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$30,000 to Build a Studio. Need Opinions for Equipment.

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Tompkinzz, Mar 24, 2011.

  1. Tompkinzz

    Tompkinzz Active Member

    This is my first post on here and I'm hoping I can get some helpful advise and perhaps help others looking for similar opinions. I am currently Building a new studio for personal use. However I believe it may turn into a business at some point. I have a $30,000 budget. A nice sound proof room with a nice windowed control room. Its empty except for our stage gear. (Instruments and amps). So I pretty much have a blank canvus to work with. I have most of my gear picked out such as mics, preamps(if needed), headphone amps, monitors and the minor stuff. What I would like to know about is what would most of You choose for a interface, mixer,digital mixer, controller, mac, pc, input device, compressors, no compressors, and so on. I'm leaning toward Pro Tools 9 as my DAW but I,m open to suggestions. I picked out a package from sweetwater that included the digidesigns c|24 controller with their 003 input device and pro tools 9 for $13,000. it includes the cable kits needed and lots of extra plugins. But reading reviews I,ve noticed their preamps aren,t very impressive in the c24, and If I can save some money without having to buy a ton of extra preamps Id like to. I just want a simple analog tracking feel to the setup and motorized faders would be nice for mix down. I am worried however that I'm over spending on the digidesign product and not going to get as good a sound that I should with the budget. I want quality sound and many inputs and as much control over those inputs pre and post mix. So if You had $30,000 dropped in Your lap what would You do with it. Thanks to any advice.
  2. sdelsolray

    sdelsolray Active Member

    Could you provide some more of your design parameters? For example:

    1) Maximum number of tracks you will be recording simultaneously.

    2) Will you be mixing ITB, outboard though a mixer or hybrid (i.e., mostly ITB but outboard for some tracks and on the 2-bus)?

    3) Styles of music you will be handling.

    4) Monitoring chain.
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    echo what sdelsolray said and to add, try not to get caught up in the hype... don't waste your money on the expensive shinny stuff that will be outdated and possibly worthless in 2 years. Just a hunch... anything hardware based made by Avid is overpriced and heading for a graveyard sooner than other gear. Invest your money in quality modular gear that you can swap out. Follow the hybrid crowd. That's where its heading otherwise you are in quagmire where there is no money for specialty. You are in the dime a dozen world and growing.

    Buy PT 9 sure... or 5 other excellent DAW programs and then invest in a good boutique products that have meat.

    I wouldn't touch Avid. Their best years are behind them.

    My 2 cents
  4. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    This is a very personal decision indeed. The thing is that 30k sounds like a lot of money but really 100k min. is the entry fee into the big game. At $30k I would buy the biggest fastest computer I could find by that company that builds for studio's(I forget their Name.LOL). Get killer monitoring. I'd buy a UAD quad and get every plug they make. RME interfaces bottom line cut the mustard and I'd get 16 channels.

    I'd get a used console for about 5k then take a second look at your mic's.

    In time I'd convert to even more Hybrid.
  5. bicasaur

    bicasaur Active Member

    Spend as much of the money as you need to on getting a REAL LIVE acoustic engineer to design your room and monitoring system. Best gear on earth won't help if you can't trust your ears in your room. I just got an estimate from Phillip Newell on my (hopefully) upcoming build, and his rates were suprisingly affordable. There's a few guys that haunt this site that would do a great job too.

    I love ProTools. For tracking, editing and mixing audio there's nothin better. Other DAWs have them beat in sequencing and VI's though, I think. I think I agree with audiokid about Avid's hardware being overpriced. You can do better. I am using the Lynx Aurora 16 with the firewire card as my conversion/interface (16 GREAT channels of i/o). I got the True Systems P8 for 8 channels of freakishly clean, avalon-like mic pre's, and have added lots of fun pre's with more color and personality (UA 710, Pacifica, etc.) to fill in my rest of my 16, but much of the time I just use the True for everything, and color later with plugs from the aforementioned UAD card (awesome).

