Help me complete my home studio!
October 8, 2010 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Computer music MeFites! I need your help! Here is what I want to do: compose music on Finale, export the composition to a MIDI sequencing software, add beats that I'd also like to create myself, and then mix in real instruments including voice. What do I need?

I'm kind of a novice in this area. Thanks so much for reading and responding.

I already have:

Finale 2009
M-audio Fast Track Pro (for running mics through USB)
Macbook Pro
Roland RD700, which is serving as my MIDI controller (USB)

I have Garage Band and Pro-tools M-Powered "Essential" software that came with the M-audio Fast Track.

Software: Should I invest in the full version of Pro-Tools? I know the newest version is somehow integrated with Sibelius, but that shouldn't bar me from exporting midi files from compositions on Finale into Pro-Tools, right?? I want to be able to, say, compose a string quartet in Finale and then put it in Pro-Tools and edit the sound to be whatever I want it to sound like (crazy space string quartet, or whatever). This is key. Can Pro-Tools do this for me? Do I need any extra instrument libraries or anything like that?

Is there a different software you recommend? From my understand, Pro-Tools is still industry standard, and it's much cheaper than Logic.

Hardware: Especially regarding beats. Do I need a sampler/drum machine to really create my own beats? Or is this something I can do just as well with Pro-Tools? If I need a drum machine or sampler, do I need additional software for editing beats or can that be done on Pro-Tools as well? I really do want to create my own, not just from drum sounds but from other sampled sounds, and I don't want to use beats from a library.

If I do need a drum machine to make this happen, do you have a recommendation for a good quality but still affordable one? Money isn't the main issue, but I don't want to break the bank either.

I don't need to do any of this live, e.g. I don't need to sample sounds and loop them live. This will all be studio.

So the finished project combines: compositions notated in finale, beats I've created somehow, and real instruments/vocals. Ideally, I'd like to do all the mixing, editing and mastering myself and come out with a good, professional quality recording.

Thanks all in advance! You are the Frontal Lobe of the internet, AskMe.
posted by The Pantless Wonder to Technology (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Pro-Tools excels at audio recording.

Logic Studio is better for what you're trying to do, and includes samplers, drum machines, and synthesizers. Unlike Pro-Tools, it's not tied to hardware. The version of Pro-Tools that rivals the capabilities of Logic Studio 9 costs dramatically more than $499.

You don't need any other hardware to do what you're talking about than you already have. After a while, you might find a piece of gear with knobs and sliders, like the Novation Zero SL or the Korg nanoKontrol, to be handy when recording effects automations and things of that nature.

I'm also a fan of Ableton Live and Propellerheads Reason, but both of those are more expensive than Logic Studio.
posted by phoebus at 1:14 PM on October 8, 2010

i'm a very satisfied ableton live user, it can handle everything you've listed without the need for add-ons. they do have a 15 day free trial.

both live and pro tools have a fairly large learning curve, for live you need to be a geek and learn how to think like a german. i've never had a pleasant experience with pro-tools, but that's cause usually i'm being called on to figure out why it doesn't do what my friend wants it to.

for the best quality recordings, you may want to add a preamp between your mic and the fast track pro. i use the presonus eureka.
posted by kimyo at 1:35 PM on October 8, 2010

I found Ableton Live to be more "fun" and "creative" than Logic Studio, but both are good for a Macbook Pro user and both can make a professional sounding tune. Even though it is great for live/DJ shows, Ableton Live is good for studio work too, especially if you like to try a lot of different ideas as you mix.

Beats: each person is different regarding beat making hardware. some people need that tactile part of beat making. you can totally just do beats with the built-in software however and MIDI.

I found mastering pretty hard. I didn't want to pay for Waves (I feel like the only musician who still pays retail for plugins) but found izotope plugins to be helpful given their low cost.

Oh and depending on your singing ability, you might want Melodyne ;)
posted by acheekymonkey at 5:21 PM on October 8, 2010

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