Page 1 of 2

Beginner's dub recording setup for under $500 + help

Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 12:39 am
by razed
Hey guys, I've loved reggae for years, and I've gotten into dub big time in the past year or so. I've also really enjoyed recording and mixing songs as a hobby. I've always just recorded on my computer with a very cheap interface, software-arranged drums (Acoustica Beatcraft), and Adobe Audition.

What I'd like to do now, though, is step up to a slightly better setup, and get away from doing everything on the computer. So I'd like to get some suggestions from you. I know a lot of you might scoff at trying to get a setup for less than $500, but keep in mind that this is just a hobby of mine! :grin:

I already have guitars, a bass, a keyboard, amps, and reverb/echo/chorus guitar pedals (cords to connect them as well, of course). I checked out the "Basics" section of the site, but since I'm new at production, I'm not really sure what everything listed there does (I like the chart :grin: ). Can you explain these to me?

Multitrack Tape Machine: Input for the instruments?
Mixing Console: Equilizing/Filtering/Effects?
Amplifier: I actually know what this does :grin:
Tape/DAT: Is this what actually records the music? Doesn't a DAT record to tape?

I'd need a mic as well, I suppose. Also, would I need a drum machine, since I don't have or play drums?

Would it be cheaper for me to buy a cheap laptop and dedicate it to music production only?

Thanks in advance, and sorry about all the questions :-?

Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 2:46 pm
by JahNice

on the basics page it says: "Since Dub is an artform which evolved from the recording techniques available in Jamaica back in the seventies the EQUIPMENT USED IN THIS EXAMPLE IS FROM THAT PERIOD TOO.".
so maybe you should consider a more modern setup :pc:

i would recommend you to get:
1. a nice interface with multiple ins/outs for your pc(maybe an E-mu 1616 for 300$? but there are also cheaper interfaces),
2.a cheap used 8-16channel mixing desk (ebay 80$-100$ maybe),
3. some Effects. A reverb and a delay(analog) with effect-outs would be ok for a beginner..(100$)

You cant use most guitar pedals, because they usualy have no effect-out, only outputs where the original signal is mixed with the effect signal. that would mean that whenever you want to aply an effect the signal would be twice as loud, and that doesnt sound so good! u can use them only if u intend to aply effects whilst recording the instruments and thats not the right way to dub! you want to record all your instruments almost "dry" and when the song is ready you play it and send the individual tracks thru your interface to separate channels of your mixing-console where the actual dubbing(muting,effects,EQualizing,fading ect..) happens! The output of your mixing-desk can be recorded directly by ur pc.

to your other questions:

Multitrack Tape Machine: Tape recording machine where u can record and play multiple audio tracks simultaneously. (u dont need that right now, +a good one is more than 500$)

Mixing Console: Equilizing/Filtering/Effects? yes and mixing/muting the different audio signals offcourse. this is where you DUB..

Tape/DAT: Is this what actually records the music? Doesn't a DAT record to tape? yes but you dont need this either you can record directly to your pc.

you can get a mic later just start trying to mix a little instrumental dub first. (budget is already overrunned :!: )

no drummachine just use some samples or a virtual drummachine in your DAW

Would it be cheaper for me to buy a cheap laptop and dedicate it to music production only? NOOOOOOOOOO! IMO you can not have any Dubbing-Pleasure with only one pc! you need a mixing desk and some effects to play around and manipulate the sound in a live dub session.

Cheers :champagne:

Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 7:13 pm
by razed
Thanks so much for the quick and informed reply! :)

Ok, so I need a PC interface, a mixing desk, and at least reverb & analog delay units. Cool.

I'm wondering if there's one piece that's more important than the others? Should I go for a quality mixing desk for now, and just get a cheap interface until I can get enough money to buy a better one? Or should I just spend about the same amount on everything? I noticed you suggested a nice interface and a cheaper mixing desk. Is this because the interface is more important? (I thought the mixing console was where the magic happened 8-) )

I want to get a setup where I can get everything recorded, start playing all the tracks, and use the mixer to apply effects/fade in/fade out/mute each channel individually as the song's playing in real time.

