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Saoirse O'Shea
post Sep 4 2011, 12:48 PM
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QUOTE
Fortunately, audio interfaces and audio cards got advanced, so for the fraction of a cost of a dedicated guitar processor with similar converters, you can now get mastering grade converters, and spend the rest of the money on software.


Not really Ivan. To some extent the chip set used on domestic/home/project quality hasn't really improved in recent years and they do not come close to mastering grade. I can think of a couple of old project level audio cards that actually have better AD/DA quality then most of the new current crop but were still not close to mastering grade. What has improved (perhaps) is the feature set and ease of installation.


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Sep 4 2011, 03:21 PM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Sep 4 2011, 01:48 PM) *
Not really Ivan. To some extent the chip set used on domestic/home/project quality hasn't really improved in recent years and they do not come close to mastering grade. I can think of a couple of old project level audio cards that actually have better AD/DA quality then most of the new current crop but were still not close to mastering grade. What has improved (perhaps) is the feature set and ease of installation.


Hmm perhaps I wasn't too clear on the topic. Thanks for pointing that out tony. The point was: Comparison is being made on how the today's entry level semi pro audio card with proper converters - is usually a lot better then converters on digital guitar processor devices. And the price is smaller on audio cards. So, it's better to use audio card for conversion of a DI guitar signal and then process it, then to leave everything to the processor to handle (processor in the same entry level price range lets say)


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Fran
post Sep 22 2011, 04:28 PM
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Here's the article in the wiki, with all the new info wink.gif

https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/wiki/inde...tar_Connections


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Sep 23 2011, 03:05 PM
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great, continuing very soon, and doing some multimedia as well to fill up the important aspects wink.gif


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Nov 20 2011, 09:29 PM
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Back to the story of software audio production! smile.gif Today's topic are DAWs! smile.gif

So far we covered audio cards, interfaces, types of connections and types of transferring our guitar tone into digital domain. Now that we have the signal there, we have to record it somehow! smile.gif

There comes the software, program or application needed to record, modify and convert signals that come into the interface, or to generate new sounds through software. All these functions are usually being done through one main software that is used as an audio production platform. This software is called Digital Audio Workstation or simply: DAW. When we talk about audio production, DAW software is your main production tool. Without it - it's very hard to get serious results.

There are many DAWs on the market, each having it's pros and cons. There are constant battles (mainly between companies that make them, but from users too) on what DAW is "the best". I would say that this is highly individual matter. Idea or vision is what is the most important and DAW is simply a tool to transform that idea/vision into reality. In that sense, DAW should provide comfort and ease of use, so you don't get too distracted while realizing your vision. It should provide simplicity and flexibility for various different tasks as well, and the result should be quality product. Everything has a price tho, as these programs are very complicated.

Here's a list of some of the most popular DAWs on the market in alphabet order:

1.) Ableton Live
2.) Acid Pro
3.) Adobe Audition
4.) Apple Garageband
5.) Apple Logic
6.) Cakewalk Sonar
7.) Cockos Reaper
8.) Cubase
9.) FL Studio
10.) Magix Samplitude
11.) Magix Sequoia
12.) Mixcraft
13.) Nuendo
14.) Pro Tools
15.) Propellerhead Reason
16.) Reaper Cockos
17.) Sony Sound Forge


Highly popular DAWs (and industry standards)

Each of these is very interesting, and the ones that are most popular are certainly ProTools, Cubase/Nuendo, Reaper, Logic, Sonar and FL Studio. Each of these is a very good choice, and if you have the chance of testing as many of them as possible, you will find the one you like. Not all share the same workflow or have the same quality:

Professional industry standard is without doubt - ProTools that runs on Apple-based computer. It's solid as a rock, professionals in the industry have accepted it as universal sharing platform, and the mixdown quality is excellent. When you render your audio from ProTools you can be sure it sounds the same as in the program itself.

