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#995246 - 01/23/08 10:41 AM easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Babs_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 321
Loc: Gulf Coast
Hello

I am thinking about buying a recorder. I've been thinking that one way that I could improve on my piano performance is by recording and listening to my performances. I have spent many hours playing piano but I don't think that I have ever really properly listened to myself play. When I play I am more focused on reading the music than actually listening to myself play.

Being inexperienced as I am, I need a recorder that is really easy to use. What I have to work with is a standard laptop and an acoustic piano.

I also need a recorder that is relatively inexpensive too. I am not looking for a recorder with many options, I just want something easy to use.

Any ideas?

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#995247 - 01/23/08 11:29 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2718
Loc: Not in Texas
Hi Babs1,

I'm not sure what you'd consider "relatively inexpensive" but the Zoom H2 & H4 both have lots of advocates here. I've got an H4 and find it makes decent quality recordings and is relatively easy to use both by itself and with a PC. The H2 can be had for a little less than $200 and the H4 is about $250.
_________________________
Greg

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#995248 - 01/23/08 12:53 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17809
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
I am a hopeless Zoom fanatic. I don't think you can beat the combination of recording quality, ease of setup and use, and price.

If price is the overwhelming consideration, and you don't care about recording quality or uploading on the web, a basic cassette recorder would be very very cheap and easy to use.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#995249 - 01/23/08 01:10 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
MarkL Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/07
Posts: 728
Loc: Chicago Suburban
Another vote for the Zoom H2, which I use to record my lesson every week as well as other music forums that I attend. I went through several cassette recorders, the ones I used were probably good enough for recording kazoo music. Maybe there are better ones, but I would imagine the cost starts to get close to the H2.
_________________________
Yamaha P90

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#995250 - 01/23/08 01:30 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
A really cheap way out is use a mic with your laptop, but it will not be pretty.

Might work for you until you get a better recorder....
_________________________
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

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#995251 - 01/23/08 01:37 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Babs_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 321
Loc: Gulf Coast
 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica K.:
.

If price is the overwhelming consideration, and you don't care about recording quality or uploading on the web, a basic cassette recorder would be very very cheap and easy to use. [/b]
  • The recording quality doesn't need to be "perfect", I just want it to be at least a "good"
    quality recording. I would like to upload on the web someday, so I don't think a cassette recorder would do.


I gather the Zoom H2 seems to be quite popular then? What is the difference between the H2 and the H4? Which is easier to use? I need one with only a "few" options. I can't handle too many buttons to fool around with. My present remote control that operates the cable,VCR, and DVD has over a 100[/b] buttons to fool with and it drives me batty !! :rolleyes:

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#995252 - 01/23/08 01:38 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
piano_deb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/05
Posts: 787
Loc: Memphis, TN
Does your laptop have a built-in mic? (Macs have them; I don't know about PCs.) If it does, just download the free Audacity audio recording/editing software, and you're set. You won't create high quality recordings, but you'll certainly capture sound well enough to study your performance.

And to participate in the Adult Beginner Forum online recitals, if you're so inclined. \:\)

As mentioned, a cassette or microcassette recorder will provide low-quality audio, but it might be fine for your purposes.

EDITED: Oops, I guess we were posting at the same time, Babs1. I just read your update. Sounds like the Zoom H2 or H4 would be a better choice.
_________________________
Deborah
Charles Walter 1500
Happiness is a shiny red piano.

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#995253 - 01/23/08 01:51 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Babs_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 321
Loc: Gulf Coast
 Quote:
Originally posted by gmm1:
A really cheap way out is use a mic with your laptop, but it will not be pretty.

Might work for you until you get a better recorder.... [/b]
  • On the other hand, maybe the smart and more economical way to deal with all this would be to simply invest in a mic and record from my laptop? Is there a specific mic for recording music that is better than others?


Maybe I should try that route first before I think about investing in a zoom. After all I am still getting bills from Xmas. :rolleyes:

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#995254 - 01/23/08 01:52 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
You may also want to consider a more "proffessional" setup sing two condensor mics and a cheap mixer for phantom power.

As others have said, the Zoom h2, h4, are probably your best bet considering ALL criteria (ease of use, price, quality), however, you WILL have the *potential* to obtain better quality recordings by using two good quality condensor mics in the "X", and "Y" position. [I have a pair of Rode NT5 mics and a Behringer mixer].

Although the condensor mics have better recording *potential*, that is assuming you get the room acoustics and mic placement in their respective optimum conditions/location. I have not been able to do this yet and also consider getting the room acoustics accurate as well as finding the optimum mic placement an art onto itself!.

Now that you are armed with lots of confusing info, my vote would be for the Zoom H2, H4 unless you REALLY want to spend the time obtaining the best possible recording. If so, look at the condensor mic setup (hooked into your computer).

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#995255 - 01/23/08 01:53 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Babs_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 321
Loc: Gulf Coast
No Debbie, my laptop does not have a built-in mic.

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#995256 - 01/23/08 02:00 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
piano_deb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/05
Posts: 787
Loc: Memphis, TN
 Quote:
No Debbie, my laptop does not have a built-in mic.
In that case, you'll need a set-up like what mr_super-hunky is talking about, or a Zoom (or other product) that does the same job. At least you have a laptop to start with, and that's a big plus, since you can set it up near the piano.

*whispers*
By the way, it's Deborah or Deb, please, never Debbie. Thanks!
_________________________
Deborah
Charles Walter 1500
Happiness is a shiny red piano.

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#995257 - 01/23/08 02:05 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
mahlzeit Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/06
Posts: 1915
Loc: Netherlands
The Samson C01U mic is a condenser that plugs directly into a free USB port on your computer. Unlike other condenser microphones, you don't need a separate mixer unit or phantom power for it. Of course, a single mic only gives you mono sound but that's fine unless you want to do professional recordings.

By the way, I'd be surprised if your laptop doesn't have a built-in microphone. Almost all of them do. Open the Control Panel in Windows, go to Audio Devices, and look under the Audio tab. There probably is something listed under Recording.
_________________________
No idea what chords you are playing? Reverse Chord Finder Pro will tell you!

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#995258 - 01/23/08 02:06 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Babs_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 321
Loc: Gulf Coast
 Quote:
Originally posted by Babs1:
No Debbie, my laptop does not have a built-in mic. [/b]
  • SH I think I'll try that condensor mic setup, first and see how it sounds, if I don't like the quality of the recording , I'll think about the Zoom .

Did I hear a rumor the other day about a tax rebate coming my way ? \:D

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#995259 - 01/23/08 02:11 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
OK, Babs, you woke me up. Tax rebate, eh?

Now I won't be able to sleep wondering just what new toy is in my future....

BTW, Mahlzeit is probably right, almost all laptops have built-in mics nowadays. How old is yours? Perhaps you can excape with no expense.
_________________________
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

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#995260 - 01/23/08 02:26 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Babs_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 321
Loc: Gulf Coast
  • That's right, Deborah , I can move my laptop near the piano , so that is an added plus.


  • Mahlzeit, ok I looked on the control panel, under Audio[/b] and I clicked on Sound Recording[/b] and the only option on there was Sigma Tel Audio[/b]. Is this what I need to be using to record?


  • gmm My laptop is 4 years old.




You guys must think I'm a moron by now. \:D

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#995261 - 01/23/08 02:38 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
Babs1:

Remember, the two condensor mic setup IS the optimum setup but like I said, you MUST get your room acoustics accurate as well as the mic placement.

You would be very hard pressed to find any proffessional recording studio using the Zoom to record their music as they DO have the optimum setup. for this reason, they almost (if not always) use two condensor mics (usually in the "X" and "Y" position) for studio recordings.

I happen to know a lot on this subject (even though I have NOT been able to find the optimum setting yet!!) as this is what my father is an authority on. [He and Ray Dolby developed Dolby "C" noise reduction systems in the late 70's and marketed in the early 80's].

