Couple of newbie questions

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Couple of newbie questions

Postby TommyLee » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:31 pm

Hello all.

I am interested in synth music, especially 80's one and space synth. Now I know very little about music and production, so I was interested to hear from you what is bare minimum for a guy on tight budget to get me started. Couple of things I had in mind was that I also wanna learn to play keyboard in time (so some midi keyboard would be nice). As I learned so far i do need some DAW software too , so some advice about that is also nice. What i do not know if I need anything else so some tips would be helpful.
Thing that might be important is my PC (win 8.1 64 bit) spec:

CPU I3 4170 3,7 GHz
MBO Asrock Z97 extreme 4
8 GB of RAM
500 GB HDD
GTX 1080 GPU

Anyway, I did try to learn guitar a bit so that is my only musical experience.

Thank you

Tommy
Last edited by TommyLee on Fri Oct 19, 2018 7:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
TommyLee
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Re: Couple of newbie questions

Postby coldwar » Tue Oct 16, 2018 1:56 am

Hi Tommy and welcome to the world of recording and synths :) I can definitely help you out because I was you in 1990. It is always fun to see someone have that toe in the water and interest to learn. I apologize if this sounds like a 'dad speech' as I definitely don't know it all and am still learning new things all of the time myself. Things have changed a lot even in the last decade. Like you, I taught myself to play keys which is why I got into MIDI and DAWs because you really only have to play it right once lol. Once you have the data ya can clean it up however you see fit or twist it 180 degrees to get something else cool. That is the beauty and sometimes pitfall of the digital realm. Some creative sounds and effects can be found by modifying things digitally but it also becomes a rabbit hole where a song is 5% content and 95% editing lol.

So, your machine is more than capable to handle digital anything most likely. Windows 8 would not be my first choice but if you know the OS inside and out and how to dig around in Settings, go for it. It will help remove a factor of problem solving when trying to figure out the problem of a missing device or no sound etc. You are most likely fully capable of recording sound with the mic or line in on the sound card already present. You will want to mute the mic input if you are not using it as it tends to pick up system noise and throw it into recordings. If you want a more professional experience, I would definitely suggest a USB outboard box like an M-Audio or such to do the DAC and have less system noise. There are a lot of them out there, which is good in a way because you can get older models cheap.

You will also need some sort of MIDI input/output for your computer. Most newer synths use USB but I still prefer the chunky DIN type. It kinda depends on what you want to do musically but judging by your musical tastes (which are similar to mine) this will help your pc chat with older gear. OKAY so screw the $5.00 USB dongle thing you are looking at on Amazon in another tab haha. That thing will frustrate you later as it will not pass MIDI sysex data. You will want a real deal MIDI outboard box. I still use one of these lil guys which does great and is cheap on ebay. https://www.ebay.com/itm/M-Audio-Midima ... :rk:2:pf:0 Others may have a different opinion or you may just decide to find a box that has audio ins and midi i/o in one box and cut your overall cost somehow.

Okay for synths. Man it is a huuuuge world of those out there with hardware and software synths absolutely coming out of the cracks. People will vary wildly in their opinions on such and I will probably get shat all over for my recommendations lol but here are some tips and a suggestion or two to get ya going. For the old school space synth you will definitely need two things: an arpeggiator and pads :) You will also need knobs to run your cutoff and resonance settings that are so important for that sound. You will also want something that is pretty easy to use and doesn't involve tons of menu diving but that doesn't exist lol. I would not recommend getting an analog beast for your first synth. They will be limited to you in usefulness and usually require maintenance and cost a buttload of money. So you will most likely end up with a Digital/Analog hybrid or ROMpler as your first synth. For 80s music, the DX7 ruled but it is a pain to edit without software and will need maintenance and shipping will be the cost of a cheapo synth lol as they are tanks.
For my daily space jammings I use a Yamaha CS1x, a Roland MC505, and a Korg Poly 800 or Microkorg. Lots of arpeggiators and knobs in there lol and they will most likely be found for 200-250 dollars. For your 80s FM sounds, you can go from small to large but I actually enjoyed the early PSS 480 or TQ5 as they were easy to program and cheap. I honestly use a softsynth for FM though when I go to use it.

As for recording software, Audacity is FREE and will handle anything you throw at it but is kinda basic compared to paid apps. It can handle multitrack and editing as most all DAWs can. Reaper is another great option as it steps up the game a bit and does that along with plugins etc. Reason is another great piece of software that is basically made to do our type of synth music. It is the complete package and has great depth of features to control every aspect of softsynth based music production. It is probably the only thing that could kill Fruityloops (goofy name insanely great software). Acid https://www.magix.com/us/music/acid/ is also great for looped music. I remember when it came out I considered it cheating because I no longer had to sit there with a calculator and make sure loop lengths matched smdh. Ableton is another option but I just never got into it. There are folks that love it but I just didn't enjoy it. Maybe I am old lol. I also still enjoy Rebirth for acid jams. It is a bear to get running on Win7 and up tho. There is a fun site https://www.audiotool.com/ that gives you lots of goodies in your browser with drag and drop setups, wires, and old BOSS stomp pedals lol. Runs in your browser and is free. Hopefully that will give you some things to look at and think about and for others to yell at lol. Maybe take a look around the internet and do some shopping and let me know what you find in your price range/ask any questions about it. I mainly do repair these days and hardly ever record and just jam out into space :) Gotta run for now.
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Re: Couple of newbie questions

