For those thinking about home recording...

Liam

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Just some random thoughts from an occasional lurker on this sub-forum that has done a little bit of home recording over the last few years. Some of it has worked well, some of it hasn't, but will try to stick with the positive.

Focusrite Scarlett 6i6: Actually seemed like a mistake initially, as so little software and hardware wanted to play with it. But in time found the things it liked and didn't, and in current Windows 10 plays ball perfectly well, despite occasional monitoring confusion on my part. Still using, so has been amazing value for years. No real need to change unless I want more inputs (and 6 is unrealistic, only 2 proper preamps).

Beyerdynamic DT-100 headphones: Bought because I spent a huge portion of my teens and 20s with a pair of these on my ears, but never owned any. Great for performance monitoring (unless you are a bass player), useless for much else due to mid-range focus. Still have, still use, but limited in use for home recording.

Presonus Studio One: Scarlett 6i6 came with Ableton live lite, which works fine, but seemed to have a huge skew towards Dance Music, and didn't make so much sense to songwriter/noodler/guitarist. Studio one was an instant success in my understanding how to work, relatively intuitive, did as it was told, and worked as easily with my Axe FX II (now III) as it did with the Scarlett 6i6. Paid for the Artist version, then paid for the Professional version with no regrets. But if you are new to this, don't expect the drum sounds to elevate your recordings, you are paying for the DAW, editing, and sound quality, not the sounds themselves.

Audio Technica ATH-M50x: These are really flat, which when compared with DT-100s above means you get a load of bass. Have become reference headphones for me, and I gave up on trying to use re-purposed 80's - early 90's Hi-Fi for monitoring pretty soon after. If you can find a regret for buying these I'd love to know. Ears get hot after a while is as bad as it gets for me.

Adam A5X: Holy moly, this is the point at which you have to pinch yourself because life has just changed substantially. Used in my relatively small home studio, if I hear a weird bass resonance I have to go back to the headphones above, as it is more often than not the room rather than anything else. Absolutely solid, accurate and trustworthy near-field reference monitors that are so easy to listen to that I have vinyl and CD plugged into the system for general listening pleasure too. I also use them for setting up Axe FX presets, as it's essentially an "uber" stereo FRFR setup that gives you a great idea of what the FOH sound man might be getting from the DI at my next gig (should Coronavirus lockdown ever end). Expensive compared to everything above, and worth every penny.

Akai MPK249: Wish I'd bought a bigger one, but only because it's so short that it has to sit high on my keyboard stand. Got so I had drum pads and a keyboard for MIDI purposes. Solidly built and excellent piece of kit, glad that Presonus have made it so easy to make every knob on it do anything I need it to. Still doesn't feel like a musical instrument to me (because it isn't), but I bet I take it to a gig because I need it before too long. If you are wondering whether you need a MIDI keyboard, wish I had done it years before, and this one has been great,

XLN Addictive Drums 2: I have loved many of the drummers I have worked with over the years, but AD2 is probably top 5. Never refuses to play a song because it doesn't like it, and I bet if I took it to a pub it would even take its turn at buying a round. While a bit mechanical in feel, but less so than most drum machines I have used before, the samples are as big and sonorous as you could hope for, and the interface with Studio One incredibly convenient and intuitive. Paid for it, but have only downloaded a single drum kit and one MIDI files set so far, but even that will be enough to keep me amused for weeks, if not months. Still have another 2 kits and 2 sets of midi files available from the initial purchase. AD2 is possibly overkill for home recording, but for me transformative in enjoying making music, so more than worth it. Much more to come from this.

You can do the whole thing a lot cheaper in loads of ways, and this is just a snippet of my journey over the last 5 or 6 years. Would love to hear what you might have done different, what you did do different, and what has and hasn't worked for you. Stalked a lot of forums and did a lot of Google searches, and so far pretty cheerful about everywhere I landed.

Liam
 

Neffco

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How much do you pay your drummer for him to show up?

Or, how much was ad2? I need a good recording drummer/program.

I bumped up to the 8 input focusrite pretty quickly. I am using reaper.

My mic locker has grown a lot in the past year. I’m getting decent live recordings (for me) with the full 3 pc band in a small room with minimal bleed. Good enough to capture everything an re do the vocals later.
 
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NeubyWanKaneuby

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@Liam +1 on Studio One. I just upgraded to that at Christmas time, and it was one of the best purchases I've ever made. It feels so much better than the Cakewalk stuff I was using, and way easier to work with.

