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Home studio upstart(i've done research, not mindless ?'s)

Discussion in 'Recording' started by trendflows, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. trendflows

    trendflows Guest

    Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my post.
    I am looking to start up my own little studio in my home, vocals, guitar, bass and drums perhaps a little down the road.
    I would like a midi port for keyboard.
    I have looked into a bunch of interfaces, the mbox 2, tascam 1641, the tascam 1082 and the firebox.
    I cannot nail it down to a single one.

    I am worried to get the mbox with all the problems everyone says they have and support wise as well.
    Microphone wise i have two dynamic mics and am going to pick up a Shure Sm57 or two for recording odds and ends(vocals, acoustic guitar, brass etc.)

    The interface question has been driving me nuts, i have searched far and wide and their is no definitive single best out of the bunch.(I figured since every computer is different, some might work better then others)
    I was sold on the Tascam 1641 until i heard you cannot hear the track through the headphones from the interface, you can only hear what you are playing, is their anyway to bypass that(such as headphones from the computer.)

    By the way my laptop is a Macbook(blackbook) 2.4 ghz, 2 gb mem, 250 hard drive space.
    If i add a mixer to my interface will the interface act as a preamp for all the ports on my mixer? Or how is the interface usually expanded microphone input wise? I am borderline dreaming of audio interfaces.
    Any advice?
    By the way my budget is about 500 for an interface.
    And another 500 for the remaining things,(monitors, cables, mic's).

    Thank you so much, i apologize for all the questions i wanted to be thorough.
    I appreciate the time so much.

    Best Regards,
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    Yeah, computer interfaces are a little bit like underwear. They all pretty much do the same thing. And unless you are choosing a high-end piece, you shouldn't choose your equipment based upon its specifications. You choose it based upon your needs & method of working. But if the piece doesn't do something you want it to do, that's not for you. Jockeys or boxers. Cotton or synthetic? Get my drift? Hopefully not? I showered.

    What you really need to determine is whose software you are going to use? Some interfaces work better with certain software packages & operating systems. $500 for an interface? Doable but you probably won't find 8 inputs at that price point? But you can and should get something with 8 simultaneous microphone inputs. That leaves you just enough money for 5 SM57's which is a very smart purchase. You'll still need some additional support equipment. So $1000 isn't quite enough, realistically. You're going to need cables, stands, headphones, monitor speakers at a minimum. So, $1100! And you're just getting started! Most of us have spent the same thing with a couple of additional zeros tacked onto the end of that. Oh? That's not quite the same thing as there is no decimal point.

    Teac/TASCAM is usable as they make some good storage solutions i.e. recording devices. They're not particularly highly regarded for their sonic superiority. Good stuff that works reliably but not necessarily something that people seek out due to its mediocrity. But that's part of what makes it affordable. I'd rather see you get something else. Something that provides you with the versatility and features you need. Latency is a big issue so you definitely want something that will provide a direct pass-through monitor of your recording source. Computers don't quite function like recorders & mixers even if their functionality is a reasonable facsimile of that. It's not unusual for an interface to cost approximately $100 per input Channel. It's amazing how good a low-cost microphone preamp can sound. Most in your price range are all about the same.

    Go for the cheese
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    +1 (Well your whole post was +1, but I thought that was an especially important point)
    To avoid the latency problem I chose to use a mixer and a sound interface without pre amps. That was because I like to have the flexibility and ease of use of a physical mixer. Changing headphone mixes and gain for tracking is much easier this way I find.

    my two cents
  4. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Dec 25, 2007
    Atlanta, Ga
    For $500 I'd say you wouldn't really be able to do much better than an Apogee Duet. The pre's are quite nice, it's a doddle to use and it integrates with your Mac like peanut butter and jelly.

    Have you looked at those?
  5. trendflows

    trendflows Guest

    That was incredible, i'm not sure i've ever seen an question that thoroughly answered.
    Thank you very much.
    I have a few follow up questions.

    So you say all are the same in general and to go for one with the most upside, basically find one with 8 xlr ports that has history of working well with macs? I didn't quite get a final idea on your post, however, i didn't intend you to spoon feed me and still dont (you can't spood feed someone an interface, that wouldn't taste very good).

    I've looked at the apogee duet, and it seems pretty solid, despite the two xlr ports. Is their anyway to just simply expand the amount of xlr ports with maintaining similar quality that the interface produces? A mixer's ports would not sound the same as the interfaces correct? If i could just get a solid interface and then just buy a mixer for drums etc I would think that would be a good way to go, that is if a mixer can plug right into an interface(which i am fairly certain i've read it can).

