Recording, mixing and mastering app ?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by CmdrLaForge, Sep 21, 2005.

  1. macrumors 68040

    CmdrLaForge

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Location:
    around the world
    #1
    Hi guys,

    I am starting to finalize my little home brew studio. What I do is very simple recording of me playing guitar while singing, adding some drums, bass, rhythm, synth mixing it and voila - I made myself a song.

    What I already have is a G4 iBook 1,42 GHz, 1.5gig RAM. Focusrite Saffire Interface, two condensor Mics - RODE NT3

    I worked with Garageband2 and like it, but I want a more pro app. Now here comes my question. I can afford:
    - Logic Express
    - Ableton Live 5
    - Motu Digital Performer
    - Cubase SX (comes with the Saffire)

    I like to use it for recording, mixing and mastering. What do you guys suggest?

    Thanks for any feedback
    Cheers
    LaForge
     
  2. macrumors 6502a

    sorryiwasdreami

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2004
    Location:
    way out in the sticks
    #2
    I've used Cubase SX, Protools, and Garageband 2.

    Honestly, I like Garageband 2 the most, but if you want to go "pro," Protools is probably where you want to go. Cubase is okay, but it's pretty hard to use; it's not very intuitive.
     
  3. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #3
    I'd love to recommend Pro Tools too, but Channel 2 on my MBox has just died and I'm not feeling very kindly towards Digidesign right now.

    The Focusrite Saffire is a seriously cool interface. The onboard DSP, 192KHz support, free plugins, and MIDI I/O make it a very powerful interface and it's also very affordable.

    (I don't work for Focusrite by the way :p)

    If I were you, I'd go with Logic Express (I assume you meant Logic and not Final Cut ;)). First of all, there is a lot of inter-compatibilty between Logic and Garageband. You'll be able to use all of the provided Apple Loops, should you need them. Logic is also the 2nd in-line to the DAW throne (in my opinion :eek:), and it's certainly more intuitive with regard to MIDI than Pro Tools (even if you're not actively using MIDI now, you're sure to use it more often as your songs get more complex).

    If Cubase is free with the Saffire, then I'd suggest trying it out for a little bit. I haven't used any version of Cubase for about 4 years, but I hated it back then and, from what I've seen, it hasn't gotten much better.

    As for DP and Abelton, I haven't had a huge amount of experience with either, but people seem to like them.

    My verdict - go with Logic. Ever since Apple's gotten their hands on it, it's become an easier application to use and it can really only get better.

    Oh, one more thing, Pro Tools 7 comes out on October 7th (and if you buy after September 1st, you get a free upgrade when it comes out) - you may want to look into Pro Tools M-Powered. It's essentially Pro Tools, but it runs on M-Audio hardware. For what you're doing, Pro Tools is probably the best option, but you have to have Digidesign hardware, or Pro Tools-compatible M-Audio hardware.
     
  4. macrumors 68030

    quigleybc

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2005
    Location:
    Beautiful Vancouver British Columbia, Canada
    #4

    Logic Express is great, Highly recommened. If you go with Pro tools don't go with the Mbox...it is so bad...

    Digital performer is fantastic. It is very easy to use, I prefer DP for actual recording purposes, and I prefer Logic for MIDI software instruments...

    Ableton Live is really great too, but it's not as great for real recording as DP is.

    IMO

    :)
     
  5. thread starter macrumors 68040

    CmdrLaForge

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
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    around the world
    #5

    Hi

    thanks a lot all of you for your help. Of course I meant Logic and not Final Cut. What was I thinking?

    From your replys I think I go the Logic Express way. It is most affordable as well from all options.

    I hope it has not the same stupid limitations as Final Cut Express in comparison to Final Cut Pro. I am quite disappointed at the moment about Final Cut Express because I cannot batch process a whole DV tape and have to set those stupid in and out points. Well that is another story.

    Again - thanks all of you
    Cheers
    LaForge
     
  6. macrumors 65816

    faintember

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
    Location:
    the ruins of the Cherokee nation
    #6
    My vote for either Logic Exp. or Cubase SX. (i use both for different things)
    Pro Tools is a hell that should only be encountered if it has to be. (Yes i know it is an "industry standard" but i dont care. Digi blows)
    Digital Performer is also great, but it falls into the Pro Tools category; no reason to bother unless you work with it for a living.

    You say you want a more pro app, but what do you exactly want to do beyond GB 2?
     
  7. thread starter macrumors 68040

    CmdrLaForge

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Location:
    around the world
    #7
    Thanks a lot.

