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I've been recording my music on a stand alone recorder for years now. I like using it for recording, but that's about it. It's a huge pain in the butt for collaborations, sharing files, and whatnot.

I'd like to put a computer recording setup together. But I don't have a clue on how or what to use.

I want good quality sound. No latency. Probably only need two inputs. I'll basically be recording guitars, bass, and vocals.

Should I use a separate computer for recording only?

Can I use a laptop?

Can I setup an older laptop for recording?

Should I just buy a new computer for recording?

Do I use an interface?

Do I use an old mixing board?

What's a soundcard?

If an interface, what kind?

Recommended DAWS?

Anything with an easy learning curve?

Any other info that will help me along would be great. I just don't really have a clue.

Thanks Everyone! JOe

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I'm about as dense as it comes when we talk about technical stuff, but I figured out Logic Pro... And I use it on a laptop. This computer - a Mac - is dedicated solely to recording. I am probably using just 1/1,000 of its potential....but I think most of these DAWs are much the same. What matters isn't what's in the program, it's in who is pushing the buttons.

Neal

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Hi Joe,

Should I use a separate computer for recording only?

Some people like to do that but there is no need, as such. It can be a convenience but I've recorded on PCs that do lots of other stuff too with no problem.

Can I use a laptop?

Yes. No problem (depending on what you use as a soundcard/interface).

Can I setup an older laptop for recording?

Yes, you could do that (depending on how old it is). For basic audio recording, the demands aren't that high. If you are going to be a heavy midi user (with lots of samples loaded, for example), the demands increase. If the laptop is very old, you may find that it starts to struggle as you load plugins, but it's all manageable. You don't need anything superpowerful, though. Did you have one in mind? What spec?

Should I just buy a new computer for recording?

It depends how much money you have to spare, whether it would be more convenient for you, etc. It also depends on your existing computer. There should be no need.

Do I use an interface?

Ideally, yes. The onboard soundcard that comes with a PC/laptop isn't designed for this kind of work and won't have the connections you need.

Do I use an old mixing board?

You could potentially integrate one into your setup but would likely still need an interface (unless it has a way of connecting to the PC). If you have one, don't throw it away but it's unlikely to be "the answer".

What's a soundcard?

It's the part of your PC that makes sound. An interface is also a soundcard, by the way - it's just a soundcard that is designed for audio recording rather than the crap that sits in your PC - and will work much better. Audio Interfaces are often separate boxes that can move from PC to PC as well. You just plug them in - so a good one may last longer than your PC will.

If an interface, what kind?

Personally, I'd go with a USB one - a separate box that connects to your PC/laptop with a USB port. Firewire is on the way out and card-based interfaces (that go inside your PC) are reliant on the type of card (PCIe, etc.). Many are USB3 compatible now.

There are lots of interfaces. If you have the cash and want something that has great latency, solid drivers and will last a long time, I'd recommend RME. I have an RME Fireface UC. These days, I would probably go for the cheaper RME Babyface. From what you have told us, this will have all the connections you need. However, there are plenty of other good ones, depending on budget.

Don't forget that you will also need mics, cables, etc. And don't stint on decent monitors if you don't already have some.

Recommended DAWS?

Reaper. Just download it from here and see how you get on with it. It's free to try and you are trusted to buy a licence (it's cheap) if you like it.

Anything with an easy learning curve?

They all have a learning curve. However, I have heard that Mixcraft is easy to use. Personally, I never found Reaper difficult though - especially if you just want to record audio. There is also a great forum for questions and video tutorials are available.

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Hey JOe:

Whatever interface you get, I would make sure it has "direct monitoring," this allows you to hear what you're playing directly with no latency from running through software first for monitoring, and can be useful; and, make sure it has phantom power supplied by a decent built-in preamp for condenser mics or you'll have to get an additional outboard mic preamp or go through your mixer first to use those mics. MIDI in/out is a plus, but not necessary. Also, get an interface with the highest sampling rate you can get within your budget.

David

P.S. I love your Korg recordings! :)

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Should I use a separate computer for recording only? I do and would suggest it. I like that my studio computer has nothing else on it to bog it down. I don't have it connected to the internet except to update software and send out emails of my songs to myself. (so I can listen to them on my phone/home computer for checking the mixes etc...

Can I use a laptop? I started with a laptop and it worked but did get hot from time to time. And I think desktops have more processing power for the money and they are pretty cheap now!

Can I setup an older laptop for recording? Yes. It will probably work fine. Depends what kind of software you are going to put on it and how crazy you want to get with effects and track counts.

Should I just buy a new computer for recording? I just bought a new one recently and could not be happier. Less crashes...more effects can be used...track count has been up to 60 and no problems.

Do I use an interface?

Do I use an old mixing board?

