Home Recording: Help me get started?

b_f_c_99

Member
Messages
108
Hello Home Recording Kindfolk,

I'm interested in getting started in home-recording, and only for myself. I have little knowledge of this endeavor, and while I did some researching, there is just way too much to account for without having any knowledge about it.

The whole idea is to use this as a songwriting tool. I'd like to be able to have multiple tracks for bass, drums(?) and multiple guitar parts...and of course I'd like to be able to build a song from those same tracks. That's pretty routine, I think?

It needs to be a desktop-scenario, and ideally it would integrate-well with Windows, although I suppose I could get a Mac, if necessary. I've looked at the Roland Rubix 22 or 24, as well as the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 for the interface, but I would need a program for Windows (the less sophisticated, the better), and any other accessories that would make this a successful venture.

So, I need some ideas, and am happy to provide anymore information for you to assist me. The simpler, the better,

Before you go too far, please explain this to me like I am Fred Flintstone?
Thanks in-advance! :D
Before you go crazy I would suggest getting an interface that has as many inputs as you realistically would use. If your doing live drums 4 or 8. Windows is fine as long as the system meets the software specs. Old computers with hard drives that are failing (yes I’ve experienced this multiple times) or systems that really don’t have the ability to run the software will make you think you are doing something wrong. Things will crash, audio will stall out, all sorts of weird issues.

Most interfaces come with a basic DAW. Try that out, most of the frustration for newbies is just getting the software installed and working with the hardware. After that they struggle with arming tracks and getting anything to record. If they do that they struggle with hearing the playback.

This seems to be universal no matter what the software is. Some people just really struggle with a computer based system. If you can get the concept of arming tracks, recording, playback etc. You have enough mics and gear already to accomplish what your stated goals are.
 

Vcaster

Member
Messages
1,333
This is going to seem counter-intuitive or against-the-grain, especially on a forum dedicated to gear worship, but it comes from experience and best intentions.

If you are going down the road toward recording yourself and you don't have ANY gear yet, consider starting with this:
  • One decent all-round USB mic (Blue Yeti, Samson GoMic, etc)
  • One decent set of closed-back headphones (AT-M50, etc), and
  • ANY cheap or free DAW you can get your hands on (Reaper, GarageBand, etc)
Now, using that tiny tackle box, get busy recording all kinds of sources. Voice, acoustic, electric, bass, backing vocals, a drum kit, percussion, anything and everything that you might use to capture your creative output.

Then keep doing it. Do it until you have a complete song recorded that sounds pretty damn good to you. Don't give into temptation to buy anything else. No more gear, no plugins, no nothing. Just you, your one USB mic, your headphones and your DAW.

What's the point?

Well, first of all it focuses you on the most essential part of recording, which is understanding how mics work, how much mic placement and gain matter to your results, and how creative you can be using just those tools.

You'll also learn how to navigate your DAW, arm tracks, perform overdubs, edit out silence or stray noise, and all kinds of other things.

Because you're not drowning in plugins, you'll learn to create tracks that are closer to finished when you are done recording and editing them.

You'll also learn whether your personal environment gives you good results right away or needs some work right away. You'll find the spots in your house where you can get a good track.

Finally, you'll learn where you should spend your next $500/$1000/$2500 on this project.

You don't have an interface yet...do you need one? Do you understand what it does now?

Do you need to build a booth or treat a corner to try to get cleaner tracks without traffic sounds or dogs barking?

How about that mic? Works okay, probably. Maybe better than you expected. Do you need something better, or just something different/complementary?

Finally...and this is critical: are you having any fun at all? Or is this just tedious and frustrating? If you feel beaten down by this early stage, you're not alone. But you're also not committed to the tune of thousands of dollars of gear you never learned how to use effectively.

Recording as a hobby is just like every aspect of modern life. There are entire industries engaged in trying to convince you that you need all the gear. "You need what the pros use!" Baloney. At least beginners don't need it.

I don't know if anyone will take me up on this advice, but I'm throwing it out there anyway since this question seems to come up every week.
@saltydogg
 
Messages
512
Arguably an SM57 and an entry level interface (which will also include an entry level DAW, but on a Mac this is redundant since Garage Band -> Logic is your upgrade path) will do you more good than a USB mic with the same advice in mind.

