Band recording on a Mac...which software to use?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by nicorojas, Apr 1, 2006.

  1. nicorojas macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2003
    Location:
    Chile
    #1
    Hey Guys,

    I've been in a blues/rock/pop band for almost 8 years now. We started as a Pink Floyd/Beatles covers band, but by now we have a lot of our own material and we are tired to spend lots of money in studio time. That's why we are in the process of installing a small home studio for demos and we want to use my powerbook (Al 15, 1.5Ghz, 1G RAM) for the recording.

    We're using old pieces of equipment acquired during the years: and old Tascam portastudio (2 inputs), a Yamaha Mixer MG10/2 and some sm57 mics (as you can see, we don't have lots of money). We are four musicians, 2 guitars, bass and drums, but some of the songs have a little keyboard work. 3 vocals are used most of the time.

    For the drums, we're using 2 "ambient" mics, connected to the portastudio, plus 1 for the snare and 1 for the bass drum, both connected directly to the mixer. The portastudio is also connected to the mixer. We record the bass simultaneously with the drums, using another input from the mixer. Later, we add guitars, keyboards and vocals. You can hear the results of that setup here: http://music.download.com/pezblanco

    We record everything in the powerbook using Cubase SX 1.06. I haven't had any problems with the software for mixing and basic mastering. We don't use a lot of effects (some reverb here and there).

    That's the current situation. Now, the questions: 1) We're planning to invest some money in equipment. Which are the devices and brands you would recommend? A firewire input device?

    The goal would be to record almost all the instruments simultaneously as independent tracks in the mac (now, everything that comes from the mixer is "downmixed" to stereo before coming to the computer. that's why we record only drums and bass at the same time).

    2) Is Cubase allright or are we missing too much by not using Logic or ProTools LE?
     
  2. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #2
    if cubase is working for you, then by all means stick with it.

    as far as simultaneous inputs, how many do you need? what's your budget? how much will you be spending on mics and mic pre's? or are you looking for a new mixer?

    given your current gear situation, you're really looking at building a complete studio. though you obviously don't have to drop $100k to make that happen, don't underestimate needs like cables, mic stands, headphone monitoring, mix monitoring, et. al.
     
  3. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #3
    btw, i listened to a couple samples. imho, your engineering skills are better than your equipment, so it's a good time to buy.
     
  4. nicorojas thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2003
    Location:
    Chile
    #4
    Well, actually, not everything was recorded at home. Only "Que Largo Ha Sido Hoy", "Ojos Claros", "Tras la Montaña", "Eye Contact" and "Invierno". The rest were recorded at two different studios (and with a different drummer).

    As far as simultaneous inputs, I think 4 mic inputs would be fine (1 mic per guitar, 1 for the bass, 1 for a guide vocal that could be erased later). For the drums, we plan to stick with the analog mixer, downmixed to stereo, and the keyboard can be added in a line input.

    Budget is between $500 and $900, depending on the equipment. First thing is to buy the elementary stuff that we're missing. Then, we would "upgrade" the mics and maybe get some preamps.
     
  5. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #5
    yeah, that's not much. you can get something like the 4-channel m-audio 410 for $300. i'm not horribly impressed by any converters in that range, but what are you using now?

    has that worked so far? i've dealt with drums pre-mixed like that, and it's pretty hit or miss.

    i hate recommending stuff i've not used, but you may want to include one of those mackie onyx mixers in your search, like the 1620. with the firewire card, i think it'll allow you to record 8 tracks simultaneously, so you can at least multi-track the drums. even 4 drum tracks (kick, snare, 2x overheads) would lend a lot more mixdown flexibility.
     
  6. LaoTzu macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2005
    #6
    You need 4 "Mic" inputs, total?

    Real drums are tough to record..... many possible configurations..... but if Stereo works, OK. These days, almost ALL commercial tracks record drums - use ReX, ACID, GB, beat slicing - and replace the sounds with samples ( perfectly recorded, in perfect room, with perfect mic, - but preserves the Human style, timing, approach of the performance..... )

    I guess you could add 1 USB - the EMI2 - 6 - supports 4 tracks at once..... as most USB interfaces. Cheap, M- Audio should offer the most for least $$ - they ALWAYS have ( and I think their converters are better than Pro Tools or Apogee in the whole product line! )

    The options are astounding.... What's wrong with SM-57's? If the music is good, it'll sound good. If bad, it'll sound bad..... I mean a LOT of commercial releases are done with Sure SM-57 & SM-58 - most popular on earth....

    If you want "better" recordings, try room change, etc. I highly recommend, if anything, a cheap "Bundle" like $100 for drum kit/ volcal/inst - 10 mic's - then you can use several in different places - and some combinations will be.... very unique...

