October 04, 2006

Computer Music – any ideas?

Dear Everyone,

I would like to tap your brains for knowledge. Please help me out.

I would like to set up my computer as a Music Machine. It’s a reasonably modern desktop with a built-in soundcard which runs WinXP and Ubuntu Linux. I’m what you’d call computer literate, but I know little about music software.

Anyway, I would like to do one or any of the following:
  • Use it as a fancified live FX processor for my bass guitar (y’know, delay effects and whatnot)
  • Get a basic synthesiser so as to make strange washes of ambient/electronic noise.
  • Er… drum loops?
My concerns are:
  • What software will I need? I’ve been told you can get VST hosts for free, but is this enough? Ableton Live is often touted… is it worth it? (One could always get a student discount after all)
  • Will I need a special soundcard? An expensive one?

Any help appreciated!


- 6 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. For a synth, you’re best getting a midi keyboard, I have an Evolution MK461c which is pretty nice (no hammer action though), you’ll also need to buy a proper soundcard in order for the latency to be tolerable. The Creative E-Mu range is supposed to be good and is pretty good value for money too.

    You’ll need some software to convert the midi signal to play soundfonts or VSTs, Cantabile is free and will allow you to play a single soundfont or VST, but you’ll need a proper program to do anything decent.

    For your bass, assuming you already have a bass amp you can feed the line-out into your sound card and it should work. It might work without the amp if you have active pickups, i’m not sure.

    Most computer music-making software will do drum loops, software-wise Fruity Loops will do everything you want, but i’m not sure about what else is out there.

    04 Oct 2006, 18:17

  2. axeman

    Check out the Line6 Toneport It’s a recording interface that also comes with software for amp and effect modelling. It’s a blast. You’ll have fun with the effects in particular. For guitar and bass. Inexpensive too.

    04 Oct 2006, 20:54

  3. axeman

    By the way, the Toneport doesn’t require a soundcard at all, and certainly not a special/expensive one. And it does do the sound processing in real time.

    05 Oct 2006, 11:35

  4. true, but the toneport costs a lot more than a special soundcard :p but the toneport does look pretty swish, and i’ve tried and ableton live which seems excellent for recording audio, not sure how good it is for synth yet.

    05 Oct 2006, 13:07

  5. Thanks for the comments, interesting stuff…

    What would suit me now is a way to use multiple VST effects with my bass guitar simultaneously in real time. A better soundcard is essential I’m sure. There are many free VST hosts available, but are these suitable if one plans to use multiple effects or instruments?

    I’ll try out Cantabile first, but if “you need a proper program to do anything decent”, what would qualify as a “proper program” in this respect?

    Toneport looks cool, something I could shell out on if I persue this seriously :)

    Oh, and there’s a demo for Ableton, so I shall try that out sometime.

    05 Oct 2006, 14:12

  6. Myles de Bastion

    Only about a year and half late, but the best place to get all your questions answered and more would be: http://www.kvraudio.com/forums
    You’ll learn about everything you need to know to get going with the world of computer/software based music.

    Hey, by any chance do you know a Genia? He’s a mate of mine currently finishing up a degree in Mechnical Engineering at Warwick, he’s been on a quest to form his Prog Rock/Soundscape band for a while and is pretty involved in Band Soc.

    Anyways…. :)

    26 Apr 2007, 23:51


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