I wonder if you can help please? I am starting to put together a home studio and I am looking for advice on the following:
I am wanting to record live instruments, simultaneously - bass guitar, rythmn, lead, keyboards - but I am not sure on the best setup. Ideally I would like each instrument to be plugged into its own amp so that the musician can set their own tone and hear what they are playing. Would I then run each amps line-out into a desk and them run the desk through an audio interface into my computer? or would I just plug the instruments directly into either a desk or an audio interface and manage the tones / levels through the hardware / software, listening to the ouputs through a power amp / studio monitors?
Thanks for taking the time to read this message, and I apologise for the basic nature of my question, I just want to ensure I spend my cash on the right kit!
There are a number of ways in which you can produce a live recording of multiple instruments. Given that they are performing simultaneously, unless you are recording within a sound-proof environment, the performers will most likely be able to hear what they are playing and what the others are playing. As long as they have access to their own gear, they will be able to make adjustments to their tone, EQ, and other settings.
It is important to note that there could be multiple points of access to edit their sounds, such as the individual(s) operating the mixing console or sound audio workshop software on a computer, so it's possible that the musicians may not have final say in what their instruments will sound like after completing the recording. It is a good idea to discuss these points before recording.
The musicians can also wear circumaural headphones, either over just one ear or both ears, so that they may listen more closely to their instrument(s).
You asked questions about how to connect different equipment, though you only vaguely mentioned what gear you have or are using. I cannot provide a thorough response without seeing a complete list of the components. However, I can touch on some basic concepts of connecting gear.
Acoustic instruments, or even electric instruments that are using amps, require either microphones connected to an AD/DA converter or if you are just using electric instruments/amps with line-outs or outputs via 1/4" jacks then they would require an audio interface capable of properly channeling their direct lines into your recording system. I recommend using microphones. If you are using MIDI instruments, you will need a MIDI I/O interface that is compatible with your equipment.
It is entirely up to you what type of interface(s) you use, though you will need to determine what kinds of I/Os are being used by all of your equipment so you can use a compatible interface. The interface must also be compatible with additional equipment, like if you are using a computer. I suggest doing some research on what is available within your price range or within your required parameters for producing recordings with your instrumentations and within your intended settings.
To water everything down, and this is using only one example: the sound source goes out and into a converter, the converter is connected to a recording device. If you want, you can stop there, keep it simple. The more complex you make it, the more likely you are to run into complications, unless or until you are well-versed enough with all of the gear.
Also, read the manuals. Completely. Study them. All of them. Memorize them, or at least memorize as much as you can. You can learn quite a bit. They will answer many of your questions.
Do not rely too heavily on free input from volunteers like me or from people on forums and message boards. Take that type of feedback with a grain of salt. I encourage you to find a recording engineer that works close to your location, look into their background - their training, credentials, experience, etc. - then contact them directly, perhaps even in person, and ask them your questions. Of course, I can provide some sound advice but someone you can meet in person while interact with your recording equipment might be able to provide more direct and useful input.
Best of luck!