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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hi,

After recording our first album, we got the sickness. Need to spend money on pro audio equipment.

We rented a Firebox and an entry level Rode mic to do a simple project on Garageband. It worked well enough, but I am looking to buy equipment that is nicer sounding, expandable, and won't go obsolete in a few years. The thinking is that I would buy a used tower next year, but for now it will have to be the iBook (1Ghz) running the party. I know, i know.

We are starting to have house concerts and I want to record the room during the show. I am also interested in recording demo's for bands, and some small high quality projects. Did I mention I've never done this before?

I would like some advice on a mixer (12-16 channel) and thoughts on a couple of mics. I was looking at Audio Technica 4047/sv, but they are about $800 each. Finally, what is the best software for someone starting out? Is Apple's worth a look?

thanks,

s.
 

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Hello,

I don't know a lot about audio equipment other then that which was introduced to the music class in High School.

I listen to Kim Mitchell's show on Q107 most days on the way home from work and he seems to speak highly of GarageBand so it might be worth a look. I would say the more channels you can record the better for mixing, again my exprience is limited, but the more channels means the less overlapping of sounds on any one channel.

I hope this helps.

Mark
 

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O dear... a 150 word question with a 300 page answer...

For Mac audio there are a coupla websites to consider- MacMusic : Music, MIDI & audio on Macintosh.
and there is a digital audio subforum on Mac Rumors: Apple Mac Rumors and News You Care About with some good background

Also, get your hands on as many magazines as you can - Sound on Sound (UK magazine and my favorite for quality and coverage), Electronic Musician, Keyboard, Computer Music and Future Music (both a bit euro-electronic/techno heavy), Recording. There are lots of reviews and how-tos there

Some general advice:
#1 - Go Firewire, forget USB
#2 - investigate Firewire interfaced mixers - Mackie, Edirol, M-Audio and Alesis have them, amongst others. These can be used both for live sound (up to the # of inputs available, of course) and for multichannel recording.
#3 - Audition the microphone for the purpose in mind -- there is no such thing as a single mic that does everything well. In general you want to build a mic collection that has a variety of mics with different characters and talents.
 

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I'm in the pro audio field.. The first thing you might want to do is lay out what your budget is. That way we can let you know what your options are.
and maybe even look into an education. I also work in Pro Audio (studio and live) as an engineer, and even just reading the forums that are out there is dangerous. A lot of really wrong things get posted. There are plenty of places to look that don't involve a 2(+) year college commitment. Even the store where you are shopping might have some evening classes. (like Carbon does)
Bottom line, get an idea of what you want to do, get some help in learning how to do it, and then work out a budget and gear wish list. Then go and get the bits that you need, and work towards the stuff you want but can't afford straight off. At least then you'll have a plan for how to get the gear that you will still be using a few years later instead of it being obsolete or no longer usable for your projects.

Z.
 

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I am looking to buy equipment that is nicer sounding, expandable, and won't go obsolete in a few years.
Be sure to set aside some of your equipment budget for education. This is the most solid investment possible and will never become obsolete. Let me be specific: get some books about standard, practical and general recording principles and acoustics. I can't stress this enough - I've heard a lot of miserable recordings made on some pretty impressive equipment due to basic blunders. Books on how to use Garageband, ProTools or Logic are NOT what I'm talking about. I mean, how to use microphones, amps, signal processors, mixers, etc - Some practical knowledge of music and psychology will also do you well.

General recording knowledge will to a great extent ease the learning curve on various recording software as most packages employ traditional terminology and concepts. All recording software is modelled to some degree on equipment and concepts that was highly evolved before computers came on the scene. These principles are transcribable to new technologies as others become obsolete.

Good mics are a stable personal investment - that is, they will always be good mics, if you take care of them. But, to harp on my theme once more, they are useless if not placed well - or if the recording is compromised by otherwise avoidable factors. Computer-related equipment, seriously, is not a long term investment unless you set up a system with a policy of not upgrading it. If you plan to keep up with Operating System development, software upgrades, and new computers - then you will be turning over your equipment every few years (to say the least). As with all computer-related purchases, buy what you need when you need it.

BTW - I am now pretty well 100% computer based - apart from a few great mics.

edit: oops, Zarqon beat me to the edu-punch... oh well! read read read.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
O dear... a 150 word question with a 300 page answer...
Hey man, if it was an easy question I wouldn't be posting it. ;)

I'm thinking I would like to keep in the $3500-$5000 area not including the tower. Buying used is an option if people have had good experiences. For now I'll be using the iBook but I'm wondering if a 2Ghz G5 tower is enough for my purposes.

You mentioned auditioning mics. Is that standard practice for retail outlet to do that or do I have to get friendly with the natives? Names to look for and stay away from would be helpful. I've heard mixed to negative comments on Apex, good comments on Rode, and fell ass over tea kettle with the look of Blue Microphones.

I will start reading those links and magazines you suggested. Any other links would be appreciated as I want to learn. Is it worth taking a $300 week long course in recording at the local college?

It is called Studio Recording Techniques and the description is "This course examines the techniques involved in the operation of studio recording equipment and provides students with a combination of instruction and studio time. " Vague.

Just looking for thoughts and to be steered in a general direction.

Almost forgot. I started a webpage on www.myspace.com/7streetlofts for the home concerts. That should give a general idea of the space I want to do room recordings of the shows. Another show coming up in two weeks and no recording gear yet.


