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#1124788 - 08/30/04 10:29 PM [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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<h1>Piano World Member's Recording Compilation Project</h1>
<h2>Volume 1</h2>
The idea originated from this thread .

The Piano World Member's Recording Compilation Project (PW-MRCP) aims to create a compilation of recordings by Piano World members. The deliverable of this project will be a set of professionally pressed CD's containing recordings submitted by Piano World members.

(Please see Project Plan Outline for an overview of the Project.)

<h2>Recording Techniques and Resources</h2>

This thread is set up for members to discuss recording techniques to record themselves or find professional recording services, discuss such things as MP3 compression, AIFF, WAV, etc. Basically exchange technical knowledge and share expeirences so members can make good recordings to participate in the Project.

Current thinking is that we can accept submissions in the form of MP3 files, AIFF files, WAV files, or Audio CD. Final compilation will probably standardize on MP3 (we'll try to shoot for 240 kpbs VBR where we can, if the user-submitted material has high enough audio quality to benefit from the high bit rate). ID3 tags will be used to make the volume of recordings consistent.

Why MP3 instead of Audio CD? Because two Beethoven sonatas from two members will easily fill one Audio CD! Making multi-CD sets will cost more $$$. We will go with a compressed format such as MP3 so that we can accommodate more submissions without crimping members' styles while still keeping the cost down. wink

Thoughts and comments welcome.

#1124789 - 08/31/04 01:19 AM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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For all you professional pianists and conservatory students out there, I would like to use this space to give a little advice. Set aside money to buy yourselves decent recording equipment. You might think like I used to "I don't know anything about making recordings", but you learn with your ears once you have the equipment and it has done more for my career than any practicing ever did wink

If you have no other pressing needs in your life at the moment, you could do something such as create a birthday/Xmas fund where people donate money into a fund instead of gifts which will go toward attaining good equipment.

I finally was able to purchase:

-A computer (which clearly all of you already have)
- Two Neumann mics ***
- A Blue Tube Preamp ***
-A professional DAT recorder(now you can get a hard disk, mini disc or even CD recorder or record directly onto your computer)
-A Lynx One Sound card for my computer
- Wavelab editing program (a simpler and cheaper version of ProTools)

The stuff all fits in one 12-space rack hard case. I can travel with it (though a little heavy and obviously must be checked) and best of all I can record anywhere anytime.

I realize it might seem like a lot of money at once --it did to me as well before I got the equipment-- but if you are a serious musician it is money very well spent. You can essentially create your own professional CD's in your own time, and in the end it will more than make up its cost when you take into consideration the huge expense of studio time, recording engineers and studio editing every time one wants to make a recording.

Just a thought... smile

Elena
http://www.pianofourhands.com


Schnabel's advie to Horowitz: "When a piece gets difficult, make faces."
#1124790 - 08/31/04 02:09 AM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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Regarding making a good recording, TRUST YOUR EARS. One thing I have learned is that the best place to place a mic may not necessarily be in front of the piano. This is what would seem logical but in reality it's not a concert, and it depends completely on the piano and the room. Some recording engineers REMOVE the lid of the piano and place the mics high above it. If your piano is too brassy on the low end you will need to place it nearer to the outside upper end, if it is too shrill perhaps at the lower end near the tail. If it is too loud try it behind the piano with the lid in the way. The point is, to get good sound in a recording you should spend hours testing different places until you find the one that suits your environment best. Laura and I ended up spending an entire day preping the mics in the hall before we made our second recording (not out yet), something we didn't do for our first and the sound difference is quite noticeable. We are very happy with what we ended up with.

Ideally you will want someone to sit at the piano, doesn't have to know how to play, can be simply doodle and bang while you walk around the room, listen closely to the sound, the reverberation, the fullness of the instrument and the balance of the different ranges. If you find a spot you like put the mics in exactly that spot, a few inches in variation can change the resonance. Record a few seconds and listen back, see if you like it.

Once the spot is chosen, test the level. Have someone play as loud as they possibly can with pedal and set the recorder so it doesn't distort, the bring it down a couple of notches from there... if playing anything beyond the Classical Period I find my levels are always louder during performance than during testing. I think it has something to do with the continuance of resonance and harmonics with pedal when things are in tune with eachother. I'm just talking out my arse here.. laugh

Record again and listen. If you like what you hear record away!

