STW music recorderist. Recommendation for mic/software

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  • STW music recorderist. Recommendation for mic/software
  • ross980

    Hi. I want to dust off my guitars/keyboard with a view to recording some music (and ultimately tying to make a music video to go with it – but I’ll worry about video editing software later). It’s just for my own bit of creative fun which I’ve wanted to do for ages. So… I’m looking for some recommendations for:
    1 – A USB microphone for recording voice/acoustic guitar straight to computer. Not professional standard, but something OK/passable sounding (I’ll be cranking up the reverb anyway 🙉😁)
    2 – some cheap/free softwares for recording/mixing the above (PC based – easier to use the better). I’m looking to record some music using my Yamaha MM6 keyboard/Cubase Lite (it’s old so may look at newer software version*) and then export as MP3 etc. and add vocal/guitar.

    *Or can Cubase do all of this?

    Budget… Erm, not sure. Maybe £100? Depends.


    I’m happily using the latest version of Cubase Elements but i’ve Also bought some mastering plugins from IK Multimedia, the people behind iRig.

    To make best use i’d Spend as much as you can on a decent mic – e.g. Shure SM57, and on a decent interface. Probably blow your budget – three times over if you include the Mastering plugins (T-RackS) – though 😉

    Of course you could use Audacity to record – it’s free after all – but you’ll still need a mic and an interface; some interfaces come with a cut down DAW anyway, e.g. Cubase.

    When I export from Cubase, it defaults to WAV. I then use Audacity to convert to MP3


    Get a decent cheap interface like an Audient or Focusrite. Is it electric guitar or acoustic? If the former you can’t go wrong with an SM57 or e609/906 which are less fussy about positioning. You can get away without a mic atand with the Sennheiser ones as well. If it’s acoustic I’d go for a condenser of some kind, just make sure your interface has phantom power otherwise it won’t work. You can get some decent ones for pretty cheap these days. Condenser will also be better for vocals depending on the style you’re going for.

    Mic positioning is crucial to a good guitar tone, one inch can be the difference between taking your head off with trebbly fizz and a good balanced tone.

    Beware of fake SM57s on eBay etc, I didn’t realise til many years later that my 57 was in fact fake and didn’t sound anything like a real one.

    Software wise I always recommend Reaper. It’s free to try and does work without a license, you’ll just get a nag screen. It’s just so good and really costs nothing compared to the bigger ones. I use Logic for work but wouldn’t bother with it at home. I’ve never liked Cubase and whilst Pro Tools is great it feels a bit bloated for home use.

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    I’d have a look at Tracktion too. Always preferred it to Reaper for free as I find the interface nicer too work with.

    T7 DAW

    £100 won’t go far.
    I’d suggest a Rode NT1 mic and a Focusrite interface.
    Audacity is free, never tried mixing on it though.


    Yeah, the budget thing is a difficult. Spend too much money, lose interest and find it’s wasted. Or buy cheap, get into it and then spend even more money a short time later…🤔

    Guitar wise, I have an electric and an acoustic. Potentially I’d look at using both in recording, but initially just the acoustic via a mic (same mic as the vocal).

    I want to use my old laptop, which is tired (it’s an i5 with 8gb RAM – but it’s pretty slow at times, probably due to its age). So the software needs to not be processor heavy.

    I don’t intending gigging etc. so a USB mic would be ok I assume (assume this negates the need for an interface between the laptop and mic?). I don’t know at what point the law of diminishing returns kicks in. E.g. would a £50 Marantz USB sound dreadful? Or passable? That SM57 gets great reviews but would it actually make my distinctly average (at best!) voice sound any better? 🙉

    Probably not but at least you’d know it’s an accurate recording 😉


    next question. Which free auto-tune software 😂


    I’ve not played with any USB mics, but I’m sure there are good ones about.

    For a bedroom-type studio I would also be looking for an audio interface, since it’s much more flexible in terms of what you can plug into it, and you’ll almost certainly get a moar betterer soundcard than whatever built-in thing your laptop has.

    Last time I was looking at this the Mackie Onyx Blackjack looked decent: decent mic preamps, works for electric guitar DI, does phantom power, and will record at 24bit depth which is good if you’re going to be applying effects and mixing. I’m sure other options exist, but this sort of form factor I think is a winner when you don’t need loads of inputs, etc. It is just north of 100 quid though, so basically eats your budget from the get-go.

    On the mic front, SM57 or SM58 are good 🙂


    I’m only 15 minutes from the big Gear4music showroom so I might pop there for a good look. Budget is flexible if spending a bit more gets something that is easier/better/more versatile. I might look at night classes too. The last time I recorded anything was at school for my GCSE music compositions, I think things have probably moved on since then!


    Your laptop will be fine for recording. I’d still go for an interface over a usb mic if you can, you’ll benefit from better preamps, DAC/ADC, better latency and monitoring options.

    SM57 isn’t the best vocal or acoustic mic for recording, you really want a condenser for that sort of thing. It’ll get the job done and last you forever but it won’t have the best or most accurate sound.


    It’s clear the sky is the limit on cost.
    Thinking about it I’d rather get a starter kit and then worry about upgrading things later if I become more serious.
    I can upgrade my version of Cubase LE to Elements for £42.

    A starter interface, microphone can be had for £60 £60 or £80 £80
    Add in ancillaries (mic stand/pop filter etc.) and I’m over budget but good to (I think?)

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