Recording equipment question

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Glennx, Dec 10, 2015.

  1. Glennx

    Glennx Pianissimo User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Open question:

    What are your recommendations for a low-cost-but-decent mic and low-cost laptop-friendly software (freeware welcome!) to use if I wanted to add my own playing to some backing tracks?

  2. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    This question comes around every now and again, and there are a lot of different approaches to it. I did some of my very first recordings using the USB microphone that came with my kids' "Guitar Hero: World Tour" pack - I think it's made by Logitech. The software I used was what was already on my iMac - GarageBand. This is what that sounded like:

    I didn't think it was terrible considering the absolute cheapness of the microphone and cobbled together recording setup.

    After that I got a Blue Icicle XLR/USB converter and an SM57, and I did a lot of recording with that, all with GarageBand on the iMac.

    Blue Microphones | Icicle - A Stylish XLR to USB Converter and Preamp

    The problem with the Icicle is that it's not truly a preamp, (maybe a bit, but certainly not a good one) so there was very little room between not having enough signal, and having a signal so hot it would "clip" and distort, but I still did several small projects with it.

    These days I have a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 firewire interface and a series of budget-minded (although not necessarily cheap) microphones I use to record with.

    As for software, your biggest bang for the buck, although there is going to be a bit of a learning curve with it, is probably going to be Reaper.

    REAPER | Audio Production Without Limits

    If you pair that up with budget minded audio interface and some kind of microphone - a Shure SM57 or SM58 clone would get you going - you'd be able to do quite a bit with it, although you'd probably want to download some free plugins to use, such as compression, reverb and parametric EQ.


    You could just to the route of using a small field recorder, but one of the things I've always liked about GarageBand was how easy it was to set up using a click track and that kind of thing. GB is great for quick and dirty projects where you just want to spit out an idea and get it in the machine.
  3. VentureScore

    VentureScore Pianissimo User

    Jan 24, 2013
    Anchorage, AK
    The answer is.... it depends!
    Microphones: Sure Beta 57, or a Beta 58 if you think you also may do vocals (around $150 check (I don't work for them, and not an "endorsement" - but I have had wonderful experiences with them)
    Better Microphones: Cascade Ribbon mics (ribbon mics are generally wonderful for brass.
    I have used a Studio Projects B3 (I think that's the model#) large diaphragm condenser with good results (less than $200 I think).

    You will need some type of interface, with a mic pre-amp. There are many available.... unless, you get a mic with a USB connection, like the BLUE Spark Digital Lightning, or the Audio-Technica AT2020USBi.

    If you have an APPLE computer/laptop Garage Band will do the job nicely.
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Yep - I totally agree with VentureScore with this - there are about 50 different ways to get started with it. Having a Mac computer helps a lot to get your feet wet, but there are some other basic (and free!) tools that can be obtained online to use as your DAW - digital audio workstation.

    On one hand going with a USB option such as the BLUE Spark or BLUE Yeti, or the AT2020USBi can simplify things a bit, the downside is that you get what you get - if you want a different sound or a different type of mic, you'll wind up getting a preamp interface of some sort eventually. I've recorded everything from vocals to trumpet, guitar to drums on my Saffire Pro 40. Recording drums, I've recorded 8 tracks simultaneously, but that's a different story for a different time - it's not remotely what you are looking to do here.

    I think that in the long run, if you invest in a decent preamp interface, a decent microphone or two, and pair it with a DAW such as Reaper, (there are TONS of resources online for how to use Reaper) you'll have a setup that's more flexible than if you go with a USB mic.
  5. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
    As already pointed out, there are many ways to go. For your specific question (low-cost, computer-friend, playing over backing tracks), here's what I use.

    I use a Zoom H1 Digital Recorder ($80-$100, or about $125 with the accessory kit). I use Audacity software (100% freeware) for post-processing.

    I have better equipment, including a Shure '57 mic with a USB Blue Icicle XLR-USB interface. But for ease-of-use with pretty decent quality, I like the Zoom recorder setup.


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