Join Gretsch-Talk Today

MIDI question, how do I jump on the MIDI train?

Discussion in 'Technical Side of Things' started by Mudshark, Mar 14, 2017.

  1. Mudshark

    Mudshark Gretschie

    447
    Jul 20, 2012
    Canada
    Good Morning GT:

    Although I work in computer technology (statistics/databases) I am a totally luddite on how to use MIDI for home recording. I would like to be able to capture some guitar onto a backing tracks and I feel this must be possible with MIDI recording.

    My gear that may help and I beleive is MIDI compatible.

    Strymon Timeline
    Novation Bass Station 2
    Macbook Pro with “Garage Band”
    FLSM App.

    Mesa amp has Effects Loop. Don’t know if this could be part of the chain.

    I do not have any MIDI cables yet, which ones should I get?

    Can the guitar signal be split from my Amp go thru the Novation MIDI controller and then be “recorded” on my Mac using “Garage Band” or FLSM (iPad and iPhone software I have). Sorry if this sounds naive I am just guessing here.

    Any resources electronic or book suggestions to get started would be appreciated, any tips or suggestions also welcome. Thanks to all.

    -muddy
     
    Dave-B and Ricochet like this.
  2. Dave-B

    Dave-B Synchromatic

    Age:
    51
    619
    May 23, 2016
    Scotland
    Don't jump on that MIDI train just yet. This video may help to clear the fog:

     
    Mudshark likes this.
  3. Dave-B

    Dave-B Synchromatic

    Age:
    51
    619
    May 23, 2016
    Scotland
    In other words, you just need to get your guitar signal straight into the MacBook. The video shows the cheapest solution. A separate audio interface produces better quality recordings than the 20p adapter :)

    Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 18.38.38.png
     
    Mudshark likes this.
  4. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    You don't need MIDI to record a guitar, though you could use it to control the Time Line for example.

    But it makes more sense to record different guitar sounds to different tracks and takes.

    MIDI nowadays usually is used to control virtual instruments, for example by playing a VST based synth with a MIDI-keyboard or using this keyboard to control a hardware synth.

    In guitar recording MIDI usually plays no role at all, except to control hardware effects, that support it. But as mentioned above, this is seldom needed because usually several takes are recorded to different tracks.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
    Mudshark likes this.
  5. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    And then? Reamp it or use good amp sims?

    I ask, because the amps in Garageband sound ... beware of the brutal truth ... like crap, sorry.

    PS: Reamping means recording the pure DI signal first and then play this back over the interface into your real amp and mic that to a second track.
     
  6. Hammerhands

    Hammerhands Country Gent

    Aug 26, 2011
    Winnipeg
    MIDI isn't sound, it is a stream of note data.

    MIDI instruments: Synthesizers, Drum Machines.

    The MIDI on your Strymon Timeline is used to, "Remote control of any knob, parameter, or switch. Select your presets via MIDI." It doesn't carry sound.
     
    Mudshark likes this.
  7. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    I myself use Reaper instead of Garageband ... though the later is fine for the beginning ... because it allows recording in 24 bit, which results in much better sound quality. GB can only use 44.1 kHz in 16 bit, CD quality, which is insufficient, if you use many tracks and effects.

    You can compare that a bit to photo editing. Edit a 16 bit JPEG several times and the image quality gets worse and worse. Convert the image to 32 bit TIFF first, do all editing editing in 32 bit and convert the final image back to 16 bit JPEG and the final quality is much better.

    For guitar recording I use the red box out of my Blackstar, which has integrated cab sim. If your amp doesn't have recording output, reamping does the trick. When I need a different amp sound, I use amp sims. A relative good sim for a low price is Positive Grid's BIAS FX, though better products exist, but are more expensive or more complex to use ... or both ;)

    Conclusion: I only use MIDI for virtual instruments like drums or synthesizers and control them with a MIDI-keyboard.
     
  8. Dave-B

    Dave-B Synchromatic

    Age:
    51
    619
    May 23, 2016
    Scotland
    With the greatest respect - you are missing the point completely.

    Digital recording is a daunting topic for some. The best way to learn this stuff is to start simple, learn from your mistakes and build up your skills. Plugging directly into the Mac and using the basic GB software is the perfect way to start out.
     
