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Chris

What's your recording setup and method?

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Recent posts in the Kilau xmas thread made me want to start this one. Similar to the songwriting thread we had a while ago, but for recording.

What recording setup does everyone use and what's your preferred method?

I noticed on the xmas compilation that loads of the solo stuff sounded like it had loads of layers and harmonies on it. I assume those that contributed (Bigsby? Ryan?) those tracks recording one instrument and voice at a time and built the track up gradually before choosing the final takes and mixing it down. Correct?

I've been trying to get some stuff down recently, mainly a failed contribution for the Kilau CD but after I missed that boat and had everything setup I started on some other stuff. I hate recording, it's not a fun process and seems like too much work compared to just playing and writing.

Started off trying to use Tracktion that came with the Mackie Tapco interface I'm using. Doesn't seem to like a 64bit OS though and everything failed dramatically (each take would output as a loud farting sound rather than my exquisite guitar playing). So I found some recommendations for different DAWs from another thread on here and ended up downloading Reactor. Much better! Instantly useable and I was setup and recording stuff that actually sounded like I intended it to straight away.

Unfortunately I only have one microphone and one mic stand, so I'm limited to recording one track at a time rather than doing a whole take live. I guess overall that will give better results as there's no bleed between mics to contend with when mixing, but it means more work in the short term. At the moment I've also got the amp in one room with some long leads so I can control the recording in the room next door, which is also a faff but means I can leave the laptop and recording hardware setup permanently on a desk there instead of cluttering up the floor of the other room.

What's everyone else's setup like? (post pics if you want)

Also any good recommendations for cheap/free and easy to use drum sequencing software?

Got any good tips for home recording? I've never spent much time on it before aside from demoing ideas for band situations.

Does anyone actually like the sound of their own singing voice in headphones?

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Guest idol_wild

Reeeaaaally good potential in this thread. I'm just about to self-record an album and would love to hear how everyone else goes about it and what they use.

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Got to admit that I love tinkering about with recording, different techniques so I'm looking forward to reading this thread!

Personally I use my laptop and run Ableton on it as the sequencer. I know it's not as popular/fashionable as Pro Tools or Cubase etc, but I find it so simple to use and am always finding new tricks and the like!

I start off with building a basic drum track using Acoustica Beatcraft which is just absolutely childs play to use. You can use your own drum samples in it, totally customise your kit and really tweak things a lot. There is also a programme called EZ Drummer by Toontrack that is supposedly the dogs bollocks, but I've never had the spare pennies to experiment with it. For now.....

Guitars are all recorded through a Line 6 Tone-Port, using their Gear Box software which is amazing in my humble opinion - an almost never ending supply of different amps and tones available and you can buy expansion packs to give more boutique sounds. Can also put the bass and vocals through this as well.

Then it's just a case of overdubbing, building up layers, putting in samples, taking out samples and experimenting with teh hundreds of plugins that I've managed to accumulate over the years.

Before you know it, it's 4am and you realise you have to be at work in 4 hours. Happy days!

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Good thread! More from me later, but I'm set on acquiring a proper recording setup. Really interested in seeing what people use and what is potentially worth investing in.

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Reeeaaaally good potential in this thread. I'm just about to self-record an album and would love to hear how everyone else goes about it and what they use.

Let me know if you need a hand.

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Well, I don't imagine my Kilau contribution had the most production sheen but I used the following.

A BOSS BR-600 digital 8-track.

An AKG Condensor Mic (C1000S)

An ancient POD

A box, tambourine, shaker and drumsticks, as I hate drum machines.

Loads of reverb.

I did everything one track at a time. I actually love recording stuff at home and could spend hours happily making whooshy noises with my pedalboard.

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I find the voice recorder thingy on my phone absolutely brilliant!! For someone who is learning to play the guitar and sing simultaneously, its actually such a good tool for hearing where you are going wrong. I never realised how bad at singng I actually am, but using this thing is getting me - slowly but surely - to be much better; at singing especially. It produces a horrible lo-lo-lo-lo-fi sound which I actually think is pretty charming! Don't see what is wrong with demoing songs on an acoutic on it.