    Guitar/ is line in ( if after Amp/FX ) if not boost from -10 to +4 Line to Mic level, Mic Pre's are built into mixers, and again, no mic pre will make better music..... I like Mackie mixers, and use their Pre's above all others....


    What do you have for gear? Nearfield Monitors, Mixing Mastering speakers are important......

    Although @ 5 grand I could acoustically treat the whole room, make a drum, vocal, isolation booth, get more mics, more inputs, near fields, and that is a whole studio.... wow!

    Hope that helps,
    LT
     
  7. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #7
    The Mackie looks very good, but it will blow the budget bigtime, especially with importation to Chile.

    A cheaper combination mixer/Firewire interface alternative is the Alesis Multimix 8 or 12 Firewire http://www.alesis.com/product.php?id=93
    It was reviewed well in the one magazine review I have read.

    This is the country distributor for Chile, they can tell you where you can buy Alesis gear in your country.

    CHILE
    STELAUPHIPAT
    Principe De Gales 5933 • Santiago • Chile
    Phone: 56 2 371 7058 • Fax: 56 2 371 7057
    Contact:
    Jean Marc Liard/Crisian Jarry
    cjarry@thesoundhouse.tie.cl
    phipsa@mi-mail.cl
     
  8. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #8
    well, they're not. you're just wrong.

    they're good mics when used through good preamps. through bad preamps, they're pretty mediocre. still, i'd rather use an sm-57 than a $100 condenser.

    i highly recommending avoiding such kits. the mics are crap and it's a waste of money. if your room is decent, you can get a much better recording using a pair of good omnis, such as the $500 avenson sto-2's.

    are you talking about the XDR pre's or something else? i've used those XDR pre's extensively, and they're really disappointing when mixing together more than a handful of signals recorded with them. pray tell, to what have you compared them to lead you to such a conclusion?
     
  9. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #9
    i reckon that's true, but i still think it's worth a mention, as it solves the preamp and converter issue in one go, plus provides an upgrade path channel-wise.

    i do wish to emphasize that i've not used this product and don't know if it's any good. indeed, i've got one of the previous generation boards (1642, vlz-line) and think it's a pile of steaming poo. but i heard (for whatever that's worth) mackie made a forward leap, quality-wise, with the onyx line. ymmv so proceed with caution.
     
  10. nicorojas thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2003
    Location:
    Chile
    #10
    Looking at some of the options, I'm heading towards the Alesis Multimix 16 Firewire, which has 8 mic inputs. We need those, because we usually mic the guitar amps to get a more "real" sound.

    Has anybody used those Alesis mixers?

    Regarding the importation costs, the plan is to buy it in the US and send it over to a friend that lives there who will travel to Chile soon but thanks a lot for the info on the distributor.

    For the quality we're interested in, I found nothing wrong with the sm57, but we're planning to buy a couple more mics to replace two very cheap samson.
     
  11. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    Location:
    toronto
    #11
    whatcha got in mind?
     
  12. nicorojas thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2003
    Location:
    Chile
    #12
    Really....nothing. I don't know too much about mics, and I've always read or listened that the sm57 are one of the best in quality/price ratio. They would be mainly used to mic the guitar amps. Any other suggestions?

    Also, what other alternatives to the Alesis mixers exists in the same price range? Can you confirm me that we will be able to do multitrack recording on cubase with that one (or with any of the firewire models, they include cubase se, so i assume you can do it, but i don't want surprises)?

    Thanks a lot for all the help. That's why I love the macrumors community. There's always someone willing to help.
     
  13. nicorojas thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2003
    Location:
    Chile
    #13
    Returning to the original question, I have found the following options:

    1) Alesis Multimix Firewire 16, or maybe the 12, depending on the finances....
    2) Tascam FW1082 http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/FW1082/
    3) Alesis iO 26 http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/io26/
    4) Presonus Firepod.

    Any suggestions? Also, a somewhat stupid questions. I don't know the exact terminology, but I notice that the "mic" inputs are different in the alesis mixer (and in our own yamaha mixer) than on the Firepod or the iO26. Is there any difference in quality or is a matter of buying the right cable?
     
  14. ebook macrumors 6502

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    Location:
    Sprint Car Capital of the World
    #14
    I don't know this for sure, but it seems like when I asked about the Alesis Multimix Firewire that people told me that it doesn't record individual channels, rather it just sends a stereo mix from the board to the computer. I could be wrong. On the other hand the Presonus Firepod will let you record eight seperate tracks at once that you can then play with in your computer. I know the Firepod does receive some mixed reviews, but I think they are usually well liked. If it is with in the budget I would go with the Firepod. The Firepod takes a standard XLR mic cable or a 1/4 inch cable, I think they are dual jacks (forget the real name) on the front of the unit. Hope this helps a little.
     
