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Area57 12-31-2015 12:42 PM

Is pro tools what I want? What else do I need?
Hi. I listen to electronic goth and industrial music. For a long time I have been wanting to learn to make my own. I have some good ideas for songs in my head.

I now have a new live in girlfriend who is an expert musician and piano player extraordinaire. I myself only know the basics.

So the time is right to get started. I have a tendency to buy once and cry once opposed to trying a sample easy program like garage band. It's hard to explain. When I get into a new hobby I go all out and try to do it right and I get good very quickly usually.

I have been doing some research and here is what I think I've learned I need. Let me know if this is right or wrong.

A computer. I have an upgraded MacBook Pro.

A DAW. The most popular being pro tools, live 9, and logic. I looked at each and like pro tools best.

A midi controller. Right now I have a full piano style keyboard with weighted keys. It had midi connections. So I need a cable with midi in and out on one end and a usb plug on the other. Will this setup work well or do I need a smaller keyboard but with drum pads and knobs and sliders and what not.

An audio interface to plug a mic into to add vocals. I was interested in the line 6 sonic port vx. That looks fun because it has a built in mic and I could walk around town and sample city sounds to add to songs like sirens or construction or what have you. Has anyone ever used this? What is the quality like?

A program of instruments like Kontact 10. So I get lots of different choices of sounds. I have read that pro tools just has the basics like pianos and organs and stuff.

How does that sound? Is that a good way to get me started? Would I need anything else to make professional quality music? Thanks for the advice.

Southsidemusic 12-31-2015 01:07 PM

Re: Is pro tools what I want? What else do I need?
When you say make "professional quality music" you need a lot more quality gear.

Good Mics, Preamp, preferably a channelstrip. You need a Very well treated room and great monitors aswell.

You also need a good quality interface for recording.

If you wanna make professionally sounding music i would set aside a minimum of 12-15K as great music is done on great gear.

Also you need to have a poopload of talent which is free ;) .. But not always present.

Emcha_audio 12-31-2015 01:12 PM

Re: Is pro tools what I want? What else do I need?
Well you did outljne what type of project hou wanted to do. Now the question is what is your budget. Theres js a lot of other things that you need to consider. Speakers, room treatment, will you record live instruments for your project? How will you record the drums? Use samples or draw the hits jn the midi editor or use an electronic drum kit or an accoustic drum kit? Will you record live guitars with their amps or plug the guitar direct into the audio interface and use plugins like eleven mk2 or guitar rig 5 pro or others?

You have to think of all of that then write all of that down and look for the prices and then you will be able to see what you can start getting that is within your budget.

Darryl Ramm 12-31-2015 01:28 PM

Re: Is pro tools what I want? What else do I need?
Step back and think through all what you are trying to do. You need somewhere to record, likely room treatments, microphones, cables, stands, all that stuff can add up quickly.

You very likely need monitors (powered speakers) to listen to stuff on, and headphones for use while tracking (and maybe mixing). You can spend from $100 to $100k on a stereo monitoring system alone.

You very likely will need a better interface than the one you pointed at. Maybe digital inputs and outputs, maybe multiple outputs for monitors and feeds for cue mixes (talent headphone). Line 6 Sonic Port VX... ah no please not. Get somethign better, without the gimmick of a crap built in microphone. Many much better vendors to choose from and many choices of interfaces out there... Focusrite, MOTU, UAD, Apogee, ... (once you undertsand how many mic preamps, line inputs, digital ins an outs, hardware monitoring featurs, analog outputs for monitors, monitor management etc. etc. you need, without knowing that speculating on interfaces is a waste of time).

You will need to understand interface/DAW latency and whether you can use software monitoring thought the DAW while tracking live or if you need hardware monitoring (and maybe a system like UAD Apollo or Pro Tools HDX that let you track at low latency through DSP based plugins).

.. and on and on...

Which is more my way of saying you are unlikely to actually have any clue what you want to need or be able to sanely justify stuff that can get very expensive until you get your feet wet a little trying to do stuff. I'd suggest trying to pick somethign you want to do, that can leverage as much stuff you already own, and trying to do that at reasonable cost for maximum experience learned. There is *nothing* wrong with starting in Garage Band.

Asking what you need for that. e.g. from an interface, mic, monitors, headphone, etc. perspective. If on the other hand money is not that much of an issue and you have a budget, say what that is and we can all throw out suggestions of gear...

If your keyboard has DIN MIDI connections you just need a external MIDI box, many interfaces have that included, or you can buy a stand-alone MIDI box. many keyboards also do MIDI over USB and don't need an external MIDI box. If you don't tell us exactly what you have you won't get exact advice. Same goes with what exact Mac etc.