What's a soundcard? If you start with something like this: http://us.focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfaces/scarlett-2i2

It is basically all of those things in one...It becomes your computers external sound card and also is an input device for your sound to get into the computer. Has a headphone out so you wouldn't HAVE to have monitors. I have this unit and for the money am happy with it. Should be able to pick it up for under $150.00

If an interface, what kind? See last answer

Recommended DAWS? I can't recommend Reaper high enough. The cost is so minimal. I think $60.00 for the full package. They update it all the time. You can try it for free. I've used it for 6 years now.

Anything with an easy learning curve? I think Reaper can be pretty easy if you don't get overwhelmed with all the options. Video tutorials online help a lot too.

JOe, I have done quite a bit of research on this subject. I try very hard to get the most for my money. (like everyone would) If you PM me I might be able to steer you to some products you can check out. Don't exclude others though! Many here know more about this stuff than I do. But if I was starting out right now I pretty much know exactly what I would get.

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Alistair pretty much covered this one, but I'll add a few tid bits.

Can I use a laptop?

Yes. No problem (depending on what you use as a soundcard/interface).

The possible issues with a laptop is that some audio equipment uses a dongle USB stick to activate the license. My laptop only has two USB inputs so it runs out quickly, especially if I'm already using one for the interface.

Just be sure to find out if what you use (or play to buy) has a dongle.

As for computer specs, I record on a computer that was a $350 desktop purchased 7 years ago that runs Win XP. Anything on the market today is going to be at least 10X faster. The only extra I added was a second hard drive simply because WAVs take up a lot of space. But I also generally take at least 5-10 passes on virtually everything and I never delete any of them, so you may not need that.

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I purchased older equipment and software (cheaper). They were the best in there time but by today's standards are slow. That being said running the old DAW version (Pro Tools LE) that was made for my PCs specs and OS rev nets me a top of the line system from 2007. Which is way more than I need. I do keep that system just for music. It does that really well and I don't want to mess with what is working.

I found a guy that specializes in old MACs and he set up my MAC with all the appropriate hardware/software needed. The system has worked flawlessly for the last 3 or 4 years now. Main issues are centered around operator input... ;)/>

Didn't break the bank either.

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One thought that occurs to me regarding laptops. Many have drives that spin at 5400 rpm, which is OK for simple tasks but nowhere near as fast as 7200 drives or (for superfast) SSD.

If you are only recording a couple of tracks at a time, probably not a real issue - but something to consider.

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Two other problems with laptops - noisy (RF interference) power supplies; lack of much power to the USB jacks - I've heard of people having issues powering their USB interfaces PLUS some other USB device at the same time.

As you've been doing recording with a stand-alone recorder, I'll assume you already have mics, headphones and some kind of speakers you can use for mixing monitors.

So all you really need to get started is an audio interface and a DAW.

For no more than 2 separate tracks at one time, the Steinberg UR22 is highly recommended by a lot of people. There are many other choices in the same price range, and if you shop for a used interface you can get one for $100. Just make sure it offers phantom power so you can use condensor mics. Of course there are other interfaces - the more you pay, the more simultaneous inputs, mic preamps and higher quality A-D converters in the box.

DAW - like Alistair, I recommend Reaper - free to download the full version, $60 to register it. there's a bit of a learning curve - read the sections of the 400+ page manual that purtain to the basic recording setup and you should be good to go. The user forums at www.reaper.fm are helpful, too.

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I use a MacBook Pro labtop, an Apogee interface, and Logic Pro for my DAW. It wasn't cheap, but everything consistently works. I have no extra noise problems from the set-up, and no latency problems (but then, I only record a track or two at a time). I went this route mostly because of the learning curve. These pieces are all compatible with each other. I've also got an M-Audio Axiom Pro keyboard MIDI Controller. Both my Apogee Interface and Axiom MIDI Controller were preset to work with Logic. It's still enough of a learning curve, but there's a heckuva lot less trouble shooting I need to do because of the compatibility.

I intended to use the laptop for only music, but my other computer needs repairs, so I use it for everything.

You could probably get away with using an older system with older software like Scotto mentioned, and put all your extra money :rolleyes: into the studio monitors. The best computer and DAW in the world means nothing without good monitors. A minimal set-up can still produce great tracks when the mixing is done using great monitors (not headphones!).

Muser, Rick Waugh, uses an iPad for his recording, with decent results.

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Thanks for all the tips everyone!

Yeah, I have a real nice set of monitors, cables, mics, etc. Do most interfaces work with most monitors?

What about laptop fan noise? As I record by myself, I'll have the laptop relatively close to the mic while recording acoustic guitars and vocals.

Just for reference, I have never used Apple computers so probably won't be using Mac.

So it sounds like I'll probably give Reaper a try. Just have to find the right computer and interface.

Might be best to just buy a new computer than to try setting up an older used one.

Definitely want good mic pre amps. It's hard to get a good tone recording high gain/distortion guitars.

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Hi Joe,

Should I use a separate computer for recording only?

Some people like to do that but there is no need, as such. It can be a convenience but I've recorded on PCs that do lots of other stuff too with no problem.

