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SonSprinter
01-05-2016, 09:02 PM
Anyone recommend any free software that I can use to record my music playing? I would like to combine, for example, me playing/strumming rhythm ukulele, me picking the melody, me picking some leads, me playing bass, and then drums (from my keyboard). This goal/endeavor is to create/produce music playable via standard CD for fun/friends, and not to be sold.

Jim Hanks
01-06-2016, 01:43 AM
There's always Audacity http://audacityteam.org/

But you might want to check out Reaper (http://www.reaper.fm/) or Tracktion (https://www.tracktion.com). Both have a lot of power for under $100. Reaper is "free to try" the full version for 60 days.

Of course you'll need some hardware like a microphone(s) and audio interface.

Oh wait, you didn't mention what platform. Windows? Mac? iOS?

greenie44
01-06-2016, 02:03 AM
I am a big fan of Reaper - you can get a good idea of what it can do with the 60 day trial, and it can do A LOT - even use virtual instruments, many of which are free.

But I think you may be skipping a step. If you want to multi-track, as it seems you do, you will need an interface, which will allow you to hear playback and play along in synch. I don't know of any of those for free, but you can get them for well under $100. I just got one on sale for $50 that allows for two tracks in, but you can get one with a single track in for #30 - http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/behringer-u-phoria-um2.

RichM
01-06-2016, 02:04 AM
+1 on Audacity, at least for Windows. Free, easy to understand, will do all of the things you want.

Booli
01-06-2016, 02:04 AM
What Jim said ^

+1 for Audacity. There are native versions for Windows, Mac, Linux & FreeBSD.

Learning basic concepts on Audacity can give you the skills to easily understand other software should you want to spend money later for a different DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) program.

There are tons of Audacity tutorials on Youtube.

As per what Jim said also about a mic or an audio interface, this is required since if using the built-in 'sound card' of your computer, your recordings are 99% likely to have electronic 'noise' in the audio of your recordings due to the EMI/RFI that exists within all computers, and if you want a clean signal, you need to have the ADC (Analog-to-Digital converter) OUTSIDE the actual computer, hooked up either by FireWire, USB or Thunderbolt. iOS devices have either a native 30-pin or Lightning connection, to which some devices can attach directly, otherwise if the audio interface you want to use is 'Class Compliant' USB, you can use one of the $29 USB adapters that Apple sells to give a USB port to your iOS device...

SonSprinter, Lots of us here on the forum have been down this path before - ask away and I'm sure you'll get lots of helpful replies.

Jim has quite a few great albums on BandCamp (great sounding audio fidelity too, I might add), and I am in the process of recording songs for a new album right now to be released soon.

Many other folks on this forum (too many to list) have done home recording of themselves for many different reasons, and simplicity seems to be a common theme, which is good for guiding a beginner such as yourself. :)

[edit: after I hit submit I see other replies that were not there when I was initially typing mine here, so no slight is meant by not referring to the other posts above mine. Like I said, many folks are here to help]

Booli
01-06-2016, 02:20 AM
I should add that there's software that just records audio only (like Audacity), and other software that does audio AND MIDI, such as those mentioned above, as well as GarageBand which exists for both iOS and Mac OS X.

You can start a project on iOS, and then bring it over to the Mac for more polishing if needed, but not the other way as far as I know.

Last time I checked, the iOS version of GarageBand was $5 and the Mac OS X version was $15, both from the respective app stores. You will need an iTunes account to get them.

If you want to use your keyboard as a MIDI controller, and/or MIDI synth triggered by your recording program, you want a DAW with MIDI capability.

Using your keyboard as a MIDI controller you can make use of a ton of softsynths, virtual drums or virtual instruments, of which many are included with various programs including Reaper and Auria and Garageband. Others can be purchased and some are free too.

Also, to use your keyboard as a MIDI controller, you might want to look at an interface that has BOTH audio and MIDI I/O, otherwise you can get a 1-in/1-out USB MIDI interface such as the M-Audio Uno for ~$30 everywhere, and you would connect this to your keyboard or any other device that has MIDI ports, and to your computer.

