Recording at home

April 30, 2018, 5:35 AM · Looking for advice please. I have a duo with another violinist, we either play as two violins or violin & piano. We would like to record ourselves so prospective clients can hear us and need advice on equipment etc. We would be recording at home on a baby grand piano. Can anyone advise on what microphone we should be looking at, whether one microphone would work for two instruments (2 violins, or 1 violin and piano), and what other equipment may be needed? I’m starting out with a MacBook Pro and nothing else, not even a clue! Budgets are limited.

Replies (11)

Edited: April 30, 2018, 5:54 AM · I use GarageBand in my iPad for record
April 30, 2018, 6:15 AM · You can use one mic which will then be in mono. Better to use two and record in stereo.

You can record to computer but need an interface which tales two mics and may also need to supply phantom power (48Volt) for the mics, unless they are battery powered, which is not so good. Otherwise a recorder (stand alone) and copy files into computer for editing - need for editing program (Reaper - cheap but very good) or Audacity which is free and OK -ish).

April 30, 2018, 9:53 AM · If you want a good demo to give the best impression of yourselves I would recommend you hire a pro who has a portable recording setup or visit a studio with a piano.This might not be as expensive as you imagine. Many colleges are well equipped to do this as well if you happen to have ties with any.

Unless you plan to be recording yourselves regularly the investment in the right gear just isn't worth it for a few songs. Studios usually charge an hourly rate. Probably less than a minimal investment in the right gear, and this isn't just about the gear. There is more to it than having the gear.You can own dental equipment but that doesn't make you a dentist.

For practice or basic utility recording a small recorder or usb mic can track you, however I don't think this is "client worthy".

In a recent editorial in SOS magazine Paul White commented that recording is an "illusion". The mics don't hear what you hear and the speakers that reproduce the sound don't reproduce accurate sounds. We check the one by the other. What does that tell you? All recordings are approximations. The aim is to get the best approximation.

April 30, 2018, 10:21 AM · I agree with Timothy Smith. Work with a pro for this, or if you can't do that, borrow higher-end equipment from someone who has it.
April 30, 2018, 1:47 PM · Thank you so much for your responses. I will look at the cost of a recording studio. Maybe we can reinvest some of our future funds from the duo in to buying recording equipment in the future!
May 1, 2018, 8:50 AM · Peter, why do you say that Audacity is only OKish? Is the sound quality not as good, or is it that it offers fewer editing effects etc.?
May 1, 2018, 12:48 PM · David you do very well using Audacity. A digital audio file at the same resolution is the same no matter what program you use.

I have found more features and flexibility in some programs over others.You may or may not need this.

Reaper is more of a multi track program than Audacity.You could add cello, viola, anything really.

Garageband is the most widely recognized free program for the Mac.
I think Cakewalk by Bandlab or CbB will soon replace Audacity as the best free program for the PC.
It's only a matter of time.JMHO, YMMV.

May 1, 2018, 1:43 PM · I have used an EDEROL R-09 for "home recordings" and also taken it to various venues and recorded concerts (of up to 400 performers) over the past 10 years with (what I consider) very good resulting sound quality. I have been told the similar ZOOM recorders also do a fine job. EDEROL records with CD quality-digitalization or any compression setting you might want. Its chip can be downloaded to iTunes or whatever!! It is far superior to any of the reel-to-real tape recorders I was using 45 years ago (at least to my ears) and any of the microphones I had linked to them. Once you get the audio data into your computer you can edit it (I've done that, I just don't remember what software i used but it's in my computer/Mac somewhere).

The EDEROL is small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, but can also be mounted on a tripod. I did make one recording of our string quartet performance with the EDEROL mounted on a music stand's vertical support in the middle of our ensemble--very good (my cello sounded better than I thought it did and the one note I thought I had played out-of-tune wasn't!).

May 4, 2018, 11:30 AM · Some of these threads develop a very predictable rhythm.
@Siobhan-As a suggestion, If you decide to use a studio shop wisely. Anyone with a laptop, a mic and set of monitors can claim to be a studio.

I would specifically ask the studio if they have recorded violins and if they are set up for it. Also before handing over the full amount of money to them I would ask for a demo "tryout" of their services. Maybe 1/2 hour. Before you do anything ask them for examples of their work and/or customer referrals. There are plenty of sharks out there. The better studios might charge a bit more. In the long runs it's money well spent.

There are other questions to ask such as placement on the web or hard copies of the recording and in what formats. If the examples are online the files should be of a decent quality. My last guitar album was launched by a company who dealt with all placement for a fee.This is a great deal because you don't need to upload to a bunch of services like Pandora, iTunes, Amazon etc. I simply supplied my master with the necessary tags.

Edited: May 21, 2018, 6:02 AM · Here's a recent example of a recording I made last evening playing three hornpipes. I used my inexpensive ribbon mic into a Presonus audio interface and into my recording software. I didn't have the room to put the mic high enough so it picked up and bunch of small noises. Putting the mic higher might have helped.Using the ribbon mic helps some.

If I had been a better player there wouldn't have been the occasional string noise. I used no audio manipulation other than EQ and reverb. As you can see this isn't a bad way to tell the mistakes. The mic wasn't that expensive. Still a far cry from having a pro do it on expensive mics.

Group recordings at a distance are much easier to capture with quality as compared to tracking a single violin up close.I'm still refining my process.Both recording and playing.

May 10, 2018, 1:37 PM · A recording studio needn't have an actual piano. A digital piano will be just fine. What you do need is someone with experience recording violinists. (In other words, what Tim Smith said.)

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