I'm selling a couple amps and a guitar, and I should have $500 to $800 to play with. I'm not super happy with the recordings I've done so far- mostly with how my vocals end up sounding. Here's my current recording rig:

Tascam 122 mk2- first interface. Not really using it. Mic preamp didn't impress me, but I never had latency issues.
Alesis Multimix 8 USB- I thought this might be an upgrade, and let me record a drum kit. I'm having latency issues, but the preamp sounds much better.
1 MXL 990
1 SM-57
2 Sennheiser E822s (mostly for live use but I've been playing with them in a recording context)
One of the $20 kick drum mics MF's been running on the Stupid Deal of the Day.

I record on my laptop, which is 3 years old. It's handling what I'm doing fine now, but I was debating putting the money towards one that would be better suited for recording. What specs are most important? Processor? RAM?

I was thinking about picking up a separate mic preamp or compressor. Any suggestions for something cost effective?

Or is there something else I'm overlooking that I should be buying/upgrading first?
Whats the current spec of your laptop? If thats not up to standard your pissing in the wind buying anything else.

If the laptop is up to the job check out the focusrite interfaces.

The scarlett 2i4 is a brilliant interface for the money, its been a real problem solver for me since buying it.
It's an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.1 GHz processor with 4 GB RAM running Windows Vista 64 bit. Slightly dated, but I have no idea how dated. Opinions?

I guess the thought I was having is that I can always upgrade the laptop for other reasons later, and that I wanted my music toy money to stay dedicated to music. But if the laptop's really not going to cut it, I could go that route.
eh, dual core with 4 GB of ram is fine as long as you arent using a ton of effects and running processor heavy vsts. i used to run a laptop much worse (spec wise anyway) than that and cant remember ever having an issue.

i would start with a solid interface. plan to spend at minimum $200, for something like the focusrite saffire 6. i know people having been getting good deals on the pro 40 as well (if you need more inputs). assuming your laptop doesnt have firewire, that takes out the m-audio profire range, which is similar in price and quality. those are the ones out there right now that most people seem to be looking at.

and then for your vocals, you will want a better condensor mic. there are lots of things that are solid in the $2-300 range that will be a lot better than the 990. the at4040 is a popular choice. i think there is a sterling audio mic or two in that range as well, and ive liked what ive tried from them. there is always the rode nt-1a as well.

so that would put you around $500, plus some for stands and a pop filter. if youve got another few hundred to play with, well depending on what you are recording you might want another style of mic. or maybe look at monitors. i wouldnt spend under $300 on monitors, unless you get something used for a good deal.
I would start by upgrading your OS on your laptop. The reason people dislike vista is because it's a resource hog so upgrading to 7 or 8 could actually net a decent improvement and make it longer lasting.
Quote by chatterbox272
I would start by upgrading your OS on your laptop. The reason people dislike vista is because it's a resource hog so upgrading to 7 or 8 could actually net a decent improvement and make it longer lasting.

Actually 7/8 are just as bad of resource hogs as Vista. Sure, they allocate the resources they hog better but its still a hog compared to XP where you can get it to boot with practically nothing and maybe use 100-200mb of ram versus 700mb-1gb with Vista/7/8
Derpy Derp Derp Herp Derp
Oh yeah, I didn't say XP because it's (finally) on it's way out. Programs are becoming less compatible with XP so I though there was little reason to recommend going backwards. Also, tell that to my de-cracked Tiny7 installation running better than XP ever did on my old laptop
So what's the difference between this:


and this?


It seems like it just has less outputs. The 2i4's description mentions those outs as being great for DJing, which is not something I do, and therefore not something I'd need... Am I missing something?

Otherwise, the Saffire 6 is the same price as the 2i4. Is there anything that makes one of them better than the other?

I should've been more specific about what I don't like about my vocals too. They end up sounding thin, with too much emphasis on the high end for my liking. I was debating a ribbon mic. Is this something worth looking into, or will a higher end condenser add some warmth and be more versatile?
My only concern with the laptop would be the drive speed. Most laptops are 5400rpm hard drives, which will impact your track count measurably.

If you get a firewire interface, check out what kind of firewire card/chip you have in your laptop too. Some of them are *really* picky about wanting Texas Instruments chipsets. With a desktop computer, swapping out a firewire card is about a $20 and 15 minute fix. On a laptop, all bets are off.

I wouldn't worry about an outboard compressor. You won't solve anything with it.

You could probably sell the Alesis and the Tascam to offset some of the cost of a new interface.

Even with an inexpensive interface, though, you'll get more bang-for-your-buck by getting better mics than you will better preamps. Upgrade the preamps once you've got some mics that will do them justice.

If you're trying to mix without monitors, you are fighting a losing battle.

Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.