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Music, Audio, and Podcasting Do you use your Mac to create music? This is the place for discussions on creating and editing music on the Mac!

Home recording setup. What to get?


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Soundhound

 
Member Since: Dec 22, 2006
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I'd like to have a highly functional setup, geared mostly for composing, but able to record some vocals and guitars, bass as well. I've had extensive home setups before, but not in a long time. To give you an idea of how long ago, the centerpiece of my setup was Performer, before it was digital performer, and I had an AKAI 12 track that was tempermental at best. I stopped doing scoring work just as everybody was getting into the ADAT allessis stuff for recording audio sycned along with midi.

A few years ago I started to get back into it a bit and got digital performer, the motu 828, some native instruments stuff (absolutely love their b4, sounds amazingly like the real thing to me, and I spent a lot of time around b3s back in the day), then motu's mach five and a few other things.

But I never got that much into any of it, I just didn't have the time to devote to learning it/getting a hold of it. In the years since I rediscoverd guitar, got a lot of great guitar gear and got some of my chops back - playing in a couple bands,etc... Now that I've got a hold of that, I'm feeling the urge to add a good composing set up.

One thing that's made it difficult is I've used the Mac I get issued from work (I'm in advertising) but you're not supposed to add your own software to it, so I've been flying under the radar, and it's just a pain in the neck. I'd rather have a dedicated mac at home that I can compose on. Plus I'm always pushing the capabilities of whatever mac I have. I'd like to have plenty of headroom so I don't have to worry about that.

At NAMM a couple of years ago I saw a few great symphonic software packages, whole orchestras in a box that sounded great, and I'd love to get something like that. I'd like to have one for orchestral, one for jazz trio/quartet, quintet, etc, one for composing rock, r&B etc etc. I'd love to have the setup as turnkey as possible: realistic sounding and playing instruments that inspire you to play and write. But easy enough to not get lost in the mechanics.

I got the MOTU stuff just because I'd used it historically and was used to the interface. But since I never got a good hold on the digital performer way of doing things, I'm wondering if I shouldn't switch over to ProTools, since that's the industry standard. On the other hand, I just did a little investigating into a symphonic package, Eletronic Musician gave the nod to a package costing $10k that would be out of my range. On the other hand, MOTU's Symphonic Intrument seems like it might be a good place to start, and possibly get a lot of work out of. And I see that since I have Digital Performer, I can upgrade to it's new version for $199 or so. But I don't want to work in the wron setup to save a few bucks...

So my questions I guess are:

1)Would you recommend starting over with Pro Tools v. Digtial Perfomer?
2) How much Mac do you think I need to meet my criteria? And what virtual instruments would you recommend right off the bat?

thanks!
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AnatomyOfARyan

 
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Member Since: Jun 02, 2005
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im not really much of a garageband user, but they have some great jam packs just for what you are interested in. one dedicated for orchestra types, one for bass and rythm, one for this and that, etc. you might check that out. i believe those jam packs are also usuable with logic.

are you gonna be recording any drum tracks? i would think that would be the determing factor when it comes to what type of interface youre gonna be working with.

this is how ive kinda determined what program to be using- pro tools for real instrument band type stuff (guitars, drums, etc), and logic for midi keyboards and virtual instruments. yes you can do both on either program, but they seem to be set up differently to accomidate either virtual or real instruments.

i know little to nothing about digital performer so i cant really comment on it.

as for how much mac? i was running pro tools m powered, logic express, garageband and reason (not at the same time) on both my macbook and imac when i just had 512 ram in them. they are both 1.83mhz core duo machines. i never had any issues with latency or errors until i started using 5+ plug ins. now i have a gig in each machine and its never been an issue for any of the above programs. so to answer your question, it depends on how many plugins and simultaneous tracks youre gonna be recording. 8 drum tracks at once- might want to upgrade the ram to at least a gig, 2 midi tracks at once with minimal plugins- any intel mac or later generation G5 will keep up just fine.



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guitar_man

 
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If you're going to be doing scoring work, I would go with DP over ProTools. I run both on my 2.33 MBP, and while I prefer ProTools for my live recording work when using a lot of virtual instruments and MIDI I head straight to Digital Performer. It is much more flexible as far as virtual instrumentation is concerned. Symphonic Instrument is a great program for a decent price. As far as how much Mac you need, my MBP with 2 gig of RAM hasn't let me down yet even when running Digital Performer, Battery, Reason 3, Live and verious other instrument plugins at the same time. One of the guys I work with is running a similar setup but with 1.83 CoreDuo MBP with 1.5 gig and occasionally bogs it down with plugins.

There's only two types of music: good and bad...
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Soundhound

 
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Interesting and informative, thanks. I think I'll probably be doing mostly composing with virtual instruments, adding guitars and vocals etc. One way of getting my feet wet that I read a little bit a bout today would be logic express. I'be been using garageband a little to do sketeches etc and its very simple, but can't do some basic things like overdub, work in sections, etc. Any thoughts as to whether logic express might be a good first step?
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math

 
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Logic Express is a remarkably versatile tool. Used in conjunction with Propellerheads' Reason, the sky is literally the limit. I held out on Reason for ages, thinking that it was just for one certain type of music (strange really considering I'm a longtime FL user on the PC) but I was wrong wrong wrong! I think you could do well to give Logic Express and Reason a go
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Soundhound

 
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I'm a Reason ignoramus, what do you use that for, if Logic hadles full featured midi/virtual instrument/audio recording and composition.
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math

 
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Reason has wonderful synths and effects built in, and the samplers which are built into it have really, really good patches. I generally write some stuff in Reason and then add guitar and vox and maybe some more synths in Logic.

Of course, you could get by just using Logic Express, with no problems at all, but Reason's really nice to work with too and it'll expand your options unbelievably.
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Soundhound

 
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here;s what I'm thinking for the moment. For composing and recording a variety of stuff:

DAW/Computer
Getting logic express (once the new revs of logic come out)
An iMac (once the new imacs come out)
Upgrading dp from 4.5 to 5 - then see which I like better, Logic or DP

Getting MOTU Symphonic Instrument
I might have what I need for composing between logic and machifive and some NI stuff I have. If not, I'm still looking for virtual instruments that are the all in one equivalent of MOTU SI, but for acoustic jazz (think early miles) electric jazz (think Mike Brecker, Mike Stern etc) and for rock/whatever (think little feat etc).

Sound like a plan?
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Scroatdog

 
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As far as interface gear, I use the M-Audio Ozone keyboard/midi controller. It has mono, stereo 1/4" inputs, and XLR input with phantom power, pitch and modulation wheels, and 25 keys. Since I usually record things by myself, the small number of inputs doesn't bother me. Oh, it also has 1/4" stereo outs so you can hook it up to some powered reference monitors (my next purchase - need research first).

Also keep in mind that Logic 8 is around the corner. It will be interesting to see what the Apple team has done with it. After Apple acquired Logic from E-Magic there hasn't been considerable development done on the program. There are also rumors that Logic 8 can utilize the new touch screen technology. It is only a "rumor" though, so please don't hate me if it turns out not to be true! :bushman:

But just imagine having a touch-screen LCD set up as a secondary monitor, and you drag the mixer pane to that LCD and can actually touch the faders - move them up and down with your hands, twist knobs, etc. Now that would be exciting.

1) Powerbook G4 12" 1.5 GHz, iWork, Ilife 06, Logic Pro, Office 2K4
2) A PC with a bunch of stuff in it.
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Soundhound

 
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Yup, I've just been reading up about the upcoming Logic update or relaunch or whatever it is. I remember when Apple bought emagic I hoped they'd do something great with it. Now we shall see!
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