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#559561 - 10/17/19 09:30 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Recording setup - gear questions...
Registered: 10/16/19
Posts: 3
lvl Offline
Newbie

Registered: 10/16/19
Posts: 3
I want to get into music production (mostly electronic and elements of rock, mostly guitar) and I think I understand what I need for a basic setup. Going into the holiday season I know some cash is coming my way, so it's time to make it happen. I think I have my headphones picked out, gonna go with closed-back just for cost and noise isolation reasons.

The piece I'm most confused about is the audio interface. I have a MacBook Pro, the one with the touchbar and USB‑C ports. I just upgraded to macOS Catalina in case that matters for driver support.

Like I said, I mostly am going to produce in the box (that is what it's called when you use plugins right?) and at most will record some guitar, probably using amp modeling software. So from what I understand that means I need a 1/4" line input? But the impedance matters right? I'm a little confused on that part...

Before you jump all over me, I DID google this!! I came across what I think is a good audio interface guide.

My questions are:

1) Is that actually a good audio interface guide? (linked above) I've used that website before to see what gear people use but never their guides.

2) They say
Quote:
"Beginner & Budget does not mean these are not professional grade. Technology has come so far that a $99 audio interface can be the center of your small studio and make your recordings sound great."
... is that a true statement?

3) If I stick to a budget interface, how quickly would I outgrow it? What's the biggest risk in not saving up for a more high-end one? Is it quality, or is it number of inputs?

4) Is there that much difference in reality between Focusrite, Native Instruments, Audient, and Presonus?

5) What interface do you guys have? And how do you like it, i.e. would you buy it again today?

Thanks!

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#559574 - 10/17/19 11:14 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Recording setup - gear questions... [Re: lvl]
Registered: 08/20/11
Posts: 6157
Loc: Winston-Salem, NC USA
Jim Fogle Offline
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Registered: 08/20/11
Posts: 6157
Loc: Winston-Salem, NC USA
There are any number of "best of" equipment guides available. All have the same limitation, how well do they zero in and connect with your expectation of what you want to do both now and in the future. For that reason I do not pay much attention to them and did not click on the link you provided.

Instead I rely on reading reviews, visiting local brick and mortar retail music stores and talking through e-mail with a sales advisor at an online music store like Sweetwater or AMS.

Audio interfaces perform multiple functions: communicate with a computer through a common computer port such as USB2, USB3, Thunderbolt or Firewire. Convert audio into an analog electrical signal. Convert an analog electrical signal to digital data. Convert digital data into an analog electrical signal. Mix and amplify the incoming and outgoing analog electrical signals into a stereo signal suitable for headphones. Optionally provide a pathway for midi data to enter and leave the computer. It is the most complicated device in your studio next to the computer itself.

The most important question is how many microphone or instrument connections do you presently need or anticipate needing in the future? The answer guides the rest of your research.
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#559585 - 10/17/19 12:33 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Recording setup - gear questions... [Re: lvl]
Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 5680
Loc: South Carolina
Charlie Fogle Online   content
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Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 5680
Loc: South Carolina
<<< Is there that much difference in reality between Focusrite, Native Instruments, Audient, and Presonus? >>>

Not in your situation. If you use Presonus Studio One for your DAW, you will have easiest set up and assured compatibility with choosing Presonus hardware. If you have modified your guitar or possibly use your acoustic with a built in pickup, you may find you need an actual DI box to tame the guitar input. Choose at least a 2 input model of whatever brand in so you can have a stereo input if some of your electronic sounds come externally from a keyboard or synthesizer.

Choose a model that has a mic/instrument input and line inputs and most devices now have combo input jacks that accept XLR or 1/4". The type of input (mic, instrument, line) determines the impedance, not the jack. Some of the lower cost units do not have line level input and you can feed a line level, it's just a bit trickier getting the input gain exactly right. Unless you will be using a device sending line levels such as a keyboard, synth, vocal harmonizer or such, your audio interface will only be inputting your guitar and you'll not have any problems.

Choose a device that has at least 48/24 resolution as that is and will be the industry video standard for the foreseeable future. Devices that have 48/24 will also have 44.1/16 and that is the audio standard. Most devices will probably have much greater resolutions than this unless you opt for the absolute bottom line model.

The way you will grow out of your unit is needing more inputs than you have.

I use Presonus interfaces but also have a Zoom interface and have owned several other brands. Presonus has been very reliable and if you don't currently have a DAW, I recommend you purchase Presonus because their devices ship with Studio One DAW's that are wonderful, full featured DAW software that has a large presence of support and tutorials. Their DAW also includes some nice plug ins.


Edited by Charlie Fogle (10/17/19 12:34 PM)
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#559729 - 10/18/19 09:02 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Recording setup - gear questions... [Re: Charlie Fogle]
Registered: 10/16/19
Posts: 3
lvl Offline
Newbie

Registered: 10/16/19
Posts: 3
Originally Posted By: Charlie Fogle
The way you will grow out of your unit is needing more inputs than you have.

