I want to turn my Macbook Pro into a portable studio...what do I need?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by MykullMyerz, Jan 25, 2010.

  1. MykullMyerz macrumors 6502

    MykullMyerz

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2006
    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    #1
    Well, I'm an aspiring musician and was thinking about putting a mixtape or demo together. I was watching an interview with an artist named Daniel Bedingfield some time ago and he said he recorded and mastered his entire album on his macbook and put it out independently. Besides GarageBand, do you guys have any idea if their are any other software or accessories I need to do the same thing on my MBP?
     
  2. Dozerrox macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2009
    Location:
    Exeter
    #2
    If you're just starting out, I'd say just start using garage band and maybe buy a small external audio interface. If you don't get bored and want to progress then you'll probably want to upgrade your software to logic or cubase or something.

    Your alternative is to make your sounds electronically and use a usb microphone for vocals.

    The best way is to dive in and learn your requirements on the go really. What sort of music do you want to make?
     
  3. mattyb240 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    #3
    Google is your friend for software, logic, protools etc etc.
     
  4. MykullMyerz thread starter macrumors 6502

    MykullMyerz

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2006
    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    #4
    Yea, I'm just starting out, thanks for the advice. I definitely appreciate it.

    I want to make rap/rock music. Kind of like what N.E.R.D. does on their albums.
     
  5. MykullMyerz thread starter macrumors 6502

    MykullMyerz

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2006
    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    #5
    I'm using Google, but I figured I try here as well since I usually always fine great advice in these forums.
     
  6. BRyken macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    #6
    Wow, your right, we should just get rid of the forums and redirect them straight to google...:rolleyes:

    Anyways, I use Logic Pro and an Apogee Duet for all my studio stuff. I've been using it for quite a few years now and the integration of the hardware straight into Logic Pro is really useful. If your just starting off, it might just be best to use Garageband and then later if you need more, upgrade to something else like Cubase, Logic etc. But definitaly invest in some sort of firewire/USB audio interface, these are always worth the investment.

    $.02
     
  7. spinnerlys Guest

    spinnerlys

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Location:
    forlod bygningen
    #7
    Do you play any real instruments that you want to use in your music making?
    If not, there is not really a need for an external interface from the beginning.

    If you want to use your voice, you can always connect a microphone to your Mac through the audio-in port.

    You need to be more specific on what you actually wanna do with your Mac and what music you wanna create.
     
  8. MykullMyerz thread starter macrumors 6502

    MykullMyerz

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2006
    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    #8
    Ohh ok, I'll start off with GarageBand then and see where it gets me. Hopefully, it will suffice for now until I get REALLY serious. Where are some good places to buy USB audio interfaces at good prices?
     
  9. MykullMyerz thread starter macrumors 6502

    MykullMyerz

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2006
    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    #9
    Well, I wanna create rap/rock music. Similar to the group N.E.R.D. And yes instruments will be played. I play the piano/keyboard and I have a friend who plays the guitar.
     
  10. xxplosive1984 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    #10
    You will see that Garageband is very viable to start off with. Pretty robust if you ask me. Since it comes free, assess your needs and if you need to upgrade, there is Logic Express or Logic Pro, which you can move your projects from Garageband seamlessly into those programs.
     
  11. BRyken macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    #11
    I always go through Guitar Center or Musiciansfriend.com. Both are pretty much the same. I'm sure others will say they charge to much but I've always thought they were fair prices. If those are to expensive however, look around online, eBay maybe?

    Some good brands to look into are Apogee, M-Audio, Presonus, those are probably the top three I can think of right now.
     
  12. JonHimself macrumors 68000

    JonHimself

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #12
    I have an M-Audio interface, the Fast Track Pro but it's pretty old... still works great. I've read nothing but good things about the Apogee Duet (also mentioned above) and if i had the cash/inclination to keep recording stuff I would absolutely by that.
    Also have to second learning Garageband first and figure that all out then if you find you're being limited than try Logic or Logic Express (I think there's two versions?). Odds are that you can probably get everything done in Garageband though and (in my opinion) it's a lot more user-friendly.
     
  13. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #13
    "Where are some good places to buy USB audio interfaces at good prices?"

    Suggestion #1:
    Do not, repeat, DO NOT, buy a USB interface.

    Get a FIREWIRE audio interface if you have a MacBook Pro with a firewire port.

    Firewire is far, FAR superior to USB for audio input/output, particularly where latency and recording multiple tracks are involved.

    Suggestion #2:
    I've tried both Presonus and Echo interfaces. Currently using an Echo AudioFire8 and it's very, very nice. Plenty of inputs, good mic pres, and excellent analog-to-digital conversion.

    As you check out various interfaces (firewire, remember?), take a look at the Echo AudioFire4, as well.

    Suggestion #3:
    In many ways, your choice of mics will become more important than your interface. Build knowledge on them BEFORE you buy.

    Suggestion #4:
    There is a dedicated "digital audio" forum right here on macrumors.com - worth visiting.

    Also consider visiting "gearslutz.com" for more info.
     
  14. Dozerrox macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2009
    Location:
    Exeter
    #14
    I've heard good things about the fasttrack ultra if you were ever interested in upgrading. The duet looks lovely though yeah.
     
  15. Penguissimo macrumors 6502a

    Penguissimo

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2009
    Location:
    Michigan
    #15
    This man speaks the truth.

    Also, ff you can at all foresee yourself pursuing this seriously down the road, you may find it beneficial to invest in Pro Tools or Logic. You also need to consider your goals and methods. Garage Band and Logic (which can be thought of as GarageBand's "bigger brother") are geared more towards music creation, while Pro Tools has historically been more recording-oriented. Both programs have added more of the "other" capability in recent years, but you can still see the underlying design philosophy in both. If most of your music will come from real instruments, you might prefer Pro Tools. Conversely, if you mostly want to accompany your guitar (or whatever) playing with electronically-generated music, you might find Logic to be more suited towards your needs.

