final equipment recommendations for demo-level recordings

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by mcgarry, Aug 11, 2006.

  1. mcgarry macrumors 6502a

    mcgarry

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    #1
    Hello,

    My brother is looking to set up a personal portable recording capability. He only needs to record guitar and vocals. The final product need only be demo-level quality, something for him to work out ideas and share with a select audience; at this point he is not shooting for pro-level output. Previously he has not used a Mac, or any computer, for any of his recording, just an old Tascam 4-track. But now he is upgrading from an iBook G3 to a MacBook Pro.

    He asked for my help with the computer side of things, as that is not his forte. After talking with him and reading a lot on this forum and elsewhere, I identified his needs as:

    - pre-amp: M-Audio MobilePre USB or FireWire Solo: is the FireWire Solo worth the extra cost (~$40)?

    - mic: primarily for vocals, I think the AT2020 sounds like a good choice, at ~$100. But if he wanted to save a little here, is there anything below this you might recommend as comparable in quality?

    - midi keyboard: M-Audio 49e: he said ideally he wanted 3 octaves; I'm not sure if he needs anything fancier than this

    - maybe something better than GarageBand: he is a college student, so he could get Logic Express for $150, but Logic Pro is most likely outside his budget. He is leaning towards starting off with GarageBand, learning it, and then possibly moving up as necessary to LE or a competitor. Or might you recommend he start higher in terms of software? He likes the idea of more/better loops etc.-- how much better is LE than GB?

    So with a budget that wants to stay as close to $400 as possible, obviously his choices are limited. With that in mind, if there is one of the above items that you think he should delay purchasing so that he can get a higher-end one of the others, please say so. If he needs to save up a few more months to get, say, the keyboard, in order to get a better pre-amp to get started now, he might be willing.

    One other option is the M-Audio Ozone pre-amp/Midi combo. Yes, it has less keys, but he has worked on 25-key-board before and said he would deal with it if it's a better overall package than the stuff mentioned above.

    Final caveats:
    - sorry about the M-Audio emphasis; he has a bunch of AppleStore giftcards and they carry it, even though I know M-Audio stuff can be found cheaper elsewhere
    - I know about as much about music as he knows about computers, so excuse me if I miss something obvious!

    Thanks for your advice.
     
  2. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #2
    for the money, the AT 2020 is probably the best condenser you'll find. the sm57, which can be gotten for about $80, is indeed a great mic, but 1) it needs a really good pre to shine, imo, and 2) if that guitar you mention is acoustic, you'll want the condenser.

    getting an interface box (like the m-audios you mention) before deciding on the software is backwards. the protools line is great for recording audio (he'd get PT-M included with the m-audio box), but it looks like he wants to do some looping stuff w/ in which PT historically hasn't been strong, though they are taking steps to improve there.

    it's possible that Reason Adapted may be included with PT-M, he should check. Reason is a great program for loops and song composition, imo.

    i've not used it, but many here are fans of Ableton Live, which would serve both needs. he should include that in his search.

    what's his plan for monitoring? it's arguably more important than anything else.
     
  3. mcgarry thread starter macrumors 6502a

    mcgarry

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    #3
    He says he has good headphones, probably the only decent piece of equipment he already owns.

    As for the software/pre-amp, yes, I'd sort of assumed that he'd get one of the M-Audio devices, which from what I've read work well with the Ableton (included with them) and Apple (included with his Mac) software. But thanks, this is exactly the sort of advice I'm seeking. And though I've never used any of these programs myself, my experience elsewhere would make me biased towards the Apple solutions, in hopes of smoother overall integration. But I'm open to others.
     
  4. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #4
    not at all ideal, but it's common.

    fwiw, Logic is the only music software program i've tried that imo has too steep a learning curve. i regularly use PT and Reason, and occasionally fire up Digital Performer. they're all pretty straightforward. i do intend on trying Live 'fore too long.
     
  5. mcgarry thread starter macrumors 6502a

    mcgarry

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    #5

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