help with pc based recording setup (newbie)

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Member Since: Sep 01, 2007

hey guys. i'm trying to setup my pc as a means to record music. i am a newbie to all of this and the books i've read like the dummies guide and another pc based recording book are extremeley outdated. one was from 2003 and the other was from 2005 i believe. anyway, my research has made me going in circles. i was hoping you guys can give me some advice on equipment to purchase. The genre of music we make fall into mainly punk and metal. (I know, weird combo.)

here are my pc specs by the way:

Processor: 2.4ghz Q6600 Intel Core 2 Quad
Memory: 2gb OCZ Dual PC6400
Operating System: Windows XP w/ SP2

I am going with pc based recording since they claimed it's cheaper. I did some research and this is all I came up with.

1. PCI based recording - M-Audio Delta 1010 (ebay prices: approx. $200 for used, $310 for brand new)

2. Mic/Preamp combo - M-Audio MXL 990/991 Recording Mic Duo and M-Audio Audio Buddy Package from Musician's Friend ($99.99 brand new) link -
Do I need a dedicated guitar preamp? What about for drums, and the bass guitar? Recommendations?

3. Software - Pro-Tools M Powered, Propellerhead Reason, or FL Studio.
Is a software based mixer good enough or do I really need a hardware mixer?

As you can tell, I am a completely newbie to this. We jam but have no means of recording our music. Are these enough to record our music properly? What other equipment do I need and do you would recommend? Please feel free to create a better list for me. I thought I'd ask for expert advice before we drop money on equipment. thanks for your time. :)

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Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Sep 01, 2007 08:58 am

Welcome aboard, Atari.

PC based gives flexibility, and most on here work that way. But quite a few use hardware DAWs too, so it's certainly a valid option as well.

Are you planning to record everything onto it's own tracks? so each part is separate inside the PC? If so, then the 1010 is a good choice. PCI solutions offer speed, and stableness, but suffer in mobility, as you won't want to take it out of your PC to put into another. Firewire offers that flexibility, to move to another PC, but may not match up to PCI's speed and stableness. Though anymore, the difference is very small.

I used a delta 1010lt in the past, and liked it pretty much. I'm using a ESI ESP1010 now, which is similar to the Delta 1010. I like it very much.

A mixer in your case would be useful, as you would get a bank of preamps in one fell swoop. A microphone has to plug into a preamp, to boost it's signal. So every mic will need it's own preamp. This is where mixers are handy, as they have a bunch of them (preamps), depending on what you buy. I'm using a yamaha mg16/4 with great success.

Connecting from mixer to 1010 inputs, is done via the mixer's channel inserts. Plug a 1/4" plug into the insert, up to the first click, will tap signal out of that channel, and you plug the cable into your 1010 input. Slick as an oiled doorknob.

I'll let you research the mic options, as they're plentiful (the options). If you're doing drums, you may want a drum pack. You can see my equipment listing, i've built up some mics that work for drums, but also for other things. This can be a rather spendy area.

Software, I don't think Reason or FL studio would be the way to go, as you're planning to mostly record audio, not creating beats, or synthized music or midi. If you're just doing audio, M-powered would be good, though I don't know much about it.

Reaper's my choice, though there's many other cheap alternatives: Sonar home studio, cubase (can't remember the low end one), traction, ntrack, kristal (free multitracker), multitrack studio, etc.

there's other higher priced ones, but I don't think you're really looking for high-functionality, just easy recording, and good production.

Take a gander at reaper though, shareware, but very capable. The winamp guy programmed it. It rocks.

As far as other things, mics are mentioned, but you'd want headphones. Maybe not a bunch now, but a few will be handy to hear pre-recorded tracks if you're overdubbing.

Studio type monitor speakers are a good idea too, but not necessary. You'll want to hear the project when you're mixing it, so the better you hear, the better you mix. Cheap speakers can work, but they will skew the mix, and you may mis-mix to compensate. Learning your speakers will come into play, and expect to spend some time to do this (learning). Har-Bal is a good tool for this, harmonically balancing the sound spectrum, in a visual way.

Try and play to a click. You'll be thankful later, and it'll keep your recordings tight. My last project didn't, (time constraints) and it suffers for it.

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