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WELCOME IN THE STUDIO

In this section you can find things that will assist you in your own computer-based musical productions. There's a lot of original Dubroom material which you can use, but also third party material. There's much more than "just" sampled material, as you can find some little pieces of software, presets and other things as well. Everything in this section is, like all stuff in the Dubroom by the way, legal and -a lot of times- absolutely free of charge. Definitely worth a visit, for novice to veteran.

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ABOUT CHAPTER 35

We were introduced to the composition environment, where the (instrumental) Reggae Track or riddim is produced using MIDI, Loops, One Shots, Stems and Audio recordings. 

CHOOSING MIDI KEYBOARDS

You can use a keyboard from the 1980's with MIDI-Out  even today to record notes into your DAW. 

Better is to get yourself a new(er) one and they do not have to be expensive. Of course you can get yourself a 30 Cm keyboard with only 24 keys, but the minimum for a bit relaxed playing with 49 or more keys.

Also what is handy, when the keyboard has one or more controllers. Slides, for example. 

MAKING DUB WITH COMPUTERS - CHAPTER 36: AUDIO (4) RECORDING MIDI AND AUDIO IN THE COMPOSITION ENVIRONMENT

Yes, the title for this tutorial is "Making Dub With Computers". And OK, in order to operate a computer you will need a keyboard and a mouse and in principal everything written and proposed thus far can be done by just using that. However, for way better results (unless you stick to pre-recorded loops) it is always better to play your music and record your works.

recording MIDI in the composition environment

Yes, you can use loops or program your own musical notes into the sequencer. But it's way better to actually play some lines. You do not even have to play parts the whole 3 or 4 minutes long, in other words create a full multitrack. Just play 16 bars, 8, 32, whatever. Now you can use your QWERTY-keyboard but not really. No, you'll need a MIDI keyboard and (preferably) an Audio Interface with MIDI in/out (more about that later). 

You can get brand new USB MIDI keyboards for under 100 Euro. These keyboards can be plugged into the computer using a USB port and your DAW will recognize them. However it might pay off to visit a second hand store or go to sites like E-Bay and just search for keyboards that have "MIDI-OUT". MIDI is as old as keyboards are, basically. At this moment I have a borrowed Yamaha keyboard from the 1980's here, that does the job just as well.

Of course, a keyboard from the 1980's does not have a USB port. It's plugged into an Audio Interface with standard MIDI plugs. These are plugs that look like the ancient "DIN" plugs. In fact, they are. A MIDI Cable connects the keyboard with the Audio Interface.

And you'll need an Audio Interface for the next thing:

recording AUDIO in the composition environment

Sure, again, it is possible to create an instrumental Reggae track in the composition environment without a MIDI keyboard and without an Audio Interface. But when you want to record audio, you'll definitely need one. And that has everything to do with a thing called "latency".

latency

When you buy a computer, it comes standard with an Audio Card. In a PC, this is usually a RealTek HD device. And sure, the sound is good. When you play music, or a movie, or even work in your DAW without the need to record audio. But for recording audio in sync with what is already there in the composition environment, HD doesn't stand for High Definition but rather for High Delay. 

Your standard audio card will record your audio into the DAW, but it will show up milliseconds later and while you might think that's nothing, it actually is. This problem is called "latency". You simply cannot record in sync. The recording will show up with a little delay and the only thing you can do is cut the first few milliseconds in the audio recording to make it synchro. 

Perhaps...

And since we're not anymore under the circumstances when this tutorial began to see light, the solution to this problem is something that can be reached, again, around the 100 euro and it's called an...

Audio Interface

Personally, I use a Behringer U-phoria 1820 but I would recommend the Behringer UMC 404 HD. The differences between these two interfaces are the number of inputs and outputs, but in this stage that's not really important. What is important is that your interface has the following three minimum specifications:

  • ASIO compliant
  • 2 Input, 2 Output
  • MIDI In/Out

Some people do use a standard audio card and they download a driver called "ASIO4ALL". I have used it, but never tried to record audio in sync. A quick Google Search will reveal not that many hopeful signs. No, you'll need an ASIO compliant interface. Not only can you record in really high resolution (I can up to 192 KhZ), the higher you set your resolution, the lower your latency gets. The recording discussed in the previous chapter had 13 milliseconds latency, which is acceptable. I've see latencies like 24 milliseconds on standard cards.

Of course, you'll need (at least) two inputs and two outputs. You can record your voice and/or an instrument simultaneously with the stuff already recorded/programmed into your composition environment. You can of course use a USB MIDI keyboard but to have a MIDI In and Out might proof handily when you expand your studio. The cheapest I could find that has 2 in's/out's and MIDI in/out is the Behringer 204UMC HD for just under 80 euro (July 12, 2021). 

Forward

Armed with a MIDI keyboard and an Audio Interface, you're ready to create your tracks in a composition environment. In the next chapter, I'll lead you through my own current composition environment and although it is in Reason 11, you will see that things can easily be translated for other DAW's. Even though there is a... well, yes, reason that the Dubroom recommends Reason since Version 3.0. 

<<<PREVIOUS CHAPTER<<< - MAKING DUB WITH COMPUTERS - >>>NEXT CHAPTER>>>

This tutorial is in an unfinished stage, but it does contain the basics to get yourself equipped to use just about any DAW or even hardware studio in order to make DUB from Reggae Music in the authentic and original way. When you have a question or comment you'd like to see addressed, feel free to use the Dubroom Contact pages or post your words publicly on our Forum. Click here to read about the latest updates to this tutorial.

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