Home recording - getting started?

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Ok, I'm thinking about recording at home. I currently have an iPad Pro, a Macbook Pro from about 2014, and very little other relevant kit. 

Where do I start? Let's assume I wanted to record with guitar, bass, drums and vocals for now. So that means as a minimum some sort of interface, and some sort of mic, and the relevant cables to connect everything. I'll want to put drums in via Roland TD17, so that means an interface that can do both stereo input and MIDI. 

Software-wise, Garageband seems a good bet - I've used that before for simple single-guitar-track stuff without any processing, either with Helix native or the in-built amp/fx stuff. Is there another option that might be better in the long run, or am I going to run into issues of needing a million plugins that will cost a fortune and won't run well on this laptop? 

Helix Native is an obvious starting point for guitar & bass sounds, though I'm wondering about an HX Stomp as well for general use. Either way I don't think I need to worry much there

I'm well aware microphones are a very expensive rabbit hole, so want to keep that simple. I'm in an apartment, so not going to be recording loud guitars any time soon, so it's really just something for vocals and acoustic guitars right now. I'm well used to SM57 & 58 from gigging, and I fell in love with the Beyerdynamic M88TG when I sang into one a few years ago, so that seems a good starting point, but will I want a condenser as well? 

Help?! 
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Comments

  • MusicwolfMusicwolf Frets: 1265
    How many inputs do you need to record at once?  Is this just you or are there other musicians involved?  If it's just you then 2 inputs should be fine (so that you can record a stereo source of have say 2 mics on an acoustic guitar or on a cab).

    When it comes to software (DAW) you tend to pick one, learn it and stick with it.  I use Cubase, because I've used that for twenty years or so, but you pays your money and takes your choice - unless...........

    If you have software already for free (I think that Garage Band is free?) or comes bundled with your choice of audio interface (often in cutdown form).  If you have to buy then Reaper, at about £60, is good value.
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 14821
    Musicwolf said:
    How many inputs do you need to record at once?  Is this just you or are there other musicians involved?  If it's just you then 2 inputs should be fine (so that you can record a stereo source of have say 2 mics on an acoustic guitar or on a cab).

    When it comes to software (DAW) you tend to pick one, learn it and stick with it.  I use Cubase, because I've used that for twenty years or so, but you pays your money and takes your choice - unless...........

    If you have software already for free (I think that Garage Band is free?) or comes bundled with your choice of audio interface (often in cutdown form).  If you have to buy then Reaper, at about £60, is good value.
    Definitely just me at this stage but I don't mind paying a little extra if it gives me some future-proofing. 

    I guess I'm wondering if I might want to mix 2 mics and the pickup on the acoustic plus vocals, though in that situation I wonder if 2 mics might actually be plenty to capture both. Google tells me my drum module (TD17) can do midi via USB so maybe MIDI isn't strictly needed but again it would be nice to have the option for future.

    On software, Garageband was the initial thought simply because it's free and I already have it on both devices and I know it's quite powerful once you learn it. It probably makes sense to start there and only move on if/when I start hitting limitations with it, which may take some time. 

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  • You'd need an audio interface, something like an Audient ID-22. Then you just need to learn how to use your DAW.

    Plenty of tutorials on Youtube for whatever you pick, but my suggestion is Garbage Band (yes I'm kind!) is a bit too basic, even for most n00byist of n00bs.

    Studio One Free would be a better option IMHO.
    TACOMA NARROWS BRIDGE DISASTER
    Anyone who attempts to silence you and prevent you from asking questions on complicated topics, is intent on deceiving you with simplistic answers.

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  • AntonHunterAntonHunter Frets: 171
    I'd recommend Reaper as a DAW as it's dirt cheap (actually free for the full version until you're ready to pay...) and a couple of my favourite recording/mixing engineers use it.
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 14821
    Cheers chaps, will do some more reading re DAWs. 

    I like the look of the Focusrite 4i4 as it seems to do everything I need. Has anyone used their stuff?
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 27875
    Cheers chaps, will do some more reading re DAWs. 

    I like the look of the Focusrite 4i4 as it seems to do everything I need. Has anyone used their stuff?
    Focusrite are solid- their pro products are top shelf, the prosumer stuff generally good, although drivers can be problematic, especially on PC.
    Mac is generally OK.

