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Help an old dog, learn new tricks...

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Help an old dog, learn new tricks...

Postby Wholemeal » Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:36 am

Hi everyone, have been on a hiatus for about 20 years, guitarist but have made electronic too, was a hardware guy. 303, 808 and Ensoniq asr10 were the staple of what I had.

I live in the bush, on solar. I want to build a studio that will run off a 250w solar panel, mppt regulator and a 110ah lifepo4 battery.

I have the solar system and have given myself a budget of roughly $2000 Australian to make it happen. So far I have purchased...

Toshiba portege i7/16gb 64 bit $300
Cakewalk v studio 20 $80
Korg nanokey studio $239
ipad 4 $100
Korg gadget 2 $40
Hotone Heart attack $107
Zoom arq 96 $222
Class a headphone amplifier $18
Pioneer cdj200 $50
Line 6 jm4 looper $200

I have about a dozen quality axes that I am pulling out of retirement, I have a yourock guitar that I bought about 8 years ago and have never used it andalso have an Ensoniq asr x pro that I bought about same time as the yourock and never used. I have pretty average electronic drum kit.

The world has changed drastically since I was doing anything and vst seem to rule the world, there are many more daws available now and am looking at free daws like cakewalk and soundbridge.

I am probably going to ask a lot of stupid questions so I apologise upfront....

anyway, thanks for letting me join.
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Re: Help an old dog, learn new tricks...

Postby zenguitar » Tue Oct 06, 2020 2:09 am

Welcome to the forums :thumbup:

Interesting challenge; to run a studio off a 250W solar panel, regulator, and battery.

Your list of gear is very useful, but the biggest restraint you face is power. And with that in mind I would suggest that you need to have a clear idea in mind for what you want to achieve, and use that as the principle guide to how you might achieve that with power restrictions.

Your iPad may well become your best friend. It is built to be very efficient with power (compared to a laptop/desktop) and while it won't run VSTs, there are a lot of iPad AU apps that offer a lot but at a fraction of the cost of similar VSTs for laptops/desktops.

Definitely worth taking the time to take a step back and get a clear idea about what you want to do and then working out the most power efficient way to get there.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Help an old dog, learn new tricks...

Postby Wholemeal » Tue Oct 06, 2020 2:42 am

Power consumption is the key for sure, it is a big challenge for someone out of touch.

I haven't set it up yet, some items are enroute, and not wanting to have a case of gas, and waste effort and money on things I don't need thought joining here would be a good start to get a bit of direction.

The amp is only 5w, I was hoping to run the class a as a preamp, this video was the one that made me decide on the heart attack.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hhu_DnkOWU4

I see that the zoom arq can be run on usb, from what I have read but have no idea of the power needs as it is in mail.

The cakewalk v studio 20 and nanokey studio are usb. The v studio comes with guitar tracks pro 4 and the editor which has, what looks like a boss me 80 in software form, I suspect dumbed down.

The jm4 is 9v ac and 2 amps.

The pioneer cdj200 is 240v ac but only 15w. I am hoping to do something like this vid.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwT1U_JUzzs

I am really not an apple fan but I saw korg gadget 2 and the nanokey studio are a good pair. The laptop has excellent battery life.

Not sure what I am trying to do really, have just tried to cover bases and get a bit of this and that for now. Am here to watch, listen and learn so hopefully? I will manage to get something to work with what I am trying to achieve.
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Re: Help an old dog, learn new tricks...

Postby resistorman » Tue Oct 06, 2020 3:24 am

If it were me I’d just use an iPadPro and something like the iConnectivity Audio 2 + interface. Unbelievable what you can do with that. Use the extra wattage for some nice speakers.
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Re: Help an old dog, learn new tricks...

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Oct 06, 2020 10:53 am

I, as an Apple user, would suggest a Macbook Pro or Air, the Air in particular is extremely power efficient and, while I have 3 iPads, I much prefer a laptop for recording and editing.

WRT power, I guess you are well up to speed in that area but for the benefit of anybody who isn't... Solar panels only produce their rated power in full sunlight and if facing the sun, the sun hitting the panel at an angle reduces the power generated as does cloudy weak sun (not that that'll be much of a problem for you?). But, you obviously won't be running the studio 24/7 and the short term power supply is limited by the inverter and battery not the solar panel.

