Setting up my first home studio

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Liffey, Oct 13, 2011.

  1. Liffey macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2010
    I realize this is a very noobish topic so apologies in advance for that :)

    I am very interested in learning how to produce music. I've played piano for a few years but have never tried recording anything. I'm into some dubstep related stuff like Burial, Actress, Shackleton (not really dubstep but you know what I mean), as well as ambient textural things like Tim Hecker and Jacaszek. I really don't want to produce sounds that are too rigid and calculated though. I like playing expressively, and things like jazz and prog play an influence structurally.

    Here is my basic plan at the moment.. the brains of the operation will be my iMac i5, 2.66ghz, 12g ram. I have some decent headphones, Senn 550HDs, that should be good enough for now. Everything I else though I still need to buy.

    For the controller I'm leaning towards a Novation mkII 61 Key. The range of keys is important since I like the long, flowing melodies you find in jazz for example, plus I want to be able to practice my basic playing using this. Also I like that it's kind of an all-in-one thing since it saves space on my desk. As I understand it this controller is relatively advanced for someone just starting, but I would rather just get something nice to begin with. The Novation seems to have better user feedback than the Axiom Pro, but I'm open to any recommendations if you think there are better alternatives whether all-in-one or not.

    I doubt I will be using live instruments at first, though I will definitely be playing with vocal samples, so I will need look into mics... I really hesitate to spend a lot since I won't be using it a ton, but if it's necessary to not sound like crap then I will. I'm not leaning towards anything in particular yet.

    Computer, controller, mic, headphones... Do I need anything else (aside from programs of course)? Or even if I don't need it immediately, things I should be aware of to look into more? I keep watching these home studio vids on youtube and they have the stuff I mentioned plus a bunch of other mixing boards and various boxes... I just want to make sure I'm not missing something important (I'm in the process of moving and am trying to plan out my desk space a bit, which I haven't bought so there is flexibility).

    Again I know this is a very broad and noobish topic, but any advice would be very much appreciated. Also, if anyone could recomend a forum dedicated to this stuff that would be great.. I looked around but it's a bit tough to tell them apart and most are not so noob-friendly. Anyways thanks in advance :)
  2. M87 macrumors 65816

    Jul 18, 2009
    A recording interface like an Apogee Duet 2 for example.
  3. Liffey thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2010
    Since the Novation has a USB port and since many mics have USB ports, do I really need that? From the quick research I did it's not really necessary for the Novation, though it would improve the mic quality (correct me if I'm wrong on that). Not sure it's worth the $600 or so for that when I haven't even bought a mic yet.
  4. Jolly Jimmy macrumors 65816

    Jolly Jimmy

    Dec 13, 2007
    USB mics are a cheap all-in-one solution, but if you are looking for any sort of future flexibility then I'd stay away from them.
  5. sotorious macrumors 6502a

    Aug 11, 2010
    #5 they will help greatly and an enormous amount of information on that site.
  6. Liffey thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2010
    I see. Well I'll have to save up a while longer but I guess it wil be worth it.

    And yeah I spent a while looking at gearsluts last night, there is a lot to learn!

    Thanks for the input :)
  7. Javik, Oct 15, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2011

    Javik macrumors regular

    Mar 26, 2011
    Do NOT fork out tonnes of money on equipment at this stage. A computer and a good mic would do. To fork out money on a thing like an EXPENSIVE recording interface will help you with nothing at ur noobish level. Believe me, a good computer, a nice controller and a good mic is all you need if you want to get serious but don't need live recording instruments. Believe me! I started like this about 6 months ago and have slowly and progressively built and built demos and music until i eventually got a deal to produce music a few weeks ago!

    Don't believe any one who tells you that you need recording consoles, latency interface, because unless you are working at a full blown professional level, you aren't going to need these things!

    Good luck!
  8. TheRdungeon macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2011
    Totally agree, working with less forces creativity, which is really the whole point of making music!
  9. Papanate macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2011
    North Carolina
    Asking questions is good to do so no apologies needed.
    1. Audio Input/output - you need a sound box like a Apogee One or Duet.