Can I use a laptop?

Yes. No problem (depending on what you use as a soundcard/interface).

Can I setup an older laptop for recording?

Yes, you could do that (depending on how old it is). For basic audio recording, the demands aren't that high. If you are going to be a heavy midi user (with lots of samples loaded, for example), the demands increase. If the laptop is very old, you may find that it starts to struggle as you load plugins, but it's all manageable. You don't need anything superpowerful, though. Did you have one in mind? What spec?

Should I just buy a new computer for recording?

It depends how much money you have to spare, whether it would be more convenient for you, etc. It also depends on your existing computer. There should be no need.

Do I use an interface?

Ideally, yes. The onboard soundcard that comes with a PC/laptop isn't designed for this kind of work and won't have the connections you need.

Do I use an old mixing board?

You could potentially integrate one into your setup but would likely still need an interface (unless it has a way of connecting to the PC). If you have one, don't throw it away but it's unlikely to be "the answer".

What's a soundcard?

It's the part of your PC that makes sound. An interface is also a soundcard, by the way - it's just a soundcard that is designed for audio recording rather than the crap that sits in your PC - and will work much better. Audio Interfaces are often separate boxes that can move from PC to PC as well. You just plug them in - so a good one may last longer than your PC will.

If an interface, what kind?

Personally, I'd go with a USB one - a separate box that connects to your PC/laptop with a USB port. Firewire is on the way out and card-based interfaces (that go inside your PC) are reliant on the type of card (PCIe, etc.). Many are USB3 compatible now.

There are lots of interfaces. If you have the cash and want something that has great latency, solid drivers and will last a long time, I'd recommend RME. I have an RME Fireface UC. These days, I would probably go for the cheaper RME Babyface. From what you have told us, this will have all the connections you need. However, there are plenty of other good ones, depending on budget.

Don't forget that you will also need mics, cables, etc. And don't stint on decent monitors if you don't already have some.

Recommended DAWS?

Reaper. Just download it from here and see how you get on with it. It's free to try and you are trusted to buy a licence (it's cheap) if you like it.

Anything with an easy learning curve?

They all have a learning curve. However, I have heard that Mixcraft is easy to use. Personally, I never found Reaper difficult though - especially if you just want to record audio. There is also a great forum for questions and video tutorials are available.

Hey Alistair, thanks for the detailed response. Is RME the name brand of the interface? Or does RME mean something else?

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Hey JOe:

Whatever interface you get, I would make sure it has "direct monitoring," this allows you to hear what you're playing directly with no latency from running through software first for monitoring, and can be useful; and, make sure it has phantom power supplied by a decent built-in preamp for condenser mics or you'll have to get an additional outboard mic preamp or go through your mixer first to use those mics. MIDI in/out is a plus, but not necessary. Also, get an interface with the highest sampling rate you can get within your budget.

David

P.S. I love your Korg recordings! :)/>

Good tips, thanks for the needed feedback. Yeah, just when I started to figure that Korg thing out. I'll probably use it here and there yet.

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Should I use a separate computer for recording only? I do and would suggest it. I like that my studio computer has nothing else on it to bog it down. I don't have it connected to the internet except to update software and send out emails of my songs to myself. (so I can listen to them on my phone/home computer for checking the mixes etc...

Can I use a laptop? I started with a laptop and it worked but did get hot from time to time. And I think desktops have more processing power for the money and they are pretty cheap now!

Can I setup an older laptop for recording? Yes. It will probably work fine. Depends what kind of software you are going to put on it and how crazy you want to get with effects and track counts.

Should I just buy a new computer for recording? I just bought a new one recently and could not be happier. Less crashes...more effects can be used...track count has been up to 60 and no problems.

Do I use an interface?

Do I use an old mixing board?

What's a soundcard? If you start with something like this: http://us.focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfaces/scarlett-2i2

It is basically all of those things in one...It becomes your computers external sound card and also is an input device for your sound to get into the computer. Has a headphone out so you wouldn't HAVE to have monitors. I have this unit and for the money am happy with it. Should be able to pick it up for under $150.00

If an interface, what kind? See last answer

Recommended DAWS? I can't recommend Reaper high enough. The cost is so minimal. I think $60.00 for the full package. They update it all the time. You can try it for free. I've used it for 6 years now.

Anything with an easy learning curve? I think Reaper can be pretty easy if you don't get overwhelmed with all the options. Video tutorials online help a lot too.

JOe, I have done quite a bit of research on this subject. I try very hard to get the most for my money. (like everyone would) If you PM me I might be able to steer you to some products you can check out. Don't exclude others though! Many here know more about this stuff than I do. But if I was starting out right now I pretty much know exactly what I would get.

I'll PM you in the near future. Thanks.

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Alistair pretty much covered this one, but I'll add a few tid bits.

Can I use a laptop?

Yes. No problem (depending on what you use as a soundcard/interface).

