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Tech: live rec. on a laptop?

Gurney 16 Mar 09 - 08:50 PM
Rabbi-Sol 16 Mar 09 - 09:59 PM
Ross Campbell 16 Mar 09 - 10:16 PM
Tangledwood 16 Mar 09 - 10:17 PM
olddude 16 Mar 09 - 10:28 PM
Austin P 16 Mar 09 - 10:58 PM
TonyA 16 Mar 09 - 11:05 PM
M.Ted 16 Mar 09 - 11:44 PM
Gurney 16 Mar 09 - 11:44 PM
Austin P 17 Mar 09 - 12:22 AM
Gurney 17 Mar 09 - 12:23 AM
Ross Campbell 17 Mar 09 - 12:36 AM
Amos 17 Mar 09 - 12:36 AM
pavane 17 Mar 09 - 06:28 AM
GUEST,Will Fly, on the hoof 17 Mar 09 - 08:54 AM
mandotim 17 Mar 09 - 09:40 AM
Jim Lad 17 Mar 09 - 12:10 PM
treewind 17 Mar 09 - 04:19 PM
Gurney 18 Mar 09 - 03:36 AM
Jim Lad 18 Mar 09 - 04:40 AM
Jim Lad 18 Mar 09 - 04:42 AM
Gurney 19 Mar 09 - 03:10 AM
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Subject: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: Gurney
Date: 16 Mar 09 - 08:50 PM

I've been playing with a mini-disc recorder, but then you have to put it onto a computer, to do anything beyond the raw recording.

It occurred to me that it might be possible to record direct onto a laptop, perhaps with a preamp between the mic's and laptop. I have a program, LP Recorder, that would possibly accept and digitise the audio. It doesn't seem to care what kind of input it gets.
There is also a cheapo preamp for sale locally, with volume controls on each channel. This would actually complement LP Recorder, which has only one volume control.

Does anyone have any background of this, or is it even possible?

Maybe I should just splurge on the preamp, and try for myself?


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 16 Mar 09 - 09:59 PM

Our Borderline Folk Music Club volunteer, Akiva Kent has pro-tools installed on his portable computer and records all our concerts directly on to the hard drive.

E-mail him to akiva@4themax.com and he will be more than happy to tell you exactly how it is done.

SOL


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 16 Mar 09 - 10:16 PM

The Griffin iMic allows audio input from microphone or line level preamp or mixer to the usb socket on your laptop. It also allows playback from the recording through headphones or line level out to amplifier. It does the A/D/D/A conversion at cd quality, usually better than the standard audio i/o your laptop may have. Works plug-and-play on Macs, driver software supplied for PCs.

I got one to use with GarageBand on a Mac Mini - absolutely crystal-clear recording. Freeware/shareware like Audacity or Final Vinyl would also work, I think Audacity is available for PCs but it sounds like your LPRecorder would do the job too.

iMic

In UK the iMic seems to be about £25 on eBay at buy-it-now prices, sometimes auctions go for less, Amazon.co.uk claims £22 with free postage.

Ross


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: Tangledwood
Date: 16 Mar 09 - 10:17 PM

Audacity (freeware) can accept stereo line inputs via the laptop mic jack. I haven't used it for microphones but have for an LP turntable. The signal can be digitised to a number of different formats.

Audacity


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: olddude
Date: 16 Mar 09 - 10:28 PM

I use audacity and it is great, I also use Kristal you can get that off by googling it

I do all of my recording on a notebook


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: Austin P
Date: 16 Mar 09 - 10:58 PM

The Mic input on most laptops works fine, but the quality will depend on the hardware and/or drivers on your system. For live recordings though, it should not be a problem.

Tip: Use an uni-directional microphone (e.g. an electret condenser, with a 'telephoto / zoom' setting which cuts out extraneous noise from around you (i.e. either side of the mic)). There's nothing worse than your live recordings being ruined by the clink of glasses and the off-key bellowing of the guy on the next table during the choruses* ... Also, consider recording in Mono, for the same reason.

