Help me build a mobile recording rig

sleewell

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So I would like to put together a fairly mobile recording setup that I could use at home and then take to jams and such. I have a 6 space rack, could that work? I don't really know much about all this stuff so please speak to me like 3rd grader lol. Price wise I don't really want entry level stuff but also not looking for the top of the line either so maybe like somewhere in the middle if possible.

Laptop, DAW, interface, mics... which ones and what else??

Thanks!!!
 

Masoo2

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For the computer you really can't beat the M1 Macbook Airs or Macbook Pros for the price - they're absolutely fantastic. Even the baseline Macbook Air these days is a fantastic performer due to that M1 processor.

With that I'd probably recommend Logic Pro X or Cubase, personal preference but I find them to be the best all-in-one solutions for writing and recording due to how great the recording, mixing, and MIDI programming workflows are.

Pair that with some sort of bus-powered interface - Audient, Apogee, RME, UAD, etc
 

LostTheTone

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I wouldn't even think about a laptop initially - Yes you need one, but it's literally just there to be a fancy mutli-track tape machine.

The critical place to start is at the I/O end. So, are you thinking about recording just your own dudes? What kind of set-up are you thinking of using for said dudes?

I say that because the biggest concern here is how many mics you are going to hook up, and how many line inputs, and what is your strategy for recording drums.

You absolutely can just have a room mic or two, plus an input for a vocal mic. You won't get amazing results, but plenty of people do just that. It takes a bit of finesse in a rehearsal room to position the mics well, but you can fiddle and get the drums and amps reasonably close in volume.

If it was me though... I would recommend that you think about running two drum overhead mics, shoot the guitars and bass in via post-head DIs (use DAW cab sims), and then vocal mics.

The reason for that is to keep bleed down and let you record each instrument as a different track, so you can mute people after the fact and listen to what this bass part is or whatever. When you are jamming stuff, the question is always "Wow that sounds good, what did I do again?". You don't need to capture great sound, you just need to get isolated tracks. On top of that, taking a proper multi-track recording means that you can playback just one instrument while you record everyone else, so if the bassplayer has to head off early you can still jam, and you can send people backing tracks to practise to for next time.

That would add up to something like 8 total inputs, ideally all XLR combitjacks for flexibility. That points you towards an 8 input interface that is rack mountable - Presonus 2626 or Scarlett 18i20 something like that. I think that's kinda the minimum viable for this sort of set-up.

For bonus points, consider a Behringer XR18 rack mixer - It works as a multi-channel audio interface for recording but it can also send back live monitoring in the box at much lower latency. That means you can feed wedges or PA or IEM from the box without dicking about with a separate mixer desk.

This isn't a super expensive set-up - The interfaces/mixer are in the 500ish range. The rest of the gear is cheap. A couple of overhead mic stands and cheapy mics, and a couple of DI boxes, plus cabling. It is some money, obviously, but it's not thousands and thousands.

The next question is the laptop or PC side - If it's for mobile use a laptop of some sort is obvious. It needs to have good connectivity, so you can record without hiccups, but beyond that all you need is to be able to run your DAW of choice. If you are planning to do proper mixing on it, yes you need more power, but if it's just to record tracks you can do fine with an older one. You just set-up a template track with all your inputs labelled and primed, make a new project and off you go.

Personally, I do recommend the rack mixer approach over an interface. They are useful for live work, and they let you do the basics (gain/gate/compressor) in the box, so you don't have to sit and fiddle with the PC. But I am biased because I have a rack mixer 👍
 

c7spheres

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- What are trying to do exactly? Record scratch track jams or individual track and mix etc and and what quality result? You can use your phone or go all out. In between is honestly a waste of time and money, mostly. - If you want a tracking rig there's stuff like the Tascam DA-6400 to porta studios to old school Adats on the cheap etc.. sky is the limit. with a rack setup you have rack mixers etc..Behringer has an interstingone called the x32. check it out. Alan and Heath has some too.
- Being a jam spot, sound treatment and isolation of drums and amps etc might be a considertaion too depending if you're trying to do an album or something and what the space you;re in is like. - If your not well versed in this stuff I'd go simple and just use your phone and backup ideas to computer and find the best spot in the room for it, work on songs etc. then pay someone to record a good version and do all the work. Unless you really, really want to get into it cause it's a massive time and money consuming hassel, tbh. - Yamaha and Presonus and Alan and Heath have computer rig stuff where you connect it to computer and it looks like a mixing desk with mic inputs etc. too ut for jams can track to USB without computer then take home to mix etc.. lot's of options, You want what is best for how you do music. Workflow is everything. Scratch tracks, pro/demo tracks, personal/entire band etc
- Don't buy anything until you know what almost the entire setup and workflow will be like. It's a big deal and will save you time and money. Lot's of it.
 

Drew

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Depends on how many tracks you need to be able to record at once, really, but in theory, a laptop, a good interface mounted in some sort of a rackmount enclosure, the appropriate cables to connect the interface to the laptop and mics to the interface, and a good set of headphones ought to get you there.

EDIT - that alone probably isn't a huge help, so a few other quick thoughts:

*if you want to record drums, you *probably* need 8 inputs. This gets pricy, though, because then you also need 8 mics, 8 mic cables, 8 mic stands etc. If you;'re coming at this less from a "make a record" and more a "document our jam sessions to listen to later" then a simple stereo pair might be enough.
*As far as headphones, you'll want something closed back to minimize bleed (from the room, to your ears) while being around live instruments. Plenty of good options here, but I really like my beyerdynamic DT770s, used them for more than a decade now, they're super comfy and very transparent.
*tough to go wrong with a couple SM57s, they sound great on guitars and snares, and "pretty good" on a long list of other things. They're cheap, too.
 
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