    Studio One is probably better for you than Reaper.
    Or Logic.
    http://uptheoctave.com
    Audio Production Reviews and Technique.
    Latest article for Production Expert: Mixing with guitar pedals. https://bit.ly/3hCtIHF
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 14821
    edited July 28
    Ta Jim. I have used Logic before in the dim & distant past so might just go there if it's not stupidly expensive. In plan on replacing this MacBook with another when it dies on me, so that's no issue. Will do some more googles. 
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  • KeefyKeefy Frets: 828
    Cheers chaps, will do some more reading re DAWs. 

    I like the look of the Focusrite 4i4 as it seems to do everything I need. Has anyone used their stuff?
    +1 for Focusrite. Go for one that isn’t USB-powered, ime that can cause noise. I have the 6i6, which I can’t praise highly enough - I could never record bass guitar straight in on previous interfaces, but the Focusrite pres have bags of headroom.
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  • TheBigDipperTheBigDipper Frets: 2011
    edited July 29
    @stickyfiddle   I've got an iPhone XR, an iPad Pro and a mid-2012 MacBook Pro. I'm not a recording engineer and don't want to spend the time to become one. I found it a distraction. Here's what I use... 

    Audio Interface:
    Presonus Audiobox iTwo - works with all these devices without needing an Apple USB/Camera kit. Two combi inputs plus 5-pin MIDI in/out/through. 5-pin MIDI can be quite useful, as iPads only have one input socket. Having everything  coming through the one wire from your audio interface into your computer/device is helpful. Also, some older MIDI keyboards/drumkits won't have USB connections and only have 5-pin MIDI - if you ever want to use one of them. 

    Mics:
    The mics on my iPad and iPhone (esp. the iPhone XR I have) were more than good enough to get started and get ideas down, play around with the software, etc. I bought the iTwo and used the SM58 I owned at first. Then I bought an SE/X1 condenser for vocals/acoustic. Then I bought a pair of Rode M5s for live stereo recording. Then I bought a Shure MV88 so I could record band practice on my phone without needing to take any other gear. The internal mics are too sensitive and high volume recordings brick walled and clipped. Thats where I've stopped.

    Apart from the MV88, I could do without any of the mics if I had to. I'm not making an album when I record - just getting ideas and demos down, and capturing the moment. 

    DAW:
    I do most of my recording on the iPad using Garageband. It's really very, very good for the needs of a musician who wants to record themselves and be their own engineer without the recording process taking over the performance (IMHO).

    I've got Logic on the Mac, but don't use it much for recording myself any more. I do use it for recording other people when I'm not the performer. It's far too big and capable for me to learn it properly and I used to spend a lot of time learning Logic when I could have been doing other things, so I stopped. 

    I also use GB on the iPhone, but there's another app I use called "Multitrack DAW" which I also use on the phone for audio recordings "in the field". I find it easier to get good stereo recordings at band practice, in my mates kitchen, etc. But it's only for audio recording, not MIDI tracks. 

    Guitar AMPS:
    The software amps in GarageBand are good enough for ideas. I've got a Headrush Gigboard and use that for guitars and basses sometimes, just recording the audio output. I don't like it as an audio interface, although it can do that. I recently trialled Helix Native, but that forces me to use the Mac and Logic. It wasn't a step up in sound quality for me, just many more options, so I didn't buy - even though I'd have gotten it cheaply as I've got an HX FX. 

    I also own a silent load box (armAudio L850, £50) and a BluGuitar Blubox IR cabinet emulator. That's what I use for electric guitars these days - my own amp, no speaker and straight into the iTwo. Easy and sounds good. 

    But, TBH, all you need to get started is a pair of headphones, Garageband on the iPad, plus (optionally) an inexpensive audio interface with MIDI sockets and whatever dynamic mic you use with your band. 

    You need to start to play the game to understand what you really need personally. enjoy the rabbit hole! :-) 

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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 5173
    Here's my rather oddball take on using a computer for a DAW at home. I do a lot of home recording, both for myself and some professional work for others. Since quitting the professional recording studio I've been using an iMac for music production but I deliberately went out and brought the exact software and interface I used at home 10 years earlier. Because I knew it was a bomb proof system and in ten years nothing has changed in the technical format of music. It is still 24 bit 44 \ 48 \ 96 trucked down to 16 \ 44.1 or more often encoded to mp3.  So I paid £80 for an iMac and £40 for an Mbox Pro and that was it. Been making music on it since very happily.  

    So recently I was talking to a band member who wanted a music computer capable of recording his songs and sharing ideas with me. So he asked what I used and then he  went on Ebay and brought it. 

