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Need advice: Which Mac for recording music?

ndenbow

Established Member
Morning all,

I play guitar in a band and want to dabble in recording music and I want to buy a second Apple Mac to serve my needs. I already have a 24" iMac but this is used extensively by my wife in the office for some desktop publishing and general iTunes, plus I use it for transferring HD video into iMovie etc. The second Mac will be for my music room.

I was thinking of getting one of the new Macbooks (not the Pro) and connecting it to a spare 19" monitor that has both VGA and DVI connections. Would the Macbook be good enough for the job?

N
 

Tenex

Distinguished Member
If you look at the Apple online profiles (GarageBand ISTR) there is a musician using a white MacBook for recording music (will post it if I can find it) but I think the point is that if you need a mobile Mac then any is good enough.
 

jezzery

Standard Member
Yes the macbooks would be great for this. Hold out though because they are about to refresh the macbook's (white) with a slimmer and faster model. Have you considered the mac mini - again it is about to be refreshed and will soon be the time to buy.

Garageband is great for beginners, but consider logic express as it gives you great guitar amps and loads of programs such as mainstage for live performance.

I would also recommend getting a good firewire or usb soundcard with 4-8 inputs/2 outs with good pre amps. Maybe a motu or rme. But a cheaper version will also be adequate.

How many tracks will you need to record at once?

Will you need use of mic pre-amps?
 
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ndenbow

Established Member
Yes the macbooks would be great for this. Hold out though because they are about to refresh the macbook's (white) with a slimmer and faster model. Have you considered the mac mini - again it is about to be refreshed and will soon be the time to buy.

Garageband is great for beginners, but consider logic express as it gives you great guitar amps and loads of programs such as mainstage for live performance.

I would also recommend getting a good firewire or usb soundcard with 4-8 inputs/2 outs with good pre amps. Maybe a motu or rme. But a cheaper version will also be adequate.

How many tracks will you need to record at once?

Will you need use of mic pre-amps?

This is great Jezz.

A friend of mine uses a JamVox for DI. Do you have any thoughts on these? This will be my first venture into recording properly. Obviously I don't want to fall into any traps where I outgrow stuff quickly, but I don't want to go OTT too soon either.

I did consider a Mac Mini, but it's not portable and I do like having the mobility.

I'll take a look at the motu or rme. I'm not sure how many simultaneous track I will need. 4 will probably be fine for what I need.

If I wanted to take the Mac to a gig and take the feed from a desk, what would I need for that?

Thanks again.

Nick
 

jezzery

Standard Member
This is great Jezz.

A friend of mine uses a JamVox for DI. Do you have any thoughts on these? This will be my first venture into recording properly. Obviously I don't want to fall into any traps where I outgrow stuff quickly, but I don't want to go OTT too soon either.

I did consider a Mac Mini, but it's not portable and I do like having the mobility.

I'll take a look at the motu or rme. I'm not sure how many simultaneous track I will need. 4 will probably be fine for what I need.

If I wanted to take the Mac to a gig and take the feed from a desk, what would I need for that?

Thanks again.

Nick

No problem - Jamvox looks good as an all in one package to record just yourself and jam along to tracks but it will not record four inputs at once.

Garageband is quite capable in doing this, so maybe just get your audio interface and Jamvox for jamming with and use Garageband for laying some tracks down. You can always upgrade to Logic Express or Pro if you get into it.

The M-audio 4x4 looks good if you are not going to be using more than 2 mics at a time (it can record 2 mics/guitars and 2 line inputs from say a keyboard or a feed - you'll be able to use the pre-amps to boost your guitar signal. You could also use it to take the feed on the 2 line ins no problem. They sell it on the apple store here:
M-Audio Fast Track Pro USB Audio/MIDI Interface - Apple Store (U.K.)
Shop around - DV247 is where I have bought loads of gear from and are selling it for £131 here M-Audio Fast Track Pro 4x4 Mobile USB Audio/MIDI Interface With Preamps | DV247

Hope that helps.
 
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ndenbow

Established Member
Could I use the M-Audio 4x4 to take a condensed feed from a mixing desk, to take a raw mix? Obviously mixing the sound well is a completely different matter....

This looks like a good piece of kit and should be easy to sell on if I decided to upgrade at a later date.
 

jezzery

Standard Member
Hi, yes you can take the feed from the mixing desk - however you will not be able to mix the various balances as they will be recorded as a stereo track and all the levels will have been set on the mix you are taking the feed from (not much use for mixing purposes) unless you mix on the original mixer and use the computer to record the mix. I hope that makes sense. You could in essence record the feed and two other sources at the same time if required.
 

ndenbow

Established Member
I use a PreSonus Firebox connected to my Mac Mini, Works flawlessly with logic and no drivers needed to install, just plug and play

DV247.com are showing the Presonus Firebox as 'discontinued', plus it looks remarkably like the M-Audio.

Presonus Firebox are still fetching good money on ebay though. There are also a few Fast Tracks.

They both look like good products.
 

ndenbow

Established Member
Slightly off-topic (but it is my thread :D)

Monitors (speakers) - I am completely ignorant about this. Are they the same as normal speaker, but with slightly different frequency ranges? How (and what) do you connect them to? Can I use them instead of regular Hi-Fi speakers?

The reason for asking is, I have just got rid of my massive floor-standing stereo speakers and I want to buy some bookshelf-types.

Any suggestions? My budget will be £100-150.
 

jezzery

Standard Member
Slightly off-topic (but it is my thread :D)

Monitors (speakers) - I am completely ignorant about this. Are they the same as normal speaker, but with slightly different frequency ranges? How (and what) do you connect them to? Can I use them instead of regular Hi-Fi speakers?

The reason for asking is, I have just got rid of my massive floor-standing stereo speakers and I want to buy some bookshelf-types.

Any suggestions? My budget will be £100-150.

Hi ndenbow,
Speakers and monitors can be connected using the same connections. The difference is whether monitors have built in amplifiers (active monitors) or whether you need to buy an amp to power them (passive.) If you already have a half descent amp, then go for the passive and then plug them straight in. However - there is an argument to say that you will get better quality sound with active monitors as their amplifiers have been matched to the speakers they are driving. However good quality amps and passives can also get as good a sound if not better if you know what you are doing.

The main difference between the hifi speakers and monitors are that monitors (i take it you mean studio monitors) are designed to produce a flat sound of what you are listening to and make it easier to spot problems that you may have in your mix. The theory goes that if you have a good set of monitors and you get your track sounding good on them, then your track will play back on other systems sounding good as well. The problem in mixing on hi-fi speakers are that they are designed to make your music sound good. This may involve a low and high frequency boost on the sound which would then lead to inaccurate mixes and would not transfer onto other speakers that do not have this low and high frequency boost.

I hope that makes sense.

I would go into a shop like digital village and test out some speakers with some of your material and see how it translates - get a feel for what is around.

These look ok for passives - they have been around for years and are on MK2 which can only mean that they are good for the price.

Alesis Monitor One MK2 Passive Studio Reference Monitors-Pair | DV247

Also these Tannoy look good but slightly over your budget:

Tannoy Reveal 6 Passive Studio Monitor | DV247



One last thing - Monitors do not work best and represent the best picture of your music when they are sitting on book shelves as they would be too close to the wall (reflections cause problems when dealing with the stereo imaging of a track) if that is what you meant by bookshelf types.
 
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