Help Bring an Old School 4 Track Guy into the 2020's

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by Greg70, Oct 1, 2021.

  1. adjason

    adjason Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Heck I like an I phone to video and a looper pedal and I'm good :)
     
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  2. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    Since you are well versed in putting together computers,
    you might want to go the desktop route.

    With a USB interface, there are plenty to choose from
    and the DACs of today have a better sound quality
    than what you could have purchased a decade ago
    within the same price margin!

    It's a winning environment these days for hobbyists
    and home based pros.

    I would stick with Cakewalk since it has been on your
    work desk already. One less learning curve. Although
    "Learning Curve" has been put on the villain list,
    there is nothing as gratifying as continuing education.
    Especially with something you are passionate about.

    Let the music begin!
     
  3. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    The absolute simplest thing would be to get a Mac and run Garageband. It's very intuitive and sounds as good as anything else out there. Advanced users find it limiting, but that's because it's basically a DAW with training wheels to make it easy to use for non-techies.

    The absolute best feature of Garageband is Drummer. No messing around programming loops, you just record a track to a metronome, then have Drummer "follow" that track (the bass track works best for this). There are a number of settings available to tweak the drummer (you choose which drummer you want, tell them to play fills here, lay back there, etc), but you can make it as easy or hard as you want.

    I'll second the Focusrite Scarlett interface- they're reasonably priced, solid workhorses.

    Microphones are their own rabbit hole, but if you've done 4-track stuff before you probably have experience here. I always suggest avoiding the temptation to buy $99 Chinese condenser mics and to save your pennies for something nicer, though.
     
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  4. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yup. you can do anything with anything these days!

    I am doing demo videos for a writer and I show up
    to the scheduled shoot with my cellphone and a pocket
    LED light I bought at The 99 cents store.

    My audio is a Audio Technica wired lav mic that costs
    about 25 dollars and come with TRRS - TRS mini adapters.

    Which brings me to the all important item for quality production:
    Cargo Shorts.

    I can fit my entire rig in my pockets with room to spare!

    When I see females in cargo shorts, my heart skips a beat!
     
  5. StoneH

    StoneH Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    YouTube has hundreds of good videos on recording, mixing, and mastering. My favorite is Joe Gilder (Home Studio Corner). He is also a PreSonus Rep (Studio One DAW).
     
  6. Tuneup

    Tuneup Tele-Holic

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    Just want to say in some ways this is great as a stand alone, there's more "playing" and less "twiddling" once you grasp the interface.
    I have so many plugins (and DAW's not kidding) get lost anytime I try to sit down with them.
    Better simple and focused on the music instead of the tech crap.
     
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  7. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    Exactly what I do with my R16. The Zoom R series recorders are very similar to the old cassette portostudios in simplicity. I record onto an SD card and then upload to my PC and mix and master with Reaper.
     
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  8. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    Just one more suggestion to grab a Zoom R16. The transition from the 4 track cassette to the R16 is minimal.

    While I do have a moderate Pro Tools home studio, I also have an R16 as a backup.

    each recoded track is an individual WAVE file to an SD card , which is HUGE. Mix on board or one day down the road send the files to a DAW.

    Nothing easier, nothing complex.
     
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  9. Rich_S

    Rich_S Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I went straight from Tascam 4-track cassette (in the ‘80s) to a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and Reaper (in the 20-teens) with no problems. Both are cheap enough that it’s a low-risk proposition. Reaper support is excellent since it’s by devoted forum members and contributors, not by underpaid headset-wearing droids in a phone bank somewhere on earth.

    Reaper is flexible enough to start out simply setting up something akin to your old Tascam. That’s how I started, ripping my old 4-track cassette to .wav and then remixing the songs with the addition of a few of Reaper’s built-in plug-ins for EQ and compression. Since then I’ve expanded to projects using up to 30+ tracks and some pro-level Waves plug-ins.

    I’m running this on a mid-level Dell laptop than I bought reconditioned from New Egg for about $300.

    As cool as the all-in-one recorder/mixers look, their just not practical. DAWs are just not that difficult to get started on and you can start simple and then grow into a more sophisticated workflow if you want.
     
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  10. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    If I were in your shoes, I would buy an Allen & Heath Qu-series mixer because it has onboard ability to multitrack to a computer via a single USB cable, and you can use most recording software with it. I would be willing to bet there are other consoles that sport the multitrack feature as well, but I am not familiar which ones.
     