  9. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    Sorry, if I sounded arrogant or something ... as I said myself, GB might be a nice start ;)

    But we are here to help each other, right? So I thought, why not show alternatives. Using an alternative amp sim in GB for example is pretty easy. Reamping with a real amp is a bit more complex.

    If our thread starter is interested ... I have GB too ... I can explain how to use for example the BIAS FX demo in GB to try it out for free first. I especially would recommend this sim, because it's cheap and easy to use, be it recording or jamming ... and it sounds pretty good.

    Here's a demo:



    But first of all he will need an interface, no matter which recording method, so the question is which one?
     
  10. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    Because the thread starter mentioned, that he has an iPad, let me show you, how to integrate BIAS in Garageband on iPad:



    When this song is saved, you can transfer it to Garageband on the Mac, where BIAS integration is also possible. Btw ... BIAS is the pure amp and cab sim, while BIAS FX has effects like delay too. I myself have both, because BIAS has more amps than BIAS FX, which can be transfered to the later. The presets in both apps can be synched over it's own cloud between iOS and Mac (or Windows) version.

    Here Garageband has a huge advantage ... you can start a song on iPad and continue on the Mac. I myself especially love to use the iPad together with headphones for "late night" jamming, so I don't disturb neighbours or my wife while watching TV.

    If this is interesting, we will need an audio interface, that we can use for both Mac and iPad, and it also should have MIDI support for the Novation keyboard, which comes in handy later, in case we want to add virtual instruments like a synth to our song.

    I have an iRig Pro just for iPad, so I guess it's bigger brother, the iRig Pro Duo will sound as good too:

    http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/irigproduo/

    This little box has all we need, so that we don't need the internal soundcard of the Mac, which will sound like crap in comparison and causes latency issues, e.g. playback and recording being out of synch, when we record several tracks. Furthermore this interface supports microphones, that need phantom power, in case we want to sing or record acoustic guitar.
     
  11. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    Maybe now you all understand, why I told all that complex stuff ... we need to first check out, what is our final goal, because this is important to choose the right audio interface first.

    When we have chosen and setup an interface, we can start with GB alone first to get our first experiences with guitar recording. Then we can add other instruments like virtual drums, etc.. Next step would be a better amp sim or maybe even reamping our beloved real amp, which btw can also be done with the pro version of BIAS.

    And the last step would be using a real DAW like Reaper, Logic, Cubase or anything else. I myself prefer Reaper, because it's not only the cheapest pro DAW, but also has the most powerful community, which will help us to handle and learn all this stuff. There are for example many tutorial videos on Youtube and the very detailed manual is free and can be used with the fully functional demo, which can be used free for 60 days. A licence costs only 60 bucks.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  12. Ricochet

    Ricochet Gretschified

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Forget MIDI for now, it's a protocol of commands that lets musical hardware interact.

    Let's get a guitar signal into your Mac first. Does your Macbook Pro have a dedicated microphone port, or one of those dual mic/headphone ports?

    If the first, use one of those 1/8 to 1/4 inch(or 3.5 mm to 6.3 mm) headphone adaptors into the mic input.
    If you have the "dual" port, use the same plug adaptor, but set Sound panel in System prefs to accept sound(at least in OSX10.10).
    If the sound is weak you can make careful use of a preamp type pedal. Bad Monkey, Brain, Art Tube, etc.

    As per the posts above, bigger, better, and slightly more expensive, is to input sound using a dedicated USB interface.
     
    Mudshark likes this.
  13. Dave-B

    Dave-B Synchromatic

    Age:
    51
    619
    May 23, 2016
    Scotland
    It's nice that you are trying to save Mudshark from mistakes he has yet to make.

    But by trying to fast-track him to an imaginary finish line, you deny him the joy of learning. We learn by starting simple and making our own discoveries. I'm quite sure Mudshark would enjoy deciding for himself if GB amps are crap and 16 bit audio is insufficient.
     
    Mudshark likes this.
  14. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    Really ... isn't all I explained above already learning?

    I want to avoid frustration by showing, what is possible and trying to avoid a wrong approach like adapters and the use of the internal soundcard. I also wanted to show, that it is possible to combine Mac and iPad, if you choose the right interface.

    Now it's up to himself to decide, if he is interested in my ideas or if he would prefer to just give up the digital stuff and just use an old tape recorder to record his Mesa ;)

    Again, I'm just trying to help, especially to avoid mistakes others already made, including myself. But for sure, this all is my personal opinion of this recording stuff and others might think different about it.

