View Full Version : OK Computer

04-13-2007, 05:18 AM
Hi all,

I've had an ambition to do a spot of home recording for a while now but am only just starting to look at actually doing it.

I was going to buy something like a 2nd-hand Akai DPS16 but have just read about Reaper. I've recently been given a computer that should be able to cope with this kind of applciation and so I think I should really investigate the idea of recording on a PC instead of a dedicated hardware DAW.

The kind of thing I'll be looking to do is mainly synth-based (including recording a couple of old analogues I have).

The only thing is (and thank Justin for this Newbie forum), I have absolutely no idea what I need to do to get sound out of my synths and into my computer. Presumably I'll be needing some kind of specialised sound card, or a breakout box, or something? And some kind of MIDI ports?

I'm not interested in having the cutting edge, I just want to be able to get a reasonably decent signal into the computer, reasonably cheaply.

Can anybody point me in the direction of a good buy, or let me know of any good sources of info for the absoulte beginner?


04-13-2007, 05:45 AM
from where are you. in germany there's a good site


maybe do a serch for homerecording in google.

i think you can buy nearly the cheapest stereo soundcard you will get in a PROFESSIONAL MUSICSTORE (not ebay or crap) that supports ASIO drivers (that's a way the recordingsoftware communicates with the soundcard) and MIDI input/output.

also if you like to record something with microphone the soundcard should have a microphone input (with XLR)

04-13-2007, 08:36 AM
And since you are using a Keyboard don't forget the midi jacks

04-13-2007, 07:41 PM
The kind of thing I'll be looking to do is mainly synth-based (including recording a couple of old analogues I have).

What do you mean? If you mean a synth keyboard, and you'll be playing the sounds directly from the keyboard itself, then you'll want to send the analog signal to the computer:

Playing the synth, with cables plugged from synth output into the computer interface inputs.


Playing the synth, which is plugged into an amp and speaker. then have a microphone on the speaker, plugged into a preamp, which plugs into the computer.

Both ways have their merit, but you can see the principle.

Now, you have the keyboard, and you have a computer. Now you need to connect them together.

For this, you need an audio interface. This will do the job of converting the analog sound (sine wave) over to digital stream (bits and bytes).

This can be done with cheap cards, but I wouldn't advise it. They can be noisy, poor converters, large latency (slow conversion), etc.

Best to get a recording card to start off with, maybe a inexpensive 2 channel one, and increase later if you feel the need. M-Audio makes a few 2 channel cards that would work. The Audiophile 2496 comes to mind right away, for around 100$us. Great starter card, works great, sounds good, stable.

This will let you plug your keyboard into it's inputs, and record your signals in some software (like reaper). Then, later, you can play back the recorded signal, and record new signals at the same time, basically adding new tracks to your project. You can then adjust them later (called mixing).

MIDI is used for when you want to record just the ACTIONS of you playing the keyboard: like which note you played, how hard you hit the note, how long you held it, and some other things. If your keyboard is creating the sounds, then you don't need to worry about MIDI right yet.

MIDI is good for when you have sounds in the computer, that you want to play, either with your MIDI controller (also a keyboard, but doesn't play it's own internal sounds) or with the computer's midi pattern (sometimes a midi file, or a piano roll). You can have a keyboard control sounds inside of the computer. This is often less expensive than trying to purchase a ton of different hardware synths. Just buy a new soft-synth (or dl a free one) and start making new sounds.

Also, midi data can control soundfonts. These are packaged sounds, often samples of real instruments, that have different velocities for each note, so it sounds like you're playing a real instrument (piano, organ, tuba, etc). These can be controlled just like a software synthesizer.


mr. moon
04-13-2007, 08:38 PM
More good info here:


Good reading!!

-mr moon

04-16-2007, 11:40 AM
That's fantastic, thanks very much for your help everyone.

Looks like I have some reading to do!

For info, I'm just planning to build up tracks with 2 hardware synths (only one has a MIDI converter box so I think the timing might be a bit, errr, painful, seeing as I can't play the other synth in time properly - oh well, it'll make it sound more organic...)

Have had a scan through the first 20-odd pages of theReaper User Manual and it is very well written. Looking forward to having a go as soon as I get time.

Think I'll be buying a 2496 or similar.


04-16-2007, 02:28 PM
I have a 2496 and would recommend it to anyone to be honest. Great, stable card. No problems at all since I bought it last summer.

05-15-2007, 02:02 PM

I got mail!