easy way to record instruments


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Hello,

I have a bunch of acoustic instruments I like to play around with. I don't know anything about midi, recording, software, etc and I don't wanna start plugging things into computer and such. I am a very beginner.

Is there any simple cheap gear, like a cassette recorder or something, that would let me record me playing one thing, then replay exactly this track on a speaker so I can play with another instrument on top of it?

I don't care about the sound quality, I would just like to have something simple and fast. Multiple tracks would be fun too.

Thanks alot.
 
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SeaGtGruff

I meant to play that note!
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The good news is, if what you have is "a bunch of acoustic instruments" then you don't need to worry about MIDI. :)

The sort of bad news is, if you want to make better recordings then you really ought to "start plugging things into computer." You can't plug acoustic instruments into a computer, but you can plug a microphone into an audio interface, then plug the audio interface into a computer, and use the microphone to record yourself (in a DAW) playing an acoustic instrument. Then you can listen to the track you just recorded using a pair of headphones (so the microphone won't pick it up) while you use the microphone to record yourself (to another track in the DAW) playing a different acoustic instrument. Then play back both of those tracks, listening with headphones, and record yourself playing a third instrument, etc., repeating the process until you've got separate tracks for each instrument. Then you can use the DAW to adjust the tracks and balance them against each other to get one track with everything mixed together.

That might sound like it would be difficult, but it's actually not much more difficult than recording into a cassette recorder, then playing it back while recording on top of it, etc. The problem with doing it the second way is that the sound gets progressively more "muddy," with the part you recorded first getting progressively more washed out and obscured by each new part that's layered on top of it. It's far better to keep the sound of each track separate so that when you're ready to mix everything down into one track all the individual tracks still sound good.

If you're worried about the cost, there are a number of free DAWs that can do everything you need (record audio tracks and mix them together), and you can start out by plugging a microphone directly into your computer's MIC jack instead of using an audio interface. Keep it as simple as possible at first and take baby steps. Then it shouldn't take long for you to feel more confident about what you're doing and start exploring some of the options and features of the DAW.
 
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Fred Coulter

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The other approach would be to get a dedicated recorder. They've gotten amazingly cheap since I last looked. Here's a list of recorders at Sweetwater sound - http://www.sweetwater.com/c1008--Digital_Multitrack_Recorders. There are also portable recorders, but you'll probably outgrow them quickly.

You'll still need to get speakers or headphones and (probably) a decent microphone. But it avoids that whole "computer" thing.

(The bad news is that they're really just specialized computers. But so much of modern electronics contain CPUs nowadays that almost everything is a specialized computer.)
 

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