Audio Recording Software and Hardware Recs

Okay...let me preface this by saying I know nothing about this topic at all. My 14yo daughter has a keyboard, and electric guitar and an electric drum set, all of which she can play fairly well. She would also enjoy singing or having her friends sing. I was thinking of getting her something for Christmas that would allow her to record the different tracks and combine them on her computer. She has an iphone, a macbook air, and access to my PC.

What would be the best/cheapest way for her to do this?

I was thinking of something along the lines of this, but would that be overkill? Or does she need more? What kind of software does something like this require. She is not tech savvy, so it would need to be reasonably easy to use.

How can she get her music onto the computer and save it in a format that she can then play with and combine, then save what she created in a listenable format? Excuse my non-tech lingo, but this really is new territory for me.

Yes to all of the above questions. This would give her everything she needs to get started, and it would even be a bit of overkill. The only thing I'd say is that while this is a GREAT value for the price, the quality of the components isn't great - but certainly enough for a beginner. My only concern here would be the Studio One software, which I've heard good things about, but isn't considered a standard DAW. But chances are it will give her enough of a feeling for digital recording to help educate her on what aspects she wants to upgrade next. Perhaps she would eventually move to something like Cubase or Live or Logic if she saw a specific need that this application didn't fulfill.

I love that you can get all this in a package for less than what an old 4-track recorder used to cost. What a great time to be alive for creative types.

What about Garage Band? It's inexpensive and easy to use. I can't comment on functionality though.

Sure - she could use Garageband as well, but that wouldn't negate the need for all the other external hardware. The all-inclusive package is a nice starting place, but you could easily add on something like GarageBand once you have the basic hardware.

Reaper's definitely worth a look if you want a low-cost DAW -- you can try it for quite a while, free of any restrictions, before deciding if it's worth buying.

As far as hardware goes, that kit does seem to cover most of the basic bits you'd need. For what you've described, you'd want:
* an audio interface with mic preamps, a high-impedance input for a guitar, and a couple of line inputs for the electronic drums/keyboard
* a mic, mic stand, and some kind of pop filter -- that's the thing that looks like its made of nylon stocking material (and often is!) that you hang in front of the mic
* closed-back headphones, which you can wear while recording so that you can hear tracks you've already recorded while recording more (eg: recording vocals over an already-recorded guitar part). They need to be closed-back so that the sound from the headphones doesn't "leak" in to the mic
* cables to hook everything up

That kit covers everything except the mic stand and the pop filter, and maybe some cables for the keyboard and drums, though she might already have cables for those. I think you could live without a pop filter at first (though they're not expensive anyway), but I do think you'd want a mic stand -- for recording, hand-holding a mic isn't practical, because you'd get uneven volume (from having the mic closer or further from your mouth) and handling noise (ie: the mic picking up the sounds of your fingers moving around on its surface).

If you didn't want to go with the kit, you could get similar stuff for around the same price -- a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface, Behringer C-1 mic, and AKG K-77 headphones would also cost you $250, but without the mic cable (and maybe the USB cable, too).

I have lots of mic, great...sounds like this would be the thing to get her for christmas. If she doesn't like the software, I can always buy something different down the road.

Reaper is cool, but Studio One is a lot easier to pick up.

I gotta say, it is really cool that we have so many sound geeks on this board.

Malor wrote:

I gotta say, it is really cool that we have so many sound geeks on this board.


I wouldn't suggest Reaper to a teenager, much as I like it. That bundled package looks pretty incredible. In the end it probably won't move mountains, but that's not the point. The point is to get her moving forward and I see little wrong with that package from that standpoint.

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