As you've probably guessed I'm very interested in off grid power and a few years ago I did a series of PA gigs with a guy running an entirely solar powered stage.... in the UK (TBF he did have a small genny, it would be foolish not to in our less than perfect climate). Keep us posted :thumbup:
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Re: Help an old dog, learn new tricks...

Postby Wholemeal » Tue Oct 06, 2020 12:57 pm

I have gone micro systems here, rather than one big system. I have 5 exact set ups, one runs the satellite internet, two run refrigeration (1x100 litre engel, 1x110 litre evakool), one runs the entertainment of house (tv, computer etc etc) and I have a pretty good grasp on what I am getting out of them.

Sun is not a problem here, the sat net and entertainment systems are full by lunch time, I have this lifepo4 set up spare so was about time I get back into it and see what I can pull off.

I think I can estimate about 8 hours use after sun goes off panels, will see. I will post how it handles with everything on.
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Re: Help an old dog, learn new tricks...

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Oct 06, 2020 2:44 pm

If you battery is fully charged before sunset it's easy enough to work out from the consumption of your gear and the battery capacity. As I said I'm interested in this 'anorak' stuff :blush: so please keep us posted.
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Re: Help an old dog, learn new tricks...

Postby CS70 » Tue Oct 06, 2020 4:27 pm

A lot depends on what you want to do.

For playing guitar, perhaps the best and easiest way is to get a good hardware amp+cab emulator and use a computer (even a laptop) as a recording device. Something like the Atomic Amplifire, for example, or of course the various headrush/helix/axefx etc.

With modern emulators, you will get great effects and a very good tone with none of the power consumption of a physical tube amp - and if you run the output to headphones instead of speakers, the power consumption is really minimal.

You also avoid all the problems in running a guitar into a computer - primarily latency - that can be extremely frustrating especially if you've been out of the game for many years. Plus of course when you're not recording you don't need the computer, and practice is always a flick of a switch away.

If you're going to do mixing as well, your main challenge is that mixing can require a quite powerful computer - which consumes both a good amount of cash and power.

The ipad is an option. Another is recording and mixing into an hardware recorder (some have built-in guitar emulators, but they are never as good as the dedicated units above), and again use the computer only as a "final destination" to distribute the result.
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Re: Help an old dog, learn new tricks...

Postby Wholemeal » Thu Oct 08, 2020 11:36 am

So I bought two more ipads today... first gen air, got one for $110 and one for the bargain price of $50.

I will look at getting a pro or macbook down the track when I have learned how to fly them.

I am doing lots of dr google on ios apps and it looks like, as much as I hate to say it... Apple is the way forward.

I am spending time learning soundbridge, has anyone got anything terrible to say about it before I invest time? I am finding it easier to navigate than cakewalk.

I have a bunch of older solar panels here, I have 3 x 45v 190w panels, they are putting in 5 amps each, the 250w pits in around 8 ish, so read up on my mppt regulator and am confident I can wire the panels in parallel and increase what is going in without frying the system. This will give me oodles of day time power.

Appreciate the input and am listening.
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Re: Help an old dog, learn new tricks...

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Oct 08, 2020 11:50 am

You've probably come across it but for those who haven't the 'Otherpower.com' site is a great resource of solid info about off grid power.

https://otherpower.com

WRT iPads and MacBooks, the OS is very different between the two and few of the various DAWs have versions for both (Cubase has Cubasis for iOS but that's the only one I'm aware of) so be prepared for another learning curve when you upgrade. But the extra sophistication of a Macbook based system will be worth the effort.
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Re: Help an old dog, learn new tricks...

Postby Wholemeal » Thu Oct 08, 2020 12:06 pm

That looks like a great site, thanks for sharing.
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Re: Help an old dog, learn new tricks...

Postby Wholemeal » Fri Oct 09, 2020 3:57 am

So I blew my initial wanting to spend budget... and pulled the trigger on a 12.9 ipad pro 4th gen, I kinda feel dirty to be honest.
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