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possible small home studio set-up?


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Hey everyone, I'm really debating what I should do in regards to gear.

 

I have a really simple set up now. An old midisport midi interface, an old yamaha psr 270 keyboard hooked into it, and my old four-track for vocals, using a Shure SM58 microphone.

 

Basically, I need something to get my vocals into logic. I could go a bunch of different ways. There are keyboards with audio/midi inputs, mixers with audio/midi inputs, or just plain audio/midi interfaces.

 

Beyond my knowledge of using a four-track, I don't know how a hardware mixer would feel like--consensus seems to be it's way better than using just a mouse.

 

Small bedroom, not much space. Just me and some vocals, maybe an electric guitar down the road. No band.

 

I'm thinking the TASCAM FW-1082. Seems to have everything, though I don't know if my mic would work (it has one of those regular stereo jacks, like an electric guitar would have). At around $600, I don't want to spend more.

 

I've spent all day looking at all the different options, and I'm just fried. Right now I know just enough to be dangerous.

 

I'd appreciate any help on building up my first home studio.

 

Thanks!

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It sounds as though you're recording things one-at-a-time. Before you buy anything, you've got to decide whether you're going to continue working that way or if you need multiple simultaneous inputs.

 

Your SM58 is a mono dynamic mic. The mic should have an XLR connector at its base. You evidently have a cord that adapts that balanced XLR connector to an unbalanced 1/4" plug. It should be a two-conductor plug, not three; it's not a stereo mic. Balanced cables (XLRs at both ends) are less noisy, especially using longer cables. Regardless of which kind of cord you use, your SM58 will plug directly into a mixer or preamp and won't require phantom power.

 

The Tascam looks like a good value - if you need all of its inputs. If you don't, you can get better preamps than those in the Tascam for less money.

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Thanks Homina. It's been so long since I've had this mic, I had forgotten that I had used a different cord for it, which I have just detached and can see how it is a XLR. :oops: I don't know what phantom power is, I just know it's used for microphones. I'll have to research it more.

 

I don't know enough to drop such a large chunk of change. Honestly I just want to get the audio into my Mac. And there are so many options I have no clue what the right choice to make is. Even among midi/audio interfaces there are so many different ones. I don't know enough about this subject to make a good comparison.

 

I was looking at the Apogee Duet and that's $500 and is supposed to have great sound, so I would assume that would cover all my bases for recording vocals and monitoring. But it doesn't have a mixer like the tascam, which could have worse sound than the Apogee. Lol. Or I could spend like $100 on the toneport from Line6.

 

I've noticed that each of these products claims to have fantastic professional sound, with such a huge price difference.

 

This is a nice learning experience for me. The music comes naturally, not this stuff.

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Something that would transform your set-up completly for a low price would be the Novation XioSynth.

 

The XioSynth is such a bargain, it's just a matter of time before it becomes the new MicroKorg. For the ridiculously low price you get a midi controller with knobs, x/y pad and joystick, an audio interface and a very underrated synth that can transmit audio over usb.

 

Sure, the interface isn't an Apogee Duet, the midi controller isn't a monome and the synth isn't a Virus, but at 299 bucks you have to admit that the value in this thing is quite ridiculous, check it out:

http://www.keyboardmag.com/article/novation-xiosynth/jan-07/25202

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There are, unfortunately, no simple short cuts for you to become knowledgeable about audio gear.

 

Every electronic feature comes at a cost. The Tascam has four preamps, as well as all the attendant circuitry for its other six inputs and processing hardware. For Tascam to offer all of that at $600 means that its components are necessarily less costly than those in a more specialized piece of gear, like a Duet. At some point you'll internalize the "you get what you pay for" lesson; everyone does sooner or later. The Duet is by all reports a very good piece of gear, and I doubt you'd ever regret buying one. Even a Duet, however, may be overkill if you only need a mono input into your computer. You're the only one who can decide what you need. You can get usable interfaces for much less than the cost of a Duet or Tascam 1082. While you probably don't need a high-end pro interface or preamp, you can't expect comparable performance from gear that cost 10% as much. Buy something that fully satisfies the need you have now, as well as the needs you can see arising in the near future. There are tons of reviews and recommendations on these Logic boards; search for and read them, and then make an informed decision. Personally I'd stay away from M-Audio, and recommend that you check out Focusrite along with Apogee's stuff. I'm sure you'll get other recommendations.

 

The only general guidance I would offer is that in the long run you won't regret buying quality. Everybody acquires equipment as the need for it arises, that's only natural. Higher quality gear, however, enables you to do things that simply cannot be done with lesser products. Your recordings can only be as good as the weakest component in the signal chain.

