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Suitable DAW

Postby spookyfish » Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:24 pm

Hi,

I mix the sound for my wife's band. We want to start recording some of the songs to add to website etc.

Could anyone make some suggestions for a suitable interface and DAW please.

We use a Roland TD 12 drum kit which I take 4 feeds from, bass, electric guitar, lead vocals, and up to 3 backing vocals.

We play mainly covers from disco, pop, funk, rock etc.

I understand the basics but am just overwhelmed by the amount of different ones that are out there and want to ensure any money spent is not wasted.

Thanks in anticipation,

Martin.
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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby The Elf » Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:52 pm

Welcome! :D

There are many devices that will do the basic job for you, and this question comes up over and over again almost daily, so a search or three in these fora might be a good start.

That said, you are going to have to help us break it down. The first consideration is likely to be budget, so how much we have to spend? What make/model/capability of computer are you going to use? We will also need to know how many signals, and of what type (line, microphone), that you need to record *simultaneously* - this will determine the minimum number of inputs you require on your interface.

I'd suggest a device that has a MIDI port, since that drum module has MIDI and this will open up a lot of options for you to tidy up your drum parts and use also alternative sounds.

Choice of DAW is, perhaps a secondary consideration. Many interfaces come bundled with software, but if not there are some low/no-cost options to get you started.
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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby spookyfish » Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:52 pm

Thanks for the welcome and advice Elf!

Ok what I was thinking was that the band would play and I would record the drums so would need 4 in and 4 out, then the bass on its own, guitar on its own, then the vocals. So 4 line in's and minimum of 2 mic's .

Now I'm definitely out my depth regarding midi so any advice on that would be appreciated. If the drums went through midi would I need less inputs?? And would I be able to record each drum to a different track??

Budget wise I was thinking of £500.00 for interface and software and up to £750.00 for a computer which I would also need so any advice there would also be appreciated.

Have lots of mic's, cables, di's etc so don't think I'd need to spend much there.

Thanks again,

Martin
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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby The Elf » Sun Jan 12, 2014 2:26 pm

Don't be scared of MIDI. All it really is is a way of recording your drum performance without recording the actual *sound* from the TD12. MIDI contains digital data about which pad you hit, how hard you hit it and when you hit it. Record this MIDI data and send this back to the TD-12 and it will play its internal sounds again, just as if you were hitting those pads. So now you could play back the MIDI for the snare and record the audio of the snare on its own, then play back the MIDI notes for the kick drum and record its audio, then the high tom... you get the idea.

This way you could separate the recordings of every part of your drum kit for complete flexibility. It also means you don't actually need 4 inputs - 2 would suffice. This said, it never hurts to have a little more I/O than you think you need at first...

Of course, because MIDI is only data you can change it before you play it back - correct timings, add/delete notes, change velocities, etc. It is very flexible.

Plus...

You could send the MIDI to a different sound source, such as a sampler, or other sound module. There are a lot of great free drum samples out there.

You don't *have* to use MIDI, but it really could make a big difference for you, so it may be wise to give yourself the option, even if you don't use it to begin with.

Anyway, at that price level, and even with 4 line inputs you should have plenty of choice. I'll offer a couple for your consideration:

I like RME gear for its very reliable drivers and powerful TotalMix software, so maybe the RME Babyface is worth a look (albeit the Babyface is only 2 inputs). The analogue inputs feature mic pre-amps (required for microphones) and phantom power (that you will need to to use certain types of microphone).

The Native Instruments KA6 also gets a lot of good press in these parts (and also features mic inputs and phantom power).

Hopefully these devices will come with bundled DAW software, but if not you can always use Cockos Reaper to get started.

Hopefully others will now chip in with other options for you.
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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby Gerhard Westphalen » Sun Jan 12, 2014 8:13 pm

I think that Scarlett 18i8 would be a great option for your current needs while offering expandability for the future. I don't think it comes with any DAW but I'd try Cubase Elements which is just $100 or try the demo of the full Cubase and purchase the full Cubase if your budget allows for it.

