Home Recording on a Laptop for CHEAP

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by MattB, Jan 11, 2005.


  1. MattB

    MattB Member

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    Hello,

    I am looking into getting something to do some tracking of new songs I write at home, before I bring these tunes to the table for my band.

    I want something that is either USB or PCMCIA compatible. I will probably only record a guitar track and a drum beat from a drum machine. It doesnt have to be the best sounding recordings I just need to store my ideas.

    If anyone has any ideas for what I would need in the way of an interface for recording and maybe any ideas for a decent cheap drum machine.

    I am only looking to spend around $200.00 as I have more guitars to buy :)

    Thank you for any advice.
     
  2. jnavas

    jnavas Guest

    What type of laptop do you have?

    For your budget, a used version of one of the smaller stand alone digital units might fit the bill.

    As long as you have an audio input, you could probably get by with one of the multitude of basic software programs out there (Powertracks, for example).

    Are you ok with only being able to record one track at a time?
     
  3. MattB

    MattB Member

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    I have a Dell Dimension 5100.
    It has 512 M Ram.
    P4 1.8 GHZ

    I would like to be able to record 2 tracks at a time. But I only have the Internal Dell soundcard which is unfortunate. I just don't know what I would need to get this going. Do you have any model/brand names?


    Thanks
    -matt
     
  4. TAVD

    TAVD Guitar Player Gold Supporting Member

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    I also have a Dell 5100 and have been checking out all the different audio interfaces lately, looking for a decent portable solution without spending big bucks.

    My list of must have's is:
    bus powered
    high resolution
    digital i/o
    midi i/o
    mic pre

    The Edirol UA-25 looks like it does all of this. I haven't bought one yet and would be interested in any user comments.

    MattB, the UA-25 might be something to consider.
    M-Audio makes a few interfaces for under $200.

    Also, if you want a bus powered box, stay away from firewire as the Dell uses a 4-pin fw interface.
     
  5. MattB

    MattB Member

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  6. A440

    A440 Supporting Member

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    some of the soundblaster offerings might get you there on the cheap. they make an audigy card for notebooks.

    http://soundblaster.com
     
  7. MattB

    MattB Member

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    What would I have to get from there?
    A mixer or Breakout box?
     
  8. MattB

    MattB Member

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    It wont work for a Laptop unless its USB or PCMCIA compatible.

    Thanks though!
     
  9. BSHARP

    BSHARP Member

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    I have the Cheap Notebook Setup

    Compaq AMD 1.8 with 512M Ram $650.00 after rebate
    Tascam US-122 USB Audio/Midi interface $199.00
    Cubase SE software $99.00

    This setup works fairly well for recording up to six audio tracks.
    Anymore than that the computer chokes.

    The Groove Agent Drum Plug-in works great with Cubase.
     
  10. joseph

    joseph Member

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    Someone in a review at Musicians Friend said the Tascam us-122 wouldn't convert to a WAV format and it wouldn't allow his PC to burn CDs - ?was he misinformed?
     
  11. BSHARP

    BSHARP Member

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    The US-122 is just an interface. Connect a USB cable to the computer. Once that is done you just plug your audio cables
    into the inputs and outputs. The burning of CD's are done with software in the computer - like Easy CD Creator. peace of cake.
    Wave files are standard for Windows computers, any conversions are done within the software in the computer and has nothing to do with the interface. Hope that helps.
     
  12. joseph

    joseph Member

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    Thanks! I've got Nero burning ROM, so that should work....
    I'm looking for a way to get my feet wet with home recording, without getting in overy my head cost -wise as well as bug-wise- my PC has Pentium 4 (~2.6 gHz), 512 RAM, 40 gig, Window XP home addition - you think the Tascam/Cubase system would be a good start? tia.
     
  13. TAVD

    TAVD Guitar Player Gold Supporting Member

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    Actually, the u-122 comes with Cubasis, a very watered down version of cubase. Pretty bad, imo, but you can download a free demo and judge for yourself before you buy. The u-122 lacks the digital i/o of the Edirol ua-25 but does include enough software to get you recording out of the box. The m-audio interface mentioned above only has 16 bit conversion. Conversion is everything in digital recording and a cheap 24bit converter is still better than a perfect 16bit one, at least on paper.

    So what's so great about the digital i/o? Supose you buy a decent mic preamp down the road with a digital out. Chances are that converter will sound better than the one in your soundcard. The benefits will be lost if you use the soundcard's analog in.
     
  14. BSHARP

    BSHARP Member

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    The Cubase SE software is user friendly and has a great manual that is easy to understand, plus it has a good detailed help menu.

    The US-122 works on either USB 1.1 or 2.0 It has a direct monitor function to get around latency problems on laptops. I tried a couple of different M-Audio interfaces before I settled with the Tascam US-122. It has XLR mic inputs, guitar inputs and line level inputs with Led lights for level and overload. Separate volume for Line out, Direct monitor and headphones. The Midi has LED lights for both midi in and midi out, plus it doesn't need external power. It gets powered from the USB cable from the computer. Your computer should work well with it.

    Avoid using the PCMCIA slot for interfaces. stick with the USB direct ports on the computer and don't plug into a hub with your interface.

    If you get any noise on your audio signal, use a 2-prong isolation plug on your computer AC plug. Good luck!
     
  15. MattB

    MattB Member

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    Thanks for the help everyone. I think the Tascam US-122 looks to be what I need.

    Now maybe I will post a clip of me playing sometime.
    Nah I could never put you through that kind of torture!

    Thanks again.

    -Matt
     
  16. artandink

    artandink Member

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    Today, I picked up a Steinberg Cubase System 4 with USB interface, bundled with Cubase SL for $360 at GC.

    2 Inputs, including XLR, Midi and 1/4".

    I won't be installing it for a few weeks though.

    Anyone have experience with this? It's fairly new.
     
  17. MattB

    MattB Member

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    What do you guys think of the Edirol UA25 compared to the Tascam US-122? I will be using Sonar Producer Edition 4.

    Thanks
    -Matt
     
  18. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    Cakewalk has been offering the Echo Indigo card for laptops at the frequent discounted price of $179 for registered users--they really think a lot of the card, so you may want to check it out:

    http://www.cakewalk.com/products/indigoio/default.asp
     
  19. TAVD

    TAVD Guitar Player Gold Supporting Member

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    Well, I broke down and bought a UA25 after tossing around the idea for a while. It's not my primary means of recording and I basically use it as a soundcard for playback. I have recorded a few tracks with the UA25 and Cubase, and right out of the box, no problems of any kind and no latency problems with 4 tracks on my Dell 5100. It sounds fine. I'm actually pretty impressed with electric and acoustic guitar tracks + a drum machine. The built in limiter works well enough at keeping the signal from clipping the converters.
    The preamps are pretty sterile sounding. They aren't terrible but if you're used to discrete or tube pre's, these aren't close to either.

    I did notice an excessive amount of jitter when playing a CD back through the toslink out to my Central Station. Not sure about the source of the problem but I suspect the CD-ROM drive more than anything.

    Sorry I can't compare it to the US-122.
     
  20. MattB

    MattB Member

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    Do you think you could post or email a clip of what you recorded?
    I would love to hear the quality.

    Thanks

    -MattB
     

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