Keyboard / Controller / Plugins / Software!

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Sesshi, Jun 18, 2006.

  1. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #1
    So I'm getting started in Garageband. Been noodling around on my guitar and shuffling around with the loops, but would like to play some other instruments into the Mac.

    I've found Garageband a piece of versatile and easy to use software with a low learning curve (at least for accompanying myself on the guitar). I like it, but now I'm not sure whether I should stick with this or expand to something else. I was into recording in the Atari days, but things have changed so much I'm essentially a noob now.

    My recording is being done through the RME Fireface. I don't think I need a mixer since all I'll be doing is playing guitar and virtual synths/instruments. I can't sing :p Is there a higher-end, more extensible sequencer which is as easy to get into as Garageband? Given that my style preferences range from electronica to solo blues, what sorts of instruments should I be looking at?

    First thing I'll need either way is a keyboard. And also some sort of hardware controller as I'm a knobs and buttons guy. Recommendations?

    For Garageband, the only option for a hardware controller seems to be the iControl which seems a bit simplistic to me. However for 'tactile recording, i.e. in a punching buttons on tape machine - motorized faders - knobs sort of way, what sort of set-up should I be aiming for?
     
  2. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #2
    some tough questions to answer, as so much of this stuff is personal preference and needs which you either haven't stated or don't know yet.

    if you can, see if you can spend some time on each of:
    1. pro tools
    2. logic
    3. cubase/nuendo
    4. digital performer
    5. ableton live

    i've used the first four (and do my day-to-day stuff in protools), and they all do basically the same thing, just in different ways. i find PT vastly superior for recording, but of the four prefer DP for sequencing. (caveat: i never found comfort in Logic).

    but ymmv greatly.

    regarding control surfaces, there are a number out there, such as the mackie control universal. there are also a number of MIDI keyboard controllers, like those by m-audio and edirol, that are USB enabled and come with a variety of configurable knobs and sliders. fwiw, i have no control surface and use an m-audio oxygen-8 for keys.

    i agree that you don't need a mixer. unless you spend some $$, it'll do nothing more than distort your signal on its way to the RME unit.

    ....

    btw, when choosing your DAW, plug-in formats may influence your decision. this used to be a bigger deal, but now most can use both AU and VST format plugs. PT is, of course, the notable exception. it uses its own formats (RTAS and TDM), but there is a wrapper which allows use of VST plugs. i've not tried the wrapper.
     
  3. Sesshi thread starter macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #3
    OK, more background.

    In terms of personality I have a fairly low patience threshold. If it doesn't work in the way I think it should work, I usually abandon it. It's fair to say I'm not looking for a 100% pro set-up at this stage but really a set-up I can enjoy. I'm willing to spend money if it gets better results, but not at the expense of additional complexity or lessened usability. The general level of usability of Garageband is probably the baseline requirement for anything I get. Usage is noodling multitrack (including use of software instruments) first, looping second. For looping usage, I'd like some sort of arpeggiator in the setup as well.

    For monitoring I've moved in the Genelec 8050a's which weren't doing a lot in my bedroom. I figured that recording would involve a lot more possibly damaging transients coming through the system so if the worst comes to the worst I'd rather blow a $4K pair of powered monitors than something a lot more expensive. The 8050a's are currently jacked directly into the back of the Fireface.

    I do have a mixer (A Mackie Onyx) which I'm using to route the outputs of my gaming PC's and consoles but as I said, I don't think I need to employ it in my recording setup. I have no 'boxes' apart from the Fireface hooked up to the Mac at the moment. The guitar recording takes place in Garageband with the guitar hooked up to input 1 of the FF. Anything else I use will be in terms of software instruments. I don't really see the point of buying dedicated hardware workstations such as an Oasys for my modest level of use. Correct?

    Hardware controls - The Mackie Control + C4 looks like what I should be looking at for the control I want, but in terms of desk occupancy as well as potential complexity in that it seems like I'll basically have the bridge of Starship Enterprise in front of me (which I can't stuff under the table like the Onyx), it seems like a headlong plunge into working pro territory. Is there something inbetween such a set-up and an iControl?

    Keyboard - no idea about what to get but the thing I'd like to buy first. My skills are pretty lapsed, but I know I don't like the springy, cheap, ultra-lightweight keyboards yet I'm not all that fond of a full piano action either. For space reasons, if possible I'd like whatever fits into a metre of length. If there's a keyboard out there which combines some elements of the Mackie Control along with a keyboard, I would consider something bigger. Do the sliders and encoders such as on the M-Audio Axiom keyboards give absolute values based on their physical position? (i.e. I believe hardware controls are pretty useless if you don't get visual feedback from the positioning of the controls, be it through the Mackie Control's approach or otherwise)

    Software - yes, I suppose I'll just have to download demos if possible, and from what I've read it does seem to be a matter of personal preference. However what's generally regarded as the most logical move up from Garageband? I have no plug-ins yet so whatever is popular and has the most support will influence my decision I guess.
     
  4. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #4
    though i know PT 7 has made some strides in this area, i've yet to try it. i find Reason bang-on for how i like to work with soft instruments, loops and sequencing. i'll get my song in some kind of shape there, then export AIFFs to PT for finishing, where i may do a bit of rearrangment. i don't use rewire in my workflow.

    someday i intend to check out ableton live for this kind of work, and i think you should include that in your search.

    but for straightforward recording / editing of live instruments, PT is the way to go, imho. i also find the mixing environment very intuitive.

    i still use my old school analog synths for their great sound, but most of what i do is on the mac.

    there's one company i'm really struggling to remember the name of, but can't. they made a couple different models and they looked interesting. if i can remember, i'll post back.

    if you ask apple, they'll say Logic Express. but i'm not convinced.

    the only ones which i use a lot are smassey plugs. he always introduces RTAS first, but i think he's working on VST and AU. i've also heard very good things about Tritone Digital. one of these days i'll get Pluggo running and try their stuff.

    i also own a bunch of Bomb Factory plugs, but mostly use the moog stuff there. i'll also use PSP's Vintage Warmer here and there. of the plugs that digi includes, by far i use the delays more than anything else. i much prefer hardware compression to plugs, fwiw.

    i'd avoid Waves due to their ridiculous licensing arrangement.
     
  5. Sesshi thread starter macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #5
    OK... critique my noodling basic setup. Includes stuff to be bought as well as existing.

    - Propellerheads Reason 3.0
    - Novation Remote SL61
    - RME Fireface
    - Genelec 8050a
     

Share This Page