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"Bare Minimum" Starter Remix Advice

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Like I said, I think $350 for headphones is excessive, and you certainly can't get monitors of any decent quality for that (high as it is.) For a hobbyist with a bit of money:

http://www.amazon.com/AKG-Acoustics-K-240-Studio-Headphones/dp/B0001ARCFA

$79, very good quality semi-open cans. They used to be higher IIRC but they're absolutely great.

Thanks for the link - that's helpful because I really have no idea where to begin as far as brands/companies go with headphones.

As far as the headphones vs. monitors banter goes, I think I would stick with getting a pair of decent headphones and working from there...I'm in a pretty noisy household right now that would make it difficult (if not impossible) to do it any other way.

Thanks again for your help; any more tips are appreciated.

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And I'm telling you as a professional who has produced and mastered tracks for every major video game console, handheld device and network primetime TV ONLY on headphones that they can and do translate properly when used correctly, eg. when you have a good pair, reference on them regularly and listen at a constant, low-ish volume level. No hate at all, but I think "headphones suck, always use monitors" is one of those pieces of engineering 'wisdom' like "Pro Tools is the only professional DAW": something repeated so many times that people believe it's true without questioning why.

This.

You also should consider how the majority of music is listened to today. iPods, mp3 players, etc. That means headphones are what many people are using to listen to music today. Sure, you still have some stereo systems, car stereo's, etc., but at least here in Florida it's hard to go anywhere without seeing a handful of people with headphones in their ears.

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Since the post (at least topic) asks for the bare minimum for remixing, I'd say a decent pair of headphones, a DAW of his choosing, and then the hunt for free/cheap VSTs/samples.

That's the bare minimum, and in a sense, all you really need for the core of any song you try to make.

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FireWire audio capture with direct monitoring (FA-66) (350$)

Guitar pre-amp/effects (GT-10 for 500$)

A good daw [Reason+Record] (500$)

Studio monitors (KRK) 525$

This is what I'd call a minimum bar for a complete little studio (add a microphone to the list with a pop filter and a stand + your keyboard PSR-260).

Thanks for the description, but based on what others have said, your "minimum description" seems quite high...you're saying a "good DAW" is 500$, but I just got Reaper for 40$, which people say is enough to pass the OCR judges if you use it correctly.

You're talking about monitors that are 500$+, but people have said that good headphones are 50$ - 100$.

Please keep in mind that when I say "bare minimum", I'm talking literally "the bare minimum I need to compose a mix that will satisfy the OCR judges' standards." And this is all assuming that I learn how to use my equipment (both hardware and software) properly, which I understand will take a lot of time and effort on my part.

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FireWire audio capture with direct monitoring (FA-66) (350$)

Guitar pre-amp/effects (GT-10 for 500$)

A good daw [Reason+Record] (500$)

Studio monitors (KRK) 525$

This is what I'd call a minimum bar for a complete little studio (add a microphone to the list with a pop filter and a stand + your keyboard PSR-260).

This isn't a "bare minimum" at all. This is a pretty pricy, luxurious set up. He said bare minimum meaning it gets the job done and he's not interested in the expensive stuff.

Bare minimum would be a guitar to USB adapter and a DAW like REAPER. And way to recommend $500 guitar effects when you can get good software ones for like $200.

As far as listening equipment AKG 240s are $80. This not-bare-as-can-be configuration runs you $300. Yours runs like $1900-2000.

You could get even more bare than that if you don't even play guitar, then all you need are decent headphones.

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Ok let me clarify.

If you want a software guitar effect, you will encounter lag.

I don't encounter lag.

If you get Reaper and hope to compose in it, good luck to you.

REAPER is a perfectly and fully functional DAW. A lot of people use it.

If you record into Reaper and don't have DirectMonitoring, you will encounter lag.

You don't need a $350 interface. a $100 USB one gets the job done with good latency.

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In your techno remix there's no guitar in it, in Fruity Loop, so how do you know about latency if you don't even record ?

