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Audio interface and speakers/monitors for music listening and production for a Mac

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  • Audio interface and speakers/monitors for music listening and production for a Mac

    Hey everyone,

    I'll be getting a Macbook Air next week or so, and along with it, I'm looking into refreshing some of my audio equipment. I'm looking for a 2.0 or 2.1 speakers system for listening to music and monitoring, and an audio interface for recording.

    I haven't got any experience with music production on a Mac, and even on a PC I was limited to some dabbling in the various DAW packages and some primitive recording using Audacity. This time around, I wanna get a bit more serious, though

    I don't know much in terms of hardware compatibility on the Mac, and haven't really decided what DAW software to use. I'll probably try Logic first. If I don't get along with it, I'll try Reason and Ableton, which I recall being quite nice.

    Regarding audio interfaces, I've always been kind of cheap (regrettably), and opted out of buying a decent one, settling for some old stuff I had lying around.

    I play the guitar and keyboards and intend to just plug the guitar straight in and do the processing using software exclusively. I don't currently have a mic, but am thinking of getting one in the future, to record some vocals. The keyboards I would use to play VSTs through MIDI, besides recording their actual sound. I already have a dedicated Cakewalk USB MIDI interface, though I don't know if it would work with the Mac.

    I have an external mixer on my rack, and plugged in to it I have my Roland D50, my Alpha Juno 2, Waldorf Blofeld and my Eurorack modular synth. My digital piano is currently not plugged in, I just use its internal speaker.

    My budget is about 300-400

  • #2
    How many inputs do you need? A Focusrite 2i2 is only like $150USD, and does the trick pretty well. As for DAWs, you might want to just mess around with GarageBand for a bit, since it's free with the computer, and is pretty solid for what it is. You can get the Mainstage add-on from the App Store for $30, which adds a lot of loops and virtual instruments. When you move to Logic, all of that will still work.

    For speakers, that price range is tough, but perhaps some KRK Rokit 5's?
    <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="4"><font color="Red">Court Jester of the Ibanez Wizards</font></font><font size="3"><font color="Blue"><br />
    <b><i>Mesa/Boogie Mob</i></b></font></font><br />
    <br />
    Guitars:<br />
    <br />
    Ibanez JS2000<br />
    Ibanez RG421 w/ Dimarzio TZ+AN<br />
    Ibanez SC420<br />
    Fender MIM Strat with built-in Roland GK3<br />
    Seagull S6<br />
    <br />
    Rig:<br />
    '94 Mesa DC-5 combo<br />
    Palmer PDI-09<br />
    L6 Echo Park<br />
    Boss chorus<br />
    Boss SD-1<br />
    AmpKit+ for iPad<br />
    Roland GI-20 MIDI converter</div>

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    • #3
      Polaris has good advice. Push minimal equipment as far as you can. That will help you better evaluate your needs for more hefty investments.
      <div class="signaturecontainer">Todzilla<br />
      HUGE sound generation &amp; capture facility<br />
      Eno River Basin</div>

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      • #4
        The most lightweight option I can think of would be a Yamaha THR-5 ($200) or 10 ($300). Integrated speakers and guitar interface, and comes with Cubase software. I use the THR-10 with Logic 9 Express.

        With the THR-10 you can set the input to "flat" and plug your mixer into the input.

        The upside is that it's inexpensive and sounds great. The downside is that the speakers may not get loud enough for you, and you can only record one instrument at a time.
        <a href="http://readgain.com/random">New stuff every day on Gain!</a>

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        • #5
          Thank you for the suggestions

          I will try out GarageBand for a while, when I find I need something more, I'll then think about upgrading.

          As for number of I/O channels, I guess I would only need 2 input channels, since I don't see myself recording more than one instrument at a time. And 2 output channels as well since I only need to feed the speakers. So that Focusrite is looking appealing What other alternatives are available out there?

          Regarding the THRs, they're a bit too "guitar amp"-y for me. Guitar is my secondary instrument, I'll be recording mostly keyboards and synths. I can't really see something like that putting out the whole sound spectrum without sounding like a guitar amp

          Those KRK seem nice, too. But I have to ask: Would I really be losing that much if I went with a cheaper standard speakers setup rather than studio-quality monitors? Something that I could also use for regular laptop sound and listening to music? I guess they'll color the mix a bit, but I'm willing to sacrifice that in the meanwhile. And I can also use headphones, which should be fairly uncolored,

          I do already have a pair of old Boss monitors, so I can use those as well (although they are set for American outlets, so I'd have to also use a transformer).

          Comment


          • #6
            Regarding the THRs, they're a bit too "guitar amp"-y for me. Guitar is my secondary instrument, I'll be recording mostly keyboards and synths.


            Good point.
            <a href="http://readgain.com/random">New stuff every day on Gain!</a>

            Comment


            • #7
              Good point.


              But for that purpose, they do seem pretty awesome If I was on the market for a guitar amp, I would definitely give it a thought.

              EDIT: BTW, can those XLR/TRS combo jacks be used to receive a stereo signal? If so, is there some sort of cable with two TSs on one end, one for each channel output from my synths and a TRS on the other, with the stereo signal?

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              • #8
                EDIT: BTW, can those XLR/TRS combo jacks be used to receive a stereo signal? If so, is there some sort of cable with two TSs on one end, one for each channel output from my synths and a TRS on the other, with the stereo signal?


                I don't know, but I would assume that the jacks are mono, so another good point as far as using it with non-guitar sources.
                <a href="http://readgain.com/random">New stuff every day on Gain!</a>

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                • #9
                  [QUOTE=BlackJustice;46452961]Thank you for the suggestions

                  Those KRK seem nice, too. But I have to ask: Would I really be losing that much if I went with a cheaper standard speakers setup rather than studio-quality monitors? Something that I could also use for regular laptop sound and listening to music? I guess they'll color the mix a bit, but I'm willing to sacrifice that in the meanwhile. And I can also use headphones, which should be fairly uncolored [QUOTE]

                  You can

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                  • #10
                    I understand all that, I really do I have had some listening experience up close with some pro studio monitors, and I know where you're coming from.

                    I'm just trying to find a solution for my problem, I don't really want to spend a lot of cash up front on some quality monitors yet. I do, however, have some urgency when it comes to getting a new computer stereo system. And if I can somehow use it as a less-than-ideal monitoring system, that should be the best compromise and a solution for my problem

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                    • #11
                      Those KRK seem nice, too. But I have to ask: Would I really be losing that much if I went with a cheaper standard speakers setup rather than studio-quality monitors?


                      No, not really.

                      Go to the music shop, or Hi-Fi shop, play a CD you know inside out, compare, get the one which you intuitivelly feel sounds the best.

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                      • #12
                        I don't really want to spend a lot of cash up front on some quality monitors yet.


                        Studio monitors worth the money and sound cost $28.000 the piece.

                        Anything music shops sell as studio monitors are a low cost solution... I would even say a wooden box with some speakers inside, and of course each banana box sounds totally different.

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