Recording acoustic instruments or your vocals has been made much easier with the introduction of USB microphones, as mentioned in the previous instalment of this series. However, recording instruments such as electric guitar, bass or keyboards, can still seem a little daunting.
Traditionally, these instruments (especially electric guitar) are plugged into an amplifier and then miked up. It is common practice in professional recordings because it yields the best sound.
An amplifier may not be the most practical equipment to have with you all the time. Thus, a number of artists and musicians today have chosen to record their electric instruments directly into their computer’s recording software. This is known as Direct Input (DI).
With BandLab, you’re able to capture your inspirations and develop them further. In the second part of this series, we show you ways and also some recommendations to get sound into BandLab by DI.
Here at BandLab we love anything that helps capture sound more conveniently.
You could start by purchasing a ¼” to 3.5mm converter to plug your instrument into the mic input of your computer or laptop.
We really don’t recommend doing that. Without going into the details, take it from us – it’s not going to sound as good as you’d like it to.
To get around this problem, here are some excellent yet inexpensive tools to record your instrument directly into BandLab. Let’s start with the simplest of the lot:
IK Multimedia iRig 2
The guitar/bass interface that connects your instrument to your phone and laptop computer. Its small size and sturdy build means you can use the iRig 2 on the move as well. It will fit effortlessly into your pocket and can be drawn the moment inspiration strikes.
At just $39.99, the iRig 2 is made affordable to everyone. IK Multimedia has consistently designed their products with mobile musicians in mind, and the iRig 2 perfectly epitomises that.
Tip: The iRig 2 should be used on BandLab in our Mix Editor with input monitoring ON, to be able to listen to your playing without any latency.
The iRig is fantastic for its price, but there are limitations. For those of you who are interested in something more serious and “professional”, with a bit more money you can dive into the world of USB Audio Interfaces.
USB interfaces improve your recordings tremendously. Some of the significant benefits include:
1. Latency (lag) is greatly reduced
2. Organise all your inputs (different instruments/microphones) into one device.
3. Studio quality sound
Focusrite Scarlett Solo Compact USB Audio Interface
Our pick for a superb entry level USB interface. One microphone input and a ¼” instrument (guitar, bass, keyboards) input are all the necessities you would need. It might seem targeted at beginners who are just starting out, but it’s good enough for professionals who know what they want.
Its aluminium casing and small size means you can travel with it without worrying about damaging it. Such portability gives you endless possibilities to record on the road. For under $100, this is a no-brainer.
Roland Duo-Capture EX
The Duo-Capture EX provides more flexibility over the Scarlett with two XLR/TRS inputs, allowing more combinations to be used at one time. Built in are two of Roland’s premium VS preamps which deliver neutral sound and high headroom. This constitutes to an overall great sounding Audio Interface.
Like the Scarlett, it’s small size and weight also means the Duo-Capture EX is built for the road and can be powered by batteries if required.
You might be wondering, these devices just transfer your unprocessed sound from your instrument into BandLab. What about effects, amp simulation? We’ve thought about that.
Next week, we’ll show you some neat tricks to further improve your sound and also how you can upload your music files and route audio onto BandLab.