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Good Musician, Noob Producer needs advice

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Slice, Aug 9, 2007.

  1. Slice

    Slice Guest

    I've been playing music for about 11 years now (and I'm 18), keyboards and guitars, learned piano from a private teacher, flute from my uncle, electric and acoustic guitar by myself and classical guitar as my studies in music DEC (yes, I'm from Quebec... (for those who don't know, DEC is like the 6th year of high school and the first year of university combined in 2 years (only available in Quebec)))(further leading in professional studies in music creation, producing, live mixing, etc... in a university) and I've recently wanted to put what's in my head in a computer...

    For now, I have a Gateway computer, Pentium D 2.8 GHz, 1 Gb RAM, ATI Radeon X300 video card (who cares anyway we're talking music not video), with built in sound card. Possibility for firewire, USB 2.0 and MIDI (through a M-Audio MIDI to USB converter), which I use with what I think must be the worst keyboard ever, a Yamaha PSR-140, which is about 10 years old and doesn't even have touch on it. I've got a stereo sound system with 2 speakers taking the sound from the integrated sound card, good for listening but I don't know about monitoring.

    My plan is to only record in studio (actually my room/guitar area (piano's elsewhere)), using my computer to basically do most of the mixing and effects, recording only 1 or 2 tracks at a time. I would like to be able to replace the stereo sound system by something smaller and more useful if possible (even if I have to change the speakers), and I would like to record vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, classical guitar, flute, and later on keyboard. For now I'm using Reason 3.0 for drums and other, but I'm open to any software suggestions.

    So my big dilemma is... what to purchase? between all that's been coming in the stores lately, from mixers, sound cards, interfaces, firewire, USB, MIDI, analog, digital... my head's starting to spin when I think about it...
    For now my budget is pretty small, around 750$ CAN (but can maybe over budget if your suggestions are good enough), for everything I would need, but I will continue to purchase more equipment later on. My big rush is really to get something to get me started, with the best quality possible.

    Anyone have any advice on what to purchase? (please include price in US$ or CAN$ if you know them)
    -sound card, mixer, interface? (preamp included)
    -monitors? (no rush on that though)
    -keyboards, synthesizer or MIDI controller? (no rush either)
    -software? (no rush either)
    -what's the first thing to purchase/start with?

    (I hope I was specific enough to help you help me)
    ---Musician in desperate need of help...---
  2. salamichrist

    salamichrist Guest

    If you spend a lot of time mixing and editing etc. you can get a pretty decent sound from my set up. Behringer 502 Xeynx preamp/mixer (45 dollars) Behringer V-amp 2 (100 dollars) one or two shure sm57 mics (100 dollars each) I also have an emu 0404 sound card which is good (100 dollars) This will deffinitly get you started. You can go this way, or go the firewire way, but in my opinion tfirewire is a little harder to figure out. Good luck. Post some songs when you get some, so I can hear your jams!! all the money is u.s. dollars
  3. GentleG

    GentleG Guest


    Welcome to the world of recording :D

    It seems to me you're primarily a musician.
    So your recording needs are primarily to audition yourself and maybe a simple demo of your skills.

    Recording takes practise, just like being a good musician.
    Good gear isn't enough, just like a great guitar wouldn't make me a guitar player.

    So if you only want a decent demo twice a year:
    find someone to do this for you. It's cheaper and the results will be that much better, seriously.

    If you do want to learn about recording for the sake of learning it,
    and to find out whether this is really something you'd like to do,
    you'll need some gear to get you started.

    I would suggest a simple soundcard like the tascam us-122 / us-144 or the m-audio fast track pro
    It comes with some recording software which will do for now.
    Two mics to start with: shure sm57 (guitar) and sm58 (vocals)
    two microphone kabels, two mic stands

    Stuff you'll want on your wishlist (shorttime affordable):
    Affordable compact monitorspeakers: I use KRK Rokit RP5
    A matched pair of small diaphragm condensers to record stereo accoustic guitar and for room sound: I use Oktava MK012
    A large diaphragm condenser for vocals / guitar

    A different route would be to get presonus firepod, which right now on ebay, comes sometimes with a large condenser: AT2020
    This will allow you to record more channels:
    for example vocals, guitar and stereoroom at the same time
    Get the shures as well

    start reading: for example both shure and Neumann have excellent starter pdf's on their site for free:
    shure: mics_for_music_studio.pdf
    Neumann: microphones.pdf and mics_method of operation and type examples.pdf

