Advice for the infirm at heart

Started by Dodie, March 29, 2010, 12:07:15 PM

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Dear all,

I don't usually post on this corner of the forum, so please be patient and forgiving. I haven't used a scrap of music technology since 1996, and even then had only a passing acquaintance with the likes of Notator, Logic, a four-track Fostex casstte machine the size of a Rolls-Royce engine, and an Ensoniq TS-10 workstation. I am an ignorant philistine who doesn't know what pro tools, cubase, plug ins, and so on, are for, what they do, etc.

But after a dozen years of spending my working life immersed in music of the early 18th century, I'm hankering to write and record some prog-pop-rock songs again (partly because my exposure to Frost & Co has inspired me to have a go once more). I've got a limited pot of money (let's say no more than a grand). So where the hell do I start?

My old Vaio laptop is full of work documents and won't support a recording/production suite. I've still got the old TS-10, and I love playing it, but I'm fed up with trying to use it's in-built sequencer. I want to join the digital home studio revolution, but haven't got the foggiest where to start. There's a lot of websites that want to sell you a lot of stuff, and I'm confused...

Should I get a Tascam 24 track recorder? Or a reasonably priced laptop running Cubase 5 and a few bits to make it all work together with mics, guitars, etc.? The cheapest version of Pro tools adequate for my needs? Or some weird combination of all of them? I can't afford to buy new synths, much as though I love the few Nords I've tinkled on in my local Dolphin store.

Some friendly advice for this techno-dummy would be really appreciated.

All the best,



Hey Dodie,

My advice would be for you to get your hands on a nice laptop/macbook and get yourself accustomed to a nice DAW. Now it might be an idea to get at least 3/4GB of RAM on your laptop if possibly because if you are running many plugins or software synths they take up a lot of memory! Also some extra hard disk space or even an external hard drive wouldn't go a miss as recording wav files can eat up your space in no time. In terms of which DAW to go for I would recommend Pro Tools. The ease of audio editing in Pro Tools is great and it now has full midi sequencing capabilities! Plus its approved by Mr Godfrey himself  :D For a home studio you would be most likely looking at Pro Tools LE or Pro Tools M-Powered. Basically the only main differences between the two are the audio interfaces that can be used within the programs. When you buy Pro Tools LE it comes with its own M-Box interface. The is ideal if you are just recording one instrument at a time as it only has the one audio input. However with M-Powered you have the choice of using a number of audio interfaces made by M-Audio. This might be the one to go for if you are recording drums at home as you could purchase an interface with at least 8 mic inputs on it like this
So having you DAW and your interface is half the battle. Supposing that you get a hold of some microphones my best piece of advice would be to sit down and just experiment and learn the program. For me experimenting in Pro Tools has let me discover many little tips and tricks a long the way however there is hundreds of tutorials out there on this! The Pro Tools 101 book and DVD is a great way to get started ... dvd--33742

I hope this has helped you a little bit. By all means give me a PM if you want to ask more.



I started out buying a Zoom digital all-in-one recording box thingy and started putting demos together on that...but it was painful to be honest and the quality of sounds was pretty awful.

We chopped that in and invested in a desktop (from Digital Village), some monitors, a couple of softsynths and an interface to get it all into the computer. It made a world of difference...much easier to use, better sounds and more scaleable.

So my advice would be...create a shopping list and see how much of it you can get within your budget. Once you've got an idea of what budget you're looking at, it will be much easier for people to recommend bits of kit.

Whether you go Mac or PC is somewhat budget based. What sequencing software is pretty much personal preference (and a little budget related).

There are loads of free softsynths, plugins and bits and bobs...less so with Macs but then they tend to be more stable and less prone to throwing hissy fits.

I'm sure others will chip in with thoughts and experiences.