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Building a Studio, suggestions?

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DeadRewind
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Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 8th, 2012 @ 12:04 PM Reply

So at this very second I produce my music on a 4 year old HP Pavillion Notebook with no mouse and half of the alphabet missing on my keyboard with some $50 Skullcandies and Ableton 8.1.

I get extremely frustrated with it and I'm very limited with how much my music contains because when there's only 5 tracks playing (not even MIDI, just samples) my CPU skyrockets and it starts clipping like hell. So rarely do my tracks get finished.

Aside from me telling you how bad my hillbilliy studio I'm planning my future studio right now, and since I'm still pretty amateur I'd like to hear some of you gurus out there what your suggestions are for buying equipment.

What to get, what not to get, what's compatible, what's not and what you use right now that you find to be a decent setup. So right now this is what I'm thinking about getting.

-Macbook Pro or a Lenovo Ideapad Z580.
-Behringer MS40 digital speakers.
-M-Audio Axiom 25 II MIDI keyboard.
-Nexus 2
-Sylenth 1.2
-ASUS Xonar Essence STX Soundcard
-Korg PadKontrol USB

So if you have any experience with any of these I'd love some tips on what's good or not.
My budget is about $3000. Hopefully I won't have to spend more but if you guys could help me out that'd be highly appreciated,

What's your ideal studio? What IS your studio?
Thanks guys. (:
(If you need any other information go ahead and ask.)

camoshark
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Response to Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 8th, 2012 @ 12:18 PM Reply

Well first of all you need to get something bigger than a 25-key MIDI keyboard.

I'd suggest the Axiom-61 model from M-Audio, it's dirt cheap and has, as the name implies, 61 keys, which is the bare minimum to have a working MIDI station.

sorohanro
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Response to Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 8th, 2012 @ 12:30 PM Reply

- Well, you should tell us what kind of music you pan to produce. What is good for... classical might not be appropriate for dubstep.
- Second, you have to make up your mind if you will be a Mac or PC based.
- Third, but probably the most important, never stay too much in headphones. Losing your hearing is a easy thing and the damage is permanent, so, always take care of your hearing (I said hearing, not herring).

I work for now on a ASUS laptop and it has more power than my old workstation. My soundcard is a Focusrite Scarlett 18i6. It has enough inputs to record live drums and two pretty good microphone preamps (but I bought a PreSonus Blue Tube also).
I would say to get a bigger keyboard, but if you plan to program just some beats, then 25 is enough. I have a Axiom 61 and still not enough...

As for software, check the freebies and you might get some really interesting alternatives there.
freebies-samplers and sample libraries
freebies-best free vst effects
freebies-free synths

DeadRewind
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Response to Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 8th, 2012 @ 12:43 PM Reply

- Well, you should tell us what kind of music you pan to produce. What is good for... classical might not be appropriate for dubstep.
- Second, you have to make up your mind if you will be a Mac or PC based.
- Third, but probably the most important, never stay too much in headphones. Losing your hearing is a easy thing and the damage is permanent, so, always take care of your hearing (I said hearing, not herring).

I produce a variety of house, electro and drum n bass.
The only reason I don't consider a larger keyboard is because of portability and It's my first keyboard. I figure I'd start small and learn a little bit on a smaller one before i go all out.
As for a PC or Mac my only concern is compatibility with macs. I'm skeptical about opening up a mac and installing a new soundcard and soundboard. Plus I don't like Macs interface and formats. I'm too used to PC. though Macs run so much better.
Well all i have now is these headphones (which is why I'm buying speakers) and I'm not going to try and produce with the stock headphones on this piece of shit. Haha. d:

sorohanro
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Response to Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 8th, 2012 @ 02:08 PM Reply

At 9/8/12 12:04 PM, DeadRewind wrote: So right now this is what I'm thinking about getting.

-Macbook Pro or a Lenovo Ideapad Z580.
At 9/8/12 12:43 PM, DeadRewind wrote: As for a PC or Mac my only concern is compatibility with macs. I'm skeptical about opening up a mac and installing a new soundcard and soundboard.

Then, here, you have your answer :D but it's by the only person to whom you can't blame later for a bad advice.
I'm also a PC guy myself. Just can't get used to Mac interface and, well, us, PC people, we have RIGHT CLICK !!! YES !

Breed
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Response to Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 8th, 2012 @ 02:16 PM Reply

At 9/8/12 12:43 PM, DeadRewind wrote: though Macs run so much better.

False. Lets not break out into a mac vs pc thread here, but just know that studio/professional use of computers does not show any particular system to be "better" than the other. Its just a matter of comfort, price, and compatibility.

The axiom: personally I think the action of the keys, rotaries, and pads are shit. M-audio hasnt really gotten a hold of that yet. It will work, and like the keystudio it will be cheap, but overall its a pretty crappy controller. For that functionality I'd definitely step it up to either an MPK or an Impulse.

As for an interface, mihai had a good suggestion with the focusrite. You really shouldnt go for an ASUS sound card, an external device is a much smarter buy. The companies that are most on top of solid preamp and a/d converters right now are focusrite, apogee, and motu. If you arent recording much, then the a/d converter along with monitoring options are gonna be the features that matter most. In that case, the mackie onyx as well as the presonus audiobox are some good entry level ideas next to the duet & scarlett. For higher end stuff, theres two interfaces dominating right now. The apollo and orpheus. Although I somehow doubt youre gonna want either of those just yet. I personally am about to buy a Roland Octa-Capture which is one of the best interfaces you can get for under a thousand.

Monitors: For starters you pretty much only have 3 directions. The BX5s, Rockit 6s, or the mackie MR5s. Each have their advantages, but personally I think the BX5s are the most solid. The rockits still need some work but are the cheapest of the 3.

Headphones: Not much point in getting too awesome of headphones since they are mainly used for monitoring during tracking, or just when youre trying to be quiet. Id say the good models to look at are the ATM50s, the HD380s, and the DT-770s(these are my new favorite just because they are beyond comfy).

Plugins - stay away from Nexus. I know its a gloryhole of sexy sounds, but you really wont learn anything about synthesis using a preset based plugin. Sylenth is pretty powerful and definitely not a bad choice. You should check out different native instrument plugins. Massive, absynth, reaktor, and FM8 are all standards amongst the professional sound designers and musicians. Omnisphere is another great plugin to look at. Ultimately though, just about any synth will work just fine once you know what youre doing. Synth1 is an example of a good free synth.

You dont really need a seperate pad controller unless youre doing live performance, but if youre set on one, I would be a BIT hesitant with korg. Their nano series is really awesome priced but you get what you pay for. Akai seems to know what their doing best with pads(which they have built into their MPK), but I also hear good things about the maschine from NI.

All in all, Id suggest taking your time buying this stuff, and dont cheap out on things cuz they will come back to bite you in the ass.

samulis
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Response to Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 8th, 2012 @ 02:55 PM Reply

61 keys are as few as I would ever go... I have a rather cheap 61-key Yamaha and I keep the function button set on "M.Octave" so I can go up and down as needed for the various parts. Of course, I write orchestral stuff, so it's different than some other genres in that you have such a huge range between the highest and lowest instruments and often have to jump between those instruments while composing.


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Omegeist
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Response to Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 8th, 2012 @ 11:50 PM Reply

I've been running off my alienware m11x laptop I bought for music purposes only for about 3 years now. I got it for about $750 and it was the most powerful thing i could get for my price range. Its powerful (since its designed for games) and gets the job done. I have a standard M-Audio Keyboard and a big 'old' monitor i bought from one of my neighbors for about $30 bucks. I have a good set of speakers and that's all i need and feel ive needed so far. Your problem seems to evolve around your computer. Id buy a new computer and get your equipment as you need it. No one just goes out and buys a studio, its built over time so its crafted especially for you. Get a new powerful computer and buy what you need as you need it.

Omegeist
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Response to Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 8th, 2012 @ 11:57 PM Reply

At 9/8/12 11:50 PM, Omegeist wrote: I've been running off my alienware m11x laptop I bought for music purposes only for about 3 years now. I got it for about $750 and it was the most powerful thing i could get for my price range. Its powerful (since its designed for games) and gets the job done. I have a standard M-Audio Keyboard and a big 'old' monitor i bought from one of my neighbors for about $30 bucks. I have a good set of speakers and that's all i need and feel ive needed so far. Your problem seems to evolve around your computer. Id buy a new computer and get your equipment as you need it. No one just goes out and buys a studio, its built over time so its crafted especially for you. Get a new powerful computer and buy what you need as you need it.

As for synths if your running off of ableton id completely master Operator (as in master i mean understand what the slightest turn off a knob can do) before moving to buying anything new. Once that's settled get Sylenth and as others have said stay away from nexus, its a ripoff.

