The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
What are the essential hardware I need to start recording? Audio Interfaces
Old 24th July 2014
  #1
Here for the gear
 

What are the essential hardware I need to start recording?

Hello everyone, so I want to start my own personal studio. Currently, the way I record is with a 1/4 phone jack to USB cable, my MIDI Keyboard, Propellerhead Reason 5, and Audacity. I'm not sure whether I should get an audio interface or a mixer, what software to use, etc.
Old 24th July 2014
  #2
Lives for gear
 
spambot_2's Avatar
Get whatever software you feel comfortable with.

Also you need an audio interface - a mixer will not really help you at this point as far as recording goes.
Old 24th July 2014
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spambot_2 View Post
Get whatever software you feel comfortable with.

Also you need an audio interface - a mixer will not really help you at this point as far as recording goes.
So then what is a mixer used for? I know you can adjust the high, mid, and low frequencies with it, but I'm still not sure what it does besides that.
Old 24th July 2014
  #4
Lives for gear
 
spambot_2's Avatar
Well a mixer is used for mixing sounds.

You plus, for example, a microphone in one input, a bass guitar in one input and a keyboard in another input, you adjust the volumes as you prefer, you adjust the EQ as you prefer, maybe you send the signal to some external processor using an insert, and then the result is sent to (usually) two outputs, that you plug into a power amp which in turn you plug to a couple of speakers, and from the speakers comes out your mix - all three sources with adjusted levels and so on.

That is useful because in simple situations you will probably not need to work a lot with each channel separately, and using a mixer you sum different sources into two channels, so that you can, as in the example before, route every source to a pair of speakers.

What an audio interface does on the other hand is convert signals from analog to digital, which is an entirely different thing.
That is useful because if you have to record different sources at a time you can keep them separated from each other, so that you can work with each track independently and sum everything later on.
Old 24th July 2014
  #5
What kind of music do you want to make? Which kinds of instruments? Acoustic instruments? Electronic instruments? Voice?

I agree with the poster above: a mixer is probably not so important for you at this stage. But you probably will need software that's a bit better at handling audio than audacity (could be any DAW, really).

But. If you want others to listen to your music than the most important thing is - perhaps surprisingly - your monitoring. This (and much much more) is brilliantly explained in this thread: Why do your recordings sound like ass? - Cockos Confederated Forums

Have fun!
Old 25th July 2014
  #6
Gear Head
I'm don't mean to be insulting, because we've all been in your position at one time, but if you don't know what a mixer is it may be wise to do some more research before purchasing gear.

There are plenty of videos on youtube that can help you learn mixing and recording basics. And there is plenty of information right here on GS if you search the forums about various recording methods and gear.

You can ask us all you want what gear you should have, but ultimately what matters is that you get gear YOU are happy with, and you will only know what you are looking for once you know at least the basics of recording.

So my advice would be not to rush into buying gear without first understanding what you're buying and how it works. That being said, we will be happy to answer any specific questions you have about gear as you begin to research!

Good luck!
Old 26th July 2014
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
nazaroo2's Avatar
How about a practical answer?

If your budget is low (a reasonable assumption),

Get a reasonably powerful desktop computer (like a dual-core with at least 2 gig of ram, and a SATA drive).

Get a BIG screen so you can see lots of tracks and effects at once:




Get the (free!) Linux Ubuntu Studio System (OS + software for multitrack recording).




Get a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 A/D converter / interface.




Get a good microphone:

Old 26th July 2014
  #8
Gear Nut
 
XMaramena's Avatar
 

Forget a mixer. That's not going to help you much.

Might I suggest - for a very basic starter - getting a few acoustic panels, and gear-wise:

> Focusrite Saffire Pro 14
> Shure SM57 - you'll be using that for a lifetime
> and a couple of good basic monitors like something from the KRK Rockit series (I like the M-Audio BX8 D2s, but largely because I've used them a LOT so I know them very well).
> Rode NT1A wouldn't go amiss either if you're doing vocal recording.
> If you're on PC, get Cubase
> If you're on Mac, get Logic X
> NI Komplete 9 is brilliant by the way.


A basic setup like that will give you lots of options to expand upon when you learn more about different applications of audio, and what you will find most beneficial to your studio workflow.
Old 26th July 2014
  #9
Lives for gear
 
spambot_2's Avatar
Don't ever get linux if you wanna work with audio.
Never.

