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building a PC-based recording studio--HELP!

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January 30, 2005 10:48:44 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Hi all,

I am building a PC-based recording studio from the ground up.

Here's what I'm thinking:
- massive disk of course (> 200 GB)
- CD and probably DVD burner
- dual CPU Athlon
- probably Linux-based, maybe XP, depending on everything else

This is where you come in. I'm a software developer, but I have no
real experience in audio recording, except as a musician.

What would you recommend for pro-quality audio hardware, multi-tracking
software and mixing tools, effects, etc.?

Where do I start?

One question I have, being familiar with a few open source projects, is
what more do I get for dumping tons of $ into tools as opposed to the
free stuff on sourceforge?

Two projects I have been looking at are audacity and Ardour.
(audacity.sourceforge.net and ardour.org)
How much more functionality do I get if I spend on protools or
whatever?

Thanks in advance for helping a newbie! Good advice might get you a
free CD if you play your cards right! :-)

Regards,
david
Anonymous
January 31, 2005 7:38:21 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

david wrote:

> Where do I start?

By reading the rec.audio.pro FAQ, which can be found via:

http://www.recaudiopro.net

--
ha
Anonymous
January 31, 2005 11:55:49 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Start by looking at WHERE you want to record. If you don't have a good
space you won't like your results. So instead of jacking up the budget for
big ticket products like $2k audio software and dual cpu computers, figure
out what it's going to take to get a good sound in the room you want to
record. The figure out what's left over and come back with the same
question.

--


Roger W. Norman
SirMusic Studio

"david" <tri_image@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:1107143324.656130.265160@z14g2000cwz.googlegroups.com...
> Hi all,
>
> I am building a PC-based recording studio from the ground up.
>
> Here's what I'm thinking:
> - massive disk of course (> 200 GB)
> - CD and probably DVD burner
> - dual CPU Athlon
> - probably Linux-based, maybe XP, depending on everything else
>
> This is where you come in. I'm a software developer, but I have no
> real experience in audio recording, except as a musician.
>
> What would you recommend for pro-quality audio hardware, multi-tracking
> software and mixing tools, effects, etc.?
>
> Where do I start?
>
> One question I have, being familiar with a few open source projects, is
> what more do I get for dumping tons of $ into tools as opposed to the
> free stuff on sourceforge?
>
> Two projects I have been looking at are audacity and Ardour.
> (audacity.sourceforge.net and ardour.org)
> How much more functionality do I get if I spend on protools or
> whatever?
>
> Thanks in advance for helping a newbie! Good advice might get you a
> free CD if you play your cards right! :-)
>
> Regards,
> david
>
Related resources
Anonymous
January 31, 2005 2:14:03 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

On 30 Jan 2005 19:48:44 -0800, "david" <tri_image@hotmail.com> wrote:

>
>What would you recommend for pro-quality audio hardware, multi-tracking
>software and mixing tools, effects, etc.?


Samplitude Professional for the multi-track software.
Waves plugins for the effects.

Hardware, well it depends on what your needs are and how much to you
want to spend? How many analog ins and outs do you need? Do you need
midi?

Al
Anonymous
January 31, 2005 9:01:07 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

In article <pYmdnRFSY-shqmPcRVn-sw@rcn.net> rnorman@starpower.net writes:

> Start by looking at WHERE you want to record. If you don't have a good
> space you won't like your results. So instead of jacking up the budget for
> big ticket products like $2k audio software and dual cpu computers, figure
> out what it's going to take to get a good sound in the room you want to
> record. The figure out what's left over and come back with the same
> question.

Gee, why don't we all answer the question that way? Probably because
we know the person asking doesn't want to hear that answer, but it's
right on. Probably good advice would be to get a fair-to-middlin' mic
and anything that will record, make some test recordings, and use the
results to better define the scope of the studio project.



