Mobile iPad Studio ("Hotel Room" Studio)

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Pad18, Aug 22, 2011.

  1. macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2006
    I'm trying to put a truly mobile recording studio together. *In my possession at this time I have an iPad2, an old midi keyboard, and I just ordered the Alesis Studio Dock. *

    My next purchases are gonna be the KRK RP8 studio monitors and a Shure SM57 microphone.

    So my question is what else do I need to get to yield professional results? A mixer perhaps? Maybe different monitors or different mics?

    I'm a musician but I'm pretty new to the recording/producing side of things. *I have an iMac at home, which runs Logic, but *I want to be able to record at my friends house along at my own house, or even go somewhere with beautiful scenery and lay some vocals down. *I really dig the apps and the user-friendliness of the iPad and would really love to utilize it's advantages.

    Thank you for any help.
  2. macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land
    What sort of thing do you want to record?
  3. thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2006
    As in what type of music? Electronic with guitar...Think in the vain of NIN and Radiohead
  4. macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2010
    Professional results? You'll want a good quality recording interface, with decent A/D converters (e.g protools hd or Apogee which will require a computer or laptop, ipad wont cut it), some good quality pre-amps (see sticky at top of the digital audio page), good quality mics, (sm57 is ok versatile mic, but you want at least a good condenser for vocals), good quality recording studio (the right acoustics in a room and good mic technique make all the difference in recording), good quality mixing room, (placement of monitors, room treatment etc. are a must for mixing properly), years of recording, mixing, mastering experience.
    Get all that and you can then start to produce 'professional results'

    You might be able to get some half decent recording for demos etc. out of the alesis but for something that's just a couple hundred bucks you shouldn't expect much. How do you currently record into logic? Do you already have a recording interface for it?

    If you want to stick with the ipad method, the best purchase IMO is a good quality condenser mic, the RODE range a pretty good quality for not a lot of money. This will be great for vocals or micing a guitar amp. A mixer isn't really needed and I don't know much about ipad apps so can't help you there.

    If it were me I would return the alesis, sell the ipad and get a macbook or macbook pro, doesn't need to be that well spec'd if it's just for mobile recording and you do most mixing on the imac, and get a proper recording interface, (loads of support for the Apogee duet, RME, MOTU are also well liked), I think a macbook air and apogee duet will be smaller and more portable than the ipad and alesis.

    For creating electronic music have a look at Reason! :D
  5. Pad18, Aug 26, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011

    thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2006
    I have an iMac with Logic on it, along with Native Instruments...the problem is I have not one clue where to even begin with them..I just felt the easy usability of the iPad would inspiring and not so threatening.

    I mean of course I keep thinking to myself I should just buy the Apogee Duet and plug that right into my iMac and try a break that wall down that is Logic.

    I just figured the iPad would be a good starting point
  6. firestarter, Aug 26, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011

    macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land
    While Mroddjob is correct to a large extent; songwriting and capturing a musical performance can be hindered by a lot of non-productive factors. There's a whole heap of procrastination a person can get into if they feel they don't have the exactly correct microphone or preamp or software or even knowledge. If you think that recording on an iPad will give you a simple approach that will help 'set the creative juices flowing' then by all means go ahead and use that.

    Many many fantastic vocal recordings have been made with the SM58, and many many guitar cabinets have been captured with an SM57 (which is just the 58 without the pop guard) - so as a starter microphone it's got a lot going for it.

    If you record electric guitars on the iPad, I'd try and double-track the recording, with both a clean signal from the guitar and the miked cabinet too. That way, if you're unhappy with the end cabinet sound, you can re-amp the clean signal in Logic (or Native Instruments Guitar Rig if you have it). Either that, or just use the guitar emulation in iPad Garageband - you still have the underlying clean track, so you can change processing later.

    If you're playing keyboard and capturing midi on the iPad, there are no quality issues. There are plenty of interesting synths on the iPad - or you could export that midi to Logic and run it through Reaktor or something like that to get proper interesting industrial sounds.

    So if I were you, I'd go right ahead with what you have and get creating. At the very least you'll be able to get down some good demo quality tracks and have fun making some creative music. At best, you're going to be capturing reasonable (albeit not best) quality vocals, guitar and synth that you can later import into Logic and re-amp, reprocess, revoice to get a result that will sound a whole lot better.

    Let's face it - a lot of classic (and awesome sounding) tracks from the last 50 years were captured on much less capable hardware. As they say "don't let perfect get in the way of good".

    Oh yes, and do check out Mroddjob's recommendation of Reason. The new version out in September allows audio recording (previously it was kind of targeted at midi/pattern based music) and looks like it'll be an amazing tool for electronic/industrial music.

    Edit: Check out the forum over at HarmonicDog. They make 'Multitrack Daw' for the iPad and iPhone - and this forum contains example tracks recorded on these devices. Some great work here.
  7. thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2006

    So then I guess the question is: Is it really worth it to go ahead building a mock-studio around an "semi-capable" iPad, or should I just go for the Apogee Duet instead of the Alesis Studio Dock and try my best to learn Logic?

