Beginner needs advice with PC, hardware, software

Hi everyone, I am in the process of deciding on a PC for in studio only audio production, 3D, 2D graphics, video editing. In this forum I’ll ask only about the audio questions.

I will be working with the following music genres:
Beat-based: pop music, progressive, drum n’ bass, jungle, techno, electronic that sounds instrumental, classical baroque.
Non-beat based: atmospheric ambient, drone, experimental and jazzy
I have past experience with Pro Tools (basic version), and I’ve tested Acid’s loop libraries of loops and they were extremely easy to use, and the different sounds synced automatically. I can also do basic audio file editing in Audacity.

So, I am looking for PC, hardware, and software advice. And this is what I have so far:

PC: I’ve been reading several articles on the web for PC builds for audio. Keep in mind mine will not only be for audio, but also for 4k video editing, 2d, and 3d work as well. I will probably load it with tons of RAM and HD space.
I will likely go with high end processor and Windows 10. I wanted to go with Linux, but my knowledge of resolving issues isn’t high enough, and I’m afraid I’d run into trouble with it. Also, there are programs that I want to use that have no compatibility with Linux.

Software: I was thinking of Live, but not for the purpose of live recording. But I will be blending the songs with one another as DJ sets made in studio. Some sets may be hours long, so that’s why I was thinking that Live might be more suitable as a DAW. I was also thinking of a combo with audio and video editing, such as Vegas Video, but I don’t know if it has all the features of a DAW… Anyway, I don’t know which one to chose. I need non-destructive editing sound filters too. I also need something that has tons of premade libraries of loops/samples that can sync together with each other, just like Acid used to have. But then as they are synced I want to be able to unchain certain sounds and be able to move them around so they are deliberately off sync. The libraries of sounds I would need are orchestral, choral, atmospheric effects, and also all kinds of beat based libraries. At this point, since I will be a beginner I will probably not be interested in making the beats myself, but to rather choose them from premade libraries. For example, I don’t want to try to make a samba or jazz beat from scratch, but to rather get it premade from a library of samba or jazz beats. Also, very important: as I lay out the MIDI I want to be able to gradually shift BPM from let’s say 125 BPM to 120, and automatically all the instruments would sync according to the slower BPM.

Hardware: I am looking for minimal amount of hardware because wires and hardware are beyond my level of understanding. I would need a regular 88 key MIDI keyboard because I play piano, and after playing I would dress the MIDI with the libraries of sounds. I would need studio headphones, and a recording microphone. I would rather not get any studio monitors, but would instead use the studio headphones. I would use basic cheap PC speakers to simulate how the music would sound for the average listeners who listen to music from their phone’s earbuds or they use basic PC speakers. I may also get a portable field recorder. I am confused on the difference between a sound card (such as Asus Essence STX II), and USB audio interface (such as Focusrite Scarlett 18i8). I thought that I would plug the microphone or external instruments to the sound card, but I guess it actually gets plugged in the USB audio interface. Anyway, hardware is quite confusing to me, so I’d rather have it to a minimum.

At the end, all audio will be brought and combined with video. I decided not to go with any Adobe products; instead I have to decide on Vegas Video, or Davinci Resolve, or something else… but the video editing questions I’ve posted in other forums because they are not audio related.

Thanks for the responses.

I won’t weigh in on the software side of things, as I only record with hardware, but as far as PC builds go, if your building for 4k video editing you’ll probably be fine to run a DAW with that setup.

If you play piano then I would advise that go for a weighted keyboard, as it will feel better for you.

I would suggest Kontakt for that.

Here I would suggest either open or semi open backed, this would depend on what the microphone is going to be recording. If you are going to be wearing your phones and recording vocals at the same time, you will need to avoid bleed from the phones, which brings me to the next point.

condenser or dynamic: condenser mics are usually the best choice for vocals, but if it is not quiet enough where you are recording, then they will pick up just about everything, including bleed from your phones, dogs barking, passing motorbikes, next door’s TV, the fan from PC/aircon/room fan, and squeeks from your chair: Dynamic mics are much more forgiving, which is why I changed from a condenser to a dynamic. I use an industry standard Sure SM58 and Bayer Dynamics DT880 pro semi open backed phones when doing vocals.

The soundcard has only 1 balanced input, so you could plug a dynamic mic into it, but that’s all really or a mono instrument, just not at the same time unless you use the unbalanced RCA inputs.

The Focusrite has 4 mic/line combo inputs with pre amps (pretty handy when recording vocals) and 4 line inputs, giving you a total of 8 inputs/ 4 outputs and 2 phones out. and can take the midi from your keyboard to your DAW at the same time.

You could also for the same price get a Zoom LiveTrak L-8, which is an 8 input digital mixer/recorder/audio interface, so you can record 8 tracks to sd at the same time or into your DAW at the same time. It does not have din midi, so can’t take the keyboards midi to the com, but you can do that direct over usb. It does however run on batteries, so could be used as a field recorder if needs be, just not the type you throw in yer pocket, but still useful if you need to be away from the com to record some stuff.

