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[Serious Writers Guild Member]
I bought a Mac G5 to use totally for my recording.
Yes it was expensive (compared to a PC) but it was
probably the best purchase I ever made.
It looks great, it records brilliantly (I use Logic) and
the thing has never let me down.
It’s never crashed once.
Mac is the industry standard creative platform…..graphics
and sound. End of……
[Serious Writers Guild Member]
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"Home Studio 2012"
home studio [not mine!]
The 2012 update on the best home studio thinking today?
How to have the professional standard in your home
studio - the best, for the least cost
This is a short update on all the latest 2012 thinking in studio design, equipment, software. My advice would be to check out my other articles on studios and soundproofing, acoustic treatment etc. as this is an update rather than a complete advice article ... go to LIST OF ARTICLES to see what you can learn from.
They say that knowledge increases by the ratio of 5 each year ... WOW!
Also, with that in mind, the improvement in equipment and studio stuff must improve by that much? Perhaps! But I don't think that happens in the real world. The equipment improvements are available but it would make sense for the manufacturers to just drip feed them to us?
Already, Apple almost compel us to improve our Mac computers almost every year. And I must say, the power increases are humungous. We drool over the power now available - but the cost?
I made a promise to the members of my Serious Writers Guild all those years ago, when we started, that I would look after their money ... in other words, I would show them how to "make the money not spend the money" ... so every bit of advice I give should give you the best 'bang for your buck'.
computer in your home studio?
the same ... with no argument accepted.
I just could not conceive of using a
PC for all the recording and video work
I do ... no way! The speed, reliability
and sheer convenience of Mac is not
Industry standard computer in music is the Apple
is Mac Pro with a choice of 4, 6, 8
or 12 cores of processing power. Just
imagine the power and speed?
be aware that Apple have always had
a way of upgrading their computer systems
... G4 then G5 ... with programmes called
all sorts of names: Tiger, Leapord, now
Snow Leapord and going to Lion.
I hear dreadful tales of the Lion system ... my pals are simple reloading the ultra reliable Snow Leopard ... you have been warned!
Running two monitor screens is still the best way of working.
Apple Mac Pro Tower
External Hard Drive
The only change I would make from last year would be to have quite a few back up hard drives ... one for general backing up music files ... another for Time Machine, which is the dedicated Mac automatic back up system. Then,
every album project I do has everything
copied to an external drive specific
for that album or project. They are so cheap today ... £30 for 250GB?
as Apple recommend, I have another Hard
Drive in constant use using the on board
'Time Machine' programme which continually
takes snaphots of the entire computer
on an ongoing basis .... does a PC do
all that? In my experience a pale imitation.
the Mac is clean and working to it’s
maximum potential with no clutter in
the memory. All the silly additional
programmes have been stripped out. Only
Toast Titanium is necessary for handling
and sending MP3’s.
Sequencing/Recording software in your home
is still the most common professional standard
sequencing and recording software right
throughout the Industry …. Don’t even
consider anything else …. It is standard
through the world. A few use Logic 8
… usually for orchestral or dance music
in their home studio.
the last few years Sonar has got a foothold
as it is very user friendly for disabled
folk particularly partially sighted
The latest version is Protools 10 … just
released but needs an Intel equipped
Mac to facilitate it. Costs around £200 for the software.
An interesting innovation is the Avid dedicated keyboard which emphasises all the shortcuts rather than using the mouse .... looks good and should speed up sessions immeasurably CLICK HERE to view.
Latest Avid ProTools dedicated keyboard
Sequencing/Recording hardware in your
have to use a DAW [Digital Audio Workstation]
to interface between your microphones,
guitars etc. and the computer software
... in other words, you have to plug
into the hardware box and it converts
the signal to a digital stream that
the computer can interpret.
Digidesign [or Avid as it is now known]
have allowed other DAW makers to use
ProTools software ... so the market
has opened up to the likes of Focusrite
Check out the latest Focusrite units ... they look tasty.
This section is concentrating on the latest developments so please refer back to http://www.makehits.co.uk/art030.htm constantly for info on standard equipment needed.
I am advised that AVID, who are
the parent company controlling Protools,
Digidesign and M-Audio [previously
Midiman] intend to re-brand all
products with the name AVID ...
confusing at the moment when looking
at Protools DAW equipment.
not Windows PC and Cubase 6, FL Studio
9, Ableton Live 8, Reason 5 and Record
1.5, Cakewalk Sonar, Acid Pro 7, Adobe
Audition 3, Magix Samplitude 11 Pro,
Presonus Studio One Pro etc. in your
Be aware that once you get talked into
PC you will immediately be on a tread
mill of spend, spend, spend to try and
get the same results that you can get
from a Mac and Protools straight away.
