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Practice Space - home recording. Need some help/ideas/advice


QuietlyBold
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Howdy y'all, I picked up the Gibson Learn and Master guitar series 8 or 10 years ago, was a member of the old forum, life happened my playing slowed WAY down, and I've reacquainted myself with making music again over the last few months.  I've tried a few other forums but they always end up turning toxic fast, and anyone with the "wrong" way of thinking get's ridiculed...I always loved the community Steve fostered and thought this is the place to ask!

My current struggle other than playing the right notes at the right time, is my practice space.  

Sorry no pics, picture a combo stool/guitar stand, music stand, and a combo amp in a corner (2.5' x 4'). I don't have a good spot for gear/tools/books, I do hang 2 guitars on the 4' wall.  I'm also wanting to expand to a laptop+interface+daw and some monitors or headphones (depending on how much noise I want to make) to do some playing or recording so I can capture my own rhythm tracks, and use some amp sims.

I'm looking at one of the Presonus combo packs (like $329 for interface, monitors, headphones, mic, some cables).  I don't gig, I just like to record myself and would like a little better than using my phone to make rhythm tracks.  I also want to start exploring the world of amp sims.  I'll be recording my electric through the interface most of the time and the actual space is a bit larger, it's just the corner will most things will reside.

Guess I'm wondering how to make a corner a little more useful, and how to keep it under $500 (to start lol) including the combo pack.

My thought is to get something like an ikea kallax or other 13" cube setup in a 6 cube (2x3) configuration (either hack an ikea one, or get a 13" cube shelf knockoff from other big box store). That's 44" wide and 30" high, and 15" deep. Should hold music books, gear, and have a spot on top of the shelf for laptop + monitor speakers for when its time to play or record.

Anyways...any thoughts, advice, ideas? 

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@QuietlyBold  Welcome back! You're probably still finding your way around the new neighborhood. Here is Steve's piece on setting up a practice space. Attached below is a 2015 booklet from DiskMakers on setting up a home studio. I hope these can get you thinking.

home-studio-handbook.pdf

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@DianeB I'm sure that @QuietlyBold appreciates the pdf on setting up a home studio.  But so you know, I also appreciate it.  I haven't shared on here the fact that my wife and I are moving after 41 years in the same house.  We are "moving to town" as the expression goes (in the rural community).  I won't go in to the significance of the expression.  It means much more than just changing mailing address.

But because of the move, which occurred last Friday, I haven't been practicing and probably won't for another week or so. 

But............. the new house has a room that is huge and is going to be solely Ron's studio/music room/man cave!  so I am interested in any suggestions for making it an ideal practice space.

Thank you!

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Thanks @DianeB.  Yes the space is already sacred...trying to next level it but its a small space!  I checked Steve's post and will make sure any mods I make to the space satisfy those tenets.  It sounds like my ideas for the space are headed in the right direction.

 

@matonanjin i wish I had a big space. That's great!  I also learned a lot from articles on sweetwater.

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Well I don't know about the space, but you should definitely invest in an audio interface, DAW, and maybe a microphone. The interface should have at least 2 inputs. Mine has 2x2, but you can only use 2 channels at a time. You can also get a free version of Pro Tools for you DAW. Pro Tools First doesn't have all the tracks of the full version, but it is more than capable of recording quality guitar tracks and a lot more. 

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I took over my son's old bedroom which is like 10x10 as my studio.

One thing I wish I could do is " sound proofing", but I think that will have to wait for about 5yrs to move into a different house after I stop working. 

Now your issue. 

I'm not sure you're going to need studio monitors. If you're recording electric direct due to volume,  then mixing via monitors maybe pointless. 

I use headphones only 

The Personus or Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 combo packs are good. 

I have an ikea desk on one side with books and computer and mixer

On the other side has a small IKEA shelf with music books and my dvd player

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10 hours ago, QuietlyBold said:

Thanks everyone, looks like I'm on the right track 🙂

Im looking forward to the day I have a dedicated studio space too... Plenty of good suggestions here, so you should do well.

For recording gear (as Doug said) I bought the Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 combination kit, with the interface (2 channels in 2 channels out), a good set of over the ear headphones, and a microphone. All great stuff, and the worlds top selling unit. I comes with a raft of "plug in's" (recording software) and all you really need. You'll need to select a DAW, (Digital Audio Workstation) to record this, and after "demo-ing" a few, I settled on REAPER.  It's a free to try program with a "sugested" license agreement (not expensive). There are lots of videos on YouTube to show you how to record with it.  It''ll take a while to learn, but you dont need to know everything to produce a decent recording.

Recording yourself is a HUGE leap forward, and I strongly recommend it to ANYONE, regardless of skill level. You can hear what you acutally sound like and work on your skills, and playing songs. You dont HAVE TO share it if you dont want to... 

Good Luck and Happy Tunes; Neil

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I mentioned above we are moving and the new home has a music room/studio/man cave that is huge.  This is it!  This was shot before the move and I would be too embarrassed to show it to you now.  But it is mine!!!!   All mine!!!!! 😉🙃  It is a shambles with boxes everywhere.  But I hope that I can show you an organized practice room in the near future.

