Seeking opinions on home equipment!

Hi all! Hope everyone is safe and well.

I feel like context is important and often missed so apologies if this ends up a bit of an essay (also blame lockdown boredom just making me want to unload all my thoughts!).

I’ve been learning since August, so still pretty beginner. Just do home practise, some times with headphones. I have an Ampeg BA-110 40w and a little 15w for when I don’t want to disturb people (less of rumble!). I’ve wanted to record my progress in a better quality way than just sitting your phone next to the amp, so did a bit of research and bought a Focusrite Solo; after trying to get to grips with the software I’m just wondering if I might have overcomplicated things for myself.

Gave Ableton a go, got some very basic recordings but am super confused by everything else and struggling to get any of the bundled plugins working properly. Also tried Audacity as it’s very simplfied in comparison but as far as I know you can’t use amp sims with that? Most of the sites I check out to better understand these feel like they’re made for people who understand more than I do :roll_eyes: But I won’t fill this with DAW questions, I want to spend a bit more time trying to learn that myself first.

So recordings and playing direct through the Solo sound very metallic (and not in the metal way :metal: ) and cold, similar to when I play through headphones on my current kit. Also some sounds that you normally don’t notice through the amp speaker are much more audible - as if it emphasises sounds such as the ding when you hit the fret and sliding over the strings.
I found an article might explain why the above might be, because none of the sound is being amped / shaped this way - https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=563976 . It’s also likely I’m just being fussy, it’s also just as likely the fact that I’m still fairly new and so less-clean playing is just getting emphasised!

Anyway, I had been looking to replace the Ampeg with either an LT25 or Crush 25… Crush because of the headphone cabsim feature (if it works well enough) and LT25 because of the built-in effects, but wondering if the LT25 USB interface feature would be sufficient enough for recording into Audacity (or proper DAWs) and whether purchasing the Solo now was perhaps a little impulsive?
I also see a lot of people mention Zoom pedals quite often, and while I haven’t get anywhere near pedals yet their multi-fx seem so versatile.

So based on the information I’ve spewed could anyone recommend what kind of setup could potentially suit my situation well? – I’m just looking for opinions since stores are closed so I don’t currently have the opportunity to test anything.

I’m thinking along the lines of:

  • Bass -> Zoom (B1 Four maybe?) -> Orange Crush 25
    This means I’d get effects to play around with and a good headphone output with the Orange cabsim, and since the Zoom has amp modelling should hopefully be able to connect to the Solo and record better quality clips? From my understanding the only thing I’d miss is simultaneously mic’ing up the amp but probably not a major concern for me.
  • Bass -> Fender LT25
    On the surface it seems like this is decent value for money, but until I can try it I have no idea on the quality and whether it would actually be worth the money at all. Also would I risk limiting myself with this?
  • Other ideas are very welcome!

Thanks if you’ve read this far and sorry for a long post :slight_smile:

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as i just said in another thread, it seems like half of us have had a zoom multieffect at some time or another, i’ve had a few. they are hard to beat for the money, and give you a great sample of what all effects can do for you. somebody here for sure is familiar with the fender, i’m sure they will chime in on it.

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Hey @renouf,
Everyone records using different platforms,
All I use is plug my bass directly into
A presonus studio 24c DAI that is plugged into my MacBook into garageband DAW.
I shoot the video with photo booth while recording into garageband
Then I mix it together in iMovie,
This is pretty easy and it is also a great learning opportunity :+1:
Cheers Brian

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@renouf,
I also forgot to mention I have a Zoom B1four x pedal, I have had a muck around with it but i have never used it for recording any covers.
Cheers Brian

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It definitely sounds like you Mac users have a solid starting ground for this kind of thing! Thanks for the input Brian :slight_smile:

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Home studio music production has become my hobby at this point. I have a lot of advice to give here but no time to post it at the moment - I’ll come back in a bit later on between meetings.

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Awesome, no rush at all @howard! Will appreciate whatever experience you can impart :slight_smile: It’s past a reasonable bed time where I am so I won’t be checking back until later anyway!

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I’m kind of in the same boat.

