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I want to record a CD?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by RicPlaya, Aug 30, 2004.

  1. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    I want to record a CD. I am fairly good with recording techniques. My question is I do not want to purchase a digital recording device like a Roland ETC (which I could use no problem). I am thinking to go the PC route. In your opinions what would one need and which software and hardware combination is best to purchase for this? I am recording a 4 piece rock band. Thanks!!!
  2. How much do you want to spend, how much are you prepared to (have to) learn, do you already have the computer, will you be sharing your data with others?

    I am (mostly) in the world of Windows, but I wish I had a Mac. I share data with others, but only a small amount. I already have a room full of PC's, but I still had go put together one specially for recoding music. I spend about 25% of my time learning how to make it work correctly, and that's after 50 hrs a week doing PC tech support.
    I record performances on a dedicated hard-disk recorder because I have lost too many takes due to computer "glitches". My band is 4 members and we record on 16 tracks, with 8 more for extra sounds.

    I run Sonar, Sound Forge, and GigaSampler primarily. Each product has it's own forum and online tech support. Maybe start reading about stuff at ProRec.com, Noisevault.com, Earlevel.com. If you already have
    a Windows PC then I think Cakewalk Home Studio is a good place to start. If you want to run Linux you should check out Planet CCRMA. If you get a new Mac you don't really have to buy anything else
    (at least for starters)
  3. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Yep. Depends on the quality that you're shooting for in the finished product. You "can" cut a CD with a stereo sound card, a fast PC, and some decent software. Don't expect miracles in terms of the final quality though. In my studio, I've invested considerable time and energy in the "front end", like preamps and microphones and such. Those are very important for getting good initial tracks. I record live drums and some limited live orchestration, so I have an outboard sound card that does 8 tracks at a time at 96/24. Also a fast (2 gHz) PC with lots of memory (1 gig minimum), and fast hard drives (SCSI is good), with at least one drive dedicated to audio. And of course a robust operating system. If you're using Windows, don't even waste your time with anything less than Win2k. And don't even think about connecting your system to the Internet while you're doing any kind of audio. Ideally the PC should be used "only" for audio, and nothing else.
  4. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    I read something recently that I think bears repeating, "noise is free, signal costs money".

    I bought a dedicated hard disk recorder (TASCAM 788) last week because it cost less than a firewire interface would've if I wanted to use my PowerBook.

    To burn CDs I run audio out from the TASCAM to the line in on my PowerBook and record that into an audio editor (I've tried Audacity, Soundtrack & GarageBand, so far Soundtrack gets the nod). Then I export the tracks and burn onto CD.

    I am thinking about getting the CD-RW attachment for the TASCAM as it would be easier to use that for song backups, file exports and the like. It's a $200 attachment though so I'm happy with using what I have for now.

    Anyway, as nonsqtr said, audio work can be quite sketchy on PCs. You have to hope your audio interface drivers work with your audio software, etc.

    On the Mac side, Apple provides the Core Audio / Core MIDI APIs so all hardware & software manufacturers use the same constructs to move data around.
  5. yeah I remember reading those very wise words...
    I think it was some joker who calls himself zlartibartfast. He may be crazy but then again...

    WillPlay, you flatter me deeply, and you are completely correct.
    WishIhadboughta Mac an Toseich
  6. supermonkey


    Mar 15, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    If you're good with recording AND with computers, go the PC/mac route. That way will generally give you better quality and more flexibility to change/grow your setup. But it's an investment in both time and money -- generally the more expensive choice
    If you prefer a more direct, faders-not-mouse interface, consider the HD recorder route, i.e. the TASCAM mentioned. You probably be up and running faster this way.

    I record my 3-piece with: a P4 PC w/ 3 hard drives (1 system, 1 recording, 1 storage) and an Aark 24 audio interface, running mostly Nuendo and SoundForge, with some Cakewalk occasionally. We end up having to submix some drums, but it definitely does the job.

    I've gone the route nonsqtr recommends, which is to focus on mics and mic pres -- that's where your basic good signal is. A good condenser mic and nice tube pre gives me great sound on my 4-trk minidisc.
  7. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    This don't sound too optimistic, what kind of cost are we looking at?
  8. Brat


    Jun 4, 2004
    NW Indiana.
    Or a very cheap way...*clears throat*

    Comp. mic.
    Acoustica MP3 Audio Mixer
    Some sound editing software
    mp3 CD Burner.

