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Need Gear/Set-Up Recommendations - Apt Recording ($3k Budget)

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Need Gear/Set-Up Recommendations - Apt Recording ($3k Budget)

Postby BassFacer67 » Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:58 pm

Hello SOS community,

All input is appreciated! Thank you.

I am looking to record and edit songs in a small space in my apartment (7.5 ft x 9 ft) I don't know much about recording gear or software as this is new to me, and currently own neither. I'd to like to be able to come home and easily create songs without having to unplug and switch things around all the time. I'd like good enough quality recordings that I could eventually upload my songs to Spotify or similar platforms. Music is my main hobby so would like a good, functional setup that lasts. I use vocals, guitar, pedalboard, bass, keyboard. How would you do it?


BUDGET:
$3000 range, though flexible

THE GOAL:
-To record my instruments and vocals. This will be JUST ME, not a full band.
-To edit the tracks in the computer program, add effects, change levels, etc.
-To add or create accompanying drum beats already in the software program or my midi keyboard. (I can't record a real drum kit since I am in an apartment)
-My apartment is pretty quiet so not two worried about background noise.
-Good quality recordings so I can upload to Spotify or similar programs.

-*In addition to recording/editing, I would like to be able to monitor my vocals and guitar in my ear via headphones in real time. Probably be too loud to use a mini PA in my apartment. This is mostly for personal use as I'd like to get used to hearing my own voice as I'm singing.

EXPERIENCE:
Garageband user in the past but no experience with Logic, Protools or comparable programs.

CURRENT GEAR:
-Electric Guitar, Bass, Midi Keyboard, Acoustic Electric Guitar (soon to be purchased)
-Roland Blues Cube Hot Guitar amp (includes a Line Out if needed)
-Pedal board (includes Pigtronix Infinity looper midi synced with Beat Buddy drum machine).
-I do not have a computer yet, and will likely buy one based on the DAW I choose - Mac for Logic, Something else for Protools are comparable program. For this purpose, please don't factor in this cost to my budget as I am more focused on gear.

SUGGESTIONS NEEDED:

-Software Program/DAW for my purpose?
Logic vs Protools or equivalent. I need to make/add drum beats using my midi keyboard. I'd like a good platform for songwriting inspiration.

-Computer/laptop recommendation if using something other than Logic Pro X?
If I get Logic I will have to get a Mac. The one I would purchase (16 GB Ram, 256 GB Storage + Terrabyte External Drive) to support Logic. I am open to other types of computers (non-Mac) if I am running something different than Logic, as I know they will be much cheaper. (don't need to factor in this cost with my budget for this discussion)

-Audio interface?
I'd like to record my vocals and guitar at the same time but split into separate tracks. I'd like to then be able to pick up the bass and or play midi keyboard easily add those tracks. I'd like to avoid having to unplug and switch things around a lot. I want to make it easy to record. It would be a plus to allow for one other player to accompany me at the same time when I'm singing/playing guitar, i.e. bass or midi keyboard, though I've heard that midi keyboards only require a USB to the computer and are not connected to the interface?? Assume they will NOT need a vocals mic.

-Connectors/cords required for the interface?

-Recording Microphone (vocals)?

-Recording Microphone (amp)?
I'm open to using the line out or plugging the instrument into the interface directly but I hear from friends this doesn't sound as good as micing up the amp.

-Whatever else I need to make this work or that you would recommend - Desktop Speakers or Headphones? Controller?


POTENTIAL SETUP I'VE GATHERED FROM FRIEND'S RECOMMENDATIONS:
-DAW: Logic Pro X
-Computer: Macbook Mini plus a Display monitor and keyboard
-Interface: Apollo Twin Duo
-Mic Vocal: SE Electronics V7
-Mic Instrumental: BeyerDynamic m201
-Some Good quality Headphones


Thank you! :D
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Re: Need Gear/Set-Up Recommendations - Apt Recording ($3k Budget)

