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Topic: Need help with misc. electronics

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  1. #1
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    Question Need help with misc. electronics

    Ok, again with my upgrade plans. Here is what I need advise for:

    Sound Card (for use with Kontakt) - Needs to have optical output, at least one stereo input and keep in mind that I am a HUGE PC gamer and I usually play them on the same machine as all my audio stuff.

    Monitors (The speaker kind) - Need some that are not too expensive. I already have my headphones so I am covered there. Also, what kind of sub should I look at?

    Monitor (The veiwing kind) - Should I keep with my regular CRT or go LCD? Anyone use projectors? I would like it to be as clear and have as large of a veiwing area as possible without breaking the bank. I have had a huge problem with certain monitors so I am not sure what brand or anything.

    Reciever - Not a big deal, just something that can handle 5.1 DTS ect. Currently using an old Kenwood VR-406 and it works pretty well but has no DTS.

    The other 3 speakers: Center and Surrounds. What works well with monitors?

    MIDI Controller: 88-key semi-weighted or hammer action. Is aftertouch that important? Don't really need tons of knobs and stuff so that isn't a big deal.

    MIDI Percussion Pad: Anyone use these? Just want one that works.

    If anyone else can think of something that I am forgetting for a major studio overhaul please chime in. Thanks, you guys rule!

    James W.G. Smith

  2. #2
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    Re: Need help with misc. electronics

    Sound Card (for use with Kontakt) - Needs to have optical output, at least one stereo input and keep in mind that I am a HUGE PC gamer and I usually play them on the same machine as all my audio stuff.

    I never play games on computers but I'll put in a word for the Edirol UA-25 usb external soundcard that's just been released. I bought one for my laptop for backup when field recording and its really very nice and well designed. Good stereo image, nice little preamps. Oh, and it works well with Kontakt.

    If you need more I/Os and have serious cash to spend then RME's Fireface 800 reigns supreme at the moment, IMO. Its a great bit of kit and I bought it as soon as I'd tried it.

    Monitors (The speaker kind) - Need some that are not too expensive. I already have my headphones so I am covered there. Also, what kind of sub should I look at?

    Depends on your price range. Cheaper monitors that you can do a decent mix on include Tapco's S5 (a mate has some that I was pretty impressed with and I'm not really a Mackie fan), Event's TR range, KRK's V4 series 2, Harbeth DPM-1 (these are seriously good for monitoring - very neutral and unexciting - not so much for gaming!) or the cheaper Genelecs. With a bit more money then Dynaudio BM6A are superb, Mackie HR624/824s or mid range Genelec's. In fact so much choice!. Best thing is to go to a store where you can listen in a quiet room and listen to a few CDs to make your choice.

    But I will say that I'd personally go with the active Dynaudio BM6As, or the DPM-1s and power them with a couple of Flying Mole DAD-M100 amps.

    Monitor (The veiwing kind) - Should I keep with my regular CRT or go LCD? Anyone use projectors? I would like it to be as clear and have as large of a veiwing area as possible without breaking the bank. I have had a huge problem with certain monitors so I am not sure what brand or anything.

    Can't really answer this one. I just use 3 run-of-the-mill TFTs. Nothing fancy.

    The other 3 speakers: Center and Surrounds. What works well with monitors?

    If you intend to mix in surround and not just use it for gaming then I think you probably need a proper surround package. I've never done it so can't say. But I recall Houston Haynes saying that he uses M-audio (BX8s is it?) for this purpose so maybe its worth PM'ing him and looking into these.

    MIDI Controller: 88-key semi-weighted or hammer action. Is aftertouch that important? Don't really need tons of knobs and stuff so that isn't a big deal.

    Budget keyboards are the M-Audio Keystation Pro 88 and Fatars. Better, more expensive models include the Yamaha S90 and Kawai MP9500

    MIDI Percussion Pad: Anyone use these? Just want one that works.

    Roland "Octopads" (or whatever they're called now). Pretty good and not too expensive.

    If anyone else can think of something that I am forgetting for a major studio overhaul please chime in. Thanks, you guys rule!

    Headphones?. Midi fader/knob controller?. Mixer?. I'm not sure what you've got. Sennheiser and Sony headphones are good - lots to choose from. I'll leave out the midi controller as you said before you didn't need lots of knobs etc. Mixers: I've bought a Mackie Big Knob for monitoring and routing and its brilliant. Alternatively there's the Soundcraft Compact 4 or 10 mixing desks which look really nice for the price but I haven't used or heard them.

    I'm sure I've left things out but hope this helps.

    cheers

    Jon

  3. #3

    Re: Need help with misc. electronics

    Sound Card (for use with Kontakt) - Needs to have optical output, at least one stereo input and keep in mind that I am a HUGE PC gamer and I usually play them on the same machine as all my audio stuff.