    GB2 is very limited in many ways. First of all I use it for creating podcasts (see my sig - btw - my podcast is even mentioned on apples website http://www.apple.com/de/podcasting) and there is a 33 minute maximum if the beat is 120 bpm. For longer podcasts it has to be reduced to 40 bpm. But then I cannot use the samples. Then - I cannot do a finale mix of all tracks like normalize etc. I can use effects only track by track. That means it is good for mixing - not mastering. And then there is a strange thing - for example my last podcast. I had a very nice soundfloor as background. In GB I mixed the levels that it sounded perfect. My voice was at 0dB and the soundfloor at -30db. Sounded really good. After I exported in iTunes the soundfloor was basically gone. Why? I have no idea. Maybe because I resampled it in iTunes to 92kbit/s vbr.

    That means for mixing GB2 is ok, for mastering some features are missing. And on the length limit - I have no idea why it is there.

    Thanks again for the help. I just downloaded Ableton 5 demo and will give it a try. What I like about Ableton that it requires a G3!!! That means it will run on my next MacTel. Have to check the Specs for Logic. if it needs G4 then I don't buy it today because I cannot afford buying all my software again when I get a new machine.

    Cheers
    LaForge
     
  8. Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2003
    Location:
    London, England
    #8
    If you're not going down the Protools route (and you should ;) ) then Logic and the Saffire are a very hard combination to beat at the moment.

    If you don't like the M-box (it's pretty sad actually, only really saved by the Focusrite pre's) then take a look at the M-powered Protools with either the M-audio 410 or 1814 interfaces.

    The good thing about Logic express is that it will lead to Logic Pro eventually and that is a serious piece of work. The only way up from Protools LE is the HD systems and they are currently running at about £8000UK.

    Logic Pro and the Saffire is a killer combination, 5.1 mixing straight out of the box, properly powered pre's, onboard DSP (don't underestimate this for "native" processing) and all the goodies Pro gives you.

    I'm currently attempting to get a copy of Logic Pro to act like Protools, if I can, then I'm probably going to switch over as I simply don't want to lug a 002 Digi interface around.

    Good luck with your choices.
     
  9. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2005
    #9

    Wait, wait, wait... There is a limit on length in GB 2 ?? I don't think so...unless you run out of disc space or something??

    Um, changing tempo to 40 bpm, you can't use the samples, what samples (in GB?) Just change their tempo! Which I think GB does automatically - but you can also alter tune/ tempo in the edit window - you should be able to drag any sample, BPM, sample rate, Key, and alter all as you wish - although you can select preference of only show Key/ tempo - it will shift automatically if show all, tempo/ tune/ pitch as needed....


    As for compression, MP3 VBR @ 92kb is going to sound less than hi fi, there is no way around it... Although AAC may sound better at that rate...
    The way MP3, AAC, compress such large files, is utilizing "Psycho Acoustics". Which is a method of removing that which is perceived as nothing, or very little is removed, giving preference to those elements which seem more up front, louder, or more integrel to the sound file.
    Obviously, the lower the bit rate, the more you are asking it to remove, noise floor is a prime candidate for that, I have some horrid MP3's = all are @ 128k - it's pretty bad, if you must, use a better compression AAC, Sorenson, etc.
    ( Hope that explains it without getting too technical ? )
     
  10. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2005
    #10
    Oh no, Normalize is a destructive effect! Don't use that!! It also raises all to the highest point, including the NOISE FLOOR! Instead something like Waves Ultramaximizer +L1 will do more, and it safegaurds against all down sampling, conversions, and wont increase noise, or raise floor...
     
  11. macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #11
    With the very small additional detail that the Waves software is $300 by itself... http://www.waves.com/content.asp?id=160
     
  12. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2005
    #12

    There is no ONE piece of software for all these. Recording is pretty basic, in anything, QT 7 has an option to record, wow! Mixing is, well, moving volumes around, so you can get near 0db & not go over.... EQ etc. and choose where in the stereo image to put everything (pan)...

    Mastering, is say on a CD, where you then make sure it's mixed OK, and final tweaking EQ, compression, and making the levels super HOT. ( If you notice a 1978 recording on say an iPod, then a newer song comes on REALLY LOUD - but volume didn't change - this is compression/ limiting - commercials on TV do this, Laws make volume change illegal - so they compress it so it seems louder, while legally being within the law....the Movie needs very quiet vs. loud to build drama, etc.
    If your recording is inaudible between two other tracks ( volume unchanged) it sounds unprofessional, and frankly, can't be heard without running over and turning up volume.

    This particular task, Mastering, I have always used Peak, and Waves +L1 Sonic Maximizer / Limiter. Never Normalize!!!