Booli
01-06-2016, 02:28 AM
Here's one guy showing how to record ALL the instruments, using only a Blue Snowball Microphone.

This mic normally sells for $69 but frequently goes on sale for $49 from time to time.

He is using the program Audition by Adobe (used to be called Cool Edit Pro before Adobe bought that company back in 2003-ish)...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUqXERXXjpc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUqXERXXjpc

RichM
01-06-2016, 02:47 AM
I remember Cool Edit Pro. Wow, now I feel really old.

The Blue Snowball is a good option if you're on a budget. There are better options, but not for that price.

Booli
01-06-2016, 03:19 AM
I remember Cool Edit Pro. Wow, now I feel really old.

Ha Ha - me too :) - I was so upset when Adobe bought Cool Edit Pro, and then shelved it for like 2 yrs before being reborn as Audition.

That was what lead to me using Audacity instead of going back to Cakewalk (which I had used for a long time prior since Windows 3.11). Then in 2005 when I switched to Mac from Windows, one of the reasons I switched to Mac was specifically for GarageBand. I still have a newer Mac mini which is my music computer and exists only for that purpose and to act as a hub for my iOS devices. My daily-use computer runs Linux as I refuse to touch a Microsoft product ever again.....anyway....

Back when I was solely on Mac, I had also used Digital Performer, Logic Express, Logic Pro and also ProTools, and all of them are a royal PITA, and by the time I was able to hit record after launching the app, the song idea in my head was gone.

With GarageBand, I can fire up the iPad app and be recording in SECONDS, not 4 mins later. Very important for capturing song ideas when the inspiration hits me.


The Blue Snowball is a good option if you're on a budget. There are better options, but not for that price.

I agree. Blue Microphones is a top-notch company, and ALL they make are microphones. Many folks still love the Snowball, and when the first model came out, there really was nothing else like it on the market.

Now there are lots of choices (and a few in that price range), but a Samson Go Mic, or Samson Meteor Mic is about what you'll find at that price, both of which have only a 12mm diaphragm inside whereas the Snowball has a 30mm diaphragm, and better electronics inside, yielding a much flatter frequency response, and much wider dynamic range.

I have an Apogee MiC, which is easy to use and sounds great either via iOS devices or USB to Mac or Linux, but not everyone wants to spend $200+ just for a mic.

The sound is at least as good as my AKG Perception 200 large diaphragm condenser when I run it through my ART USB Dual Tube Pre, which is a 2-channel 12Ax7 vacuum tube based preamp and USB interface with some other features.

RichM
01-06-2016, 03:27 AM
That was what lead to me using Audacity instead of going back to Cakewalk (which I had used for a long time prior since Windows 3.11). Then in 2005 when I switched to Mac from Windows, one of the reasons I switched to Mac was specifically for GarageBand. I still have a newer Mac mini which is my music computer and exists only for that purpose and to act as a hub for my iOS devices. My daily-use computer runs Linux as I refuse to touch a Microsoft product ever again.....anyway....



I used to use Cakewalk as well. I thought it was a very good program, but unnecessarily complex. There's something to be said for plug, play, record, and that's why I like Audacity. The learning curve is very quick, it works reliably, and wav editing is simple and logical.

kissing
01-06-2016, 04:27 AM
Audacity coupled with any good USB microphone (Blue, Samson, Audio Technica, Shure, etc) is a great, simple combo for recording!

I use Audacity and a Samson C01U USB mic for my recordings:

http://www.youtube.com/kissing88

Doc_J
01-06-2016, 05:08 AM
Another Audacity + USB Blue Yeti user here.

Booli
01-06-2016, 05:28 AM
Audacity coupled with any good USB microphone (Blue, Samson, Audio Technica, Shure, etc) is a great, simple combo for recording!

I agree, perfect way to get started. If Audacity had a way to do MIDI, via plug-in (of which there are MANY for audio effects, and all FREE too) it would be close to the ideal DAW.

