This weekend, I completed a mini-project that I planned for a while now. I wanted a setup where I could practice my guitar following sheet music and tabs while also recording and playing back what I played!
Here is what I strung together to make it all happen:
- For practicing and recording vocals, I used iRig Mic HD, a high quality condenser microphone that plugs directly in to an iPad.
- Musicnotes.com iPad app that can play downloaded sheet music. I needed some lead time, before I could follow the guitar tabs. This was to allow sufficient time to start the playback. The in-built screen recording feature of iOS 12 is what I used. First ‘play’ in music notes while recording. Then replay the recording…easy!
- Behringer Xenyx 802 analog mixer is a low cost device with pro mic pres. It is a compact 8 channel mixer. I plug my monitor headphones here. In the illustration above, you would notice that I use both an iPad mini and iPad Pro. The iPad Pro is where I play the sheet music. The playback audio is routed to the mixer’s channels 3 & 4 for stereo using a Hosa CMP-159 3.5 mm TRS to Dual 1/4″ TS Stereo Breakout Cable from the iPad Pro. On the iPad mini, I run AmpliTube Acoustic app. I use a 3.5mm to 2-Male RCA Adapter cable to connect the iPad mini to the mixer’s 2-Track inputs.
- The Donner bluetooth page turner comes in handy when practicing parts of the scoresheet and you want to move between pages or scroll up-down inside the music notes app.
- Any microphone stand could be used in this type of setup. I want to call out the microphones stands from Bespeco. I found the Bespeco MS11 to be a stable and well crafted mic stand, and hence it is part of my gear.
- I use a Sennheiser HD-201 for monitoring both what I play on the acoustic guitar and the playback coming from the iPad Pro simultaneously through the mixer.
- I use a Coolnut 20000mAh power bank for long practice sessions. I wire both ipads to it to keep them charging during the breaks.
- Finally, the magic device that gets the audio in to AmpliTube Acoustic and that is iRig Acoustic – a MEMS microphone that can be placed at the base of the guitar’s soundhole.
The AmpliTube Acoustic iOS app is the central application for recording and playing back tracks. I use one track for recording vocals, and three others for rhythm, leads and bass riffs. This setup let’s me match the professional tempo and timing of the playbook through the Musicnotes.com iPad app.
For vocals, an external music player such as the Sony NWE395/B 16GB Walkman MP3 Player or any other could be used. Connect this to the mixer’s two-track input using a 3.5mm to 2-Male RCA Adapter cable – Then sing along. What’s captured is only your voice.
The setup above is meant to help with my practice sessions, be it sight reading and playing the guitar leads of music scoresheets or singing along vocal tracks. This would help me get better at my playing and vocal style through learning from the performance of professionals.