I'm the audio engineer for a local band, and we want to record a little album. So we don't want to spend too much money on this..

So obviously, I can't afford a studio mixer. And so I've looked at audio interfaces like M-Audio ProFire 2626 and similar.

We have a drum kit which I mic with 8 mics which all require a pre-amp:

  • Inside kick
  • Outside kick
  • Snare
  • Tom 1
  • Tom 2
  • Tom 3 (Floor)
  • Hi-hat
  • Room mic

Then we have some 1/4 jacks:

  • Bass player
  • Acoustic guitar
  • Electric guitar (amp on the computer)

Then we have some more XLRs that require a pre-amp:

  • Vocal microphone 1
  • Vocal microphone 2

Then we're "recording the piano" via MIDI.

Do we need to record everything simultaneously, or can we record it twice or thrice to get all the instruments recorded? We have never recorded before, so we don't know if it will be possible, or if it'll get out of beat...

We don't want to spend more than $400 if possible. After looking around on the internet, I didn't find anything that had 8 pre-amps and at the same time didn't cost more than $1000.

I'm not familiar with the companies here, as I only have experience with live mixing and already recorded music on the computer..

What would you recommend for the job?

2 Answers 2


It is actually preferable to record separately, however many bands don't like to do this because they may feel disconnected when recording the first few tracks. A way around this is to record with an area mic with the full band and then begin laying down real tracks off of that. The idea is that each performer will be setup one at a time and then play while listening to the recording so far on headphones. In this way, you don't get any crossover from other instruments (not having guitar amps blaring in to the drum pickups for example is a good thing).

After you have all the individual tracks recorded, you can simply discard the original group recording and be left with the high quality tracks. You will also quite possibly want to layer on multiple versions of the same instrument or particularly vocals to give it a fuller sound. There is a lot of room to play around when recording and to make sure you get things just right.

As far as cheap but decent gear goes, MAudio is one of the more well known names and you are unlikely to go wrong with their gear. As far as channels go, you could probably condense some if you needed. It might be possible to do it in two passes, but that is more likely to have problems than doing separate instruments in multiple passes since each mic is going to pick up a little from the other instruments in the kit.

  • I'd second the MAudio kit for cheap but acceptable usage. There's no point going for anything much more expensive until you have learned from making your first album or two.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 19:36
  • @DrMayhem Actually we're doing this for the fun of it now in the beginning, and the band only plays cover songs, and they are just another "garage" band. So we're not going to upgrade the gear as far as I know right now. But the thing is that we NEED 8 channels, because that's the number of mics on the drum kit. And I'm looking for the cheapest alternative that has this functionality. Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 19:52
  • What do you think about M-Audio ProFire 2626 vs. Tascam US-1800? Given that I don't have firewire, that's one bonus for the Tascam, plus it's cheaper. What do you think? Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 19:53
  • To be honest, the tascam is fine too. My first recordings were done on a basic tascam 4 track which let you record up to two tracks at a time before mixing down to the other two - leaving you with not the best quality in the world after recording 12 separate tracks. But it was fine at that level for us.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 20:05
  • I own the M-Audio ProFire 2626. I absolutely love it. It has 8 XLR jacks on the back and 2 - 1/4" jacks on the front with preamps. It also has 2 - adat optical jacks (16 channels total) on the back allowing you to expand later by adding pre-amps with adat out. It is easy to set up and use. You can get a firewire card for about $20. If you have a laptop, you might be limited to a USB interface. Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 21:45

Thinking practically, I would suggest a one-by-one recording approach. Taking into consideration that you don't have any intentions to purchase any multichannel device (and even ProFire 2626 will not satisfy your needs hence only 8 inputs are preamped and will be enough to cover only your drum set). You could still want to purchase the 2626 M-Audio interface you mentioned, but just for the sake of drum recording (and this is just in case you want to record a multichannel drums).

Just a general practical note, the one-by-one recording should start with drums and bass recordings (the rhythm section) and then adding up all the rest. It is very important to set a click (metronome) and use it all the way through, since you'll notice how everyone goes out of tempo very quickly if you don't use it (of course especially the drummer).

  • Hmm, so if I just use el-drums, we can get away with 2 XLR/Line inputs and 1 or 2 MIDI-inputs. Do you have any suggestions? Commented Apr 16, 2013 at 11:56
  • Yes, see no reason why not.. If not the drums, all other instruments can be recorded using 1 or 2 mics setups covering all most popular recording techniques..
    – Eugene S
    Commented Apr 16, 2013 at 13:40

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