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May 16, 2021 - 1:37:39 PM
197 posts since 3/24/2008

Hello,

I have used the search function and seen some recommendations, but I know technology is always getting better, so I wanted to get some recommendations for budget home recording gear. Let's say I'll spend $1,000 or under, but the cheaper the better.

I have a macbook pro (an older one with OS El Capitan) and don't know diddly about audio interfaces, mics, etc. I was looking at USB audio interfaces. What I want to be able to do is record my banjo and multiple other instruments, and be able to layer audio. Record my banjo, then record my mandocello, guitar, etc.

I was looking at the Scarlett 2i2 audio interface / bundle. I'm thinking maybe I don't get the bundle, as I already have studio-quality headphones (Beyerdynamic DT770 Pros).

I wouldn't mind getting a mic that could be used for both recording and gigging. I know a lot of people on here used to recommend the Shure SM57. Not sure if that mic would be decent enough to record with, or if I should spend a little more for a better condenser. I know condensers need preamps or phantom power.

Any recommendations for easy-to-use audio interfaces, recording software, mics, etc. would be really appreciated.

What do you guys use and/or recommend?

Thanks in advance.

Edited by - Lynne on 05/17/2021 12:54:57

May 16, 2021 - 2:43:19 PM

21 posts since 4/10/2008

I'll just address the microphone question. The SM57 is a standard for PA use. It's generally considered an instrument mic while its brother the SM 58 is thought of as a dynamic vocal mic. There have been many recordings made with each.

Certainly the better the mic the better the sound but remember that the bandwidth of a banjo might not warrant the extra problems of condenser on location.

My suggestion is to find a good dynamic (no phantom power needed) mic that has a narrow cardioid or super cardioid pattern. This helps tremendously in controlling feedback. I personally have had good luck with an Electro Voice PL80a dynamic super cardioid. I can crank my 60 watt battery amp up enough to match the volume required by a horn band without squealing. I bought that around ten years ago so I imagine there are more choices available by now.

May 16, 2021 - 4:21:15 PM

11722 posts since 6/2/2008

Very limited knowledge here, but it's my understanding that a medium to large diaphragm condenser mic is better for recording banjo than a dynamic mic like the SM-57. Since I record so little and am on a budget, I bought an Audio Technica AT2020. Frequently recommended here as a decent quality mic without breaking the bank. One retailer calls it medium diaphragm. Another calls it large. $99. Same as Shure SM57.

As a condenser, it needs phantom power from your mixer or some other source.

For live performance, I'd go with the SM-57.

The rest of your questions are over my head. Except I know your Macbook is several operating systems behind. You should upgrade it to the highest system it will run. My guess is that's High Sierra. Even then, you'll be stuck using old and potentially dead-ended software. That's my situation on my desktop Mac, which not only can't go beyond High Sierra but now has trouble running the software on it. Time to upgrade.

May 16, 2021 - 4:37:33 PM

banjoy

USA

9530 posts since 7/1/2006

I too have old Mac Pros on old systems. I just purchased a Zoom H6 which not only is an excellent digital recorder but also an excellent audio interface. It's about $400-ish, lots of YouTube videos on how to set it all up for interface. It's compatible with Mac OS 10.6 or later so I think you're covered. I'm using Audacity at the moment, but as Old Hickory points out, there are software dead ends on these old Macs so that could be a show-stopper for you (and me too, for that matter).

As a recorder, you can also multi-track with it, recording your initial stereo track then overdub up to four more tracks, all internally, then export them as individual tracks (in WAV format only) to any DAW you may use. It records up to 96kHz at 24 bit depth in WAV , far more than you need for excellent audio. I'm doing all my recoding (still learning the unit) at 44.1kHz at 24 bit depth, plenty-o-room. With the 32gb card it will record about 40+/- hours at that resolution, which is amazing to me.

[Most CDs you buy are 44.1kHz at 16 bit depth, which is also what YouTube recommends for audio, so better to record at a higher resolution (24 bit is great, lots to work with) then downsample later. You can do it with the Zoom, it gives you plenty to work with if you want.]

