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Joyful Uke
07-31-2017, 06:39 AM
I tried looking for old threads on recording, but have given up and am starting a new thread.

I'm interested in recording myself, (audio only), solely for practice purposes, so I can get a feel of progress, (or lack thereof.) I don't expect to share the recordings with anyone.

One of the things I'm working on is tone, (not just hitting the notes, but making it sound as good as possible while hitting the notes.)

A low quality recording might not help me hear enough to get a good feel for my progress there, so I'm wanting to look into my options for getting a decent recording without it being a big expense or big project learning how to use any special equipment.

Any suggestions on what to look into?

cyber3d
07-31-2017, 07:17 AM
What is your budget?

There are many components to quality recording. Since you are on a budget you want to put your money where it is best served. The mic is the most important to so that is where you need to concentrate your money.

Then there is the environment. Reflective surfaces in your room will make a huge difference in the sound quality. IMO, you want to make sure you are sitting or standing in the same spot, in the same direction for practice each and every time. The purest sound will come with an environment that is well dampened. But, remember that an environment that is too dampened will sound awful. The sound may be most accurate, but it will sound terrible. I have a (now don't laugh) large converted shower as my sound room. Acoustic foam on 3 walls and one reflective surface. You might want to invest in free standing acoustic panels (go to sites like www.guitarcenter.com and research different panels. Lot's of DIY videos on YouTube too).

Also, make sure your mic set up and recording device are setup exactly the same each time. Make marks on your settings for the recorder or if you are recording directly to your computer make sure you both save your settings and write them down. The nice thing about recording directly to your laptop is that some software will have the option of displaying an audio spectrogram. Kind of a bonus if you have OCD around analyzing or perfecting your technique! LOL.

Croaky Keith
07-31-2017, 07:36 AM
A USB mic, & Audacity software (absolutely free - http://www.audacityteam.org/ ) on your computer is all you need. :)

(I'd recommend either a Samson Meteor or a Blue Snowball mic.)

Joyful Uke
07-31-2017, 07:43 AM
Thanks, cyber3d. It sounds like I'm already in over my head if I need to buy panels and all, but I do understand what you're saying. I'll take a look, and see if that might be a possibility.

I'm not sure about budget, but relatively small, (compared to redoing a room, at least.) This is just for practice purposes, but something like just using an IPod to record doesn't seem to give decent enough sound.

Off to look at acoustic panels online. If they can help block outside noise, maybe they'll be multi-purpose, and I can save up for them.

Booli
07-31-2017, 08:28 AM
Some good suggestions here already, and I'd like to add the following...

The first things to ask yourself are:

1. Do you want to record to a standalone device, like one of the Zoom, Tascam or other digital recorders that have a mic or two built-in, and use an SD-card?

or

2. Do you want to record to your phone/tablet with a one or two small add-on devices?

or

3. Do you want to record directly into the computer?

and

4. Using any or all of the above do you plan to make videos in the future, for YouTube or the UU Seasons weekly themes?

All of the above can be combined in various ways, and yes with free software (such as Audacity), but if simplicity is your goal and you prefer not to deal with a mess of wires, I can recommend the following starting points based upon having a home recording setup since 1985 and working in pro studios on and off since 1990:

1. For $99 US, you can get a Zoom H1 that sounds GREAT with the built-in mics (I just got one), and can take other dynamic and electret mics, as well as the input from your guitar cable (and the pickup in your uke if it has one), records to a microSD card, and can ALSO function as a USB mic into the computer and/or directly into an iPad or iPhone with the USB camera connection kit and a powered USB hub.

I have not yet tested it on Android, but USB class-compliant audio on Android is a bit of a fustercluck, despite this being part of the Linux kernel for over 10 yrs now, so I would avoid Android unless you want to spend $40 for the proprietary USB audio drivers that only work with 2-3 apps.

2. For $199 US, you can get a factory-refurb Apogee MiC direct from Apogee. The new model does 96k, which unless you are listening in $500 headphones, or with professional studio monitors, you will NOT hear the difference from the original model that is only 48k.

I also have the Apogee MiC and this is pro-level hardware and sounds GREAT, but is MONO and does not have a headphone output. It comes with cables for USB and iOS devices, and works with all the above without any extra parts.

I have personally tested it on Mac and Linux and and iPod Touch and 2 different iPads and can testify that it works well.

I bought the refurb model myself 3 yrs ago and have never ever had a problem with it.