The possible issues with a laptop is that some audio equipment uses a dongle USB stick to activate the license. My laptop only has two USB inputs so it runs out quickly, especially if I'm already using one for the interface.

Just be sure to find out if what you use (or play to buy) has a dongle.

As for computer specs, I record on a computer that was a $350 desktop purchased 7 years ago that runs Win XP. Anything on the market today is going to be at least 10X faster. The only extra I added was a second hard drive simply because WAVs take up a lot of space. But I also generally take at least 5-10 passes on virtually everything and I never delete any of them, so you may not need that.

What the heck is a dongle?

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What the heck is a dongle?

Ha! It is a little USB device that looks like a thumb drive that holds your license to use the software. Cubase has a dongle, I can install it on as many computers as I want, but it won't open unless I have that dongle (thumb drive) inserted in a USB slot.

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I just got a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 laptop/tablet hybrid with an Intel i5 chip and a docking station for all the ports I need. It kicks ass doing music, and it's pretty damn quiet too - solid state hard drive with zero noise, and when the cpu fan does kick in it's still fairly quiet. I can also stop the cpu fan via task manager when I'm recording, because it normally kicks in because of things running in the background that I don't need to be running. Though it's screen is bright and brilliant hi-res, it is a smaller screen. You can hook it up to a monitor though - though I don't even bother to. It's kind of pricey - like a Macbook Air. But, it can do a lot more. And, I really like Windows 8.1, despite all the whining I had heard about it. smile.gif You'll probably also want to get an external USB DVD drive/burner for it. But, they're pretty cheap now.

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I purchased older equipment and software (cheaper). They were the best in there time but by today's standards are slow. That being said running the old DAW version (Pro Tools LE) that was made for my PCs specs and OS rev nets me a top of the line system from 2007. Which is way more than I need. I do keep that system just for music. It does that really well and I don't want to mess with what is working.

I found a guy that specializes in old MACs and he set up my MAC with all the appropriate hardware/software needed. The system has worked flawlessly for the last 3 or 4 years now. Main issues are centered around operator input... ;)/>/>

Didn't break the bank either.

I also don't want to break the bank. But it might not cost a whole lot more to buy new than revamp an old machine. IDK?

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Two other problems with laptops - noisy (RF interference) power supplies; lack of much power to the USB jacks - I've heard of people having issues powering their USB interfaces PLUS some other USB device at the same time.

As you've been doing recording with a stand-alone recorder, I'll assume you already have mics, headphones and some kind of speakers you can use for mixing monitors.

So all you really need to get started is an audio interface and a DAW.

For no more than 2 separate tracks at one time, the Steinberg UR22 is highly recommended by a lot of people. There are many other choices in the same price range, and if you shop for a used interface you can get one for $100. Just make sure it offers phantom power so you can use condensor mics. Of course there are other interfaces - the more you pay, the more simultaneous inputs, mic preamps and higher quality A-D converters in the box.

DAW - like Alistair, I recommend Reaper - free to download the full version, $60 to register it. there's a bit of a learning curve - read the sections of hte 400+ pag emanual that purtain to the basic recording setup and you should be good to go. The user forums at www.reaper.fm are helpful, too.

What are AD converters?

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I use a MacBook Pro labtop, an Apogee interface, and Logic Pro for my DAW. It wasn't cheap, but everything consistently works. I have no extra noise problems from the set-up, and no latency problems (but then, I only record a track or two at a time). I went this route mostly because of the learning curve. These pieces are all compatible with each other. I've also got an M-Audio Axiom Pro keyboard MIDI Controller. Both my Apogee Interface and Axiom MIDI Controller were preset to work with Logic. It's still enough of a learning curve, but there's a heckuva lot less trouble shooting I need to do because of the compatibility.

I intended to use the laptop for only music, but my other computer needs repairs, so I use it for everything.

You could probably get away with using an older system with older software like Scotto mentioned, and put all your extra money :rolleyes:/> into the studio monitors. The best computer and DAW in the world means nothing without good monitors. A minimal set-up can still produce great tracks when the mixing is done using great monitors (not headphones!).

Muser, Rick Waugh, uses an iPad for his recording, with decent results.

From what I've read. Apogee really works well.

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Hey Alistair, thanks for the detailed response. Is RME the name brand of the interface? Or does RME mean something else?

Yes, RME is a brand. It's a top brand in this area and the units are pricy but rock-solid and have a great reputation. here are other good makes too, though. If you have a budget in mind, we can probably make some good recommendations. If you can afford it, however, I can't recommend RME highly enough. The pres are also plenty good enough.

What are AD converters?

When audio comes into your interface via the mic, it needs to be converted from analogue (A) to digital (D) - the AD converter does this. When it comes out to your speakers, it needs to be converted from digital to analogue (DA). They are sometimes known as ADDA converters and are a specialised area (some interfaces are better than others in this space.

A couple of other questions you asked.

