Showing posts with label audio workstation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label audio workstation. Show all posts

7/30/12

Recording studio box setup. (Updated)

This is a single core P4 2.39Ghz on an Intel board with a pretty standard SoundMax AC97 integrated audio, driving a secondary sound monitor.



It's centered around a EWS 88MT system (Digital 8 track recorder with external breakbox), PCI, used as main recording hardware. There's also two FireWire connectors on a PCI card I just added in case I would ever need it.


I have a ESP Ltd F200 guitar hooked to a Fender Mustang 1 guitar amp by USB in addition to regular cabling, of course. The only problem here is that the audio jack will be disabled when you connect the USB and fire up the Mustang software. So if you need the advanced amp settings, you need to store them locally on the amp it self. (Not true, I had some setup errors.) The only feature I miss from the Mustang is to be able to monitor the guitar trough the amp itself while also pushing the signal trough the jack out. (Which doubles as line out)

Also, a Creative Soundblaster Live! PCI card for driving a Sony Digital Amplifier (not pictured yet) for main monitoring.

EWS88MT front connectors

Overview

The Fender amp doesn't have a line out, but it has a phone jack which can be used.

Special cable resembling a parallell cable connects the breakbox to a PCI card. (bottom card)
It also has digital out/in jacks and a mini jack monitor output.

Drivers for the 88MT can be found at TerraTec's FTP server
There is drivers for Linux, 98->XP.
Supposedly the download for Phase88 (mixer app for the card) contains drivers that should work with Windows 7. (citation needed!)

This setup gave a very clear guitar recording. A very very slight hiss could be heard at times when I did not touch the guitar. Much better than onboard capturing that usually records PCI bus noise as well. I can't tell if the almost non-existing noise was from the amp or the computer I played it back at.


Installing a good digital amp reduced playback noise considerably as well. Initially I had a Nvidia GeForce FX 5500 card installed, but I decided to downgrade to the fanless 440MX card instead to further reduce system noise. I could also turn off both the NIC and onboard audio as well as other controllers if I wanted, but it seems pretty quiet now.

Only having one video monitor, I use Nvidia's virtual desktop to have separate desktops for recording, mixer panels, and so on. Also, I spent a good hour on setting the computer up for being mostly mouse driven. Added window autofocus, and had all studio applications pinned to the start menu, etc. This is pretty handy when you're still holding the guitar while needing to do something on the computer.

Applications used:


GNU Solfege, for ear training
Reaper for recording, has low latency, comprehensible UI and a good routing/monitoring interface
Audacity and CoolEdit for secondary editing. CoolEdit used to be my favourite (now Adobe Audition) but it did not play nice with my hardware this time)
VLC and FooBar2000 for media playback, will probably reinstall WinAmp again purely for the fact that it is the only application I know that rewinds on pressing the arrow keys. (Vital for my guitar practice)

This is now pretty much a self contained studio and could be moved around to do various recordings. It can to at least 8 tracks at once, though both the SoundBlaster and the integrated audio has more recording slots. The breakbox has one additional 9 pin mic as wel,l and it's card has two SPDIF's as well. All this at 16, 24 or 32 bits samples up to 96Khz. Seems most of the audio hardware and drivers are proper, since the CPU seems rather unaffected by activity in the audio applications.