Can GB do professional level recording?

Mr. Monsieur

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 21, 2004
307
1
hey folks!

i've done some searches and poking around, but haven't found an answer to this question: all things being equal (quality of mics, input/pre-amps, etc.) can GB produce the same quality recordings as more expensive programs (say, Logic or MOTU's software)?

Also, on a related note, if one wants to sell a CD of one's music (and for it to be professional quality) is it necessary, after a song is recorded and mixed, to be sent to a professional to do the final mix? that is to say, is that how things are generally done?

thanks!
 

kanker

macrumors 6502
Nov 13, 2003
280
0
Indy
Mr. Monsieur said:
hey folks!

i've done some searches and poking around, but haven't found an answer to this question: all things being equal (quality of mics, input/pre-amps, etc.) can GB produce the same quality recordings as more expensive programs (say, Logic or MOTU's software)?
I'm pretty sure that GB only works at 16 bit 44.1kHz, which means that you will not be able to produce a recording of equal quality to Logic or DP, both of which can easily handle 24 bit 96kHz, have output sections that allow for plugins to be included on the stereo output (limiting being the most common), and have the ability to output more than just a stereo mix (among a litany of other features). Perhaps the biggest difference here is the bit depth. The greater the bit depth the wider the dynamic range, and the better that low level information survives throughout the process. GB is an incredible app at its price point, but in no way can hold a candle to a modern Pro app.

Mr. Monsieur said:
Also, on a related note, if one wants to sell a CD of one's music (and for it to be professional quality) is it necessary, after a song is recorded and mixed, to be sent to a professional to do the final mix? that is to say, is that how things are generally done?

thanks!
Well if by final mix you mean mastering then yes, that is how things are generally done. Is it necessary? Good mastering is the difference between an album that just sounds well recorded and an album that sounds cohesive, articulate, transparent, and consistent, so while many local releases may go unmastered it really is a very important part of the process.
 

WinterMute

Moderator emeritus
Jan 19, 2003
4,775
4
London, England
kanker said:
I'm pretty sure that GB only works at 16 bit 44.1kHz, which means that you will not be able to produce a recording of equal quality to Logic or DP, both of which can easily handle 24 bit 96kHz, have output sections that allow for plugins to be included on the stereo output (limiting being the most common), and have the ability to output more than just a stereo mix (among a litany of other features). Perhaps the biggest difference here is the bit depth. The greater the bit depth the wider the dynamic range, and the better that low level information survives throughout the process. GB is an incredible app at its price point, but in no way can hold a candle to a modern Pro app.

Well if by final mix you mean mastering then yes, that is how things are generally done. Is it necessary? Good mastering is the difference between an album that just sounds well recorded and an album that sounds cohesive, articulate, transparent, and consistent, so while many local releases may go unmastered it really is a very important part of the process.
The first part of kankers post is pretty much on the money, with the proviso that the vast majority of commercial releases are still at 44.1/16 bit due to the CD Red-book standard, so part of the advantage of 24 bit HR recording is lost.

That said, I regularly use GB as a tracking platform, and you can use pretty much all of the same plug-ins in GB as you can in Portools or Logic (RTAS that is).

The second part would bring howls of disagreement from most engineers and producers, in SOME cases mastering will help a recording to become better that it otherwise would be, but most professionally mixed records are as near as dammit, and the mastering process is a means to that end.

Of course some mastering engineer are really worth their money, and can make a real difference, but the changes made are usually very small and very specific, often simply correcting errors induced in the original by inconsistencies in the monitoring during the mix.

As to the original question, the software is less important that the knowledge and talent. you can make a world-class recording with 2 mics, 2 pre-amps and a DAT machine, but you've got to know how, and the mics and pre's have to be world-class to.

GB is a very good place to start, it's capable, but it's easier to work in Protools or Logic or the like.

Learn your signal path and mic techniques, learn your MIDI and sequencing, then worry about the mixing.
 

Mechcozmo

macrumors 603
Jul 17, 2004
5,215
2
WinterMute said:
Learn your signal path and mic techniques, learn your MIDI and sequencing, then worry about the mixing.
Play with GarageBand. Get used to how audio works. Then move up to Logic or something more powerful. You may find that you don't really need Logic and you can deal with the limits in GarageBand.... or you may find that you need something better than GarageBand.

GB is a good place to learn and do a fair amount of work. But like iMovie, if you get too good for it, move on up!
 

kanker

macrumors 6502
Nov 13, 2003
280
0
Indy
WinterMute said:
The second part would bring howls of disagreement from most engineers and producers, in SOME cases mastering will help a recording to become better that it otherwise would be, but most professionally mixed records are as near as dammit, and the mastering process is a means to that end.

