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  • Home Studio Setup For Beginners

    What are some items that are a must have for a beginner. All I have now is a windows desktop PC. Budget $3K



    Help please remember and software would need to be dummy proof.



    I have all the instruments that I would need for my use



    Would something like Line 6 POD Studio UX2 with POD Farm work for guitar tracks?





    Thanks

  • #2
    Hi bfs,

    Go through the stickies (threads that are "stuck" at the top) at the top of the forum, namely the studio setup thread and the PC101 thread.

    This will acquaint you with the basic concepts of home studio production.

    Where does bfs live? Some recommendations will not be suitable, as some products are unavailable or prohibitively costly in different locations.



    The very basic requirements are:

    a computer,

    some software (REAPER/KRISTAL/SONAR/PROTOOLS)

    a microphone, (Shure SM57/58 or equivalent)

    a preamp (often combined with AD converter or mixer)

    an AD converter (usb/firewire/PCI/thunderbolt, often combined with preamp/mixer)

    studio monitors (flat/uncolored speakers to listen to while you are trying to mix)

    and a space to actually record and play music.



    Take your time if you can, you get a lot of things used on CL and if you choose wisely you can use some equipment for years and years into the future.



    If dummy proof is really a requirement, you might be best served just paying other people to record you.

    Seriously, if you can't pay attention to detail and be comfortable on a fairly technical level, then maybe dedicated hardware or just paying to record might be best for you vs a PC/interface/preamp etc.

    Just a warning!

    This hobby (hobby for me, not so much for other folks here), will also eat a fair bit of money, even if you are doing it economically.

    I have been doing this since 2002 on a super cheap basis, and I bet I have spent 5K USD.



    Once you get past the initial stage of just being able to lay a track down, you will start thinking about convenience.

    Now, by convenience I mean "not having to unplug stuff to record more/different instruments".

    I started with 2 channel USB converter; I could have a mic and a guitar plugged in at the same time and record them, yay I am tracking!

    That's fine, but now I want to add bass - have to unplug guitar, plug in bass, adjust levels, copy the guitar track, record some bass.

    It would be so much simpler if I just had more channels!

    So I bought a 4 channel USB converter and a 6X2 mixer

    Now I have guitar, bass and microphone plugged in, and I can get an electronic drum thing "Yamaha DD-55" to plug into 4th channel.

    Now we're cooking with gas!

    I"d like to add some keyboards though (in stereo!). Two more channels needed.

    So, I bought an 8 channel converter and a 16X4X2 mixer.

    At this point the bedroom was not an option and I framed a dedicated space in basement and tried to learn and practice

    acoustic engineering, to an extent. (Built a dedicated, dual wall/ceiling, dual door, isolated, acoustically managed space, not worth the work imho)

    Then I decided real drums would be better (7 channels!)

    So I bought another 8 channel converter.

    Now I have 16 discrete channels of input to my DAW.

    I have a couple of spare channels for whatever, and all instruments are wired up and ready to go, like a jet airplane sitting on the runway.

    That was good for a while, but now when I have the band over, I want everyone to have their own monitor mix in their headphones.

    so I bought a 4 channel headphone amp.

    I have SO MANY WIRES in that space now.



    Anyhow, sorry to digress, but read the stickies, do a little research, figure out what you are willing to learn/put up with.

    cheers

    C>



    tl:dr - READ THE STICKIES, you will will fill up your space with wires.
    Aromatic Squid
    Hot Hot Robot

    Comment


    • #3






      Quote Originally Posted by chugheshc2
      View Post

      Hi bfs,

      Go through the stickies (threads that are "stuck" at the top) at the top of the forum, namely the studio setup thread and the PC101 thread.

      This will acquaint you with the basic concepts of home studio production.

      Where does bfs live? Some recommendations will not be suitable, as some products are unavailable or prohibitively costly in different locations.



      The very basic requirements are:

      a computer,

      some software (REAPER/KRISTAL/SONAR/PROTOOLS)

      a microphone, (Shure SM57/58 or equivalent)

      a preamp (often combined with AD converter or mixer)

      an AD converter (usb/firewire/PCI/thunderbolt, often combined with preamp/mixer)

      studio monitors (flat/uncolored speakers to listen to while you are trying to mix)

      and a space to actually record and play music.



      Take your time if you can, you get a lot of things used on CL and if you choose wisely you can use some equipment for years and years into the future.



      If dummy proof is really a requirement, you might be best served just paying other people to record you.