I'm not sure about computers. I'd strongly recommend the Molten Music computers but I think they're above your budget. I tried a really simple Dell laptop and it was unusable for audio but I have a Dell desktop which is working great as a slave. My main computer is from Rain Computers. That's about all the computer advice I can give.
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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby DGL. » Sun Jan 12, 2014 8:29 pm

I suppose, if they are any good that is, one the new behringer interfaces might be ideal, the FCA610 is about £170, has 6 inputs (two with midas mic pres) and comes with a FULL copy of Traktion 4 DAW.
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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby spookyfish » Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:05 pm

Thanks for all your advice.
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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby Wease » Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:34 pm

You haven't decided your computer platform as yet...and that should be something to be considered...but you should go for a platform that you have experience with...be it either windows or mac....that's a debate I'm not going to have, suffice to say both are very good...;)

There are shed loads (well 6 or so) of 'big' daws, all with faults and pluses...decide your platform first...then seek advice....Mac and windows machines also have access to very good beginner programmes for not very much, with upgrade paths (in terms of technical abilities as well as pricing structures) for when you get good....and some of these 'beginner programmes' are very good...and cheap!
Also....
Do you want to be portable, or fixed in place?...you pay for portability in computing terms, but it can be very liberating and useful...however a fixed system is usually more powerful for less, with possibilities of bigger screens and permanent wiring etc....this may also influence the type and structure of audio input device you buy.

The focusrite range is very good, and in price range. I use them....they have a device for your requirements and budget....I like lots of ins and outs, some don't....

Rme are IMHO better! but twice the price....apogee are very good and expensive! as are metric halo, ssl, UAD Apollo, Allen and Heath....there are millions of them!!....all of which do a job with very few real turkeys...I'd like a more expensive one, but don't really need one....

Btw, I always record midi from my vdrums, with an audio feed as well....means you can replace sounds easily and still have something to record too if needed in audio for quick overdubbing etc.
The vdrum manual has midi connection details, but it's essentially 2 midi cables between the vdrum and the audio input thingy connecting in to out...out to in....easy!
There are very good articles and web things on using vdrums etc to trigger plugins and replacing drum sounds....and very boring ones on 'what midi is'. I'm sure there are a few sos articles on this??....don't fret about this, it really is quite simple in practice.

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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby N.icholas » Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:08 pm

RE the daw - also have a look at cockos reaper. You can evaluate the full version for as long as you like - and the personal and small business use licence is very very reasonable.

Someone suggested the behringer FCA610 - have not got a clue if any good - but is from their "new stable" of product development so maybe worth seeking out reviews.

If you have a current half decent pc/laptop (PC or Mac) would suggest trying it out with this first and only get an upgrade/ dedicated one if use & performance makes it seem necessary.
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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby The_BPP » Fri Jan 17, 2014 4:31 pm

I personally use Sonar.

Therefore, that's what you should use, and everything else is inferior.

Later on, I'll be measuring the exact length of a standard piece of string.
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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby Wease » Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:06 pm

spookyfish wrote:Hi,

I mix the sound for my wife's band. We want to start recording some of the songs to add to website etc.

......

Thanks in anticipation,

Martin.

Just re-reading the original post, it seams as if your more from a live perspective....and you say to mix around 8-10 inputs...is it purely in a live situation??
I suppose for the website you want to 'tidy up' some live recordings (with possible one off overdubs, from the wife maybe, assuming she at leases lives with you :headbang:) but keep them fairly 'natural''?

What live desk do you use? Does it have direct outs?....it could lead to more suitable options for a recording set-up..and if it's the way the band is used to playing, better performances from them
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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby ef37a » Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:22 pm

Elf's suggestion of the NI KA6 is an excellent one IMHO although it might, on the face of it, lack enough connectivity, if you already have a mix down it should give good results.
It would take two "main mics" plus the mix on two more line inputs plus MIDI.
Even if the AI proved to have too few inputs you would learn a lot, have an excellent set of converters for mixing later and a nice large knob as monitor controller. The other useful byproduct would be a copy of Cubase LE6 which would be more than powerful enough as a starter and should you need the full fat version, there is an upgrade path. Reaper is very good but 60 quid buys another mic!

