Author Topic: Recording noob - help!  (Read 115 times)

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Offline The Walrus

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Recording noob - help!
« on: July 29, 2020, 09:11:48 AM »
Okay guys after years and years I'm finally ready to jump into making some halfway decent music recordings at home. I just bought a beast of a computer that fell into my lap so it'll handle anything, and I'm going to get a new synth and digital piano soon (I'm a keyboardist). I have some questions, probably noob questions.

1. My synth will have MIDI out, not sure about the piano; do I even need a MIDI controller if I have a pro synth with MIDI out? Effectively the synth will double as a MIDI controller, right? Which also means if I were to buy a keytar (serious possible) I could just run the synth to the guitar as a controller too, right? Am very stupid, please explain like I'm 5.

2. Cables. Uh. What kind of cables do I need for recording? Like... just whatever plugs into the audio jacks in the back of my computer? Do I need to connect synths/pianos to some kind of rack like guitarists do? Am very stupid, please explain like I'm 5. There's a reason I gravitate towards acoustic instruments: they have no electronics to understand

3. Software. I am going to need to learn a DAW which is a whole process in itself. Cubase, I guess? Reaper? IDK. We're looking at some kind of power-prog metal and solo piano music making, if that matters for any reason

4. I'm really not looking to make an album in my bedroom but I do want to be able to record some decent sounding music, like, if any of my musician friends want a keyboard solo (some have already shown interest in me playing some keys here and there), I'll be able to record it and send it to them and it'll sound decent enough that they'll be able to get it mixed just fine. Am I looking to spend a small fortune or can I do this for just a few hundred dollars? I have no idea what this stuff costs.

Offline Vmadera00

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Re: Recording noob - help!
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2020, 11:10:27 AM »
I am not an expert when it comes to recording but I will try my best. Others can correct me if I am wrong.

1) As far as I know, Yes, you can use your Synth as a MIDI controller.

2) You will need an interface. You connect your instrument to the interface and the interface to the computer. A pretty famous interface is the Focusrite. You can get a Focusrite solo (1 channel) for pretty cheap (Last I checked $100). I'm sure there are other comparable brand/price (Presonus is one), but you can't go wrong with Focusrite.

3)Ableton and Pro Tools are some of the softwares my friends use, even though I know there are better ones out there. I believe Focusrite (or most interfaces for that matter) includes some sort of basic software and plugins you can use while you get the hang of it.

4) Yes. There is a learning curve of course, but once you learn a thing or two, the quality of your audio and recording should improve.

Disclaimer: I have recorded stuff for guitars, not for keyboard.

Offline Stadler

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Re: Recording noob - help!
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2020, 07:56:44 AM »
I was going to ask that question; how much of this is the same for guitar?   

Also, where does Logic Pro fit in with Ableton and Pro Tools?   Better? Worse? Same? 

Offline Elite

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Re: Recording noob - help!
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2020, 08:50:05 AM »
Okay guys after years and years I'm finally ready to jump into making some halfway decent music recordings at home. I just bought a beast of a computer that fell into my lap so it'll handle anything, and I'm going to get a new synth and digital piano soon (I'm a keyboardist). I have some questions, probably noob questions.

1. My synth will have MIDI out, not sure about the piano; do I even need a MIDI controller if I have a pro synth with MIDI out? Effectively the synth will double as a MIDI controller, right? Which also means if I were to buy a keytar (serious possible) I could just run the synth to the guitar as a controller too, right? Am very stupid, please explain like I'm 5.

2. Cables. Uh. What kind of cables do I need for recording? Like... just whatever plugs into the audio jacks in the back of my computer? Do I need to connect synths/pianos to some kind of rack like guitarists do? Am very stupid, please explain like I'm 5. There's a reason I gravitate towards acoustic instruments: they have no electronics to understand

3. Software. I am going to need to learn a DAW which is a whole process in itself. Cubase, I guess? Reaper? IDK. We're looking at some kind of power-prog metal and solo piano music making, if that matters for any reason

4. I'm really not looking to make an album in my bedroom but I do want to be able to record some decent sounding music, like, if any of my musician friends want a keyboard solo (some have already shown interest in me playing some keys here and there), I'll be able to record it and send it to them and it'll sound decent enough that they'll be able to get it mixed just fine. Am I looking to spend a small fortune or can I do this for just a few hundred dollars? I have no idea what this stuff costs.

1. Something needs to make sound. This can be a sound library on your computer, or a keyboard that creates sound. What sounds it creates depends on the input. On a piano it's simple; press key, hear sound. A MIDI keyboard sends out a signal to whatever sound library saying 'produce this pitch at this volume'. The sound library then plays sound. Most synthesizers are sound library and controller (the keys) in one. A MIDI-keyboard is just the controller and you would need a sound library to work with. In general, a keytar is a MIDI-controller as well, meaning you could use it to produce the sounds from your synthesizer.

Native Instruments have great free packages for anyone trying to experiment with sounds on the computer. Go here and download 'Komplete Start', which you can then use to experiment with.


2. Generally, if you're using a computer as a sound library, you connect the MIDI-controller (keyboard) to your PC using a USB-cable. Since everything is happening digitally, you're not actually 'recording' sound.


