Be a Supporter!

New Audio Equipment Questions

  • 414 Views
  • 17 Replies
New Topic Respond to this Topic
Neon-Bard
Neon-Bard
  • Member since: Aug. 3, 2011
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 09
Musician
New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-12 20:25:39 Reply

I have been making music for a few years now and I think it's high time I invest in some actual equipment (surprise, surprise). Despite the fact that I have been making music for a few years, and know some nifty little tricks, I hardly know anything about audio equipment as I have never really had anything to work with from the get-go. I should point out that I am currently using FL Studio 9 as my main DAW, along with some small speakers with a subwoofer and a decent (well sort of....) pair of headphones.

I'm looking at getting some monitors or perhaps a nice pair of headphones. Also, I am considering purchasing an external sound card as well. I have done some research on the differences between monitors and headphones and whether or not I need an external sound card but I can't seem to make sense out of everything I have come across.

Would I be wasting my time and money purchasing an external sound card? What's better in your opinion, monitors or headphones? I know that these questions all come down to overall sound quality, but I have a fairly strict budget so I'm not too worried about finding the 'perfect' sound or anything like that. I'm simply looking for an improvement over what I currently have.

I would appreciate any help or advice anyone would be able to give me! Thanks! :D

P.S. I can't seem to find out if East/West's Symphonic Orchestra is compatible with Windows 8, or for that matter....is FL Studio 9 compatible?


If you have a moment, check out some of my work: [Music here on Newgrounds] [Soundcloud]

BBS Signature
AmericanZero
AmericanZero
  • Member since: Oct. 8, 2004
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 04
Blank Slate
Response to New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-12 21:09:03 Reply

a nice pair of headphones works wonders for trying to master and equalize things, then the best test after that is running the track in your car stereo or home speakers to see how it comes out.

and keyboard to hook up to fruity loops is always a plus, maybe a pad or drum machine too


BBS Signature
BrokenDeck
BrokenDeck
  • Member since: Jun. 7, 2003
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Moderator
Level 39
Musician
Response to New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-12 21:48:46 Reply

At 1/12/13 08:25 PM, Neon-Bard wrote:
Would I be wasting my time and money purchasing an external sound card?

No, getting an professional level audio device dedicated to audio production always works best. What type of music are you primarily going to produce? Depending on that, there either PIC / PCIe based cards, or USB2 / Firewire based devices.

And for mixing / mastering, you should always get monitors.

Neon-Bard
Neon-Bard
  • Member since: Aug. 3, 2011
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 09
Musician
Response to New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-12 22:10:59 Reply

At 1/12/13 09:48 PM, BrokenDeck wrote:
At 1/12/13 08:25 PM, Neon-Bard wrote:
Would I be wasting my time and money purchasing an external sound card?
No, getting an professional level audio device dedicated to audio production always works best. What type of music are you primarily going to produce? Depending on that, there either PIC / PCIe based cards, or USB2 / Firewire based devices.

And for mixing / mastering, you should always get monitors.

Mainly I produce video game tracks. Other than that, perhaps some classical work with a bit of trance every now and then. I'll definitely take what you said about mixing/mastering into account. :)


If you have a moment, check out some of my work: [Music here on Newgrounds] [Soundcloud]

BBS Signature
BrokenDeck
BrokenDeck
  • Member since: Jun. 7, 2003
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Moderator
Level 39
Musician
Response to New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-12 22:36:51 Reply

Are you planning on doing any live-playing via a MIDI keyboard? Or will you only be working from the timeline / piano-roll?

Neon-Bard
Neon-Bard
  • Member since: Aug. 3, 2011
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 09
Musician
Response to New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-12 23:07:56 Reply

At 1/12/13 10:36 PM, BrokenDeck wrote: Are you planning on doing any live-playing via a MIDI keyboard? Or will you only be working from the timeline / piano-roll?

No, not at all. Everything I currently make, or will make, will be done via the piano-roll. For now at least.


If you have a moment, check out some of my work: [Music here on Newgrounds] [Soundcloud]

BBS Signature
BrokenDeck
BrokenDeck
  • Member since: Jun. 7, 2003
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Moderator
Level 39
Musician
Response to New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-12 23:53:37 Reply

At 1/12/13 11:07 PM, Neon-Bard wrote:
At 1/12/13 10:36 PM, BrokenDeck wrote: Are you planning on doing any live-playing via a MIDI keyboard? Or will you only be working from the timeline / piano-roll?
No, not at all. Everything I currently make, or will make, will be done via the piano-roll. For now at least.

