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Need help getting started with recording on a Macbook Pro


Robert Liberman

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I'll cut to the chase. I'm a 54 year retired pro musician

getting back into it.

 

What I have

Digital keys: Yamaha Motif 8

Analog keys: Minimoog, Memorymoog (neither are MIDI)

Computer: Macbook Pro 3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM

Analog mixer: Mackie CFX12 mixer

Speakers: Mackie SRM450 powered speakers

Assorted mics, cables, headphones

 

 

What I a need advice on:

1. Decent, but inexpensive, audio interface. Should I get Firewire or USB2?

2. Recording software - also not too expensive - maybe something basic but upgradeable.

 

What I want to do

I play jazz, classical and prog rock and compose my own music. I want to be able to record my own music - MIDI and analog.

 

I need some serious help getting started! Any recommendations are appreciated!

 

Thanks,

Robert

 

 

Yamaha Motif 8, Waldorf Q, E-mu E5000, Minimoog Model D (1972), Memorymoog
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Is there any reason you don't want to use GarageBand, which you already have?

 

For USB vs FireWire, it depends on how much you want to spend and how many tracks you plan to record simultaneously.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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I'd go ahead and just get a firewire interface. USB might be adequate, but firewire performs better overall, and there's really no major inherent difference in price between the two standards. Plus, for whatever reason there are still a ton of USB 1.0 interfaces out there on the market, so you might end up with a slower interface than you think if you're not careful.

 

I'd agree with Joe that you should maybe try out Garage Band to get yourself started before dropping $$ on software.

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Is there any reason you don't want to use GarageBand, which you already have?

 

Honestly, no. I hadn't even thought about Garage Band. Just got the Macbook and didn't think GarageBand was anything for serious musicians. Guess I should start there, though.

 

Regarding simultaneous tracks, it's not going to be more than 1 or 2.

 

Thanks,

Robert

Yamaha Motif 8, Waldorf Q, E-mu E5000, Minimoog Model D (1972), Memorymoog
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Drop by your local Apple store, pay for a "One On One" session, they'll teach you everything you need to know about Garageband, and they can probably sell you the interface there as well.

 

I actually purchased One to One support when I bought the Mac, so that sounds simple enough!

 

Thanks

Yamaha Motif 8, Waldorf Q, E-mu E5000, Minimoog Model D (1972), Memorymoog
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Logic would be my choice as well. Plenty of new instruments come with the package making it very powerful.

 

Both MOTU and RME have some new audio interfaces that work with either USB or FW. Seeing the nice analog synths you have, I'd lean toward the RME. I find their audio quality better than MOTU but the difference isn't a big as it used to be. Be sure to get an interface that includes MIDI I/O.

 

You should pick up a pair of quality studio monitors for recording. The Mackie 450s will not work well for you there. That's another conversation.

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USB is putting a fire out with a bucket brigade; Firewire is putting a fire out with a hose. I'd start with a FW interface (as would Bridog) and I'd go with either MOTU or RME (as would Tinder). I'm actually using a MOTU Traveler which has served me very well indeed.

 

As for software, it depends. Have a look at Garageband's feature set and try to estimate how soon you'll outgrow it as your musical vision begins to expand again. If it were me I'd just get into the top end stuff straightaway, which is what I did when I bought Logic Studio.

 

As always, YMMV.

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Garage Band = Logic light. Eventually you'll want Logic, especially given the no brainer that you already have a new sexy MBP. You might want to mess around with garage band a little bit just so that world isn't entirely unfamiliar to you before you take the Logic plunge.

 

For an interface I'd go Firewire. More specifically I'd get an Apogee Duet.

Kawai C-60 Grand Piano : Hammond A-100 : Hammond SK2 : Yamaha CP4 : Yamaha Montage 7 : Moog Sub 37

 

My latest album: Funky organ, huge horn section

https://bobbycressey.bandcamp.com/album/cali-native

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And by the way, congratulations on getting back into things in the digital world! It's easier than ever these days to make music with your computer and I think you'll enjoy it.

Kawai C-60 Grand Piano : Hammond A-100 : Hammond SK2 : Yamaha CP4 : Yamaha Montage 7 : Moog Sub 37

 

My latest album: Funky organ, huge horn section

https://bobbycressey.bandcamp.com/album/cali-native

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If USB and FW interfaces are comparable on price, I'd say go FW all the way. I just brought it up and asked assuming the USB stuff was less expensive. I haven't priced interfaces in a while.

 

I'd recommend using GB until you start seeing its limits. Then, when you move to Logic, you'll be thanking Apple for making the interface similar and for its ability to bring in GB projects. :thu:

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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GarageBand also offers a two step upgrade program - GB to Logic Express to Logic Studio. Projects started in GB can be opened in either of the others. I believe all are from the same development house, and I have heard they share the same code base - the lower levels are simply feature delimited versions of the big boy. Agreed on FW rather than USB as well.
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Not only is the code base of GB/LE/LS the same, but the software instruments are the same at the core as well. For example, while you can't control individual drawbars in the GB Hammond, the sound generator is the same as EVB3, just with a simplified interface. The same goes for the other built-in sounds. And, GB can use most AudioUnit (AU) plug-ins.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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For an interface I'd go Firewire. More specifically I'd get an Apogee Duet.

 

Thanks for that recommendation; I was not at all familiar with Apogee, but it looks like the perfect match for the Mac. It's more than I planned on spending, but maybe I can find a used one...

 

Thanks again,

Robert

Yamaha Motif 8, Waldorf Q, E-mu E5000, Minimoog Model D (1972), Memorymoog
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Check to see what firewire chipset you have. Many FW devices are rather picky about this. RME especially.

 

The reason I recommend one of the combo FW/USB devices is the abilitie to use it on more computers. Apple is moving away from FW on many of their computers.

 

About the Apogee Duet , it's a great sounding device but it is unbalanced (except for the mic preamps) and has no MIDI I/O.

 

 

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If anyone was wondering, to verify FW chipset on a Mac running OS X, reboot whilst holding down "Command + S" (the "apple" key is "command") to invoke "single user mode".

 

Search through the ensuing verbose script on your screen to find your chipset manufacturer.

 

 

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Check the forums for any USB/Firewire combo audio interface you consider. Some of them work well under one connection and have bad drivers for the other. I've seen a lot of complaints on those forums.

 

Look at Logic and download the demo of Ableton Live. Workflow is very different between the two. Choose the one that feels most natural to the way you want to work. Logic is the better value as Ableton now makes you pay more for the version with the instruments included. Logic has a nice base set of instruments that will take you far.

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Since you have some experience I'd recommend picking up Logic Express. It's the same software as Logic Studio minus a few instruments and effects and without the ability to mix in surround. In other words, things you're not likely to miss when you're getting started, but more than enough to get the job done. If you like it you can upgrade to Logic Studio for the difference in cost between them. The number and quality of sounds and tools you get with either version is mind-boggling. The only better bang-for-buck deal on a Mac is GarageBand and they give you that with the computer.
Instrumentation is meaningless - a song either stands on its own merit, or it requires bells and whistles to cover its lack of adequacy, much less quality. - kanker
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I would also recommend looking @ reason and record from propellerhead. Both very excellent indeed. A different approach form live and gb/logic. Do yourself a favor and check out these. If you start on the GB path you may not get into logic. But then again you may.
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