Digidesign ProTools HD7 screenshots


Other highly popular choice is German product with big history: Cubase/Nuendo. Steinberg (company that makes them) has created a somewhat confusion about these two, as their are sharing most of functions, so I like to see them as one same product, only different versions for different functions. Cubase/Nuendo is usually the weapon of choice in PC-based studios.

Steinberg Cubase 5 screenshots

Logic and Sonar are also two excellent DAWs, and they can handle any type of task, also very popular although not as famous as industry standards as ones mentioned above.

Apple Logic Studio 9 screenshots


Cakewalk Sonar 6 screenshots

Reaper and FL Studio are two DAWs that are gaining in popularity a lot in the past several years, Reaper because of it's polished GUI and free unlimited evaluation license, and FL Studio because of it's streamline workflow and popular choice for electronic music.

FL Studio 10 screenshots


Cockos Reaper Screenshots

Each of these products has it's price. If you are just starting with audio production and have 0 budget for investing in DAW, there are two choices:

- You use DAW that (if) you get with your audio interface software bundle (usually audio interfaces will come bundled with some DAWs, most notable ones are: Abletone Live Lite, Cubase LE, ProTools M-Powered)
- You start with Reaper as it has free evaluation 30-day license. After that period, the softer remains completely functional but for further use you need to buy it.


If you're interested in choosing the best DAW, do some research on the most popular ones, check what versions are there (some offer stripped down versions for beginners, evaluators, students etc), and choose the one that matches your budget. What ever DAW you choose out of the most popular category, you won't make a mistake.

Next step is to browse the web for some video tutorials. Use video tutorials and learn your DAW inside out! This is very important step. If you need to use some software for creating music, and have a cool idea, you can easily spend hours and hours and get headaches transforming your cool idea into music just because you were lazy to do the homework. Use Youtube and other services, find tutorials and learn how to use your DAW, get the know the tool you will spend lots of hours with.


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- (Please subscribe to my) YouTube Official Channel
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mguimaraes777
post Nov 28 2011, 08:38 PM
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Ivan, it's so great idea putting everything together in some details... It was exactly what I was searching for... Many, many thanks, Marcelo.
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Nov 28 2011, 08:58 PM
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Hey glad you like it man! smile.gif


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Todd Simpson
post Nov 28 2011, 10:10 PM
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This is another AWESOME post from Ivan detailing the ins and outs of "DAWS" these are all the top dogs here. Basically, pick one! smile.gif If you are a MACINTOSH person, LOGIC is seriously worth looking at. It isn't free which I still hold against it (I personally think all software should be like REAPER and permanent eval license) but it's honestly the best single DAW (IMHO) that I've ever touched pound for pound in that it does full 5.1 surround mixing, has enough built in plugins/vst so that you don't really have to install other plugins if you don't want to.

QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Nov 20 2011, 03:29 PM) *
Back to the story of software audio production! smile.gif Today's topic are DAWs! smile.gif

So far we covered audio cards, interfaces, types of connections and types of transferring our guitar tone into digital domain. Now that we have the signal there, we have to record it somehow! smile.gif

There comes the software, program or application needed to record, modify and convert signals that come into the interface, or to generate new sounds through software. All these functions are usually being done through one main software that is used as an audio production platform. This software is called Digital Audio Workstation or simply: DAW. When we talk about audio production, DAW software is your main production tool. Without it - it's very hard to get serious results.

There are many DAWs on the market, each having it's pros and cons. There are constant battles (mainly between companies that make them, but from users too) on what DAW is "the best". I would say that this is highly individual matter. Idea or vision is what is the most important and DAW is simply a tool to transform that idea/vision into reality. In that sense, DAW should provide comfort and ease of use, so you don't get too distracted while realizing your vision. It should provide simplicity and flexibility for various different tasks as well, and the result should be quality product. Everything has a price tho, as these programs are very complicated.

