I've been using an M-Audio fast track usb interface to record into reaper (via amp sims) for a couple of years now.
It's the old one, very basic, one line in/guitar and one xlr mic input that doesn't have phantom power.
I'm now looking at getting a mic to record my bedroom guitar amp noodlings, and without phantom power I'm told I need a dynamic one - like the sm57/58. No big deal: they're pretty standard choices from what I've read.
Pretty sure I'll also be grabbing a controller keyboard for my midi stuff, maybe a hardware synth too.
Any opinions on whether I should take this opportunity to upgrade my interface? Would it be wasted money considering my one man in his bedroom situation?
Talk to me like I'm an extremely handsome and powerful five year old.
If your interface does the job for the time being, if it ain't broke etc...BUT if you're looking at doing stuff via MIDI in the future it might well be worth looking at upgrading, particularly as phantom power will broaden your options for quality mics considerably.
As far as dynamics go, there's better than the ubiquitous SM57/58 around these days, often for less money; I swear by the Sennheiser E series (E840 upwards, really), but if you want proper quality recordings of your noodlings it'd be really nice to have two mics on the amp, one dynamic close-up and a condenser further out.
I'd certainly recomend upgrading the interface. Something with two mic inputs with phantom and a MIDI in and out doesn't cost that much and will give you more flexibility.
The SM57 is still a very widely used mic for mixing up guitar cabs, both for live use and recording, so you could do a lot worse than getting one of those. However I'd always buy one from a shop (or 2nd hand direct from someone you trust) as eBay has been flooded with Chinese copies for a long time now and until you plug it in, it's very difficult to tell a fake from a real one.
But the SM57 is not the only mic out there that's good for micing amps. It's just that as its been used so much, we now perceive it as part of 'the' sound of a recorded guitar.
The diaphragms on condenser mics are much thinner than on dynamic mics because they act only as part of a capacitive circuit, and aren't attached to a coil which has to move in a magnetic field (or a magnet which moves within a coil) . Being thinner, they react quicker and so pick up a lot more detail than a dynamic mic does. And as they don't support any weight, they can be made larger and so have a much better signal/noise ratio.
There's nothing to stop you sticking with a dynamic mic for all your recordings. But once you've tried a decent large diameter condenser mic on vocals, you'll find it hard to go back to a dymanic for doing those.
But the important thing to start with is to just do it and make the most out of what you've got. Trying to get the best sound out of what you already have will stand you in good stead when you get a chance to upgrade your equipment. If you can get a good recording using an SM57 (say) for everything, then you'll do even better with a bigger choice of mics.
Most things you can't fix in the mix - and even if you can, it's still better (and less effort) to get a good recording in the first place.
So experiment and work out the best place to put a mic for the instruments you plan to record. Find the best sounding place in the room to record a vocal. Hang up duvets to reduce reflected sounds. Have fun!
I'm thinking used around the 100 quid mark, or something new for under 200.
I'm going to C'n'P from a response I gave to a PM on this a week or two ago
I've always had good results with Presonus (looks like the Audiobox USB is their current USB/MIDI job, has a couple of mic preamps as well that wouldn't hurt), and I also hear very good things about the Focusrite Saffire 6 - not tried one but it looks to be pretty similar to the Presonus.
Both of those a smidge over £100 new; used you could climb up the ranges a little bit with the discontinued models. In terms of sheer quality, if you find an RME or a MOTU used that has the specs you want (pretty much all of them will) I'd be on it like a tramp on cold chips.
I shall make no apologies for once again suggesting the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 interface.
If you are getting into MIDI low latency is paramount and you will not get better for £300, leave alone the Ka6 at £179, anywhere.
You also get two extra line inputs that you can run synths/drum machines into or a modest mixer and get 4 track recording. Bundled software includes Cubase LE5 (dog's do-dahs for MIDI!) Kontakt Player and a shedload of samples..PLUS! A free download of Guiter Rig5.
The mic pres are super quiet (in fact the whole interface delivers a noise floor of -100dBFS and that is 7dB better than my very acceptable 2496 PCI cards) and have enough gain (just) for an SM57 on acoustic guitar so a strapping 5yr old on electrics will be well served!
The AKG Perception 170 is also a good buy IMHO. Has a -20dB pad and is "road hardened" so it will cope with a bit of spit tho' a pop screen is always advisable for singinsts if only for sound quality reasons.
Makes a formidable pairing with the Ka6 for very clean acoustic geetar.
Dave (why do we have to now have an advanced button? I just hit it by mistake and you can't go back!)