Postby MOF » Fri Mar 27, 2020 12:29 am

Your friends’ recommendations are good, they will allow you to do what you asked for.
I would suggest a different mic’ for vocals, the v7 is more for handheld stage use. The sE x1S or similar with a windshield would be better.
There are very good plugins from UAD for guitars/bass instead of a mic’.
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Re: Need Gear/Set-Up Recommendations - Apt Recording ($3k Budget)

Postby BassFacer67 » Fri Mar 27, 2020 12:43 am

Thanks MOF - do you know if the Apollo Twin Duo would let me run vocals, guitar and bass or keyboard at the same time? OR will I need to unplug or reconfigure each time I needed to lay down a bass track? Thanks.
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Re: Need Gear/Set-Up Recommendations - Apt Recording ($3k Budget)

Postby MOF » Fri Mar 27, 2020 3:24 am

Your midi keyboard will plug into a USB socket, this will be for virtual keyboards.
The Apollo will allow you to have a mic’ and bass or electric guitar to be recorded at the same time, you’ll just have to swap the jack between instruments. The other end of the jack will be in one of the high impedance sockets on the front panel, it will automatically cut away from any mic’ xlr source.
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Re: Need Gear/Set-Up Recommendations - Apt Recording ($3k Budget)

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Mar 27, 2020 4:47 am

Another second for your friend's suggestion - though in truth you'll get as many suggestions as there are options available ;)

I'm wedded to a UAD/Apple world and I generally find everything just works, so I don't have to faff around with fixing stuff. The UAD plug-ins are exceptional, but you do pay for them.

One interesting development on the horizon is UAD's new DAW 'Luna'. It's free and looks very interesting - just check it's compatible with the interface you buy.

The M201 is a great mic for instruments/amps, however I would echo the comments regarding a vocal microphone. I'll often recommend that people find a suitable studio vocal microphone to match their own voice, but that's hard to do given the current lock-down. So I'd recommend the Shure SM7B, an excellent dynamic microphone which punches well above its weight/cost. I've used it even though I have a bunch of Neumanns in the studio.

Lastly, and crucially, you need to look at acoustic treatment. I'm not talking about sound isolation, but treating the acoustic response of your room. This is one of the most influential factors on your sound and the difference between a professional recording and sub-par throw-away.

If you're unfamiliar with the concept, do a search on SOS for 'Acoustic Treatment'.

Bob
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Re: Need Gear/Set-Up Recommendations - Apt Recording ($3k Budget)

Postby ef37a » Fri Mar 27, 2020 6:46 am

I would add some good quality monitors to that list. Many here would aver that you can do a lot on headphones but not really everything.

I take the point about the apartment but if you are going to have a guitar amp loud enough to mic it up you can run some small nearfields at a similar volume.

The Quested V2104s featured in the latest magazine would I think be ideal. Big chunk of the budget though. Consider the iLouds? There will be other suggestion for small monitors.

You are, BF67, jumping into several ponds all at once! Hard enough to get to know a DAW without having all the hardware to deal with as well. Why not give Reaper a try for a month or so? You can always get PT at a later date. I have never used PT but have read many times that people don't need it unless they are in the top end, commercial recording world?

Dave.
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Re: Need Gear/Set-Up Recommendations - Apt Recording ($3k Budget)

Postby Arpangel » Fri Mar 27, 2020 8:20 am

A couple of things, Reaper is a great DAW, free initially, or buy it if you wish, and it’s still cheap.
One of the new smaller Motu interfaces would fit the bill, and be a lot cheaper than the Twin.
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Re: Need Gear/Set-Up Recommendations - Apt Recording ($3k Budget)

Postby ef37a » Fri Mar 27, 2020 8:43 am

Arpangel wrote:A couple of things, Reaper is a great DAW, free initially, or buy it if you wish, and it’s still cheap.
One of the new smaller Motu interfaces would fit the bill, and be a lot cheaper than the Twin.

I think OP wants all the synths connected at the same time Arp'? I do agree the MOTU or lil' SSL would be easily good enough sound quality. In fact there is another route? A top grade but smaller AI and a good quality mixer from A&H or Soundcraft, has the incidental advantage of not needing a PC to play the kit.

I am still of the opinion that this is a massive, all at once, move. OP surely has some sort of computer and either of those AIs (NOT forgetting the NI KA6!) would work very well on it. My 7yr+ i3 HP g6 would serve I am sure for single takes and track building?