Any semi-professional level audio interface will do. I personally prefer the M-Audio line of products.

Neon-Bard
Neon-Bard
  • Member since: Aug. 3, 2011
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 09
Musician
Response to New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-13 00:05:17 Reply

At 1/12/13 11:53 PM, BrokenDeck wrote:
At 1/12/13 11:07 PM, Neon-Bard wrote:
At 1/12/13 10:36 PM, BrokenDeck wrote: Are you planning on doing any live-playing via a MIDI keyboard? Or will you only be working from the timeline / piano-roll?
No, not at all. Everything I currently make, or will make, will be done via the piano-roll. For now at least.
Any semi-professional level audio interface will do. I personally prefer the M-Audio line of products.

Wow! It's funny you say that because I was just looking at the M-Audio Fast Track II interface, it looks fairly simply but I think it will do. Besides the interface though, if I were to get headphones, would that be a horrible mistake? And if not, is it still worth buying the interface for the headphones or is that completely redundant?

Back to the monitor thing though, I live with four other people who would not appreciate me blasting music all the livelong day, so that is why I'm slightly more inclined to buy headphones haha! However, I can definitely push buying a decent pair of monitors (but I would rather save some money if at all possible). Such are the qualms of purchasing audio equipment I suppose though eh? :)


If you have a moment, check out some of my work: [Music here on Newgrounds] [Soundcloud]

BBS Signature
Cross666
Cross666
  • Member since: Apr. 1, 2004
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 13
Musician
Response to New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-13 01:39:55 Reply

Forget the audio interface.

Get yourself a pair of sennheiser HD 380 pros.

It's a $200 dollar investment that is equivalent to an entry level single reference monitor (Say KRK's Rokit 6)

Future reference I personally DO NOT Recommend the KRK rokit 6's. Not so much for the audio quality, but for their build. I've had three now and they are not without issues. Sure Gibson (who owns KRK) has a 3 year warranty on them, but getting them repaired if say one of the AMPs goes is a bitch, you can either ship it to them or go without.

At any rate, I have however had a pair of Senn's. I rock the 280 pros right now and have for 2 years+ and I am very impressed with them and have heard nothing but good things from them. I normally spend my time roughing out tracks with my pair and then going in with the KRKs and doing my mixdown, making sure levels are good.

For you however, the headphones would be the best option.

Why?

What the fuck are you going to do with an audio interface without Monitors to back it up? Or a decent 48-key controller? If you already use the piano roll then having the latency benefit from the audio interface isn't that necessary at this point, and buying a pair of sub-par monitors with a built-in (such as the AV40's) will leave you lacking a necessary spectrum and is pretty much a wasted investment.

Go with the headphones, you'll always have them and will pretty much always have a use for them.

After that, yea go for an Audio interface and then maybe go for either a Midi Keystation or a pair of Monitors with minimum 6" drivers.


BBS Signature
Neon-Bard
Neon-Bard
  • Member since: Aug. 3, 2011
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 09
Musician
Response to New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-13 02:01:07 Reply

At 1/13/13 01:39 AM, Cross666 wrote: Forget the audio interface.

Get yourself a pair of sennheiser HD 380 pros.

It's a $200 dollar investment that is equivalent to an entry level single reference monitor (Say KRK's Rokit 6)

Future reference I personally DO NOT Recommend the KRK rokit 6's. Not so much for the audio quality, but for their build. I've had three now and they are not without issues. Sure Gibson (who owns KRK) has a 3 year warranty on them, but getting them repaired if say one of the AMPs goes is a bitch, you can either ship it to them or go without.

At any rate, I have however had a pair of Senn's. I rock the 280 pros right now and have for 2 years+ and I am very impressed with them and have heard nothing but good things from them. I normally spend my time roughing out tracks with my pair and then going in with the KRKs and doing my mixdown, making sure levels are good.

For you however, the headphones would be the best option.

Why?

What the fuck are you going to do with an audio interface without Monitors to back it up? Or a decent 48-key controller? If you already use the piano roll then having the latency benefit from the audio interface isn't that necessary at this point, and buying a pair of sub-par monitors with a built-in (such as the AV40's) will leave you lacking a necessary spectrum and is pretty much a wasted investment.