    An Aurora 16 just sold on eBay for $2000, and I got my P8 there for $1400. Freakishly nice computer: $3000. UAD Quad: 1500. DAW: $600. So far that's only $8500, with $21500 left for more pre's, control surface, cables, and ROOM.

    I've been thinking about the Euphonix MC control surfaces, but the price has been holding me back. Cool machine, though.
  6. natural

    natural Active Member

    What are you using to record with now?
    What is your engineering background?
    It sounds like you're just starting out.
    I mean, who buys a whole studio of equipment all at once?

    If you're just starting out, I would spend a hunk of that change on getting some engineering training, and to buy something modest in terms of software, because by the time you're ready to start getting quality results, all your software and half of your hardware will be obsolete.

    Buying everything all at once is a nightmare. Unless you're a professional, you'll probably never figure out how to assemble it all, much less learn it all, much less be able to get anything useful out of it for several years.
    Usually, you buy a small core of equipment, and add to it as your needs and capability increase. At which point, you will know exactly what kind of equipment, compressors, software, mics etc you're looking for.

    For example- There's not much point in having a C24 if you don't have a handle on PT. And no point in jumping into a massive program like PT if you don't have any engineering experience.

    On the other hand, you did post this in the Pro Recording forum, so maybe you are an experienced engineer. But then again, if you were, I don't think you would be asking the questions your asking.

    Maybe we need more info from you regarding background, experience etc.
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    If you're going to go full-blown right out of the box, you're going to find that cabling is going to be a good sized four figure number for a two room studio.

    This is a good hypothetical question to ponder, and I'm sure that all of us here would love to have that 30K number sitting in the bank account ready to make our dreams a reality.

    The bundled packages from the big stores look so nice, and they are, to a point....A good exercise in cost value is to price these pieces as used and see just exactly how each piece holds its value. You'll find a lot of loss-leaders in the bundles. And gear which has gone its way and is no-longer the shiny got-to-have it once was.

    I'm in the school of more info here as the choices are myriad regarding what direction to go. The main style of music will dictate some of pieces you're going to want as well as workflow. Since you've already mentioned PT9 then a big-assed 'puter is really very necessary. For ANY DAW based studio.

    I recently put 12K in my already established studio and will upgrade the computer this week. I did get a nice Mac for free, but its just not fast enough for my needs so theres another couple of bills going in soon. Another Mac for me.....

    It sounds like, from your post, that you already have the room. It doesnt say that it is already sound controlled, but lets assume it is. Thats a big number right there....AND the most important one.
    Mics are subjective. You can record with just one. Or forty at a time......This is what I'm talking about when I say, More Info....

    Your needs to an end will determine the path you'll take to realize this set-up.
  8. Tompkinzz

    Tompkinzz Active Member

    Ok, getting some great feedback. Heres some extra info about my situation and needs. I'm in a five piece rock/metal/alternative. One lead singer, two guitars, one bass, drums, and a guitarist sings backup. I sing lead but double as the bands live sound engineer. I have a decent background in live sound production and have recorded in several small studios. I sell high end stereo and pro audio equipment for a living as well as build and fix computers. So, I don't think i'll struggle to hook any of this prfeeloduct up. I want to get as much bang for my buck and that's mostly why I'm struggling with this decision. If I had a million dollars I feel the decision would be much easier. But with such a limited budget I have to bed careful what I buy. I would like to have at least 8 tracks of simultaneous recording. But more would be better. This space may very well become our rehearsal space, so it would be nice to be able to record a session if needed on the fly. I already have the room built and engineered by an expert with proper sound . I already have more than enough instruments and amps. I've selected my mics and will be using a seven piece kit for the drums. And I have a variety of mics picked out for amps and vocals. I've researched preamps and probably will be purchasing some even if my mixer or controller has good ones. How many is dependent on how good the preamps are on the board. All in all my confusion is about whether I should get a digital mixer or controller and what input device to get to connect to the daw. Out of the 30,000 I'd say at least 15000 will be used for these main components. Hope thats a little more help to you guys. And thanks again for your wisdom and help.
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I'm going to agree about the StudioLive. This is new generation of digital I/O and its great sounding as well as easy to use and it packs the features into a nice compact format. Its pres are quite a bit better than the C24.

