your setup and session.

    i don't out-and-out recommend anything i haven't used, and i haven't used anything in that price range. as i said above, it may be worth your while to check out the mackie onyx mixer to see if it suits your needs.

    i believe that bands tend to get better performances when playing together, though that's not always possible to do. i will track a scratch vocal when recording like that, but it's rare that it'll get used as the final. so i consider vocals are something that are always overdubbed.

    using multiple takes, i try to get them to play one where the drums and bass have minimal errors and a good feel. i might punch in the bass in spots, but the drums have to be right. everything else is eligible for a complete overdub, though i'll keep a good guitar track, say, if it's a great performance and the sound is good enough.

    if you overdub like that, then you can get away with fewer mics and fewer channels.
  5. guitarzanman thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2006
    I though you said mixers were crap?

    He can a will probably be playing mandolin/ violin (which is another instrument i forgot about) guitar and sing.

    Wow that's lot of mics does have 2 differnt mics micing to the guitar cab really make sound better? If so I may go that route. Also can't 2 people sing into one mic? Or would two having really improve the performance.

    You consider 700 for a amps and audio converters cheap? If so how much should I spend to get a decent quality one? Can you reccomend any companies that mamke quality products? Or ones that you have used even if they are out of my price range? Also you state cheap interface boxes have cheap amps. Do I even need amps (assuming that all instruments are coming mic'd cabs or directly connected to the audio converter)? If so, wouldn't I be better to get good stand alone amp and connect that to cheap audio converter?

    Also you mention montering wouldn't that really only be a problem on the electric guitar and not a problem at all if you use mic'd cabs? But if I did have to moniter the electric guitar what would you reccomend?
  6. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    cheap ones are, yeah. but a trusted friend said, "hey, the onyx wasn't as bad as i thought it'd be." consider that a bit of an endorsement from him.

    bottom line: i'd rather record with cheap gear than not record at all.

    it can, yeah. sm-57's are a pretty standard guitar cab mic, but 57's don't capture the higher freq's as well as just about any condenser. so, also use a condensor and mix to taste later.

    actually, having one can improve the performance. but it puts more pressure on the vocalists to get their takes right, and it puts more pressure on you to make sure their relative mix is right at record time, instead of allowing you to play around with their voices separately at mix time.

    from what i understand, when Queen did their awesome backing vox, freddie, brian and roger would stand around a single mic and -- get this -- sing a single note. then they'd do the same for the next harmony note, and so on. i'm still waiting to get the right combo of singers to try that technique.


    $1000 for a single channel of preamp would put you in the high-end. that'll get you stuff like john hardy, great river, API, chandler, manley, et. al.

    one exception to this "rule" is the FMR RNP (really nice preamp), which is 2 channels for $475. heck, i used mine just tonight on a room mic.

    my go-to pre is a phoenix drs-1, single channel, that i picked up used for $950. my 2-channel monitoring d/a is a benchmark dac-1, which is $975 new.

    you can get an overview of some really good gear at mercenary. they're engineers and only sell gear that they think is awesome and passes a number of their tests, including its usefulness in the studio.

    i was talking about mic pre's, which convert the very low signals coming from mics to line level, which the rest of your gear uses. if you have a mic, you need a mic pre.

    guitars and basses need a Hi-Z input (usually called "Instrument" on interfaces). you could also get a DI (direct box) which will take a Hi-Z input and produce a line level signal. but note that many/most mic pre's and interfaces have an input specifically for guitars and basses.

    the line out of your guitar amp will be line level, which you could take straight into a line level input of your interface.

    when recording, all musicians must be able to hear what they need in order to play along. some of that will be heard in the room, some will come over headphones. if they can hear it in the room, then the mics can hear it too, and you've got bleed. and that's not terrible, i'll often record with bleed because i don't have the necessary gear to distribute headphone mixes to a full band. just something that'll need to be dealt with in the studio, one way or another.
  7. guitarzanman thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2006
    Sorry for my ingnorance but I still have A few more questions

    Each mic needs it own preamp correct?? and 2 channel preamp could support 2 mics right?

    Also can you reccomend some good firewire audio interfaces that have a lest 4 inputs? (or 8 if i can't get 4 like you said)


  8. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002

    i've never used one, but i have heard some stuff recorded with, the metric halo 2882. a good place to start your search.
  9. dogbone macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2005
    S33.687308617200465 E150.31341791152954
    A few weeks ago jdsound were selling a presonus firebox on ebay plus an AT-2020 mic (plus cables) and boom stand for $299. They don't appear to still have that deal but they might possibly still do it if you contact their store and tell them about their previous ebay deal. $700 would get you two fireboxes plus 2 of the best mics in their price bracket and you would still have change left from $700 after delivery.

    The fireboxes will daisy chain together. Each one has two xlr sockets that can also take a direct guitar input (as well as lots of other line and midi inputs). So if they were daisychained you could plug in two guitars and two mics together.

    Also comes with cubase LE and a software mixer. Not a bad package.
  10. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    I have a Firewire Solo by M-Audio that I am quite happy with. Good Intel support. Great performance. Not too expensive.
  11. dogbone macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2005
    S33.687308617200465 E150.31341791152954
    EDIT: just checked and JD still have that special deal going

    Whoops this was supposed to be an edit to my previous post but I quoted by mistake.

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