I’ve got a custom PC with FL Studio on it, but I’ve never really recorded a live instrument into it. Do you have any suggestions for interfaces?

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I’ve had two different Zoom Multii-effect processors at one time or another, but never used them for recording… I wasn’t even aware it was capable of that.

I have a Zoom U-44 DAI that I use for recording the audio into Reaper. I shoot my videos with either Sara’s professional camera setup, or just use my Android (which does a damn fine job). I then do the final mixing and video editing in Adobe Premier Pro.

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Cool, FruitLoops is popular, never used it but it looks fine to me.

Yep, tons of good interfaces. I use a Zoom U-24, a lot of people have gone with the FocusRite Scarlett series and love them. Presonus makes good ones, and there’s higher end ones as well from Audient, Arturia, and other companies that offer additional features.

There’s also some less expensive ones from Behringer that actually look just fine to me.

So to get started on this there’s a few other topics already. To initially get squared away what you need is:

  • A computer. I do not recommend mobile devices for this, though they can be fine for simple recording.
  • An audio interface, as mentioned. While you can get away with cheaper things like the iRig, you will want a real audio interface if you get serious.
  • Good Digital Audio Workstation software. As mentioned above, audio editors like Audacity are insufficient for real music production. There’s a lot of choices here; I use Reaper, Ableton is also great choice (and would be my second pick), FL Studio, Pro Tools, Cakewalk/Sonar, and others exist.
  • If you have a Mac, just start with GarageBand as your DAW and then upgrade to Logic Pro when you really get in to it.

Here’s a thread that covers a lot. This should get you all started:

As you get more in to it, I’ve started another thread about DAW plugins:

We have separate threads for GarageBand, Reaper, and other DAWs as well.

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the Zoom multi-effect would be used as a preamp but not directly as a DAI ; if I remember, there is not direct USB connectivity on those Zoom.

with a Line 6 multi-effect/preamp you can record directly because it’s also a DAI at the same time (from the POD XT generation, which is very old).

that’s what I will buy in a few weeks to replace my dying TonePort UX1.

that’s a great sum up @howard , I wonder if this could be a dedicated thread ? so we could redirect the beginners to this thread, because those are very common questions

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There kind of is, the “Recording Hardware Beginner Setup” thread I quoted. But it has info spread throughout the thread :slight_smile:

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yeah, maybe a sum up could be a good idea, I don’t know

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Summaries could be a good idea for a number of threads! It takes time and effort, though… I was wondering wether @eric.kiser could be persuaded to look into this!? I am sure he would be more than up for the task once his computer issues are solved…

(Sorry, Eric - don’t mean to imply that we could just push this on to you, but you are good at tying things together and connecting the dots :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:)

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I just got a Presonus Audiobox 96. StudioOne is the DAW and it is pretty easy to use, and is comparable to ProTools.

We have gone to a studio since, but this was our first fully recorded song. Mixed by a pro, but all captured on a Presonus 8r and StudioOne. Came out pretty good, just showing an example of what a home studio can accomplish

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If anyone has questions, I can try and answer to the best of my knowledge how we did everything.

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That sounds great! Came out very nicely mixed and mastered.

The sound engineer made an interesting choice with how they mixed your drums. At about 2:20 in as the other instruments came in and the vocals kind of crescendo the drums lose distinction and are overrun by the rest of the mix. The engineer had a choice there where they could have compressed the drums a bit more, or run them up into the limiter a bit (effectively similar) to make them stand out a little more through the rest, but they chose not to (or if they did it was really subtle) and I think it was the right choice. It works well to let the vocals kind of own the show there and fits with the general feel of the song well.

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Howard thanks for that…I had never even thought about using compression on the drums I just took a loop and added some reverb and let it go. Just went through a bunch of presets in bandlab on a loop and it was a world of difference…I’ve been missing out.

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Yeah drums are nearly always compressed, or at least very very often are. And often way, way overcompressed.

I feel kind of bad though because now that you’ve heard the difference you will notice it all the time in recorded music and now you can’t unhear it :slight_smile:

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I’m sure you are right. Wish I had an ear like yours my friend.

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