What equipment. to start recording my songs?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by masterell, Jul 28, 2009.

  1. macrumors regular

    May 13, 2009

    I was wondering what equipment I would need if I were to record basic samples of my songs..my budget is small as I am still a student.

    Basically would like to know if there's a certain piano keyboard I could purchase and plug in to my macbook, and record with software which would recognise the notes played so that if I need to edit them afterwards I could.

    The software would also need to be able to change the sound to sound like another instrument e.g. bass, guitar etc.

    I also need a really simple mic to record with - would the internal one on my macbook suffice?

    Is there anything else you think i've missed out?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. macrumors 604


    Dec 8, 2007
    bump on a log in a hole in the bottom of the sea
  3. macrumors 68020


    Jun 2, 2008
  4. thread starter macrumors regular

    May 13, 2009
  5. macrumors regular

    Jul 21, 2007
    do you want a midi keyboard or a sound generating keyboard
    and whats your budget? how many keys do you want?
  6. macrumors 68020


    Jun 18, 2009
    City of Angels
    go to tweakheadz.com and school yourself on music recording

    your question is too broad to answer
  7. thread starter macrumors regular

    May 13, 2009
    Don't need that many keys on it. A half size keyboard will suffice.

    As for sound generating or midi generating - I want it to sound like a real piano preferably..
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 29, 2008
    I started out on a 49-key M-audio Keystation, it was fun at the time, but looking back on it after getting the Korg M50 it was really small and the keys felt pretty much like pressing a mushroom. It did what it was supposed to do, however, letting me record midi in Garageband and learning the basics of keyboard playing.
  9. macrumors member

    Jul 3, 2009
    If you're on a budget, I'd say go with one of the M-Audio MIDI keyboards. It's plug-and-play on macs, and will control every software instrument in GarageBand (the notes appear, and you can edit them afterwards).

    The internal microphone might be ok for simply getting the lyrics/melody into the computer, but try it out -- the sound quality is very poor. If you want to record something that you wouldn't be embarassed to play for a friend, you should think about a cheap condenser microphone. Basically two options:

    - A USB version, that plugs directly into the computer (like the MXL USB.006). This is the cheaper option (~$100).

    - Or, if you think you might want to expand your options later on, you would buy a USB audio interface (that inputs audio/MIDI signals into your computer), and a decent microphone. If you or a friend play electric guitar or bass, for instance, they can plug directly into the audio interface and record along with your parts. Anyway, this will run you more, at least $200 for a basic setup. If you go this route, definitely learn about the differences between dynamic and condenser microphones, and it'd be a good idea to buy an interface that can supply 'phantom power' (needed to use condenser mics).

    I can definitely give you more specific advice if you have a ballpark on what you're willing to spend.
  10. thread starter macrumors regular

    May 13, 2009
    Ahh thank you so much. This was a really helpful post.

    Im looking to spend about £150 pounds which is about $250-300.
  11. macrumors 68020


    Dec 25, 2008
    go ahead and get the MXL 100$ kit with 2 mics

    and get a cheap mixer. you don't need something with USB that badly.

    if you get an old style that records on tapes.. you can just send track by track - which takes about 10 minutes longer per song (if you have 3-5 tracks) but you won't really see a huge difference in quality. especially if you are buying mics that are under 100$ in price.

    mix that with garage band and you will be set for a long time
  12. macrumors member

    Jul 3, 2009
    Michael -- I'm curious, does that actually work? I never tried it, but I always assumed that tape playback would have enough flutter that your tracks would be impossible to get synced, at least to some degree (but that might be a cool effect in some cases -- i suppose it would be like chorusing if you repeated it with the same track a couple times).

    Anyway, if you're really only ever going to use software instruments (i.e., what a MIDI keyboard can trigger) and vocals, a USB condenser is the cheapest/best way to go, IMHO. If you want the flexibility to use line instruments (electric guitar/bass, non-MIDI keyboards), I'd really recommend a USB interface (M-audio has some that are cheap and of relative quality), and then you can add whatever microphone you want (perhaps start with a cheap-ish dynamic, with the option to upgrade later on). You can get a really basic interface for like $100 (although you're better of spending a tad more to get something with 24 bit sampling).

    As for keyboards, I think a USB MIDI controller is really the way to go. Again, it makes no sound on it's own, but it will control any of the software instruments in GarageBand (or whatever software you choose to use). Something like this M-Audio or the CME M-key will get you started. Not sure about the M-Audio, but the CME is touch-sensitive, which is obviously a big plus.
  13. macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    i'd say you understand the issue perfectly well.
  14. thread starter macrumors regular

    May 13, 2009
    Thanks for the information guys!

    Will research this and get back to you.
  15. macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2008
    Api 1608, studer a827 and a800, emi tg console, manley massive passive, and waveburner when you're transfering the final analog master to digital.

    if only... *sigh*
  16. macrumors 6502a

    Mar 13, 2008
    a real student would record piano parts using the computer keyboard (window > musical typing, in garagband) and record the vocals using the built in mic! :D
  17. macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    ANY keyboard with MIDI output will work. If the K/B has USB then it should directly pug in. Standard MIDI ports are however round and you'd need a $40 midi/usb interface.

    Now days even cheap $100 keyboards have midi. But, if you are a student look at Craigsllist and buy a quality used K/B. I've seen people selling pro models for a faction of the new cost.

    It is hard to say what to buy. Do you need a true piano-like feels or are sponge-rubber keys good enough. That's what you pay for, quality or lack of same. Price range for $80 up to mid four digits, all of them work with Garage Band.

    Yes you WILL need a "real mic". There is a huge jump in quality from the internal mic to even a low end mic. Even an $80 mic is 100 times better then the built-in mic. The next step up to about double that price is more subtle quality improvements.

    You can do a LOT with a cheap mic and treating the recording space so keep noise and reflected sound off the mic. The reflections from walls ad other hard objects combine in and out of phase with the source to make a kind of random filter effect that is not good. Killing that effect will get you the next boost in quality. Blankets, pillows and old rugs are cheap.

    If you buy the mic then you need an audio interface and a mic cable too. Most interfaces will have midi too. But you may not need it if the keyboard has USB.

    Just start using whatever you can afford and plan on a life long upgrade campaign. That is pretty much what everyone does.

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