600 budget for Home Recording equip. Help needed

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Member Since: Jun 16, 2008

Hi all

I've been saving money for a long time now to buy hardware for home recording,
and so I need some help on chosing the apropriate gear so I really dont make a mistake and buy the wrong stuff.

My main purpose is to record my voice and electro acoustic guitar. But I will also be recording jams with friend musicians (max 6 instruments).

I have been reading a lot about mics, mixers, audio interfaces, etc... but still am not sure what would be the best options for me.

At the moment all I have is a laptop with a crapy soundcard and my beautiful guitar.

So basicly I need to buy an external sound card, a small but good sturdy mixer, a condenser large diaphragm mic, and cables =)
And even thou Im only starting, I prefer to strecth the budget a bit and buy good stuff. I really dont want
to get cheap mediocre sound quality, and then having to get rid of it after some time and buy better..

My budget is around 600

For the mic, Im probably going either for the RODE NT1A or the MXL 2003.

My biggest doubt comes with the sound card options.. I thought about getting an M-Audio,
as I could work with Pro Tools. But its not a must. And then buy a mixer.

The other option is getting something like the ALESIS MULTIMIX 8 USB 2.0, wich from what I understood works as a soundcard and therefor I wouldnt need to buy a soundcard on the side.
Or the M-Audio NRV10 8x2 Mixer with Built-In Digital Interface (wich is a big stretch on the budget)..
or the Mackie 802 VLZ3 Ultra Compact 8-Channel Mixer, wich I cant find out if its just a mixer, or if it works
as an audio interface too, and so I wouldnt need to buy an external sound card with this options.

My knowledge in recording equipment is very little and I probably even wrote stuff that dont make a lot of sense..
But I would really apreciate some help on this as I cant afford to go wrong.


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Since: Feb 16, 2006

Jun 17, 2008 10:17 am

I think you can bypass a mixer. I got a mackie mixer that has just been collecting dust. The reason I say not to get a mixer is because if you are just recording yourself, there is no need with an M-audio as it does 2 tracks at once. Also, when recording a band you can record one thing at a time. Drums, Guitar, Bass, then vocals. There is also built in mixers in any computer software you will most likely be using.

I dont record live drums, I use drum samples, but if you know you will be recording drums, you will probably need to get a mixer as I dont think 2 tracks is enough. But then you run into needing drum mics and thats gonna really be hard to fit in a budget.

All that being said...with your budget you need the basic. The M-Audio Firewire 410 is great, you can find them even cheaper used, I picked mine up for $90 U.S. The site below has them for 183. Match that with Cubase which is also linked below and you should be good to go on the computer aspect. Assuming you computer has both firewire and can handle the software. I dont recommend spending a ton of the software at first as it takes sometime to learn and the more you have the more overwhelming it can be. Ive been using the CuBase SE which was the basic version of it and it works fine.

Now to record an acoustic you need a condenser mic. Id go with those MLX large condensers. Sometimes they package them with one of the small condensers and sometimes its with a shock mount. New they are $70 - $100 US. So that like what... 150 pounds?

I tossed an SM57 in for recording guitars and basses, that said, im a fan of going direct. I record all my basses into Sans Amp Bass Drivers, and all my guitars into Sans Amp Classics. Make your bassist buy his own direct box, he will need it, it doesn't have to be a sans amp, but I think thats one of the better ones.

Then you need some way to hear everything. I went with headphones first. They can be $25 - $100 US. That said monitors are the best way, but they get more expensive. Ive been using headphones for about a year with decent results.

Also dont forget about cables. Mic cables, instrument cables. This is the thing everyone forgets to add and then ends up spending too much.


M-audio 410 - 183
CuBase - 120
SM 57 - 70
MXL Con Mix - 150
Cables - 25
Headphones - 25

Total - 573

The above is basically my setup I just have the direct boxes. But, the sm57 can record bass and guitar from an amp. We used the 57 to record my guitarist amp in our first album and he seemed pleased with the results.

here is a link to some songs ive made recording with my budget basement studio.


Check out the last 2 songs. The first two are using a program called Reason. The last two are using direct boxes, and the MLX condenser mic for vocals. Its also using the most basic form on CuBase.


You can note in the picture, my mixer is in that box to the far right on the table, I havent used it in over a year. The M-Audio gets all the action as it has mic preamps, its own sound card, and a headphone amp. I highly recommend it.




Since: Jun 16, 2008

Jun 17, 2008 09:36 pm

Thanks for sharing all that. =)

Its funny cause when i first started looking for hardware.. the M-AUDIO 410 seemed like the best option for me, and I was really keen to buy it. And its good to know that you are happy with yours, because I read some bad reviews on it (mainly driver problems), and so I wasnt so sure it would be the best option.

About recording my acoustic, I didnt specify.. but its an electro-acoustic, and so for now I dont plan on recording it with an extra mic, but only plugged.
But thanks for letting me know about that mic, as it might be an option for the future.

One other thing I didnt specify is that Im not going to record drums, as we play mainly acoustic and most of the beats are made with percussion, and some added beats by software here and there.

But anyways.. other than the condenser mic for vocals, and after more 'research', I am probably going to invest all my budget in one interface only.
Either the MACKIE Onyx 400F, wich is basicly everything i need, except I'll have to do the mixing on software.
Or.. the M-AUDIO NRV10 wich is 40 less.

Thanks again for your help and good music making ;)

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