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Starting a home studio

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AmbianceMan View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote AmbianceMan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Starting a home studio
    Posted: March 25 2013 at 18:17
Hey all.  I'm looking for a good guide on what I would need to get this ball rolling on my home writing/recording studio.  I'm wanting something with all the instrumentation I would need as well as recording ability.  I'm mainly a guitar player who has played in many bands (mostly prog metal) with good tech/computer skills.  From what I gathered, Pro Tools, an interface, and a dedicated computer (enter the PC vs Mac debate), mics and monitor speakers is what I need to start.
 
What can I expect from Pro Tools and instrumentation?  I need synths/keys of all types, drums, effects, anything else you can imagine...  I will do the guitar and most vocals.  I'll be writing/recording a very wide gamut of music ranging in complexity from Michael Hedges to Yes to Meshuggah.
 
Oh, and to add...I'm not wealthy :)
 
A couple grand might be in the ballpark, I dunno.


Edited by AmbianceMan - March 25 2013 at 18:19
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stonebeard View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote stonebeard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 27 2013 at 00:37
Oh buddy. well there's some things to consider:

-don't just go for Pro Tools. If  you are looking to impress clients, hen have Pro Tools. Otherwise, it is better to get Reaper or Studio One. Or Logic if you have an Apple. Pro Tools has great audio editing, but in the end a DAW is a DAW, and once you learn it's functions, no big difference. Unless you plan on recording 24 tracks live, don't worry about Pro Tools. It's only main benefit is hardware DSP-acceleration and name recognition. And if you want the DSP, just get another DAW with a high-end interface by RME or Lynx.

Apple vs. PC.

Meh. with Apple computers you have some great options (Logic DAW, Apogee interfaces) but I would say it boils down to how knowledgeable you are about computers, how willing you are to deal with the headaches a PC will give you, and how much money you have. If you want to drop $2000 on a computer alone, get an Apple. I use my PC for gaming, audio, and other stuff, so PC was the only real option. For a dedicated audio workstation, go with either an Apple or a Creative Station http://www.sweetwater.com/creation_station/

Interface

Inputs and functionality are what to consider here. If you ever want to record live drums with an interface, make sure it has at least 8 TRS/mic inputs. For MIDI and only 1 or 2 line inputs, get a Focusrite Scarlett or an Apogee Duet. Also consider USB or Firewire. Firewire is generally better for audio, but for what you're doing it may not matter.

Monitors

Be prepared to spend at least $500 total on monitors, but easily consider 800-1200. Not kidding. Mixing on cheap monitors will give you crap results, guaranteed. I highly recommend Yamaha HS-80Ms. They reveal the faults in your mixes amazingly. Also consider a set of Sony MDR cans to check mixes on. $99 for industry standard mix checking.

Software.

Most DAWs come bundled with functional plugins (EQ, compression, stereo field, etc). For pro level stuff of that nature, look into some cheaper McDSP packages. Of course, if you're on select DAWs, you can use VST plugins, which are also great. Waves plugins rule, but I've heard nasty things about activations and whatnot.

For a beginner, there is no better instrument suite than Native Instruments Komplete. $500-700, but it gets you the basics in EVERYTHING...synths, Studio Drummer, Organs, Guitar Rig (especially). Just saw trent Rezor using Guitar Rig on Dave Grohl's documentary. If that doesn't sell you....

Mics

I think you could accomplish a lot with a Shure SM 57 and a Rode NT-1A. The SM57 is the workhorse of audio, and you can use it on anything. The NT-1A is bright, but it covers well whatever the Shure doesn't. I'd use the 57 for live recorded distorted guitars, vocals, and drums. The NT-1A is good for acoustics and electrics, overheads on drums, and vocals. The only other thing you might need is a bass-capturing mic, but generally you'd want to direct input bass anyway through Guitar Rig ;)


That's basically what I have. I guess if you want the super cheap route: Build your own PC or Macbook on Craigslist, bucket full of 57s, Focusrite Scarlett interface, some cheap monitors (make sure frequency response is AT LEAST 40Hz-20kHz, or your mixes will sound bad), Reaper recording software, software might be tricky.



Audio is hard to do on a budget, just so you know, this is what I've spent at least:

-PC: at least $1200
-Pro Tools: $300
-Komplete: $500
-Monitors (Yamaha HS80M): $700
-Interface (M-Audio 2626): $300
-MIDI controller (Akai MPK88): $700
-Microphones: $350 at least

Not counting cabling, and I lowballed everything, that's $4050 in the past 3 years. Yeah, buddy.
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AmbianceMan View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote AmbianceMan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 02 2013 at 21:45
Thanks for the reply.  $4000 in 3 years, doable....
 
Let me ask a simpler question:
 
What's the minimum I need to get started?
 
