Recording set up for a basic noob???

Rtee

Member
Messages
66
Hey fam, I am new to this page though I have visited for info often. I've been playing (guitar) for a while and would like to finally start putting together a mini home studio to lay down some of my own material

Can I get any suggestions on the basic hardware and software needs reasonably priced to start a decent set up???

I own a windows laptop but it's nothing great...
 

Lele

Member
Messages
1,942
What are the specs of your laptop? What is your target about your recordings (hobby, professional)?
 

Rtee

Member
Messages
66
Ehhhhh laying down ideas but would like to get decent sounding recording out of it. Not expecting huge problem studio magic but something nice, if that's specific enough and.... my laptop specs are:

Intel B960 processor
4GB DDR3 Memory
500 GB HAD

not sure if that helps I'm not very techy
 

Lele

Member
Messages
1,942
I’m afraid that your pc CPU is really on the low side; I generally suggest an i5 cpu to handle modern daw software and plugins.
I’d suggest you to try anyway, and then if/when you find out that you need more resources you will have to consider another pc.

I don’t know if you already have anything (soundcard, software, speakers), so I’ll try to suggest everything. And you will find many other info on this same forum in a similar thread. Everything I write here will be imho and ymmv...

SOUNDCARD
It’s the first thing you’ll need to put your guitar into your pc.
I’d suggest a cheap soundcard, since you could not find big differences.
Something like the most simple USB models of M-Audio (e.g.: M-Track 2x2M) or Focusrite (e.g.: Scarlett Solo) will work perfectly. I had more problems with Line6 soundcards, but once more: ymmv.
You may find out that placing a soundcard near a magnetic source (guitar pickups, the pc itself, lights, speakers, etc.) could get you some background noise. So a proper placement will help, but often it’s just a matter of monitoring noise, and it will not be recorded in your files.

SPEAKERS
You will need something to hear yourself and your music files.
In the beginning if you want to save money, you could connect your soundcard to your home hi-fi or other speakers. Then for just a little less colored sound, you could look at some speaker pairs like: Equator D5, Rokit 5 G3 or many others.
I would advise against bigger speakers than 5” woofers just because if you need more power then you should handle room acoustic treatment and so on. But anyway I don’t know your targets and requirements so...

HEADPHONES
A nice headphone will be ok too and very useful when you can’t make any noise. Anyway headphones will not help to make a proper mixing of your tracks and to tweak a good guitar tone if you then play live or in the rehearsal room. There are many good headphones like: Audio Technica ATH M50X, Sony MDR 7506, Sennheiser HD 280, Rokit KRK KNS 8400, but even cheaper models could be nice enough in the beginning. A good headphones will be a good product, anyway our ear shapes are different so it means that everybody could hear different frequencies and have a different (right) opinion of each model.

DAW SOFTWARE
Another necessary tool is a software to record your music and to play background tracks (and/or your own music). There are many different DAW and probably they offer similar characteristics. It’s more a matter of “a software is as powerful as you know it well”. I love and use Mixcraft so I will suggest it. What’s more, it has a nice midi section, and it includes also some short music samples (that can be useful in the beginning) and some good virtual instruments. There are even some useful youtube videos and a helpful forum. Since as I wrote your pc is maybe too weak, you could download the try version, and check if your pc can handle it well enough for you.
Mixcraft includes a virtual guitar amp too. It’s not great, but in this phase it could be enough to check the power of your pc without using other plugins that could overload your pc.

DRUMS
As an exception I will mention just one plugin to make drum tracks.
I think that it’s difficult to find anything else better, easier and more fun than Toontrack EZ-Drummer. Anyway I think that it will be too much for your pc to handle. So in the beginning you could just find some midi songs, and use the drum track with the (good) drum tones included in Mixcraft if it is your DAW choice.

I will be happy to give any other info.
And have fun. It will be a fantastic and inspiring voyage!
 

Rtee

Member
Messages
66
I’m afraid that your pc CPU is really on the low side; I generally suggest an i5 cpu to handle modern daw software and plugins.
I’d suggest you to try anyway, and then if/when you find out that you need more resources you will have to consider another pc.

I don’t know if you already have anything (soundcard, software, speakers), so I’ll try to suggest everything. And you will find many other info on this same forum in a similar thread. Everything I write here will be imho and ymmv...

SOUNDCARD
It’s the first thing you’ll need to put your guitar into your pc.
I’d suggest a cheap soundcard, since you could not find big differences.
Something like the most simple USB models of M-Audio (e.g.: M-Track 2x2M) or Focusrite (e.g.: Scarlett Solo) will work perfectly. I had more problems with Line6 soundcards, but once more: ymmv.
You may find out that placing a soundcard near a magnetic source (guitar pickups, the pc itself, lights, speakers, etc.) could get you some background noise. So a proper placement will help, but often it’s just a matter of monitoring noise, and it will not be recorded in your files.

SPEAKERS
You will need something to hear yourself and your music files.
In the beginning if you want to save money, you could connect your soundcard to your home hi-fi or other speakers. Then for just a little less colored sound, you could look at some speaker pairs like: Equator D5, Rokit 5 G3 or many others.
I would advise against bigger speakers than 5” woofers just because if you need more power then you should handle room acoustic treatment and so on. But anyway I don’t know your targets and requirements so...