An osciliscope does'nt lie and as I've said, the condensor mics will reproduce the most accurate and trueist sound reproduction.

Once again, the Zoom is a much easier and realistic option but if you want to learn the *best* method from the start, try the two condensor mics.

Btw, this method is NOT that expensive. I paid around $300 for the two Rode NT5 condensor mics and about $50 for the Behringer mixer. I actually don't do anything with the mixer but it is needed to supply the phantom power. I'm not sure if there are any other condensor mics (of the same or better quality) as the Rode NT5 that do not require phantom power.

As Mahlzeit mentioned, there may be other mics available that do not require phantom power, I just do not know about their respective frequency range. Something to research!.

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#995262 - 01/23/08 04:25 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
mahlzeit Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/06
Posts: 1915
Loc: Netherlands
Babs, download and install Audacity. Run it. Choose "Microphone" for recording in the top of the window. Put its volume slider all the way to the right.

Click the big red button. Shout something. Press Stop. Press Play. If you can hear yourself, you have just successfully recorded something on your laptop.

If you put your laptop close to your piano, you can record this way.

If your laptop has an input for an external microphone -- most do -- then you can buy a $5 microphone and use that instead, which will give you better sound quality. (Although it will still pick up some background noise, but less than the built-in mic.)

If you have an MP3 player or a digital camera that can record audio, you can also use that to record your piano.

You could even record using an old-fashioned tape recorder and hook that up to your PC with a stereo cable going from its headphones output to your laptop's microphone input. \:\)

Lots of options.

See also:
http://www.originalsolopiano.com/how-to-record-piano.html
_________________________
No idea what chords you are playing? Reverse Chord Finder Pro will tell you!

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#995263 - 01/23/08 09:37 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
J. Mark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/06
Posts: 1323
I hate those Zoom things. I bought an H4 and sold it at a loss a couple of weeks later. It was absurdly difficult to use, requiring multiple steps just to transfer files to the computer. If you did it via USB connection, you had to go through like five steps to make the stupid thing talk through the USB; if you did it by removing the SD card, you had to practically disassemble the thing to get the card out...and then you needed long fingernails or needle nose pliers....

And that's just a couple of problems. Overall, the thing was very very poorly designed.

I looked at the H2, and while it seemed to have a better design in terms of ease of use, it did not have the features that made the H4 attractive...like XLR inputs and phantom power, for example.

A cheap (less than $100) mixer, from Alesis for example, with a USB connection to the laptop, a couple of condensor mics, and free software (Audacity) is a pretty darn good setup, imo. I did this with some Oktavas I had on hand, and a Yamaha USB mixer (cost $129 from Music123). A straight USB into the laptop with Audacity would seem to at least get you recording.

Overall, I've been frustrated with the recorders I've tried. The Boss units are stupidly over-engineered (designed for guitar shredders). Others use lousy storage systems, have no XLR, or otherwise just don't cut it. I still haven't found a recorder I like. ... Then again, nothing I do is worth recording, so it doesn't much matter...

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#995264 - 01/23/08 10:30 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
You know, I just can't resist making another comment. It seems that everyone is looking for the best/perfect recording method while the recording method used is probably the LEAST important factor.

Zooms (digital recorders), condensor mics, microphone inputs to laptops, even digital videorecorders/camera's are ALL capable of fairly good quality recordings. The problem is similar to an ugly person looking in the miror. No matter how good the mirror, the person is still ugly!.

SO many people forget about the MOST important critera to ANY good recording......that being proper room acoustics.

Piano's are not really "boomy" or overly bright; the rooms are.

There is no optimum setup for everyone as things like the floor covering, window coverings/treatments, rugs even piano placement will make a HUGE difference.

Try taking a subwoofer and place it in the middle of an empty room. Not a whole lotta bass. Now take that same subwoofer (in the same room) and place it approx two inches away from a corner wall. BaBaBOOM!!. Nothing in the room changed other than the placement of the driver.

This is why concert halls, ampitheaters etc are designed the way they are. Even using the best possible equipment will result in terrible sounding recordings if the room acoustics are all screwed up.

It takes a LOT of time and trial and error to get this right and is only half as difficult as finding the correct mic positions!.

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#995265 - 01/23/08 10:40 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2718
Loc: Not in Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by J. Mark:
I hate those Zoom things. I bought an H4 and sold it at a loss a couple of weeks later. It was absurdly difficult to use, requiring multiple steps just to transfer files to the computer. If you did it via USB connection, you had to go through like five steps to make the stupid thing talk through the USB; if you did it by removing the SD card, you had to practically disassemble the thing to get the card out...and then you needed long fingernails or needle nose pliers....
[/b]
I'll just say that hasn't been my experience and leave it at that.

My only complaint about the Zoom H4 is I wish the screen & fonts were bigger so I wouldn't have to put my glasses on to read it. Fortunately, I've got most of the basic operations down well enough (and I find them simple) that the vague outline of text I can make out is enough.
_________________________
Greg

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#995266 - 01/23/08 10:43 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2718
Loc: Not in Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by mr_super-hunky:

It takes a LOT of time and trial and error to get this right and is only half as difficult as finding the correct mic positions!. [/b]
I completely agree. One of the additional challenges that most of us face is there's only one pianist in the house so it's difficult to optimize the sound for the room rather than for when you're seated at the bench playing. Stereo and recording equipment is difficult enough but at least you can position it and then step back (or sit down) and listen to the results.
_________________________
Greg

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#995267 - 01/23/08 11:15 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3179
What exactly is X and Y placement of microphones?
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#995268 - 01/23/08 11:24 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7266
Loc: torrance, CA
I can't comment on the Zoom models because I'm a social deviant who bought a M-Audio Microtrack instead of a Zoom. But I assume a Zoom can function the same way that a Microtrack or other small flash recorder can. If my assumption is wrong, someone can correct me.

A Microtrack can function with its supplied stereo T-mike that easily pops into a 1/8" jack on the top. I believe Zoom's supplied mike(s) is/are built-in, but either way it's no big deal.

It can also function with external mikes (phantom-power or non-phantom) that feed into 1/4" jacks on the top. So, if you buy a Zoom or a Microtrack and want a better quality recording, you can upgrade to better microphones.

You can also work out the X Y placement suggested here and experiment to minimize room acoustics. You will never get rid of them completely when recording an acoustic piano though.

But here's the thing. Even though I own a pair of Audio-Technica AT's, if I want to check on how something sounds, I don't want to spend the time setting up and making connections, and I have zero interest in getting my laptop involved. I just pop in the T-mike, place the Microtrack nearby, push the record button to begin and push it again to stop recording. Then I listen to my recording through the supplied earbuds. It's never a state-of-the-art recording, but if your purpose is what you described [to check on your playing] it will do the job admirably.

Now if you want to set up a pair of mikes in a semi-permanent position and put together a home-recording studio, a flash recorder should not be the core of your system (as others here have pointed out). The pre-amps on all of the mini flash recorders are simply not up to that task.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
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#995269 - 01/23/08 11:41 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2718
Loc: Not in Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by rocket88:
What exactly is X and Y placement of microphones? [/b]
Here's a picture that shows x-y placement.



This came from the Shure web site . The article it's from shows different microphone positions for various instruments, including grand and upright pianos, and their characteristics.
_________________________
Greg

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#995270 - 01/23/08 11:44 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
Another shot:


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#995271 - 01/23/08 11:50 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
epf Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/07
Posts: 658
Loc: Central Texas
I, too, use the Zoom H4 and find it easy to use. I originally tried using it strictly from an audio standpoint using the built-in microphones. Because of spurious noise in the house I was not pleased with the results (too much background hiss). So, I now record directly from the line-out on the DP to the input jacks on the H4 -- and I'm very happy with it. Transferring files to the PC is not intuitive -- you have to turn the H4 off, plug in the USB cord, select the connection function and then it acts like an external disk drive. Not terribly difficult, just extra steps.