I have a laptop but it's from 2009, 2.00 GHz dual core 4GB ram.
 
I can use headphones to start.
 
I assume I'll need a midi keyboard, interface, software, and a mic.
 
Am I missing anything for a bare bones startup?  Of course anything I buy will have to be able to be expanded upon.
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stonebeard View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote stonebeard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 03 2013 at 14:27
The absolute minimum is a computer and an interface. If you just record line input then you won't even need mics. However, if you want drums, you'll probably want drum software. it's expensive as hell to get live-recorded drums to sound good, it's less expensive to get good-sounding drum software.

Here's what I would recommend:

-the computer you already have
-the headphones you already have
-Reaper (free DAW software)
-VSTs found for free on the Internet
-cables to connect everything

If you live record your amp or plan on recording male vocals only:


If you plan on DI-ing guitar and bass

-Guitar Rig (great amp modeling software)

If you plan on doing MIDI plugins:

-MIDI controller and cable (http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MPKMini) (I'd recommend this or a 49-key controller for all but piano compositions. You can usually write in notes with your mouse, too, so I would wait on a controller until you know you need it and what your needs are)

That should be a good starting point, but if you think you might use a lot of synths, orchestral, or drum software, I would still advise buying Komplete by Native Instruments. As far as a plugin suite goes, it can get your foot in the door in a lot of areas. Besides, as a guitarist you'll probably want at least Guitar Rig, and unless you know a drummer or want to pay for studio time, you'll want a good drumset plugin. Superior Drummer is possibly the best.

Note: Check monoprice for cables before audio retailers: (http://www.monoprice.com/)

Interface: $150
SM57: $100
Guitar Rig: $200 (free if you torrent or something)
Cables: probably shouldn't be more than $50 on monoprice for everything.

Basic setup price: $300-500, give or take.

I will reiterate: Good monitors = good mixes, bad monitors = bad mixes. If youdo the basic setup, thank me later and spend at least $500 on some kickass monitors.






Edited by stonebeard - April 03 2013 at 14:36
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Triceratopsoil View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Triceratopsoil Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 03 2013 at 17:14
^ SM57 is a great go-to mic if you only want to buy one.  You'll get lots of use out of it
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moshkito View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote moshkito Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 07 2013 at 15:06
Hi,
 
Not sure I can beat Stonebeard's details ... but here is what I have, though not for a "band". Mine is more of a "radio station" setup than a band, and it goes like this ...
 
 
The hard part is making a call on what to record it on ... and at this time, it is a real battle and I can not make up my mind. Any mp3 encoder, nowadays is bizarre, silly, stupid and over priced, and not very good otherwise, but they are not bad. I had very good experiences with the Real Audio encoder 10 years ago on a show that lasted almost 3 years.
 
What I'm hoping to do for now is record the thing, it will be in stereo, and do it in Abelton or any other software that I can get good suggestions on, and then I can make additions, changes and other details on the DAW, prior to finalizing the mix ... and if this works right I will be able to do my own backgrounds and music along with the rest of the show ... which will not only have music, but also poetry, and other things. And the readings have to be done better than just simple microphone these days ... and it will sound like ... a poem in the beach ... a poem in an airplane ... different things ... and will go from there ... it's still in the adventurous stage as far as getting this done. I will also be mixing bass and other instruments.
 
This is different than a live stage setup, but I can not imagine not ensuring the connections are secure ... so you can do your job ... that is weird and bizarre.
 
So far, in my experience, DAW's have been absolutely miserable for what I am trying to do, btw ... and getting help anywhere is even worse ... everyone knows everything, but no one shows up, even when paid! My understanding is that Pro Tools is the best of these, and is better suited for professional setups than it is for lesser things. But I still don't see the "mixer" that would be bringing a band together properly for Pro Tools or any other software, because it does NOT record 4 tracks at the same time, or 8 tracks, and there are no sound cards at this time that can handle that process ... limit is "stereo" or two tracks.
 
For playing live is another story because the computer can originate several things at the same time, depending on how good you are at doing this ... and if you are going to use a computer on stage, make sure that laptop is ... TOP OF THE LINE ... because using a crapper on stage will not help you! Do not use a Compaq or HP or a Dell, btw ... you are better off having it built for you. Named computers have too much crap and spam/browsing phish'rs that you do not want working while you are playing on stage ... for that reason, the computer for the stage, basically, never connects to the Internet -- -for safety reasons!
 


Edited by moshkito - April 07 2013 at 15:35
... none of the hits, none of the time ... you might actually find your own art, or self, and forego lousy heroes or Guru's!

www.pedrosena.com
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weetabix View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote weetabix Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 10 2013 at 04:45
If your music is a hobby,it will sound like a hobby.
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