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Help Me Record My Record!
Old 15th March 2006
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Help Me Record My Record!

Hello Everyone,

My band has been together for over two years, and we've always been recording at my house, with my modest setup. Although our early recordings have sounded alright, I am getting much more competent, efficient, and experimental with my equipment, which is really great! But, basically, the question at hand is: Is it worth it to keep building our modest collection of gear and recording our records ourselves, or does it make more sense to turn it over to someone who's spent much longer recording and collecting gear and who has already spent the thousands of dollars on equipment?

Right now, I'm recording on an Apple Powerbook G4 and an Apple G5 with a MOTU 828mkII, and Logic Pro 6. As for microphones, I've been using an MXL v69ME with a NOS Mullard tube inside, and an Audix i5. Our only semblance of a preamp is a 1940's RCA Microphone Mixer/Preamp we bought for used 60 dollars, which often imbues our recordings with a unique wooliness, but of course, leaves much to be desired. And, I've been mixing everything on my Sony MDR-V600 headphones and testing it on various stereos around my house and in the car. We've been recording in a huge room, with slanted, 18foot cielings, hardwood floors and an alright sound. But, there is always the option, which we just realized, of recording in my room, which is about 14x10 with 8 foot ceilings, hardwood floors, and probably a much more focused sound. Our main concern with our recordings in the past, is that they sound a little unfocused, small, and digital.

We've got a budget of about 800-1000 dollars, and, more importantly, a whole lot of passion. I guess what I'd like to know is this: As we're starting to get more serious, is it misguided to try and record ourselves with what little gear we have now, even though I'm becoming much better at it, and it would allow us a lot of freedom. If that's the case, how should we spend our money? What sort of equipment might be well worth it to own? We're thinking about maybe getting an analog mixing board, monitors, acoustic treatment, a preamp, or more microphones. Or, alternatively, should we save our money for CD mastering and duplication?

I know this is a lot to ask, but I'd really be grateful for some sound advice

Thanks so much,
Trevor B
Old 15th March 2006
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Gregg Sartiano's Avatar
 

I think your career plan (short and long term) will have a lot to do with it.

I should point out that VERY few signed artists write AND produce AND perform AND engineer AND mix everything on their records. There is a reason for division of labor -- it allows people to specialize. So if you're looking to compete on a "radio ready" level immediately, my 2 cents would be to find a producer who's already gotten artists signed and mixes on the radio. If you're not ready for this, it could be frustrating and expensive. In that case, you'd be better off in the basement spending your money on home recording gear and music + voice lessons (yes, I said it) and spending your time writing hits.

Perhaps your musical goals fall nowhere near the larger scope of what we call "mainstream," in which case you can feel free to make your own rules (as long as these rules don't involve other people's money/backing).

Why not post some audio (mp3's)?
Old 15th March 2006
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Mixocalypse's Avatar
 

While I will admit, recording and gear is the coolest, your better off just using that money and going to an actual recording studio.

By the time you spend money on hardware and software to record your band you've spent easily $6,000. and thats at the lowend of things... depending on what type of gear you've bought.
Now you've got to learn how to actually record and mix things.

You could have spent all that time practicing and recording at a really really good studio.
Getting yourself a recording that you could only up until now, dream of.

Enjoy yourself at a studio a real nice studio, you will be much more satisfied with the result.
Chances are your just going to try and work things do death and not be totally happy with the end product if you do it yourself.

Be a band.

Its all just IMO and a bit of a ramble at that.
Old 15th March 2006
  #4
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flail19's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by astroboy
basically, the question at hand is: Is it worth it to keep building our modest collection of gear and recording our records ourselves, or does it make more sense to turn it over to someone who's spent much longer recording and collecting gear and who has already spent the thousands of dollars on equipment?
I don't think your gonna get many responses to this because; only you and your band can answer your question. Are you happy with the results thus far? I mean if you cut a record today with your equipment and spent the money to master it somewhere else will it cut the mustard with you? What are your goals with the recording? If you want to compete on a national (I don't know where you are in the world), or international scale, you might want to consider recording in a pro studio. But that’s subjective.

