Skip to main content

Considering whole new system - opinion please

I currently record everything using my BOSS Br-864 system... at least for the past 3 years. Along with a few scattered dynamics and condensers and a nice pair of Sony studio phones. I also use Adobe Audition 1.5 for all editing purposes. However, I'm beginning to get serious about recording now (I'll be going to school for it soon), and would like to upgrade my gear to something a little better with a budget of under $1000.

I've looked into the PC based recording, however this may not work well since I have a laptop (and from what I've experienced people who do this use desktops), and I do lots of recording elsewhere and I need a portable and quick rig (aka "all-in-one"). If that's possible with a laptop then let me know and I'll certainly consider it. For the record I have a core 2 duo system with 1 GB ram backed with 250 GB hard-drive, so it's not bad.

Here's what I'm considering as an "upgrade"
(Dead Link Removed)
Basically, this thing owns my BOSS and for the same amount I originally paid. I know a lot of people scoff at these portable recorders, but under my circumstances it looks like the only way (or at least the "best" way).

(Dead Link Removed)
My friend has these and they sound pretty damn good for $200. However, I'd prefer some more pro opinions from people here.

(Dead Link Removed)
and cables.

If you have a spare moment for suggestions that would be appreciated. Thanks.[/url]


Pro Audio Guest Tue, 03/13/2007 - 09:32
Some of these other cats will know better than I, but it sounds like your laptop is more than adequate provided you don't need to download music and write reports and record 16 tracks simultaneously. This would require your getting an interface/recording medium, though, and the price of a decent one can easily trump the $500-or-so for the Korg. Also be mindful that software can run a fair sum, too.

Having a portable all-in-one recorder is great and I miss it, but you might truly consider at least getting one that has upload capabilities so you can edit and mix on a computer if you're into the idea (and I'm not sure about the specs on this, but most newer of these do). Also be aware that this Korg only lets you record 4 tracks simultaneously--I know you play metal, so this may not be enough tracks to comfortably mic' 3 kick drums and 12 toms and have mic's clipped onto the sticks and frayed ends of any cutoff shorts.

(I'm into metal, so please read the humor in this.)

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 03/13/2007 - 11:17
Jeremy wrote: do you have a firewire input on your computer? Can you use an external firewire device or install a firewire card? are your usb ports on your computer 2.0?

I do not have firewire inputs, and as far as I know I can't use external FW devices... however, I may be able to install a FW card. I have 3 USB ports and they are all 2.0.

I do use my computer for everything else as well: word processing, internet, downloading, etc. I also record a lot of small concerts and stuff at my university...

Are there any articles here regarding starting "home studios" using laptops? the convenience of an "all in one" draws me, but I might have to familiarize myself more with the concept of computer based recording more before making a decision.

freesignal Tue, 03/13/2007 - 13:25
My first suggestion would be to sell your laptop and get a Macbook with upgraded 2GB of RAM but, that would put you a little over budget, even with a student discount from Apple. If you were to do that though, the Macbook comes with an awesome sequencer called "Garageband" that comes with all the software you need to get started (i.e. plugins, sequencing, midi support, etc.). You can get more info on the Macbook and Garageband at:

***No, I'm not affiliated with Apple, I'm just a changed man and advocate ever since I made "The Switch."

(Dead Link Removed)

Now, let's finish this up:
Add (at least) two of these:
(Dead Link Removed)

One of these (just to get you started):
(Dead Link Removed)

That should put you right at the $1000 mark.

I would definately get some decent monitors as soon as you can. I would also pick up, at the VERY LEAST, one Shure SM57. You're sure to acquire more down the road due to their versatility and rugged-ness, but one will get you going. Also, either buy a pop filter ($20~) or make one out of panty hose and a hanger. Search the forum for more specific instructions for constructing a pop filter.

***TIP: Pricematch everything you can, so that you get the best price possible and maximize your available funds. Guitar Center will pricematch any legitiment website's price (except eBay). Make sure the website's item isn't a refurb or used item though otherwise they won't do it.

