Recommendations for home recording

gabeNC

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I love gadgets, odd wiring, reamping through pedals, buss compressors, the MacGyver aspect of making music. Still have an old Roland 880ex I use for a headphone/return mixer at the drums.

But...

The simpler your setup is—the faster you’ll be making great recordings.

This is so true... with limited time that old 880 was a pita for bouncing, mixdown and transferring to the pc. Reaper with a Behringer 404hd, has phantom power for drum overheads, preamps sound fine to me... it just....so...easy...and....fast. Yamaha HS7's for monitors and I've never sounded better (that's a relative statement... I still suck).
 

Wulf

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Another thing to bear in mind...inspiration can vanish in the blink of an eye.
overthinking things before you strum a chord is one thing that will do that.
first thing is to just crack on and do it..regardless...then go on from there.
its so easy to back yourself into a corner.
once you get a feel for what youre doing and are comfortable with it then look at ways to improve.
dont clean up after the dog before its done it!
 

black_doug

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a dead room sounds too clinical to me.
if you look at old studios...lets say Sun records...home of many many great recordings...they didnt wall people off in bass trap or soundscreens...hence you get that "live band" feel that makes those recordings sooo great

Another unique recording studio was the one at Stax. A movie theatre. The sloping floor and shape of the room was a benefit. The fact that it was not square or had parallel walls kept the sound from bouncing around too much.
 

black_doug

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On the subject of interfaces, I’m looking for one to use with my 2011 MacBook Pro. I’m just getting back into recording again.

I want a simple 2 or 4 input with a good pre-amp. A lot of people use Focusrite. A newer interface that has my interest is from Solid State Logic (SSL). New this year, the SSL 2 and SSL 2+. Has anyone got one? What do you have?
 

telestratosonic

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On the subject of interfaces, I’m looking for one to use with my 2011 MacBook Pro. I’m just getting back into recording again.

I want a simple 2 or 4 input with a good pre-amp. A lot of people use Focusrite. A newer interface that has my interest is from Solid State Logic (SSL). New this year, the SSL 2 and SSL 2+. Has anyone got one? What do you have?
I'm using an older Steinberg (Yamaha?) Cl1 on my MacBook Air to record using Garageband. Cubase recording software is affiliated with Steinberg/Yamaha. I've had no issues with it.

Shameless plug: I have a song on Spotify. iTunes, etc. that I recorded using the Steinberg Cl1.
"A Good Day's When I Don't Think About Her" by Jim Clayton.

Were I to upgrade, I'd go with a 4-imput Steinberg. Long & McQuade carries Steinberg.
 

telestratosonic

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I love gadgets, odd wiring, reamping through pedals, buss compressors, the MacGyver aspect of making music. Still have an old Roland 880ex I use for a headphone/return mixer at the drums.

But...



This is so true... with limited time that old 880 was a pita for bouncing, mixdown and transferring to the pc. Reaper with a Behringer 404hd, has phantom power for drum overheads, preamps sound fine to me... it just....so...easy...and....fast. Yamaha HS7's for monitors and I've never sounded better (that's a relative statement... I still suck).
Can't go wrong with Yamaha HS7s for monitors. I'm using the HS5. Were I to upgrade, it would be to the HS7. I was at a music store yesterday and spent some time comparing 'reasonably priced' studio monitors. The HS7 really stood out.
 

buster poser

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Lots of good wisdom in here so far, my setup:

Monitors: JBL 306P IIs
DAW: Ableton 10
Controllers: Arturia Keylab 49, Novation Launchpad
IO: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (studio bundle with mic and phones)

I run my amp (Katana 100-112) line out into the Scarlett. Works for this hobbyist.
 

TheLondonRiots

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Another vote for Garageband - I bought a refurbished 2012 iMac running High Sierra OS for £180 and it all works fine.
I've found that using an online mastering programme (I use MajorDecibel for something like $25 for a year, unlimited tracks) has massively improved the stuff I've done.
 

chris m.

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Compatibility is not an issue. You can trade tracks with others very easily-- just send individual tracks or mixed tracks as .wav files and let your collaborator know the tempo.