I do record, and I have remixes with electric guitar in it. :) FL Studio has a very easy recording system, no one bothers learning how to press the record button. Which is weird, because it's like, the same as like, like, like, EVERY OTHER DAW THAT HAS RECORDING. YOU PRESS DA RECORD BUTTON DE-DERP!

The guy wants to record guitar, I doubt a USB interface will have direct monitoring and the DAW manage the compensation.

Haven't been reading this thread, huh?

I can get as low as 6ms latency on my audio interface and my computer can still run a LOT of samples, synths, and effects crap. I don't even use the monitoring on mine, I just listen through the DAW because I don't even notice the latency.

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I'd save 100$ and get something better than USB.

While that is my interface and it kicks ass, I would not recommend getting it in fw. USB is plenty fast and more universal.

Also, I still don't think you should mix ENTIRELY on headphones. At least use a pair of logitechs or car speakers as a second monitor if you go that route - hearing the mix on as many platforms as possible is really important, imo.

Zircon, do you really mix entirely on headphones with no other checks and balances? Do you use something like Isone?

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I'd save 100$ and get something better than USB.

Why is Firewire "better" than USB? Looking at data throughput numbers doesn't tell you a darned thing if you realize that for a SINGLE PERSON, USB is fast enough to carry two or three inputs and outputs. You'll only notice that firewire is better when you have a lot of inputs (like say 8 or something).

Also, I think you just went braindead for a second there. Your firewire interface is $100 MORE than mine, not less. :P

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I doubt a USB interface will have direct monitoring and the DAW manage the compensation. Good latency does not exist and I chose to have zero latency, given that I know the differance

Blsht! You can use some free soft and put your guitar to pc's mic-in directly. After this, all you need is Reaper or whatever and headphones around 50$.

USB interface is better then free soft and mic-in. So.. USB awesome and cheap!

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Blsht! You can use some free soft and put your guitar to pc's mic-in directly. After this, all you need is Reaper or whatever and headphones around 50$.

USB interface is better then free soft and mic-in. So.. USB awesome and cheap!

I agree with Mak.

Too many people don't give USB a second thought because other people tell them firewire is the bestest best thing in the whole wide world. Hmm... :

something repeated so many times that people believe it's true without questioning why.

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finally, I can power up with the FirwWire cable and not require the 9volt adaptor but it limits the sampling to 96khz. When plugged it goes 192khz, USB can't go there.

This is probably the only part of your post that catches my attention (aka isn't meaningless wikipedia babble), and I can say you don't have a clue because my USB interface does 192khz.

You gave some cool facts, but none of that applies to practical real world experience: you won't notice any performance difference between a good firewire and a good USB interface if you're a one man studio.

Like I said before, USB is plenty fast enough for two inputs and two outputs. Lessee here, sing and play guitar at the same time, have it go through headphones and monitors. How much more can a single human being do?

You can throw numbers at me all you want, doesn't change the fact that my USB interface has really low latency (i.e. performs pretty well) and there isn't any sort of hold up at all. I won't notice any difference if I switch to fire wire because I am physically incapable of noticing maybe 3 or 4 milliseconds of latency difference. So why would I get a $300 interface at all when I could get a $200 one that doesn't really perform that differently? You're reading into numbers too much, man, and not looking at the big picture of reality. ("oh gosh, the GTX 93582 has 320 more points in 3DMark than the Radeon 9480692 so I should get that even though it's $100 more!" when you won't really notice any difference while gaming)

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I hated FL's recording. Admittedly that was just because I didn't know how to use it. You just have to adjust some buffer rates and then your pretty much good to go.

It shouldn't matter what interface you're using to record. If it works, it works.

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Free softs suck

Netblix, 100$, I meant to save money until I have 100$ more.

For the Firewire vs USB, there's a huge differance.

Firewire sends data over a constant stream whereas USB sends data in bursts of different speeds.

USB transfers data in spurts, and rarely reaches its advertised rate of transfer. Therefore even USB 2.0 compares poorly to Firewire 400.

USB devices can by their nature lead to pops and clicks when recording, whereas firewire will stream the data at a constant rate, so this is less likely to happen.

