Recording your band…where to start?

After going through the hectic and trying times of recording some applicants to the All-State Band, only to find out that none of them made it, I decided to purchase some recording equipment to get ashigh quality as I can. I am convinced that the reason that some students did not make the cut was because of the recording quality. The fact that this factors in is for another blog-rant, so I will spare you.

Where do I start? What do other directors use? I have been looking online for something affordable and I have found a few items:

1. Zoom H2 Handy Two-Track Recorder: $185.21 (Amazon). This device is an all in one set up. It has a left-right-mid mic set up, so you supposedly get a stereo recording. The nice thing about it is that it is all self-contained. The recording controls are on this device, as are the mics. Also, it comes with a USB output so you can dump the recording onto your Mac or PC (more on this in a minute).

2. Samson CO1U USB Condenser Mic: $87.95 (Amazon). This is just a microphone. You would have to lug it into your laptop or desktop computer, but it would deliver a decent sound. I hesitate at its price. I have purchased microphones before, and this price seems a bit low. I would not want to buy it, wait for it to be delivered, then regret it. This is just one of two pages of results I found when I searched for “microphones USB”.

3. Audacity: (FREEWARE). I have been using this program for years. It is easy to use, and it includes powerful editing features. Sure, you can buy other programs to edit (Peak, Cakewalk, etc.) but those programs have a ton of other stuff you really don’t need when it comes to making a decent all state or audition recording of your band. Audacity will record your track, display a sound wave, and allow you to fade in, fade out, splice out bad clicks or pops, record multiple layers, and a bunch of other stuff. It is a free download from Keep in mind that you will need to download something called the “lame lib” if you want to convert your recording to an .mp3. If you guys want me to, I will do a post on how to use Audacity later.

That is all I have found that has made it on my potential shopping list. There is a ton of crap out there, so be careful.



  1. Stengel99 said,

    February 23, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    The Zoom H2 Handy Two-Track Recorder is a brilliant device. Hard to believe such great recordings can come from a pocket-size unit. A colleague of mine has one, and after seeing/hearing what he has done with it, I immediately bought one for myself. I can’t wait to start using it.

  2. Audrey said,

    April 1, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Hi Guys!

    I finally managed to catch up with your blog – it really lifts the spirits to read posts written with such love and enthusiasm for sharing music! Hope you will get a great response.

    On the subject of easy recording, I recently purchased a Roland CD-2e and I’m thrilled to bits with it! You can record to an SD card (up to 8gb) or direct to CD. It works on batteries with the SD card but the (supplied) mains adaptor is required for CD operations. There are 2 in-built microphones but external mics can be used instead. It comes with a remote control and recording is SO simple! The quality is very good. It has lots of nifty features for instrumental teachers, too, which I’ll be describing in my blog.

    Happy blogging!

    Audrey Podmore

  3. Eric said,

    May 23, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    I have had the H2 since Sept. 2007 and love it. I have used it to record the marching band playing a new parade piece and then burn it to disk for the color guard to practice. Boy do that like the CD better than the old cassette tapes that we used to use. I have recorded both of my concert bands during rehearsals and hooked it up to the band room stereo via the line out on the H2 and to the aux in on the stereo for review and evaluation of what we just played to see what we need to do to make the performance better. I have recorded the Jazz Ensemble playing the Christmas music for the Winter Concert and did a little cd that the kids could get a copy of for their own listening enjoyment over the holidays. I have most recently been using it to do my monthly podcasts.

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