New to recording/ Gear recommendations please!

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by LeCeej, May 13, 2016.

  1. LeCeej

    LeCeej SS.org Regular

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    Hey guys,

    I am entirely new to recording my own music, but now that I have finally become a good enough guitar player and musician to write my own music, I am eager to start creating something full length that I can call my own. As of now, I have the guitar tracks for 6 songs recorded on my iphone (lol) and ideas for drums, piano, brass, etc. That being said...other than my guitars and vox valvetronix amp, I have nothing. I am in the process of buying a jazz bass and bass amp, but other than those pieces, I need a lot of help getting started (including a good laptop and software recommendations for this endeavor). I've done a little research and most recommend things like a Focusrite 2i2 and sm 57 mic to get started, but I'm not sure my amp(s) will be good enough to mic. I have also been recommended using a Pod hd500 for versatility's sake and because it can replace an audio interface and mic. My music style ranges from jazz, to soft rock, to ambient stuff (and a little metal here and there, but probably wont constitute much of my album). Money is not really an issue, but outside of maybe the laptop, I would prefer 'bang for the buck' and 'entry level' suggestions rather than really high end equipment since I don't intend to sell my music or necessarily become a pro at mixing right away, but I also want to be proud of my creation. SO, with all of this in mind, what would you guys suggest I purchase?

    TL;DR - What gear would you recommend for a musician entirely new to recording? (from laptop/speakers/software down to any necessary cables)

    Thanks for reading and (hopefully) commenting. Any and all suggestions are welcomed.
     
  2. russmuller

    russmuller Cramblin' Contributor

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    Hey there! Welcome to SSO!

    Speaking as someone who started playing guitar as a kid and wound up in school for recording/audio engineering, I will say that ultimately the gear that's going to work the best for you is the stuff that doesn't distract you from your creative flow.

    There's a ton of gear and software our there, but if it doesn't seem intuitive to you, it's probably not a good fit. So if you really love playing through you amp and not playing into a little box with lots of buttons and no speakers, it's worth throwing a 57 in front of your amp and going that way. If you're not looking to record vocals, using a modeller as an interface is probably the way to go. You could probably skip the bass amp at that rate unless you need it for playing live.

    When it comes to DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software for recording and mixing, I recommend watching some demos and tutorials to see what makes sense for you. I feel completely at home working in Pro Tools because it makes sense to me and it's what I cut my teeth on, but sit me down in front of Logic or Cubase (which are equally powerful tools) and I'm pretty much useless. So check out some YouTube videos on Pro Tools, Reaper, Cubase, Studio One, and anything else that catches your interest.

    If you're looking to program drums, I 100% recommend getting EZ Drummer 2 from Toontrack. There are lots of very affordable drum expansion libraries for different styles (sold as "EZX" for EZ drummer eXpansion). You'll probably want a MIDI controller to program the drums since clicking with your mouse can be tedious, but you can also buy libraries of MIDI drum performances rather than programming your own.

    Most DAW software will include a bunch of plugins. These are various effects that can be used within your recording software to add EQ, compression, reverb, etc... The included plugins will probably be good enough at first, but eventually you'll find that making good music and making great sounding recordings are very different skill sets. If/when you get to that point, I'd strongly recommend Toontrack's EZ Mix 2 software. It's very simple, versatile, and sounds pretty damn good. When you're just trying to write music and you don't want to divert your energy to nitty gritty of audio engineering, it's a quick and easy way to get drastically improved results. (I say this as someone who has spent many thousands of dollars on audio plugins over the past 13 years).

    As far as laptops go, you want something that has a lot of RAM, the faster the CPU the better, and a solid-state hard drive (SSD) with a lot of room. Recording sessions can take up a LOT of space.

    Good studio monitors (speakers) can get very expensive. It's not how much they cost that determines the quality though; it's about what sounds right to you and what your ears are used to. You can make a great mix on crappy speakers if you know what music should sound like coming through them. But a good set of monitors can help you hear things you don't notice on crappier ones. Yamaha and KRK have some really good offerings for reasonable prices, but you'll probably get the most mileage by investing in a good pair of studio headphones. I'm a big fan of Sennheiser's 280HD headphones; they're about $100 and they're the solid as a rock. I've had mine for over a decade now and they haven't crapped out.

    Anyway, I hope this stuff helps.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2016
  3. russmuller

    russmuller Cramblin' Contributor

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    Also, check out a YouTube channel called The Recording Revolution. You can learn A TON of great info there.
     
  4. LeCeej

    LeCeej SS.org Regular

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    Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply! I will definitely check out that YouTube channel as well as others that feature the DAWs you mentioned. As for my amp, I would say that I enjoy the versatility it provides, since it models a few amps and has on board effects, but it is also the only amp I've ever owned, so I couldn't really say for sure what I would prefer. I don't intend on recording vocals though (certainly not my own anyway!), so perhaps an hd500 or something would be best, then. Or maybe even both? Would an hd500 or comparable modeller provide better quality sound than an entry level audio interface while also allowing me to use a mic to record my own amp if i preferred it at times?

    Secondly, forgive the ignorance, but if I were to have, say, Protools, would a plug in like either of the toontrack ones you mentioned be compatible with it? And would this be the case throughout most platforms?

    Lastly, i actually do have a pair of 280HDs :) and some other nice cans that may prove useful, but would decent speakers to accompany my laptop + a modeling interface work as a means of playing AND recording live simultaneously or can they only be done separately?
     

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