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Offline Dan33185

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Equipment for demo recording and live recording
« on: June 06, 2024, 12:57:55 AM »
I have a 2 part question, I'm hoping to get equipment that will fit both these needs if possible.

First off, my price range would be under $500

1. I know a local musician who performs covers, but has written some of her own songs she hasn't sang or recorded. I would like to offer the ability for her to record these as low-fi demos basically, and would like to know what all I would need to get the best results. It would be her vocals and guitar, so very minimal. I currently record her live through her SBD with my Tascam DR-60D and get decent results, but am wondering if there is anything that would get better results for demo recordings.

2. I would also like to use the above to record concerts as well, if that's realistic.

I'm wondering if my current equipment can have instruments plugged directly in to it (guitar and mic), or if I would need something more. Also, would I be better off recording her vocals and guitar through the soundboard, or with external mics set close to her?
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Offline rocksuitcase

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Re: Equipment for demo recording and live recording
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2024, 10:25:06 AM »
I have a 2 part question, I'm hoping to get equipment that will fit both these needs if possible.

First off, my price range would be under $500

1. I know a local musician who performs covers, but has written some of her own songs she hasn't sang or recorded. I would like to offer the ability for her to record these as low-fi demos basically, and would like to know what all I would need to get the best results. It would be her vocals and guitar, so very minimal. I currently record her live through her SBD with my Tascam DR-60D and get decent results, but am wondering if there is anything that would get better results for demo recordings.

2. I would also like to use the above to record concerts as well, if that's realistic.

I'm wondering if my current equipment can have instruments plugged directly in to it (guitar and mic), or if I would need something more. Also, would I be better off recording her vocals and guitar through the soundboard, or with external mics set close to her?
You will get some good opinions on this. My first one is the deck isn't as important in this scenario as the microphones. When you say, record her vocals and guitar through the soundboard, what microphones are you using A] for the vocals B] for the guitar (additionally-is the guitar going in through a DI box, thus no mic?)

My second point is generic- What I bolded in your last question is the crux of the biscuit. A question asked, and answered by many sound professionals with many different solutions.
My decision would be based on my first questions, what mics are you using? The deck hardly matters unless you need to go Four channel.
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Offline opsopcopolis

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Re: Equipment for demo recording and live recording
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2024, 12:11:24 PM »
If it's just guitar and vocals, and the guitar is going through a DI, you should be fine to record both direct into the DR60d (though you should test that theory.) If (and this is a big if) you can get direct outs from the board, that will be the least intrusive way to do it. If not, splitting from the sources is also an option, but you'd want to make sure that she makes sure the house crew is aware, because they won't love you running around their stage pulling/repatching cables.

The main downside I could see in the 60d is that it only has 2ch of preamps, so if there comes a time when there's more than just guitar/vocals, you won't have room for anything else

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Equipment for demo recording and live recording
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2024, 12:28:46 PM »
"I would like to offer the ability for her to record these as low-fi demos.."
"I currently record her live through her SBD with my Tascam DR-60D and get decent results.."


^ The recordings you are making already can serve as demo recordings.  Please describe what you and she desires/expects from a demo recording that differs from those recordings. Then our answers can hinge on the particular attributes you and she are looking for in the demo recordings.. accommodating the working process she feels confident with when making them.  The gear used is the obvious and easiest thing for us to discuss (Rocksuitcase and opsopcopolis are spot on in their gear suggestions).  But since the expectations for the type of demo are subjective, it will help to better nail down the qualities you and she are looking for.

Stuff like..
How important is the live performance aspect to her.. and to the intended audience of the demo?
Is live performance energy and audience interaction one of the more compelling aspects of her particular musical artistry?
^ If so, recording in a way that conveys those kinds of attributes will be important.

Doing that is quite different than the creation of a recording which is does not sound like its a live performance.  Something like a "dry upfront and intimate sounding" recording that has close/intimate "in your ear" type vocal delivery and is of its "own little world" which excludes the sound of the environment in which it was made.
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Offline Dan33185

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Re: Equipment for demo recording and live recording
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2024, 03:22:39 PM »
You will get some good opinions on this. My first one is the deck isn't as important in this scenario as the microphones. When you say, record her vocals and guitar through the soundboard, what microphones are you using A] for the vocals B] for the guitar (additionally-is the guitar going in through a DI box, thus no mic?)

