Keyboardist/vocalist needs audio interface for home studio
June 19, 2011 3:17 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for recommendations for equipment for my home audio recording setup (using GarageBand). Specifically, I want an audio interface capable of 24-bit recording with midi and microphone inputs. Many more details about my setup within!

I am a beginner with GarageBand and recording, and so I really don't want to overdo it with unnecessarily complicated equipment. I've tried to research this stuff on my own, but I just become completely overwhelmed and confused whenever I try to find what I need.

I have:
a MacBook Pro (running Snow Leopard) (it has a firewire port)
iLife '09 (may upgrade to '11 when I get Lion)
a Kurzweil PC88MX from the late 90s -- a great keyboard that I've never really understood how to use!!
a couple of microphones that are hopefully adequate for my needs
a smaller Casio keyboard with midi that I may also want to use

The main thing I'm interested in purchasing at this point is the audio interface, and obviously I want it to play well with my Kurzy and my Mac. I also would like a microphone input for recording vocals and, potentially, acoustic piano. Guitar input isn't absolutely necessary, but I would like to have it and I'm assuming pretty much any audio interface would have that.

I don't really know what to expect price range-wise, but I don't want to go crazy with equipment here. Please note: I really need specific recommendations (like, I would prefer if you just tell me exactly what model to buy and where to buy it rather than "check out XBrand's interfaces" -- whenever I try to look at a product line, I can't figure out what I'm looking at!).

Ultimately, I think I will probably also require a better microphone, so if you have one in mind that you love, please feel free to recommend it as well.

Also, I would like suggestions for a good pair of headphones to use for this project. There are some other threads about headphones, I know, so I'll look more deeply into those, too. I was wondering if I could get away with something really inexpensive like the Sony MDR-XD200 -- or do I need better than that?

Bonus question: If anyone has any tips or info on all the capabilities of my Kurzweil, I would love to hear them. I never have any idea wtf I'm doing when I use it.

Oh, and I am in the US and will need to buy online!

Thanks everyone!
posted by hansbrough to Technology (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Interface: MOTU Audio Express- everything you are asking for in a fairly simple package- connect to your MBP with firewire, set your drivers in garageband, and your'e good to go. I haven't personally used this one because it is their new "affordable" interface, but I trust the company. (This is the one I've used extensively, but I am guessing that would be overkill in your case.)

Mic (for vocals): Rode NT1-A

I don't know much about headphones, so I'll let someone else answer that.
posted by 2ghouls at 3:50 PM on June 19, 2011

After my Tascam audio/midi interface became obsolete with the purchase of the newer macbook pro (because Apple changed the usb power settings to be more erergy star compliant -or something ) I switched to CEntrance MicPort Pro (USB) and immediately noticed a huge improvement. I also got a cheap, tiny midi (USB) box that seems to work well. The Kurzwiel's online specs say that your keyboard has a midi port.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:35 PM on June 19, 2011

Response by poster: bonobo - when you say cheap, tiny midi USB box, can you be more specific?

2ghouls, thanks for your suggestions! I have to admit that although I didn't think I had any preconceived notions about price, I had a little sticker shock looking at the MOTU Audio Express. That thing also looks like it might be more complex than I need. Can I maybe get away with something with a little less going on and less expensive, say under $200?

Thanks guys - please keep them coming!
posted by hansbrough at 8:59 PM on June 19, 2011

Best answer: I don't like the company as much as MOTU, but for under 200 dollars I would get something like this M-Audio box. Basically what you are looking for is a 24bit/96khz I/O that has XLR, line, and MIDI inputs and will work easily with Mac OS X through USB 2.0 or firewire (preferred). There might be something cheaper still, but I haven't really kept up with the lower end, so I am not sure.
posted by 2ghouls at 4:39 AM on June 20, 2011

Here's the midi/usb box I have. I think it cost about $30.

It seem totally fine for what I'm doing.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:21 AM on June 23, 2011

Response by poster: I went with the M-Audio Fast Track Pro. Seems perfect! Thanks all.
posted by hansbrough at 7:51 PM on August 3, 2011

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