View Full Version : DAW For A High School
10-20-2002, 05:08 PM
Hi. I'm a student at a medium-sized high school in SW Wisconsin. I handle all of the school's house audio engineering, and some basic recording work there. I'm also the lead engineer at a studio in town, which uses Logic, and MOTU interfaces on PC. I would like some advice on a new DAW for our high school. The school would like to spend between 10 and 15 grand for the project. This system will be used to multitrack our jazz band, and our musicals and shows, and may also be used for solo cds. Sequencing is also a big must, and we'd like to integrate a software sampler into the system. Since they want a decicated computer for recording and sequencing, we've already chosen a Mac for the job. This system is a dual G4 1 Ghz with 512MB of memory and a SuperDrive. That has taken about $3000 out of our budget. Next, I would like some advice on software. I'm really used to Logic, but I've heard great stuff about Motu's Digital Performer 3. Since this system will be used for sequencing MIDI just as much as recording, I feel that DP3 may be the way to go. As for Audio I/O, I would really like to go with 3 MOTU 896s. The studio that I engineer at has a couple 896s with Logic 5 on a PC and they work and sound great.
We're still in the early planning stages of the project, so any advice would be greatly helpful. Any advice with samplers, MIDI interfaces (USB please), and near-field monitors would also help.
Feel free to contact me via AOL IM: mjnickasch
10-20-2002, 09:09 PM
One thing I've learned the hard way in consulting for high schools and colleges is that what you are comfortable with and use personally may present too steep of a learning curve for the next users when you are long gone. Remember, you won't be there forever, and someone else will need to pick up where you left off. I've designed at least one fancy pants school system that now collects dust, simply because it presents too steep a learning curve for the average user.
I'd be a little leery of using Logic, not because it isn't powerful, but because it will promptly intimidate the average pianist who simply wants to lay down a MIDI track. I have Logic, and I also have DP, which is my primary platform. DP is easier to use, but still has a bit of a learning curve.
How many simultaneous inputs do you realistically need? How in-depth do the MIDI sequencing capabilities really have to be? Remember, not for your uses, which are likely way beyond those of the typical user, but rather for the average music student or teacher. Most of them won't be micro-editing continuous controller information graphically.
I almost always spec some sort of Pro-Tools system these days when consulting for educational institutions and non-profits. The reasons are because first of all, it's the easiest DAW to use and get around, and secondly, because it's generally pretty easy to find an engineer with good Pro-Tools skillz in most towns, because it's a standard of sorts around the world. The same can't be said for Logic, Cubase, DP, Sonar, or Nuendo. The audio capabilities are fine, and while the MIDI isn't nearly as intensive as say, DP, it is adequate for 95% of end users, given that I wouldn't expect major-level film scoring or anything to be happening in most high schools.
Some other budget considerations:
1. Mics, mic stands, preamps.
2. Furniture and racks
3. Acoustical treatments
4. Storage and backup
5. Ancillary software, like 2-track edit software and plug-ins
6. Cabling (it'll chew up more money than you'd think)
7. MIDI controller (do you need MIDI gear for this rig?)
8. Mixer for cue (maybe?), control surface (highly recommended)
9. Other small stuff (headphones, headphone amps, cases, popper stoppers, power conditioning, CD/tape players, etc)
For live to multitrack, you'll need lots of cable, a number of mics, mic stands, cue system, mic pres, audio I/O, etc. If you're going to regularly interface with a live PA pulling feeds from the house, you'll want to eventually look at a mic splitter. While not the best one on the market, the Whirlwind SPCON install series can be had in 1:2 or 1:3 configurations for between $1500-$2000 for 24 channels.
Design for the future. Also, design for the typical end user and for the most likely user apps, not the esoteric pie in the sky stuff. Buy quality rather than quantity, because it'll last for the long haul.
With a very minimal rig based around a Digi 002 or very basic DP/Logic setup using MOTU audio and MIDI interfaces, I can hit $10k - $15k in no time without even covering all the bases. Chances are good that you'll need to either decrease your feature set or design a phased build-out spec.
Good luck! :)
10-20-2002, 09:53 PM
Hope you don't mind, added you to my buddy list.
Digital Performer is the way to go, I believe. Of course, I've been using it (Performer) since '87, but I think it's the easiest to learn how to use because of it's layout. It's simple enough you can show kids how to lay down tracks, and complex enough that your more advanced students can take a mix all the way through the mastering process. I use it for everything accept splitting tracks for CD.
Yes, I'll have to admit that ProTools seems to be the industry standard, but if you can't afford the DSP, full fledged, go all out and get a new millage passed, keep it economical and your community will be pleased. I've used ProTools along side DP, and have collaborated with other studios who use ProTools with no problems at all.
Michael is right! Make sure you make a list of every little connector you're gonna need because even the little stuff will eat your budget up.
Addressing what Michael didn't:
Samplers, don't know much about them.
MIDI interfaces. MOTU's stuff is good. If you're going be syncing audio to video at all, you might look into a Midi Time Piece.
Nearfield monitors: Can't say you could go wrong with a pair of Mackies.
Regarding your suggestion to go with 3 896's: Your Mac only has 2 FireWire busses and a maximum throughput of 33MBps for each. You might be better suited to get the 2408MKIII and new PCI424 card and two 1296 expansion modules. I can see where you might have wanted to use the 896's mic pre's, but I think you and your students would be better with a mixer in front of you.
I just finished a session with the Hillsdale College Jazz Band, and from working with other bands, it is a huge processor chore to EQ after recording. If you've got a mixer with at least a 4 section EQ, lo, hi, two mid sweeps, you're going to be better off when mixing down, especially since your processing power will be chewed up with gates, compressors, limiters, verbs, etc.
Enough for now, I think. Will wait for your reply.
10-21-2002, 06:59 PM
Just a quick thanks to those who have already replied. I'll be getting a full response together sometime tomorrow, when I actually have some time! Thanks again!
Powered by vBulletin® Version 4.2.1 Copyright © 2013 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.