Starting over again... help me rebuild my recording gear.

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Wolfos, Jan 10, 2018.

  1. Wolfos

    Wolfos Guitarded

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    Hey guys,

    I'll start by saying the last time I recorded anything was before Misha Mansoor had a band so it's been a while lol. He used to give me tips on what programs to use, gear he felt would be easy for me to use etc.

    I sold it all a year or 2 later because life happens and now I'm in a better spot I'm feeling the itch to record again but because it's been so long I don't even know where to begin.

    Would anyone on here be able to help suggest what I should get? I'm looking for easy and uncomplicated so I dont have to constantly bug everone on here for advice like I used to with Mr. Bulb.

    So to sum up the only gear I have right now is a guitar and a hughes and letter deluxe 20 with Redbox.

    I'll need to buy everything else, laptop, monitors, Mic, recording software, drum program... etc

    Thanks in advance for your help!
     
  2. billinder33

    billinder33 SS.org Regular

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    Not much to go on here. What's your budget? Are you planning to do a lot of live mic'ing? What's your physical space like? Will you be recording vocals?

    If I had to start from scratch on the smallest budget possible and the assumption I'll be tracking vocals, I'd probably do the following:

    Cheapest quad core Windows laptop with 16G RAM I could find ($450?)
    Reaper DAW ($60)
    EZ Drummer w the Prog expansion pack $250 (or Superior Drummer, if I could afford the price bump)
    cheap 2 channel interface ($150 FocusRite Saffire)
    cheap condenser mic for vox ($100 Behringer B-1)
    cheap monitoring headphones ($70 AKG K240s)
    cheap powered monitors ($125)
    Various freeware EQ/Pre/Comp plugins

    That would probably get you a start for around $1000 USD after tax. If your budget is 2x or 5x or 10x that amount, my answer would change dramatically.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
  3. Wolfos

    Wolfos Guitarded

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    Hey thanks for the reply. I'm working in a very small room and will be plugging in everything except vocals. The room I believe is 9'x9'

    As for budget If I can be cheap that's great but if I have to spend a little bit extra to save frustration down the road then I will. My goal really will be ease of use. Whatever will be the most simple and efficient way to record without sounding like garbage will be great.

    I used to own superior drummer 2 So I wonder if I can download it again for free since I've already purchased it once.

    I've never heard of reaper. I used to own cakewalk Sonor 8 and it used to freeze up my computer all the time which at the time was practically a new computer.
     
  4. billinder33

    billinder33 SS.org Regular

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    You should be able to download SD2 or upgrade to SD3 at a minimum, to save yourself some $$.

    If you know Sonar, you will find Reaper to be a pretty easy transition. You can download a full version Reaper for free and demo it as long as you want. The only difference in the free vs. the $60 paid version is a dialog box requesting you upgrade to the paid full version when you launch the program. Many (like myself) find it worth the $60 just to get rid of that notice!!

    If you're not tracking vox, I don't see any reason why you'd need a mic at all.

    If you were going to upgrade from my list above, I would spend extra on these 4 things:

    near term:

    1) Good quality headphones for tracking and mixing, and when you want to work without disturbing family or neighbors - Byerdynamic 880s are my choice for mixing. They are open-backed, so not ideal for tracking vocals, which does not sound like an issue in your case. If you ever decide to track vocals in the future, a cheap pair of closed-backs or ear buds work just fine.

    2) Powered near-field monitors - I think you get what you pay for here. You ask 10 people on a forum, you'll get 10 different answers on what monitors are 'best'. My recommendation is that you should 'roll the dice' and buy a higher-end pair of used monitors from Reverb.com. I got my Dynaudio BM5A MKII's from Reverb for about $500. Adams and Focals are pretty nice as well, but there are plenty of others that would be fine choices as well. You can probably hit the Gearslutz.com forums to read up on people's opinions on the different monitors in the $1000-$2000 (per pair) new range, then try to snag a pair used at a 50% discount. This is one purchase you won't ever regret. Worst case, you stop playing music but your TV and iPad will still sound great through them for years to come!

    later on, once you've written/recorded some music:

    3) Good Compression/EQ/FX VSTs for mixing.There are many great VST bundles out there, or you can mix and match VST software as you need. Christmas and 4th of July are when most of the software vendors run hugely discounted sales.