However, there is Ardour, that has features to rival even Logic Pro and ProTools, which runs on Linux and Mac OSX as of yet and a Windows version is in the works (more info on their download page), which is actually getting lots of use in pro studios now too:

https://www.ardour.org/

and there's also Cubase/Cubasis (by Steinberg), which has native versions for Windows, Mac, Linux and iOS.

and also Ableton, which is more of a mod tracker program that can work as a DAW, but harkens back to the early days of music creation on the Amiga and Atari computers...but I digress

None of these three programs are free (as in beer), but Ardour has a pay-what-you-like donation model with a requested $1 minimum.

kohanmike
01-06-2016, 06:37 AM
On a Mac, Audacity or Garage Band, I use both.

johnson430
01-06-2016, 06:45 AM
Add me to the Audacity + USB Blue Yeti user group.
Although I just got a camera connection kit to plug my blue yeti into my ipad so I can record anywhere.

RichM
01-06-2016, 07:06 AM
Hope this isn't off-topic, but would the Blue Yeti users consider it a significant enough upgrade from a Snowball? I've been happily using the Snowball for the past 3 years, but I'm tempted by the Yeti.

Brad Bordessa
01-06-2016, 08:26 AM
I agree, perfect way to get started. If Audacity had a way to do MIDI, via plug-in (of which there are MANY for audio effects, and all FREE too) it would be close to the ideal DAW.

However, there is Ardour, that has features to rival even Logic Pro and ProTools, which runs on Linux and Mac OSX as of yet and a Windows version is in the works (more info on their download page), which is actually getting lots of use in pro studios now too:

https://www.ardour.org/

and there's also Cubase/Cubasis (by Steinberg), which has native versions for Windows, Mac, Linux and iOS.

and also Ableton, which is more of a mod tracker program that can work as a DAW, but harkens back to the early days of music creation on the Amiga and Atari computers...but I digress

None of these three programs are free (as in beer), but Ardour has a pay-what-you-like donation model with a requested $1 minimum.

I'm a Cubase guy, but since the license code only works with one computer, I downloaded Ardour for $1. Looks pretty cool. I haven't used it yet, but it sure beats looking at Audacity's drab colors.

SonSprinter
01-07-2016, 07:43 PM
Ah, thank you all so very much for posting.

...But I think you may be skipping a step. If you want to multi-track, as it seems you do, you will need an interface, which will allow you to hear playback and play along in synch. I don't know of any of those for free, but you can get them for well under $100. I just got one on sale for $50 that allows for two tracks in, but you can get one with a single track in for #30 - http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/behringer-u-phoria-um2.


...As per what Jim said also about a mic or an audio interface, this is required since if using the built-in 'sound card' of your computer, your recordings are 99% likely to have electronic 'noise' in the audio of your recordings due to the EMI/RFI that exists within all computers, and if you want a clean signal, you need to have the ADC (Analog-to-Digital converter) OUTSIDE the actual computer, hooked up either by FireWire, USB or Thunderbolt. iOS devices have either a native 30-pin or Lightning connection, to which some devices can attach directly, otherwise if the audio interface you want to use is 'Class Compliant' USB, you can use one of the $29 USB adapters that Apple sells to give a USB port to your iOS device...
Ah, and here I was hoping to stop into RadioShack and spend $3 to convert my 1/4" plug to that small microphone plug on the side of my computer.

Why would one want two tracks (versus one)? Would that be to record two inputs at the same time?

This one got decent ratings on Amazon. But is this too cheap? Any advice on what kind of audio interface I should get?
http://peavey.com/products/index.cfm/item/875/117099/USB-PUSBPlayback

Brad Bordessa
01-07-2016, 07:56 PM
Ah, thank you all so very much for posting.

Ah, and here I was hoping to stop into RadioShack and spend $3 to convert my 1/4" plug to that small microphone plug on the side of my computer.

Why would one want two tracks (versus one)? Would that be to record two inputs at the same time?

This one got decent ratings on Amazon. But is this too cheap? Any advice on what kind of audio interface I should get?
http://peavey.com/products/index.cfm/item/875/117099/USB-PUSBPlayback

If only it were that simple! :)

Two tracks for recording a mic as well as your pickup. Mic could be used for a better 'ukulele sound to mix in or for vocals. Someday you'll want the second input. Actually, I don't know if you can even get one with only 1 input.