ArcadiaDiv
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Response to Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 9th, 2012 @ 01:43 AM Reply

A midi keyboard of any size will work as long as it has assignable knobs and sliders. Without assignable knobs and sliders it will be that much harder to both make your music how you want and to automate. Note by automate I mean (usually) right-clicking or control-clicking on the slider in the software synthesizer and choose midi assign or something similar. Note that not all software synths can automate this way. Another thing, don't listen to anyone that tells you to get a certain midi controller because of its size. It's the features that matter not the size of the keyboard and I really dislike it when people say otherwise.

As far as soft synths are concerned, If you want a good beginner synthesizer that's the most feature complete, I would recommend Reason. If you do decide to get Reason get the Reason/Record combo so you can record your music. Record, well, records (big shock right). More specifically, it is built around reason and it makes a great starter kit for beginners. Here's a link: Reason

I just looked and it doesn't appear that record is even offered anymore. Bummer. If that is the case I'd get Ableton Live (Can't remember if you said you have it already or not). Although I don't have it myself I've heard my friends say it's more beginner friendly than most others. If you ever plan on recording with traditional instruments than I can personally recommend Pro Tools. I'm a long time user of the software and I love it.

As you build up enough knowledge in Audio Synthesis I'd recommend getting Native Instruments Komplete. Note the way I said it. I have komplete and it can be overwhelming due to the amount of software you get in that package (lost count) but once you have it, provided you are ready for it, it will be the best investment of you life as far as soft synths and samplers are concerned. Here's another link: komplete

DeadRewind
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Response to Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 9th, 2012 @ 11:27 AM Reply

As for synths if your running off of ableton id completely master Operator (as in master i mean understand what the slightest turn off a knob can do) before moving to buying anything new. Once that's settled get Sylenth and as others have said stay away from nexus, its a ripoff.

Well like I said, all I have is Ableton and a couple freewares, and Ive used operator A LOT. Most of my recent tracks are mostly operator and I know exactly what does what and how to get my desired sound, but I'm not sure if I know when I'll actually "master" it. Besides sylenth what would you recommend? Because obviously its a must. I was thinking Massive because Im familiar with it, or FM8.

AetherX
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Response to Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 9th, 2012 @ 02:16 PM Reply

At 9/9/12 01:43 AM, ArcadiaDiv wrote:
I just looked and it doesn't appear that record is even offered anymore.

Aren't Reason and Record packaged together in the newest version? I seem to recall reading that somewhere...

At 9/9/12 11:27 AM, DeadRewind wrote:
I was thinking Massive because Im familiar with it, or FM8.

Massive's good, but I'd only get FM8 if you're familiar with FM synthesis (not everyone is).

Something else to consider if you're making music on a laptop is a good external monitor. Having more screen space is immensely helpful. How big or expensive you get is up to you, prices vary a fair amount. For me, this crappy old used 17" VGA ViewSonic is one of the best additions to my (very humble) setup I've made.


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Most Recent Song: Explore Infinity <-Failed audition to NGADM!

Breed
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Response to Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 9th, 2012 @ 04:20 PM Reply

At 9/9/12 01:43 AM, ArcadiaDiv wrote: A midi keyboard of any size will work as long as it has assignable knobs and sliders. Without assignable knobs and sliders it will be that much harder to both make your music how you want and to automate. Note by automate I mean (usually) right-clicking or control-clicking on the slider in the software synthesizer and choose midi assign or something similar. Note that not all software synths can automate this way. Another thing, don't listen to anyone that tells you to get a certain midi controller because of its size. It's the features that matter not the size of the keyboard and I really dislike it when people say otherwise.

As far as soft synths are concerned, If you want a good beginner synthesizer that's the most feature complete, I would recommend Reason. If you do decide to get Reason get the Reason/Record combo so you can record your music. Record, well, records (big shock right). More specifically, it is built around reason and it makes a great starter kit for beginners.

OK....where to start. I'm gonna try to say this without flaming so bear with me.

First off...you are completely wrong to say size doesn't matter on midi controllers. Try to play a melody that spans more then 2 octaves on a 25 key controller and see how that works out for you. Also portability is a concern and that relates to size.
If you need better action on keys to perform then you'll need a bigger keyboard too since smaller ones don't offer fully weighted keys. I don't know why you're writing people off for something just cuz you didn't know that.

Secondly....reason is not a synthesizer...its called a digital audio workstation or daw for short. Its also by no means the simplest draw either because its meant to simulate an anologue environment. It falls in the middle range in terms of ease of use. Its not a bad suggestion but it doesn't support vsts last I checked so it would make more sense for the op to use fl, ableton, or maybe even mulab or reaper.