HEADPHONES
A nice headphone will be ok too and very useful when you can’t make any noise. Anyway headphones will not help to make a proper mixing of your tracks and to tweak a good guitar tone if you then play live or in the rehearsal room. There are many good headphones like: Audio Technica ATH M50X, Sony MDR 7506, Sennheiser HD 280, Rokit KRK KNS 8400, but even cheaper models could be nice enough in the beginning. A good headphones will be a good product, anyway our ear shapes are different so it means that everybody could hear different frequencies and have a different (right) opinion of each model.

DAW SOFTWARE
Another necessary tool is a software to record your music and to play background tracks (and/or your own music). There are many different DAW and probably they offer similar characteristics. It’s more a matter of “a software is as powerful as you know it well”. I love and use Mixcraft so I will suggest it. What’s more, it has a nice midi section, and it includes also some short music samples (that can be useful in the beginning) and some good virtual instruments. There are even some useful youtube videos and a helpful forum. Since as I wrote your pc is maybe too weak, you could download the try version, and check if your pc can handle it well enough for you.
Mixcraft includes a virtual guitar amp too. It’s not great, but in this phase it could be enough to check the power of your pc without using other plugins that could overload your pc.

DRUMS
As an exception I will mention just one plugin to make drum tracks.
I think that it’s difficult to find anything else better, easier and more fun than Toontrack EZ-Drummer. Anyway I think that it will be too much for your pc to handle. So in the beginning you could just find some midi songs, and use the drum track with the (good) drum tones included in Mixcraft if it is your DAW choice.

I will be happy to give any other info.
And have fun. It will be a fantastic and inspiring voyage!
Ty so much for the fast response, my bro is a IT tech so I'm sure he suggest a good PC for me to pick up... you have been very helpful...

Just one question, are drum tracks hard to create??

And of should I record direct into the PC from my gsp1101 or mic a cab for better sound??
 

Lele

Member
Messages
1,942
If you like your GSP1101 (I had many Digitech pedalboards too, and still have the RP360XP!) you could use it as a soundcard and use its guitar tones directly!
So in the beginning you will save time and money.
In the last 20 years or so, I have never microphoned a guitar cab (of mine I mean) any longer, so I'm afraid my bias is clear...
If you're used only to the GSP1101, anyway if/when you have a soundcard I'd suggest to try a guitar amp plugin (even the free ones that I suggest later): you will be surprised about how much dynamic response you are losing with a cheap digital modeler (unfortunately).

About virtual guitar amps, you can find some info here:
https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/a-good-daw.1768071/#post-23103862
 

Lele

Member
Messages
1,942
About drum tracks: if you use Toontrack EZdrummer you will find really a very easy way to make great drum tracks.
Sometimes anyway you will have to spend a little time to edit them if you want to fit them perfectly to a certain song.
 

Rtee

Member
Messages
66
Ok so a decent sound card and the Bias (positive grid) package with good cab IRs would sound better than my gsp1101 direct?
 

Lele

Member
Messages
1,942
Ok so a decent sound card and the Bias (positive grid) package with good cab IRs would sound better than my gsp1101 direct?

I have never tried Bias, but I think that the answer will be yes anyway! Generally speaking I'd say that the tones you can get are more "raw", but in a pleasant way.
What is always surprising for me it's the attack that an expensive modeler (or almost any guitar amp plugin) can give. And a strong attack can be useful because it helps to "track" the guitar tone in a dense mix without the needs of more volume or eq tricks.
I think anyway that this is more important in a live context than in studio recordings.
 

Rtee

Member
Messages
66
I have never tried Bias, but I think that the answer will be yes anyway! Generally speaking I'd say that the tones you can get are more "raw", but in a pleasant way.
What is always surprising for me it's the attack that an expensive modeler (or almost any guitar amp plugin) can give. And a strong attack can be useful because it helps to "track" the guitar tone in a dense mix without the needs of more volume or eq tricks.
I think anyway that this is more important in a live context than in studio recordings.
I've read rave reviews on the bias desktop pack, that it rivals what you can get from AXE FX II, from I have heard it is amazing sounding, and yes I love my gsp1101 but the one thing I have noticed with it, is that the attack is a little stiff and a bit unnatural feeling, though in a live situation I'm sure that is much less noticeable, I am looking at getting the Atomic Amplifire and it is right there with the AXE FX II if not better imo so...

Are powered studio monitors what I'm supposed to be looking for???
 

phantomX

Member
Messages
338
For a beginner, the main problem will be tuning your ear to the acoustics of your system (speakers & room). You will soon find out that what may sound great in your system doesn't sound as good in other systems or places.

But if you just want to record your ideas this is not a big concern.

PC: First of all get the best you can afford. If you have the space you should prefer a desktop with a relatively big screen. Even better get two cheap big screens. DAWs are a pain when you 're working with one small screen.

Audio Interface: I suggest Focusrite Scarlet 2nd gen. Either Solo or 2i2. They have very nice & warm pres. They come with Pro Tools First, which is free to download anyway.