I know my budget's pretty small, but I'd rather just be patient and buy one piece at a time & end up with a fairly decent quality system, rather than just buy cheap stuff that I'm not going to be satisfied with at all, know what I mean? :grin:

Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 8:50 pm
by JahNice
IMO you should go for a good interface cause thats where the signal is converted from analog to digital and vice versa. So the interface is crucial for what soundquality you get from your recordings! The mixing desk is where the Dubbing aktion takes place but you can get a decent one for little money. If you buy a really good mixing desk and a not so good interface/soundcard you will get recordings of not so good quality..

When buying a dub mixing desk you should look for good rigorous working EQs and that it must have as many send-return loops as you need. If you need it for recording also then you should checkout the mic preamps and also it should not be to noisey. There are tons of cheap mixing desks you should just take some time and check them out (ebay is a good place). I got a Target (hughes&kettner) C-Series 10/2 for 60€ and it does the job just fine for me..
-10 channel(6 mono,2 stereo)
-EQs are nice(good Bass,headroom ok),
-4 effect sends,
-nice big knobs,
-inserts for every channel and
-its build like a tank.
A bad thing for dubbing is that it dont have any mute buttons :sad: ..... but i can live with that, i can make mute-like effects by just pulling down the faders real fast.. 8) .
there are some on ebay(germany) right now ... 240%3A1318 ... 240%3A1318
check them out if you like.

I am happy with this console and the E-mu interfaces are also of the best quality and i think you will be satisfied with this setup. But better do some more research by yourself and when you know exactly what you need you will know exactly what to do :D ...

Posted: Sun Nov 02, 2008 3:10 am
by razed
Thanks so much for the help, dude. I'm doing a lot of research right now, and I've decided I'm going to build this setup from scratch. Computer, mixer, interface, everything. I'll definitely post my finds here before I buy them so I can get some suggestions. Check back soon! :)

Thanks again!

Posted: Sun Nov 02, 2008 1:43 pm
by Neil C
Just to weigh in on DAT.
DAT is Digital Audio Tape. It is tape but digitial information is written and read from it. It has none of the sonic characteristics associated with 'traditional' analogue tape.
DAT is now basically archaic (DAT machines are no longer being made) and there is no reason to use it (unless you got given one for nothing or something, or already have it from when it was the way to go). It came on the scene before hard drive recording was convenient. Now hard drive recording systems (most commonly PC/Macs with a suitable audio interface) have developed and are operationally superior in every way.
I would expect everyone who used it was glad to see the back of DAT when they switched to hard drive systems.

Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 1:18 am
by razed
I think I'm going to be patient, and get decent equipment piece by piece. What do you guys think of this computer and mixer? ... ku=631229X ... 6883108197

Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 11:05 am
by overstand
This is a good idea in my opinion.. better to start with one decent piece of gear and build on that! rather thatn buying lots of cheap stuff that you will soon have to upgrade..

In my opinion, the things worth spending money on are:

1) audio interface
2) monitors
3) mic (if you need one)

Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 4:37 pm
by razed
I figure if I spend no less than $150 per component (mixer, interface, monitors at least... computer's going to cost more, mics will cost less), then I'll end up with a decent setup.

My main concern now, and what I'd like yall's help with, is making sure that I don't buy incompatible components. So, are the items I listed in my previous post compatible? Do I want to hook my mixer directly into my sound card?

Thanks again for all the help so far. One love!

Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:27 pm
by interruptor
This computer you have linked is very minimal!
- 512MB RAM is too small if you want to run an audio software and some software instruments (VST, DX..) Get a model with at least 1GB, better 2GB.
- This thing has no CD-writer. How will you back up your data and burn your music on CDs? If possible get a PC with a DVD writer. It will allow to backup data in 4.5GB chunks instead of 650MB chunks. This will come in handy as this pc has a harddrive with only 40GB.
- The warranty is 90 days only. Is that normal in your area? I guess the reason is that this is a "refurbished computer" as it says on the box.
- At least there are some expansion slots where you can install your own sound card.
- Be aware that no screen is included. So you need to buy one separately.

Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 10:03 pm
by razed
Oh yes. I should have said something before... I do computer stuff for a living, so I have additional RAM to add and another monitor to supply. I also have an external HDD that I'll use for storage.

The main computer question I have is what kind of sound card would I need? I have been looking at tweak's guides (can't remember the URL right now), but I'm still a bit confused.

Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:04 pm
by interruptor
Soundcards by maudio and rme have been recommended by board members recently. see these posts:

- ... rd%2A#8430

- ... rd%2A#8261

I personally use two soundcards by creamware (now "sonic-core"). I bought these many years ago though. So if I started from scratch today I would probably buy something else..

Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 1:30 am
by razed
Thanks Interruptor. So far, I have this setup:

Computer: ... 6883108197

Mixer: ... ku=631229X

Audio Interface: ... sku=241525

Looking at this, though, I have another couple questions (I hope you don't mind :)). Do I even need a soundcard if I buy an audio interface? Also, I have a USB keyboard (MIDI controller) already. Would that hook into this setup?

Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 12:18 pm
by Neil C
No, you don't need a soundcard if you have that firewire audio interface. A soundcard is a type of audio interface.
Some soundcards have a breakout box that give various connections like mic preamps, headphone socket etc. (which link to a PCI/PCie card in the computer) - but firewire interfaces like the one you link to have everything all in that one unit.

That mixer will allow you to connect several sources at the same time to record into your computer (by taking a signal from the main outs and connecting those to the two inputs in the back of the firewire interface)- but only to one stereo channel in your computer, not seperate tracks (well, you could get two seperate mono tracks using panning). Likewise I don't think it will allow you to control the levels of tracks within DAW software. But you can record one sound source at a time if you want to record on to seperate tracks (otherwise you'd have to get your mix right the first time when you record).

Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 6:47 pm
by razed
Well, I'd be recording one track at a time anyway. This is just me doing this as a hobby.

I've been doing a lot of reading and research on what I'd need, and I wonder what you guys would think about this setup for dub production:
[Keep in mind that I have extra RAM, a monitor, and storage for that computer.]

From what I've read, I think a DAW Controller would work better for real-time mixing and application of effects, which I'd really like to be able to do (I want to stay out of the computer, at least the mouse & keyboard, as much as possible, since I spend all day in front of one at work. :grin: ).

So what do you think? It's more than I wanted to spend, but this way I can get the computer and interface first, and add on piece by piece as I save more money. :-)

Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:01 pm
by Neil C
That reverb is decent - but remember DAWs will all come with reverb and delay plug ins. That Behringer mixer also has built in effects. It would at least I think be wise to see what those could do before spending money on a separate reverb.

Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 8:55 pm
by razed
I agree. That reverb is absolute last priority. What do you think about the DAW Controller instead of a mixer option?

Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:49 pm
by Neil C
I've never used a DAW controller, I've never felt the need but if you are thinking of one have a look also at this Behringer unit:

Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 6:17 pm
by razed
I definitely like that one better. Multi-channel control is better than single channel, especially for a lower price. Thanks for pointing that out. I think that does it, then. My initial setup will be:
After I get some more money, I'll go after monitors, a mic, and a better reverb/echo unit (although software might handle this adequately). Thank you guys for your help! I'll let you know how it goes!

Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 8:49 pm
by interruptor
Regarding those Behringer controllers: Fellow board member Kocha posted some videos of himself dubbing with a bcr2000 (similar thing but with rotary knobs). He might share some thoughts about dubbing with a midi controller as opposed to dubbing with a real mixing desk.

See: ... php?t=1048

And here is his page where he links some dubbing videos: ... 80302.html

I used to dub with a doepfer pocket control myself. My experience is that a midi controller does not react as fast as a real mixing desk. So I got used to move those midi knobs a little bit ahead of time. It was no big deal for me but somebody who is used to dubbing on a real desk may very well be turned off by that.