I second getting logic if you're on a mac.

I second getting an SM57.

Don't get rokits, they sound good but not at all faithful to the material you send through them.

The focusrite scarlett and saffire series have pretty bad sounding pre's, for the same money you're better off with a mackie onyx blackjack or a roland duo capture ex.

Everything by native instruments may or may not sound good, but the quality of their software and hardware is awful - processor heavy like hell for the software and pretty cheaply built for the hardware in general.
Also if you're beginning I wouldn't see why spending all that money in something you may not end up using.
Logic has all you need under that perspective, both to begin and to continue.

I don't like cubase personally, so I'd say if you're on a PC download the trials of everything and then decide what you like best working with.
Old 26th July 2014
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
nazaroo2's Avatar
Quote:
The focusrite scarlett and saffire series have pretty bad sounding pre's,
If so, you can bypass those and get one outboard pre.

A better bargain though, in spite of everyone advising against a mixer,
would be a small Soundcraft board. It will give you a lot of flexibility and versitility,
and the preamps in each channel are as good or better than many single outboards.
You'll keep your Soundcraft for a long time, because it will always sound good,
and you'll have at least 8 channels for mixing drums, with inserts for EQs and compressors,
and you can work in analog until you are ready to store tracks in your computer.
Also, working with analog mixing boards is great experience and education,
rather than just jumping into software and computer-music without knowing
or experiencing the history behind it and what the 'plug-ins' are trying to emulate.



As for mikes, the SM57 today is not the mike it used to be, since Shure has started
shipping them with cheap transformers. To get a real SM57 or 58 you'll have to
find one quite old. Rather than get into a mic transformer replacement project
before you're even out the door, I'd suggest buying one good mic.
Old 26th July 2014
  #11
Wow. This thread is quickly turning into exactly the first post of the Cockos-thread above (Why do your recordings sound like ass). I.e. people fussing about teeny weeny details that are way down low on the list if priorities when starting out (converters, transformers, pres, extra audio channels).

To the op (and some of you others): please take in what the brilliant and wise Yep is saying in the thread I linked to. It will save you so much time and energy.

And have fun
Old 26th July 2014
  #12
Lives for gear
 
spambot_2's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nazaroo2 View Post
If so, you can bypass those and get one outboard pre.
Which would be unpractical and not cheap at all.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nazaroo2 View Post
A better bargain though, in spite of everyone advising against a mixer,
would be a small Soundcraft board. It will give you a lot of flexibility and versitility
But he couldn't record himself, which is a sought after thing as far as I'm getting the thing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nazaroo2 View Post
As for mikes, the SM57 today is not the mike it used to be, since Shure has started shipping them with cheap transformers.
I haven't really heard anybody say anything about that, <DELETED BY MODERATOR>
Old 26th July 2014
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
nazaroo2's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by spambot_2 View Post
I haven't really heard anybody say anything about that,
so I reckon this might be bull**** inaccurate like the rest of the information you gave up to now.
Wow, isn't that a bit strong?

Quote:

UNIDYNE III SOUND

The vintage SM57 Unidyne III actually used a good transformer back in the day, but in order to keep the SM57 sales price fixed at $100 for the past several decades, the manufacturing operations were moved to Mexico, and the original stock transformer has been replaced by a low cost transformer with inferior sound. This has caused the resale price of the Unidyne III to catapult over $200 for a 30+ year old mic. We solve that problem by offering a brand new mic with the proper high-quality transformer, to resore the SM57 to its former glory.


CLASSIC 57 SOUND
The classic SM57 is a workhorse mic that can has been used on probably billions of records!!! It is a universal mic that does practically everything well, and you can make a record with just this mic if you have to. The AMI transformer mod brings this mic back to the way it originally was, a high-quality, great-sounding, affordable dynamic mic.

AMI / SM57 FEATURES
* Polar Pattern: Cardioid
* AMI T58 Transformer
* 40-15k Hz
* Impedence: 200 Ohm
* Engraved AMI Logo
* Connector: XLR
* Studio or Stage use
* Mod by Avenson Audio
* Mic Clip, Box, & Case


ABOUT AMI

AMI, Inc. is becoming world-renowned for making audio transformers the old fashioned way. Using vintage winding machines, AMI designed their T58 dynamic mic output transformer with the same construction techniques used on historic Neumann U47 tube mic transformers. The result is a higher-quality mic transformer that provides enhanced clarity and dimension throughout the frequency spectrum. Many of today's top high-end mics use AMI transformers.