    I'm sure others will chime in and complement
    you may find my personal thread interesting:
    (Dead Link Removed)
    Have fun

  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Distinguished Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    Here is an idea that does not really answer your question, but IMHO is a more useful purchase for a musician going into college. Think about a flash recorder and a piece of editing software. I bought a flash recorder recently and my wife, daughter and I have found it very useful for recording practices, lessons, etc. I think it would be a very useful device for someone in your situation. Moreover, you can edit the files you record on your computer and learn a lot of skills that you would need for full scale production. If you are committed to learning full scale multi track production, you could buy the DAW software that you plan to learn and use it to edit the files you record with the flash recorder. That way you could put off spending money on an interface, preamp, mics - especially since you would have to get pretty marginal products within your budget.

    My recorder is an Edirol R-09, but I really didn't do enough research to feel confident recommending it over other models (and new ones seem to be coming out every week). I did another post asking for inexpensive software recommendations, but you may want to base your choice of software on your long range plans.

    Anyway, it is an alternative to think about that's within your budget.
  5. Slice

    Slice Guest

    Thanks for the advice both of you.
    I think I'm gonna with something close to what salamichrist said. A good sound card with a little mixing console and some mics, the Shures seem really popular among small budget home studio recorders.
    And GentleG, actually I'm looking into gear to record music for a full album if possible, but the first way was something I was looking into, comes a lot cheaper than an interface and always has some room for better gear in the future for not too much big bucks.
    Another question I have is, does any of you know what's best to record an electric guitar amplifier (because my amp basically gives me all the effects I need (delay, chorus, reverb, flanger, phaser, tremolo, and volume pedal) except for distortion and wah), the only problem is it only has 1 pod-style/headphone output (Line 6 Spider III 75-watts), which cuts the sound coming out of the speaker.
    And does anyone have advice for a good sound card? I've heard the M-Audio ones are really good and EMU too but does anyone know what's best for me?
    And For BobRogers' idea, I'm not really into the small track recorders, I'd like more a mixer or interface, something that could replace my huge and useless stereo sound system, which takes up a big part of my desk, and if possible why not start using equipment closer to what I'll be using in the future.
  6. GentleG

    GentleG Guest

    salamichrist's way is also doable
    it's just that I never want anything from that particular brand near me.
    and a mixer is of no need,
    since you can mix everything in your pc (with better quality)
    if you want handson control, there are also controller mixers
    and there's the mackie onyx line (slightly more expensive)

    for recording the guitar amp: just stick a sm57 in front of it and start adjusting it's position untill you like what you hear

    have fun
  7. Slice

    Slice Guest

    Thanks for the advice.

    Why does so many people think that behringer does really bad stuff?

    And for the controller mixer, I really don't have enough money if I have to revamp all my equipment...

    The idea behind the mixer is to really get rid of my sound system, an interface could do it too, but it's a little more pricey and won't do anything more for me really...so I'm going with what's cheapest at the moment.

    Anyhow, does anybody have any advice for a brand for a mixing console?
  8. Kent L T

    Kent L T Active Member

    Oct 28, 2003
    Home Page:
    A presonus firepod $399 new
    Yamaha HS50m active monitors $199.(there are cheaper brands)
    sm58 99.97
    sm57 99.97
    total cost 797.94
    It is simple, no big mixer to lug around.
    You have 8 channels with better pres or as good as some cheap mixer you will end up buying. Line inputs for your keyboard and it comes with Cubase LE software for free!!! You have the routing you need to power the monitors and 2 good mics and only $40. over your budget for all new equipment. You might be able to find the firepod used on ebay or something for less but I wouldn't chance it. Shopping around might save you a few bucks as well.
  9. Slice

    Slice Guest

    Thanks again.
    I'll think about that next time I go in a music store.

    I think I'll take the 2 Shures, they seem very good and have a good reputation around here, even though I just saw a sm58 for 200$ CAN (not a good store though).

    For the Firepod (which changed name to FP10), it's a bit too much for me I don't need that many inputs. Something with 2 mic inputs is enough for me.