  15. WesSideTempest macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    #15
    I am in a similar scenario. What I want to do is bounce files back and forth between two friends that have Pro Tools LE BUT I am trying at all costs to avoid getting Digidesign. Never to keen on them. Basic demoing stuff plus adding sounds, voice over etc to video files. Nothing real heavy duty.

    My considerations
    MOTU UltraLite
    Firepod (just because of what I have read here)
    The Alesis along with the Tascam intrigues me but not to sure.

    trying to keep it around a grand or less for the hardware. Software is not determined yet.

    Primarily using a G4 powerbook but also have access to a dual G4 tower
     
  16. wmmk macrumors 68020

    wmmk

    Joined:
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    #16
    How might I do this? It sounds quite intsresting!

    Seriously? are any m-audio products 24/192? if they are, i might just have o look at some

    this sounds cool, but where might one get one of these? any links would be great!
     
  17. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    Location:
    toronto
    #17
    please, don't encourage LaoTzu. he doesn't know what he's talking about. i normally wouldn't say such a thing, but he's just so consistently wrong, and many here agree.
     
  18. chasemac macrumors 6502a

    chasemac

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    #18
    I do not use the MOTU UltraLite but if it is anything performance wise like the MOTU Traveler you will be very pleased. If you use Digital Performer software, the PT tracks will import fine.
     
  19. nicorojas thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2003
    Location:
    Chile
    #19
    final decision

    So, after some discussion with the band, reading some reviews on the net and the help provided in this thread, we decided to go for the Alesis Firewire Multimix 16. It covers basically all the functions we need and it's in our budget....

    Now, a second question. We plan to use the mixer using Cubase SX 1.06 on a Powerbook G4 15", 1.5 Ghz, 1 Gig RAM attached to a LaCie external hardrive (7200 rpm/160 Gigs) connected via Firewire 800 (which should be faster than the 5400rpm Hard Drive on the powerbook).

    We don't use many effects (except for some basic reverbs and delays....we're not very experienced in the use of effects and we also like a more "rough", natural sound). We'll try the effects included in the mixers, but there is the possibility that we stick to what we know (the Cubase included effects).

    How many tracks do you think the powerbook will be able to handle? Do we need more RAM? a new powerbook? save for a PowerMac? Change to PC?

    Thanks in advance for the feedback.
     
  20. scottlinux macrumors 6502a

    scottlinux

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    #20
    The m-audio 410 only has TWO inputs. It's false advertising. They are counting the two spdif inputs and saying it totals FOUR. There are only TWO mic/line inputs. Edirol makes firewire devices with 4+ actual line inputs for the same price.
     
  21. airkarol macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2005
    #21
    About the M-Audio Firewire 1814, you only can use 2 inputs at once. It's basically one stereo channel. I would reccommend getting a Firewire 1814, which will give you 2 preamps, as well as phantom power. That can always be expanded with an M-Audio Octane, which will add 8 preamps to it. I think it will fit into you budget. Both together would be less than 1k. Also, check out the M-Audio Project Mix I/O. That seems like something good.
     
  22. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #22
    The Alesis USB mixers send a stereo pair. The Alesis Firewire mixers record all channels (You can verify this with the specs at www.alesis.com...)
    One advantage of the Alesis units is that they are a standalone mixer with a simple effects section -- so you can use them for live SR and practise. They are fairly bare-bones as a digital audio interface. The review I read was that the preamps were good, not great, but of course that's subject to the reviewer's criteria.

    I am planning to get one (we're a dealer), but it isn't here yet.
     
  23. deggs37 macrumors member

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    May 23, 2006
    Location:
    Ohio
    #23
    Kind of off topic, but I really like the song Tras la Montana. I can definetly hear the Pink Floyd influence in that song.
     
  24. equazcion macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2006
    #24
    I'm in the same exact situation. I actually just brought home an Alesis Multimix 12 USB from Sam Ash. The salespeople led me to believe that A) it would work as a control surface, the hard controls actually affecting the software, and B) that all the channels would simultaneously be transmitted through the USB interface. I should've known that the type of interface (USB/Firewire) couldn't be the only difference between the USB and Firwire models, because there's such a vast price difference.

    These devices are extremely difficult to search for online, because there's really no name for them -- they're just mixers with integrated multi-track interfaces and control surfaces. Try putting that into Google and see the mess that comes up in the search results. The Tascam FW1082 seems like exactly what I need (the Alesis Multimix Firewire should be fine for those who don't need the control surface feature), but it unfortunately includes features I don't need like motorized moving sliders, and as a result is too expensive.

    If anyone hears of any good alternatives I'd be glad to know about them. Thanks.
     
  25. rogerrj macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    #25
    The Multimix firewire records discrete channels to your computers. So if you have a MultiMix 16 you'll get 16 individual channels plus the mains. The USB mixers submix all the channels to stereo.

     

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