Someone is likely going to recommend the Blue Yeti microphone which is a very good mic, but the Yeti is physically HUGE in comparison (about 1ft high and 7" diameter desk footprint) to both the Zoom H1 and the Apogee MiC. The Apogee MiC is about the size of a standard 'D' sized battery. Using the Yeti with iOS devices requires a powered USB hub as well.

Links are below:

Zoom H1
https://zoom-na.com/products/field-video-recording/field-recording/zoom-h1-handy-recorder

B and H Photo in NYC has them the cheapest right now in different colors, such as a limited edition blue model for $69:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?atclk=Brand_Zoom&sts=ps&Ns=p_PRICE_2%7c0&N=4291104436&Ntt=zoom%20h1

Apogee MiC:

if you scroll down you will see the original Apogee MiC refurb for $169 and the updated 96K model for $199:

http://www.apogeedigital.com/store

I have discussed the Apogee MiC on UU many many times and if you search for 'apogee' (sans quotes) you can find those discussions.

As an audio engineer being my second job (IT consultant is primary) for so many yrs, and with the performance of these devices in my own hands, I highly recommend that you skip over the cheaper options.

However, the cheaper options will 'work', to capture audio, and of course the sky is limit if you want to spend more...

As far as recording methods, etc using anything mentioned here, that is a bigger conversation, and I have a few YouTube channels that are quite helpful if/when you are ready...

As far as video, I am planning to evaluate the Zoom Q2n soon, and am hopeful that I can recommend it, but without having hands-on myself, I am not giving it my blessing just yet, but if you are curious, for $169, it solves a lot of problems for a musician who wishes to make videos.

See here: https://www.zoom-na.com/products/field-video-recording/video-recording/zoom-q2n-handy-video-recorder

Any further questions, just ask, and I am happy to answer. :)

ricdoug
07-31-2017, 10:17 AM
On my Samsung smartphone, the free ASR app produces high quality recordings using the phone's internal microphone. Ric

cyber3d
07-31-2017, 10:38 AM
Thanks, cyber3d. It sounds like I'm already in over my head if I need to buy panels and all, but I do understand what you're saying. I'll take a look, and see if that might be a possibility.

I'm not sure about budget, but relatively small, (compared to redoing a room, at least.) This is just for practice purposes, but something like just using an IPod to record doesn't seem to give decent enough sound.

Off to look at acoustic panels online. If they can help block outside noise, maybe they'll be multi-purpose, and I can save up for them.

No no no no. If you don't want to spend the money on acoustic foam - you can use heavy blankets draped over chairs to form a sort of enclosure (bed comforters work well). You don't need many, just on three sides max. It is only to avoid sound bouncing from hard surfaces like windows and tile floors and hard walls. Place the chairs about 2 to 2-1/2 feet around you. Keep your mic low perhaps facing slightly up towards the sound hole of your uke. All easier if you are sitting.

Audacity is a good bet. http://www.audacityteam.org/download/windows/

Find the best USB mic you can or better yet borrow or rent a USB mic from a local guitar shoppe and try a few out. I do like the suggestion for the Zoom recorder. I use a Zoom H6 myself.

UkingViking
07-31-2017, 11:14 AM
Before moving furniture around for the best draping of cloth, or building a studio, perhaps try to record in different rooms and listen if you like the sound. You might find that a room with a rug, curtains, a couch, clutter etc. will work better than one with primarily hard surfaces.
Then, if no room has low enough reverberation time, try draping some cloth in some places.

Joyful Uke
07-31-2017, 03:27 PM
Thanks to all for the input.

Sounds like I've been doing a lot wrong when trying to record, (like in the kitchen, rather than a room with a rug, couch, etc.), but I'll try out some other locations and see what works.

Booli, you ask a lot of great questions, and I hadn't even been aware of all the options.

I think for now, something like the Zoom H1 will be fine. I actually have one, but had been using it to record the dog with separation anxiety, so I can tell how he's doing as I work with a vet behaviorist to help him. It had suffered a fall & slight damage in the process, but I've got it up and running again, so that will be the way to go. I had it set on MP3, and hadn't messed with any of the other settings, so changed that tonight, and a quick attempt at recording has me happier with the sound.

Now I just need to get happier with my playing. LOL.

If anyone has any other input on recording, though, I'd be interested in hearing them. Even if it's not in the budget immediately, I might get some things to add to the wish list, and keep in mind for the future.

