Demos, live recordings, video. 8-12 multitracks. Preferably battery powered. Cheap!

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Demos, live recordings, video. 8-12 multitracks. Preferably battery powered. Cheap!

Post by FMajor7add9 »

I thought I'd ask over here as you lot usually are the most experienced in real life usage scenarios and less hyped about gear specs.

Coming from various USB and Firewire interfaces and the Zoom H2n stereo mic. Now I want to be able to record at least 8 tracks at a time and 10-12 could be a req. if it takes off. This will basically be on the road as-good-as-it-gets demos and live recordings for groups and artists I like, to use for whatever they desire and for my own audio and video projects.

So everyone in one room, no individual monitor mixes, just a bit of shielding on vocal and instrument mics when needed, minimal overdubbing.

Which leads me to SD/USB recorders that makes a lot of budget sense as well. Also makes sense as battery powered units out and about and supposedly failsafe vs. the old laptop and the maintainence that needs.

I'm also looking at the digital mixers, Behringer XR in particular, against something like Zoom H5, H6, H8, H12.
XR screams value for money, XR18 in particular doubling as USB interface but XR12 might be good enough as well. And I could offer smaller FOH tasks for bands with their own PA. But not on battery power and with my H2n and a new H5/6/8 there are 2 stereo mics in the bag already at a quality that'll probably cost at least half the price of the recorder alone(?). Then add one or two basic dynamic mics and some cables and stands. Still limited in track count though unless I get the H8.

Battery powered SD recording would enable quite a few fun sessions with smaller, mostly acoustic folk and jazz groups and choirs where drums and loudness isn't needed so one Zoom might be enough there.

I love the form factor of the LIVETRAK L-8 and its optional battery power but miss any MIDI capability that would enable it as a controller when not being used to record or mix and can't think of any good use of all the monitor/aux busses for these projects. The L12 is almost twice as big and not battery powered afaik. To get that controller part the good old Zoom R series is, incredibly, still relevant and their preamps probably good enough for this use.

Shoot! If you got any suggestions to consider. All of this will likely be purchased used.

I'm also pondering a laptop or tablet based solution depending on the interface options which I'm only starting to look into for the first time in years. Did notice plenty of cheap used firewire units on offer.
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Post by FMajor7add9 »

Living on the continent here are some reverb.com price references. Can probably go a bit cheaper in direct used sales.

Zoom H4n can be found at around 100 euro
https://reverb.com/p/zoom-h4n-handheld-recorder

H6 around 220-ish
https://reverb.com/p/zoom-h6-handy-recorder

H5 around 175 euro
https://reverb.com/p/zoom-h5-handy-recorder

375 for XR18
https://reverb.com/p/behringer-xr18-18- ... d-standard
around 200 for XR12
https://reverb.com/p/behringer-xr12-12- ... mixer-ipad

ZOOM LIVETRAK L-8 around 350
https://reverb.com/brand/zoom?product_t ... ory=mixers

Zoom R24 Multitrack Recorder with 8 inputs
https://reverb.com/p/zoom-r24-digital-m ... k-recorder
250-ish
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Post by FMajor7add9 »

thinking out loud #3:

To record a band using their existing PA and mics into a portable recorder there has to be sends or inserts from each channel on the bands PA. That can't be expected on many rehearsal room mixers.

If I plug vocal mics and a keyboard directly into a portable Zoom recorder there might not be a simple way to feed a monitor mix from there into the bands PA mixer. Assuming the portable recorder monitors input gain only and can't set individual track levels.

So that leaves the digital mixers with SD recorder as the only all-in-one option as far as I can tell for now.
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Post by Mike Stranks »

FMajor7add9 wrote:thinking out loud #3:

To record a band using their existing PA and mics into a portable recorder there has to be sends or inserts from each channel on the bands PA. That can't be expected on many rehearsal room mixers.

If I plug vocal mics and a keyboard directly into a portable Zoom recorder there might not be a simple way to feed a monitor mix from there into the bands PA mixer. Assuming the portable recorder monitors input gain only and can't set individual track levels.

So that leaves the digital mixers with SD recorder as the only all-in-one option as far as I can tell for now.


Not necessarily; you could use mic splitters which give you two (or more) outputs for each input:

For example: https://www.thomann.de/gb/millenium_ms8.htm
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Post by Music Wolf »

I do more or less what you are trying to achieve, except that I am normally playing in the bands that I record.

I have a Livetrak L-12, which was ok, but I've moved to an XR-18 + laptop which I find to be much better.