      Seriously, if you can't pay attention to detail and be comfortable on a fairly technical level, then maybe dedicated hardware or just paying to record might be best for you vs a PC/interface/preamp etc.

      Just a warning!

      This hobby (hobby for me, not so much for other folks here), will also eat a fair bit of money, even if you are doing it economically.

      I have been doing this since 2002 on a super cheap basis, and I bet I have spent 5K USD.



      Once you get past the initial stage of just being able to lay a track down, you will start thinking about convenience.

      Now, by convenience I mean "not having to unplug stuff to record more/different instruments".

      I started with 2 channel USB converter; I could have a mic and a guitar plugged in at the same time and record them, yay I am tracking!

      That's fine, but now I want to add bass - have to unplug guitar, plug in bass, adjust levels, copy the guitar track, record some bass.

      It would be so much simpler if I just had more channels!

      So I bought a 4 channel USB converter and a 6X2 mixer

      Now I have guitar, bass and microphone plugged in, and I can get an electronic drum thing "Yamaha DD-55" to plug into 4th channel.

      Now we're cooking with gas!

      I"d like to add some keyboards though (in stereo!). Two more channels needed.

      So, I bought an 8 channel converter and a 16X4X2 mixer.

      At this point the bedroom was not an option and I framed a dedicated space in basement and tried to learn and practice

      acoustic engineering, to an extent. (Built a dedicated, dual wall/ceiling, dual door, isolated, acoustically managed space, not worth the work imho)

      Then I decided real drums would be better (7 channels!)

      So I bought another 8 channel converter.

      Now I have 16 discrete channels of input to my DAW.

      I have a couple of spare channels for whatever, and all instruments are wired up and ready to go, like a jet airplane sitting on the runway.

      That was good for a while, but now when I have the band over, I want everyone to have their own monitor mix in their headphones.

      so I bought a 4 channel headphone amp.

      I have SO MANY WIRES in that space now.



      Anyhow, sorry to digress, but read the stickies, do a little research, figure out what you are willing to learn/put up with.

      cheers

      C>



      tl:dr - READ THE STICKIES, you will will fill up your space with wires.






      Thanks man...............I'll do just that!

      Comment


      • #4
        The most important item is knowlege so you can make good purchase decisions.

        If you have that you can make good decisons on where your money needs to be spent.



        Go here and read every catagory on the left.

        http://tweakheadz.com/guide.htm

        It should give you a better idea of what you need to know.



        There are some basic items you need to have to get good recordings.



        Good Nearfield monitors. If you cant hear what you record, you cant mix it with good results.

        Interface 4 basic types to choose from. PCI, USB, Firewire, Thunderbolt/PCI express

        The last is the newest and most expensive at the moment so I wouldnt worry about it for now.



        PCI/PCIE are the fastest because they plug into the motherboard directly vs a communication port.

        These are not as popular any more because they require you to open the compuer for installation.



        Firewire, uses peer to peer communication and is what most pro studios use.

        Its stable and will runs steady in the background.



        USB is a master slave communication port. Its fast but its bursty and since the CPU has

        complete control over the port it can be shut down by the CPU when its busy. Its OK for most

        recording if you have a fast USB port and running maybe 16 channels or less. If you plan to

        grow a studio into something professional, you may want to skip USB and go straight to firewire.

        This is a decision you'll have to make. If you start with a cheaper 2 or 4 channel interface, USB

        is the best bang for the buck. 8 or more I'd look at Firewire.



        Daw Program This is another nessasary item. Many start with a free or low cost DAW program.

        There are many to choose from. There are different favorites depending on whether you run a Mac or PC.

        The basic tools for recording and editing/mixing are pretty much the same between them.

        Your choice will be how you feel confortable using them. I tried out Logic, Cubase and Cakewalk

        when I first started. (Logic was PC compatible back in the win 95/98 days)



        To me Logic was anything but logical and I banged my head against the wall for days trying to get it to work.

        Cubase was middle of the road and Cakewalk 8 was the easiest.

        All have changed allot but I find Cakewalk/sonar the easiest coming from a long analog background in recording.

        I still like Cubase for midi but I nreally dont use it much. The newer versions use an ILock as a liscence key which

        I dont like. Sonar only uses a numeric liscence to install.



        Where one becomes a better value is the plugin packages. This is where you want to focus your research.

        All DAW programs do the same basic things, its the plugins effects that drive the cost up. I dont do allot

        of midi so those plugins dont interest me as much as having good audio effects.



