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Computer recording rig -- where to start?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hey guys,

I finally decided that me and my brothers need our own recording setup.  I'm looking into a computer rig (for a macbook pro) but don't even know where to start.  I need to know step by step what kind of hardware/software/misc equipment i need.  From the pros and cons of Logic and Pro Tools to the DAC and preamp, mic, etc.  I'm looking to record three/four part vocal harmonies with piano, guitars, bass, string quartets, drums, (the real instruments - not their electronic equivalents,) and occasionally other instruments as well. (It doesn't have to be all at once -- for instance I would layer the string quartet over the previously recorded vocals over the previously recorded piano/guitar etc.)  I'm looking at spending ~5 grand for the whole rig (not including computer), although if you want to mention what an ideal (more expensive) setup would be, it would still be informative.


Thanks a lot!

post #2 of 10

With all due respect to the many helpful and informative members of this board you might be well advised to ask the specialists.





It's a huge query as well so you might have to do a bit more research on your own and ask some more specific questions.


I'd suggest you start by working out how many channels you really need and how many microphones and of what type.


Also how much you want to work In The Box (ITB) and how much Out the Box (OTB). Specifically do you want a analogue mixing desk?


You can definitely do it for your budget though and to quite decent quality too.

post #3 of 10

Hmm, I have my own computer recording rig so i can give a few pointers. I'm currently using protools on windows, and you can get a basic version of it with many of maudio's hardware.


These questions might help


-how many channels will you be recording at one time, and how portable do i need it to be?

In my case my 'studio' is a bedroom, i need to setup and disassemble for every session, so i went with a 2 channel recording device which is portable (the old maudio mbox2). We have a fastrack we got recently for portable use. My original setup cost under a thousand dollars for a 2 channel setup total, but i could build a identical one for half the price, 2 years on.


For an example of a fixed, professional setup read that article - he uses a much more impressive setup than mine!


- Mics Mics Mics!

I use SM57s right now. While instrumental mics, they arn't that expensive and work really well for vocals too

So.. what do you want to record? How many things can you use direct inputs for? stuff like that.




Do you have a quiet, echo free place to record? Our first recordings were in the living room, and were terrible cause of noise. Even if you don't have the space for a proper studio. get somewhere quiet, and sound absobing (we use a bedroom with matresses over the windows)

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

I'm going for something quasi-portable -- I'd like to be able to dissasemble it without too much hassle.  My impression is that pro tools requires you to use only m audio components as hardware -- is that true? (It may be a dealbreaker for me if theres no way around it.)  As far as location, some parts would be in a living room (like mic-ing a steinway grand for a piano part). If by 'direct inputs' you mean which instruments I can plug in, I guess a couple of acoustic/electric guitars and a bass, (four instruments tops at a time).  My brothers and I are going to be soundproofing a 24' by 12' room as our studio.

I'm not sure how many channels I'd be recording at once, I'd estimate it at 12 just to be safe.

post #5 of 10

hmm. Protools essentials will only work with maudio gear as far as i know - however the higher end versions of the fastrack come with ableton live (which can work standalone i think) and the hardware itself works with anything that supports ASIO or directsound (AKA, anything at all, really) on windows, or core audio on mac (as i recall its called - i'm not a mac user). Its portable for most part - unless you want the the rackmount model. There's prolly other alternatives, but maudio is what i'm familiar with.


DI/direct input is generally anything without a mic. If you have more than 8 inputs at once, you're looking at pretty much a full sized mixing desk

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

I looked at the "fixed, professional setup" link, and it seems that it's for radio/podcasting, not music, although the mackie onyx mixing board does look interesting.  Is there a need for an external mixer if the computer software has mixing abilities?

post #7 of 10

Well, in part its for if you have power hungry mics and need a load of inputs a hardware mixer is supposed to be the way to go. While its radio/podcasting, in theory a similar setup, with more instrument/singing centered mics should work.


Hardware mixers are also 'easier' due to the whole tactile nature of them

post #8 of 10

not sure about recording gear but for the computer part you might check




quite a few ppl there build PCs for recording.


the quieter the recording PC the better, as i understand it :P

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys.  I actually joined gearslutz (same user name) and its really helping me out with everything I need to know (although members aren't as nice with newbies as I remember head-fi being.)  I decided to go with a matched pair of beyer 930's for instruments, I'll probably get a klm103 for vocals.  I got a duet, now just deciding on a preamp.  Thanks for all your help.  Any additional input would still be appreciated.

post #10 of 10

I am thinking that the XLR mic input use a built in pre-amp(of questionable quality???) and so you may want to try that before investing in a separate pre-amp.

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