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Phil, Simple first steps....


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I'm ready to purchase some recording equipment. Most recently when I've multitracked, it's been on a Tascam DP08EX. Excellent unit except for the arcane mastering and converting to files you can transfer to a computer. But that was then. I'm ready to move up a bit. So I've tried to flesh out my situation to give you context, and would like to hear what you think. Especially about my microphone purchases.

 

A couple of big picture items. Since I'm at the planning (i.e. purchasing) stage, I'd like to aske a couple of nuts and bolts questions. I've been planning for quite a while to buy a Tascam DP24SD (or maybe the 32). My "studio" will be mostly my living room. I just bought a Yamaha Modus F01 digital piano. It's a 7-8 year old model, but was among their top of the line digital piano product life cycle youth. Got a closeout price at the Yamaha store. So I'll be recording sitting at the piano.

 

I have a couple of wooden carts that are available to hold an audio recorder/interface and maybe a laptop. So I just today started considering a laptop with an interface. So I ended up thinking about the Focusrite 18i20. This is going to maybe sound a little silly. My first thought was a whole messy array of wires. But thinking about it, seems there would be one cable for each mic, a USB from the 18i20 to the laptop, and the power chord for each unit. If that were all I were using. Oh, and I want the 18i20 just in case there ever comes a time where up to 8 mics would be wanted.

 

So I'd like to hear any concerns or mistaken thinking in what I've described. Would I want (should I) to have a certain dedicated laptop for this function ? My plan after recording, is to disconnect the laptop and take it to the sofa and plug in headphones. I know this sounds lame. I'm not trying to impress anyone obviously.

 

I have 2 mics. I bought them maybe 15 years ago. I have an AKG 414ULS and a Shure SM81. I figured the AKG would be a versatile swiss army knife. And I read the Shure was good for recording hand percussion. I own a djembe, a slaptop cajon, a bunch of hand percussion - would like to experiment with combinations of these. My aim, farther down the road is to be recording piano, various percussion (not a complete standard drum set with all its volume), vocal harmony. 2 or 3 other musicians in my living room. Maybe some mellow jazz guitar here or there. Depends on who I get over here recording.

 

So my question about mics is mainly, can I acquire (eventually) 2 or even maybe 3 414's for a variety of recording chores. Or would a 214 or possibly a 314 serve say 85% of my needs ? I have no idea, but would like to get the most versatile tools I can. Would rather spend more money on a few mics that'll do a variety of things. Are there better choices ?

 

Thanks Phil, I know this was a lot.

Edited by davd_indigo
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Doing some reading, it appears that I'm back to a Tascam standalone DP24SD. Reason is that doing some reading, it appears there could be hassles with drivers between an interface and a laptop. I just want the equipment to work without getting bogged down in technical problems.

 

I still have the issue of my mic selection. I will be adding just ONE mic in the near future. Any advice on this is welcome. Thanks.

 

 

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I would tend to agree with that Joe. I have not tried either unit, but at $399 vs $549, it's not that much more to get 32 tracks, and in this day and age, I think having more tracks is a better idea. After all, you don't have to use them on everything, but if you need them, you'll be happy to have the eight extra tracks.

 

I have not used either unit, but I would think they'd have similar operating systems and that they'd both have similar file systems and connection capabilities. IIRC, both Tascam units will function as external USB devices / drives when connected to a computer, so moving data from them to your computer (for DAW editing and so forth) should be relatively straightforward.

 

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Yeah' date=' the 8 extra tracks - better to have 'em in case one ever needs 'em. And being able to dump tracks to a laptop is nice. So maybe that's what I'll order. And I think I'll get a 2nd AKG C414. These will keep me occupied for a good while. [/quote']

 

Do keep us informed! If I move on one it will be a lot closer to Christmas before I do. I'd be very interested in your impressions of it!

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Yeah' date=' the 8 extra tracks - better to have 'em in case one ever needs 'em. And being able to dump tracks to a laptop is nice. So maybe that's what I'll order. And I think I'll get a 2nd AKG C414. These will keep me occupied for a good while. [/quote']

 

As a good general purpose, all-around utility mic, a good 414 is tough to beat. I've used them on percussion, piano, guitar amps, vocals - pretty much everything you mentioned in your post - at one time or another.

 

The SM81 is also a well-loved mic by many. It's never really been a personal favorite of mine, but as you said, it can work very well on percussion. It's not bad on acoustic instruments like guitars either.

 

Adding to what you have, a second 414 makes a lot of sense IMO. It allows you to consider all sorts of stereo miking techniques, such as Blumlein and XY stereo. You of course could use what you already have (414 + SM81) for Mid-Side stereo, with the '81 as the center mic and the 414 in fig-8 for the "sides."

 

As far as the AKG C-214 and C-314, I have not spent any quality time with either one, but of the two, I'd probably be more interested in the 314 if for no other reason than the multiple polar patterns it offers... but that's just me. I dig stereo, and love stereo mic techniques. I don't use them for everything, and to be fair, most people switch their multi-pattern mics to cardioid and rarely ever change it from there. If that's you, then the 214's might be all you need, and you could score two or three of them for the cost of another 414. Maybe that's the way to go - get another ULS like you have already, and then get a pair of 214's when budget permits. That way, you'd have five mics (including the '81), with two of them multi-pattern capable.

 

The downside of course is that while they're pretty versatile, you'd still have four very similar sounding microphones. I'm guilty of that too, but I also have a bunch of other things as well... and I think there's a lot to be said for variety in your mic collection. This caveat aside, I'd still suggest getting a mate for your 414ULS, but you might want to look to some other options for the second pair of mics. Maybe a couple dynamic and ribbon mics for variety? A Cascade Fathead can sound great on guitar amps, and dynamic mics like the Audix D-series have been used on percussion and drums for ages.

 

I'm not saying you couldn't do great recordings with a handful of 414's, but I did want to throw out the idea of considering variety in your microphones too. :)

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Thanks Phil. I'm going to order a C414 soon. I think I should wait on the Tascam till closer to Black Friday. I would hate to find out I could've saved $50 or $100 or whatever. But once I have a DP32SD I'll be able to record with more than 2 mics. And Joe, I will let you know my impressions once I get it. For now (well once I've received the new C414) I'll be able to record with 2 good mics. Maybe I'll experiment with some percussion combinations to start. I have someone I can invite over.

 

Thanks guys.

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  • 3 weeks later...
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I think it will be fun. I think I will like it since I've used a DP008-EX. And with the DP32 you can copy files directly to your lap/desktop. I ordered a USB card reader. I have Mixcraft 6. I think maybe there's a version 7 now, so I'll look into that. And I called my local community college today - they've mostly gone to 4 years and call them state colleges now. Anyway, I can take courses for free (over 60) if there's room left after the regular students have registered. So I'm planning on taking "Intro to Acoustics and Audio" in January. Class space permitting.

 

And with a the portastudio on a rolling cart maybe I'll try some closet recording.

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I think it will be fun. I think I will like it since I've used a DP008-EX. And with the DP32 you can copy files directly to your lap/desktop. I ordered a USB card reader. I have Mixcraft 6. I think maybe there's a version 7 now, so I'll look into that. And I called my local community college today - they've mostly gone to 4 years and call them state colleges now. Anyway, I can take courses for free (over 60) if there's room left after the regular students have registered. So I'm planning on taking "Intro to Acoustics and Audio" in January. Class space permitting.

 

And with a the portastudio on a rolling cart maybe I'll try some closet recording.

 

You go Man!!

 

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