What are the essential hardware I need to start recording?Shure SM57 Dynamic Mic Upgraded w Ami T58 Transformer for Unidyne III Sound 042406051316 | eBay

Why all the hostility?

Maybe you could take that back a notch.

Just because your best advice and my best advice differ,
is no reason to be disrespectful.

Getting different opinions is what forum threads are all about.
Old 26th July 2014
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
nazaroo2's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thedberg View Post
Wow. This thread is quickly turning into exactly the first post of the Cockos-thread above (Why do your recordings sound like ass). I.e. people fussing about teeny weeny details that are way down low on the list if priorities when starting out (converters, transformers, pres, extra audio channels).

To the op (and some of you others): please take in what the brilliant and wise Yep is saying in the thread I linked to. It will save you so much time and energy.

And have fun
I agree.

There is no fixed way to go.
Any number of ideas and paths can be taken at low cost.

People need to stay friendly and have fun sharing ideas.
Old 27th July 2014
  #15
Lives for gear
 
spambot_2's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nazaroo2 View Post
Wow, isn't that a bit strong?
Yeah, sorry about that.

Still, you're advising to do stuff fairly different from what everyone else suggests, and since we all mostly accept what we see most and what we think to be a common good solution, we go by that and we bash other options.

That's a case at least.

In this case I'm bashing your suggestions because:
Saying to use ubuntu for music production is a plain bad idea.
There isn't any worthwhile DAW on linux nor one with a good customer support.
The quantity of plugins for linux is hella low, and people like plugins when working with DAWs - even more if a DAW's integrated fx processors aren't worthwhile, such as with linux DAW's.
Most people don't write drivers for audio interfaces for linux.

The scarlett 2i2 you suggested for example works on linux because it's USB class compliant, but that way you have no guarantee anything will work properly nor you'll have any support.

Linux is free and that's a nice thing, but that doesn't make it better than mac os or win in this case.

Using external pre's is nice usually!
Though worthwhile pre's aren't cheap, and it seems TS's on the cheap, so why suggesting an interface with fairly bad pre's AND outboard pre's instead of an interface with passable pre's so he doesn't have to spend that much money?

Using that kinda mixer in this situation would be pretty pointless for most stuff:
with a mixer and without a proper audio interface you could record max two separate channels of audio at a time and with less than average audio quality.
You suggested that could be a nice thing, so he could practice mixing on an analog board, but he'd need to have separated audio channels running through the mixer channels to be able to do that, and without an audio interface big enough he can't do that.

The SM57's new transformers are different.
Somebody say they suck, somebody say they're different.
Somebody even like the new ones better for some applications.

I get you might even checked out the difference between the two in person, using them both to track the same thing and the same take, and then A/Bing them you might have preferred the old one on each and everyone of the sources you tracked, but there's a long way between that and saying that the new SM57 isn't a good mic.
Old 27th July 2014
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
nazaroo2's Avatar
Quote:
Yeah, sorry about that.

Still, you're advising to do stuff fairly different from what everyone else suggests, and since we all mostly accept what we see most and what we think to be a common good solution, we go by that and we bash other options.
Its all good.

I just took the OP's original question at face value.

I assumed naturally from the question
he had no computer-music recording experience,
and simply wanted to get started quickly and cheaply.



In my view the question is loaded, because:

Imagine if someone asked a guild of Blacksmiths a similar question:

"What are the essential hardware I need to start blacksmithing?"

Every blacksmith would have his own way
of apprenticing such a newcomer.

Some would send him for a left-handed monkey wrench.
Another would make him make horseshoes until he made them well.
Another teacher or mentor would let him try and make
an elaborate wrought-iron rail, without the right tools, and let him see the result.

But no blacksmith would think he's going to be a blacksmith in one week.

They're all going to think he'll be on a reasonably long learning curve,
and they should all realise that there are many possible learning curves.

I also made one more assumption:
that although he will have access to places like Gearslutz for answers
to problems that inevitably arise, he would still be basically on his own.

