simplest way to record for auditions

<p>Ds needs to send in a recording of a piece for a music camp this summer. It's mainly for ensemble placement. I can foresee needing to record him at other times, possible for colleges or other programs, and I'm not sure how best to do it.</p>

<p>We tried a digital recorder which we already owned, and the sounds quality was horrible. It hardly sounded like a piano. What is the most affordable, simplest way to do a recording?</p>

<p>We hired a local public school music teacher to record my daughter's pre-screening voice CD. He used a laptop and combination of mics and headphones. Sorry I don't know technical details. We recorded in our church, which is a beautiful space for singing and where D's teacher is the music director and could do the accompanying. I was very impressed with the sound quality and thought what he charged for a 2 hr. session ($50.00) was pretty cheap! And I walked away with two CD's, and could make extras as needed. Maybe someone in your area does this- teachers, either school or private might know someone. Also, the local piano store owner gave us another name. If you are near a college with a music department, there might be a way to use there facilities and hire staff/students to do it.</p>

<p>Well, the simplest way is to hire a professional, but that is usually not the most affordable.</p>

<p>Depending on what recorder that you own, the most affordable would probably be to research the correct way to use it and experiment with it until you get the sound you want. Unfortunately, that way is not very simple.</p>

<p>Something between those two extremes would be to find a high school or college student who knows their way around recording gear and get them to help you. Both my local high school and community college have music tech classes that teach the use of recording equipment. If you have a nearby school that offers similar classes, try to contact the teacher and see if they can recommend anyone.</p>

<p>When recording a piano, the acoustic properties of the room in which it is recorded are very important, as is the choice and placement of the microphones. If you have something like a Zoom H2 or H4, or a Roland R-09, you should be able to get a decent recording if you can use a good instrument in a reasonably large room. </p>

<p>If you are recording in a rather small room that is either very live or very dead acoustically, it is unlikely that you are going to like what you hear on the recording. If you are using a cheap digital recorder intended for dictation purposes or some sort of iPod add-on, you are not going to get good results. If you are using a cheap microphone that came with a computer or a web camera, you are not going to get good results. Even with a good instrument, room, recorder, microphones and mic placement, it is important to set the recording levels properly. This is not rocket science, but there are a lot more ways to make a bad recording than a good one.</p>

<p>Can you describe your recording setup, including the digital recorder used, external microphones (if any), the piano used, an estimate of the size of the room in which the recording was made and a description of where you placed the microphones? I might be able to suggest some changes that would make the recording sound better.</p>

<p>(Crossposted with musmom2, this was a response to the OP's inquiry, not musmom2's response.)</p>

<p>We used:
"some sort of i-Pod add-on"
in our average sized family room in the basement
with the mike placed on a bookshelf about 2 feet away from the piano</p>

<p>I suspect we need to replace everything used. I don't really want to put money into this, since it isn't a college audition or anything. I did consider just a camcorder, but haven't tried it out to see if the sound comes through any better.
On the other hand, my mom lives far away and only ever hears ds play through the telephone. I've wanted to make a CD on the cheap for her of both children playing - so if there is a semi-affordable piece of equipment that would make this doable, I may be willing to make a modest investment.</p>

<p>Given the equipment used and the location, it is no wonder that the recording sounds nothing like a piano. You may well have to replace everything. The mics that are provided with camcorders are usually not very good quality. Depending on how your camcorder records audio, it may be possible to make a decent recording on it but you would probably need to use a good external microphone or two.</p>

<p>I have seen the Zoom H2 selling for about $185 with free shipping through reputable dealers. That is the least expensive that I know of the current crop of digital recorders that can provide good enough quality for a serious audition recording. It would far better results than the iPod add-on, but you would still have the problem of the room. If you could record in a church, temple or auditorium with an H2, you would likely get what you want. It may still take a little experimentation to get the settings and mic placement just right, but once you learn it is much quicker the next time. It would also be useful for recording lessons.</p>

<p>A camcorder might be the better option. We get good recordings with our plain-jane camcorder and an upgraded mic (set more like 6 feet away.)</p>

<p>Cross-posted with Bassdad. The Zoom would be the preferable way, I think!</p>

<p>Thanks! Dh has been talking about a new camcorder (ours has a glitch and must be plugged in to use it - refuses to recharge!). Maybe he'll want a digital recorder as well:)</p>

