Audio input for a TiBook?

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Audio input for a TiBook?

I think I might actually bite the bullet and buy some new hardware. I was looking to get some sort of USB or firewire audio input device for my TiBook. My plan is to do some direct recording onto my 4 track and then mix down on my TiBook. The 4 track has stereo RCA line outs so I could just dump stuff ready for mixing onto the TiBook. Sugestions on hardware? Software too. Haven't used to much since SoundEdit 16 and Deck II back in the day.

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I used the Griffin iMic...

... and it worked well. I wasn't doing any terribly sophisticated work -- mostly just spoken word type stuff -- but it did the job. OS X recognized it without drivers. I think OS 9 did need drivers (it's been a while!)

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Noise reduction mod

Someone (DrBob?) on here suggested bypassing the mic/line level switch is a simple hack to the iMic which reduces the noise level. Course, then you can't (or can only) use it with a mic.

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A couple of possible hardware and software options.

Two words: Garage Band.

And now, on with the countdown...

If you can, get a second outboard hard drive for an audio scratch disk and configure your laptop with a minimum 512mb RAM. You'll be surprised at how quickly uncompressed audio (particularly 16bit/48kHz samples) can take up space, and the amount of processing power required for multi-track mixing with effects.

There are a couple of inexpensive USB interfaces from Edirol (UA-something/something) and Griffin (Powerwave...might sell mine!) with RCA inputs for a clean and simple connection to your current 4-track. However, for a slightly higher price, you'd be better served bypassing your 4-track and going right to disk for all future recording through an interface with XLR mic inputs and 1/4" TRS line inputs. You could still jack your 4-track into the box with an adapter.

If you can run OS 9.x, go to the Digidesign web site and download a copy of ProTools FREE. It's an earlier version of ProTools LE and I believe it had full functionality based on the features available in that version. It won't run in Classic mode...you have to re-start in OS 9.x but that's a small price to pay for the chance to use this software for free.

Garage Band has to be front and center if you're looking for a rock-steady OS X software solution. If you're willing to spend more to get more, there are a few other routes to take. Bias is now the developer of Peak and Deck (the successors to SE16), two very nice Mac-compatible audio editing solutions. However, you'll still need an audio interface to get your signal into the computer.

I really like Digidesign's ProTools Mbox. Their software is virtually bullet-proof on the Mac and the Mbox USB interface might be the most versatile audio interface available. The mic pre-amps sound great and each of the two channels have 1/4" TRS inserts for outboard processing. Because the two channels have both XLR mic-level and 1/4" line-level inputs, you can also jack your mixer into the Mbox if you need to track more than two sources at one time.

If you want to record or output more than two TRACKS at a time, you'll need to look at the more expensive multi-input USB and firewire boxes, some of which may or may not be Mac-compatible and/or software specific.

Your choice of hardware may dictate your choice of software, and vice-versa...all of which will be limited by your budget.

About a year ago, Adobe purchased Syntrillium Software, the developer of CoolEdit. That has since become Adobe Audition v1.5 currently available only for Windows (a rarity for Adobe!). You might remember a thread I started earlier this year regarding audio on the Mac. Unfortunately, my company wouldn't pop for an Apple laptop, I didn't want to be handcuffed to the company iMac "camel," and I had to find a solution for a Dell D600...so I chose Audition with the inexpensive, single channel M-Audio FastTrack USB interface. I like Audition but I'm not real enamored with the M-Audio product. However, for simple voice-over-music applications, it has worked well and gives me the option to graduate to a better interface as the money improves. (Using an ElectroVoice RE-20 mic into a dbx 286A pre-amp/processor for some really sweet voice work.)

Hope this helps! Good luck and good skill, and let us know when and where you'll post your final mixes so we can hear them!

tony b.

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Woah...

Seems like you've done a bit of homework on the subject.

I thought about going all digital but decided not to for a few reasons. I really enjoy pushing butons and faders and tweaking knobs. Second, I don't always have my computer on so alot of times I just go in and flick on the 4-track and mess around. Third, I'm a bit attached to the damn thing including it's limits ( can only record 2 tracks at a time).

Looking at the prices of some of these things makes me thing that I should just use my moderately suped up 8500 as a dedicated music work station? I guess I could work on it and whatnot and transfer the files over to my TiBook to take them with me and work on them. Sounds like I could get a copy of the free ProTools LE and be on my way. What do yall think?

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Re: A couple of possible hardware and software options.

...It's an earlier version of ProTools LE and I believe it had full functionality based on the features available in that version...

Pro Tools Free is limited to eight tracks only, IIRC.

As part of my job, I'm occasionally called upon to record speeches or panel discussions on campus. I use an iMic (set to line level input) on my AlBook, and use Felt Tip Software's SoundStudio. It's a simple 2-track recorder/editor, but it's easy to use, very intuitive, has a number of useful effects, and is quite inexpensive. The resulting sound quality is great, since I'll patch directly into house sound (most of our auditoriums have either Mackie or Yamaha boards, and for outdoor events we'll use a plain-but-bulletproof Shure M367 mixer, which is as clean as any Mackie or Yamaha I've heard).

A lot of people bash the iMic, but for its cost, it's a good deal with fine sound quality. If you want to record studio-quality audio, you'll need a better audio interface than the iMic, but if you get to the point of needing such high-quality audio, the first thing you'll buy are better mics.

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Re: Noise reduction mod

Someone (DrBob?) on here suggested bypassing the mic/line level switch is a simple hack to the iMic which reduces the noise level. Course, then you can't (or can only) use it with a mic.

I wonder what it is that causes the noise -- the switch itself, or the circuitry behind it. If it's the switch itself, I would think that replacing it with a better one would solve the problem, and let you still use either type of source.

If Dr. Bob is reading this, or anyone else out there who has tinkered with their iMic, what have you found? I'd be willing to crack my iMic open and solder in a new switch (I'd be open to suggestions for which switch to use, too). While I was at it, I could replace the input jack with a pair of XLRs and see if that helps too.

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Studio-quality isn't really a

Studio-quality isn't really a priority...I mean come on I'm using my Tascam 4-track as a source. And I think ProTools LE with it's 9.x only and awsome price tag (free) would be perfect for my 8500 to become my digitizer even if I'm limited to 8 tracks (I mean I can't even fill up four right now).

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8500AV would work for you!

Can you find the AV card for the 8500? I think it had stereo RCA in/out for audio. Add a second SCSI hard drive for a scratch disk along with ProTools Free and you have your desktop solution! (I am ASSUMING ProTools Free will recognize audio imported from the AV card...) Save the session and source files from the 8500, transfer to the TiBook with another copy of PTFree and that's your studio-to-go.

You're not the only person that prefers the comfort of analog controls. I've met plenty of people that still process through an outboard rack BEFORE converting the analog audio into the digital domain and will NOT use any of the inboard digital effects embedded or "plugged-in" to the software.

tony b.

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Re: 8500AV would work for you!

Can you find the AV card for the 8500? I think it had stereo RCA in/out for audio.

The 8500 has RCA audio/video in and out built in...don't know why I didn't just do that a long time ago.

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