        In any case, read up and check out any demp programs till you find the right one for you.

        Theres allot of learning to be done so dont think this is kids stuff where you can just buy whet you need

        and you'll have a hit album in a week. It can and will take years of hard work to begin to master the gear

        and programs to get good results. Main thing is it has to be fun and you have to have a passion for it to learn.

        If your only goal is the final result, go do a recording in a studio. Its the knowlege and experience thats

        going to get you that good recording, not the gear.



        Other Gear Mics, Preamps, Cables, additional hardware.

        Its good to have a few good mics. This grows over time as the need arises.

        I'd say a good condencer and dynamic for a beginner starting out solo is important.

        The interfaces have preamps so thats a luxary item that can wait. Same for the rest of it

        including setting up a room for good acoustics, mixing desk, etc.

        Comment


        • #5






          Quote Originally Posted by WRGKMC
          View Post

          The most important item is knowlege so you can make good purchase decisions.

          If you have that you can make good decisons on where your money needs to be spent.



          Go here and read every catagory on the left.

          http://tweakheadz.com/guide.htm

          It should give you a better idea of what you need to know.



          There are some basic items you need to have to get good recordings.



          Good Nearfield monitors. If you cant hear what you record, you cant mix it with good results.

          Interface 4 basic types to choose from. PCI, USB, Firewire, Thunderbolt/PCI express

          The last is the newest and most expensive at the moment so I wouldnt worry about it for now.



          PCI/PCIE are the fastest because they plug into the motherboard directly vs a communication port.

          These are not as popular any more because they require you to open the compuer for installation.



          Firewire, uses peer to peer communication and is what most pro studios use.

          Its stable and will runs steady in the background.



          USB is a master slave communication port. Its fast but its bursty and since the CPU has

          complete control over the port it can be shut down by the CPU when its busy. Its OK for most

          recording if you have a fast USB port and running maybe 16 channels or less. If you plan to

          grow a studio into something professional, you may want to skip USB and go straight to firewire.

          This is a decision you'll have to make. If you start with a cheaper 2 or 4 channel interface, USB

          is the best bang for the buck. 8 or more I'd look at Firewire.



          Daw Program This is another nessasary item. Many start with a free or low cost DAW program.

          There are many to choose from. There are different favorites depending on whether you run a Mac or PC.

          The basic tools for recording and editing/mixing are pretty much the same between them.

          Your choice will be how you feel confortable using them. I tried out Logic, Cubase and Cakewalk

          when I first started. (Logic was PC compatible back in the win 95/98 days)



          To me Logic was anything but logical and I banged my head against the wall for days trying to get it to work.

          Cubase was middle of the road and Cakewalk 8 was the easiest.

          All have changed allot but I find Cakewalk/sonar the easiest coming from a long analog background in recording.

          I still like Cubase for midi but I nreally dont use it much. The newer versions use an ILock as a liscence key which

          I dont like. Sonar only uses a numeric liscence to install.



          Where one becomes a better value is the plugin packages. This is where you want to focus your research.

          All DAW programs do the same basic things, its the plugins effects that drive the cost up. I dont do allot

          of midi so those plugins dont interest me as much as having good audio effects.



          In any case, read up and check out any demp programs till you find the right one for you.

          Theres allot of learning to be done so dont think this is kids stuff where you can just buy whet you need

          and you'll have a hit album in a week. It can and will take years of hard work to begin to master the gear

          and programs to get good results. Main thing is it has to be fun and you have to have a passion for it to learn.

          If your only goal is the final result, go do a recording in a studio. Its the knowlege and experience thats

          going to get you that good recording, not the gear.



          Other Gear Mics, Preamps, Cables, additional hardware.

          Its good to have a few good mics. This grows over time as the need arises.

          I'd say a good condencer and dynamic for a beginner starting out solo is important.

          The interfaces have preamps so thats a luxary item that can wait. Same for the rest of it

          including setting up a room for good acoustics, mixing desk, etc.




          I have an old MACKIE CR1604-VLZ mixer.....is it even worth using in todays digital world of home recording?

          Comment


          • Rudolf von Hagenwil
            Editing a comment
            I have an old MACKIE CR1604-VLZ mixer.....is it even worth using in todays digital world of home recording?