Of course some mastering engineer are really worth their money, and can make a real difference, but the changes made are usually very small and very specific, often simply correcting errors induced in the original by inconsistencies in the monitoring during the mix.
I'm not just necessarily referring to surgical eq'ing and compressing, etc..., although those are definitely an important part of the job (and let's be honest, are processes that should never be done by the recording engineer - s/he's too close to it to be objective about those decisions). I'm also referring to creating a consistent sound and level throughout the project. Any recording engineer worth his salt will provide tracks that don't need fixing (unless the playing sucks and it's just out of their hands), just the sweetening and polishing (including overall track level decisions and eq'ing decisions to create a sonically consistent album from beginning to end) that good mastering provides. Of course most recording engineers and producers will laugh at my statement - no one wants to admit that someone else needs to put an ear to their work, but mastering is a wholly different art than recording and for truly professional product it's more than worth the money - it's a necessity.
 

jtgotsjets

macrumors 6502
May 20, 2004
486
0
Lawrence, KS
yea, all the professional stuff is cool and all

but don't forget that some of the best music recorded, ever, was recorded on a four track analog deck and produced by the band.

a slick production can only do you so much good. if you rock, you rock, and if you don't, not even phil spector can help you.
 

WinterMute

Moderator emeritus
Jan 19, 2003
4,775
4
London, England
kanker said:
I'm not just necessarily referring to surgical eq'ing and compressing, etc..., although those are definitely an important part of the job (and let's be honest, are processes that should never be done by the recording engineer - s/he's too close to it to be objective about those decisions). I'm also referring to creating a consistent sound and level throughout the project. Any recording engineer worth his salt will provide tracks that don't need fixing (unless the playing sucks and it's just out of their hands), just the sweetening and polishing (including overall track level decisions and eq'ing decisions to create a sonically consistent album from beginning to end) that good mastering provides. Of course most recording engineers and producers will laugh at my statement - no one wants to admit that someone else needs to put an ear to their work, but mastering is a wholly different art than recording and for truly professional product it's more than worth the money - it's a necessity.
I totally agree with that last part, some engineers don't really understand the mastering process, and shouldn't be anywhere near it as a creative input, but the producers job is to ensure the consistency and overall sound/music quality of the recording, and should be instructing the mastering engineer, who should then be making his own suggestions as to the overall balance.

I have never taken a recording to a mastering house (I use Abbey Road) and NOT had them make a difference, it's about listening differently. One day, maybe I'll get it perfectly right and it won't need mastering.:rolleyes: :D

Yes, it's necessary.
 

warlockd

macrumors newbie
Mar 27, 2005
4
0
jtgotsjets said:
a slick production can only do you so much good. if you rock, you rock, and if you don't, not even phil spector can help you.

Amen to that , i just bought an apple mac mini (1.4 ghz) and im gunna make some pretty wicked music and i have no idea what im doing , i cant record for donkeys testes but my music will still kick the likes of coldplays ass. :p
 

playhead

macrumors newbie
Apr 16, 2005
1
0
I think the term professional level recording has a certain elasticity, Kanker.

GargageBand can certainly produce something light years ahead of what was available when Elvis's first major label record was released. If you just look at the effects section, you might reflect on Les Paul, spending countless hours with tape splicing decks and open reel recorders to produce those sound modifications.

For my uses at present, It is a superb tool for creating backing tracks for live performance. I play mandolins in an Irish Tradtional Group, and have recently been putting together drone and bodhran backing tracks for use in club performances.

If I were recording music for commercial release, however, I would leave the final production and mastering in the hands of those with those particular talents and more advanced software.
 

kanker

macrumors 6502
Nov 13, 2003
280
0
Indy
playhead said:
I think the term professional level recording has a certain elasticity, Kanker.
Believe me, I'm actually one of GB's big defenders. I frequently find myself reminding folks how much an app like GB would have cost 10 or 15 years ago, and what people would have been willing to pay for a program like GB 10 or 15 years ago.
 

CanadaRAM

macrumors G5
warlockd said:
Amen to that , i just bought an apple mac mini (1.4 ghz) and im gunna make some pretty wicked music and i have no idea what im doing , i cant record for donkeys testes but my music will still kick the likes of coldplays ass. :p
Have you chosen your A/D-D/A interface yet?

Since the Mini doesn't have a Mic or Line input, you'll need a USB or Firewire connected audio interface. This is a blessing in disguise, however, because it gives you the ability to choose from a variety of interfaces that are much better than the PowerMac or PowerBooks audio hardware. Some of the interfaces come with some great bundles of sequencing/sampling software, instruments and effects.

Some brands to check out: M-Audio, Edirol, Steinberg, Digidesign, Mackie, PreSonus, Mark of the Unicorn, Metric Halo, Aardvark, Terratec, Hercules, Lexicon
Do check out the Mac compatibility of their software, first. Not all of them are as rich on the Mac as the PC.

Thanks
Trevor
CanadaRAM.com
 

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