Author Topic: HELP! synth/digital music making inquiry  (Read 3736 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline AxeGrrl

  • in my cell, making a shiv out of a toothbrush and saran wrap
  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 3947
HELP! synth/digital music making inquiry
« on: December 13, 2011, 04:38:25 AM »

Hey guys, there's one thing i want for Christmas this year.......some equipment/software that will allow me to write/produce music.

That sounds simplistic, but that's because I know absolutely NOTHING about what's out there for my needs.

I want something that's easy/simple to use, has a great bank of effects (musical instruments etc) and will allow me to produce mp3s (or wavs or whatever) of my work.

Can anyone help me out here? or at least lead me someplace?

*hoping my extreme ignorance doesn't make this post impossible to understand*

"Wouldn't it be much worse if life *were* fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?' So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe."

Offline Caffiene

  • Stopped Going Outside
  • *******
  • Posts: 5105
Re: HELP! synth/digital music making inquiry
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2011, 05:03:10 AM »
I dont know enough to give much specific advice (I havent looked into this sort of stuff in probably 10 years), but I know enough to say the question makes sense, its definitely possible, and Im pretty sure theres a couple of people on these forums that know enough to point you in the right direction...

I think youre looking at programs like FruityLoops and Cubase, but I havent kept anywhere near up to date with what are the best, easiest and most popular programs these days. A couple of guys I played guitar with in high school used them to make backing tracks for their guitar, which Im guessing might be what youre thinking of as well?
[Lurk Mode Disengage]

Offline Green Ideas

  • Reef Tank Owner
  • *********
  • Posts: 9248
  • ZZZ!!!
Re: HELP! synth/digital music making inquiry
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2011, 05:53:19 AM »
I think FruityLoops has a very nice interface, it was the most intuitive I tried (haven't tried many or much though, tbh). But it has gotten increasingly complex with the upgrades. The version I most used was 2.71 (what is now known as FL Studio is already on version 10), and might be a good start. It's more than 10 years old, I suppose it's either very cheap now or maybe even given for free.

ETA: I just checked and now they have a version for iPhone and iPad, looks pretty neat and back to basics, with an even more intuitive interface. They're planning a version for Android too.

This is a tutorial I just found for the iPad version. I just skimmed thru it, but it seems to give a good idea how the other versions work too:

Offline Alvanorum

  • Off to a Start
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Re: HELP! synth/digital music making inquiry
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2011, 10:50:54 AM »
Have you snooped around Gearslutz.com?  Try the Low End Theory threads and search for "HELP!"  My apologies in advance for leading you there.   :laugh:   Some people are pricks to noobs but alot of people are super intelligent & very resourceful!  It sounds like you want to create synth sounds but also need a multi-track DAW (digital audio workstation) to layer hella beats and make full songs.   On a super basic level you have your multitrack recording software (Pro Tools, Cubase, Reaper you might be able to find older free versions of Reaper, Garageband is free on a mac)  that receives your interface with 1/4", mic and midi inputs.   Might have to get into a sound card w/ a pc, probably not w/ mac).      In your case maybe a small 2 channel analogue to digital conversion interface (MBox, Focusrite 2i2) that receives your midi keyboard (mAudio is good entry level low end gear) that maps it's controls to your virtual synth software (some free w/ PT but some not-so-free ones are Reason, Absynth and million more).  Then you need monitors which are no fun to buy.   Look into the footyloop and the low end stuff first.  I can't tell if you're a musician or just making beats and synth lines w/ lower expectations  <--- that came out wrong, sorry.  That's the beginning of a home DAW set up.  That maybe getting too name brand-y but there are corners to be cut for sure if you must.  The advise I was given was "don't do it".  I see what they meant now.  Anyway, best of luck.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2011, 11:20:31 AM by Alvanorum »

Offline Jeremy's Sea

  • Kintsukuroi, baby.
  • Stopped Going Outside
  • *******
  • Posts: 4752
  • 667 - Neighbor of the beast.
Re: HELP! synth/digital music making inquiry
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2011, 12:37:31 PM »
I think Alv covered quite a bit of ground, but really the most important question should be, what is your budget?

