General discussion

Recording Electric/Acoustic guitar

Jun 10, 2007 5:15AM PDT

I have had so many different answers on this subject but I thought I would give the CNET forums a shot.
What is the best way to record a live instrument (Guitar) into my PC. I know there are quite a few external usb devices that allow you to plug in a guitar and possibly a microphone but it does not seem to give much room for expansion. Example, what if I would like to add a drum machine and midi controller down the road.
I would like to record basic quality, not for demos or publishing to the web but just to share with other musicians and be able to burn to CD.
My best assumption so far would be a mixer with USB. Others have said to use a direct box and go direct into the sound card.
I would like to do this without spending several hundred dollars on a pro sound card and the smaller the better being that space is limited.
Any suggestions would be helpful

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For Cheap and nasty recordings
Jun 10, 2007 3:38PM PDT

it has everything to do with your audio interface, program and gear. If you want to know about mic choice and placement let me know but for the mo ill just talk about raw tools.

If you have money to spend..

Buy a soundcard and software. you can buy USB and firewire interface soundcards if you want to be portable.

The only "real" cheapish audio software for audio recording are:
Protools LE (Digidesign)good fast and logical, not the best for midi but excellent "tape machine"
Logic Express (Apple) mac only. fast for midi. complex interface not user friendly
Cubase SX (stienburg) havn't really used. good and bad points. very affordable but not the stablest of apps.
Live (Ableton) The program for electronic or sample based performance. haven't used but should do the normal things.

on a lower level:
Acid Pro (Sony)not a big fan
Audition (Adobe)used to be cool edit and I think has changed name again

Garage Band (Apple) very easy, very fast. mac only.
Audacity (Ive forgotton) did my first recording on it!

OK hardware. I need to do a bit more homework on this but these are the two main products I know.

protools is "free" when you buy digidesign hardware i.e. mbox2 series (2 channel (with mic preamps), midi, spdif for the standard one) if you are on a budget. it is also only compatible with digidesign hardware, however you can buy an adapted program for M-Audio cards. USB interface.

M-audio cards are pci cards that come with live (cheap ones are 4 channel for audio). not sure if it does midi. Much cheaper than Mbox if you dont buy protools with it.

If this is too much effort or money, I can let you know how to record cheaply and nastily.

hope this helps.

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Jun 11, 2007 8:36AM PDT

Thanks for the reply,
I have two programs installed right now. Cakewalk Guitar Pro 3 and Acid Pro. I have been able to record direct into Guitar Pro but the sound was horrible and every track started with a noise or pop.

I have played around with Acid Pro 4.0 but have not been able to figure out how to set up a track to record live, it seems to be set to insert a loop or a midi track.

I just purchased a Line 6 guitar amp that has a "record out" output. I have yet to try it out but I am excited at the prospect of being able to go right out of the amp.

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noisy soundcard?
Jun 12, 2007 1:24PM PDT

By memory the shortcut for record in Acid is ctrl + R. In the newer version anyway, I doubt it would have changed. a heads up, check where it puts the audio files. by defult it likes to spray files all over your computer.

Pops and clicks occur when a cut is made that isn't at a zero crossing. i.e. if zoom right in at the waveform, trim the start of your recording so the beginning of the waveform starts on the middle line. Alternatively, you can just fade it in.

The soundcard wont effect the timbre of the recording (this is mic choice and placement, and to a lesser extent the preamp)but it will add noise.

to reduce noise you can do a few things but in the end if you have a bad soundcard, you have a bad soundcard.

1)record louder. noise will be at a constant level. If you record hotter there will be less noise in comparison.

2)If you have the disk space and your soundcard will let you, record in 24 bit. In audio, the no. of bits per sample equates to the dynamic range you are capable of recording. so... higher bitrate, you can record louder, less noise in comparison. CDs are in 16 bit so you will have to downsample when you export your file.

3) If you can get your hands on a noise removal tool you may be able remove noise after recording. I dont know if you can use plug-ins on Guitar Pro but acid will definately do it. So you know what you are looking for, Acid uses the VST interface(apposed to RTAS and AU).

Using the Rec out on your amp will be fine. It will give a different sound to micing the amp but it doesnt necesarilly mean you will pull a better sound.

good luck...

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sorry, should have read your post properly
Jun 10, 2007 4:15PM PDT

Ok I'm an idiot.

you probably wont be able to get midi directly into you machine without spending money although I havn't checked. you would have to transport it as a midi file on a SD disk or something if you wanted to change the data but otherwise just record it as audio.

for channel-at-a-time recordings you wont need an external mixer (plug into the mic in), but if you would rather record a few parts simutaniously you will (you would plug into line in).

The problem with generic soundcards are that some add an obscene amount of noise to the signal. sometimes this can be fixed by an external preamp (the "trim" or "gain" knob on mixers) but not always.

to use the onboard preamp go to the windows mixer thingy. for some machines you need to go to the options part and select recording to see the input faders. turn on the advanced options and check the mic boost box.

I would "acquire" some software so you can layer tracks.

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External sound card, firewire connection
Jun 12, 2007 9:15AM PDT

I think the best bang for the buck is M-audios selection of external audio interfaces. I used them before and they worked flawlessly with win xp. I reccommend the firewire connection. Seems to be more stable. I recently replaced my M-audio firewire interface with a MOTU traveller.
THe traveller is quite expensive though..around 800 dollars.

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