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home recording question



first my setup:
p3 500/320 ram
winxp pro
Cakewalk Sonar
soundblaster live soundcard:
I am running a mic (xlr cable into 1/4 inch w/converter to 1/8 inch into soundcard)
I started recording some live stuff last night, just acoustic guitar,acoustic bass miced track by track with Sonar.

sounds crappy, nothing beefy at all, the mic is'nt the greatest either.

my question is:

am i going about this in a prehistoric manner? is there an easier way to get a better sound? should I get a mini-mixer/board and run through that?

p.s.(any sonar tips would be greatly appreciated!)



Hello mate, I record my own vocal stuff for CD`s and I spent months trying to tweak the sound, I personally use a small mixer because I find that if you pre-mix your imputs you can avoid clipping and booming effects.
Also If I were you I'd invest in a DAMN good soundcard, the Audigy is excellent quality and is about £80. Record at as high a quality as you can and if you do get the Audigy, remember that it has a built in Compressor so you can keep a clean sound (if thats what your after) hope this helps. any questions e-mail me at krisatkins at ntlworld.com (remove the at and replace it with an @, no spaces)


you may also want to get a pickup for your acoustic instruments and go through a direct box (skipping the Mic.) If the microphone is a cheaper mic, that may be a problem too. You'll probably get a better sound. Or invest in a LINE6 unit. It has many presets to sound like different cabinets. I would try to avoid all of those adapters. I know its hard when going through an 1/8 inch input, but still. Getting a better sound card would prob be a good idea too, and maybe a mini-mixer. I think ROSS has a good series mini. Also maybe look into getting a card like the ECHO series. Or one that has the attached base for 1/4" inputs. There may even be ones out now to support XLR. Im sure there may be better but I dont do much recording right now through computer. Some, but not the majority.


thanks for the replies guys.. lots of good info here to make some decisions on how I'm going to go about doing this right..

Looks like a small mixer and a soundblaster audigy platnum card will be a couple things to consider.. I have to be loosing some quality when going from xlr\1/4\1/8 inch

I have a decent effects processor (quadraverb) that should sound nice.

I've been considering a direct box for recoding but if I buy a mini-mixer I shouldn't need one right? (I have a mesa boogie amp in my recording room now, i was thinkin of just mic'in that up)


consider buying a very nice mic then. unless you already own one. If you are going to record bass, I would suggest still using a direct box. You should be able to get a better signal than with a mic. But then it depends on the mic.


Hey there. Just wanted to let you know how I go about doing things.

I use Cakewalk Pro Audio. My system is a 1.8 Ghz P4 with a little over a gig of RAM. I have a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz which is nice since it gives you an extra 1/8 inch jack that you can assign as either an input or output (great for studio monitors, or adding another input).

I use a little 12 channel Mackie mixer that I run into the 1/8 stereo input. Everything that gets recorded goes through the mixer. Any XLR cables for Mic'd instruments go through this. Also using a direct box on the mic line is not a bad idea. It assures that you are providing a line level signal.

For guitar I picked up on of the little red PODs. These things are great. Especially if you have a townhome like I do. You dont have to crank a Marshall Stack to get a decent tone on tape (or hard drive in this case).

Acoustic guitar I run through a direct box into the mixer then into the PC. I also have a compressor/limiter inserted on that channel as well as the kick drum channel that the left output of my drum machine runs to.

This seems to be working ok for me.


that is it exactly. they do have a bass version to. I recommend one, as they are quite fun to work with.


if u want a nice mic, your only choice would be parabolic...Sony and Yamaha have nice parabolic mics for about $100 US


Well actually when it comes to mics it depends on what you need a microphone for.

If you want to mic an amp you will want a SURE SM57. This is the industry standard for live micing and studio recording. Its a good idea to also use a second mic that picks up the sounds that resonate throughout the room you are recording in. A condensor mic is the perfect choice for this application. It is also a good mic for recording vocals (if you can isolate the vocalist in a room like a bathroom). Condensor mics pic up everything so be careful if you are not able to use a different room. It could even pick up the sound of you typing, clicking, or sliding your chair, if you use it in the same room.

The 57 would be place (at a slight angle) in front of the speaker cone. Play with placement for the best sound. Moving it just slightly can totally alter the tone.

With the mixer you can play with the levels of the two mics and mix them to come up with a great tone. A bathroom is a good room to use for you amp isolation room.

AKG makes an affordable condensor microphone that performs well: http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7...6001774944/search/g=home/detail/base_id/44102

Check it out at musiciansfriend.com

If you are recording live vocals the SM58 (or Beta58) is the industry standard for micing vocalists. Its got a good frequency range and is very dependable. The AKG would be a good choice for recording studio vocals.

Thats my advice when it come to microphones.

Avoid mics with on/off switches and just get a mixer that has mute buttons. You will find on/off switches on very few professional mics. They cause more trouble then good.

