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How do I go about this?

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  • How do I go about this?

    Hello all, my first post here, although I've lurked here for years. So, I recorded on a Boss BR532 way back around the turn of the century, loved the machine, easy to use, just loved it. Fast forward to early 2018, when I decided to get back into recording again. I'm not recording my songs to sell records, just something I've always loved to do, and when the mood hits me, I tend to do 3-4 songs in a week or so. Way back when, I had a desk top computer with RCA inputs on the sound card, so it was easy to go from the 532 to the desktop, I'd upload the songs from the 532 to goldwave, and burn onto a CD. Therein lies the problem.....everything has changed! I still have the same BR532, but now, all I have is a laptop with USB inputs, and Goldwave doesn't appear to be ANYTHING like it was years ago! I've downloaded Audacity, which seems to be pretty user friendly, but, do I need a USB interface to hook up the two machines? I have seen RCA to USB cables on amazon, but is that what I need?

    I'll add that I find the idea of recording to a PC to be attractive, and I know the technology I currently use is WAYYYY outdated, but I'm old and don't like change. Would a USB interface really open new worlds to me?

  • #2
    if you have audacity, then all you really need is an interface to your PC from your instruments[something like a Focusrite Scarlett would be my suggestion] and you can 'surrender' the Boss recorder and do it all on the PC in Audacity..welcome to the 21st century...
    "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

    Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting ', what a ride!'

    "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

    Solipsism is the new empiricism. -Alan Burdick


    • #3
      I'd second Daddymack's suggestion. A Scarlet interface would get the job done for less than $150.You would have 1/4" or Balanced inputs, and USB and RCA outputs, all in one box. There will be some issues like latency you'll have to match up, but the Scarlett software is really good. Plus there are Youtube tutorials to help you as well.


      • #4
        Any of the two channel interfaces are going to be about the same. Most are USB powered however and if you use a mic that requires phantom power, some mucs draw more current then the USB port can provide. USB2 is 5Vdc and it needs to be stepped up to 48V. Some mics that can run on say 12v may work find but I've read many threads where people try to run older mics needing the full 48V simply cant cut it. Laptops that attempt to preserve battery power are exceptionally problem some when it comes to this issue.

        The work around is simply buying a separate phantom power supply (or buying a better interface that uses its own power supply)

        I'd also question how many channels you need for doing your solo work. Daw programs typically have unlimited tracks you can record consecutively. You are limited to the number of tracks you can record at the same time by the interface itself however.

        In my case, I typically record guitars through stereo effects while playing along to various stereo drum machines I've collected over the years. The quality of these machines have become quite excellent and I use an additional two channels to recording. I couldn't get by with less then 4 channels to record.

        I guess it could be done if I only had 2 channels, I could record the stereo drums first then go back and record the other instruments.
        Given how inexpensive multi channel interfaces are, why bother wasting all that time. Tascam and Behringer make an inexpensive 4X4 interface. Even if you only need to use one or two, you can leave other instruments connected and not be wearing out your jacks and cables switching cables every time you need to record a new instrument.

        In my case I do have a full studio setup with 24 channels using PCI cards and every instrument is wired up for recording full bands.

        I have bought myself some USB interfaces for doing solo work however. I found Musicians Friend selling their US-1200 for $89 when they were being discontinued. The 1200 is a 6X2 channel interface (4 mic preamps and two line/instrument level inputs) Most 2 channel interfaces sell for allot more then that so it was a steal at that price. I found a second one at the same price which I use with my portable DAW Workstation.

        I eventually plan on selling both 6 channel and my PCI cards and buying the Tascam 16X08 which would give me 6 mic in's, 6 line in's, and 6 line outs. I never record more then 16 channels at once any more and I have an 8 channel mic preamp to feed the 8 line inputs when needed. I bought the 6 channel to decide if I like the product line and I found the Burr Brown Preamps ( the most important aspect of an interface) to be excellent. Latency is pretty good too.

        I haven't owned a Scarlet but I've heard allot of complaints about noisy preamps, specifically with the newer versions which are all USB powered. I haven't tried the interfaces so I cant tell you if the noise comes from pushing the preamp above 3/4, bad headphones being run too loud, Noisy microphones, or poor/week USB power. Whatever the cause, the sheer number of complaints would make me think twice. Its too bad too. When they first came out the guy who wrote one of the first reviews rated the differential preamp quite high. The preamp uses a humbucking type mic circuit that's been used for many decades that cancels out electrical noise like hum and static. Apparently the hiss cant be canceled because its generated internally and is the result of ambient transistor noise and not something that comes in on a signal. In comparison the Tascam is dead quiet up to the 80/90% mark on the volume knob where some hiss kicks in. Anything below that you're good for at least 55dB of clean sound.