@DianeB is helping me with that by PM.   Thanks Diane!

Practice has been almost non-existent the last couple months.  But, hopefully, in the very near future I will have no excuse. 

And, I took a Zoom lesson with @Steve Krenz recently (before starting the move).  Predictably, it was hugely helpful and educational.  Of course it was! And I purchased 4 more lessons.

So with the great practice space and lessons with Steve I am going to have no excuse to not progress and finish up L&MG!!!!!  Finally.

MusicRoom2.thumb.jpg.526f5682f24cf8db1a7cf03414c61e47.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thought I'd share a short update.  A week ago I received my audio interface and started to setup my area.  

Audio interface is a presonus audioblx USB 96.  It's been ok, and handles my guitar with emg pickups without clipping.  The biggest drawback to the interface that I found is that the laptop either must be plugged in or if unplugged and running on battery the power settings need to be set to performance.  Otherwise the interface does not recieve enough power and introduces noise in the form of clicks and pops.

I've been toying with location and settled on my old corner with a shelf to hold the equipment and have the laptop on top easy to reach in order change the settings and run the DAW.

Just running through headphones now, will get some powered speakers so I can play and others can hear.  There's space to setup monitors or similar in my dedicated area. 

Thanks everyone for the suggestions and advice!

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  • 1 month later...
On 7/15/2021 at 8:05 AM, matonanjin said:

I mentioned above we are moving and the new home has a music room/studio/man cave that is huge.  This is it!  This was shot before the move and I would be too embarrassed to show it to you now.  But it is mine!!!!   All mine!!!!! 😉🙃  It is a shambles with boxes everywhere.  But I hope that I can show you an organized practice room in the near future.

@DianeB is helping me with that by PM.   Thanks Diane!

Practice has been almost non-existent the last couple months.  But, hopefully, in the very near future I will have no excuse. 

And, I took a Zoom lesson with @Steve Krenz recently (before starting the move).  Predictably, it was hugely helpful and educational.  Of course it was! And I purchased 4 more lessons.

So with the great practice space and lessons with Steve I am going to have no excuse to not progress and finish up L&MG!!!!!  Finally.

MusicRoom2.thumb.jpg.526f5682f24cf8db1a7cf03414c61e47.jpg

Sweet! Congrats, plenty of space to fill up.

Greg

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  • 3 months later...

It’s right about 5 months since I setup my home studio / practice area. I’ve done a few modifications since my last post and thought I’d write out a little more detail of what I’ve learned and what I’m doing now. 
 

On the physical setup: I now have a computer desk (freecycled) that is setup for a corner. I have my computer, my audio interface, and a powered USB hub. The desk allowed me to put some hooks for guitar cables and headphones, space to have the computer and interface always setup, and had enough surface to add a midi keyboard in the future.  The powered usb hub solved some of the inconstant power issues going to my audio interface.

I’m still using the PreSonus Audiobox 96. I’ve found it does start to clip with my emgs so I had to turn my guitar volume down (it’s at about 7 now).  If I upgrade in the future I’ll likely go with an interface that can handle hot pickups better. 
 

In order to minimize latency I have the Sampling set to 64 samples. I have not noticed any dropouts.  My computer has 16GB ram and an SSD, i5 processor. It’s 8 years old but seems to be running with no issues.  I would suspect that a newer computer would run perfectly. 
 

Using PreSonus Studio One as the DAW, and I’ve tried a few different plugins with the DAW. Ampire and Ampire High Density from PreSonus are ok. A few free amp sims, and the. neural dsp which is pricey but seems the best to my ears. 
 

in all, the learning curve was a bit steep but end of the day I’m extremely satisfied and it’s a joy to go play, practice, jam, learn, etc. 

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Your last paragraph explains why it was all worthwhile. Long may you be extremely satisfied.

Regarding your clipping sound, have you set the insput gain staging on the Audiobox and in your DAW. It sounds to me like it is set to be more sensitive and needs to be turned down. Is there a red light on the Audiobox to show when the signal is clipping? What is the input level (dB FS or LED colour) in your DAW at the input gain stage? Have you checked the Audiobox's manual to make sure you have not missed anything?

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On 7/14/2021 at 9:03 PM, NeilES335 said:

Im looking forward to the day I have a dedicated studio space too... Plenty of good suggestions here, so you should do well.

For recording gear (as Doug said) I bought the Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 combination kit, with the interface (2 channels in 2 channels out), a good set of over the ear headphones, and a microphone. All great stuff, and the worlds top selling unit. I comes with a raft of "plug in's" (recording software) and all you really need. You'll need to select a DAW, (Digital Audio Workstation) to record this, and after "demo-ing" a few, I settled on REAPER.  It's a free to try program with a "sugested" license agreement (not expensive). There are lots of videos on YouTube to show you how to record with it.  It''ll take a while to learn, but you dont need to know everything to produce a decent recording.

Recording yourself is a HUGE leap forward, and I strongly recommend it to ANYONE, regardless of skill level. You can hear what you acutally sound like and work on your skills, and playing songs. You dont HAVE TO share it if you dont want to... 

