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 Posted: Wed Sep 3rd, 2008 06:00 pm
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tim3560
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What would you pros say is the most important place to put your money when building a home studio?  Here's a small list: midi interface, multi track recorder, computer, software, microphone, instruments, monitors.  What would you say the correct order would be for that list number 1 being most important.  If I've left anything out, feel free to add.

Last edited on Wed Sep 3rd, 2008 06:00 pm by tim3560



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 Posted: Tue Sep 8th, 2009 12:44 pm
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kkidd
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My personal order would be
1. condenser mic
2. instruments
3. monitors
4. computer
5. software with a multi-track recorder
6. midi interface (I play acoustic hah!)

reasons being...no matter what changes come in the future...you can always use your mic, instruments and monitors...the other stuff is outdated in a year or less...why bother investing huge dollars into it, unless you get pro tools...but we are talking a home studio. With a good condenser mic and nice monitors you should be able to record well with any software ..even free software...I know Ive done it....the mic was absolutely THE BIGGEST difference in the sound of my recordings...the second biggest was to get some good near field monitors...dont scrimp on this....before I had decent monitors I would have to listen to my recordings on at least 4 different pairs of headphones and 2 differing sets of home speakers..each one sounded COMPLETELY different...crazy right?



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 Posted: Sun Sep 13th, 2009 03:00 am
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Troy33
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I would agree with kkidd on this. The microphone and the near field monitors are key.

Microphones and speakers are what we call electroacoustic transducers. These transducers convert one type of energy to another.
  • Microphones convert sound energy to electrical signals.
  • Loud speakers convert electrical signals to sound.
When you sit beside a musician playing an acoustic guitar, the vibrations which resonate the hollow wooden body of the guitar produce a sound that our ears pick up directly. Let me emphasize DIRECTLY! Pure music to our ears. Now imagine passing that sound through a cheap microphone which does not pick up all of the frequencies that our ears are capable of. Spending thousands on tape machines, effects racks, computers and other toys are not going to recover the tones from the guitar that never made it through the microphone. They may help dress the signal up, but it's just not going to sound the same.

Speakers are at the end of the chain and of even greater importance. (I say greater importance because not everything will pass through the microphone.... like keyboards or bass guitar that may be plugged 'direct') Through those speakers, the final product comes back to life.......... back to SOUND for our ears to enjoy. If you are trying to mix or add effects or EQ to a track but you are listening through budget speakers........ you would be wasting your time. You might find yourself boosting the highs on a track when it was cheap tweeters you were compensating for. Accurate speakers are what you are looking for here. Not speakers that ''color' the sound to make a poor recording sound better. When an A&R person listens to your demo, they are typically listening through better quality speakers than the ones you got from your grandfather. Do some research before buying.

If you purchase 'Active' monitors, they will have built in amplification. 'Passive' monitors, on the other hand, require an amplifier to boost the signal to the proper level. And here we go......... the quality of the amplifier is just as important.

To wrap it up....... your studio is like a long chain. On one end is a microphone, on the other end is a speaker. You may have some extra strong, extra expensive, heavy duty links in your chain, but if you have plastic hooks on each end, its going to fail.

Troy



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 Posted: Sun Sep 13th, 2009 11:14 am
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Arthur Holt
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I think I need those near field monitors, cause I do what Kkid described, first I listen through headphones, then pc speakers that I record to, then PA speakers and after all that the speakers I have on the PC I use for internet.

After all that listening , I still have to go back and make adjustment to the mix. Is that just crazy or what. Oh it's a lot of fun but time consuming, and I hear that I'm not ready for the Idol show , now that hurts!:)



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 Posted: Tue Dec 15th, 2009 04:12 pm
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Gravity Jim
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Don't overlook the importance of a good quality mic pre, especially on vocals. Buying a $500 microphone and plugging into the buck-two-fitty preamps on your board will not reveal the mics character. A good pre is something you'll use forever, and you can use it as a DI for guitars and bass, too.

So I'd go mic --> monitors --> preamp --> everything else.

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 Posted: Tue Dec 15th, 2009 06:41 pm
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Could we get a few details on a preamp. What to look for, price etc.

Also near field monitors. Any help with which ones might be a good fit for a guest room warrior with a somewhat limited budget?