On recording your band at home, Here is my .02... Most pro recording engineers are musicians, but not many musicians are recording engineers...get it? It’s hard to record and get a great performance. I think too many of us home recording musicians worry to much about the quality of the recordings and not enough about the craft of songwriting or capturing a great performance. I have heard a lot of crappy songs that were recorded well. Recording at an outside studio helps you concentrate on the performance.

All that being said, I am happy with recording at home. But, I am not trying to compete in the music business anymore, I sell my cd's at my shows and for what I do that "cuts the mustard". 15 years ago when I was in a band full time trying to "sell records" and get famous, we most definitely left the recording up to the "pros".

Again just my .02
Old 15th March 2006
  #5
Lives for gear
 
octatonic's Avatar
Very few people can do all the jobs extremely well.
I advicse getting a few records under your belt before you look at producing and engineering.

You will learn a lot from the pro's you work with on your first few records.
Old 15th March 2006
  #6
Gear Nut
 
jeff deff's Avatar
 

If you are trying to make it as a band you need to tour and play shows as much as possible. Spending nine months out of the year on the road is not unusual. If you are picked up by a label, then you will be playing all those shows, plus doing in store appearances and promo stuff all day too. So there isn't much time to engineer records for a working band. Someone hoping to make it as a rock band should spend their money on a van.

The good thing about learning engineering is that it gives you something to fall back on, if your dreams of rock and roll stardom don't work out like you hoped. It's good to build skills and work towards something that you can do when you get older and don't want to tour.

Being involved in music as a career is a very difficult thing to do. If you have a talent in engineering, you should do your best to cultivate it. Start recording other bands, not just your own. Charge a little money and slowly buy better gear. Don't get into too much debt. If you are playing shows you will have a lot of contact with other bands and they will trust you. These people be good clients who, if you do a good job, will come back and tell their friends too.

Good luck.
Old 15th March 2006
  #7
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GearHunter's Avatar
 

Did you say $1000?

Is that per song?

Did you leave a zero off?

That's only gonna give you a couple days in even the worst basement studio in town.

I don't see that you have a choice but to do it yourself.

Maybe you can get an engineer to come in to your place for half a day and help you get set up, and maybe you can rent a decent mic or two. Or borrow.
Old 15th March 2006
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Gregg Sartiano's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GearHunter
Did you say $1000?

Is that per song?

Did you leave a zero off?
Agreed. There's a big difference between cooking a meal and opening a restaurant.

Again, a lot of this has to do with your career stage and how ready you are to "go for the gold" (or if that even enters your mentality).

A lot of bands you read about being "from [smalltown]" are really FROM there but MOVED to a music mecca to compete on a larger scale. You may have to consider doing this. THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO IS ALLOW YOURSELF TO GROW OLD INSIDE A SELF-CREATED BUBBLE WHICH ENCOURAGES YOUR COMPLACENCY. BUYING A BUNCH OF MICS AND MAKING A FEW BUCKS "DOING MUSIC" HAS THE POTENTIAL TO DIVERT YOUR ATTENTION AWAY FROM THE REAL ISSUE (YOUR CAREER AS AN ARTIST) WHILE GIVING YOU A FALSE SENSE OF VALIDATION, SINCE YOU'RE NOW 'MAKING A LIVING MAKING MUSIC,' WHEN ALL YOU'RE REALLY DOING IS GIVING YOUR BUDDIES A LITTLE STUDIO/DISNEYLAND TRIP & TAKING THEIR MONEY, WHILE YOU DEVELOP EVER SO SLOWLY COMPARED TO PEERS YOUR AGE SITTING NEXT TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE HITS!!!

Now, I don't know how old you & your buddies are. Assuming you're late teens/early 20's and your music's hot, I encourage you to consider pushing for success in every possible way like there's no tomorrow. It's show BUSINESS, not show FRIENDS. Getting money should be do-able -- work part time on the side, teach guitar, hit up relatives/established contacts, make a business plan, get investors. If you're the baddest band on the block and yet you're not getting signed (or at least getting serious interest), where are the deficiencies? Are you performing & promoting -- myspace, etc.?

If you just wanna kick it & jam on the weekends, by all means, go ahead.
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