Just Beginning, Would appreciate Help

Posted on

Member Since: Nov 29, 2004

I have been playing with “Cakewalk Music Creator Pro” for a while now, and have outgrown the limitations of pure Midi songs. The original purpose was to refine my compositional skills, but now I am eager to record my songs to the computer using real instruments and vocals…

I did a little research on my own… and frankly I am quite overwhelmed. I thought it would be as easy as plugging in my guitar/mic into the computer and letting lose. THEN I read about all these MDM’s, DAT’s, and outboard devices, and now I’m confused.

My question is this: What are the minimum requirements for recording onto a PC
What could then be added to improve the sound quality?
What else do you recommend?


Thank you very much for any input

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Czar of Cheese
Member
Since: Jun 09, 2004


Nov 29, 2004 05:30 pm

Welcome to HRC! The best place to start is the FAQ page:

www.homerecordingconnection.com/faq.php

Then you'll probably be able to come up with some more specific questions.

Good luck!

Jim

Administrator
Since: Apr 03, 2002


Nov 29, 2004 05:46 pm

The best way for us to recommend ways to improve your sound quality would be, in part, by knowing what gear that you have now, such as the size of your PC and the type of sound card you have.

You can make music with most any PC, but the bigger the PC the more tracks you can have the more effects you can run and such things. The overwealming reason people have substandard quality is by using a substandard sound card.

Member
Since: Nov 29, 2004


Nov 29, 2004 05:47 pm

Haha… you vets must get a lot of newbs asking questions before they read the FAQs. It helped quite a bit, but I’m not sure I understand why I would want a mixer as opposed to recording right to the card. Also… what is the difference between an “external sound card” like the Mbox by digitech (I think) and a mixer?

Thanks!

Administrator
Since: Apr 03, 2002


Nov 29, 2004 05:52 pm

You would want to go into a mixer first to preamp the microphone (if using a microphone)

Some external sound cards have preamps and such things built in them, therefore negating the need for a mixer, but, a preamp is not the only upside to having a mixer...depending upon your specific recording styles...

Member
Since: Nov 29, 2004


Nov 29, 2004 05:54 pm

I have a Pentium 4 and run XP. I'm using the basic Sound Blaster card that came with the box.

by the way... this is a VERY good website!

And a question to the administrator: Are you a Brian Eno fan? Because i remember a quote where he called himself an "idiot savant." Just wondering if that's where you got your sig from. I'm a huge fan of his.

bace135 in the house tonight!
Member
Since: Jan 28, 2003


Nov 29, 2004 06:00 pm

Your basic (no outboard effects) recording structure goes something like this.

Instrument/vox --> preamplification --> soundcard

There are a myriad of ways to preamplify your signal from your mic or instrument. Most mixers have built in preamps. You can get a dedicated preamp, and there are amp modelers and other effects that will serve to preamp your signal as well (mostly for electric guitar).

You can use either outboard or software effects to change (and often improve) the sounds you are recording. Mixers will help you route your signal, or record multiple instruments/mics at once.

Member
Since: Nov 29, 2004


Nov 29, 2004 06:01 pm

Are mics the only thing that preamps are used for? That is to ask, would the other instruments that I direct record go straight to the sound card, or is there another device that typically comes in between the instrument and the card?

Member
Since: Nov 29, 2004


Nov 29, 2004 06:07 pm

ah... my question has already been answered...


So if i understand correctly, I dont require a mixer if i dont plan on recording more then one instrument at a time?

bace135 in the house tonight!
Member
Since: Jan 28, 2003


Nov 29, 2004 06:09 pm

what instruments are you planning to record? Most need a preamp as far as I know regardless if you mic them or not. Unless for instance you use an amp modeler for an electric guitar.

Member
Since: Nov 29, 2004


Nov 29, 2004 06:13 pm

I think you actually answered that mic question of mine. I think I might even sleep tonight instead of thinking about mics and preamps untill 3 A.M. This is quite a learning process...

Administrator
Since: Apr 03, 2002


Nov 29, 2004 06:19 pm

Quote:
Are you a Brian Eno fan?


Who's not? Though it had no impact on my chosen title :-)

Regardless of how many things you plan to record at once, a mixer can still com in handy. I generally record one instrument at a time, but I still have a mixer so I can keep certain units plugged in permanently and leave their settings alone, it makes quick and easy routing and stuff.

bace135 in the house tonight!
Member
Since: Jan 28, 2003


Nov 29, 2004 06:24 pm

You don't need a mixer, but you will probably find that a mixer will make things easy (once you figure them out)as db said, and will be a cheap means of preamping mics. A small mixer will almost definitely be cheaper, if not having better sound quality, than a dedicated preamp.

Member
Since: Nov 29, 2004


Nov 29, 2004 06:26 pm

AH! okay, I think i'm starting to understand the upside of mixers. Now I know they have features such as EQ and other effect built in to them... is there any advantage to using effects that way rather then creating them using my software?



bace135 in the house tonight!
Member
Since: Jan 28, 2003


Nov 29, 2004 06:29 pm

um, don't know if it came across right, but a mixer will likely have tolerable preamps, but not as good as a stand alone preamp. As for effects that are built in, I think it is better to do it in software if you have the capability because if you do it in the mixer you are stuck with it. If you do it in software, you can always change it as you see fit from time to time.

Administrator
Since: Apr 03, 2002


Nov 29, 2004 06:44 pm

mixers also sometimes have built in effects, or effect loops that can have any channel routed through them...

Member
Since: Nov 29, 2004


Nov 29, 2004 07:19 pm

Thanks! The help has been great. Much appreciated.

Member
Since: Dec 03, 2004


Dec 03, 2004 08:38 pm

Hey,
Keep in mind a mixer and a microphone pre-amp are different things and you don't necessarily need a outboard mixer at all. However, you'll most likely need a microphone pre-amp if you want good sound from your mic.

Let me take the conversation in a different direction. To record good sound onto your PC (or Mac) for that matter, there are a number of software packages out there that provide 24 bit recording (that's what you'll probably need). However the hardware you have may or may not be capable of recording in 24 bit. And, not all 24 bit sound cards are created equally. But, seeing as you're just getting into recording live instruments, I'm sure you'll find you're limits with existing hardware at some point in the future.

I personally use ProTools LE with an MBox interface, it cost me about $650 with a package of plug-ins. I have this connected to my Mac G4, but it also works on my Windows XP Machine (comes bundled with both OS installs). There is a great deal of conversations going on out there in the semi-pro world about mixing IN or OUT of the box. What that means is that it's totally cool to never get an outboard mixing console and utilize the software equalization, effects etc... inside your software. I finally made my choice when I had a discussion with an engineer at one of the best studios here in Canada, MetalWorks. The engineer told me that if you're going to mix into a piece of sh#% mackie mixer or something less than a decent soundcraft or similar, then you're much much better off mixing in the box. I said, what do you mean in the box... then he explained what I just explained above. The sound bus in your computer software is most likely better than any cheap mixer. And it also makes life easy for you when you work on mixes over several days, you don't have to tape down your setting on your mixer for fear you'll loose that sound you finally achieved. In software each song will call up the settings you had last. This is so much easier and the sound is better. On my website, I have some acoustic samples of music I did from this home setup, mixing completely in the box and I use a Studio Projects VTB1-V Microphone pre-amp ($199).... Have a listen: www.nano-fish.com/planet4

Good Luck, I hope this helps,

Jim

Member
Since: Nov 29, 2004


Dec 03, 2004 09:18 pm

this was an amazing help. i cant tell you how much i appreciate your input!

thank you!

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