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GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

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GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby KPMETCALFE-10 » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:44 pm

Please, for the love of God, HELP ME!!!

I started writing and recording music 25 years ago (Fostex 4-track; Seck 12:8:2 with a Fostex R8; Yamaha 4416; in and out of various studios). However, "life" took over and I have been "out of the loop" for some time now. But making music is THE ONE THING which makes my heart sing - and I need to get it going again.

The problem is that I am completely bamboozling myself, trying to establish the best way of getting a small project studio started. There are so many things to consider. And, whilst I am perfectly able to learn and to teach myself anything, it's all frying my head somewhat.

I live in Yorkshire, my old songwriting partner lives in Hampshire and our third member lives in Bedfordshire! So I'm thinking that a lap-top based system would be good so that I can at least travel easily and get basic tracks recorded. I love the idea of "Logic" - it looks so convenient. But I'm not sure I want to spend money on a Mac lap-top that I'll probably only be using for making music. On the other hand, I would be prepared to purchase a super-duper Windows lap-top as I would be able to use it for work and various other things. But then, obviously, that takes "Logic" out of the equation. So, what - "Pro Tools", "Cubase" - what's best? I'd want something with some pretty decent plug-ins included. But I'd also probably want to be able to add some other plug-ins as and when necessary.

I know I'll need a fairly comprehensive interface as I may well be recording live drums. And I've still got a lot of outboard gear, including a Focusrite mic channel. (I do like Focusrite - again, they're stuff is so user-friendly.)

Would I need a decent mixer? Being "old school" I do like to have my hands on a mixing desk. But, having said that, I might very well very quickly get used to using just a mouse.

Also, I've still got loads of stuff on the Yamaha 4416. Is there any way that I would be able to get individual tracks off that and on to whatever D.A.W. I go for?

Anyway, if anyone can help me with any of this, I'd love to hear from you. Because I'm in danger of going slightly demented, trying to think about it all when I'm in a position of relative ignorance.

Thanks.
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby Richie Royale » Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:23 pm

I would suggest that before you shell out any money on a new computer, get Reaper http://www.reaper.fm/ try that out and see how you get on with a modern DAW first. This will run on a PC or a Mac.

You don't necessarily need a mixer, but some people still prefer having something hands on, plus it can be a good way of getting a number of good pre-amps in one place with options to send out headphone feeds etc. You will still need a decent audio interface, but there are so many covering all budgets, that it is hard to recommend something immediately. You will need to consider how many simultaneous inputs you need to record at once when thinking about what interface you might need. There are a few mixers which have a interface combined in them like the Allen and Heath Zed range.

You should be able to record your tracks from the 4416 into whatever DAW without much trouble, either via the SPDIF output or the analogue outputs. Your best bet will be to synch the Yamaha via MIDI to help keep the tracks aligned to the DAW (I think).
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby johnny h » Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:51 pm

KPMETCALFE-10 wrote:
I live in Yorkshire, my old songwriting partner lives in Hampshire and our third member lives in Bedfordshire! So I'm thinking that a lap-top based system would be good so that I can at least travel easily and get basic tracks recorded. I love the idea of "Logic" - it looks so convenient. But I'm not sure I want to spend money on a Mac lap-top that I'll probably only be using for making music. On the other hand, I would be prepared to purchase a super-duper Windows lap-top as I would be able to use it for work and various other things.

Macs come with 'bootcamp' which allows the computer to be used as a fully functioning windows machine (not an emulation). Therefore if you have money to spend on a super duper laptop and want to run logic, a macbook pro will be fine. Logic is very competitively priced these days.
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby Guest » Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:01 pm

Steep learning curve though.

If your AW4416 has the CD-R option you can burn WAV files to CDs and import them straight to the DAW, archive them etc.

I did exactly the same exercise many years ago when i took your step.

I used a freebie called AW Extract to get the wav files out of the big lump of data the AW dumps on the CD. I have a copy somewhere(?)

But have a look at this, seems to do the same job.

http://www.sillymonkeysoftware.com/aware/
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby lukeandrewhill » Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:23 pm

Agree strongly with Jonny H - one of the good things about a mac is that it is also a PC - but a PC isn't also a Mac. Also as someone mentioned before, Logic is now super cheap (£140?) so although you may pay more for mac laptop, if you factor in the cost of Cubase or Protools it probably doesn't make too much difference.

