The hunt for the perfect recording setup.

Posted: December 18, 2013 in Uncategorized
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I have a number of options here for doing recording, none of which I really like.

guitarport

My first attempts at recording guitar were using a line 6 guitar port using gearbox back in 2006.  This was plagued with latency and I gave up after a few months of attempting to get it to work.  I contacted line 6, and at the time there was a long thread about it.  Turns out, it was a driver issue and their software or hardware was not compatible with 64 bit operating systems.  I boxed it back up and it was installed into my closet.  I did attempt to sell it a few times, however after seeing the flaws peopled backed out of the deal.  I am sure that at the time, it would have worked for someone.  I guess it could also have served as a unique paperweight with a sort of spaceship vibe going for it.

br900cd

I later picked up a BOSS BR-900CD.  No computer required, that seemed like a great thing.  No latency issues, it was no harder to record than plugging in and hitting record.  This seemed perfect! I could lay down track after track and play to my hearts content.  Then came the major issue, editing these tracks.  The boss does output to a wav format by hooking up with special software via a USB cable.  With a 1.1 USB, it does take some time to transfer tracks to the computer for proper editing.  I did have the option of using the on-board editing features, however they are akin to performing brain surgery while blindfolded, tied up, and standing on a building made of jello.  Without being able to see the waveform, it is difficult to know where you are during each edit.  Also, it is even more difficult to add affects after the fact.  There is a DVD produced by a third party company, but why should I shell out more money just to learn the arcane art of blind editing.

fa-66

As luck would have it, I came across a pawn shop find.  This was the Roland version of the Edirol FA-66, a very pretty little red box.  It came with a neat software package for the time, Sonar 8.5 LE.  I installed the software, plugged it in and within moments, I was able to see a waveform, almost latency free.  I was in heaven!  Or so I thought.  None of the plugins that I had worked properly with the software, packages such as line 6 Gearbox would say that I needed gearbox hooked up.   I did go ahead and purchase the full version of Sonar X1 Studio and a software package called Amplitube was included.  VST packages for a Korg midi controller worked great, as long as I was not trying to use my audio interface as my output sound card on Tuesday, Thursday, and every other Saturday.  On occasion things did work properly and I was able to lay down a few tracks.  <sarcasm> Yay for the reliability of a computer powered DAW.  </sarcasm>

I began to wonder about recording some vocals, and purchased a microphone for this task, a Sure Beta 58A, and a Sure sm57.  I had recently built a new guitar amplifier from scratch and liked the tone better than any of the models I had been previously playing with.  There was one issue, the noise coming from my PC.  As much as I loved working on it, recording with it in the same room was completely out of the question.  As space is at a premium, I began to look around for ways to silence the beast.  None of them quite did the trick, I can always hear the silent whirring of the cpu fans. Just a side note, I also have a mac… same noise issue.

Full circle, Dec 2013, came and I looked at the old line 6 guitarport.  They had released new drivers, and completely replaced gearbox with something called podfarm.  After a quick download and install I had it up and running.  I used my practice amp in PA mode (Roland micro cube) as the monitor and installed it on my laptop.  First impressions, the software is a bit quirky, and they want you to buy more model packs, but at least everything worked.  The sound was almost latency free.  I was able to setup Audacity and have it record.  This all seemed very usable, even though the product is now discontinued and half of the options and features (online only) do not work.  Makes sense for a company to finally get a product right, only to dump it and create another even more buggy product.

pocketpodOn a side note, Line 6 has made one wonderful product.  The pocket pod.  It is a great little practice amp and effects modeler.  There are a few flaws, but they are mostly cosmetic.  I did add small rubber feet to the bottom to keep it from sliding around the desk.  The included models sound far better than my Roland Microcube.  This little product has made me consider picking up one of the larger pods.  The only downside is that you need to use a computer via usb to get the full functionality out of it.  They pair amps and cabinets and you cannot separate them to create your own combinations without using the software.  Sadly it does NOT function as an audio interface.

Moral of the story? There isn’t one.  I keep looking at different ways to record, and have mused about purchasing a new audio interface.  But then, I sit back and think about it.  All of these solutions promised easy, no hassle recording. Complexity, latency, and  Compatibility, they all had their hoops and flaws.  In the end, I should just be happy that there are so many options for me to record. There are always companies willing to take my money to satisfy my G.A.S.  (Gear Acquisition Syndrome).

But then after all this, I have another thought.  Maybe I should just forget about it all and actually go play my guitar.

 

Edit and Note:

Boss has come up with a good looking solution, at least on paper.  The Boss BR800, which interfaces directly to sonar and acts as a stand alone recorder as well as a proper audio interface and control surface.  I would be happy to review this if boss ever were to send me one, but until that happens (not likely) I will probably do the next best thing.  Use my BR-900CD to record individual tracks and then export them to wave for editing on my DAW.

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