  9. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    I have a fostex mx8? That's digital but i can only record two tracks at once. Could that work with something?
  10. supermonkey


    Mar 15, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    Yes, that Fostex'll work. Since you've already got it, use it!

    Since you have only 2 tracks at a time on the Fostex, a cheap mixer (i.e. a behringer) for submixing might be very helpful. You can run everything you need to thru the mixer, then take the mixer's stereo signal into your Fostex. Voila, more than two channels at once (though you lose a tad bit of control over each individual channel).

    And it's less daunting than it sounds. Keep in mind, I've been at this crap for like 15 years. You just need to do it to learn how.
  11. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI

    Allright! Sweet that makes sense...Duh! I have all that. Now once I have a digital signal then I can us a PC mixing program right? What do you suggest is best for mixdown?
  12. supermonkey


    Mar 15, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    I use Nuendo, but I have used Cakewalk in the past. Either will do, but I prefer Nuendo. I guess Cubase is similar. I also know people that swear by Sonar (which is like Cakewalk's angry grandson), and others that really like CoolEditPro. They all kinda do the same thing, but the interfaces are different. You should get hold of at least two and compare them to see which you are most comfy with. As I said, the best I've tried is Nuendo.

    For individual WAV file editing, there is none other than SoundForge, IMHO. Really a must for post-mixdown/pre-CD stuff, like mastering/normalizing, etc.
  13. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Thanks guys, Ok I admit I am a dumby when it comes to which software and what it does. The way I see it there's two programs used one for the files and one for the mixdown right? I have a Behrenger mx3242 board that has just about every option and interface, port, out, that one can get. With this in mind what are my best options for software, how many programs will I need and what do they do exactly? I would like a lot of control for mixdown, effects, compression, and most of all a real good eq, what program could do this for me?
  14. I have to 2nd Cakewalk. I've messed around with just about everything out there. Most of these programs have a very steep learning curve. Cakewalk HS 2 XL has been a breeze. $150 very well spent.
  15. supermonkey


    Mar 15, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    No, the software you're talking about is all-in-one type stuff. You won't be recording files in one app and then mixing in another.
    I don't know about any other versions of Cakewalk, but Cakewalk 9 Pro and Sonar are full-on multitrack recording suites. You would record your tracks into Cakewalk, and then do all your EQ, effects, pans, etc. in Cakewalk. You may or may not use other "utility" type programs to assist.

    For example, I recorded our last album to ADAT, digitally dumped it all to Cakewalk, and then mixed it all down. While mixing, I would jump out to SoundForge (via an option in Cakewalk) to apply various plugins for EQ and fx. Then, I'd refresh the file in Cakewalk and adjust level and pan accordingly. Then, when finished with the mix, you use the handy Mixdown Audio feature to throw your song out to a 16-bit, 44.1 kHz WAV file. Voila, CD-ready audio.

    The same thing holds true since we've moved to Nuendo: I record all tracks direct into Nuendo, and I find I never have to leave it to do all I need (eq, fx, etc) because it can see and use all my plugins and has great built-in EQ and FX of its own. That's why I use Nuendo -- because I can mess with the sound of each track as I listen to playback. With Cakewalk, I could only make changes with the track essentially soloed -- which resulted in a lot of time-consuming trial and error. I understand Sonar is more like Nueno in that respect.

    So you will just need a primary application like Nuendo, Cakewalk, Cubase, etc. to do the bulk of what you're after. Additional programs needed would be more like a SoundForge (for "mastering" or editing your stereo mixes), or various plugins like Waves for FX and EQ processing.

    The greatest thing about mixing on a computer? One word: automation.

    EDIT: BTW - Fletch is right, there is a learning curve with these programs. With great power comes great responsibility, Peter. The way to learn it is to start messing around with it and see if you can record something.
  16. ric - you still trhinking about getting your PC set up to record multitrack? I just retired a Win98 machine that was fitted with a Gadget Labs Wave 8/24 card. It's a great card, but the company folded so there are no drivers released for Windows 2000 or XP (it runs under NT4 or 98SE). It can record 8 tracks at one time, or 10 if you connect an external 2 channel converter - 24 bit 48 KHz sample rate (this is a standard used in DVD production). I have a full copy of Cakewalk Pro Audio 8 with manual, and it can be registered with Cakewalk which allows the owner to get upgrades at discount prices (completely legal). I'm asking $300 for the bundle - that's 1/3 of the original cost. If interested send email to ok@austinpowerplant.com