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Tech: USB recorders

07 Jul 13 - 02:26 AM (#3534583)
Subject: Tech: USB recorders
From: GUEST,Bearheart

Hi Folks, haven't been on in a while and having trouble re-setting my cookie, but have an urgent question.

Recently I was visiting a friend who used her USB recorder to record a healing session I was doing, and it occured to me that it could potentially be used for recording live music. I mentioned it to a friend who had written a new harp tune (he writes a lot of them) and he was concerned that the fidelity would not be so good. Has anyone had any experience with them? The friend who had purchased it really liked it and said it was very inexpensive.


07 Jul 13 - 05:15 AM (#3534607)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: GUEST,Grishka

Bekki, if you mean a pocket recorder, battery driven with a memory card and USB interface: I think almost every musician has one and uses it for recording live music, e.g rehearsals. As usually, price and quality are related, but very advantageous nowadays compared to just 20 years ago.

However, depending on your healing method, recordings may be disrupted by waves of Orgon energy or electronic voices.

07 Jul 13 - 05:38 AM (#3534616)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: treewind

The quality of many pocket voice recorders is excellent, and in many cases limited only by the fact that the microphones have to be small, close together and may not be terribly directional, so you may not get a full stereo image.

Even a mono device sold as a voice recorder will make a tolerable recording if you can set it to record in 16 bit .WAV or 256kbit (or higher) MP3 format.

I have an Edirol R-09 which performs very well, but since I bought that several years ago, Zoom have come out with the H2 and H1 which are much cheaper, and now there are competitive offerings from all the usual suspects including Tascam, Alesis, Olympus, Teac and Roland.

Most of these will make a good recording by themselves, and approach studio quality with external mics and preamps.

07 Jul 13 - 09:27 AM (#3534668)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: GUEST,Rev Bayes

Distinguish between USB mics and recorders.

There are very good USB mics out there but unless you have a specific need I don't see any reason not to go for a normal setup.

Recorders, of course vary wildy but some are as good as any studio. At least one prominent UK folkie recorded an entire album on one of these things.

07 Jul 13 - 11:05 PM (#3534904)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders

The item my friend had was a recorder in a thumb drive that you plug directly into the port, it charges from your computer, and can be hung around the neck on a cord.

Interesting Grishka, about the wave thing. I was doing shamanic healing work-- soul retrieval mainly. I didn't wear the device while doing the work. It did not seem to affect my connection with the healing spirits at all. I haven't had time to listen to the mp3 that she sent me because I've been on the road, but i'm assuming it recorded ok because I think she would have listened to it before sending it.

Really appreciate the feedback, and would welcome more. It is hard to get my harper friend to record anything, it's a shame because over the years he has composed about 25 or 30 tunes, all of them really lovely. I'm worried that they will be lost someday, especially since most of his most accomplished musical friends who might preserve them live far away and never get to hear them. A device like this might be the ticket.

08 Jul 13 - 09:11 AM (#3535023)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: GUEST,Arkie

Can vouch for the Zoom H1 and Zoom H2. Wonderful little recording machines and since they record either WAV or MP3 formats and download to computers is quick and easy.

08 Jul 13 - 09:24 AM (#3535029)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: GUEST,Bearheart

I think the one she had was much cheaper Arkie, but I'm sure you get what you pay for. She quoted me around $30. So maybe that one was only good for the spoken word...

08 Jul 13 - 02:11 PM (#3535170)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: GUEST,Arkie

The cheaper ones are intended for the spoken voice. My H1 cost about $100 after a handsome rebate. If you are in the market, you might look around and get a good deal.

08 Jul 13 - 02:16 PM (#3535173)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity

Just recently, a friend of another keyboardist I know, recorded a live session for us(without asking, I may add), and later in the day, played it back. It sounded reasonably alright, but nothing that compared to a well mastered recording session. I think they are OK, for listening to a general sound, or if you're working out licks, or even composing, which we were...but when it's all said and done, they just don't match the quality of a serious recording session....BUT, they sure are handy!

By the way, I've also found it VERY useful NOT to listen back to what you've recorded, till the next day...or at least a few hours after...the reason is, musicians are still in an 'active mind', and NOTHING will sound right, as far as what you played. If you give it a time span, to let your mind slow down from playing, you can listen to it more objectively, in a 'passive mind'...which most all people listen to, anyway....You'll find yourself overly critical, imagining other licks you could have played(because you're still in 'playing mode'), and won't settle down to listen to what is actually THERE!
Another word of caution...when you listen back, at anytime, don't dismiss simple mistakes, and get accustomed to listening to it 'wrong'...Always work toward perfection, in every tone, phrasing, expression and virtuosity(the ability to play and convey with feeling), and of course, the notes. We used to have an expression in the studio..."The Feeling is GREAT!!!..but the notes are all wrong!!"

