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Young school music teacher wanting to learn music production and create home studio

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Hi there guys I have built myself a hackintosh that I am so far very happy with. I finished uni and have already had my first year teaching music at high school under my belt. One department I am severely lacking in is recording, mixing, mastering etc. Now my situation isn't as simple as I would like. My partner is moving away to the Faulkland Islands for a job for up to two years and I plan to follow her out there as soon as I can. I have things to tie up at my end and stuff I want to invest in before I go, an audio interface definitely being at the top of my list.

My rig in brief:
Motherboard - Gigabyte Z97X-UD7-TH
CPU - Intel 4790K
GPU - EVGA GTX 760 SOC
RAM - 32GB Crucial Ballistix Tactical ( I read somewhere with hackintosh's this much RAM can be a big problem?)

So things to consider are:

- ordering things to the Faulklands is not easy or great so I need an interface I can learn and not easily out grow (I hate investing money in things that scream to be sold again)
- internet in the Faulklands is really bad, as in 3mb on the best of days and there is a really small data allowance for during the day. Would this effect certain hardware/software they require constant updates?
- I am wondering whether it is best to invest in things like a grossmann iso cab or if I should save the weight and just go with amp modelling and plugins for the next two years (I will be taking 1x electric and 1x acoustic)
- Budget is around £500-£1000 and options I have researched are:
Universal Audio Apollo Thunderbolt Interface
[AMAZON-uk]http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00I0RHU8K/[/AMAZON-uk]
RME Fireface 800
[AMAZON-uk]http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B001DH7J3A/[/AMAZON-uk]
RME BabyFace Blue
[AMAZON-uk]http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004GXA41C/[/AMAZON-uk]
Focusrite Liquid SAFFIRE56
[AMAZON-uk]http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00202HCAC/[/AMAZON-uk]
- Most schools and community colleges use Cubase but the techies at my previous school were raving about Ableton Live, will I be easily able to convert all my skills or just stick to Cubase?
- For the learning process I would like to deconstruct computer game music, film scores, tv show themes tunes etc and just go wild remaking/arranging what I like.
- For studio monitors I have so far in the lead the Yamaha HS8. For rock and metal in particular the HS80's were apparently a massive favourite and the HS8 is supposedly even better than that and don't require a sub woofer.

Just so people don't thiink I am being a completely lazy toad I am already reading pages like these:

http://www.rolandus.com/blog/2013/03/18/5-tips-for-choosing-an-audio-interface/

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov04/articles/pcmusician.htm

There's no substitute for just trying things out and playing around but if people have any fantastic resources they would recommend for learning and applying skills that would be fantastic. Any help would be very much appreciated and I looked at the compatibility list for external interfaces and I am sure all of the ones I have mentioned so far are on there. The point of all this is that I really want to grow as a musician who wants to record, experiment with arrangements and becomes a better teacher. How high I should set my ceiling however is a little tricky to fathom....
 
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IMHO go with the Apollo, fantastic interface, great sounding plugins and very well made. The guitar plugins aren't bad either and can Al be easily demoed with a large download.
Also watch lots of YouTube videos before you go, amongst the occasional crap there are a lot of excellent tutorials.
 
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Do you have any particular reasons why you prefer the Apollo over the others? From what I am reading the Apollo is different because it does all of it's work via software as opposed to hardware? Kinda like a virtual emulation gig going on which is why it's so much smaller and compact than some of the more expensive interfaces like the RME fireface 800?

From what I also read the Apollo comes with a lot of plugins and they want you to buy a lot more, the processing power also seems to illicit more further purchases for expandability also. So with this unit if I wanted to recreate a film score (ie lots of tracks/instruments) and use my own plugins like amplitube and vienna symphonic orchestra suite, would the Apollo be a waste of money because the point is to use their plugins or would I run into the problem of just not having enough power to handle it all?

I understand that all setups inevitably expand, for example if you want to record a band or drumkit you would need to buy something to adapt the optical input into 8 more inputs or univeral sell other items to boost processing power. But does this mean in the future that the Apollo would be at the heard of processing all my audio or just another cog in a web of other Universal items?
 

