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  #1  
Old 12-01-2010, 10:06 AM
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Default A Recording Alternative

Hey all -

So the question has come up to me privately on how I record the stuff I've been posting for you all to see on YouTube. Obviously, my video isn't that great, and that was never my intention to make that part really good, I wanted it to sound good. So I wanted to share with you what I'm currently using to make my audio recordings.

When you see one of my videos on YouTube, what I'm doing is letting the video camera just capture the image. The actual audio part is going into a separate recorder. Both the video file and audio file then get dumped into Apple's iMovie and I sync the two together. And how I do that you see because every one of them has me clicking sticks or striking something before I start playing.

I'm no salesman, and I'm not trying to sell anyone anything, I just want to show an alternative to the common "get an audio interface and go into your laptop" thingy. Now, I do not knock those folks who use audio interfaces and make great recordings with their computers. I'm a professional audio engineer working for Disneyland in California (where I was a musician before that), so I've played with alot of stuff and have people who do ProTools like there's no tomorrow around me. But being a little old skool - doing things in the computers is kind of a drag. For one, you need a really powerful computer - those little $400 Dell laptops are not going to cut it. And if you want to be able to record at least eight tracks at once, and then add effects and eq, you're in for some slow times. So I wanted something that operated like a mixing console but didn't need a computer.

And I found it on a whim when I went to a Sam Ash and told them what I was looking for. They pointed me at the Zoom R16.

So this little box can take eight inputs in at a time, but you can record up to 16 tracks. They also have another model that is 24 tracks total, still keeping with inputting 8 tracks at a time. And how I do it is everything is going in live to this recorder, and it records to SD cards. Quick and easy. No interface to worry about latency with, it's basically like a 16-track cassette Portastudio from years gone by.

What I do is lay down my music tracks on two tracks, and then plug the mics in, including my vocal mic. Put on my in-ear monitors, play the track and record the drums and voice live in one take. Simple and done. I can then plug it into my powered studio monitors and do a mix down, when I have it the way I want it, my output from the R16 goes to the input of my 2-track Zoom H2 flash recorder, which also records to SD cards, and there's my stereo mix, ready to be dumped into my iTunes library, or into iMovie for syncing up with the video from the camcorder (which also records to SD card).

This process is much more intutive for me, being a sound guy by trade, and easier to understand because it's very much how you would've recorded back in the day.

But what of the computer, you ask? The R16 also can act as the audio interface to get 8 tracks into your computer recording software too, as I found out. It will also act as the mix-down deck too (the audio coming out of the computer via USB and getting mixed by the R16). Another thing I've tried is, once I recorded 8 or more tracks, stuck the SD card into my card reader, and dumped each .wav file track into a separate track in GarageBand, then I could tweak each track to my heart's content on the computer screen if I wanted to!

How much does this cost? Well, the R16 itself is about $400, and my H2 is about $175. Just to make nice audio recordings costs almost $600. Yes, I still need my Mac computer for doing the video part and being able to use iLife for the tools like iTunes and iMovie, but in reality, at that point it doesn't have to be a huge Mac with all the power. When it gets to the mac, they're just audio and video files. I'm not using it to process or mix or save eq settings for each track. In other words, I'm not taxing the computer, so the work to get the final product finished is actually rather fast. The only thing I hate is uploading to YouTube. If I did full quality, a four minute completed video could take over 200+ minutes to upload. One of the reasons my video doesn't look good is because I'm uploading a smaller video file so uploading only takes about 14-18 minutes. So long as the audio sounds good, that's what I'm after.

So that's how I do it with the R16 and also the Zoom H2. The fact that it does all that other stuff is icing on the cake for me, and should be a consideration if you absolutely have to use your computer. I hope that was clear. I know this forum gets alot of questions from folks who don't have a clue on how to record their drums, I think I found an easier way to do it rather than tax that poor laptop you're using.

