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This newb needs some basic gear

Discussion in 'Recording' started by H0bgawblin, Jul 11, 2010.

  1. H0bgawblin

    H0bgawblin Guest

    I am familiar with forums, and I know that the newbs newb always asks a question to general to be treated seriously. Well, I am a newbs newb when it comes to recording and creating digital music. So I am sorry for the general question I'm about to ask.

    I am a student of music. I sing, and compose. I wanted to create a portfolio in hopes of getting work as a composer. I want to buy a basic set up with finale, some mixing software, and a 88 key controller.

    I would like to stick to pc just based on price, but if that's not a good idea I'd like to know.

    The whole point I'm trying to get to, is that I have no idea what to get in order to create symphonic works on a computer that are high in quality. I can read and write music just fine, but I've been told mixing and recording software is still necessary.

    If someone could give me a link with decent info that would supply a direction for me. Or if someone knows what questions I need to ask, that would be fantastic.
    My current budget is $3,000 US. That's a lot of money for me and I REALLY don't want to buy a set up and find out it's not what I need. Any advice would be massively appreciated.
     
  2. HaHallur

    HaHallur Active Member

    Sounds like you dont need alot of preamps, would you record anything else besides singing ? (excluding midi)

    You say you'd like to spend 3000 dollars and get nice symphonic works... software can be really expensive and you could spend 3 grand quickly on VST instruments.
    In that price range i'd go with either Native Instruments Kontakt 4, 380$ or Komplete 6 (Kontakt 4 + alot of other stuff) 500$, it has amazing symphonic instruments and choirs as well, awesome for that kind of money.
    They are the best sounding VST inst. in that field that I've heard.
    I've only used Cubase (200-500$) so I couldnt tell you something else is better or worse but I really like it.

    As for the hardware i'm assuming you already have a PC.

    I have an RME Fireface 800 1600$ interface which is very popular and pretty versatile.
    Many people will be able to recommend it, might be an overkill for your situation, but I dont know =)

    Look for online reviews of the RME Fireface 800!

    Then you'd have to get a good condenser microphone for your voice, someone else should help you with that, its not my field yet =)
     
  3. H0bgawblin

    H0bgawblin Guest

    This is very tough for me to understand all of this atm. I looked up kontakt and komplete 6. I don't understand if this is a mixing software, a composing software, or something for loops. All I see is that it is a very high quality set of sounds, which is fantastic, but I don't understand how to use it. Would I plug the sounds into a controller and play into protools or finale? Or could I take some form of notation and apply these sounds to that notation? Sorry for my ignorance, I did try to read before I answered, but I got more confused haha.

    I do not already have a professional grade PC. That's something I'm saving for atm and is part of my budget. I can easily save more money overtime for my recording set up. So if I can add something like high quality sounds later to something I've already written that might sound mediocre, then it might be a good idea to wait for something like komplete 6 when I want to post my portfolio. In the mean time, writting out scores and decent sounds and mixing them (is mixing super important to quality scoring and recording?) with decent quality so that I can later attach fantastic sounds to them seems to be a decent approach.

    I'm sorry if I'm all over the place, I'm very new to this.

    EDIT: I'm only in need of guitar/bass guitar/ and vocal recording, but I don't need superb quality for those, just decent enough to pass on a portfolio.
     
  4. HaHallur

    HaHallur Active Member

    VST instrument like Kontakt works like plug-in in a DAW program, e.g. Pro Tools or Cubase, I wouldnt personally get Pro Tools because then you are only limited to hardware that is Pro Tools compatible. (but thats just my opinion)

    The preamps in the Fireface will do more than fine and it has alot of expandability for the best things around.

    I'd advise you not to skimp out on the interface because entry level interfaces donĀ“t have any expandability, plus you dont want your equipment holding you back.

    Its alot easier to upgrade computers, i'm actually a big computer enthusiast, if you are just looking for a DAW system you could build a good machine for under a whether its pre built or not 1000$, GFX card tend to be 1/3 of the cost so if you are not planning on playing games its alot cheaper.

    Just make sure its Intel i7, 4 cores and 8 threads, 6GB's of memory or more and Windows 7 64bit.
     
  5. H0bgawblin

    H0bgawblin Guest

    so, komplete 6 is to be used with an interface such as protools? If not pro tools what? Acid pro? also, I was thinking this for my controller

    Buy Studiologic SL-990 PRO 88-Key Keyboard Controller | Keyboard Controllers | Musician's Friend

    I also have a tascam digital portastudio dp-02

    TASCAM

    The other thing is, could I export a midi or wav file from sibelious or finale and have cubase or konekt interpret that into midi for me to edit? I am classically trained and I think in terms of notation, so working with the notes on a page is where I really feel most creative.
     
