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leftybassman392

Advice needed- recording with a MacBook

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Hi guys. After a long time away from it, I'm looking to get back into recording.

My previous studio was a purpose-designed and pretty well-equipped project studio. In my current situation that kind of facility isn't feasible logistically and way outside my proposed budget financially. I'm going to keep it simple this time: I'm just planning to use my MacBook Pro with a suitable interface plus a few bits & bobs.

What I could use is some advice as to what folks recommend I should be looking at.

I have Audacity installed on the Mac, which looks like it'll be all I'll need for recording, and I have guitars, basses and amps aplenty.

My shopping list looks like this:

Basic audio interface with USB thunderbolt compatibility (I don't need a lot of channels or effects so a basic 2- or 4-input jobbie should be plenty).

Decent but inexpensive studio mic for recording electric guitars through the Fender Blues Junior IV. (Acoustic and bass amps have D.I. outs and I have an L.R. Baggs D.I. box so that side of things is taken care of.) I don't sing so I don't need megabucks. As long as it can record the BJ faithfully (with the option of recording the acoustic guitars once in a while) I'll be happy. I'm told Rode are good value for money, but I've been out of the loop for around 10 years I'm happy to consider other options. If funds allow, it would be nice to have a compressor for recording the acoustics (I used to have a small collection of the Joemeek optical compressors, which were f*cking brilliant) but not a given at this stage as Audacity has one built-in (which I haven't used yet but which I assume will be fairly basic).

Half decent rhythm generator or drum machine. I used to have an SR16 and a DR770, so anything in that general ballpark should do the job I need.

 

This is all for my own enjoyment; I have no plans to inflict anything I do on anybody else. That said, at one time I was accustomed to working with high quality gear so I do have certain expectations...

I have a soft budget in my head of around £500. I'm expecting to need to buy new where necessary but will also be keeping an eye on pre-owned as long as it's in good working order.

 

Any advice as to what I should be looking at, particularly the I/F and the mic, will be gratefully received.

I humbly submit myself to the collective wisdom of the Basschat Collective. :)

 

 

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If you want more options ‘in the box’ then you’ve got the option to use GarageBand - much more flexible than audacity, and has built-in drum machines and drum loops etc... should save you money on buying a separate rhythm unit.

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You could just go for one of those theee in one packages - 2ch interface, cans and a condenser for around £200 or so.  Presonus and Focusrite do them.  Though for electric guitars people seem to favour dynamics like the trusty old sm57.  I have a few Prodipe TT1’s that look like they came from the same factory that make the M80 for Telefunken (USA).

Edited by Pea Turgh
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27 minutes ago, Pea Turgh said:

You could just go for one of those theee in one packages - 2ch interface, cans and a condenser for around £200 or so.  Presonus and Focusrite do them.  Though for electric guitars people seem to favour dynamics like the trusty old sm57.  I have a few Prodipe TT1’s that look like they came from the same factory that make the M80 for Telefunken (USA).

Thanks for that. I've had a quick look at some of the ones you mention, and they do look nice.

For onstage work I used to use an SM57 or SM58 to micup the guitar cab, but I want to keep things simple, so it needs to be a single mic. I will want to mic up my acoustics from time to time as well, so I'm really looking at a condenser.

One setup I've found that I like the look of is this

It only has one i/p channel, (which I could probably work with anyway at need), but having 2 channels would give me the option of recording in stereo (good for bouncing effects around). Also, two channels gives me more options for mic'ing up the acoustics.

Edited by leftybassman392

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10 minutes ago, leftybassman392 said:

...two channels gives me more options for mic'ing up the acoustics.

Does that not imply two mic's, or has the acoustic a pre-amp..? :/

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Not seen the Rode interface before.  Lots of love for the NT1 out there.  My only prolonged experience with LDCs was my Peluso P67 (talk about sellers remorse!) so not really experienced enough to offer advice there.

I think any recent interface from a trusted brand has a much higher basic quality level than over 10 yrs ago (probably, though the curve was flattening even then).  Make sure you pick a manufacturer with good support - Alesis have a bit of a back catalogue of units that no longer work after major Mac updates, so personally I’d avoid them.

Id assume you’re going to monitor on cans?  There’s a lot more appetite for that these days, especially as you can pick up a decent set for the price of poopy monitors, and monitoring environment is then a non-issue.

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4 minutes ago, Dad3353 said:

Does that not imply two mic's, or has the acoustic a pre-amp..? :/

Could go either way as the acoustics both have very good preamps built-in. I might consider a pencil mic as an alternative (I've had good results in the past from pointing a mic at the headstock).

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4 minutes ago, Pea Turgh said:

Not seen the Rode interface before.  Lots of love for the NT1 out there.  My only prolonged experience with LDCs was my Peluso P67 (talk about sellers remorse!) so not really experienced enough to offer advice there.

