Looking for help with beginner studio setup

#1

I have always wanted to create music, yet I have never been able to put together a decent setup. A part of the problem is that I don't entirely understand how the gear 'communicates' with each other in a digital / analogue studio environment. Moreover, I have had problems with recording in my old version of Cubase, since old projects failed to load, and the midi keyboard seemed to live a life of its own.

I obviously need to sort this out during the forthcoming years. That's why I created this post and hopefully some of you will be able to give input and feedback so I can move on, and build some sort of momentum and foundation. As for goals, on is obviously just to sit around and create and experiment with gear. Another goal is to start an own label for any tracks I might finish and have a Bandcamp page.

Here is my current setup (packed away at the moment):

Computer
HP Pavilion a6632sc - Phenom 8550 / 3GB / 640GB / GeForce 9500 GS / DVD±RW / Vista HP - (I installed an older OS that worked better with Cubase)

I will probably need a new computer correct? Price range?

Sequencer
Cubase Essential 4 - (I never got this program to work correctly and it was buggy, had problems with loading projects and it didn't really connect well with the gear. It was probably my fault. What is today's most popular choice? And what do you guys use? Logic? Ableton?)

External soundcard
Edirol - UA 25EX - (This might still work and is decent right?)

MIDI-Keyboard
M-Audio - Oxygen 8 v2, USB MIDI - (It worked, but I wasn't happy about it. It didn't work well with the Blofeld, but that might have been my fault though. In this case I am thinking that I ought to work with a workstation of somekind, or perhaps use a bigger USB MIDI-Keyboard.)

Headphones
AKG240S - (I think that the sound was good for it is supposed to be used for: creating and mixdowns. However, sometimes i just want to hear the HIFI-loudness version of the tune, do you know what I mean? - How it is supposed to sound in a loud pair of speakers or a couple of headphones that are maxed out when it comes to bass. When I made a tune, and it sounded ok (to my unskilled ear), then the final unmastered result sounded lame and without packing a punch.)

Studio monitors
Genelec GE-8020AP - (I am very happy with these for now. They are probably the best thing about the setup to be honest.  Neutral ) I thank Johan 'Wezzler' for the recommendation.

Synths
Waldorf Blofeld - (Yes, I bought a Blofeld many years ago, and apparently some producers use it for ambient / techno?! I think this piece of gear will stay in my setup, but I need it to team up well with sequencer / midi / workstation etc. in order to be able to record it. I never actually understood how I recorded it. Should I use MIDI and arrange all the parameters and save the settings with creating a tune, or should I record waw's of the Blofeld and save on the computer, thus saving a sound digitally and go from there?)



When it comes to creating music, I'm mainly concerned with these genres:

Jungle, Drum 'N' Bass, Hip-Hop, beats/breakbeat, Techno, Dubtechno, Ambient Techno, Ambient, Acid, experimental soundscapes

So, guys, what pieces of the gear puzzle am I missing? I am a beginner in terms of studio creation and analogue hardware Oops , but I can get around in the digital environment so I atleast can make a 4/4 beat with drums and percussion. Hahaha
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#2
(This post was last modified: 17th November 2017, 19:07 by TimeTouristDnB.)

You're overthinking too much here. You have more gear and software than any beginner would ever need. Just start jamming and experimenting with what you have and as soon as you finish full tracks you should look for feedback. If it turns out to be positive you can start considering a better setup. But honestly not sooner.

A good producer doesn't need a $2,000 setup to finish an awesome track anyway. I remember that Tim Reaper started out with solely a laptop and cheap Koss PortaPro headphones (don't quote me on that, I read that a long time ago) and he made some of the sickest Jungle around that time. If you're inspired enough your ideas will find their way in a track no matter what fooking gear you possess.

Just my 2 cents.
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#3

(17th November 2017, 19:06)TimeTouristDnB Wrote: You're overthinking too much here. You have more gear and software than any beginner would ever need. Just start jamming and experimenting with what you have and as soon as you finish full tracks you should look for feedback. If it turns out to be positive you can start considering a better setup. But honestly not sooner.

