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noob home recording, need a computer. tips?

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by jeb stuart, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. jeb stuart

    jeb stuart Tele-Holic

    625
    Jul 7, 2011
    maryland
    so i am wanting to do some home recording. singer songwriter acoustic and kinda ambient bluesy rock electric. tube amps, pedals etc. will be adding bass and drum sounds will come from brushes on a old suit case.

    i know nothing and have nothing. think i need a computer first.

    quad core right? i understand i am gonna need to spend money but i dont have a lot. thinking lay away for something solid.

    i also understand external harddrive is important also. i have a seagate external hard drive. 1 tb i think. can i use this.

    i am in the early stages and just want to star aquiring the basics and i think a decent computer(not laptop) is where is should start.

    thanx
     
  2. Millebern

    Millebern Tele-Meister

    166
    Dec 22, 2011
    Canada
    Hi there and welcome to the world of home recording. I'm no pro but I manage to lay down a few tracks here and there in my "Man-Cave" in the basement. If you are not on the go, I feel a desktop is a better choice for recording. PC's and Mac's both do the job but you can get a lot of PC for less money than a Mac. An external hard drive isn't so important. What I feel is more important is having at least 2 hard drives in your computer: 1 hard drive for the OS and programs and the other hard drive for Audio and Samples. On my computer I have 3 hardrives (OS, Audio projects, Samples). An i5 or i7 processor and lots of Ram also help things run smoothly. Then you'll have to figure out which software you would like to use (Cubase, Sonar, Reaper, etc.). It's all great fun. Good luck!
     
  3. woodman

    woodman Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    70
    Nov 28, 2004
    Mint Hill, NC
    The Seagate will probably work just fine, assuming it's 7200 rpm. You'll also need an audio interface to translate your analog sounds to digital data. And, of course, a recording program (DAW) to track, edit and mix in.

    Computers, well, that's a big subject. I've had a lot of luck with Macs over the years (they come with free Garageband), but plenty of people get along fine with Windows machines. ... Hopefully this won't turn into a raging platform debate! :lol:

    Whichever way you go, for your purposes, a duo-core with 4 MB of RAM will probably get you there. Be prepared for a steep learning curve — it ain't easy, but once you get rolling, it's worth the burned-out brain cells! :cool:
     
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  5. woodman

    woodman Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    70
    Nov 28, 2004
    Mint Hill, NC
    The point being that you run into problems recording to your system drive — either internal or external fills the need. Of course an internal (SATA) drive will beat the socks off any external Firewire or USB drive speed-wise, but in the early going, that may not be a huge factor for you.
     
  6. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity

    Aug 17, 2012
    Seattle
    This is very true. Having everything on a single internal system drive can really bog you down, because the disk is trying to do too many things at once. Since you're going to be recording mainly audio (as opposed to software instruments), what will be happening is those audio tracks will be streaming in real time off of whatever drive they're on. Having them on a separate, dedicated audio drive makes a night and day difference in overall system performance.
     
  7. telleutelleme

    telleutelleme Doctor of Teleocity

    Jan 15, 2010
    Houston
    I would comment that there is something usable in every budget. Pick an amount and the advice will pour in. Very good advice.

    In this recording thread are numerous excellent post/lists of starting points. All will say that getting a resonable processor enough memory, dual drives (with decent speed and capacity) and a proper audio interface are the keys. There are success stories with every OS and most configurations. Also an equivalent number of advice on why things may be problematic and how to fix them.

    Past that will be tons of ideas on which DAW software to use. Then comes the real fun discussing mics, monitors, how many, mixers and all the continuing gear to exhaust your money, your time and above all your excitement about recording.

    Welcome and join the frey.
     
  8. woodman

    woodman Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    70
    Nov 28, 2004
    Mint Hill, NC
    ^^^ Now that right there is the key word!
     
  9. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity

    Aug 17, 2012
    Seattle
    Initially, but once you get hooked all common sense goes out the window! :lol:
     
  10. jeb stuart

    jeb stuart Tele-Holic

    625
    Jul 7, 2011
    maryland
    i had a guy tell me i need quad core? not really sure what that means
     
  11. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity

    Aug 17, 2012
    Seattle
    More cores = more processing power. This is more important if you're running a lot of plug-ins (software-based effects and/or instrument samples), but having the extra horsepower definitely won't hurt at all if you're not using all of those plugs. I did alright with my Core2 Duo (two core) MacBook Pro as long as I was careful, but higher track counts and more plug-ins caused me issues.

    If you're recording live instruments most of the time and have a dedicated external audio drive to store those on, a dual-core machine should be perfectly adequate as the processor isn't doing nearly as much as it would with a lot of software-based instruments.
     
  12. still_fiddlin

    still_fiddlin Friend of Leo's

    May 6, 2009
    Texas
    The advantage of a laptop is that you *can* take it with you if you want to set up somewhere else. A desktop (pretty much) rules that out. Of course, the portable, digital recorders that are out there now can handle most of the remote gigs, but if you want to really do something a little better (like I did for our son's music school auditions), you'll want to pack along. Of course, you pay for compactness, and give up some flexibility.

    If you're in a tight space, the noise of the computer's fans and hard drives can actually intrude. If you get a desktop, get a big box (won't get as hot as quickly); and, either way, listen to the fans and hard drives. For a notebook, less cores is probably quieter. My dual core MacBook works fine - my quad core Envy notebook, OTOH, is a nice Windows machine, but I have to turn it off when recording. (Works great for post processing stuff or video editing though!)

    I don't think anyone can begin to tell you how complex this can become, and how expensive :). Especially, if you choose some stuff initially that has to be replaced sooner rather than later. Spending more money up front usually prevents that, but it can keep you from doing what you what to do, i.e., if you spent all your money on a computer, and don't have anything left for an interface, or only have enough for one with 2 mic pres, only to realize you really need 4 to do what you want to do. Go slowly, ask questions often, is my advice.
     