    However, if you want impressive for future clients....and I mean this with all due respect....people want to SEE a console.

    This where the decision gets hairy. You know you want preamps that really kick butt. But you want ease of operation as well as integration into a workflow BUT you want something large and in charge for the walking tours.

    This can be as simple as excellent FURNITURE! Housing your digital heart of the studio in quality built and stylish console furniture allows you to really concentrate on the functionality while at the same time expressing the quality of the room build out.

    Or you can simply buy a big old console, get high-end conversion, and get on with making records old school.

    I forgot to echo the several remarks about monitoring. DO NOT go cheap!!!!

    Genelec or better(subjective....I personally think they're the best!) Focal. If you built soffitts in your room, Westlakes....etc.etc.etc.
  11. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I'm also for starting with the StudioLive. Then you can go slow on the preamps. Get a good "A channel" - a mic and a preamp that work well together and flatter your vocals. Then hold off on the other preamps until you have a little more experience. Start off with 4 mics on the drum kit. It will be far easier to learn how to mix and just make tracking easier. Yes, given your genre you will end up with a dozen mics on the kit eventually, but start out with four until you've recorded half a dozen songs at least.

    You have the budget for good monitors. Don't skimp there.

    You don't need to go all out on your room at this point, but definitely budget at least a few thousand for room treatments. This will make a huge difference in your recordings and make a much more pleasant practice room.
  12. Tompkinzz

    Tompkinzz Active Member

    Sounds like the Studiolive may be the way to go. I have limited experience with digital mixers so can You tell me if It will allow me to control seperate tracks during mix down in the DAW. I really want to avoid mouse clicking to speed up editing. I'm assuming it doesn't, so what about using the SL with the digidesign 8 track usb controller? Granted it's just a glorified mouse but it may give me faster editing and save me a ton of money. One of the things that drew Me to the controller was this ability to quickly pull up vst Instruments and effects for each track with a simple click of a button. I understand the pro's to SL, but what would be the Cons over a controller. Sorry if my questions are sophmoric in nature, You guys have been great at helping me out and tolerating my ignorance. Anyway, I dont plan on skimping out on monitoring. At least not in the control room. I was looking at the Genelec 8030.LSE Stereo Pak. Is this a bad idea or should I be focused on just a two speaker system with 8-10" woofers? How important is headphone monitoring in the studio for the artist while He's laying down an overdub. Obviously You dont want them to bleed so they must be heavily isolated, but do I need to spend over $150.00ea. I plan on getting a very high grade set for the control room, but I can't think of a reason to go crazy on price for the recording room as long as they are well balanced and isolated. As far as tours go in the studio Im more concerned about quality of sound. I did have a desk picked out for the c|24 console but Im sure I can find professional looking desk and rack space for whatever console or mixer I go with.
  13. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Just a thought here....I have the Allen & Heath ZEDR16 and I think it's a really nice hands on 18 channel console/desk FW mixer but if I had $30K I would look at the new A&H GSR24M. It's around $11K with 24 mono channels analog and with an additional 8 channel ADAT preamp device puts you at 32 channels of FW bus I/O fully loaded into the software. It's got two mono tube channels for flavor, motorized faders, serious EQ, nice preamps and complete DAW control integration. I'm not a Mac fan or big PT snob pimp geek...so Cubase 6 for $500 would be my choice for software or even go Nuendo ($1800) if you think you might want to integrate some video into your mix. (even though Cubase 6 will do all of that plus 5.1 surround if that's your thing).
    Sounds like you've got the room and instruments taken care of so I would get a really nice pair of monitors...Genelec 8050's probably ($4500). Then some Mojave mics, maybe a couple MA201 and a MA200, AT414's. Shure maybe a ribbon and of course some of the standard Shure dynamics, SM7, 57, 58's etc. and then maybe if you don't get what you like from the A&H desk preamps then a nice vocal preamp like the Portico or API. Maybe the new Rupert Neve plugin suite and perhaps the UAD plugins and some nice Radial DI's for your guitars, bass and keyboards.....and
    I think that would do it!
    If you can't make some really nice recordings with all that then you need to just be happy with $30K worth of really really cool electronics and jam a lot and have some fun on the weekend!
    And you know I have friends that will spend $30k on a boat to go fishing with! (just a little perspective to the bigger picture!)