A good producer doesn't need a $2,000 setup to finish an awesome track anyway. I remember that Tim Reaper started out with solely a laptop and cheap Koss PortaPro headphones (don't quote me on that, I read that a long time ago) and he made some of the sickest Jungle around that time. If you're inspired enough your ideas will find their way in a track no matter what fooking gear you possess.

Just my 2 cents.

Not massively helpful there, considering you basically just said the issue is in his head. Unfortunately, just because you have some gear does not mean that it can lead to successful music creation, and there are some specific technical queries that were asked that are clearly providing an obstacle to being able to start jamming and experimenting.
done
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#4

(16th November 2017, 23:08)Spectraz Wrote: I have always wanted to create music, yet I have never been able to put together a decent setup. A part of the problem is that I don't entirely understand how the gear 'communicates' with each other in a digital / analogue studio environment. Moreover, I have had problems with recording in my old version of Cubase, since old projects failed to load, and the midi keyboard seemed to live a life of its own.

I obviously need to sort this out during the forthcoming years. That's why I created this post and hopefully some of you will be able to give input and feedback so I can move on, and build some sort of momentum and foundation. As for goals, on is obviously just to sit around and create and experiment with gear. Another goal is to start an own label for any tracks I might finish and have a Bandcamp page.

Here is my current setup (packed away at the moment):

Computer
HP Pavilion a6632sc - Phenom 8550 / 3GB / 640GB / GeForce 9500 GS / DVD±RW / Vista HP - (I installed an older OS that worked better with Cubase)

I will probably need a new computer correct? Price range?

Sequencer
Cubase Essential 4 - (I never got this program to work correctly and it was buggy, had problems with loading projects and it didn't really connect well with the gear. It was probably my fault. What is today's most popular choice? And what do you guys use? Logic? Ableton?)

External soundcard
Edirol - UA 25EX - (This might still work and is decent right?)

MIDI-Keyboard
M-Audio - Oxygen 8 v2, USB MIDI - (It worked, but I wasn't happy about it. It didn't work well with the Blofeld, but that might have been my fault though. In this case I am thinking that I ought to work with a workstation of somekind, or perhaps use a bigger USB MIDI-Keyboard.)

Headphones
AKG240S - (I think that the sound was good for it is supposed to be used for: creating and mixdowns. However, sometimes i just want to hear the HIFI-loudness version of the tune, do you know what I mean? - How it is supposed to sound in a loud pair of speakers or a couple of headphones that are maxed out when it comes to bass. When I made a tune, and it sounded ok (to my unskilled ear), then the final unmastered result sounded lame and without packing a punch.)

Studio monitors
Genelec GE-8020AP - (I am very happy with these for now. They are probably the best thing about the setup to be honest.  Neutral ) I thank Johan 'Wezzler' for the recommendation.

Synths
Waldorf Blofeld - (Yes, I bought a Blofeld many years ago, and apparently some producers use it for ambient / techno?! I think this piece of gear will stay in my setup, but I need it to team up well with sequencer / midi / workstation etc. in order to be able to record it. I never actually understood how I recorded it. Should I use MIDI and arrange all the parameters and save the settings with creating a tune, or should I record waw's of the Blofeld and save on the computer, thus saving a sound digitally and go from there?)



When it comes to creating music, I'm mainly concerned with these genres:

Jungle, Drum 'N' Bass, Hip-Hop, beats/breakbeat, Techno, Dubtechno, Ambient Techno, Ambient, Acid, experimental soundscapes

So, guys, what pieces of the gear puzzle am I missing? I am a beginner in terms of studio creation and analogue hardware Oops , but I can get around in the digital environment so I atleast can make a 4/4 beat with drums and percussion. Hahaha

You can do a lot of things in the box, and if you are looking to start again then it would simplify everything. But, it depends on what you are used to doing... we are all different.