If you want to "walk around town" recording environmental sounds a computer interface is probably not what you want. A portable or field recorder, likely with the right sort of external mic for what you are recording would be way better.

It may help to read a book on music production/Audio engineering/recording or something like watching these videos http://www.artandscienceofsound.com. .. but not at the expense of also just trying getting started doing some basic stuff yourself, especially as you read/watch along.

Area57 12-31-2015 01:39 PM

Re: Is pro tools what I want? What else do I need?
Oh. Thanks for the responses. I didn't know. I didn't realize it was that complicated. Let's dial it backs notch then. Let's say I want to get started learning and now realize I won't be making anything truly professional quality yet.

I want to have fun and learn and get some songs recorded that I like. I don't have much interest in real instruments like guitars or acoustic drum sets. I would like most of my music to be synth based.

Not that I want to copy anyone but if you have time YouTube Vnv nation perpetual. That's similar to what I want to make.

I have a budget of $1500 to start and already have the computer. I have a room. It is an empty bedroom but not treated. I have studio quality headphones but no speakers. Thanks.

Darryl Ramm 12-31-2015 01:48 PM

Re: Is pro tools what I want? What else do I need?
What exact keyboard do you have? What exact Mac model (date code model #) What make/model disk drive is in the Mac? You own any Mics other gear like that? Decent stereo with speakers (in your living room)? (what stereo/speakers?).

Emcha_audio 12-31-2015 02:08 PM

Re: Is pro tools what I want? What else do I need?
In tha t case here is my suggestion.

As Daryl stated there's nothing wrong with starting with garage band. There is also other option like reaper or even pro tools first that are very low cost or free.

If you are going to do mostly virtual instrument then you do not need a lot of input. Look at this list. To learn this would be enough and some of them actually have a midi i/o integrated.


Microphone room treatment and monitoring is where you will likely have to spend the most money to star off. Luckily for learning you dont have to spend thousands on any of that.


Speakers are still how ever you main source of feedback to get good mixing so while you are learning you might not want to spend too much on those, you still should put a good amount on quality.

After that room treatment is a must. No matter how much you learn your speakers, your room will always throw you off if it's not treated. Again theres is a lot you can build yourself if you are handy and it may cost less. But the first thing is to measure your room response to know what you need to treat. Room eq wizard or smaart are good tools to help for that.

Microphone for vocals. To start off and to learn a simple sm 48 or 57 or 58 will do the trick. And I'm saying this in the sense that you need to learn how to place the mic to get the best results. And if and when you can get the most out of those mic and make it sound as beautiful as you can, then you'll be able to use other more expensive mics with ease and confidence that you can get great sounds out of them.

P.s. sorry for the typos im on my cellphone.

Area57 12-31-2015 02:34 PM

Re: Is pro tools what I want? What else do I need?
My computer.

MacBook Pro retina 13 inch. Late 2012
2.5 ghz Intel core i5
8gb 1600 MHz ddr3


Yamaha electronic piano p-70

That's about all I have. For headphones I have beats studio and sennheisser hd25-ii

Why do I need speakers if I have headphones?

So my plan of starting out buying pro tools, an audio interface and mic (ok, not the line 6) a program of synths isn't good enough to start?

Southsidemusic 12-31-2015 02:37 PM

Re: Is pro tools what I want? What else do I need?
Manny, why do you say monitors are not worth spending money on? A well treated studio and a great set of monitors are the heartbeat of the studio :eek:

I would put that 1500 into the bank and save up another 2500K-3000K and then get a really good set of monitors, a good interface and a good Mic.

Room treatment is as important as any piece of gear so if you have a bare bedroom everything wil sound sh/t until you do it right.

If you just want to play for fun and make a few songs for your friends then get reaper and a focusrite cheap interface, a Röde mic and be done.

Save the rest of your money as you won't get it back if and when you find your next venture ;) The gear in this price range will be 30c on the dollar after a year.

Emcha_audio 12-31-2015 02:45 PM

Re: Is pro tools what I want? What else do I need?
Dont get me wrong they are as you say the heartbeat. But I'm taking into consideration the level of knowledge the op has. He is still in the learning phase so because of that its even more important for him to learn to get good sounding mixes, on lower quality hardware, that translate well everywhere. This way when he gets to work with the better quality stuff he will already have the confidence in his skills. Remember the moto a great engineer can make a great song on cheap gear while a bad engineer will still make dung in great quality gear. Im also taking into acciunt that he doesn't have 10k-100k-1M to put in his place at the moment, nor does he need it to learn how to record.

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