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JudyB Tech: Edirol Portable Digital Recorder (58* d) RE: Tech: Edirol Portable Digital Recorder 23 Nov 06

First question - can you balance your voice and guitar to get a mix you like by singing (or playing) louder or softer? When I record Charley with his banjo, I usually want the vocal mic a bit louder than the instrument mic. Moving the mics nearer or farther will do that a little, but also affect tonal quality. As long as you're only recording two tracks, you can probably achieve some control by recording one on the left channel and the other on the right, and then mixing them in your editing program - I think that should let you change the relative volumes of the two tracks before you merge them (though I've never tried Audacity). You probably could record with one mic as long as it had a nice wide pattern - but you'd have no way to change the relative volume later, and the mic would have to be far enough away that your voice and guitar sort of converge on it - which is beyond the range of accurate reproduction for some mics.

One possible concern - how good were the earphones you were using when you listened to the sound of the Marantz? Can your friend record you and burn it to CD so you can listen to it on your stereo and on the best speakers you can find and see if you still like how it sounds? Possibly more importantly (if you're not really used to hearing yourself on CD) - can your friend record some other singer/guitarist whose general style and vocal range is similar to yours while you are listening to him live, then make a CD of what he recorded so you can compare that to what you heard. (Not asking much, am I?) Actually, it might work if he recorded something playing on his stereo, as long as you heard both the original and what the recorder produced - the issue is how accurate the recorder is (and, I guess, if any inaccuracies are flattering or annoying, though I prefer adding effects afterwards, not while recording).

We started with decent stage mics, a computer with a decent sound card, and a small mixer to go between the mics and the computer. The mixer and the sound card probably came out to about what you'd pay for the Marantz; we already had the mics. First upgrade was to a studio-type condenser mic for vocals - and once I heard how good it made the banjo sound, I got a second one for that. If there's a chance you can try some of the mics you're interested in before buying, that's a great benefit. They all sound different, and which one is "better" is a very subjective thing.

Some music equipment places rent as well as sell, and might let you deduct some of the rental fee if you subsequently bought a mic from them - the danger being that rental mics may have been used fairly hard, and I don't know what the demand for rental of studio-type mics is. Do you know what mics the people you know with home studios have? If any are on your "possible" list, would they let you try them? Best thing (assuming you go with the Marantz) would be to have them record to that, so you could see how the two work together.

We've been recording for a couple of years now, and it's challenging - and I love it! Good luck with it, and let me know if you have any questions I might be able to answer.

All the best,

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