PC for music mixing

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Anthony Moore, Nov 18, 2002.

  1. Anthony Moore

    Anthony Moore Supporting Actor

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    My friends and I have been messing around with some instruments and we wanna see if we can record something and mix in on the computer. Nothing too outrageous, just something to get the music onto the computer and the ability to put multiple tracks on top of each other.

    Anyone familiar with this? Is there like a mini soundbaord out there?

    any kind of advice would help..
    thanks
     
  2. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Anthony,
    There are several applications out there that allow multitracking audio to PC. Pro Tools even offers a free lite version of their software (protools is what 90% of albums you hear on the radio are recorded on).
    The pro tools free software has a limit of 8 tracks and doesn't offer a ton of plug in support, but it is free and does what you're looking for.
    Some other applications:
    Vegas (Called vegas video, but it is an excellent simple multitrack program. Can be found cheap. Couple this app with SOUND FORGE as a 2 track editor and you have a very powerful setup.)
    Sonar (The lastest in the cakewalk family. I hate it, but it does offer midi support, which many other multitrack apps don't. If you don't use midi- take my advice and avoid sonar)
    Nuendo (Very well regarded professional tool in the Cubase VST family. Rather expensive, but great if you can find it affordably).
    Logic (Another well regarded app, with a whole suite of associated software for looping and composition- never used it much myself).
    IN addition, I think Cool Edit offers a multitrack version at this point (don't quote me, I don't use their stuff).
    For most beginners I suggest VEGAS and SOUND FORGE-- as Sonic Foundry does a very good job of making their products easy to use and logical. Vegas gives you unlimited tracks (limited only by your PC- but I've done movies with over 100 audio tracks without problem on a Athlon 1.2gig system)- gives you effects per channel and via busses, full volume and panning envelopes, decent editing tools and a clean layout. If you add Sound Forge for more precise file editing and sweetening, you're all set. These two apps tag-team perfectly.
    The only issue beyond this is how many tracks you want to record AT A TIME. Obviously you're limited by your hardware- in most cases a 2 channel soundcard. In most apps you can tell them to record from the right/left channels to different tracks- so you could track 2 different sources at once- but if you're looking to do more than 2 channels at a time- you'll need a pro card from someone like Motu, Echo, Maudio, Aardvark, etc.
    Also, it is about impossible to connect a microphone (a good one at least) to a soundcard directly- the level on the mic is too low and needs and outboard preamp device. Usually when people want to set up a uber-cheap recording to PC setup, I recommend getting a small Behringer mixer. They have a 2 channel version which is $50 and will give you mic inputs, mix and EQ control, and panning- exactly what you will need to start making your masterpiece.
    If you need more specific help (finding software, hooking stuff up, deciding on what to get) drop me an email- I'm happy to assist.
    [email protected]
    -Vince
     
  3. Anthony Moore

    Anthony Moore Supporting Actor

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  4. Dave Morton

    Dave Morton Supporting Actor

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    Dave
    You still need an interface with the mixer to the pc. Like Vince stated, you can get an M-audio card or a MOTU firewire interface that will connect to the pc. The purpose of a mixer is to combine signals into one channel, like micing all the drums to one channel. If you want to record all instruments into one signal then this is fine. If you want to separate and tweek the drums/vocals/guitar/keyboards, then it would make sense to record them each to their own channel and not have to record all pieces over and over again.
    For more info check out this board, http://www.homerecording.com/bbs/ .
     
  5. Jeremy Allin

    Jeremy Allin Supporting Actor

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    I've been using MP3 Audio Mixer for a while. Neat little program with a free trial I believe.
    Check it out.
     
