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Essentials for PC Recording

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Zirc, Jun 17, 2002.


  1. Zirc

    Zirc

    May 13, 2001
    Los Angeles
    Alright, I've heard a bunch of threads on "how do you do this" on PC recording, so I'm make a post telling you all about my experiences with PC recording.

    So here are some essentials for a good quality PC recording session.

    <b>A Decent PC</b>
    I record with a PIII 550, 17 GB of HD space. Space can be important when saving digital data.

    <b>A GOOD Sound Card</b>
    I recomend a Sound Blaster Audigy. You want this sound card or better. I think you can pick the Audigy up for like $75, but yeah a good sound card can make ALL the difference.

    <b>A Decent Powered Mixer</b>
    I'm pretty sure it's got to be powered. I run the speaker out (special cable) into the line in on the sound card then adjust the line in recording volume on the PC.

    <b>Good Quality Mics</b>
    Especially for amps and drums. I've noticed the SM57 works VERY well with a bass amp. Drums are a friggin pain to record, you gotta get bass drum mics, tom mics, snare mics, condenser mics, ect ect, let the drummer pay for all that.

    <b>Decent Software</b>
    Decent software is good, but GOOD software is pretty cool, it's always nice to have options. I use Steinberg Wavelab personally. All the noise eliminators and frequency changes and effects are cool.

    Alright, I think I covered everything needed to record on a PC. What I do is I plug all the mics into the mixer then adjust volumes and such and boom record. I like our recordings so far. Sure as hell beats studio fees :p.

    Tell me what ya guys think.
     
  2. Oysterman

    Oysterman

    Mar 30, 2000
    Sweden
    This is actually pretty bad advice. One should not run the speaker outputs to line inputs - severe voltage mismatch, which can ruin your sound card! If the preamps in the mixer don't give you enough gain for the line input, something is terribly wrong!
    Worth noting is that the SM57 starts to roll off bass frequencies at 200 Hz. The proximity effect might take some of it back. It's good that you like the sound, but IMO there are better mics for bass at a not too high dollar.
    Is Wavelab capable of multitracking?
     
  3. Your PC should also have pretty decent RAM memory so as to avoid certain recording issues, such as latency.

    Also, as I've just found out myself, if you have a laptop, your options for soundcards/audio interfaces are fairly limited (or often expensive). With desktops, there are many more options.
     
  4. Oysterman

    Oysterman

    Mar 30, 2000
    Sweden
    You rmain enemy when it comes to latency is the sound card and its drivers, not the amount of RAM you have in your computer. RAM is always good though, since it'll give you more "headroom" when working with large files in a convenient way - i.e. without having Windows go ballistic with its virtual memory functionality... that is something you DON'T want to happen when multitracking!
     
  5. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    The Audigy is NOT a good soundcard.
    Why?
    ASIO only @ 48kHz, this is because the Audigy/SBLive do EVERTHING @ 48kHz internally, the driver needs to do all the resampling -> bad latency.

    The converter are not very good, the mic in is abysmally bad.

    No 24bit recording.

    No GSIF (Gigasampler/studio) or EASI (Emagic Logic) drivers.

    A good soundcard would be the Midiman/M-Audio Delta Audiophile 2496 for example - around 200$.

    Great converters, recording and playback up to 24 bit/96kHz, great drivers (ASIO 2.0, EASI, GSIF), great service (10 yrs warranty).


    Another thing, you can't have enough RAM, I now have 704 MB.
     
  6. What is Gigasampler/studio ??

    my bro in law uses an Athlon , is this bad ? (heard something like this ..)
     
  7. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Gigasampler is a software sampler.

    http://www.nemesysmusic.com/

    Athlons are not per se bad for audio.
    There were problems with the VIA chipsets (hardware bug) for it.
    Also, most pro audio software used to be primarily optimized for Pentium III/IV, but this is not really an issue anymore.
    Just make sure you use the latest VIA 4-in-1 driver for the motherboard.
     
  8. Samie

    Samie

    Dec 13, 2000
    Madrid, Spain
    1) forget about RAM/HDD/SOUNCARD/mixer etc!!!

    2) get a decent deticaded digital hard-disk recorder that can export/import wav or has digital i/o and has sync

    3) Use any pIII for midi, mastering, burning CDroms, Vst instruments etc. Any asio comptaible soundcard with digital i/o will do.


    Nothing more cost effective.
     
  9. or you can got oun and buy the new zoom recoreders or tascam.they use smart media cards to save.t when your done recording you put the files on your coompture using the usb port.the zoom recorder goes for 200,and the tascam goes for more.you dont have to worrie about soundcards or any thing.if you have kazaa you can download acid pro(300$) and do all the editing and it can have as many tracks as u want.

    i know you can record 4 tracks on the zoom and bounce them to one.and you can if you want edit and finish a song just useing the recorder,then when you done put it on the pc and burn it. i plan on buying the zoom soon.
     