I'm still experimenting with and learning it so that's about all I can tell you so far. But I think it's worth checking out, as you get both an excellent field recorder and an excellent interface all in one unit and probably will do what you want.

Edited by - banjoy on 05/16/2021 16:51:52

May 16, 2021 - 4:58:39 PM

banjoy

USA

9530 posts since 7/1/2006

One more quick post, the guy who sold me the Zoom recommended that I check out Reaper as a Digital Audio Workstation. I haven't done that yet but it appears from the specs that it's good down to Mac OS 10.5. I think it's freeware, and he told me it's way better than Audacity (which is also free).

reaper.fm/about.php#technical

Maybe other's here can speak to which DAW is best for these old Macs, I'm curious about this too so hopefully someone can jump in and set us straight LOL.

May 16, 2021 - 5:29:20 PM

13970 posts since 10/30/2008

I'm in the same boat as the OPer, and would like guidance on something BASIC to get for making decent video and audio on the next PC I buy. For live music and dubbing old cassetts.

For instance, does any new decent PC have all this on board, or do I need to buy hardware and software?

May 16, 2021 - 7:00:42 PM

2138 posts since 1/21/2003

According to the Reaper site, it is $60 for non-commercial license.

May 16, 2021 - 7:21:16 PM
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1853 posts since 2/10/2003

quote:
Originally posted by rickhayes

According to the Reaper site, it is $60 for non-commercial license.


Correct. Reaper is technically not free ware, however they offer an ulimited demo. If you don't buy the license, a nag screen comes up but that can be dismissed. I bought a license even though I didn't need to just to support the developers in continuing with a relatively cheap and capable daw. 

May 17, 2021 - 12:19:17 AM

banjoy

USA

9530 posts since 7/1/2006

quote:
Originally posted by 250gibson
quote:
Originally posted by rickhayes

According to the Reaper site, it is $60 for non-commercial license.


Correct. Reaper is technically not free ware, however they offer an ulimited demo. If you don't buy the license, a nag screen comes up but that can be dismissed. I bought a license even though I didn't need to just to support the developers in continuing with a relatively cheap and capable daw. 


Ah okay, thanks for the clarifications. I think that's what the fellow told me when I bought the Zoom. I have not checked out Reaper at all nor have I downloaded it, so defer to the advice of others (and am interested too in hearing from those) who may be more familiar with DAWs that would be old-Mac compatible. Even then, $60 seems like a deal, I'm not thrilled about Audacity, but it is free and does the job.

May 17, 2021 - 8:28:06 AM

1482 posts since 2/9/2007

Another vote for Reaper here. It ran very well on my old G4 Mac, and would be doing so yet if I hadn't jettisoned the old tower and crt monitor prior to moving less than 2 years ago.

Audacity is great, but it isn't a real DAW, which Reaper is.

May 17, 2021 - 11:22:01 AM
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11414 posts since 10/27/2006

You're on a Mac. GarageBand will do almost anything you're likely to need except one: GB cannot export a Mono audio track. If you're going to spend money on a DAW, you can get Logic Pro X for $200. Buy it through this link and you can also get Final Cut Pro X, Main Stage, Compressor and Motion included.

Apple Pro Apps Bundle

After purchasing the Pro Apps Bundle, you’ll receive an email with five content codes that can be redeemed on the Mac App Store. Codes are usually delivered within one business day but may occasionally take longer. Any code you don't use, you can give away. Enter each code after logging into the App Store; the apps will register and begin downloading. Apple updates these apps regularly.

Apple's dirty little secret: You can get free telephone support for any of this. They do not advertise it, of course, but you go through the Support pages and they will call back and walk you through anything you need to know. Try that with Reaper (spoiler alert—you can't).

Edited by - mikehalloran on 05/17/2021 11:24:03

May 17, 2021 - 11:35:32 AM

banjoy

USA

9530 posts since 7/1/2006

mikehalloran

Neither Logic Pro nor Final Cut Pro will work on the OP's operating System, which at best is 10.11. Both of what you mention require 10.15 or later.

May 17, 2021 - 11:51:09 AM

11414 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by banjoy

mikehalloran

Neither Logic Pro nor Final Cut Pro will work on the OP's operating System, which at best is 10.11. Both of what you mention require 10.15 or later.