Computer? I strongly suggest NOT a laptop! Yes, seems so handy but in truth with all the other kit you have to rig/strike for a band and PA, a monitor and a PC is a doddle. You can get a wireless keyboard and mouse under a score and they work SO well. Just as an example, www.cpc.co.uk have an i5 tower for £415 W7 (I would not go for W8 but don't want to start cow!)4G ram, mmm? Bit low but 30quid for another stick? My limited PC knowledge tells me that an i5 should run shedloads of tracks no sweat (my i3 HP laptop will run 20 tracks of Cubase LE6 no trouble)

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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby N.icholas » Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:34 pm

In my (maybe limited) experience recording live sets to a laptop has worked fine - up to 32 ch - with no glitches - but easier for someone to snatch (Kensington lock needed!)!
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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby Richard Graham » Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:04 pm

If you are starting from scratch, Logic X offers a lot for £139, especially if you are recording Midi drums like Elf suggested - because of all the plugin instruments you get thrown in. It would mean getting a Mac rather than a PC.

OTOH if you definitely want a PC not a Mac, then Reaper is a good DAW as Elf and others have said. The bundled plugins are good, but there are no real plugin instruments so if you wanted to do your drums over MIDI, you'd need a good drums plugin. Kontakt is the one for me as there are a wide range of kits available for it.

Like Elf I would recommend a drums plug in triggered via MIDI rather than the built in sounds from a drum module. Not so much for the editability (if your drummer's any good you shouldn't really need it) but because the sounds are that much better than the samples from a drum brain.

As for desktop workstation vs laptop, I'd recommend the laptop. Not because there's anything wrong with desktops, but because laptops free you up to record in a lot more places, and are well powerful enough for audio recordings and plugins these days. I take EFs point about the amount you already have to clart about with you, but really, do you want a monitor, base unit, keyboard and mouse to rig up as well as everything else?
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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby ef37a » Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:43 pm

N.icholas wrote:In my (maybe limited) experience recording live sets to a laptop has worked fine - up to 32 ch - with no glitches - but easier for someone to snatch (Kensington lock needed!)!

Well I have never really pushed my i3 HP but I dare say it could do better. Thing is though, I was lucky I think, laptops CAN be a lottery for audio (but I think this is better than it was?) and you will get more horsepower per pound with a desktop and you can fit things like PCIe cards to get extra usb (2 and 3) ports. Even, should bargain AI crop up, a Firewire card (TI chipset of course!)

I also find actually operating a lappy a PITA? You can of course use an external usb keyboard and mouse but then "compact and beejew" is getting a bit compromised!

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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby RustyMetal » Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:14 am

I'm new here, but I'd like to add my vote for Reaper. It can go toe-to-toe with the best of 'em. Free at first, then $60 after a couple of months. You can download their free 400+ page user guide and read the first 50 or 60 pages. That should be enough to get you going, then you can read and absorb the rest as you go along and get more into the advanced stuff. Reaper can give you professional results at a ridiculously cheap price. And I'd put it up against Pro Tools and day.

There is a fairly steep learning at first with any of them, so why not spend that time on one that can take you all the way. You won't be sorry.
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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby N.icholas » Sat Jan 18, 2014 9:12 am

ef37a wrote:
N.icholas wrote:In my (maybe limited) experience recording live sets to a laptop has worked fine - up to 32 ch - with no glitches - but easier for someone to snatch (Kensington lock needed!)!

Well I have never really pushed my i3 HP but I dare say it could do better. Thing is though, I was lucky I think, laptops CAN be a lottery for audio (but I think this is better than it was?) and you will get more horsepower per pound with a desktop and you can fit things like PCIe cards to get extra usb (2 and 3) ports. Even, should bargain AI crop up, a Firewire card (TI chipset of course!)

