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Needing help with a home studio

I've been recording for about 5 years now. I used a Roland VS-880 for my first project and soon there after discovered Pro Tools. I did a few projects on a borrowed Digi001 and swore by Pro Tools for the next year. Later, I discovered Cubase SX and love it. A am still using it today. Most of what I do are simple projects for people that are wanting to demo there song. I've had several job offers to record full bands, but had to decline them due to lack of equipment/computer. I've also done some jingle work and have a few jobs that are pending. I play keyboard and most of the music I record is played from it and recorded via midi and I use various VSTs from there. I usually add a couple of live instruments to give it a more realistic feel... live acoustic or electric usually brings it to life.

I've been getting by for quite some time now on just a standard Dell computer and stock sound card but have been battling the “clicks and pops” and other problems that come with not having a decent recording computer. It is now time to upgrade. I’m hoping to spend in the ballpark of $5000 on a computer, monitors (video and sound), interface... (not including mics). I would like to be able to track a live drum set, so I need to be set up with a minimum of 8 inputs… preferably 12. I’ve been checking out the “Creation Station” computers through Sweetwater but I’m clueless weather or not that is the way to go. I also don’t know what size computer to get for my needs. I don’t plan on tracking more than 10-12 tracks at a time. That’ll only be when I’m tracking drums. From then on, it’ll mostly be 1 or 2 tracks at a time. As far as I/O interfaces… at one point I was looking at the Tascam FW-1884, but I’d never get more than 8 channels at once, so I figure that’s not the best way to go. I’ve looked at some MOTU stuff, but I’m somewhat ignorant as to what I’d need… hence coming here asking for your advise. I've also been looking pretty serious at the Mackie Onyx 1200F. Any thoughts on that?

Anyway, I plan on using dual 19” (or larger) flat panel monitors. I haven’t decided anything about reference monitors but I believe I may be going with powered monitors unless anyone advises otherwise. Can anyone help me in this venture? I’d be grateful to receive some advice. Thanks!



hueseph Fri, 09/15/2006 - 00:02
Computer: For your budget, I imagine you're looking at a wintel machine. Do your research because depending on what interface/software you plan on using, there may be some compatablity issues. If you decide to go mac, look to see if you can weasel someone out of their dual cpu G5 tower. I wouldn't go any less than that but because of the new quad mac pros, I wouldn't doubt you could get a good deal for a G5. If you build your own(wintel), expect to spend at least $1200 for a kickin' machine. Then Monitors, about $300 each for LCDs.

Interface: This comes down to personal preference. MOTU has a good name. RME. Presonus Firepod. Lookin at a good $1200. there too.

Monitors: Not particularly keen on this. My bro has a set of Mackie 824s they'll run you about $1400-1600 for a pair. Then cables. Preamps mics.

Software: Again it's a matter of preference as well as platform. I love Cubase. Others ProTools. Samplitude has diehard warriors backing it up. Digital Performer. Prices range between $300-2000 unless you're talking protools in which case you're looking at tens of thousands of dollars for a system.

Did I do more damage than good? Hopefully not. If so, I'm sure someone will be along to correct me.

Pro Audio Guest Fri, 09/15/2006 - 06:51
Did I do more damage than good? Hopefully not. If so, I'm sure someone will be along to correct me.

Thnx... you did a whole lot more good than damage. I have one guy that is willing to build a computer for me. I'm just worried about getting it set up right, getting all the right hardware...

This morning I've been looking at Moto gear and I'm still very confussed. Am I better off going with a FireWire interface, a USB interface, PCI interface? Will I be able to track 10-12 input for drums as I'm shooting for with one of these interfaces and not with the other? Would the Mackie ONYX 1200F work for what I'm wanting to do or would it fall short of my goal?

Any more advise?

Pro Audio Guest Fri, 09/15/2006 - 16:01
You are better off with firewire. For one PCI bus is being phased out on motherboards. Two USB badwidth is not enough to handle simultaneous recording with out lowering the resolution. That is why everyone is recomending firewire to you. It is also easier to setup and expandable.

As far as computer definitly dual core processor AMD or intel and 64bit. 64bit because next year after Vista comes out and manufactures start rewriting DAW software it will all be 64bit. What this means is that when crunching a whole lot of data you will experiece less waiting and less chance of lockups. Memory right now for XP pro 2GB is all that is needed. when Vista is out that barrier will be pushed. Definitley go SATA Hardrives 7200rpm at least. Make sure to get a case with a good power supply and cooling. Check out "Quiet PC" website. I am trying to be generalas to not box you in.

If you need to be mobile get a laptop. Get a laptop with the new Intel Core2Duo processor. PC or Mac(not yet avail). Dell and Acer have it at this time sure others will follow. Main reason is this processor is more efficient.

Think I probably overloaded you with to much info. Sorry, but I think you have the right attitude in that you want to look for the best components so that your recording system will be reliable and not fall short of your expectations.

Best Wishes