    2008 iMac  £100
    Mbox Pro firewire audio interface £40
    Protools LE download from Digidesign free

    No drivers to install, bugger all latency to worry about, superb Xpand softsynth, brilliant piano and organs, great sampler, Digidesign 11 amp sim and Sansamp sim for bass. 

    So £140 spent in total. Which is actually £20 more than I spent on the the same setup :)   There is a audio track limitation of 32 tracks but you can bounce down if you need more. You can have as many instrument \ midi  tracks as you like. You can't install the latest plugins and you can't run the latest soft synths. Personally for me these aren't issues. The built in EQ, compressor, reverb, delays etc are better than the included ones in a lot of DAW's and the included VI's are very good indeed .. to the point my live keyboard rig is a 2006 Macpro running PT LE with an Mbox Pro. 

    So basically we have these machines which just do one thing - run Protools LE. Nothing else. We don't care the  old iMacs can't run the latest browser, they aren't connected to the internet. They are just for making music and they do it so well. 

    So that's one way to get started making music on a very, very small budget. 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • chrisj1602chrisj1602 Frets: 1502
    If you're getting a HX Stomp they work perfectly as an interface for guitar/bass.  I use mine into my MacBook.
    Chris.
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  • JalapenoJalapeno Frets: 4879
    Ta Jim. I have used Logic before in the dim & distant past so might just go there if it's not stupidly expensive. In plan on replacing this MacBook with another when it dies on me, so that's no issue. Will do some more googles. 
    Logic is nowhere near as expensive as olden times - £199, and the UI is very similar to GarageBand, so starting with GB isn't a waste.

    Other suggestions ^^^^^ are good - but checkout Tracktion (free) too.

    Yes - condensers are the way to go for vocals & acoustic instruments - a pair of Thomann T-Bone shotguns £50, and big ol' ribbon one (again £50-£70 TBone if funds are tight) - move on to Neumanns etc later

    Imagine something sharp and witty here ......

    Feedback
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  • TheBigDipperTheBigDipper Frets: 2011
    Danny1969 said:
    Here's my rather oddball take on using a computer for a DAW at home. 

    <snip>

    So basically we have these machines which just do one thing - run Protools LE. Nothing else. We don't care the  old iMacs can't run the latest browser, they aren't connected to the internet. They are just for making music and they do it so well. 

    So that's one way to get started making music on a very, very small budget. 
    And very smart thinking/advice.

    I didn't buy an iPad to record. I've had one since they came out. My laptop, though, was a Win 7 machine. I only bought a MacBook to replace it because of Logic and Garageband - even though I'd never used either of them. I wouldn't do it again - although I really like my MacBook now I've got it. But Catalina is the last OS it will ever support and I'm not going to buy a new one until/unless this one dies. I'm more likely then to buy a 12.9in iPad Pro, TBH. 

    I think a lot of people have had journeys like me. Not coming from a professional recording background, and not realising how little gear you actually need, or how low cost it can be, until you've spent your money and realised it wasn't really necessary. 

    The problem is that we want to buy the shiny toys because we must need them, right? Otherwise we'll be held back. In truth, we aren't and we don't. 
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  • oktorocktooktorockto Frets: 46
    Expensive, but an RME Babyface or Babyface Pro is pretty much future proofed for drivers. RME provide really good support and they are rock solid. Soem RME products have had regular driver updates for 15 years for PC and Mac. They have a good resale price as well. You can add another 2 or 8 Channels via SPDIF or ADAT late ron with a second hand Focusrite octopre. I bought my Babyface secondhand and it is one of the best bits of kit I have ever bought. The babyface has 2 in line/mic and MIDI i/o. For Mics I would say always buy less quality mics than more cheap ones as they can last you a lifetime. Again, lots of 2nd hand bargains but watch out for fake 58s etc. Reaper is a great DAW - I don't use it myself but have had a go and liked it; there ar elots of cheap DAWs now. @Danny1969 has a great approach - you can do a lot on a very tight budget. People can be so snotty about gear - I only recommended the RME and expensive mics as they can be good long term investments. People can forget that a 15 year old pro tools rig was hailed as the best thing since sliced bread when it came out and produced some fantastic albums. Learnign to manipulate audio for fun, pelasure and even profit is more important than the gear you use as is creativity, spontaneity and improvisation. Some of my favorite recordings were done on an old Tascam 4 track cassette recorde with broken cue mix and a bunch of guitar pedals and a cheap plasticky AKG dynamic mic.
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