<p>Agreed with Bassdad that regardless of what you use to record, you need the right room. DS has found that the right microphone also goes a long way...and the placement of that mike is critical. It's a trial and error thing unless you happen to be a professional recording engineer. You might ask if you can use a church, or auditorium at your school during off hours. </p>

<p>One of DS's first recordings (it wasn't fancy) was actually done in our kitchen/family room/breakfast room...over 30 feet long. He played at one end and the mike was at the other end, hanging from a light. I can't imagine making a recording with the mike two feet from the instrument...</p>

<p>Actually, a lot depends on the microphone and the sound you are going for. When recording a piano in a professional studio, the mics are generally less than 2 feet away from the piano, sometimes much less (some mics work well inside the case of the instrument), but then some enhancement (equalization, reverb, perhaps some compression) will be added after the fact to get the desired sound. In a location recording in a large room, it would be typical to put the mics somewhat further away, but you usually do not want to go all the way to the other end of the room. In that situation, you want to find the right mix of direct and reflected sound, and that is usually found by keeping the mics far away from large flat surfaces like walls, floors and ceilings. This is hard to do in the typical house where you cannot simultaneously be more than 5 feet away from both the floor and the ceiling.</p>

<p>See pages 10-12 of <a href=""&gt;;/a> for suggestions on microphone placement in studio applications. There are also some good videos at <a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>DS was recording trumpet. DH and he played around with mike placements for a while...and the hanging from the light really was the key. I know...sounds odd...but it worked for our house (nine foot ceilings). </p>

<p>I will say....Bassdad is the "resident expert" here on recording. Anything done in this household has been trial and error. DS now does all recordings in one of the halls at his school which is set up for recording at all times...the students can use it, just bring their own CD's to put in. It's an amazing setup and the building was designed with this use (as one of many) for the chamber hall. </p>

<p>Of course, that doesn't help the OP.</p>

<p>Trumpet is a whole different beast, but there are miniature microphones designed to record by clipping right on to the bell of the instrument. The key is to experiment with different microphones and microphone placements until you find the sound you want. If hanging the mic from a light fixture 30 feet away gives you the sound you want, then go for it.</p>

<p>Although I am certainly a novice, I have had very good sucess with the following inexpensive devices; </p>

<p>IPod (everyone has one)
Belkin, TuneTalk Stereo Accessory for IPod (Around $70.00)
Sony ECM-MS907 Digital Electret condenser stereo microphone (Around $75.00)</p>

<p>The TuneTalk has a built-in microphone as well and is good for recording lessons for later review.</p>

<p>If you are creating an audition CD the easiest thing to do would be to start and stop on cue for each song. Then burn each of the song takes that you like onto a CD. I have just let it run for the entire session and used NERO 7, software and inserted tracks where I wanted them, then cut each track onto a CD. This takes a lot more time on the back end but the software is relatively user friendly.</p>

<p>Good luck.</p>

<p>The TuneTalk is a lot better than its predecessors, but you have to have a 5th gen iPod to use it. You also need to have at least version 1.1.2 of the iPod software installed. When recording music with it, make sure to use the high quality mode and turn off the auto gain mode.</p>

<p>Bassdad is correct. I should have pointed this out. I believe the older version of tunetalk was not stereo, did not have an extenal mic jack and was primarily for recording voice memos. I also agree that you should use the high quality setting but be prepared for the download. If you record an entire 2-3 hour show for example, the file can be 6-7 GB. (BTW on the IPod, the file will be stored as a "voice memo". You will need to look for it in the IPod menu as it will not be stored in your music collection.)</p>

<p>You may want to at least call and see what a professional place will charge. My daughter got a 2 hour recording session at a "student" rate which was $70. It was well done and they made as many cds as we needed. We also had one cd we could copy as needed.</p>

<p>Our school has an amazing recording studio in our band room. The sound really comes to life in there. Also...just by chance we recorded d performing from the balcony of a beautiful old church before a service. We used just a digital handheld recorder we sat between us in the pew and it actually sounded amazing!! We ended up downloading it and giving it to family! (some people give pictures, we give cd's!!) It all has to do with the acoustics!</p>