Thanks to all.

Booli
07-31-2017, 03:40 PM
...
Booli, you ask a lot of great questions, and I hadn't even been aware of all the options.

I think for now, something like the Zoom H1 will be fine. I actually have one...
...
Thanks to all.

I am glad to help.

Good that you already have a Zoom H1.

Likely this will actually be the simplest way to record yourself and playback.

You can even put in headphones to MONITOR the recording in real-time to make sure it is going ok, and then you are already setup to playback the recordings right then & there if you already have the headphones on. :)

if the recording sounds boomy or is lacking in note clarity, move the H1 (or any mic) farther AWAY from you somewhere between 12-18" I have found is a good spot using the built-in mics, with the mic gain set to 65, and headphone output set to 80, but this is only a reference and you may need to tweak both the position of the H1 and the settings to see...

Also, you can power the H1 via USB, like if you have a wall adapter for an iPhone or iPad, the USB cord for the H1 can go into that, and this way you will not go through batteries too fast. So far I am getting betw 6-8hrs of record time on my H1 from a single Eneloop AA rechargeable battery, and on a 2GB microSD card, about 2 hrs 15 mins of record time in WAV format.

Ukulele Eddie
07-31-2017, 06:36 PM
If you're really looking just to record yourself for self-assessment, I would advise against going too wild to start. Personally, I don't think you need panels and all that jazz. I had the same goal as you. I started with a Zoom recorder. Recorded on that and played back from that into headphones. Easy, peasy lemon squeezy.

After I did that for a while, I bought a decent mic that I could connect to my iPhone or iPad to record directly into GarageBand. I use an Apogee mic (I bought a refurbished one for something like $150). There are more than adequate much less expensive options out there. I also bought a mic stand for about $50. Voila. Done. It is way more than adequate.

I didn't want to spend my time becoming a junior sound engineer to listen and realize, "Yep, that still sucks." ;-) Just kidding. If you're into that sort of thing, awesome. But the reality is for most of us you don't need that much precision. Just enough to know what somebody listening to you is going to hear. It's practice feedback for goodness sake. If it's too complicated to learn or use, it will either cut into practice time or you simply won't use it (unless you're into techie stuff).

My $0.02. Let us know what you end up doing and how it works for you.

Croaky Keith
07-31-2017, 09:47 PM
I started recording myself with a digital camera, transferring via the SD card to my computer, but got fed up keep on removing & replacing it, that is why I got the USB mic.
I've been using this set up in the Seasons thread for something like the past 15 months, no need for anything more expensive. :)

anthonyg
07-31-2017, 10:40 PM
I've been recording myself for a few years. My two bobs worth. Making a decent recording of yourself is a magnitude more difficult than just playing well in the first place.

Good recordings need decent equipment, experience and patience. To be honest I don't think your going to achieve what you want to achieve.

Joe King
08-01-2017, 02:40 AM
I too have a ZOOM H1 and use it all the time.

It's great for recording practice sessions.

It is so much easier than using the computer
or an app on my phone.


I've been recording myself for a few years. My two bobs worth. Making a decent recording of yourself is a magnitude more difficult than just playing well in the first place.

Good recordings need decent equipment, experience and patience. To be honest I don't think your going to achieve what you want to achieve.

Dude -
maybe you are missing the point,
the op want to just see how they sound for practice,
not make studio recordings and sell albums on itunes
or anything.

It does not have to be this massively complicated
or expensive project.

If the op is like me, having lots of wires, microphones,
preamps, mixers, audio interfaces, sound panels and
all that stuff, it better be making income and it's a
real hassle unless you have a permanent space for it.

The ZOOM H1 has stereo microphones and is
used by professionals as a field recorder every day.

Surely it is good enough for mear mortals to
use at home to track our progress, NO?

Maybe take a sec an realize that some peeples
have different intent an priorities?

anthonyg
08-01-2017, 02:58 AM
I may sound mean but some of you guys are missing the point. The OP wants to record himself to get a sense that he is improving. He could be on a hiding to nothing.

GREAT players can sound poor if not recorded well. The learning curve needed to get a half decent recording is huge.

The OP could be playing OK, make a recording of himself and shoot his confidence to hell. Its entirely possible.

