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Discussions => Recordings and Videos => Topic started by: Mcgrooger on February 14, 2020, 05:26:24 PM

Title: Multitrack recording
Post by: Mcgrooger on February 14, 2020, 05:26:24 PM
Apologies in advance if this get's long and complicated - it is a question - honest!

Occasionally I've recorded a song or tune with melodeon and then added a guitar track subsequently as here on Tyne of Harrow:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBv5P6Pjp8Q&feature=youtu.be
Or...a song with guitar after which I've added a melodeon track as here with Amphitrite:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1-KjPFgYnY&feature=youtu.be

Getting this done is a bit of a complicated process. I use a now outdated Olympus LS10 digital recorder to record all my tracks at the moment which has no multitracking facility and I don't connect it to a computer until I've made the recording. I record direct to the LS10 through its on board mics.  I record one track and transfer it to my PC. Then I have to put that onto an MP3 player or similar to listen to through headphones whilst I record the second track on the LS10.  This way I avoid any noise from the PC (although tbf it's pretty silent). Then I mix the two tracks together on the free version of Audacity. I've found lining up the tracks really tricky especially if, say, the extra track only comes in part way through the song.

Today on YouTube I noticed a video for the Boss BR80 which seems to retail at about £150. Unfortunately most of the video reviews etc. for it are more concerned with electric/rock guitar than anything else but it does seem to allow for fairly simple MTR via it's onboard mics.  Has anyone tried one or come up with a different easy, fairly non technical way of multi track recording?

One limitation I have is that I don't have any high quality external mics, just a VERY old (50 years) Shure which has a rather bassy response.
I don't want to spend a fortune or spend ages learning new software methods.

Any help/advice/comments will be welcome.
Cheers. McG
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Pete Dunk on February 14, 2020, 05:58:29 PM
I'll send you a PM in a little while (just going out for an hour) I have a machine you might be interested in!
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: playandteach on February 14, 2020, 06:14:23 PM
And that has reminded me that we've got a couple of devices at school that are quite complicated, but might be worth me learning to use. Good prompt.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Gena Crisman on February 14, 2020, 06:31:31 PM
Hi Mcgrooger!

I have occasionally synced audio to footage after the fact, and even sometimes included additional footage on other footage. I generally have not found syncing them to be too challenging, but I've often had separate videos of both instruments - perhaps I have gotten used to just post syncing everything.

If I wanted to solve the problem in real time, with things I already have access to, I'd likely attach a USB microphone to my phone, and then use an app that does the job that isn't some sort of bizarre cloud based social network (it appears that this is exactly what the first app I found that would do this is, somehow... (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bandlab.bandlab&hl=en_GB&pageId=none&showAllReviews=true) - software design these days is so ridiculous). If your Olympus LS10 can't be involved in that that, finding/buying a device specifically to do this could be quite worthwhile.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Steve_freereeder on February 14, 2020, 06:40:34 PM
Has anyone tried one or come up with a different easy, fairly non technical way of multi track recording?
I've used a Zoom H2 recorder connected directly to my Macbook Pro laptop and recorded the tracks in Garageband, whilst monitoring through headphones.

But first I set up a 'sacrificial' percussion track for the full duration of the intended recording, using any handy drum loops. As a last resort you can use any real percussion instrument; I've even drummed on an empty pizza box in the past. So long as you can create an even steady rhythm it doesn't matter what you use. I find this method much easier to listen to and work with than a purpose-built click-track or metronome.

Then I lay down each of the proper tracks in turn, whilst monitoring the percussion track through headphones. I can get a pretty good synchronisation using this method.

Finally, having got all the tracks laid down and any tweaks of gain, EQ, L-R balance, etc., I mix down all the tracks to a master, omitting the percussion track. Here's one I did some years ago featuring the one-row 'Golden Box' in D which I made on Emmanuel Pariselle's course:
https://soundcloud.com/steve_freereeder/seven-stars-fantasia
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: John MacKenzie (Cugiok) on February 14, 2020, 06:46:50 PM
ZOOM are great. I have an H4n, and I can record quad sound using 2 plug in mikes.

SJ
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Gena Crisman on February 14, 2020, 06:55:10 PM
ZOOM are great. I have an H$4, and I can record quad sound using 2 plug in mikes.