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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby DAGGILARR » Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:45 pm

KPMETCALFE-10 wrote:

But I'm not sure I want to spend money on a Mac lap-top that I'll probably only be using for making music.

You can pick great deals on secondhand Core2Duo MacBookPro laptops that are great for running music software. A super duper Windows laptop would cost more than this and there is nothing a Windows machine can do that a Mac cannot.

My guess is that you would soon want to use it for everything.
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby The Elf » Thu Mar 29, 2012 4:15 pm

As you can see, I'm also in Yorkshire and am prepared to help out a fellow Yorkshireman, even if you are a human!

There's a lot for you to consider before leaping headlong into all of the technology. Recording something like a drumkit is not something you can instantly do just by getting a few mic's and a computer. You might be better involving a studio who can take the pain out of it for you and let you concentrate on writing the songs. I've seen so many good songwriters bogged down in the recording and it just becomes an almighty slog for little gain.

But, as I said, I'm happy to help if I can. Personally I'm a PC/Cubase user, but I'd also suggest Reaper as a great way to start.
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby KPMETCALFE-10 » Thu Mar 29, 2012 4:31 pm

Thanks very much to all of you who have given me some good advice.

Having never owned a Mac, I never knew it can do everything a PC can. (I must sound like a right old codger; but I'm not - HONESTLY! I've still got all my own hair!!!!) So a MacBook with Logic is looking good!

And good advice re transfering data from the 4416. Thanks.

So it looks like the one thing I'm still pondering is the "Mixer & interface or just super-duper interface" question...... Keep that advice coming. It's all good.
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby The Elf » Thu Mar 29, 2012 4:49 pm

For beginners I would suggest avoiding a mixer - it usually just leads to limitations, complications and workarounds that you don't need when you've got a lot to learn.

Transferring data... plug the old recorder's outputs into the new audio interface's inputs; set recording levels; press play and record; job done!
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby DAGGILARR » Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:26 pm

If you do go down the Mac route remember they do not all have firewire the macbook pro does but the macbook does not.
If you are going to use a USB Audio interface no problem.
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby johnny h » Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:33 pm

DAGGILARR wrote:If you do go down the Mac route remember they do not all have firewire the macbook pro does but the macbook does not.
If you are going to use a USB Audio interface no problem.

Only a few models of the old macbooks don't have firewire. Every current mac except the macbook air comes with firewire 800.
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby Will_m » Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:39 pm

If you like Focusrite and need to record drums ie more than two channels then you should consider the Focusrite saffire pro 40 or the bigger liquid saffire 56. I used to have the 56 and it was a great interface. As for software definitely try out as much as you can first, although most DAW's have similar features they have very different work-flows and you may feel much more comfortable on one than the other.

Reaper, cubase and pro tools all have demos, logic does not but you could try it out in the apple store if you are prepared to fend off the staff.
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby KPMETCALFE-10 » Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:47 pm

Yes. "FIREWIRE". I see this all the time but, without wanting to sound like a half-wit again (!), I haven't got a Scooby!!!
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby KPMETCALFE-10 » Thu Mar 29, 2012 11:03 pm

Wait there! I've just Googled it! I think I've sussed it. It's just an alternative (and, seemingly, better) way of connecting the interface to the computer instead of using a USB port, right?
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby Scramble » Thu Mar 29, 2012 11:13 pm

Yep, that's what Firewire is.

But don't be fooled by magazine articles that tell you that because 5-year-olds can make pro-quality music these days on computers, old guitar-playing-codgers like you can finally make your Dark Side of the Moon-equivalent on Reaper. (Well, actually you can, but you need to spend 3 years tearing your hair out getting to grips with modern computer systems first).
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby KPMETCALFE-10 » Thu Mar 29, 2012 11:28 pm

Old: probably. Codger: possibly. (Grumpy: DEFINITELY!) But GUITAR-PLAYING? - I'm not THAT vain! Try DRUM-PLAYING. (And yes, before you say it, that's why I'm so confused!!) But, no, I don't think I want to be faffing about with something I can download for free. I'm an all or nothing sort of bloke; if I'm going to do it, I shall do it properly. Hence why I'm trying to gather all the bloomin' help and advice I can!
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby The Elf » Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:17 am

KPMETCALFE-10 wrote:I don't think I want to be faffing about with something I can download for free.