He would be learning from his own mistakes and experiences,
and as a former music teacher something else came to mind:
The shear number of people who are discouraged from learning
because of a bad first experience or an impossible task or goal,
or lack of a few shortcuts
to give the confidence to move ahead rather than quit.

In my view, lacking a teacher, a mixing board and some outboard gear
would be the quickest and most fun way to learn how to do sound
right out of the box, and actually learn what real engineers know.

Also, you are right about Ubuntu being not a professional DAW,

but as you know, its FREE.
Its the perfect way to learn a little bit about
what a DAW does and doesn't do for FREE.
Its a free TEACHER of DAW recording.
As that, and knowing he'll eventually buy a DAW if he later commits
to this insane sound business, I think he's better off
getting a few working toys to try it out, and actually be able to
record as you say, one or two tracks at a time.

The money he saves on a DAW enables him to
buy one nice piece of gear that will last forever,
namely a good mic pre....


That is not money wasted, but money invested, and also money that can be recovered!!!! maybe even with a profit.

So this blacksmith, knowing there's lots of routes,
suggested he get a crappy small forge free from the junk bin,
start a small fire, invest in a couple of REAL tools like
a good anvil he'll keep forever,
and worry about buying a proper forge and special hammers later.

Lets see if he still wants to be a blacksmith after he's made a few horseshoes.
Old 27th July 2014
  #17
Here for the gear
 
MaeganBootz's Avatar
 

Basic Recording Studio Needs. mb

Basic Recording Studio:
1 Large Diaphragm Condensor Microphone (Cardioid)
1 Microphone Cable (XLR)
1 MBox (Or any Audio Interface)
1 Computer
1 Set of Studio Monitor Speakers or Studio Monitor Headphones

Audacity is okay, it won't let you mix like a professional. You should invest in Pro Tools 11 or Pro Tools HD. The MIDI Keyboard is only good if you are making your own beats. If thats the case Reason is a good beat making DAW.

MaeganBootz

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAffrowPro View Post
Hello everyone, so I want to start my own personal studio. Currently, the way I record is with a 1/4 phone jack to USB cable, my MIDI Keyboard, Propellerhead Reason 5, and Audacity. I'm not sure whether I should get an audio interface or a mixer, what software to use, etc.
Old 27th July 2014
  #18
Lives for gear
 
spambot_2's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nazaroo2 View Post
I assumed naturally from the question
he had no computer-music recording experience,
and simply wanted to get started quickly and cheaply.
Sure you read the OP?
'cause he wrote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAffrowPro View Post
Hello everyone, so I want to start my own personal studio. Currently, the way I record is with a 1/4 phone jack to USB cable, my MIDI Keyboard, Propellerhead Reason 5, and Audacity. I'm not sure whether I should get an audio interface or a mixer, what software to use, etc.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nazaroo2 View Post
Also, you are right about Ubuntu being not a professional DAW,
but as you know, its FREE.
Its the perfect way to learn a little bit about
what a DAW does and doesn't do for FREE.
Reaper's free trial lasts forever, and reaper:
-has support
-runs on operating systems with drivers and plugins

With ubuntu studio he'd think DAWs don't do much at all, though that's more of a specific DAW limitation.
Old 27th July 2014
  #19
Gear Nut
 
XMaramena's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spambot_2 View Post
Don't ever get linux if you wanna work with audio.
Never.

I second getting logic if you're on a mac.

I second getting an SM57.

Don't get rokits, they sound good but not at all faithful to the material you send through them.

The focusrite scarlett and saffire series have pretty bad sounding pre's, for the same money you're better off with a mackie onyx blackjack or a roland duo capture ex.

Everything by native instruments may or may not sound good, but the quality of their software and hardware is awful - processor heavy like hell for the software and pretty cheaply built for the hardware in general.
Also if you're beginning I wouldn't see why spending all that money in something you may not end up using.
Logic has all you need under that perspective, both to begin and to continue.

I don't like cubase personally, so I'd say if you're on a PC download the trials of everything and then decide what you like best working with.
I really like the sound of the pres on my Liquid Saffire - both the liquid presets and the standard saffire pres. I haven't used their hardware, but software-wise I've never had problems with the processor. I'm not sure what makes you think that it's "awful".
Old 27th July 2014
  #20
Lives for gear
 
spambot_2's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by XMaramena View Post
I really like the sound of the pres on my Liquid Saffire - both the liquid presets and the standard saffire pres.
Well good for you.
You should try them along other pre's imo - the ones in mackie mixers and audio interfaces for example.
Quote:
Originally Posted by XMaramena View Post
I haven't used their hardware, but software-wise I've never had problems with the processor. I'm not sure what makes you think that it's "awful".
Kontakt in particular.
While it's a good sample player as far as functionality goes, it's resources handling plain sucks.
It might not be something particularly important on relatively new processors, but my 2gHz core 2 duo greatly suffers.