Here's a list of some of the most popular DAWs on the market in alphabet order:

1.) Ableton Live
2.) Acid Pro
3.) Adobe Audition
4.) Apple Garageband
5.) Apple Logic
6.) Cakewalk Sonar
7.) Cockos Reaper
8.) Cubase
9.) FL Studio
10.) Magix Samplitude
11.) Magix Sequoia
12.) Mixcraft
13.) Nuendo
14.) Pro Tools
15.) Propellerhead Reason
16.) Reaper Cockos
17.) Sony Sound Forge


Highly popular DAWs (and industry standards)

Each of these is very interesting, and the ones that are most popular are certainly ProTools, Cubase/Nuendo, Reaper, Logic, Sonar and FL Studio. Each of these is a very good choice, and if you have the chance of testing as many of them as possible, you will find the one you like. Not all share the same workflow or have the same quality:

Professional industry standard is without doubt - ProTools that runs on Apple-based computer. It's solid as a rock, professionals in the industry have accepted it as universal sharing platform, and the mixdown quality is excellent. When you render your audio from ProTools you can be sure it sounds the same as in the program itself.

Digidesign ProTools HD7 screenshots


Other highly popular choice is German product with big history: Cubase/Nuendo. Steinberg (company that makes them) has created a somewhat confusion about these two, as their are sharing most of functions, so I like to see them as one same product, only different versions for different functions. Cubase/Nuendo is usually the weapon of choice in PC-based studios.

Steinberg Cubase 5 screenshots

Logic and Sonar are also two excellent DAWs, and they can handle any type of task, also very popular although not as famous as industry standards as ones mentioned above.

Apple Logic Studio 9 screenshots


Cakewalk Sonar 6 screenshots

Reaper and FL Studio are two DAWs that are gaining in popularity a lot in the past several years, Reaper because of it's polished GUI and free unlimited evaluation license, and FL Studio because of it's streamline workflow and popular choice for electronic music.

FL Studio 10 screenshots


Cockos Reaper Screenshots

Each of these products has it's price. If you are just starting with audio production and have 0 budget for investing in DAW, there are two choices:

- You use DAW that (if) you get with your audio interface software bundle (usually audio interfaces will come bundled with some DAWs, most notable ones are: Abletone Live Lite, Cubase LE, ProTools M-Powered)
- You start with Reaper as it has free evaluation 30-day license. After that period, the softer remains completely functional but for further use you need to buy it.


If you're interested in choosing the best DAW, do some research on the most popular ones, check what versions are there (some offer stripped down versions for beginners, evaluators, students etc), and choose the one that matches your budget. What ever DAW you choose out of the most popular category, you won't make a mistake.

Next step is to browse the web for some video tutorials. Use video tutorials and learn your DAW inside out! This is very important step. If you need to use some software for creating music, and have a cool idea, you can easily spend hours and hours and get headaches transforming your cool idea into music just because you were lazy to do the homework. Use Youtube and other services, find tutorials and learn how to use your DAW, get the know the tool you will spend lots of hours with.



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mguimaraes777
post Nov 29 2011, 03:05 PM
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QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Jun 26 2011, 09:35 AM) *
After all this technical mumbo jumbo about connections, it's time to actually start pluggin in (finally) smile.gif There are several ways you can connect and record your guitars, most often used include the ones bellow. They are ranged so that the first ones in the list require most budget, but are least practical. Lower down the list are cheaper options, but more practical and flexible:

1. Plug the guitar into an amp, mic the cab, and record the microphone sound into mic preamp/sound card
2. Plugging the guitar into guitar head with line out, or guitar preamp, and connecting to line in on sound card
3. Plugging guitar into processor, connecting the processor via analog or digital link to sound card
4. Connecting the guitar into audio card with Hi-Z input (aka audio interface) and modeling the tone from software


1. Plug the guitar into an amp, mic the cab, and record the microphone sound into mic preamp/sound card:
The first option is the most expensive one, and it will require most money and biggest chunks of gear. The end result may prove to be most natural one, but only if you know what you are doing. Just as having a pro skate doesn't make you Tony Hawk (it actually guarantees lots of injuries! smile.gif )- having all that gear doesn't qualify for best tone possible, in fact, it can test your patience at moments. With experience, it can guarantee best tones tho. If you own guitar amp, guitar cab, room to crank it and to baffle it, microphone(s), mic preamp, and sound card (duh..) you can start experimenting right away.