Wow dang yeah it looks like the Zoom H4n can do this nicely, although then again, the price tag is going to be £150-200 so might be outside of budget. But, this gives me another reason to want one...
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Graham Wood on February 14, 2020, 07:14:55 PM
Any multitracker is going to be a bit of a learning curve. Having a timing track is key to getting everything tight and together. I normally use a rimshot 4 beats to the bar if you are playing 4:4 time.

I have the BR80 that you mentioned although I don't use it any more. It's small and fiddly but the internal mics and pre-amps are good enough for home use. Learning to use it will take some time and a lot of the functions will probably be irrelevant to what you are trying to do.

You didn't mention what video software you are using. If you don't want to record yourself wearing headphones then it's probably best to run the audio track through a speaker and play to it on video, and then replace the video audio track with the audio track that you pre-recorded and mixed less the timing track. You can use midi timing for punch-ins and out but an audible timing track has always been better for me.

For more professional audio recordings I use an Akai MPC-X deck with Shure SM57 mic's. The pre-amps are exceptional. I guess it depends on what you want to achieve.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Steve_freereeder on February 14, 2020, 07:15:14 PM
Wow dang yeah it looks like the Zoom H4n can do this nicely, although then again, the price tag is going to be £150-200 so might be outside of budget. But, this gives me another reason to want one...
Gena - PM sent.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Mcgrooger on February 14, 2020, 07:19:01 PM
Thanks everyone for the quick replies. I've not got a Mac so no Garageband. I've sometimes thought I'd be able to record direct to Audacity via a USB mic but I like the 'standaloneness' of the Olympus apart from the lack of MTR.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Mcgrooger on February 14, 2020, 07:22:25 PM
I record the video on to a fairly basic camera then edit it with Windows Live Movie Maker where I also mix in the audio.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Pete Dunk on February 14, 2020, 07:34:16 PM
Ah, my idea may be too complicated, check your messages!
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Steve_freereeder on February 14, 2020, 07:39:46 PM
Thanks everyone for the quick replies. I've not got a Mac so no Garageband. I've sometimes thought I'd be able to record direct to Audacity via a USB mic but I like the 'standaloneness' of the Olympus apart from the lack of MTR.
Audacity plus a USB mic is a good combination.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Mcgrooger on February 14, 2020, 07:45:56 PM
Thanks Pete I've just sent you a reply.
I've thought about the Zoom H4N before but have a slight irrational down on Zoom - I had a multi effects guitar unit of theirs once but found it gimmicky. I think there is a newer Olympus that'll do MTR but it looks a bit insubstantial.
Price isn't necessarily a killer but it probably would be if I started buying decent external mics.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Graham Wood on February 14, 2020, 08:26:46 PM
PS: I forgot to mention that I really enjoyed your video's. Not much wrong there....lol... probably just the time it took to make them. Great stuff.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: JohnAndy on February 14, 2020, 09:06:30 PM
Wow dang yeah it looks like the Zoom H4n can do this nicely

I have a Zoom H4n. When I first got it, a few years ago, I used it for making a multitrack recording and also for editing tracks - patching over bits where I'd gone wrong!

It does these things well enough, but I found it extremely fiddlesome and tricky to get my head round the user interface and to work out how to actually go about achieving these things.

I guess if I had kept on with this then it would have gradually come to seem more intuitive to me.

I tried another way of using the H4N, connecting it to the USB port on a Windows PC and using it as a microphone/USB audio interface combination. This should have allowed me to do the multitracking using software on the PC - I think I was using Cubase Lite. The problem I ran into here was that the very high latency when using the default generic Microsoft drivers, and the fact that if I replaced the Microsoft drivers with the Zoom-specific drivers (which were supposed to give better latency) then the drivers kept crashing all the time. Someone did explain to me at a later date that there should be a straightforward work-around for the latency problem, but I never went back to try this out)

Since then, I've just used the H4n as a portable recorder - and it's brilliant at that. I love the quality of the recordings I get on it - and that's just with using the built in mics - if you have your own high quality ones you can plug them in instead.

Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Howard Jones on February 15, 2020, 12:31:04 PM
Is your Olympus still functional as a simple recorder?  If so, rather than try to replace it with another one for multi-tracking, why not keep it for field recordings (or just use your phone) and buy some kit specifically for recording with a PC?

I have an old Zoom H4 but I've never used the multi-tracking facility.  Instead I've used a small mixer which came with a small unit to connect to a PC via USB (Behringer Xenyx).  It also came with Cubase, and (after some fiddling with settings and drivers) I didn't have any problems with latency.  You can now get mixers with direct USB connections.  Or as Steve suggested, simply a USB mic.  A good music shop should be able to advise.

Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Alan Morley on February 15, 2020, 03:06:42 PM
I have always used Mixcraft DAW - (Digital Audio Workstation ) you can buy it on download.

It's really simple to use, unlike the famous QBase - which is a very steep learning curve.

https://acoustica.com/mixcraft (https://acoustica.com/mixcraft)

If you still want to stick with your old mic - you can get a USB mic lead and plug into your computers USB socket

All my stuff has been recorded with Mixcraft

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0hVoXci6BE (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0hVoXci6BE)
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Mcgrooger on February 15, 2020, 04:05:04 PM
Thanks again everyone for all the helpful suggestions. I feel a bit doubtful recording to my PC - I don't have a laptop which for some reason might make it feel less cumbersome. I certainly wouldn't be getting rid of my LS10 - nearly all my recordings to date were made with it and I'd almost certainly continue with it for that. For a really quick fix I occasionally just use the built in mic on my camera.  The question's really only about MTR.
Everything here is interesting and definitely food for thought. I'm still interested to know if there are any more opinions on the Boss BR 80. I use Boss effects with my electric guitar work with Tumbling Tom and am a big fan of 'em. At the same time it's also interesting to hear what other folks use for their sound recordings.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Graham Wood on February 15, 2020, 05:44:46 PM
Download the manual from the link below and read it to see whether you could get on with it. It is certainly fit for purpose and I used to use it all the time.

https://www.boss.info/uk/support/by_product/micro_br_br-80/owners_manuals/5c934929-ee32-4791-8007-d075a0968daf/
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Clive Williams on February 15, 2020, 10:24:49 PM
I have always used Mixcraft DAW - (Digital Audio Workstation ) you can buy it on download.

I use Mixcraft too - got it on your recommendation! It hits the sweet spot between functionality and ease of use for me; perfect for TOTM stuff.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Rees on February 15, 2020, 10:39:29 PM
Please note, MixCraft is not available for Mac.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Alan Pittwood on February 15, 2020, 11:32:47 PM
For sometime [quite a longtime] my home and field recordings have been made on a Roland R05.

But, since 2018, Roland have produced the R07 as the competitor to the Sony, Tascam and Zoom products.
The R07 has Bluetooth and wireless monitoring and control from a phone, tablet, or even Apple Watch.

I bought the R05 as it can simultaneously produce a WAV file and a MP3 file recording onto a micro SD/SDHC memory card.
I have not multi-tracked, though both the R05 and R07 can do that.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: penn on February 16, 2020, 12:11:44 AM

I’ve worked for a company developing computer recording and editing software for about 30 years, so I haven’t use a hand held recorder for multi-tracking for at least that long - computer software is quicker to use and offers so much more.
My own software is a bit expensive to recommend for home melodeon recordings, but we have recently partnered with a company called Tracktion who offer a free version....
 https://www.tracktion.com/products/t7-daw (https://www.tracktion.com/products/t7-daw)


