Digital Audio Recording
December 10, 2003 10:36 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about doing a bit of home recording & have been pondering 4-tracks & the like for a few weeks. Lately, though, I've been thinking it'd make more sense to do it all digitally through my computer & not worry about tapes & stuff. Given the need for hardware and software, what can fellow MeFites recommend that might set me back less than, say, $300?
posted by zempf to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can't beat the warmth provided by a good four track, but with all the great programs available (I like cool edit pro), recording on your cpu is sooooo much easier.
posted by Quartermass at 10:43 AM on December 10, 2003

For audio input I'd get an Echo Gina (less than $250 on eBay typically) and something like SoundForge for recording software. (This is like the Pro Tools combo, also if you have a decent audio-in already you can download Pro Tools for free).
posted by j.edwards at 10:51 AM on December 10, 2003

The echo gina is a nice unit for $349, and has both Mac and PC drivers.

For about the same money you can find the Layla 20-bit on eBay, or for about $150 more, the Layla 24/96.

In order to make good use of these, you have to have a compatible DAW (digital audio workstation) software. On the Mac, I like Deck.

On Preview: ...and j.edwards finds the gina cheaper on eBay too.
posted by tomierna at 10:54 AM on December 10, 2003

Also in the $350 price range is Lexicon Omega's Desktop Recording Studio. USB input, Mac/PC compatable, and includes a software mixer
and hard drive recorder.

For a shoestring budget, there's a number of sites and music magazines which offer VSTi-related freeware. AnalogX's site is a good starting place.
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:10 AM on December 10, 2003

zempf: i have a gadget labs wave 4/24 that is pretty decent. the company is no longer in business, but drivers for win/mac are available via community websites.

you can pick one up on ebay for $100 or so.
posted by lescour at 11:16 AM on December 10, 2003

get a sequencer like FL Studio ( if i remember right, the basic -- yet exceptional -- package costs $50, while the full-featured version is $100-$150. there is nothing you can't do with it, and there is no limit to how many tracks (channels) you can record. (you'll need the full version for recording).

and, you can add tons and tons of functionality (like effects and virtual instruments and synths) for absolutely no money at all by using the many excellent free VST plugins that are available.

if you're going to sing and/or record instruments, get a good microphone. try Shure SM-58 if vocals are most important, or SM-57 if instruments are most important. the former is $100, the latter is... $70? $50?

now you'll need a microphone preamp, or consider the M-Audio Ozone, which is a MIDI controller keyboard with a mic preamp built in. the Ozone will cost you almost your whole budget though. a mic preamp standalone unit can probably be had for $50.
posted by edlundart at 12:02 PM on December 10, 2003

oh... one question: what soundcard do you have? as you get serious about computer music, you'll want one that supports ASIO drivers. that's the starting point for creating a virtual music studio.

personally i have the shitty SoundBlaster Live card, but am running kx drivers to get ASIO support. proceed at your own risk.
posted by edlundart at 12:06 PM on December 10, 2003

Response by poster: I do believe a new sound card's in my budget as well, since my current one is an old hand-me-down from my last computer. I like the suggestion of the Ozone, that thing looks pretty nice & it seems like one can find them floating around eBay for $200 or so.
posted by zempf at 12:45 PM on December 10, 2003

good sound cards are surprisingly cheap. the only reason i don't have one is 'cause i'm lazy and stingy...

two top cards are M-Audio's Audiophile and Terratec's 6fire. these come in different variations, but even the lowest-priced ones are very good, as far as i understand.

i do own the ozone and i love it. it is actually a "soundcard" all of its own (an audio interface), but i don't really have much success using it as one. maybe it would be easier if i removed the soundblaster drivers and card altogether.
posted by edlundart at 1:26 PM on December 10, 2003

It's cheap and great.
posted by Outlawyr at 3:12 PM on December 10, 2003

For the little bit I use it, I'm pretty impressed with Magix Studio 7. $50 Canadian or thereabouts, I picked up my copy at Office Depot of all places. Decent hard-disk recording capabilities, good FX, VST (if I recall correctly) and DX plugin support. Can't make heads or tails of the sequencer component as of yet (there are two separate apps--an audio-only multitrack recorder, and a MIDI sequencer plus audio.) but I don't use MIDI for much, anyway, and drums/bass/etc could easily be handled by an external drum machine program--Tuareg Tu2 does the job nicely, and it's free as in beer.
posted by arto at 11:16 PM on December 10, 2003

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