Items you'll wanna get in the future that will help with the PORTABLE aspect:

Helps keep your signal clean by squashing RFI, etc. Plug everything into this thing, including your laptop
(Dead Link Removed)

Good case that has some room in it for future expansion. Plus if it some how breaks SKB replaces it free for life, no questions asked.
(Dead Link Removed)


EDIT: If you haven't figured it out from this post, your laptop should be more than adequate for portable recording, especially if you upgrade the RAM. Those Intel Core 2 Duo processors are phenominal. I have a macbook with one and I use it for all my portable recording without a problem.

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 03/13/2007 - 17:34
Thanks for the help man, I really appreciate it.

It's funny you recommend I sell my laptop, since It's only 3 months old! Ha... one of my current instructors actually has that exact laptop you described... it's actually pretty nice. I think I'll stick with my laptop for now, considering I saved up for it for like 8 months.

I was actually considering upgrading my RAM, so I'll probably end up doing it especially if I end up using a computer for rec.

Just to clarify, I already have a small set up: I have a pair of $100 Sony MDR v500 studio monitoring phones that sound pretty nice. I have a bunch of misc. mics that I've acquired either for free or purchased new. I have 2 boom stands, along with editing programs such as Audition 1.5, Audacity (the free one... I never use it, but have it anway), and Awave. So that axes out the need for a stand and phones.

What I really am trying to figure out is if it's better to sell my BR864 8-track and upgrade to another portable digital recorder, or sell it and enter the world of laptop recording.

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 03/13/2007 - 22:06
I might contend whether you need to upgrade your RAM: a gig is still a fair amount. If you do decide to, however, I would much sooner recommend you go through [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.crucial…"]Crucial's website[/]="http://www.crucial…"]Crucial's website[/] rather than your local listings.

Be aware that, unless I'm mistaken, you'll only be able to find 2-tracks-simultaneous interfaces that operate on USB.

A good decision would be investing in some kind of speaker to aid in mixing. It's really hard to adjust low end appropriately through headphones.

If you've got a portable all-in-one that works and you have no need to sell it, hang on it to. They're great for a number of things.

freesignal Wed, 03/14/2007 - 02:12
Yeah, I figured your laptop was pretty new and was probably pretty nice. That suggestion just stems from my dislike of Microsoft, :D other than that, strictly component-wise, you probably have the same or perhaps a better computer than I. As far as RAM goes: It is the single most cost-effective upgrade you can make to any computer. Speaking in terms of Investment vs. Return.

patrick_like_static wrote: I would much sooner recommend you go through [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.crucial…"]Crucial's website[/]="http://www.crucial…"]Crucial's website[/] rather than your local listings.
WTF? There is nothing wrong with buying RAM through Newegg, Best Buy, CompUSA, or even Circuit City or any other Electronics/Office Store. The BRAND you buy can be argued but not the store. Though, I have not had a problem just buying the cheapest RAM I could find regardless of being a name brand or not. Not to get on a high horse, but I may be far from being Capt. Knowledgable when it comes to recording, but I've pretty much spent the last 8 years of my life living-breathing-building-using computers and up 'til a year ago, that time was spent strictly with PCs.

Yeah, I didn't know you had so much of the basic stuff already. I read one of your other posts that said you record recitals and concerts and what not. I've never used them, but I've heard boundry mics are popular for that. They're a type of condenser mic, you may wanna check that out. I know Crown makes some nice ones that run around $350-$400 as well as a pair you can get from musicians friend for like $120 for both.

I think Patrick is right, I wouldn't say that headphones are the best way to do any thing, but they're better than nothing. Since you seem to already have a decent pair of cans that you like, then maybe you should invest in some monitors. I have a pair of M-Audio BX5a's that suit my needs, but I guess they're not really all that popular around these parts (forums). As far as portable units go, I know absolutely JACK about them. Sorry.

Anyways, dude. Hope everything works out. Later. -Patrick

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 03/14/2007 - 10:15
Maybe the Crucial suggestion was on the loaded side. The 2 times I bought RAM before using Crucial--once from Best Buy and again from Circuit City--I couldn't tell any difference in my computer's performance. Whereas Crucial's website was really helpful for a novice like me to locate the kind of RAM I needed (as simple as keying in your computer make and model), the in-store help in my instances weren't very effective.

