Setting up something small and easy - help?

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foley
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Setting up something small and easy - help?

Post by foley » Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:33 pm

Hey everybody!

I have been a long-time reader of the magazine and TOMB and spent a lot of time building an analog studio in my home several years back. Then we had kids, moved to a new house (with little space for a studio) and I left the recording behind.

Now I am interested in setting up something new that I can easily use to work out my musical ideas. I still don't have much space, so I'm looking at a computer-based system. I'm definitely looking for any suggestions, but here are a few questions that I still have after diligently searching the forum.

1. I have a MacBook (white) that I use for work. It has a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, running Mavericks, with 3 gigs of RAM. But, as I said, it is my workhorse for the job. Is it possible to use this computer as a "way station" between a fast hard drive and a decent interface, so that I don't have to bog down the laptop's hard drive with the large files? Is this what people do now - save and read the files from external drives?

2. My wife is due for an upgrade for her iPad. So, theoretically, I could inherit an iPad 1 with 8 gigs of memory. This seems like it would never be enough, but could it work?

3. A lot of my old files are on an external drive with firewire ports. My current laptop only accepts USB. Is there an easy way to connect the drive to this laptop?

I know that's a lot to ask, but THANK YOU in advance for any advice thrown my way. It is good to be thinking about recording music again.

RoyMatthews
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Post by RoyMatthews » Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:42 pm

Some quick off the head answers:

1. Yes, that's how it's normally done. The computer has the program but the files are on a separate drive. Also, do you have Garageband? It may already exist on your computer so it's free and might be fine for musical idea.

EDIT. I just realized it's a work Macbook. You may or may not be able to install software on it. Some places are cool and some are strict. Only you can really know what you can do with it.

2. Not sure but my old iPad is cranky. It might work for some small things but not as a dedicated recorder. Plus, apps that work on it might be hard to get.

3. It depends on how comfortable you are with computer stuff but you could by a separate enclosure that has a USB interface and remove the old drive from its current Firewire enclosure. It's pretty easy and quick to do and empty enclosures are cheap.
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tjcasey1
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Post by tjcasey1 » Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:36 am

I'm pretty sure you have a thunderbolt jack on your MacBook. Get a thunderbolt/firewire adapter from Apple and you'll be good to go. If there's no Apple store near you, get it from their website.

Garageband is installed on every Mac, so you can start using it right now.

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Nick Sevilla
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:02 am

1.- Yes.
2.- iPads are for more for video/ audio playback. Yes, there are audio interfaces for them, but you won't be able to move anything from your external drive onto it in any easy manner.
3.- Your white Macbook should have a Thundefart connector, if it is new enough, and no longer has the FW 800 nor FW400 on it. It is small and has a lightning bolt near it. It is compatible with FW, via a cheap adaptor Apple sells. DO NOT buy an even cheaper third party adapter. Buy the one from Apple, they are solid.

Additionally, what were you using as a DAW "back in the day"? You want something similar so your learning curve is short and sweet.

Cheers
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RoyMatthews
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Post by RoyMatthews » Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:15 am

I'm pretty sure there were no white MacBooks with a Thunderbolt port. It was introduced after MacBooks were discontinued and replaced with Macbook Airs. Macbook Pro have it.
"If there's one ironclad rule of pop history, it's this: The monkey types Hamlet only once."

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foley
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Post by foley » Fri Jul 18, 2014 4:31 am

My particular MacBook doesn't seem to have a thunderbolt connection. I was using AudioDesk, which came bundled with the Motu 828 I purchased (Firewire, of course). I never did much with plug-ins, I did very dry recordings with an emphasis on getting the signal right during recording. It was very basic and served my purposes nicely.

It looks like this MacBook will suffice if I get a fast enough external drive and a new interface. Lots of good discussion on those topics in the forum, so that's easy research. I'm just not sure what I'm going to do about getting those old files off my firewire drives, and I'll probably need to sell that old MOTU.

Thank you again for all the help with the thinking on this. Cheers!

RoyMatthews
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Post by RoyMatthews » Fri Jul 18, 2014 8:01 am

foley wrote: I'm just not sure what I'm going to do about getting those old files off my firewire drives,
Really, I think your only two options are

1) Finding another Mac that has a firewire port and connecting your new USB drive and transferring. Maybe a friend has such a Mac. It shouldn't take that long. Maybe a computer store would do it but they would probably charge some dough for it.

2) Buying a new enclosure for the drive that has a USB port. Technically, if the drive you had before worked well for audio all you'd really have to do is put it in a new enclosure. No transferring of files necessary.

EDIT: Also, have you looked at the drives lately? A lot of drives had multiple ports on them and may have a USB port that you are forgetting since you may have only used it for firewire.
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Re: Setting up something small and easy - help?

Post by numberthirty » Fri Jul 18, 2014 5:59 pm

foley wrote:1. I have a MacBook (white) that I use for work. It has a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, running Mavericks, with 3 gigs of RAM. But, as I said, it is my workhorse for the job. Is it possible to use this computer as a "way station" between a fast hard drive and a decent interface, so that I don't have to bog down the laptop's hard drive with the large files? Is this what people do now - save and read the files from external drives?
Assuming it is a computer you can install software on, I would suggest trying Reaper.

While I know it seems like I say this every two posts, Reaper might be exactly what you are looking for.

It is light on computing load. It has a full featured demo.

If it is an option, it might be worth checking into. The Reaper forum is also pretty friendly.

Circuit Scream
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Post by Circuit Scream » Mon Aug 18, 2014 10:07 am

I would also suggest Reaper if you are able to install it. You can also install it on a small portable drive (I run it on a 16GB flash drive) - but check that your IT folks haven't locked down the option of using external drives.

If you go with the iPad, it's important to differentiate that the 8GB is "flash" memory, not RAM like in a desktop or laptop - the 8GB is your storage for apps and all files, etc AND the system RAM. Think of it like a big flash drive, except you can only install Apple-approved stuff. :)

I'm currently using an iPad 1 with Multitrack DAW, iSequence, and studio.HD. Like Roy said you may be challenged finding apps depending on what version of the iOS the ipad can use - mine only goes up to 5.1. It *is* a pain getting files to the computer, but only because it takes a lot of time. Be prepared to spend time diligently exporting track by track, unless you get the Alesis iO Dock which makes at least the MIDI sooo much easier.

Are you recording guitars, synth/MIDI stuff, other?
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