There is one (and only IMHO! smile.gif ) good thing about this particular approach. The sound from a real tube amp will be better then the sound you will emulate through software or processor. Real thing is always better than the emulation, no matter how good the emulation is. But, you can also create a mosquito attack tone easily, and some guy with software will create that huge tone you are craving for. How? By experimenting and knowing your gear, recording space and mixing techniques inside out.

Bad sides of this approach is that you have to play relatively loud (not important if you have deaf neighbours), you have to experiment a lot in studio, have nerves to always adjust, record, adjust record.. One important downside of this approach is that people usually have couple of amps only, and this will prove limiting after a while in creating various tones. If you do have the amp that you really like and it has your signature tone, there is always an option of getting another cool mic, another cool preamp, another cool stand, another cool acoustic foam, another cool cab... you see where this is going? smile.gif

various ways of micing this marshall cab


I will not put too much words about the factors that are important, but will mention some of the important ones, and leave you to experiment, cause this is the best way to actually observe and learn your particular gear in your particular recording situation:

- proper room acoustics
- quality balance of the complete gear chain (eliminating bottlenecks first)
- choosing the best possible gear for the job
- microphone placement and microphone combinations
- loudness of the amp vs microphone sensitivity
- setting the tone right in relation to musical arrangement/function
- avoiding clipping and EQing (a lot) before recording
- recording dry (unless there is nice acoustics available for capturing)


In general, problematics of this kind of recording involves lots of factors, but with lots of experimenting and studying, great results can be achieved. I do recommend testing this method if you have the gear and means available.
Since the gear list is big, and budget can increase greatly with each component, I do recommend thinking it over before you actually go into the shop and get everything you need. You might want to consider other options too.
This method is as close as it gets to professional studio recording, so it might be worth taking a shot, and interesting experience for those who would like to taste some of that work. Like I said, the end results can be very satisfying after a while, and you will be richer for one cool experience, which will eventually help you in the emulating world too. Here applies the general rule: Once you learn how the "real thing" sounds, it will be easier to emulate it later through software.




to be continued....



Hi Ivan, thanks a lot again for all these helpful postings. So, I took a loot into all them and tested yesterday night according to your recommendations. I followed the saying from you that the guitar signal should get into the Audio interface at cleanest form. I did in the following connections: Guitar -> M-Audio Fast Track Ultra audio interface ---via USB--> MacBook Pro. I also connected my POD HD500 via USB to my MacBook Pro. I installed Reaper and Amplitebe just to be in the same page as your video about simple recording at GMC front page. Results: Very low volume and no recognition of my POD by Reaper. My question: If I have POD HD500 which comes with very nice Amp and Guitar Effects, should I connect the POD in between my Guitar and my audio Interface ? I was using like that and the effects and amps sound signals were getting into Reaper. Sorry about that, I know you dedicated a big amount of time to the blog and now I come with my own unique problem perhaps. Thanks. Marcelo.
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Nov 30 2011, 10:01 PM
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It's no problem man, don't worry about it. Yes, if you are satisfied with your tones from the HD500, feel free to use it as external hardware processor unit, in between guitar and interface.

