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Tweak's Guide
to Recording



For Noobs

MIDI Basics

Audio Basics

Studio Rigs

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Signal Flow

System Guide

Mac vs. PC

Audio Interfaces


Install Issues

Buy Gear 

Writing Music





CC Events

MIDI Routing


Understanding your Mixer

Digital Mixers

Analog Mixers

Mixer Hookup

Control Surface


Mic Preamps



MIDI Modules




Soft Samplers

Soft Synths

Audio Plugins

Synth Prg Tips

MIDI to Audio




Studio Setup

Room Acoustics

War on Hum

Quiet Room

Dual Monitors

DJ studio


16 vs 24 bit

Word Clock


Build a DAW


Record Vocal

Session Tips

Vocal Editing

AutoTune etc

Using EQ


Guitar Tracks

Guitar Tone

Drum Tips

Drum Patterns

Hip Hop Beats





Pan, Vol, FX

Mixing 101

Mix Methods


Field Recorders

Archiving Songs

Make Money

Sound Dev Tips


Audio for Film




Final Exam





Guitar Gallery

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Multitrack Recorders
Signal Processors
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Computer Music

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Plugins and FX
MIDI Interfaces
Control Surfaces
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Groove Boxes
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Keyboard Amps
Expansion Boards

Guitars, Amps,
and Effects

Electric Guitars
Guitar Effects
Guitar Amps
Acoustic Guitars
Classical Guitars


Drum Machines
Drum Hardware
Other Drums


Bass Guitars,
Live Sound/PA


21 ways to assemble a
home recording RIG

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A Tour through the Diverse Home Studio options available Today


Rig #9 Goin' Mobile Mac System

Who the rig is for:

For people on the go who need higher quality and reliability than off the shelf laptop systems can provide.

Hooking it up: 

Simple it is.  Firewire cable to the Mac.  Monitors on the main outs of the MOTU.  Keyboard connects by USB.  Mic or guitar into the front panel combo jacks. 



Motu TravelerMk3 Portable Firewire Audio Interface
or Apogee Duet FireWire Audio Interface

Novation 25SL MkII 25-Key USB Keyboard Controller

or travel superlight with a Nanokey

Logic Pro or Express
Apple MacBook Pro and iTunes
Monitors to suit your location
Microphone(s) of choice depending on application

Headphones of choice
Add an iPod or iPhone 3g for on the go storage and demos

Traveling light is a virtue. Yet this mobile rig has quite a bit of recording power. The Apple MacBook Pro in my opinion provides the kind of reliability that is lacking in many PC laptops.  The MOTU Traveler can run off the computer's bus power or batteries. For the live gigs and hotel sessions you want to record it has up to 20 input channels and 22 output channels in a variety of formats. 4 mic pres and 4 line inputs, ADAT, S/PDIF, AES/EBU and headphones. Build your mix in the park, then go dump it down to digital at any pro studio.

idea!With Logic Pro you don't need any additional software. All the softsynths, samplers, processors and effects are built-in. The new MacBook Pro is far stronger than the old G4 PowerBooks.   The MOTU interfaces are compatible with Apple's new Intel Duo processors and Logic Pro runs natively on these machines.  Today's MacBook Pros and Logic offer the most powerful laptop DAWS on the planet in my opinion.  This is one laptop solution that can handle professional audio needs.



Rig #10 Reasonably Priced Mixerless Laptop system with plenty of features

Discuss This Rig      This rig can be discussed here: Rig #10 Reasonably Priced Mixerless Laptop system

Who it is for:

Good for recording  hip hop, electronica or 2 people at once on laptops.  The 1616m has 2 preamps.

Hook Up example:

Insert the card into the cardbus slot on your PC laptop.  Connect your mics, keyboard audio out and turntable and monitors into the 1616m interface.  Connect the midi out and in of the keyboard to the midi jacks on the 1616m, or if your keyboard uses USB then plug it in that way.  Pretty simple huh?  Yep!  If you add the MPD 16 as I have shown that hooks up to the computer's USB port.


