What hardware do I need for recording and live mixing?
May 4, 2012 7:05 AM   Subscribe

I need a USB interface to connect 2 mics, a midi keyboard, and an ipod to a computer, for both live mixing and recording. Hope?

I have: a mac (desktop and laptop), two mics, a midi keyboard, a piano, and a singer. I want a way to connect all that to my computer for recording, and (ideally) for live performance as well. What software and hardware am I missing?

For recording, one track at a time is fine. My guess is I need something like these USB interfaces. And for live performance, I heard that Apple's Mainstage app was good. Garage band can probably handle my recording needs.

This previous question was helpful, but what's the difference between a $30 and a $500 USB audio interface? Will I notice?

I'd like to do this for under $1000 if possible.
posted by crookedneighbor to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could get a keyboard with an interface built into it. I don't know about the M-Audio stuff (seems kinda cheap) but I'm really happy with my Novation X-station. 2 XLR ins, MIDI and is a keyboard and USB controller in itself.
posted by modernserf at 7:15 AM on May 4, 2012

I'm actually eyeing this guy, assuming your mac has firewire, it may work for you. Two mic inputs, as well as two midi inputs for your keyboard.

The thing I'm not so sure about is your singer and piano, are they going to be recorded through your two mics? If not, the audio interface above has two line inputs as well.

Software wise, garage band could work, though you might want to consider Reaper as well. I use Logic myself.
posted by TrinsicWS at 7:23 AM on May 4, 2012

Best answer: There is a big difference between cheap and expensive audio interfaces. The main points of quality are the microphone preamps and the analog-to-digital converters. There is a threshold, higher than 30 but less than 500, where you get something good enough.

The Focusrite that TrinsicWS posted looks good. I've heard really nice results out of an MBox, which is $500. There are good forums for music gear: Gearslutz, Harmony Central, KVRAudio, ...

I'd avoid doing research at Amazon; they sometimes have really out-of-date products in their results. Look at a dedicated music gear site like Sweetwater, Musician's Friend, or zZounds. But look to the forums for unbiased reviews.
posted by scose at 7:34 AM on May 4, 2012

Hooked up to my Mac's USB ports, I have two M-Audio keyboards (unweighted 67-key and weighted 88-key). Hooked up to the FireWire port, I have a Presonus Firestudio Mini. The way my band sets up, there are two outputs from the Presonus into the PA for either recording or performing. I could also just use the Presonus for recording on my own as it has several inputs available for mics and instruments.

I used to use Garage Band for live performance, but it really works better for recording. I now have Logic Studio, which includes Main Stage for live performance.
posted by emelenjr at 9:51 AM on May 4, 2012

Correction. Two outputs from the Presonus, into a stereo direct box, and then into the PA from there.
posted by emelenjr at 9:52 AM on May 4, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks--I found the Gearsluz forums very helpful. Based on some research there, I'm deciding between a MOTU Audio Express and a Focusrite Scarlett 18i6.
posted by crookedneighbor at 7:13 AM on May 5, 2012

Response by poster: For those of you following at home, I got the Focusrite Scarlett 18i6 and I love it so far. It came with Ableton Live Lite 8, which may be what I need on the software end, but the learning curve is pretty steep for live stuff. Thanks again for the advice--those forums were indeed helpful.
posted by crookedneighbor at 12:17 PM on June 3, 2012

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