Home Recording Studio equipment connection schemes and diagrams.
This article on how to set up a home recording studio was written as additional instructional material to be used in conjunction with the book Sound Recording Advice. It is an updated and rewritten version of an article I originally wrote for Electronic Musician magazine (as mentioned on page 27 of the book). Seven different equipment connection schemes are presented in increasing order of complexity, plus an additional block diagram is presented to show typical connections to a generic analog mixer. For any terms or technical issues you don't understand, please refer to the book for a more thorough explanation.
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Connection Scheme 1:
Figure 1 below shows three different connection schemes. They look almost laughably simple. The first one (Figure 1A) shows a line-level electrical musical instrument such as a synthesizer or sampler feeding into a 2-channel recorder. The 2-channel recorder could be a cassette deck, a reel-to-reel (R/R) recorder, a MiniDisc recorder, a PCM digital recorder, a VHS Hi-Fi VCR, or even a standalone CD-R or CD-RW recorder. Figure 1B shows how to transform the mic-level signal from a microphone into a line-level signal for a 2-channel recorder; a mic preamp of some sort must be used to amplify the mic-level signal (usually a couple of milliVolts) to a line-level amplitude (usually about 750 mV). This mic preamp can be a standalone unit (such as the Symetrix SX-202), or it can be incorporated into the channel strip of a mixer. Phantom power may or may not be required depending on the type of microphone used. Figure 1C shows how to connect a guitar to a line-level 2-channel recorder. In the diagram, I show the use of a DI (Direct Inject) Box. The DI Box will take the instrument level signal (in the low milliVolts range) and amplify it with the correct impedance to match the line-level equipment downstream. In place of a DI Box, you can substitute an effects stomp box or an amp/cabinet modeler.
All of these schemes in Figure 1 are fairly limited in scope and flexibility, since the 2-channel recorder does not have multitracking capability all of the schemes, that is, except the one shown in Figure 1A. Granted, if the synthesizer is a monophonic synthesizer and the 2-channel recorder is a cassette deck, the overall sonic result is bound to be unremarkable. However, what if the synthesizer is a monster such as the Kurzweil K2600, Yamaha Motif or the Korg Triton (with an onboard sequencer, onboard digital effects, onboard sampled drum kits and multiple simultaneous voices)? And what if the 2-channel recorder is a standalone CD-R recorder such as one of the Marantz, HHB, Sony, Denon, Philips or Tascam units? Suddenly, those same two boxes in the diagram will allow you to generate studio-quality recordings direct to CD-R. My point is that you can generate a professional instrumental recording even with the simple set-up shown in Figure 1A.
If your synthesizer, mic preamp or DI box does not have a stereo output, you can do one of two things. You can use a Y-cord on the output of the synthesizer, mic preamp or DI box to turn the single output into 2 outputs to go into both inputs of the 2-channel recorder. A better (but more costly) solution is to use a digital or analog delay device to delay one input to the 2-channel recorder by about 25mS while leaving the other input dry. This will create a pseudo-stereo effect. See pages 223 and 232 in the book for more details on this technique.
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