If recording in a club, make sure that the mic is physically isolated from the table - (a bean bag works), as any knocks near it will be really loud!

AP

* usually me.


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: TonyA
Date: 16 Mar 09 - 11:05 PM

I've done field recording on a laptop, and liked the result. Sometimes it was better running on battery power. The AC power line can catch noise from other equipment and bring it in.

Does your laptop have a stereo line input to plug the preamp into? Most of them don't. Most laptops have only 2 audio jacks -- a stereo line output and a mono mic input. A few laptops have a stereo line input also, so they have 3 audio jacks like on a desktop.

If you plug a stereo mini phone plug from a preamp into a mono mic input, you'll get one channel from the preamp going to both channels of the sound card. No problem, I guess, if there's only one microphone going into both channels of the preamp, but it's something to keep in mind.

For laptops with only two audio jacks you need a USB external audio adaptor to get a stereo signal into the computer.


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Mar 09 - 11:44 PM

You want this Snowball USB recording mike from the Blue microphone folks who make all the fancy studio mikes.
You can get it on line for $70 or so, and it is light years better than the Griffin thing, or any of the built in mikes.


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: Gurney
Date: 16 Mar 09 - 11:44 PM

Hmm. Thank you. The mic's I have available are a pair of Marantz cardioid condenser (great if they are in the singer's face) and a Sony stereo (twin) uni-directional dynamic, but with no 'zoom' setting. Precurser to the current Sony 'T' minidisc mic. Neither totally suitable without getting them up to the stage.

The iMic appears to be an adaptor, not a preamp, I can't see any power input -unless it draws power from USB2 ports? Griffin doesn't claim it to be a preamp. I already have a preamp turntable, an Optimus Lab1100 cheapo connected to the computer with adaptors.

OldDude, do you use a preamp? My Marantz mic's are battery-powered, but does that count?
When I recorded on tape, I always tried to get the mic's forward.
About to eMail Akiva.


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: Austin P
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 12:22 AM

PS You can get battery powered pre-amps for mics, which will enable you to plug into the line input also if it has one if you want stereo.

AP


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: Gurney
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 12:23 AM

TonyA and MTed,you came in whilst I was composing my last post. I haven't ignored you.
I haven't bought a laptop yet. I was just considering the options, and even the possibility!

I do have two desktops and lots of desktop parts, two cassette tapedecks, a minidisc, two little voice recorders..... I just like the idea of a unit that isn't dedicated.


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 12:36 AM

The Snowball mic would only give you mono recording, which is fine if you're setting up layers of tracks one after another. I understood what you were looking for was a set-up for live recording. If you already have a pair of condenser mics or the stereo Sony, with the iMic you're all set up for stereo recording. You may not even need a preamp. I use a small battery-powered mixer just to give some control over levels between the channels, but your microphones could just as easily be plugged directly into the iMic sockets (there's a supplied converter to feed line-level connectors into a mini stereo jack). Depending on what kind of plugs you have on the microphones (standard 1/4" jacks/xlrs) you might need a further pair of adapters - Maplins or Radio Shack should be able to supply.

Ross


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: Amos
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 12:36 AM

The iMic has a two position switch on it which pre-amps or not depending on how it is set. It is probably drawing USB power.


A


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: pavane
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 06:28 AM

I should add a note that professional studio recordings use totally different types of mic to those used for live performance.

And good professional mics for live performance sound far better than those from your local electronics dealer (Unless he is a music specialist!)


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: GUEST,Will Fly, on the hoof
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 08:54 AM

To go back to the original post, for the moment, I actually prefer recording with a Sony Minidisc recorder and a good stereo mic in certain live situations. The recorder is very small and unobtrusive - I always carry battery spares and spare discs - and I can leave it running for an hour without worry.

I then use Garageband or Audacity on my Mac laptop to upload the files and process as necessary.

I've also recorded directly in to Audacity on the Mac using a USB mic - sounds fine - and with a mono mic via an Edirol converter box - also fine.


