Foley and sound effects
Here's the setup I'm using to record sound:
This is the Tascam US 122, what's known as an audio interface. Click on the image to go to Musician's Friend, who has it at $199, the best price I've seen. You need some kind of interface to get the signal into the computer in a form it can understand. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to simply plug a microphone into a firewire port and start recording, as good as that sounds.* (see note in left margin)
Another important element of this interface is that it supplies what's known as "phantom power" to a condenser microphone. You're going to need this if you're using condenser mics. There are a few other interfaces on the market that have phantom power.
A note to anyone who buys one of these.... it comes with an older version of a sound editing software called Cubasis, which on a Mac only runs in OS 9, and wouldn't work at all on mine. I had to do some research online, and eventually discovered that anybody who buys the US122 is entitled to a free upgrade to the newest version of Cubase LE, which you can get here
. The website said it might take 2 to 3 weeks to arrive, but it came in in a few days, and when it did it worked perfectly.
This is the microphone I'm using, an MXL 990, also from Musician's Friend. Again, the image will take you to their website, which carries this mic for $69.99. I need to get another one so I can record in stereo... right now I'm limited to mono recording.
It's kind of funny... the Tascam is covered with buttons and knobs, and has plug-ins all over it for different kinds of cables, and Cubase is a very complex program capable of full studio production work... and here I'm just using them to connect a microphone to my computer! It's kind of like having a Cray Supercomputer and only using it to play Pac-Man!
I'd like to have a portable recording solution, and I'm considering getting a minidisc recorder or maybe an MP3 player that has a record function. But that's something for the future... for now, I'll just sit here next to my computer and create sounds however I can think of to do it.
You can also download sound effects from various websites, like Sound Dogs
, which has a lot of really good effects and a good search engine to help you find what you're looking for. Hint, get creative... it's amazing sometimes how similar different things can sound; for instance, frying bacon can sound an awful lot like rustling grass or a hissing steam pipe. You can also get some really cool effects by taking a sound and stretching it out or compressing it with your editing software. You can take a simple impact noise, like striking your fist on a table or tapping a spoon against a glass, and by stretching it out (slowing it down), you can make it sound just like thunder! Crazy stuff.....