Actually, Apple will give you the option of downloading older, compatible versions—if not through the Apple Store, then through Support. I have a 2008 iMac on a desk running MacOS 2011 El Capitán with both installed.

Both were originally released in 2011 over Mac OS 10.7 Lion.

May 17, 2021 - 11:59:15 AM
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banjoy

USA

9530 posts since 7/1/2006

mikehalloran

LOL of course, another little known Apple secret -- pay today's prices for yesterday's version and be locked there forever. I'm very familiar with Apple's games, I've been using Apples since 1982 and their shenanigans and bait-and-switch get kinda old, but that's just me I guess ... I'm stuck at 10.6.8 (after deciding never to spend another penny on Apple ever again, after 30+ years with them I've had enough) so maybe the OP can look at that as an option.

But yeah ... you're right. It's an option.

Edited by - banjoy on 05/17/2021 12:00:52

May 17, 2021 - 12:10:12 PM

432 posts since 3/26/2009

Cheaper the better? I have an old hand-me down laptop with Audacity (free open source) on it.   I use a Logitech USB Mic branded "RockBand" that I picked up for 50 cents at Goodwill.   laugh

I'm able to multi-track and get clean recordings.  Now if I could only play worth a hoot.....

Edited by - steveh_2o on 05/17/2021 12:13:01

May 17, 2021 - 5:22:18 PM

11414 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by banjoy

mikehalloran

LOL of course, another little known Apple secret -- pay today's prices for yesterday's version and be locked there forever. I'm very familiar with Apple's games, I've been using Apples since 1982 and their shenanigans and bait-and-switch get kinda old, but that's just me I guess ... I'm stuck at 10.6.8 (after deciding never to spend another penny on Apple ever again, after 30+ years with them I've had enough) so maybe the OP can look at that as an option.

But yeah ... you're right. It's an option.


So, why did you weigh in? 

May 17, 2021 - 6:39:37 PM

1853 posts since 2/10/2003

quote:
Originally posted by banjoy

mikehalloran

LOL of course, another little known Apple secret -- pay today's prices for yesterday's version and be locked there forever. I'm very familiar with Apple's games, I've been using Apples since 1982 and their shenanigans and bait-and-switch get kinda old, but that's just me I guess ... I'm stuck at 10.6.8 (after deciding never to spend another penny on Apple ever again, after 30+ years with them I've had enough) so maybe the OP can look at that as an option.

But yeah ... you're right. It's an option.


Well you buy it once. The price for logic 10 has always been $200. If the OP needs to install an older version to be compatible with his OS, if he is able to upgrade his OS in the future he will then be able to get a newer version of Logic for no additional cash. 

May 17, 2021 - 6:43:43 PM

1853 posts since 2/10/2003

quote:
Originally posted by banjoy

mikehalloran

LOL of course, another little known Apple secret -- pay today's prices for yesterday's version and be locked there forever. I'm very familiar with Apple's games, I've been using Apples since 1982 and their shenanigans and bait-and-switch get kinda old, but that's just me I guess ... I'm stuck at 10.6.8 (after deciding never to spend another penny on Apple ever again, after 30+ years with them I've had enough) so maybe the OP can look at that as an option.

But yeah ... you're right. It's an option.


10.6.8 came out 10 years ago. You can't expect a company to offer support and upgrades for a system that old.  Eventually every system, MAC and or PC will have a phase out of older operating systems. 

May 17, 2021 - 7:37:42 PM

banjoy

USA

9530 posts since 7/1/2006

Okie Dokie. Sometimes these threads turn weird for no apparent reason. Mike, I simply didn't know what you had posted until you posted it, then I confirmed that what you said was correct in a subsequent post. (I'm learning too, I thought I had stated that already). Since you want that affirmation, I guess, you got it buddy. Whatever.

The OP quest for input was pretty simple to me: working with a fixed budget, the cheaper the better, on much older Mac equipment, seeking recommendations for an audio interface. All OP wants to do is layer and mix instruments and then finally, mic recommendations. And all of this must be easy to use. That's what was laid out in the OP ... as far as I can tell I was honoring those questions and parameters. In so many ways these requests reflect where I am at too with all this. I'm sorry if I offended with my personalized comments about Apple which I agree doesn't add to the discussion (but it sure felt good to say LOL!!) ... so my apologies.

Whatever. In that vein I hope that something I have posted here helps the OP in doing what he wants to do. With a limited budget to work with it basically comes down to how much to allocate for each part of the package. The more you spend on software the less for microphones or a good interface ... and so on. I would think that with some homework and basic recommendations to consider that honor what's being asked a lot can be had within the budget. Free is good. $60 ain't too bad. $200 is another option. All these options (and others not mentioned) will do what the OP wants to do. I'm not familiar with Reaper or Logic Pro so cannot speak to ease of use or how intuitive they are to work with. So far the discussion seems to have focused mostly on price and not ease of use ... maybe someone can comment on those aspects of what was asked.

Edited by - banjoy on 05/17/2021 19:40:03

May 17, 2021 - 8:40:55 PM
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7115 posts since 2/14/2006

I've got a suggestion too, and this is probably out of budget.. but it really makes a difference in mic quality....... you wouldn't regret it: get a medium priced preamp for whatever mic you own, like the Warm Audio WA12. $469. It makes a huge difference in tonal quality and sounds professional. I just got one last fall, and it has been a game changer for me. I spend less time and energy putting eq plugins on each instrument, and just let the instrument sound like it's supposed to sound.

Each audio interface comes with a built in preamp, like does the Scarlett 2i2 (which is a great choice for the limited volume of simultaneous tracks you're doing). However, there is a world of difference between the Scarlett 2i2 pre and the Warm Audio pre. When you use an external preamp like the WA12, you go into it and out of it into a line-in input on the Scarlett,,, so don't "double preamp" by going from preamp into preamp. Go from preamp into line-in on the Scarlett, and you're set. I've had great luck with it.

Here's a song I recorded with the WA12 and my instruments.


Edited by - Doug Knecht on 05/17/2021 20:47:07

May 17, 2021 - 9:11:20 PM
Players Union Member

BruceS2

USA

23 posts since 12/30/2017

Staying on the OP's questions...I'm using Mojave OS on my 2010 Mac Pro, so 11 years old equipment and an OS from 2018. So the OS is a bit newer than El Cap, but not by much. So upgrade if you can but be careful not to break something if you do:). So for me, using the Scarlett 2i2 works just great (includes phantom power for the mic). Got it for JamKazam but have used it for recording as will...OS easily finds it. I'm using an EarTrumpet mic which works great for the banjo. For my workstation I use Audacity which does everything I want. GarageBand will work too but its interface is to strange for me...Audacity makes sense and just works. My impression of Logic Pro was it is overkill and much more complex than Audacity for recording acoustic music. Start with something like this and try little upgrades if you think you need to.

May 18, 2021 - 9:45:09 AM

LukeL

USA

78 posts since 9/14/2017

Almost all Macs capable of running El Capitan natively can run macOS Catalina unofficially with minimal work. I work on and resell Macs all week and have been doing it for 9 years. I have made tons of recordings with a Scarlett 2i2 and the very latest 2021 version of Logic Pro X on a 2008 MacBook running 10.15.7 Catalina. A $20 SSD and 8GB RAM and no issues to speak of. Dan, what year and model is your Mac?

Luke

Edited by - LukeL on 05/18/2021 09:46:58

May 18, 2021 - 1:10:41 PM

2706 posts since 4/16/2003

OP Dan...

Sent you a private msg...

Also... if you're on a Mac, GarageBand is as good an app as any "to start with". However, I always preferred Cubase for its blend of power combined with ease-of-learning and use. I have never seen any other digital/audio app in which editing (moving, cutting, pasting sound clips) was as easily done.

Edited by - J.Albert on 05/18/2021 13:13:07

May 19, 2021 - 12:33:24 PM

11722 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by 250gibson
quote:
Originally posted by rickhayes

According to the Reaper site, it is $60 for non-commercial license.


Correct. Reaper is technically not free ware, however they offer an ulimited demo. If you don't buy the license, a nag screen comes up but that can be dismissed. I bought a license even though I didn't need to just to support the developers in continuing with a relatively cheap and capable daw. 