IIRC though a friend of mine told me the standalone version in alright and agreed with me the plugin versions are awful.

As far as the hardware goes, half of the people talking about the traktor hardware note it's fairly bad quality for the price, and it does feel plastic-ish under the hands.

I also wouldn't really see what komplete could do for a beginner that a DAW's integrated plugins couldn't.
Old 28th July 2014
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
nazaroo2's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by spambot_2 View Post
Sure you read the OP?
'cause he wrote:


Reaper's free trial lasts forever, and reaper:
-has support
-runs on operating systems with drivers and plugins

With ubuntu studio he'd think DAWs don't do much at all, though that's more of a specific DAW limitation.
According to their website,
their Discount version is actually a Trial version, and its $60 USD.

Thats not free.

FWIW,
I would never buy a WINDOZE operating system ever again,
after having literally YEARS of my life wasted updating, fixing,
and having Microsoft deliberately sabotage my many computers
over a 25 year period, all the while making dumploads of money off me.
With WinDOLTZ, I spent more time reinstalling OSs than I ever did using
my computer for doing anything constructive, spanning 1985 to 2005.

As for Apple, their elitist overpriced and useless crap isn't worth
what you can get for it at a scrap yard.

I only use clones, since 1995,
and I only use LInux, since 2003.

The only thing making Reaper look even remotely worth trying
is the fact it might run under WINE. We'll see...

Quote:
Don't ever get linux if you wanna work with audio.
Never.
And my advice is:

Don't ever use WINDOZE if you wanna work with computers.
Don't ever buy Apple, Ever.
Never, ever, ever, ever.

Two of the worst products and companies ever to be hatched
out of the Cold War.
Old 28th July 2014
  #22
Lives for gear
 
spambot_2's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nazaroo2 View Post
According to their website,
their Discount version is actually a Trial version, and its $60 USD.

Thats not free.
The free trial is free and lasts forever though.
You just download the thing and keep pushing on "trial" when he asks you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nazaroo2 View Post
I would never buy a WINDOZE operating system ever again,
after having literally YEARS of my life wasted updating, fixing,
and having Microsoft deliberately sabotage my many computers
over a 25 year period, all the while making dumploads of money off me.
With WinDOLTZ, I spent more time reinstalling OSs than I ever did using
my computer for doing anything constructive, spanning 1985 to 2005.
To a less extreme extent I can kinda agree with you on that, though PCs are cheap and come with windows, and even sucking as an operating system it's still better than linux as far as audio editing goes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nazaroo2 View Post
As for Apple, their elitist overpriced and useless crap isn't worth what you can get for it at a scrap yard.
The hardware is overpriced indeed, but the software compensates for it.

It's still unix, though they made the interface simple.
Also half of it works better than linux - ram space management, graphic server...

And with the hardware comes tech support, which is helpful if you need the whole system to work properly.
Old 1st August 2014
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
nazaroo2's Avatar
Well, here's an interesting post I tripped over,

it says something (I already know) about Windoze, although it makes no comparison to Apple;

Quote:

Hello All,

I am a new user to Ardour and wanted to share something to start with.

Basics: I have a Gigabyte EP45UD3R motherboard, 8 gigs memory, ATI4870 graphics card,
Dual core processor, E6600, can't remember. I boot onto a old 160 gig experimental drive with grub/Ubuntu 11.10
I have Windows 7 64 on another drive. I installed Ardour the other day. I am also new to DAWs so I am a noob
in that respect.


Ardour first pass:
I installed, no problem and tried to use it with my USB Scarlett 2i2 Focusrite. I have 2 monitors hooked to the rear outputs of the 2i2. I tried to record a single track with my guitar plugged straight into the 2i2. I chose USB as the interface whn opening a new project and let the defaults stay as is. There were two USB choices but all it said was USB nothing else to differentiate between them.
No matter what I changed I could not get a signal to track one even with record enabled. I tried everything I could think of.
I got up the next morning and all of a sudden I though of one thing.