Postby TommyLee » Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:13 pm

Well that is a wall of text and I am so gratefull for such detailed help. So While I was reading that I realised that I forgot to say that I am mostly against used stuff, especially from e-bay. So I was thinking to get someting new if possible. Now for start, i do need to learn about making synth music, terminology and playing keyboard for start.
So I was thinking to use some PC software along with midi keyboard and software synth for starter. ANd as I learn I can slowly buy additional stuff.

I almost forgot to say that I would be most likely very interested in combo audio card/midi controller if there is such thing.

Funny enough just before I posted this question here I ran onto Reaper and it looked interesting but that licence puzzled me. SO if I take 60$ one can I one day post some vids on youtube and not be punished for some licence violation? (I play to do this for my own pleasure and maybe post some vids on youtube one day).
Also, since I am already on "new gear" train, is there any decent synth off the shelf that would do nicely 80's music.
So if you know some nice place to start learning synth (be it website or youtube, that would be nice. If I remeber correctly, backin my basement i got that..well lets call it a bit bigget than kids synth I got almost free in local store, so i guess it can serve for playing practise?
Anyway I will most likely post some new questions here as soon as i ran onto problems lol.

Again,
Thanks for help
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Re: Couple of newbie questions

Postby TommyLee » Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:05 pm

Ok so I was searching a bit and found a recomendation on forum:

https://www.alesis.com/vx or https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VVK2A3I/re ... B00IWVWUWA

as midi controller. SO if I add Reaper to it, what else would I need to make it all work? Like cables, interfaces or anything in between. I am not sure only if novation has arpegiator.

TO note I also own old school Sony Amp and studio speakers Mission MS-1 if it is important (not sure). Audion wich is built is on mbo is as I heard not bad, but well it is built in.
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Re: Couple of newbie questions

Postby coldwar » Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:19 am

Ah well you are going a bit different route than I thought.
I would go with the AlesisVX49 controller. I would then suggest taking another look at Reason https://www.propellerheads.com/en/reason and the demo vid on creating a track they have on the mainpage. If you have that controller then you don't need any interface for either audio or MIDI as it will all be done as a USB MIDI controller. If you have no outboard sound gear like a synth or drum machine, then you won't need a USB audio box.
As per the Reaper license hoohaa, it is part of the new generation of touchy-feely software development. It basically translates to "If you use the software in a professional studio where you make money on copyrighted songs and royalties then we want money". They aren't necessarily concerned with bedroom musicians imho. I use other software so I am not a pro on Reaper, but that was the gist I got.
Dig out that basement keyboard and lemme know what ya got. I am not a gear snob. Love em all from the SK1 to the mightiest Moog.
Good luck
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Re: Couple of newbie questions

Postby TommyLee » Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:45 pm

I found that keyboard online in one adds Rooster JK-4500:
https://www.njuskalo.hr/klavijature-ost ... s-20189737
It is weird since it had 54 keys lol. But what can you expect for 15$ that I paid for it on sale. It has build in sounds, I forgot specs. I as hoping to use it as Midi on PC, but that failed after I opened up box and realised that you cannot connect it to pc. I guess I can practice basics on it. I saw that Alesis controller and it is awsome expecialy if you combine it with Reason but man when you combine this two it is way out of my price league. I realised that this arpegiator thing on midi raises price to heavens unfortunately. I am almost thinking to look through my local ads and see if there is some keyboard for decent price is in. it is almost cheaper than this. Now I am even more unsure what way to go. I guess i never buy loads of gear since I don't plan to use it professionally. Well I guess I will do more research before I get anything. I don't have much cash to spare unfortunately.

Edit: I noticed Yamaha PSR E453 keyboyrd and as i saw on youtube it can do some 80s music, also I think it has loads of features and can serve as midi if i read correct. ALong with some freeware daw for start, that maybe "budget" entry and I got actual keyboard along way for somewhat normal sum of cash (talking new gear here).
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Re: Couple of newbie questions

Postby coldwar » Sat Oct 20, 2018 3:42 pm

Now you are speaking my language! Yeah sorry bud but you were right about the bassment keyboard. It is not super useful for your needs. However, your idea of that Yamaha is great. I actually started out with a PSR220 as my controller for MIDI bought at Circuit City lol new back in the day. Anyhoo, it would be a good fit to teach you how midi functions, give you a couple of controller knobs to assign, and it has arpeggiators built in like you say. Seems like a good, cost effective fit for your needs.
BTW I think VSE must have saw your post haha http://www.vintagesynth.com/articles/ch ... studio-daw

Hope things go well and you enjoy it :) They are actually pretty fun and decently powerful machines :)
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