RECORDING THE PIECE
I recommend you record the piece all the way through once, regardless of mistakes. I find recording a harrowing experience because you are aware that EVERYTHING is being recorded and have the urge to stop the moment something goes wrong. You must fight that urge. I find it necessary to get over that first hump of doing the whole thing. Ironically I never like it when playing it but it is usually the take I use most. After one full play through you can 1)try and do the whole thing a second time or, 2)if it is a very long piece, break it down into major sections where there are good places to stop. Record one section several times. Continue to the next section and record this several times.

A good idea to keep a notebook with the start times of takes, and what they contain.

EDITING:
Many computers now come with very basic editing tools installed such as Nero Wave Editor and other such things. If you don't want to spend the money buying Wavelab I'm sure there mut be some inexpensive ones out there. You load your recording into the computer and edit the bits you like most.

In editing programs a wave will appear on the screen which looks like two almost identical mirrored mountaintops. The best places to edit are clearly the silences or rests where there is no leftover resonance. but due to the nature of our music these are few and far between. When there is sound playing, the easiest place to edit is at the point where a quite or staccatto note will give way to a suddenly sharply louder note. In most editing programs I have used you put your cursor near that spot before the wave becomes big and magnify the wave vertically and horizontally so that the image becomes two single lines one for each of the right and left channels (for stereo). Place the cursor at the moment you see the calm wave start to get squiggly with sound and start moving backwards from this point. You need to find a place where BOTH waves are at or near the 0 crossing point. When you find a place mark it, and keep looking for more. Find the same spot where you want to splice in the selection you like and do the same. Then select the one you like and copy, select the one you don't like and paste. If done incorrectly you will hear a "click" at the edit point when you play it back. Test and try the different points you marked (first good with first bad, first good with second bad, first good with third bad; second good with first bad, second with second, etc.) until you get a noise-free edit.

Don't forget to save the master when you have made an edit you like (yes I have learned the hard way).

Don't know how many will use this very long post but at least for me having known this when I started out would have saved me literally days of work and from big mistakes. hope it's useful.

Elena
http://www.pianofourhands.com


Schnabel's advie to Horowitz: "When a piece gets difficult, make faces."
#1124791 - 09/01/04 02:28 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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Wow, Elena, that was great. Thanks for the valuable information. I wonder if I see myself getting into a new project? Hm.

Actually, there are a few recording studios in my neighborhood and I want to check them out first. It would save me a lot of hassle, no doubt.


"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown
#1124792 - 09/03/04 06:56 AM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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If someone really wants to have a recording and has no other access to recording equipment, I have an idea how you might get this accomplished. Contact your local Kawai dealer and ask them if they would be willing to let you use their digital piano to record to a CD-R. I mentioned this to KawaiDon and he said the recording may not sound very piano like, however, as a last resort it may be better than sitting this one out. I tried to get in touch with Kawai USA about helping us with this project, but have not received any response. However, I think if you explain to your local rep what you are trying to do, I believe they will want to help.
Jon


"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein
#1124793 - 09/03/04 09:14 AM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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Good idea... I think it will be quit natural for submitters to want to specify what pianos they recorded on anyway (this is Piano World with lots of Piano-philes after all). Kawai their dealers or whoever else that let our members record with their facilities gets an honorable mention of their product accompanying that recording in our CD booklet, and our members get to record and submit something. A very probable win-win arragement. thumb

Elena, THANK YOU. I want to thank you for your contribution above as well as in the booklet/artwork thread, albeit I'm doing it a bit late. smile

#1124794 - 09/03/04 11:25 AM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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General questions. First, no way am I gong to buy Neumann mics, Elena. laugh However, a condenser mic seems to be the way to go. MXL 990's (pic below) can be had for $60 inc. shipping. But these require a low-impedence balanced input and a pre-amp (like the other picture below), I believe, which is another $50. I want something I can just plug into my laptop. I know there are Low-Z to Hi-Z matchers for about $10, but I'm guessing the signal will be too low to use. Is there a single-mic solution that I can get for around $50-$60? I've tried the built-in mic in my laptop and it's only marginally better than a dixie cup and string.

[Linked Image] [Linked Image]


"If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to."
MSU - the university of Michigan!
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#1124795 - 09/03/04 11:37 AM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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Why couldn't you use a Sure SM-57 with a XLR to mono doohicky from radio hack right into your sound card?
Jon


"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein
#1124796 - 09/03/04 11:59 AM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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That's the question, how suitable is a regular mic for recording a piano? I thought a condenser mic was much better. And still that is a Low-Z mic. Just add a Low-Z to Hi-Z adapter and plug-er-in? What about signal strength?