DownUpDave
08-01-2017, 03:02 AM
I strongly agree with the others that have said you can get good results for practice sessions with no more than a smart phone and an external mic. I use a Zoom Hn2 as an external mic hooked up to my Samsung Galaxy S4 phone. You do this via a headphone jack cable, the male end into the phone must have three black rings, not two. I do all my NUD recordings on it and none other than Booli has complimented me on the recording quality.

anthonyg
08-01-2017, 03:10 AM
One of the things I'm working on is tone, (not just hitting the notes, but making it sound as good as possible while hitting the notes.)

A low quality recording might not help me hear enough to get a good feel for my progress there, so I'm wanting to look into my options for getting a decent recording without it being a big expense or big project learning how to use any special equipment.

Any suggestions on what to look into?

OK, I know I've started a bit of a flame war here but this is what I'm commenting on in the Original Post.

To meet the stated requirements needs equipment and experience.

mountain goat
08-01-2017, 03:40 AM
if you're looking at tone, and don't want visuals,
I think the cheapest and most efficient way to go
is to download the "audacity' programme onto your laptop
and buy a 1/2 decent usb mic which shouldn't set you back
much more than 100 bucks give or take...
you will have solid quality, nuanced audio
that will certainly give you a handle on your feel and tone.

Booli
08-01-2017, 03:40 AM
OK, I know I've started a bit of a flame war here but this is what I'm commenting on in the Original Post.

To meet the stated requirements needs equipment and experience.

I can only comment from my own experience. But most folks I've introduced to recording themselves can get a good sounding recording with a Zoom recorder not knowing anything else other than how to set the buttons and the device and where to place the mic.

Mic placement is MORE important than room treatments with soundproofing, etc as per my decades of experience with home and pro-studio recordings.

For beginners, the KISS principle is paramount - i.e., keep-it-simple-silly...otherwise the experience becomes information overload for the beginner recordist.

Please understand that I personally am not knocking the experience and suggestions of others offered here in this thread.

Their suggestions are useful as well, but we need to be mindful that we are not necessarily training a prodigy to become the next Hugh Padgam, Bob Clearmountain, or Steve Lillywhite. (i.e., platinum record-making professional music producers)

I do not see a flame war brewing, just one person said 'dude'...and if that is confrontational, then most of the surfer culture in California is full of rage and strife. LOL.

Ease of use counts for a lot of things in many areas, and there are many paths to that goal.

Hopefully the OP has enough resources now to make a judgement call. :)

SoloRule
08-01-2017, 04:17 AM
I use Shure MV 88 - under $200
Unlike a regular mic, this one block unwanted sound from your surrounding area . For example, if you have a TV running in the next room, you set the recording range to 90 aiming at your instrument. It block the TV sound.

It's amazing how quickly I can pick up areas that needed to focus and improve from a simple recording ! Yes auditcity is what I use too but I don't use it that much. Shure app can convert to MP3 .


Here is a perfect sound sample that I recorded a couple months ago. No editing. All Raw . Just my Iphone 7 plus and Shure. My husband had the TV running in the next room.

https://soundcloud.com/brenda-lee-wong/till-there-was-you-ukulele-cover

JackLuis
08-01-2017, 03:47 PM
When I wanted to record for the Seasons, I was hampered by insufficient income to afford a $100 mic. I bought a $15 web cam on Amazon and just went for it. Later I bought a $15 Mic and have been using that with the web cam video. I did buy $75 worth of software ( Debut and Video pad) but later found out I could have downloaded free stuff to do the same things.

It's not perfect or Professional quality but way good enough to find out I was playing better and better. It has really helped me learn to sing less badly!

Booli
08-01-2017, 04:29 PM
Valid suggestions from all, for computer and smarphone, but I need to remind that the OP has said she already owns a Zoom H1, and presumably is already familiar with it.

Smartphone will require the purchase of additional hardware, computer recording will not (H1 can work as USB mic) but either of these introduces complexity of new software and it's learning curve, however simple it may seem to those of us already using it, to a person new to recording in these ways, it's frustrating and requires additional time and effort invested...

For these reasons, let me clarify the simplicity of something like and in fact the Zoom H1 already owned by the OP...

1. Cost - $0

2. Actual use - Out of the box, insert battery, insert microSD card, turn it on, set levels and RECORD. That's it!

I am incapable of finding something with less hassle, and high-enough audio fidelity., especially if only to monitor one's own progress.

But maybe despite my decades of experience, and successful recording efforts, I am somehow incompetent.

Anything is possible :).