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: mandotim
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 09:40 AM

A clever solution is to use a Zoom H4 portable recorder. You can use the recorder itself, then transfer files via a card reader, or use it as a USB interface for a laptop. It has a couple of ok condenser mikes attached (X/Y pattern), or you could plug in your own mike, or even take an output from a mixer and run that through the H4 into the laptop. Short of a full-on audio interface, this works as well as anything.
Tim (playing around with digital mixers and optical interfaces as we speak!)


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 12:10 PM

Hi Gurney:
          How far do you want to go with this? If you're just messing about with it, then the replies you are getting are fine.
Mickey Mouse but fine.
If you want to record an album then PM me back and I'll point you in the right direction.
Kind Regards
Jim


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: treewind
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 04:19 PM

I've never heard of a mic with a "zoom lens" control!
The directional response pattern is either:
Omnidirectional: you probably don't want this for this application.
Cardioid: sensitive at the front, null at the back, pick up a fair amount at the sides, or
Hypercardioid: very directional - sensitive at the front, fairly insensitive at the sides, with a null at about 120 degrees, and some pickup directly behind.

Really, to keep the background down you need to get close to the source.

Laptops: most have a mic input which is useless for serious recording: mono and noisy. They often don't have a line input but if they do you are in luck and can connect a preamp to that; otherwise the USB audio interface is a good way - something like the M-Audio Mobile Pre USB. Two mic channels with XLRs and 48v Phantom power, a pair of condenser mics (Behringer C2, Rode NT5, Neumann KM184, Schoeps MK41 in dramatically increasing order of cost, for example) and away you go.
And Audacity, for software.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: Gurney
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 03:36 AM

Ok, guys, thanks.
Jim Lad, I just want to record the odd performance, not get involved in anything at all professional.
My Mini-disc is a Aiwa, and doesn't have a digital output, so the audio has to be redigitised from the earphone jack, which isn't anything like ideal.
My Marantz mic's were pretty upmarket 25 years ago, costing half a weeks wage each. They were bought from an audio specialist. Great for recording a vocalist and his guitar. Providing, as I said, they are right in his face. Not so good for two tables back.
Privately I've had a suggestion that I look into an M-box, which is a four-track pre-amp which will go to a laptop, Have to look into that.
TonyA, I once had everything electronic in my home connected together, so that I could record TV on computer, and play CDs through the stereo (this before I had a dedicated CD player.) The sound was pathetic. Potential in the earth circuit, I was told, because everything was plugged into different sockets, and running everything from one wallsocket proved it. Maybe the problem when using the charger? Would have needed some explaining to the insurance co. if I had a lightning strike!
I'm aware of the Zoom H4 and it's brother. It just seemed to me that a laptop has everything that I'd want anyway, considering that I'd be putting the recording into a computer anyway!


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 04:40 AM

Then I'd suggest the M-Audio Fast Track Pro which will give you everything you need and more. It's around $260 but even if you get a little more serious about it, you won't be throwing it up on the shelf.
Kristal Audio Engine is about the most user friendly DAW and has its own forum where you can get all sorts of advice.
Don't go spending money on mics. until you've tried them out on whichever interface you choose.
Every mic. has its purpose and you may be surprised by what you've got.
Or you could go this route.


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 04:42 AM

Kristal Audio Engine is about the most user friendly DAW (Free, I mean)


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Subject: RE: Tech: live rec. on a laptop?
From: Gurney
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 03:10 AM

Thanks, Jim. The studio condenser mic's cost an arm and a leg here, and are likely to arouse sideways looks in my (folkie, and largely acoustic) circle, and M-Audio looks well past where I want to go, the favourable reviews on YouTube notwithstanding, but Kristal Audio Engine looks the business for me with a pre-amp downmarket of M-Audio.

It is nice to know that I CAN do what I want on a laptop, and I wasn't asking silly questions.

Thank you all, and I hope others learned as much as I did. I haven't had a respectable recording device for some years now.   Chris.


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