An SM57 and a Z-matcher is still $100.

And the big question, what's the sound difference between these solutions and a $20 Radio Shack mic? laugh (Seriously, would that really be awful?)


"If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to."
MSU - the university of Michigan!
Wheels
#1124797 - 09/03/04 12:15 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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I've played with both the Shure SM57 and the MXL990.

For a newbie, the Shure is much easier to get some kind of useful sound out of, because of the limited frequency range and capabilities. But of course, a condensor such as the MXL will ultimatly sound better, even though it's harder for a beginner to work with.

Warning, you'll want two mics. IMO, mono piano sounds horrible. I don't think you need a true stereo effect, but your two ears do want to hear something different when listening to a piano. I've gotten decent sound when just pointing at different parts of the SB under the piano.

The "audiobuddy" is a decent cheap preamp

http://www.zzounds.com/item--THKMIMAB0

80$ - it's very quiet and has phantom power.

For practice sessions I use the above preamp, pair of MXL's, and a Lavry Blue A/D. It sound excellent, I should post some results.


The piano is my drug of choice.
Why are you reading this? Go play the piano! Why am I writing this? ARGGG!
#1124798 - 09/03/04 12:41 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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FYI, here's two examples, one using a pair of cheap (20$ ea) global audio dynamic mics, which sound almost as good as the more expensive (70$) Shure mics, and a pair of the MXL's. Nothing fancy, they were put up roughly ORTF a few feet from the piano (CW grand), little effort to match levels.

The MXL

http://www.sonic.net/~howl/cond.mp3

The dynamics

http://www.sonic.net~/howl/dynamic.mp3

This is using the audiobuddy and the lavry. I often hear "wise ones" using the old "weakest link" theory. That there is no point having good A/D if you have a cheap front end (mic). Baloney - I can easily hear the improvment from the Lavry versus a soundcard, using cheap mics.

At any rate, you be the judge.


The piano is my drug of choice.
Why are you reading this? Go play the piano! Why am I writing this? ARGGG!
#1124799 - 09/03/04 12:42 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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make that second link

http://www.sonic.net/~howl/dynamic.mp3


The piano is my drug of choice.
Why are you reading this? Go play the piano! Why am I writing this? ARGGG!
#1124800 - 09/03/04 03:57 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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Gryphon privately asked about why condensers are more tough to work with, here's my answer as it may be useful to others.


First the extended freq range. Cond mics go much lower, so for instance, can easily pick up the low frequency thumps from the keys unless they are properly isolated. Just using a shockmount is barely adequate in my estimation.

Condensers tend to be rather hyper mics (I prefer ribbons), and present the piano rather percussivly to my taste. I like to capture the richness of the tone by getting closer, but then the cond's start picking up too much percussion.

Furthermore, being sensitive mics, they highlight all the defects in your A/D, placement, room, piano, playing, etc. So then you start having to run around fixing problems elsewhere. It's like when you clean your house, then you need to do some fix-ups, then you notice the old paint ... eventually you just decide to sell and move out of state smile

Ribbons are harder yet. The SS electronics in condensor mics tend to much things up enough to hide a lot of sins, with ribbons it's all out in plain sight. Plus they have an unusual pattern (fig 8), and typically low output. I'm still trying to figure out my ribbons.

The MXL mic has a 2SK170 family FET on the input, which is a wonderful little device (I use them as a input cascode (with the WE417 tube) on the input to my custom preamp). It's a nice quiet mic for a bargain price.

Dan


The piano is my drug of choice.
Why are you reading this? Go play the piano! Why am I writing this? ARGGG!
#1124801 - 09/03/04 05:44 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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To my untrained ears both DanM's dynamic & condenser recordings sound good to me.

I have a question though (being both digitally & computer challenged) ..... for DanM or whoever ......

1) If I record something using my analog Tascam Porta02MKII, my 2 Shure SM57s, & the 2 matching inline (Yorkville LHT-1 transformer) things I use, & it sounds okay to my ears, can I take this tape to one of these sound techs/recording/mixing type people so they'll create an MP3 or WAV file type thingy? Do these people do this type of conversion cheaply? Will this submission (sound quality, that is) perhaps "suck" in comparison with what others are submitting?

2) Can I then e-mail this file (as an attachment) to whoever is collecting these compilation recordings? Or, will a 2 minute recording produce a file that is too large to send as an attachment to an e-mail?