    If it does not come with a software does that mean i could just pick up and software of my choice? Besides pro tools obviously because that requires an interface of theirs.

    Thanks so much,
    You guys here at recording.org are truly amazing.

    I can purchase an mbox 2 from a buddy of mine who never ended up using it probably relatively cheap.
    However i am more impressed with the apogee, despite it not having a recording software like cubase or protools.
    Nonetheless I'd still like to hear your input on what i've said above.

    Best regards,
  6. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Dec 25, 2007
    Atlanta, Ga
    Unfortunately, there's really not much in the way of in between 2 channel and 8 channel. The 8 channel Apogee option is the Ensemble...at about $1800. You can't expand the Duet either. The software of choice for the whole Mac/Apogee combo is Logic, though you may be able to use something else like PT or Cubase, I honestly can't remember. They're small, easy to use, sound great and are a bargain for what you get.

    Now there are 8 channel options that are cheaper than the Ensemble, but still not so much around that $500 range. You could save up your money for a while and take the plunge into one of those, or just get something like the Duet, work it for a while until you've outgrown it and then upgrade. They retain their value quite well too.

    Also, I'm not savy with respect to your mixer playing with interfaces question, sorry.

    Best of luck.
  7. hueseph

    hueseph Distinguished Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    At around $500 you could look into a Presonus FP10 or Firestudio. They come bundled with Cubase LE so your software would be covered untill you outgrow it.
  8. trendflows

    trendflows Guest

    Here's the deal, I have a friend who used his mbox 2 on his windows for a bit, but no longer does. He upgraded to the digi 003 almost immediately.
    He has all the drivers etc, and is offering it to me at 175 included with everything and in mint condition.
    I think thats a solid deal so I am going to go for it, at 175 and it retails at 450, i have nothing to lose(besides 175 dollars if it doesnt work on my computer).

    Now from the mbox 2 can i plug a mixer into it and get more ports.
    this link also does not have my laptop of choice as a working model.
    Which is scary.
    The apogee duet is what i am leaning towards.
    The firestudio needs a certain firewire card I've heard which scares me.
    the software doesn't both me, i just want a solid interface i can grow and learn from without running into computer problems and expansion problems

    best regards,
  9. hueseph

    hueseph Distinguished Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Any firewire interface will work better with a Texas Instruments firewire chipset. That being said, the Macbooks don't have a TI chipset but still work with most firewire interfaces without a hitch. The duet probably is a better two input interface than the 8 inputs on the FP10. Of course if you do get a mixer to go into the duet, you're still mixing down to two channels so you have to get the sound right before you go to disk. This isn't a bad thing necessarily but, you do need to keep it in mind.
  10. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    When it comes to Digi design & ProTools, YOUR COMPUTER MUST MEET THEIR SPECIFICATIONS EXACTLY! If it is not on their recommended list, chances are, it won't work! So you must be precise or you're throwing your money away. Heck, they won't even supply you with any technical support if you're equipment does not what they specified. DON'T BE STUPID.

    Hueseph makes some very solid practical recommendations and is a very knowledgeable guy. You're making up your mind based upon clueless wishes & fairytale engineering. Not a good way to go. Why bother asking the professionals when you think you know? You're wasting our time. We know what we're talking about. You don't. This is how you get into technical doodoo. Unfortunately, we can't fix stupid.

    Shaking my head back and forth in disbelief
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  11. trendflows

    trendflows Guest

    Fair enough Remy, I appreciate your thoughts enough not to comment on that.
    Looking back the comment is completely mindless, it was fairly late and I had been working for ten hours straight, heard about the low price, got excited and posted to see what you all thought.
    After i posted i researched it, and found that if its not specified on their website its a no go.

    I'm kind of taken back by your comment, and the ending but thats forums these days. I apologize if you feel in anyway that I have wasted your time. I appreciate all of your time and am going to look closely at each makers website and look for someone that has very recent drivers and what appears to be a solid device.

    I guess people get no benefit of the doubt these days on forums.
    I felt i asked alot of solid questions.

    Thank you Huseph, Gecko, Sshack and Remyrad.
    Truly better then any other forums information I have received.

    Scratching my head because Remy's so upset,
    Stamati Filacouris
  12. hueseph

    hueseph Distinguished Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    It's just frustrating dealing with the same questions daily. Remy has a lot on her plate and as much as this forum is a good release in many ways, it's also like taking your work home with you.
  13. trendflows

    trendflows Guest

    I see what you mean hueseph, if feel badly for coming across like I have learned nothing from your time.
    It was a silly post, i appreciate everything you all have taught me.

