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Poor Student With Limited Space

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Off He Goes
Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 1259
Topic starter  

I've decided to look at recording options for the fall. I will be starting Univeristy, and living with my sister in a basement apartment. The place is nice, and has walls that block out sound pretty well, but its small. Its not small at such, but the area I would be able to set up anything for recording is small.

I will have a laptop, which I will be getting the summer from my parents. It will be nice laptop, not a piece of junk or anything. So I'd like to be able to work with it.

I have:
Art & Lutherie Acoustic with a Seymour Duncan Woody pickup.
Jay Turser Les Paul
Hagstrom HIIN
Fender Princeton Chorus
Traynor Guitar Mate 20
Behringer V-Amp

However, I will probably only be taking the acoustic, one electric, and the V-Amp, due to space. The rest will stay at my parents house, an hour away, so if need be, I could pick some of it up on the occasional weekend or holiday.

So I have two guitars, and effects unit and a laptop. I'm going to need some mics, and a mixer. I don't want to spend alot, but I don't want junk either. I'm simply going to be looking to record some acoustic demos for bars and stuff. With me playing guitar, and a singer. I have many friends that I preform acoustic sets with, and I would like to record some of the sessions and so on. So the most that will ever me played at once, would be two vocals, and a guitar, maybe two.

That being said, what are some items to look at. Preferably things I can pickup on E-Bay, as stores around here charge an arm and a leg for mixers, mics, etc.


Vacate is the word...Vengance has no place on me or her...Cannot find a comfort in this world.

Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2171

Pick up an M-Audio USB MobilePre for your sound card. It will come with some recording software. It's not great recording software, but you can use it. You can also use Audigy with it as well.

Grab yourself a couple of Shure 57, mic cables and mic stands.

You won't absolutely need a mixer at this point unless you're going to want to record more than two tracks at once. But honestly, in a small, untreated space you probably won't be able to isolate the ound sources well enough to get good results with recording more than 2 tracks at once. So the MobilePre, and Mics will be your gear to start with.

After you get a little experience under your belt you can add a mixer. Lots of folks will recommend Behringer stuff. I'm not one of them. To my mind most of the Behringer stuff is noisy. You can compensate for it with level adjustments, but I'd much rather have a Mackie Onyx than a Behringer. They're not cheap, but they aren't killer either. Since you won't need one right away you can save up for it for a few months. Or maybe you can con your folks into helping you with it for a birthday present :)

In any case, you can get good results with the minimum gear I've recommended above.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST

Ignar Hillström
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5349

To add to what King said: decide for yourself what kind of quality you're after. Being a student in a small room on a tight budget myself I would have to say that you *really* do not need Shure mics and Mackie mixerboards to get a decent demo going. I can send you some clips recorded with an accoustic guitar and an electric guitar through a V-amp, both into a cheap Behringer mixer into a super-cheap Creative soundcard. That should give you an idea if that quality is acceptible or not to you. Total cost of the soundcard, mixer, cables and mics would be about $60. That wouldn't even buy you the manual of that Mackie mixer.

To make myself perfectly clear (or so I hope): you get what you pay for. Spending $500 will sound better then spending $100. So it really depends on what you need and what you can afford.

Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2171

I'm not sure how you get a creative card into a notebook, though :)

Oh, and I'm suggesting no mixer to start with. The USB MobilePre gives you seperate gain controls on two inputs, which is really all you'll need with the mics.

If you want to save on mics, there are some decent options out there under the Shure price point, MXL 991's for example.

I'm gonna stick with the Shure recommendation, however, just on the basis of them being a good multipurpose mics -- you can get pretty good vocals or instrument or amp micing from them.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST

English one
Estimable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 153

I agree, I think Shures would be a god bet. Don't own any myself, but from what I've heard they're the standard for a good reason. Apart from anything else, you'll find them very handy as they'll last a long time, and give a good, clean, reliable sound.

I wouldn't overlook behringer gear, some of it can be noisey, but a lot of it is very good stuff, and also very cheap! In terms of mixers, the UB range is fantastic. I've got a UB502, which is just a little one with 5 channels, but it's great, and very compact. It's got a preamp too, and headphone amp, which is very handy, as well as tape (Phono) in/out. Take a look at that range, they seem to do a good selection of stuff.

What software are you gonna be using on the laptop?


Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5840

I'm not sure how you get a creative card into a notebook, though
I think it goes in that little tray that slides out (you know, the one that you normally use to stand your coffee cup on :lol: )

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