    Here's a great piece of advice.....get yourself a PS2 or XBox. Trust me, you will end up with lots less headaches in the long run. Audio is very tricky business as far as keeping everything running together happy and the less extra crap you cram on your audio computer, the better everything will run.
    >>Kays
    http://www.musicbykays.com
    Music Composition for Feature Films, Television and Interactive Entertainment

  4. #4
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    Re: Need help with misc. electronics

    Quote Originally Posted by midphase
    Here's a great piece of advice.....get yourself a PS2 or XBox. Trust me, you will end up with lots less headaches in the long run. Audio is very tricky business as far as keeping everything running together happy and the less extra crap you cram on your audio computer, the better everything will run.
    True, but I have always been a hardcore PC gamer, and am not really willing to go to an Xbox or something. I know it would be better for my computer but I am too addicted to PC games (my collection is nearing 200, and I still play quite a few of them).

    As for a mixing console, I do that through software right now and I am pretty used to it. How much of a difference do you guys think a console will make? Thanks,

    James W.G. Smith

    After I get this all set up I'll send you guys some pics, hopefully it will actually LOOK like a studio for once in my life

  5. #5

    Re: Need help with misc. electronics

    James - first question: what are you going to do with your music? Is iit for you and a few friends for fun, or is it a business? Symphonic (many instruments, lots of controller activity) or jazz trio (piano, bass drums, mostly simple MIDI data streams?

    next: Listen to midphase-don't try to do games on the same box, you are setting yourself up for major headaches. Keep your games on a second (or third) computer, keep your audio box dedicated to audio. To save money and desktop real estate, get a KVM switchbox-one monitor,keyboard and mouse for all.

    Speakers - if you're serious, get a good set of studio monitors, decent ones can be had for under $500/pair. If you just want good 'computer-quality' sound, go to your local computer store and listen to what they have, get a set with the (sub )woofer and go from there.

    Monitor - for gaming, LCDs aren't as fast, for graphic work, the color is not accurate. If it's just for audio, LCDs are great, they don't have visible scan lines and the image is rock steady, so you can spend hours in front of it without eye fatigue. They use a lot less power, BUT they are more expensive.

    Circuit City has 5.1 systems that should give you what you need for a 5.1 rig, but again, what are your uses for thed system? Hobby-level, you'll be happy, scoring for Paramount, no way. All five speakers should be identical, the subwoofer needs to be balanced with the rest, and cross over where the other speakers get weak, the smaller the speakers, the higher the crossover Fq, with corresponding loss of directionality.

    MIDI controller - what works for you, and feels good; but find out what your software expects, some new controllers come without a mod wheel, and GPO, for example, expects one. There are workarounds, but all in all, it's better to have controllers you don't need than need one you don't have.

    Percussion pad - Octopad is probably the most cost-effective, perhaps even a used one (but not via eBay, find one in person to be sure it's got the dynamc range you want.

    Console? Depends on your hardware and DAW. I have a Mackie d8b that I use just to get all my synths into the computer, hobby-leve one of the many smaller, less feature-laden mixers would work well, but if your sound sources are mostly virtual, you don't need it.

    One thing to consider, if you're serious, is sound conditioning for the mixing space. Absorption and diffusion properl;y applied can make a huge difference in the transportability of your mixes (so they sound good on you boom box, the car stereo, the television, the home hi-fi and the Record Plant's Gelelecs...

    Good luck.
    Dasher
    -------
    It's all about the music - really. I keep telling myself that...

  6. #6

    Re: Need help with misc. electronics

    Quote Originally Posted by James W.G. Smith
    The other 3 speakers: Center and Surrounds. What works well with monitors?
    Well, all speakers should match to get a decent sound. You could look at these nearfields:
    http://www.mackie.com/products/hr824/index.html
    The HR624's are somewhat cheaper. But I wouldn't recommend surround monitoring unless you are going to treat the room.

    Quote Originally Posted by James W.G. Smith
    MIDI Percussion Pad: Anyone use these? Just want one that works.
    I've tried a Roland SPD once, a nice simple 6 pad.

  7. #7
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    Re: Need help with misc. electronics

    Hey Dasher, thanks for the advice. I do this for a living, so better is....better

    Anyhow, I write mainly for orchestra, with some extra instruments thrown in now and then (typical film score stuff). I have actually never had a problem playing games on the same machine as my audio stuff (which as of now is comprimised of WinXP / Giga / SONAR with as many Giga libs as I can load into my petty 1.5GBs of RAM), well, as long as I didn't try to run them at the same time as everything else. I do alot of heavy modification to just about everything after I build a new computer so that everything will run fluidly and have yet to have a serious problem that I couldn't fix within 2 hours. I might actually just do a dual boot with gaming setup on one partition and audio setup on the other which would save me the money of building yet ANOTHER computer (on top of the one I am currently going to build).

    For the studio monitors, there is no question. I have never actually used computer speaker setups because I always thought they sounded horrible. I guess the bottom line is that I am just UPGRADING everything, as opposed to just starting out. I am curious to see what people have had success with. On the off hand I don't have TOO much money, so I am also seeking bang for the buck.

    Thanks,

    James W.G. Smith

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