**One person, single track at a time recording setup...?**

Discussion in 'Recording' started by lilarthur, Sep 29, 2004.

  1. lilarthur

    lilarthur Guest

    Hey dudes, (i know, another 'advice needed topic') but hey, just some simple pointers in the right direction would be much appreciated.

    Basically i'm someone looking to start recording my own songs (indie rocky quirky whatever) without the aid of other people; myself playing all instruments one at a time. No midi, just real instruments, real time.
    I guess basically what i need to know is whether my existing computer is up for the job, and if so, what kind of digital/analog converter would be the one for me. I've been looking at the digidesign m box which seems pretty awsome, good quality, two in's which is fine i think...and pro tools. I have a SMALL amount of experience with this program, but am kind of backng myself to nut it out....
    Anyway, my computer reads like this...pentium 4/2.4 Ghz, 256 mg RAM, 40 gig hard drive, USB connection etc.

    If anyone can offer me any advice, or maybe in particular, persons who have recoreded multi layers one at a time successfully that would be great. Cheers!!
  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Silicon Valley
    Go to http://www.digidesign.com find the Mbox, find the system requirements and see if your PC makes the grade. They also have a newsgroup/forum that you can browse and post questions.
  3. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    The CPU is more than enough, but you will need more RAM.. at least 512 MB, and preferably 1 gig.
  4. lilarthur

    lilarthur Guest

    yo cheers! thanks for that...turns out out that some more ram is required - that's fine, BUT (shock horror!!), apparently pro tools and mbox are not compatible with my pc because of the motherboard containing an SIS chipset?? ...??
    It's a real bummer because to get a new rig plus new pc would be way outta my price range...

    Have any of you guys encountered a problem like this??!
  5. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Yet another reason to hate Digidesign.
  6. radioliver

    radioliver Guest

    I actually encountered the same problem when I bought my Q10. It is not compatible with ATI chipsets. I had already ordered both when I realized that (computer and soundcard).......it can work....but it will be really really reallllllly unstable. So in the end I changed motherboards ($$). It was worth it.....so stable right now, I can probably run 10 sessions of 50 tracks at a time (ok maybe not, but you get the point). So if you want the Mbox and find a way of only changing the motherboard ("only" hehe), well, go for it!
  7. lilarthur

    lilarthur Guest

    Well be damned and damned that doesn't sound good!

    What's up with the 'Yet another reason to hate digidesign' spill?
    (sounding extremely naive)

    Is it about a big company having the majority of control in the market place and so on and so on?
    That kind of exclusiveness for big corp gets on my goat a bit in other areas of my life, so maybe it can be avoided when it comes to setting up my recording unit.

    Are there other options apart from an Mbox that provide a similar function??
    If so do they come with their own versions of software like the Mbox does with pro tools?? What's the quality like comparatively?? ie. sound, user friendliness...

  8. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Check out this thread. Kurt's views on Pro Tools and Digidesign are closely aligned with my own. All of that aside, the M-Box is, I must admit, a cost effective and fairly high quality solution for the person who's looking for an introductory computer recording solution.
  9. kevinwhitect

    kevinwhitect Active Member

    One ALWAYS must plan the complete system, including audio options, that one is building and check for compatibility issues PRIOR to assembly and/or purchase. The landscape is too littered w/ mines to do otherwise.

    That being said, there are tons of "just as good" alternatives to PT, that to my mind, offer a considerably better bang for the buck.

    One thing I would really consider in your plan though, lilarthur, is alongside your purchase of your audio card selection, following David's RAM numbers above would be a good idea, but ALSO-- get yourself a dedicated hard drive for just your audio files. Your 40 gig that came w/ your rig is fine for your OS and applications. Get something on the order of 120g+ for your audio files. Such a thing can occasionally be bought on special for under $100. Just keep your eyes open. Make sure it spins at 7200 and has an 8mb cache.

    Not only will it allow you more space to store, having one drive run the system and another write just the audio files increases the efficiency of your rig and avoids writing/reading bottlenecks from one sole drive trying to handle both.


  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    Another thing, be sure to partition your drive(s). I didn't do this and it is the one thing I regret ..

    If you partition your drives into C drive for the OS and software and D / E / F / G, for the file drive, when it come time to defrag the drive you can specify which areas you want to de frag and you won't ever have to de frag the C / OS drive (it should never need it) .. and areas of the files drive that don't need de fragging can be skipped, ensuring longer hd life span.

