Many Instrument Recording Questions

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by MisterKeeks, Aug 11, 2015.

  1. MisterKeeks macrumors 68000


    Nov 15, 2012
    Hello! I have many questions about a project that I've wanted to do for some time now.
    I play the cello and would like to have a good way to make reasonably good audio (plus maybe some video... not as important) recordings of my playing. I know a fair amount about Macs/Computers in general. However, I am clueless about audio.

    The main considerations:
    1. Most important: Be able to create good quality solo cello recordings
    2. If possible, I would like to use the MIDI capability of an organ that is in the room that I would record in often. I would use this for Finale 2007 transcriptions. This software is based on PowerPC, so a PowerPC Mac would be preferable. I also would like to use this to somehow record and play back organ playing. This does not need to happen on the same computer as the recording, in fact, it might be easier to use a different computers
    3. Being able to record other instruments (string quartet or cello with piano) would be nice. Not the main consideration, and possibly not worth the expense. Just something to consider when purchasing equipment, to have this expandability.
    4. I might want to have video recordings with the cello as well. I think one would simply record using an iPhone and add in the audio after?

    I have a fair amount of computers to throw at this project. While one option is a 2011 i7 Macbook Pro, I would prefer using one of these PowerPC options:
    PCIe Power Mac G5 (Quad) (OS X Only)
    2x PCI-X PMG5 (OS X Only)
    PowerMac G4 that is capable of OS 9 to OS X Leopard
    or a 2006 Mac Mini 1.83 Core Duo (no power at all, but silent)

    I also have a 5ish year old Core 2 Duo Windows computer, and some older Pentium D/4 computers, but please don't make me use those...

    I realize that these are now considered obsolete, but I think they should be enough for my needs. If you have any answers to any of these questions, please post them! Thanks.
  2. mfram macrumors 65816

    Jan 23, 2010
    San Diego, CA USA
    I'd think the number one things you need are a quiet room and a quality Mic.
  3. ChrisA, Aug 12, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015

    ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    What matters the most is the equipment that is closest to the cello. That which is farther away matters the least. So the very first thing you need is

    1) A good recording space. A home kitchen with a running refrigerator would be very poor but a large upstairs walk-in closet can work well. Find a quiet place, and I mean quiet and has walls that are not so reflective

    2) The next thing is a QUALITY microphone. $200 is a good staring entry level budget. It is easier if you place the mic up close. I don't know what mic works best with a cello. Likely a condenser mic like you'd use for vocals. You can find them used and Chinese made is not really so bad. Add another $80 for a mic cable and a mic stand. (buy a high quality cable with good connectors)

    3) next you need something to plug the mic into. Most condenser microphones require "phantom power" and will have a 3-pin XLR connector cable. These are a few good USB audio interface boxes that sell for about $150. The feature you look for in this box is the quality of the built-in preamplifier. This is one of the better ones:
    It does MIDI also and can drive some good powered monitors

    4) then you need a computer to plug the interface into. Any Mac will to. this task is not very demanding of a computer. What matter the most, I think is screen space. Editing is hard on a small 13" screen. one IMPORTENT feature you want is ZERO fan noise. Find a silent computer.

    5) software for recording. Garage Band will work well for you. Some day you may want to upgrade. then Logic is a good way to go as it works a lot like GB and will directly operand read GB projects.

    6) Good monitor speakers and some good headphones. You can use your HiFi gear but if working of recordings you need some really flat and accurate playback. I use AKG K240 headphones (very flat and un-colored and cheap too)

    7) Next is learning how this all works. Th best way is one of those on-line video training sites. (don't bother with youtube, it is work even less then you pay for it.) the best two are and I like the later. Buy a $25 per month subscription They offer a free trial so you can see if you like it. Look for some beginner level classes. They tend to be 4 to 6 hours long and you should actually do al the exercises.

    In the end what really matters is #1, #2 and #7.

    All that said. these things work far better than you'd think.
    Just place the H4 on some kind of stand, like a camera tripod and you get very good results

    If you want video also just use you iPhone and later you combine the high end audio with the iPhone video and just toss out the iPhone audio. With video the #1 thing you'd is LIGHTS. Given enough light (and a tripod) any cheap camera can go near pro quality video. Video ending software like Final Cut will allow you to sync video and audio that were recorded on different systems.
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    I'd like to add to the excellent post before this one.

    You probably want TWO mics for stereo recording, to give the sound some "spatial reality".

    You'll have to experiment a bit as to how to place them for the cello.
    I'd also advise you to check -- someone there may be able to offer tips on mic placement.

    I do think the Focusrite 2-channel interface linked to above is a good buy.

    You can start out with GarageBand, and it may give you the results you want.
    However, you may find it limited in some ways, and may start looking for something more powerful afterwards.

    My favorite DAW software is Cubase, has been that way for a long time. It combines power with an ease-of-learning that I think is better than all the other DAW's I've seen. My opinion only.

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