Personal Music Recording

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by zdlyons, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. zdlyons macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2010
    #1
    I'm running OS X 10.6.6 on my 2010 MBP 2.66 ghz 4gb. I was wondering what you all thought would be the best investment for recording my music on my mac? I'm talking what would be necessary interface-wise and hardware equip. etc? Any tips or personal opinions and experience would be awesome! Thanks!
     
  2. dXTC macrumors 68020

    dXTC

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Location:
    Up, up in my studio, studio
    #2
    There are so many choices that a few questions are needed to give more targeted advice.

    • What genre/type of music do you play?
    • Are there vocals or acoustic instruments involved, or are they all electric/electronic?
    • How big (or small) is your budget?
     
  3. zdlyons thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2010
    #3
    Thanks for the quick response: I play mostly acoustic styles...if i had to relate it to something, it would probably be a cross between jason mraz and dave matthews. There are vocals and acoustic instruments, and my budget is probably on the lower end but still trying to squeeze good quality out of it.
     
  4. dXTC, Jan 7, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2011

    dXTC macrumors 68020

    dXTC

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Location:
    Up, up in my studio, studio
    #4
    Your setup will be rather simple: a decent USB microphone. I have two mic suggestions:

    * Audio-Technica AT2020 USB. I personally use the analog version of this mic, and find that it handles vocals and acoustic guitars very well for its price.
    * Blue Snowball. I have heard great things about this little white ball.

    Both are condenser mics, which pick up high-frequency sound very well and thus have a somewhat bright sound. Unlike dynamic microphones, you won't have to sing with your mouth really close.

    Both draw a small bit of power from the USB port, so no external or "phantom" power source will be needed. Thus, they're true plug-n-play. You can use either one with GarageBand, and you'll be able to set the input levels on a track-by-track basis. Both come with desktop tripod stands and are also relatively inexpensive (approximately $100), but don't let the low price fool you; these are professional-grade studio mics.
     
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #5
    "I play mostly acoustic styles...if i had to relate it to something, it would probably be a cross between jason mraz and dave matthews. There are vocals and acoustic instruments, and my budget is probably on the lower end but still trying to squeeze good quality out of it."

    MacRumors.com has a "digital audio" sub-forum and you would probably do well to browse around there. You might also check the forums at gearslutz.com and homerecording.com.

    Important question:
    How much are you willing to spend to get good sound?

    Better figure on at least $400 for an interface and one or two decent mics, mic stands, cables, etc.

    Since you have a MacBook Pro, I would STRONGLY suggest that you buy ONLY interfaces that have firewire for their connection scheme. Firewire has always been superior to USB when it comes to audio processing.

    I'm currently using an Echo AudioFire8 interface -- it's solid and clean. These are no longer in production, but I would suggest you check around for the Echo "AudioFire4" -- very similar with a few less inputs, and very affordable @ about $300 "street". You might be able to find one used on ebay for less.

    Mics are a whole world unto themselves. You can try this page for some comparisons:
    http://www.vocalimpactmedia.com/SoundStorage.html#MCASP1stock

    For recording guitar, you'll probably want TWO mics for a wider field of sound. A pair of the same will be useful in the future.

    For digital recording software, you can start out with GarageBand. It may be all you need for a while. When it's time for "more power", I'd suggest one of the Cubase products -- "Cubase Essentials" would be a good one. I know I'm in the minority in this forum, but Cubase beats the pants off Logic insofar as ease-of-use and ease-of-learning goes, and has SUPERIOR audio editing functions.

    One other thing -- you may find that when using digital audio software, you just don't have enough "screen space" with which to work. In that case, you may need to consider adding an external monitor, too!
     
  6. zdlyons thread starter macrumors member

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    Sep 30, 2010
    #6
    @dxtc and @Fishrrman: both great information!! thanks a lot for helping me out!
     
  7. dXTC, Jan 7, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2011

    dXTC macrumors 68020

    dXTC

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Location:
    Up, up in my studio, studio
    #7
    For any setup beyond my first (and rather simplistic) setup suggestion, I concur that FireWire is the way to go. FireWire is designed specifically for constant data streaming, while USB tends to send data in bursts. Plugging in two or more USB mics simultaneously may cause problems (audio glitches) down the road, as each USB device will compete with others for CPU time; FireWire has no such problem, as it handles its own transmission.

    A two-mic setup would make a nice sound field without having to "fake" the stereo sound through post-processing. There are stereo all-in-one mikes like Blue's Yeti, but they'll be 50-100% more expensive than a single mike. Careful shopping will reveal mono mics that would allow you to position the mics farther apart for recording a group in stereo, two for the same price or better than an all-in-one stereo mike, which wouldn't have the positioning flexibility.

    Couple two good mics with a small FireWire audio interface (PreSonus and the aforementioned Echo are both good brands), and you're good to go. One more tip: Pick an audio interface that has a couple more inputs than you need right now, if your budget allows it; it may save you from having to "upgrade" later as you become more proficient and expand your setup.

    EDIT: One more thing: Many audio interfaces are bundled with "lite" versions of pro audio apps such as Cubase. These can give you a taste of what's beyond GarageBand.
     
  8. zdlyons thread starter macrumors member

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    Sep 30, 2010

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