Does this sound like a good setup?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by chrono1081, Feb 29, 2008.

  1. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    Isla Nublar
    #1
    I've played music all my life but I have never recorded anything or done anything on the computer with music and I would like to start. What I will be doing is doing soundtracks for small homebrew games im creating. I would like to connect a keyboard that has programmable keys that I can map for different sound effects/instruments. Here is the system that I came up with:

    -iMac 24inch maxed specs (ram thru crucial)
    -logic express or garage band (I havent used either or owned a mac, im new to all this)
    -keyboard (I would love a suggestion on this as I havent keyboard shopped in 15 years, and I cant run to a store to see what they have to offer)

    Am I on the right track or am I way off track? Any suggestions or advice would be most welcome :).
     
  2. tremendous macrumors 6502

    tremendous

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    UK? Yeah I'm OK. Stop asking.
    #2
    Just to get a few things straight...

    you want to use a keyboard to control sounds on the computer? If so, you'll need a Midi keyboard. There are many of these to choose from, from Full size 61 key beasts to tiny one or two octave things. some have extra controls for tweaking parameters of the software, some are just keys with a couple of controls. Best to google it and see what there is. all midi keyboards can control virtual instruments - that is, the instruments that come bundled with garageband and logic express.

    I don't know a lot about logic or garageband - i merely use gb to record external guitar stuff - i don't really dealve into the midi side of it.

    if you have any more questions though, i might be able to help (but i'm sure there are plenty of more qualified people to offer advice!)
     
  3. Drumjim85 macrumors 68030

    Drumjim85

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    #3
    Sounds good so far, except I would get a 4core pro instead of the best iMac. (and of course a monitor)

    Oh, and speaking of monitors, youre going to want to get some speakers, and probably some kind of sound card... I know you won't be using the ins much if at all, but it would certantly help the quality of your outputs.

    I would plan for at least $1000 for speakers, and maybe $300 for a sound card. (but obviously the more you pay, the better you'll get)
     
  4. chrono1081 thread starter macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #4
    Oops i should have clarified. I want the keyboard to be able to record what I play straight to the computer (without a microphone). I also want the ability to use the keys for sound effects if possible.
     
  5. chrono1081 thread starter macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #5
    I would love the pro but I will have to wait to get that until I get home. I am in a weird situation at the moment, I work as a contractor overseas and where I live I have 0 space (which is why I leaned to the iMac) but that wont be my only mac Im getting, I will be getting a pro as soon as I get home. If the iMac cant use whatever input a keyboard uses then I will have no choice but to get the pro (it wont break my heart trust me :D)
     
  6. Drumjim85 macrumors 68030

    Drumjim85

    Joined:
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    Location:
    DFW, TX
    #6
    oh, well that's fine then... And if you are wanting to get the audio from a keyboard to the computer you will probably want a better sound card. At that point its all about preamps, and converters... But you'll put your keyboard into the soundcard, and the soundcard to your computer with USB or FireWire.
     
  7. chrono1081 thread starter macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #7
    So its an external sound card? (Im so sorry for the beginner questions im new to mac) Any recommendations on which one?
     
  8. Drumjim85 macrumors 68030

    Drumjim85

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2007
    Location:
    DFW, TX
    #8
    yes, external... (you would only be able to install an internal one if you had a pro... and even then, there aren't many internal, pro soundcards)

    I would look into these brands and see which one meets your needs at your price point. (ranked from top to bottom):

    RME
    Apogee
    MOTU
    M-Audio

    Examples of each:
    RME Fireface 400
    Apogee Ensemble
    MOTU 828mk3
    M-audio Firewire 1814
     
  9. chrono1081 thread starter macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #9
    Thank you so much for the advice! I cant wait till april :D
     
  10. Elektroakoustik macrumors member

    Elektroakoustik

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2008
    #10
    For starting out, I think the iMac will work fine. You don't really need a Mac Pro unless you're doing a lot of sequencing at once (like an entire orchestra). If you get 4 gigs of ram you should be set for awhile.

    I would recommend playing around with garage band and then getting logic express and then upgrading to logic studio (in time).