Keep rockin baby!


wow! Buddylove you have opened my eyes..... and my damn wallet :eek:

I can see it now.. $150, 200, 300.. easily in less than a 1/2 hour SPENT!

I'm gonna check out mucisian's friend, thier prices look somewhat reasonable..

I will be doing some recording this weekend and tonight, I'll post up a couple of mp3's I'd love to get some feedback from you guys!!
stay tuned!


The Shure58 is the industry standard but you also might want to consider the Seinheiser range of mics, As a vocalist I find that their range of mics produce a sound as good as if not better than the Shure range. Their Radio version ew100 has built in Compression and they are relatively inexpensive, I paid £360 for the radio version and the Lead Mics are a lot cheaper.

If anyone else has used the Seinheiser let us know what you think.

BTW- BuddyLove knows exactly what he's talking about, I have done lots of work in studios and the SM58 is used a GREAT deal.

It is really interesting how many musicians use this site. :)


Right on

Seinheisers are great microphones too. Perfect for studio work. One radio station I worked at used them and they were very nice. Good frequency response and very clear.

I dont have any personally but I wouldnt mind having one or two in my stash. Good recommendation!

There are so many good mics out there (and just as many bad ones). If you go to a music store like Guitar Center or Mars Music and talk to one of the dudes in Pro Audio they will be able to help you find what suits your needs and budget.

Good Luck!



Once you are done recording, you should put your mp3's on mp3.com. There you can make your own little page with music, info and whatever else. Let me know when you are done, I will take a listen and tell you what I think. :)


OSNN Senior Addict
my buddy does recoding like this he has his stero setup next to his pc and has an rca to phone plug converter going from his receiver to his sound card and then has an 80 gig slave to record to ...tehn he uses a prog called cool edit 2000 I think and it can do track by track mixing


Studio monitors are your best rout

A stereo will work for listen to playback and for mixing down your music...but...

It is best to use a pair of studio monitors to listen to playback and to mix your music. Normal consumer stereo equipment colors the sound of whats coming through the speakers. Obviously there are certain mid range frequencies that, when lowered, make music sound a little better and clearer. Consumer gear just does this automatically. There are capacitors wired into your gear that do frequency adjustments. Plus most consumer gear boosts the bass up somewhat. This is good for everyday music listening, but for mixing you want to have your frequency range totally flat so that you will be listening to a pure playback of what you recorded.

If your stereo is boosting or cutting certain frequencies (even when you have the eq or tone knobs set flat) then you will be mixing to counter balance that. Once your final mix down is complete and you master your recording onto a CD, play it in your car stereo, or back through another stereo. You will notice that it will sound way different than your mix did. This is because of that frequency counter balancing that you did through your stereo.

If you have a pair of studio monitors you will avoid any presetting of frequencies. They are designed to give you a flat playback of you music. Then you will be able to tweak to your hearts content.

When you play this back through your stereo, the stereo will do its own little alterations to boost or cut bass and midrange. At this point those alterations will sound acceptable. If they dont it is a good sign that you will want to go back in and make some adjustments.

Alesis makes some affordable studio monitors. Yamaha makes some of the industry standard ones. My favorites that are also (somewhat) affordable are the KRK brand monitors. There are different sizes. The smaller ones are the most affordable and actually have balls too (especially considering how small they are).


That is a link to check those out.

There are a sizes larger than those too. A pair of the smallest ones would run about $500. I would recommend getting powered monitors. Otherwise you have to buy a seperate amp to power your monitors. Plus you may have to get a crossover to accurately divide hi's and low's.

The powered (or bi-amped) monitors take care of splitting up your hi's and low's and sending the appropriate frequencies to the appropriate speaker. Thus, removing the chance that you could set your crossover wrong, or removing the chance that the capacitor in the passive (or non-powered) speakers is not splitting up the frequencies correctly.

Monitors are an investment, but well worth the money if you are serious about recording. Once you have them, you will wonder how you ever got by without them.


if you are running on a budget, I actually use a pair of Seinheiser headphones for my monitoring, They cost just shy of £50 and I find that it matches what gets produced when I burn a track on CD.


AKG makes some good headphones as well. Thats what I typically use. Some people prefer headphones to monitors. I like to use both. You will find that you may have to set your effects a little differently depending on which you use.

When I mix through headphones I typically end up having to set my reverbs just a little wetter than when I mix through monitors. Same with some other effects.

Picking up a set of headphones will definately save you some money if you are on a budget. Be willing so to spend at least 50 bucks. If you can go to $100, that would be good.

Keep it real baby!


BuddyLove is right AGAIN :)
Yes, now that I think of it, I do find my reverb a little dry, listening to my recordings, you may well have helped me. thanks a lot m8.
Why don't you post some of your recordings for us to listen to, I would be really interested, and if you do. I might even post some of mine lol.

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