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Hey Tom,

Can you please give the members who are new to the online collaboration process some tips on what to purchase if they want to start collaborating?

I.e., a computer/DAW/mic/preamp, etc.

If anyone would like to jump in and tell us what you are currently using as well, that would be wonderful. :)
#1182 Posted Tue 02 Feb, 2016 5:07 pm
What I am currently using -

~ Samsung Laptop, Windows 10. (Already had)
~ M-Audio Fast Track Pro Preamp ($100.00)
~ AKG C12 Tube Condenser Mic (clone) (My friend made it for me)
~ ND 767a Dynamic Mic ($100.00)
~ Adobe Audition CC 2014 ($150.00)
~ Sony MDR 7506 Pro Headphones ($90.00)
#1183 Posted Tue 02 Feb, 2016 5:10 pm
Ok, but, that sounds easier then it actually is though, but I'll give it a whack. : - )
For someone just getting started, I would suggest of course simplicity.
Pick the environment you want to aim for. Are you looking to try for Demo quality or just a quick scratch-pad for ideas, or, something to show your main talents?
Once you've determined where you want to take your product when it's done then start asking questions. Don't be afraid or embarrassed, and if you ask at some stores in your neighborhood or online, remember their first job is to sell and not to help.
If you are already playing gigs that showcase your songs, remember the set-ups used and ask whoever did it some questions.

Sometimes having a limited budget is a blessing in disguise. It helps to keep your set-up streamlined and the costs low. If you take a look at Ravens set-up just above my post, you will see she has only what she needs for her favorite talent, singing. It's an excellent way to start unless you also want to get into production. Then you need to add a few more programs that are called virtual instruments to help flesh out your ideas. Remember, don't get too crazy too soon. Explore what you have before you start getting things that duplicate what you already have or are full of sounds that are cool, but you're never going to use for your music.

Before you go buying another computer just for music because your computer is too old or too slow, try to check out some all-in-one systems that are dedicated to recording. There are several models of hardware out there by Tascam, Zoom, Fostex, etc......
These systems do not use a computer interface, but can be hooked into your computer to monitor if you wish. This way the hardware does all the processing and not your computer.
As you can see there are multiple considerations before you even buy into anything.
I still think the first step is always research.

As I said before Ravens set-up is very cost effective, but you can do cost effective with different brands and gear. It all depends on wether you're a writer, producer or a singer.
The best advice I can think of right now is, start with what you know and always keep your eye and mindset on where you ultimately want to end up in sight.
If anyone has specific questions, please post them here or pm me. That's what I'm here for. : - )
Meanwhile I'll keep thinking of different set-ups and costs and post my ideas here from time to time so check back.
#1186 Posted Wed 03 Feb, 2016 8:58 am
I am following this thread, as I am very interested to find out what others are using. I'm a live performer (vocalist) and have a music studio which is set up for rehearsing, but not recording...

I currently have a laptop and have used Audacity to parse Zoom recordings of rehearsals into tracks , but that's it.
I don't think I want to use the Zoom recorder for this though...

#1187 Posted Wed 03 Feb, 2016 9:56 am
Hi Michelle,
Zoom has a few different models, some can go 16 to 24 tracks. I only mention that because it's a system you're familiar with.
It seems you already have a basic idea of what to do. The only thing when your recording to make sure of is that your ears like what they are hearing. Listening is the first step to know what you want your recordings, vocal or otherwise to sound like. Take some notes on what your favorite singer sounds like and if you can find them, studio notes as to what they did, are also a great help.
If you want to know what the DAW's (didgital audio worstaions) are like, they all allow for free temporary downloads. The real difference between them is the way they set up their workflows. Just jump in and drop a line on what you find.
: - )
#1188 Posted Wed 03 Feb, 2016 1:41 pm
My first set-up was super simple, it was a twin tape deck and I recorded then played along with each recorded idea whilst recording that. That sounds very un-simple written down, ha ha!

I thought the Tascam 4 tracks back in the 80s were fantastic, my wife and I still have a working one and it's pres are still solid sounding. Of course now days the skies the limit even with just an off the shelf PC or as Tom suggests a stand alone recording station like Tascam or Zoom.

I'm primarily a bass player although I started on guitar and as time went by curiosity led me to other things such as drums. Up until recently I used a Line 6 X3 as my input into a stock off the shelf PC. I had a few mini behringer preamps for vox as well, very cheap and sound decent enough for the job. The X3 has only 2 inputs but this was more than enough at the time and allowed me to record guitar, bass, vox and electronic drums. I've been using Sonar 8 for many years now and started on DAWs with Cakewalk (Sonar of old) in the late 90s, at the time I recorded with a Roland VS880 which to this day can still confuse me.

I still use the X3 but recently decided to move towards more inputs so I could record drums, I ended up going with a Tascam US 16X08 (yes back to my old friend). I had considered Focusrite but as I already had 3 quality preamps I decided to go with Tascam as it had 8 analogue inputs and 8 mic inputs instead of the digital inputs the other brands seemed to offer. This meant my preamps could feed into the Tascam giving me the extra mics to cover the drums. I've been using it for about a year and it has been rock solid thus far, very flexible unit and just works.