Again, with a good recording session, you want to hear every nano-second, and make it seamless...your listening audience, may not be as forgiving, as you might be, making excuses, and glossing over, thinking, 'Well, it's OK, it was close enough'!..(wrong!!)..and if you can't get it exactly right, PRACTICE MORE!
...and for those practice sessions, those little recorders come in pretty nice.

Regards to ALL serious musicians out there....making things better may rest on our shoulders!!


08 Jul 13 - 02:56 PM (#3535187)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: GUEST,Arkie

I will agree that a well engineered recording with mics on every instrument and voice can produce a well mastered session with the emphasis where the artists would prefer it. However, so much of what I hear these days on recordings and in live sessions the instruments are louder than the vocals and the sound does not seems to mixed well at all. Is there a shortage of sound technicians with good ears?

08 Jul 13 - 03:59 PM (#3535211)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity

Excellent that you asked!...A couple of things...If you've noticed that, then YOU might be the guy!!!
I am a sound engineer AND musician, and I stress to EVERYBODY I play with, and to as many musicians who I think would listen...STUDY SOUND!!!
The rule, etched in stone, if you will, is 'separation and placement'!!!!!

No matter how one views themselves as being a great player, or even adequate player, or what 'image' you are trying to portray, bottom line is that we are dealing with SOUND...even if you play alone, and acoustically!!
In mixing sound, I've found a reasonably simple setting, that solves your problem....I call it a 'crooked seagull'...its the setting of your graphic equalizer, or if you don't use those, you can get pretty close with how you set your highs, mids, and lows....let me try this:....
    Lows                                        _    < Highs
       _                                     _    _
      _    _                               _
               _             Mid       _      
                   _                _
                        _         _
                            _ _

Jeez!...that was a pain in the ass! see how the mid goes down?....THAT is where your vocal frequencies are, and you DON"T want the 'bass roll-off' muddying it up, so you have to use your ear, to separate the mid, warmer tones of the lows from intruding onto the voice, BUT you want the warmth of them. Also, see how I knocked down the lower bass level? don't want to much bottom 'ThUMPH' either...Let your ear tell you..i'm only giving you the best I can do, on here....Now, notice the 'highs'?..the top slightly higher than the highest lows(bass) a rule, if I'm mixing a drummer, I want to hear the immediate attack of the stick on the cymbal, and THEN the following sizzle...everything will fall into place, after that...notice how the highest high, uses a lower level??..That is to avoid having too much annoying brightness...again bright, yes!..tinny, no!
NOW the important part, see the depression of levels in the middle??..THAT IS WHERE THE VOCALS GO!!!..You can boost the volume, without interference of the bass muddying it, AND, the mid-highs blending too close to the vocals, interfering with the clarity. They actually co-opt each other, if you're not aware of it, and take away so much of the clarity of the vocals..because they have 'like frequencies' they share!..PLUS, if you push aside both the bottom and highs, the voice has so much more room to be clean...and you can raise the volume, WITHOUT raising the volume of the instruments, and Voila, separation!!! Everything now is heard.
One more thing!!!!..The Human voice is the ONLY instrument on the planet that pronounces by God, pronounce them!..sing clearly, and DO NOT 'hide' behind style!!!!
Now here is a link, that I've posted before, that was recorded in Mono, live, remixed in the final mix in stereo chorus, giving it a somewhat stereo effect...but the settings were as prescribed, above, keep in mind, now, that this was recorded on TAPE, 35 years ago!!!..NOT digitally..but the mixing rule STILL APPLIES!!!

one electric guitar, one acoustic, one vocalist, live,listen to the 'presence!!

everything CLEAR..EVERYTHING heard, Everything working together, supporting the lyrical content. (By the way, the song has two meanings, see if you can see it!) far as music goes, and me being on this forum, THIS is the most important contribution, that I could make to musicians who wish to record, and perfect their craft!!!!
(and it Works!!)..I have another piece done in similar style ,and settings, that was requested by the producer, because he LOVED the sound you just heard!

Any questions?????

Highest Regards, to musicians who give a damn!!

Guest from Sanity

08 Jul 13 - 04:03 PM (#3535213)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity

Hey, I just looked at my 'illustration' of the levels, after it came up different in regards to the 'steepness' should look 'softer' a 'crooked seagull; in flight, not such a severe 'V'.


08 Jul 13 - 04:07 PM (#3535214)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity

..and By the way, the other recordings on YouTube, were recorded the same way, except 'Seascape' which was tracked on tape.
"Bittersuite:Joy' was EQ-ed the same way, but it is an instrumental, and recorded digitally.

That shoud do it for you...I think...


08 Jul 13 - 05:04 PM (#3535243)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: Bat Goddess

As Rick Watson would say, "There are no bad notes...just bad choices."


08 Jul 13 - 06:46 PM (#3535287)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: GUEST,Bearheart

thanks for the comments and feedback... some useful information I will be able to use.

really thinking of it as a sort of notebook for keeping track of tunes so they don't get lost, and get transmitted to friends who will keep them alive.