I see, thanks. So, the difference between a sound card and a USB audio interface is the amount of inputs that I can plug in? Can I skip the sound card, and just get the USB audio interface?

I am starting to realize that mic recording would be a challenge. I already knew that I will have to turn off my AC, but now I realize that I’ll have to keep moving my refrigerator away from the wall and keep unplugging that one too because it makes a constant humming sound… I’ll research more on that. Thanks for the advice.

By the way, I was surprised that I didn’t see any posts like mine. When I came to look at the posts here in the Studio section I thought that all the posts would be questions like mine – about PC, hardware, and software setup.

Ok, so weighted keyboard is the keyword that I’ll look for.

Since you want to mostly use loops, you can just try & subscribe to this - it should do the job:

As a beginner, I guess it’s a good place to start without being too daunting.

You said nothing about your budget… which is what is going to decide which hardware you get.

Regarding DAWs - there are plenty to choose from, most of them have free trials. Try a few and stay with the one you like best. People are partial to their DAW because historically they’ve been using it and/or they prefer the workflow and/or they prefer the stock instruments, etc. etc.

I am partial to FL Studio because the workflow is great and I’ve been using it for over 10 years. Their free updates are awesome (and that’s the only DAW that does that). I don’t care much about their stock instruments - there’s nothing great there IMHO. I have plenty of other synths and effects that I use with it, so it doesn’t matter. I think Live is fugly (all that gray) and that was a turn-off for me ( I don’t want to stare for hours at an interface that makes my eyes bleed). So you get it: whatever your preferences are, there’s a DAW for you out there!

Yes. Either something like the Focusrite, or the Zoom. also it depends on how many inputs you think you will need.

You can get a mic shield, which will block out a lot of background noise. Not tried myself. I just use an SM58, and it does the trick.

The servers went down about 2 years ago and nuked everything, so we had to start from scratch.

Morphic, their loops are probably great, but the consistent monthly payments are a turn off for me. That is why I am leaving Adobe products and trying to relearn equivalent programs. So, it’s unlikely that I will go with them.

Morpic, my budget this time will be mid to high range PC build (2-3k?) and I will likely go with some of the popular websites that specialize in PC building , and do a custom build with them. So far I’ve been looking at the couple of articles that logicalincrements has on mid to high-end audio and video editing PC builds. The last 2 PCs I had were disaster, and this time I want to make sure there are no issues with refresh rate for video, 3d, or audio.

I am copying directly from one of the articles on logicalincrements. (I don’t know if I am allowed to do that… mods, you can remove this post if it’s not allowed.)
I will also enhance this with mid to high-end video components too. The HDs need to eave more space too. The listed ones are not enough for a 2-3 hour 4k video editing.

CPU: Intel i9-11900K
Graphics Card: RTX 3060 Ti
Motherboard: Gigabyte Z590 UD
RAM: 64GB (4 X 16GB) DDR4-3600
Storage 1: 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD
Storage 2: 2TB SATA SSD
Power Supply: EVGA 850 GQ – Actually, I have a surge protector on my current PC, so I’d skip this one.
CPU Cooler: Fractal Design Celsius S24
Case: be quiet! Silent Base 801
Operating System: Windows 10

Don’t know how many inputs I’d need for the USB interface. It’s a new territory for me.
1 for the MIDI keyboard
1 for the mic
1 for headphones – or, is this one plugged into the PC?
1 empty one just in case!?

The article on the keyboards will be a learning curve for me. Preferably with less buttons and knobs, and all the sound adjustments would be made digitally through the DAW.

No worries - preaching to the choir here. I personally hate subscriptions.

For samples & loops, ADSR have bundles & promo offers all the time

Or Ghosthack

Well that’s not going to be cheap but yes, you’re more than covered for the next 5 years or so with such a setup.

Should be more than enough

Is there text to singing voice software? I thought Yamaha used to have a software many years ago. There are many text to voice programs out there, but I don’t see any text to a singing voice. For example, I would type ooooo, eehhhhh in the editor, and then I select opera singer, from the menu of type of voice… and the software generates an operatic singing with ability to edit the pitch… and so forth.

The midi input is just for the keyboard to the DAW, but you can sent it direct via a USB cable with most modern keyboards. This doesn’t count as an input.
Headphones come out of the interface at the front. This is called as an output.
MIc needs an input. XLR refers to the type of cable that a mic uses as standard. TRS and TS refer to the type of cable that would come from a guitar or synth. A monophonic synth would need 1 input and polyphonic would need 2 inputs.
I think one like @morphic linked to would be a good choice. You can always look on the used market, as people tend to upgrade to ones with more inputs if they get the hardware bug.

Never heard of a text to singing app, I do not think we have got that far yet.
The Yamaha software is Vocaloid it has set phrases that you can manipulate in the software:

You can also use something like Roland’s voice transformer to manipulate your own voice in real time:

Never tried it but this exists: