Cheap, basic recording setup.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Brad Raple, Nov 8, 2005.

  1. Brad Raple macrumors newbie

    Brad Raple

    May 7, 2004
    Giant Bucket, USA
    I have a friend on a budget looking for a mac for a recording setup. He wants to record voice, acoustic guitar, and keyboard. He needs a computer to run it, and wants to keep it as close to $500 bucks as possible. I'm unfamiliar with the sound card options. He doesn't need anything professional, but something decent. Are there any external options? If so, how much difference would there be between a Dual G4 (800MHz) and a mini? I know there are much better sound card options for the dual and my sense is that it would be faster, but the mini is pretty compelling because it would be new and much smaller. Is there any way he could come up with a workable setup with a mini and an external sound card?

    Let me know what other info would be helpful. Thanks!

  2. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    You're not going to get a Mini with monitor keyboard and RAM upgrade for $500 anyway, much less an interface and a USB hub as well. The Mini does come with GarageBand which is good.

    Sound cards for Mac aren't PCI cards, they usually are external devices that attach via Firewire or USB, so there isn't much difference between the Mini and the tower G4 in that respect.

    The Mini doesn't have built-in sound in, while the G4 does have stere on 16 bit 44.1 MHz. Its convertors are a bit noisy for good recording quality, so depending on budget and expectations you may have to upgrade.
    The G4 ill have room for an extra large hard drive (good) but won't likely come with GarageBand (bad)

    Search the forum for many, many threads on recording recomendations.
  3. Brad Raple thread starter macrumors newbie

    Brad Raple

    May 7, 2004
    Giant Bucket, USA
    Monitor, KB, mouse, RAM, external hard drive, etc. are already covered. He has those. That's good info on the sound card though. Any suggestions for a good sound card for less than 100 bucks that would take inputs for a guitar (acoustic and electric) keyboard, and mic? Also, what about a mic? Any recommendations? Thanks!

  4. savar macrumors 68000


    Jun 6, 2003
    District of Columbia
    Don't get a soundcard. Get an outboard encoder with firewire interface. I've got an M-Audio Firewire Solo which is designed exactly for somebody like your friend: guitarists/vocalist looking to make some decent demos without tons of expensive equipment. It's got a balanced XLR connector for microphone, plus phantom power if needed, and a 1/4" phono jack for guitar, etc. No MIDI. Its about $200. For keyboards, M-Audio makes a couple of other products. You could either buy the Solo and add a MIDI interface or buy one box that does all of the above. Take a look at the M-Audio website. I'm sure your friend can find something to suit his needs under $500.
  5. digitalmatty macrumors newbie

    Oct 31, 2005
    we just bought a decent mic for my friend's band, and just a basic-record some directional sound mic ran 100 CAD...good luck to your friend...he might want to save up for a bit more to afford some equipment worth buying! ie. good sound quality and the likes...
  6. cluthz macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    If it's for hobby use and you have access to a ok preamp/mixer, just hook it to your comps line-in (not sure if the mini has, but powermacs and powerbooks has)

    I've done tons of recording with a external mixer hooked up to my pb's line-in. Sounds really ok.
  7. Turvey macrumors newbie


    Jul 21, 2006
    Re: Recording setup

    Yeah, my friend's in the same boat, there are a load of different ways to get set up, a good one is the Presonus FirePod,, but that's a little more than you wanted to shell out, if you want to go analong, then you could look on ebay or somewhere for an Alesis "Blackface" ADAT and a mixer of some kind, it's really basic, it just had 8 inputs and 8 outputs and records the 8 tracks, then you could use some kind of mixer, like an Alto L-12, and by connecting the two you could have a pretty sweet eight track recording setup, but i'm not sure how much that would cost, it might be a little expensive, and then you don't get to use your computer as much, you just run the final mixdown into the computer and then stick it in iTunes or wherever. That's one option, another is something like a lexicon lambda, or a Lexicon Omega, these are just usb interfaces with your computer and are in theory pretty straight foreward, the upside is that they usually come with some software, I think that they come with Cubase LE wich is pretty good for home recording, protools is the industry standard, but you really don't need it unless you are going into the recording business and you want to learn the program, something like Cubase or Logic should be just fine for you. As for mics, if you want to go dymanic, the Sure SM-57 is a great all around mic, it's indestructable, so you don't have to worry to much about damaging it, and they sound great, it's a good all around mic, people use them for snare drums, guitar amps, vocals, all kinds of stuff. but if you want to go for a condenser then you'll have to shell out a little more cash, there are so many different oppinions on condenser mics, everyone thinks different things, no one can say there is one mic that is better than all the other, they are different and some are better for different applications, but if you want to record vocals, for a first time recording setup, an SM-57 or any large diaphram condenser mic will be just fine. Another thing to consider is the room, the room make a huge difference in recording quality, if you can find a cheap way to get set up then you might want to look into some cheap sound-proofing, anything from just some carpet on the walls to some acoustics foam, like audrilex or something, anything will help, vynil is good too, if you can I'd put some foam or curved pieces of carpet in the corners after you take care of the main walls, bass sounds like to get trapped in corners. Idealy when you're done you should be able to stand in the room and when you hit your chest it should really boom, not just a dull thud.
    I hope I was of some help and I hope your friend get set up,

    - Turvey
  8. pavetheforest macrumors regular


    Apr 2, 2006
    Go M-Audio

    M-Audio is the way to go. I do acoustic guitar and vocals. I use M-Audio's Mobile Pre USB. IT was about $160 at guitar center, probably cheaper now. It's got two SLR mic inputs, a headphone jack and plugins for two guitar cables. This in additon to garageband on my MBP and audix mic is a great way to get semi-professional sounding recordings-truthfully. Go M-Audio.
  9. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    As for a Mic get a Shure SM-58. Hands down a great mic.

    I've recorded guitar and keyboard with garageband with no 3rd party soundcard. Just use the regular mini-input. I have recordings if you want that will show off the quality (acoustic guitar/vocals).
  10. Killyp macrumors 68040


    Jun 14, 2006
    The iBook has a built in mic preamp I'm guessing? The new notebooks have no preamps so you need some form of external mic preamp...
  11. thechris69 macrumors 6502


    Nov 11, 2005
    Does the iMac have preamp? Because when i buy one, I was going to do some basic recording, I have a mic, so all I need is a cheap mixer or soundcard.

    O and btw a mixer is a good investment, my guitar player bought a 200dollar yamaha, its great, but you can get one easily for under 100!

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