Same here. After about 10 years, and very light use at that, I finally paid for my copy.  My problem is I do audio editing and production so infrequently, that I'm practically relearning the software every time I use it. And I never really learned it in the first place, since it's all just dive in and use.

Edited by - Old Hickory on 05/19/2021 12:33:51

May 22, 2021 - 8:03:20 PM

3118 posts since 10/17/2009

quote:
Originally posted by cheeseforbreakfast

Hello,

I have used the search function and seen some recommendations, but I know technology is always getting better, so I wanted to get some recommendations for budget home recording gear. Let's say I'll spend $1,000 or under, but the cheaper the better.

I have a macbook pro (an older one with OS El Capitan) and don't know diddly about audio interfaces, mics, etc. I was looking at USB audio interfaces. What I want to be able to do is record my banjo and multiple other instruments, and be able to layer audio. Record my banjo, then record my mandocello, guitar, etc.

I was looking at the Scarlett 2i2 audio interface / bundle. I'm thinking maybe I don't get the bundle, as I already have studio-quality headphones (Beyerdynamic DT770 Pros).

I wouldn't mind getting a mic that could be used for both recording and gigging. I know a lot of people on here used to recommend the Shure SM57. Not sure if that mic would be decent enough to record with, or if I should spend a little more for a better condenser. I know condensers need preamps or phantom power.

Any recommendations for easy-to-use audio interfaces, recording software, mics, etc. would be really appreciated.

What do you guys use and/or recommend?

Thanks in advance.


 

I've helped lots of folks set up home recording. My observation and take on home recording. Where to start, a lot depends on the individual, what their experience with sound equip (mics, mixers, EQ...), and computers... as well as their patience, comfort with new/techie stuff... and goals or expectations.

$1000 is a fairly decent budget... but I would hold off spending all of it. Getting decent recording has more to do with learning, experience and skill; than equipment and software. For folks have very little experience, they have a lot of wrong ideas about things. For most part, the equipment, mic, interface, or software isn't going to be the main issue; most can do a decent job. What they most need first is time investment in hands on learning experience; and look for set-up, tools that will easily provide that learning without much $ investment. With experience, will help guide how to spend budget.

Software... start with free. Many find Audacity works fine, more like a tape recorder than a DAW... easy to use, make basic multi-track. Jumping to Garageband, Studio One, Ardour, ProTools First, Ableton Lite... some of which might be included in interface bundle; but are generally free to download. They introduce better editing and plugins, EQ, compression, effects, VSTs, MIDI, instrument sampling libraries, looping... learn what you can from those free things, about recording/editing/mixing and workflow.

I know a lot of people on here used to recommend the Shure SM57. Not sure if that mic would be decent enough to record with, or if I should spend a little more for a better condenser. I know condensers need preamps or phantom power.

All mics need a preamp, generally built into the interface or mixer; and generally do a decent job. Similar, phantom power is built in to most. SM57 (or similar dynamic); is a good investment to own; a versatile workhorse gets decent results for many situations, stage and recording. There are many reasonable inexpensive condensers. Condensers are not necessarily better... just different. Sometimes a dynamic such as SM57 works better for recording some sources, getting a certain sound. Many condensers work great as stage mics. Might also consider rather than one size fits all mic... buying 2 mics with different qualities and specs; such as dynamic (SM57), and condenser like AT2020; or large diameter and small diameter; or different in polar patterns. Gives more options.

For interface... some alternatives;  Many find USB mic route initially easier... and do a decent job. Another alternative to consider for gigging musician on budget,  might consider a small mixer with USB out... as it can be used for gigs as well.

Again, once you start learning, getting experience... reading info about equip makes more sense; and helps inform what direction, best use of budget.

May 24, 2021 - 6:39:15 PM

DRH

USA

632 posts since 5/29/2018

I almost ordered a Scarlett 2i2 last year after seeing several good reviews. They were way behind in production so I decided to wait.

Now I'm seeing a lot of 2i2's on craigslist. Makes me wonder if there is something about them that didn't show up in the reviews. Anybody care to comment on their experience with a 2I2?

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