My second point is generic- What I bolded in your last question is the crux of the biscuit. A question asked, and answered by many sound professionals with many different solutions.
My decision would be based on my first questions, what mics are you using? The deck hardly matters unless you need to go Four channel.

I'm not sure of the mic she uses, it would most likely just be the same one she uses for shows. She runs her equipment through a Flamma FM10, and I plug in to the "output" on the top right in the image at the link.

If it's just guitar and vocals, and the guitar is going through a DI, you should be fine to record both direct into the DR60d (though you should test that theory.) If (and this is a big if) you can get direct outs from the board, that will be the least intrusive way to do it. If not, splitting from the sources is also an option, but you'd want to make sure that she makes sure the house crew is aware, because they won't love you running around their stage pulling/repatching cables.

The main downside I could see in the 60d is that it only has 2ch of preamps, so if there comes a time when there's more than just guitar/vocals, you won't have room for anything else

For demos and such, I would not being doing them at a venue, rather in a garage/music room, something isolated. It would be just her and her guitar, so for the moment I wouldn't need anything to complicated.

"I would like to offer the ability for her to record these as low-fi demos.."
"I currently record her live through her SBD with my Tascam DR-60D and get decent results.."


^ The recordings you are making already can serve as demo recordings.  Please describe what you and she desires/expects from a demo recording that differs from those recordings. Then our answers can hinge on the particular attributes you and she are looking for in the demo recordings.. accommodating the working process she feels confident with when making them.  The gear used is the obvious and easiest thing for us to discuss (Rocksuitcase and opsopcopolis are spot on in their gear suggestions).  But since the expectations for the type of demo are subjective, it will help to better nail down the qualities you and she are looking for.

Stuff like..
How important is the live performance aspect to her.. and to the intended audience of the demo?
Is live performance energy and audience interaction one of the more compelling aspects of her particular musical artistry?
^ If so, recording in a way that conveys those kinds of attributes will be important.

Doing that is quite different than the creation of a recording which is does not sound like its a live performance.  Something like a "dry upfront and intimate sounding" recording that has close/intimate "in your ear" type vocal delivery and is of its "own little world" which excludes the sound of the environment in which it was made.

We haven't discussed this yet, I will be seeing her next week and brining it up. I know studio time can be expensive, so I wanted to offer her at least something to lay down songs she's written at no expense to her. I'm sure she'd be satisfied with my current setup I use for her shows, but I figured if I can get even better sound, it would be worth at least investigating. My hope is if something like this goes good, I would love to start something like Western AF for smaller, more local musicians, obviously on a smaller scale than what they do.
AUD: Zoom H2
SBD: Tascam DR-60D


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Offline grawk

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Re: Equipment for demo recording and live recording
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2024, 04:05:43 PM »
My question is:

How does she sound singing and playing without amplification at all?  A stereo pair a little in front of her, where it sounds good and is mostly direct instead of reflected sound, could make for a dandy demo.
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Offline Chanher

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Re: Equipment for demo recording and live recording
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2024, 04:17:38 PM »
I've tried this exact same thing many times:

You're probably good starting out with your DR-60d. Use the first mic input for her vocal mic, then mic the acoustic guitar with a small-diaphragm condenser and plug that into the 2nd mic input. Last, if you can, take the 1/4 output of her acoustic guitar run that into her FM10 mixer and run an output out of the mixer into the 1/8 input on the DR-60d (tracks 3 and 4 I believe). You should have 3 independent tracks to insert into multitrack software to mix and master. (You might have to split the stereo file from input 1 and 2 so you have mono files of her vocals and acoustic guitar).

Do you have access to a large diaphragm condenser for her vocal mic? You can probably get a cheap one and it will be just be fine for a lowfi demo. I personally feel bright mics tend to sound better on female vocals (experts please weigh-in), so one of the cheap (and bright) entry level LDC's isn't the worst option. Something like an AT4040, you can probably find a used one.
 