I use Presonus interfaces but also have a Zoom interface and have owned several other brands. Presonus has been very reliable and if you don't currently have a DAW, I recommend you purchase Presonus because their devices ship with Studio One DAW's that are wonderful, full featured DAW software that has a large presence of support and tutorials. Their DAW also includes some nice plug ins.


Thank you, that's super helpful. The PreSonus beginner interfaces do look very nice, and the price is right!

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#559736 - 10/18/19 10:24 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Recording setup - gear questions... [Re: lvl]
Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 280
Loc: Gulf Stream/Sonoran Desert
mrgeeze Online   content
Apprentice

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 280
Loc: Gulf Stream/Sonoran Desert
Charlie Fogle's advice is spot on.

Don't be afraid to save a little buying used gear off of reverb.
I've saved a lot of $$ doing that.
Reverb has pretty good policing on any purchase/sale problems.

Make sure the shipping cost doesn't make the deal less favorable to you.
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#561775 - 10/31/19 12:07 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Recording setup - gear questions... [Re: lvl]
Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 7002
Guitarhacker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 7002
Originally Posted By: lvl
I want to get into music production (mostly electronic and elements of rock, mostly guitar) and I think I understand what I need for a basic setup. Going into the holiday season I know some cash is coming my way, so it's time to make it happen. I think I have my headphones picked out, gonna go with closed-back just for cost and noise isolation reasons.

The piece I'm most confused about is the audio interface. I have a MacBook Pro, the one with the touchbar and USB‑C ports. I just upgraded to macOS Catalina in case that matters for driver support.

Like I said, I mostly am going to produce in the box (that is what it's called when you use plugins right?) and at most will record some guitar, probably using amp modeling software. So from what I understand that means I need a 1/4" line input? But the impedance matters right? I'm a little confused on that part...

Before you jump all over me, I DID google this!! I came across what I think is a good audio interface guide.

My questions are:

1) Is that actually a good audio interface guide? (linked above) I've used that website before to see what gear people use but never their guides.

2) They say
Quote:
"Beginner & Budget does not mean these are not professional grade. Technology has come so far that a $99 audio interface can be the center of your small studio and make your recordings sound great."
... is that a true statement?

3) If I stick to a budget interface, how quickly would I outgrow it? What's the biggest risk in not saving up for a more high-end one? Is it quality, or is it number of inputs?

4) Is there that much difference in reality between Focusrite, Native Instruments, Audient, and Presonus?

5) What interface do you guys have? And how do you like it, i.e. would you buy it again today?

Thanks!


Well, I will answer all your questions in one reply rather than list it because many of the questions actually cross over into each other's answers.

So... I have a Focusrite Saffire interface.

Most of the interfaces will do you a good job but I recommend that you avoid the cheap ones and the ones that do not support native ASIO. So, a cheap interface will sound just as good as the more expensive ones BUT......Cheap ones will work, but can often breakdown sooner than you want or are lacking features that make your job easier. Avoid the gimmicks, like a guitar modeler with a built in interface or the mixer/interfaces. Get a decent interface. Plan ahead. If you think you are only going to record one or two things at a time, a simple stereo 2 input interface will do just fine. I've had a 2 input interface for over 15 years now. A good one will last. Remember that the interface is the heart of your studio. Don't "cheap out" on this important piece of gear.

Look at the number of inputs it has, the number of outputs it has, and be sure it includes the following. Clean audio preamps on the audio inputs, phantom power for condenser mics, a software control panel that lets you set it up, DSP FX is nice but not really critical, and.... be sure it runs the industry standard native ASIO driver. If it can handle the others, that fine, but be sure is runs ASIO. Beyond that, most of the better brands are all worthy components for a quality studio. I spent about $300 on my interface when I bought it, and I had the option to spend more, and the option to spend less. I settled in the middle. No one will ever hear your music and say... oh year, that's the unmistakable sound of a Presonus. Nope.... not going to happen. They all sound the same, with very minor differences in the output circuitry amps to avoid patent infringement problems.

Expandability.... none of the 2 channel models are expandable. So if you think you will be recording more than 2 inputs, look into the larger, expandable interfaces that will let you connect several together for more inputs.

If you have a Sam Ash or a Guitar Center around, go visit their audio dept and check out the interfaces. Find one that fits your needs and budget and get it.

Regarding the impedance.... most of the gear is engineered so you don't have to worry about the impedance. It's correct right out of the box for the designed purpose.

Headphones.... I found that my Focusrite interface had a good quality signal out but it was a bit too low. Hard to hear. So I ended up adding an inexpensive headphone amp that also provided 4 channels at a higher volume. Might want to consider that if you have other folks coming in to record.

Hopefully, this answers your questions.


Keep us posted on what you do.


Edited by Guitarhacker (10/31/19 12:08 PM)
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