Skip to main content

I've been a drummer and guitarist for about 9 years, just in school and as a hobby. I got Reason 6 and an Axiom 25 MIDI controller not long ago and I'm having lots of fun making music but I'm looking to get a couple more things and I have some questions.

First of all, when I first got my midi controller it had some lag and it took me a good day or two to figure out that I needed ASIO and what it was. So now I have ASIO4ALL and when I start up Reason it knows to use it and everything works great. However, while I'm working on a track in Reason, I often like to tab over to my browser to listen to some music or watch some tutorials or just take a break and go on Facebook or whatever. But ASIO4ALL takes over my soundcard and I don't get sound out of anything but Reason. This isn't horrible, but it's just annoying. I have to bring up the little ASIO4ALL window, disable sound for Reason, and re-enable it for my regular soundcard.

I'm not sure if I have this right, but I think if I got an audio interface (with midi), it would handle the midi, so that I don't have to use ASIO4ALL and yet still get no lag. and then I could have sound come from Reason AND my browser. Can anyone confirm or deny?

I don't need a lot of inputs. In my near future I see me maybe using this for up to 2 mics, 2 guitars at once. And of course I'd like it to have midi-in. What I know about audio interfaces? You want good preamps for mics and instruments. Something about DAC's. You need at least 16 bit depth for CD quality and a sample rate of 44.1khz. That's about it.

So, yeah, while I'm at it, looking for an interface for midi that is, I figured I'd get one that's decent for my electric guitar as well. And I'd also like to get a mic so I can maybe try some vocals or record my friends, or maybe some acoustic guitar, sample some drum hits or claps... maybe record a tambourine, etc. I don't know a lot about mics. I've read that condenser mics catch a lot more sound and frequencies and are better for vocals and dynamic mics are more focused and not quite as good sound quality but they're more durable.

After a little researching I've found 4 mics that seem to be fairly good and recommended for beginners:
Shure SM57 (Dynamic)
Shure SM58 (Dynamic)
Behringer C-1 (Condenser)
MXL V67G (Condenser)

Any input would be helpful, thanks. My price ranges are not concrete, I'm open to more ideas if they're worth the cost.


RemyRAD Mon, 05/28/2012 - 20:21

You want input? I'll give you some input. The SM58 is the same as the SM57. The 58 has that nice metal ball with a little extra foam inside of it. It's the sort of adequate but an extra foam ball on top of the metal ball will work even better. Then you unscrew the metal ball to turn it into a SM57 to put on your guitar amplifier. But you could also put the SM58 even with the extra foam ball on your guitar amplifier and you won't lose anything by doing that. What you will lose his more than $100 on a computer audio interface that includes MIDI capabilities that are integrated within it for around $100. That's unrealistic. And even though Radio Shaft makes Realistic stuff, it ain't realistic stuff. And they don't have any of the realistic stuff you need or want. Don't even think about those crappy condenser microphones you've listed. They're crap. The 58 is your best investment. Watch any television with musical acts. 99% of the time, you'll see the singer on the 58. You'll only see them on something else when they requested something else or they were provided something else for free as an endorsement package. Nobody's going to offer you a microphone or computer audio interface for free. Certainly not a computer audio interface that includes microphone inputs along with a MIDI interface. So, what, you paid less than $100 for your guitar? If you did? Then you shouldn't waste $100 on a microphone to record it with. And then your computers soundcard microphone input would work perfectly fine with a seven dollar multimedia microphone. You might want to check with some of the jokers at Guitar Center since they don't know jack but are certainly willing to sell you anything you want that may or may not serve your needs. But hey, it's only rock 'n roll.

I only spent $150,000 and I still didn't get what I wanted. I wanted a gold record and they don't make those anymore.
Mx. Remy Ann David

Zuko Mon, 05/28/2012 - 20:56

You seem kind of angry, lol. Been doing this for awhile, eh?

First of all, thanks for the info about the mics. Like I said, I don't know much about this stuff. I guess I'll probably end up going with the 58.

And, for the record, I was talking about $200 for the interface, not $100. I realize even $200 is probably not going to get me anything amazing... and maybe going for one that has midi is going to detract from the quality.
What is a better solution then? Get something that just has midi, like this?:
[[url=http://[/URL]="…"] MOTU Fast Lane USB MIDI Interface: Musical Instruments[/]="…"] MOTU Fast Lane USB MIDI Interface: Musical Instruments[/]
Will that do what I want: take away the lag without taking over my soundcard?

And then just worry about getting the best quality interface for the price?

RemyRAD Tue, 05/29/2012 - 08:41

I think you are getting MIDI interfaces confused with interfaces that include XLR microphone inputs. Numerous interfaces provide both from companies like MOTU & a plethora of others. Some are just MIDI interfaces. Some are just audio interfaces. Some provide both. You can even utilize a separate audio interface that does not include MIDI but will work in concert with an audio interface that provides you with professional XLR microphone inputs. Having a single system that is tightly integrated that includes both XLR & MIDI are available, in a single interface. That scenario is not 100% necessary but can be quite a bit more desirable to have an interface that includes both functions. The prices can range greatly where some will provide MIDI with adequate but not necessarily stellar XLR built-in preamps and converters.