My current set up is

Microphones: Samson Q7 (3), AKG D22, AKG D3700, AKG C1000S (2), Shure SM7B, Shure SM58 Beta, Shure SM57 (3), Rode NT2A
Stage Boxes: 2 X 8 channel XLR boxes to feed my microphones to the interface
Preamps: Focusrite ISA One (3) Mini Behringer Preamps (2)
Interface: Tascam US16X08, Line 6 X3
Stock Acer PC running Win 8.1, not connected to the internuts, that keeps it clean and trouble free.
Pioneer stereo amp (from the early 90s) I got this for $50 15 or so years ago
JBL L200 Studio Masters, these relics are from the 70s and are huge, I love the sound. Not exactly how you should do things but Hey it works for me.
Headphones: Sennheiser HD 380 Pro, Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, good headphones that seal properly are essential for recording vocals, even then you'll hear the click but at least you are isolated somewhat better than average headphones.
#1189 Posted Wed 03 Feb, 2016 5:20 pm
OK Let me see. I use Apple OS X on a PC with a i7 3.4ghz four cores, 16GB memory two SSD driver 120 and 250GB and a 1TB backup
a 29" 2530x1080 Led Monitor, TASCAM US-366 Interface, Prodipe 6" Studio monitors wit 10" Sub,
for sound check, sony Sound-ramp speaker, ProAc Response 1SC Audiophile speakers.
Harrison Mixbus 3, Logic Pro X, Studio One Pro 3, WaveBurner Mastering program.
Main DAW is Mixbus ;-)
I only Mix/Mastering, NO Playing anymore!
#1190 Posted Wed 03 Feb, 2016 5:49 pm
Welp, I'm pretty much in the same boat... VERY little money for my hobby *)

I got a saffire 6 usb interface.. decent preamps for like 60-70$ gently used on the japanese version of e-bay.. I also have an sm57 and a couple guitars from another time when I actually had money for my music... and an AT4040 condenser mic. Which is the best mic I could afford without spending thousands.. I use ATH M50 headphones for mixing and monitroring, and dirt cheap monitors for checking out if Imy mixes hold the road....

Software.. I use REAPER.. Not so beginner friendly, but you get a TON of bang for the buck for 60$..

That's pretty much it, really... I always get a kick every time someone says you must have top of the line equipment to sound like a pro ;)

Soo, let's say you switch that AT4040 for a cheaper mic that suits your voice (tons of goodies around the 100 mark these days), you could have a decent setup for under 250.

Also, if you are a singer who doesn't need extra inputs, and doesnt plan on mixing, USB mics are a VERY good option these days...

Here is alittle gem recorded through a blue yeti... I sang through one once for a quick recording, and I was very impressed at how good this cheap little thingy could sound....

But I still prefer my AT4040 to that ;)
#1191 Posted Thu 04 Feb, 2016 6:48 am
Hi greg
Yup, the At4040 is pretty much a studio standard in some commercial studios too. It can be used for vocals and also snare and pretty much anything you want a very clear signal that won't distort when those fast transient hits like a snare or horns or whatever. It can withstand a very high level of "SPL" (sound pressure level).
USB mic's could be the low cost solution for vocals as far as I'm concerned. They go for vey little money or if you're a nut like me, you can get a major brand, top quality digital top of the line mic from Apogee for just around $400.00.
Matter of fact one the best combo mic to digital i/o for recording is the Samson "G-Track". It not only handles your a/d, d/a conversions it will hook into your computer through USB, and act as you all around digital interface for under $200.00. This one is the best value I've seen so far. I have one and have used it to record vocals, podcast recordings, guitar and keyboard recordings. It can be mono or stereo. I think this could be a prime competitor for beginners. Google it.
#1192 Posted Thu 04 Feb, 2016 10:27 am
My first audio interface was a Line 6 UX1 which is still available for $149 US. If you need phantom power for a condenser mic, the UX2 is another solid option at $199. Both of these interfaces allow you to model different mic pres (modern and vintage). They also allow you to simulate a virtual mic chain which can include a noise gate, compressor, EQ and reverb with zero latency (no delay). Better still, you can send two tracks to your DAW simultaneously - one wet and one dry (no compression, EQ, delay or reverb).

Everyone always gushes over condenser mics, but a good dynamic mic can also get the job done - especially for genres like Rock. Plus, dynamic mics don't pick up every sound in your house - especially if you record in a room without any kind of sound absorption or diffusion. Yes, like Dani, I sometimes sing very LOUD! ;)

That said, if you are going to use a dynamic or ribbon mic, make sure your audio interface can provide enough clean gain without a noticeable noise floor. Of course, an external mic pre like the the Cloudlifter can help remedy those types of situations.

As for DAWs, I really like Reason - especially for sketching rough ideas quickly. The workflow is also very intuitive - at least for me. I am now trying to learn Logic Pro to take advantage of third party plugins which are currently unavailable as rack extensions. However, if you're looking for something inexpensive, why not try Audacity? It's free and it supports third party plugins.

I agree with what others have said about keeping it simple, but don't be afraid to stretch and make a good investment either. Yeah, there's always better gear, but you still want something you can grow into - something that you can be happy with for at least a few years. When purchasing gear, always remember the golden rule. Generally speaking, what ever gear is closest to the source, should make the biggest difference. In other words, if you have to choose a great mic over a great mic pre, go with the mic! On the other hand, if you have a crappy mic pre, don't expect the great mic to work miracles.

The ultimate goal is not to be distracted by your setup. When I'm tracking, you can bet the lights have been dimmed and I'm in the zone.
#1193 Posted Thu 04 Feb, 2016 11:52 am
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