  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I have the console so I can tell you first hand that you can control the DAW in Capture and back ( no flying faders though). The console is missing moto faders but I don't miss that one bit.
    I must be honest, I haven't activated StudioOne yet so I don`t know how it compares or runs with it. I've been testing the 24.4.2 alone on a few PC`s and until I know which PC I'm sticking with, I've not authorized the StudioOne software. Capture is the live tracking software that comes with it, too, which needs no authorization.
    That being said, I'm pretty sure StudioOne will control it with flying colours. Its meant to work together.

    From basic two track recording to 24 tracks of a live band recording, this is amazing. For the money, its hard to believe. See if you can demo it. Did you look at the video's? I watched them about 5 times before it all sunk in?

    Here's the deal with this. I am very much into high end so its why I'm so sold on this thing. IMO, you either go high end and invest a lot of $ or you get into a logical tracking system and don't get caught up in all the hype out there. Get some nice pre's and mics like Bob said and you are rocking.
    This setup isn't for everyone here (well actually it is :tongue: ). Fun aside... a lot of us are into specialized gear and very much into boutique products that fit the sound and type of engineers we are. We have been doing this for years.

    Because you are a band wanting to lay down music with no messing around, man... this is creative dream for capturing to moment (follow?) . If I would have had this 20 years ago, OMG. No messing around. If you want to get editing serious and heavy into production... , simply dump/ loud it all into StudioOne and get serious. So simple.

    If you want stellar sound and you have a record contract in the works, you can go to a pro studio then. If you make your millions, buy the big studio for your self and then start renting it out for 3 grand a day. That's how I see it. For your app, I think this is a good place to start.

    There are 4 worlds out there.

    Common sence project studios 10 to 30 grand
    High end boutique hybrid studios. 20 grand plus
    Full blown pro studio's ( big bucks)

    And then all the confused home studios full of miss matched good and junk combined with cheap plugins. sharing their opinions on some mic while they run it through a crapper AD and listen to it on a $250.00 pair of monitors in a basement or bedroom with no treatment.

    So, Bob said it spot on. Try this and see what you think. If you like it, you have 26 grand left over for boutique goodies, treatment and monitors that will serve you well for years to come. If you want to step your game up, the console will be great for a second system and definitley live gigs. You really can't loose in my opinion. You could sell it and still do well. For your application, I think its a safe and very logical move.

    So to answer your question, yes, you can control the DAW from the console. To what detailed extent, not sure yet but definitely the basics . Hope that helps.
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Here are some videos that explains some basic of what you are asking. There are so many videos out that I would look at before you do anything.

  16. Tompkinzz

    Tompkinzz Active Member

    I've spent the night checking out the SL, and Man Im impressed. I see how the faders can be routed back through the daw for mix down. Im almost thinking about getting 2 of them, one of the 24's for the studio, and a 16 for our live shows and backup that i can daisy chain incase i need more tracking in the studio down the road. I can't seem to find a negative review about the product. I am not expecting to get perfect sound but I do want better sound than Joe Schmo is getting off his lexicon omega, sitting in his basement with a set of radio shack headphones on. You guys have been super helpful, and Im going through each post checking out the equipment mentioned and doing my homework. I picked pro tools because it seems to be the standard in the industry, but Ive been using Cubase for a couple years now. Im very comfortable with the Cubase interface and routing. Do you think the learning curve to switch over to Pro Tools is worth it, or should I stick with what I know?
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    If you go with the SL, I would try StudioOne Artist that comes with it. It integrates with the console. You may like it. If not, what ever you are used to makes sense. Slow and steady when you have a chunk like that to spend. Take your time and keep reading...