I had a go at it tonight for the first time for my THOTM recording and it was quick, simple to use, has good edit features, plugins and the rest. It works on Mac Window and Linux , so if you’re looking for a free alternative to Audacity, (T7 is better suited to multitrack music than Audacity) it’s worth a try.
Gren
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Anahata on February 16, 2020, 08:52:56 AM
If people are looking for a computer based mixer/editor (and I'm not entirely sure that the OP was) I should mention Ardour (http://ardour.org) which is free, multiplatform and professional quality. I use it for all my YouTube video sound, as well as everything from tune-learning mp3s to full CD albums. Far more powerful than audacity, which is also a great program within its limitations.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: RogerT on February 16, 2020, 09:38:13 AM
Just going to chuck in my ha'pennyworth. I use GarageBand on my iPad. I’ve tried quite a few DAWs on PC. The general problem with them (for me anyway) is a steep learning curve and a lot of time spent wondering how to do a particular thing, which 'ought' to be easy. Then there is all the hassle re sound maps etc and hooking  up a keyboard, and getting an audio to digital interface (if you are recording straight to the PC). And then you hit latency issues and it all seems like a job for a professional (which I am not). Having said that, Audacity is good and free. And I find using a mouse such a pain after a touch screen. As it happens my laptop does have a touch screen but it’s not as good as a tablet. So after all that, GarageBand on an iPad is an astonishing piece of software for the money (how much is it now ...£20?) and it's pretty intuitive. It does have a few limitations, but not so as you'd notice. I recently transcribed a piano piece onto it, playing it in bar (or three chunks), and adding the left hand on a separate track. Even the onboard mic on the iPad is pretty good , though I do have a mic.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Graham Wood on February 16, 2020, 10:08:30 AM
I've always used standalone multitrackers because they just work. And the BR 80 is as good as any for what the OP is trying to do. Most modern DAW's require a fairly fast computer to run them and then you have to worry about latency issues, driver issues and all the other stuff that will turn a half hour job into a full day. With a multitracker, you just stick it in front of you and press record, and then when you want to lay the next track, put your headphones on, press play for track 1 and record for track 2 and off you go. If you want to do waveform shaping and edit out clicks, grunts and groans and other frequency based distractions then a PC/Mac based DAW would be more useful. The process can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. But for simply just getting the job done, then a BR80 is fine.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Graham Wood on February 16, 2020, 10:32:57 AM
This is one of many Youtube videos showing how quickly you can lay down tracks on the BR80. Obviously he covers a lot of things here that you won't use and also he is using line in direct from guitar so he doesn't need headphones, but it gives you an idea. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7p099o7gKXo

Search for other Youtube videos for acoustic recording as well.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Howard Jones on February 16, 2020, 11:52:32 AM
Standalone recorders are good for the initial recording process, but they can be fiddly when it comes to editing and mixing.  I prefer to transfer the files to a DAW on my PC.  There are plenty available, many for free or at a modest price, and it's just a question of finding one which is easy to use without a steep learning curve.

So far as the Boss BR-80 is concerned, my main question would be the quality of the inbuilt mics.  I guess that the OP will mainly be recording using a mic rather than direct input, so this could be crucial.  Boss claims they are "high-quality", but they would, wouldn't they?  Mu guess is they will be at least adequate for most purposes, but an external mic will probably give better results if only because it can be placed more precisely.  The unit will take an external mic, but has only a jack with an unbalanced input.  Balanced inputs are usually preferred for mics, to reduce noise, although I am not sufficiently expert to say whether this would make much difference in a simple home-recording setup.

Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Graham Wood on February 16, 2020, 12:18:05 PM
I've never had a problem with the internal mics for home recording. External mic is 'as you say' 1/4" mono and not balanced. If you want to use mic's with XLR balanced connector then you are probably better off buying a separate mic pre-amp unit with XLR input and also 48v Phantom supply if you want to use condenser mic's. The output from this unit would go straight into the 'Line In' socket as opposed to the mic/guitar socket. I have a valve mic pre-amp with phantom power and it is exceedingly good for acoustic guitar because it warms the sound nicely. These unit's are about £30 but you need a decent mic to make best use of them. To be fair I've never had cause for complaint whilst using the internal mic's on the BR80. Another point to note is the mic/guitar input is switchable which alters the input gain and impedance depending on whether you plug a mic or guitar in. Also from experience you need a pretty fast SD card for this unit. I use a Sandisk SDHC 16Gb card and it works. Any card which can't keep up with the data transfer rate of the recording will fail and recording stops. So you need a decent SD card.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Alan Morley on February 16, 2020, 05:04:59 PM
I have always used Mixcraft DAW - (Digital Audio Workstation ) you can buy it on download.

I use Mixcraft too - got it on your recommendation! It hits the sweet spot between functionality and ease of use for me; perfect for TOTM stuff.