Thoughts?
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Old 12-05-2010, 06:34 AM
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Default Re: A Recording Alternative

I own one as well, I use for a control surface as well. I use it with my mac and use Motu DiditalPerformer6. My brother is an engeneer and does mastering. I some times get called upon to ghost drum ( recordings dirty little secret). I send him a bulk file of my drums recorded naked ie no effects. He gets my file opens it and mixes my drums. The Zoom sounds great. as long as you have well tuned drums. My brother needs to do very little to my recordings,, Some eq and what ever he does to make them fit in with the rest of the recording.
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Old 12-05-2010, 06:48 PM
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Default Re: A Recording Alternative

interesting......

i got it beat in price by a long shot....

but i guess thats why your recordings sound a million times better then mine too.......
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Old 12-05-2010, 07:04 PM
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Default Re: A Recording Alternative

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Originally Posted by azrae1l View Post
interesting......

i got it beat in price by a long shot....

but i guess thats why your recordings sound a million times better then mine too.......
Well, I was just throwin' out for the new guys who are convinced they must do it in their computers. The price seems to really jump up when you want to do it right that way, way more than what I spent. And actually, I didn't include my mics and stands and cables in the equation either, but just the fact that what I do isn't dependent on processor power and is just straight forward "into recorder then into two-track for mix-down" for the audio I thought would be really attractive to people on the fence about how to do it.

Like I said, I love the guys who can manipulate ProTools to no end, but it doesn't seem easy enough for me, let alone somebody brand new to this whole 'other world' or recording. Thanks for hearing me out!
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Old 12-05-2010, 07:35 PM
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Default Re: A Recording Alternative

i use audactiy with a $40 usb interface off my mixer. sounds like total garbage really but i only use it for myself so i can play back what i'm working on and hear mistakes.

but for $600 bucks i'm actually giving this serious considerations now, seems really straight forward which is nice. i wanna do some solo stuff and try out the last year's worth of drum lessons so this would actually work out perfectly since my current studio isn't big enough for all my equipment, hell it's barely big enough for the drum kit.
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Old 12-05-2010, 09:55 PM
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Default Re: A Recording Alternative

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Originally Posted by azrae1l View Post
i use audactiy with a $40 usb interface off my mixer. sounds like total garbage really but i only use it for myself so i can play back what i'm working on and hear mistakes.

but for $600 bucks i'm actually giving this serious considerations now, seems really straight forward which is nice. i wanna do some solo stuff and try out the last year's worth of drum lessons so this would actually work out perfectly since my current studio isn't big enough for all my equipment, hell it's barely big enough for the drum kit.
See? Sacrifice that extra snare drum and a cymbal and you too can have a recording studio! ;)
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Old 12-16-2010, 09:37 PM
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Default Re: A Recording Alternative

I actually went the opposite way, starting on a Tascam 788 which was the first digital portastudio, gotta be 10 years ago.

Now I'm working with a mac, Studio One Pro software, and Presonus FireStudio Mobile. With the addition of an old Blue Tube pre-amp I'm able to run 4 mics (2 overheads, BD, SD), and can add more with more pre-amps and mics, when the need arrises. For the sake of simplicity I often just use the overheads and BD mics and get decent results. I think with fewer mics it also helps me view the drumset as one instrument as opposed to a bunch of separate pieces.

You're right about the computer in that one can get carried away with all of the options available, VSTis, effects, arranging, mixing. It's dizzying at times, and I'm still learning.
The all in one box is definitely a viable option because of its simplicity and low learning curve. Also little to no loss of sound quality. And if you consider the price of a computer, interface, and software vs. the price of an all in one box, well...... obviously a big difference.

Billy
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Old 12-17-2010, 02:18 AM
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Default Re: A Recording Alternative

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Originally Posted by autonomos View Post
I actually went the opposite way, starting on a Tascam 788 which was the first digital portastudio, gotta be 10 years ago.

Now I'm working with a mac, Studio One Pro software, and Presonus FireStudio Mobile. With the addition of an old Blue Tube pre-amp I'm able to run 4 mics (2 overheads, BD, SD), and can add more with more pre-amps and mics, when the need arrises. For the sake of simplicity I often just use the overheads and BD mics and get decent results. I think with fewer mics it also helps me view the drumset as one instrument as opposed to a bunch of separate pieces.

You're right about the computer in that one can get carried away with all of the options available, VSTis, effects, arranging, mixing. It's dizzying at times, and I'm still learning.
The all in one box is definitely a viable option because of its simplicity and low learning curve. Also little to no loss of sound quality. And if you consider the price of a computer, interface, and software vs. the price of an all in one box, well...... obviously a big difference.