             

            sell that noise maker, and you have a few bucks more for your studio

             


        • #6
          For a begginner, there's always a stand-alone box. I just did a quick search, 24 tracks for $600. I still record everything with my AKAI DPS16, then move it into a computer to mix. Plus, its got an analog mixer - it may sound silly, but there *is* a sound there. Plus, no recording latency. I've had this since 2001, still works. My Mbox2 and my computer are all outdated and aren't as reliable.



          The controls are quick to use, so my hands can move around and get what I want quickly. It's portable, starts up instantly, and any $ you save on the computer and software and converter can go to front end stuff (nice mic and preamps and compressors, etc) that will *still* be good if you decide upgrading is for you.



          The music in my sig was recorded this way, the band stuff is 7 tracks live. Once you get in a computer, the first impulse is to overdo everything - plugins, eq, compression, multiple takes and edits. This thing is simple and keeps me working quickly.



          Good luck!
          GrubbyGroovesGrubbyGrooves always free on YouTube

          Comment


          • #7
            $3k will get you a lot, even a semi-pro to pro set up. Good luck!

            Comment


            • #8






              Quote Originally Posted by bigfatskinny
              View Post

              I have an old MACKIE CR1604-VLZ mixer.....is it even worth using in todays digital world of home recording?




              Not really needed unless you're wanting to combine several mics. I used to use one to mix 8 drum mics down

              to a stereo track cause I was recording a band an only had 8 channel interface.

              Recording solo multitracking, you dont need it. Its only going to be a bottleneck in your recording path.

              Just record the mic with no coloration or EQing. You can add all that stuff when you mix. You can cut frequencies

              from a track if its present. You cant add something that was never there or removed prior to

              it getting on the track.



              Besides, theres no way to know how much EQing you'll want or need on a track till all tracks are recorded

              and you're ready to mix. Its not like live sound where you mix before you record. The recorded tracks

              are your band members, You do live sound with the tracks playing them back (most of the time)

              Tracking consists of mic, preamp, interface, and the preamp is built into the interface.

              Comment


              • #9

                Hello... I am from europe and in this time I live near Washington DC... I am looking for simple home recording studio in Silver Spring... I would like to record vocal and acoustic guitra... a few songs... and I  need not expensive price.... thanku for Your help... robert 

                Comment


              • #10

                One

                Two

                Three

                Go!

                Comment


                • mike.sartori
                  mike.sartori commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I've been doing this for a while, and acquiring a lot of good stuff. However, if I was doing it again, I'd change some of my priorities. First, monitors. Spend as much as you can on them. You'll never regret having better monitors. I didn't get why this is such a big deal at first, but its HUGE. You might think something sounds awesome on cheap speakers but it probably sucks and you won't find out till you try showing your buddies on their computer.

                  Next, your interface is something you don't want to have to sell and upgrade too quickly, so I'd look for something with expandability, like an optical input, or something that you wouldn't mind having in addition, like a high-quality portable interface (bus-powered USB)

                  Microphones are an area where you can save a ton. There are some great cheap ones out there; just make sure you get stuff that will still be useful after you upgrade. What may have been your best vocal mic should be able to fill a role as a guitar or drum mic later on when you get something awesome. One thing I've noticed is that for the price of some decent budget condensers, you can get some top notch dynamic mics. There's a lot of great beyerdynamic, sennheiser, and akg dynamics that are "the best" at what they do for less than $400. There's also a lot of cheap Chinese mics that actually sound really good.

                  Like others have suggested, Craig's list is a GREAT place to find some sweet deals. Lots of people think they are going to start recording studios and end up unloading stuff for killer prices. Lots of times it's barely used, and I've probably gotten a dozen free cables, mic stands and monitor pads because the guy selling the mic or preamp wasn't going to use them anymore.

                  There's a lot of info out there, and you can always come here and get some opinions about a piece of gear or a particular deal. Have fun and don't get overwhelmed!

              • #11

                a few questions

                is it just to record yourself?

                what instruments will you be recording?... eg, acoustic guitars?.. acoustic drums or would you be looking for a program to handle drums?... bass amp or bass straight in?... can you play loud enough to mic amps?

                style(s) of music you'll be making?

                 

                Comment


                • #12

                  bigfatskinny wrote:
                  What are some items that are a must have for a beginner. All I have now is a windows desktop PC. Budget $3K

                  Would something like Line 6 POD Studio UX2 with POD Farm work for guitar tracks?


                   

                  Line 6 is great for recording guitar !!!

                   

                  For $3000 you get a very very good home recording set up !!!

                   

                   

                  Comment



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