Good Luck and Happy Tunes; Neil

I Agree with Neil Whole Heartedly....I have a Berringer UMC204 (2 In 2 Out) and it Works Very Well. Priced pretty Nicely at SWEETWATER Currently. I also had a PRESONUS AudioBox 22 VSL  (2IN and 2 Out) and it Worked Great Also. I have decided to use REAPER as my DAW since my Computer Desktop I built to be Linux Pure (LinuxMint 20.1). REAPER Works just Fine on Windows or Linux. That being said, I have ALOT to LEARN about REAPER. Right Now I am just Trying to get back the Guitar Skills I had when I stopped Playing so I am not too Worried about Recording at the Moment.

Sounds to me like You are on The Right Track. Take Your Time, Learn All Ya Can and Enjoy Your Journey.

Sandy B.

Edited by SandyB
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On 12/23/2021 at 8:50 AM, QuietlyBold said:

It’s right about 5 months since I setup my home studio / practice area. I’ve done a few modifications since my last post and thought I’d write out a little more detail of what I’ve learned and what I’m doing now. 
 

On the physical setup: I now have a computer desk (freecycled) that is setup for a corner. I have my computer, my audio interface, and a powered USB hub. The desk allowed me to put some hooks for guitar cables and headphones, space to have the computer and interface always setup, and had enough surface to add a midi keyboard in the future.  The powered usb hub solved some of the inconstant power issues going to my audio interface.

I’m still using the PreSonus Audiobox 96. I’ve found it does start to clip with my emgs so I had to turn my guitar volume down (it’s at about 7 now).  If I upgrade in the future I’ll likely go with an interface that can handle hot pickups better. 
 

In order to minimize latency I have the Sampling set to 64 samples. I have not noticed any dropouts.  My computer has 16GB ram and an SSD, i5 processor. It’s 8 years old but seems to be running with no issues.  I would suspect that a newer computer would run perfectly. 
 

Using PreSonus Studio One as the DAW, and I’ve tried a few different plugins with the DAW. Ampire and Ampire High Density from PreSonus are ok. A few free amp sims, and the. neural dsp which is pricey but seems the best to my ears. 
 

in all, the learning curve was a bit steep but end of the day I’m extremely satisfied and it’s a joy to go play, practice, jam, learn, etc. 

Congrats! Great News.

I Posted in your Other Post about the behringer UMC204HD Audio Interface at Sweetwater.com or here is the Link to the Device at Sweetwater in case a Bargain would be of Interest.  https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/UMC204HD--behringer-u-phoria-umc204hd-usb-audio-interface

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On 12/26/2021 at 1:10 AM, Fretless said:

Your last paragraph explains why it was all worthwhile. Long may you be extremely satisfied.

Regarding your clipping sound, have you set the insput gain staging on the Audiobox and in your DAW. It sounds to me like it is set to be more sensitive and needs to be turned down. Is there a red light on the Audiobox to show when the signal is clipping? What is the input level (dB FS or LED colour) in your DAW at the input gain stage? Have you checked the Audiobox's manual to make sure you have not missed anything?

I have the gain all the way down on the Audiobox and the red light shows clipping  on the box if I have the guitar volume up at 10 and hit some heavy palm mutes.  If I dial it back to 7 I’m good to go.
 

In the DAW I’ll be around -3db and red. 

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7 hours ago, Eracer_Team-DougH said:

Remember there are mixer volume controls for a reason .

It's to adjust volume levels.

If you put your guitar on 10, and the mixer on 10..

Well you're gonna clip distortion 

Input gain is set to 0 on the Audiobox.  It’s clipping in the way in before it hits anything else  

I did some research on the unit (after purchase of course) and it appears to have a fairly low ceiling and can’t handle active pickups (EMG 85).  I now just have my input gain at 0, and my volume at 7 and I get -9 to -6db. 

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34 minutes ago, QuietlyBold said:

I have the gain all the way down on the Audiobox and the red light shows clipping  on the box if I have the guitar volume up at 10 and hit some heavy palm mutes.  If I dial it back to 7 I’m good to go. 

One possibly would be to use a volume pedal inbetween your guitar and the Audiobox, set to a level that 10 ob your guitar does not cause clipping. Find the right level and leave it there, maybe on your desk beside the Audiobox, rather than on the floor where you might step on it and alter the volume level.

You could choose a small pedal like the Valeton Surge EP-2 Mini or an even cheaper pedal such as the Lead Foot LFV-1. There volume attenuators without a pedal (because you don't need the pedal, just a volume knob), like this cheap Chinese Mosky pedal or the more expensive, respected Electro-Harmonix Nano Signal Pad Attenuator Guitar Effects Pedal.

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The other thought is your input is not set to high impedance instrument but low impedance mic.

(The EMG's high output is another)

I know with my battery powered amp if plug my guitar in and hit the Low Z button I get tons of distortion 

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Good thinking, Doug, but the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 has combination sockets, where you can either plug in a balanced XLR or unbalanced 1/4" jack and it has input impedences relevant for the different plugs.

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