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This site has been great for me to learn some ins and outs and read quality answers. I am hoping to get some insights and suggestions on a technical question. I am putting together a voice recording studio for my teenagers. I have obtained most hardware components - used and open box deals but good quality. Soon I will test it with my Windows laptop.
My question revolves around using an older iPad. Though I am setting this up for my teenagers, I have to consider the cost vs risk of the teenagers long term interest. Therefore, I am wondering if a 5th or 6th generation iPad would handle the DAWs of today gracefully and take in a usb's audio interface feed. There is a large price drop between the latest iPad and the 4 and 5th generations. I could dedicate an iPad to the recording studio for $125 and gain other advantages such as mobility, single subscription among all kids, me learning only 1 or 2 software pieces before teaching the kids. Dedicating a new iPad doesn't make sense, but if an older iPad works great, then I can afford to dedicate (for the most part) to the set up.

I haven't spent much time with iPads or a like so I don't know the computing power of any of the generations or iOS's.

Any experience using 4th or 5th generations iPads would be of great help.

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pcrecord Mon, 09/30/2019 - 07:29

Welcome to RO John !!

I'm pretty sure most IPad can handle recording as Apple give Garage band for free since many years now.
Where the limitation starts is the amount of tracks and real time effect it could process
And the big deal breaker for me is : storage limitation.

So if your kids want to do karaoke and/or won't do a lot of multitracks recordings they could be good.
But for more complex work, I'd check for a macbook or a PC (laptop or tower)

If you do go with an IPad, there is many docking audio stations available.. could be nice addition.

kmetal Mon, 09/30/2019 - 08:57

Hey John welcome to RO.

I had an iPad air a few years back with cubasis software. If all your doing is a couple of audio tracks, with backup tracks already made, ie karaoke, like Marco said, you'll be fine. Or if you have a quick idea you want to put down.

Beyond that the ipad becomes too limited. Older ones dont allow transfers to external drives, and the space fills up very quickly. Not to mention the recording apps are limited relative to even free daws out there for a computer. There are plenty of daws available for smartphones to try if you want a taste of mobile device style recording. Its brilliant that a tablet is even capable of any sort of tracking and mixing considering the iphone is only a little over ten years old. Still i think these formats are best suited as add ons to a core computer based system, rather than the core.

I would look into a very basic computer to start with. This gives you the most bang for the buck.

Even a dual core AMD a9 based laptop for 150$ bucks will vastly outperform a tablet. Simply add a basic 20$ ssd for operating system, use the hdd that came with the computer for audio, and you have something capable of a couple dozen tracks and effects. Plenty to start with. Battery life will be poor (2hrs) so stay near a plug. Quad core amd desktops can be had for 300$ with 12gb of ram installed, which 10 years ago would have been considered a very powerful audio computer and professional level. 400$ gets you a 6 core intel machine. (Add 20$ ssd drive to either for the OS) Both those desktops would handle quite a bit. With the desktop you get the most firepower for the buck, and something that will stay relevant for years down the line. The budget laptop will max out relatively quickly and has limited expandability.

If the kids get bored the computer can serve other functions.

Computers allow you to use the actual recording programs people of all levels are using to make music, and will handle virtual instruments much better than a tablet, for making beats, or adding synths or whatever. Theres also a great deal more information out there in the form of tutorials, and much more free software (legit, not pirated) available for the computer. There is some surprisingly high quality stuff out there as freeware and trial/lite versions.

Another advantage is computers will handle video alot more gracefully. Video is like a wildfire these days and something the kids may develop an interest in.

Boswell Mon, 09/30/2019 - 09:06

Hi John and welcome!

I think you ought to start by investigating which DAWs are supported on a reasonably recent tablet or iPad, and then work backwards towards the microphone. I'm assuming you have combed the AppStore for likely candidates.

Of the half-dozen major DAWs., it's really only Steinberg's CuBasis that will run on an iPad, although you could possibly promote GarageBand to be in the major league for this consideration. However, these are versions of the PC/Mac originals stripped-down to fit within the capabilities of an iPad, but they do nevertheless retain a useful level of operation. In addition to those two, there are plenty of beat assemblers and the like, which may be more the sort of thing that would grab a teenager's attention.

You then have to consider the audio interface. This involves more than looking to see if the tablet or iPad has a USB port, since it's the device driver for a particular interface that is a crucial component. I haven't recently researched which interfaces are available with IOS drivers, but last time I looked, it was hopelessly few apart from the ones for the two DAWs mentioned above.

You have set yourself a difficult task. If it's any help, I gave up trying to find a basic DAW that was better than AudioShare or Edity or that would run on my old iPad 2.

Note that an iPad can make a good wi-fi control surface for major DAWs running on a PC or Mac. Particularly for live work, it's very useful to be able to adjust parameters of your DAW or digital mixer while striding round an auditorium during rehearsals and sound checks prior to a gig.

kmetal Mon, 09/30/2019 - 10:46

Another couple thoughts on ipad vs computer.