Ed
_________________________
"...a man ... should engage himself with the causes of the harmonious combination of sounds, and with the composition of music." Anatolius of Alexandria

YouTube Channel

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#995272 - 01/24/08 12:03 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
btw, you could use very good quality external microphones(condensor) plugged into your zoom and get the best of both worlds!.

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#995273 - 01/24/08 12:38 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
lizzy's dad Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 256
Loc: Suburb of Seattle
Hey Babs1,

"...really easy to use."

The Zoom or something similar fits this description. Self contained, convenient, decent software.

Mr. S-H's recommendations are very good, represents higher end, professional, recording techniques - obviously.

I fall in the group that recommends a cheaper alternatie, buying the laptop a microphone. Here's a good link that talks about cheap mics (link)

Either use recording software that may have come with your computer or download some freeware (like Audacity), preferably something with an equalizer.

Window's Sound Recorder (All Programs -> Accessories -> Entertainment) being the absolute, bare minimum, but might be enough to get you started.

Make short sample recordings (loud and soft...sorry...ppp and fff), move the mic around the room (laptop attached), the piano, making any adjustments your software allows, until you get the sound you like.

You should be able to find at least one spot in the room that will give you the best compromise in sound. Depends on the piano, the location in the room, the nature of the walls, ceiling and floor covering, this spot might be on or near the piano or some place further away. It might not be the same spot for every piece.

Cost effective and simple.

If you don't like the sound of the resulting recordings, or are getting tired of having to run to the far corner of the room to press the Enter key on the laptop, \:D start saving your pennies.

I've got to learn how to write shorter posts...

l's dad

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#995274 - 01/24/08 09:16 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17809
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
The mic + laptop option is indeed a cheaper alternative. I just want to point out that, while others have managed to produce very nice sounding recordings with such a setup that had no clipping or distortion, I personally was never able to do so. I tore my hair out repeatedly trying to get my Samson USB mic to record something, anything, without distortion, and yes I fiddled for HOURS with mic levels and placement. \:\(

That is why I am such a Zoom fanatic. Just plop it down, press the red button, and you've got yourself a distortion-free recording. \:\)

I love my Zoom.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#995275 - 01/24/08 10:20 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Babs_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 321
Loc: Gulf Coast
 Quote:
Originally posted by mahlzeit:
Babs, download and install Audacity. Run it. Choose "Microphone" for recording in the top of the window. Put its volume slider all the way to the right.

Click the big red button. Shout something. Press Stop. Press Play. If you can hear yourself, you have just successfully recorded something on your laptop.

If you put your laptop close to your piano, you can record this way.

If your laptop has an input for an external microphone -- most do -- then you can buy a $5 microphone and use that instead, which will give you better sound quality. (Although it will still pick up some background noise, but less than the built-in mic.)

If you have an MP3 player or a digital camera that can record audio, you can also use that to record your piano.

You could even record using an old-fashioned tape recorder and hook that up to your PC with a stereo cable going from its headphones output to your laptop's microphone input. \:\)

Lots of options.

See also:
http://www.originalsolopiano.com/how-to-record-piano.html [/b]
  • Mahlzeit, thanks for the tip. Well I did what you asked me to do, AUDACITY was easy to install. That was the easy part. Well I did what you told me to do, I clicked the Big red button and I shouted, the cat ran , I clicked stop and play and there was NO sound. And yes I made sure
    the volume button was on , I also went into the control panel to check audio setup and it was fine. I did 5 takes of this holllering and still no recording. The cat heard all the hollering and is now hiding under the bed . Then I got an error message code #C00D1199. which translated into audio output device error[/b]. So i guess that means I need to invest in a mic . I don't have a MP3 player or a digital camera. :rolleyes:

  • Lizzy's Dad, the mic idea doesn't sound bad, I still don't know what brand of mic to buy.

  • Ok guys, so what is the difference anyway between the H2 and H4?


Maybe if that rumor holds up about Uncle Sam sending out tax rebates , I could invest in a ZOOM. That is ONLY, if the mic to laptop idea doesn't play out. That is if the mailman puts it in the right box. We've gone through 5 mailmen in the last 2 years around here. I can't even get a decent pizza around here. \:D

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#995276 - 01/24/08 10:51 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
Babs - what brand/model of laptop do own?

Sure sounds like you don't have one built in.

Check and be sure you have a mic port (again, I'm sure you do, but I was wrong once already).
_________________________
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

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#995277 - 01/24/08 11:07 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
mahlzeit Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/06
Posts: 1915
Loc: Netherlands
Babs, I think if you have no mic, you would get an error message at the time of recording. An audio *output* device error wouldn't have anything to do with a microphone, which is an *input* device. \:D

Do you have a connector for an external microphone at least? (Probably next to the headphones output.)

If you do, try what I described again but now with an external microphone attached.

If you have no external microphone, then put a pair of headphones into the microphone input and shout something into the headphones. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Now Audacity should have recorded at least something.

If this doesn't record anything either, then you're doing something else wrong. \:D
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#995278 - 01/24/08 11:19 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Babs_ Offline
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Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 321
Loc: Gulf Coast
  • Mahlzeit, I received the error message after I hit the play button. the error message went on to say to try changing the audio output device associated with the player I rechecked all the audio settings under the control panel and they seemed to be fine.


  • gmm, I have a Dell Inspiron B120, that is 4 years old. There are 3 USB ports.



thanks guys I think maybe I just need to invest in a good mic. ;\)

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#995279 - 01/24/08 11:41 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
mahlzeit Offline
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Registered: 07/24/06
Posts: 1915
Loc: Netherlands
Babs: Can you load any music file into Audacity and play it? (For example, an MP3 file?)

It is possible that Audacity isn't configured correctly. Go to Edit, Preferences, Audio I/O. Make sure your soundcard is selected there and recording channels is 1.

In the Quality section you may have to set default sample format to 16-bit.

Also, it would help to know what version of Audacity you have installed.

This doesn't have so much to do with trying to use the internal microphone: regardless of what mic you'll be using, first you need to get Audacity (or another audio application) to work. ;\)
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#995280 - 01/24/08 11:59 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
gmm1 Offline
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Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
Well, Babs, the good news is you do have a mic jack on the left side.

It appears their is no built-in mic, or at least I cannot find it in the manual.

So, off to radio shack, eh???
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#995281 - 01/24/08 12:45 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Babs_ Offline
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Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 321
Loc: Gulf Coast
double post :rolleyes:

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#995282 - 01/24/08 12:50 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Babs_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 321
Loc: Gulf Coast
 Quote:
Originally posted by Babs1:
quote:
Originally posted by mahlzeit:
Babs: Can you load any music file into Audacity and play it? (For example, an MP3 file?)

It is possible that Audacity isn't configured correctly. Go to Edit, Preferences, Audio I/O. Make sure your soundcard is selected there and recording channels is 1.

In the Quality section you may have to set default sample format to 16-bit.

Also, it would help to know what version of Audacity you have installed.

This doesn't have so much to do with trying to use the internal microphone: regardless of what mic you'll be using, first you need to get Audacity (or another audio application) to work. ;\) [/b]
  • Yes , I am able to load a MP3 file into Audacity and play it. \:\)
    I fixed all the settings to the ones that you indicated above,including the "16 bit". Also , the version of Audacity that I installed is 1.2.6.



  • gmm, yeah I don't think there is a built in mic, I tried hollering into it again and there was no sound. I fixed all those controls that Malzeit indicated. Although I did hear what sounded like the wind blowing when I hit the play button! \:D

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#995283 - 01/24/08 12:51 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2718
Loc: Not in Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica K.:
The mic + laptop option is indeed a cheaper alternative. I just want to point out that, while others have managed to produce very nice sounding recordings with such a setup that had no clipping or distortion, I personally was never able to do so. I tore my hair out repeatedly trying to get my Samson USB mic to record something, anything, without distortion, and yes I fiddled for HOURS with mic levels and placement. \:\(
[/b]
This was my experience as well. Although the microphone I used wasn't the best, it was a decent enough condensor mic that I should have been able to produce an acceptable recording with it. I also tried lots of placements but the real problem was the laptop itself. Admittedly, the one I used is ancient by laptop standards (2000).