Billy
Yeah, my whole life feels like it's going backwards! Back in the analog days I had reel-to-reel recorders and consoles, and now it's come to this...

However, many people do great things with computers. I'm just not of the mindset that I want to actually learn how to do all that stuff in this lifetime, considering the alternatives available. If I had all the time in the world and the money, I'm sure I would've stayed on the ProTools bandwagon, but man, all I wanna do is record myself and hear it back. If it was going to be a really big deal, I'm sure someone else would be footing the bill to go into a big recording studio to do it right. At this point, I just want to do stuff and share it!
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Old 12-17-2010, 04:17 AM
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Default Re: A Recording Alternative

If your looking for quality in the middle you could always use a 20 dollar rockband mic. That's what i'm using in this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXSQxVu7upM

Here my kit is all hooked up with microphones. I don't know what any of them are so don't ask Lol. My dad did all the technical work. I just played.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOFTi9RdcbY
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Old 12-17-2010, 06:46 AM
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Default Re: A Recording Alternative

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Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
However, many people do great things with computers. I'm just not of the mindset that I want to actually learn how to do all that stuff in this lifetime, considering the alternatives available. If I had all the time in the world and the money, I'm sure I would've stayed on the ProTools bandwagon, but man, all I wanna do is record myself and hear it back. If it was going to be a really big deal, I'm sure someone else would be footing the bill to go into a big recording studio to do it right. At this point, I just want to do stuff and share it!
Well, it's not just about the equipment, but knowing what to do with it. I checked out some of your you tube stuff and I gotta say you get outstanding results with minimal fuss. Your experience is obvious.
I'm still limping along with my first DAW for the better part of a year, little by little. I'm sure at the end of the 200+ page manual it'll be worth it. I'm learning a lot in the process.

Billy
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Old 12-17-2010, 10:45 AM
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Bo Eder Bo Eder is offline
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Default Re: A Recording Alternative

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Originally Posted by autonomos View Post
Well, it's not just about the equipment, but knowing what to do with it. I checked out some of your you tube stuff and I gotta say you get outstanding results with minimal fuss. Your experience is obvious.
I'm still limping along with my first DAW for the better part of a year, little by little. I'm sure at the end of the 200+ page manual it'll be worth it. I'm learning a lot in the process.

Billy
Thanks for the kind feedback. I appreciate it!

Keep limping along with that DAW - if you've made the investment sooner, rather than later, you will get the sounds you want - just don't give up! It's funny how many drummers I've met and we all tend to think alike - we're the guys that buy the PA for the band, and know about mics and stuff and/or start building studios because we don't want to disturb anyone else. It's like a co-requisite to playing the drums in the band. Maybe it's some genetic code we all pick up to make up for the fact that we're not dealing with melodic notes like everybody else?
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Old 02-08-2011, 11:32 AM
DrummerJase DrummerJase is offline
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Default Re: A Recording Alternative

Hey Bo, I know this is an old thread but found it through that link you posted to the dude buying a couple mics...

Your set up sounds great man! Just goes to show that if you have the skill, something simple can sound like it's a lot more comprehensive! That Disneyland experience must have paid off
Nice shuffle on that Ramones tune too ;)
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Old 02-08-2011, 06:10 PM
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Default Re: A Recording Alternative

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Originally Posted by DrummerJase View Post
Hey Bo, I know this is an old thread but found it through that link you posted to the dude buying a couple mics...

Your set up sounds great man! Just goes to show that if you have the skill, something simple can sound like it's a lot more comprehensive! That Disneyland experience must have paid off
Nice shuffle on that Ramones tune too ;)
Thanks fro the kind words. I appreciate it! It's funny because when the whole computer-recording scene started, I never quite got on with it, and had already learned when I had an old reel-to-reel 4-track and a board. My experience goes back to the days when you did razor-blade edits to tapes! I'm slowly coming around to doing stuff in GarageBand and ProTools but since I work so fast the way I already do, there's no point. And although everyone these days is buying enough power on their computers, it never seems like its enough!

Thanks for listening!
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