Now that the Memorial Day holiday is over, I'm sure other members here will start to recommend other specific units of which they have. I don't necessarily do MIDI myself but specialize more in multitrack audio recording. Years ago I purchased a desktop unit by MO TU, the 2408 which requires a desktop computer since an internal PCI card was utilized. The 2408 has 8 analog inputs and outputs and is capable of 24x2 different types of digital audio connections along with MIDI but no XLR microphone preamps. That's because I feed it with external high quality, specialized, XLR preamps by API & NEVE. But they also make other units that feature 2 high quality XLR inputs with include MIDI that have FireWire connectivity. Other manufacturers include similar units that connect to via USB 2.0/USB 3.0/Thunderbolt. So there are numerous manufacturers such as M-Audio, Avid, Mackie, many others that offer both within a single unit. They're not $200 however. They're more. Since you already have a MIDI interface, you can supplement that with an M-Audio device that will feature 2 XLR microphone inputs and still be within your $200 budget. And that's doable. Within a $200 budget, you will have an adequate unit that will serve your needs while it may not be what we would consider stellar nor top of the line. But still 100% adequate for the average home enthusiast which many folks like yourself here utilize quite successfully. So it all really depends upon the quality level of the tonality of their internal microphone preamps. Some have better analog to digital converters where others have average analog to digital converters which are still 100% adequate. Guitar Center/Musicians Friend, Sweetwater, Sam Ash and other suppliers offers such units that are closer to your budget.

To summarize, MIDI interfaces pass no audio. Digital audio interfaces don't necessarily pass MIDI. Other devices feature both within a single box. Since you'll also need to pass audio, you will likely also need to record the audio onto a separate disk drive that will require another USB and/or FireWire connection. This will depend upon how many external connections your computer may have which will dictate and influence your purchasing decision. So folks will want to know how many external connection types the computer you're working with may have. Recording your audio to your Operating System drive is usually never a desirable thing to do. This confuses a lot of people since multitrack audio channels can tax your Operating System disk drive. There are folks who want to record 8 or more audio tracks simultaneously or simply Play back 24 or more channels of audio that they have recorded in addition to their MIDI tracks. That's where you'll need that external disk drive to handle a load of audio & MIDI. It can get mind-boggling. So you don't necessarily want to limit yourself by wasting money on an impossible scenario that may not work for your productions. This is why professionals like myself will recommend vast different possibilities. There is no one solution to your request. But instead, many.

Additional information about your computer will generally be requested by others in order to help your decision-making process.

Pro studio gal
Mx. Remy Ann David

Zuko Tue, 05/29/2012 - 16:21

Yes, I understand that MIDI is just information about key presses and knob turns, etc.... no audio. And that an audio interface is for recording audio, i.e. through a microphone or guitar. What I got from your first reply was that, if I tried to get a reasonable audio interface for around $200, I'd get a better quality if I went for one without MIDI. As to say, companies throw MIDI into crappy audio interfaces to bring up the prices. So what I got from that was that I should get 2 separate interfaces: a MIDI interface, like the MOTU FastLane that I linked in my last post, and then an audio interface, like... what? Most of the audio interfaces I've seen already have MIDI.

I'm using Reason 6.
As far as what kind of music I'm making.... it's just a lot of experimentation. I've always loved rock and metal, in high school I was a drummer in a band with my friends. I haven't been in a band for years, though. Ever since I got out of high school. Pieces of my drumset were slowly borrowed and lost or broken. I don't even really have space to setup a drumset right now, let alone record drums. I just play guitar here and there on my crappy little 15w Marshall practice amp. I've expanded my music horizon a lot in the last few years as well; listening to a lot of electronic stuff. All kinds of stuff: Gorillaz, NIN, Daft Punk, Justice, Glitch Mob, Sleigh Bells, The Knife, Ratatat... dare I say it, sometimes Skrillex. Like I said, I'm just experimenting... Those are just some of my influences. I also like just writing soundtrack-type stuff. It would be cool to do music for games.

My desktop:
Windows 7 64-bit
Intel i5 3.30GHz, quad-core
1TB HDD, ~400GB free

It has USB 3.0 as well as FireWire.

I'm not really sure about the sound. I guess it's a Realtek High Definition Audio... chip? It's just what was on the motherboard when I bought it. I don't have a standalone sound card. I was under the impression that I don't need one if I get an audio interface.

Again, more about my needs:
#1 lagless MIDI. Preferably w/o ASIO4ALL taking over my soundcard. Because, as in my original post, I like to multi-task. Write in Reason, listen to some music, check my email, etc, go back to Reason.
I'm not really sure what I need for this or if this is just a stupid request. I'll buy a soundcard if that's what I need.

#2 A decent audio interface for recording with a mic and/or guitar. I don't plan to be making any gold records anytime soon... at least not at my house.
I'm not necessarily looking to make a home studio. I just want to be able to record my own ideas. I only need maybe a couple mic/instrument inputs. I'm not looking to record drums or a whole band or anything.

I guess you could say I'm semi-serious at the moment. I'd like to be able to make music, and I don't want to be limited to crappy quality in case I actually end up going somewhere with it, but I don't need top-dollar production quality.

RemyRAD Wed, 05/30/2012 - 08:45

So then you'll only need a simple external USB interface made by M-Audio, PreSonus Audio Box, Lexicon, others, all within your $200 budget which should be more than adequate for you. And those will also include yet other nice multi-track bundled software that you might also find quite intriguing and quite capable with additional samples sound libraries to explore. And those will have XLR combo inputs which also accept 1/4 inch instrument inputs so you could take a guitar or keyboard in directly. I have set up some of my home recording clients with those particular interfaces.

I'm rarely angry. But I am a smartass.
Mx. Remy Ann David