On a side note, if you want to skip conversions, you can always connect HD500 and Fast Track Ultra via digital cable. Use regular RCA cable and connect S/PDIF out on HD500 to S/PDIF input on your Fast Track Ultra. This will skip the conversion and give your Fast Track interface signal in digital form (instead of going through D/A conversion within HD500 and A/D conversion in Fast Track via instrument input)

This post has been edited by Ivan Milenkovic: Nov 30 2011, 10:06 PM


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 30 2011, 06:32 PM
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Once we choose our DAW, it's time to put it into good use, and create something. It can be something that we play on our instrument, and want to record it, or it can be programmed with MIDI. But, how to program with MIDI, what is MIDI, and how to play MIDI inside DAW. We do it with plugins... Hm, so many confusing terms here for a beginner audio producer, so let's go step by step, first let's see what MIDI and plugins are smile.gif

MIDI

MIDI (play /ˈmɪdi/; Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is an industry-standard protocol, first defined in 1982, that enables electronic musical instruments (synthesizers, drum machines), computers and other electronic equipment (MIDI controllers, sound cards, samplers) to communicate and synchronize with each other

The one thing all MIDI devices have in common is that they speak the "language" of MIDI. This language describes the process of playing music in much the same manner as sheet music: there are MIDI Messages that describe what notes are to be played and for how long, as well as the tempo, which instruments are to be played, and at what relative volumes.

MIDI data can be transmitted electronically between MIDI-compatible musical instruments, or stored in a Standard MIDI File for later playback. In either case, the resulting performance will depend on how the receiving device interprets the performance instructions, just as it would in the case of a human performer reading sheet music. The ability to fix, change, add, remove, speed up or slow down any part of a musical performance is exactly why MIDI is so valuable for creating, playing and learning about music.


MIDI connectors and MIDI cable

Three Kinds of MIDI

The original Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) specification defined a physical connector and message format for connecting devices and controlling them in "real time". A few years later Standard MIDI Files were developed as a storage format so performance information could be recalled at a later date. The three parts of MIDI are often just referred to as "MIDI ", even though they are distinctly different parts with different characteristics.

The MIDI Messages specification (or "MIDI Protocol") is probably the most important part of MIDI. Though originally intended just for use with the MIDI DIN transport as a means to connect two keyboards, MIDI messages are now used inside computers and cell phones to generate music, and transported over any number of professional and consumer interfaces (USB, FireWire, etc.) to a wide variety of MIDI-equipped devices. There are different message groups for different applications, only some of which are we able to explain here.

There are also many different Cables & Connectors that are used to transport MIDI data between devices. The "MIDI DIN" transport causes a lot of confusion because it has specific characteristics which some people associate as characteristics of "MIDI" -- forgetting that the MIDI-DIN characteristics go away when using MIDI over other transports (and inside a computer). With computers a High Speed Serial, USB or FireWire connection is more common. Each transport has its own performance characteristics which might make some difference in specific applications, but in general the transport is the least important part of MIDI, as long as it allows you to connect all the devices you want use!

The final part of MIDI are the Standard MIDI Files (and variants), which are used to distribute music playable on MIDI players of both the hardware and software variety. All popular computer platforms can play MIDI files (*.mid) and there are thousands of web sites offering files for sale or even for free. Anyone can make a MIDI file using commercial (or free) software that is readily available, and many people do, with a wide variety of results. Whether or not you like a specific MIDI file can depend on how well it was created, and how accurately your synthesizer plays the file... not all synthesizers are the same, and unless yours is similar to that of the file composer, what you hear may not be at all what he or she intended.


Editing mode of the MIDI file in Cubase: notice the chords/notes on the timeline, and bellow them, velocity values for each note

The first specification (1983) did not define every possible "word" that can be spoken in MIDI , nor did it define every musical instruction that might be desired in an electronic performance. So over the past 20 or more years, companies have enhanced the original MIDI specification by defining additional performance control messages, and creating companion specifications which include:

MIDI Machine Control
MIDI Show Control
MIDI Time Code
General MIDI
Downloadable Sounds
Scalable Polyphony MIDI







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