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So what should I be using?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Nickerz, Jul 8, 2009.

  1. Nickerz

    Nickerz Guest

    Hello, and thank you in advance for helping me out!

    I recently got bitten by the DAW bug, I'm a long time guitar player and had some exposure to some DAW users in the past and was always interested. I have been moving pretty quickly to get on board so that I can dedicate a little bit of time every day towards a musical goal. I finally fee like I am musically mature enough to put down an album and now its time to get down to it!

    My first purchase was a Pro Key 88 M-Audio keyboard which I am extremely happy with. The hammer action and the vast number of nobs is really helpful for playing around with sounds.

    My second purchase was Acid and a crap ton of VSTs to play with.

    However I was saddened to learn that I couldn't record my VSTs in realtime while playing back track audio.

    I'm the type of musician that likes to lay down a drum track, jam with it a little on guitar and then add keyboards. Give or take any alteration of that, but generally I am the most comfortable and efficient jamming to it in real time. As in play the drum track and record keyboard over it at the same time its playing.

    What hardware or software should I be looking into to accomplish this? Sometime soon I would like to be interfacing a drum machine, kaos pad and probably a monome.

    Acid was just to get started on this, what software would best be in line with my needs and what hardware should I support those needs with?

    I am a one man show, so I won't need multiple inputs to record at once. But on the guitar side I'll be taking direct outs from some rack gear. Drum wise, I might buy a virtual drum set and map some VSTs\noises to it.

    Computer wise, right now I'm running a mid range laptop. Dedicated video card, garbage onboard sound

    Core 2 Duo P8700 2.53ghz
    4gb ram
    sata drives
    NVIDIA onboard sound =(

    I'm running the Pro 88 through USB which is setup through the keyboard.

    I would like to get by with the least I can right now while I'm learning. But recording during playback is a must for me. I don't want to deal with chopping and clipping and all that malarky. Recording the performance to me also sounds more real and organic. For me, all these new age recordings have gotten to the point that I can barely listen to most modern music. Its so sterile that its lost all its feel.

    Anyways, any advice would be awesome!
  2. NCdan

    NCdan Guest


    Audition, ProTools, Cubase, the list goes on... Now, if you want the best DAW for plugins and MIDI (ack, gag, why can't people learn how to actually play the instruments they want to record?), Cubase it is. Enjoy. Buy Yamaha everything and you'll have fantastic integration.
  3. Nickerz

    Nickerz Guest

    A couple of years ago I would have agreed with you. But now some of the vsts are so mature its not even worth finding "real synths." A pod live will give you all the bass tone you'll ever need. And piano has been sampled to perfection.

    Drum is an iffy area, and guitar has not yet matured.

    Also, the amount of money I would have to spend to get a real piano, synths, violins etc etc is not at all realistic. I'm not playing standard rock music. So a hundred thousand dollar budged for instruments is not realistic.
  4. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Distinguished Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    I can't see if you mentioned a digital interface or not, if you want to be able to record and monitor incoming sounds at the same time you'll need a FireWire or SATA interface. Any DAW is pretty much going to be capable of this. I use Logic and it is capable of doing 'takes'. How this works is you pick a certain section of song, for you it will be the drum track section, and press record. It plays the part and you record over it, when it reaches the end it cycles over again as many times as you want until you feel like you've gotten the perfect take. You can even access all takes because they're all saved to the destination project folder. Very useful. I haven't gotten a chance to utilize it myself, but from what I've heard from you this is just what you are looking for. You didn't mention if you were running PC or MAC.
  5. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Moderator Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    I'll have to completely disagree with this statement. There are some samples that are better than others but none of them sound like a well prepared concert grand of any brand-Steinway, Bosendorfer, Bechstein, Pleyel, or any other.

    Expense vs. tangible or perceived benefit is a factor I understand.
  6. Nickerz

    Nickerz Guest

    I also agree with your statement in a way. I think 90% of people could not tell the difference. If you played the two, with other instruments like drums, bass etc etc most people would not know the difference between a good commercial piano vst and the real deal.

    By itself, with the the lights turned out sure. But the point being its not very realistic to buy 3 concert pianos, mics for them etc etc

    Even if I could afford one, I can't put a piano in my warehouse. I am however lucky enough to be able to have my guitar, head & cabinet along with my keyboard in my office.

    So what do you recommend for an interface? I would prefer a firewire interface. I would occasionally like to plug in my guitar directly as well.