BoomR

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Do you have any particular reasons why you prefer the Apollo over the others? From what I am reading the Apollo is different because it does all of it's work via software as opposed to hardware? Kinda like a virtual emulation gig going on which is why it's so much smaller and compact than some of the more expensive interfaces like the RME fireface 800?

From what I also read the Apollo comes with a lot of plugins and they want you to buy a lot more, the processing power also seems to illicit more further purchases for expandability also. So with this unit if I wanted to recreate a film score (ie lots of tracks/instruments) and use my own plugins like amplitube and vienna symphonic orchestra suite, would the Apollo be a waste of money because the point is to use their plugins or would I run into the problem of just not having enough power to handle it all?

I understand that all setups inevitably expand, for example if you want to record a band or drumkit you would need to buy something to adapt the optical input into 8 more inputs or univeral sell other items to boost processing power. But does this mean in the future that the Apollo would be at the heard of processing all my audio or just another cog in a web of other Universal items?

I think you misunderstand the architecture & approach by all the UAD interfaces. UAD makes some great DSP plugins - great emulations of classic hardware devices in studios (reverbs, delays, preamps, channel strips, etc). UAD's niche is that their new Apollo line of interfaces contain the same DSP engine & chip that is found in the UAD PCI, Thunderbolt & Firewire accelerator cards (dual processor and quad processor options) - NOT "software" as you mention above. So the benefit is that your computer doesn't have to waste precious horsepower to run THOSE types of plug-ins (like you would need to do with Waves or other DSP processing plug-ins).

You seem to be a bit "all over the map" when it comes to some of the interfaces that you are proposing in your original post. So IMHO, that's where I'd start: how many audio ins/outs do you need? Do you only need a compact interface with a couple ins/outs (Babyface or Apollo Twin)? Or do you need the ability to track multiple tracks - beyond 2 or 4 (Fireface, Saffire Liquid56)?? I would first decide on how many ins/outs I need...and/or how much $$ I have to spend. Since you'll be moving soon, space/physical size/weight of your interface may also be a factor (plus, maybe you won't have the space for a couple years to track bigger sessions that require 8+ simultaneous inputs). If you are going to only be tracking 1 or 2 instruments simultaneously, I'd go with one of the compact audio interfaces for now.

Another option you might consider for a small form-factor audio interface is the Apogee Duet. Some of the best A/D & D/A converters in the business (I would argue significantly better quality than any of the options you have in your audio interface candidates list). I would even go one step further: Apogee just started shipping a special "Pro Tools" edition of their Duet and Quartet audio interfaces. Here's an Amazon link to the Duet (what I would probably recommend for you). The bonus here is that, not only do you get an amazing-yet-compact audio interface, but you get full-blown Pro Tools 11 software to go along with it.

While Ableton does have some DAW-like features, it really shines as a performance tool. I think you would be better off to stick to a more traditional DAW app - something like Cubase - or even better yet, Pro Tools. PT is pretty much the industry standard - has been for years & is in every major & probably "minor" studio all over the world. Starting with PT 9 & 10, AVID has done some HUGE improvements to the MIDI sequencing side of the app...finally playing catch-up to things like Cubase. PT 11 also ships with a huge assortment of virtual instrument plug-ins (it's just a separate installer that you need to run).

BTW, I'm a former band director (14 years in US public schools) - elementary, middle school, and high school. My parents are also retired band directors - my mother was my elementary school band director and my father was the chairman of the music department at my high school. So I think I have a good view on your point of reference.
:mrgreen:
Hope this info helps....and I'm happy to answer any other questions (if I know the answers, that is) LOL
:headbang:
PS - feel free to click on the links to my Music Studio v1.0 and v2.0 builds to see more about my setup - both my home studio & my CustoMac...
 
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Hey there, thanks for your input. You've given me plenty to think about and research on for the meantime!

