Ok now confused...help with pre amp for garageband

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Ides of March, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. Ides of March macrumors newbie

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    Jan 23, 2011
    #1
    Ok i have a macbook pro 15' and of course it came with garageband. So I want to record guitars, drums and vocals on it for my bands songs instead of using my digital recorder. Can someone guide me in the right direction for a good solid pre amp. I use a Shure SM57 mic and just 1/4 inch guitar cables. I do have an MXL conderser mic but I don't really use it.
    I was looking at the M-Audio fast track and mobile pre, and the Mackie Blackjack. I saw the Apogee Duet but not sure If I want to spend 500 bucks.

    And is that all I need to record in garageband? So confused
     
  2. Cox Orange macrumors 68000

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    Jan 1, 2010
    #2
    how many tracks do sou plan to use simultaneously?

    If you have two microphones, you probably want to record the drums at least with those two, I guess? Do you want to record "studio-live", like guitars, vocals, drums at the same time? Do you have future expandability in mind?

    I have a Presonus Firepod (FP10), they are quite inexpensive if bought used, but I do not know if they still work that nice on Intel-Macs.
     
  3. Ides of March thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    Thanks Orange. No I record single tracks. Like acoustic on track 1, then vocals track 2, bass on 3 etc. I wouldn't be doing multiple tracking unless I just wanted to record an acoustic with vocal demo. But I can use the digital recorder I use now for that.
     
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #4
    You can actually plug an SM57 or a guitar direct into the mac. But results are not as good. What you need is a USB audio interface. These will of course have a preamp built into them. There are so many of them that will work. I like Presons gear and their $150 "audio box" would work for you. Make sure what you get is 24-bits (that makes setting the levels easier)
    http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AudioBoxUSB/ This has phantom power for your condenser mic too.
     
  5. Cox Orange macrumors 68000

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    #5
    firewire interfaces were preferred over USB ones... I do not know how this is these days with Intel-Macs.
    In the past it was said, that USB can only transmit several instruments as one track (as a summation) and firewire gives each instrument seperately, though recorded at the same time. This is relevant, if you want to edit tracks seperately. (Though the audiobox has only two ports, you might want to use your two microphones at the same time to get better control over the drum sound, e.g. one for overall sound and one for the bassdrum, which can be useful, because the bassdrum tends to get very quiet, when using one microphone. You could instead put the mic in front of the Bassdrum 50cm away, if you want to use only one mic, though. This will result in a loss of bass frequencies, but in a gain of the bass volume).

    Also I think firewire is better implemented in Macs still in the Intel-era (didn't 10.6 have problems with the USB ports?).

    If you choose the presonus "firestudio mobile" over the "audiobox", you will pay 100 more, but you will get firewire and most probably better preamps, I would check, because I do not definitely know. (if one need 92kHz instead of 48kHz is another question...). But for the price of a firestdio mobile or even less, you can get a used firepod, firepod FP10 or "firestudio project"... if you really need this, is another question.

    For future expandability the firestudio mobile is intreresting too, because it is cascadable (right english word?, I mean you can connect two firestudio units and get 4 tracks but have only one cable that goes to the mac. I think daisy chaining is the right english expression, someone help me?).
     
  6. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #6
    that's not true. USB and firewire can each handle separate, simultaneous channels. firewire can handle more simultaneously, but USB is a fine choice for 2 channels.

    heck, with the way apple plays with offering firewire ports, USB may be the safer legacy choice.
     
  7. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #7
    OP - get the Mackie Blackjack. The Onyx preamps on it are decent enough - very quiet with a lot of gain. It's a very solid unit in it's metal case, and USB 2 is absolutely fine for 2 tracks. It's also well priced and has plenty of control (volume pots and flexible mixing system).

    I wouldn't get FireWire now - I agree with zimv20 that Apple have shown they're just not committed to staying with it. Audio interface manufacturers seem to agree - MOTU, RME, Apogee are all releasing USB interfaces now, while a few years back they were mostly FireWire only.
     
  8. Ides of March thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #8
    Thanks so much. But I hope for what I want to do the Blackjack works. I am really looking to use Garageband and just wanted to use the many tracks Garageband has. I just thought I needed a port to go from my instrument cable and mic xlr to record on garageband. That's what the blackjack does correct?
     
  9. M87 macrumors 65816

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    #9
    What about the Apogee One? If you're only recording mono instruments one track at a time it would be fine.
     
