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Starter setup advice required

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Starter setup advice required

Postby ReadySaltedChris » Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:55 am

Hi there folks.

I have a good pal who likes composing. He records guitar and has recorded it using an old Tascam thing for years and years. He has no computer setup and has resisted upgrading.

He has now decided to get a computer and get more up to date and wants me to suggest a basic set up. But I am bit out of the loop really for starter set ups.

So I think he is gonna have to go the PC route. He doesn't want to spend more than 500 quid on a computer. He has cash for the other stuff, Dunno why he has set him PC limit at 500 quid.

So a few questions if I may:

Is a 500 quid PC doable? If not, have you any good suggestions as to a good basic PC?
Where is a good place to buy audio PCs at that price?
He wants to record guitar - electric and acoustic - so what are the essential items he will need to get going?

I am thinking a mic or two, errr midi interface, cubase? Owt else?

Sorry for sounding a bit newbie here. Suggestions would be most appreciated so that I can pass them on to my buddy who has had a very bad year thus far and I think wants to lose himself in composing for a few years.

Thx
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby CS70 » Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:03 am

For recording guitar he doesn't need that much.

Assuming he has already a microphone and room treatment, budget goes to a used pc with Windows 10, plenty RAM and an SSD; and a USB interface with one or two channels.

If budget is limited the usual suspects (Focusrite etc) work fine. Otherwise an RME BabyFace, possibly used to save money.

As of DAW, Cakewalk is a flagship product and it's free from BandLab, so it's a no brainer.

If he needs plugins, he can download Booty's free set (they're 32 bit, but rock solid with Cakewalk's BitBridge) from the Variety Of Sound website - they sound magnificent.

From there then he'll find out what he needs more.
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby ReadySaltedChris » Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:26 am

Very useful suggestions, cheers!
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby The Elf » Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:52 am

And don't forget that Reaper is free to start and well supported. Not my favourite, but undeniably economic and capable.

Some audio interfaces come with the likes of Cubase as cut-down versions, which is all he might need. I particularly like the Native Instruments interfaces.
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:26 pm

Which DAW do you use Chris? He's undoubtedly going to need some help in the early stages and that will probably fall to you so if he has the same DAW you will find helping him a lot easier.
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby ReadySaltedChris » Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:57 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:Which DAW do you use Chris? He's undoubtedly going to need some help in the early stages and that will probably fall to you so if he has the same DAW you will find helping him a lot easier.

I have Cubase Sam. Be good if he got Cubase I guess then I could teach him but he is all about saving the pennies at this stage. But yeah, there's Cubase Elements isn't there. That would work.

Thanks for the suggestions Elf.

I also have a few bits and bobs in the garage I can donate too.
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby blinddrew » Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:31 pm

I think my PC cost me about £500 nearly 10 years ago, so you should be able to get something considerably better for the same now. And it's still going strong - though occasionally does get a bit stressed on really busy mixes.
Cubase elements does come with a very limited set of plugins but you can download the reaper ones for free and use them (as I understand it). That's a comprehensive starting set (though the GUIs aren't the friendliest).

[EDIT aren't the friendliest! Sorry.]
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby ReadySaltedChris » Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:34 pm

Thanks!
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby Logarhythm » Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:58 am

+1 to Drew's suggestion. I'm also using a PC that I built for around £500 a few years ago. I'd planned to upgrade later, but haven't felt the need. You should be able to build something that has enough oomph to have plenty in reserve for basic recording and sequencing purposes on that budget.
If you go for an AI with the free bundled version of Cubase you still get a discount on upgrades (even if it's just to Elements), and you can also exchange projects between you. Just be careful going from full Cubase to the smaller versions, as they'll open the project but disable a load of plugins etc to meet the limits set for the relevant version. (Voice of experience - somehow accidentally opened a project in Elements rather than full Cubase and had a small panic a bit about why all my plugins had been disabled :lol: )
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby ef37a » Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:44 am

Hi Chris, by "computer" does he mean a laptop?

If so, this time last year I bought my son a really good W10 Lenovo T430. Fast i5 processor, 8G ram and a modest 240G SSD. He runs Samplitude Pro X 3 suite on it no problem.

I got that refurbished from an Amazon supplier for around £400 and it really was "as new" as advertised.

Native Instruments was mentioned and I can really recommend the Komplete Audio 6. Otherwise tell him to look at Mackie and Tascam as alternatives to the ubiqitous F'rites! (they are good but not really any better than others) Whatever he gets, please tell him not to go down the lowest, most basic route. He needs two microphone inputs and MIDI is handy.

Dave.
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby ReadySaltedChris » Wed Sep 18, 2019 9:11 am

I do appreciate these suggestions chaps. Lots of food for thought. Hopefully, he will embrace technology (which scares him alot), joins this forum and in 6 months posts a guitar tune he has done with his new system!

Might drag him along to synthfest so he gets to experience the joyful wonders of synthdom.
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby Arpangel » Wed Sep 18, 2019 9:23 am

ReadySaltedChris wrote:Might drag him along to synthfest so he gets to experience the joyful wonders of synthdom.

