Help me record loud, annoying, unlistenable crap
January 15, 2008 1:06 PM   Subscribe

I am starting a solo no-wave/noise project. I know nothing about recording. Please help me assemble the barest, cheapest necessities.

What I need to be able to do:
Record, loop, and distort ambient sounds (portable).
Same with vocals (must accomodate yelling).
Same with guitar.

What I have:
GarageBand and...that's it. I know I can borrow the guitar.

Recommendations for general devices (including cheap and interesting distortion devices), as well as more specific brands/models would be helpful.
posted by unknowncommand to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You'll need:

- A mic that plugs straight into the computer's jack so that you can avoid getting a pre-amp.
- You can get lots of digital distortion filters for free in the form of VST or AU plug-ins. Just search.

That's it. You're good!
posted by ignignokt at 1:14 PM on January 15, 2008

Another route would be to use something like M-Audio's Firewire Solo (or one of their cheaper brethren). The Solo is on sale for the low, low price of 179. I have one for recording guitar and microphone input, and it works well.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:17 PM on January 15, 2008

I'm not sure if it works on the Mac (though I'm pretty sure it would), but Audacity is great for recording and editing audio. Plus it's free and runs very fast on even slow machines (I have a 5 year old PC and it runs fine)... Might work great to use alongside Garageband...

As far as distortion, there should be cheap distortion pedals available on ebay. Otherwise, be the coolest kid on your block and pick up Handmade Electronic Music. It teaches how to make your own distortion, mixers, etc.
posted by drezdn at 1:19 PM on January 15, 2008

Seconding Handmade Electronic Music. I taught a class based partially on that book and it was a big hit.

If you want to do live performance looping -- that is, recording what you're playing/singing and looping it on the spot -- hardware gadgets like the Boss Loopstation series are more pleasant to use than computer stuff. They're not super cheap but I poked around on ebay and craigslist and eventually got a Boss RC-20 for about $100. If you're doing your looping after the fact as part of the editing process, you don't need one of these.

It's not as cool as making your own, but a guitar multi-effects pedal ($40 and up, Korg AX-5G is an example) gives you lots of different kinds of distortion and will work on vocals too.
posted by moonmilk at 1:49 PM on January 15, 2008

My roommate has been using a Griffin iMic for his noise projects and it's working pretty well. At $30, you could use two of them for guitar/voice ins and speaker/headphone outs.

As far as software, you should get your hands on Ableton Live. The software is amazingly powerful and easy to use, but also pretty expensive. You might be able to get a free copy with some equipment or from the usual sources.
posted by thebigdeadwaltz at 3:19 PM on January 15, 2008

Response by poster: Would it be easy to output a handheld tape recorder with these? Or I suppose I could just mic the recorder. I wonder how good/bad noisy that would be.
posted by unknowncommand at 3:29 PM on January 15, 2008

If your handheld tape recorder has the usual 1/8" microphone and headphone jacks, you'll be able to plug it in to your computer (which also uses 1/8" jacks) or audio equipment like distortion pedals (which often uses 1/4" jacks or RCA jacks) with a few bucks worth of cables. I can usually find any kind of adapter cable for 99 cents at the 99c store, since I don't care much about sound quality and it doesn't sound like you do either!

Are you gonna be recording live performances or making noise in your studio / bedroom / garage?
posted by moonmilk at 5:52 PM on January 15, 2008

Response by poster: Bedroom/roof, I'm thinking. There are no garages here, unfortunately.
posted by unknowncommand at 6:00 PM on January 15, 2008

Seconding Ableton Live for recording and looping, I think it'll do exactly what you're after, is a host for VST plugins and comes with some pretty decent effects of its own.
posted by Ted Maul at 6:54 PM on January 15, 2008

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