It's also a common misconception that vocal recording requires a condensor, you can certainly try something like a Shure SM58 dynamic mic, a Shure SM7 (or whatever the popular podcast mic is) or even the vocal mic she uses for shows. Don't hesitate to use what you already have.

I usually don't like the sound of acoustic guitars when recording directly from the 1/4 output, especially cheap acoustic guitars. But that's why you put a mic on the guitar, then in post you can play around with the balance of the direct out + the small diaphragm mic and you can a decent full sound. If only using 1 mic on the guitar, I like to start out with it around 1-2 feet away, halfway in between her left and right hands. You can also try 1-2 ft away directly in front of the sound hole. If you don't have a small diaphragm condensor, it might be time to get a couple since you're a taper! :)

The best advice I can give when trying something like this is to SET EVERYTHING UP AND PRACTICE BEFORE YOU RECORD THE ARTIST. Nothing ruins a studio session quicker than the recording engineer not knowing the equipment etc and the artist has to sit there and watch you figure things out.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2024, 06:59:38 PM by Chanher »
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Equipment for demo recording and live recording
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2024, 06:40:19 PM »
"We haven't discussed this yet, I will be seeing her next week and brining it up. "

Start with that conversation.

If appropriate to the music and if she is good enough to come across well "fully acoustically" as one would hear her singing and playing without any amplification, then what grawk suggests is probably the way to go.  Few mistakes to make, things to screw up, or processing to be done, and the possibility of capturing something excellent - simple, pure and delicious without the recording process getting in the way.

If she wants to convey the energy and feel of a live performance.  Do that at one of her gigs with and audience of supportive friends.  Set up your simple stereo pair of microphones beneath her vocal mic on the same stand. Great live recordings of solo singer/songwriter type performers have been made that way. 

If she doesn't want a live feel, do it the same but without an audience, preferably somewhere with good reverberant acoustics.  Be creative in finding and using those places like that.

If you have to, do it the same way in a walk in closet with lots of cloths hanging in there, or something similar to deaden the acoustics of a small room.  That will sound very flat and dead and will need added reverb.  A large room with good acoustics will sound much better and more natural, which is what makes that the better option. 

Recording her the same way in in a typical untreated garage or room in your or her home can certainly work, but won't sound nearly as good as a decent sized space with good acoustics, and is likely to sound worse than recording in a very dead sounding closet like space with added reverb. The sound of a small room tends to clutter up this style of recording with too many early reflections and no good reverb.  The resulting recording is going to need added reverb anyway and the not so good small room sound will remain.

The effort to find a decent sounding space will be worth it, and this simple recording method makes taking advantage of that kind of resource easy.



Recording in the way Chanher suggests is the way most folks are likely to think about going about it, but requires more setup, experimentation to get the mic setup right, mixing work, all that jazz.  Quite different skill set than concert taper style recording.  It can make for a produced-sounding recording, but will require more skill to pull off well.  This sound might be her expectation, however I'd steer you toward what grawk suggests first if that can work for her.  This method will take a lot more trial, error, learning and effort on your part, but can better support things like effects and compression if the music requires that kind of thing.   It can also add some polish to a performer who can't pull off the simpler straight live to a stereo pair of mics thing as easily. Once you do figure out a reliable and good sounding systematic approach for recording vox and guitar in this way, you can then more easily adapt this method for other musicians who perform with a similar style.

If you want to offer this kind of service regularly, it will be beneficial to be able to use either of these approaches, choosing whichever best fits the performer and their music.
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Offline goodcooker

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Re: Equipment for demo recording and live recording
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2024, 09:27:10 PM »

Making a demo for a singer songwriter is a little different than making a performance recording - and how you go about it much depends on what you are trying to create. Even a modest demo might feature doubled (or more) vocals, harmonies, doubled guitars, different instrumentation, etc.

If the finished product is going to be a single vocal track and a single guitar track then you are set with your 60d. Do 3 or four takes, import them into your software and pick the best one.