3) Who's collecting the recordings anyway & how will they be collecting the files (via e-mail or what)?

Thanks ..... I apologize if my questions appear silly or poorly worded.

#1124802 - 09/03/04 07:37 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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Katie

How about recording them directly to your computer instead of your Tascam?

And I can hear the difference between the two samples, but for my purposes (I want to begin listening to myself play as well as present some material here) I think I either will do.


"If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to."
MSU - the university of Michigan!
Wheels
#1124803 - 09/03/04 07:57 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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The MXL is better, but as I say it then highlights other problems (placement, etc.)

I would recommend a pair of the MXL's and an audio buddy for most people (200$ total), they aren't that much more expensive than the cheapo dynamic mics. And ultimately they'll give you better results.

If you do buy them, be sure to put them away after use. Ideally condenser mics are stored in a humidity controlled "mic closet", but it doesn't matter with cheap ones like this.


The piano is my drug of choice.
Why are you reading this? Go play the piano! Why am I writing this? ARGGG!
#1124804 - 09/03/04 09:13 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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Gryphon,

To be honest .... I wouldn't have a clue how to record to a computer & I lack a "technical" support system too frown . I presently record analog wise so I can monitor my practicing through headphones & occasionally on a mini-stereo. It's passe technology, but it works for me.

It would be simply easier to give someone else a tape to create a CD or sometype of file. But the sound would have to be acceptable. I can't spend too much money either.

My playing is not that great, but it's the idea of contributing that interests me.

--Katie [who's still trying to figure out the photobucket-picture posting thing].

#1124805 - 09/04/04 09:26 AM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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Gryphon,

You're not a performer, you don't need the Neumanns!

Regarding your questions, I am far from being a recording engineer and being able to answer your questions, I just know how to deal with my own equipment, at the most basic level as well. Nevertheless, when trying to come up with equipment to buy I got a lot of help from the Google Usenet groups rec.audio.tech and rec.audio.pro. You might want to ask them.

The MXL sounds much much better....

Elena
http://www.pianofourhands.com


Schnabel's advie to Horowitz: "When a piece gets difficult, make faces."
#1124806 - 09/09/04 10:32 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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I have a little MP3 voice recorder called a PoGo RipFlash (about $120-150 or so, I think) which seems to record pretty decently, and obviously records digitally so the only noise you get is what comes in off the line. I'm going to give it a shot with a $50 Best Buy mic I picked up and see how the quality comes out.

The software I use is called GoldWave and it has many of the features Elena mentioned above. I highly recommend it from my own experience in using it for making CDs, ringtones for my phone and other silly stuff. http://www.goldwave.com

#1124807 - 09/12/04 04:40 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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Help. I've been recording directly to my laptop (Compaq Evo 610c) and have an unacceptable background noise. Even when I calibrate the software (Sound Forge) for a DC offset it's there. Post processing with a noise gate is unacceptable because the level is so high, about -30dB. I suspect it is the built-in sound card and there's nothing I can do about it. frown

Just for fun I checked my desktop which has an old SoundBlaster Live! 5.1 card and its background is better than -63dB, a world of difference (over 2000x quieter!). Same thing with the built-in sound on the MB. Unfortunately the computer is on a different floor.

That -30dB is just too, too, too high, and it doesn't seem right, not for even the crappiest of electronics.


"If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to."
MSU - the university of Michigan!
Wheels
#1124808 - 09/13/04 08:56 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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Hi Gryphon,

I don't know why the Compaq's built-in sound card would have so much noise, but here are a few more questions that might lead us to some answers... Is it just white noise or 60-cycle hum or both? What's your mic setup, is it powered by AC or battery? Is the mic cable shielded? To do your test on the computer upstairs did you use the same mic setup?

Is there more than one input on the Compaq's sound card? If so you could try the other input (which you probably already have if there is), also did you play with the volume-control applet & shut off whatever inputs you're not recording from? For example, my PC's card has a line-in and a mic-in, and I'd guess the mic-in is preamped to some degree. There's also a 20db mic boost option of some sort. Any options like that on your Compaq? If you haven't already, I'd suggest shutting off unused inputs and cranking the volume for the input you're using most or all the way up.

I don't suppose you could run shielded cable up to the PC to do the recording on that computer? That might just introduce more noise though.

Another option might be to use an MP3 recorder, they can record at basically CD quality. I use a PoGo RipFlash trio, it's a little credit-card-sized thing with 128MB of RAM, holds hours at decent quality. Pretty handy if I want to mess around and do a little recording session at the piano store where I take my lessons, etc.