I think you can get a fairly decent 4 track on the i-phone these days as well.

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Running Pro Tools 9 on a 27" iMac i7.

Digidesign 002R as my main interface with a Motu 8 Pre connected via ADAT. Yamaha HS80M Monitors and Sony MDR 7506 headphones for playback/tracking.

Mic wise, I have... 4x Shure SM57, Shure Beta 57, Sennheiser MD421, Matched pair of Oktava MK-012's, Shure SM7B, Audix D6, 2x AKG C1000 and there's an AKG D112 kicking around somewhere. Needing to get a new condenser mic.

Other stuff. Couple of home built DI boxes, a home built re-amp box. Made all of my bass traps for my room. I used my amps (pictured) for re-amping through. Sansamp Bass Driver for bass guitar. Got a few plug ins, Autotune, Pod Farm and a few others. I've got a Macbook that I take out for location recording of drums. I don't have the space in the house, so I just load my rig into the van and go to wherever a band rehearses. I've got enough ins to record a live demo, but I've not done it yet. One of these days I'll give it a whirl I think.

Pod Farm is handy for DI'ing the guitars. Means I can track well into the night and re-amp once I've got all the good takes down. I live in a semi(lol) and I don't wanna upset my neighbour too much. Though, he doesn't seem to mind the noise, but... I like to be respectful. My recording room is right in the middle of the house so I guess since it's not right on his wall, he doesn't hear it so bad.

I'm still getting into all this recording malarky. Been doing it part time since May and working tirelessly at it. I'm realising the errors of my ways.

Pictures...

My desk is very messy, not tidied up since I got back from helping out on a project in Aberdeen. (playing FM2011 there... 2-0 to me!)

CIMG5911.jpg

And my amps/rack (the two spaces are going to be filled in with an input panel. I'm just waiting for my mate to wire it up for me)

CIMG5910.jpg

For the OP, I fuckin hate the sound of my voice. I really hate soloing it back. Makes me cringe :(

Mainly got into recording to save my band money, but we've hardly written any songs since I got my setup to a good standard. Typical.

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run Ableton on it as the sequencer am always finding new tricks and the like!

Guitars are all recorded through a Line 6 Tone-Port, using their Gear Box software which is amazing in my humble opinion - an almost never ending supply of different amps and tones available and you can buy expansion packs to give more boutique sounds. Can also put the bass and vocals through this as well.

Then it's just a case of overdubbing, building up layers, putting in samples, taking out samples and experimenting with teh hundreds of plugins.

Before you know it, it's 4am and you realise you have to be at work in 4 hours. Happy days!

Yeah same here, all the above i've found to be excellent pieces of software/hardware. I've just purchases cubase, its a time factor now to familiarise with the interface etc. Also in the process of getting a studio kitted out in my basement.....don't know what the neighbours are gonna think about the drums when we record them but, yes indeed, happy days :)

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So far, so good. Since they've finally added multi-track Beat Detective and ADC, it's almost as good as having HD. Obviously, the higher the spec of your computer, the better it'll run. But I'm liking it. Just a few tweaks from PT8, which I also liked very much.

Eventually, I'll get a new interface to replace the 002, but it'ls good for now :)

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I've had a recording set up for about 3/4 years now which consists of Cubase, an Mbox, a Sure SM 58 and a bunch of different keyboards. I remember struggling through for a long time while getting used to the software. Once you master the software work flow, that part of the process will stop hindering the speed at which you can get ideas down.

I have found that having a recording partner to work with at times can be very useful. Its a great way of learning, you can pick up little tips and tricks that youve learned individually and also good for getting ideas down. Sometimes all you need is someone there to push the record button and stop at the right time or just tell you that it can be done better.