With a bit of thought he/she could build up a very versatile and high quality setup over a period of time...So, 4 in 4 out AI with MIDI, Reaper, SM7b, pair of SE SDCs, small monitors, closed back cans...Do some goodly work with that rig IMHO.

Oh and a Berry 8500 to stick in front of the Cube!

Dave.
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Re: Need Gear/Set-Up Recommendations - Apt Recording ($3k Budget)

Postby Arpangel » Fri Mar 27, 2020 8:57 am

ef37a wrote:
Arpangel wrote:A couple of things, Reaper is a great DAW, free initially, or buy it if you wish, and it’s still cheap.
One of the new smaller Motu interfaces would fit the bill, and be a lot cheaper than the Twin.

I think OP wants all the synths connected at the same time Arp'? I do agree the MOTU or lil' SSL would be easily good enough sound quality. In fact there is another route? A top grade but smaller AI and a good quality mixer from A&H or Soundcraft, has the incidental advantage of not needing a PC to play the kit.

I am still of the opinion that this is a massive, all at once, move. OP surely has some sort of computer and either of those AIs (NOT forgetting the NI KA6!) would work very well on it. My 7yr+ i3 HP g6 would serve I am sure for single takes and track building?

With a bit of thought he/she could build up a very versatile and high quality setup over a period of time...So, 4 in 4 out AI with MIDI, Reaper, SM7b, pair of SE SDCs, small monitors, closed back cans...Do some goodly work with that rig IMHO.

Oh and a Berry 8500 to stick in front of the Cube!

Dave.

A MOTU M4 may fit the bill, has two extra inputs than the Twin?
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Re: Need Gear/Set-Up Recommendations - Apt Recording ($3k Budget)

Postby The Elf » Fri Mar 27, 2020 9:20 am

i would also suggest Reaper as a starting point. And if you use Reaper then you could save even more money by going PC instead of Mac.

And that money saved could go into other/better hardware.

Get as much of your gear from one source as possible. Should you hit any glitches - and it does happen - the last thing you need is one supplier blaming another.
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Re: Need Gear/Set-Up Recommendations - Apt Recording ($3k Budget)

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Mar 27, 2020 11:05 am

Another happy Reaper user here, if you are starting from scratch you might as well settle on one DAW at the beginning then learn to use it.

I do use stage vocal mics* for recording even in my (modestly) treated room, they do remove a lot more of the room sound from the recording than the standard LDC at 12". I would also consider using plug-ins for electric guitar sounds and not miking the Cube for two reasons, the cube is not a great amp, and your room is small and even with acoustic treatment probably not going to sound great. Either DI the pedalboard and use an amp/speaker plug-in or DI the guitar and use plugs for the whole sound. It might sound different but will still sound good.

FWIW I'm in the (lo---ong) process of trying to get the sound I love (my hand wired 18 watt combo and a few pedals) out of my recently acquired Headrush Gigboard. The touch and dynamics are not quite there yet but I'm hopeful. Acoustic guitars need a mic and a great room (or a Tone Dexter preamp). You'll be able to get usable tones from the onboard pickup for a pop band mix but, unless you blow your entire budget twice on the acoustic, they all sound poor in isolation. It's a matter of compromises.
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Re: Need Gear/Set-Up Recommendations - Apt Recording ($3k Budget)

Postby shufflebeat » Fri Mar 27, 2020 11:42 am

I don't even need an interface at the minute but I find myself looking at those SSL usb interfaces reviewed in the latest issue with some interest. The "+" has midi I/O which word make it the hub for everything and make for a well integrated system, assuming it all works as described.

+1 for Reaper
+1 for choosing nice recording spaces.

Impulse responses (amp/cab/hardware simulations, instrument profiles and recreating real reverbs) will change your view of what's possible but you'll need another lifetime to audition all the free ones available.

Might as well get a '57 and an AT2020 anyway, you will use them.
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Re: Need Gear/Set-Up Recommendations - Apt Recording ($3k Budget)

Postby BassFacer67 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 4:11 am

Extemely helpful. Thanks everyone.