I really like REAPER. Cheap, powerful, tons of videos and a good manual. I use a lot of the free VSTs that came with it as well as a couple of freebies. Also bought EZDrummer. VSTs are compatible with all of the proper DAWs, so that's not a compatibility problem, either.

As far as quickly laying down ideas when you are inspired- that's where your phone comes in. Just record a quick voice memo-- singing the melody or hook, or plinking away on your guitar, or whatever. Get that idea recorded, lo fi, just so you have it. You will start to build up a collection of little ideas captured in quick voice memos, and eventually you turn those little bits of inspiration into an arranged song with chords, melody, hooks, bridge, etc., and then you record it more properly with a DAW. In theory you could have your DAW rig all set up and ready to go to record anytime you have an idea. But then you still need to be in the room, and you need to boot it up, open a new file, etc. With your phone you can quickly record an idea anytime, anywhere, even if it's just singing into your phone as you drive down the road. Just as your phone is the OK camera you always have with you, your phone is the OK audio recorder that you always have with you, too.
 

Peegoo

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Another vote for Garageband - I bought a refurbished 2012 iMac running High Sierra OS for £180 and it all works fine.
I've found that using an online mastering programme (I use MajorDecibel for something like $25 for a year, unlimited tracks) has massively improved the stuff I've done.

The things you need to record in GarageBand are

A USB interface. The Behringer UM2 is $50 and has two channels, phantom power, XLR input for mics, a 1/4" jack for instruments, and a headphone out jack.

A powered multi-port USB hub. Makes connecting the interface, iPad, and thumb drives or other devices a simple matter. About $15 or so.

An iPhone/iPad camera adapter. This goes between the USB cable and the i-device. About $10.

This is the setup I use for 95% of my recording projects and they sound really good.

other stuff:
I have some Sterling condenser mics and a few EVs, Shures and Heils, and I also get guitar sounds from a POD HD. Drums are from an Alesis SR16.
 

gobi_grey

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Compatibility is not an issue. You can trade tracks with others very easily-- just send individual tracks or mixed tracks as .wav files and let your collaborator know the tempo.

I really like REAPER. Cheap, powerful, tons of videos and a good manual. I use a lot of the free VSTs that came with it as well as a couple of freebies. Also bought EZDrummer. VSTs are compatible with all of the proper DAWs, so that's not a compatibility problem, either.

As far as quickly laying down ideas when you are inspired- that's where your phone comes in. Just record a quick voice memo-- singing the melody or hook, or plinking away on your guitar, or whatever. Get that idea recorded, lo fi, just so you have it. You will start to build up a collection of little ideas captured in quick voice memos, and eventually you turn those little bits of inspiration into an arranged song with chords, melody, hooks, bridge, etc., and then you record it more properly with a DAW. In theory you could have your DAW rig all set up and ready to go to record anytime you have an idea. But then you still need to be in the room, and you need to boot it up, open a new file, etc. With your phone you can quickly record an idea anytime, anywhere, even if it's just singing into your phone as you drive down the road. Just as your phone is the OK camera you always have with you, your phone is the OK audio recorder that you always have with you, too.

Yes the phone voice recorder is a godsend. I've been using it for years and have hundreds of files backed up. I could probably make an entire album from the clips. Some of them are entire songs. Some are just chord progressions. Some are melodies and lines. Some are just me making horn sounds with my voice because a horn part came to me while driving.
 

beagle

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Lots of good wisdom in here so far, my setup:

Monitors: JBL 306P IIs
DAW: Ableton 10
Controllers: Arturia Keylab 49, Novation Launchpad
IO: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (studio bundle with mic and phones)

I run my amp (Katana 100-112) line out into the Scarlett. Works for this hobbyist.

Similar to my set up.

Windoze 10 laptop
Monitors: M-Audio
DAW: Reaper
Controller/Keyboard : Keystation 49
IO: Scarlett 2i2

And the rec out of the Katana 50 into the Scarlett. Almost silent recording.
 

63telemaster

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Compatibility is not an issue. You can trade tracks with others very easily-- just send individual tracks or mixed tracks as .wav files and let your collaborator know the tempo.