    Pro Tools does require that you use DigiDesign hardware, though*, so your best bet may be to get something like the Mbox 2 Pro**, which connects via FireWire, comes with Pro Tools, and is also compatible with GarageBand/Logic. I've used one with all of these applications and had great luck.

    If you absolutely plan to never use Pro Tools, though, you can get better hardware for less money, since a good chunk of the Mbox price goes toward the software. But again, your mic choices and placement are going to make an order of magnitude more difference than your choice of audio interface, as long as you're not talking about something like an iMic.

    For shopping and more detail advice, you may also want to check out Sweetwater. They assign you a personal agent who will help you determine your needs and what gear would best suit you. These guys are people who've worked in the music industry, and they're not just out to upsell you; they've talked me into buying something cheaper on more than one occasion ;)

    Also, whatever you decide to buy, don't forget to look around to see if you can get educational discounts (if you're affiliated with an educational institution, of course) and/or a better deal on slightly-used gear.

    * Except for Pro Tools M-Powered, which works with certain M-Audio interfaces, but I understand that this is only cost-effective if you already own one of these interfaces and want to add Pro Tools, since the software alone can cost almost as much as an Mbox+Pro Tools LE combination.

    ** Do NOT get the regular Mbox 2; in addition to all the other problems with USB recording that Fishrrman mentions, DigiDesign's USB drivers are buggy, worthless crap. If you only plan to use Pro Tools, you MAY be fine with a USB Mbox, but if you try to use it as a Core Audio device you're in for a world of hurt. Digi has known about the problem for ALMOST THREE YEARS, and only in the last few months have they released a kinda-sorta fix that only usually works for most people. And definitely don't get the original Mbox, since Digi discontinued support for it with the latest version of Pro Tools.
     
  16. Gabriel GR macrumors 6502a

    Gabriel GR

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    #16
    Consider your budget and needs. Then get the simplest audio interface for the money. Try to get less ports and more DSP power.

    Every interface ships with a version of an audio sequencer like nuendo, protools, cubase etc that is probably superior than garage band. See which you like the most since you will probably stick to it.

    Making music if fun. Have a good time.

    And as others said. If you have firewire, go with a firewire interface. They usually are more stable.
     
  17. archre macrumors member

    archre

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2010
    #17
    What hasn't been mentioned yet is a good monitoring.
    Don't save on decent monitors!

    Same for microphones (but already been mentioned).

    Many things depend on your workflow. You could invest into a mixing console or try mixing on the MBP itself using a MIDI controller device. However in this case you need an audio interface with many inputs (especially drum recording needs dozens of mics/inputs).

    Software has already been mentioned: Logic, Pro Tools, Ableton Live (which I prefer)...
    Just try it out and see what fits best for your workflow.

    Do you just want to record or do you also want to synthesize music?

    Cheers
     
  18. archre macrumors member

    archre

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2010
    #18
    It's not that much about stability, but more about latency! FW offers much better (less) latency than USB.
     
  19. mattyb240 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    #19
    How about I direct people toMroogle instead? If you actually read my post, it was directed at Software only which is commonly used across this forum! Which is why I did not say "uh duh man, just google it you will get all your answers an it will cost you like 10p!". I know very little about audio interfaces etc which is why I left my suggestion at software only.
     
  20. Gabriel GR macrumors 6502a

    Gabriel GR

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    #20
    Mroogle doesn't have all the answers. Especially when you talk about hardware that changes every day like audio interfaces, sequencing software and recommendations.
     
  21. mattyb240 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    #21
    But again my post was directed at software not hardware. I even specifically said, I don't know about hardware as I know that changes.
     
  22. seb-opp macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    Location:
    London/Norwich
    #22
    It sounds like you are planning to stick to a low budget and possibly a beginner at recording (I apologise if you are actually quite knowledgeable about the subject and I seem condescending!), so perhaps you would like to stick to Garageband to begin with, then upgrade to logic later on. (garageband files can be opened in logic.)

    If you're making anything vaguely rock (ie it will have guitars and drums rather than synths) I can recommend the line6 toneport interfaces, they come with amp modelling software which give great results. Logic has good sounding guitar amps too, however Garageband's built in ones are pretty bad.

    The more expensive toneports have XLR jacks built in so you can get a compressor mic and a pop shield which will sort you out for vocal recordings.

    For drums, try EZdrummer, which is a very realistic sounding acoustic drum sampler. Its an entry level product based on Superior Drummer, so it's good quality but simple to use, but also reasonably priced.

    You should also check out some guides on recording and mixing to get the best possible results. Vocal recording is probably the most difficult to get the best results as room acoustics are important. Getting expensive software wont help if you don't know how to use it!
     
  23. Dozerrox macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2009
    Location:
    Exeter
    #23
    For what it's worth, I've worked with a couple of USB interfaces, and firewire ones, and I haven't had bad experiences with USB. Obviously I wouldn't try recording many tracks (4 at the most), but I've had very large projects that ran fine.

    If you need more inputs then firewire for sure, but I definitely think that USB interfaces have their place.
     
  24. MykullMyerz thread starter macrumors 6502

    MykullMyerz

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2006
    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    #24
    More than likely both, but right now I'ma little more concerned with recording.
     
  25. gonewestcoast macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    #25
    I'd say you should start small, and upgrade as you go. Cheaper that way, and if you lose interest you're not out tends of thousands of dollars...
     

Share This Page