I have a feeling that since this is literally in my bedroom with all sorts of furniture etc, I can do some acoustic treatment but ultimately it's going to be tough to get stellar sound. I'd like for my demos to sound as good as possible for posting on soundcloud/spotify, but I understand there's limitations.

I think it comes down to the audio interface now - researching all the other recommendations everyone ha provided. I'm looking at these:

-The Motu looks great - awesome price point but less inputs. I guess unplugging the guitar and plugging it into the bass isn't that big of a deal, as long as there's not heavy manipuation that also needs to be made on the software (I guess that's where I'm hearing presets are useful)

-The Audient iD44 - can support more inputs but a little pricier.

-Apollo Twin X (desktop unit) - Seems like safest bet for quality and latency but may be complete overkill given the cost and acoustics limitations of the room. Seems a lot to spend for a newbie.


Questions:

1. When comparing audio interfaces of similar nature i.e. Apollo Twin X Duo versus the Motu, (same number of preamps etc), do you think the layman would really hear much of a difference in the quality of the recordings? Friends suggest starting cheap but I would hate to do that if the difference is very noticeable.

In other words, generally speaking do you think you can really hear that much of a difference in quality between a $200 and a $600 interface?

2. By modern tech standards, is there going to be much of a difference in noticeable latency in the devices above in regards to monitoring myself through headphones in real time when I'm singing or playing guitar? I'd like to hear my vocals through headphones as I'm singing if possible.

Thanks,
Z
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Re: Need Gear/Set-Up Recommendations - Apt Recording ($3k Budget)

Postby Arpangel » Sat Mar 28, 2020 9:03 am

BassFacer67 wrote:Extemely helpful. Thanks everyone.

I have a feeling that since this is literally in my bedroom with all sorts of furniture etc, I can do some acoustic treatment but ultimately it's going to be tough to get stellar sound. I'd like for my demos to sound as good as possible for posting on soundcloud/spotify, but I understand there's limitations.

I think it comes down to the audio interface now - researching all the other recommendations everyone ha provided. I'm looking at these:

-The Motu looks great - awesome price point but less inputs. I guess unplugging the guitar and plugging it into the bass isn't that big of a deal, as long as there's not heavy manipuation that also needs to be made on the software (I guess that's where I'm hearing presets are useful)

-The Audient iD44 - can support more inputs but a little pricier.

-Apollo Twin X (desktop unit) - Seems like safest bet for quality and latency but may be complete overkill given the cost and acoustics limitations of the room. Seems a lot to spend for a newbie.


Questions:

1. When comparing audio interfaces of similar nature i.e. Apollo Twin X Duo versus the Motu, (same number of preamps etc), do you think the layman would really hear much of a difference in the quality of the recordings? Friends suggest starting cheap but I would hate to do that if the difference is very noticeable.

In other words, generally speaking do you think you can really hear that much of a difference in quality between a $200 and a $600 interface?

2. By modern tech standards, is there going to be much of a difference in noticeable latency in the devices above in regards to monitoring myself through headphones in real time when I'm singing or playing guitar? I'd like to hear my vocals through headphones as I'm singing if possible.

Thanks,
Z

I use a Motu 828 MK11 for my main studio, it’s fine, no problems at all, the sound quality isn’t an issue.
I also know a few professional people that use Motu, also, perfectly fine.
UAD are good sure, but the pug-in's are the main draw for a lot of people.
I’ve also got a Behringer Uphoria in my basement studio, and that’s also surprisingly good for the money, too good in fact, for the price. You could get one of the larger Uphoria range, and have more than enough inputs for your needs, and actually pay less money than the others mentioned here,
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Re: Need Gear/Set-Up Recommendations - Apt Recording ($3k Budget)

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sat Mar 28, 2020 9:40 am

The quality of the audio interface and its preamps won’t be noticeable unless you’re recording in an excellent acoustic and have very good monitoring.

So in terms of quality, any on your list would be fine. The only reason to go with UAD, would be if you want to access their plug-ins.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to live without them, but most people don’t use UAD and make perfectly good recordings.

Bob
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