Alright, new to this, so just wanted to know a few things.

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Member Since: Dec 10, 2008

Alright, hi.

I am new to all this, but I just want to know a few things before trying to record..

I have previously done some quick recordings with my computer that I currently have..
I was using the "Sound Recorder" on my computer..
Running Windows XP.

I am going to be purchasing a new computer this weekend & I am trying to figure out what to look for that will help me out with recording "songs."

I also need to know about what other hardware/software I should consider..

For recording those previous "songs" I have just played the music or "instrumental" through the computer speakers & recorded with the computer microphone at the top of the monitor.

Now, I know that is complete garbage, but as a start wasn't as bad.

Now, I have considered getting a "mixer," but to be compeletly honest, I do not know what this does & what to look in a "mixer" that will help me for what I am looking for.

I cam across these two & am wondering which would be better to start off with..

1. Behringer Xenyx 1204FX Mixer ($170)

2. X-Session Pro - USB MIDI MIXER ($80)

Now, if I am completely going in the wrong direction, please provide me with some guidance :D

Also, as for the computer, is there any particular specs that I need to be looking at to help me out with this, or will pretty much any new computer with moderate features/parts be okay?
So anything to do from processor to soundcards would be nice to know..

I haven't really looked into microphones, because I don't know what to look for exactly..

All I am trying to do is find some sort of software "MIDI's" I believe they are called that will make a 'beat' or 'instrumental' that I can add vocals to directly from recording both at the same time or seperate [recording voice & then placing on the 'beat' or 'instrumental'].

So, to recap:

I need help in finding:

-Good "mixer" tips
-Good specs for a computer to record
-Good/Working software for recording
-Good microphone tips
-Good/working software to make 'beats'

So, hopefully you read everything & know where I am standing, but if not, at least the recap, so you can give a few quick pointers..

Any help is appreciated as always.

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I am not a crook's head
Since: Mar 14, 2003

Dec 11, 2008 12:19 am

Answering a few questions first will help us make some suggestions for a first home recording setup:

- what all instruments are you planning to record?
- how many instruments will you be recording simultaneously? (got any friends that you're gonna want to record yourself jamming with?)
- what is your goal/expectations for these recordings: Making demos to hand out to friends and family? doing it for a hobby? selling CDs at shows? going all mega-producer all over everybody's asses?

Knowing that sort of stuff helps narrow down the types of equipment you'll want to focus on during your shopping.

And neither of those products that you liked to would be much help in getting music to your computer :)

Since: Dec 10, 2008

Dec 11, 2008 07:49 am

Alright well..

All I am going to be recording is just vocals & the beat created by a program.

I was loooking at some software from FL Studios that seems to be great for making 'beats' & 'instrumentals'

I won't be playing any instruments.. Just a couple of us singing to some 'beats' & what not.

It's pretty much just a hobby at the present time.
I'm not looking to go all out.
Most likely just trying to make songs to send to friends & family members.. Just for some fun.

So, hopefully that helps.

Thanks once again.

Since: Apr 03, 2002

Dec 11, 2008 07:57 am

FruityLoops is a good beat sequencing program, as is Cakewalk's Project 5...Sony "Acid" is great for loops and beats as well.

I am not a crook's head
Since: Mar 14, 2003

Dec 11, 2008 02:19 pm

Agreed, dB's suggestions are good ones.

Are you going to want to create your own beats or just use ones that have already been made?

If you're going to want to make your own beats, then a MIDI controller/keyboard is a must. A MIDI controller allows you to tap out your beats on a keyboard or drum pad. Otherwise, you're stuck step-sequencing your beats, which is more like a math test than music creation. If you opt for a keyboard, then you can also play piano, synth, sound effects, drums, you name it.

If you're just wanting to use pre-made loops and not worry about creating your own, then you don't really need to worry about using a MIDI controller. You would invest that money into a good-sized library of loops and beats instead.

Then you'll need software that's geared towards beats and loops, but it needs to have the ability to record audio and use VST instruments and VST plugins. The software the dB Masters suggested above are all capable of this.

Here's the MIDI controller that I use, and I'm very happy with it:

It comes with a crap-load of beats, loops, drum kits, synths, pianos, great virtual instrument software (ProteusX), plus a multitracking program that's geared towards what you want to do (Ableton Live Lite 7), which is record audio over the top of beats and loops.