    But ok ... I'm outta here for now, except somebody should show up with questions for help.
     
  15. StJohn

    StJohn Country Gent

    Jun 5, 2008
    North Louisiana
    When I recorded, I would create the drum tracks via midi with Addictive Drums. I started out with a Korg pad to trigger the beats, but found it was just easier to do in the midi grid. It was trial and error, but you learn pretty quick. As for a recording guitarist, that's usually the most you'll use midi for-for virtual instruments. Others might get more involved with it, especially synth guys.

    I am slowly starting to integrate it into live performance with my duo and if I do solo stuff. I just got a Beat Buddy, which is a pretty amazing little pedal. I also started using OnSong as a lyric/setlist organizer on iPad. It's $20, but it's so much better than copying it from guitar tabs, correcting it, and distributing to guys via PDF files. I can set it up how I like, then just bluetooth it to the other guys. Anyway, it also has the ability to store song, drumset, and tempo info for the Beat Buddy, and can make the changes to BB via midi, so I don't have to bend over to change it after every song. That's going to be a game changer when I set it up to do that. I also use a small ditto looper, but will probably upgrade to the ditto 4 later on. It's nice because it has two loops and a dedicated stop button. It can receive midi data as well, and be sync'd with the BB's time. Pretty cool stuff, and I never thought in a million years I'd be doing midi.
     
    Mudshark likes this.
  16. Setzerhotrod

    Setzerhotrod Synchromatic

    Age:
    57
    991
    Oct 26, 2011
    Anchorage Alaska
    Most important thing to remember:
    When you get an inspiration to record something, go as fast as possible to an analogue device to get it down. If you mistakenly go to a midi based device, it will not work until you turn it off and on several times, re-check settings, scratch your head, check cabling (even though you know that you've changed nothing- doesn't matter) and get so frustrated that you won't even care that you had any kind of inspiration.
     
    audept and Mudshark like this.
  17. Mudshark

    Mudshark Gretschie

    447
    Jul 20, 2012
    Canada
    Well I got on that MIDI train... Sorry it took so long to thank everyone for their tips and suggestions for my journey on MIDI recording, it was a lot to digest. I am finding out this MIDI recording has a steep learning curve and I am still at the bottom of that slope.

    As Dave B suggested I did buy a MIDI hardware interface, a Roland DuoCapture Ex for $200 CND.
    roland_duo-capture_ex.jpg
    It has 2 analog inputs with 24 bit capture and speaker outs so I can use some monitors I have.

    The hardware came with a free download of Ableton Live Lite Suite which is like a 8 track virtual platform that accepts live input and comes with MIDI controller capabilities which appears quite unlimited in it’s possibilities.

    So far I have just been able to get my guitar signal in as well as use my Base Station 2 Analog synthesizer to trigger sounds and loops. Although I just scratching the surface with recording and building track some of integration is very interesting. For example: here is an example of using the Ableton software to midi control a Strymon Timeline of which I own.



    Again thanks all for the posts, I am on my way to digital recording now.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
    Dave-B and Ricochet like this.
  18. Dave-B

    Dave-B Synchromatic

    Age:
    51
    619
    May 23, 2016
    Scotland
    The Roland looks like an excellent little box. Nice that it also works with iPads.

    I'm surprised that Roland included an Ableton Live license. Ableton is a brilliant program, but it's really designed for DJs - not so much for regular audio recording. If you want to learn the fundamentals of digital audio recording, you might enjoy GarageBand or Reaper more. Ableton's more confusing workflow could be, um, confusing :)
     
    Mudshark likes this.
  19. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    Ableton Live Lite is a feature limited version and it's NOT especially designed for DJs. It's main focus is MIDI based electronic music, but it can do audio recording pretty well too.

    So Dave is correct, that Reaper is the better alternative, be it it's main focus in audio recording or the superb community.

    Garageband might also be a nice start, but the most important thing for a beginner is help from experienced users, so I highly recommend trying Reaper ... this community (forum and video tutorials) is unbeatable for beginners.
     
    Mudshark likes this.
  20. Mudshark

    Mudshark Gretschie

    447
    Jul 20, 2012
    Canada
    I hope Ableton will suffice for the time being to get me started and able to build a guitar track with backing. I have Garageband too because it came with my Mac, I also have FL Studio for iPad. I had not heard of “Reaper” but will check it out. Thanks.

    - muddy