  10. mroddjob macrumors member

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    Jun 29, 2010
    #10
    From the sounds of it you just want something cheep and cheerful, the blackjack would do the job although there are plenty of usb audio interfaces with 1 or 2 inputs in that price range, all fairly similar from Alesis, PreSonus, Yamaha, Mackie, Tascam, M-Audio

    Secondly: How were you planning to record drums? Do you have an electric kit or were you planning to program them or record with one microphone?
     
  11. firestarter, Apr 6, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011

    firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #11
    The blackjack will do exactly what you want. It's ideal for direct instrument recording as it has a hi-Z switch when you plug the guitar in. It'll take an SM57 XLR jack too.

    One fun thing you could try is to use a Y-adaptor to plug your guitar straight in, then plug the other side of the adapter into your amp. Now use the second channel to record the amp on the SM57. That way you can record clean (which you can use with GarageBand's amp emulations) and your amp's tone at the same time.

    The Blackjack is IMO better made than a lot of the others - since it's metal and pretty solid. I wouldn't get an Apogee One, since you already have a microphone that's probably better than the one built into the Apogee, and the Apogee only has the single channel.
     
  12. Fishrrman macrumors G3

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #12
    Although you're only using 1 (or possibly 2 for stereo) inputs right now, keep in mind that at some point in the future, you may find yourself "wanting more"

    For that reason, I'd suggest an interface that has at least 2 XLR inputs + 2 "line" inputs. This would give you the ability to add an external preamp (via the line inputs), for a total of 4 XLR/mic inputs.

    If you have firewire available, I'd also suggest a firewire interface. In many cases, it "just works better" with fewer problems.

    Presonus used to sell something called the "Firebox" which was a very good value (actually offered 6 simultaneous inputs). It's now discontinued and replaced with a new product (not sure of the new name).

    I'd also suggest you check out the Echo "Audiofire4" interface. I replaced my Firebox with an AudioFire8 and it's very nice.
     
  13. Cox Orange macrumors 68000

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    #13
    Well, they did with the Macbook, which is entry level (and maybe for Windows-switchers, who do not know what to do with a firewire port, ayway), I would not consider this as a trend for the whole line. I might be wrong though.

    Firewire saves CPU-usage, USB has more data-overhead and my impression from what I read here and there was, that Apple seems to not carefully code their OSes for effective USB usage.
     
  14. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #14
    I've got one of the last fireboxes. Because this person only needed two audio channels I figured USB was good enough and about $100 less expensive. The "audio box" is the USB version of what I have. Cost $149. For what is is doing it is hard to tell him he needs to spend more.
     
  15. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #15
    And also the MacBook Air - which seems to be one of their hottest sellers at the moment.

    So, two of Apple's three ranges of laptops don't have firewire.

    That's not what Apogee say.
     
  16. Cox Orange macrumors 68000

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    #16
    Is a Macbook Air capable of recording? I guess someone who is sincere and does not buy apple products because of the hype, would not consider buying a MBA for recording, I might be wrong though.

    Well they compare USB2 with Firewire400, todays Macs have FW800... but I admit it doesn't matter how fast or reliable Firewire is, when the manufacturer has tested USB and confirms it. So my opinion on that was somehow academic...

    True is also, what ChrisA says, for what the OP wants to do a unit like the audiobox or something similar will do its job. If he wants to upgrade some time later, he can sell it. On the other hand: the price difference between a used firebox and a used audiobox will perhaps be not that much, so he could as well take the higher version (with the abiilty to use it later with a second unit daisy chained - now I am arguing in a circle...:rolleyes: ).
     
  17. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #17
    of course. the original protools (soundtools) ran on Mac II's. recording isn't a very intensive CPU process. and we're all recording to external drives anyway, right?
     
  18. Cox Orange macrumors 68000

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    #18
    ok, I always think of recording as recording+editing+effects... ok, for someone like the OP, who wants to just record less than 8 tracks or so, one would not need anything more. :)
     
  19. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #19
    so is your question, "will recording/mixing an album on the least powerful of apple's current machines be limiting as compared to the most powerful?"

    yes, of course.

    if you're asking if it's possible to record/mix an album on an MB Air, yes i think it's absolutely possible, and probably not all that limiting unless one is overly-reliant on hungry VIs and tons of plug-ins. personally, my main concern using such a setup would be: how loud is the fan?
     

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