Studio Monitors:
You can actually skip this step for later if you already have decent home speakers. Anyway, even if you get the best studio monitors, it 's knowing how your systems sounds when compared to others and the treatment of the room that plays the most important role in critical listening.

Software:
I think you should probably have to buy the DAW. Free DAWs have some quirky limits as far as I know, so that you ll be forced to buy the actual full versions once you know them well enough. The best I can recommend for a beginner is Presonus' Studio One 3. Although Studio One comes packed with almost everything one needs in order to create music, you can also google for the best freeware VSTs, especially for amp sims (there are many of them).

Mic: Get a Shure SM58. Remove the windscreen to record your amp. Put it back on to record vocals.

Drum tracks: First of all, you can download many free drum loops. Creating great drum tracks is an artform that only few master. Creating a basic 4/4 beat can be done in a couple of minutes.
 

Rtee

Member
Messages
66
For a beginner, the main problem will be tuning your ear to the acoustics of your system (speakers & room). You will soon find out that what may sound great in your system doesn't sound as good in other systems or places.

But if you just want to record your ideas this is not a big concern.

PC: First of all get the best you can afford. If you have the space you should prefer a desktop with a relatively big screen. Even better get two cheap big screens. DAWs are a pain when you 're working with one small screen.

Audio Interface: I suggest Focusrite Scarlet 2nd gen. Either Solo or 2i2. They have very nice & warm pres. They come with Pro Tools First, which is free to download anyway.

Studio Monitors:
You can actually skip this step for later if you already have decent home speakers. Anyway, even if you get the best studio monitors, it 's knowing how your systems sounds when compared to others and the treatment of the room that plays the most important role in critical listening.

Software:
I think you should probably have to buy the DAW. Free DAWs have some quirky limits as far as I know, so that you ll be forced to buy the actual full versions once you know them well enough. The best I can recommend for a beginner is Presonus' Studio One 3. Although Studio One comes packed with almost everything one needs in order to create music, you can also google for the best freeware VSTs, especially for amp sims (there are many of them).

Mic: Get a Shure SM58. Remove the windscreen to record your amp. Put it back on to record vocals.

Drum tracks: First of all, you can download many free drum loops. Creating great drum tracks is an artform that only few master. Creating a basic 4/4 beat can be done in a couple of minutes.
The Audio interface... is that used for micing the guitars? Sorry you're chatting with someone who knows 0 about this stuff
 

Lele

Member
Messages
1,942
The audio interface (or what I called souncard) is the device connected to the PC by USB giving you an input socket that fits your guitar directly or a mic or any other instrument direct output. Then it convert the analog signal into digital numbers.
How do you use the GSP today?
I mean what amp or how you can hear its sound.

In the beginning the GSP can act as a soundcard if you use its guitar tones directly.
 
Messages
423
A decent laptop with a DAW will certainly do the job. An alternative idea would be to look at a digital multi-track recorder such as a Tascam, Zoom or Boss. The Tascam DP03SD is something you should not outgrow too soon. It's biggest limitation is it can only record two tracks at once. The beauty of these dedicated pieces of hardware is, in my opinion, there is less of a learning curve. Also, they are quick to turn on and have no conflicts such as email, phone calls or messaging coming in.

In addition to the multi-track you will need monitors, a decent mic (SM57), mic stand and cabling. Drums can be handled by by a a couple different pedals.

Alternatively, for fast and cheap, do you have an iPhone or iPad? Garageband is bundled (free) and an interface like iRig HD is dirt cheap. You could out grow this pretty quickly, but it can be fun to use and experiment with.
 

335guy

Member
Messages
5,239
If you're just getting started, and aren't very computer savvy, you will struggle with a computer based setup. Regardless of which "DAW" recording program you decide on, they all have a fairly steep learning curve. If you go this route, be prepared to spend a lot of time at first just learning how to record even simple audio. And while a computer based DAW system offers way more flexibility and choices, it will most probably cost considerably more than a simple stand alone audio recorder.

Alder Statesman's alternative suggestion maybe a good way to get your feet wet re: learning to record. Zoom makes a decent little stand alone recorder called the R8 that could be just the thing for someone looking to learn to record. The advantages of the R8 are:

* It is a stand alone audio recorder. No need to have to hook up to a computer.
* It is the only Zoom recorder with a built in drum machine and drum loops. You can program the loops and drum programs to create your own beats.
* It can be used as an audio interface, so when you're ready to record to a computer, you can use the R8 as an interface. No need to have to buy an additional interface.
* It will record two trks simultaneously. If you are only recording by yourself, this is all you need.
* It has a total of 8 trks. That's not a lot, but enough to get started.
* One can transfer recorded data from the R8 onto a computer via USB for mixing/mastering
* It can record at 24 bits, which is all you need.
* Built in physical mixer
* It is also fairly portable and compact.
* It is minimal cost. About $300
* It includes Cubase LE software for when you do choose to record/mix on a computer

And more. If I was just getting started and didn't want to spend a ton of money and learn how to record my ideas, this is probably the unit I would get.
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/zoom-r8-8-track-sd-recorder-sampler-usb-interface
 




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