PC based recording - advice?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by EL34, Mar 19, 2006.


  1. EL34

    EL34 Silver Supporting Member

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    I've been recording using Roland VS-series products, but now would like to take the plunge into PC based recording. I've started reading up on the various software packages, and now I'm thoroughly confused....it's hard for me to differentiate between the quality products and mickey-mouse products. Can anyone give me a breakdown of the major products, and cost/feature ratios? Any that should be avoided? Thanks in advance!:BEER
     
  2. ZenFly06

    ZenFly06 Member

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    Go this site: www.tweakheadz.com for some great starter advice.
    Like any computer related purchase, you should look at the desired end result; are you looking to track audio only, audio and midi, or midi only? Do you plan to track drums "live" or use sampler/software/plugs/loops? How much space do you have to devote to the studio?

    Your VS had mixing and controller capablity built in...how will you route stuff? mixer or "direct" through pres and interfaces?

    Finally(as you no doubt know) what is your budget? A DAW PC needs lots of memory, speed and hard drive space in order to be effecient.

    As far as a "breakdown"; here is my studio set up.

    Source goes to a Tascam DM3200 mixer > Moto 2408MK3 > PC>SOnar 5 Producer.

    The PC is P4 3.0, with 2 gig RAM and 3 120gig HD. I built it a little over 2 years ago for about $1,300.
    The MOTU 2408 is about 1K
    the DM3200 w meter bridge is about $3,700
    Sonar 5 Producer is about $500 or so.

    I opt to use a mixer because it allows me to track and monitor with "0" latency issues. Plus the DM3200 has 16buss 32 return and a "remote layer" that allows me to control Sonar with faders.

    You can get in the game far less expensively with something like MAudio or Digi 002.

    As far as "avoiding" stuff, I'd say the main mantra in PC based anything is that you have to accept that whatever you buy now willl be replaced in 6 months by something newer, faster, "better". If you are able to function with products "as they are" when you purchase them, there is no reason not to get several years out of them before upgrading. In other words, don't fall into the "this will be cool when the new software update is released" syndrome.

    I've had good luck with my choices, a friend of mine has gone the Pro Tools LE route with an 002R and Yamaha 02R96 mixer, and he's happy too. Another friend of mine, like you, has a VS2480 but uses state of the art "audiophile" D/A converters that cost like 10K each. He's happy too.

    As I said, Tweakheadz is a great site to get a quick education..has sample setups, reviews of products etc.

    ANyway if you have more questions, feel free to ask! And good luck!
     
  3. EL34

    EL34 Silver Supporting Member

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    Hey Zenfly - thanks for the advice! I'll definitely check out that link.
     
  4. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    Any ideas for a compact "mixerless" setup? I've been enlisted to add guitar tracks to a remote project (I'll probably never meet half the players face to face) for which I'll receive a Cakewalk Sonar 4 file and add my tracks.

    I don't imagine needing more than 4 inputs (2 amps, 2 mics per amp) at most.
     
  5. Srini

    Srini Guest

    Hey Mike, I believe M-Audio has some input devices that will let you do up to 24/96 if you need it. Also, I believe Line6 has something similar...

    I assume you're going to mike an amp with a contingent of your fabulous NOS tubes, so you're definitely going to need some type of mic input. There are sound cards that have them, though....

    Let me know what you come up with!

    Srini
     
  6. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    Nah, I was thinking of going Line 6. Who needs those stupid amps and tubes. :NUTS :D

    No, I'll be mic'ing but will probably want a Line 6 type device for amp emulation for rough tracks or when I'm too lazy to set up an amp and mic.

    I really only want about 4 input channels, maybe even just 2. I don't see myself ever recording a whole band...at least not until I get my business out of here!

    Anyone know of a device to do this? Also, do I need seperate sound cards and input (A/D type) cards? I understand the bits and bytes of this digital thing but I'm totally clueless as to what devices are currently available and how they interact with a PC and recording work station.
     
  7. tedm

    tedm Gold Supporting Member

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    If your sw app supports the EMU cards, they have soft mixers, and a few decent fx right in the drivers.

    I'd recommend a small good analog mixer with mic pre's and phantom power though.

     
  8. msymank

    msymank Member

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    Now that protools has released a newer version of its m-box, I am sure you can pick one of the older versions up for cheap. For scratch tracks, consider using the Johnson J-station, nowhere near the quality of a line 6 product, but simple and effective to use.