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  11. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    I've always been intrigued by the mixer style audio interfaces, but for me they promise more than they offer. The audio converters typically top out at 48khz, as they do with the Allen & Heath Qu series. Maybe that's all one needs or should use, but I'd like to have the option at recording at 96khz, which I usually do (and perhaps shouldn't). The converters on Scarlett are 192khz.

    Also, while I like the idea of a mixer, I don't need the EQ, because I want to record flat, and I'm certainly not going to use the effects. If you're planning to use it to mix a band live, having the EQ is great. But otherwise... why? The footprint for a mixer is also quite large.

    On the other hand, having access to the volume and gain knobs is good. The software controls for audio interfaces tend to be designed very badly.

    Also, I don't think the Allen & Heath Qu series is the way to go for a hobbyist easing back into recording, because those units are very pricey compared to something like the Focusrite Scarlett, and two or three times as much as other mixer/multi-track recorders.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2021
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  12. WireLine

    WireLine Tele-Afflicted

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    Remember most DAW have far more ‘features’ bells and whistles, and just slop making them confusing. Most Beatles records done on 4 or 8 track…Dark Side of the Moon on 16 track…

    A good mic, a good preamp, and some creative thinking with track bouncing and such can provide stunning results.
     
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  13. tintag27

    tintag27 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Sounds good!
    About the backwards thing... I seem to remember exporting a track from GarageBand to Audacity (a powerful and well-respected audio processor app). In Audacity I selected the section of track I wanted and applied the 'reverse' filter to it then saved that to the Desktop. Then I just 'drag and dropped' that into the GarageBand song (it appears as a new track). Now all I had to do was push it around til it fit, and cut out that section (or drop the volume) on the original track...
    Never used GB on my iPad though, so I don't know if would be an option...
     
  14. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    I was with you until "track bouncing." Track bouncing in 2021? Why? And "no."
     
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  15. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    You make good & valid points. I actually have 3 Qu's, but they are used strictly for sound reinforcement and webcast audio. I simply suggested it because of the ability to multitrack and the multitude of patch/insert options, giving no consideration to recording specs. FWIW, I often use a stereo Scarlett to interface a Qu or client-supplied mixer with a PC for Zoom or other apps my clients choose. They are quite solid.
     
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  16. GreatDaneRock

    GreatDaneRock Tele-Afflicted

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    Forget all the answers suggesting external mixers, complex setups, etc. Work off a laptop, Mac is best, as a laptop is portable and easy to carry around. Get a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, use Logic or GarageBand, take some basic tutorials on gain staging your preamps (setting up good recording levels).

    There's not much to it, microphone points at the amp, microphone goes into interface, interface is recognized by computer and software, arm a track and hit record.

    Today home recording is incredibly streamlined and easy to approach, it doesn't have to involve a gazillion cables, mixers, external preamps, or things of that like.
     
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  17. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    I record my drums with a Saffire Pro 40 (no longer produced), because I need a bunch of inputs with preamps. If I had to replace it, I'd probably get one of the mixer style interfaces.
     
  18. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    I've used the QUs to track live, and they're outstanding in an application where you need both a mixing console and a recording interface.

    However, a QU16 runs around $2k, A Focusrite 18i20 and Octropre (to get 16 mic inputs) would be half that. That assumes you're tracking a live band and need 16 inputs, if you're recording yourself and not playing real drums you probably don't need half that so you can easily get by with one of the smaller/cheaper Focusrites. The A&H is good kit, but in the OP's scenario a QU would be WAY more than he needs.
     
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  19. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    You make good & valid points, as well. I use my Qu's in a variety of professional environments where I am called upon to mix house, a couple of monitor mixes & webcast audio all on the same console., so it was an easy suggestion from personal experience. From where I typically find myself, the Qu is a multi-tool.
    Recording is a touchy subject and there are many ways to get a good recording at many different price points. I'm waiting to see the post where someone says you can't record anything without going to a full feature studio with 1024 tracks of digital audio & a Neve console, and the contradictory post about how full feature studios with 1024 tracks of digital audio & a Neve console should be using Garage Band or Studio One...
     
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  20. WireLine

    WireLine Tele-Afflicted

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    If one wishes to remain analog…or incorporate analog into a digital setup.
     
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