The second thing that I disliked was that the area around my piano looked like a computer lab. Although I do use a tripod to place my zoom, it folds up in seconds and is easily stashed along with the zoom when I'm not using it. I seldom use the AC adapter with the Zoom so I normally just leave it connected to the tripod, fold up the legs and it's out of sight.

Babs1: if you do a search on the forum for "recording" you'll get a lot of matches including some good discussions of different alternatives. Since you're looking for cheap and simple you might not be interested but if at some point in the future you decide you want to do more this is a topic that understandably has been much discussed.

Since the Zoom provides phantom power, I might invest in better microphones at some point in the future since although the ones in the Zoom do make credible recordings the built-ins are the weak link. A pretty good pair of mics (like Mr S-H's) can be had for $100-$200 and a boom stand for less than $50. With that setup plus a Zoom you've got a setup that'll make very good recordings.
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#995284 - 01/24/08 02:13 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
U S A P T Offline
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Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 1645
Loc: An Indiana University
Since my webcam is in another room from the piano/organ now, I am no longer free to record schmaltz.

Monica K. mentioned the new Casio Exilen series that's youtube ready. I'm going to go check it out today. I'll let you know what I think.
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#995285 - 01/24/08 02:22 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
J. Mark Offline
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Registered: 11/13/06
Posts: 1323
Yes, but...

One thing about the Zoom that was also annoying to me was this -- in order to put it somewhere optimal for mic placement, you had to have it out of reach of the piano bench. So you had to put it somewhere, then turn it on, then go sit down, play your piece, then get up and go turn it off. Plug in the phones and listen, etc. PITA.

Also, you really need a tripod to place it even reasonably well. There is no tripod mount, except for that stupid strap-on thing they include as an obvious afterthought. You can't get to the SD card with that thing on, so you have to take it off each time you pull the SD card to upload a file (alternative of plugging it in via USB requires too many steps and is slow and poorly engineered).

I tried rigging up a custom mic stand to hold the thing, but it was not a satisfactory rig.

Anyway, if you assume that one solution to the placement problem is to have it sit next to you (on a table or something next to your bench), and hook up a couple of mics...well, the cables from the mics tend to constantly pull the little thing over on its side on the tripod. You can just lay it down on its side to begin with, but you're gonna get noise when you move it etc.

Generally, a remarkable PITA. I imagine it would be fine for recording lessons and so forth... but a simple Olympia digital voice recorder for $79 would be, as well.

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#995286 - 01/24/08 03:22 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
rustyfingers Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 788
Loc: Massachusetts
 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica K.:
The mic + laptop option is indeed a cheaper alternative. I just want to point out that, while others have managed to produce very nice sounding recordings with such a setup that had no clipping or distortion, I personally was never able to do so. I tore my hair out repeatedly trying to get my Samson USB mic to record something, anything, without distortion, and yes I fiddled for HOURS with mic levels and placement. \:\(

That is why I am such a Zoom fanatic. Just plop it down, press the red button, and you've got yourself a distortion-free recording. \:\)

I love my Zoom. [/b]
That's funny--I had exactly the same frustrating experience with my Zoom H4--take after take of levels too low to hear or clipped and distorted.

I've finally found (I hope) a good combination of recording levels and placement, but it wasn't an easy journey. I'm using a tripod, reset the recording level to its default of 100, turned off auto-gain, and using the max mic gain setting.

I bought mine used, so maybe the settings weren't the factory defaults. Or something. Who knows? YMMV
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#995287 - 01/24/08 03:30 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17809
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
 Quote:
Originally posted by J. Mark:
Yes, but...

One thing about the Zoom that was also annoying to me was this -- in order to put it somewhere optimal for mic placement, you had to have it out of reach of the piano bench. [/b]
Most of my recordings were done with me just plopping the Zoom right down on my music desk, within an arm's reach.

Clearly recording one's playing is like the movie Rashomon with different people having radically different experiences. \:D
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#995288 - 01/24/08 04:11 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2718
Loc: Not in Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by J. Mark:
Yes, but...

One thing about the Zoom that was also annoying to me was this -- in order to put it somewhere optimal for mic placement, you had to have it out of reach of the piano bench. So you had to put it somewhere, then turn it on, then go sit down, play your piece, then get up and go turn it off. Plug in the phones and listen, etc. PITA.

Also, you really need a tripod to place it even reasonably well. There is no tripod mount, except for that stupid strap-on thing they include as an obvious afterthought. You can't get to the SD card with that thing on, so you have to take it off each time you pull the SD card to upload a file (alternative of plugging it in via USB requires too many steps and is slow and poorly engineered).

I tried rigging up a custom mic stand to hold the thing, but it was not a satisfactory rig.

Anyway, if you assume that one solution to the placement problem is to have it sit next to you (on a table or something next to your bench), and hook up a couple of mics...well, the cables from the mics tend to constantly pull the little thing over on its side on the tripod. You can just lay it down on its side to begin with, but you're gonna get noise when you move it etc.

Generally, a remarkable PITA. I imagine it would be fine for recording lessons and so forth... but a simple Olympia digital voice recorder for $79 would be, as well. [/b]
OK, you don't like it. Got it. However, your experience is different enough from mine to warrant comment.

For simple recording:

I've got a little mini-tripod that I sit on the left side of the piano desk with the Zoom angled downward and aimed more or less at the center of the soundboard (lid on short stick). Turn unit on, press record button twice, play, press record button to stop recording, turn unit off. Go to PC, plug unit (still turned off) into USB. It turns itself on, displays "connect to PC", select. PC pops up explorer window, click on stereo, there's my piece. Drag to another folder (time for a 3:30 piece was 30 secs). Open with audacity. Done. Optionally, delete piece from Zoom, one mouse click. The resulting recording sounds pretty good. Not distorted though a little bright.

Time from placement on the piano desk to listening to resulting recording (including record time and walking to the PC): 5:15. Keystrokes/buttons pressed: 8 (turn on, record x 3, turn off, click on connect, drag recording to folder), open with audacity. Could save one click by opening with audacity on the zoom directly.

More complicated (differences in bold): bigger tripod placed 3' from middle of piano, lid on short stick. Press record button twice, walk to piano bench[/b] ... get up and walk back to zoom[/b]...

More complicated still (I don't have auxiliary mics so I'm making this part up but believe it to be accurate). Plug cables from mics into aux ports on Zoom which is sitting (no tripod) on my stack of sheet music (no danger of touching when I play). Press record button twice ....

I dunno, it just doesn't seem that hard. Makes pretty good recordings even in the simplest configuration. I'm guessing since it's battery powered (very low noise floor) with external mics properly placed it'd make really good recordings with the advantage that it's small, sits right next to you and is easily accessible.

I've not touched the SD card since I installed it.
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#995289 - 01/24/08 04:28 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Marty in Minnesota Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 1178
Loc: Minnesota
Excuse me, but wasn't this about an "easy" way to record your own performances?

It seems to me that the object was for educational use and not for publication or distribution.

