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What was your first recording rig?

By February 28, 2010

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I've been really impressed by the great responses lately from my readers -- thank you!

This week, I'd like to ask a question about your humble beginnings. What was your first recording rig? What setup got you interested in recording, and how did it help your evolution as a recording engineer?

For me, my first recording rig was very simple. I bought a pair of binaural microphones from a small company in New Jersey, along with a small battery power supply, and a Sony WM-D6C analog cassette deck. My goal was to make concert recordings, and maybe some home recordings playing guitar. It was all uphill from there!

What's your story?
March 1, 2010 at 2:06 pm
(1) ctwegman says:

My mom had an old sound on sound reel to reel (Webcor I think) she had bought with S&H Green Stamps back in the early 60′s and at 2 years old I remember singing with her into that old ceramic mic.

My first “real” recording setup was a Fostex Model 80 – 8 track 1/4″ reel and a Commodore 64 computer running Master Tracks software. I used that for many demo recordings before upgrading to ADATs when they became available (got 2 of the first ones manufactured).
I now use an Alesis HD24 and mix in the box (PC) on Adobe Audition and also have a Zoom H2 for quick capture of rehearsals. I have a fairly well appointed mic collection with my flagship mic being my AKG 414 running through a Millennium Media HV3 preamp.

I still recite “Mary Had A Little Lamb” into any new recorder I get in homage to T. Edison. (I saw the original tin foil recording many years ago at his winter home in FLA).

Charles T. Wegman
(Guitarist / Engineer of The Congregation)

March 3, 2010 at 12:41 pm
(2) Sean Kerns says:

Very first was a handheld cassette recorder, followed quickly by a garage sale reel to reel. Everything was live on the cassette, but the reel to reel let me do two parts, and I could record at half speed to sound really fast.
First real multitrack was a Tascam 424.

March 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm
(3) nextone says:

i had to record friend’s of mine demo,
- yamaha mt8x 1/8 tape multitrack recorder
- sony tape deck as a heaphone amplifier
- 2 floor monitor bran toa (i don’t what brand it is)
- lots of handmade cable and adaptors
- an extremely cold winter
- lots of fun

March 3, 2010 at 1:22 pm
(4) BJ Russell says:

First recorder I started using to record sermons was a Radio Shack CCR-80 cassette recorder designed for TRS-80 Model 1 and the Color Computer. This was in the late ’70′s. The mic used came with the Morse 8-Track recorder and placed on the back of the first pew on a wash cloth for isolation. Worked pretty well because of the ALC. This is without any kind of Sound System in the 1st and 2nd churches we were recording !

Today we record DVD’s and broadcast on local cable. We’ve come a long way!

March 3, 2010 at 1:33 pm
(5) Josh says:

I got interested in recording in 1999, my sophomore year of high school when i took one of those tests that tells what job you suited to, and it said Sound Engineer. I was really into music, learning bass guitar and trying to start a band and it clicked right there. I’ve been obsessive ever since.

I started getting interested recording my first basement band practice in my basement. All I had was a cassette recorder, but I would place it at different spots all over the room, and I would use foam to dampen the sound of the drums or try to channel the sound with poster board. It drove my drummer nuts.

My first rig was Quartztime Audio recorder, which was a free open source (I think) recording program, a $12 karaoke mic from Target and a bootleg copy of Fruityloops. I made some epic metal on that machien.

March 3, 2010 at 1:38 pm
(6) mitch r says:

My father used to use an old Wollensack Tape Recorder. We have some old reel to reel tapes. I recently got back into music and have begun to purchase recording equipment. I know have a Korg D3200 which does enough for me and does not require anything to go through a pc. I still love stand alone recording…..

March 3, 2010 at 3:13 pm
(7) Steve M says:

I had a friend with an old Sony 40-4 reel-to-reel. We made some humble recordings with that. Just being able to layer tracks was like a dream come true! Then Tascam came out with the first 4-track cassette “PortaStudio”. I couldn’t buy one of those fast enough. I still have it.

March 3, 2010 at 3:39 pm
(8) dvnobles says:

As a kid I was facinated with cassette recording and it was a natural progression from there to lay down tracks on whatever simple tape and mic available to me. Since I never moved up to any multi-track equipment due to cost, the real break-through for me was to be able to capture my audio recordings onto the computer and then discovering mult-track software. Now, I am interested in going back to a multi-track analog setup to capture some of that quality.

March 3, 2010 at 7:46 pm
(9) Melinda says:

I guess I first had just the generic tape recorder with built in mic, or the attached baby mic..
Many years later I moved up to tascam tape recorder (4 tracks I believe), then on to the zoom mrs 2400 digital recorder with 8 tracks and built in drums/bass, also with effects.
Now I use Reaper for most all my recordings, but still use the zoom to capture songwriting ideas and work out parts on occasion.