    4) sound treatment for your room. That's a whole long separate topic, and you're a way out before you need to worry that.
     
  5. billinder33

    billinder33 SS.org Regular

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    A couple other things while I'm thinking about it... some nickel-and-dime things you may not have already thought of...

    1) A decent-sized desk (doesn't necessarily need to be a recording desk, but you'll need something to prop your monitors on) and good comfortable chair are pretty important, if you don't have these already.
    2) Power strips... you can never have enough, or a Furman rack PS if you happen to get a desk with a built in rack
    3) Some small tools... razor knife, multitool, small flashlight, alan-key set, cordless drill w/ phillips head bit, flathead screwdriver
    4) A couple packs of velcro cable ties, of various sizes.
    5) Feather duster... things get dusty
    6) Plastic containers for spare cables and other misc stuff. Do yourself a huge favor and stay organized.

    Some things I wouldn't spend money on at this time, if you're not flush with cash:

    1) Expensive outboard gear (pre's, comps, eq's)... unless you're doing live microphone tracking, you really don't need outboard. You can invest in these things down the road if you decide it's worthwhile.
    2) Expensive AD/DA interfaces - sonically, you probably won't hear the difference between a $150 interface and a $1000 interface. This is another thing where you can spend more down the road if you decide it's worthwhile.
    3) A DAW control surface... you won't know what your needs are here until you start actually recording and mixing stuff.


    Good luck!!!
     
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  6. Wolfos

    Wolfos Guitarded

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    Thanks man, first off I have to say thanks for taking the time to help start me up. I'm sure a lot of people have seen a post like this a million times.

    In your opinion would you consider reaper a fairly lite program? I found sonar with superior drummer running to take up all my ram and freeze the computer quite often. I'm know things and computers have changed in the last 6 or 7 years but it's still worth asking.

    Also you mentioned a good windows computer, is there any reason for that? Back when I was trying to record before everyone kept trying to get me into a MacBook.

    I do prefer recording instrumental stuff mostly so I can save coin by avoiding a Mic and whatnot.

    Just curious why you mentioned to have a bunch of tools? I don't really remember needing them last time.

    I might start with the computer, interface, reaper and superior drummer and a good head phone. I've got 2 small kids and most of my recording will happen when they're sleeping so I won't use the monitors much.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
  7. KingAenarion

    KingAenarion Resident Studio Nerd

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    Reaper is great, but doesn't come with any VST instruments, so if you want anything beyond Superior 3 you'll be struggling.

    Download the Demo of Presonus' Studio One 3 to try. It's an excellent piece of software that's easy and intuitive. I'd even consider trying it on your computer BEFORE buying your interface. If you like it, the Presonus interfaces come with artist, and it's pretty cheap to get the upgrade that gives you 3rd party VSTs. Presonus has come a long way in the past 5 years, and all the products they put out are freakin' excellent really.

    I'd definitely be looking at their Eris monitors to start.
    Audio Technica ATH-M50x's are pretty much the headphones you'll never go wrong with.

    As to plugins, when you do get to that stage, there are basically a few companies to look into if you don't want to be tied to an iLok. If you don't mind an iLok, definitely look at the Slate Media stuff, it's subscription stuff can be really good too for casual use (as long as you remember to turn it off). But yea, Fabfilter, Plugin Alliance (especially the bx stuff, and their channel strips are just disgustingly good), Slate.

    Avoid Waves imho.
     
  8. Wolfos

    Wolfos Guitarded

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    Thanks for that, I used to own an audiobox so I am familliar with presonus a little. And if they come with recording software then bonus. I will have to look up possibly videos of each to see which would be easiest to learn.
     
  9. billinder33

    billinder33 SS.org Regular

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    No worries.... I originally came to this forum for some advice and people here were kind enough to help me out, so I'm happy to give back!!

    Reaper has a reputation as one of, if not the most lightweight, CPU and memory resource conservative DAWs on the market. However, it is still important to have a fairly beefy computer, because VST plugin software can definitely suck up computer resources. I know you have the HK amp and cab sim, but if you decide at some point to get into VST guitar amps sims and cabinet sims (impulse response) for some additional tones, you will find that these VSTs can often take up whatever resources your computer has to spare.