What about noise? The fans are what will create noise. On most laptops these are fairly quiet. However, you can always buy a longer cable if you need to (and get further away). Laptops are often more quiet than desktops, depending on the case and the cooling used.

Dongles. Just avoid them. I won't use anything that requires a dongle. It's a crap way some software manufacturers avoid piracy.

Monitors. Yes, your monitors will work on almost any interface. If they are good ones, they probably have separate, balanced cables. These can plug into either XLR or TRS outputs.

If you are thinking of a new laptop, just post the specs here. An i3 with a couple of gig of RAM will be more than enough for what I suspect you will need. If you are going to be a heavy midi user (with a lot of instruments/samples loaded, the memory requirement can go up. From what I have heard of your stuff, you won't need much (which isn't an insult - it's just that you don't do electronica much).

There is a learning curve so just keep posting. There are no dumb questions.

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Guest The S

I use a MacBook Pro labtop, an Apogee interface, and Logic Pro for my DAW. It wasn't cheap, but everything consistently works. I have no extra noise problems from the set-up, and no latency problems (but then, I only record a track or two at a time). I went this route mostly because of the learning curve. These pieces are all compatible with each other. I've also got an M-Audio Axiom Pro keyboard MIDI Controller. Both my Apogee Interface and Axiom MIDI Controller were preset to work with Logic. It's still enough of a learning curve, but there's a heckuva lot less trouble shooting I need to do because of the compatibility.

I intended to use the laptop for only music, but my other computer needs repairs, so I use it for everything.

You could probably get away with using an older system with older software like Scotto mentioned, and put all your extra money rolleyes.gif into the studio monitors. The best computer and DAW in the world means nothing without good monitors. A minimal set-up can still produce great tracks when the mixing is done using great monitors (not headphones!).

Muser, Rick Waugh, uses an iPad for his recording, with decent results.

This is close to what I have and I can honestly say, regarding performance, stability, latency and whatnot, it's outstanding! I sincerely recommend this setup. It's worth the money.

S

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P.S. FYI: Intel's new Core M chip is just starting to be incorporated into laptops. It doesn't use a fan at all. So, a laptop with a Core M chip and a solid state drive won't make any noise.

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You haven't mentioned what you have for a computer now, but most likely you could use it to start off without having to do anything to it. 2G of RAM will work, although 6G + is nice if you end up using lots of reverbs, virtual instruments (drum software, for example), etc.

If you find the computer bogs down due to speed/memory issues you can always get something new at that point.

I picked up an HP tower with 6G RAM and 500G HD, dual-core AMD processor for $300 a couple of years ago - just shop the sales on 'close out' models.

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I purchased older equipment and software (cheaper). They were the best in there time but by today's standards are slow. That being said running the old DAW version (Pro Tools LE) that was made for my PCs specs and OS rev nets me a top of the line system from 2007. Which is way more than I need. I do keep that system just for music. It does that really well and I don't want to mess with what is working.

I found a guy that specializes in old MACs and he set up my MAC with all the appropriate hardware/software needed. The system has worked flawlessly for the last 3 or 4 years now. Main issues are centered around operator input... ;)/>/>/>/>

Didn't break the bank either.

I also don't want to break the bank. But it might not cost a whole lot more to buy new than revamp an old machine. IDK?

If you want to go MAC, new is very cost prohibitive. There's a guy on my local Craigslist selling a complete studio with MBOX on an older intel based G5 tower. Very affordable compared to what that system would cost new. That being said there are a ton of options out there and some of them are much more affordable.

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You haven't mentioned what you have for a computer now, but most likely you could use it to start off without having to do anything to it. 2G of RAM will work, although 6G + is nice if you end up using lots of reverbs, virtual instruments (drum software, for example), etc.

If you find the computer bogs down due to speed/memory issues you can always get something new at that point.

I picked up an HP tower with 6G RAM and 500G HD, dual-core AMD processor for $300 a couple of years ago - just shop the sales on 'close out' models.

My current laptop is in the shop. Apparently it needs a new hard drive I guess.

I believe it's 4 GB. But not sure. How do I find out? 500 HD I think.

Not sure about i? Like i3. i4? What is that? How do I find out what mine is? What i is recommended?

I also have another laptop about 6 yrs old. Same specs I believe. I'll have to look. But the screen went out. I also remember a loud fan that ran a lot.

My current laptops fan also runs a lot more than it use to.

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Should be able to tell by looking it up on the computer. Go to your control panel and look at system and maintenance. Just click on system and the specs should pop up.

That computer should work fine for now. You can always upgrade later if its bogging down. Watch out for crashes...save your projects often!!!

I think 4GB Ram is the max for a 32 bit system. You can see if yours is 64 bit on the system page. Then 6GB ram will make a difference.

I think you will be just fine to start with that laptop. My biggest issue when I had a similar computer was the EZ drummer and Superior drummer programs. They would suck up all my ram/processing...Most other programs that I ran did pretty well most of the time.