I think any recent interface from a trusted brand has a much higher basic quality level than over 10 yrs ago (probably, though the curve was flattening even then).  Make sure you pick a manufacturer with good support - Alesis have a bit of a back catalogue of units that no longer work after major Mac updates, so personally I’d avoid them.

Id assume you’re going to monitor on cans?  There’s a lot more appetite for that these days, especially as you can pick up a decent set for the price of poopy monitors, and monitoring environment is then a non-issue.

Monitoring on cans, yes. I have a set of Shure in-ears which I use for spoken word editing with Audacity. Well-balanced and lots of detail. Then again, at around £250 you could say they should have! :lol:

I also have an old pair of Beyerdynamic DT100's from my studio days. I recently replaced the ear pads and TBH I've been itching to use them for something.

Monitors are a non-starter really, for a variety of reasons.

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I’ve just started doing this myself. I bought a Focusrite 2ch for £80 ish. Thomann has a 4ch B-Stock for £163.

The interface is great and I use it through JamKazam for rehearsals and Garage Band for recording. I laid down a bass part the other day and sent it off to ours keys player. He did his bit and sent it back to me yesterday. I’ll build it up bit by bit from there. I use a Shure mic for vox and in house drums in GB. Sorted.

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I have a focusrite Scarlett - it’s great - choose the one with as many channels as you want, or presonus is fine.

It comes packaged with lite versions of DAW’s - which are fine - I chose to get Logic X Pro.

Microphone - so much choice out there but I have Sennheiser e935 - mainly for live work but it records ok - second hand is a good market, but Shure ones you mentioned will be fine. Get a mic stand and a pop shield definitely.

For drums get EZDRUMMER or Superior Drummer - they offer trials to see if you like, and you can add drum packs when they are on offer. Real drums recorded giving an awesome array of real drum loops, you won’t regret this one.

You can get this all in budget

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Just watch out that you don't get a fine @Cuzzie. I have a Presonus interface which usually comes with a version of Studio One, which is very good. +1 for Garageband though, it's a really good bit of kit for something bundled with the OS.

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Many thanks for the responses so far. For the mic, I’m leaning towards a Rode NT1. Has anybody tried recording acoustic guitar with one?

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6 minutes ago, leftybassman392 said:

Many thanks for the responses so far. For the mic, I’m leaning towards a Rode NT1. Has anybody tried recording acoustic guitar with one?

I have the NT1-A and it’s very good for just about everything.

 

I’m using my Helix as the interface, into Reaper, and Toontrack EZDrummer 2 for drums.

There are some Black Friday deal on EZD at the moment. It’s very easy to use and sounds very good.

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17 minutes ago, leftybassman392 said:

Many thanks for the responses so far. For the mic, I’m leaning towards a Rode NT1. Has anybody tried recording acoustic guitar with one?

+1 for the Rode. R91KekF.gif

We have several such mic's, including Superlux. Most large-diaphragm condenser mic's will work splendidly for acoustic guitar, and much else. No (home-...) studio should be without one, in my view. 

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I've had an offer on an inteface that uses the original thunderbolt protocol. Anybody know where I can get a thunderbolt - thunderbolt 3 adaptor?

I've had a look around the internet and can't find anything on either the Apple website or Amazon.

In more general terms I'm kind of keen to get a bit more of a handle on latency issues. I'd like to use the thunderbolt 3 speed if possible, but the thunderbolt 3 interfaces I've found are stupidly expensive and ridiculously over-specced for my needs. I dunno, maybe that's telling me something I need to listen to.

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I'm likely to get caned for writing this, but I don't think, for the relatively modest stuff we do (in general...), latency is a huge issue. It's true that I don't, often, record listening to a fully-loaded backing, with tons of Fx; I've never found any need to even check what the latency on my simple set-up is. With today's decent gear, it's not a Big Deal, I reckon.

(Dons tin hat and ducks, though...)

Gn7SwcD.jpg

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50 minutes ago, Dad3353 said:

I'm likely to get caned for writing this, but I don't think, for the relatively modest stuff we do (in general...), latency is a huge issue

::laughs hysterically:: 😭

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Many thanks for all the helpful replies guys. Much appreciated.

If I haven't gone with your suggestion, it doesn't mean I've ignored it.

After due consideration, I've pulled the trigger (curious phrase for buying stuff I've always thought...) on:

this

and

this

The 4i4 bundle looks good at the price (yes I know the DAWs are free anyway, but even so). I got the extra channels on the interface as I can see me using them once in a while, so I took the view that it was better to have them and not use them very often. I still have some good quality leads from my studio days, so with luck I'll be good to go.

All I need now is some music to play through it... 9_9

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