If it was me I would use the mixer (I clicked the link and it looks like it has USB interface functionality) to act as the interface to a computer running a DAW. That way you can easily track, delete, retrack, over dub and anything else you need to do inside one project. It's also easier to monitor the results.

I created an entire album of my own music in my spare bedroom using Adobe Audition 1.5, a few mics and an interface. If I can do it anyone can.
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Offline Chanher

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Re: Equipment for demo recording and live recording
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2024, 10:11:21 PM »
Yes, gutbucket is right, I easily forget how complicated and overwhelming multitrack software, and the mixing and mastering that come with it, can be.

If you are open to using a computer (and audio software) to mix and master a (semi) polished product, then I've used the method I listed above many times.
You can get more advanced and use a audio interface with computer, like goodcooker says you can (possibly) use her mixer as a usb interface.

If you just wanna keep it as simple as possible, you could just put a stereo pair (DIN comes to mind, or a general A-B) in front of the artist and let her do her thing. Maybe 1-3 feet out from her. I've done this plenty of times, and I usually needed to put the pair a little closer to the mouth, unless the artist really projects their vocals. Record a quick soundcheck, and have headphones nearby to do a quick listen, have her listen, and adjust the location accordingly.

I did this when friends just needed a demo for booking, something to give the booker(?) an idea. They rarely listen to the whole thing, it's not gonna be sold or scrutinized. You could technically do this with your H2. If you have a pair of SD condensors, then plug those into DR-60d. Little electret condensors (sound pro or church audio mics) will work, that's what I started out with.

edit: gut is also right about the room; make sure the room sounds ok. A bare garage is probably to echoey and boomy, and a tiny closet is too closed in. A medium sized well furnished room is fine in a pinch.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2024, 10:28:54 PM by Chanher »
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Offline Dan33185

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Re: Equipment for demo recording and live recording
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2024, 11:36:44 PM »
Thanks for all the input everyone, I didn't even think to run a USB out to my laptop, that would be ideal as I can monitor it much easier. As far as the room recording would take place in, your tips have definitely been helpful, a garage type setting may be too empty and cause too much echo, so a family room type setting may be better. She added a show to her schedule tomorrow, so I'll be talking to her about all this tomorrow and hopefully can figure out something that she's comfortable with.
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Offline rocksuitcase

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Re: Equipment for demo recording and live recording
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2024, 01:57:40 PM »
I've been following this thread. I think most of the ideas offered are solid, with some being mor or less complciated.
What I'd like to add to the thread is a simple thank you and attaboy for taking an interest in local musicans and helping them along. From what I see these days of no music labels offering production money (or MUCH less ) is independent musicians having a much tougher time gaining "reach". Even with social media it is still a rough slog to get recognized.
So, thanks from this old taper for what you are doing.     8)
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Re: Equipment for demo recording and live recording
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2024, 02:12:49 AM »
I've been following this thread. I think most of the ideas offered are solid, with some being mor or less complciated.
What I'd like to add to the thread is a simple thank you and attaboy for taking an interest in local musicans and helping them along. From what I see these days of no music labels offering production money (or MUCH less ) is independent musicians having a much tougher time gaining "reach". Even with social media it is still a rough slog to get recognized.
So, thanks from this old taper for what you are doing.     8)

I've never played an instrument and probably won't, so I try to contribute to music in the ways I can. In my dream world, I'd love to win the lottery and open my own studio that local musicians can record at a cost that basically pays for electricity to run the place. Lots of great music out there waiting to be heard, so even just offering something like I'm trying to do, I'm thrilled to be able to do it. I did talk to her today and she was really surprised anyone cared enough to ask and was enthusiastic about it, so that was a great feeling.



If it was me I would use the mixer (I clicked the link and it looks like it has USB interface functionality) to act as the interface to a computer running a DAW. That way you can easily track, delete, retrack, over dub and anything else you need to do inside one project. It's also easier to monitor the results.

This sounds ideal to me...it looks like it uses a USB Type-C from looking at YouTube videos, should I just be able to use any Type-C cable > my laptop, or are there specific types for audio? I think what I would like to do it is plug her mic and guitar into the FM10 and run the USB out to my laptop and record that with with Audacity, and also have a pair of mics in front of her running to the DR-60D, and work with combining them in post to get the best results.


