Recording Set Up

Yesterday I started playing the guitar and a little chord idea came up, so I looped it on my Boss DD-7.  Then I layered other stuff on it:  A droning cello type sound using my volume pedal and Mod Tone Analog delay. A bass line. A strobing wah wah riff. etc.

I started looking for my little mp3 player that I use to record most of my quick musical ideas, but I couldn’t find it. I had some time to spare, so I decided to get back into recording on my computer. It took a little while to get it all hooked up properly, but I soon had the looped idea (which had been going the entire time) recorded.

Then I decided to break it down to see if I could recreate the loop using the different channels in Audacity for each part instead of having it all on one track.  So I laid down the chord idea for about a minute and a half. Then I played the bass line on a second track. Then I played the strobing wah wah riff, the cello drone, etc. Each one was on a separate track.  This way when I come back to this idea I can play just one track at a time to figure out what I was doing instead of trying to figure out all the parts at once.

And, so I don’t have to figure out my recording signal chain again and again, here is how I record into my computer.  It isn’t great, but it works.

  • Guitar into pedal board
  • Pedal board into amp
  • Line out from amp to channel 9 (left mono in) of mixer which is turned up
  • Mixer Aux Output RCA (red and white) L & R to Behringer UCA200 USB audio input RCA L & R
  • UCA200 USB into my computer’s USB
  • I use a System Tray Audio Device Switcher plug in to pick the Behringer USB input for the computer (instead of the onboard sound card) and then open Audacity
  • Audacity records one stereo track at a time (I think this is because I only have one stereo input) and will play back existing tracks at the same time.

I listen to myself through the mixing board (I can listen to the amp if I also plug it into a speaker cabinet, but I usually don’t do that when recording).  From Audacity in the computer the signal goes back out via USB:

  • through the Behringer UCA200 USB RCA L & R output to the the L & R line in on channel 11 & 12 of the mixer. I could go through the Mixer Aux Input RCA L & R, but I end up re-recording previously recorded tracks when I try to record a new track. There is a lot of bleed over into the new track I’m recording if I use the Mixer Aux Input. I was very disappointed with the mixer because of this bleed over until I came up with the work around. My current set up allows play back of the previously recorded tracks while recording a clean track with just the new playing being captured.
  • The volume is turned all the way down on Channel 11 & 12.
  • My headphones are plugged into the Monitoring output and the volume for the Mon channel is turned up. This way I can hear the previously recorded track and the new stuff I am playing while not recording the previously recorded tracks.

I have a Behringer Xenyx 1222FX. It came with the UCA200 USB and I got the whole package for a very reasonable price since it was an open box special during a great sale at my local guitar shop.  My main goal was to get a mixing board that could handle a band in a live setting (I can dream can’t I?) while also working as the main mixing board and input for recording. If money were no object, I’d have gone with the Mackie 1220 or 1620 (or 1640) Onyx with Firewire, but money is an object and I did not.  If I had found a good deal on it, I would prefer the Behringer 1832, but once again, money is an object. I have been curious about the Alesis MultiMix USB mixers, but I am partial to sliders instead of knobs for volume control. Again, trying to get that best of both worlds for live and recording.

More importantly, I have what I have and I can make it work.  I can easily plug in an electric keyboard, my bass, some microphones, etc. and record one track at a time.  I can even use microphones to record acoustic instruments.  Now I just need the talent to come up with stuff worth recording! 😉

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