I disconnected my USB Mic/Headset restarted Ardour and bingo we have plenty of signal.
I adjusted the Scarlett inputs and recorder two different tacks one panned full left and one track2 centered L/R.
I played for 2 minutes and listened to the garbage I produced. Here is where I got real interested.
Interesting

Result:
I had been messing with Reaper on my Windows 7 64 setup.
I know how to strip windows down and ended up with only 36 processes running,
got rid of the visual candy and setup for a DAW inline with what Pro Tools recommends.

I even recorder to a separate hard drive as PTools suggests.

No matter what I did in Reaper with the latest USB drivers
for the Scarlett installed I still got pops and clicks.

So I boot into Ardour record onto the same old EIDE hard drive
that Ubuntu 11.1 and Ardour are on, play back the result (no plugins).

Guess what? No clicks, pops, noise, nothing.

Tracks that are so clean it totally revealed my lousy playing and timing.
I wasn't distracted by the noise and stuff so I could just listen to the results.

I'm Impressed. Now this is the lowest level of testing Ardour and I understand that,
but just this initial experience has surprised me very much.
I am looking forward to learning and working with Ardour.

If this helps someone else then good.
I am impressed with the ease of install, function, and visual look of Ardour.
Very Very Cool Product.
Best Regards to all.

https://community.ardour.org/node/4709
Old 1st August 2014
  #24
Lives for gear
 
spambot_2's Avatar
What that said is that he was able to record audio cleanly on ardour.
That's nice and all, but there's a bit more to audio production that that.

That also said he had problems with recording audio in windows.
After he closed whatever process that might have been important and without using ASIO4ALL, which is the only inexpensive reliable way of getting low latency on win.

I get that you don't like win, I don't like it either, I concur linux kicks its ass under every aspect when it comes to the sole operating system, but that isn't the point - the point is that on windows you have more and more complete DAWs, more and more complete plugins, and more drivers.

Also again, with linux you don't get any tech support, which isn't something that you can overlook if you need your computer to do your job.
Old 2nd August 2014
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
nazaroo2's Avatar
I am in basic agreement with what Spybot said, but with a few caveats;

Quote:
(1) Get a reasonably powerful desktop computer (like a dual-core with at least 2 gig of ram, and a SATA drive).

(2) Get a BIG screen so you can see lots of tracks and effects at once

(3) Get the (free!) Linux Ubuntu Studio System (OS + software for multitrack recording).

(4) Get a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 A/D converter / interface.

(5) Get a good microphone:
Well, you can't give someone advice on home recording without at least trying it out yourself.

So I took my own advice, and geared up roughly according to the proposed plan:

----------------------------------

Okay a word or two is in order on the changes in the plan:

I was about due for an upgrade so I got a very cheap DELL Optiplex 945 Desktop computer cheap ($190 Canadian), and started getting that ready for conversion to a Computer Recording center.

I'm very happy with this choice so far: It came with a 240 Gig SATA Harddrive which is fast and efficient, and it is a dual core machine (good for at least a partially 64 bit OS). I upgraded the memory (from 2gig to 4gig).




Next, I downloaded the latest Ubuntu Studio 14.04 CD ISO image from the internet, and burned a CD for installation, using my old machine.

Windoze was installed on the machine by default, but I squished that OS down to 40 Gig, and took the rest for my Ubuntu Linux Operating System (OS).




Next I installed Ubuntu Studio 14.04. There were a few 'scarey' moments, when the machine seemed to boot really slow or 'hang' while configuring the new OS. But we got past my impatience, and the system came up fine.

I should mention that I installed the OS while connected to the internet, to avoid too many updates etc. later. So this process took a bit longer, as Ubuntu downloaded and updated various files in the background.



Next, I discovered that nothing had really changed between DELL and Ubuntu since the last time I tried this, namely, if you want to hook up an audio card (D/A A/D converter) whether in a slot or externally plugged in via USB 2.0, you have to go into the Boot Up BIOS of the DELL and disable the built-in soundcard on the motherboard. The one on this machine is not really suitable for recording, or even playback, as it is only a 16-bit D/A A/D system.

Once the onboard audio was disabled, the first program "JACK" (QJackCtnl) was ready to be run, and hook the computer up to the outboard USB A/D interface.