    Good luck!
  18. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Calm down big fella! This part of the market seems to be evolving pretty rapidly, and there are some who think that because of PT9 there is a lot of incentive to develop more of this type of product. The StudioLive may be the best thing this month (though as the post above mentions there are competitors to check out) but I would not be surprised if something better comes along in the next year. In any case, I'd buy one board that works both live and in the studio and wait six months to a year before getting a second.
  19. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Great stuff!

    For your headphone system, you want phones that give you the best quality sound with the least bleed. I have several different brands. My favorites are the Shure SRH840's. I have AKG K270's, Sony MDR 7506's, Sennheiser 212's, Koss Pro 4AA's and a couple other Sony's. My drummer uses the Sony MDR700's which are incredible also. Mostly, its all about the control. A cat5 based system with individual control stations is the way to go. Everybody gets what they want for tracking and overdubs.

    In the control room, you're on the right track with the Genelecs. I absolutely love the 8030's and depending on the size of your control room, you might want to consider the 8050's. And get the sub. Nah, you dont 'need' it with these but you're gonna want and appreciate it eventually.Spend the 5K on the monitors and never look back. 5K in this case is worth a LOT more, relatively, than 5K on anything else. Sure, you can get a fine set of mic pres for 5K......what good does that do if you cant hear em??

    Ya see my point.

    Pay special attention to your vocal chain. Another place to NOT scrimp. You'll need the one channel for that and then I would seriously look at eight more high end channels with another 8-16 after that. You dont need Neve or API for shakers or congas or even keyboards, but guitars and parts of the drums will be well served with something that doesnt have generic written all over it. The pres in the Presonus will do the job of the 'general' mic pre needs and do it very very well. You could comfortably do the single chain for the vocals and do nothing else and make great sounding records as long as you have the material and the talent to capture the moment, but theres something to be said about the quality of discreet sound in a dense mix. The ease of mixing tracks captured on high-end gear cannot be overlooked.

    A list to accomplish this might look something like this......only an opinionated old recordist btw!!!

    1. THE vocal chain. Groove Tubes ViPre pre. TubeTech compression.

    2. Drums/guitars API 3124 pre. UA plugs...

    3. Acoustic instruments of ANY sort True Sytems P2 analog, ISA focusrite, DAV 1, Millennia, Focusrite Red....many others...

    In considering the amount of quality for the dollar, you might want to consider a lunch box. The new Radial Workhorse is the real deal in 500 series technology. It has a better power supply than any other(the weak point of this type of device) it has a sub mixer at the end if you want....check this out! The major variety of quality channels you can mix and match with in this format is awesome to consider. A couple of these and @around $500 or less per channel and you can get ALL the major stuff to enhance your tracking capabilities with the board. Every major player in the boutique gear realm makes a 500 series comp/pre/EQ.

    Then theres conversion. Apogee Symphony. Configure for YOU.

    Aint this fun?

    Be very picky about your mic for the main vocal chain. Its the first and sometimes the only thing people hear when listening to a song.

    I dont know what you have chosen but theres a few out there to consider, and even something that spends like "the Best' may not be for your needs. Audition is absolutely the only way to know. Maybe you've already experienced your personal mic nirvana....You could spend half your budget on one if it was the only one that was right.....I dont know if you've ever been able to really experiment with this aspect, but its no sin to put up two , three or more mics to record a voice.....you get a nice palette to draw from in this way. So choose a couple of different things that you like and that you know works well with your voice. When you're tracking the main vocal, put em all up.....ya got the track count and the pres so whats the hangup? If you get the definitive track even if its a Shure SM58 whos to know??? (funny how this is more likely the case than not! a 58 through a 3K pre sounds like nothing you can imagine if you've not tried it)
  20. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Just to clarify - it's true you can connect 2 x StudioLive 24.4.2 mixers together via firewire to get 48 inputs routed to one master section, however you cannot record more than 24 tracks that way. There just isn't enough speed in FW400 to link to two consoles and record 48 tracks.

    I also have not seen a definitive answer as to whether you can hook an SL16 to an SL24, since they do have slightly different features/functions. I would want to confirm that with a PreSonus tech before you get deeply invested in that plan.

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