I would love to learn more about the Zoom as I am totally in the dark.
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#995290 - 01/24/08 04:32 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17809
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Hi Marty,

Here's the Zoom Mega-Thread . Okay, so it's many pages long... but there's some good links in there to recordings and prolonged discussion of the best way to adjust gain levels etc. for best quality.
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#995291 - 01/24/08 04:38 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5966
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by C7 Player:

Turn unit on, press record button twice, play, press record button to stop recording, turn unit off. Go to PC, plug unit (still turned off) into USB. It turns itself on, displays "connect to PC", select. PC pops up explorer window, click on stereo, there's my piece. Drag to another folder (time for a 3:30 piece was 30 secs). Open with audacity. Done. Optionally, delete piece from Zoom, one mouse click. The resulting recording sounds pretty good. Not distorted though a little bright.
Time from placement on the piano desk to listening to resulting recording (including record time and walking to the PC): 5:15. [/b]
ooo Greg, I love this description! It gives me hope that I will actually be able to use one of these (I'm planning on getting an H2 soon) without too much input from SuperTechNerdBoy (teenage son). \:\)
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#995292 - 01/24/08 04:51 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2718
Loc: Not in Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by currawong:
ooo Greg, I love this description! It gives me hope that I will actually be able to use one of these (I'm planning on getting an H2 soon) without too much input from SuperTechNerdBoy (teenage son). \:\) [/b]
I've not seen an H2 but suspect it's very similar to the H4 in terms of usage. I've had the H4 for a while now (6 months?) and I've yet to open the owners manual.

As I said earlier, it makes pretty decent recordings and is fairly easy to use. Although there are cheaper options I doubt there is one that returns the same quality of recording for the same amount of total cost.
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#995293 - 01/24/08 05:44 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Late Beginner Offline
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Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 588
Loc: West Australia
Hi all,

If all you want is something cheap and simple that will play back what you just did, so that you can check your playing, there's an easy option.

You can buy a small digital dictaphone (as small or smaller than a cell phone) that will make an OK recording for that purpose. They're made to record either a single voice, or a group of voices at a meeting so they have quite a good range using a small condenser mic.

The one I use has a built in speaker and mic, but also comes with a plug in mic and an earpiece. As you would expect, the sound from the tiny built in speaker is appalling and not good for music playback. Naturally, you could plug in a better mic or earpiece if you wanted, but I found the supplied mics, and the earpiece, good enough for my purpose. The one I have allows transfer to computer via USB (not all do) and the sound is OK once played through reasonable speakers. Don't put the thing too close to the instruments of course, but I have used it with success for recording guitar, piano and or singing.

I have a fancy recorder/mixer if I want a better quality recording. But if all I want to do is check my playing, the little handheld thing is good enough. Plus I slip it in my pocket and use it as a digital notepad for ideas, etc. I've even used it to record entire music lessons so that I can refresh what's left of my memory later.... ;\)

Another option anyway. The one I have works fine for me. They may not suit everybody. \:\)

Cheers,

Chris
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#995294 - 01/24/08 06:05 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Marty in Minnesota Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 1178
Loc: Minnesota
Thanks Monica, I'll check it out.
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#995295 - 01/24/08 06:49 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Babs_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 321
Loc: Gulf Coast
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Beginner:
Hi all,

If all you want is something cheap and simple that will play back what you just did, so that you can check your playing, there's an easy option.

You can buy a small digital dictaphone (as small or smaller than a cell phone) that will make an OK recording for that purpose. They're made to record either a single voice, or a group of voices at a meeting so they have quite a good range using a small condenser mic.

The one I use has a built in speaker and mic, but also comes with a plug in mic and an earpiece. As you would expect, the sound from the tiny built in speaker is appalling and not good for music playback. Naturally, you could plug in a better mic or earpiece if you wanted, but I found the supplied mics, and the earpiece, good enough for my purpose. The one I have allows transfer to computer via USB (not all do) and the sound is OK once played through reasonable speakers. Don't put the thing too close to the instruments of course, but I have used it with success for recording guitar, piano and or singing.

I have a fancy recorder/mixer if I want a better quality recording. But if all I want to do is check my playing, the little handheld thing is good enough. Plus I slip it in my pocket and use it as a digital notepad for ideas, etc. I've even used it to record entire music lessons so that I can refresh what's left of my memory later.... ;\)

Another option anyway. The one I have works fine for me. They may not suit everybody. \:\)

Cheers,

Chris [/b]
You guys are all full of great ideas.

SH, your method, I am sure works great, but it is too complicated for me. ;\)

Mahzeit you were a great help, after I fixed the settings on Audacity, it appears to work great. I am fully confident that it will work out well when I am ready to do my recordings.

Chris your idea with the digital dictaphone sounds simple and practical which is what I was really looking for to start off with. I want to be able to record my lessons and home performances so I can evaluate myself. If you don't mind me asking, what brand is the digital dictaphone?

I am still planning on investing in either 1 or 2 good microphones for my laptop for use with Audacity so I can record my music onto my computer. ;\)

Thank You, You guys have given me alot to think about. \:\)

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#995296 - 01/24/08 06:58 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
Am I the only one that honestly, deep down knew from the start that the Zoom was going to be by far the best/simplest realistic option?.

Yes, there are numerous options but for $230.00 (H2), or $299.00 (H4), there is just no better *overall* bang for the buck than with the Zoom. (this includes being user friendly and simple to use while providing a very good quality reproduction.

You really won't outgrow it either because it can be easily upgraded by using a pair of premium mics at a later date if you so choose.

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#995297 - 01/25/08 01:07 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Late Beginner Offline
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Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 588
Loc: West Australia
 Quote:
Originally posted by Babs1:



Chris your idea with the digital dictaphone sounds simple and practical which is what I was really looking for to start off with. I want to be able to record my lessons and home performances so I can evaluate myself. If you don't mind me asking, what brand is the digital dictaphone?

I am still planning on investing in either 1 or 2 good microphones for my laptop for use with Audacity so I can record my music onto my computer. ;\)
[/b]
Hi,

Sorry, but I can't recall offhand what brand or model my dictaphone is (it's not here right now), but it will depend on what's sold in your country/location anyway. There's a fair few around now.

I had a good look at the Zoom H4, but decided against it because I really didn't need all the things that it can do. There were cheaper options for quick recording, and for better quality I already have a mixer/recorder.

My rough summary:

LAPTOP:

Pros:
The cheapest option. Should be good enough for the job.

Cons:
Can be slightly fiddly to use as far as stopping and starting recording goes (mice, pads, keyboards, or whatever). Laptop speakers not always all that good for playback.

DIGITAL DICTAPHONE:

Pros:
Cheap. Can also be used for other quick-n-dirty recording tasks. Easily carried in purse or pocket. Should have simple "press button to start, press button to stop" operation. They used to use nasty fiddly little tapes, but the newer digital ones seem to record fine. May have transfer to computer function, but not necessarily.

Cons:
Built in speaker probably hideously bad for music replay. But should have socket for headphone or earpiece. The recording quality is not high, but was a lot better than I expected.

ZOOM H4

Pros:
The best if you want to get serious about recording. Large range of effects etc.

Cons:
103 page manual. Great if you like gadgets, not so great if you don't. Has good built in mics but (as far as I know) doesn't have any playback speakers. So you still need to get headphones, port file into computer or whatever to hear the results.


I have a version of all 3 (my Zoom is an 8 track mixer/recorder so not a direct comparison with the H4.).

I've recorded with the dictaphone tossed on the bed behind me as I play keyboards, propped on the music stand as I played live with a trio, and lying on floor during a guitar lesson. The results weren't pretty, but they did what I needed at the time - gave me a quick and easy reference. It wouldn't be for everybody though, so I'd attempt to 'try before you buy' if you can.

Good hunting,

Chris
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#995298 - 01/25/08 01:40 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Late Beginner Offline
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Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 588
Loc: West Australia
Hi again,


Here you go - have a listen. Click on the line below:

Quick-n-dirty Dictaphone

Just propped on the keyboard. That not a good spot really as it's close to the speakers and picks up all sorts of vibration, makes chords sound muddy etc.


Also bear in mind that it's recording a total beginner banging on a cheap digital keyboard. That particular keyboard didn't cost all that much more than a ZOOM H4 would here... \:o No Steinways here, to give you a comparison. \:\(

And of course, unless you have a pretty good sound system on your computer, that will be degrading the sound of the clip too.

Chris
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#995299 - 01/25/08 07:44 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
U S A P T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 1645
Loc: An Indiana University
I bought a Casio Exilen EX-Z77 yesterday for super-simple recording and an inexpensive tripod.