With a tablet your committed to the display its got, or an additional wireless solution like apple tv. If you crack the screen or damage it, its almost as much to replace the ipad as fix the screen.

Peripherals like music keyboards, drum pads ect are much more widely available for computers and dont rely on the somewhat dodgy bluetooth connection an ipad would use. Good ol usb for the computer.

kmetal Mon, 09/30/2019 - 11:23

Boswell, post: 462267, member: 29034 wrote: Most tablets (including iPads) use wi-fi as their principal wireless communication method. Some have Bluetooth in addition. Wi-fi usually has a greater reliable range than Bluetooth.

Sorry i was mixing that up. Apple tv uses wifi, the qwerty keyboards and speakers, drum pads and music keyboards ive seen from akai used Bluetooth.

Thanks for the correction.

John Napier Mon, 09/30/2019 - 20:14

You guys are great. Everything I need to know overnight.
Both of my girls are great singers and will get a kick out of this home studio. My 15 yr old is heavily involved in a performing arts high school into musical theater. The other is a graphics designer and a talented signer.

They have iphones so I am sure they will go that route and do karaoke when a bunch of friends are over but they practice all the time and have had voice lessons etc. I really think they will take to it and it will be somewhat transforming for them to record and mix their voice. Even though the 15 year old travels with a student vocal group and is involved in musical theater, she, as a student, won't get taught about processing her voice or using tools to expand her capabilities. Kids don't touch the mics or any equipment in school. She plans on following through with singing and theater after high school so I want her to understand many aspects of her craft and the world she may enter. Also, just like adults, kids don't know what they don't know. Once we start learning about something, it changes our thoughts. For them, accessing the home studio equipment will graduate them from making eyeblink TicToc videos with their iphone to making singles with their musical friends, producing the vocal side of their college application, and maybe, just maybe, getting together a garage band.

So after I read your all's responses, I did some research and get it. iphone/pad apps are limited in tracks and thus sophistication. Use them for fun but to get a reasonable number of tracks and a whole lot more benefits and control, move on to a laptop and get many more options.

I am glad I asked about the iPad. kMetal, that is great what you said about an older PC. I know them inside out while apple products are foreign to me. In fact, I have several DDR3 sticks of ram and 2 nice SSD's in a drawer. I will set might sights on the newest processor laptop I can find for the money, up grade those components, and install a striped down operating system. Yes, video would definately be popular with them - and I have a pretty good webcam, too. I

So here is the basement studio set up in the making. The speakers and amplifier I already have, the other stuff I scoured online auctions and secondary markets (Reverb, Craigslist, ect) for good deal.
- Speakers: Bose Acoutimass 5 II
- Amp: Solid Kenwood reciever from back when everyone had tower speakers
In the mail:
- Yamaha AG06 - I got a good deal and wanted the 48v mic and the ability to expand beyond 1 voice, 1 instrument input. Plus the loopback feature will make it easy for a beginner to get quick results - even if just recording their voice mixed with a karaoke track. I think they can grow with this interface.
- Not so fancy Sony headphones.
- Audio Technica AT2020 mic - didn't want to cheap out in this department. Got this at a great price, too.
Scanning internet sites for:
Shure ST58 or like - need a quality mic that is mobile and can be used while moving around
Laptop w best processor I can get on a budget.
I will go local for the wire and two mic stands - one round base gooseneck and one tripod w boom.
I really think I can complete this set up for under $500. I may even be able to get Cubase AI even if the original owner of the AG06 already obtained it.

If they like the system, I would like to get them a small keyboard, though I don't know much about them.

Gotta look at open source DAW's. I also need to see what social media / sharing mechanisms are available - that would be the barb on the hook as far as catching their interests.

Thanks guys, I will post what ever develops.

pcrecord Tue, 10/01/2019 - 05:10

John Napier, post: 462269, member: 51693 wrote: - Speakers: Bose Acoutimass 5 II
- Amp: Solid Kenwood reciever from back when everyone had tower speakers

If this gets a tinny bit serious, these won't give you and your girl a good reference for mixing because of their EQ curve.
Later on, you could add some studio monitors.

I'm not sure about the AG06. It's a good thing because it will give them experience with a mixer.. but most audio interfaces will have better preamp in none mixer format.
Like Focusrite's or Presonus's interfaces.

Of course the important thing is to get going and you and your girls will outgrow the equipment over time. It's often better like this so you don't overly spend money that can go to waste.. ;)

John Napier Wed, 10/02/2019 - 21:23

Yeah, the whole set up is to get them going and open up the technical side of using a trained voice. The speakers are kinda lame, but I have a high quality amplified base speaker that I might be able to add to the mix.
I just picked up a two craiglist mic stands the are in fabulous shape - a boom and a gooseneck round. The guy had a decent looking handheld microphone and he said it was a dynamic mic so that came home with me. When I got home I found out it was a small diaphram condenser mic. I was bummed because the Yamaha AG06 only has one 48V jack.
I do like the AG06. All others in that price range I paid for this only had two inputs (some had 3) and few features. The AG06 can send 6 channels out and had many more features. Several kids can use it at once.

thanks, you guys.