Ricky

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Two other problems with laptops - noisy (RF interference) power supplies; lack of much power to the USB jacks - I've heard of people having issues powering their USB interfaces PLUS some other USB device at the same time.

As you've been doing recording with a stand-alone recorder, I'll assume you already have mics, headphones and some kind of speakers you can use for mixing monitors.

So all you really need to get started is an audio interface and a DAW.

For no more than 2 separate tracks at one time, the Steinberg UR22 is highly recommended by a lot of people. There are many other choices in the same price range, and if you shop for a used interface you can get one for $100. Just make sure it offers phantom power so you can use condensor mics. Of course there are other interfaces - the more you pay, the more simultaneous inputs, mic preamps and higher quality A-D converters in the box.

DAW - like Alistair, I recommend Reaper - free to download the full version, $60 to register it. there's a bit of a learning curve - read the sections of the 400+ page manual that purtain to the basic recording setup and you should be good to go. The user forums at www.reaper.fm are helpful, too.

So I could get something like this, plug it into my laptop and go? It comes with a simple cakewalk software. Would that be good to use to get started. Or should I just download Reaper right away?

I'd be recording mic'd high gain electric guitar amps, acoustic guitar, bass guitar and vocals.

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Replied by PM. But yes, plug, d/l drivers, install DAW and you're good to go.

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Should I use a separate computer for recording only?

I do, and I would recommend it. To many possible contingencies could happen that will put you out of work if somethings goes wrong.

Can I use a laptop?

I know may artists that do, so yes. Make sure the specs line up, like RAM and your CPU

Can I setup an older laptop for recording?

You can, but with some of the newer software, you may need to invest in a new model

Should I just buy a new computer for recording?

THis would be the best option. I would recommend a desktop because you can always buy individual parts and upgrade your system

Do I use an interface?

Absolutely

Do I use an old mixing board?

not if you dont wnt to. You can, but with a lot of software, they have a digital board.

What's a soundcard?

THe device that produces sound in your computer. If you have an interface, you technically dont need this.

If an interface, what kind?

I use the mbox brand

Recommended DAWS?

Protools

Anything with an easy learning curve?

Once you know creation software, you kinda know them all. But it is gonna take a while before you get a grip on one. I recommend TONS of practice.

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It's 2018, anything different to consider with new technology?

 

I'm in the same boat as @Onewholovesrock was in 2014 and 2015.  Probably I will only need at most 2 plug ins at a time.  Won't be doing anything too fancy.  Vocal, guitar, mandolin, banjo, piano

 

I have a pc laptop with 8 GB (3.17 usable), Shure 58 mic and cable, headphones.  I think I need an audio interface and DAW software.  I have about $200 max I could spend but would rather not spend more than $150.  Do I really need for monitors too?  I'm assuming your general run of the mill desktop speakers are not recommended which is what I have.

 

Thanks in advance for any tips or suggestions.  

 

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17 minutes ago, Short Order Kook said:

It's 2018, anything different to consider with new technology?

Processor to disc speeds have improved, so separate drives for separate tasks is not as important as it used to be. (Although probably still good practice.) 

Software modelers are starting to be on par with outboard gear. Speaking of which, UA just came out with a simple thunderbolt 3 interface. 

 

17 minutes ago, Short Order Kook said:

Do I really need for monitors too?  I'm assuming your general run of the mill desktop speakers are not recommended which is what I have.

Depends on whether or not you want your mixes to sound reasonable. $150-200 is a very tight budget. You should probably start with a dirt cheap or free DAW. I hear a lot about Reaper. Just use the mic you have now, as well. (Do you have a stand?) Your current budget won't cover both monitors and an interface, so I would focus on the interface. Get other gear as you can afford it in time, if you fancy. 

 

 

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51 minutes ago, Short Order Kook said:

It's 2018, anything different to consider with new technology?

 

I'm in the same boat as @Onewholovesrock was in 2014 and 2015.  

 

I’m still in the same boat. I haven’t recorded a song in awhile now. I haven’t bought a new laptop as I don’t even use my old one. From researching the basic $200 focusrite type interferes. They have good reviews. But a good amount of negative reviews when it comes to drivers not working. Unless you’re running an iMac. I can’t see purchasing an iMac for home recording as I don’t really need a computer for anything else. These phones do everything now. I don’t have the patience or know how to deal with pc issues. So here I sit waiting for something to magically appear that fits my needs. There are some higher levels of interfaces that don’t seem to have the PC issues. But those definitely wouldn’t fit your budget. 

 So yeah, if you have some computer knowledge you can do pretty well with a $150-$200 interface. It sounds like there are now a few quality DAW’s available that don’t cost much. 

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2 minutes ago, Onewholovesrock said:

It sounds like there are now a few quality DAW’s available that don’t cost much. 

Reaper is very cheap and would be my choice.