March 3, 2010 at 8:32 pm
(10) Larry says:

My first setup consisted of an Alesis HR-16 drum machine, Radio Shack ribbon mic, an old Tascam mixer, and two cassette decks. I would program the entire song into the drum machine, then hit play and record the HR on the left track, and the guitar on the right. I would then place that cassette into the other player for playback, then play along and record the drum/guitar tape to the left, and bass to the right.

The quality of the tracks was degraded each time I did this, but it was amazing to do all of this and be able to play back one of my songs.

I am now using a real mixer, pc with recording software and more tracks than I’ll ever use, and a multitude of MIDI devices. I love this stuff!!!

March 4, 2010 at 9:38 am
(11) Dulip Gnanakan says:

I did multi track recordings with hand held mono cassette decks by playing back the previous take over the band’s Dynacord Mosquitos and playing along with the track and rerecording it to another portable cassette recorder. You might think that the resultant quality would be very bad but surprisingly it wasn’t and I was able to serenade my girlfriend with my first original dedicated to (and maybe even heard by) solely her.

March 5, 2010 at 7:54 am
(12) Robin Garside says:

I started with an Akai 1/4 inch reel to reel tape recorder and an AKG D80 dynamic mic. The intention was to make a solo Vinyl LP using the sound on sound feature for multitracking. The quality wasn’t good enough so I switched to a Tascam 4 track Portastudio and got much better results, I still used the Akai for mastering. Afterwards I bought an Akai DPS12 which I think is a great machine and still use it for live recording, it’s so easy! These days I use a Mac G5 and Logic Pro 8 through a Hercules 16/12FW interface, preamps by Behringer (great for the money) Audio Technica 4033 and Rode NT1 condensors in my custom built concrete studio in my back garden. Heaven!

March 10, 2010 at 2:07 pm
(13) Big Bully Organization says:

My 1st Recording Setup:

we are going to skip my 1st recording setup which was a Casio Keyboard, a PC, internet mic, & Sonic Foundary Acid and talk about the second setup which was a little more expensive and still the same low quality, lol.

1- Fostex MR-8 HD (8 track digital recorder)
2- Zoom Rhythem Track 2-3-4 (drum machine)
3- Samson R-11 (dynamic mic)
4- BlueMax Final Comp/limit
5- Windows Based PC running Sony Acid 4.0
6- $25 surround sound system (lol)

I have since upgraded my studio, you can see pics under the artice about current studio setups, but just a small idea of what Im doing now, Akai MPC 2000 linked midi with a Roland MC-808, Cubase 4, Yamaha Mixer, KRK Rokit monitors, etc, etc…

March 10, 2010 at 7:31 pm
(14) Ekendra Dasa says:

My first setup was based around a Roland VS880 and an external ‘zip drive’. I used to bounce tracks onto DAT.

March 17, 2010 at 3:55 pm
(15) Robert Moehle says:

First real recording setup was an actual studio, sort of. A Revox A77 and a Tandberg stereo reel to reel, AKG condenser mics – and a Steinway grand piano! I was a “purist,” never was going to record multitrack, only live to two track. It sounded fabulous but as a business couldn’t compete with the first Tascam 8-track reel to reels just coming out at the time. I got many local college students who cut audition tapes, and a few jazz and folk groups. Not much else.

March 17, 2010 at 5:17 pm
(16) BJ Russell says:

My very very first recording was on wire recorder. Not too wide frequency response. This was in the 60′s.

Before I began to record sermons in churches, I recorded a band made up of church teens two guiters, drums, bass and sometimes a keyboard. For that I used my Akai DX-220 4 track reel to reel with the mics that came with it. This was late 60′s to early 70′s.

See my other post. I can’t remember everything at once any more!

March 24, 2010 at 1:11 pm
(17) Dave Daw says:

My first recording rig was a Scully 280 1/2″ 4 track recorder, Teac A3300S 1/4″ 2 track, with a custom console made up of a Tascam Model 5, Model 5EX expander, plus 2 Tascam Model 1 – 8 ch mixers for efx snds, an Orban Parasound Spring Reverb, and 2 Ashley SC-50 compressor/limiters (I still have & use the Ashley’s and the Teac A3300S). I went on to own a Tascam 80-8, 2 Fostex B & E16′s, and a Fostex G24S (I also still have the G24S) before moving to 2 Alesis HD24′s and the Mac based ProTools rig I now use. Back in “the day” I certainly never ever envisioned sitting in front of a computer screen to do professional recording, but that is my life!

April 6, 2010 at 2:44 am
(18) Chris Dunnett says:

In 1983 after spending 8 hours in a recording studio only to re-write the entire song because it didn’t sound like “what I heard in my head” (this was my first recording session) I went out and bought a state of the art Tascam 244 4-track cassette recorder for only $1300 LOL…my how times have changed. Was one of the best investments I ever made though as I had it for 11 years and not only recorded countless demos on it but really honed the art of recording especially with limited means.

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