--
I'm really Mike Rivers (mrivers@d-and-d.com)
However, until the spam goes away or Hell freezes over,
lots of IP addresses are blocked from this system. If
you e-mail me and it bounces, use your secret decoder ring
and reach me here: double-m-eleven-double-zero at yahoo
Anonymous
January 31, 2005 11:10:22 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

On 2005-01-31, Sugarite <nobody@home.com> wrote:

> Get the DVD burner for archiving (they're dirt cheap anyway), but never mind
> the dual cpu. Get the best mb on the market and bleeding edge cpu and ram.

Maybe "bleeding edge minus 1" on the CPU, because that will allow
quieter cooling.

I have found that Intel-based motherboards don't tend to have
compatability problems, boards for AMD processors do. I've also found
that Intel chips are easier (and quieter) to keep cool.

Dual channel DDR RAM does make a difference. Don't skimp on this.

You mentioned Linux. Are you already very intimately familiar with, and
vastly experienced with, Linux? If so, you might be in business. ALSA
drivers and the Jack interface are damn good, but audio on Linux is a
different world from audio on windows. Most discussions get into
political arguments that question why a person would switch from a
working DAW to linux. But if you're already past the unix-y learning
curve, and so on, you are in a better position to see the strengths that
exist on the platform. There's precious little in the way of finished,
workflow-friendly, software. But as far as function being ahead of
form, there is a hell of a lot of great stuff out there, especially if
you don't mind using it as building blocks to develop your own custom
system.

You also mention XP. My synth and fx box, and my recording box (2
separate machines) run Windows 2000. I see absolutely no reason to move
to XP. My synth box is dual-boot (Linux/Win2000). I have a number of
Linux machines in my lab, including one that is dedicated to file storage
and CDR/DVD writing. So I do some experimenting with audio in linux.
I've had good results with Audacity and Delta cards (M-Audio, aka,
ICE1712/Envy24). Also, I've done some experimental work with the ARTS
synth, and with CSound.

In order to enforce several flavors of discipline, my music studio is
strictly isolated from my office. And the computer machines I use for
music are treated quite differently than the ones used for office work,
the lab, or the entertainment system.

> It's far better and cheaper to have two kick-ass channels than to have 8 or
> more half-assed channels if you record drums less than ten times a year.

I'm a keyboard player, and I very commonly have 5 or 6 stereo sources
live that I very much want recorded in separate tracks. I know where
you're coming from, but I'd be lost without at least 4 tracks. I don't
go anywhere near drums.

>> Two projects I have been looking at are audacity and Ardour.
>> (audacity.sourceforge.net and ardour.org)
>> How much more functionality do I get if I spend on protools or
>> whatever?

You get a lot of power in the linux software, but not much usability.
(Usability is arguable, once you have a system configured for a purpose,
it becomes usable, even if not pretty).

On windows, I really enjoy Jorgen Aase's Energy XT, and Image Line's
FLStudio, and Magix Audio studio, depending on what I'm doing. (eXT for
sequencing softsynths, FLStudio for playing live or recording MIDI, and
Audio Studio for mixing waves.)

None of this software is particularly expensive. My next software
purchase will probably be Adobe Audition for mixing Audio, or Sonar4 for
more midi/softsynth capabilities, but I don't really *need* them.

> My only advice is to take advantage of all the free software you can get
> your hands on until you learn the value of each link in the recording chain.

It helps to not limit the range to strictly "free", because there are
some really great values in the lower price range software, such as eXT
and FLStudio, or Orion, if you happen to hate FL.

Pick up an issue of Computer Music magazine -- it's a UK mag, it'll be
$15.00 in the states, but it's worth it for the software you get on the
DVD.

Comment about mic's, preamps, monitors is right on. Definitely don't
skimp on the monitors, and get a hardware mixer. I'm not going to say
the M-word or the B-word here. Keep your own counsel on that.
February 1, 2005 10:16:11 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

First of all, thanks to all who have replied so far. You all know
infinitely more than I do, so I appreciate all the comments, even the
pointer to the FAQ--thanks.