Hope that helps...

-Paul

#1124809 - 09/14/04 11:24 AM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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Gryphon, you might try what I do. My Dell Inspiron laptop has a completely unacceptable hum when it's plugged into AC current. But if I run it on battery the hum is gone. It's also gone if I bypass the ground. I just plug one of those 3->2 ground adapters onto the power cord and leave the ground unconnected.

#1124810 - 09/14/04 01:14 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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Thanks for the information, Elena. My musical purpose in recording is more to keep a diary of ideas rather than to perfect performance. I do have high quality tape equipment but tapes do deteriorate over many years and I am toying with the idea of buying a decent CD recorder.

For the purpose of the Pianoworld CD I shall just pay somebody to do a one-off transfer for me to CD or file and hope the quality is good enough.


"It is inadvisable to decline a dinner invitation from a plump woman." - Fred Hollows
#1124811 - 09/14/04 02:03 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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Posts: 3,857
Bernard Offline
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Bernard  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 3,857
North Groton, NH
I've been wanting to buy something to record with for some time, so yesterday I did it. I Bought: A Fostex MR-8 8-track digital recorder and 2 Shure SM57s.

I hope the Fostex does a good job, but just in case it doesn't do what I want, I can return it for a full refund.

Features:

* Stores to included 128MB flash card
* 16-bit/44.1kHz uncompressed linear sound quality
* 2-track simultaneous recording
* 8-track playback
* Ultra-intuitive interface
* 128x64 backlit dot-matrix LCD
* 38 self-illuminating keys
* Onboard guitar distortion
* Amp modeling
* Mic modeling
* Digital reverb and delay section
* Mastering effect for stereo bus
* Optical S/PDIF out
* USB port for WAV transfer to PC
* 6 AA alkaline cell operation
* Included power supply
* Built-in microphone
* Sophisticated editing/archiving system


"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown
#1124812 - 09/14/04 02:05 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 3,857
Bernard Offline
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Bernard  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 3,857
North Groton, NH
BTW, If this works out well, I'll be willing to loan it to anyone in the NY area for recording their piece for our CD.


"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown
#1124813 - 09/18/04 11:48 AM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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Posts: 797
pete Offline
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pete  Offline
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Posts: 797
port washington, ny, us
Okay, I'm a computer dunce. If I record onto a cassette, what do I have to do to get that to digital form? Can I just snail mail it to someone with a good soundcard and the knowledge to convert it to MP3?

#1124814 - 09/19/04 11:34 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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Posts: 790
Ted2 Offline
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Ted2  Offline
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Posts: 790
Auckland, New Zealand
I was waiting for someone to answer you, Pete, but nobody has. I'm in the same boat. I have very good tape facilities but nothing else. I'm hoping somebody local, for a few dollars, will make me either a CD or a file from a tape. I've found a few contacts from music shops - shouldn't be too hard to jack up.


"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley
#1124815 - 09/19/04 11:54 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,893
iamcanadian Offline
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iamcanadian  Offline
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Posts: 1,893
Canada
I can do a fairly decent analogue to digital conversion from either Vinyl or cassete. Not professional, but it wouldn't sound any worse than the original.

Send me a private message if you want my help.


♪♫♪♫
#1124816 - 09/25/04 04:00 PM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
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Posts: 3,773
KlavierBauer Offline
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KlavierBauer  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 3,773
Boulder, Colorado
We used to record our recital series (20 + years ago), and used to record to VHS. Does anyone still do this, or know if it's worth trying?

I'd really like to take part in this, but get too nervous playing in front of people to actually have someone record it for me. If I can get the VHS to my computer I could probably record myself, and do whatever digital work I can to it on my computer.
We already have some nice mics, and such, but the medium is the problem, how to get the VHS to my laptop?

Does anyone have any ideas?

#1124817 - 09/26/04 02:46 AM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources  
Joined: May 2002
Posts: 790
Ted2 Offline
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Ted2  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 790
Auckland, New Zealand
I have now bought a CD recorder (I wanted one to make durable recordings of improvisation; tapes deteriorate over the years) which, in conjunction with my good tape deck, seems to make excellent recordings. Well, they sound all right to me anyway. I can use software on this computer to make mp3s from the CD quite easily if required.

So now I have finalised what I shall submit it's just a question of playing well enough.


"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley
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