Trackball or controller surface?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by BluesForDan, Dec 30, 2017.


  1. BluesForDan

    BluesForDan Supporting Member

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    I'm looking to up my game at tracking, mixing and mastering. One thing I know is using a mouse is not going to work for me. I currently have OSX 10.12.6, GarageBand 10.1.3 and Safari 11.0.2. I'm using a Behringer UMC404HD via USB. I have no experience using a controller surface and want to know what to look for i.e. wired vs wireless, desirable features etc.

    I'd like to get a better interface. While I am not a pro, I can definitely tell there are limitations for this unit I'm using, particularly in the noise. If I'm not using a mic, I don't want any hiss. I do not have thunderbolt on either of my Macs.

    Would going with higher level of hardware be wasted if I stick with GarageBand? Should I consider going with Logic or Reaper?

    I want to be able to do multi voice compositions with many layers, automations, mixing largely via headphones due to lack of a proper listening room. I know there will always be limitations but I'm trying to figure out how to maximize my options. i don't want to just throw money willy nilly.

    It could even be something as simple as using a trackball instead of a mouse, it doesn't have to be expensive so long as it is effective.
     
  2. anuj

    anuj Member

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    Magic Trackpad?
     
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  3. Papanate

    Papanate Gold Supporting Member

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    Garageband has a Gate feature on each channel - use it.

    Are you unhappy with the sound you are currently getting? Or are you just
    unhappy that it says Behringer? That said - a higher grade convertor will benefit
    Garageband, Logic and Reaper. And currently if you are comfortable in Garageband
    and can get the work you want to get done - there is no reason to switch IMO.

    Garageband allows automation of volume, panning and effects.

    I don't know what this is supposed to mean. Still I use Logic, SoundForge and some
    other software - I have a Magic TrackPad and a Magic Mouse. When editing tracks I
    find the Trackpad cumbersome...and almost exclusively use the mouse.
     
  4. BluesForDan

    BluesForDan Supporting Member

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    thanks, I'm not familiar with Gate so I need to learn about it


    I'm not satisfied with the sound I'm getting. Barely able to get decent levels without (IMHO) excessive graininess. Is this inherent to recording direct? It feels like there is too little headroom before things start getting all distorted.

    up to 8 tracks IIRC?

    I have a Magic Mouse and it is about to drive me nuts. It seems there has to be a better way to control what's going on with the screen. Hence my question about controller surfaces.
     
  5. feet

    feet Supporting Member

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    we talking color? grit? fizz, fuzz or distortion? is it pleasant or not? some people want that kind of thing, you know. what kind of mics are you using? are they particularly gain hungry?

    i've been using regular old roland stuff for a while now and its held up just fine. i have to crank them to use my sm7b but i'm still getting a clean enough track. they aren't interesting, mojo-y pres by any means, but they get the job done. with all the plugins and emulation out there now, that blandness is almost a strength. and while i have not used them, i hear the tascam and audient interfaces sound wonderful and are pretty affordable and user-friendly.

    but you have to assess your needs, budget, the gear you already have and plan to use before you can figure this out.

    i have two controllers i love dearly, but i'm thinking they aren't exactly what you're after. a presonus faderport 8 and my super beloved softube console one. but yes, they are both game changers, especially if you hate using a mouse. you can just work knobs and faders. its intuitive, tactile and fun. it just feels better.
     
  6. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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  7. BluesForDan

    BluesForDan Supporting Member

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    It grit that turns fizzy very quickly and not particularly pleasant. I want big bold cleans and to use dirt boxes or plugins to get the drive, grit or distortion I desire. By the time I drive the UMC to get a decent level, I am getting anything but clean bold sound.

    I don't use mics for a variety of reasons, mostly environment (ambient house noises, disturbing other persons, etc). I think I'd like to be working with knobs and faders, it would be like my old Tascam. Frankly after a year of trying with the digital realm I'm ready to chuck it and regress.
     
  8. micycle

    micycle Member

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    I 2nd that. Between the trackpad and keyboard shortcuts, it's worth the learning curve that it takes getting used to.
     