Don't fall for the 'reassuringly expensive' trap. Reaper is perfectly capable of professional, commercial results, as many of us pro's here know well. It would get you started and it would let you learn the basics before you commit to something that may not be right for you down the line. And Reaper isn't free - just free to start...

Seriously, if you're so baffled by all of this at the moment (and I can sympathise - there's a lot you don't even know you don't know!), then start gradually, or you're walking into a world of pain. Just setting up a system to record more than a stereo pair of mic's is quite a challenge when you start out, so don't go adding to the complications just yet!

Seriously, if you want some help I do offer a 1-2-1 consultancy service at any level, and I have helped many start-ups like yourself. I'm happy to give you a free hour to get you started, rather than see you throw your money and creativity down that bottomless pit of the home 'studio'.

PM me if you like.
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby Guest » Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:38 am

I'm a Reaper user. I used to run Logic on the PC until i was dumped by Apple. I hung onand hung on but eventually had to decide to either go mac, or get another DAW.

Repaer it was and it was the best thing i ever did.

Something i like about Reaper is that out of all the DAWs it's the one that's laid out most like a traditional hardware setup. It's very very stable and incredibly well supported. The file management is excellent too. It's so configurable is can be pretty musch controlled from a toaster. And it will run off a memory stick so really handy if you need to take your particular config/setup to another machine.

Small, lightweight, low processor overhead. Fantastic!

For someone stepping into DAWs for the first time i can't think of anything better and the people on the Reaper forum are a very cool binch, easy to get help. The ethos of Repaer was that it was/is developed with input from the user community and so the users feel they have a stake in the app and so offer support and help very readily... which is nice.
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby Exalted Wombat » Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:47 am

I don't think I want to be faffing about with something I can download for free. I'm an all or nothing sort of bloke; if I'm going to do it, I shall do it properly. Hence why I'm trying to gather all the bloomin' help and advice I can!

There are reasons for liking or not liking Reaper, but snobbery over its price isn't one of them!
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby KPMETCALFE-10 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:00 am

The last thing I am is a snob. I was, from a fairly uninformed position, responding to another reply. I may have been working on the misaprehension that it is not up to scratch in some way. But, subsequently, I have and am learning more about it. The price doesn't come into it. I won't spend silly money just because it's a known brand. If it's good, it's good. And, if it's right for me, I'll go for it - regardless of it's cost.
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby Guest » Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:22 am

It's a lot to do with what you're used to, they all do the same stuff more or less. If Apple hadn't withdrawn support for Logic on the PC i'd still be using that probably.
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby Phayded » Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:54 am

There is a lot to think about.
If you like the hands on mixing of real faders etc. Using a Daw you'd need a control surface or have to use the mouse.

Mixer Vs. Interface is a hard one.
If your recording from a mixer without direct outs, you'll be record the final stereo bus.
If your using a mixer with direct outs, you'll need an audio interface with the same number of inputs.
Audio interfaces in general have better conversion that built in/generic sound cards within either a PC or a MAC.
Personally, I would work from how many inputs you want and build outwards. something like the Tascam US-800 would give you a 6 mic input interface that you could add a mixer with direct out to at a later date( and it fits in a backpack) tascam US-800 So something like that may be a good starting point. it also comes with cubase LE so would give you the option of testing out a limited version of cubase

Tweakheadz has some good info on various studio layout options tweakheadz so it may be worth checking out there for ideas.
Hope some of this helps feel free ask if you need any elaboration about anything.
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Re: GETTING STARTED. (All advice gratefully received!)

Postby paul tha other » Tue Apr 03, 2012 1:32 pm

hey there...i had someone in the other week in the same situation as yourself....he ended up getting a multitracker(i think it was a fostex one)which had 8 inputs and 2 out..doubled up as a sound card for his computer conected through firewire....also transfers all the audio that way as well....it was easy to use....sounded not bad....and he had cubase le .he was happy as a pig in s*&^t


just my 2 cents

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