The XR-18 gives you 16 mic inputs, 6 aux outputs (which can also be configured as up to 3 stereo outs) plus 4 built in fx busses. This makes it great for PA duties whilst also having the ability to make multitrack recordings. I use it to make recordings in the practice room and hopefully, when we unlock this summer, I'll be recording our gigs.
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Post by Sam Spoons »

Just to add the XR12 you mention in your OP only has 4 mic inputs and only records stereo.
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Post by Wonks »

What's your budget? To do what you want to do properly and reliably, there's going to be a minimum spend.

Don't forget to budget for cables as well. If you do get mic splitters, then for every mic, there will be two extra XLR-XLR leads required that the PA won't be providing. And you'll also need to be able to split TS and TRS feeds, so you may need some DI boxes. If you're the one doing the recording, then you'll need lots of 'just in case' equipment to cover all eventualities.
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Post by FMajor7add9 »

Mike Stranks wrote:....you could use mic splitters which give you two (or more) outputs for each input


thanks! smart!

Would still prefer to avoid that cost and extra gizmo to carry and cable up

Music Wolf wrote:I have a Livetrak L-12, which was ok, but I've moved to an XR-18 + laptop which I find to be much better.

The XR-18 gives you 16 mic inputs, 6 aux outputs (which can also be configured as up to 3 stereo outs) plus 4 built in fx busses.


atm. I'm very curious about the L-8 due to its battery power

If I go laptop tethered instead I'm not sure a bus powered interface with 8 decent pres can be found (for my budget) so that'll involve recording on both laptop and another device like a Zoom H6 or old school SD recorder.

Sam Spoons wrote:Just to add the XR12 you mention in your OP only has 4 mic inputs and only records stereo.


thanks, hadn't noticed that and can't find any details on the USB recorder specs in the manual, assumed it made a file per track

https://mediadl.musictribe.com/media/sy ... 963998.pdf

Wonks wrote:What's your budget? To do what you want to do properly and reliably, there's going to be a minimum spend.

Don't forget to budget for cables as well. If you do get mic splitters, then for every mic, there will be two extra XLR-XLR leads required that the PA won't be providing. And you'll also need to be able to split TS and TRS feeds, so you may need some DI boxes. If you're the one doing the recording, then you'll need lots of 'just in case' equipment to cover all eventualities.


Max 500 euro naive bracket

Thanks for splicer double up notice.
Have 2-3 XLR cables already, can solder a few more togethere with bits and pieces.

Re. DI boxes, asked elsewhere for specs on a simple re-amp box build. Got the impression it can be done reasonably cheap and would enjoy trying that. Would need at least 3 I guess to cover a bass player and 2 guitarists.

Some other findings:
The H6's got a monitor mixer per track (p.76, https://zoomcorp.com/media/documents/E_H6.pdf)
As does the H5 (p.82, https://zoomcorp.com/media/documents/E_H5_0_1.pdf)

Both has got output jacks for line and headphones
Neither supports passive bass/guitar inputs
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Post by FMajor7add9 »

Thanks for the helpful replies.

I see two directions that doesn't necessarily mix (pun pun pun) and it would make most sense to pursue the simplest and cheapest one to get started.

That would involve my H2n and some other battery powered unit. The H2n has a line in that could be used for a keyboard mix in a pinch or a processed guitar signal from a multifx.

A H4/5/6 makes a lot sense with one good stereo condenser mic included already plus at least 2 inputs for other signals. And it would allow laptop-free sessions for smaller groups and soloists.

2 H4 or H5s even make more sense than one H6 especially if used prices are favourable on older H4s (or Tascam, Sony, etc.).

That's assuming buying equivalent quality (stereo) mics and an interface to connect them to would be less value for money. If I add one H2/4/5/6 now I could get started recording smaller groups and learn more about method and logical upgrades.

They might be too good (sensitive) though and produce too many phase and blend issues when recording close-up sources without shielding between them.

Then I'll look for a sturdy mic that can double as kick / perc and something else (for groups without a drummer) and 1-2 basic SM57/8 clones for other sources and some stands.

With more exp. and results from such a setup I might be able to convince some bands to rent a XR18 and a mic suitcase for the day if needed. Or just hop on to whatever PA and hardware they may already be using.
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Post by Sam Spoons »

FMajor7add9 wrote:If I go laptop tethered instead I'm not sure a bus powered interface with 8 decent pres can be found (for my budget) so that'll involve recording on both laptop and another device like a Zoom H6 or old school SD recorder.

