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beginner equipment for home recording

Discussion in 'Home Recording Studio' started by macoshark, Oct 18, 2018.

  1. macoshark

    macoshark Strat-Talker

    210
    Aug 30, 2016
    arizona
    Hows it? I am getting interested in doing some home recording. I know nothing but looks like I should contemplate using a Mac computer /notebook. This was recommended to me but seemed like it would be an expensive step.
    I noticed GC has some sells on there Focusrite scarlett solo interface, not quite sure what an interface is, and apparently you plug into a computer through a USB chord. As far as Mac devices,would a notebook be compatible with recording devices?
    Maybe I need to read up somewhere because I know nothing about computers and what one could do with them as far as plugging in a Strat and a Mic. I do have a mic and a Strat, I could add I have a lot of talent but not too much of that. thanks
     
    circles likes this.
  2. Dare1

    Dare1 Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 16, 2011
    Idaho
    Howdy,

    I record my music on a budget, but I'll let you know what I use:

    Standard run of the mill laptop, I can't afford anything Apple so Toshiba it is
    Audacity (free software and works great)
    Blue Yeti microphone (USB, plugs right into the laptop)
    Amplifier of choice (I use my Mustang I most of the time because it's much easier to record than the Deluxe Reverb)
    Guitar of choice, of course

    and that's it for audio!

    If you want to record visuals as well:

    Note 8 cell phone to record video
    OpenShot (free video editing software)
    HandBrake converting software (laptop doesn't like using the raw video so I have to convert it to a smaller size)

    And that's it!

    EDIT: the link in my signature is to my music thread, if you're interested in seeing some of the videos I've posted
     
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  3. dueducs

    dueducs Senior Stratmaster

    I'm not exactly clear what your goals are- to just record guitar, or add video, or just get some things recorded for your own pleasure, so I'll offer a slightly different (and inexpensive!) approach.

    If you want to just record guitar (and maybe vocals together) on the cheap (audio, or audio/video), you might consider an iRig Pre, especially snce you already have a mic.
    It's an interface (fancy way to say it lets you connect two things) that allows for use of a condenser mic to record to your phone (iPhone or Android). We all know the phones have decent video capability, but the audio is usually a miserable shortcoming. The iRig Pre fixes that problem for around $40 (mic not included).
    I got mine a couple months ago, along with a few used Shure 545SD mics and cables, and am still playing with/testing it. The initial results look promising.

    This artist uses the same setup (with a better mic) to record her vocals (with guitar accompaniment) with great success, IMO.
    The guitar amp is behind them and the mic is picking up everything.





    Good luck with the new endeavor. Let us know how you do.
     
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  4. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR I appreciate, therefore I am... Strat-Talk Supporter

    Feb 8, 2014
    Minnesota USA
    `
    I use a MacBook Pro myself, but agree that it's quite an expensive option. A "Windows" based notebook is much more affordable - just be sure to get one with all the power you will be needing, especially if you plan to start loading a lot of effects plug-ins into it. So, whatever you decide to get, just make sure the software and interfaces are compatible with the type of computer you plan to use, including the operating system version, ECU power, storage / processor memory and minimum speed requirements.

    Otherwise, my only other advice is to use it only for recording, since having too many programs can slow things down over time (don’t ask me how I know). Even if you don't have several programs open at the same time, just having them on there can clog up the works.

    I use "Reaper" which is a powerful yet inexpensive recording software option ($60), but it is fairly complex, so, like @Dare1 I also recommend "Audacity", which is relatively easy to get started with (well worth the $20 recommended donation I paid).

    Most likely the first obstacle you'll encounter with any computer based recording rig is setting up the Inputs and Outputs for recording and playback. Starting off using the most current operating system on the computer should help to alleviate some of these issues. You may need to navigate menus or download drivers to make things work. Just be prepared to do some initial setup no matter what you get.

    I've never tried a USB mic, but it seems like a convenient option compared to an interface, although a USB mic might be more limiting in some ways too I suppose (you can use a variety of mics and other gear with an interface).

