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.