Aside from that...yes record is now bundled with reason

ArcadiaDiv
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Response to Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 9th, 2012 @ 05:55 PM Reply

At 9/9/12 04:20 PM, Breed wrote: OK....where to start. I'm gonna try to say this without flaming so bear with me.

First off...you are completely wrong to say size doesn't matter on midi controllers. Try to play a melody that spans more then 2 octaves on a 25 key controller and see how that works out for you. Also portability is a concern and that relates to size.
If you need better action on keys to perform then you'll need a bigger keyboard too since smaller ones don't offer fully weighted keys. I don't know why you're writing people off for something just cuz you didn't know that.

Secondly....reason is not a synthesizer...its called a digital audio workstation or daw for short. Its also by no means the simplest draw either because its meant to simulate an anologue environment. It falls in the middle range in terms of ease of use. Its not a bad suggestion but it doesn't support vsts last I checked so it would make more sense for the op to use fl, ableton, or maybe even mulab or reaper.

Aside from that...yes record is now bundled with reason

First off, I never said Reason was the simplest I only said it was beginner friendly. That was the very first music-related software I ever used and I picked it up right away so that's beginner friendly enough for me to recommend it to someone else. Also, last time I used reason was when record was a separate product.

Secondly, I can see your point about larger midi controllers, but at least be polite enough to try and see mine. What if that larger midi controller had no assignable knobs and/or sliders? A good chunk of sound production for music is about automation. Essentially, you won't be able get the same sound if you have no external knobs or sliders at your disposal.

Breed
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Response to Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 9th, 2012 @ 06:20 PM Reply

At 9/9/12 05:55 PM, ArcadiaDiv wrote:
First off, I never said Reason was the simplest I only said it was beginner friendly.

Thats fair, although youre really just bringing up semantics. I was just making it a point that there are a few even more beginner friendly DAWs that are more specified to his genre of production. Did you not read the part where I said it wasnt a bad suggestion? I'll quote it for you:

At 9/9/12 04:20 PM, Breed wrote: Its not a bad suggestion
Also, last time I used reason was when record was a separate product.

Wasn't trying to correct you on that point. I was just clarifying for the guy that asked if it was bundled.

Secondly, I can see your point about larger midi controllers, but at least be polite enough to try and see mine.

I did see your point, but we werent talking about rotaries, faders, and pads....I was only referring to your statement that "size doesnt matter" so your point of the importance of knobs and pads is moot. To clarify, your point on the importance of those is right, but the size was all I was talking about. Make sense?

Like I said, I'm not trying to flame anybody, even though you were writing off people and are now judging me as an impolite person. I'm just educating!

Cheers friend!

Building a Studio, suggestions?

Omegeist
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Response to Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 9th, 2012 @ 08:42 PM Reply

At 9/9/12 11:27 AM, DeadRewind wrote:
As for synths if your running off of ableton id completely master Operator (as in master i mean understand what the slightest turn off a knob can do) before moving to buying anything new. Once that's settled get Sylenth and as others have said stay away from nexus, its a ripoff.
Well like I said, all I have is Ableton and a couple freewares, and Ive used operator A LOT. Most of my recent tracks are mostly operator and I know exactly what does what and how to get my desired sound, but I'm not sure if I know when I'll actually "master" it. Besides sylenth what would you recommend? Because obviously its a must. I was thinking Massive because Im familiar with it, or FM8.

I definitely suggest Massive and if you do want something that can make utterly unique sounds I would suggest Image Line's 'Morphine' It costs around 170 dollars but is well worth the money (very few computer synthesizers are as flexible as it). Beside that, very few people have and use it like me so the sound of it is less known. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbIS4jya0a0 here is a video and check image lines website out, they have many other synthesizers you might be interested in.

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Response to Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 9th, 2012 @ 11:37 PM Reply

At 9/9/12 06:20 PM, Breed wrote: Like I said, I'm not trying to flame anybody, even though you were writing off people and are now judging me as an impolite person. I'm just educating!

I'll end it by saying that it's not what you say but how you say it and I felt you said that in an impolite manner. It never once crossed my mind to judge you as being impolite but I did feel that how you worded it was just that. Let's both take from this a lesson that needs to be learned on how to word things and that just because you word things one way doesn't mean they will take it that specific way.

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Response to Building a Studio, suggestions? Sep. 10th, 2012 @ 06:59 AM Reply

OP, your original posted setup looks fine. 25 key controllers are great. Nexus and Sylenth are awesome. I bought my girlfriend a set of those Behringer monitors and they kick pretty hard. I'm not familiar with the audio interface, but i'm sure that it is more than capable.