That Peavy isn't really what you want. I used this: www.amazon.com/Focusrite-Scarlett-2i4-USB-Interface/dp/B009B15N0Q/ to record my EP (link in sig). Sounds great, lots of features. The little, cheaper version is: www.amazon.com/Focusrite-Scarlett-Solo-Compact-Interface/dp/B00MTXU2DG/. It would probably be perfect for what you need. You could go for something cheaper, but you're really going to starting hearing hiss with cheap, crappy pre-amps: www.amazon.com/Behringer-UM2-Audio-Interface/dp/B00EK1OTZC/. If you've got the means, go Focusrite. I'm a picky dude, but I really love mine.

Booli
01-07-2016, 08:03 PM
Ah, thank you all so very much for posting.

Ah, and here I was hoping to stop into RadioShack and spend $3 to convert my 1/4" plug to that small microphone plug on the side of my computer.

Why would one want two tracks (versus one)? Would that be to record two inputs at the same time?

This one got decent ratings on Amazon. But is this too cheap? Any advice on what kind of audio interface I should get?
http://peavey.com/products/index.cfm/item/875/117099/USB-PUSBPlayback

Many folks started out with soldering a cable with a 1/4" jack or plug to a cable and the other end to a 'piezo buzzer', typically with unsatisfying results, mostly due to impedance mismatch and lack of a proper preamp. You need to spend a little more than $3, likely closer to $100 unless you are handy with a soldering iron and are familiar with SparkFun and Adafruit and can build something yourself of your own design.

Two inputs lets you record two tracks at the same time if you like, vocals and uke, or record from both a mic and a pickup to get the full sound range of both and mix to taste.

That Peavey device is OUTPUT ONLY, and further has no controls, meters nor a headphone port. Seems it's not designed as an interface for recording into the computer.

Before recommending an interface we need to know what platform you are on, i.e., Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS? Desktop? Laptop?

Also, what version of the operating system?

There are THOUSANDS of device options, and difficult to assume a one-size-fits all.

Booli
01-07-2016, 08:15 PM
If only it were that simple! :)

Two tracks for recording a mic as well as your pickup. Mic could be used for a better 'ukulele sound to mix in or for vocals. Someday you'll want the second input. Actually, I don't know if you can even get one with only 1 input.

That Peavy isn't really what you want. I used this: www.amazon.com/Focusrite-Scarlett-2i4-USB-Interface/dp/B009B15N0Q/ (http://www.amazon.com/Focusrite-Scarlett-2i4-USB-Interface/dp/B009B15N0Q/) to record my EP (link in sig). Sounds great, lots of features. The little, cheaper version is: www.amazon.com/Focusrite-Scarlett-Solo-Compact-Interface/dp/B00MTXU2DG/ (http://www.amazon.com/Focusrite-Scarlett-Solo-Compact-Interface/dp/B00MTXU2DG/). It would probably be perfect for what you need. You could go for something cheaper, but you're really going to starting hearing hiss with cheap, crappy pre-amps: www.amazon.com/Behringer-UM2-Audio-Interface/dp/B00EK1OTZC/ (http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-UM2-Audio-Interface/dp/B00EK1OTZC/). If you've got the means, go Focusrite. I'm a picky dude, but I really love mine.

I've never used Focusrite audio gear for my own recordings, but they have consistently gotten good reviews over the years.

The main reason being is that I already had an interface or two when they started making them, and still use the hardware I had obtained prior, but they have been on my radar for a while.

If Brad's album is any indication of the great audio quality, and per his endorsement, I'd recommend that you seriously consider a device from this brand.

When I eventually replace my iPad3 with an iPad Mini, I'm going to also buy a Focusrite iTrack Dock for a new audio interface (or it's newer replacement model, unless something better comes along), and both will be dedicated to media production.

I personally have several different recording interfaces, but my use is atypical and without knowing the platform you're on SonSprinter, it's complicated to recommend specific hardware as there are often platform-specific issues that can either be magnified or mitigated by what you use.