 

If you like it (I find it a bit confusing, probably because I am used to Reaper), you can get SONAR Platinum for free now (see my post here for details)

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If you dudes were nearby, I'd hook you up with my old CustoMac. It's a beast that's just sitting & collecting dust now. And what with school about to begin, I don't expect to have time for music for.... god, who knows how long. 

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Thank you all for your comments.  I saw your post Alistair about SONAR Platinum and It seems like there are a lot of people that think Reaper is a solid DAW.  I'll definitely keep those two in mind.

 

I was just looking at this, which is in my budget.  https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AudioBoxiTwo--presonus-audiobox-itwo

 

Anyone know if its crap?  I read through the reviews.  The one very poor review looks like its a person that generally has trouble with technology...seems like an outlier.

 

 

 

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Kook, if you're with Sweetwater, then you have a SW rep. Give your rep a call or email, tell 'im your budget and what you want. They generally give good advice. 

 

EDIT: And they have a pretty good return policy, as well. But check it with your rep. 

EDIT2: Oh, you're across the ocean. That may complicate the SW thing.

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59 minutes ago, Short Order Kook said:

I was just looking at this, which is in my budget.  https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AudioBoxiTwo--presonus-audiobox-itwo

 

Anyone know if its crap?  I read through the reviews.  The one very poor review looks like its a person that generally has trouble with technology...seems like an outlier.

 

Never used it but I am sure it's fine and seems to get good reviews (and I suspect a couple of people here may have experience of it, or of its predecessors).

 

Just so you have choices, a couple of others at a similar price point are :

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Focusrite-Scarlett-Audio-Interface-Tools/dp/B01E6T56EA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1523119770&sr=8-1&keywords=focusrite+scarlett+2i2&dpID=41L6SD2-BwL&preST=_SX300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017LVWBKW/ref=sr_ob_3?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1523119943&sr=1-3

 

 

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2 hours ago, Alistair S said:

Never used it but I am sure it's fine and seems to get good reviews (and I suspect a couple of people here may have experience of it, or of its predecessors).

 

Just so you have choices, a couple of others at a similar price point are :

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Focusrite-Scarlett-Audio-Interface-Tools/dp/B01E6T56EA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1523119770&sr=8-1&keywords=focusrite+scarlett+2i2&dpID=41L6SD2-BwL&preST=_SX300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017LVWBKW/ref=sr_ob_3?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1523119943&sr=1-3

 

 

I’ve done a good amount of research. The focustite Scarlett 212 is usually at the top of the review list in its price range. 

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Hey OneWhoLoves, what's holding you back on pulling the trigger for some recording gear? $$? 

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8 hours ago, Moso said:

Hey OneWhoLoves, what's holding you back on pulling the trigger for some recording gear? $$? 

Many reasons. Older laptop. About 7 yrs old. Plenty of stuff already on that computer. Not a Mac. The $200 dollar range interfaces seem to need problems fixed, drivers etc. I don’t have the patience for that nor do I want to learn how to do that. I’m looking for almost plug and play with almost zero issues. I’m hesitant on re learning all the recording info I have probably forgotten. I’m hesitant because I can never record something that would sound nearly as good as if I went to a decent studio. I don’t want to buy a new Mac. Even after all these years when I posted this. I still haven’t seen anything saying, “yeah, this is what I need” So I kinda sit here in limbo recording live takes on my cellphone. Lame, I know 😀

 What do you think someone like me should use for a setup? Any ideas?

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Your cell is kinda your thing, and it's pretty cool. I dig the low tech approach. (Heh, it's funny to me to call using a cellular phone to make great recordings of singing and playing songs, which are then sent around the world, "low tech".) 

But I can imagine sometimes you really want something more. 

 

Here's a weird option no one has brought up: get a field recorder. There are some excellent stereo field recorders that new are like $200 or so. Maybe you can find a used one or just an old one for less than half that. Then, with your old laptop and one of the free DAW options, you can experiment with recording shit in and around your house. You know, like slamming a kitchen utensil drawer for a snare, or beating the side of a dryer for a kick. You'd have to learn to cut up the audio samples and tweak them, you know get into sound design, but you might find it pretty darn interesting and yield some really enjoyable and cool results. 

 

Just a thought. 

 

EDIT: Of course, you can find tons of samples and loops online to use in your free-daw, but it's still pretty cool to make your own stuff from scratch. Way cooler than downloading. 

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On 4/7/2018 at 09:18, Short Order Kook said:

Do I really need for monitors too?  I'm assuming your general run of the mill desktop speakers are not recommended which is what I have.

Paradoxically, I've found playing back on a laptop and phone actually improves my mixes.  Good audio equipment can hide problems, but shit speakers make them impossible to ignore.  Given that those set ups favor high mids, you obvious gain perspective in that area, but it also tells you whether the bass is more boomy than you realized... or perhaps drops off entirely.