I really like REAPER. Cheap, powerful, tons of videos and a good manual. I use a lot of the free VSTs that came with it as well as a couple of freebies. Also bought EZDrummer. VSTs are compatible with all of the proper DAWs, so that's not a compatibility problem, either.

As far as quickly laying down ideas when you are inspired- that's where your phone comes in. Just record a quick voice memo-- singing the melody or hook, or plinking away on your guitar, or whatever. Get that idea recorded, lo fi, just so you have it. You will start to build up a collection of little ideas captured in quick voice memos, and eventually you turn those little bits of inspiration into an arranged song with chords, melody, hooks, bridge, etc., and then you record it more properly with a DAW. In theory you could have your DAW rig all set up and ready to go to record anytime you have an idea. But then you still need to be in the room, and you need to boot it up, open a new file, etc. With your phone you can quickly record an idea anytime, anywhere, even if it's just singing into your phone as you drive down the road. Just as your phone is the OK camera you always have with you, your phone is the OK audio recorder that you always have with you, too.

+1 for the phone. I've just started doing this and already have a dozen or so ideas down for quick recall, having the motivation to progress to the next phase is my particular problem.

Any DAW is going to be a steep upward learning curve. I'm at the bottom of that curve but so far have found that Reaper will do the things I want it to do. It's just a matter of spending time watching instructional videos, reading relevant parts of the manual and experimentation.
 

soundcloset

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Agreed: use what you have, invest in what you know will improve what you are learning to do. A good mic for voice, a good mic for amp, to start. I've found that Audix (OM-5, VX5) sounds better to me than Shure, but that's after trying both, going from reputation and recommendations to "what works for me". Room to store everything so you're not cluttered. Like I am. Clean and dust (and bee) free, not like me. I'm on GarageBand since my school has provided me with Macs, going on 18 years now. Get the best of each piece you can afford, when purchasing, but don't be afraid of used. Grab bargain bin old stuff just to try ... that old weirdo Stromburg Carlson mic is a re-branded Electro-Voice (or the other way around) and it might be useful, or just a vintage decoration, and you'll learn about converting Amphenol connectors to Canons. For example. But the digital pieces should be as new as possible, as they're always improving and changing how they do what they do. Refurbs here aren't scary. And I'll add that Rick Beato has videos about his growing disenchantment with Apple...but a ton of other stuff about studio techniques and music theory.
 

p_lawls

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Similar setup to yours, I don't have a home studio, it's more like a small closet w/ everything packed in there. I'm continuing to learn through trial and error, but it's a really fun journey. Here's what I'd recommend, but ultimately it depends on what you want to do:

Setup 1: "I want to record an entire band or rehearsal via my PA." Get something like a Behringer XR 18 Air or Mackie DLS then you get a PA system and you can route that into your computer and DAW. Zoom also has the Live 12 which can double as a mixer and recording interface. I've always had good luck with Zoom."

Setup 2: "I want to record a band together, but don't need a PA system... more of a studio vibe or a field recorder..." Any kind of interface with 8 inputs should give you plenty to work with. Focusrite Scarlett 18i20, or Zoom UAC-8 will get you there. More inputs you have, the more expensive the gear. A possible upgrade to this setup would be adding some outboard gear like a tube mic preamp like the ART PRO MPA. You could run your vocals and/or acoustic through a tube preamp that might warm things up a bit. Put a Zoom UAC-8, ART MPA, and a headphone amp into a portable rack and you'd have a nice portable studio setup.

Setup 3: "I'm only recording one or two people max at one time, I use drums from EZdrummer or slate, etc., I'll layer the tracks and have people come in separately and record over them..." Get a simple two input interface. You might be able to spend more $$ on something that is a high build quality like a Universal Audio Twin. This is the setup I use. I've rarely come across a time when I need 8 inputs to record an entire band. I'd love to have an entire band in the room recording at one time, but with what I'm doing that situation is very rare or non-existent.

Mics: for mics I'd start w/ a large diaphragm condenser mic. That's good for vocals and acoustic. Audio Technica and Sterling makes good affordable stuff. I own an Audio Technica 4033. I don't record drums at my place, but a large diaphragm and a kick would get me there with my little two input interface.

