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Can't decide which setup to use

Hey guys, me and my band are trying to get some decent recordings for demos and whatever else. I've been reading up on here and some other sites and i can't decide what setup to go with. First off, i was thinking of going with a small 12 - 16 channel mixer and running it into my computer via firewire/USB into Cubase or some type of software. Something like an Alesis 16 multimix or a Peavey PV14 USB. OR...go the route of PreSonus Firepod into computer. Or a multitrack recorder. We need to record drums (6 mics), at least one guitar, maybe 2, bass, and lead and maybe one or 2 backup vocals. We would like to be able to simultaneously track everything if possible for recording practices and such, but we can record seperately if needed. The budget is probably somewhere around $500 if possible. Any help would be greatly appreciated and if you need any additional info just say so. Thanks.



DrGonz Sun, 06/24/2007 - 01:47
Sounds like me 2 yrs ago

I can tell u that my band was asking that same question a couple of years ago.
We decided to buy an EMU-1820 soundcard and bay, a small mackie board, 8 mics, and u get the idea. Well assuming u already have mics, cables and stands, then your nearly there.... Cubase SX3 is a good program to use and its compatible w/ just about anything. So are u doing the mixing too and mastering....
You'll need to learn alot about VST and DirectX effect plugins.
I dont think it would be possible to not use effects. Those can be pricey but the free ones might be all u need. Oh yeah u need a good computer that is not connected to the internet, and it would be wise to tinker w/ this computer. Configure it so only the bare essential processes run at startup, as to conserve resources. The computer needs to be 1Ghz or better and have at least 1 preferrably 2 Gigs of RAM. Audio files take up a lot of room on the HD too!
On a budget of $500 I would make sure software came w/ my soundcard free or discounted. Just make sure to not skimp on the soundcard D/A to A/D converters.

Best of luck to ya lads!! 8-)

Pro Audio Guest Mon, 06/25/2007 - 11:47
Thanks for the reply. I have a computer with a dual core 2Ghz processor and 2gb of RAM but my hard drive is kinda small. Can i use an external drive to store the audio data or would that be too slow since it connects by USB?

Also, yes we will be doing the mixing and mastering ourselves, but like i said we are just shooting for demo quality here so it doesn't have to be anything extreme. Right now we are recording with a computer mic plugging into my soundcard's mic input, so anything that will sound better than that is gonna be great haha.

So is the upgraded soundcard the way to go? (the EMU is way too expensive for us) Because i was shooting for the mixer and use that as the interface to record via firewire/usb to whatever software we get. That way we could then eventually use the mixer for small live shows also and kill 2 birds with 1 stone....

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 06/26/2007 - 14:00
Ok tell me how you think this sounds:

Behringer Xenyx 2442fx
MAudio Delta 44
Cubase SE 3

I know the Xenyx has USB also, but i would rather route it through the Delta 44 so we can take advantage of the 4 buses and record all four of us at the same time. And i can get all this for less than $700. So let me know if my thinking here is right and also if you think this would be a good setup.

Kent L T Tue, 06/26/2007 - 14:46
What exactly do you mean by good? (not really meaning to be a smart *** by asking)

What you have listed will work if that is what you are asking. I would hardly call any behringer product good though.

You may need another focus. If you have a certain budget ($500) you might ask is this the best I can get for this amount of money? What piece would you substitute?
I think at the lower price levels you may need to cross the word good out of the vocabulary and replace it with adequate or functional.

Cubase se is good the delta will do for what you want even the behringer mixer will work but if I had the ability to change one piece it would be the mixer.

Sorry if this sounded rude it was not meant to be.

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 06/26/2007 - 20:16
Well I realize that none of this will sound amazing. So what would you switch out for? Lets raise the budget to say $800. Cubase SE 3 is $150 (unless you have a better suggestion for that also) so that leaves $650 to spend on mixer/soundcard/audio interface/etc....

I kind of wanted to go the route of using a mixer because that way we could use it for small gigs too, but i suppose we can always get one later if that wouldn't be the best bang for the buck. Also considering the Presonus Firepod which comes with the Cubase se. Anyways, let me kow what you think.

IIRs Wed, 06/27/2007 - 01:11
I suggest a Mackie Onyx board plus firewire card, or maybe just an interface like the [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.mackie.c…"]400f[/]="http://www.mackie.c…"]400f[/]: its going to stretch your budget further, but a Mackie mixer is something that will always come in handy even if you get more 'serious', while a Bh*ringer will just gather dust... also the Mackie will come with Tracktion included, which is (in my opinion) better than Cubase.

Kent L T Thu, 06/28/2007 - 13:09
Look for an interface that comes with free software. There are several of them. That will save you some bucks.

The onyx looks like it's gonna cost $900 with the firewire option.

2 presonus firepods will give you 16 channels for about $800 and it comes with cubase LE for free. No need for a mixer with this option.

