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Setting up DAW home recording system, need help!!!!!!

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Tory, Dec 19, 2009.

  1. Tory

    Tory Guest


    I am trying to set up a home studio and have some questions. Like many novices, I went into Guitar Center with a little bit of knowledge and made purchases based on their suggestions and my budget. Now, I am trying to figure out if I really have the equipment I need for my purposes and if I need to buy a new computer, etc.

    Previously, I have been recording in other studios, but due to time and cost, I would like to start recording my own material to pitch to venue managers and quality enough for local radio stations. I would like to set up a computer based system to record acoustic guitar, vocals, and some percussion (djembe, shakers, etc) for multi-track recroding.

    I will admit I am not gear savvy, but I am very serious about recording and would like an expert opinion and whether I have the right equipment and the best way to set it all up. The following is the list of the equipment I have with as much detail is possible.

    CPU: Dell lap-top: Dell T7500 @ 2.2GHz, 2G of RAM, Windows XP. It has one 1394 connection. This is my day-to-day computer in which I have a bunch of programs like Word and Photoshop as well. I have read that having other programs on a computer used for recording audio can cause problems, .crashing etc

    Interface: M-Audio FireWire Solo with 2 inputs for guitar and vocals and 2 sets of balanced and unbalanced line inputs.
    External drive: To record audio I have read you must have at least 2 hard drives. I have an external hard drive I was thinking of using for audio. It’s a Buffalo Drive Station Combo 4 USB 2.0/FireWire External harddrive with 1.0 TB, rotational speed 7200 RPM, seek time 11 ms, 8 MB buffer speed.

    Software: Pro-tools M-Powered for PC

    Sterling Audio ST55 FET Condenser Microphone, shock mount, mike stand, metal pop filter, XLR cable

    Thanks you in advance for your help!

  2. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    That's not the absolute worst that I've heard from the guys at Guitar Center. At least you didn't come home with anything Behringer, or a mixer wondering wondering why you can't record anything :D. M-Audio stuff isn't the best, but considering you are using PT M-Powered it goes with the territory. The biggest thing I disagree with is the mic choice. The ST55 is good on vocals actually, I've used it myself and was quite impressed at the sensitivity and tone for the price, but for guitar and djembe it's not going to do much for you IMO, shaker maybe. You could look into an SM57 for guitar/percussion recording to supplement the ST55, or if you don't want to pay additional money you could return the ST55 and grab a single SM58, or a 57 and 58 for the same price you paid for the ST55. Either way its up to you, you should be able to do it with what you have though.

    EDIT: I saw you said acoustic guitar, ST55 is fine for acoustic. You didn't mention it, but if you are going to be doing any electric guitar recording though, look into a 57.
  3. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Tory do not double post, your questions will get answered.
  4. TheBeaver

    TheBeaver Guest

    What exactly do you want to know? The mic choice is decent but I second 'guitar freak's' thoughts -- it won't work that great for guitar at least in my experience. Setting it up? There's only really one way to set that gear up. Plug the firewire interface into the firewire port, plug the mic's into the inputs, and start recording. You're going to have to mess with the sensitivity/gain on the box as well as similar settings inside your DAW (pro-tools m-powered)

    What you have will work fine, although I don't know that recording to your external hard drive is going to be a good idea. Not only would they be using the same bus but I'm surprised you even have two firewire ports on that computer. Actually I'm reading from the "topic review" window and you only have one port -- so you'd be going from USB to Firewire which uses the same 'bus' essentially -- which could have some serious latency/bandwidth issues.

    I would try recording to you internal hard drive as it could solve those problems, but for all I know (and this is why you need to TRY IT) is you'd be fine recording to the external, since you'll have a max of 2 tracks recording at once. Just having programs on a computer won't necessarily affect your recording in any way. Only if those programs are running and using the computers resources, is that a problem. Otherwise it's only going to be taking up hard drive space. What people probably meant by saying that (wherever you heard it) is that by having a very minimal system, with basically a freshly installed operating system and the music software is ideal because no matter what you're doing, a computer always runs slightly better when it's just set up than after it's been used and many programs have been installed. I wouldn't worry about that in your situation AT ALL though.

    Whether you have the right equipment? I would have gotten a different audio interface but that will work fine most likely and the mic thing has already been covered.

    So, be a little more specific with what you mean by 'set up' and we can help you a hell of a lot more.
  5. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Actually recording to an external HD is pretty standard as well as the recommended way of doing things. It helps reduce strain on your computer's processor and actually decreases latency.
  6. TheBeaver

    TheBeaver Guest

    I'm surprised.. but I'm gonna do some research to double check. I'm a computer nerd first -- so that's why I'm shocked that you would ever have LESS latency by using an external hard drive to record... I'd love to know how you can have less latency recording but more for everything else on an external hard drive.

    I just did some research and it's sorta a loaded answer. It's recommended to have separate drives for recording and apps/os -- BUT externals are by no means lower in latency by themselves. So, it could be -- but I won't believe it until I see some data. (still searching....)

    Can anyone explain this to me? (WHY, not just that it is...)

    In reality, I've done both lol
  7. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    "so you'd be going from USB to Firewire which uses the same 'bus' essentially "

    Red Flag!!!!
  8. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    It's called bottlenecking. When recording to an external HD, the signal enters the computer on one bus, and gets immediately bounced out to another bus where the data is written and stored to the external HD by the external HD. When you record to the native HD the digital data comes in and the processor needs to now store all that data simultaneously as well as process any FX, plug ins, etc that you may have applied to the tracks before finally sending the processed signal back out to the interface out to be monitored. If the processor becomes over encumbered between all the data routing AND data storage AND processing AND running the recording software program, it can drop data resulting in audible distortion or signal drop outs. This is irreversible.
  9. TheBeaver

    TheBeaver Guest

    sorry -- i worded that wrong. English is my second language. As you can see I was typing that on-the-fly as I was reading. The fact is -- he is using USB which has a large CPU load while if he was using firewire it would not. Recording 2 channels of audio will in no way come close to maxing out the bandwidth internal OR external (so actually, the REAL answer is it doesn't matter a bit). What I meant was -- he has to use USB because his interface is firewire (and he/she only has one firewire port). Therefore -- the optimum performance would be by writing to his internal drive. With the large amount of memory (ram) we have nowadays, it is no longer completely necessary to have separate drives for OS+apps and the audio. Nothing will be read from the drive while you are writing the recordings -- so I would love to hear why an external in this persons situation is better, preferably with some evidence.

    On another note, everyone here is very aggressive. I don't understand why everyone feels the need to be such jerks about everything. Either way it doesn't matter. I'll find another forum to visit as there are plenty. Everyone is more interested in trying to poke holes in my posts than actually helping the poster..

    So, I'm done.
  10. TheBeaver

    TheBeaver Guest

    You got a link to prove that? Cause it sounds plausible -- but largely different than my understanding of the USB/Firewire system... again -- linkage?
  11. TheBeaver

    TheBeaver Guest

    You got a link to prove that? Cause it sounds plausible -- but largely different than my understanding of the USB/Firewire system... again -- linkage?

    Space, what is wrong? Tell us the right answer then, loser. I'm telling what i know, if it's wrong you can provide evidence of this and i will gladly change my opinion, i don't see what the point of this is.. Does it make you feel like you have a big e-penis or something? I don't even care what happens to this anymore, I just wish I could have learned something instead of being attacked without any sort of rationale. Real mature.
  12. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    "it is no longer completely necessary to have separate drives for OS+apps and the audio."

    Red Flag!!!!
  13. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    TheBeaver, I'm not going to link you to a page that states what I think. I could, but after all it is the internet, finding a page that says something does not make it right. Much like arguing on an internet forum, it doesn't prove anything.
  14. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    No. No.

    Never record to the operating system hard drive.

    The specs on your pc are fine. Dont' worry about programs that aren't running. For Office specifically, if you can do without Outlook then dump it. Make sure that the extra bit for blind users is deactivated if it is running in the system tray. Make sure automatic updates are turned off and all programs that have similar auto update features are deactivated from within the programs and/or from the registry.

    With firewire you CAN daisy chain the devices. Usually with decent interfaces you would place the hard drive first and then chain the interface in. This works best with firewire 800 but can work well enough with firewire 400. Do NOT use the onboard 4 pin firewire port. Get an Express Card firewire adapter with a Texas Instruments chipset.

    Do NOT daisy chain USB devices. However if the interface is firewire it is acceptable and quite common to use an external USB hard drive.

    Now, not all external HDD enclosures are created equal. The drives inside aren't the issue but the electronic between the drive and the cable. If the enclosure has a firewire option the interface itself is probably adequate.

    It is standard for all professional recording studios to record TO either secondary internal hard drives or external hard drives. It is NEVER recommended to record to your OS drive. You cannot physically send and receive data on the same hard drive bus.

    Of the external options, firewire is the preferred option. USB 1 or 2 is a dumb interface. There is no way to prioritize traffic on that protocol. Firewire on the other hand (400 or 800) is a controlled protocol which allows bidirectional traffic. Firewire can aggregate up to 63 devices though in practice you wouldn't chain more than two together. In theory eSATA would be the way to go but I have not found it as reliable as firewire yet. Though USB 3 and Firewire 1600 (1394c) are due out and might be game changers, at this time there aren't any interfaces or other devices designed with either protocols so it is a very moot point.

    There is a difference between being a computer nerd and knowing from research and experience about the practicalities of different technologies.
  15. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    TheBeaver(Cleaver?): This site tries it's very hardest not to propagate misinformation. So, if you're comments smell a little foul, you will get called on it. That includes everyone regardless of who you think you are.

    The OS drive is busy dealing with your OS if it starts to do any sort of background operation while you are recording, you may end up with pops and clicks or worse. That is why everyone is recommending a secondary hard drive whether it be internal or external.

    In short, unless you are absolutely positive that your information is 100% correct, don't post it. That's nice that you want to help but let's make sure our information is correct.
  16. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    "Much like arguing on an internet forum, it doesn't prove anything."

    Red Flag!!!! :)

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