The sound quality (as far as I could tell via internet reviews) is comparable to a Sony MiniDV video camera.

After school today I will try some trial recordings and see how the sound quality is. If it's horrible, I'll take it back. The video in my sig line was recorded with a Logitech iChat golfball-sized webcam and the sound quality (IMHO) is acceptable for my amateur needs. It's in a different room than the Chambre de la Musique now though. . .

Again, I was just looking for mp4 quality so we'll see what $177 gets you these days.

We'll see. . .
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#995300 - 01/25/08 07:58 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
J. Mark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/06
Posts: 1323
 Quote:
Originally posted by mr_super-hunky:
Am I the only one that honestly, deep down knew from the start that the Zoom was going to be by far the best/simplest realistic option?.

Yes, there are numerous options but for $230.00 (H2), or $299.00 (H4), there is just no better *overall* bang for the buck than with the Zoom. (this includes being user friendly and simple to use while providing a very good quality reproduction.

You really won't outgrow it either because it can be easily upgraded by using a pair of premium mics at a later date if you so choose. [/b]
Yes, Sahib, you are the great and wise predictor. [takes three bows]

I guess the point has been accurately made that different people can experience things, uh, differently. \:\)

I will say this -- I have not yet found anything that does satisfy me, in terms of being simple, quick, inexpensive and decent quality. But everyone is coming out with "field recorders" these days, so there's bound to be something for all tastes.

To my thinking, for recording piano at home, I would rather have a small desktop unit on a stand next to my bench, with headphones, an easily removable memory card, and a couple of mics. These units start at around $299 and are often on sale or closeout. A decent one with two or more mic inputs, phantom power and a reasonable interface can be had for $399 easily. Just a personal preference. I still haven't decided which one I like the best....

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#995301 - 01/25/08 08:35 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
J. Mark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/06
Posts: 1323
Here's something that looks about my speed, fwiw:

Fostex MR-8mkII

Same price as an H4 -- $249 at Musicians Friend (read the reviews, seems to be good as both a portable with internal mic for basics, and also as a mini-studio type recorder on a very basic level).

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#995302 - 01/25/08 04:35 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
U S A P T Offline
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Registered: 10/20/06
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Loc: An Indiana University
I bought the Casio Exilim EX-Z77 at Wal-Mart last night to try it out. It has all this hype (and stickers) about being Youtube ready etc.

There is no mention of that in the owner's manual and no "youtube" folder on the camera as advertised on the box and on stickers on the camera.

Not that this is terribly important, but it was only the first disappointment. The recording quality is bad -- worse than my Logitech iChat webcam. Lack of adjustable mic gain I believe is the problem.

It records okay from 10-20 feet away, but with an acoustic piano and its extreme acoustic range, the little built-in mic can't handle it and it distorts easily, rendering the sound quality marginal at best -- with plenty of distortion. The PICTURE quality is excellent.

Also, the camera is made of brushed stainless steel and is very SLIPPERY.

So, for $177 plus $19.95 for 2 1GB SD cards, I don't think it's that great for PIANO recording because you really need to be able to turn down the gain so the pianos overtones don't distort it.

I will probably take it back and try something else.

To be fair, the camera records voices and piano from halfway back in an auditorium niceley. It also records a DIGITAL piano because of the sound cutout of a digital -- but those acoustic overtones really overpower an inexpensive microphone -- which picks up all other sounds too.

I uploaded a youtube sample, but it's not approved yet.
_________________________
Full-Time Music/Entrepreneurship Major: (Why not compose music AND businesses?)
Former Piano Industry Professional
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Roland Atelier AT90R
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#995303 - 01/25/08 04:53 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17809
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Thanks, USAPT. That's disappointing to hear about the Casio. I had high hopes for it after hearing Mr_kitty compliment it over in the pianist corner. \:\( Guess I'll keep fiddling with my handycam and shell out the $$ to download the drivers again because I lost the original disk with the software. (Or, I could always clean out my closets and find the disk... )
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#995304 - 01/25/08 04:59 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
U S A P T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 1645
Loc: An Indiana University
Like I said in the PM, a digital piano cuts out at 20K hertz, but an acoustic goes up to 40K plus which I think just overloads the economical circuitry. Adjustable mic levels would be very nice.
_________________________
Full-Time Music/Entrepreneurship Major: (Why not compose music AND businesses?)
Former Piano Industry Professional
************
Steinway M
Roland Atelier AT90R
************
All Posts are Snarky Unless Otherwise Noted
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#995305 - 01/25/08 05:02 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
U S A P T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 1645
Loc: An Indiana University
[edit]

I returned the camera.
_________________________
Full-Time Music/Entrepreneurship Major: (Why not compose music AND businesses?)
Former Piano Industry Professional
************
Steinway M
Roland Atelier AT90R
************
All Posts are Snarky Unless Otherwise Noted
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#995306 - 01/25/08 10:07 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
U S A P T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 1645
Loc: An Indiana University
I returned the EXILIM and bought a SANYO XACTI -- which at least is the most expensive camcorder that only requires SD cards. It is also made of a less slippery kind of metal, is shaped like a gun for better grip, has a flip-out screen and has better included accessories, including a real lens cover and a soft carrying case and neckstrap.

It claims to have stereo recording and 16-bit sound. The battery is charging now so we'll see how IT does.

These trips to Radio Shack, Circuit City, and Wal-Mart have been a real education for me and I will start a new thread comparing this to piano shopping.

[edit] Initial first impressions on a partially charged battery are good. Still a little background noise but not as staticky as the Casio. MUCH easier to handle. Better written owner's manual, more features, easy interface. Con: crappy built-in speaker but what they hey. Also, the stereo recording makes a difference.

Remember, this is a camera that uses SD cards and which I can put in my pocket. So I am trying to find the best of the simple.
_________________________
Full-Time Music/Entrepreneurship Major: (Why not compose music AND businesses?)
Former Piano Industry Professional
************
Steinway M
Roland Atelier AT90R
************
All Posts are Snarky Unless Otherwise Noted
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#995307 - 01/26/08 04:49 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Noah's Piano Girl Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/17/08
Posts: 4
Loc: Portland, Oregon
I would like to record my playing and purchased a Shure 8900 mic, Garageband cables, and Garageband software, for use on my Mac G4 with OX 10.4.11 After several months of off and on attempts, I have not been able to get them to work. Undoubtedly, I haven't gotten everything hooked up properly and/or don't understand how Garageband works. I've given up and am looking for a simpler alternative. After reading this post, I am considering purchasing a Zoom H2 or H4. I compared the two on the Zoom website, but was unable to tell much difference. Can someone please tell me how to use the equipment I already have, or would it just be simpler to buy the Zoom? I just want to be able to record and playback for my own use.

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#995308 - 01/26/08 05:41 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Noah's Piano Girl Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/17/08
Posts: 4
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Another Zoom H2 question...I just read in a review that there are no speakers in the H2. How do you play back what you have recorded? I assume you must use a cable to connect to your computer, but what software do you use to play it back? Many thanks, as you can tell, I'm new to the recording world and am

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#995309 - 01/26/08 06:14 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
U S A P T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 1645
Loc: An Indiana University
On GarageBand you have to make sure that, in order to record the audio track that you have a "new" part in the main pane with all your other tracks.

If you just want to record yourself, you only need a one-track song, but you have to have it all set up from the main recording window.
_________________________
Full-Time Music/Entrepreneurship Major: (Why not compose music AND businesses?)
Former Piano Industry Professional
************
Steinway M
Roland Atelier AT90R
************
All Posts are Snarky Unless Otherwise Noted
************

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#995310 - 01/26/08 07:20 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17809
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Welcome to the forum, Noah's Piano Girl! The Zooms have headphone jacks, so you can listen to it via headphones. You can also playback everything via your computer, through Windows Media or whatever audio player you use. If you go the Zoom route, you'll probably want to download Audacity, and you can also listen to your pieces through audacity.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#995311 - 01/27/08 02:34 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Lisztener Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/12/06
Posts: 921
Hunk,

I've never given serious thought to using external condenser mics in my Zoom H4 until reading your comments in this thread. After reading more about them I'm considering buying a couple to see if I can improve on the separation of bass & treble and just make an overall improvement in recording quality. My big question is, Will I find the process of proper placement frustrating?