    And for the monitors I might wait a bit.
  10. Crankitup

    Crankitup Guest

    I'd recommend a firepod. Great price and it sounds better than most other gear in it's price range. Behringer is the worst. I have one of their headphone amps, and it makes the sound 10x worse than what is going into it! How hard is it to make a clean, not-worse-sounding headphone amp?! *end rant*
  11. Slice

    Slice Guest

    There Again... I don't need that many inputs, something smaller will do fine too.
  12. casper

    casper Guest

    Presonus Firebox
  13. Kent L T

    Kent L T Active Member

    Oct 28, 2003
    Home Page:
    The problem is you can't just add more inputs later when you need them so if you think you might later on its better to get them now so you dont have to buy another device later on with more inputs.

    The prices were pulled from a well known online distributor.
  14. Slice

    Slice Guest

    Ya it might be a better idea to get more inputs now rather than later but my question really is what would come in cheapest between a sound card (probably E-MU 0404) combined with a small mixer (5 to 12 inputs, 2 to 6 mic inputs, 2 or 4 bus) or an interface (something like a focusrite saffire or presonus firebox/firepod)? (see poll in budget gear)
  15. Kent L T

    Kent L T Active Member

    Oct 28, 2003
    Home Page:
    well the choice is yours so do the research
  16. Slice

    Slice Guest

    I've just checked some prices here, and I've found a Firebox for 370$ CAN and a Firepod for 490$ CAN.
    The salesman really recommended on of those but I'll have to see how much I could bargain it... (my friend bargained a Yamaha XS6 for under the cost price of the store...I'll have to take some tips from him).
    And I'm probably going to go with the SM57/58 combo for microphones, for now.

    Thanks everybody for the advice.
  17. AwedOne

    AwedOne Guest

    Lots of great advice here.
    Let me share my experience.

    Tascam FW-1082, 8 inputs, 4 XLR w/phantom power for condenser mics, comes with Cubase LE software, automated faders, can playback 32 tracks via layers, has transport controls for the Cubase DAW, and a lot of other controls for MIDI, EQ, Panning etc.. No need for special soundcard, it's in the console/controler. And the best things is if you hurry, Steinberg is offering a summer upgrade special to Cubase 4 for 1/2 price with a registered copy of LE. I worked with LE a few weeks to see if I liked DAW based recording, then upgraded to the full-blown version for $400! (watch out tho, C4 needs a really fast computer to not crash! It cost me close to $1000 to upgrade mine...Intel Core 2 Duo, new MOBO, SATA drives , 2 GB mem. Ok, I did add in 2 wide screen LCD monitors to ease the clutter on the desk.)

    I got one of those 8-pc drum mic sets for $300, and just to have something to get started it was worth it. Eventually, I will replace all of those (possibly; using C4's Eq's and effects I'm getting very passable quality with the cheap mic package) but for now at least I can record. I use the OH condensers for vocals and acoustic guitar miking. I had a Line 6 POD already for guitars, and I run the bass DI. I had a $300 Casio keyboard that is capable of sending midi messages and has some really nice on-board patches for keysounds that are mixed underneath like B-3's and Electric pianos. With the midi, I can access the VST Halion instruments that come w/ C4.

    the Presonus would be a good choice also, I just like to have my fingers on sliders. Unless you're wanting to spend BIG bucks for extremely high quality electronics, I wouldn't even consider a regular outboard mixer with eq's and aux's and sends and stuff. Like Gentle G said, the mixer is in the software. It would be redundant and probably degrade your signal to run it thru and extremely cheap mixer.

    I've been using my setup for about 2mos (with very limited available time) and am starting to produce some very acceptable demo quality results. I doubt that with the gear I have I will ever be able to produce marketable quality CD's, but I will continue to upgrade (as $$ permits)mic's, pre-amps, software-based channel strips, plug-ins etc. and will one day create some listenable music.

    All the while I'll continue to soak up as much knowledge as I can from the folks on this formum and thru my own trial and error experimentation. The great thing about Home Studio recording is I can screw up to my hearts content without going bankrupt or pissing off a paying client!
  18. Slice

    Slice Guest

    Thanks for the reply but I pretty much found what I'm going to buy :

    Presonus Firebox (which comes with Cubase LE)
    Shure SM57
    cables, stands and accessories

    That's for now.
    After that, I'll get some better monitors.
    Eventually, I'll get a SM58 for vocals (after I take some lessons).
    Probably a Korg PadKontrol for drums later on too.
    And if I'm lucky, I'll find a good MIDI controller keyboard for some piano or other synthesizers.

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