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 Posted: Tue Dec 15th, 2009 11:07 pm
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Gravity Jim
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There are a bunch of $100 pre amps with a tube in them on the market. These are almost always "starved tube" designs where the tube runs at an extremely low voltage, and the designers place a small LED behind the tube to make it look like it's glowing (it isn't). I have a friend who refers to these as "marketing tubes." :) Most of these won't make a mic sound much better than the pre-amps in your console, although they will certainly add clean gain to the signal (which comes in handy with dynamic mics that need lots of gain to get cooking) Of these, the one I like best is the one that doesn't have a tube in it: the Studio Projects VTB-1. Very versatile. Don't' expect dramatic tonal results from any of these.

http://www.studioprojects.com/vtb1.html

The next step up costs between 500 to 700 bucks for a single channel, but this is where you really start hearing what your mics can do. In this range, my favorite is the Universal Audio SOLO 610. This is a pre that can really transform a small studio. Daking, True Systems and Grace also make nice units in this range.

http://www.uaudio.com/products/hardware/solo610/index.html

As for monitors, I honestly think the most important thing about a set of nearfields is getting to know them. They all have their deficiencies and strengths, but simply learning what they sound like and what you can expect from them is the biggest part of getting a good, portable mix. I still use a set of Event 20/20s, not because they're the best but because I know them, and I check my mixes on a set of tiny Audix self-powered things that sound worse than any TV set in the world, and listen for weirdness on Sony MDR-7506 headphones.

So if you're going cheap, the under-$300 Mackie, Yamaha or M-Audio boxes are all fine. AS a rule, I don't like the sound of Alesis monitors, and I have successfully identified albums that were mixed on KRKs by the honky mid-range the monitors covered up. But when it comes to monitors, but the ones you like and get to know them

That's my $0.02, anyway.

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 Posted: Wed Dec 16th, 2009 07:30 am
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DunedinDragon
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C2 wrote: Could we get a few details on a preamp. What to look for, price etc.

Also near field monitors. Any help with which ones might be a good fit for a guest room warrior with a somewhat limited budget?


You know C2, I can't say I've ever found a use for a pre-amp in my recording.  A lot has to do with your setup, but you have to remember almost everything you plug into other than plugging directly into your computer has a pre-amp in it.  I plug into a mixer that has a pre-amp, which goes into my USB FastTrack Pro (which is another pre-amp), so I can't see the need for yet another pre-amp in the line.  I could certainly see the need if you were going directly into your computer or recording system, but otherwise it seems to me to be very little bang for the buck and it certainly complicates the process.

As for monitors, to me that's the biggest bang for the buck you'll ever get in terms of taking your mixing to the next level.  My main monitors are a set of Roland DS-90A's I bought several years ago which are powered monitors and have fully digital inputs (S/PDIF) with a really flat and even response across all frequencies, these are no longer on the market by the way.  But I have shopped around and there are a lot of decent one's out there, but in this case you pretty much will get what you pay for, so going cheap on monitors isn't always a great idea.

The deal with monitors is, you use a different set of criteria for selecting them than you would a set of speakers for a home stereo.  You want them to be absolutely flat with no prominence on any specific frequency ranges, and clear enough to pick out the different instruments so you can balance everything appropriately.  And whatever monitors you get you will have to adjust your ears to them.  Once you do, you'll never want to change because your ears are trained to pick out what's on those particular monitors.  That's why I keep using the ones I've got rather than getting new ones.  You want to set them up, if possible, so they are make a perfect equilateral triangle between you and the two speakers to get a really accurate representation of your stereo field.

The only time I use headsets is when I'm actively recording something, and as soon as I'm done I switch back to the monitors.  Aside from headsets being bad for your hearing, they are terribly misleading for mixing.  I also have a set of cheapo Realtek  speakers on my computer which will give me a 'worst case' scenario of what my mix might sound like on a really crappy system.   Once I balance out my mix on the Roland's, I switch over and listen to it on the RealTek's to see if something's way out of balance.  You'd be surprised how often I discover something out of balance in my mix by listening to it on cheapo speakers.  I keep everything at fairly low volumes when I mix, then once I've got it sounding pretty decent, I'll turn things up and give it a listen.  Mixing at high volume levels can also be terribly misleading..particularly on Bass.

As you can see, I'm pretty passionate about monitors...and that's because I think a good set of monitors is THE key to getting a good mix.

DD



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 Posted: Wed Dec 16th, 2009 12:26 pm
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Gravity Jim
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DunedinDragon wrote:

You know C2, I can't say I've ever found a use for a pre-amp in my recording.


I suspect you haven't heard a really good-sounding pre-amp, Dragon. Yes, everything has a 10-cent op-amp in it... but only a preamp designed for the task can really give vocals and acoustic guitars (for examples) the detail you're used to hearing on records.

