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    Audio Hardware/Software


    Hi, new here, and I have a quick question regarding hardware/software audio devices for my computer. I am a singer/songwriter and I have NOTHING other than a simple casssette recorder (I know, so 20th century).

    Anyone have any suggestions on basic hardware recording devices and software for my computer? I just need something to record songs & upload them onto my computer.

    Any suggestions? THANKS!

    Jeremy
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    In the past I would have recommended M-Audio interfaces. However, because they do not support Vista I can no longer suggest this.

    My beloved M-Audio Delta 1010 became obsolete, so I got a Presonus FP10 which is running fine under Vista 64. A nice thing about this model which will probably be advantageous to you is it has 8 mic pre-amps. With the Delta I had to use outboard pre-amps. While I still prefer my tube pre-amps for the most critical microphones (vocals) I find that the pre-amps on the FP10 are more than adequate for drums, saxophones, melodica, and other instruments. Not so bad for vocals either but I like what the tubes do to my sound.

    As far as software I use (cakewalk) Sonar as a recorder/sequencer. If you are just looking for a glorified tape deck though there are several products for a lot less that will do you fine. I have not tried the cakewalk guitar studio, now guitar tracks but from what I understand it's pretty good for a basic setup.

    You'll also want to look at a nice pair of studio monitors because mixing on headphones alone is never a good idea and consumer speakers deliberately hide noise that you're going to want to hear (and eliminate).
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    You might also want to look at dedicated hard drive recorders. There's a lot of options in a range of prices. Check the reviews! here's some of them I'd check the reviews on other sites too though. Almost all of them you can hook up to your computer (PC or Mac) and transfer files over.
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    Originally Posted by medialint
    My beloved M-Audio Delta 1010 became obsolete....(cakewalk) Sonar as a recorder/sequencer.

    You'll also want to look at a nice pair of studio monitors
    I have two Delta 1010s, and use Sonar. Sonar may be a bit pricey, but its a great package. Perhaps a bit complex for just starting out as well.

    I'd just keep using XP and keep the 1010s, maybe even dual boot XP+Vista

    A lot of folks setup a music only computer, so dual booting is not that painful. You can't have a lot of other stuff running when you are working with lots of tracks.

    If you don't have a mixer, look for a audio I/O interface with at least two XLR jacks for mics. And always get a few spare inputs, if you think you need only two, get four, etc.
    Last edited by fishtoprecords; July 14th, 2008 at 12:12 PM. Reason: fix qoute clock
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    Sonar has a 64 bit version which works great in Vista 64. I can't discourage M-Audio enough. Sorry. I also have a USB keyboard that isn't supported. $1200 worth of hardware you'd think after a year and a half they might be able to support Vista, you'd think wrong. I've got 8GB RAM in my box now, try that win XP :-)
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    Originally Posted by medialint
    I can't discourage M-Audio enough.
    You could run 8GB with XP 64. Not sure you can get any drivers or software for it....

    M-Audio has long been famous for bad driver support. A fair number of their 'upgrades' in driver land are disasters. Don't know why.

    Its a feature, and good reason to warn folks about it.
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    Thanks for all the input fellas
    But personally, I am not very "up" with all of the hardware lingo you guys are speaking of. Don't get me wrong, it helps, and obviously you know a hell of a lot more about it than I do. But can you help me out on what I need in lamins terms?

    Again, all I need is basic software to mix tracks, and basic hardware to record songs, and transfer them to my PC.

    I know you have already given me suggestions, and I have looked into buying them, but to be honest, I don't know what I am looking at. And what kind of price range am I looking at?

    Thanks!!
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    OK, first, go to your local music store and look at a Tascam Portastudio. Its low tech, but great for recording songs with a music track or two.

    You can record music into a computer a million ways. You can use Windows Sound Recorder, it has come free with every version of Windows since 3.1 or so. Connect inputs to your sound card, and go.

    But it raises the question, what sounds are you recording into the computer? Most PC sound cards are very low fidelity devices. Again, that may work for a sonic notepad.

    So what sounds do you want? partly it depends on what instruments you play. You might want to record a vocal track and a guitar track. Well, that starts with you getting a microphone to record the vocal track, (we'll skip what kind of mic for now) and something to record the guitar track.

    Raises the question, what kind of guitar is it? If its an accoustic (folk, spanish, etc.) then you need either a mic for the guitar, or a piezzo pickup. If its an electric guitar, it gets more complicated. You can't plug a guitar cable into your PC. Plus, an electric guitar is really two boxes as one, the guitar and the amp. So to get the proper sound, you want to record the output of the amp, so you can get the proper distortion.

    But, recording a Marshall amp cranked to 11 is hard on the family and neighbors. So most folks use something like a Line 6 Pod to simulate an amp, and pull the output from that.

    Now, we had one track for the vocal, and if you use a Pod, it wants two tracks. So you need three tracks of input to your computer.

    You can't do that with a PC sound card. It only has two tracks.