I also find actually operating a lappy a PITA? You can of course use an external usb keyboard and mouse but then "compact and beejew" is getting a bit compromised!

Dave.
quite possibly a "lottery" - but a desktop might be as well!- but what I am suggesting whether desk top or not is seeing if what the op has at hand works before going through the agonies of deciding on a new pc.
I have a little i3 Asus that works fine plus an older compaq(can't) recall what the processor is.
Btw both use usb 2 - though Asus does have usb 3. I actually prefer a laptop to desktop re keys and and touch pad - teho- But am considering getting an all in one touch screen for screen size and portability ( one of those laptabs) only thing putting me off is low usb count (esp with wireless keyboard/mouse) and having to use a mouse rather than a touchpad for some things.
but again to each his own!
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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby Richard Graham » Sat Jan 18, 2014 9:12 am

ef37a wrote:
N.icholas wrote:In my (maybe limited) experience recording live sets to a laptop has worked fine - up to 32 ch - with no glitches - but easier for someone to snatch (Kensington lock needed!)!


Well I have never really pushed my i3 HP but I dare say it could do better. Thing is though, I was lucky I think, laptops CAN be a lottery for audio (but I think this is better than it was?) and you will get more horsepower per pound with a desktop and you can fit things like PCIe cards to get extra usb (2 and 3) ports. Even, should bargain AI crop up, a Firewire card (TI chipset of course!)

I also find actually operating a lappy a PITA? You can of course use an external usb keyboard and mouse but then "compact and beejew" is getting a bit compromised!

Dave.


It's true you get a lot more grunt from a full-size workstation PC than a laptop. My 6-year old Q6600 tower can keep up with the quad core i7 MBP I bought last year. Question is, how much power does the OP need? Neither my PC or my laptop struggle with Reaper plus audio plugins - I don't get much above 25% CPU utilisation from either of them. I'm running Kontakt virtual drums, plus a few Guitar Rig amp sims and anything up to 10 audio tracks with EQ, compression, delay, reverb, etc.

Mice and keyboards are a personal thing. I have no problem using the MBP trackpad and keyboard, but some cheap Windows laptops can be pretty horrible to use because of the rubbish trackpad.
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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby spookyfish » Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:34 am

Thanks everyone for all your replies and advice.

We are in the fortunate position that the drummer has a rehearsal room above his garage that is as big as my house!!! So the majority of recording will be done there rather than at gig although it would be nice to be able to do that.

We do have access to a number of different pc's, laptops and possibly a mac as well so will try one of them to begin with before purchasing anything dedicated.

Anyway thanks again for the advice I'll let you know which route we go and am sure I will back on here asking for more advice!!
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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby ef37a » Sat Jan 18, 2014 5:53 pm

spookyfish wrote:Thanks everyone for all your replies and advice.

We are in the fortunate position that the drummer has a rehearsal room above his garage that is as big as my house!!! So the majority of recording will be done there rather than at gig although it would be nice to be able to do that.

We do have access to a number of different pc's, laptops and possibly a mac as well so will try one of them to begin with before purchasing anything dedicated.

Anyway thanks again for the advice I'll let you know which route we go and am sure I will back on here asking for more advice!!

Oh! You're made up then. If you have anything Win 7, probably even XP it will get you started. The block might be memory so if you haver a Win 7/64 bit fit 8G and you are golden.

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Re: Suitable DAW

Postby James Perrett » Sun Jan 19, 2014 8:18 pm

My 9 year old Acer laptop with an Athlon processor can happily record 24 tracks simultaneously with Reaper. In fact, my late 90's vintage Pentium2 could just about record 16 tracks at once. Any modern computer ought to be able to handle loads of tracks if it is set up correctly.

For live recording I make sure that I have templates set up with everything in the state I need it so a live recording needs just one or two mouse clicks. For an intensive session I'll use the Frontier Tranzport remote control which just slips into a side pocket in the laptop case.
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