  13. woodman

    woodman Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    70
    Nov 28, 2004
    Mint Hill, NC
    As others have said, more processing power = good. But it's a matter of balancing out your budget ... getting started in a home studio will cost you bucks at ever step of the way, as well as a massive expenditure of time. If you have unlimited time and money, buy the best of everything and spend every day working at learning a complex craft.

    If you've got a time and money budget, i.e. got a job and/or family, and you ain't rich), it's a matter of how many hours you've got to develop a substantial financial investment. (As my wife will tell you, getting hooked on recording can blot out the rest of the world.) ... You said you wanted to do this:

    You can do this with the flimsiest of cheapo rigs. But if you want to go beyond, and want help from folks around here who are willing to give help graciously, we really need to know how much ya got to spend — on both fronts. ;)
     
  14. harleysr

    harleysr Tele-Holic

    997
    Jul 4, 2012
    nearby
    You have a long road ahead of you. Some of it will be fun. A great deal of it will be frustrating and one thing is certain: it will require a massive investment of time.

    Given your lack of familiarity, I would recommend immersing yourself in the world of home recording via YouTube, online articles, recording forums, magazines (do they still print those?) and anything else you can get your hands on. That includes the generous folks who have posted above.

    If you don't have some friends that are involved in it, make some. Spend some time with others who have some experience and learn about the basic equipment involved. Most importantly, begin the process of learning how to make a decent recording.

    There is only one way to do this. You have to get experience, and that takes time. Period. Essentially, there are no shortcuts, other than what you may glean by spending time with more experienced engineers/producers and yes, writers. It's a holistic endeavor.

    As others have said, don't spend money until you have some sense of the big picture, along with the steps in the process. Be patient.
     
  15. Jimclarke100

    Jimclarke100 Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 8, 2009
    Horsham, UK
    I use an iPad with GarageBand and an Alesis IO dock, which allows you to plug guitars and mics straight in. You could equally use something like an iRig or an iRig Mic (though the latter is a microphone in itself).
    Garageband is simplicity personified to use - though be honest I haven't used other platfoms so I don't really know how they work.
    It also comes with built in loops which, whilst I haven't found much use for them recording allow for a simple way to infuriate the family by setting up a never ending loop to noodle against...
    No idea of the cost in the US I'm afraid.
     
  16. jeb stuart

    jeb stuart Tele-Holic

    625
    Jul 7, 2011
    maryland
    well it is presidents day and best buy is right next to guitar center so i will be looking for a computer and an interface. for the computer im checking out quad core and much ram. (4gigs) but would settle for a duo core. and i have some thoughts about the interface (which i believes comes with a recording program)

    question though do i need to buy a sound card?

    thanx so far
     
  17. still_fiddlin

    still_fiddlin Friend of Leo's

    May 6, 2009
    Texas
    The interface is a soundcard. Many of us use just that.

    (There's another thread here about DACs, but I suspect most home/hobbyist recorders don't have one of those, and rely just on the interface they use for recording.)
     
  18. telleutelleme

    telleutelleme Doctor of Teleocity

    Jan 15, 2010
    Houston
    Most audio interfaces double as both a recording interface and will drive your sound (speakers/headphone/etc.). Some of the decision will be based on what you want to do. If you are going to play back while recording (e.g overdubbing), then the kind of interface or interfaces may make a difference. If you are going to record something and then just play it back, the sound card on your motherboard may be adequate or something like a inexpensive soundblaster might be fine paired with a simple USB audio interface.

    I suggest you call Sweetwater and ask them for a catalog and then look at the possibilities and see what might fit your needs. Look online at the other vendors or go visit GC and talk to one of the techs on what they offer.

    I started with a USB M-Audio Fast Track Pro. It worked fine for a long time.
     
  19. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    347
    Jan 21, 2011
    USA
    When I started recording, I used a Delta 1010LT ($200) card with an old dual core computer running Linux and the Ardour DAW. None of these things has great quality, but I had a fully working recording system for $200 (I already had the computer).

    Ardour is not the most stable software out there, and messing with Linux isn't for everyone. Just pointing out that it can be done quite cheaply if you have patience and don't need fancy software instruments or effects past your basic compressor/EQ/reverb. I wish I had a better set up, but this gear has made 2 CD's and I see no reason to pony up a lot more cash when I already have a system that works for my needs.
     
  20. randomhitz

    randomhitz Tele-Meister

    Age:
    69
    303
    Jan 29, 2008
    telluride
    If you are planning to do a lot of overdubbing there is an issue that has to be figured out depending on your software and interface called latency. It has to do with how you hear what you are playing while overdubbing against the track in the computer. It takes a little bit of time for the sound you make when overdubbing to go into the computer, get processed and come back out so you can hear it along with the parts that are already in the computer.
    I just bought an interface box that deals with this in a very simple way by just having one knob that you rotate to adjust the mix of what you are currently playing compared to the tracks in the computer. It's called a Focusrite Scarlette series, under $200.

    It seems like a lot of interfaces come with a recording program called Abelton Lite which i haven't used but the full Abelton pro program gets a fair amount of respect.

    It would help if you gave us some idea of a proposed budget. If you are just looking at doing 8 to 10 tracks you don't need that much of a computer. It's also important if you are staying with Windows to not get Windows 8 at this time as some software and some hardware have not been fully adapted to it yet.
     
  21. dconeill

    dconeill Tele-Afflicted

    I would take a slightly different tack:
    1. establish a budget
    2. find the software you want to use for recording (within your budget)
    and only then
    3. buy the computer your chosen software runs on. (within your budget)
     
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