@Neffco I use Toontrack EZDrummer 2 for my drum sounds, and they work well for everything I do.
 

Liam

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How much do you pay your drummer for him to show up?

Funny really, it's never about the money with my current favourite, but he loves gigs, hates rehearsing. And unfortunately a good recording is all about arrange, arrange, arrange, then rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. The recording bit is easy after that. That's my take anyway, I guess in the early 70s it was a case of holing up in a megabucks studio for 9 months to come out with 8 songs for some, but I'd get bored and frustrated if I didn't know where I was going before anyone pressed the record button.

Or, how much was ad2? I need a good recording drummer/program.

170 Euros, which is I guess around $170 still, for the Basic or Custom version. Get the Custom one if you go for it, you get 3 drum kits, the core MIDI file set, + 3 MIDI file packs and 3 "kit pieces" (percussion instruments in the main), and you don't have to choose them all when you buy. If I ever record live drums again (don't really have a room big enough just now), I'll probably just use the overheads, maybe a room mic, and use the drum audio to trigger AD2 via MIDI. The only kit I have downloaded so far is as good as the best acoustic drums I ever recorded in a good studio. But then it would be, they recorded a Gretsch kit at Sound City, but kept all the recording suitably dry, rather than trying to impress with the basic sounds.

I bumped up to the 8 input focusrite pretty quickly. I am using reaper.

I hope there's some inevitability of that for me at some point, but last few years recording has been Billy no-mates or Billy one mate, so the 6i6 has been fine. Might need more than 8 for drums, but even for that I'll need to upgrade my PC I think. It struggles if I have many insert effects on the go and low latency monitoring just for one set of inputs.

My mic locker has grown a lot in the past year. I’m getting decent live recordings (for me) with the full 3 pc band in a small room with minimal bleed. Good enough to capture everything an re do the vocals later.

In the spirit of the original post, what did you get? And as importantly, what do you like about them? My mic locker is some SM57s, some SM58s, 2 x AKG C1000S that have had their tops knocked off repeatedly by the drummer I first mentioned, 2 Beyerdynamic condensor mics that look like dynamic mics (and sound good for some voices) and an AKG D112. I'll probably invest in some drum mics at some point, but for me the recording mics are just repurposed from live work. The virtual amp and instrument world seems finally to be coming of age for recording, but for live? Mics definitely required still...

Liam
 

Neffco

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Couple sm81’s, sm7, couple e906 for cabs, couple 57’s, just because I’ve always had a couple, beta 52 for kick, and I sing live through a beta 58.

Im no pro, but with the two 81’s as overheads,a kick and a 57 on the snare I can make my little demos. In a live format with the cabs miced And the bass going direct as well as just enough to hear in the room, I get enough separation to mix and add or delete tracks as I please.
 
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Stephmon

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I'm making myself grumpy with the frustrating world of DAW software. I have a Tascam 8-track digital recorder and had a fairly good, though clunky to transfer, workflow with it. Now, I've gotten an itch to do demo recordings of the growing collection of guitars (and a bass) that I've built and decided to plunge into PC-based recording.

First, I tried fishing out a CD I have of CUBASE LE AI Elements 9.5 (came with a Digitech RP355 I bought some years back). After creating an account, jumping through the licensing program hoops, etc., I realized the USB out on the Digitech is a pain.
So, I bought a Scarlett 2i2, which comes with Pro Tools First. Being free software, it has a number of limitations, one of which is a maximum of three projects at a time. Today, I realized that, by default the Pro Tools Folder (over 1.3 GB) installs in my One Drive, which doesn't have an option to ignore it. If I want to upgrade and get more control, it looks like $600 is my non-subscription option (so far, I have stubbornly avoided software that requires subscriptions).

My wish list...
A relatively simple DAW, that will allow me to:
1) Record Guitar, Bass, vocals and Mic'd instruments, via my Scartlet 2i2.
2) Give me the option to incorporate virtual amp/cab plugins like BIAS, or Amplitube.
3) Subscription free, ideally under $150 (if not free).
4) Allow import of MP3 backing/reference tracks.

Opinions? Best options? Things to watch out for?
 

Stephmon

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Thanks! I'm so glad I asked. Here is a great testimonial for Reaper. If this guy is half right, I'm sold!
 

HCRoadie

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Another vote for reaper. I felt that given all the features, the very modest amount of $ that they suggest to help them is well worth it.
 

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