 

Low end fine tuning is difficult, but that can be easily offset by bringing the mix into your car or some other playback device that you already have.  IMO, this is the key: you get more value out of listening on multiple set ups than you get from one great one. 

 

Be sure to use reference tracks, and the same ones in each location.  It's surprising how often you think something sounds fine until you compare it to what you want it to sound like.  :) 

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15 hours ago, Moso said:

Your cell is kinda your thing, and it's pretty cool. I dig the low tech approach. (Heh, it's funny to me to call using a cellular phone to make great recordings of singing and playing songs, which are then sent around the world, "low tech".) 

But I can imagine sometimes you really want something more. 

 

Here's a weird option no one has brought up: get a field recorder. There are some excellent stereo field recorders that new are like $200 or so. Maybe you can find a used one or just an old one for less than half that. Then, with your old laptop and one of the free DAW options, you can experiment with recording shit in and around your house. You know, like slamming a kitchen utensil drawer for a snare, or beating the side of a dryer for a kick. You'd have to learn to cut up the audio samples and tweak them, you know get into sound design, but you might find it pretty darn interesting and yield some really enjoyable and cool results. 

 

Just a thought. 

 

EDIT: Of course, you can find tons of samples and loops online to use in your free-daw, but it's still pretty cool to make your own stuff from scratch. Way cooler than downloading. 

I actually purchased a video camera basically built for what I do. Live recording. Probably 8 plus years ago for $200 or so. I seriously never took it out of the box. I still have it. It’s like a field recorder today. It has stereo mics. It charges with the old iPod style charger I think. But no. I don’t think I like the idea of using a field recorder and experimenting. There is a zoom 16 track recorder out there that can be used as a stand-alone and or an interface. Decent demo recording capabilities. But I believe this product is also pushing the 8 year mark. Getting up there in tech age. If they had a new version of something like that I’d probably pull the trigger. 

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Hey, you asked, so I was just trying to offer another suggestion. Otherwise, especially with everyone else's input, the bases have been pretty well covered. 

Field recorders do top notch work these days. I have one. I carried it around with me in Thailand and pulled some amazing sounds out of it. (Also wrote an experimental tune using only sounds from the field recorder.) Even recorded a couple acoustic tunes for demos to people out in Asia and the quality surprised the hell out of me. DAW not needed in those situations. 

 

As far as making your own instruments from field recordings, yeah, if you're not into sound design and audio in general, there's no appeal. 

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5 hours ago, Moso said:

Hey, you asked, so I was just trying to offer another suggestion. Otherwise, especially with everyone else's input, the bases have been pretty well covered. 
 

Yeah man. Definitely appreciated! 

 I think I’m just to damn lazy to get back into recording. I’ve been trying to change my acoustic guitar strings since last fall. Now they sound completely dead, but I keep playing it that way. 😀. I also haven’t strapped on an electric guitar in almost three years. The amp is setup and ready to go. But nope. I talk myself out of it every time I think about picking it up. 

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No problem, brother, I get it. When I was a kid I practiced religiously. Even in my early 20s, when I was moving into contemporary fingerstyle virtuosity like Leo Kottke and ignoring my electric a lot, I still practiced all the time. Somewhere in my 30s, I pulled back, and then once I got a DAW and a keyboard, that spelled a death knell for the old guitar days. 

But even now, heck, about all I do is doodle with sound time to time. I hardly even write. My last tune before what we have running this month was written over a year ago, interestingly enough for an instrumental comp here. My instrument technique has suffered tremendously. I don't even have callouses anymore. I used to have callouses so tough it sounded like I was tapping tabletops with chopsticks. 

But... I don't know, I can't do everything. I had a cool run with guitar and music, but it's not as important as it used to be. Furthermore, I've found that I like composing/producing together with other artists more now as opposed to just writing alone at home. So I tell myself that maybe in the future, if the music bug is still itching (or actually itching, I guess I should say), then I'll do something about it. Until then, I'll explore other avenues of life. 

Heh, I just picked up a cheap Fender amp a few months ago, thinking I was getting back into music again. It's the first amp I've had in something like ten years. (Even that old tune I had in the March 2018 contest was DI.) Still haven't used it. Stupid me. Thankfully at least, I talked myself out of buying the SoundToys software package, even if it was a steal. 

 

 

Btw - changing strings can be a pain in the ass. Back when I had several 6, 8, and 12 string instruments, I think I used to put in a VHS movie when I went to change all their strings. 

 

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https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/R16--zoom-r16

 This has been on my radar as of late. The couple things that held me back were 1. I’m not sure my current laptop is up to snuff. 2. It’s been out for a good while already. Hoping a newer version would come out. 

 

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I took the plunge and bought the presonus audio box iTwo.  It came in the mail yesterday.  The DAW has so many features it's making my head spin...

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20 minutes ago, Short Order Kook said:

I took the plunge and bought the presonus audio box iTwo.  It came in the mail yesterday.  The DAW has so many features it's making my head spin...

Let us know how it’s working out.

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