Go with the headphones, you'll always have them and will pretty much always have a use for them.

After that, yea go for an Audio interface and then maybe go for either a Midi Keystation or a pair of Monitors with minimum 6" drivers.

Very good advice! Thanks for the input man! :)

While I think that I would have a lot of use for monitors and an interface now, I would have to agree that for the time being it would be better to just get the headphones (due to a number of factors). I'll take a look at the Sennheiser's! Like you stated, I could always get the monitors at a later time along with the interface and if i'm lucky a MIDI controller or something along those lines.


If you have a moment, check out some of my work: [Music here on Newgrounds] [Soundcloud]

BBS Signature
MetalRenard
MetalRenard
  • Member since: Sep. 19, 2012
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 09
Musician
Response to New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-13 06:17:31 Reply

I completely agree with the previous poster (before Neon). No need for an audio interface right now, you need quality headphones. Have you got good instruments too?


Rocker, Composer and World Ambassador for Foxes! I'm on Youtube. Come check me out! Veteran REAPER user.

BBS Signature
Step
Step
  • Member since: Nov. 4, 2007
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Moderator
Level 25
Musician
Response to New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-13 06:31:31 Reply

I think I should add that, according to my ENT specialist, most likely because of headphones I've lost around 20% of my hearing, which, coupled by the 25% or so hearing loss I had since birth, makes me have pretty crappy hearing. Mixing and mastering in particular makes you have to turn your volume up quite a lot, and making music in general will probably require you to keep the headphones on for large amounts of time, which is very unhealthy.

My advice? Stick to monitors; maybe in the future if you're really adamant on using headphones then get some good ones to preview your mix after you've finished it with monitors, since headphones can really help you pick out little details and hear everything accurately. Headphones aren't bad if you use them for small periods of time, rather than for like 3 hours at one go, so they'll be great to add finishing touches to your mix and make sure everything sounds right.

Headphones can seriously mess up your hearing otherwise. Best to be aware of that now than learn the hard way.


Review Request Club | CHECK THIS OUT | Formerly Supersteph54 I'm an Audio Moderator. PM me for Audio Portal help.

BBS Signature
BrokenDeck
BrokenDeck
  • Member since: Jun. 7, 2003
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Moderator
Level 39
Musician
Response to New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-13 06:31:57 Reply

All in all, it depends on your budget. How much money are you planning to spend?

Your motherboard's built-in audio is NOWHERE near the quality needed for properly mastering tracks. Also, professional audio interfaces have their own proprietary ASIO drivers, which are always better than mainstream motherboard drivers, or even ASIO4ALL. Whether you are mixing with Monitors or headphones, the audio quality of the device they are connected to matters a LOT. Don't cheap out on the audio card at the very least.

And try to find a pair of headphones with a flat response, not something that will color your sound.

Cross666
Cross666
  • Member since: Apr. 1, 2004
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 13
Musician
Response to New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-13 10:24:46 Reply

At 1/13/13 06:31 AM, Step wrote: Headphones can seriously mess up your hearing otherwise. Best to be aware of that now than learn the hard way.

Simple fix.

Take routine breaks to prevent hearing AND eye strain. This sort of advice can be attributed to pretty much about any activity, be it jamming out, producing, playing live and hell even watching tv.

Second, know how LOUD you really need to have it. The thing is, you don't really need it that loud. Here's a fun example if you have the time, go ahead and produce a quickie with some headphones with your volume all the way up, (not in your DAW but on your headphones). Then go and take the file and play it on a different medium, say your car stereo or home stereo system.

Then do the same thing with the volume reduced, your master knocked down to -10db and before exporting slowly bring your master back up and adjust levels accordingly.

Compare.

Hearing loss is easily prevented, given you have the patience and common sense to take a break and produce at acceptable levels.


BBS Signature
Neon-Bard
Neon-Bard
  • Member since: Aug. 3, 2011
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 09
Musician
Response to New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-13 10:58:12 Reply

At 1/13/13 06:17 AM, MetalRenard wrote: I completely agree with the previous poster (before Neon). No need for an audio interface right now, you need quality headphones. Have you got good instruments too?

Since I generally don't record anything that often, I'm assuming you mean virtual right? In that case, I'll be using East/West Symphonic Orchestra Gold along with other plugins and VSTs. However, that's only the case if my new desktop will be compatible with EW and FL Studio 9. I've been looking around and it seems that everything should work fine...but I don't have a definite answer yet.


