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dabbyl

Excuse my incompetence....

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Excuse my incompetence, but it's very easy to get lost in these forums due to the amount of people active in them. First things first: My name is Dabbyl, nice to meet you all :)

I've been searching for a few days now for information regarding the basics on how to get started remixing. I see a lot of specifics, such as "what keyboard should i buy?" but i'm searching for more of a "what all do i need to remix?" thread. In its simplest form, i'm looking for a checklist. I'll give you an example:

YOU WILL NEED:

1 Computer

(Note: for DAW you will need X stats on the computer to run one)

(Note: for keyboard you will need X stats)

(Note: for synthesizer you will need X stats)

Etc.

My fear is that i will go and buy a computer, and then as i'm adding on to my studio realize that it's not capable of handling some of the items i buy to complement my setup. A few years ago i was in a high school music creation class that had a simple setup, a computer, a DAW, and a keyboard. I thought what the heck, i'll buy a DAW and install it onto my computer and i'll be able to make music instantly, right? Nope. There were pieces to the puzzle missing and back then i had nowhere to turn for support, so i ended up walking away from my dreams.

Four years later, here i am, listening to overclocked every single day and this time i do not want to get caught with my pants down. I want to know EVERYTHING, I want to buy a computer that will allow all supplements all addons, I want to know all of the supplements and addons, and above all I want to begin putting all the ideas in my head for great remixes into action so that I can contribute to OC.

If there is a thread out there like what i'm describing, then would you be so kind as to point me to it? If there isn't, i'd like to suggest that there be a "getting started" thread stickied. Describing in detail one addon to your studio is great for those that already have a setup, but not for those with nothing.

Again, i'm sorry for being a total noob. Sometimes i think i was born that way. I love music, I love OCRemix, and i want to be more than just an avid listener. Any help is MUCH, MUCH appreciated! Thank you!

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As you build your studio, you will be getting bigger and more power-hungry tools, so you will at some point need to upgrade/replace the computer anyway. I did my round 2 GMRB track on my old laptop, with 1.5Gb RAM and a 1.67GHz processor. It's enough to make ocr-level music with. Anything more will just make everything run smoother when you add heavy instruments and effects to your projects. If you get stuff like Kontakt, QLSO, Omnisphere or something, you'll need the memory and power.

Can't point you to a checklist, but check out the DAW you like and make sure your machine meets the req specs for it.

As for everything else, it depends on how you're gonna work. I made music for years without a midi keyboard. Having one isn't necessary, but it does make some things easier. Same with just about every tool out there that doesn't come with the DAW itself; not necessary, but probably useful. This even includes software instruments. You don't _need_ QLSO, but if you're gonna make orchestral tracks, it's pretty useful.

You do know that having the tools and knowing how to use them are two very different things, right? :P

Also welcome. :D

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This helps some. I guess what i'm saying is, for us noobs, it would be a lot easier if there was a thread that said, "here is a huge list of different items for your setup, and here is a short one or two sentences about what they do: Keyboard, QLSO, etc.

I'm not going to call myself a musical genius by any means but for some reason i just GET music. It's hard to explain because i've had no musical training or classes, but i can tell when beats are hitting a little later than they should. i can tell when people are doing a remix and they use a note that's even just the slightest bit away from what they need to be using. I have so many ideas for great remixes that i wouldn't dream of telling you them because i don't want to spoil the fun. I know that having tools and knowing how to use them are two different things, but i need to know what tools are available to me first. I feel like i'm walking into a baskin robbins 32 flavors and i only know 2 flavors: DAW(vanilla), and keyboard(chocolate). I know there are more flavors out there, i just need to find out what they are and if my waffle cone(computer) will be able to hold all the goodies i want. Learning how to use the items i buy will be the easy part.

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Your analogy fails once you try to fit in physical instruments, software instruments, effects and stuff into it. :P

I agree that there should be a proper introduction to this stuff. I've been trying to write one (along with Zephyr who's somewhere around here), and... well, it's been sitting in a half-finished state for a while now.

