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Thread Beginner - need to know what to start with

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1 Beginner - need to know what to start with
Hi, I intend to do some home recording with guitars vocals etc and I'm wondering where to begin.

I am building a Pc specially, so part of my query lies with hardware and partly with software.

I want to get the best soundcard I can, I have used Terratec before, which I quite liked, but my options also include the Creative Live and the Soundblaster Audigy series. Obviously I will only be using cards with a break out box. Any advice on that would be nice.

Secondly - software. I want a program so I can layer several tracks and also something were I can program a beat and put in midi sections. I have no experience of this so far. I hear Cubase, Cakewalk and Reason being the ones to consider - any advice would be appreciated as don't know the difference.

Hope to hear from someone soon

Hi David-

I'm a Cakewalk guy myself. It's pretty easy to use, and covers just about everything you want to do. Home Studio would be my choice.

You don't necessarily need a sound card with a breakout box. In fact, I prefer NOT to have it that way. I would recommend an Audiophile 2496 from MAudio (the PCI version, not the USB), and then I would get a small mixer. I use a Behringer. Works great, sounds very decent for the price.

Don't forget to set aside some $$ for a pair of reference monitors to mix on. Consumer grade computer speakers won't cut it. MAudio is also making some relatively inexpensive monitors that get pretty good reviews.

For computer stuff, I prefer Intel based systems. I got burned pretty bad over an AMD system a few years ago (they say those bad days are over, but I'll stick with Intel anyway, thanks....). Stay away from motherboards with built in RAID. I also try to stay away from motherboards with on biard sound and graphics, too. Get as much computer as you can afford, and stuff it with as much name brand memory as you can afford. Build your system with a separate hard drive just for audio. A dual head video card is also a nice option on down the road......
The Axeman (##(===> Cuts From My New Blues CD
Ahh, a welcome from the Axeman himself, most appreciated.

Thanks for your advice, I also realise now that cubase and cakewalk are the recording software wheras Reason is a sequencer for devloping stuff. I'm guessing using these in conjunction with each other is ideal.

I've heard your tracks Axeman and I'm extremely impressed with the quality, how much of that is sequenced stuff? And what did you use.

To query your response, I'm glad you mentioned Raid, I was about to purchase a mother of a mother board with Raid or Raid 5 as initially I want the new Pc to double as a web server. So why the avoidance of Raid? Is it due to write speed? Would it help if I had raid but used an independant drive for my recording?

My second question is the monitor, I see it has been raised several times on differerent forums. Initially I was going to get the best set of Pc speakers I could, evern a 7.1 surround system (although I know this is perfectly suited to music). Could you suggest what type of monitor you mean and maybe link an example so I can see.

Finally, the details of the card/break out. I'm a little confused as to the benefit of the mixer. If I am recording instruments individually to it's own track for mixing internally with software, how can an external mixer help. Pre-amp issues with mics?

Thanks for enlightening a newbie, maybe this post should have been in the 'newbie' section.



I'm glad you liked the tracks. The only thing I sequenced was the drums. Everything else is just me. I programmed the drums, though. I used an MAudio Delta 1010 interface, a Behringer mixer, Cakewalk Pro Audio 9.0, Jammer Pro for some of the drum sequences, and Event 20/20bas monitors for the mix, and an AKG D690 mic and an SM57 mic. I mastered with Sound Forge 4.0.

The main thing you want in an audio computer is reliable throughput, on the PCI bus, to the memory, and on the IDE port to the disk. The primary driver for this requirement is resources. There are only 15 IRQ's in a PC, and very few of them are free for dedicated audio resources. There are several choke points on a motherboard when it comes to data throughput for audio applications. Without going into a lot of detail, your best bet is to build a dedicated system for audio that is focused on no IRQ sharing, a dedicated audio hard drive, and no extraneous stuff. RAID is a resource hog, so I'd stay away from it. I can't imagine a reliable audio computer that is also a server.....

The mixer is the heart of your studio. It provides all of your signal routing and monitoring options, as well as you mic pre amps and EQ. The thing I like about using a mixer is the flexibility for monitoring and signal routing. Yeah, you can do it in the software on most systems, but I prefer a mixer with real faders and knobs. I use a Behringer UB 1622 FX Pro mixer. Great bang for the buck.

Reference monitors are a must being able to reliably turn out a decent mix. These MAudio BX5 monitors are getting good reviews:

Hope this helps. 8)
The Axeman (##(===> Cuts From My New Blues CD