08 Jul 13 - 08:18 PM (#3535300)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity

One more thing to and women hear sound differently!!!!!
Women usually prefer more bass, and men more treble..the reason?...Their inner ears are different to pick up frequencies to each other. You will notice, that sometimes a woman will say, "Eww, that's to LOUD!'...Maybe it isn't..turn the treble down, and they will perceive it as lowering the, conversely, will want more clarity, so they crank UP the treble....lower the mid and bass, instead...and guess what?...They can hear it better!!

OK..I had that on my mind, after I left the computer, to go to town. The 'crooked seagull', that I tried to show you, WILL find that happy medium...AND one thing I strive to do, is ANYTHING you record in a studio, as polished as it may get, be able to reproduce perfectly 'Live'!!!!!!
....and a little side note..the 'crooked seagull' SHOULD allow you to play louder, live, and not feedback as easy!

Anything else I can help you with??


09 Jul 13 - 09:01 AM (#3535426)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: treewind

There is no single magic EQ curve that makes everything right.
Agreed, there is often something to be said for cutting out some instrumental mids to make a voice stand out in the mix without being too loud, but really, you have to use your ears to decide what's right every time. The "smiley curve" is a well known phenomenon to sound engineers, but it's not universally regarded as the right thing to do.

There's also a lot to be said for cutting the extreme bass, where the only sounds recorded turn out to be noise that has nothing to do with the music, and for cutting a lot of bass on individual instruments that don't produce any. No point in having anything below about 200Hz for a whistle or a fiddle, for example.

Going back to the live recorded session - yes, the best mics in the world, placed randomly in a mediocre room, will not produce a studio quality recording if you are expecting the clarity and balance available with separate mics on each instrument. Conversely a portable recorder can give excellent results in a live performance setup if you can find a position for good live sound, and place the recorder in that position.

Interesting about men and women hearing differently - that's a new one on me. Going to go Googling for more about that...

Anahata (also both a musician and sound engineer, these days)

09 Jul 13 - 11:33 AM (#3535488)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity

treewind: "Interesting about men and women hearing differently - that's a new one on me."

Yeppers....women are more sensitive to highs...they hear the highs better then men, and the reverse is true.

treewind: "There is no single magic EQ curve that makes everything right. Agreed, there is often something to be said for cutting out some instrumental mids to make a voice stand out in the mix without being too loud, but really, you have to use your ears to decide what's right every time"

I believe I said that...YOU HAVE TO USE YOUR EARS...assuming that your ears are hearing right. Some people who have been musicians or engineers for a while, OFTEN have hearing deficiencies at the high end...also those musicians, rock for instance, have measurable hearing losses. However the 'crooked seagull' is a GREAT place to start. You may want to tweak a few freqs here and there, but by the time you're done, and got your BEST sound, it WILL resemble something like that old 'bird'!..however, as I also pointed out, the 'V' shape, came out more severe, when I posted it, as opposed to how it looked when I originally typed it.

...and then there is this...MANY people, musicians are NOT accustomed to hearing correctly!!..but rather, to what they're 'used to'.
Some people just trust that a recording should be listened to 'flat'. that would be nice, but not always the case. Try this...take out one of your favorite CD's, put it in the machine, and dial the playback, using the 'seagull', then listen...what does it tell you?
If you only have analogue dial tuners, start off with the treble just below max, and the bass about at 6 or 7...but closer to 6. Because amps and tuners are not all the same, in regards to the specs, you might have to fiddle with it..and of course, this is all useful, IF, your ears are in good shape.

Just try it....this isn't rocket's better!
Also, I did provide a sample of a 'live' outdoor recording(worse possible recording conditions), using acoustic, electric guitars and a vocalist...all live, and pre-set to record at the levels they were. Check it out.
BTW, our studio controlled atmosphere is even clearer..but if you do 'live' gigs, the link SHOULD interest you!!!


16 Jul 13 - 12:46 PM (#3538107)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: Bearheart

Anyone familiar with this

17 Jul 13 - 03:44 AM (#3538343)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: GUEST,Jon

I've not seen that one (in fact those I know round here with one seems to have one of the Zoom range) but it is the type of device I think you'd be best opting for and I'd guess you would be OK with it. Perhaps you could search for some online reviews to get some idea how others have found it.

One consideration I had when getting mine was (not that I've wound up using it but it's there if I ever did need it) was that I wanted the option of plugging an XLR lead in for external mics. At the time, that lead me to the Zoom H4 but there are probably more on the market now with that option.

17 Jul 13 - 01:50 PM (#3538539)
Subject: RE: Tech: USB recorders
From: GUEST,Rev Bayes

The only other thing to bear in mind is the level you'll be recording. For a voice, fiddle or guitar anything will do but if you want to be recording amplified sound or loud instruments a lot of machines don't have the headroom.