Generally I leave as much of the processing of the track to the end of the recording session as possible. Most of the stuff I write on my own is made up as I go along, like a jam session with myself. I pick out the bits I like and layer them up until I am happy. Maybe put down some vocals. Stopping every 10 mins to get the sound/mix perfect just gets in the way. You have a better idea of what needs to be done once you have all of your parts down anyway.

It can be pretty hard to listen back to your own voice, Im always hyper critical and it has taken a long time to think that Im an acceptable singer. Enough people are not offended by my voice when they listen to just get on with it!

I've been pretty much been limited to 2 tracks at a time with my M Box but going to do a 2 stage upgrade this year. Firstly getting a 2nd hand Alesis 12 track firewire multimix to boost up the home set up. Later in the year Im going to get a pricey presonus firewire mixer which will be very versatile for future endeavors.

Oh yeah and I use Fruity Loops for beats, although this is my weakest point! There are better pieces of software for beats. I believe addictive drums is a very good piece of kit.

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I've had a few set-ups over trhe decades....originally recorded 'live' to cassette,...then bounced between 2 cassettes. Moved on to a 4 track cassette portastudio, then a Tascam 8-track reel-to-reel (which gave the best sound I've had so far, especially when mastered onto an old stereo Revox).

Sadly it was on its last legs when I got it (some tracks didn't operate til it had warmed up for an hour, then others started 'dropping out' after a few hours).

Then I got Hog's old 12 track digital recorder (think it's an Akai???), which I really like, but the LCD display has become unreadable.

Of late I've been using a Boss 8track, which is fine, but only takes 2 inputs at a time...not too annoying for me.

I tend to start with an acoustic guitar part, then add bass, keys etc.....lastly (but hardly ever) percussion...like MikeyB I'm not a fan of digital drums etc).

I use a Shure SM 57, 58 and an old Unidyne from the 60s (which has a 4-pin XLR)

I've got abit stuck in a 'looping' rut of late.......recording abasic guitar verse/chorus/verse...then record that, before adding bass or 2nd gtr to the loop...then adding that etc etc).

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I use a Boss BR-600 which I bought second hand on here for 100 and is a tasty bit of kit.

If we take the Kilau track as an example, I started off with a very basic drumbeat made on Acoustica Beatcraft, recorded in stereo onto the Boss. The Boss has some nifty options toplay around with sounds that you input via the line in. I rarely use drum beats becaue I am too lazy to do teh programming, but felt this track needed some.

Then I recorded the rhythm guitar, my 54 Reissue Les Paul straight into the Boss, using the built in amp simulations. Usually I use my Pocket Pod into the line in - the simualtions are better and again the line in gives you options in terms of lpaying with the sound but I was rushing to finish this one so for ease I just used the onboard Boss stuff which is not bad at all.

Then I fingerpicked a part with lots of tremolo, panning them left and right at about 9 oclock and 3 o clock respectively.

I then added the bass, 1993 Japanese Squier Precision straight in to the Boss, using the onboard bass models.

So that was my basic rhthym track, I set the levels and bounced it down to a stereo track. Next was the guitar solo. Again my Les Paul but for this one I did use the Line 6 Pocket Pod into the Boss to get a nice spring reverb tone.

Then main vocals, SM57 with Asda smart price sieve acting as a pop shield. Then backing vocals.

Add reverb to taste, set levels, mix down to stereo, master using the onboard mastering on the Boss, and export to WAV, ready to burn to CD for Alan. :)

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PPS To answer your question I hate the sound of my own voice. I was pleased with the guitar solo on teh Kilau thing but my singing makes it pretty much unlistenable for me.

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Ancient 13MB version of Cakewalk (Pro Audio 9) running with a Soundblaster X-Fi on my fragile PC. Got some version of Sonar, but too scared to use it. I have an SM57 and a TC Helicon Create for vocals and Zoom B2/G2 pedals for bass and guitar. I programme drums and MIDI instruments (strings, brass, etc) using the piano roll (dragging blocks about a piano sceen). Got a DVD full of soundfonts of of ebay for a tenner to make it sound a wee bit more realistic. Budget recording for demos and such. Recorded the Belloc's Bar album with this set up (on MySpace and Facebook and such).