  6. HaHallur

    HaHallur Active Member

    I think you are going about this in reverse order, start with the computer and the recording interface, pick DAW software such as Cubase, ProTools, Sonar, Logic, Acid, Reason etc.
    Then when you go all that figured out, then you can start getting vst instruments, mics and real instruments.

    I can only recommend Cubase, i'm pretty sure its the most common recording software.
    By all means check it out Cubase 5
     
  7. H0bgawblin

    H0bgawblin Guest

    Thanks a bunch, I've checked out cubase 5 already and man it looks exciting. Apparently Justin Bieber used it on his album for one track, and while I don't get excited over his music it definitely proves it's professional merit.

    I'll absolutely keep komplete in mind, and I'll try my best to get a sensible computer up and running with cubase 5. Is there a decent sound card you would recommend? Also, I heard DAW's should avoid the internet like a plague, but I'd like to have internet on my computer. Can I unplug the net while recording? Or is it a matter of virus protection?

    Also, I need to know if notation software like finale, ect, can export files into cubase 5.
     
  8. HaHallur

    HaHallur Active Member

    Another thing about Cubase is that its the most common DAW around so there are tons of tutorials on youtube and stuff like that.


    You dont want a sound-card inside the computer unless its really expensive... and if you do you'd most likely need an external device to connect to that soundcard.

    You want an external soundcard connected VIA firewire. Like RME's Fireface 800.
    Its connected VIA firewire and acts as your computer's soundcard.
    The good thing about having your soundcard external is that its free from electro static that comes from all the stuff happening inside your computer.

    The Fireface is really the grand daddy of firewire interfaces, there are plenty more of these things from other manufacturers that are less expensive.
    But rest assure that the Fireface is a great value for your money.


    That thing about the internet is complete bogus, just get a good free virus protection like Avast.
    I'm assuming you dont use the internet for 24/7 **** site usage =)
     
  9. H0bgawblin

    H0bgawblin Guest

    I guess I can't download lots of pron from limewire anymore, ooh darn :p. On a more serious note, the firewire you recomend is insanely out of my budget. with a computer, monitor, midi controller, finale, and cubase 5 i only have 450 left to spend on a fire wire. The one you recommended was 3 times that amount. Is it necessary to drop that much on a firewire?
     
  10. HaHallur

    HaHallur Active Member

    Like I previously said, IMO you are going about this in the wrong order, get the computer and interface (soundcard) first.
    When you have that you can add what ever when you have the money.

    Save money and get Cubase Studio 5, its the same thing as Cubase 5 except a few features you'd never use are skimpted off.
    Plus Cubase has a decent score editor that you could use until you get Finale.
     
  11. H0bgawblin

    H0bgawblin Guest

    Ok, sounds like that's that. Thanks a bunch. If something comes up, you mind if I pm you?

    Also, the firewire you said acts as a sound card right? So I'd plug my speakers into it, or head phones? Or is it only processed through the firewire and then sent back to the tower where the head phone/speaker jacks are located?
     
  12. HaHallur

    HaHallur Active Member

    No everything is connected to the external device, and sure you can PM me =)
     
  13. Shadow_7

    Shadow_7 Active Member

    Is piano your main instrument? Or are you going to be using an actual piano player to input the notes? If not, you don't really need an 88 key controller IMO. If it's just going to be a data entry human interface device. Not that it'll hurt to have the big toys.

    You are going about it a little backwards. Perhaps find a local composer and seek some advice from him/her. Take a lesson, $100-ish per hour and get the info to get you started. A real person doing a real job that you are wanting to do. And a potential contact for gigs / work.

    Gear wise. Get a decent computer. It doesn't have to be Septembers gaming console of the month machine. You're probably not going to be doing a lot of HD video editing and CGI work on it. Or you might. Unless you're adding a lot of effects and other extras you don't really need that great of computing power for audio. Baring full orchestral scores and other 100+ track endeavors. Which you're not likely to do out the gate, and that might not even be something that you're interested in. Save your money where you can to get that thing you must have. You'll know it when you see it.

    Get a decent full duplex interface. Without one, you can't multi-track. You want something decent, but not something needy. If you only need two tracks then get something with only two tracks. If you're going to be recording real drums you'll likely want something with at least 8 channels. Otherwise there are midi equivalent drum devices. And nothing really stopping you from punching that in on your keyboard. An echo Layla 3G or similar device might be all you need. As long as it has the inputs and outputs and the quality to do you.

    Get a decent mic. Without one you really can't get there from here as they say in Georgia. It doesn't have to be a great mic, it doesn't even have to be just ONE mic. But a mic(s) that suit your intended sources well. It's the front line of your recording chain. You don't really want to skimp too much here. But you don't need Neuman if MXL will do you. At least not just starting off.