Firewire does not heavily rely on the CPU the way USB does. A device which requires a large throughput (say, an audio interface, or external disk drive) will tax the CPU much more heavily with USB than with Firewire. Depending on what else your CPU is doing (say, capturing audio or mixing), this will affect your performance.

finally, I can power up with the FirwWire cable and not require the 9volt adaptor but it limits the sampling to 96khz. When plugged it goes 192khz, USB can't go there.

Therefore, FireWire allows you to get twice more resolution in your files which benefits when processesing them.

So, why buy a cheap USB interface when maybe one day he'll want to upgrade and then pay like 300-400$. If the usb one is 200$ and later he pays 300$, it makes 500... way to loose money.

It's an investment

Does anyone really record at higher than 48khz? For that matter, has anyone actually experienced the supposed CPU spikes, pops and clicks, and general performance hits that USB interfaces are supposed to cause? Because I never have. If I had bought a Firewire interface that was $100 more expensive than my USB interface just to have Firewire instead of USB, I'd have wasted $100.

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I hated FL's recording. Admittedly that was just because I didn't know how to use it. You just have to adjust some buffer rates and then your pretty much good to go.

Buffer? Same is true for ALL DAW's, man. :nicework:

FL doesn't record via audio tracks in the playlist, it actually just records what's being spat out of a track in the mixer, which is actually better for CPU since you save the entire audio thing (not just the unamped guitar and have it be amped in real time) so you can disable your amp or what have you.

Does anyone really record at higher than 48khz? For that matter, has anyone actually experienced the supposed CPU spikes, pops and clicks, and general performance hits that USB interfaces are supposed to cause? Because I never have. If I had bought a Firewire interface that was $100 more expensive than my USB interface just to have Firewire instead of USB, I'd have wasted $100.

In order: maybe, people with crappy $20 interfaces, and I agree. :P

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Does anyone really record at higher than 48khz? For that matter, has anyone actually experienced the supposed CPU spikes, pops and clicks, and general performance hits that USB interfaces are supposed to cause? Because I never have. If I had bought a Firewire interface that was $100 more expensive than my USB interface just to have Firewire instead of USB, I'd have wasted $100.

Pops, clicks etc is due to incorrect settings. Not the interface.

If you use firewire and it performs the way you want it to, perfect. If you use USB and it performs the way you want it to, perfect.

Thus, the argument of Firewire > USB is a matter of preference.

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I'm not at all looking at numbers. I know that professionals don't use USB for a reason tho, I wouldn't want to have crackles and pops in my recordings.

But I guess as the years go, technologies devellop mroe and more and maybe USB interfaces are better than before, I don't know I don't use them.

If I had your interface I could check how it works and its features.

Mine has many, even optical in/out, TRS outputs, phantom powa, etc

When was the last time you used a USB interface? And to be fair I did say that for a FEW inputs/outputs, USB is golden. If you really need more than that (like 4 mics for your drumset or something) then I guess firewire would be better.

If you want more info, mine is the Native Instruments Audio Kontrol 1.

For inputs, it has one phantom powered neutrik input, one Line In input, one MIDI input.

For outputs, two pairs of stereo outputs (so 1 and 2 are left and right and 3 and 4 are a different left and right), one headphone jack (receives the monitoring audio if you turn on direct monitoring in addition to also listening in on one of your stereo output pairs), a MIDI output, and finally the USB connector.

I would've gone for something cheaper but it came with a free Guitar Rig 4 Pro and that amp sim is capable of some delicious tones out of the box.

Also,

I know that professionals don't use USB for a reason tho,

"Professionals" don't use USB for the same reason "professionals" don't use PC's and for the same reason "professionals" don't use anything other than Pro Tools.

You hear an echoing, comforting voice of wisdom...

something repeated so many times that people believe it's true without questioning why.

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I made some good sounding tunes with only my old 533mHz celeron, my guitar plugged in the 1/8 mic jack of the computer and a MetalZone 9V pedal + the old Recorder program from windows XP. lol

Wait, then why are you recommending buying $2000 worth of equipment in a bare minimums thread?