    Then there are the "stand alone" recording devices...

    I also have a Zoom R24 (which I'm currently using as a recording interface for my MacBook), but I ultimately found it to be far too clunky and limiting for my needs, since I like to manipulate and edit individual tracks a lot. In fact I almost immediately started transferring tracks back and forth with Audacity in order to edit them, so I don't particularly recommend going that route unless your needs are fairly simple and straightforward.

    Also, iPhones may be handy but also seem fairly limiting, not only because of the screen size but you can't easily drag and drop, etc, with a touchscreen, compared to a mouse or track pad.

    Good Luck!
    `
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018
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  5. macoshark

    macoshark Strat-Talker

    210
    Aug 30, 2016
    arizona
    thank you all for the input. I don't want to spend a lot of dough cause I'm not sure how much recording I will do. I have an older Dell desk top with windows xp. It does have some program built into it for recording using a mic. Not sure if there is a way to run my Strat into it.
    I might play around with that just to learn something. I looked at the Mac stuff and would have to go refurbished. Most people I've talked to are way more serious than I. Maybe the computer thing isn't the way to go for me at this stage.
     
  6. johnnymg

    johnnymg Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Sep 5, 2015
    Central Coast Ca
    An alternate 'low buck' option would be the entry level iPad (~$325) and the iRig Pro ($100). That would be enough HW to record a guitar into GarageBand (free with the iPad). A multi-input FocusRite would be the next step up but you can get started with the single channel iRig.

    GarageBand is a pretty sophisticated program that (not easily mastered) will open up a lot of creative possibilities.
     
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  7. JamesE

    JamesE Strat-Talker

    Age:
    62
    150
    Mar 30, 2018
    Hamburg, Germany
    Or, for anyone who hasn't understood the thread so far:
    DSC_0887.JPG
     
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  8. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    59
    May 21, 2010
    Sheffield, UK
    Lordy, that takes me back a long time, I made albums with the band using one of those. Computers are a much simpler option.
     
  9. JamesE

    JamesE Strat-Talker

    Age:
    62
    150
    Mar 30, 2018
    Hamburg, Germany
    I haven't made any albums, but I've used it as a 4-ch mixer on stage - and kept a 4-track cassette so I can review the performance.
    AND if I drop my box of cassettes, I just pick it up and play the tapes. If you drop your hard disk, it's goodbye recordings!
     
  10. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    59
    May 21, 2010
    Sheffield, UK
    If you drop the four track, you're picking the bits up for ten minutes and you're buggered. Ask me how I know...

    (I dropped mine in Stuttgart, when we were packing up after a gig...)
     
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  11. OldGuy6873

    OldGuy6873 Strat-Talk Member

    94
    Oct 22, 2018
    USA
    Need a lot more information from you to get your rig going.

    Are you interested in recording your guitar amp through a mic into a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Would you prefer to record through a digital interface into a DAW with a digital rig inside the computer? What are your goals in doing this? For your own ears to have fun, or eventually releasing your material to the masses?

    The most important question is your budget.

    You do not need to go the Macbook route, but Garageband is an excellent DAW and is included with your purchase. Macbooks are more expensive but they also have a much more stable foundation to work from.

    I would not expect your old laptop with Windows XP to really give you enough to do what you want to do even at the most basic level. Even though DAWs don't use that much horsepower, if you start multitrack recording, mixing and producing, you will run out of processing power and RAm very quickly. Music files can be quite large and an old laptop like that may not have the space to keep all that. Plus, the interface to your USB port will be slow. If you do go the PC/Laptop route, make sure you have enough in your budget for a DAW as none of them come with that natively like the Macbook will.

    The next issue is how you want to run your guitar signal into your computer. If you have a more recent amp, you may not need to have a digital interface as one may already be within the amp. If you don't have this, you will need either a mic, like a Shure SM57, to capture the sound from your amp speaker, into an interface of some ind that will then transfer the analog signal into a digital one so your PC/Mac can record the signal.

