Home Recording Gifts This Christmas
Complete Home Recording And Production Packages For Christmas 2012
Computer music moves at a breakneck pace with more features and greater sound quality being squeezed into ever smaller and more affordable packages. We've produced a list of great gear to help you make the right choice but if you need more advice or need to advice on shipping times for christmas then feel free to get in touch with our friendly sales team on 0151 448 2080.
Vocal recording & podcasting package for under £50
Once you've recorded everything you can listen back on the HP20 headphones and use Music Creator (which includes studio features and effects) to edit and mix everything to a professional standard. Also worth noting that the Q2U mic has an XLR output so can be used as a traditional handheld mic, being a dynamic with cardioid polar pattern it has the same characteristics as industry standard mics such as the SM58.
Upgrading From the Q2U...Once you've gotten a taste for playing around with sounds in Music Creator you might want to upgrade to get higher track counts, better effects and more professional features. Programs such as Sonar Essentials X2 work in a very similar way to Music Creator but offer far more advanced options and let you have even more getting creative. You might also want to add a virtual instrument to Music Creator for songwriting. It might also be worth grabbing an XLR cable in order to use your Q2U mic with mixing desks and other audio equipment.
Professional recording package for under £100The Avid Vocal Studio represents a bit of a breakthrough, with industry standard software and hardware for really staggering price. A condenser is often the "go to" mic for many studio engineers, highly sensitive with great clarity and a distinctive professional sheen. Those same engineers will then almost certainly go on to edit and mix within Pro Tools, which many consider to be the best software for detailed audio editing and fast workflow. Get a pair of Sennheiser headphones and you've got everything you need to record more or less anything with all big brand names used in studios every day.
Using a condenser mic along with 3GB of samples and 100 virtual instruments in Pro Tools SE you're well setup for songwriting and recording just about any instrument you fancy. The extra sensitivity of a condenser mic makes it suitable for a wide range of sources, including acoustic guitar, percussion and particularly vocals.
Upgrading From Vocal Studio...Pushing the budget slightly over £100 but a mic stand would be a valuable addition, allowing you to more easily record in different locations than the desktop stand that is included with Vocal Studio. If your songwriting ambitions know no bounds then you might want to consider getting Pro Tools 10, a comprehensive piece of software with stacks of instuments and effects, MIDI functionality, scoring features and industry standard audio editing facilities.
Perfect Podcasting package for under £200Samson again, first to market with a USB microphone and bringing great portability, ease of use and affordability. The Samson C01 USB Recording/Podcasting Pak comes with a handy aluminium case so you can take it on the move with your laptop and deliver podcasts on the train or record acoustic guitar in the kitchen if that's what you're into. Get a mic stand for complete flexibility when you're recording at home and a pair of quality closed back headphones for better isolation.
Upgrading From The Podcasting Pak...Step one in getting broadcast quality is choosing a condenser mic and Samson have you covered, step two would be to record in an acoustically treated room. Acoustic treatment can be a very costly and space consuming business, thankfully sE Electronics have come up with a solution in the RF-X Portable Filter to deaden unwanted room reflections.
A package for the budding bedroom producer at less than £300
It really is incredible how far your money can go on computer recording gear, even when buying quality brands such as Focusrite, M-Audio and Samson. You can get your audio interface, monitors, mic & headphones, XLR cable and mic stand all for less than £300. One of the best value for money music packages you can possibly get, all the essential items for a budding Daniel Bedingfield or Mike Skinner (The Streets). Especially when you consider that Ableton Live Lite and a whole suite of mixing plugins come free with the Focusrite interface.
Ableton really excels at composition, with cutting edge time stretching, beat matching and MIDI features. So you can get your beats, harmonies and melodies all composed and mixed with plugins from Focusrite, Ableton and any 3rd parties then add a killer vocal or guitar part using your Samson C01 mic. Let the vocalist listen on the SR850 headphones while you make sure it all sounds as it should on the M-Audio AV30 monitors. All this is made easier with the "newbie friendly" approach from Ableton who never over-complicate or clutter their software.
Upgrading From The Producer Bundle...Ableton do offer an upgrade path from Live Lite to the full Ableton Live program, giving a greater number of audio tracks, built-in FX and the best computer composition program in the business. Once you've got your chops songwriting, recording and programming virtual instruments then you can take a step up with a tube condenser microphone. The MXL V69 is renowned for delivering similar performance to microphones twice it's price and is considered one of the best value for money microphones on recording forums Gearslutz and Tapeop.
Band tracking for a little over £300
Get your demo down and record jams in practice to help with songwriting, if you already own a computer then you can get 4 channels simultaneous recording for around £300 at Dolphin. This includes:
- One condenser mic, for quality vocal recording
- 3 x dynamic mics, use dynamics on guitar, snare, kick and any acoustic instruments
- 4 x stands
- 4 x XLR cables
- Alesis IO4 4 Channel audio interface, you can take a DI of bass/keys on one channel here too
Record however you like, a basic setup for the whole band, 4 mics on drums with overdubs later or anything in between. The Beatles recorded to 4 track so why not give it a go? The Alesis IO4 comes with a copy of Cubase LE so you can start recording out of the box.
Upgrading From The Band Bundle...
If you start to feel the limitations of 4 track recording then you can easily upgrade to an 8 channel Firewire interface. Of course once you've done that you'll need some new mics, so try specialist mics for kick, snare, guitar, brass, strings and vocals. If you're looking to upgrade Cubase then you can go from LE (included with the Alesis) to the full copy of Cubase with a discount.
Less than £200 for a dream amp rig and song sketch pad for a guitaristIt's one thing squeezing mic and headphone inputs into an audio interface but quite another to get a whole collection of vintage amps and effects. Line 6 achieve this by bundling their fantastic POD Farm with the GX USB Recording Interface, throw in a pair of quality monitors and a handy MIDI controller then you have all you need for a songwriting scratch pad and getting creative all 'in the box' (everything done within the computer itself).
Have a listen to the range of sounds you can get from POD Farm here.