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 07/03/2007 - 17:27

My setup is much cheaper than $500, and it has pretty good quality too. for guitars/basses I go through a Behringer V-amp2 (good used one is $60 on ebay) then into my Behringer 802 mixer ($70) then into my Emu 0404 sound card in my computer ($100 dollars). I use a free, good software program. For drums I would mic them then go through the mixer then into the sound card. And for mics, just go into mixer into sound card. Same for Keyboards ect. So, for everyting it will be something around $230 dollars. It is a fun way to record, since you don't have to mic guitar/bass amps. Good luck.

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 07/04/2007 - 21:57
Near this price-point, another option is a standalone harddisk recorder like one from Korg or Yamaha.

Using a computer-based setup can be somewhat daunting to get started, there is a lot to learn and fiddle with, your computer has to be up to speed, you have to figure out why you are getting pops and clicks, you update the OS with a new patch and the soundcard stops working correctly, you have to haul the computer to rehearsals,...

The standalone recorders pretty much work out of the box. When you outgrow it you can sell it and move on.

I upgraded a few years ago from a Korg standalone unit to a computer-based system, but it was a great way for me to start becuase I plugged it in, read the manual for 2 hours, and recorded my first song. That probably won't happen with Cubase (which I use now).

A software-based DAW is more flexible down the road but in my experience you'll end up spending more time twidling and less time making your demos. If you want to 'become a recording guy' go for a cmputer-based system. If you want to make a demo with minimal hastle consider a standalone system for now.

Pro Audio Guest Thu, 07/05/2007 - 16:24
Since you have good computer I would look at the Presonus Firepod like you mentioned. Its going for around $400 and comes with Cubase LE (48 tracks). This would definitley work for layered recording. For simutaneous there is two ways to go. Reduce drum mics to 3 and use the other 5chls for vocs and inst's. Second way would be to get a submixer and mic the drums, with the output to the Firepod and the rest of the chnls for vocs/inst's.

As a side note if you go firewire make sure your system is using a 1394 TI chipset as it seems to have the least amount of issues. If you don't have it you should be able to get a PCI card that has it. I think SIIG is a brand that uses that chipset. You can google that topic its pretty well documented.

You will need some decsent headphones like Sennheiser Hd280 or... The monitor speakers might be out of the budget right now so I would just save up for them. You can kind of audition your mixes on car stereos, home stereo, boom box, Ipod... and adust the mix that way.

Acoustics might be a problem. We used padded moving blankets to dampen the sound from bouncing to much. Not the best but every little bit helps.

Best Wishes Guys

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 07/11/2007 - 15:46
Ok scratch that last question and lets go for this...Onyx 1620 w/ firewire card OR a Korg D3200 multitracker? Yeah i know, completely different setups right. But I got to thinking that maybe with the korg, it would be a little easier to work with for a beginner, i wouldn't have to use up my computer's limited hard drive space, and i wouldn't have to deal with drivers and all that stuff. mmcfarlane was talking about this in an earlier post, but my question is, are multitrackers really that much more limited in what they can do as opposed to a computer based setup?

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 07/11/2007 - 20:49
Aluminumbling wrote: ... are multitrackers really that much more limited in what they can do as opposed to a computer based setup?

There is an entire world of plug-in effects, hi quality EQs, compressors,... for the DAW world. Thousands of more dollars of investment though. Most DAW systems support midi where you could record , for example, a crappy $200 keyboard as midi and replace the sounds with a sampled Steinway grand (for $200 more for the midi SW intrument) or a Hamond B3 ($300). Doing detailed waveform editing, pitch correcting vocals (with another $400 plugn),... There are many things that are easier to do in a DAW. Some of them cost more money for plug-in software, some of them are just free with the DAW software.

Still, something like a Korg D32 is more powerful than what some commercial albums were made on X years in the past.

If you just want a high-quality demo - record the intruments, do a couple of re-takes of flubbed licks, add some quick EQ and balancing,... you can't beat a standalone system for ease of use, convenience, and portability.

My basic workflow is to carry an Alesis HD24 for live recording and then download it into a DAW for mixing and mastering, but that kind of setup is beyond your budget for today - but is something you could grow into with the Korg. You could use the Korg for recording (tracking) and still mix/master your final product in a DAW.

I am not trying to push you one way or the other, just to think that there is an alternative to the computer based setup that is easier to use and more portable for creating a demo and probably wont get as much in the way of the creative music process early on. If you get hooked on recording/mixing/mastering you can still use a computer-based setup behind the Korg-like device.

It's rare to hear of someone who bought a DAW system and on the next day (or week) recorded and produced an entire song.

I grew out of the standalone system in about a year, sold it for 50% of what I paid and spent 20X the money on a better (but still very small) DAW setup.

Another option is to track your band on something like the Korg D32 and then pay an experienced enginner to mix and/or master for you. If you go this route you might consider starting with one song and then get some feedback from the guy you hire on how to improve the original recordings. Then do the second song. How / where you recod can have a huge impact on the final results and is at least as important as the gear you use. Garbage in = Garbage out, no matter how good or specialized the gear.