You could get anything from a $60 Reaper license up to $600 for Cubase. Logic at around $200 is a great value for composition, but you need to be using an Apple computer.

I have been using Cubase for a long time and I really like their built in synths. I also have a battery of freeware synths and plugins, some really fun stuff, all VST format that I would be more than happy to share with you once you select a software. I also have some free versions of the lower end Cubase software that I would be more than happy to send you to get you started, though I don't think it has a lot of synths in it.

I'm guessing you'll need an audio interface (focusrite makes a nice looking 2x2 USB version of their Scarlett, or the M-Audio 2x2 USB is pretty good too) and a MIDI keyboard, and these things like the software can run you from $100 to $1000s, though your needs sound fairly basic and shouldn't be too expensive.

Kick me back an all in $$$ amount and I'll price out a package for you. (I have used almost every brand out there and still buy stuff monthly so I'm pretty tuned in to what a good value for the money is these days)
Knowledge is power. France is bacon.

Offline Jeremy's Sea

  • Kintsukuroi, baby.
  • Stopped Going Outside
  • *******
  • Posts: 4752
  • 667 - Neighbor of the beast.
Re: HELP! synth/digital music making inquiry
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2011, 12:41:58 PM »
The advise I was given was "don't do it".  I see what they meant now.  Anyway, best of luck.
Was that me? Hahaha, it probably was. Yeah, don't do it.  :P
Knowledge is power. France is bacon.

Offline AxeGrrl

  • in my cell, making a shiv out of a toothbrush and saran wrap
  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 3947
Re: HELP! synth/digital music making inquiry
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2011, 08:58:30 PM »

thanks for all this info guys :)  Alvanorum, I didn't understand 80% of what you wrote, but perhaps further readings of your post will help :)

jeremy, re: the budget, I would like to stay under about $400

I'd like to go with whatever set up would utilize a keyboard ~ and yeah, i'd like to "layer hella beats and make full songs" :)  I don't have a smartphone, so I wouldn't be able to use anything connected with that

"Wouldn't it be much worse if life *were* fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?' So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe."

Offline AxeGrrl

  • in my cell, making a shiv out of a toothbrush and saran wrap
  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 3947
Re: HELP! synth/digital music making inquiry
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2011, 12:07:25 AM »

Oh and I'd also like midi capabilities for my guitar (as well as keyboard)
"Wouldn't it be much worse if life *were* fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?' So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe."

Offline Jeremy's Sea

  • Kintsukuroi, baby.
  • Stopped Going Outside
  • *******
  • Posts: 4752
  • 667 - Neighbor of the beast.
Re: HELP! synth/digital music making inquiry
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2011, 01:33:25 AM »
I'll get to it tomorrow, but quickly, are you Mac or PC? And which operating system are you on?
Knowledge is power. France is bacon.

Offline AxeGrrl

  • in my cell, making a shiv out of a toothbrush and saran wrap
  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 3947
Re: HELP! synth/digital music making inquiry
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2011, 04:16:19 AM »
I'll get to it tomorrow, but quickly, are you Mac or PC? And which operating system are you on?

PC

If I were using a Mac, I might be happy enough using GarageBand :)

"Wouldn't it be much worse if life *were* fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?' So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe."

Offline AxeGrrl

  • in my cell, making a shiv out of a toothbrush and saran wrap
  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 3947
Re: HELP! synth/digital music making inquiry
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2011, 06:06:06 AM »
I think FruityLoops has a very nice interface, it was the most intuitive I tried (haven't tried many or much though, tbh). But it has gotten increasingly complex with the upgrades. The version I most used was 2.71 (what is now known as FL Studio is already on version 10), and might be a good start. It's more than 10 years old, I suppose it's either very cheap now or maybe even given for free.

ETA: I just checked and now they have a version for iPhone and iPad, looks pretty neat and back to basics, with an even more intuitive interface. They're planning a version for Android too.