Straight out of the box.
you get the first bite from a Record
company for your home made music they
will ask the immortal question: "do
you have the ProTools files so that
we can have a remix done?"
You are then well and truly 'stuffed'.
keyboards? Software plug-ins or real
keyboards in your home studio?
drift is toward plug-in software based
sound modules ... all of a sudden they
have become very, very useable and sound
***** in 2012there is a huge move to on board keyboard sounds ....
There is also a huge move towards 'toys' as we used to call them. Korg, in particular, have cornered the market with their exceptional Kaossilator series ... these can be played by any kid with practically zilch knowledge of music ... just an ear for 'sounds' and relatively good timing ....
But the results are top of the range 'radio ready' sounds.
Just a a tiny part of the range - extremely useful for bringing your toons into the year 2012
Click on images to access complete range of these Korg 'toys'
What's this I hear about massive sample strings, choirs, vocals? Any good?
The majority of hugh classy TV music and Film music is being created with mega expensive 'too good to be true' sample based music.
West and such companies are now selling
high end sample programmes such as Symphonic
Choirs ... a software which allows you
to type in a phrase and yes, the choir
will sing it.
there are Vienna Strings bringing orchestras
right into your computer ... there are
Steinways and Bosendorfer pianos with
facilities for having the sound through
variously positioned microphones.
all of these come at a cost and also
a requirement for huge memory space
... typically 35-40 GBytes per programme.
So a studio kitted out with a selection
would have 600+ Gigabytes of memory
with super fast retrieval speeds ...
talk to me about these.
With a Mac simply buy an extra Hard Drive for your tower ... then load the sample library/libraries onto the new hard drive and tell the programme to find it ... simple as that.
The new generation of USB2 and USB3 standdalone hard drives should do the same but I have not had good success ... the extra built in Terrabyte hard drive works best for me.
Good useful information at HERE to make sure you get the right Hard Drive for your Mac.
Another factor in the
equation is the huge learning curve
involved when it comes to the massive
programmes ... you simply have to put
the time aside to learn how to use them
Typical CPU about
an inch wide
reverbs etc. are, to my mind, still
constrained in their quality and generally
are not to the highest excellence because
of the CPU problem.
I still use Korg Triton as a main keyboard
… this acts as the main mother keyboard
linked to all the other keyboards and
sound modules through MIDI [Musicial
Instrument Digital Interface] … Yamaha
Motif is also still the other keyboard
and sound module of choice.
Always use a powered Midi splitter rather
than daisy chaining [from one unit to
the next one] when sending MIDI information
around your studio to different MIDI
units ... otherwise the signal can deteriorate
... Nexus and Midiman make good
Samplers? Software or Hardware in your
Almost all sampling is done through the recording software ... but for speed and convenience a few die hards, like myself, prefer the convenience of hands on hardware samplers.
Mixer? On screen or a real mixer ...
analogue or digital in your home studio?
My advice still remains the same although
Digital mixers are becoming more and
more accepted. Yes, you can mix on screen
but then you are constrained to the
CPU power of the computer and the quality
of on-board effects.
On a side issue, lots of venues now have digital lighting consoles as the mainstay of their lighting control. I have never ONCE been in a venue [outside the big theatres and hired in lighting rigs] where anyone knew the first idea about working the lighting control desks ... unbelievable but true.
They simply leave it set to flashing old-school disco flashing although the capabilities are limitless ... sadly, each manufacturer has differing protocols so it is quite impossibe to get them to work without a week of studying the manual ... most venues cannot even switch them on!
desks are gaining in popularity and
it is your choice, after all, whether
you want the learning curve?
Again, there is no standarisation ....
effects or stand alone rack mounted in your
experience still tells me the
same story. I just like the bigness of quality outboard FX units ... I have never heard a digital effect to compare.
powered plug-ins in your home studio?
There is a type of self powered plug-in system
which has it’s own CPU and thus operates
independently of the computer. UAD are
probably the best for these … I have looked at
them and am personally not convinced that
there is a benefit in using them.
UAD series are reasonably priced but I have
seen others with huge price tags ... I prefer to
have the real thing!
The UAD plug-in hardware - with
it's own CPU - plugs into the Tower.
in your home studio?