    Defragging is one of the worst things you can do to a Hard Drive in terms of wearing it out. While it is necessary to do it to insure smooth operation, (it can be as bad on the drive to not do it as to do it) if you can specify which area you want to defrag, you can extend the life of your hard drive by only de fragging the partitions that need it.
  11. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Quakertown PA
    I'd like to add a few things if I may

    I couldn't agree with this more, However I would also add that if your MOBO supports SATA I would strongly recommend you buy an SATA drive. Not only will you get the advantage of 150mbs transfer rate but the drive will reside on it's own port. This means the drive will not have to share an IDE port with another device as slaving drives can cut down on performance and performance is the name of the game. But you must have XP or W2K in order to have 4 drives and none slaved together.

    While it is true that defragging can hasten the demise of a drive it is not the use of the program but misuse that leads to failure. Excessive defragging can cause the drives components to wear out prematurely. On the other hand if it is done too infrequently the amount of work required by the drive to restore the fragmented files results in excessive heat within the drive hastening it's failure. For the average user I would recomend 3 to 4 times per year, more if the defrag takes more than 10 minutes or you frequently install or deinstall programs.

    Heat is one of two major causes of drive failure, the other is power related. Most people use a surge suppressor on their computer thinking their computer is protected because overvoltages can't harm the components. They have not accounted for undervoltages which can actually do more damage.

    Think of your hard drive as a turntable with the tonearm as the head reading data from the platter. On a hard drive the head never touches the platter surface except when turned off and there is a specific area on the disk it returns to to land. When there is an undervoltage or worse an outage the head crashes down on the disk destroying any sectors it lands on (which is many at 7200 rpm's) as it skips across the disk surface. This creates bad sectors on the drive that can no longer store data reliably, this is why scandisk runs after you are forced to power off without a proper shutdown. If the head crashes (this is where the term computer crash comes from) while it is reading or writing to the FAT (File Allocation Table) you're screwed as this is the master table of the location of all files on your drive. When the FAT is destroyed your computer can no longer find it's files or executables and it is almost impossible to rebuild without some very very expensive software.

    Creating multiple partitions is good idea as a seperate FAT table is written for each partition. Some guys will create just 2 partitions, 1 as the master and the other as a backup. This works unless the whole drive fails. Do whatever works for you.

    There are a few simple steps you can follow to keep your PC running well.

    1. Run scandisk with a surface scan at least once a year. This identifies any bad or failing sectors on your drive and writes it to the FAT table so the sectors won't be written to again.

    2. Run defrag to keep the file structure in order.

    3. Buy a good quality UPS (no, a cheap little surge suppressor won't do it) it protects you from over and under voltages and gives you battery backup in case the power goes out. It's cheap insurance. Just add up the power requirements of your PC and monitor to know what V/A rating you need. Never put a laser printer on a UPS unless you like buying new batteries every month.

    4. Backup, Backup, Backup This is the simplest thing to do and no one does it. I get a call at least once a week "my hard drive crashed can you save my files?" do you have backups? "NO!" then no I can't save your files. Once in a while we can recover a small amount of data but it's rare. A data recovery service can rescue it for about the price of 3 U87's. It's up to you but I'd backup.

    I'm sorry if I've bored anyone but I thought this info might be useful to someone.
  12. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Bore me? That was great stuff! Please, bore us anytime you like! :)
  13. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Quakertown PA
    Thanks David, One thing I forgot to mention is that if your drive begins to act strangley (won't boot all the way, takes forever to boot, sounds like it's reading constantly or makes strange noises) STOP USING IT IMMEDIATELY. Do not attempt to reboot or use the drive at all. These are all signs that the drive is failing. By rebooting over and over or attempting to read from the drive you are causing more and more damage to your precious data. Many times the undamaged data can be retrieved by putting the drive in a system with a good bootable drive and copying the data from the bad drive to a new folder on the good drive (assuming you have enough room on the good drive). Another option is to buy a new drive, format and install an OS and then install the bad drive as a second drive in your system (just not as the boot drive). This doesn't always work as sometimes the drive is just to far gone but it's worth a shot.

    You can add me to that list also. Another company I feel has similar business practices (although I think they make a fine product) is Apple, but that's another subject.
  14. lilarthur

    lilarthur Guest

    Words of wisdom!

    As for alternatives, can you suggest any names/brands that i could go away find out about??

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