    THe M-box hooks up to a usb port, comes with all the software you'll ever need, plus, once you get used to protools you'll be set. For easy recordings it is quite simple. Just hit the spacebar to start recording. You can add a little reverb here and there.

    I think thats as simple as it gets.
     
  9. Srini

    Srini Guest

  10. MK50H

    MK50H Member

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    Hi Mike,

    Assuming its for a PC:

    +1 on the E-mu

    But then I would say that, I have an 1820M in the post at the moment. :D
     
  11. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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  12. VSpaceBoy

    VSpaceBoy Member

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  13. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    Awesome, thanks! Are all of the output files compatible between the various vendors (besides Pro Tools, which I know is proprietary)? IOW, if someone sends a project generated in Cakewalk, can I add tracks and return them to the originator with no hiccups?
     
  14. flatfinger

    flatfinger Member

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    Most output from DAW based stuff an be "exported" in good old WAV files. The geeks almost always provide a way to go back and forth between formats.
    If your both using cakewalk, that's the eaisiest scenario, but there are usually workarounds.
     
  15. songsmith1950

    songsmith1950 Member

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    Hi Mike! Seems you are everywhere. But that, my friend, is good.

    I have been doing PC recording since 1995 using Cakewalk and Sonar products. I have engineered, produced and recorded 6 CD's that have worked fairly nicely, all using first Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 and then the Sonar Series.

    Have tried Cubase and the others but take my word for it Sonar is, in my opinion, the best there is right now.

    If you know how to install PCI cards and have your mic preamps already you can use this for very very little money.

    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Recording/Computer/Hardware?sku=701346

    The sound quality is excellent. Works perfectly with Sonar, and most of all the drivers and setup are very easy and almost bulletproof.

    For a budget minded person that would be by far the best bet.

    If you wish to email or PM me and let me know what price range you are wishing for I can surely help you. Seems you have helped me over the years with some tube advice and such that has always been right on the money.

    Tom

    Songsmith
     
  16. VSpaceBoy

    VSpaceBoy Member

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    I used Sonar for awhile but the plugins IMO weren't near as good as the VST available for Cubase. It always seemed to me that the Cakewalk products has more MIDI in mind (which I didn't/don't use). Also, the "quality" of the recording is up to the converters/signal chain, NOT the software.

    Different strokes for different folks..:horse
     
  17. nickdahl

    nickdahl Member

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    I just built a new computer for PC recording. After seeing what was available commercially, I gave myself a $2000 budget (I already had my displays and peripheral hardware) and went for it. This is the machine I built.

    AMD A64 X2 4400+ dual-core processor
    ASUS A8N-SLI Premium motherboard
    2 GB RAM
    Western Digital Raptor hard drives (74GB, 150GB, 150GB)
    XGX GeForce 6600GT video card
    LITE-ON DVD Burner (w/LightScribe) and DVD-ROM
    Lian-Li computer case
    XP Pro SP2 OEM

    My computer screams. It does everything I want it to do, and more, since I partitioned the 74GB drive and installed two XP operating systems: one for Internet use (I'm using it now), and a completely different OS for my DAW, streamlined and tweaked for Pro Tools.

    Because I'm slow, building my computer took a couple of days, but it fired up the first time and works great. Anyone who has goofed with music gear can build a computer: if you can install something in a rack, you can build a computer.

    Nick
     
  18. Aldwyn

    Aldwyn Member

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    OHH! Lemme take a whack!! :D

    I use Sonar, and half of my plugins are VST! (you can use a software adapter which lets you use VST PIs on Sonar)

    I think you hit it on the nose with Cakewalk being more of a MIDI sequencer. I think once they went from Cakewalk to Sonar, though, they were doing serious focus on audio. That's when I made the jump as well from primarily working with MIDI to (now) using almost all audio. And Sonar made it easy to make that move.
     
  19. songsmith1950

    songsmith1950 Member

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    Another vote for Sonar. Very user friendly and the new plugins are equal to anybody.

    As someone who is in the digital audio industry I can tell you Pro Tools used to have a great advantage. They were incredibly expensive and could use the money for top grade audio amps and converters.

    The same quality and far more can be had for so much less now that companies like M-Audio, Echo Audio, and others can record and play back in quality that can rival any studio at any cost if the engineers are decent.

    Once you get to a certain level of signal to noise and accuracy in your gear there is really no difference for practical purposes.

    Sonar is a great program. If you read the magazines that specialize in recording you will see they all say Sonar is now equal to or perhaps even better than it's competitors.

    I have had and used them all and it is Sonar only on my DAW now.

    Tom

    Songsmith
     

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