3. Go with Reaper first, because it's free. Most DAWs are fairly complicated and take a lot of time to learn how to properly work with. Reaper is no different in that sense. There's tons of helpful videos on Reaper as well. I personally use Cubase, which is great I suppose, but it's also got far too many features that I don't necessarily use. I mainly do use it because I got a full working version and because I know it does what I want it to do and it can do some specific stuff that I know how to use. I have used Reaper in the past as well, but to me some of the basic function were a bit strangely laid out. That said, go with Reaper anyway, especially if it's the first time you're doing this. Reaper can do almost anything any other DAW can do and it's free.


4. The beauty of recording digital instruments (assuming you're going to use sounds from your computer) is that there's no recording 'quality' issues, as everything is digital. Now, if you're absolutely hell-bent on using the sounds in your synthesizer, it's going to be a bit more difficult. You would need an (external) audio-interface (basically a sound card that converts analog audio to digital in a DAW) that you can record with. You would plug the main outs of your synthesizer into the sound-card and record (actual sound this time!) directly into the DAW. I use an old beat-up thing for guitar recording, mainly because I don't need to upgrade until it breaks, but you can get some decent ones for not too much. Look into Focusrite (brand), they seem to be used a lot, though admittedly I have no experience with those. Can't be too difficult. Assuming your keyboard/synthesizer has two main outs (Left and Right) you would need two inputs to be able to record in stereo.


Recording actually takes a lot of time and work to get good at, but fortunately there's so much good stuff online to find. I honestly don't know whether my last suggestion (recording actual keyboard sounds) is used a lot nowadays, but I can imagine some people want to do it that way if they want to get a particular sound out of a synthesizer. I get the impression most keyboard/synth sounds come from computers, which (since it's all digital) is easier to 'record'.

Hope all of that helps a little!
Hey dude slow the fuck down so we can finish together at the same time.  :biggrin:
Squ
scRa are the resultaten of sound nog bring propey

Offline The Walrus

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Re: Recording noob - help!
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2020, 09:00:56 AM »
Thanks guys, this is helping me wrap my head around this stuff a LOT. So it looks like I'll want an interface - I'll look into Focusrite - and for a DAW, seems like Reaper will be the one I start with. Thanks for the NI link, too, Elite.

So I don't know if this is possible, but let's say my synth is attached to the PC, and I have a VST to work with. Let's say I want to use a string ensemble sample. If my synth is attached to the computer will it effectively act as a controller, so if I play a couple of chords on the synth, they will register on the computer as chords made with that VST patch? Again, sorry if it's a dumb question, just trying to figure this all out. Would that mean I'm not really recording 'sound' just the digital waveforms? I guess what I'm asking is could I potentially use my synth to act as a controller (I think) for the PC to make recording easier, instead of like... manually editing the notes and dynamics and duration etc. with mouse and keyboard?

Offline Elite

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Re: Recording noob - help!
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2020, 09:15:45 AM »
I think you could use your synth as a MIDI controller, you should be able to look that up. Usually you would need a DAW to work with the VSTs though, but in general, yes. If your keyboard can be used as a MIDI controller you can play the VSTs on your computer with that. You're actually not even recording 'digital waveforms', you're either creating a MIDI 'transcript' which the VST uses to play back, or you're instantly recording it through the VST. In the latter example (MIDI -> VST -> audio - all in one go), you can't edit stuff afterwards like you would be able to do were you to record MIDI.

I realise all of this is pretty confusing and it's at times confusing for me to figure out what I'm trying to say as well :lol



Okay, so if we say the keyboard can send a MIDI signal, your DAW can do one of two things:
 - save the midi signal you're feeding it. You can then 'send' this midi signal to whatever VST you want, converting it into actual sound.,
 - instantly convert the midi signal through a VST and 'record' the resulting sound.

If you're unsure about your sonic choices, I'd say #1 is more useful, since you can basically edit the MJIDI signal you fed into the DAW and try out various sounds using the exact thing you played pitch and volume-wise.
Hey dude slow the fuck down so we can finish together at the same time.  :biggrin:
Squ
scRa are the resultaten of sound nog bring propey

Offline The Walrus

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Re: Recording noob - help!
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2020, 11:17:07 AM »
Fantastic. I'll definitely be reading these posts several times... :lol

Offline Buddyhunter1

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Re: Recording noob - help!
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2020, 11:46:56 AM »
I'd definitely recommend Cubase. There's a free trial for the basic version you can dip your feet into for a month before you decide if you want to buy it or not. And it doesn't use a subscription model so it won't cause you to go bankrupt like ProTools will after a while. :P
...in my opinion

Offline Elite

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Re: Recording noob - help!
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2020, 02:30:21 PM »
ProTools is subscription-based? Bastards!
EDIT: actually, this doesnít surprise me, since Sibelius is also like that.

Well, Cubase updates arenít exactly free either...
Hey dude slow the fuck down so we can finish together at the same time.  :biggrin:
Squ
scRa are the resultaten of sound nog bring propey

Offline Buddyhunter1

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Re: Recording noob - help!
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2020, 07:34:59 PM »
I guess, but you only have to pay once if you stick with the same version. And upgrading from an old version gives you a discount, obviously. I have Cubase Artist 10 currently. Upgraded from Elements because they put the dynamic tempo and time signature tracks behind an upgrade wall... prog-hating bastards. :neverusethis:
...in my opinion