    Expect to spend near $500 on each element. But try not to spend more than $1K on any one element (on that budget). Unless it's important to you, must have, can't settle for anything less. Try to stick with popular items so if it's not what you thought it was you can sell it and get most of your money back. As far as elements. Computer, Interface, Mic, Midi Input Device, Accessories, and Monitoring. You need a set of headphones to multitrack. And some decent speakers to listen to your work. It's something you'll be doing / working on everyday, you don't want something that's going to drive you bonkers because it sucks.

    Just some thoughts.
     
  14. H0bgawblin

    H0bgawblin Guest

    I appreciate the input. Keyboard is not my main instrument but it's something I play often and practice on daily (when I did have a keyboard). I moved recently and the piano wasn't mine so I had to stop playing. I had started learning one of chopin's nocturnes (the easier one:p), so I'm still somewhat new.

    Guitar and voice are my main instrument, and I have a mic that will get the job done for now. Head phones are an issue as well as speakers, I don't know what companies and devices to look for there.

    Also, as far as composers go, where would I go to look someone up because that sounds like a great idea. I'll ask around the music stores and send out a couple emails to some teachers at the college I suppose. If you have any other ideas to contact a composer, that would be fantastic.
     
  15. Shadow_7

    Shadow_7 Active Member

    Most any headphones that are closed and sealed should work. You need them to hear what you're tracking against, without having that get picked up by the mic (much). MDR-7506, ATH-M50, Senn HD-280, Proline, Grado, Stax, and the sky's the limit. Most anything $100 and sealed works. Just check the Ohms and Frequency range. 5Hz - 35Hz are generally good ones. On a budget ear buds with those mower ear muffs should work. Ear Muff Model 3000 seems okay, but I've never used them myself. You can always upgrade later.

    Sm81 is sort of a traditional guitar mic. Lots of options though. Voice really depends on the voice. KSM44 or AT4050 are safe bets, but pricey. MXL990 or AT3035 on a budget. Bluebird, SM7b, EV RE-20, so many options. Preamps can change the character of a mic dramatically so don't rule out certain mics at first glance. But if they don't work for you, they don't work for you. Preamps generally rank by $ per channel, and most earn their keep in that regard. The DMP3 is probably the cheapest you should even look at twice. Although a lot of interfaces with preamps integrated are on par with that preamp. Roughly anyway. The mics can vary, they all pick up sound. But some will likely work better in your acoustic space than others. Depending on the room and the source. It's very easy to go overboard. So try to resist on your first exposure. Start small and get your feet wet first. You can always upgrade later.

    As far as finding people, it depends on where you live. There's sometimes a musicians union or other association with a list. Although the list probably doesn't tell you much more than contact information. Check the names on your favorite songs. Check to see if they're still living. Try to contact them, even if they can't / wont, they might be able to point you in a direction. Basically just ask around. Visit the local college, they probably know someone. Or at least where you should look. If you're a freshman in a given major, hook up with a senior on that same track. Just saying that you're probably not alone in your quest. And there might be someone wanting to collaborate with you, that can get you rolling. School only does so much, at some point you just have to get out there and do it.
     
  16. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Just another add regarding symphonic sounds. IMHO East West's Quantum Leap libraries are unrivaled when it comes to realism. But, again these libraries are upwards of $1500 or more. Of course these are multisampled libraries that are many tens of gigabytes large. Check out these MINIMUM system requirements for "Hollywood Strings":

    PC MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
    • Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Dual Core 2.1GHz or higher
    • 4GB RAM
    • Windows XP SP2, Vista, or Windows 7
    • Sound card with ASIO drivers
    • 7200 RPM or faster (non energy saving) hard drive for sample streaming
    • 310GB free hard drive space / iLok Security Key (not supplied)
     
  17. H0bgawblin

    H0bgawblin Guest

    310gb for just the strings?! hot damn those better sound fantastic!

    Thanks for the info on the mic. I have an 80 dollar mic that sounds "ok" to my untrained ears which is probably not a good sign. However, I think I'll take your advice of just getting started and seeing what comes next. I sent a list of products to a sound engineer my brother knows and I'm waiting for the thumbs up to drop my 3g's. These are the parts I'm getting as of now.
     
  18. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    You get what you pay for. Quantum Leap libraries are as real as it gets without having to hire an orchestra.
     
  19. H0bgawblin

    H0bgawblin Guest

    YouTube - East West Hollywood Strings Demo - Allegro Agitato

    Your telling me everything in this video is synthed?! I need new pants. That is outstanding... I now have a dream to own that stuff. That sounds better than most orchestra's save for the major ones.
     
  20. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    If you subscribe to East West, they might still have "Play" available for free download with some limited orchestra samples. No where near as in-depth as the full version but it's a good example of the quality of the samples. You have to remember too that the musician that played the samples you heard in that video is probably a seasoned professional. I'm not insinuating that you aren't just reminding you to take it into consideration. A program is only as good as the person using it.
     

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