  6. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Well, you can use that mixer just fine with a stock soundcard in your PC (like a sound blaster or whatever). The 802 has RCA "tape output" sends- which if you go to radio shack you can pick up a Stereo RCA>1/8th Stereo plug and connect direct from the mixer into the 1/8th input on a standard soundcard.
    You should also get a second set of these cables to return the output off the card back to the mixer (output on the card to the TAPE IN on the mixer). Then you wire your PC speakers to the headphone jack on the console and you actually have a semi decent config!
    As I said above, a basic soundcard is just stereo- so you can either record a single stereo source- or record 2 different things (one from the left and one from the right) if you pan them on the mixer and tell the application to only record from left or right channel.
    If you'd like to get into multitracking (say recording each drum to a seperate track to be mixed together later) you'll need a multichannel card and a mixer with multi sends. If you are interested in Multitrack and want a basic interface- the Aarvark Q-10 is a neat module- as it has mic preamps built in- so it serves as a 8 input card and a mixer in one box (no need to buy a mixing board- just plug mics right into the Q10). The issue is that this box costs $800.
    My basic advice for soundcards is usually:
    If you're a "dabbler" stick with the card in the machine, buy a small mixer a 2 decent mics (like SM-57s for $70 each). Budget of $100-$200.
    If you're moderately interested, pick up a decent 2 channel card that can do 96/24 recording- like the ECHO MIA and a small mixer. THis is basically the same as the built in card solution- but on steroids. The MIA runs $199, so total invested for the MIA, mixer and a pair of mics is around $400-$500.
    If you're pretty serious- look into either a Q10 from Aardvark (or 2 if you want to record 16-20 tracks at a time) or getting a decent mixer (Avoid Mackie- get Soundcraft or maybe studiomaster) and a MOTU interface (like the new 2408). Get a copy of Nuendo. $1000-$2000+ depending on your desires.
    It looks like you're at the dabbler stage now- so your stock card and a smaller mixer with 2 decent mics will go a LONG way! Also, Behringer does make a mixer smaller than the 802 you linked to: the 602. It's essentially identical, it just offers 2 mic inputs instead of 4. If you're looking to be as cheap as possible- go with the 602-- if you're looking to be a little more flexible and are willing to spend an extra $20 to get there- the 802 is great as well.
    Again- if you're looking for tips on finding software, using the stuff or general hokup and microphone tips, drop me a line:
    [email protected]
    -V
     
  7. David Susilo

    David Susilo Screenwriter

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    why even bother with PC if you're going to spend $800 on a software? with US$1000 you can get Yamaha AW16G Digital Audio Workstation with built in:

    16 track recorder + 2 mix-down tracks
    16 channels 4-band sweepable EQs
    16 Dynamic Processors
    2 kickass stereo effect processors (can be run simultaneously)
    mic pre-amp (with selectable phantom power)
    20Gb HD
    built in CD burner
    scene automation
    4-pads samplers
     
  8. Jeremy Allin

    Jeremy Allin Supporting Actor

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    This is fantastic stuff guys!
    I have a major interest in this sort of thing as well (I'm currently planning on pursuing something in the television/film audio post-production field).
    I may call on your expertise from time to time.
    Thanks!! [​IMG]
    Jeremy
     
  9. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Start today with a nonlinear audio editor. TODAY. There is nothing more important than hands on experience- don't wait until you take a class, don't wait until someone gives you a reason- start mixing today. I've done a few feature films at this point, and cannot suggest self-initiated learning enough!
     
  10. David Susilo

    David Susilo Screenwriter

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    I don't know Vince, the portability, the quietness of the recorder, everything in one box. Our commercial studio even exchanged 6 of our PC based recorders to AW16G. Yes, we've just bought six of them.

    PC can do more... BUT you have to pay for separates, both in $$ and real estate. The noise form the PC, size, transportability, also a major factor for our decision to change 6 out of our 7 recorders to AW16G.

    BTW, AFAIK, Lucasfilm uses Yamaha AW4416 (the big brother of AW16G) for their special effect pre-production) when they do sound effect recording/layering for any particular scene.
     
  11. JoshF

    JoshF Supporting Actor

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    I'll throw in my vote for PC-based multitracking as well. In fact, I'll up the ante and put in my vote for Mac-based multitracking, sequencing, VST instruments/effects, etc.

    You really can't beat a Mac for studio gear, IMO. Things just tend to work a lot better in a studio environment with a Mac. When I used to do studio installs and producing I spent more time getting PC's up and running than actually using them. IRQs, bad sound cards, conflicting MIDI interfaces, slow hard drives, bad drivers, ugh.

     

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