What do I need for a MacBook based studio?

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Member Since: Apr 01, 2007


Im a total novice to home computer based recording and am considering buying a MacBook with garageband to start recording some tracks.

I will be wanting to plug in and record vocals (for which I will use my SM58) and my electric guitar / bass. I will then create drum beats and perhaps take and loop some music samples.

What I really need to know is: a) is garageband sufficient for home recording as mentioned above and b) what else, if anything, will I need to purchase in order to plug in and record external instruments?

I also have a roland MC505 that I also may wish to use.

Any assistance regarding equipment needed and cost of said equipment would be really appreciated!!

Im aiming to record a and send out a demo disc in the next few months, so really need your help!

Angie :)

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Ultra Magnus
Since: Nov 13, 2004

Apr 02, 2007 01:34 am

You'll need some sort of audio interface which you plug mics and instruments into, this converts the sound into 1s and Os for the computer to understand. These connect to your computer via USB or Firewire. If you're only recording one or two things at a time, Edirol make some nice interfaces with two mic/jack ins that also have MIDI so you can control your 505. There are countless interfaces on the market starting at around 100 and moving up to a few grand, have a look in your local pro audio or music store. Make sure they're mac intel compliant, though most major brands now make ones that are.

Yes, Garageband will be fine for your entry into recording, it's a pretty smart and easy to use program.

Have fun!

Czar of Cheese
Since: Jun 09, 2004

Apr 02, 2007 08:40 am


I have a set-up similar to what you are looking to achieve. I have this audio interface:


This interface allows me to record two tracks at a time into GarageBand...which is all I need. I've experienced zero problems with this interface.

And a mixer similar to this:


The mixer allows me to use two mics at once, or plug in my guitar or bass or other type instrument. The built-in preamps aren't professional grade, but they serve my purposes fine.

As for GarageBand, it sounds like it will do everything you need it to do...works great for me!

You'll also need speakers (monitors) or headphones or other such monitoring device...


Since: Apr 01, 2007

Apr 02, 2007 02:24 pm


Thanks so much...also just out of curiosity would you recommend mac over pc?


Since: Apr 03, 2002

Apr 02, 2007 02:33 pm

6 of one, half dozen of the other, they both do the job, the only people that have a strong opinion are typically the evangalists for either side.

I prefer PC for many reasons, but they both get the same job done just fine.

Czar of Cheese
Since: Jun 09, 2004

Apr 02, 2007 02:39 pm

Although I use a Mac, I, too, would prefer to use a Windows machine. My job and home situations make it more practical for me to own a Mac.

Either way, go for what you know and learn to use it to its potential...

Since: Jan 18, 2003

Apr 02, 2007 04:18 pm

how is garageband? i just read something about it for the first time right now. it looks more solid than i expected and might actually be a decent songwriting aid...

Ultra Magnus
Since: Nov 13, 2004

Apr 03, 2007 02:58 am

Yeah, garageband is pretty cool, especially for a free program that comes with the OS. It's very straightforward and simple, some of the shortcuts are nice and very helpful. It certainly doesn't feel like an OS freebie. I used to use it for work, for editing the weekly podcast and i taught myself how to use it right off the bat, it's very intuitive if you've used any sort of recording program before. Simple layout too.

DB is right of course about 6 of one, this PC vs Mac issue goes on and on and on and on.. but it's all about opinion and personal preference.

Since you asked though.. personally i prefer macs, find them simpler. All the stuff i need to know or use is presented to me and the inner workings seem more hidden, so there's a distinction there which i don't find with PCs. The OS comes with a decent array of freebies which a creative person can actually use, and they all relate, so learn to use iMovie and the shortcuts are the same in Garageband, this makes a huge difference to learning a new program or just tinkering around. I also love the dock (though it can get in the way), having all the programs you might want to use (and being able to quickly and easily remove the ones you don't) is a nice touch.

I could go on for ever i guess, i'm a long-time mac user. Expensive sure, but stable and simple on the whole. FWIW we also have a PC (and an Atari ST as it happens) and i use the PC a lot, but rarely for anything creative. The PC will run anything and i can always get spare parts, anyone can fix it and there are still more programs that it will run than macs will. Plus with macs having Intel chips now you can't pick up an old CD-Rom and install that old VST or similar like you can with a PC, not without using Rosetta to translate it for the intel chip, which slows down the machine.

Two examples of why i prefer macs.. i made an animation in windows movie maker, spent considerable time on it, wouldn't export, it crashed the machine every time i tried; iMovie exported straight away. Windows media player has died on us countless times, we gave up on it in the end; iTunes has never crashed on me.

These are only my experiences but it's part of the reason i stick to macs for creative stuff.

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