But basically, aside from the computer and the DAW, you'll need software instruments (unless you're gonna record everything from real instruments, in which case you need recording equipment and playing skills). They come in a variety of flavors, such as orchestral sounds, electronic sounds, rock sounds, world music sounds... There's free stuff ranging from crap to decent (just look for soundfonts and check search in KVRAudio's database for freeware), cheap stuff ranging from crap to good, and expensive stuff ranging from subpar to excellent. If you have the money, I'm sure you can always think of something new to send it on. ;)

The instruments I listed before come from some big names in the industry.

Eastwest seem to focus on orchestra and other non-electronic sounds.

Native Instruments have a lot of different products, most of which are available in their Komplete package deal. Which is worth a lot more than you'd pay for it.

Spectrasonics only really have three products, but they're great. At least judging from the one I have. Probably my favorite plugin.

Then there are products like Superior Drummer, Addictive Drums, BFD, Pianoteq, Symphobia, VSL, Zebra, Alchemy, and so many other products you can spend your money on.

I'll also mention zircon's Impact Soundworks.

Some DAWs come with a bunch of instruments and effects bundled or built-in. Some of them are good, but generally not on the level of the really pro stuff.

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If you're completely new to making music and don't know what to do for orchestral libraries (it's really overwhelming at first), here's some advice:

If you google "Squidfont", the first link that comes up is our own DarkeSword's website, where you can download Squidfont and some other free stuff -- start there. Until you reach a point in your music making where you truly understand the limitations of those samples, you shouldn't even think about buying high-end stuff. I believe that most of DarkeSword's early stuff here was made almost entirely with the stuff available from his website.

High-quality samples increase the clarity of your sound in both directions...meaning that they can make a good track great, but they also expose a sub-par track's flaws extremely clearly. As a general rule (especially starting out), the quality of your sound will have a lot more to do with your skill as an arranger and producer than the quality of samples that you use.

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Thanks, Salluz.

Bardic, what you said makes a lot of sense to me, and thanks for the site! i'll definitely check it out.

Rozovian - what can i say, you pretty much answered a lot of my questions in that post. From what i understand now, the only real specs the computer needs are for the software you buy i.e. FL, and also for any instruments you might record, correct? From there, it will only be a matter of finding samples to use and/or recording them myself.

Which brings me to another question (sorry!) what would i need to record, say, an acoustic guitar? Would i just need a microphone, or would i need to somehow plug the instrument into my computer?

Again, i'd like to thank you guys for being so kind and patient. Maybe once i buy some of the items i'm saving for (thank goodness i'm raking in a ton of money from work since it's holiday season) i could perhaps help you with your 'intro to equipment' thread as someone who will have recently been in that situation.

You guys are awesome.

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Computer power doen't matter much as long as it's enough. When it's not enough, everything turns slow and has all kinds of problems. Still, until you get one of the bigger, more demanding samplers/synths, you could do just fine with something with the specs of my old laptop. I wouldn't run Omnisphere or Kontakt on it, tho, so if you've got plans on getting those before upgrading/replacing the computer, you should get something a little more powerful. ;)

For recording you'd need a good mic or two, a good soundcard / audio interface, and a quiet, fairly reverb-free room to record. And cables and stuff, of course. Someone that actually does a lot of recording should probably jump in and mention anything I've forgotten, but these should work all right.

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Trust me, i need a better computer. I think i've had this laptop for too long now. Vista had just come out at that time.

When you say i need a good soundcard, you mean better than the ones that the computers they sell come with? Or do you mean i need an external one, or what?

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Windows 7 is great, as long as you're not running it on a Windows XP-class machine, especially an older one. And even Vista, as much as it sucks, isn't impossible for remixing either (though any sane person would recommend XP over Vista). Windows 7 does require more power than XP, so it's not quite as efficient on a given set of hardware, but it's not the resource hog that Vista was.