Still the same .....
are the unsung heroes of hit recording
… not understood by amateurs and novices
but the successful guys know compressors
inside out …. My essential compressor
for lead vocals is still the TLA Audio
Fatman 11 … stereo valve compressor
used by all the top Hip Hop guys ….
certainly hear it working …
Again, I am not impressed by the compressor
plug-ins although I have used ‘Bomb Factory’
in the Protools set up …. Yes, you can hear it
working but I much prefer the outboard sound.
dedicated drum sound module in your home
Yep ... the advice is still the same....
would consider a stand alone drum module
… very quick, easy and handy to use
… I use the Alesis DM5 as my main drum
sound module … but am also using the
on board ProTools stuff. The latest
DM10 is a wonder ... check it out here:
Alesis DM10 drum sound module
monitors in your home studio?
No change ...
are the most important part of a studio
set-up. All the great equipment is no
good unless you hear it properly …
Still the only monitors to use in your
home studio are the ancient Yamaha NS10S
…. Industry standard throughout the
world, easily identified by their cute
white cones and essential for mixing
hit records … despite what the amateurs
and novices say … and that is why you
see them in every major studio … it
is a constant, accurate, reference point
right through the world. Hard to find
but worth the search.
I recommend the Studiosound look-alikes
SN10 to all Members of the Serious
Writers Guild and have never had
a complaint .. at £97? A silly price.
Yamaha NS10 - spot the difference?
microphones in your home studio?
Microphones are the easiest to choose … you
need one good condenser mic. for vocals ….
Neumann are Industry Standard but have a
prohibitive price tag. I
use the Shure KSM27 mostly … a superb all
round microphone that has featured on many of
my huge selling tracks … the Shure SM58 is
industry standard for vocals … and the SM57
for instrument and drum miking.
mics are beginning to make an impression
... used straight into your computing
recording with USB ... I use a Monacor
DM-500USB for talking stuff ... quite
I was with Gordon Giltrap the other day at the funeral of Bert Weedon ... also nice to see the 'good guys' of the guitar world there ... Brian May ... Joe Brown .. Chas McDevitt.
The genius that is Gordon Giltrap ... my pal!
Gordon has just developed a phenomenal idea for holding a microphone in place while recording acoustic guitar .... this is what he says:
"I am currently working with Rob Aitchison of www.exploraudio.com to promote a Signature GG H clamp,
a wonderful device for use in live performance and recording. The H clamp fits securely to most acoustic instruments and will accommodate most microphones. It allows movement whilst recording, thus maintaining a chosen mike position for ones instrument. There are H clamp’s to fit most instruments including cello and double bass as well as percussion. A beautifully engineered product, and made in England!"
Personally I cannot wait to use this ingenious idea.
earphones in your home studio?
Still the Industry standard, just like
NS10S, is Beyer Dynamic DT100 …
used in every major studio in the world
and in TV and Radio. They are modular
built so any part can be replaced if
broken or damaged. Very high SPL and
comfortable to use … with padding to
isolate the sound from microphones etc.
when tracking [playing or singing with
a track to record].
will notice I still do not dwell on
Pre-Amps … mainly because I have never
found the necessity to use them … I
consider the pre-amps on the Digidesign
003 to be fine … for the type of commercial
money making productions I do.
But you could look at Focusrite .... then examine your wallet closely!
So what else do I need to get
started in your home studio?
A good pop shield in front
of the microphone - many are available
and quite cheap. Check out
incredible Red 100 from StudioSpares
in the UK is a sensational microphone
reflection filter that sits behind the
microphone and stops any unwanted echoes
and reflections from entering the back
of the microphone. Stunning.
Red 100 reflection filter
This idea is now used for drum recording ... miniature versions of the big one ... great results. Watch the video:
And finally in your
The CD recorder?
I prefer to use a standalone CD recorder for final mixes ... yes you can use the onboard CD recorder if you mix on screen.
I have recently upgraded my recorder and now use Teac .... good and easy to use ... does not have a knob for recording level [a knob makes it easier to wind down to 0 at end of mix for total quiet]. I can still wind down but it is not as quick as a knob.
Benefit of the latest recorders is that they will use any old Data or Music disc ... but I still use top of the range Music blank CD's.
Just a word of warning ...
never believe the argument that MP3, or, worse
still, Mini Disc, is as good as 41.4Hz CD ... it
simply is not!
way, never master your own material ... bring it
to the best Mastering Suite you can afford.
a home studio can produce stunning top quality
results but the Mastering Suite is where the
'fairy dust' is liberally sprinkled.
Regards from Dec [email me?]
idea for this article on home studios was from songwriting
and music making members
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