Tascam US144 MKII USB 2.0 Audio Interface
Studio Monitors of choice, such as the Wharefedale DP82a, or or  KRK RPG2 or better

Rode NT1a
Or Studio Projects C1
Your choice of software synthesizers and samplers

For use with the Proteus LE that comes with the Xboard

M-Audio Oxygen 25 v3 25-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller
Akai MPD26 Compact Pad Controller
Akai MPD18 Compact Pad Controller


A FAST laptop PC with large external  drives

Mmm, its not quite that easy, but close

Headphones of choice


Sonar Studio or Cubase Studio
Cakewalk SONAR Studio Recording Software (Windows)
Steinberg Cubase Studio
IK Multimedia Total Studio Bundle

Which audio interface to get for a laptop system is a common and difficult question to answer.  This is because many laptops are not designed for multi-channel audio.  If you have one of these, be real careful as very few products will work.  You might have to settle for recording 2 tracks at a time and using hardware synths as I showed you in my entry level mixer based rig.  However, if you know you have a powerful laptop made for multichannel audio then you can consider the same Firewire and USB 2.0 audio interfaces desktop users enjoy. 

The low cost Tascam US144mk2 is a USB 2.0 interface and it has proven itself over time. For recording only 2 tracks at a time its all you need,  Great for a songwriter's laptop system.  For larger needs, like recording a band into a fast laptop, consider the Tascam 1641.  Keep in mind I am keeping the costs down with these choices.

Remember, with a high powered laptop you still have firewire and USB2 audio interfaces on the table.  For a PC I would look at the Presonus Firebox, or a Tascam USB2.0.

Worried about Vista?  Youi should be!Time out:  I have to tell you--some PC laptops are problematic.  Especially the cheap ones.  This is dangerous ground. Before you buy a PC laptop computer do some research and make sure it is designed to run multi-media applications.  Regarding audio interfaces, you may have to try several before your find one that works with your laptop and its Windows operating system. By all means make sure your interface has drivers for the OS and its current service pack. Beware. Interfaces that are fine on Windows XP may not work well on Vista or Windows 7.  zZounds by the way has a great return policy if you happen to buy the wrong interface.   I'm going to quote them:

"Our 30 day return policy is the most generous in the industry. We allow you to return almost any product for any reason. When returning a product, you can request an identical replacement item, exchange the product for another product, or request a refund. When procedures are followed, there are no restocking fees. "  (quoted 6-7-2010)


Discuss This Rig      This rig can be discussed here: Rig #10 Reasonably Priced Mixerless Laptop system



Rig #11 Pro Tools MBox 2 Rig

Who it is for:

The person wanting to get started with a Pro Tools Rig who only want to record a track or two at a time.  The Mbox2 and Mbox2 Pro are very basic machines.  The Mbox Pro is much more capable.  Still i/o is limited for the sake of simplicity.  Not for bands or for situations where you need more than 2 mics.

Hooking it up:

All the Mboxes are designed for simple setup .  The connect to the computer by USB (except for the MBox Pro which connects by Firewire).  The Mic connects directly on the back. 

Digidesign MBox 2 Audio Interface (Macintosh and Windows)
Ok, we know you are in a hurry to get started. But don't forget the computer!  Make sure it qualifies.
Digidesign MBox 2 Pro FireWire Audio/MIDI Interface
Audio Technica ATHM40fs Precision Extended-Response Monitor Headphones or
Headphones of choice
KRK RP5 Rokit Powered 2-Way Active Monitor
Korg M50-61 61-Key Synth Workstation; its also fine to use a soundless controller if your computer is fast enough.
Studio Projects B3 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
Native Instruments Komplete Synths

The MBox2 is the least expensive path to Pro Tools.  You get a basic audio interface and Pro Tools LE software.  It has a built-in MIDI interface which makes it easy to connect a keyboard.  Keep in mind this is a 2x2 (4x4 if you count s/pdif) USB 1.1 audio interface, so we are talking about recording a mono or stereo track at a time here.  If you are connecting to a laptop you can help things out by getting a MIDI keyboard with sounds, but if you are on a fast desktop you can get away with a soundless controller.  Keeping the expense reasonable, I've selected the NI Komplete Synths pack, which will give you the sonically adventurous Absynth 4, Massive, the FM8 which is the softsynth model of the classic Yamaha DX7 and TX/TG family, and finally the Pro 53 soft synth emulation of the venerable Prophet 5.  This is a good way to get into Pro Tools LE on a budget.