  10. Samie

    Samie

    Dec 13, 2000
    Madrid, Spain
    Get something like the Korg D12 or the Korg D1600 and you will not need a pc at all!! Since you can masterize and burn your cd on board.

    The Pc is just for sequencing and midi stuff. If you have mics for drums, or you have a hardware keyboards/sequencer you will not even need a Pc.

    All that bouncing takes away from your creative process. If you want to make music and not end up a computer geek leave the Pc for word-processing or be ready to spend money on a full-integrated system like pro-tools.

    For sequencing, soft syth etc pcs are great. For occational recording also.
     
  11. Oysterman

    Oysterman

    Mar 30, 2000
    Sweden
    A PC is a lot easier to work with than a stand-alone unit, IMO. Something about big screens, high resolution, pretty colours, mouse-driven interfaces, massive storage capacity and plug-ins that just speaks to me. :)

    It's a bitch to move around in comparison, though.
     
  12. if you get the zoom recoreder or the tascam you recorded all the tracks you want on the the unit.to the smart media card.you dont have to mix it on the recoreder but you can if you want then from that you put it on the compture useing the usb .if you buy the zoom it goes for 200 you dont have to buy any thing else unless your compture doesnt have a burner.

    u dont need a sound card or any thing with the zoom.i know the tascam is better but its more money . with these two recorders all you really need a pc is for burnning.if you want to you can do all the mixing with them or on the pc.
     
  13. Oysterman

    Oysterman

    Mar 30, 2000
    Sweden
    SmartMedia cards. Expensive per megabyte, low capacity. OK for sketch-pad type recording but for 7 drum tracks, as I have on my bands upcoming demo? Nah.

    The math: 1 minute of mono 24 bit/44.1 kHz audio takes roughly 7,5 MB. 7 of those tracks would take 53 MB per minute. One of our songs is 7 minutes long. That's 371 MB, just drum tracks. OK, so I can bounce them into a single stereo track, but I want to mix them on my own first, right? Tell me, how much does a 512 MB SmartMedia card cost(if they at all exist yet)? How many of those will you need?

    If I have to mix on the PC anyway, I might as well spend the $200 on a sound card instead. (The M-Audio 2496 Audiophile comes into mind)

    I guess the moral of the story is to find out what your requirements are, then decide on PC or stand-alone.
     
  14. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    For home or studio recording a PC/Mac is very hard to beat.
    Native (CPU-based) systems are the future IMO, since the growth of cpu power outruns DSPs very clearly. You can also modify and upgrade easily and use any software you want (ever tried using ProTools on XP?). Hardware-based systems like PT put you at the mercy of one manufacturer and his support.
     
  15. Samie

    Samie

    Dec 13, 2000
    Madrid, Spain
    I agree, I am just speaking from experience. I have a Stable Pc DAW system very nice very poweful. I also have a dedicaded digital multitrack a D1600.

    digital multitracks:
    Believe me there is nothing like having everything ready to record 10 secs after you power up. nothing like using faders, punch in foot pedals, real play/rec buttons. Almost instant access to all the songs. 8 mic/line inputs at once. no crashes, no timing problems. You know it is always going to work the same way. And it is portable!! take it to band practice, record your gigs etc.

    Pc:
    Very powerful and useful, but I spent 60-80% of the time working on software problems/updates etc. latency/drivers/conector crashes, noise, space. Try holding you bass while setting pans, volumes, routing inputs, etc all with a mouse.

    for the price of a new Pc, I can keep my old one and record real played music with my mates. EVEN the drummer!!! 4mics drums, guitar, voice, bass, keys!! have the cd burned right then and there. I can carry the Bass in one hand, the digital multitracker in the other, the mics in a small backpack along with the cables!!!!! I can go back and edit further with my old pc.

    How much does that kind of power cost with a PC, please someone calculate this.!!!

    my 2 cents
     
  16. Oysterman

    Oysterman

    Mar 30, 2000
    Sweden
    You have good points, Samie, but:
    I don't have a problem with this...? I have a lap to rest it on, or a strap on my shoulders, don't I?

    All I can say is, a stand-alone wouldn't work for ME. Sure, it would be convenient to have in some occasions (such as traveling and recording gigs, rehearsals etc.), but there's no way I can justify the cost for a good one. I'm a PC DAW man, all the way! Some people aren't, and that's cool!
     
  17. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Word.

    Cubase SX rules.
     
  18. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Mac: Very powerful and useful. But nothing. :)
     
  19. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    That's a myth today. My ex-roommate has a G4 and had constant crashes, while my Windows XP ran flawlessly.
    It's no general truth anymore.

    Windows XP is VERY, VERY stable, considering all the different hardware it has to accommodate.

    I haven't had a crash in more than 6 months.
     
  20. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Well, I'm just citing my own experience here. I've been using Macs since 1987, and in all of that time, I have experience exactly ONE crash - the failure of the hard drive of my old SE30 after 8 years of use. My wife's succession of PC's, however, either crash or do something completely random at least a couple of times a week. YMMV.