One thing I'm noticing as I'm listening back to live recordings of her is the guitar. There's almost like a vibration or something when she hits certain chords...is there any way to dampen that?

https://ia600205.us.archive.org/11/items/josie-sanken-2024-02-17-powder-ridge-kimball-mn-sbd/34.%20Wagon%20Wheel.mp3



EDIT (6/9/24)- So after doing a little more research, I came across a Tascam DR-70D for 135 bucks used. That has 4 XLR inputs, which would take a lot of the extra work out for me I think. Basically run the 1/2 from her mixer as I do now, plus add 2 external mics through the 3/4 inputs for her guitar + room ambiance. This way as soon as I hit record it's recording all 4 channels instead of having to line them up in post with 2 separate sources, and I can still play with levels as needed. Now, the only thing to decide is the correct mics. I still think the Behringer C-2's would work for this purpose and also for recording shows. Are those decent mics for the price (59 bucks for the pair), or does anyone have recommendations for any under the ~150 buck range?
« Last Edit: June 09, 2024, 04:50:08 PM by Dan33185 »
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Offline rowjimmy

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Re: Equipment for demo recording and live recording
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2024, 10:20:06 AM »
Good thread. I started to reply early on but got distracted and came back after the weekend to find an awful lot has been said that I might have offered.

But, to the pertinent question of the Behringer c-2s... I haven't used them and can't recommend them but I do use inexpensive Chinese mics for most of my work both as a taper and a home recordist of music.

I think the biggest thing that has been said here is that you should agree what constitutes a demo.
A demo can be a reference used for future recording. It can also be intended as a slightly more slick product for promotion.

As someone who produces his own music at home, when I demo a song, it's rarely more than a single mic, placed to capture voice & acoustic guitar.
But some artists who work in professional studios would call my finished product a home demo despite the multitracking and other efforts.

So understanding her intent for the recording is important.

All that said, listening to this sbd sample I think if you can capture something like that in two channels from the mixer and add a mic on the guitar, a little reverb on the vocals in post and you're probably in business.
 
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Equipment for demo recording and live recording
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2024, 12:55:16 PM »
https://ia600205.us.archive.org/11/items/josie-sanken-2024-02-17-powder-ridge-kimball-mn-sbd/34.%20Wagon%20Wheel.mp3

Listening through the tiny mono built-in computer speaker I can't decern a lot about the recording but can hear her performance / playing style, which is strong and sufficiently self-balanced to be able to come across well in a relatively simple single take recording.

In a large good sounding space a single stereo pair two or three feet away should do nicely.  Don't bother to mic the room unless its large enough and good sounding - and even then doing so is really more of a safety to be able to add more room-verb if needed. A typical living room is unlikely to be large enough to be beneficially reverberant and will probably just sound boxy - you needn't mic the room at all in that case, just record dry and add artificial reverb.  If you want to get fancy you might use a close vocal mic and two mics on the guitar rather than using a single stereo pair for both, which can provide just enough separation to let you alter the reverb somewhat between vox and guitar, allow for the different application of compression if desired, and achieve a little more stereo interest from the guitar by way of how it's mic'd rather than via the room acoustics.

^
This highlights what I see to be the fundamental difference in approach between a taper recording and a home-demo recording.  The essence of a live-concert taper recording is a live performance held in a performance space with an audience present, which might be reinforced by close mics to add clarity, intimacy, detail and proximity where needed.  A home demo type recording is the opposite in starting with a dry, up close sounding recording that has loads of detailed clarity, to which a sense of reverberant space is added.

Recording her in a good acoustic space using a stereo pair is a taper style methodology.  You setup to catch a  solo live performance in a room without an audience present.  Other than accessing an appropriate space in which to make the recording (therein lies the rub), there is likely to be less burden on both of you when doing it that way.  Recording the other way requires more setup-tweaking of close mics and the creation of an artificial space for that up-close recording to live and breath in using reverb.  Both work. Different approach, different skills.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2024, 12:58:48 PM by Gutbucket »
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