    In terms of Mac vs PC, I'm a big fan of Mac and use Macs exclusively. I find them to be generally much less buggy, and easier to maintain....but that does come at a significant uptick in cost. You stated that you were looking at laptops, and a new quad-core Macbook Pro will run you a minimum of $2000. Meanwhile you can find equivalently spec'd PCs starting at around 1/2 that price. Also, there are a lot more free VSTs out there for the PC. IDK why that is, but when I switched to Mac a few years ago, I was surprised to find how many less freebies there were available for the Mac. So it really depends upon how much you want to spend. If you're dipping your toes in the water, I recommend starting on the lower side of the cost spectrum until you decide what areas to upgrade are important for YOU.

    Regarding tools, we're all very busy these days and time is at a premium... I find the having the right tools close by to be really important time savers. Well worth the small amount of money they cost. I use a razor knife all the time to open hermetically sealed plastic packaging. Alan keys for locking trems and other various guitar adjustments. A flashlight (I like those little LED lights that you can strap to your head for hands-free use) to see what you're plugging in when it's dark or you're under your desk or wherever you need. A multi-tool with a nice needle-nose plier has literally a million various use-cases. A cordless drill (I'm a huge fan of the Ryobi ONE+ tools) can be used not only to screw things in and out of rack spaces or quickly remove your plastic guitar covers and pick guards, but you can also buy string-winder attachments that snap into the bit-holder to greatly speed up changing strings.

    Sure, you can use scissors to open packages, a philips head screwdriver to pull every screw by hand, wind your strings by hand, use your phone's flashlight to wrestle around with cables under your desk, etc. But the one thing people don't have more of is time, and given the very low cost of having the right tools at hand, I think it's well worth the small investment.

    Honestly I think you're on the right track... a laptop computer with solid specs, an inexpensive USB interface (Focusrite Saffire or similar), Reaper, download Superior Drummer 2 if you still have your license info (or buy EZ Drummer or SD3 if you don't), and a really nice set of headphones (I really recommend paying up for those Beyerdynamic 880s. - ProAudioStar who I've done business with in the past is selling a mint 'open box' pair on Reverb.com for $177 ) ... I think you'd be ready to roll!!!!
     
  10. billinder33

    billinder33 SS.org Regular

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    FWIW, I agree with all these recommendations as well.

    Though I would throw Stilwell Audio, DMG Audio, and (my fave) iZotope into the mix of plugins to consider!!
     
  11. Descent

    Descent SS.org Regular

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    Just text Misha for some hand me downs :)

    I prefer Studio One and that's what I work with right now. Reaper is very bare bones.
    If you think those are too overwhelming, Mixcraft might be a better one to start with until you pick up some steam.

    If you plan on doing a lot of drum programming I find Cubase and Logic (Mac) and Digital Performer more accessible for that. Also look up Samplitude - prices have fallen on it as well and is a all in one shop for full production.

    As far interface I'd suggest you go with Audient iD14. Better preamps at that price range.
     
  12. billinder33

    billinder33 SS.org Regular

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    Not sure I'd consider Reaper to be so much 'bare bones' as much as like an open framework that you have to customize to your own use case. I readily admit that it's probably not the easiest thing to use right out of the box for beginners, And the VSTs they provide are sans graphic UI, which isn't exactly the sexiest thing visually.

    I don't have any experience with Studio One.... so really interested in your opinion here... what do you think some of the key differences are between Reaper and Studio One?

    Also, do you have much experience with Logic? I thought about switching over a few times, but I've gone from Mac to PC to Mac over the years, and Reaper files are 100% portable between platforms. Logic definitely has some cool features, but I fear that I may end up reverting back to PC at some point in the future, so that's one thing keeping me from switching. Plus changing DAWs is a royal PITA because you have to re-learn all your workflows.
     
  13. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio SS.org Regular

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    I love this post. People seriously overlook anything that isn't the "glamour" side of the purchases, but a lot of these things make your life easier, make less of a HUGE gap between the time there is an idea and thee time you can actually hit record. When designing audio engineering products I FIRMLY believe that easier, less stressful recording technicalities lead to better sounding recordings.