If you have a moment, check out some of my work: [Music here on Newgrounds] [Soundcloud]

BBS Signature
Neon-Bard
Neon-Bard
  • Member since: Aug. 3, 2011
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 09
Musician
Response to New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-13 11:02:57 Reply

At 1/13/13 06:31 AM, Step wrote: I think I should add that, according to my ENT specialist, most likely because of headphones I've lost around 20% of my hearing, which, coupled by the 25% or so hearing loss I had since birth, makes me have pretty crappy hearing. Mixing and mastering in particular makes you have to turn your volume up quite a lot, and making music in general will probably require you to keep the headphones on for large amounts of time, which is very unhealthy.

My advice? Stick to monitors; maybe in the future if you're really adamant on using headphones then get some good ones to preview your mix after you've finished it with monitors, since headphones can really help you pick out little details and hear everything accurately. Headphones aren't bad if you use them for small periods of time, rather than for like 3 hours at one go, so they'll be great to add finishing touches to your mix and make sure everything sounds right.

Headphones can seriously mess up your hearing otherwise. Best to be aware of that now than learn the hard way.

Very good point Step. I'm aware of the audio hazards that headphones will come with, but I'm a very cautious person and I don't take risks when it comes to my health. I am glad you brought up this point though because it\s something to keep in mind. Thankfully I won't be using headphones to produce forever, and if I'm lucky I'll be able to purchase some monitors within the next few months, by April at the very latest. :)


If you have a moment, check out some of my work: [Music here on Newgrounds] [Soundcloud]

BBS Signature
Neon-Bard
Neon-Bard
  • Member since: Aug. 3, 2011
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 09
Musician
Response to New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-13 11:12:13 Reply

At 1/13/13 06:31 AM, BrokenDeck wrote: All in all, it depends on your budget. How much money are you planning to spend?

Your motherboard's built-in audio is NOWHERE near the quality needed for properly mastering tracks. Also, professional audio interfaces have their own proprietary ASIO drivers, which are always better than mainstream motherboard drivers, or even ASIO4ALL. Whether you are mixing with Monitors or headphones, the audio quality of the device they are connected to matters a LOT. Don't cheap out on the audio card at the very least.

And try to find a pair of headphones with a flat response, not something that will color your sound.

I don't visit the forums often so I better start learning how to quote people properly, all in one message if possible. My apologies for the multiple posts.

Anyway, I am still a student so my budget is quite strict. Thankfully, I've been able to save some money and I have around $600-800 to work with at the moment...though if I wait a while longer I would have upwards of $1000. But that's in an ideal world where the sky is always blue unfortunately. :/

"Your motherboard's built-in audio is NOWHERE near the quality needed for properly mastering tracks."

This alone is something that I'm a little worried about, which is why I initially asked about the interface. Is there anything I can besides buying an interface to improve my overall sound quality? (little off topic)


If you have a moment, check out some of my work: [Music here on Newgrounds] [Soundcloud]

BBS Signature
BrokenDeck
BrokenDeck
  • Member since: Jun. 7, 2003
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Moderator
Level 39
Musician
Response to New Audio Equipment Questions 2013-01-13 21:42:21 Reply

At 1/13/13 11:12 AM, Neon-Bard wrote:
I've been able to save some money and I have around $600-800 to work with at the moment...

A huge chunk of it is going to be towards your processor and SSD (for the OS)

"Your motherboard's built-in audio is NOWHERE near the quality needed for properly mastering tracks."

You could buy a aftermarket audio card, but something like an X-Fi Titanium HD or even a (shudder) ASUS Essence STX is going to cost just about the same, and not really geared towards music production.

I'd actually recommend one of the M-Audio PCI cards, either the Delta 66 or Audiophile 192 would be your best bet, if you're doing any orchestral work with EWQL products.

This alone is something that I'm a little worried about, which is why I initially asked about the interface. Is there anything I can besides buying an interface to improve my overall sound quality? (little off topic)

No. Built-in motherboard sound is always inferior to decent quality aftermarket cards. And they're geared more towards analog gaming surround sound. There's a huge amount of interference from all the othe components, and in the end, you get a signal noise ratio of about 80-90, which is REALLY bad. An audio interface will get you at least 109 or so, which is pretty much audiophile quality.