Your PC - is definitely older (2008-2011 - I googled it), but if you have 64bit system you can up DDR-2 RAM to 8GB. Otherwise, your limit is 4GB. 3GB should be fine to start with, and 640GB should be ok for OS and some software/samples. You may want to consider an SSD drive for speed, seriously you will not go back to regular drives.
USB 2.0 connections are ok for the majority of peripherals, especially second hand.

Processor - not the fastest anymore, and is one of your weak links here when considering modern software and Plugins. However, I was running an older AMD Phenom Vista rig than yours with UAD stuff and a digital soundcard with converter until recently, and whilst those bits were taking a lot of workload away from the PC itself, it could still run a fair bit native. Struggled with Slate Digital plugins, iZotope Ozone, and highend Plugin Alliance stuff - mixing and mastering basically. 

Do you need a new PC? Up to you, but not massively vital if you avoid hungry software.  However, if you do look into keeping it, you need to make sure it can handle what you want to. I'll drop you a PM for the rest as it's quite a lot of questions 🙂
done
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#5

(26th November 2017, 23:08)KKND Wrote: just because you have some gear does not mean that it can lead to successful music creation

I'm convinced that it can. So many producers back in the day that had the sparsest setup and still were able to workaround all obstacles because their creativity forced them to analyze all possibilites and options their setup offered. It's an extremely interesting task to explore even the tiniest niches of your gear and create something complex with it. In my opinion that's what electronic music was partially about back in the days.

These days you buy some hardware X and software Y for a total of $1000 and presets and automated workflows take care of all the creativity for you. I'm exaggerating a bit here but it still applies to modern music production in a way. If OP can't produce with what he has right now, newer setup won't help either.
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#6
(This post was last modified: 27th November 2017, 16:31 by KKND. Edit Reason: rant )

(27th November 2017, 14:27)TimeTouristDnB Wrote:
(26th November 2017, 23:08)KKND Wrote: just because you have some gear does not mean that it can lead to successful music creation

So many producers back in the day that had the sparsest setup and still were able to workaround all obstacles because their creativity forced them to

If OP can't produce with what he has right now, newer setup won't help either.

Again, not helpful, because he is also asking for some workaround(s) with elements of gear that were not "talking" to each other in the first place. This is all about creating a setup / an environment that works for the OP, with as much of the elements he has in place. No-one has said (yet) that he needs to pump in any capital, and actually I was going to suggest the opposite.
Having taken some time out from music production, and I can sympathise, there is a lot of stuff out there, and a lot of things have changed - and if you want to try and keep an older rig in order then there are some important things to consider. Obsolescence when it comes to music gear is ridiculous, both in terms of technology and support; <12 months is common before updates and new versions supersede your initial investment, so try considering what you need to factor in if trying to maintain a rig from 2008-2011.

Why not go the whole nine yards and tell him to give up?

edit: this used to be a helpful place, and I will continue with that ethos in mind - any else want to chat about gear, feel free to PM me.
done
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#7

God TimeTouristDnb sounds like Hitler.
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#8
(This post was last modified: 4th December 2017, 22:11 by Spectraz. Edit Reason: I added a question + more info about SSD. )

I don't know if I'm going to receive more input from any other people at the moment, but I post this if someone still is interested, and for future reference.

At the moment, I am leaning towards saving for a new computer, because the one that i have is too old for new software. I'm thinking 32gb ram should do the job. I have no idea how big SSD drive I need though. 500+? As for setup, the basics that probably would work for me is Ableton Live Suite 10, PUSH 2, and trying the software synths: Omnisphere 2, Serum & Spire. I can buy them one by one over a longer period of time. Are there advantages of buying boxed versions rather than downloadable versions?

The next step when I am up and running - after having made a couple of snippets or tracks - I could save up for some analog/digital hardware from Elektron. I don't know if I want everything, but perhaps Analog Rytm MKII, Analog Four MKII, Analog Keys, and Octatrack MKII would work well with Overbridge + OverHub.
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