Right now the way to go definitely seems to be the portable dual input route. Space, weight, the use it would see for a good while, the inability to sound proof rooms etc. definitely lends itself in the aforementioned way. Both the apogee and universal audio models seem like really good quality pieces of kit. The thunderbolt and resources saving qualities of the UA put it ahead in my mind atm. Do you think that avid might create their own thunderbolt updated model soon with how MAC have committed for the longterm to thunderbolt?

One thing I am worried about when eventually teaching DAW scenarios at schools is the carry over of skills, format, UI etc when going from program to program. If I were to think solely of schools then I need to become highly verse in Garageband and Cubase. But for my own needs if I were to concentrate solely on Pro Tools would I make my job being highly fluent at Cubase harder in the short or long term?

Also, does the duet support expandability for handling another 8 inputs like the UA Duet does?
 

BoomR

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Hey there, thanks for your input. You've given me plenty to think about and research on for the meantime!

Right now the way to go definitely seems to be the portable dual input route. Space, weight, the use it would see for a good while, the inability to sound proof rooms etc. definitely lends itself in the aforementioned way. Both the apogee and universal audio models seem like really good quality pieces of kit. The thunderbolt and resources saving qualities of the UA put it ahead in my mind atm. Do you think that avid might create their own thunderbolt updated model soon with how MAC have committed for the longterm to thunderbolt?

One thing I am worried about when eventually teaching DAW scenarios at schools is the carry over of skills, format, UI etc when going from program to program. If I were to think solely of schools then I need to become highly verse in Garageband and Cubase. But for my own needs if I were to concentrate solely on Pro Tools would I make my job being highly fluent at Cubase harder in the short or long term?

Also, does the duet support expandability for handling another 8 inputs like the UA Duet does?

AVID does have a TB box, but is designed to work with their HD|Native systems & interfaces. I doubt if you will see anyone who will be making a 2 or 4-in/out box with anything other that USB going forward. Here's why (from Apogee's Web site): http://www.apogeedigital.com/knowledgebase/quartet/why-doesnt-quartet-use-thunderbolt/

Having said that, remember: Apollo is expandable via the ADAT optical port. In addition, there's all the DSP work that it is doing, which requires a much bigger data pipe. So with this device, TB does make more sense.

And as for your DAW question, I would say that there is quite a bit of carry-over between platforms for the "basics" for sure. I started out back in the early 90's with the very first Pro Tools system, but then changed platforms to (don't laugh) Atari and used Notator Logic (the great-great-grand-daddy of Logic Pro X). Then back to a Mac and to Performer and later Digital Performer. In the past few years, I've come back to PT and also learned Logic Pro because each serves different functions for me, in addition to work flows in Digital Performer. So you shouldn't have to many problems adapting to different platforms. YouTube and Google searches will be your friends if you need to figure things out!

Hope this helps!
--B
 
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Oh dear, oh dear :) As soon as I think that I have figured something out new info comes along and then I need to think again very carefully.... The UAA has more features, the AD has significantly better converters.... Time to read some more! I think my next port of call in this battle of interfaces will be the plugins they come or work with natively.

Thank you for the information, I am going to go have a good think and read, and think, and read.....
 

BoomR

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Oh dear, oh dear :) As soon as I think that I have figured something out new info comes along and then I need to think again very carefully.... The UAA has more features, the AD has significantly better converters.... Time to read some more! I think my next port of call in this battle of interfaces will be the plugins they come or work with natively.

Thank you for the information, I am going to go have a good think and read, and think, and read.....

IMHO, you cannot go wrong with the new UAD Apollo... quality of converters, expandability, all of the DSP signal processing plugs, Thunderbolt. I would say the only big difference of note with the Apogee/PT bundle is that ProTools comes with more/different plug-ins OoB...especially Virtual Instrument plug-ins. I don't think UAD comes with any of those kinds of plugs - just DSP plugs.

I've heard the Apogee Duet with my own ears... AA-MAAA-ZZING sound for the price point, plus super portable if you ever need to do remote work (as it plugs into USB). If you don't have a Thunderbolt-equipped laptop, then in that use case, you're stuck with the Apollo using at home only.

Thinking & reading is good! Cheers!
--B
 
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