Musician starting to build a demo studio

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by kudzurising, Jun 30, 2004.

  1. kudzurising macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2004
    Hello everyone, new member here.

    I’m a songwriting guitarist and after getting by with my g4 450 for 4 years, it died. I just purchased a dual 1.8/160gb/1024ram. While it’s taking its sweet time to get here from Apple, I’ve been thinking about Gband. All of my $$ has gone into guitar gear, knowing that once I stepped up to a better Mac I’d be getting into the home studio thing.

    Now that I dropped some hefty cash on this G5 I’m ready to jump in. BUT, I need to start slow and not spend a lot of cash. I was wondering what basic things I need to pick up to get a decent demo studio going. I know at the very least, I’ll need a midi or usb KB. I have a Sure SM58, so right now a mic is not on my short list.

    What is the best (hi fidelity) way to run my gtr into my new G5? I have an iMic but I’m assuming that there might be a better way to go directly into the CPU. At the same time, is that pathway the best way to go for vocals too?

    I’m very aware of Digital performer, digidesign/protools boxes but after spending > $2k I’m not ready to pony up that kind of cash for demos; I may not need that kind of power just yet. I do have a copy of Reason & Protools 6.1 software (it’s my understanding that the hardware is just as important as the software), I’m wondering if that will help me. Any ideas would be really helpful. Thanks.
  2. 2A Batterie macrumors 6502a

    2A Batterie

    Jun 9, 2004
    Out of a Suitcase, USA
    Congrats on your new purchase. I would recomend that you don't record your guitar directly through the computer mic line or using imic. In your place of limited $, it may by wise to consider buying an m-audio preamp. They work great with GB and they produce much better signal than what your computer provides. You should also consider miking your guitar amp with an sm57 (right around your budget) and having the mic go into the m-audio preamp and then to your computer.
    I believe you can't use protools without protools hardware. But an mbox costs about 4x($450-500) that of an m-audio preamp, but you get two better preamps plus the protools 6.4le, which will increase your options about 10fold.
  3. kudzurising thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2004
    Thx 2a. I had thought about the MBox but have read on these boards a few negative things along the lines of protools/mbox doesn't play well with others. I'd have to reread some of the posts to elaborate.

    Should I worry about the fact that it is only a USB connection vs firewire 400 or 800/usb2. My experience with the mbox there is little or no latency but I want to be a little ahead of the curve.

    Any word on the street a/b an mbox 2 w/ firewire? Again the digi002 just aint happening.

    thx again.
  4. Xenious macrumors 6502a

    Mar 22, 2004
    Texas, USA
    Nice funky sounds (I checked out your shameless plug ;) ). I'm in similar boat as yourself. I have just ordered a new G5 and monitor (but I'm switching over from the Windows world).

    So far I've purchased Logic 6 Express (tho my mac won't be here till July) and plan on looking at it for recording. I've not decided on on an input interface and I need MIDI in, out, thru as well. I've got an older Shure mic and a Fender stage 185 amp, but I despise its sound. I've been pondering a guitar Pod 2.0 from Line 6 as a pre-amp for recording that.

    For my MIDI hardware I've got a Korg Karma and a Korg EM-1.

    From my PC experience I've not done any great guitar recording, but I have done remixing in Acid Pro.

    So I'm faced with similar decisions: Logic or ProTools and What hardware? To start out I am looking at a small interface (prob usb) that has line level and mic level inputs as well as midi. (probably similar to the one mentioned above). Future decisions will likely be based on if I go with ProTools or not. For a small protools rig I would likely get an Mbox. The other thing you might need to consider is what systems are used at any recording studio you might work with. I would imagine most studios can support both Logic and Protools, but best to check. Finally an external firewire hard drive (heck even an ipod might do it) would be handy to transport your work without having to move a computer.
  5. Bruce Lee, PhD macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2004
    There are many options for USB midi keyboards; just search musician's friend, sweetwater, AMS, or whatever, and choose one with the right features. If you're just using it to record bass, drums, etc. on your mac, you don't need anything very fancy. If you might want to control outboard synths and modules, you'll need more features and at least one midi out. You probably want a 4-octave keyboard (smaller works but gets annoying from time-to-time), something touch-sensitive, capable of sending patch change messages, and possibly with some assignable sliders and knobs for sending modulation data.

    For audio, as you probably have seen, there are a zillion options for IO from just about every company under the sun: Mackie, Behringer, Digidesign, M-Audio, Edirol, etc. They all differ in number and types of interfaces. Unfortunately, I don't know of anyone, or any reviews, which compare the sound quality. However, I'll make the following bet with anyone who wants to take me up on it:

    $5 says any IO box between $200 and $400 with 2 or more channels of analog input will sound roughly as good as any other, and they'll all use off-the-shelf parts from the same handful of companies.

