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Midi / keyboard / recording advice


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12 replies to this topic

#1 of 13 OFFLINE   Darren H

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Posted December 28 2004 - 03:22 AM

It's been more than a decade since I was last in the market for a keyboard and midi hardware/software. Can anyone point me to good online resources and discussion forums? I'm hoping to put together a small home studio for scoring films and am eager to begin research and auditioning. Thanks.
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#2 of 13 OFFLINE   Andrew Bunk

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Posted December 28 2004 - 08:33 AM

Darren,

In my opinion there is no better user forum than Cakewalk's Sonar forum. The company really supports its users well, and there are some very knowledgable people there.

If you are a Windows user, Sonar almost seems to be a no-brainer, as it is to my knowledge the only major DAW software that is developed for Windows. Cubase/Nuendo is Mac software ported to Windows. (Have you guessed I'm a Cakewalk user yet?)

M-Audio make a lot of good gear, including audio interface cards, breakout boxes and midi controllers. The Gear forum at the Cakewalk site is also a great place to ask about gear.

My best advice would be to research as much as you can before you buy, and make sure your system is robust. Win2K/XP is a requirement for Sonar 3 or later.


KVR-VST is a great forum for discussing virtual instruments, effects and so forth.

There are a few relatively inexpensive orchestral programs out there to start with for scoring, which include Garritan Personal Orchestra, EastWest Symphonic Orchestra Silver and a new product call Synful.

And be careful, because this stuff gets addictive! I just recently purchased a Mellotron emulator and a Minimoog emulator, and I swear these things sound like the real thing.

Good luck!
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#3 of 13 OFFLINE   Artur Meinild

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Posted December 28 2004 - 05:58 PM

Harmony Central has some nice discussion forums as well about all kinds of topics, both keys, computer recording etc.

Sonic State also has lots of good info about keyboards and studio gear.

I don't quite agree with you Andy re: Cubase, at least not with the new versions, which to my understanding was written pretty much from scratch. Any Cubase SX/SL version should be as good with windows as any other software.

Also remember that Steinberg invented lots of the standards used for music production on both PC and Mac (VST, ASIO), so saying Cubase is merely a Mac port doesn't really make sense...

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#4 of 13 OFFLINE   Andrew Bunk

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Posted December 29 2004 - 09:16 AM

Artur, I stand corrected. I still think Sonar is the better buy for the money though. Plus I heard some bad stuff about how Steiberg handled their last release. Something along the lines of paid users of Nuendo 2 had to pay to upgrade to 3 to get fixes for major issues in 2. Not cool. Cakewalk always gets at least 2 substantial updates out for free on each version of Sonar.
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#5 of 13 OFFLINE   Darren H

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Posted December 30 2004 - 02:18 AM

Thanks for the links. Looks like I have a lot of reading to do.
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#6 of 13 OFFLINE   chris_everett

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Posted December 30 2004 - 04:11 AM

Are you committed to Mac or PC? What scale are you looking to work on?
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#7 of 13 OFFLINE   Darren H

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Posted December 30 2004 - 06:03 AM

For the immediate future, at least, everything will be PC. My main goal right now is to find a keyboard that could be used for occasional playing out but mostly for home recording. So, for the keyboard, my main priorities are: - piano-like weighted keys - at least five octaves (I doubt 88 will be necessary) - a collection of *very good* standard sounds -- pianos, keyboards, organs, string pads For hardware/software, my immediate goal is quality (and flexible) multitrack recording. Musical notation would be a bonus but isn't necessary.
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#8 of 13 OFFLINE   Andrew Bunk

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Posted December 30 2004 - 06:22 AM

Darren, Sonar shoud cover those needs. And it has notation too. As far as the synth, what's your budget like? I love a real synth as much as the next guy (I have a Kurzweil K2500), but soft synths are really gaining ground. You could probably get a good MIDI controller and a couple soft synth/sample packages for less than a hardware synth. Unless you intend to gig-then a hardware synth would probably make more sense.
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#9 of 13 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted December 30 2004 - 06:49 AM

As an FYI, Steinberg was just bought by Yamaha. No idea what the ramifications are for Nuendo. IF you are looking to do commercial work scoring films, you may want to look into some form of ProTools system, as it is still the industry standard.

#10 of 13 OFFLINE   chris_everett

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Posted December 30 2004 - 07:12 AM

I use Nuendo, and am happy with it. On the PC, I think it and sonar are the only choices right now. On the Mac you have protools and Logic. If you want to make this more than a hobby, you will probably need pro tools. (overprised and underperforming, but it is the industry standard); although Nuendo is gaining some ground. As for a keyboard, I like Korg, but as Andrew says, using softsynths and a midi-controller is a valid way to work now. You will also need an audio interface. MOTU and M-audio make good stuff (IMHO)
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#11 of 13 OFFLINE   Darren H

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Posted December 30 2004 - 08:17 AM

Let's pretend that I have a total budget between $2000-$3000. (I'm not sure if I can justify spending that much, but let's use that figure for now.) How would each of you spend it? Again, I'm limited to a PC, and if I do this I will definitely want to buy a gig-able keyboard. Thanks, everyone, for the help.
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#12 of 13 OFFLINE   Andrew Bunk

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Posted December 30 2004 - 08:47 AM

Well I would assume a minimum of $300 for your host application-that would get you Sonar 4 Studio Edition. Sonar 4 Producer Edition is about $500, but you may not need what it adds. I think Cubase is in this price range too, but Nuendo is more. For a synth, you'd have to determine whethere you need it to have sequencing abilities for live performance. Boards without sequencing will be cheaper. If you don't need a sequencer onboard, you could probably find a good Korg, Roland or Yamaha under $1000. Audio interface for the PC could go anywhere between $200-$500 or much more, depending on how many inputs you need to use simultaneously. Personally, I am just doing self-recording and I program drums, so I bought an interface with two high quality inputs, and I use a patch panel to assign different pieces of gear to the inputs. There's also incidentals to think of, like cables. Buy good cables-you'll thank yourself later. Also, depending on your PC specs, you may need to upgrade certain attributes to run an audio app more smoothly. If you'd like, list your specs (OS, memory, processor, video card, etc.) and we can take a look.
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#13 of 13 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted December 30 2004 - 10:18 AM

You can get a Digidesign MBox/ProTools LE for under $500, or a Digidesign 002 for $2500 (list). Both run under Windows XP. To get sound into the computer, you will need an audio interface and some sort of preamp. The MBox has Focusrite preamps built in, and runs at sample rates up to 48K. The 002 works to 96K. The weighted keys will be the expensive part of a keyboard purchase, since you are pretty much forced to buy a piano which will not have any extra synth sounds. If you can handle non weighted keys, you have far more flexible and affordable options. You can always add a weighted keyboard later. You will also need some kind of monitors to hear what you are doing.




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