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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 1st August 2008 , 11:57 PM
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Question Getting started recording etc.

Hi,
As i am due to be beginning my a level music course in september i will need some recording equipment/programs to record my compositions and to also edit existing recordings. I do not have a very high budget and would like to ask for advice on how to get started and which software and hardware i would need. I play guitar and drums and already aquire a usb microphone but find the quality with my guitar is not great and i would rather use a drum machine or to play drums using a midi keyboard rather than attempting to record my acoustic drum kit to achieve a better sound.
Any help would be appreciated,
Thanks
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Old 2nd August 2008 , 12:07 AM
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get a decent soundcard lets say an emu 0404 or m audio one's. then you'll need a program like cubase/pro tools if it doesnt come as a bundle on the soundcard. use a vst instrument like battery 3 for the drums where this vst will be used inside cubase or protools. you might need a little mixer for monitoring and recording purposes. what usb mic are you using for your guitar? how are you positioning the mic to record the guitar?
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Old 2nd August 2008 , 12:24 AM
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At the moment i am using a samson q1u usb microphone to record my guitar. I play around with positioning of mic in different distances from my amp to get the best sound i possibly can and also play around with sound levels but always find my recordings not be as good as i would like them to be. I was thinking of maybe using a line6 toneport to record my guitar to the computer and then maybe an m-audio midi keyboard to produce drum tracks but i am not sure if that is a good thing to do. I also have a copy of Cubase LE which i aquired when buying a line 6 effects pedal.
Thanks
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Last edited by SPFH73; 2nd August 2008 at 12:27 AM. . <
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Old 2nd August 2008 , 03:41 AM
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it might be better to tell us how much you have to spend then we can give you a list of items you will need for your budget
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Old 2nd August 2008 , 07:07 AM
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Hi,

As waxxy said, without knowing your budget, it's hard to be specific, so I'll stick to the cheaper stuff. Not that it's any lesser quality, these just show you don't have to spend a fortune.

A great sequencer to start with is Reaper REAPER | About This is heavily audio-centric, but would be ideal from what you've said you would like to do.

For drums, Jamstix rayzoon technologies is the best software I've ever bought. It's a plugin that works flawlessly with Reaper/any sequencer, that is the equal to many a real drummer.

Connecting a guitar to a computer, the easiest way I've found is Stealthplug IK Multimedia Stealth Plug Guitar Cable USB Audio at DV247.COM You simply connect your guitar to a usb slot and that's it. The Asio drivers are rock solid and give low latency, and it comes bundled with pretty good software, namely Tracktion v2 (a full sequencer) and Amplitube 2 Live, both standalone and vst versions, the latter of which can be used in any sequencer that is capable of hosting vst plugins, inc Tracktion 2.

As for soundcards, if you're not needing multi in/outs, you won't go far wrong with a trusty old Audiophile 2496 M-Audio Audiophile 2496 Hi-Quality 24-96 PCI Audio at DV247.COM Great sound quality and rock solid Asio drivers, tho' I'm not sure if the Vista drivers are up to the mark yet. I'm still happily using mine after a good few years now.

You could always try using the onboard soundcard with Asio4all drivers ASIO4ALL - Universal ASIO Driver It's free and a lot of people are very happy with the perfomance these drivers give with onboard soundcards.
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Old 2nd August 2008 , 09:24 AM
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You might want to find out what the course will be teaching you. If they're focusing on Pro Tools (many do) you might want to look at an entry-level Pro Tools setup - possibly M-Powered, as this will give you the most flexible choice of interface. The interface could then still operate with other software such as Cubase with no problems.

Many interfaces will have a hi-Z (instrument) input on them, so you won't need anything extra to record guitar or bass direct.

Here's a list of M-Powered supported hardware (the RRPs are all in USD, though):

M-AUDIO - Pro Tools M-Powered Compatible Products

If you buy Pro Tools M-Powered, it will include Xpand - Digidesign | Products | Pro Tools | Pro Tools LE & M-Powered | Digi 002 Family | Digi 002 Factory | Xpand! which is a very good entry level sample playback instrument, and it includes a few basic drum kits as well. If you need something fancier, you should probably look at Battery or BFD for cross-platform compatibility, or Strike if you intend on strictly working within PT.
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Old 2nd August 2008 , 12:04 PM
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Thanks for your help so far. I will take it on board. My budget would be most probably around 200 pounds so if you could give a list of specific items i would need it will be much appreciated. I have looked up the course and have discovered that the composition part of the course can be based on any style of music you like so i would not be restricted in that way.
Cheers
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Last edited by SPFH73; 2nd August 2008 at 12:10 PM. . <
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Old 2nd August 2008 , 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SPFH73 View Post
Thanks for your help so far. I will take it on board. My budget would be most probably around 200 pounds so if you could give a list of specific items i would need it will be much appreciated. Cheers
Well, this rules out Pro Tools M-Powered then, the software alone is 165 before you've even considered an interface.