I realize I provided practically no info on my constraints ('cept for
the being an idiot part), so here is a better idea of my strategy:
- first get a *basic* multi-track workstation for personal (solo)
composition. How many analog inputs do I need? I play guitar: 1
direct w/effects, 1 direct clean, 1 mic-ed amp. Probably 4 would be
fine for now.
- I don't yet record drums. My goal is to put together a system that I
can expand on later, not one that necessarily does it all now.
- So I obviously want to be compatible with my local studio guys.
- Btw, my studio for now is a corner of my basement. I can imagine
eventually doing some live recording, but that's not my focus
currently.

My budget: for this year, I'd like to get up and running for about
$3000. This may seem inadequate to do anything "professional", but for
an entry-level system I figure I can do pretty well with $1500 for the
computer, maybe another $500-$1k for an audio card, and $500 for a
decent used mic. If I go the Linux route, I can spend very little on
software to begin with. It doesn't constrain me to stick with it later
on. My real goal is to get hardware I won't have to replace as I
expand. Ulterior motive: I do want a decent "geek" machine, as I will
likely do some software development as well.

One person mentioned compatibility issues with AMD processors. Is this
still true, or have these issues mostly been resolved? Any brands to
avoid like the plague, or specific recommendations? It seems like one
of the key components is a quality ADC/DAC.
Anyway, thanks again for your time.
Regards,
david
February 1, 2005 10:26:43 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Thanks jb! So far you win the "free CD" award.

I'm a guitarist and won't be getting into any heavy synth stuff anytime
soon, so my needs are really basic at present.

I'm not afraid to work with beta distribs--WHAT??? WADDAYAMEAN MY FILE
IS CORRUPTED!?? OK, maybe I'll avoid Ardour, but at a glance the
interface looked pretty decent.

Oh, one more thing. My other motive for going Linux is that I hate
Windows. I think enough vendors are going to be supporting Linux that
I may never have to pay Bill Gates again.

david
Anonymous
February 1, 2005 5:32:24 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

"david" <tri_image@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:1107271603.056158.68740@c13g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...
> Thanks jb! So far you win the "free CD" award.
>

Cool.

> I'm a guitarist and won't be getting into any heavy synth stuff anytime
> soon, so my needs are really basic at present.
>

Tracking, editing, what about loops and MIDI?

> I'm not afraid to work with beta distribs--WHAT??? WADDAYAMEAN MY FILE
> IS CORRUPTED!?? OK, maybe I'll avoid Ardour, but at a glance the
> interface looked pretty decent.
>

I think it's going to be great. The problem is that you could hit a bug
while you're tracking. Like in the middle of a solo.

jb
Anonymous
February 1, 2005 9:28:04 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

>From: "david" tri_image@hotmail.com
>Date: 2/1/05 10:26 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
>Message-id: <1107271603.056158.68740@c13g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>
>
>Thanks jb! So far you win the "free CD" award.
>
>I'm a guitarist and won't be getting into any heavy synth stuff anytime
>soon, so my needs are really basic at present.
>
>I'm not afraid to work with beta distribs--WHAT??? WADDAYAMEAN MY FILE
>IS CORRUPTED!?? OK, maybe I'll avoid Ardour, but at a glance the
>interface looked pretty decent.
>
>Oh, one more thing. My other motive for going Linux is that I hate
>Windows. I think enough vendors are going to be supporting Linux that
>I may never have to pay Bill Gates again.

MOTU has one of the best expandable systems there is, they have lots to pick
and chose from and at a great price range to.
If you don't mind working with a Macintosh computer system, DP and Audio Desk
are good multi track programs as well.
You can start by looking at MOTU's web site (new gear) and then doing a web
search for used (older gear) MOTU interfaces. I've been using a 24i on an older
G4 (with lots of up grades) on a part time bases with great results.
Anonymous
February 2, 2005 7:15:56 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

I always build or buy my pcs with AMD processors (about 6 so far) and
have never had any kind of compatibility problem. I don't have any
particular loyalty--in fact, last time around I was thinking of going
with an Intel instead, for a change, but AMD + a full-feature
motherboard (usb, sata, firewire, etc.) was just a way better value than
a comparable Intel combo.