        • #5
          Thanks for the thoughts! Well, I wound up buying a Behringer umc202, and plan to get it hooked up later today. I think for the time being, my 2 older laptops will get me started, but I will eventually be upgrading to a dedicated DAW computer sometime. I've read tons of info on PC/DAW recording, and I'm really getting the bug! My biggest issues, as I stated in the original post are, I've been doing things a certain way for years, and getting out of my comfort zone is not an easy task. Looking at the storage options, or ease of storage using a DAW is the game changer for me, and I just can't overlook that any longer. I'm sure I'll have many days of frustration while learning a new system, but I think it'll be worth it.


          • #6
            The Behringer should work fine. The only issue I see is its a USB powered interface which means it runs on 5V. I have read instances where the 5V USB power isn't enough to supply the 48V power for many types of condenser mics. The interface circuit has to step that 5V up to 48V and a mic that requires allot of current for its built in preamp can wind up causing low power issues and distorted audio from a phantom powered mic.

            The fix for that is simple. You simply buy a separate phantom supply for around $20 and use it instead of trying to run everything off the USB port.

            love voltage issues are compounded when using a laptop because it has many settings designed to conserve battery power. You'll need to unlock those settings when running in AC powered mode and make sure things like USB ports don't turn off automatically or the unit/drives go into sleep mode. You can find articles which will walk you through the steps by googling - Optimizing computer/laptop for audio"

            The other big issue you need to realize is most laptops only have one drive. This means you have one set of heads trying to run the OS, recording program and record tremendously large files at the same time. USB is what you call a Master/Slave port. The CPU can override the ports whenever the computer gets too busy. Again, optimizing the computer, defragging the drive, removing unnecessary programs and preventing anything from running that isn't absolutely essential is very important to avoid digital static stutters and dropouts.

            I'd also suggest you get an external drive for backing up the bulk of your recording projects and only keeping your current project on the C drives while recording or working on it. you can also set up a partition for storage but you cant work on an audio project located on a partition of the main drive. The drive heads cant jump from partition fast enough and the DAW program will simply crash.

            What does work the best is having at least 2 internal drives. One to run your operating system and programs and one dedicated to reading/writing audio files. I use desktop computers in my studio which contain 3 or more drives which are 1 Terabyte each. I can partition them and leave one large partition on a second hard drive for saving the DAW wave files only. The rest are for saving projects, backing up programs, samples etc. I keep my main drive ultra clean and only run the essential programs for recording. I either remove or disable everything I can so I get maximum horsepower for the audio engine.

            For a portable recorder I have a HP workstation. My wife got one with a 17" screen when working there and it was their top end product last year. 3 internal drives, quad core, 64 bit, memory maxed out, USB2, 3 and Thunderbolt. I run a Tascam US1200 which is a 6 channel interface which is all I need for now. I been waiting for the Thunderbolt stuff to come down in price. The cost of adding a Thunderbolt port to an interface is chump change but manufacturers have only started including them 2 years ago so the market isn't saturated with them so they can keep the cost of thunderbolt interfaces sky high. Not all computers have added thunderbolt or USB3 either so its likely going to be another 5 years before the prices begin to match the current USB2 units.

            The rest of the change over will take time. I used analog tape for 30 years before switching to digital. I had it easy because electronics is my profession and I've repaired computers since the first PC's came out in the mate 70/s early 80/s. It took awhile to switch over completely. At first I was mixing my tape to the computer through a sound card then I'd digitally master them and burn the music to CD's back when a CD burner cost $500 and it recorded at 1X speed. The changes that occurred from 95 to 2000 were amazing.

            The hardware and software available now has been well tested and the garbage has been pretty much weeded out. They are so simply to operate and highly efficient. Most plugins work as well as the hardware versions do and I'm not talking budget hardware. you can download tons of free plugins which clone the best hardware versions ever made.

            You will of course have to learn the ropes and discover the best ways of doing things. It took me maybe 5 years to fully become comfortable using digital only within a computer. Today you couldn't pay me to go back to using tape. Far too much work involved and too much time wasted which you never get back. I trued to figure out how many hours I wasted just rewinding and recueing tape. I likely lost several years.
            Digital in comparison is pretty much instant. If you are into making and recording music, digital is far more productive for getting the job done working solo and it costs a whole lot less when comparing tape costs to hard drives or even CD's.

            The other good part is the technology is current and finding answers is just a mouse click away. Most DAW programs have a built in manual so selecting help is easy. you can find plenty of on line video tutorials and sites which explain everything you need to learn it on your own.

            One site I do recommend you go to and read all the chapters is here. It will explain just about anything you need in easy to understand terminology.
            From there if you come across something you need to know in more depth you can simply google the detail.

            Good Luck