With that you get bundled software you won't get with a USB mic, a mic that is usable in and out of the studio, and a much softer upgrade path while still spending about the same amount upfront.
 

jmoose

Member
Messages
4,645
Hey J how you been, hope you're doing well! Long time no see.

The Presonus has worked out great for the bands, and realistically I probably use 15% of it's capabilities, but it is what it is, I guess. My home studio doesn't (logistically) lend itself to using the Presonus for a desktop, for rehearsals and gigs. I want to be portable, so a laptop is ideal. I also have a much better studio arrangement for something small like a laptop, interface, a couple speakers, etc. For conversation's sake, if I used Logic, would 8GB RAM be good or 16GB? Home-recording is pretty much all I'd be using the Mac for.

This whole (new) idea started with working on a few originals with a singer, and not having an effective-method to capture rhythm/melody ideas, with only myself and perhaps the singer working together. At the moment, I have no intention of recording a band, more so to individually record guitar/bass/vox and "mix" them into the framework of a song, and go from there. I no longer have mics for my drums, so a built-in drummer would be ideal, and very convenient.
Things are good thanks! Trying to stay productive these days...

Would you really be portable and drag a recording rig around?! Macbook has a small screen and if your doing any sort of longer sessions, editing etc its a real drain. Sure you can hook up an external monitor but then its chewing more physical space then an iMac. And you'll probably plug in an external mouse & whatnot anyway... and typically less juice in a laptop vs desktop... YMMV on all that.

Get as much RAM as you can afford. What really eats it up are plugins, especially virtual drummer and so on. Also drive space, a 256 gig drive is really tiny and goes fast. I think the full install of Logic alone is nearly half that size. Best mindset though is to buy a machine for "recording" and use it only for that. Don't goof it up with fakebook and family photos.

FWIW - Check the Apple site for refurbished machines, can often get a great deal on nearly new machines w/warranty.

Again since you already have plans of working with other people, not just alone I'd skip the 2 channel interfaces and get something with at least 4-8 inputs that you can grow into. Focusrite 18i8 is solid, I had the first version in my room on the mountaintop... Sounded fine never let us down.

With 4 XLR you can leave mics plugged in and switch from vocals to guitars to bass etc without having to unplug and reset levels. The extra headphone outs are clutch when your working with multiple people like a singer... And having a few outputs is key because eventually if you stick with this long enough you'll probably want to get into re-amping and so on.
 

Vcaster

Member
Messages
1,333
Arguably an SM57 and an entry level interface (which will also include an entry level DAW, but on a Mac this is redundant since Garage Band -> Logic is your upgrade path) will do you more good than a USB mic with the same advice in mind.

With that you get bundled software you won't get with a USB mic, a mic that is usable in and out of the studio, and a much softer upgrade path while still spending about the same amount upfront.
Things are good thanks! Trying to stay productive these days...

Would you really be portable and drag a recording rig around?! Macbook has a small screen and if your doing any sort of longer sessions, editing etc its a real drain. Sure you can hook up an external monitor but then its chewing more physical space then an iMac. And you'll probably plug in an external mouse & whatnot anyway... and typically less juice in a laptop vs desktop... YMMV on all that.

Get as much RAM as you can afford. What really eats it up are plugins, especially virtual drummer and so on. Also drive space, a 256 gig drive is really tiny and goes fast. I think the full install of Logic alone is nearly half that size. Best mindset though is to buy a machine for "recording" and use it only for that. Don't goof it up with fakebook and family photos.

FWIW - Check the Apple site for refurbished machines, can often get a great deal on nearly new machines w/warranty.

Again since you already have plans of working with other people, not just alone I'd skip the 2 channel interfaces and get something with at least 4-8 inputs that you can grow into. Focusrite 18i8 is solid, I had the first version in my room on the mountaintop... Sounded fine never let us down.

With 4 XLR you can leave mics plugged in and switch from vocals to guitars to bass etc without having to unplug and reset levels. The extra headphone outs are clutch when your working with multiple people like a singer... And having a few outputs is key because eventually if you stick with this long enough you'll probably want to get into re-amping and so on.
More excellent sound advice!
 

JWDubois

Member
Messages
7,593
Tascam DP24SD. There is also one with a CD burner. You can get these for under $400.00. This is what I use. Please horse around with this instead of a computer. I don't know how anybody gets anything done while staring at a computer.