    :) How's that for fun?

    Objectively, there are still a few things you can consider though. At some point, you'll probably want to get a condenser mic for vocals and acoustic instruments, so you'll need a unit with decent phantom-power mic preamps. You'll also need to choose a unit with enough simultaneous inputs that you can record multiple instruments and vocals at once, if you need to.

    If it were me, I'd use the iMic for now. For vocals, the sm-58 is the weak link in your chain, I think (though it's certainly not bad). So I'd say get a condenser and some IO unit with good mic preamps and converters later on.

    BTW are you planning to mic your guitar, or record dry guitar and use amp modeling?
  6. kudzurising thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2004
    thx. does the mbox have phantom-power mic preamps?

    re: the gtr. I think dry for now. The idea being that this will mainly be an idea station/demo studio. That said, I can see it expanding beyond that but for now that's where I'm at.

    No doubt that the sm58 is a great stage mic both for vox & as a cab mic but you are right, a condenser mc is in my future.
  7. James L macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2004

    You will pick up a lot of latency running through USB recording your guitar. My choices would be, in order:

    1) A mic'd amp, ran through a pre-amp, directly into the line in on your computer.

    2) A line out signal from your amplifier (NOT the speaker jack, but the true line out) into the line in port of your computer.

    3) Your guitar dry, into a pre-amp, into the line in port in your computer. Use the amp sims with this one.

    Now, recording digital all of my experience is limited to GB, but I must say that the amp sims, while nice, aren't as great as a true amplifier to me. Maybe I am old fashioned that way (though I do gig with Line 6 gear every weekend).

    The other main limitation I have found with GB is only being able to record one track at a time. You mentioned other software you are going to play with, which is great, that has this feature. It makes it difficult, for example, to record a drum kit live in GB with only one track at a time. To do it any justice you would need to put all the mics on the drums, submix them first, then line that out to the computer. Pretty limiting.

    Enjoy! I have a blast recording on my Powerbook!

  8. pepeleuepe macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2002
    Los Angeles, California
    The mBox does have phantom power on the mic pres but it doesn't include MIDI, which isn't a big deal since its pretty easy to find a keyboard with a USB connection.
  9. kudzurising thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2004

    Thanks Xenious!!! Appreciate the kind words.
  10. Rolerboy macrumors newbie

    May 26, 2004
    South east
    interface for the CPU

    I think that you are on the right track... a good condenser mic is a must later on.. but to get started, you have all you need, I would consider though, getting a good firewire interface.. such as the MOTU 828 or 2408. I bought one about 4 years ago, and am in the process of rebuilding my studio after finishing school, I am still going to use it, it has great quality mic pre's and line inputs and maximum compatibility for which ever software you end up going to , including Garageband

    MOTU rules

  11. Bruce Lee, PhD macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2004
    the mbox does have mic pre's which will do the job. i don't really know how good they are; i assume they're the same as the ones in the digi001. those are ok. i guess it depends on what you compare them to. digi gear has the halo effect from their high-end gear, but the 001/002/mbox stuff is similar in quality to other gear for the money. the big advantage, of course, is protools. although for demo work and songwriting, i must say i like garageband much better. anyway, mbox is probably as good as anything else for comparable $$, assuming you can get it working (see other threads about that). for a demo studio mbox should certainly be more than sufficiently rockin'.

    dry guitar sounds like a good plan. i don't know what your situation is, but the advantages of recording a real amp quickly disappear when you record at bedroom/dorm room levels. :)
  12. win_convert macrumors member

    Mar 12, 2004
    what about the monster instrument adapter, is it any good. I suppose it will have to be now that i have begged my high school to get one.
  13. fingers macrumors regular


    Jan 16, 2004
    The mic pre's on the mbox are a focusrite design - i think they are pretty good. Practically silent - apart from the instrument input (guitar etc) which can get a little noisy (subjective). The main advantage of the mbox is the included Pro Tools software - you also get a good bundle of plugins and apps too. If you need only record 2 tracks at a time (which is all GB will handle) then the mbox takes some beating. (IMHO) The lack of midi i/f might be of concern to some. But an mbox and a powerbook is a great mobile solution - as the mbox is buss powered...
    It supports 44.1 and 48 sample rates so if you need 96 or higher then you'll need to look elsewhere.

    BTW anyone having problems setting up their mbox for use with GarageBand check out my quick n dirty mbox tutorial

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