  9. feet

    feet Supporting Member

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    yeah, there isn't really an acceptable reason for your di guitar to overload your interface like that. either you have super high output pickups (check the hi z, maybe?) or your interface is trash.

    the problem with most controllers is that they feel cheap, involve a lot of mapping and routing to get them to work, and are mostly appropriated from dj and electronic music types, so they aren't exactly the knobs and faders experience you're hoping for. but they could work. but i'd be very wary- make absolutely triple sure your daw will support and integrate what you buy, or it'll be the most annoying experience of your life.

    so maybe something like the livid ds1. or more involved, spendy options like icon qcon pro (or whatever else they got), beheringer xtouch series or a presonus faderport (or 8 or 16). a possibly interesting, two birds with one stone (kinda) option that gives you a mild control surface while giving you two preamps and decent monitoring, conversion and interfacing would be the trusty old roland vstudio 100 i still use every day. used only, but the thing is still pretty handy after all these years.

    depends how much you want to spend and how much it all means to you. like i said, i have a faderport 8 (which is amazing but i don't always use that much) and a console one (which is life altering). it doesn't get much more analog feeling, at any size or price point. but those are sizeable investments and you have bigger problems. solve your interface problems first and reassess. maybe you'll get more comfy with the mouse or trackpad in time.
     
  10. BluesForDan

    BluesForDan Supporting Member

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    I've been wondering if I got a lemon of a UMC. From what I'm given to understand, there really isn't a whole hell of a lot of difference between a 200 dollar and a 2000 dollar interface (besides the expense obviously) with the understanding that the A/D converters SHOULD be better on the high end unit. As far as the gain goes, I'd expect more clean headroom from the high end unit but that's for when you're using high end condenser or ribbon mics and not DI guitar. For that I think they're pretty even. If I'm wrong and full of ****, please let me know.

    Were I happy with my sound, I'd probably be less picky with my user interface experience. it could be frustration with the sonic aspects that are making the howduzits on the screen less tolerable. How much am I willing to spend? Probably about as much as I'm willing to spend on a guitar that I'd rather build myself than buy assembled, so I'd guess a ball park figure of 500-775 dollars? I really want a strat but it won't do me any good if I can't get a good sound in recording. Speaking of guitars, no high output pickups here, just stock squier CV telecaster and gibson burstbuckers.

    What is a console control surface? Oh, and happy New Years and thanks for the info.
     
  11. marmalade cream

    marmalade cream Member

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    Well, I'm by no means an expert but I noticed a significant jump in the quality of both my mic and DI signals when I started using an external preamp (in my case a Chameleon Labs 7622, which is definitely not high end but it's a noticeable upgrade from my NI interface inputs). Part of it is the input transformers on the pre, which add some thickness and harmonics to the signal. Not every pre (and no interfaces that I know of) has that. But that graininess you describe I think is also closely related to the headroom in the unit. Cheap interface pres just have a narrow sweet spot in their gain range. Higher quality gear tends to have wider sweet spot, in general.

    The big question is where the price point for good enough?
     
  12. BluesForDan

    BluesForDan Supporting Member

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    that's a real good question, marmalade cream. Thing is, i can't afford to buy a 250 dollar interface only to find out it's the same as my 99 dollar interface, when another for 400 might be just right.
     
  13. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

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    I'm just wondering if you really understand impedance and gain control for your input interface. I looked at that Behringer, and its confusing (only choices are between "inst" and "line" for the level control, where is "mic?") You mentioned using dirt pedals for recording, You usually also need some kind of amp and/or speaker emulator to go with that, and if you are going directly into the hi gain input (1/4-inch 'line level') you could easily be overloading the input levels on your interface.

    I went looking for a decent manual for that unit and its hard to find. I really don't know, but this might be a case where a better interface would solve some problems. Either that or experimenting with different settings will probably solve your problems.
     
  14. feet

    feet Supporting Member

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    what do your tracks look like when you record? when you are experiencing all the fizz and grit are your levels peaking? are your wave forms all fat and clipped? what do the meters say? is it the same when you record clean as when you are using distortion pedals?
     
  15. BluesForDan

    BluesForDan Supporting Member

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    That’s the thing, the waves are not big at all. At the moment I’m not using pedals at all because I’m trying to get clean sounds first
    The sound can be thin and gritty with an anemic looking waveform and the meters barely even approaching the yellow
    It would be nice if there were some numerical indicators to more accurately assess signal levels
     
  16. Unnecessary

    Unnecessary Member

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    If you have an "instrument" input you shouldn't be changing the gain on the that input. A DI guitar signal is going to look very low-level in the waveform. One thing I think takes some getting used to with digital is that you don't really need to get a hot level for a good recording, you just need to turn up the output volume your monitoring/interface to get it to where you're expecting the loudness to be. And if you're recording a guitar pickup straight into the interface, its not going to sound really awesome on its own (usually). Are you using any amp modeling software on the channel in Garageband?
     

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