I think part of the problem with a thread that would 'answer everything' is that it would go out of date pretty quickly, or else not be specific enough. And unless you've got a good reason to buy everything you think you'd need in one shot (a one-time load of cash from a parent to set up a studio, having expendable income now when you know you won't soon - I'm in the latter case, expecting our first child in 3 months), it's best *not* to do that anyway. You can find yourself overwhelmed with too many things to learn and no good idea of where to start.

Here's how I'd suggest going about it.

1) Think about the types of music you'd want to make. Pop? Orchestral? Electronic? They all use different kinds of instruments, and some DAWs have specific features for a specific genre.

2) Pick DAW software and your computer platform (Mac or PC). If you think you might switch from a PC to a Mac down the road, don't get a PC-only DAW.

Don't spend too much time agonizing over bundled plugins, especially if you don't know what they do. A rule of thumb, though: having a decent set of audio effects bundled with your DAW is probably more valuable than a decent number of virtual instruments. You'll probably want to customize your instruments down the road in more radical ways than you'll want to customize your effects - you can just live with a good compressor that doesn't quite have a 'vintage' sound, while an orchestral soundfont won't compare to quality orchestral samples if you know how to use them. Right now, you probably don't know the difference, especially for things you haven't used, so how will you know that the orchestral library you're spending $500 on is the one for you? Defer that as long as possible; make do with free or budget stuff and the instruments and effects bundled with your DAW in the short term.

3) Think about how you want to hear the music you make. If you're strapped for cash, consumer-grade computer speakers or headphones will do, but studio monitors or studio headphones will give you a more accurate, and more clear, representation of the sound.

4) Think about extra hardware. Competent with a keyboard? Get a MIDI controller (and obviously, sustain and maybe expression pedal to go with it). Never played one before? Stick to clicking notes in with your mouse, which is surprisingly versatile; not every mixer here can play keys. Don't bother with a hardware synth or workstation keyboard just for extra sounds unless you a) know how to use one already and B) also want it for playing live. Hardware synths have a certain appeal since they're hands-on, but the main advantage, particularly for workstation keyboards, of hardware is that it's hands-on and integrated into one unit. You can get a MIDI controller and a software sampler like Kontakt with a large library for cheaper than you can get a new workstation, and it'll sound better.

Worried about latency (especially if you're playing a MIDI keyboard and need it to be in time) or need to record instruments? Get an audio interface (and associated mics, stands, cables, etc.)

And of course there are other extras like a control surface for mixing or even a hardware mixer (only really useful for recording or if your audio interface has multiple outputs; if you've got only one pair of stereo outputs from your DAW and won't record anything, save your cash).

5) Lastly, and preferably when you know the basics of your setup and of making music with a computer, look at instruments and effects.

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Salluz, i can't help but absolutely love your enthusiasm. Or was your caps lock key stuck that day? :P

Kanthos, wow. that post must have taken a chunk of your time. thank you for that. Great information, i'm not sure what type of music i want to do though, since the music i listen to isn't specific like that. If it's a good remix, it's a good remix.

Is that a mage WoW emblem? Have there been any wow remixes?

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Salluz, i can't help but absolutely love your enthusiasm. Or was your caps lock key stuck that day? :P

Kanthos, wow. that post must have taken a chunk of your time. thank you for that. Great information, i'm not sure what type of music i want to do though, since the music i listen to isn't specific like that. If it's a good remix, it's a good remix.

Is that a mage WoW emblem? Have there been any wow remixes?

Heh, only about 15 minutes. Yes, it's the WoW mage emblem. If I recall, there's only two WoW mixes, one of Stormwind's theme along with the Guild Wars title theme called All Nations Rise, and another of the Gnomeregan theme.