    See my thought process was that the iPad would be a good starting point and easy to break into opposed to tackling the Logic monster, which honestly is quite discouraging as a beginner. But then I think, I can just use the iPad set up as a learning/recording/synth tool even after I start learning a little more and more about Logic and NI.

    I have around $1,500 to spend and I'm honestly torn. I love the touch screen and I'm quite fond of the apps, and I can see it being done with an iPad but every where I look all I get is discouragement. The Gorillaz did it! And if i buy good gear who is to say that I can't use the gear for both my iPad and my iMac?

    Thank you for your long responses, they are highly appreciated.
  8. macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land
    You're building Logic up into some sort of bogeymen. It really isn't that difficult to use.

    Why not start off with Garageband on your Mac? It'll record from an Apogee Duet at 24 bits, so you'll end up with a much better sound than the Alesis (I think the iPad can only manage 16 bits, which doesn't give you much headroom if you're recording dynamic stuff).

    You can import Garageband projects into Logic anyway - so once you've got all your tracks down in the easy app, there's no problem then using Logic to just add effects (better reverb etc).

    What ever you do - just start doing it. You don't need to spend $1500 to get productive on Garageband Mac - a basic audio interface and a pair of headphones is fine. You'll only know what you really need once you start working.
  9. thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2006

    I have to say Logic is daunting if you've never used it before. But I suppose you're right, it's dumb to spend the money on an iPad and the Studio Dock when I could just buy the Duet and get results that are exponentially better.

    So I'll buy the Duet 2, the Rockit 8's, the Alesis Q49 midi controller, and you wanna recommend me a mic? It seems I've been having the most trouble with picking one lmao
  10. macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    no, it's dumb to spend money on things that don't improve your workflow and productivity.

    you're not going to get "pro results" with modest equipment updates. you'll get it with excellent arrangements, technique, years of practice, and possibly stellar equipment.

    do what you need to start being productive, and get better from there.
  11. firestarter, Aug 26, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011

    macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land
    So, start with Garageband then!

    I'm no Logic expert, but I use both it and Garageband - whichever seems easier at the time.

    The secret to learning any complicated app is to 'start with the end in mind'. Don't just sit in front of it and worry about what the buttons do - instead just start a little project and learn as you go along.

    'Right, I need a vocal track, a midi track for a built in synth, a track with some drum loops and a track for some rhythm guitar... how do I record an audio track? ok, how do I add compression to that? ok, how do I fade in/out? ok, how do I add reverb?' etc.

    Read some stuff about basic production and engineering, listen to some music production podcasts (I listen to SonicState every week), read some magazines (Sound On Sound takes apart the engineering on a well known track every month). Pretty soon you'll know what sort of processing you need, and after that it's a lot easier to work out how to do it in Logic.

    Well, that's not what I said!

    I was mainly saying that you should just get productive with whatever you have and stop erecting barriers like buying expensive equipment and learning complex apps.

    You're not going to make a grammy-award winning recording the first time you try and record a track - so you don't need the very best equipment from the get-go.

    There are two main sorts of inexpensive mic - dynamic and condenser. Dynamic mics are probably more robust, better with high volumes, condenser are better with high frequencies.

    If you're recording guitar cabinets and male vocals a dynamic would probably be fine to start off with - if you were recording instruments (like acoustic guitar) and female vocals a condenser would be better.

    Personally I own a Sure SM57 and an SM58. If I only had one I'd probably just get the SM58 (dynamic mic). For a condenser, the Rode NT3 looks pretty good.

    Check out YouTube for Logic demonstrations and lessons, and demonstrations of different gear.

    Here's a guy using two Rode NT3s
    Here's someone singing into an SM58

  12. thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2006
    I'd like to thank you guys very much for your help...I've been asking around on different forums and trying to get a good amount of opinions. I'm sorry for my indecisiveness, it's just that I rarely get lump sums of money and I'm just trying to make the best decision. I've been waiting to start this adventure for quite some time now so being smart about it and doing my research is key.


    I honestly think this is the best advice I've received thus far. The main reason I was gonna travel the iPad path was the user friendliness. But the way you put it into perspective makes complete sense...just a step at a time.
    Thank you.
  13. macrumors regular

    Jul 21, 2011
    North Carolina
    There are a number of ways to kick things into gear.

    1. iRig will let you plug in a guitar or other high impedence source (like a keyboard).

    2. Thumbjam is a great looping app with decent sounds to get you started.

    3. I would just use the on board mic to record vox at this point.

    4. Garageband is a fine way to kick things off...just note that you will be restricted to 8 tracks. ...which in my world is fine for scratchpad demo work.

    5. The better you get in performance quality the more likely it is that you can use your tracks in logic.

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