Old 10-21-2006, 01:28 PM   #1
ChrisFerg
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Hia guys

I'm a newcomer to home-recording, and am hoping to get going mainly just for songwriting purposes, so not looking for anything breathtaking...

Anyway, i need to sort some things out before i get started i think, so i was hoping you guys could help me out

I'm going to be using my laptop, which is a packard bell easynote F5 series of some sort...

in system properties it says it has Intel Celeron CPU 2.80GHz, 2.79GHz, 192MB of RAM (although i'm afraid this is all pretty meaningless to me...)

Basically, i want to be able to record guitar (electric and acoustic), and possibly some other instruments/vocals if i get into it, for pretty much solely song-writing purposes (so doesn't have to be anything too perfect...)

I'm looking for some advice as to where to start basically. My plan, simply from picking up things here and there, is to first of all upgrade the RAM on my Laptop (as it's not great) and get an external hard-drive. I was then hoping to run Reaper (i read on another forum that this was very highly rated). Was then thinking i'd need an external soundcard of sorts, and have read reviews of this new Line6 thing...Toneport is it? (is the price diff. worth getting the UX2 over the UX1 for my purposes?) and a mic for recording the acoustic bits...does this seem like a fairly reasonable plan? any alternatives for this sort of budget? (looking at around £150...) is there anything i'd need ontop of this? i'm looking for something fairly simple to use, as i am certainly no computer genius...just want to be able to get my ideas down and use it for songwriting...

(when i was using audacity, my computer was struggling playing more than about 3 tracks simultaneously...would these changes stop this?)

any advice at all would be greatly appreciated
Cheers
Chris
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Old 10-21-2006, 02:49 PM   #2
kenn
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Alot of beginner questions are answered here:
http://audiominds.com/

Re your setup, the RAM number seems funny. Maybe get a friend to check. WinXP likes more RAM anyways. I'll let others direct you as to what interface to buy. I hear the Line 6 guitar stuff is great.
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Old 10-21-2006, 03:16 PM   #3
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Ram is a great place to start. Stick as much quality ram as you can afford in there. (192 is 128 stick + 64 stick, btw). Otherwise it seems like what you've got should be perfectly usable for your needs. You can probably do much more than you think with you hardware.

Get a good, fast, external harddrive. Likely, the reason Audacity was so slow is because laptop harddrives tend to be pretty slow (4800rpm, aren't they?).

The toneport should be fine for guitar (never tried one) but you'll still need to address the mic input. There are a number of inexpensive external soundcards that should work fine.

Have fun!
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Old 10-21-2006, 04:05 PM   #4
Alistair S
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Hi Chris,

I have similar needs, and have to say that Reaper is wonderful. As to your questions, I'm sure others will add a lot, but here are a few thoughts.

Are you sure your stated RAM is correct? I only ask because it's an unusual number. If it is correct, additional RAM will certainly help. An external drive will also help. I think you are on the right lines. The faster the drive, the better. Other than that, I would hope you are fine.

A number of things to think about. First, what do you really want to do? I am going to assume that you want to record yourself and guitar.

So, you have an electric guitar and an acoustic guitar. And a voice. And you need to get these into your PC. Any other instruments (drums and so on) can be added later, possibly on your PC.

Let's start with the electric guitar. There are two ways of getting this into the PC. You can go direct, or you can mike up and record your amp.

Let's assume that you are going to go direct. Let's also assume that the sound card on your laptop is a bit crap. Mine is. Most are. Let's also assume that you don't have a dedicated recording space and there may be others in the house, so going direct is a good option

So, you want something outside that you can plug your guitar into, and that you can plug a microphone into (at least one) and that acts as a decent soundcard.

I don't know enough about the Line6 Toneport to comment. But there are a number of boxes that will do the trick, and a few things to think about before you buy one.

How many microphones will you want to connect? When you use your acoustic, will you use a microphone and will you want to sing at the same time? Might you want to mike up your amp? Might you want more than one microphone on your acoustic? Are you planning on wiring up your acoustic, or does it have some pickups already?

You may want phantom power on your microphone(s). Does the box allow this? Most people seem to recommend a condenser microphone, and most of those require phantom power. More about microphones later.

So, you may want phantom power and you may want 2 microphones connected at the same time.

Do you want to connect to USB or firewire? I will assume USB, but there are firewire options available.

There are lots of options. If anyone has something they think fits the bill, I will let them recommend it. Here are some options for USB:

Alesis IO2 (£114) - http://www.nusystems.co.uk/product/Alesis.IO2

Edirol UA-25 (£139)- http://www.dolphinmusic.co.uk/page/s...roduct_id/4001

Presonus Inspire 1394 (£135) - http://www.dolphinmusic.co.uk/page/s...roduct_id/7768

M-Audio fastTrack Pro (£155) - http://www.musiconmypc.co.uk/product...roducts_id/272

There are others at varying prices, but much depends on what you want to connect. If, for example, you just want to connect your guitar and one dynamic microphone, the M-Audio FastTrack USB at just under £60 could be fine.

OK, next. Don't forget cables. Budget for some decent cables I would draw up your layout and make sure you have the cables you need. Can you take the output from your amp straight into your line input? Sometimes you can use the headphone out and connect that via cable.

Next. Monitoring. You will need to be able to listen to what you are doing, so speakers/headphones need to be considered.

Microphone(s). Buy the best you can get. You will have to research this or maybe someone has a recommendation. Right now I only use a single dynamic microphone, and it's fine for my needs - but I haven't done much with my acoustic yet (because it is away being re-fretted and having some surgery).

Don't forget a mike stand and a pop filter. I'd go for a boom stand. Mike stands and pop filters are cheap! Yay!

I would draw up your layout and make sure you have the cables you need. Can you take the output from your amp straight into your line input? Sometimes you can use the headphone out and connect that via cable. Get decent cables.

Latly, think about where you are going to record. If you are going to use microphones, the space you will record in will have an effect. If you are using the spare bedroom (like me), it will be fine, but you won't get the best out of top quality kit.

So, be realistic in your expectations.

My last bit of advice (for when you have this all set up). Start a project ASAP. You can get lost in all this recording stuff, and there is nothing like a project to help you learn the bits you need (rather than the bits you think may be interesting). Keep it simple.

This board is a great community and full of very helpful people.

Welcome to it!

Edit: Just seen a few reviews on the Line6 TonePort UX2 - sounds good! Around £125-130 seems to be the best price.

Last edited by Alistair S; 10-21-2006 at 05:36 PM.
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Old 10-22-2006, 06:40 AM   #5
ChrisFerg
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Wow, thanks guys for all your posts! especially Alastair for the mountains of advice you gave

I had my laptop fixed a while ago and the bloke told me the wierd RAM number was because it's a 256 and the DVD drive (or maybe something else, can't remember :S) is using some of it, or something like that....as i said i'm not great with computers :P

I'll get to some shops soon and start looking into everything
(should i be looking in guitar shops or computer shops?)

With my electric guitar i'll probably be plugging straight into the computer, although when i get my new amp i may want to mic it... Not planning on putting pickups in my acoustics any time soon, as don't want to de-value them, but may get an electro-acoustic at some point in the distant future...

Not planning on doing any singing myself (and i think that decision is a popular one!!!), but yes, i'd like to be able to record singing for the future...

but yeh, will start looking into stuff sometime next week only other advice i could still do with is if anyone's got any more info on the line6 things

thanks again to everyone
Chris
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