    As for keyboards. I've got a few points:

    First off, you're looking for a controller keyboard. You have a lot of selections for controller keyboards these days. They usually come in 61 key, 76 key, and 88 key versions. You can get smaller key versions but I have a hard time recommending them. Secondly, you're going to have to decide if you want weighted keys (like a piano) or synth keys (like a synthesizer). If you're a piano player, I recommend getting a weighted key controller.

    These days, a lot of controllers come with usb connections as well. But most audio interfaces have midi ins so you can simply connect your controller to the audio interface which connects to the computer. Also look for slider/knob controllers on the midi keyboard so you can control certain parameters of your software with it (such as panning, volume, modulation, etc)

    Controllers I recommend:
    - The M-Audio keyboards are good for beginners. Their weighted keyboards feel cheap though.
    - Edirol (a division of Roland) makes decent models that I find more high quality than M-Audio's.
    - If you want a weighted keyboard, I have only been able to find one keyboard that is satisfying to the touch. And thats the Fatar/Studiologic vmk-188/vmk176/vmk-161. I own the vmk-188 and it is the most spectacular feeling controller I've ever played. When playing this keyboard with Synthogy's Ivory Pianos, it actually feels like I'm playing a Steinway. Has plenty of knobs and sliders too.

    Check musician's friend, sweetwater, and zzounds for keyboards. They have a bunch of em listed

    Good luck with your studio!
     
  11. motulist macrumors 601

    motulist

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    #11
    A full size keyboard is 88 keys. If you're a long time piano player, then you definitely need to get weighted keys. Unweighted keys depress with no resistance unlike the real piano keys do, and will be much more difficult for a piano player to play.

    Here's what you want:

    midi keyboard trigger instrument -> sequencer software -> software synth -> audio out of your mac.

    Don't complicate your setup by trying to use a keyboard that has built in sounds, because you're also gonna want to soon record audio into your computer as well, at which point you'd then have to get a mixer, and etc. Just do the setup I outlined above.
     
  12. chrono1081 thread starter macrumors 604

    chrono1081

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
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    Isla Nublar
    #12
    Thanks so much for all the advice guys! I just cut and pasted this whole thread so I can look back on it while im shopping. You guys also gave me a lot of new keywords to look up so I can see exactly what I need :) Thanks so much for the replies :D
     
  13. -igor macrumors member

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    Feb 25, 2007
  14. motulist macrumors 601

    motulist

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    #14
    Then let me make it even easier for you. Seriously, all you need in order to do the type of things you described is this:

    keyboard controller with USB midi output -> garageband software -> audio out of your Mac's headphone jack and into your home stereo's aux input

    A midi controller means something like this which has no sounds built in, it just controls the instrument sounds that garageband generates. When you hit the middle C key on the keyboard, it send a message to the mac through the USB cable that says "Hey garageband, immediately reproduce the sound of a piano playing the middle C note!" So whatever instrument sound you've selected in garage band, when you play a note on the controller keyboard then your Mac will instantly make the sound of that instrument playing that note.

    Despite its compactness, simpleness and inexpensiveness, this is really a powerful setup that will allow you to do every single thing you're gonna want to do for a long time. And if at some point later you want to upgrade some part of your music making system, none of the money you invested here will be lost, the midi keyboard and garageband software will continue to be very useful. Trust me, this is the way you want to go.
     
  15. Drumjim85 macrumors 68030

    Drumjim85

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2007
    Location:
    DFW, TX
    #15
    I only said that because it would be the same price, if not cheaper, than the iMac, and he would get more functionality.
     
  16. Tarkovsky macrumors 6502

    Tarkovsky

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Location:
    London/Norwich
    #16
    I reckon you could get a pretty good monitoring set up without spending $1000. The trick is don't buy actives. Unless you are buying top of the range I think you either end up compromising on the speakers or amp. Right now a quad 306 through a couple of kef crestas (with the kube outboard eq designed with the speakers) can be had together for about half that, and that is serious audiophile quality on a budget. They're exceptionally well matched, and pretty easy to find on ebay. They'll only hit 60, but until you bass trap your room up it's a waste of money to think about bass seriousely. When you do get yourself a storm - high input sub that retains the character of your amp and hits 20. I'd pay about $600 give or take (I did it for more like $500 but waited) and another $250 for the storm. All this gear would have cost $1000s new and is comparable to modern upper mid range systems.
     

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