If you don't have any specifics in mind, you still need a place to start, and the way to start probably isn't, "I have this idea for a mega-piece with epic orchestral parts and live drums and guitar and synth lines". Besides the fact that it's harder to pull off something that crosses genres than something that doesn't, that's still too much to take on.

If you find synth sounds interesting, start with some basics. You don't know too much at this point, so don't think so much about how to make the perfect synth part for some musical idea that you have as opposed to trying to learn how synths work in general; that won't help you in the long run. Of course, it's pointless to just tweak knobs randomly, but once you've read a bit about the basics and played around with a synth to make it more clear what the various parts do, then try and make a few specific synth sounds.

Same thing with orchestral sounds. Don't immediately try to make an epic arrangement. Spend some time first figuring out what each instrument or section sounds like, when you'd want to use them, etc.

As for recording acoustic instruments, that probably takes less effort (assuming you already play something); if not, learn the instrument on your own or get lessons :)

The point is to not go out and spend a ton on stuff you won't know how to use and be frustrated with, but to break down the long learning process into something much more manageable.

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That makes sense, and i didn't plan on buying everything at once - i just wanted to make sure that i wouldn't get caught saying "well i want this piece of equipment, but my computer won't handle it. now i gotta go out and buy a whole new computer already!"

I also didn't mean i was going to mix all the genres together, i only meant that i like "good" remixes, regardless of what style it is. For instance i absolutely love Monstrous Turtles, but I also love Lost In Jungle, two completely different styles of music but i love both of them to death. So as far as what style i want to make, i don't want to be known as the synth remixer or the orchestral remixer. I just want to be known for my music because it is good.

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That makes sense, and i didn't plan on buying everything at once - i just wanted to make sure that i wouldn't get caught saying "well i want this piece of equipment, but my computer won't handle it. now i gotta go out and buy a whole new computer already!"

Well, you'll hit that eventually. For one thing, you won't be able to keep up with new sample library releases without upgrading your computer; for another, if you're *really* serious about doing top-quality orchestral remixes, you'll want multiple computers anyway. Regardless though, just get as good a computer as you can afford, within reason (buying the top-of-the-line machines at any given time is usually considerably more expensive than buying something a bit less powerful).

One thing you might want to look at that's not as obvious is number of USB ports. I've got a couple USB keys for authorization of plugins, a USB thumbdrive that I keep notes on, a USB-powered cooling pad for my laptop, my audio interface, and a Novation Nocturn MIDI controller. Since it's a laptop, I didn't want to use an extra USB hub that needs to plug into a power adapter, which means the MIDI controller and audio interface *need* to be plugged into the laptop itself. I had *just enough* USB ports (3) to plug those two in as well as a hub. This obviously depends on what you need, and with a desktop (which might have more USB ports anyway, or where the extra wire from plugging in a powered USB hub aren't a big deal), it may not matter.

I also didn't mean i was going to mix all the genres together, i only meant that i like "good" remixes, regardless of what style it is. For instance i absolutely love Monstrous Turtles, but I also love Lost In Jungle, two completely different styles of music but i love both of them to death. So as far as what style i want to make, i don't want to be known as the synth remixer or the orchestral remixer. I just want to be known for my music because it is good.

No, of course you wouldn't do something like that. I was more making the point that jumping around to too many different things too quickly isn't the way to go, and also that there's a lot of learning involved in making a particular instrument sound good with a computer.

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Screw technology and it's ability to get better at an unreasonable rate :/

Okay, USB ports. I'll keep an eye on that.

As for what style i will start learning with....i have no idea. I like to remix with my friend, we seem to make a really good pair so no matter what, our style will be a mixture. I can't wait to present this website with some of our songs.

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OMG NO VISTA, AND IF YOU CAN AVOID IT, PLEASE AVOID WINDOWS 7! Windows XP is stable, so stick with that.

If he wants to use anything made in the near future, i bet it won't work if he uses XP.