This is a tutorial I just found for the iPad version. I just skimmed thru it, but it seems to give a good idea how the other versions work too:



Thanks for all of this Green Ideas :)  especially the tutorial video.......i'm such a neophyte in this area, that seeing a step-by-step walkthru for producing a track is extremely helpful.
"Wouldn't it be much worse if life *were* fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?' So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe."

Offline AxeGrrl

  • in my cell, making a shiv out of a toothbrush and saran wrap
  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 3947
Re: HELP! synth/digital music making inquiry
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2011, 07:33:16 AM »

Is anyone out there familiar with this?   Acoustica Mixcraft Pro Studio 5 WNAMM 2011

It looks pretty powerful for such an affordable price ~ and everything I've read suggests a great ease-of-use (which is one of the most important aspects for me)   Nothing would be more frustrating than getting something that'll take me months to get used to (and this has been described as 'GarageBand for PC', which is pretty much as 'complicated' as I think I could handle:)

There's a short video/descrip here:

Acoustica Mixcraft Pro Studio 5 WNAMM 2011

and a pretty in-depth descrip (and review) here:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Acoustica-Mixcraft-Pro-Studio-5-106375124-i1693084.gc
"Wouldn't it be much worse if life *were* fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?' So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe."

Offline Alvanorum

  • Off to a Start
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Re: HELP! synth/digital music making inquiry
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2011, 12:15:51 PM »

thanks for all this info guys :)  Alvanorum, I didn't understand 80% of what you wrote, but perhaps further readings of your post will help :)


I don't either.  I had that feeling but my thinking was now you have something go off of and can starting googling the terms and brands... a lot... one step always leads to 10 more questions and the terms become more familiar and the piece slowly start to fall in place and you'll be connecting the dots before you know it. 

Offline Jeremy's Sea

  • Kintsukuroi, baby.
  • Stopped Going Outside
  • *******
  • Posts: 4752
  • 667 - Neighbor of the beast.
Re: HELP! synth/digital music making inquiry
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2011, 12:29:16 PM »
That looks like some pretty fantastic software for the price. If you're not familiar with anything in particular the learning curve will likely be the same for you on anything. You'll still need an audio interface or your latency will be so horrendous you won't get much use out of midi gear (latency is the time between when you strike a key on your keyboard and when the virtual synth/piano/etc plays the note). Without knowing anything about your computer (OS, laptop or desktop, type of connectors - firewire, pcie, etc) I would look for a USB interface, probably the Focusrite or the M-Audio, if you have Craigslist nearby you can probably get one used for around $120, otherwise shop around the internet, you'll be in the $175 range. Grab yourself a MIDI USB keyboard, as many keys as you think you need (I have an 88 key M Audio and a tiny 24 key Akai). The nicer ones will have pads for hammering out drum stuff too, but then you're bounding over $200 generally for something like that, again used is much much cheaper if you can get it.

The MIDI guitar thing for under $400 is a little unrealistic. If you just want to plug your guitar in and record the audio through a virtual amp, that's easy and a USB interface will have a low-z instrument input and I'm sure that software has virtual amp models. MIDI guitar requires a specific MIDI pickup and a translator box and not many companies got in on it and it never worked quite that well anyway.

You'll basically need: software, audio interface, midi keyboard. Beyond that you'll need a way to listen back and play along, USB interfaces will have audio outputs for connecting to speaker systems and a headphone preamp for headphones, you'll have to decide what fits in your budget for that. Anything from small computer speakers, to a home stereo, to expensive studio monitors will work.

You can have something functional and fun for around $400, let us know what you decide on!
Knowledge is power. France is bacon.

Offline Alvanorum

  • Off to a Start
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Re: HELP! synth/digital music making inquiry
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2011, 12:32:22 PM »
The Mixcraft looks good in the description but I've never opened it up and kicked the tires.  I haven't read of people cursing it out so that's a plus...
« Last Edit: December 14, 2011, 12:37:48 PM by Alvanorum »

 

personate-rain
personate-rain