Setting Up To Record Your Mixes
First off, you must decide what medium you want to record to, minidisc (some people may opt to use a MP3 player with record capabilities, if so, the connections to these devices are identical to minidisc players) CDs or tape. The short answer is CDs. They last longer, are more widely used, and they have a clearer sound over a wider frequency range compared to tapes. If you happen to live in the stone age, and don’t have access to a computer with a CD burner, you’ll have to settle for tape or minidisc, but I STRONGLY recommend you either A) find a friend who has a computer and CD burner, or B) move out of the stone age, and buy a cheap computer with a burner. If your computer is in another room, you may have to settle for tape or minidisc and covert to CD later.
Next, you need to decide how you’re going to record your mix, as this will dictate the parts needed, and the connections you will make. I recommend using a computer. With a computer, not only can you record your mix, but you can break it up into tracks, burn CDs now or later, add an intro, and do any mastering that may be needed (adjusting volume levels, trimming extra silence recorded at the beginning or end of the mix, etc). Let’s take a look at the parts needed for each type of recording.
Recording to a PC:
You will need:
1 Stereo RCA to Stereo 1/8” mini plug adapter.
If your mixer does NOT have a Record output or Booth output, you will also need 2 RCA Y splitters. You need the kind with a single Male end, and two Female ends, seen below.
Recording to a CD Recorder:
You will just need one stereo RCA cable. Again, if your mixer does not have a Record or Booth output, you will need two of the Y splitters seen above.
Recording to a Tape Deck:
You will just need one stereo RCA cable.
Recording to a Minidisc player:
You will just need one RCA to Stereo 1/8” Mini plug wire.
These parts can be found at any electronics store.
Ok, now let’s take a look at how to make the actual connections. If you take a peek at the back of your mixer, you should see all the different outputs. First, look for a set of RCAs outputs labeled something along the lines of, REC, RECORD, REC OUT, or RECORD OUT. If you don’t have a record out, look for the booth out, usually labeled something like BOOTH, or BOOTH OUT. Some may be labeled MONITOR OUT, so be sure to check closely. Now, if you have either of those connections, simply plug the RCA cable, corresponding with your recording device above, into the RCA plugs. Be sure to match the colors!
In the case that you have to use your master out, you will also have to connect the Y adapters you also purchased.
1 – Plug one of the Y splitters into the white RCA output on the mixer
2 – Next, attach the white RCA wire for the recording device to one of the Y splitters inputs.
3 – Then attach the white RCA wire for the master output source (shelf system, amp, receiver, etc) to the other of the Y splitter’s inputs.
4 – Now, attach the other Y splitter to the red output on the mixer.
5 – Finally, attach the red RCA plugs from the recording device, and master output source to the Y adapter.
Next, it’s time to connect the wires to your recording device.
Mini-discs are quite simple to set up. They all function differently, so be sure to read your user’s manual closely. As far as connecting the mixer, simply plug the 1/8” plug into the Line In input on the minidisk.
These devices both record in a similar manner, so the connections are also similar. Simply plug the RCA plugs into the Input sections of the recorder. No two recorders are the same, so be sure to read your manual carefully.
Connecting your mixer to a computer can be a little trickier than the previous devices, simply because of the myriad of connections on the back of the machine. First off, when you make any connections, be sure to power the computer down, and unplug it. It’s unlikely you’ll damage anything while plugging in a stereo wire, but it’s best to be safe. Now, on the back of the machine, look for the sound card inputs, some machines have built in sound cards, so the inputs may be located around where the mouse and keyboard are plugged in. Other computers have separate sound cards plugged into one of the expansion slots, either way, look for the Line In (it will be a 1/8” mini jack). DO NOT use the Mic input! This input is very sensitive, and a strong signal could possibly fry your sound card. In my experience, if you are looking at the back of the PC, the 1/8” input to the far left will be the Mic input, the input to its immediate right will be the Line In input. This is not 100% guaranteed however.
Finally, it’s time to setup your device.
Due to the fact there are many different types of mini-disc players, tape recorders, and CD records, I cannot go into detail regarding their use. I strongly suggest reading the user’s manual. If you have misplaced the manual, most manufacturers have their product documentation on their company website. Also, at the time of this writing, I am unfamiliar with recording on a Mac.
Setting up a computer properly to record is very important. If not setup properly, you could be left scratching your head as to why the computer isn’t getting a signal, or you could suffer from poor sound quality, so be sure to follow the steps closely.
1 – In your task bar, next to the clock, there should be a small icon that looks like a speaker.
double click the speaker icon.
2 – The Volume Control window will open. From here click on Options -> Properties.
3 – In the new window, under “Adjust Volume For” select Recording. Make sure Line In is checked in the box below, and click Ok.
4 – The Volume Control window will change to read Recording Control. From this window, make sure the Select box under Line In is checked.
5 – Finally, turn your PC speakers on, and play a record/CD on your system. If your connections are made correctly, you should hear the song from your PC speakers. If you do not hear anything, be sure your connections are correct, the Line In volume isn’t all the way down, or it isn’t muted in the Volume Control window.
Now you’re all set to begin recording in the program of your choice. When recording, be sure to set the bitrate, and sampling rate to 16 bits, 44,100 Hz (44.1 Khz), Stereo. If you’re recording levels seem too high, return to the Recording Control window following the steps above, and lower the level of the line in.