Sam Spoons wrote:Just to add the XR12 you mention in your OP only has 4 mic inputs and only records stereo.


thanks, hadn't noticed that and can't find any details on the USB recorder specs in the manual, assumed it made a file per track


Yes the manual is particularly silent about that. Basically the XR12/16 can record and replay stereo from a USB stick but does not have any facility to record to a computer, only the X18/XR18 offer recording to a computer.

If you need battery power then the easiest way is to buy a Li-Ion Inverter power pack of some kind, but make sure it has a pure sine wave inverter, I have both and the 'modified sine wave' version introduces noise into the audio when used with my XR12. They are not cheap though, my decent one was £160 IIRC (currently unavailable on Amazon) and it's remarkably difficult to find out if the inverter does output a pure sine wave.
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Post by blinddrew »

It's not really a field I've looked at but it seems to me that the hurdle here really is the battery power. An L12 or XR18 would do everything you need in a very efficient way apart from the mains power. So rather than looking at sort-of-bodging the recording side of things, is it worth investigating the power-supply side instead?
I'm not suggesting going up to diesel generators, but is there a rechargeable power pack option that could be considered?
You might have to look at something like this anyway because my experience with an H4n is is that once you switch on phantom power it absolutely eats batteries.

EDIT - I missed / crossed with Sam's comment above. :)

2nd EDIT - the other thing I'm struggling with a bit is what situation you'll be in where you're in an environment with a full band but no power supply?
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Post by Sam Spoons »

Another thought on the power issue, how often are you going to need to record more than, say, four channels off-grid? As soon as you introduce drums the other instruments are going to need amplification, how do you propose to power that?

I bought the power pack to use the XR12 with a couple of Bose S1Pro speakers (which are battery powered) just before summer 2019 for small off-grid acoustic gigs. Needless to say they have remained virtually unused since*...

* Maybe this summer...
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Post by FMajor7add9 »

Sam Spoons wrote:Another thought on the power issue, how often are you going to need to record more than, say, four channels off-grid? As soon as you introduce drums the other instruments are going to need amplification, how do you propose to power that?

I bought the power pack to use the XR12 with a couple of Bose S1Pro speakers (which are battery powered) just before summer 2019 for small off-grid acoustic gigs. Needless to say they have remained virtually unused since


blinddrew wrote:It's not really a field I've looked at but it seems to me that the hurdle here really is the battery power. An L12 or XR18 would do everything you need in a very efficient way apart from the mains power. So rather than looking at sort-of-bodging the recording side of things, is it worth investigating the power-supply side instead?
I'm not suggesting going up to diesel generators, but is there a rechargeable power pack option that could be considered?
You might have to look at something like this anyway because my experience with an H4n is is that once you switch on phantom power it absolutely eats batteries.

....

2nd EDIT - the other thing I'm struggling with a bit is what situation you'll be in where you're in an environment with a full band but no power supply?


Gents, your fast replies are insightful and approaches mind-reading. Especially the loud drums vs. power req. point.
Can still imagine other low-key unplugged sessions however where 2 Zooms plus 1-2 mics would be simpler and more appropriate.

I did do some research on battery busking packs last year and found some promising solutions on youtube (and these lovely nutters https://rockthebike.com/live-music-and-sound). So the thought crossed my mind for this setup as well. The XR18 needs 30W (110-240v IIRC) so not that pushy to get going.

A good and portable battery could be the killer feature here and, since it can power more units, is preferable to a Bose battery PA or something similar.
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Post by Mike Stranks »

Trying to sync recordings made on separate recorders is fraught with difficulties unless you have some form of timecode to lock the two recording together.

My experience of an earlier version of the H2 was that it was notorious for drifting. In as little as 2 minutes it would be way-off sync.

If you really are cash-strapped I'd be looking at the R16/R24 as a portable all-in-1 unit.

8 mic inputs, although the 16 only has phantom on 2 of them I think.

I used one for several years about 10-12 years ago and it served me well. Battery-power too if you want it.
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Post by FMajor7add9 »

Didn't consider time code drifts at all, thanks Mike.

I have a rock band demo recording to test that on though, where we had a Scarlett and a Mackie mixer recording to laptop by USB and a H4 and H2 to their SDs for more than an hour.

Did check the old R16/R24 as well yesterday. You are correct on the phantom power, R24's got 6 or 8. You'd think there'd be plenty of sub 200euro used ones around but not really. Not sure about their preamps and how usable the mackie controller surface really is. Could be a viable H6, H8 or L-8 alternative if OK.
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