Music recording on a Mac?

Discussion in 'Mac Help/Tips' started by alex_ant, Apr 26, 2002.

  1. alex_ant macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2002
    Location:
    All up in your bidness
    #1
    Hi,

    I'm looking to get started recording music with my Mac, a TiBook. The catch is I have no idea where to start.

    Here is what I have already...

    - TiBook
    - MIDI drum kit (Yamaha DD-50)
    - Bass guitar & 15-watt amp
    - Electric guitar & 15-watt amp
    - Ibanez Tube Screamer and other various effects for the guitar

    I don't have, but I know I need...

    - Software
    - A microphone of some sort

    Basically I want to be able to lay down a drum track, then go back and play bass on top of it, then go back and play rhythm guitar on top of that, then go back and put lead guitar and vocals and etc. on top of that. What would be the best way of going about this? What hardware and software will I need? And where can I learn how to do it? I've downloaded ProTools Free just for kicks and I found that I have absolutely no idea how to use it - frankly I am tempted to just get a 4-track tape recorder. :)

    One more thing, I would like to keep this simple and inexpensive. I'm not looking to set up my own recording studio - just to record a few simple tracks by myself. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Alex
     
  2. macfreek57 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2002
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    #2
    if you've got a band you're recording--like me--do what i did and get a digital harddrive recorder. my personal route (which was the cheapest) was an eighty $ sound board and the most excelent archos jukebox 10 gig mp3 player/recorder. the recorder is actually designed to be a portable mp3 player but they added recording ability to it. it records from a built in mic, an analog line (must be powered-sucks) input, or a digital line input (i'm still clueless about that one). you can get some pretty good quality from it. it also works excelently (through USB 1 or 2) in both os 9 and X. it's a beautiful thing--i recommend you check it out even if you're recording individual instruments separately.
    i'd be happy to answer any questions you might have about it (i know i had a lot because they are european-based and don't have an 800 number).


    ***reminder***
    I realize i may be totally off base, but it's just my suggestion. I am extremely pleased with my self for dicovering this as a possibilty for my own band and I'm also extremely pleased with the Archos Jukebox.
     
  3. Skandranon macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2002
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #3
    Alex:

    Drop me an email. I might be able to help you out with some "software advice." :D Especially if you're on broadband.

    Further: I would recommend looking into getting a good USB line input (NOT an iMic... those things are awful) and if possible, a midi timepiece if you wish to expand your synth collection. With programs such as Peak, Digital Performer 3, you can go pretty far with basic recordings.
     
  4. alex_ant thread starter macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2002
    Location:
    All up in your bidness
    #4
    macfreek - Hmm, don't I kinda already have an MP3 recorder/player? :) (Albeit one that's not pocket-sized by any means...) I mean, I could probably get the same results, although not as conveniently, with an iMic or something, couldn't I? I haven't checked that thing out yet, though, and I will. Thanks for the advice.

    Skandranon - Thanks for the "software advice" offer but I would kinda prefer to keep my "advice" legit. :D For the USB line input and MIDI timepiece, I have heard of three things: The Digigram VXPocket, the Digidesign Mbox, and that MOTU Firewire interface (8192 is it?). I think the MOTU is too expensive for me. Would the VXPocket or the Mbox be overkill? The Mbox I understand comes with Protools LE... which would be nice. Although I'm thinking Free will be sufficient for my purposes. Would I need a mixer then to go with one of those, or what? All these buttons and knobbies and dials and sliders. I'm confused. Also, I tried to view your site but couldn't get past the "loading content" screen. I have an Ethernet connection so I guess I will try again later.

    Thanks for all the help so far. Hopefully more will come! :)

    Alex
     
  5. bonehead macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2002
    Location:
    Lost Angeles
    #5
    alex_ant:

    If you have the free version of Pro Tools that's great. I'm not sure what non-Digidesign interfaces it recognizes though.

    For USB interfaces check out the Tascam ones at http://www.tascam.com/products/computer_recording/us224/index.php. Also check out the M-Audio ones at http://http://www.midiman.com/products/usb.php.

    The Tascam and the Audio Duo have mic preamps and all of them have low latency monitoring so you don't need an separate mixer. The MOTU 828 is overkill and at $750 not cheap. The M-Box was just announced at Winter NAMM but it is $495. The Audio Quattro is only $259 and includes a MIDI port but it doesn't have mic preamps. The Audio Duo is also $259 but does include mic pre's although there is no MIDI port. All these prices are from http://www.musiciansfriend.com which has fairly average prices.

    One other thing. If you are into synth music at all, check out Reason from Propellerhead Software. It is by far the best and cheapest software synth product out there.
     
  6. menoinjun macrumors 6502a

    menoinjun

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2001
    #6
    My roomate just got an Mbox yesterday, and it absolutely rocks!!!

    Good things is that I got his old Audiomedia III card!!! ProTools has a slight learning curve, but overall its pretty nice.

    -Pete
     
  7. alex_ant thread starter macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2002
    Location:
    All up in your bidness
    #7

    Hmm, I re-read the PT Free FAQ and it says that "if your sound card does not support Sound Manager but uses another system to record into the Mac (ASIO or MAS for instance) you can record your tracks in an application which supports your audio card or hardware and later import the audio files of your recording into Pro Tools FREE." That sounds kind of kludgey. Although for $0 it's still not bad. :)

    I presume I will need both a mic preamp and a MIDI port? If so then that eliminates those two M-Audios. Why does the Tascam look so different than the Audio Duo/Quattro? I just downloaded the user's guide PDF for the Tascam and I will read it soon.