For those who can take it another step, Digidesign now has recently released the Mbox Pro, which uses firewire, rather than USB 1.1.  This is a much faster pipe for audio to travel down, so you can expect to get more tracks to record and playback simultaneously.  You also get more inputs and outputs.

For those on more limited gear budgets, there is the USB 1.1 Mbox Mini

Always check for compatibility with any audio interface.  Digidesign gear has exacting requirements, so read up on their website, make sure your computer qualifies.

Hooking it up:  You should be getting the picture by now, no?  Mbox 2 is USB, your Mic goes into XLR, your keyboard, if USB connects to the computer, if not, direct to the Mbox2.     



Rig #12 Pro Tools LE Studio by Digidesign

Discuss This Rig      This rig can be discussed here: Rig #12 Pro Tools LE Studio by Digidesign


Who its For:

The Pro Tools LE rig is ideally for the professional person using Pro Tools HD at a commercial studio who wants to work at home.  However, it has caught on as a complete solution in itself for home producers.

Hooking it Up:

Much like the Tascam FW1884 and Project Mix, the Digi 003 connects by Firewire to the host computer.  Instruments plug directly in on the back of the 003.   There are 8 analog ins (4 of which are Mic preamps) and outs, ADAT and S/Pdif.  One MIDI in and 2 outs are provided.  So your mics and keyboards can all connect direct to the 003.

Pro Tools LE included    
Digi 003 or Digi 003 rack with Command 8
Mics for the Digi 002 should have a -10 pad (C1, SM81, NT2-A,  MD421, Solaris)

Digidesign Structure Sampler RTAS Instrument Plug-In

Digidesign Strike Virtual Drum Instrument RTAS DVD
PreSonus DigiMax FS 8-Channel ADA Converter with Microphone Preamps
adds 8 more preamps to the 002 ADAT input

A Pro Tools LE qualified Computer

M-Audio Axiom Pro 49 Keyboard Controller
Headphones and monitors of choice


So, you ask, as has been asked innumerable times, should i go with Pro Tools?  Its quite a difficult decision for some.  Pro Tools, loosely, refers to a high end, and very expensive, system of hardware and software made by Digidesign made for professional recording studios.  The name, Pro Tools, is HUGE in the biz as feature films, TV shows and commercials and yep, top 40 radio are often produced on big Pro Tools rigs.  

The Digi 003 is, in one sense, a device that allows Pro Tools users to do stuff at home and later take sessions back to their studio and port it over to the "real thing".  What you get with the Digi 002 systems is a hardware audio interface and Pro Tools LE software.  Of course it works fine by itself, you don't need a $300,000 Pro Tools rig.  The main question to ask is do you need Pro Tools compatibility?  If you have a contract with a studio that has Pro Tools you would be outright mad not to get an 003.  But if you don't, you'll find you will be paying a bit more for a system that can be seen as less flexible than Cubase, Sonar, Logic. 

All the same, its a popular system. In particular, the Pro Tools LE systems have caught on in the hip hop world, has great sound, and has what you need to producing fast.  Make sure your computer is "qualified" to run Pro Tools LE--older systems may not be.  You can check that out at their website. This page may help.  Both Macs and PCs are compatible but there may be a delay before support for the latest OS is offered.  As of this writing the Spring 2009 Apple release fully qualify

The 003 and the 003r offers 8x8 analog i/o which includes 4 mic preamps.  It also has an ADAT 8 channel digital out and stereo S/PDIF.  It also has MIDI i/o.  It connects by firewire. 

Discuss This Rig      This rig can be discussed here: Rig #12 Pro Tools LE Studio by Digidesign




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