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I think the main thing is that no method is better than another as long as you're comfortable with the process and it enhances the musical creativity rather than gets in the way.

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I tend to start with an acoustic guitar part, then add bass, keys etc.....lastly (but hardly ever) percussion...like MikeyB I'm not a fan of digital drums etc).

See, I usually go drums first...

be them digital (I try to avoid this as much as I can but for demoing I use guitar pro, mainly because I put a lot of my songs into there anyway to play with layering stuff up and working out vocal melodies etc as part of the writing process) or a mic'd up drummer, I like to get that down first to keep everything else going in as tight as possible

The drummer plugs a metronome into headphones and plays the song to a click, then lay down the bass, guitar, then vox.

Kinda out-of-date post in all honesty, I'm in the process of getting a new band going - but this is still the process I used before and that I plan to stick to, it'll just be with different gear as old drummer didn't let me steal his drum mics and mixer, the nerve of that bastard!

but yeah, following drums, either DI or mic the bass and then guitar, lay down some vocals and have a listen to it as bare bones - do a minor amount of touching up to make it sound acceptable then consider / write / scrap / rework the harmonies and layers, less is more after all!

I like using this process while I write, but since I write almost everything on an acoustic guitar, i tend to get lazy and just open up cool edit and play / sing the song to the laptops built in mic, leave it a day or two and go back and listen.

I also hate the sound of my voice, but I'm a pretty shit singer...

anyway, listen back, rate it, send it to bandmates and a couple of friends who's opinions I can trust to be honest (often too fucking honest, wankers) and rework, loop the process till it's done...

et voila

xx

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For that don't use drums, do you click track/metronome or play loose?

As someone who hasn't done much recording and never practices with a metronome it's taking a while to get used to Reaper's click track but I guess it'll make everything easier if I need to use different sections of different tracks later on.

There's a lot of folk using PODs and similar. Any particular reason for that over your putting a mic in front of your own amps?

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There's a lot of folk using PODs and similar. Any particular reason for that over your putting a mic in front of your own amps?

Simplicity really. I have Mrs Bigsby and two kids so quite frankly it's a lot easier than cranking up a Marshall.

There's a lot of snobbery carried over from the days when multi fx and the like were fizzy sounding pieces of shit. These days the Pods et al sound superb IMO and open up a whole world of options in terms of amps that there's no way you could afford otherwise.

Don't kid yourselves - many of your favourite artists are using this stuff in the studio.

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I used to use a wee Boss rhythm machine as a 'click track', and I very occasionally use an old Alessis drum thing, but I've given up worrying about speeding up/slowing down (as you can hear on my CDrs!)....prefer a more organic sound.

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When I used to record acoustic stuff, I just played loose, as it's quite difficult to get lost in a click track. I just don't like them.

My set up is about as simple as it can possibly get. Mic into a laptop infront of an amp. Sequenced drums in Beatcraft. I've been recording some droney, melancholy pop music recently, which is just layers of guitar and pretty basic drums. I probably won't unleash it on the world yet though.

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For that don't use drums, do you click track/metronome or play loose?

There's a lot of folk using PODs and similar. Any particular reason for that over your putting a mic in front of your own amps?

I tried playing to a click but I find it really annoying so I just practice the backing guitar over and over until it's tight and just record that first. Then I'll put down whatever percussion I like to accent certain parts and give it some drive. Then it's a vocal and all the guitar fills go on last.

I just use the POD as I do my recording in my spare time in the evening and I don't want to annoy my neighbours, plus I can have loads of amps to choose from too.

Oh, and I hate my singing voice but luckily a lot of the songwriters I like are quite ropey too.

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As above, I used to add effects before DIing into the recorder, but now I mostly go straight in, then use the effects loop (often utilising reeeeeeally cheap'n'cheesy effects).

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