But you'll still need an audio interface that's capable of recording from a microphone. That's why your needs may be better met by the Line6 KB37.

It's a MIDI controller keyboard plus a couple of inputs for microphones and guitars. It also comes with Ableton Live Lite. I'm not sure what all virtual instruments and sound libraries it comes with.

If you go with the KB37, all you'll need is a microphone or two. Fortunately there are tons of affordable microphones available. If you're doing mainly vocals, I'd suggest getting a style of microphone called a Large Diaphragm Condensor (LDC for short). There are lots of options available from brands like MXL, CAD, Sterling Audio, Audio Technica, Behringer, and Nady that offer entry-level LDCs for under $100.

Goodness, I've rambled on long enough...I'll let you digest some of this so you can do a bit of shopping and come back with any more questions you have. Sorry for the 1000-word essay!

Since: Dec 10, 2008

Dec 11, 2008 11:12 pm

Wow! Thank you for all the information..

Just a couple of more annoying questions, hope to hear more..

I did come across FL Studios & it seems great.. I was planning on getting it & probably will now.

For the MIDI Controller I have found a few, but just want to know a few things when looking for one..

1. Is the more "notes/keys" the better?
2. Any other specs I should be looking at?
--Re-reading the whole thing, I guess I have figured out that I need to find something that will let me hook a Microphone to it? & That will let me record? [correct me if I'm wrong]
So, any ideas on how much I should invest in a MIDI Controller that should have most if not all of what I need to get started with this?--

Also, what is FL Studios? Is it essentially a MIDI Controller on the computer? Or is it a program that I can use a MIDI Controller to work it..?

For the Microphone, I have looked around & have found LDC's, so I think I am fine with that..

I am not a crook's head
Since: Mar 14, 2003

Dec 12, 2008 10:05 am

OK I'll try not to be so long-winded this time. But I'm procrastinating going to work and this is WAAAY more important than doing my performance self-appraisal today!

I think that FL studio will do everything you need. It's very geared toward dance, hip hop, techno, etc. kinds of music making.

You can edit your beats with just a mouse and keyboard if you like, or you can purchase a MIDI controller to be able to tap out beats with a velocity-sensitive keyboard. Either way is totally doable, but the controller makes it easier.

For # of keys on a MIDI controller, it depends. I'm not a pianist. I couldn't play chop-sticks if my life depended on it. But I can play drums on a keyboard (or at least I'm getting better at it).

For tapping out drum parts, I can't imagine that you'd be dissatisfied with 25 keys. If you plan on adding any piano or synth parts to that, 49 or more keys would be nice. If you're a pianist, then you're probably not going to be happy with anything less than the full 88 key setup.

More important than the number of keys is the KIND of keys. You want weighted, velocity-sensitive, full-size, synth-action keys with aftertouch. That's a mouthful, but get a keyboard with as many of those qualities as possible.

For the price of the KB37, you could get a 25-key MIDI controller plus a basic audio interface. Take a look at the 2-channel USB interfaces offered by brands like M-Audio (FastTrack or MobilePre), EMU (0404), Lexicon (Lambda), PreSonus (AudioBox), Tascam (US-144). Those are at least ones to start looking at. You seem to be pretty good at shopping so I'm sure that you'll find something good in your price range.

Since: Dec 10, 2008

Dec 12, 2008 12:24 pm

Damn, thanks for all the info. :D

Now I can go out and shop, probably my favorite part in all this .. Haha.

Well, if I come across anything I don't understand I'll come back & ask, hopefully you'll still be able to help. :P

Well, thanks again, nice to see people are still nice enough to help others out ;P

-Forgot to ask about the computer.. Anything special I should look for in a computer? I was looking to get an Intel Core 2 DUO processor, as I am not really familiar with the AMD processors..
Will 2-3GB of RAM be good enough?
Any other specs I need to look for? -I have a lot of talk about Soundcards, but don't know if that applys to what I am trying to record..-

EDIT2: For FL Studios, when I go to their "shop" I only see 4 products available from FL Studios.. Would the "FL Studio Producer Edition" be sufficient to my needs? -Other things included in the shop are DJ Software & Plugins, should I consider any of those?-

I know I have asked A LOT of questions, but hopefully you won't give up on me just yet :D

Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Dec 12, 2008 01:50 pm

I've been using FL studio since 2.1 or so. Back then it was fruity loops.