No one makes EDIT: COMMERCIAL POPULAR EXPENSIVE DAWs/Plugins/Instrument Drivers for XP anymore, so buying XP is honestly just tying him to never be able to get the latest versions of software.

And also, Windows 7 is perfectly stable for me. My computer has never frozen before. Ever. I've gotten blue screens, but that's because my machine is just awful. :P

Anyways, I absolutely guarantee that if your processor is Core i3 or higher, you have a lot of headroom to work with. I do stuff on a weak old laptop AMD Athlon dual core, but it can pull some decent weight until I do grand stuff with it. For someone starting out, I don't think you're going to be making thick compositions any time soon, so even a Core i3 should give you more than enough power to work with.

And I agree with Kanthos, trying to do a bunch of different genres within the FIRST few days isn't recommended, especially if you don't know the least bit of theory. The best thing to do is to not write genre music at all; just pick instruments and make a song. Genre classification is for databases. :P

In response to your OP, giving you a list of stuff that's good would be impossible, or rather, would take days. There is so much out there, you just have to know what SOUND you're looking for. For instance, if you want aggressive orchestral sounds, people have said that EWQLSO is a good option, but there are so many other options. You just gotta look around and list to demos and stuff.

As for keyboard, don't even bother unless you're proficient at playing piano/keys, because writing by mouse allows for more control and versatility, and isn't as tedious to overwrite stuff.

Basically, for using modern technology and software, any n00b will be satisfied, for a couple years, with this type of computer build:

CPU:Intel Core i3 Processor more than 2.5 Ghz, Core i5 if it fits your budget

RAM:4 GB RAM, people rarely need more unless they are making dense orchestration

Sound Card:no sound card needed, but if your guitar has a 1/4 inch connector (the oversized headphone jack cable) you should consider getting an audio interface and an amp sim (a software guitar amp). Even First Act guitars can sound great with a decent amp sim (I use a first act with Guitar Rig 4 pro)

Hard Drive:around 500 GB, should handle a lot of sample libraries and a lot of room left over for other stuff. Unless you get East West Composer's Collection, then you might want more hard drive space.

GPU:you don't need a fancy graphics card. Graphics card are for video, not audio. :P

Everything else: you don't really need specifically anything else, because your processor, RAM, and maybe your audio interface if you have one will be doing most of the work. If your motherboard has integrated audio, you can use that instead of a sound card or audio interface, but the recording will be awful.

If you want to record, an audio interface is your best bet. The latency (the time it takes for you playing to get to the computer and speakers) is greatly reduced when you have dedicated audio, and the drivers could prove to be more efficient. You wanna go with ASIO drivers when you select your sound device in your DAW. And also, the recording sound won't be fuzzy or have pops/clicks because it's not sitting right in the motherboard, it'll be isolated.

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If you're serious about choor music, get a nice system with Windows 7 64-bit, and a firewire recording interface... Does anyone really use a soundcard anymore? My interface is my "soundcard". :-o I got 8gbs of ram that i'd be able to use fully if I actually had 64-bit versions of my programs. :3

Neblix still saying the anti-keyboard bit.. If you have any experience playing piano, you'll get more control using a midi keyboard.. even if you don't, you'd probably learn the basics within a month or two.. There's no rule that says you can't combine playing the keyboard AND clicking with the mouse. You'll get natural velocities if you play a keyboard, and your modulation and bends may not be perfect but they'd at least be legitimately performed, that is to say, they'll sound more real. Adding a tool can't hurt, it can only help. If you stick with just a mouse, then you're limiting yourself. :-P

It also depends on your DAW of choice, if you go with FL Studio then by all means, you could primarily use the mouse as that is a DAW aimed more towards beats and sequencing than live performance or recording. :-o I would personally recommend Cubase 5. As for learning a program, anything's going to look intimidating until you figure out what's up in it. At least if you learn a DAW like Cubase 5, it has a general structure that is similar to many other DAWs and the knowledge would transfer.

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