    The Focusrite Solo is a good interface, but I would recommend the Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 instead. The newer version is excellent, with much less latency, and has two inputs in case you eventually want to record more than one signal at a time. For the extra little bit of money it is a much better investment.

    The other option you have is to buy a digital effects processing unit that lets you record directly through it, so no mic or interface required. Something like the new HX Stomp or the huge options with that type of thing.
     
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  12. jball85

    jball85 Strat-Talker

    471
    Mar 16, 2014
    East Texas
    I began recording on a laptop/notebook, it didn't last long though. Since then I've been using Desktops because the RAM can be upgraded, and you generally have more options when it comes to recording interfaces. I highly recommend Presonus for entry level recording interfaces. I can't speak for Focusrite as I haven't used their stuff although they do have some nice mid level offerings. Get the computer with the best processor and the most RAM that is in your budget, then move on to the interface and other things like an inexpensive condenser microphone. Many DAW software programs will offer demo versions so you can get a feel for what they'll be like to work with.

    Just do your research and be an informed consumer.
     
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  13. TheDuck

    TheDuck Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    53
    Jan 12, 2016
    Lil' Rhody
    If you are looking to make an investment in home recording. Guitar Center sells Focusrite / Mac packages. They are just under $1000 the last time I saw them advertised, and they have everything you'll need.

    If you aren't looking to shell out about a grand for one of the above packages, there are ways to cut costs.
    For one, you dont need a Mac. I use them, and I feel they are a better option, but a Windows desktop / laptop is more than capable of getting the job done.

    For an interface, the Scarlett Solo is about $100, the Behringer version is about $30.

    For a DAW (recording software) Mac has Garageband, which is free and a very good DAW.
    PC people have low cost options as well in Audacity and Reaper.
    There is also Pro Tools | FIRST, which is the free (and very good) version of Pro Tools. Its for PC and Mac, and has a fairly steep learning curve.


    About connecting the guitar to the PC/ Mac.
    Some say you can use a Guitar Hero style cord, with a 1/4" plug on one end, and a USB on the other. While this will work, to a degree, I highly advise against it.
    The most cost effective way to get started is to use a modeler, like a Fender Mustang, Yamaha, Eleven Rack, Line 6, BOSS, or one of many others.
    In addition to having all the amp and effect sims built in, you can connect via usb with no interface needed, and no mic.

    Your old XP machine may work, just dont expect much from it. Hardware and software have come a long way since the XP days, and though your pc may work, it will have severe bottlenecks in processing and software compatibility.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018
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  14. Yves

    Yves Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 2, 2016
    London
    I bought this stuff about...3 years ago. It's nice. It requires you to use a music software which in my case seems to take forever to get my head around.
    To this day, I haven't done a thing with it. But I'm no reference to go by.
     
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  15. Tom Cat Strat

    Tom Cat Strat Strat-Talker

    Age:
    30
    281
    Jun 3, 2018
    New York
    Look, you probably don't want to hear this (you'll call me an old geezer who still uses a VCR), but the best option for home recording is still those TASCAM porta-studios.

    Those things produce the greatest tone because you are capturing the sound of your instrument. You place a microphone in front of your amp, crank it up and hit record. It's real.

    Plus aren't you sick and tired of sitting in front of your computer and doing everything? My God, this is music. Use your hands to adjust the knobs, use your hands to slide the faders as you mix your recording. It's fun! Hands on.

    Plus the darn thing is cheap. The Tascam DP-03SD Porta-studio is $250! Just buy a good mike and you are set to go. I have one and the thing is a marvel. Fun to use and it sounds like a professional recording.
    (And, yes, if you are in love with your computer, the TASCAM can be connected to your computer so you can download your music. The TASCAM isn't prehistoric.)

    This is the way to go. Just look at those knobs and faders. You really feel like you are recording and mixing. Plus it's $299. Get it on sale for $250.
    [​IMG]
     
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  16. TheDuck

    TheDuck Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    53
    Jan 12, 2016
    Lil' Rhody
    The above suggestion is less than optimal regarding getting started with modern day computer based recording.
    Aside from the outrageous price for what limited functionality it has, it doesnt address any of the challenges the modern home recording musician faces.
    Especially someone new to the hobby.