I'll sell the OP mine, I didn't use it much. It's good if you're good enough to get good takes.

If you're a punch and slicer like me it's not as easy as a DAW for cut and paste editing.

Also, my version (2488 Neo) doesn't record MIDI, which I thought I could live with, but I couldn't.
 
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saltydogg

Rock & Roll Enthusiast
Platinum Supporting Member
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7,204
I'll sell the OP mine, I didn't use it much. It's good if you're good enough to get good takes.

If you're a punch and slicer like me it's not as easy as a DAW for cut and paste editing.

Also, my version (2488 Neo) doesn't record MIDI, which I thought I could live with, but I couldn't.
I did some research on these units due to the post above, and even watched a pretty lengthy demo-vid, and it looks like a nice-solution for certain situations, but it's just not what I'm looking for atm, thx tho.

So let me get you guys caught-up...I've made some tough (lol) decisions over the weekend, and I'm going to start with this set-up:

Mac Book Pro: Already enroute (pre-owned).
Interface: Scarlett 18i8
DAW: I will likely purchase Logic Pro X. I would consider Reaper, but I'd really rather learn one DAW, one time, and be done. My spare-time is at a premium.
Monitors: KRK Rokit 5 (x2)
Headphones: KRK KNS 8400 (I may need a 2nd set, and if these are not adequate, I'll upgrade on the 2nd set)
Talent: still searching

For now, I'm going to hold off any additional mics. Is there anything else that I am clearly missing? Cables (I have speaker cables and miles of microphone cables), adapters, or any other miscellaneous items?

So that's the good-news....the bad-news is, you can expect to see a gorgeous Bogner Helios 50W on the market later today....it's a damn-shame because I dig that amplifier! :(
 

jmoose

Member
Messages
4,645
Headphones: KRK KNS 8400 (I may need a 2nd set, and if these are not adequate, I'll upgrade on the 2nd set)
Talent: still searching

For now, I'm going to hold off any additional mics. Is there anything else that I am clearly missing? Cables (I have speaker cables and miles of microphone cables), adapters, or any other miscellaneous items?
You don't need speaker cables of any kind, the monitors have power amps and can be hooked up with either XLR or standard 1/4 cables.

Might want to add a second set of headphones out of the gate. If your recording a singer you'll need 2 sets... one for you and one for them.

Apple has a special on Logic right now, its free to use for 90 days but after that you gotta pay for the license. Might help defer costs... All of the plugins and instruments included are totally usable and more then enough to get you in trouble so 'ya your probably good for a while! Just add talent!
 

saltydogg

Rock & Roll Enthusiast
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
7,204
You don't need speaker cables of any kind, the monitors have power amps and can be hooked up with either XLR or standard 1/4 cables.

Might want to add a second set of headphones out of the gate. If your recording a singer you'll need 2 sets... one for you and one for them.

Apple has a special on Logic right now, its free to use for 90 days but after that you gotta pay for the license. Might help defer costs... All of the plugins and instruments included are totally usable and more then enough to get you in trouble so 'ya your probably good for a while! Just add talent!
Maybe we could discuss the signal-chain for a sec, so I know I'm on the right page. Is this correct;

Example: Guitar/Bass > Pedalboard > Amp (mic'd) > Interface > Laptop (and vocal mics go direct to interface).

So when you say I don't need speaker cables, what do I use from the interface(?) to the monitors? Mic cables (XLR) or instrument-cable (1/4")?

I'll wait to see how good these KRK headphones are, and will go from there. I won't have anyone else using the system until I'm fluent in in Logic, so I'll have plenty of time :D

Cheers to you guys for your input, much appreciated. :beer
 

oldhousescott

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,661
So when you say I don't need speaker cables, what do I use from the interface(?) to the monitors? Mic cables (XLR) or instrument-cable (1/4")?
Depends on your interface. XLR is best if your interface supports it. 1/4" TRS balanced instrument if not.
 

saltydogg

Rock & Roll Enthusiast
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
7,204
Depends on your interface. XLR is best if your interface supports it. 1/4" TRS balanced instrument if not.
Thanks. I believe the Scarlett 18i8 use two of the four outputs (1/4”) for monitors. No XLR me thinks.

Can standard 1/4” speaker cable work, or must be balanced-instrument?
 




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