 

Phantom power is a constant bias voltage, 48V in pro gear, that is supplied to a condenser mic's capsule through its cable. Without that energizing voltage the capsule's signal is too weak to be usable. Your SM58 is not a condenser mic, and therefore does not need phantom power.

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Something that would transform your set-up completly for a low price would be the Novation XioSynth.

 

That looks very cool, I'm not against an all-in one package. The only thing is that I already have a keyboard, and if I were to replace it I'd like it to have another 61 keys. I haven't seen any full-size keyboards that do what this XioSynth does (for under $1000 at least). I can't see myself playing well with so few keys.

 

There are, unfortunately, no simple short cuts for you to become knowledgeable about audio gear.

 

Lol, that's an understatement. I'm not trying to cheat here, but after a couple days of being all over the web, looking at all these different things to buy on all the different sites, reading reviews, it's all becoming a blur to me.

 

I've searched this forum too... everyone has something different. Was thinking of the Duet because of some stuff here.

 

Thanks for the rest of your post. Helps me narrow it down even more. I don't need a bunch of inputs. I think I'd rather have higher quality audio sound to get my vocals sounding good. I could add a mixer later. I just need a firewire audio interface that preferably has a midi input, phantom power not an issue, Focusrite and Apogee are brands I should look into further, and I can do this for a couple hundred dollars.

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I feel your pain. Three years ago, I went from tape to Logic in my Home-Studio. There are so many options facing you.

 

I found that I had to cut through the 'boys and their toys' thinking that marketers of these audio products rely on so heavily, and ask myself some real questions about my needs and to stay within a strict budget.

 

Unless you really don't like your current keyboard, I'd just keep it. I kept my 61-key Roland JV-30 (circa 1991) because I knew it would be just a 'dummy' triggering audio instruments.

 

I put an analog mixer between my interface and the computer so that I could adjust monitoring levels with sliders, for use as a patch bay, and to adjust levels when recording into the computer. Mixing is still with a mouse, but as for getting sounds in, I was more comfortable setting levels on a board.

 

One thing I've realized after doing this for a while is that there are a lot less 'rules' around this whole recording thing than you might at first think, or that others might lead you to believe.

 

Good luck.

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I found that I had to cut through the 'boys and their toys' thinking that marketers of these audio products rely on so heavily, and ask myself some real questions about my needs and to stay within a strict budget. ...

 

One thing I've realized after doing this for a while is that there are a lot less 'rules' around this whole recording thing than you might at first think, or that others might lead you to believe.

 

Good luck.

 

Yes I've noticed this. Makes me just want to go into Guitar Center with my eyes closed and hold open my wallet to the sales-guy and say "ok, make it happen". lol.

 

Right now I'm looking at this:

 

http://www.zzounds.com/item--YAMGO46

 

Don't forget to check out the MOTU Ultralite. It's a great little unit with enough inputs and connections for the long run. And MOTU has good software drivers.

 

Thanks for that suggestion. I assume it would sound better than the link I just made. And more money. Hmm...

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That MOTU looks great. But it's already more expensive than the Duet. The price keeps going up! I still have to get a separate FireWire Hard Drive and a flat-screen monitor.

 

You say the Yamaha is cheap, I guess so. I don't know the difference.

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How about this, the Firebox?

 

http://www.amazon.com/PreSonus-FireBox-Firewire-Recording-Interface/dp/B0006VYH1Q/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=musical-instruments&qid=1215892210&sr=8-1

 

I'm this close to ordering the Ultralite on Amazon though.

 

From what I've gathered, the Duet has the best sound ever in the history of the earth, but you can't plug that much in it, and it has a funky breakout cable.

 

The Ultralite has all the inputs/outputs I need, I can plug monitors in there, another firewire (like a mixer) etc, yet doesn't have the best sound in history like the duet.

 

I almost bought one from Guitar Center today but of course they are out of stock, so I'm making sure I've thought of everything.

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Presonus is fairly ok, I think better than M-Audio, for sure. But if you look at the reviews there's some mention about noise and high-pitched sounds that doesn't look very promising. You can always try it if your vendor has a 30-day guarantee or something similar and return if it doesn't fit your needs.
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Thanks, I edited my post around the same time you replied.

 

Whatever I get is going to be for a long time. I don't want to spend more than necessary but I don't want to save a couple hundred bucks and regret it in a few months when I realize I want to do more stuff.

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