    Also, with the interface its functioning as my soundcard then correct?
  7. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Distinguished Member

    Feb 21, 2009

    link removed

    link removed

    Both of which come with Cubase LE 4
  8. Nickerz

    Nickerz Guest

    OK, I just read up on Cubase 4, and unless I'm reading this wrong I can't record VSTs in realtime. Only record, then export to mix down.

    This is THE most important thing to me, be able to record the VSTs in realtime against a loop.

    Am I going to need to purchase a hardware VST plug in hoster like the Receptor?
  9. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Distinguished Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    Recording with VST's active doesn't 'print' anything to the track. The signal path looks like this...

    1. Processed signal comes in
    2. Written to disc/routed to DAW
    3. Plugs further process the sound
    4. Audio goes to speakers/monitors to be heard.

    No matter if you have VST's active or bypassed at the time of recording you can always tweak them later. You won't gain anything except maybe a few ms of latency.
  10. Genereaux

    Genereaux Active Member

    Dec 29, 2008
    I'm not entirely sure I understand.....

    I've been using the heck outta my Cubase LE (my CS4 dongle is at the drummers house) over the past few weeks.
    I can't MONITOR my VSTs while I'm recording. Unless I have the 'monitor' button pressed, though if I'm overdubbing against existing tracks there's some latency issues.
    So I just hear my overdub 'dry' as I track it. But if the VST is 'ON', I hear it on playback. And if I bypass it, it goes away. As Guitarfreak has pointed out.

    Give or take any alteration of that, but generally I am the most comfortable and efficient jamming to it in real time. As in play the drum track and record keyboard over it at the same time its playing.
    I've been on a writing binge for the past couple weeks, and that's exactly what I've been doing. I could link you to a guitar/vox demo I've done, if that would illustrate anything, but the point is; Yes, it's easily do-able.
    I you need to HEAR the effected guitar as you track, then you may need to reach for the Pod. I too, would rather hear my distortion as I play, but I've adapted well enough to 'imagining' the distortion as I track clean.

    For the record, I'm running a Vista 32 laptop, Cubase LE and an MBox2 (though I'd say find a firewire interface) for my 'at home' recording, and it's holding up well against my current prolificness.

  11. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    Jan 16, 2006
    Nuremberg, Germany
    Home Page:
    you can record vsti's in real-time. but what you record is not audio/waveform. you record midi information (when, how long and how hard you play a note). this midi track then triggers the sounds of the vsti. this works while recording and while you play back the track.
    the main advantage is that you can change the sound of the vsti whenever you want without having to record the take again. and you can also change/delete/add notes afterwards. this comes in handy when you played a mistake.
    you can also quantise your performance, which means that you can apply perfect timing to it. if this is a good thing or not is another story...

    but to be able to play a vsti in real-time you need a low latency setup (audio interface/computer/software). otherwise you will hear each note you play delayed. no fun playing like that...

    later in mixdown these midi tracks will be "printed" together with all the other tracks to an audio file.
  12. bcs_tim

    bcs_tim Guest

    To monitor an input track with fx on it, you'll want to bung your soundcard on it's lowest buffer setting to reduce latency. Then crank the buffer back up if your playing the track back to reduce artifacts.

    In cubase, and any DAW's worth their salt, you can monitor with fx in realtime and play them back in realtime, but only the direct signal is recorded. E.g., i want to record vocals with some reverb in my cans. Easy, put the buffer setting on its lowest level, monitor the vocal track in my DAW and put a reverb on it. only my dry vocal will be recorded, and every time i play it back it will reprosses the reverb in real time, which i can still tweak or scrap. however, with a low buffer setting i am able to do that without any significant latency in my cans.
    (i know theres better ways to do this but meh, its an example. watevs. lol.)

    you'll want a good firewire interface for low latency recording.
  13. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    +1 Samples don't sound real. I was just discussing this in another thread about drums. :lol:
  14. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    Jan 16, 2006
    Nuremberg, Germany
    Home Page:
    they sound real enough considering the prices of a real piano and the equipment you need to make a good recording.
  15. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    I know what you mean. :? Samples are a frustrating blessing.
  16. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    Jan 16, 2006
    Nuremberg, Germany
    Home Page:
    for me as a musician, who basically started "engineering" so i can record my own ideas and music, samples are a blessing without any frustration.
    i'm sure from the point of a real engineer samples can be a big frustration...
  17. hueseph

    hueseph Distinguished Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Ivory sounds pretty darn good. If you weren't paying attention I bet you couldn't tell the difference. I think it's way harder to make strings sound real. I've heard good string samples but you can always tell that it's a sample. Somehow the sound of the bow, the tail of the note just don't sound natural. Horns are tough to pull off as well.

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