I recently purchased a Blue Yeti USB microphone. I have not used it yet, but have heard good things about them. I intend to use it for simplicity sake when recording a basic 3-4 piece rock band. My original intent was to record each instrument individually in separate takes. It seems however, that the Yeti is not great for recording guitar amps. If that turns out to be the case, I will likely look for an inexpensive 2 channel USB interface (suggestions are welcome) and an SM-57 to record guitar and also bass (direct). My question is, is it possible to record the yeti (maybe for drums) to one track, and each channel of another USB interface to two other independent tracks simultaneously? That way I could record an entire 3 piece band to three individual tracks in one take. Thoughts? suggestions?
Audacity can only record from one device at a time. If you have a multi-channel audio interface that presents itself to the computer as one multi-channel device, then you can record all of the channels that the device makes available. On Linux and Mac it is “possible” (but generally not recommended) to create an “aggregate device”, which is a software emulation of a single, multi-channel device that takes its inputs from multiple physical devices. It’s not recommended because each physical device runs from its own clock, so the devices tend to drift out of sync. (which may be compensated for, but it is less than ideal. It “may” be possible to do similar on Windows, but the best and correct way to record multiple microphones at the same time is to use a “multi-channel sound card”, with conventional (non-USB) microphones.
In short, not impossible, but highly complex and not recommended.
These days there are many decent dynamic microphones available at much lower cost than “main brand” microphones (many of them made in Eastern Europe). There are also some amazing little standalone multi-channel recorders that record onto flash media. If you’re on a tight budget, this is one way to go. Once you have the raw recording you can transfer it to your PC for editing.
Do you insist on recording the parts of the band individually and mix them later in post production, or will you be happy to produce a finished mix when you stop playing?
If you want a final mix:
That will mix four of almost anything into one stereo show. The little box in the middle is a Behringer UCA-202 and will USB connect to almost any computer. It’s also certified for perfect overdubbing should you want to do that.
That setup is entirely analog. That’s an ES-58 (Shure SM-58 knock-off) set up for theatrical voice. It works with an SM57 or any other analog, XLR microphone. You can’t plug in a pure digital Yeti. There’s place to plug in instruments direct, too.
The stand-alone recorder may actually be better because you can multi-channel. I have no hands-on with those. Jury’s out on what happens if you want to overdub…
I’m not a Yeti fan or almost any USB microphone. If you get yours to work out of the packing, you win and everybody goes home happy.
People who can’t get theirs to work have some of the most entertaining and long postings on the forum.
“How come I can’t make a loud recording?”
“What’s that buzzy sound in the background?”
“How come my Yeti crackles when I sing?”
— and the famous —
“This works for everybody else, why not me?”
The longest posting on the forum is Ian who just want to record his voice with a USB Blue Snowball in his Hollywood apartment.
Thanks for the responses. It seems like I might be better off returning the Yeti. It’s probably not well suited for this particular application.
I think I’ll look into a 2 or 4 track usb interface and maybe an SM-57 (or equiv) and decent condenser mic.
Take 1: Drums with condenser mic out front and SM-57 overhead?
Take 2: Overdub guitar with SM-57
Take 3: Overdub bass directly through USB interface
Take 4: Vocal using condenser mic
Anyone have any experience with this: http://goo.gl/OTb8Mw
Any thoughts on this mic: http://goo.gl/3WvsPH Or suggestions for a good condenser mic for drums and vocals?
It seems like a nice microphone. Condenser microphones take 48volt phantom power from the preamp. So if you like that microphone, the preamp has to say “48 Volts Phantom” somewhere. This preamp seems OK. Phantom Power is where the mixer pushes 48v to run the microphone up the cable at the same time the microphone is pushing the show back down. They don’t interfere with each other; each is a phantom to the other.
Do you have any reason you’re not using a Shure SM-58 vocal microphone for vocals? I use an ES-58 knockoff and nobody can tell the difference except the ES-58 is slightly hotter (and way cheaper).
Before you write any checks, Google complaints. Positive reviews can be written by the makers and suppliers, but the complaints tend to be real particularly if many of them say the same things. “It’s a terrific microphone until it catches fire” (it doesn’t really catch fire).
You’re probably not going to like the Mackie very much, It’s not a mixer. Whatever you plug into channel one is going to get recorded on the Left of the stereo show. Channel 2 goes to the Right. You record two things. Total. So there is no vocal mic, guitar mic, pickup feed, drum mic, etc. Pick two.
That mixer I posted will mix four microphones or four high-level connections in any high/low combination that adds up to four. I think I can go over that, but past four the connections start getting a little magic.
Missed a step. My mixer sends a stereo show off to be recorded, not four independent sound channels. It will mix four, say, microphones down to stereo.
There are stand-alone multi-channel recorders and they’re not a dreadful way to go. Three live microphones and two high-level feeds each to its own track. Export all the tracks and pull them into Audacity to mix down to a stereo show.
As above, I don’t know how you would overdub with that setup.
Have a look at the Audient ID14:
It’s an investment, at around 250$, but one that lasts. There’s an ADAT input to add eight more channels later with something affordable, such as an ADA8200 from Behringer.
It’ll give you 2 inputs, 4 outputs and it’s the new kid on the block, including the latest in AD tech and very nice preamps. 4 outputs might seem overkill right now, but youmight want it to provide individual monitoring for band members.
Somewhat less of an investment, is the Focusrite 2i2, around 150$ . No expansion, though. Be forewarned, the instrument input on the 2i2 will clip with guitars that have a high-output pick-up. A passive attenuator between the guitar and the input will solve it.
That goes for most of its competitors in that class. They’re all powered by the USB bus and that can be a major disadvantage. The Audient ID14 can be USB bus powered, but needs a wall-wart to use all functions. Best of both worlds, if you want.