    I'm trying to understand what you want/ need, and since you mention no MIDI, or anything, I'd like to suggest Deck 3.5 & Peak ( I get LE versions of these ALL THE TIME! Limited Edition? Lame Edition? ???) So FREE or close to it should be an option - and 30 day trial of course you can start now free....enter serial & you're good ( Google search may yield one ;-)
    My only reservation is Tiger & various other issues, had some problems ( but I presume that's hammered out in recent updates -they are great about telling you if they have a bug, and fixing it quick!) Also, since I have every plug in ever, VST, like 2400? I've had to stay in OS 9 with it, and all those plugs were classic only ( so I'd boot into 9 - but I can't anymore 17" PB -sigh- )

    Anyway, it offers what you want in Mix, Master, statement - you can assign a bus - say compress, normalize (don't!), and assign those to ALL tracks ( also you can edit a track - Peak pops up - Use Limiter, cut, paste, etc. ) Then it has another Output with 4 inserts - so you can add 4 stereo FX on the last stage before output.

    ( Like any program using Core Audio - this can also do surround sound, 32 bit 10,000KHz Audio, etc. )

    I just noticed someone suggested Pro Tools. What a useless program! But there is a PT FREE which is free, download it & try it..... Yeah it has all the MIDI abilities of a preschool learning disability - maybe in a decade they'll put in more? )


    Logic is complex! It's set up to be a MIDI Audio Loop FX thing - but Apple & Logic = GB 2 So getting better Virtual instruments & all - you'd probably like it a lot.....

    Deck, like Pro Tools, pretty much is a big tape recorder. But, you can assign say 24 tracks to a bus with EQ / Compression/ Reverb/ & Noise Gate - then set up various others.....but you know, directions are hit RECORD button to record, stop, all like a tape recorder - so less Manual reading....cheap....but powerful.....

    If you do have time ( like years!) Logic is powerful, but not intuitive, like Office, you can find all sorts of stuff in it, but how many will you use? Logic has the edge, when OS Updates, or Macintels ship - Only Logic has had a chance to fix bugs the whole time it's been worked on - so even though I hate it's UI - it has all the advantages - unless time, money, etc. are issues...


    I hope this helps, not positive what you're trying to do here.... Another option anyway,
    Good Luck!
    L.T.
     
  13. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2005
    #13
    Native Power Pack is about $300-ish

    One option is
    Waves Musicians II Native Plug-In Bundle (Macintosh and Windows)
    $149
    The compressor has L1 Brick wall style limiting

    ( but I just saw a Native Waves Bundle for like $79 at Guitar Center...??? Oh maybe 1 version before newest? ??)


    They used to say, "Other companies say their products are like something designed by a rocket scientist. We actually USE Rocket Scientists to make Waves"

    Yeah, expensive, professional, best of the best products though...



    Regarding this post though - using a Limiter which also comes with Peak, and a variety of free VST plug ins, compression & Limiting will be less destructive, and preserve the noise floor!

    Good luck!

    L.T.
     
  14. thread starter macrumors 68040

    CmdrLaForge

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Location:
    around the world
    #14
    Thanks a lot for all the very good feedback. I am still trying to understand all of it.

    Cheers
    LaForge
     
  15. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2005
    Location:
    Mostly Harmless
    #15
    Take a look at Peak and Deck

    CmdrLaForge,
    I know that you did not mention any of Bias Inc's products like Peak or Deck, but it might be worth a look? Just my .02

    Warmest Regards,
     
  16. thread starter macrumors 68040

    CmdrLaForge

    Joined:
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    #16
    Maybe Peak is best?

    Thanks for the feedback.

    Cheers
    LaForge
     
  17. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2005
    Location:
    Mostly Harmless
    #17
    CmdrLaForge,
    I am using Peak Le 4 (because I dont have the $$$ for the full version)it is very close to a program called "Cool Edit" you can use VST plugins and Apple's Audio Units as well. You can download a demo version of each at http://www.bias-inc.com. Give it a try
     
  18. thread starter macrumors 68040

    CmdrLaForge

    Joined:
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    #18
    Thanks - I will do so.

    Cheers
    LaForge
     
  19. macrumors 68000

    disconap

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2005
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #19
    Just to add my two cents, we've been using Cubase for years (we still use an OS9 version of it) for recording and mixing (NEVER master on the same set-up you mix on, mastering is a whole nother beast, no matter what any of the pro-apps or DIYers tell you). We use a lot of analog racks, so mostly we just capture pure signal and use Cubase to eq/compress.

    The reason we use Cubase: Cubase's digital compression, even on 5 (the version we use), is leagues above all the others IMO. If you have analog compression (I suggest a little two-channel box from RNC [real nice compression], you can find them on ebay for $50-100), then it doesn't make much of a difference in my experience, provided your I/O gear delivers a solid signal. Though I always advise staying away from Garage Band for professional recording.
     
  20. thread starter macrumors 68040

    CmdrLaForge

    Joined:
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    around the world
    #20
    Thanks. That is what everyone finds out quite soon.
     

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