Putting together a 'studio' for a MacBook

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by alexandercairns, Dec 17, 2008.

  1. alexandercairns macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2008
    I am currently looking in to purchasing some equipment to record better quality audio on my Macbook that isn't distorted and empty sounding (I've been using my internal mic). I recently discussed my options with someone at a local music store and he outlined some fairly basic equipment that will last essentially indefinitely: the Apogee Duet, Yamaha HS50m monitors, the Shure beta57a, and the AT2041sp (which I believe is a package of two similar condensers). Given this information, is there anything I am missing? Are the monitors absolutely necessary? I am currently living in a University residence, and I ask this about the monitors since I have storage restraints. Are there any similarly priced options that are at the same level as the Duet? I am mainly going to be working with Garageband (and possibly Audacity or similar programs) and have 2GB of RAM... is this sufficient? Does more RAM end up preventing or limiting the possibility of crashing during the middle of a recording?

    Any answers are helpful... I am just trying to get some other opinions before I buy anything.

  2. mcpryon2 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 12, 2008
    I noticed you said you're living in a University residence. Have you considered going to a music professor's office, or a video/audio student, and ask them what advice they'd have? I have no real idea of what University campus you are living on, but if there is a music program I'd be willing to bet there's a prof who would be more than willing, if not excited, to give you some tips starting out.

    That way you could get some personal dialogue going and maybe even some hands-on training...or even maybe somebody to let you learn the ropes on their equipment so you don't have to buy all of your own right away.
  3. alexandercairns thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2008
    Unfortunately there is no audio program, but I do believe a music teacher is showing up on campus in a few weeks, so maybe I can get some more info. Thanks for the tip
  4. ashjamben macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2007
    Shanghai, China
    sounds like everything i'm about to buy to set up my own little studio in my uni halls.

    i'll say one thing tho, the apogee duet is abit overkill. because you suggested the apogee duet i presume all you need is a couple of xlr inputs, a couple of 1/4" jack inputs and monitor outs. any £100 - £150 audio interface will suffice the job. also, firewire isn't essential for an audio interface with such little inputs. a macbook only has firewire 400 anyway.

    also, again, the monitors are abit overkill too. for around £100 - £150 you could get a nice pair of smaller monitor speakers which would work fine. if you're only in your uni dorm room you dont need much volume anyway. just whatever you get make sure they're active monitors.

    the mics sound good, the only other thing i may suggest is a pair of closed monitoring headphones so you can listen to yourself whilst recording.

    just to see if i can help you out a little more, what macbook have you got? and also, what will you be recording?
  5. Mattaut macrumors regular

    Oct 9, 2008
    Here's a good site that helped me figure out what equipment I need, they also have a forum with gear comparisons and polls of what the best gear is.

  6. alexandercairns thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2008
    The guy's justification was that I would want to invest in a good set of monitors and interface that I could keep and not have to upgrade to later on. I have the last generation MacBook (before they came out with the aluminum one) and I will mainly be recording vocals and acoustic guitar, but also some electric, some MIDI, and some of the internal sounds from my keyboard. Other than that, I might see what kind of sound I can get recording drums with the AT's.
  7. GregBoccuti macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2007
    As far as the monitors go, it really depends on what you're planning on doing. Anything in the professional realm, quality monitors are a must have. It sounds like you're doing just personal stuff, so monitors aren't an absolute necessity.
  8. Mobile923 macrumors 6502

    Sep 20, 2007
    New York, NY
    Hey, I just finished cutting my new record with my prev-gen macbook (2.4 ghz, white)

    I have:
    Alesis MultiMix 16 Firewire
    AKG C1000
    Roland TD-3SW drum kit
    M-Audio StudioPro3 monitors

    Cut with Garageband '08
    Mastered with Peak 5
    Went direct in to the Alesis with the guitar and bass

    Check out some of my songs at www.richy923.com and read about the recording process at richy923.wordpress.com.

    Let me know what you think!
  9. ashjamben macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2007
    Shanghai, China
    very understandable, you definitely don't want to find yourself with crappy equipment if you start getting serious about it. but, i stand by what i said about the apogee duet, its overkill for a small home studio imo. you can get very audiophile about it all, and end up paying hundreds of pounds on cables let alone your hardware, but in my opinion it's all just a way to get your sound into your computer. the duet can't do midi, so you need to bear that in mind. also, you were talking about recording drums? that would sound alot better with more mics, and seen as you'll have a sm57 anyway for the snare you may aswell use it. only trouble is, the duet has only 2 inputs. i'd personally recommend the m audio fast track ultra, which has enough mic inputs and also incorporates midi.

    so anyway, i'll let you know what i'm upto, bearing in mind i'm on a very tight budget. i'm getting myself a m audio fast track pro, as well as some ex display m audio bx5a monitors are they were a steal. now mics are where i don't wanna cheap out, so i'm getting myself a pair of rode nt2a's and a shure sm57. that should be everything i need to record: vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, harmonica, di bass guitar and maybe drums.

    ultimately, it's all up to you. i'd just like to say i'm very jealous. being a student too i don't know how you can afford all of this stuff, and it makes it worse that i'm studying music technology and cant afford as decent equipment as you! :(
  10. ZiggyPastorius macrumors 68040


    Sep 16, 2007
    Berklee College of Music
    If you do decide to go for the Duet, you won't regret it. I purchased myself one back in May (fortunately really close to the update to keep the computer from Kernel Panicking) and I've loved it. It's quite useful. Quick to set up, sounds great, works beautifully, easy-to-use, et cetera. A good choice, methinks.
  11. MWPULSE macrumors 6502a


    Dec 27, 2008
    Putting together a 'studio' for a MacBook

    Hi, newbie to the forum here... I have a studio (2 when you look at it) i have a MBox 2 and Digidesign Protools LE 7.1.3 on a mac mini.

    I have been using a hi-fi to do all my recording and monitoring until the summer when i got a pair of KRK Rokit RP5s. They are awesome, loud, clear, punchy, and have a relatively even bass response. I found that the HS50s didnt have nearly as much clarity in the bass regions, and were very hi-end heavy..I found them quite hard to listen to for long periods of time.. At the end of the day, i have been using my hi-fi for the last 6 years while doing my music (mainly electro and alot of bass :D) and that was quite enough for my liking. It depends what music your looking at doing and what you want to get it sounding like..

    The audio interface on the other hand is a very interesting one.. I found that i wanted/needed protools (after all the best audio software for editing) i had to get the Mbox. The mbox is a great piece of kit, simple, easy to install, 2 mic ins/outs, midi in/out, sp/dif, headphone monitor outs, usb powered. The only problem i have found is there is quite a distinctive hum (high pitched, extremely annoying as well) but its a workable solution, i record a lil louder than is normally required to get optimium headroom.

    Good luck looking, its a hard market to understand heh..

    You dont particularly need huge monitors but i would suggest some form of speakers, you cant get as good as an impression of stereo information, bass frequencies etc from headphones.

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