You could look at Pro Tools LE in the form of an Mbox 2 Mini though...

Digidesign MBox 2 Mini Ultra Compact USB-Powered P at DV247.COM

That's your entire budget though, and USB mics don't work with Pro Tools LE/M-Powered. It does come with a lot of stuff though - including plug-ins, the Xpand software I mentioned, and more. Covers a lot of ground straight-out-of-the-box.

Alternatively, as an ultra-low-budget solution I'd look at this:

Mackie Onyx Satellite Two Piece Firewire Recording at DV247.COM

It includes a PC DAW (Traktion 2, don't know much about it but it's something) - if you hate it, you can always look at Reaper (cheap) or Ardour (free).

Another, even less expensive option is this:

Tascam FireOne FireWire Audio Interface at DV247.COM

But no DAW included that I can see.

[Neither the Tascam or the Mackie will ever run Pro Tools (although I guess we don't know if this is going to be an issue for you or not yet).]

You can get a MIDI controller as cheap as 32.99 - Evolution Ekeys 37 37 Key Compact USB Keyboard And at DV247.COM - small keys but would allow drum programming.

Full-size keys start at about 51 - M-Audio Oxygen 8 V2 Portable 25-Key USB MIDI Contr at DV247.COM.

If you can stretch to 299 + 33 for the controller (if you think you need it), I'd probably take a look at this:

Digidesign Pro Tools Personal Studio Bundle at DV247.COM

We're back to Pro Tools, but you get a reasonable-if-not-world-class entry level condenser mic, an interface, monitor speakers, an expanded plug-in set (which includes BFD lite, a good drum plug-in) and even an iLok key for future software license acquisiton. It's a good deal, and a good entry-level Pro Tools system.
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Old 2nd August 2008 , 02:59 PM
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200 pounds isnt a great deal too play with but ill try my best ..and i dont think hes taking a sound enginneering course terminal i think hes just going to music school .i think a good cheap option could be buy a cheap usb mixer with free software and fx such as this---

Alesis MultiMix 8 USB 1.1 Compact Tabletop USB Mix at DV247.COM
alesis usb mixer

Akai MPD16 USB/MIDI Pad Dedicated Pad Controller at DV247.COM

akai mpd16 pad controller..(i have the akai mpd32 and its much better using one of the akai controller too make beats than use keyboard keys )

M-Audio Oxygen 8 V2 Portable 25-Key USB MIDI Contr at DV247.COM
M-Audio Oxygen 8

for all of these it will cost--216.97

its a little over budget but this lot should keep you going for a while

oh yeah and if you do buy the alesis mixer it should come with cubase ai4 if it doesnt contact alesis and they will send you a free copy which you then can goto the steinberg website and upgrade too cubase ai4.1 for free which will give you some of the features from cubase 4.1 .
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Old 2nd August 2008 , 05:02 PM
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if engineering isn't part of the deal (fair enough, I grew up in another country, I have no idea what A-levels entail) that's cool. he's already got a copy of Cubase LE, so I would maybe stand by my recommendation of the Tascam FireOne (assuming he's got a firewire port on the computer - some PCs don't) - if not, the USB mixer is a good idea - however, his microphone, as a USB mic, is not useable directly with either of these interfaces.

so the best thing to do is probably interface + controller keyboard (either the small one or the big one).

I'd cut out the pads - while it might be easier, if budget is of the essence, I think that's a luxury he can do without. I still program drums on my Korg K61P and they turn out just fine.

so let's go with the cheapest possible package:

Mixer or FireOne - 95
Controller keyboard (37 mini keys) - 33

Now, since his mic doesn't work with either of those solutions, let's say he can sell it for 30 - the real value might be slightly higher or lower but I think this would be the ballpark. This will raise the total budget to 230. So far, we're at 128. We've got a little over 100 left to play with.