  14. trendflows

    trendflows Guest

    By the way, I have narrowed down my interface choices to two solid ones that you all on this forum have recommended.
    The tascam Us-1641 and the Apogee Duet.
    Slightly leaning towards the Apogee Duet, the biggest difference being that I really do not need to record drums at this point.
    Like Sshack has said, everywhere i've looked they're are fantastic reviews and great things said.
    I also like how well they have been said to work together (peanut butter and jelly reference).
    They both seem like great pieces of hardware.
    The only thing im wondering is since it offers two 1/4 ports would that mean that i could plug in my monitors and headphones simultaneously? Basically asking if monitors only connect to one port?

    Another question i have is if i purchase an interface with 2 xlr ports and add a mixer to the equation and plug in 7 microphones its only going to come out as two tracks? Can someone explain the mixer xlr port thing in a little more detail, i know i've asked a similar question above, i just havent fully grasped the concept.

    I hope you all do not mind me going on your knowledge once more, despite my blunder earlier.

    Thank you all so very much,
    Stamati filacouris
  15. Greener

    Greener Guest

    If you get a 2 port interface the most you can record is 2 tracks, you can bus 400 microphones from a massive mixer into those two ports but you can only record them to two tracks.

    You need a preamp for each microphone, and a channel for each track you record.
  16. Bisson820

    Bisson820 Guest

    $700 will get you a dec interface with 8 well preamped XLR inputs.

    check out the m-audio 2626

    thats what im getting...
  17. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Dec 25, 2007
    Atlanta, Ga
    There are two 1/4" input, two XLR input and two 1/4 output on the Duet, these are all via their 'breakout' cable. There's also a single 1/4" jack on the unit itself for your headphones.

    1/4" inputs are for your instruments direct...guitar/bass, etc.
    1/4" outputs are for your monitors
    XLR for your mics.

    You can set up the unit for easy switching/use of monitors and headphones. This was one of my favorite features. Just push the big knob on the top for 3 seconds and the monitors would mute while my headphones became active and visa versa (you can set it up a few ways).

    As I said before, I'm not savy with mixers but I suspect that if you put a mixer before the Duet that you would basically be muxing down all of your channels (8 or whatever) into as stereo feed either via 1/4" or XLR to the Duet.
    At that point I'm not really certain if it'd be best to have the Duets pres active or to have them passive. Ask others more experienced, experiment and certainly read the manual. You can find it on Apogee's website. It doesn't sound like you've checked it out and read much yet, so you may want to take a stroll over and read up on it a bit, look at it, etc.

    Hope this helps.
  18. trendflows

    trendflows Guest

    Thank you for your responses I hadn't seen them they slipped to the second page.
    I've been over to the site, as you all know they offer no specs.
    It seems pretty bare, no matter what i do it will only produce two tracks at a time if i am correct.
    So, that answers that question and i am going to inspect the Tascam and Apogee websites more closely tonight.
    The apogees drivers i am not worried about and the Tascam is on 1.02 and is compatible with leopard. So i'm not really worried about either drivers.

    What it comes down to is versatility, if i purchase the Tascam i can do live recordings and my own recordings with lesser quality.
    If i purchase the Duet i will spend around 300 more purchasing both the product and a DAW. But will receive better quality, being restricted when i try to record live however.

    I suppose it comes down to what I really want, and personally i rather have my own recordings.
    However, if i could somehow compare the Duets and US-1641's preamps that would make one a clear winner.
    The duet just seems more user friendly and better for my solo acoustic/vocals etc.

    If i attach a mixer to a Duet i can still record a band or so live for a rough demo, it would only come up on two tracks however correct? Is that a reasonable approach to recording live off of two XLR ports or no?

    Also techincally if i purchased the Tascam 1641 and wasn't too impressed by the preamps (the duet is said to have way better preamps) i could simply chain a preamp onto the Tascam and my XLR quality would change?

    Thank you all again,
    Its alot of questions im sorry =/.

    Best regards from NY,
  19. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    I apologize. I know I have a personality flaw and lack tact at times with my comments. It was late and computers are not always cooperative. It's a good thing I still have plenty of hair.

    Foot in mouth syndrome
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  20. peterhunt

    peterhunt Guest

    Quick question -

    Why the Duet over other similar, cheaper interfaces (new US-122, Firebox, Mbox etc)? Just the preamp quality?


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