david wrote:
> [...]
> One person mentioned compatibility issues with AMD processors. Is this
> still true, or have these issues mostly been resolved?
> [...]
Anonymous
February 2, 2005 7:15:57 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

In article <0uYLd.12790$2e7.653@newssvr12.news.prodigy.com>, David
Gallardo <guesswho@example.com> wrote:

> I always build or buy my pcs with AMD processors (about 6 so far) and
> have never had any kind of compatibility problem. I don't have any
> particular loyalty--in fact, last time around I was thinking of going
> with an Intel instead, for a change, but AMD + a full-feature
> motherboard (usb, sata, firewire, etc.) was just a way better value than
> a comparable Intel combo.
>
> david wrote:
> > [...]
> > One person mentioned compatibility issues with AMD processors. Is this
> > still true, or have these issues mostly been resolved?
> > [...]

Some of the AMD boards are a bit fussy about dual-channel memory, at
least mine is (ASUS A7N8XE Deluxe). One should check ram compatibility
with mobo manufacturer. I liked my old Gigabyte casue it had 2 extra ide
channels for all those drives.
Anonymous
February 3, 2005 6:39:22 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

David,

So much depends on what you're willing to put up with. If you're a
developer, you know what kind of bugs lie beneath the surface - and it
probably doesn't scare you much.

So if you want to pursue the Linux route, go ahead:
- it's YOUR music.
- it's YOUR time. Realize you might have to fritter away a few hours when
you'd rather be making music. Maybe.
- Consider using multiple generic sound cards; I think the ALSA stuff
supports that. I have a friend doing that on Win, he's happy enough cause it
works. It's a tangle of wires, but it works.
- If the music becomes more important than the sw
development/Linux/roll-your-own approach, you're always free to re-enter the
mainstream. No harm, no foul.
- You can always dual boot. Share a FAT32 file system for your audio.

And if you get something cool going in Linux, please, Please, PLEASE make
sure it finds its' way to soundforge.net. I'll be watching for it.

DScott

"david" <tri_image@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:1107271603.056158.68740@c13g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...
> Thanks jb! So far you win the "free CD" award.
>
> I'm a guitarist and won't be getting into any heavy synth stuff anytime
> soon, so my needs are really basic at present.
>
> I'm not afraid to work with beta distribs--WHAT??? WADDAYAMEAN MY FILE
> IS CORRUPTED!?? OK, maybe I'll avoid Ardour, but at a glance the
> interface looked pretty decent.
>
> Oh, one more thing. My other motive for going Linux is that I hate
> Windows. I think enough vendors are going to be supporting Linux that
> I may never have to pay Bill Gates again.
>
> david
>
Anonymous
February 5, 2005 1:52:37 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

On Tue, 01 Feb 2005 14:32:24 -0500, reddred wrote:

>
> "david" <tri_image@hotmail.com> wrote in message
> news:1107271603.056158.68740@c13g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...
>> Thanks jb! So far you win the "free CD" award.
>>
>
> Cool.
>
>> I'm a guitarist and won't be getting into any heavy synth stuff anytime
>> soon, so my needs are really basic at present.
>>
>
> Tracking, editing, what about loops and MIDI?
>
>> I'm not afraid to work with beta distribs--WHAT??? WADDAYAMEAN MY FILE
>> IS CORRUPTED!?? OK, maybe I'll avoid Ardour, but at a glance the
>> interface looked pretty decent.
>>
>
> I think it's going to be great. The problem is that you could hit a bug
> while you're tracking. Like in the middle of a solo.

For tracking and recording, Ardour is solid. Assuming the rest of the
Linux install is working properly.

The kind of bugs that I come across while using it are more of the
"dragging a crossfade across a fade out on an overlapping part causes
click" or "automation goes all weird when writing automation while
looping" kind.

Still, there are enough of these annoying bugs to prevent me using it for
work. It's not flakey though, it's mostly interface bugs.

>
> jb
!