Thanks,

s.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
and maybe even look into an education. I also work in Pro Audio (studio and live) as an engineer, and even just reading the forums that are out there is dangerous. A lot of really wrong things get posted. There are plenty of places to look that don't involve a 2(+) year college commitment. Even the store where you are shopping might have some evening classes. (like Carbon does)
Bottom line, get an idea of what you want to do, get some help in learning how to do it, and then work out a budget and gear wish list. Then go and get the bits that you need, and work towards the stuff you want but can't afford straight off. At least then you'll have a plan for how to get the gear that you will still be using a few years later instead of it being obsolete or no longer usable for your projects.

Z.
Yeah, that is what I keep hearing. I just want to get immersed, but it looks like it is time to get back in the classroom.

How did you engineers get started anyway? Were Mac's invovled in recording or is Apple just getting into the market?

s
 

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Macs have been in the industry for a very long time. Pretty much all schools will teach software on Mac, likely more than PC.

Some schools that teach long-term and short-term programs:

Harris Institute
Carbon Computing
Revolution Audio
Trebas
Metalworks and more...

I went to school in the US for my training, so I have no clue how good the schools are above.
 

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Went to Trebas back in 97 and it fit what I needed. I wasn't in it to land a studio gig, I just wanted to understand better about computers etc.
I believe that they have taken a better step forward in technology then when I was there. Like anything in that field. when asked to stay behind and work on a session after class is when all the learning took place. Lotsa $$$ though, get osap.
:greedy:
 
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I suggest doing some research on MOTU hardware and software. I've been using it for a several years and have never been so happy. Digital Performer is an extremely capable piece of software and is much less $$ than ProTools and doesn't have vendor lock in. It also has features built into it that you can end up paying a lot of money for in other setups (*cough* ProTools), including great interoperability with ProTools f you decide to take your projects to a bigger studio to mix.

I may be biased, but I honestly don't like ProTools very much. It gets really expensive really quickly, and it keeps you locked into their hardware/software combinations. It's a very slippery slope. Not only that, but I honestly think that the ProTools software is getting pretty long in the tooth for what you pay for it these days ... there's NO reason in this day and age of hardware to have to pay many thousands of dollars for additional hardware to run more plugins, etc . . . the CPU power we have these days just doesn't warrant it.
 
G

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One more piece of advice that a lot of people miss out on doing when they are setting up budgets for a recording rig, set aside a GOOD amount for cabling and additional needs along these lines ... I'd say at least 10% of your budget!
 

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I'll somewhat agree with mguertin. ;)

I'd definitely say keep your options open when finding out what software works for you. There's nothing wrong with MOTU's, RMEs, etc. I actually had a MOTU 828MKII for quite a few years, but eventually made the switch to Pro Tools.

I'm a Pro Tools whore, so I really don't have a problem with Pro Tools and their pricing. One thing to note.. In order to run Pro Tools you will need Digidesign hardware. You are still able to run Logic or whatever programs you have on the Digidesign hardware though. So like mguertin stated.. look into your hardware/software combos to figure out what you need. It's very important down the line.

It's also good to know that Pro Tools is industry standard, so I guarantee you will see it down the line. It also has a very easy learning curve..

Let's not turn this into a flame war please. :lmao:
 

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I'll somewhat agree with mguertin. ;)

I'd definitely say keep your options open when finding out what software works for you. There's nothing wrong with MOTU's, RMEs, etc. I actually had a MOTU 828MKII for quite a few years, but eventually made the switch to Pro Tools.

I'm a Pro Tools whore, so I really don't have a problem with Pro Tools and their pricing. One thing to note.. In order to run Pro Tools you will need Digidesign hardware. You are still able to run Logic or whatever programs you have on the Digidesign hardware though.
Remember that M-Audio is owned by Avid, as is Digidesign, so there is ProTools M-Powered that you can get into reasonably with M-Audio Firewire hardware.

Agreed, the high end ProTools HD with their mandatory TDM hardware is an expensive, closed, and high performing system. Look at that only if you have a budget 10 times your current.

The choice of recording software hinges a lot on personal style. People tend to become familiar with the one that they use, rarely is someone fluent in 2 or more major systems.

Major choices

ProTools (X-platform)
MOTU Digital Performer (Mac only)
Apple Logic (Mac only)
Steinberg Cubase (X-platform)

Entry level:
Garageband
Mackie Tracktion
Some shareware and freeware ones I can't remember

You can get great results with an inexpensive mic --- as long as you have a good performance, a good sounding recording space, and your signal path is nice and clean.
There are 1000 ways to #%@ up a recording even with a boutique mic.

If you have a permanent recording space, put some of the budget towards acoustic treatment of the room. There's another 300 pages right there... Sound on Sound magazine runs a "Studio Rescue" feature each month where they solve problems in real life hobby studios. Good basics there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hi,

Okay everyone. Thanks.

I know this is super complex and really I would love to talk to you all individually about your setup and why you did it the way you did. The thing that is sticking out in my head is that I need more knowledge and education is needed. My problem is that I am mid-thirties working full time and so could only do distance learning and such. I'm going to get more info from the college (I'm in Edmonton) and take some books out of the library on this topic. My hope is that will give me enough knowledge to ask the right questions. Incidently, I am interested in MOTU, and not just for the incredibly cool name. Am I understanding that their equipment can use any software whereas most other hardware is linked to its own software? Yeah, I'm starting from the start.

I'd like to think that when I have a question, I can bring it here, and I appreciate you all for chiming in.

Best,

s.
 

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Yeah, that is what I keep hearing. I just want to get immersed, but it looks like it is time to get back in the classroom.

How did you engineers get started anyway? Were Mac's invovled in recording or is Apple just getting into the market?

s
well, when I started out the dominant computer in music production was the Atari 1040ST (anyone remember the ADAP?). But now I think it's fair to say that Macs have been the main plaform for a while, even thought windows is gaining some ground.

It would help to know where you are to recomend schools or courses, and what your long term goals are.

Z.
 
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