    Also - could you recommend a good, inexpensive mic to plug into one of those mic preamps? Something that will sound good in front of (reasonably) loud guitar amps... I dont really care about vocal quality.

    And about Reason, I was not planning on incorporating synth music into my recordings, but now that I think about it it might be fun to get a bit of bleeping and blooping going on, so I will keep it in mind... thanks for the advice. And thanks for the advice on everything else, as well.

    Alex
     
  8. bonehead macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2002
    Location:
    Lost Angeles
    #8
    MIDI

    alex_ant:

    You only need an audio interface with a MIDI port if you are planning on using an existing MIDI keyboard or sound module. If you are only recording live tracks you don't need it. If you decide to add any MIDI devices later you can always get a separate MIDI interface then. A 2-channel one is pretty cheap.

    The Tascam and the M-Audio products are really two different animals. Both offer D/A and A/D conversion and USB connectivity. The M-Audio products offer a couple of mic pre's or a MIDI port to round out their features. The Tascam also has mic pre's and MIDI and also functions as a control surface. When you're working in your favorite software program, you normally use a mouse/trackpad/trackball/what-have-you to move onscreen knobs and faders. With the Tascam you move the knobs and faders on it and the ones onscreen move accordingly. This is a much quicker way of working and provides those with previous audio hardware experience a familiar work surface. The Tascam has more functionality but the M-Audio has better audio qulaity. The converters in their other products are well rated and they will work at higher sample rates than the ones in the Tascam. I suspect that their preamps are better also although I haven't done any listening myself to verify this. So that's the trade-off, better sound versus more features. Does that sound familiar to Macrumors reader? My advice, for what it's worth, is that if you're looking for a reasonably inexpensive all-in-one solution, check out the Tascam. The sound quality is probably not light years behind the M-Audio stuff
    and it would be cool to have the control surface. If you are an audio purist, you should listen to them both and look through back issues of EQ, Home Recording, Electronic Musician and Mix for reviews.

    Which Tascam were you looking at, the US-428 or the US-224? The link I included goes to the 224 page but they also have the 428 which has more faders and knobs and a higher price. One thing I forgot is that they come bundled with Cubasis (a stripped down version of Cubase) so even if they don't work with Pro Tools, you still don't have to shell out for recording software.

    As for the mic, get a Shure SM57. It's a workhorse dynamic mic and I think they are around $100. Every pro studio has some and they are often used for miking amps.

    It's fun getting into this stuff as I am going to get the next rev TiBook (whenever it comes out) and upgrade my audio gear.
     
  9. 3rdpath macrumors 68000

    3rdpath

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2002
    Location:
    2nd star on the right and straight till morning
    #9
    ditto on the mic

    if you can only get one mic- get the shure sm57. it WILL work on anything but it sounds great on loud guitar amps, snare drums, toms and vocals. don't pay more than $89 bucks for it and you're set. many people will talk up this or that esoteric mic but if you're on a budget and need one swiss army knife-thats it. and if you ever need something fancier-just rent it. no use spending major $$$ on something that may sit in a locker most of the time or may require upkeep. ( i learned that the hard way...)

    as for the recording medium-theres just no way to do it cheaply. one thing always leads to another. my advice is to find recent stuff used( theres always someone upgrading their gear or who has lost interest) and look for items you can use for a long time as your needs expand-no use YOU being one of those upgrading guys....buy what your friends or others near you are using-its the best tech support available. i can't stress that enough. i don't think any of the major software really differs that much.....protools= digital performer= logic= cubase.

    i'm trained on protools but i prefer performer-so there you go...:D
     
  10. alex_ant thread starter macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2002
    Location:
    All up in your bidness
    #10
    Re: MIDI

    Bonehead (oh my, it's hard not to insult you with a nickname like that - sorry :)) - I am leaning toward one of the Tascams you recommended (not sure which) because I would rather have that versatility you mentioned than great sound quality.

    About that MIDI interface: Would it be better to connect my electronic drum set to the computer (or to the Tascam or M-Audio) via MIDI or via the drum set's line out? Likewise with a MIDI keyboard, if my brother were to ever let me borrow his?

    Thanks to you and 3rdpath for the mic recommendation as well.

    Alex
     
  11. macfreek57 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2002
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    #11
    yeah,
    sorry i forgot to mention that the place we practice is quite AWAY from my computer
    thus necessitating the need for portability on my part
     
  12. bonehead macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2002
    Location:
    Lost Angeles
    #12
    More MIDI

    My recommendation would be to connect your drums and/or keyboard to both. Recording MIDI data takes up neglible drive space and CPU power. If you have that and the audio recorded you have the ability to edit any truly heinous mistakes in MIDI before you mixdown. You could edit the audio only but MIDI editing allows you to perform global operations that would be tedious in an audio editor. Some might say to not record the audio and just use MIDI but then you'd need outboard gear for any signal processing or you'd have to do a MIDI playback pass to get the audio into the Mac for processing. Why not do both at once?

    BTW the new TiBooks have an audio in jack on them so if you're not worried about sound quality you can just use the Mac's built converter. You'll need a mixer for the mic preamps and to get multiple inputs into stereo. I have a friend that plays his bass into his mixer then out to the audio in on his B&W G3 and it sounds fine. But if you want to record multiple discrete tracks simultaneously you'll need an separate audio interface.
     

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