Thanks in advance for being your kind, caring, helpful self when addressing my concern.

Lisztener
_________________________


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#995312 - 01/27/08 02:46 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17809
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Lisztener, if you go the first page of that huge Zoom mega-thread, you'll see two recordings by ragtime88, one using the Zoom's internal mics and one using a set of high quality external mics. To my ears the recording with the external mics sounds better. But the difference has yet to be big enough to make me invest the time and money of trying it out myself.

Answer to your question: Probably, but if you figure it out, you'll have better recordings.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#995313 - 01/27/08 02:55 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2718
Loc: Not in Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by Lisztener:

I've never given serious thought to using external condenser mics in my Zoom H4 until reading your comments in this thread. After reading more about them I'm considering buying a couple to see if I can improve on the separation of bass & treble and just make an overall improvement in recording quality. My big question is, Will I find the process of proper placement frustrating?
Lisztener [/b]
I'll take the liberty of responding for S-H (although he might want to chime in as well). A pair of mics in an x-y configuration should give you the separation you want and should also be an improvement in recording quality. Fortunately, you don't need to spend a pile of money on mega-expensive mics (although it certainly wouldn't do any harm to do so), a pair of Rode NT-5's would do nicely.

Have a look at the link to the Shure web site that I posted earlier for some tips on mic placement. All you'll need are microphones, a boom stand and some XLR cables (more than likely 1/4" on one end, 5 pin on the other since that's what the mics will have).

Hope this helps.
_________________________
Greg

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#995314 - 01/27/08 04:05 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Lisztener Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/12/06
Posts: 921
Monica,

I'll go to the thread and listen to the samples. It's good to know that you aren't impressed enough with externals to invest in them. I know you've had bad experiences with an external before getting the Zoom. I must say you have the placement issue pretty darned right given the beautiful range of sound you now coax from your piano. Talent, however, is one of the major factors with your recordings.

Your enthusiasm for the Zoom H4 led me to buy one and I've never regretted it.

Thanks for your reply,

Lisztener
_________________________


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#995315 - 01/27/08 04:34 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Lisztener Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/12/06
Posts: 921
Greg,

I responded to S-H without first reading through the thread to see your in depth postings on the external mic issue...quite informative, thank you! \:o

I briefly followed the link to the Shure web site, but haven't read through it, yet. Does the Shure site explain about the cables? I haven't read the Zoom manual about cables, yet I assume the 1/4" XLR end of the cables are the type connectors required by the Zoom.

Thank you for jumping in to help,

Lisztener
_________________________


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#995316 - 01/27/08 04:36 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Noah's Piano Girl Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/17/08
Posts: 4
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Thanks for the help on Garageband and Zoom H2. I finally got everything my existing equipment to work, and just recorded my first piece. BTW, I just discovered Pianoworld.com when reading Grand Obsession and I think it's terrific. I have already passed on the website address to two other friends.

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#995317 - 01/27/08 04:45 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17809
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Okay, Noah's P.G., now that you've admitted you have the recording, there's NO excuse not to submit it for the recital!
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#995318 - 01/27/08 05:57 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
Lisztener:

I've got to type quick as we are getting dumped on with a TON of snow again up here in the mountains of northern Arizona and I constantly lose my satelite internet connection,

Anyway, *technically*, you will be able to obtain a much broader frequency response from using a pair of good quality external mics with your zoom. As Monica has said, you may not notice this difference at the level of recording that we are all doing.

My suggestion would be to pay very close attention to the acoustics in your piano room as well as experiment with multiple mic placement locations. Even the slightest change in mic positions can have a dramatic effect on your recordings; especially when it comes to separating bass from the higher frequencies.

I have yet to get a good quality acoustic recording but I have certainly learned what NOT to do!.

A tip that someone gave me was to position the mics (XY configuration) about 8 inches forward of the hammers (on a grand piano) and move them either more towards the bass strings or treble strings dependant on the recordings outcome.

My M&H "BB" has VERY powerful bass so I get much better recordings by moving the mic stand more towards the treble side. Of course, every piano will be different so trial and error is the only way.

Also, because of my powerful bass, I try and hit the lower notes a little softer as to not have an overwhelming boomy bass.

Again, cheap equipment properly set up in a room with good acoustics will ALWAYS sound better than using the best equipment with poor room acoustics. I can't stress this enough!.

p.s, I hope my spelling and grammar wuz acceptable! ;\)

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#995319 - 01/27/08 06:00 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
OFF TOPIC...

Hey Hunk, me too on the snow. We have had 12 inches since last night on top of 8-10 inches of old.

I have run out of places to put it...

Still snowing as we speak. Out to shovel the drive for the third time in 24 hours...
_________________________
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

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#995320 - 01/27/08 06:10 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
Yes gmm1. We are getting SO much snow and the snow banks next to where I have plowed are almost 4 feet high!.

Although we are in Arizona, we are located at nearly 8k feet elev and get about 120 inches of snow every season.

If I'm not active on the forum for a while, it's not that I'm hiding from the grammar police, it's because I'm up to my sweet rump in snow! (plus out satelite connection does'nt work!).

It does have its advantages however as Mrs Hunky gets frisky when we get snowed in!! \:D

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#995321 - 01/27/08 06:43 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2718
Loc: Not in Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by Lisztener:

I briefly followed the link to the Shure web site, but haven't read through it, yet. Does the Shure site explain about the cables? I haven't read the Zoom manual about cables, yet I assume the 1/4" XLR end of the cables are the type connectors required by the Zoom.
Lisztener [/b]
The Shure site doesn't discuss the cables (at least I didn't see it) but yes, the Zoom end of the connection is 1/4" XLR. I think most (all?) decent microphones probably take a 5 pin XLR. Cables with the different connectors are readily available.

If you're thinking of going in the direction of separate mics (I am too) I'd suggest buying mics first then cables and stands. that way you can see what kind of cables are required. Also, some mics come with stand mounts, some don't. Some stands have mic mounts, some don't. It's easier to buy the more expensive parts first then buy the other parts to match.

On a (somewhat) related topic. I did a recording yesterday with the zoom plugged in to the AC. (I usually use the battery) and noticed a constant SSSSS when playing it back through good headphones (AKG 701's). Not super loud but audible, even to my aging ears. Anybody else noticed this?
_________________________
Greg

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#995322 - 01/27/08 07:47 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Lisztener Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/12/06
Posts: 921
Thanks, Greg. Good idea on buying the mics first, then getting the needed accessories.

I've been using my Zoom plugged into the AC cord. I haven't noticed any noise but I really haven't been listening for it. I'll try it with batteries to listen for differences.

Frankly, the piece I'm now trying to get recorded for the recital I learned on the MP8 and doesn't sound right to me on the acoustic. Yuri warned me about this effect before buying the MP8. There are pieces that I've learned on the acoustic that I can't abide on the MP8, so it seems to work both ways. The positive is that the MP8 sounds so good even with the built-in pianos to choose from. Ideally, I prefer my acoustic because of the cross-harmonics and all the other aspects of acoustic pianos that cannot be replicated with a digital piano.

The reason I'm interested in external mics is that my MP8 seems to record better quality than the Zoom perhaps because of the direct link to my computer. I did read on the Zoom user forum about folks who have connected external mics and are quite pleased with the noticeable difference in quality over the internal mics. I'll let you know what I decide to do. If you don't mind, plese let me know if you decide to get externals and which ones. A PM is fine should you prefer.

Thanks, again, for sharing and comparing notes on recording and other topics.