    At the school, I have the big room setup where a set of cheap Pyle mics are clipped on, wired up and ready to go on the drumset, 3 vocal mics going thru a recording interface before being split to the PA, headphone boxes strategically placed around the room, and XLR's open near the two guitar and bass setups. I also have a recording template ready to go in each room that already has these mics mapped out to the proper channels. If a band is in there practicing, it will take me less than 5 minutes to have a decent recording ready to hit the big red button. Velocity matters!

    Its funny what you really need to consider in this stuff, but the barrier of entry is magnitudes of order lower money wise than it used to be. Computer you probably already have, 100-1000 dollar audio interface (depending on how many simultaneous inputs you need), whatever mics you need, DAW, some cheap speakers (as said above, which brand and model will lead to a scale beyond religious wars, maybe even bloodier than talking football teams! I personally tend to use Yamaha HS 5's, but will happily work on whatever) and go.
     
  14. Wolfos

    Wolfos Guitarded

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    That's exactly what I'm aiming for, simplicity and speed. I don't want to spend hours upon hours with a learning curve on software etc.

    Now I don't have a studio yet, and when I do it will be a re-purposed 9'x9' spare room so I won't have a band practicing in there, but I am a full time employee and a father so the easier the better for times sake.

    The equipment is one thing but the DAW is important to me. Whatever is generally regarded as the easiest one to use will be the one I buy. I had Sonor 8 but can't say I found it overly easy to learn I had to spend many days googling How to do certain things.
     
  15. KingAenarion

    KingAenarion Resident Studio Nerd

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    DMG Audio is good, but honestly everything they do Fabfilter does better. Stilwell is great, but I honestly stopped using mine once I got stuff at Plugin Alliance from bx and SPL.

    I can't do iZotope, it just has a sound and character.

    Currently there's a whole bunch of people who moved from Sonar to Studio One, so it's probably a really good time to do so. The learning curve on S1 is really low, and lots of it makes sense really quickly. The UI is very friendly.
     
  16. Descent

    Descent SS.org Regular

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    Can't say Studio One vs Sonar, Sonar is probably a bit easier to get to as it didn't have as many menus and subscreens. Incidentally, I also dropped Sonar at version 8 after it wouldn't properly setup templates for mixing and had to manually match a whole album at the time.

    I've done some recording in Reaper and I find Studio One easier.
     
  17. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio SS.org Regular

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    No more Sonar :( We're going through hell trying to take on the influx of the #CakeWalkingDead right now....On the plus side, it means that finally ARA is coming to REAPER. I think Studio One already has it.

    Its not like ten years ago, most modern DAWs are all extremely capable, and really just matters what your preferences are, we're all spoiled now with so many options for so little money in every aspect of studio gear (except acoustics, as real estate doesnt really get cheaper as computers get faster)
     
  18. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    IMO if budget is a concern, you can get away with free plugins for 99% of your mix (other than instruments). I've only ever payed for one plugin: Superior Drummer - for the sake of having good samples, but everything else I use is free (other than paying for the Reaper license). I really dig TAL plugins. Use some GVST stuff. DLM has a dbx-styled compressor for free that I use all over the place. And Reaper has tons of very usable built in tools if you're willing to deal with the lack of sexy UI to go with them (the js- based effects are ugly, but sound just fine).
     
  19. Wolfos

    Wolfos Guitarded

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    It seems there is a consensus on Studio One being the recommended program.

    I will say, there is a chance I might get a great deal on a MacBook pro which I believe comes with a program as well. Would that be worth It? Is the program any good?
     
  20. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio SS.org Regular

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    Some would say "NO!" others would say "**** NO and damn it to all hell and let the coders have hot pokers shoved in their eyes for eternity!!!!!!"

    That said, it IS more than possible to do really good stuff in Garage Band and it is about 4 quintabillion times better than anything we would have drooled over for home use 20 years ago

    All that aside, if you need in any way shape or form to collab with someone, it is a nightmare. They have purposely and intentionally crippled the program to make most of the needed export functions either impossible or nearly so. It is such an affront to my moral philosophy, and something we made damn sure of not to do in REAPER....if it means we can be ripped off easier, so be it, we were NOT about to stick artificial limitations on it.

    I wasted four hours of my life trying to get a MIDI file out of the GB thing from a client, eventually having some help from the Studio One forum and the REAPER Users Facebook group to use some third party stuff to extract it, but damn....never again. Curse that foul demon from an ancient world back into the Mines of Moria and nuke it from orbit
     
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