The MXL mic is one of the nicest in it’s price segment. For decent drums recording, don’t go with one condenser and one dynamic. Look up the “recorderman” technique and use maybe a pair of Behringer B5’s. Or use one mic.
Either of us on the right track? The shift from an insanely simple, single USB microphone to two or more is very serious. You can force a computer to record two USB microphones, but it doesn’t like doing it very much. Three is mixer territory, or multi-channel recorder. Once you hit three, all the simple options go away.
Nobody is insisting you have to use one computer. I have enough stuff to record on two different laptops and one stand-alone recorder. Combine and mix in post production.
And there’s always overdubbing. My favorite home performer Josh Turner (not that one, the other one) works miracles with overdubbing. I think his record is four instruments and two vocals on the screen at the same time…all him. He has a video recorder and an H2 sound recorder. Full Stop.
It’s a good thing he doesn’t have the same name as a successful country and western performer… Oh, wait.
You’ve both provided some good information, but I’m getting a little more confused overall. Ultimately, I want to be able to do some simple, inexpensive home recording of a 3-4 piece rock band. It doesn’t have to be professional quality. The music we play is a bit intentionally rough around the edges anyhow. But I would like it to have some acceptable level of fidelity so that it is enjoyable to listen to and share.
I have some experience doing recordings on a laptop using an old M-audio pre-mobile or whatever it was called, and some crappy mics. I would like to upgrade and step up the quality and ease of use a bit. My thought was that I could do this with 2 mics (a decent large diaphragm condenser and dynamic SM-57 or equiv). If I found an acceptable way to record drums with one mic, then all I really need is one channel input, and i can overdub the other instruments. I would much prefer at least 2 channels though. So I could either record the drums with 2 mics. 4 channel input would be perfect. I could record the drums with two mics, get a third mic for the guitar amp, direct in the bass, and overdub the vocal later. If the 4 channel interface is considerably more expensive, I would default to the s channel. And when I say channel, I mean I want to be able to record each mic as a separate controllable track in to the software, simultaneously.
I figured the condenser mic would be good for drums and vocals. Am I wrong? Should I consider an SM-58?
I figured the condenser mic would be good for drums and vocals. Am I wrong? Should I consider an SM-58?
The SM57 is widely considered a very good drum microphone and people have been singing into an SM58 for a very long time. People with sharp voices can get into trouble with condenser microphones. There are posters trying to read for audiobooks into beginner-quality condensers and producing tracks crisp enough to cut paper. Not pleasant to listen to.
It doesn’t have to be professional quality.
It kind of does:
I just need clear sound at good volume and no distortion or noise.
Most professionals would be happy with that.
I don’t know what else to tell you. One microphone is a natural and there are a lot of options. Two microphones as separate channels can be done with a stereo USB mixer (or analog stereo mixer and USB adapter which is the way I did it) and the microphone channels pushed hard-over into left and right. Mix-down later. This is similar to the tiny USB MicPres such as the Scarlett 2i2. The 2i2 isn’t a mixer. Whatever you plug into the left socket is recorded on the left. The right socket to the right. No option.
Also see: cyrano up the thread.
By the time you get to three microphones your only option is a multi-channel soundcard or multi-channel stand-alone recorder. I have zero experience with those. We have a forum on multi-channel.
I don’t need a recording studio…
…you’re describing a small recording studio.
The quotes you have in bold text are not something I ever typed. I think that came from somewhere else. But your information is still relevant. But I don’t think what I’m looking for is anything close to a small studio. In summary what I want is:
- a usb interface to record two or four inputs into separate tracks on my laptop. (I do not want a mixer…mixing will be done in post processing)
- 1-3 microphones that will suit all my recording needs (drums - without getting to complex, guitar amps, vocals). bass I would probably always run direct.
That’s really it.
2 channel recording is usually straightforward. There are many 2 channel USB microphone pre-amps that are USB audio class compliant, which means that they should work with most/all modern computers and software. These devices usually record at 16 bit / 44100 Hz (44.1 kHz) which is the “CD standard” and is almost universally supported. “High end” USB pre-amps may offer higher format specifications, such as “24/192”, but may require special drivers that may or may not be compatible with Audacity and/or your computer. ART (amongst others) produce an number of 2 channel USB microphone pre-amps (http://artproaudio.com/mic_preamps/) that are reasonably priced and fully USB 1.1 compliant
4 or more channel recording gets a lot more tricky. Here we are totally dependent on whether the device drivers are compatible with Audacity. They also tend to be a lot more expensive.
Another option is to go for a standalone recorder. For example, the Zoom H4n regularly gets very good reviews (not cheap though). Many of these devices are portable and totally silent in operation (no annoying fan noise).
I don’t think what I’m looking for is anything close to a small studio.
It’s exactly a small studio. People automatically assume a four-foot wide mixing console with a glass window and a producer and engineer waving their hands at the singer. My studio is a converted third bedroom with carpeting and ceiling tiles on the walls. I have a friend that regularly records in the studio he made out of his garage with moving quilts for soundproofing. We’re both recording in stereo.
Did you visit the multi-channel recording page?
Lots of good stuff there that people have actually used to record more than two microphones.
If you want 4 channels at a decent price, the Alesis io4 is about the only contender:
And it’s on sale in a lot of places!
It’s a bit older, but good quality, solid build, and stable drivers. Dunno about Windows 10, tho…
The product page only says Vista, 7 and 8, but their latest information (8/18/2015) list the iO4 as supported by Windows 10: http://www.alesis.com/kb/article/1880
It should be, as these are USB audio class compliant underneath. Any decent OS should do. But I haven’t tried this one personally. I have tried the io26 and no problem there either.