I'd get an SM57. New, they're about 75, but they show up used all the time for 50-thereabouts. That's a mic that he'll never, ever have to sell, it's always useful on SOMETHING, no matter if he makes it to the big leagues or not!

So if he went with the Shure, even new, there would still be 25 left. This could buy misc. accessories - pop shield? Mic stand? Guitar strings? Or, it could be used to upgrade the controller keyboard to one with full-sized keys and still have a few quid leftover for a burger.

The big thing that's missing from this setup is the drum sampler, if he doesn't already have one. The cheapest that gets is probably about 89, for this: Toontrack EZ Drummer + FREE Latin Percussion EZX E at DV247.COM

If he buys a used SM57, for say 50, he'll be 40 overbudget with the Toontrack add-on.

Anyway.. just ideas!
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Old 2nd August 2008 , 06:33 PM
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aha! ecc83 pointed out something useful on another thread - many usb mixers are only 16-bit. this unfortunately -is- the case with the alesis.

I would eliminate it from contention because of that. even a "slow" modern computer can handle 24 bit audio without any issues, and the advantages of 24 bit audio as far as headroom goes far outweigh any benefits the alesis mixer is going to provide.
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Old 2nd August 2008 , 08:30 PM
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id advize you against buying a small key keyboard..its just throwing money away because after a few weeks you will regret buying it and youll want a full sized keyboard ..if you cant afford it save up itll be worth it trust me.

and yeah some mixers record 16 bit but this guy wants too record his ideas not produce a pro sounding cd and also hes only got 200 pounds..for that price your not gonna get a top top set up but you will get a useable set up which he will be able too record great sounding cds and add to his studio in the future and if he ever wants too sell them he will not lose a great deal of money trading them in.

the guy is doing a music course and the guys still at school and hes got a tight budget ..i know the lad would probably love too buy a fire wire mixer and top synths but for the budget he aint gonna happen.

the tascam fireone is good but it can only record two things at a time and also he will need to buy a firewire card which will be extra expense.
and yeah he could make beats with keys but the guy plays drums so tapping away at keys will be a little frustrating and you cant get the percusive feel as you can if your using pads..i think if he bought a drum controller hed be more creative using one of those than using keys because in his post he says he plays guitars and drums so he may not have the keyboard skills to tap out beats he can imagine in his head but with pads you can go crazy and do beats you can play on standard keyboards.

and also with the akai hed get drum software too free i know i did so hed save money that way too ..i got bfd with mine

and concerning the usb mic i think hed be ok because most computers have more than 1 usb port in fact mines got 8 and ive got a 4 usb extrnal drive too all are full up all being used all the time and i have no problems at all..keep the mic its not the best but you can always save up for a better mic in the future but for now the usb mic would be ok . if you want one get the akg 150 from dv247 its excellent for recording your guitar or anything else youd like to throw at it.
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Old 2nd August 2008 , 08:35 PM
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check this guy out on the akai mpd16 you couldnt do this on a mini keyboard lol..YouTube - Mpd Drum

and this guy rocks too ..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN0rV...eature=related
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Old 2nd August 2008 , 08:36 PM
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right, waxxy, but if the OP sticks with the USB mic, and uses a USB controller, what's the point of the mixer then? what's getting plugged into it?

the USB mixer in question also doesn't deliver discrete channels, does it? so yes, he can record more than one thing, but they're all mixed down to the stereo out of the mixer on the usb connection. technically, the tascam is more versatile then because it's got seperate channels over FW.

and honestly, you can buy Firewire PCI cards for less than 5 nowadays, so that's not really a big deal.

I still stand by my contention that 16 bit stuff is a waste of time considering how little money you can get into 24 bit for. with 16 bit you have to push the levels nearly into the red in order to avoid it being ridiculously noisy. 24 bit gives you all kinds of space and freedom to leave a bit of breathing room at the top of your tracks.

and as far as getting pads goes - yes, that guy in the videos you linked to is doing some cool stuff, but the OP isn't out to perform live, he'll have a cool little mulitrack setup and can layer things as he pleases, he won't have to do 'em in one pass.
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Old 2nd August 2008 , 09:22 PM
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A -level music tech is usually a case of small mixers and how they work, basic mic techniques, recording platforms (ie all the DAWs although usually in not much detail) and a lot of it is usually MIDI compositions and programming in cubase. I.e program Paccabels cannon or something similar. In A2 it generally moves on to more mic techniques etc but its dependant on who is teaching you as the course documents are usually very thin on detail of what should be taught.
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