Computer: I'd stick with the old 2011 Mac. That's actually what I have, High Sierra. Old but a workhorse. However, upgrade the RAM to 16 GB (you can do this on your own w/ a screwdriver) and take it to a Mac repair store and upgrade to an SSD for a couple hundred bucks.

DAW: I love Logic Pro X. Again, for what I'm doing it works just fine. Pete Thorn has used Logic up until recently and his rationale for using Logic is that it works just fine for what he's doing. Again, one guy in a studio space layering parts. Find something you like and learn the ins and outs of it. Garageband would be a good place to start b/c it's free on your mac. I think ProTools First is free too.

Education and tutorials: it's really not about the gear as much as it is trial and error and always learning about what other people are doing to get good quality recordings. I am still very much on this journey and it's fun. Some of the people I follow on YouTube are Recording Revolution, Joe Gilder Home Studio Corner, Josh Turner Guitar, etc., Pete Thorn. I also subscribe to PureMix. Tutorials on there are great. Lynda is good too.

Monitors: I'd recommend getting a pair of really high quality headphones before getting cheap entry-level monitors. Right now I don't even own monitors. It's not going to be that way forever. I got small kids so mixing on headphones works. If you want to record a full band live in your space without using a PA (setup #2) then you're going to need some headphones for everybody to monitor. Unless if you're doing roots/bluegrass/acoustic music where people kind of self mix and monitor.

All in all, it's a lot of fun but I continue to find myself going back to how can I learn more about mic placement, mixing, and becoming a better musician and singer. **** in = **** out. EQ, compression and a little reverb will go a long way. Down the road I might end up with 2 rigs. One that is my day to day one person at home and the other that's a portable "come record my band or our live performance."

Hope this helps.
 
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telefire

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I have an old Mac that I doubt even turns on anymore. It's about a 2011 mac book pro. I was looking at used Mac books today. Probably will cost me $500-$700 for a 2015-2016 mac book pro. Would you go with logic over Studio One?

Reaper is $60 Mac or PC. free demo. It can look and operate like pro tools-logic etc. Tons of youtube instruction. Newbies can get up and running pretty fast.
 

bigjohnbates

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I have an old Mac that I doubt even turns on anymore. It's about a 2011 mac book pro. I was looking at used Mac books today. Probably will cost me $500-$700 for a 2015-2016 mac book pro. Would you go with logic over Studio One?

I use an upgraded mid-2012 MacBook pro (1TB SSD / 16G RAM) and it powers ProTools 11 and plays with an SSL2 nicely. I would have used Logic if I didn't have to deal with so many other studios. Garageband isn't possible in the pro world as it is not high enough sound quality. Just recording tho - I am not interested in mixing. There's a million ears out there that have that skill dialled in.
 

cravenmonket

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Wow, talk about a rabbit hole. I started reading up on this last night. I've dealt with sound treatment issues in live rooms a little but wasn't the person making the decisions or buying the sound treatments. Lots to think about here. My room is 16 feet wide, 26 feet long and has a 10 foot ceiling height. By sheer dumb luck it is pretty close to the golden mean in terms of measurements. Ceiling is sheet rock, walls are wood, and the floor is concrete, so it's at least a good place to start.

Sounds like a great space to work with! Figuring out your sound treatments doesn't have to be a chore, but it is definitely worth spending some time getting rid of any issues. I'm not suggesting you make the space totally dead (which you can do with excessive treatments) - if you want some character to the recording space, you can just focus on removing unwanted bass and high frequencies, and then see what you have left over.

My home studio is pretty dry-sounding, and it is also soundproof, so it's a good space for getting very clean recordings, but there isn't a huge amount of character or liveliness compared to, say, the living room in my home. I love the sound in there, but it's my living room, so I can't have recording gear set up all the time because my family lives here too, and also it isn't soundproof so I get a little unpredicatable noise from airplanes, leaf-blowers, etc.

If your room has nice natural character, don't do too much! Just test for high frequency chatter and bass boom, then put a variety of textures and furnishings in the room to break it up. Some wood, some cushions, some rugs, some stone maybe.

The biggest lesson I have learned is that you have to make your room a place where you actually want to spend time recording. If you don't like being in there, you'll make excuses not to. Then nothing happens...
 




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