And while (as I mentioned above) a $125 pre probably won't sound THAT much better than the pre-amps in your Tascam all-in-one or whatever you might be using, they still have their uses... especially in delivering enough gain from a slow moving dynamic mic like a EV RE-20 or Shure SM-7. On most mixers (say, Mackie) used by home recordists, you have to crank your 10-cent pre-amps all the way out to get enough gain to even HEAR one of those mics, and trust me,... that doesn't sound good.

I think a good pre-amp is just as important as a good monitors.

Also, there has never been and will never be an absolutely flat transducer, so there's no point in shopping for one. :)

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 Posted: Mon Dec 6th, 2010 02:43 pm
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emmapeel
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Acoustic treatment or some thought as to where is good to record in and where is good to mix in.

I agree that it is good to have a dedicated pre-amp to go along with the Mic. Another idea is to get a channel strip which is the same thing but you get the addition of a compressor and EQ in the unit if you think that will be something you will want to record with.

Not sure what order I would put things in as everything is important.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 4th, 2011 06:58 pm
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http://www.blacklionaudio.com. Best bang for your buck...



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 Posted: Tue Oct 25th, 2011 02:30 am
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First you have to consider the acoustic, so sound treatment is first. Then you need the right mic/preamp combination for the task, a good sound card with ASIO driver and good memory RAM for speed. If you don't want to care for the acoustic, or if your environment is noisy, use dynamic microphones, not condensers, they are directional and solve the problem. There is nothing worst then earing a car passing by in a recording.



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 Posted: Tue Jun 5th, 2012 05:15 pm
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Planobilly
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Tim to answer your question anyone would need to know how much you want to spend and to some extent what you want to record. There is a big difference in trying to record a full drum kit with 12 to 15 mics and a single vocal.

What I am about to say is based on a DAW computer system.

For about $5000.00 you can get equipment that will produce 90% OF WHAT YOU CAN GET OUT OF A MILLION DOLLAR STUDIO if YOU KNOW HOW TO USE IT.

For around $1500.00 you can a usable system that will make OK recordings. All this is new equipment price.

Here is a basic system.

1. A dell laptop at $800.00
2. A M-audio da/ad converter at $250.00 with Pro Tools
3. Reaper DAW at less than $60.00 bucks
4. Shure SM 58 mic About $100.00 bucks
5. Mic cables Less than $50.00 dollars

So now with this system you can sing, plug an electric six string guitar or bass line in or a acoustic Guitar or other inst. You can plug in via MIDI a MIDI inst or MIDI device.

You can get a cheaper laptop but you will have issues.

So we got about 12 or 13 hundred dollars so far.

Oh..***...I forgot about monitors and head phones.

A cheap set...2 or 3 hundred dollars a ok set $1000.00

Top quality monitors....$10,000 and up!!

This "home studio" thing is worse than drugs!!! The more you get the more you want. I have spent enough on mics alone to buy a small house in the country.

You can go to http://www.soundcloud.com/planobillydfw and listen to stuff I made on the cheap and in million dollar studios.

Last edited on Tue Jun 5th, 2012 06:06 pm by Planobilly



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 Posted: Tue Jan 29th, 2013 11:03 am
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Hi,
If your a songwriter and really just need to get your ideas down quickly, then the sonics or recording quality might be less important to you, especially if you are then looking to find a producer / record label to make it all great.
Really if this is the case your best investment would be in choosing instruments that most inspire you to write with the recording side of things being as easy and inexpensive as possible.

Therefore USB microphones into a laptop running Ableton or similar with a dedicated audio/midi interface so you can record live instruments such as acoustic guitars and vocals, oh and a midi keyboard should do it.
That would be enough since Ableton will provide a decent selection of virtual instruments, drum software and effects.

However! This will mean that your recordings will be noticeably less commercial sounding, so don't expect the world.
I have spent a mortgage worths of money on a dedicated space that is acoustically balanced so instruments track well and can be mixed professionally, in addition to this I use commercial grade signal paths and monitoring paths to ensure performances are captured properly an subsequently mixed well.

So the other side of this coin in terms of sonics recommendation wise would be this...

Well balanced, good sounding room
Great quality instruments, well tuned and serviced.
Excellent, suitable microphones for the audio you are recording
High quality pre-amp(s)
Sink as much as you can into A/D converters
As much as you can into monitoring

Then you can make commercially competitive recordings - so long as your song is good too of course, but thats a whole other topic!



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