I have just bought the latest version - Mixcraft 9. As a previous owner, they give you 70% discount on the updated version, so around £26.
To be honest, it's not much different to previous versions for me - I don't need all the extra stuff the new version has.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on February 16, 2020, 05:46:21 PM
I have one of these.

https://www.zoom-na.com/products/production-recording/multi-track-recorders/zoom-r16-recorder-interface-controller

Ii works well as a USB controller and recording interface for multitrack work.  It can be used to directly control DAWs (I use Reaper).

I rarely need anything this sophisticated, though. I find my old Zoom H2 is ok and easier.

The pre-amps in the R16 are the same as in the H2N.  It dates back to pre-melodeon days (I've had it about 8 years). I used it a lot when I first got it. Mostly for field recordings. It also got pressed into service as a Battery powered mixer, before I got a Behringer  1002B which was a lot cheaper and I fretted about less on gigs. That makes a fairly decent multitracker as weell.

Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Alan Morley on February 17, 2020, 09:30:41 AM

I rarely need anything this sophisticated, though. I find my old Zoom H2 is ok and easier.

I have a Zoom H1 which I occasionally used to record music sessions so I wouldn't forget the tunes when I was sober next morning.  :|glug
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Jozz on February 18, 2020, 08:28:54 AM
You could simply upgrade to the Olympus Ls-p4. Keep the same basic functionality, small form. But it has dedicated overdub functionality, so you can take the step with the computer out of the process.

Alternatively you could look for a recorder that does file formats with timecode for easy syncing of tracks (like bwf wave).
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Graham Wood on February 28, 2020, 05:54:36 PM
I don't know where you are with this because the thread has gone quiet. However I did a small demo of the BR80 capabilities by taking the video that I did for TOTM and adding a guitar track to it using the BR80's internal mic's.

This is the result: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjr_D8dP5bo

What I basically did was export the audio from the video as a .wav file which is uncompressed. I dropped it into track 1 on the BR80 in MTR mode. Recorded the guitar on track 2. Mastered down the 2 tracks and imported them back into the video to replace the original audio. It probably took about 20 minutes. Simples.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Pearse Rossa on February 29, 2020, 12:08:59 AM
This is the result: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjr_D8dP5bo

Nicely done. Very tasty. I am going to give you one piece of advice seeing as you mentioned elsewhere that you wanted to play Scottish and Irish music;
Get your thumb under control. It should be anchored in the thumb groove. You're going to find it impossible
to play faster stuff with your thumb waving around like that.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Graham Wood on February 29, 2020, 07:35:06 AM
This is the result: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjr_D8dP5bo

Nicely done. Very tasty. I am going to give you one piece of advice seeing as you mentioned elsewhere that you wanted to play Scottish and Irish music;
Get your thumb under control. It should be anchored in the thumb groove. You're going to find it impossible
to play faster stuff with your thumb waving around like that.

Yes, thank you for the advice. Having re-watched the video, I was totally fixated with my thumbs waving about like palm trees in a hurricane. One should be on the air button and the other should be in the groove. I will make a conscious effort to fix that. Cheers.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Mcgrooger on February 29, 2020, 09:03:11 AM
Thank you for the demo, Graham. I'm going ahead with the Boss BR80 so I hope to show my own efforts round here some day soon once I get to grips with it. Thanks to everyone who took the trouble to chip in. (:)
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: David Summers on February 29, 2020, 06:30:19 PM
Very interesting thread, as I plan to record a 3 voice choral bit of music, with me singing all three parts.

Me i've ordered a quality condenser microphone (Blue Ember), and Focusrite Scarlet USB amplifier. Its around about the same cost as a Zoom H4, but far better quality microphone, and the Scarlet has very low noise preamps, and can provide the phantom power needed by the conderser microphone.

I was planning to use audacity to merge the vocals, but will have to look into the above software.

Advantage is if i move on to record the melodeon, I can get to two tbone gooseneck condensor microphones for the left and right sides of the the meoldoen. But yes the software needed to merge files is critical.
Title: Re: Multitrack recording
Post by: Graham Wood on February 29, 2020, 09:28:11 PM
Thank you for the demo, Graham. I'm going ahead with the Boss BR80 so I hope to show my own efforts round here some day soon once I get to grips with it. Thanks to everyone who took the trouble to chip in. (:)

Looking forward to it. Give us a shout if ever you need any help with it.
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