workshop of potentially bad music
April 6, 2010 12:21 PM   Subscribe

What do I (a totally non-musical/non-technologically savvy person) need in order to get started recording music on a Korg D1600 16-Track Digital Recorder that I just found myself in possession of? A friend and I want to record some music, and we have amassed an electric bass, a stylophone, and a glockenspiel.

There is no microphone, and we don't have an amp for the bass. I have a manual for the Korg, but it would help to have an idea of the bare minimum we need to actually get this thing recording. Any particular equipment or advice? It has an integral CD burner, so that presumably cuts out some steps. There may be some vocals, but it will probably be entirely instrumental. Any recommendations for a good, fairly cheap microphone? Should we be plugging the bass directly into the Korg, or into its own amp and then recording with a microphone? This device feels pretty alien right now. This is in NYC, in case that is relevant. Many thanks!
posted by thegreatfleecircus to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Plug an instrument in, arm a track, press record and play at the same time, and start playing. You can plug the bass directly into the recorder (if you have a cable). You might be able to plug the stylophone in directly, as well (if it has an output and you have a cable).

You don't need an amp for the bass. As far as microphones go, buy the cheapest crap you can find that connects via XLR, unless you're cool with spending around $100 for something that's not crap. If you decide you want to spend about $100 on a mic, a Shure SM58 is a good all-around microphone that is pretty close to indestructible and won't sound like crap.

The best thing you can do to jump start your ability to make music with the recorder is to have someone who knows a little bit about recording spend 10 minutes showing you how to do it.
posted by The World Famous at 12:30 PM on April 6, 2010

Thanks World Famous, that is all really helpful information. Regarding having someone spend 10 minutes showing me how to do it, I suspected exactly that, but am in the strange position of having no one to ask and no promising ideas about how to find such a person! Any ideas? Craigslist?
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 12:52 PM on April 6, 2010

Regarding having someone spend 10 minutes showing me how to do it, I suspected exactly that, but am in the strange position of having no one to ask and no promising ideas about how to find such a person! Any ideas? Craigslist?

I know nothing about multi-track recording myself, but you may want to try searching YouTube for any kind of tutorial or guide. I've had good luck finding how-to type videos for nearly everything on there lately.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:23 PM on April 6, 2010

Odds are you can get the user guide off the Korg site-- it's essential for one of these self contained units, since a lot of the commands can be hidden in little menus. There are probably tutorials in the guide or on the site.

Look through some of the Talk posts on the Mefi Music site-- there's some good advice on recording there. You might want to post a link to this question there too, there are some Korg users there who might be able to help.
posted by InfidelZombie at 1:32 PM on April 6, 2010

OK, long.

It may seem hard but it isn't. I use the D-888 all the time and have used a bunch of these units of different makes over the last years. I am one of the aforementioned Korg users.

(1) Mics.

You want them, you need them. You want at least one. People will give me shit for this, but I still think the SM-57 and SM-58 are really good, relatviely cheap mics. Yes, I know Albini hates them. I could care less what he thinks, I've gotten fine results off of using them. Some are in Music.

(2) Cables. There are two kinds of cable ends (a) 1/4" (looks like a standard stereo jack) and (b) XLR (three pronger). Generally people use the XLR's for mics and the 1/4" for instruments. I just looked at the photo of the back and you have 4 inputs of each for the unit. The stylophone appears only to have a 1/8" output, making it harder for you. I suggest using computer speakers and a mic for that. You will need a mic for the glockenspiel. You will need cables for each thing you are using. You will also need mic stands, which are $25 each generally. Finally, you need mic clips, which you screw on the stands. They may come with the mics. Suggest Craigslist for all this.

(3) the recorder. Here's how it works, you can either record live (easiest) or multi track it. I suggest live to start out with. One the mics are in you'll have to set the the trim for each track. First activate only the track you are working with by hitting the green button at the top of the track you are using. It should light up. Make sure the fader (the sliding thingie) is up all the way on the track you are using and on the master (the red fader). Now have one person play the instrument while another person with headphones turns the trim knob up. Watch the display. You want to have it peak around zero. (it goes higher and lower than zero). Korg preamps suck so it will be hard to get it exactly right at first.

Repeat the process for each channel.

Now press play and record and play. I'd have everything totally rehearsed first.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:20 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Here's a link to the Easy Start manual.

Here's a link to the full manual.

Go get 'em.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:22 PM on April 6, 2010

Thanks for all the useful info. I have a hard-copy of the manual thankfully, but I just wanted some initial guidance on things I might need in order to face the practical aspects of recording, since I have zero experience with it. I got the answers I needed. Thanks again, all.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 12:36 PM on April 7, 2010

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