    In their day, they were one of the only options available for home recording, so we made due with what we had.
    By todays standards, its not even worth an honorable mention.

    Dont take this personal @Tom Cat Strat, it isnt.
    The Tascam works for you, but its a very poor choice for a newbie on a budget.
     
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  17. Theus

    Theus Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    40
    33
    Jan 30, 2018
    Germany
    I would just get one of this little Yamaha THR 10 amps. Its maybe not the very cheapest solution ( around 300$)but you get a really really nice little practice amp. And you can connect it to your pc for recording.
     
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  18. Tom Cat Strat

    Tom Cat Strat Strat-Talker

    Age:
    30
    281
    Jun 3, 2018
    New York
    So the art of using mics in front of an amp and hands on mixing and sliding faders is no longer the way music should be made. What was great and magnificent for ninety plus years should now be thrown away. Yeah, auto-tune is the way it should be. All those old Beatle recordings, Elvis recordings, Nirvana recordings, Hendrix recordings, Sinatra recordings...they were done horribly. How dare they not use ProTools?

    Hey, a TASCAM home recording unit is thee perfect system...especially for a beginner. It is real recording. It is hands on. It is fun. And it delivers spectacular recordings.
     
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  19. TheDuck

    TheDuck Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    53
    Jan 12, 2016
    Lil' Rhody
    Auto tune has nothing to do with what the OP is looking for, so thats irrelevant.

    Oh, and most of those old recordings sounded bad. I dont think anyone in the 60s was ever accused of having a great in studio guitar tone, and most albums from those eras sounded like they were recorded in an empty garage.

    Dont get me wrong, Im a lover of cranked tube amps, and all things hands on to making music, but ask yourself why all major studios use Pro Tools (or similar)
    Theres a hundred plus reasons why digital is better. I wont bother listing them here, I dont type fast enough, but heres a few...

    Non-destructive editing
    Comping
    Virtually endless effects and amp simulations
    Virtual instruments (a must have for solo players / hobbyists)
    Low / no volume recording (some players have young kids, neighbors, etc)
    Very small physical footprint (we dont all live in mansions)
    Ability to jam with and record backing tracks (great learning tools and fun)
    Sharable files (collaborate with anyone anywhere that uses the same DAW as you)

    ... and many more

    The OP asked for advice on getting started with computer based home recording. He isnt looking for a history lesson.
    Stick to what works for you, but dont cripple a new comer because you are stuck on outdated ideas and technology.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018
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  20. Tom Cat Strat

    Tom Cat Strat Strat-Talker

    Age:
    30
    281
    Jun 3, 2018
    New York
    1. You can't be serious? I really wonder what color is the sky in your world. Old recordings sounded bad? Beatles sound like they were recorded in an empty garage? "Sgt. Pepper's" LP sounds like recorded in an empty garage? Pink Floyd's "Dark Side" bad recording? Sinatra's "When I Was Seventeen" with full backing orchestra...a terrible recording? Man, maybe you should buy a record recorded before the year 2000. You may love your Beyonce recordings, but I have to tell you...people were doing it better back in the day.

    2. Why ProTools in every major studio? Because ProTools is easier to do! No artistry required. You really think ProTools can provide innovation like Dave Davies cutting the cone of his speaker for added grit to his guitar tone? John Bonham setting up his drum kit in a starwell to get that massive iconic "When The Levee Breaks" sound. ProTools is in every studio because the artistry of recording is gone. Just like the artistry of great musicianship is a thing of the past. John Bonham? Hell, just get a sampler or a Roland 808 drum machine and program some blips as a drum track...that crap is all in ProTools. Just click a button. Figuring how to get a great sound is no longer a part of recording. It is press a button and ProTools will do it for you. Our recording artists are a thing of the past. Simplicity is the way to go and that's why all major studios use ProTools.