    2. You need software that can handle midi and audio like Logic, Garage Band,or Cubase or...etc. I would probably choose Logic or Garage band because they integrate so well with Macs. And you'll want to go to Lynda.Com or and go through the Tutorials - big big time savers that will cut to chase for you.

    3. Microphones and a Preamp. They can get expensive - but if you go with the Apogee One it has a nice Condensor Mic built in that will get you off and running.

    4. Room Acoustics - not glamorous but one of the more dynamic and beneficial add ons you could ever do. A nice sound room will help everything sound better.

    5. Nearfield Monitors - Recording and mixing on headphones will seriously hurt your long term ears. NearField Monitors will help you progress - and there are dozens available at many pricepoints. The M-Audio BX5a are good starter monitors IMO - and you can pick up a pair for about $200 new.

    6. Keyboard: The Novation mkII 61 Key is a pretty good multi purpose keyboard IMO. Nice feel, nice features - the drum triggers look interesting if not a bit problematic ( something that can break IOW's). I am not a keyboard player primarily - and I have a Keystation Pro 88 - my take away is that I barely use the gazillion knobs in the studio scenario and would really prefer a basic but great feeling keyboard rather than a multi use million knob device. BTW the
    Novation keyboard is made by Fatar. Fatar sells a 61 key basic job - you might check that out.
    Which makes the Apogee One a good choice for you. It kicks you off in the right direction without a huge investment.

    One of the most important issues that never gets brought into these rookie buys discussions; Gear and Recording can be a serious and economically deadly pursuit that can crush your heart worse than a 13 year old first date could ever! There...I said've been warned!<G>
  10. Papanate macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2011
    North Carolina

    There is an enormous amount of 'disinformation' on the site as well. A new to the industry type would be annihilated by the nonsense and left more confused than ever IMHO.

    I'd avoid it as a source of info until you know where you are going and going to be doing.
  11. Liffey thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2010
    Thanks for the great advice guys!
    I may go with the Duet, seems a bit more flexible. I don't like the idea of a built in mic, plus I just bought a new electric guitar so I imagine the Duet will be better for playing around with that, and I can use that instead of wasting money on a practice amp. I think I'll skip the mic preamp for a while.

    Right-o, I have Garage Band as well as Reason... need to research on what the other programs have to offer.
    Not sure what I can do about this... my room is my room, right?
    I currently just have some $80 Sony bookshelf speakers.. nice for watching movies and so on but obviously a major upgrade will need to happen. I see this as being something that can wait, I don't want to go too crazy spending. I've looked into them a bit and have a basic idea on the major players, willing to spend $400 when I get the chance.

    Already ordered the mkii61 on ebay! Hopefully it arrives safe and sound, I'm pretty sure it will satisfy my basic needs.

    Yeah this is easy to believe... I feel like I'm just getting the bare essentials and already the cost is racking up... but it's one of those things I have to do or else I'll just be sitting there wishing I was doing it. I'm buying all my stuff used, so worst case scenario I should be able to resell it with only a minor loss.
  12. Liffey thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2010
    Okay I have everything I need now, there's just one issue. I can't get my guitar to play through my Apogee One. Input is set to Inst and it's plugged in. Can't figure out what I'm doing wrong.
  13. Jolly Jimmy macrumors 65816

    Jolly Jimmy

    Dec 13, 2007
    You can use the Apogee Maestro software to directly monitor the input, or in your DAW using software monitoring. What DAW are you using?
  14. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    i just saw a new "Newbie" forum @ gearslutz, here. did a quick survey of one thread and saw some useful responses.

    but yes, i wouldn't send a newbie to the High End forum there :)
  15. Liffey, Nov 13, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2011

    Liffey thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2010
    Turns out I just had a piece of crap guitar cable, haha. Working fine now.

    Do have a question about Reason though... for some reason I can only hear sounds from the first rack I use when I open the program. The other racks look like they are working fine... just no sound. ;_;

    edit: restarted a few times and it works now :/
  16. blueprint1983 macrumors 6502

    Sep 4, 2007
    Duet, daw and monitors. essentials no need for midi controller imo, a good mouse too.
  17. ecoarena macrumors newbie

    Dec 10, 2011

    Remember, too, depending on your preferences, when you load a 'rack'/instrument, you have to select it first 'below' before you can play it.

    Have fun.


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