If the consumer knew what he needed all along, though, this point wouldn't matter. But I sure didn't. I do use Best Buy and often with success.

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 03/14/2007 - 17:02
Ok, here is the full spec. list for my computer (copied from Circuit city website where I bought it):

Please view the original here if it's clearer:

Intel® Core 2 Duo
Level 2 cache
Memory Type (RAM)
667MHz DDR2 SDRAM (PC2-5300)
RAM expandable to:

Hard Drive Speed
Burns DVDs

Screen size
Maximum screen resolution
1280 x 800
Video memory
Video Memory Type
USB 2.0 (3)
FireWire (1)

Infrared port
PC card
Express Card
S-video Out
Media card slot


Ok. now... I've been reading a lot about DAW and laptop recording. Here's a list of stuff I'd be willing to purchase to get started. Please inform me on what is missing since I can't seem to find that info. anywhere:

-Presonus Firepod ($449)
-Furman M-8 Power Conditioner ($55)
-'good' sound card? (I still don't know if I need one or not)
-SKB Roto-Molded XRACK4 Shallow Rack Case ($90 - I'm assuming this is used for carrying equipment when needed for portable situations?)
-studio Monitors (anywhere from $150 - $200 pricerange)
-(possible, in the future) Line 6 POD xt for guitar ($300)

Already have:
-Adobe Audition 1.5
-Misc. mics (cond., dynamics, etc.)
-2 boom stands
-laptop (of course...)
-Studio headphones
-External HD (USB 2.0 - 250 GB storage)
-Laptop cooling stand (to help w/fans)

My goal is to make this primary home recording AND portable recording station.

Thank you for your comments.

freesignal Wed, 03/14/2007 - 19:04
You got it! That laptop shouldn't give you any problems. Especially if you do the RAM upgrade. Your gonna wanna pick one of these bad boys up if you're gonna use a firepod. The firepod has a 6-pin firewire connector while your laptop has a 4-pin firewire connector. You do not need a soundcard, that's basically what the firepod is. Good call on the SKB case. I have one that I move my equipment into if I need to go do some remote recording, and it's awesome! I have a backpack type laptop case that I carry my computer in, a gym bag for all my cables, mics, and stands and this SKB case for my equipment. I can essentially carry everything at once. It's real nice. Seems like you've got everything down to at least get you started. Keep in mind, I don't know exactly what type of mics you have, but you might wanna make some upgrades, if not now, then in the future. By the way, you should be able to price match the cost of that Furman down to around 40 bones. Froogle search that biotch before you buy. You might be able to find the SKB case cheaper too.


Pro Audio Guest Thu, 03/15/2007 - 08:18
Yeah, I have some dynamics (peavey PVM 44 diamond series, peavey condenser, and some lower quality ones). I'm planning on getting some higher quality mics.

(Dead Link Removed)

(Dead Link Removed)

It looks pretty good for a laptop... although is it better to have the Firepod even though it's not as portable?

I'm still learning about this stuff, so when you say "the firepod is the soundcard" what do you mean?

And finally, when you hook all this stuff up, you record using Cubase, or Audition? I'm just making sure. '

I'm currently reading "PC recording for Dummies" right now, so I'm trying to learn this shite as best I can...


freesignal Thu, 03/15/2007 - 12:59
Wow, that Gator 2 Go Thing actually looks pretty cool, other than it only has two rack spaces. As far as the E-mu goes, I can't vouch one way or the other, but it appears to only have 2 inputs, whereas the Firepod has 8, 2 of which are Hi-Z inputs (for recording guitar/bass, etc. direct-in). Plus they're the same price. Doesn't sound like a bargain to me. A soundcard is a piece of hardware, that allows you to input and output audio to and from the computer. You would be doing the EXACT same thing with the FirePod. You're inputing audio into the computer by hooking up a mic to the firepod and recording something then you're outputing that sound via the firepod main outs or headphone output. The firepod comes with Cubase. You can use it, or any other program with the firepod.