I thought you said you were "his mate"...

:D
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby Music Wolf » Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:08 am

I'm using a desktop pc that I bought from pc world several years ago for, from memory, sub £400 without a monitor. I've since increased the RAM which I did myself without any problems. I'm running Cubase pro, Superior Drummer 3.0 plus various other bits 'n' bobs (almost) without any problems.

When I say almost I mean that every now and again I have to reinstall drivers after a Windows update. Occasionally, after a start up, I find that direct monitoring on my AI is disabled and I have to re-boot. I might just get an audio glitch (say 1 in 100 times). I should point out that, because I use direct monitoring from my Steinberg UR824 AI, I can run with very high buffer size / high latency.

When I decided to go down the PC World route, rather than buy something purpose built from Scan, I did so in the knowledge that it may not work but that, if it didn't, I could afford to write of the £400. I was also familiar enough with Cubase that I could undertake a bit of tweaking to get things stable.
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby ReadySaltedChris » Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:35 pm

Arpangel wrote:
ReadySaltedChris wrote:Might drag him along to synthfest so he gets to experience the joyful wonders of synthdom.

I thought you said you were "his mate"...

:D

hehe good point! :D
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby The Elf » Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:42 pm

Don't forget to come say hello to me at Synthfest! :thumbup:
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby ReadySaltedChris » Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:12 pm

The Elf wrote:Don't forget to come say hello to me at Synthfest! :thumbup:

Are you on a stand?
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby The Elf » Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:46 pm

ReadySaltedChris wrote:
The Elf wrote:Don't forget to come say hello to me at Synthfest! :thumbup:
Are you on a stand?
I'm managing the exhibitors. I'm easy to find - I'm the one looking for cables and connectors the exhibitors forgot to bring!
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby ReadySaltedChris » Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:08 pm

The Elf wrote:
ReadySaltedChris wrote:
The Elf wrote:Don't forget to come say hello to me at Synthfest! :thumbup:
Are you on a stand?
I'm managing the exhibitors. I'm easy to find - I'm the one looking for cables and connectors the exhibitors forgot to bring!

Ahhh so that's you is it :)
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby jimh76 » Thu Sep 19, 2019 8:53 pm

Hi, another option, if he's just wanting to record guitar and vocals, which is a good middle ground for the step up from analogue to a computer is what I use.

It's the tascam dp32sd. It's a porta studio, but has more of a computer feel to it as you can see wave forms, cut, copy, paste, duplicate, it has click tracks, effects, dynamics etc. You can replace sections using auto punch in and out as well.

You can mix, and master in the box as well. It's got 8 ins, but the thing I like about it is it's all saved to an sd card, so you can always take that out and then load onto a computer to finish it off.

I'm a singer and guitarist and the thing I really like is that it's on and ready to record in a matter of seconds, and doesn't suffer from drive incompatibility issues, or 1 card not talking to another, etc. Get yourself a couple of mics, a drum machine and you're away.

It's 32 tracks so I find it limits me in a good way as I've not got 15 guitar tracks with 9 vocal tracks that I'm trying to somehow mix together.

Anyway it works for me as I'm never turning it on when inspiration hits me, but am hour later still trying to get the computer working and therefore losing the spark.

Worth a look imho.

Jim
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Re: Starter setup advice required

Postby ef37a » Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:36 pm

jimh76 wrote:Hi, another option, if he's just wanting to record guitar and vocals, which is a good middle ground for the step up from analogue to a computer is what I use.

It's the tascam dp32sd. It's a porta studio, but has more of a computer feel to it as you can see wave forms, cut, copy, paste, duplicate, it has click tracks, effects, dynamics etc. You can replace sections using auto punch in and out as well.

You can mix, and master in the box as well. It's got 8 ins, but the thing I like about it is it's all saved to an sd card, so you can always take that out and then load onto a computer to finish it off.

I'm a singer and guitarist and the thing I really like is that it's on and ready to record in a matter of seconds, and doesn't suffer from drive incompatibility issues, or 1 card not talking to another, etc. Get yourself a couple of mics, a drum machine and you're away.

It's 32 tracks so I find it limits me in a good way as I've not got 15 guitar tracks with 9 vocal tracks that I'm trying to somehow mix together.

Anyway it works for me as I'm never turning it on when inspiration hits me, but am hour later still trying to get the computer working and therefore losing the spark.

Worth a look imho.

Jim

Now see, I don't get that? I am pretty lowbrow in this forum company when it comes to computer matters but I could now simple get up, go into the "studio", fire up the desktop in there and after at most a minute have the computer standing by. I then simple bring up Samplitude, "Start new track", name it and plug a mic into the NI KA6 and I am away....Or, I could unplug the KA6, take it into another room and plug it into this laptop. Samplitude again (or indeed Reaper or Audacity) and I am cooking. If I could still play guitar worth a fig, I could plug in son's Mex Strat no worries.

Jim, you have a deep problem with your computer/AI/DAW setup.

Dave.
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