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For the Pro Tools being better than the others, it's because of the hardware in the big studios that go with the soft. My friend who worked for Avid would only swear by Pro Tools, personally I think my little setup is not ashamed beside Pro Tools and its dedicated hardware (not talking about interfaces). *

Tho I agree it is probably hundreds of time more powerful, he just argued that we could not get a quality mix with only semi-pro hardware.

Did it not occur to you that he would only swear by Pro Tools because he WORKED FOR AVID? :tomatoface:

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but he's like MAC are the best, you can't record without a tube amp, etc...

All of those statements are worthless advice. The best Macs aren't even as powerful as PC's can be, and at double the price. And none of that perfection stability crap, I've had my Pro Tools-Mac setup the first semester of 10th grade (music production "class") crash on more than one occasion moving an audio file.

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Zircon, do you really mix entirely on headphones with no other checks and balances? Do you use something like Isone?

Yes, only headphones, same pair since early 2007 (before that, was still headphones-only, just a different pair.) No other tools, plugins etc to help out. Not saying I don't have more to learn though, there's always tons of room for improvement. I'm still working on how to get really tight, powerful low-end without getting muddy and without cutting too much at ~50-60hz like I often do as a cop-out. Probably has something to do with me using pretty poor compressors until recently and very basic EQ (Parametric EQ2).

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Nope, I don't do that. Occasionally I'll listen to stuff on my computer speakers + sub, which aren't professional by any stretch of the imagination ($100 Tascams.) I don't think I've ever changed anything as a result of that though, as it's more just for fun.

I'll state my advice again, strictly speaking from my own experience. The defining feature of your monitoring setup should be its ability to evenly reproduce the full range of frequencies. If your speakers don't go below 60hz, for example, they're not useful for monitoring. If your headphones overly emphasize the bass, they're not useful for monitoring. So step 1 is to find something that's as even as possible. The problem with monitors is that there are a million factors which influence this. You can affect the frequency balance drastically just by moving your head around, whereas headphones will sound the same 100% of the time.

Next, you need to listen at a consistent level. Stop turning your volume up and down. If you listen to all music at ONE level you will internalize 'quiet' and 'loud' music, properly mastered vs. improperly mastered music, etc. That level should also be fairly quiet in and of itself. Listening at a full, loud volume should be, at most, a treat, not what you normally do. If you listen very consistently to ONE reference, and that reference meets the criteria above, you will eventually learn it inside and out. You'll be able to listen to your own music and immediately hear how it differs (or doesn't differ) from a track with excellent production.

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I'm still working on how to get really tight, powerful low-end without getting muddy and without cutting too much at ~50-60hz like I often do as a cop-out. Probably has something to do with me using pretty poor compressors until recently and very basic EQ (Parametric EQ2).

FWIW, my new favorite tool for tightening up the low-end is the SPL Vitalizer vst.

http://www.kvraudio.com/get/4181.html

It's a bit of a double-edged sword in that it can destroy your mixes like any sound enhancers are apt to do, but it has this really nifty bass compression feature which can really get you to datbass

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I'm not at all looking at numbers. I know that professionals don't use USB for a reason tho, I wouldn't want to have crackles and pops in my recordings.

On the other hand it's kind of weird to think manufacturers would still sell any audio interfaces at all if they all crackled like that. I mean, RME is selling USB audio interfaces, and they're not small either.

The professionals skip Firewire too. MADI is where it's at.

Hopefully Thunderbolt/Light Peak will end all this crap with picky chipsets (because that's the downside with Firewire) - in terms of speed it should pretty much blow both away. For prosumer purposes that'd be pretty neat.

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FWIW, my new favorite tool for tightening up the low-end is the SPL Vitalizer vst.

http://www.kvraudio.com/get/4181.html

It's a bit of a double-edged sword in that it can destroy your mixes like any sound enhancers are apt to do, but it has this really nifty bass compression feature which can really get you to datbass

Looks interesting. Bass compression does seem like the key - especially when you have ANY detuning in the bass synths, the dynamics created by phasing are just a huge pain. Got any examples of this in action?

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