SonSprinter
01-07-2016, 09:12 PM
Two inputs lets you record two tracks at the same time if you like, vocals and uke, or record from both a mic and a pickup to get the full sound range of both and mix to taste.

I've seen people record instruments with both a plug-in and a mic... Could someone please comment on why, and what this means: "full sound range of both and mix to taste"?



Before recommending an interface we need to know what platform you are on, i.e., Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS? Desktop? Laptop?

Also, what version of the operating system?

I'm running a PC Laptop, Windows 7, i5, 2.53 GHz, 6.00 GB RAM, 64-bit operating system

Oh, and my ukulele does have an active pickup (has volume, treble, bass) and a battery.

Any thoughts about Line 6 POD Studio UX1?

Booli
01-07-2016, 11:24 PM
I've seen people record instruments with both a plug-in and a mic... Could someone please comment on why, and what this means: "full sound range of both and mix to taste"?

With a pickup you are going to get sound from contact with a resonating surface, i.e., the soundboard or the underside of the saddle as it presses on the bridge slot, and NOT from sound pressure moving through the air.

With a microphone, you are going to get sound ONLY from sound pressure that is moving through the air.

Typically they are quite different, due both to physics as well as human perception of audio.

As such, using only one type of transducer (mic or pickup) you will in fact be missing some of the actual sound produced by the instrument.

By using both, and recording each to it's own discrete track, but simultaneously, in the recording software, you can capture both methods, synchronized in time, and then apply eq, compression, reverb, etc to create a fuller sound that includes all frequencies and nuances produced by the instrument.

Keep in mind that a mic will ALSO pickup the noise of your environment unless you are in an isolated space, i.e. like to close yourself off in a closet while recording, whereas a pickup can only sense the resonant vibrations of the instrument and not dogs barking, cars honking, babies crying, etc.

Lots of folks will tell you that a uke recorded from a pickup sounds less like you hear it with your ears than a uke recorded with a microphone (with which I agree to some extent), but it comes down to your own hearing perception, your recording goals, convenience, cost and other factors too.





Also, what version of the operating system?

I'm running a PC Laptop, Windows 7, i5, 2.53 GHz, 6.00 GB RAM, 64-bit operating system

Oh, and my ukulele does have an active pickup (has volume, treble, bass) and a battery.

Any thoughts about Line 6 POD Studio UX1?

Ok that narrows it down a bit. So do you have or want to buy and use a microphone or just use the pickup's output?

If you might want to do both, or sing and play (recording to discrete tracks simultaneously), as Brad said above, you might as well start with a 2-channel interface.

I am not familiar with, nor use any Line6 products so cant comment on that one. Also, I have not used Windows since 2005 and since then have moved to Mac OS X, iOS and Linux, so I am not up to date on all the nuances of doing audio in Windows, but fellow UU brothers Jim Hanks and greenie44 may be able to offer better guidance for Windows.

I can help more with software related to the above platforms mentioned for which I have experience, as well as both general and specific hardware for different use cases, but after struggling to to audio recording and production on Windows for nearly 15 yrs, and then seeing how well everything is thought out far in advance for what is offered on the Mac (a revelation for me back in 2005) and how well it all works (CoreAudio, CoreMIDI, CoreVideo, etc), and that I no longer had to fuss with driver conflicts and blue-screen errors in the middle of a recording session (GRRR!-dont get me started about viruses and malware! :(), I stopped paying attention to most of what is good or bad for doing audio on the Windows platform.

Maybe others with current Windows experience can chime in...

Brad Bordessa
01-08-2016, 07:54 AM
I've seen people record instruments with both a plug-in and a mic... Could someone please comment on why, and what this means: "full sound range of both and mix to taste"?

I hate to always use my album as an example, but I did an A/B test on it by accident and it's quite interesting. All songs except the last (Song For Shelly) are recorded with both a mic and a signal from the pickup (pickup mixed in to taste). That last tune only uses a mic. Very different sounds. The mic sounds better, but the pickup has a nice, meaty warmth that you can't get with just the mic. As for recording only a DI signal... pass... Nobody really does that. The results are bad.