Starting out with laptop multitrack recording. I need recommendations to get the most bang for my buck on a limited budget.
I moved 150 miles away from the rest of my band, and now I only see them on weekends. It's hard to do much gigging under these conditions, so I want to get a laptop and some multi-track recording software/hardware so that we can spend some time laying down tracks whenever I go back to visit.
Depending on how my finances work out over the next few weeks, I should have somewhere between $1100 - 1600 to spend. (More likely near the bottom end of that range than the top.)
We already have our stage mikes (Shure 58s & 57s) and a headphone splitter/amp that I used for our old cassette portastudio.
We'll be recording a 4-piece folk-rock band with vocals, guitars, bass, keyboard & possibly clarinet. I want reasonable recording quality, a decent user-friendly interface, easy editing of tracks, easy punch-ins to correct mistakes, and the ability to make dynamic mixes. The ability to record more than one track at a time would be very nice but is not required. I have no particular interest in pre-recorded beats or samples, but a built in metronome for a click track would be cool. I don't need a lot of effects beyond basic reverb and the like.
Possibilities so far:
1) MacBook ($1099) + Digidesign Mbox 2 Mini (includes Pro Tools LE)
Pro: I've wanted a Mac for a while, so this would be my excuse. Our regular studio guy uses Pro Tools, so this would enable use to share our home-recorded projects with our studio projects.
Cons: Might end up costing more than I will be able to afford. Even if I can afford it, won't leave much money for new mikes or studio monitors.
2) Macbook ($1099) by itself. Use GarageBand for the software.
Pro: More affordable. I still get a Mac. If I can save up more money, I might get the Mbox + Pro Tools later.
Con: Can only record 1 track at a time with GarageBand. GarageBand projects would not be compatible with our studio guys Pro Tools system.
3) Windows laptop (??? under $1000) + Lexicon Omega (includes Cubase LE)
Pro: Less expensive - leaves more money for good mikes and other equipment. Allows recording more than one track at once.
Con: Most windows laptops now are sold with Vista - but Cubase LE isn't certified for Vista. I'd need to find a laptop loaded with XP. Not compatible with our studio guy's Pro Tools system.
Please offer any thoughts or experiences about the above options or any other possibilities.