I ran out and bought a Scarlett 2i4 (I don't know why I chose that instead of 2i2) as it was handy and on sale (@ $200 Canadian at Long&McQuade).

2i4 version of the Focusrite interface



There really isn't much difference between a 2i2 and a 2i4 except the extra playback channels as far as I can see.


I had chosen the Focusrite for two reasons. The 2i2 was known to function with Ubuntu Studio "out of the box",
and secondly, I have heard that when its hooked up right, it gives great headroom for a lot of different size line levels and impedances, without clipping troubles on the A/D conversion.

The first short struggle was getting Ardour to play back music into the 2i4:

The Focusrite can and should be used as the monitoring interface, taking the digital music on the computer and converting it to analog for playback and monitoring while recording tracks. It has analog line outs and headphone for this purpose, to give low latency audio for double-tracking.


You need to run the software in the following order (as the launchers appear in descending order below on the screen):

(1) QjackCtrl (software connections to unit),
(2) Patchage (displays/manages connections between pluggins and hardware),
(3) Ardour (the main DAW program which is a glorified mixer and recording system).

Here is what I get after running QjackCtrl:



Here is what my Right-hand Screen looked like after I got JACK running.

If it doesn't find your interface (Focusrite 2i4) you may have to unplug it and re-plug it into the USB port, or reverse the order of doing that versus running Qjackctl. I have been leaving mine plugged in after disabling the motherboard audio chip. The 2i4 gets its power from the computer, which is astounding since the supply is only 5 volts. I'm thinking I would prefer an outboard powersupply. Oh well.


If using the 2i4, you should go in and check the Setup Button on Jack,
which opens another screen where you can select the input and output
to be used. (the name of the Focusrite appears in the dropdowns,
but on the main screen above, you can see the connections are just called, "capture 1 & capture 2" (the mic/line inputs) and "playback 1...4" (monitor outs from computer to 2i4 to speakers).

You will notice that JACK by default hooks up the in and outs simply but not so usefully before you get Patchage and Ardour up and running.



Okay. I didn't take enough screen shots, but here is what I basically did next.

On the other machine (with the sound still working) I watched a few intro and install videos for Ubuntu Studio,
and the Focusrite 2i2. Count on spending a couple of hours on Youtube and Mvideo sites for that purpose.


First I wanted to get sound output working, so I ran Patchage and organized the screen, then ran Ardour.

From Ardour, I opened a test sound file (Linkin Park) and imported it onto a stereo track. Then I patched the outputs of that track to the Master output,
and the Master output to the playback (2i4).
I also added a track for a test recording (and plugged in a dynamic mic into channel 1 on the Focusrite 2i4), and hooked the 'capture 1' up to its input.

With a bit of fussing, and going back to JACK and simplifying the patching,
I ended up with what you see below.




I played back the Linkin Park song, and listened to it on headphones,
while singing along and recording my vocal on the other track.

Now after booting up the Patchbay program, and then running Ardour (the DAW), we are ready.

This is what the Ardour program on the Left Screen looked like after recording a vocal track.



Finally, I was able to play back both the bedtracks (Linkin Park), and the vocal track.

Of course the performance of my singing was abysmal, so we won't be uploading that for your amusement.

But the point is, I was able to get a 'Home Digital Recording Setup' running in what amounted to a few hours, and $400 for computer and interface (the Ubuntu is Free/Donation driven).


Actually, there is a surprising amount of free and useful software that is included in the latest version of Ubuntu Studio 14.04, so its no longer true that there are 'no plugins'. Although more expensive DAW software packages do have more plugins, this does get you started, and up and recording on a very low budget!

If you already have a suitable computer to hand, your startup cost is under $200 USD ...
Old 31st May 2016
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
drsaamah's Avatar
Yeah not trying get all linux-gelical up in here,but I just have to say Ardour is not the baby-DAW, better-than-nothing-DAW it was years ago. It now has MIDI support, tons and tons of plugins, and the ability to do anything I have ever seen done on PTools or Logic. As far as support, the one time I had an issue I was VERY patiently helped and troubleshooted by the programmers of Ardour themselves via their IRC. Seems to me like better support than I have ever gotten from corporate-software. Again, for those who have different preferences, that's grand. But its best not to discredit software you don't actually have experience with.
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump