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My computer...reccomendations needed.

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by KrazzyJoe, Jun 25, 2004.


  1. KrazzyJoe

    KrazzyJoe

    Jul 31, 2003
    Oregon.
    I am sure you all get this alot, but I just need to know what my band and I need to record.

    The band-very versatile music. Two guitars, one bassist, one drummer-currently no vocalist but we do wish to have one-so take that into consideration.

    I am getting a new laptop in the mail soon, probably the end of this week-anyway, thats not important, the specs are what you need. The Specs are:

    Pentium 4 3Ghz
    1 GB RAM
    Crappy soundcard
    Nvidia 5700 128Mb
    40GB Harddrive

    Now, would it be wiser to get something to directly hook into my laptop or what? I've read a few articles but they are all gibberish for the most part. I am really lost, and i'm sorry for the broadness of this post-I just need to know what to get to record. And reccomendations as to software would be great, to. Give me mid-range, low-range and high-end, I will just have to see the prices.

    Sorry for this somewhat annoying post, but hopefully you wont care to much. :)

    Ask any questions you like-I will try and answer them as best I can.
     
  2. KrazzyJoe

    KrazzyJoe

    Jul 31, 2003
    Oregon.
    And by the way, if anyone would like to contact me on MSN (krazzyjoe@hotmail.com) or AIM (KrazzyKJoe) to talk to me about it a bit more in-depth and easier, please do.
     
  3. This may be painfully obvious, but the more money you have to throw at your solution, the better your solution is going to be. That said...

    Let's start with this. Why are you integrating your laptop into your band? Are you thinking about just recording some rehearsals, are you going to cut your record, are you going to run some soft synths? If you're looking for a quick and dirty way to get music into and out of your laptop, maybe, just maybe, your Crappy™ soundcard will get the job done for you.

    If you're looking to make it easy on a club owner to hire you by virtue of your hellaciously great-sounding demo, or just to make it easy on yourself listening back to all your jams, odds are you're going to need to work really hard to overcome your Crappy™ soundcard's limitations. In that case you will probably want an audio interface that will probably connect to your laptop either via its USB port (it does have one of those right?) or its PC Card slot. I know Echo Audio and Ego-Sys have such things.

    That's a start anyway, let us know how you make out.
     
  4. this all said, i would recomend getting a digital recorder (perhaps a fostex) for initial recording, then send that to your laptop via usb (which sounds very nice i might add) and modify anything that you need using some recording software (eg garage band or protools or something). Perhaps you won't even need the software if you like the results of the initial recordings. Of all of the times i have tried a direct recording into my laptop, it has always sounded horrible (laptop soundcards are generally not the best.) Best of luck to you!
     
  5. There is some very good wisdom about computer music recording at this site: http://sound-on-sound2.infopop.net/2/OpenTopic?a=frm&s=215094572&f=514099644 Martin Walker's columns for Sound on Sound magazine are really excellent (I'm not in any way connected with the magazine by the way... ;) ).

    Soundcards:
    USB - Very easy to connect, set up and run. Latency (gap between sound going into the laptop and what you hear through speakers) tends to be higher than some other solutions though. They also tend to have limits on the number of tracks you can record simultaneously. You can also get interfaces which act like mini mixers and allow you to mix as you record as well as control your software.

    For consideration: (USB) MAudio Delta66 Omni Studio - Only 4 in/ 4 out simultaneously though. Edirol UR80 - Only 2 tracks at a time. Edirol UA1000 (USB2) - Because this uses USB2 it can record & playback 10 tracks at once. A very slick piece of kit.

    Firewire - Again easy to connect. There have been problems though with some interfaces not liking particular Firewire cards so best to check out anything you like the look of in detail against the specs of your laptop. These tend to have faster transfer rates than USB1 and so you get more channels recording at once. Most firewire devices can be powered directly from the PC provided you have a six pin socket. Most often though laptops only have a four pin socket, but you can usually power these cards from an adaptor / wallwart.

    For consideration: MAudio Firewire 410 - 2 audio track recording at a time, but with another 2 via digital input. 10 track playback. Edirol FA101 - 10 track simutaneous record & playback. MOTU 828 - 20 inputs / 22 outputs.

    PCMCIA - These are the little cards that slot in the side of laptops, usually used for modems / wireless networking etc. PCMCIA cards tends to have the lowest latency since they interface directly with the laptop. The problem with them is that you really need to have some kind of breakout box attached to allow you to connect up loads of inputs. However they do allow you to work on your audio to high standards when you're away from the band situation i.e. to mix stuff, add effects, edit etc. you'll get much better sound quality from a PCMCIA card than you would from your in-built soundcard. They also have extremely low latency and almost no CPU load due to the fact that the processing power is contained within the card and draws power directly from the laptop.

    For consideration: Echo Indigo - three different types of card that allow different inputs / outputs. RME Hammerfall - the creme-de-la-creme of PCMCIA soundcards. Link this puppy to the Multiface breakout box and you'll get top quality 8 track intput / output.

    Good luck with your recording. Let us know what you go for in the end.

    Mike
     
  6. You want a preamp or a channel strip in between your source and your computer's input. Makes a world of difference.
     
  7. If you wish to record everyone into one track at once, you'll need sime sort of mixer -- I'm talking a mixing board, not software -- and some recording software. The mixer should have a line out jack that you can connect to the line in on you sound card. The computer's mic input could do in a pinch. With that setup, you should be able to get good, clear recordings, suitable for a demo. While they won't be studio quality, most modern sound cards aren't horrible awful. If yours is, a USB or Firewire external "card" is a good solution.

    You'll also need software. Audacity is good, and free.