    You get to decide, do you want three tracks? Or cram the POD output into one?

    Whatever you do, you need a software package that can record and edit the tracks. Windows Recorder is lacking.

    This takes you to things like nTrack, or Cakewalk Home Studio, etc.

    Backing up a step, if you use a real microphone, say a Shure SM58, you need a preamp to raise its level to what you can put into a computer jack. If you have a mixer, you can use that. But if you don't, then you need a preamp for the mic, and something to add in the two or more instrument tracks.

    If you play piano or synth, you need inputs for that.

    This is why most folks go to their music store and get a multi-track I/O box to connect to their computer. You can get anything you want, but for vocal, you want at least one XLR input for a microphone, and a track or two for instruments.
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    Originally Posted by fishtoprecords
    OK, first, go to your local music store and look at a Tascam Portastudio. Its low tech, but great for recording songs with a music track or two.

    You can record music into a computer a million ways. You can use Windows Sound Recorder, it has come free with every version of Windows since 3.1 or so. Connect inputs to your sound card, and go.

    But it raises the question, what sounds are you recording into the computer? Most PC sound cards are very low fidelity devices. Again, that may work for a sonic notepad.

    So what sounds do you want? partly it depends on what instruments you play. You might want to record a vocal track and a guitar track. Well, that starts with you getting a microphone to record the vocal track, (we'll skip what kind of mic for now) and something to record the guitar track.

    Raises the question, what kind of guitar is it? If its an accoustic (folk, spanish, etc.) then you need either a mic for the guitar, or a piezzo pickup. If its an electric guitar, it gets more complicated. You can't plug a guitar cable into your PC. Plus, an electric guitar is really two boxes as one, the guitar and the amp. So to get the proper sound, you want to record the output of the amp, so you can get the proper distortion.

    But, recording a Marshall amp cranked to 11 is hard on the family and neighbors. So most folks use something like a Line 6 Pod to simulate an amp, and pull the output from that.

    Now, we had one track for the vocal, and if you use a Pod, it wants two tracks. So you need three tracks of input to your computer.

    You can't do that with a PC sound card. It only has two tracks.

    You get to decide, do you want three tracks? Or cram the POD output into one?

    Whatever you do, you need a software package that can record and edit the tracks. Windows Recorder is lacking.

    This takes you to things like nTrack, or Cakewalk Home Studio, etc.

    Backing up a step, if you use a real microphone, say a Shure SM58, you need a preamp to raise its level to what you can put into a computer jack. If you have a mixer, you can use that. But if you don't, then you need a preamp for the mic, and something to add in the two or more instrument tracks.

    If you play piano or synth, you need inputs for that.

    This is why most folks go to their music store and get a multi-track I/O box to connect to their computer. You can get anything you want, but for vocal, you want at least one XLR input for a microphone, and a track or two for instruments.
    It's just me, my Gibson J45 Southern Jumbo acoustic guitar, and my voice - nothing else. And I don't think I have a sound card on/in my computer, unless it came with it when I got it.

    Straight up, I have nothing. All I have right now, like I said in my first post, is just a crappy cassette recorder, so I cannot upload anything onto my computer or even onto a CD.
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    Originally Posted by all4pearljam
    It's just me, my Gibson J45 Southern Jumbo acoustic guitar, and my voice - nothing else. And I do not have a sound card on/in my computer.
    The lack of a sound card will not hurt, but how do you have a computer without a sound card?

    Got a piezzo pickup on your Gibson? If not, you probably want two microphones, one to sing in and one to pick up the guitar.

    Note, you will not be able to isolate the guitar from the vocals, so if you make a clam, you will have to re-do the take.

    You want an I/O device with at least two XLR connectors.
    You want two mic cables, two mics, two mic stands.

    And some software.

    Look at
    http://www.cakewalk.com/Products/HomeStudio/system.asp
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    Look for I/O devices like this:
    Tascam USB US-122L

    Disclaimer: I have not used this, and it needs a USB connection to your computer, but it should get you in the right frame of hardware.

    With it being $120, two mics @ ~$100, stands and cables, you are talking about $400 to $500 or so.

    If this is too much, its going to be hard.

    Goolge "pro audio forums" and read some of them
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    I still think in your case you might want to consider a hardware solution. A lot of users I know that were on the cutting edge of the computer technology are starting to eliminate computers in their arsenal. The biggest issue you'll find with recording on a computer is latency, you'll need a bit of know how and tweaking a lot of times to get the most of what you can do. 10ms is pretty disconcerting when you're monitoring you're own vocals on headphones.

    As far as computers, we don't even know what you're running so suggestions on that would be depending on a lot. e.g. Your 300GB hard drive isn't much good if 250GB are used. Ideally you'd have a drive dedicated to the task of holding just your audio data.

    Comments on this post

    • fishtoprecords agrees : which is why I suggested a Tascam Portastudio up thread
    Last edited by medialint; July 16th, 2008 at 12:10 AM.
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