How to record my practice sessions?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by ComeBackKid, Sep 27, 2009.

  1. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

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    I have reached the point that I need to record my practice sessions and I am almost to the point that I am willing to listen once I have recorded them. The problem is that I need better equipment to do that and I am not an expert in sound recording techniques or equipment. I have done a Google search and also searched several audio forums to try and find this information. I searched here on TM and found some tantalizing hints. So, in general I find bits and pieces in different places but not one that is a comprehensive tutorial for beginners that answers my questions in a broad context. I am asking here because my goal is to record trumpet music ;-) and, maybe later, do other things like play MP3 recordings through my computer speakers, etc. and I know that there are some knowledgeable members here. To start, here are my assumptions and the questions that derive from them:
    (1) I understand that I need a good quality microphone but I do not know the difference between condenser, dynamic, or other design features that are related to home recording of music. (Note: I realize that the environment plays a factor - I have a room with reasonably good acoustics where I can close out maybe 80% of the ambient noise. Which type would be best in this case?)
    (2) I realize that a microphone is analog and somewhere between the microphone and the recorded file, there needs to be an A-D converter and that all computers have an A-D converter already installed in the form of a sound card or at least a sound chip on the MOBO.
    (3) I see that there are now microphones that plug directly into the USB port, which is a digital port so I assume that such a mike has an A-D converter built in somewhere. Because these are typically small, I wonder if (a) this type of mike is any good and (b) the internal A-D converter has the needed frequency response.

    I also see mention of USB interfaces – such as this one “Edirol UA-1EX 24-bit/96kHz USB Audio Interface with S/PDIF I/O, 1/8" Headphone Output, RCA Output, and Electret Condenser Microphone Input” – which appear to allow regular analog microphones, and other I/O devices, to be plugged into the USB port. I assume that these have the A-D (and D-A) converters and that those are better than something that can be built into a small microphone.
    (4) Which does the better job of capturing music at a budget price? (a) A mike plugged directly into a sound card? (b) A mike plugged into a separate USB interface? (c) A mike plugged directly into the USB port? If the answer to (a) depends on the quality of the sound card, is it better to buy a top-of-the-line sound card or to go to (b)? Also, I know that computer microphones have a 3.5mm or “mini” plug for the sound card port. Is there any good quality mike with this type of plug or is a cable adaptor required?
    (5) If I decide to become a bit more sophisticated at some point and record a group, which of the approaches in 4, above, is most adaptable to adding a second mike for stereo without going to a mixing board? I have Audacity installed on my laptop but I have not used it yet. Is a laptop sound card good enough for this type of work?

    P.S. If there is a good web site that covers all of this information, a link to it will be an acceptable answer. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

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  3. lakerjazz

    lakerjazz Mezzo Piano User

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    Oct 10, 2006
    I use an M-Audio Condenser Microphone with the free Audacity software that can be downloaded through microsoft. It works well, but if your USB ports have been overused, it might not work well. The mike came with a software, but it wasn't that great, and that's why I use audacity.
     
  4. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

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    Flinders Vic Australia
    I second the Zoom H4, I record practice and play back through high quality headphones. The H4 also has the ability to make multi track recordings, which I have not tried yet.

    Be aware the recorder will not hear the same as the player and you may be in for some suprises.

    Regards, Stuart.
     
  5. Markie

    Markie Forte User

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    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    I use a Zoom H2
     
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Audacity and your built in soundcard are just fine. Get a stereo microphone and an adapter plug for your laptop. A stereo mic for around $150 (Aiwa/Sony) will give excellent results.

    The next step up is a DA/AD adapter. I have the M-Audio Fasttrack pro and it works really well.

    Dynamic microphones are the most robust. Eletret condenser mics are inexpensive but decent. The greatest resolution is with a true condenser mic, but then you need a dedicated converter with "phantom power" as they generally do not have their own battery.
     
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
    61
    16,611
    7,953
    Jun 18, 2006
    Germany
    Audacity and your built in soundcard are just fine. Get a stereo microphone and an adapter plug for your laptop. A stereo mic for around $150 (Aiwa/Sony) will give excellent results.

    The next step up is a DA/AD adapter. I have the M-Audio Fasttrack pro and it works really well.

    Dynamic microphones are the most robust. Eletret condenser mics are inexpensive but decent. The greatest resolution is with a true condenser mic, but then you need a dedicated converter with "phantom power" as they generally do not have their own battery.

    Search here on the term "Audacity" there are several threads on this subject.
     

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