Now, it's more developed, and very capable. I use it for a lot of my drum sequencing, and now I use it for my host when doing midi. FL's midi operation is quite nice, and I can work quite well in it. Reaper isn't quite as nice, and since I have FL, I still use that.

I have the FL fruity edition. I think it was 99$ when I got it. Over the years, I've added sytrus softsynth on a group by, and also added soundfont player. They both were around 50$.

I think the producer edition will record audio, whereas the fruity loops edition does not. I use reaper for recording audio, so I'm not out anything there.

I've been using AMD for years, and I know Noize2u just got a dual AMD system put together. He used a black edition chip, i believe.

2 - 3 g should be plenty of ram, unless you're using tons of sample banks, and other stuff. As a reference, my AMD system is 1g ram. I loaded up 6 instances of Garritan Personal Orchestra, for different instruments and different piano rolls.

After loading them all, I was using 580m or so of ram. Mind, this is a pretty clean running system: no extra programs in the background, or things taking up RAM memory. But, it shows that you can do a lot with 1g of memory, but it can become a bottleneck if you get aggressive. Anymore now, with ram being cheap, i'd say get at least two, so you can grow later and not have to add ram.

Soundcard is the same thing as your audio interface. We often refer to the 'consumer: cheap' onboard or addin cards as soundcards, whereas the audio recording type cards we often refer to as audio interfaces. It kinda keeps the two separate.

When building a spec sheet, keep in mind that two monitors is a real help when doing audio. I guess a single 22 or 24" monitor would work as well, but a lot of people are on 2 screens. I am almost everywhere I work: at work, studio rig, mobile/tech laptop (i add a second screen).

You can get cards that have vga & DV output, that also don't have a fan. Audio doesn't make real use of the graphics hardware, so you can get one without it's own fan and be fine. I've got a GeForce 6200 GT Dual Head that's been working just dandy for my 2 17" screens.


Since: Dec 10, 2008

Dec 12, 2008 09:54 pm

Alright, well, I was definently going to pick up a second monitor when I bought my computer, I'm probably getting a 19 or 20" with the computer, so I'll be picking up a matching monitor to go with.

Just a last question, as I didn't really see an answer about it, more just an explaination on what to classify different types..
Do I need to purchase a "soundcard" or "audio interface" with the computer to maximize performance, or without, will it do fine?

Thanks for the other info, I think I got a pretty good picture on everything now.. :)

I am not a crook's head
Since: Mar 14, 2003

Dec 12, 2008 10:27 pm

More than likely, the sound card that comes with your computer is good at 1 thing: playback. Those sound cards are usually a chip that's integrated onto the computer's motherboard and we call them "integraded audio" or "integrated sound card" or something similar. They're really OK if you're playing games, listening to your music collection, and playing Windows sounds. Paired with a decent set of speakers, they're fine.

But they're not built with home recording in mind. Most of them are capable of recording audio, but they're not very good at it. They're noisy, not very fully featured, and they're SLOOOW! (What we audiophiles and home recordists call latency).

So feel free to get whatever sound card you want with your computer if you're going to play games or listen to music on it.

But if you're also going to record your own music, you'll want to invest in a sound card that's designed with recording in mind. We call these "audio interfaces", but they're just special-purpose sound cards. They have inputs and outputs that are studio-friendly (1/4" and XLR inputs, plus some provide phantom power, which is required in order to use condensor-style microphones). They have high-quality analog-to-digital converters, they're capable of recording at high sample rates and bit depths. They're built to use faster driver types (ASIO is pretty much the king of audio driver compatibility at the moment). They're just far superior to an average sound card when it comes to recording audio and MIDI onto your computer.

One thing that audio interfaces don't generally support is multi-channel output like 5.1, 6.1 and 7.1 home-theater-style sound. So if you're going to watch DVDs or play games that have surround sound, it'd be a good idea to get a regular consumer sound card plus an audio interface. Heck, you can't really find a computer any more that doens't have an integrated 5.1 or 7.1 sound card, so that shouldn't be much of a concern.

Anyways, happy hunting! Glad we could help.

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