Lisztener
_________________________


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#995323 - 01/27/08 08:04 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Lisztener Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/12/06
Posts: 921
 Quote:
Originally posted by mr_super-hunky:
Lisztener:

I've got to type quick as we are getting dumped on with a TON of snow again up here in the mountains of northern Arizona and I constantly lose my satelite internet connection,

Anyway, *technically*, you will be able to obtain a much broader frequency response from using a pair of good quality external mics with your zoom. As Monica has said, you may not notice this difference at the level of recording that we are all doing.

My suggestion would be to pay very close attention to the acoustics in your piano room as well as experiment with multiple mic placement locations. Even the slightest change in mic positions can have a dramatic effect on your recordings; especially when it comes to separating bass from the higher frequencies.

I have yet to get a good quality acoustic recording but I have certainly learned what NOT to do!.

A tip that someone gave me was to position the mics (XY configuration) about 8 inches forward of the hammers (on a grand piano) and move them either more towards the bass strings or treble strings dependant on the recordings outcome.

My M&H "BB" has VERY powerful bass so I get much better recordings by moving the mic stand more towards the treble side. Of course, every piano will be different so trial and error is the only way.

Also, because of my powerful bass, I try and hit the lower notes a little softer as to not have an overwhelming boomy bass.

Again, cheap equipment properly set up in a room with good acoustics will ALWAYS sound better than using the best equipment with poor room acoustics. I can't stress this enough!.

p.s, I hope my spelling and grammar wuz acceptable! ;\) [/b]
Thanks, Hunk for taking the time to post this information. I'll take all that you have posted about external mics into consideration before taking the monetary leap. I'm quite interested in the broader frequency response afforded by the external condenser mics.

Best of luck fighting the snowfall...I think...not sure. That frisky remark would make a normal man wish for more snow. But then again, no one has ever acused you of being normal. Teasing you know. :p
_________________________


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#995324 - 01/27/08 09:59 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2718
Loc: Not in Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by Lisztener:

I've been using my Zoom plugged into the AC cord. I haven't noticed any noise but I really haven't been listening for it. I'll try it with batteries to listen for differences.

Lisztener [/b]
Thanks. My guess is that it's not the zoom but rather some external source, for example, the outlet I have the zoom plugged into has a lamp with fluorescent bulbs in it, there's a wireless access point within 5 feet, etc. I'm guessing one of these is the culprit and will try a recording somewhere else in the house and see if I get the same result.

As I said, I'd never noticed it before but I always used batteries. If it turns out it is the zoom I can always go back, they last a pretty long while.
_________________________
Greg

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#995325 - 01/28/08 01:29 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
GoatRider Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/07
Posts: 460
Loc: Maple Grove, MN
Here's another thumbs-up for the Zoom H2! I've found the simplest placement with my grand is to just set it on the floor, right behind the lyre.

 Quote:
Originally posted by piano_deb:
By the way, it's Deborah or Deb, please, never Debbie. Thanks! [/b]
Mwife is a Deborah too. It's ok for close family to call her Debbie, but no-one else. "Debra" is right out.
_________________________
- Benton Jackson. Permanent piano novice.
Kawai RX-2 #2555861 in Satin Walnut
Kawai ES6

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#995326 - 01/30/08 09:31 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17809
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Hey guys... Mark Fontana over in the main forum just posted on the H2 thread there a really really neat website:

Recording device comparison sound clips

It has clips from 5 or 6 recording devices of the exact same nightclub performance. The machines they used include the Zoom H2, the Edirol, and all the way up to an $1800 model. I haven't had the chance to listen to them all with my good headphones, but with my computer speakers, I have to say the Zoom more than holds its own.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#995327 - 02/01/08 09:33 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Babs_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 321
Loc: Gulf Coast
Well Guys I finally came up to a solution to my recording problems. As I had metioned in a previous post on this thread, I was going to attempt to hook up a microphone to my laptop. The results were not only poor but a PITA. My laptop has always been a PITA. I had already downloaded Audacity and LAME.

Well anyway, I finally found a recording device that works well for me. I purchased an Olympus WS-331M Digital Voice Recorder with a WMA/MP3 Music Player.[/b] There are various settings on this recorder to adjust to record live music. The most important adjustment is the , Low Cut Filter which needs to be turned off to record the piano.I am happy with the recording quality. I got it on sale for $150.00. ;\)

According to the manual this device can record from external microphones and other devices. It comes with a microphone jack. I have yet to experiment with that option. In addition it comes with an ear mic.

The best thing I like about this Olympus WS-331M[/b] is the size. It's the size of an ipod! It is so light, I can carry it around in my purse! \:\)

It is so easy to use too, I only spent an hour reading the manual before I did a practice recording.

The recorder connects directly to the USB port and it links up with the pc. You need the Windows Media Player on your computer to do this for the recording is transmitted into a WMA file.

The hardest part was figuring out how to convert the wma files to the mp3 files. :rolleyes:

Maybe I'll do a recording for the recital if I can figure out how to play without making a mistake! :p
I have always been too focused on reading all those darn notes and all that other good stuff to really hear myself play! Now that I have listened to myself play , I think I know what I need to do to improve! ;\)

I just love my new toy ! \:D

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#995328 - 02/01/08 09:35 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Babs_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 321
Loc: Gulf Coast
sorry double post! :rolleyes:

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#995329 - 02/01/08 09:52 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
Hey Babs, congrats...

BTW, if you wish to use Windows Media Player, when it's open, go to TOOLS and select OPTIONS.

One of the tabs will be RIP MUSIC. Select it, and about in the middle is a box for FORMAT.

In the pull down menu, select MP3 as your default, and next time it will come in as an MP3 file....
_________________________
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

Top
#995330 - 02/01/08 09:59 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Babs_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 321
Loc: Gulf Coast
 Quote:
Originally posted by gmm1:
Hey Babs, congrats...

BTW, if you wish to use Windows Media Player, when it's open, go to TOOLS and select OPTIONS.

One of the tabs will be RIP MUSIC. Select it, and about in the middle is a box for FORMAT.

In the pull down menu, select MP3 as your default, and next time it will come in as an MP3 file.... [/b]
  • gee thanks gmm, I'll try that later tonight!

    Oh by the way here's more info in case some of you are curious about this recording device.

http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/cpg_PressDetails.asp?pressNo=533

BTW I just googled and saw a place where you can purchase this device for $138.00.

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#995331 - 02/01/08 10:47 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
Ummmm, I went to the site you listed, Babs, and noticed the recorder uses WMA as it's format..

Now, I'm not sure it will work unless you "RIP" the files instead of transfer between recorder and computer. Media Player no longer has a converter, so if it does not work, then, as you already discovered, another program is needed to make the conversion. Luckily, there are tons of them out there, a lot of free ones...

I've never tried to rip from wma to mp3....
_________________________
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

Top
#995332 - 02/01/08 11:05 AM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Babs_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 321
Loc: Gulf Coast
you are so right gmm, a google search does bring up many "free" conversion programs of the WMA file to a MP3 file.

Top
#995333 - 02/01/08 08:46 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
CHAS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/03
Posts: 521
Loc: Ski Country of Colorado
Roland CD-2 not cheap but very good.
Record to card or CD or from card to CD. Make a CD and send it to Mom.
Use a $99 Sony mic on a towel. The internal mic is not quite as good.
I tells me how I am doing. This can be ego deflating.

Tried a videocam, but I am better looking than it thinks I am.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A

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#995334 - 02/01/08 09:17 PM Re: easiest recorder to use/inexpensive
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
Slightly near topic, does anyone have any experience using external mics hooked up to a digital camera's video recorder feature?.

I recently made a video of a tune I performed and the audio portion was not very bad; but not great either.

I'm just wondering if anyone has hooked up good quality external condernsor mics to a digital camera and what the result was.

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Accelerating learning; iPad, apps, & my digital piano p105
by megabyzus
11/28/14 01:27 PM
A piano is a "value proposition".
by turandot
11/28/14 12:38 PM
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