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Best new addition to my studio rack?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by gianlu5080, Sep 1, 2014.

  1. gianlu5080

    gianlu5080 Active Member

    Hi guys,
    I finally have a good tracking room in my studio, properly treated even if is a bit on the small side.
    I plan to use it mainly for recording my Yamaha C7 grand piano with my Schoeps mk21s into a MH ULN-2 (solo piano music, eventually with a bit of electronics and sometimes a string quartet to support the piano "à la Einaudi").
    So far I'm satisfied with the test results but I'm always thinking about adding something to my poor studio rack in the next future.
    I'm evaluating a good hardware eq but not too expensive (something like Elysia XFilter, Tonelux Equalux, Portico 5033) and reverb (TC electronic reverb 4000 or Lexicon PCM96).
    Any other suggestion to consider? And what in your opinion should I buy first, eq or reverb?
    Thank you
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    That's a tough call to make, as it's all very individual.

    You've got some nice choices on your list, I doubt you'd be unhappy with any of those. Let's start here...when you say "adding something", what would you say is one thing that you feel is currently missing from your recordings? Is it warmth? Clarity? Or more of an imaging thing like Depth and space?
  3. Josh Conley

    Josh Conley Active Member

    whats in your rack now?
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Remember, it's not just about filling empty physical spaces in your rack - blank panels are available for that. Yours isn't (or shouldn't be) a cosmetic need LOL...

    You want something in there that will help improve what you feel to be missing from your recordings... not your rack. ;)
  5. gianlu5080

    gianlu5080 Active Member

    I have a Metric Halo ULN-2, an Aphex 207, a TC electronic Finalizer and some synth modules.
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    so again... when you say "something is missing", what do you feel that is?
  7. gianlu5080

    gianlu5080 Active Member

    Clarity and warmth are there for sure, but in some way I can hear the "small room" signature timbre: my room is treated but it's not dead, there is a bit of early reflections but not much tail...
    Low, low mid, high mid and high frequencies are very solid and transparent...
    From 200hz to 440hz I can improve for sure...
    Also I'd like a bit more" ambient sound" such as piano filmscore signature sound, now it's a bit too aggressive in the envelope...
  8. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    When the room's acoustics are not perfect, it's better to put the mic closer but the danger of that is to make the piano sound a bit harshor aggressive.
    If your room's ambiance is not what you expect, you might want to reduce it with threatement and simulate the kind of room you like with a reverb.
    So my first bet would be to tune the room first.

    Of course a sample of your recordings, might help us to have a better picture of what you say..
  9. Josh Conley

    Josh Conley Active Member


  10. gianlu5080

    gianlu5080 Active Member

    In the next few days I'll try to upload a sample to discuss, in the meantime you're right, maybe a bit more room treatment could be a step up.
    But I don't like dead room, so I must be careful.
    Also I should add I don't like software eq and reverb (I tried almost all the big ones, Sonnox, Fabfilter, Waves, PSP, Altiverb) on my acoustic recordings and it seems to me that whenever I correct something I'm also degrading the rest.... so I'm speculating on a hardware processor.
    I can't afford now buying both a reverb and an eq, so I'm researching the one I should buy first to have an impact to my recordings...
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I'm not sure I would reduce any treatment until we know what you currently have in place, and, more importantly, what you based those treatment methods on.

    Was your treatment applied as the result of frequency measurements, RT60 analysis, room dimensions, existing construction materials (like drywall, wood floors, etc), or from reading a book written by a professional ?
    One of the resident acoustics experts here at RO - Rod Gervais - has written a fantastic book that most here consider to be their bible when it comes to acoustics - both for treatment and for soundproofing.


    I guess what I'm suggesting is that perhaps what you are "lacking" might be related more to your room acoustics, and may not necessarily have anything to do with any particular processor.

    It's important to know what treatments you currently have in place, and what you've based these existing treatments on, before you start just randomly adding or subtracting treatment at this point.

    If you are looking at getting a more natural ambient sound, then adding absorbers will decrease your RT60, not increase it. And, you mentioned that your room is small - your room may be too small to expect a decent natural ambiance, at which point you're back to using artificial reverb / room simulation.

    As far as reverbs go, while TC Electronics, Eventide and Lexicon all make great stuff, I think that most here would agree that the "creme de la creme" is the Bricasti line - to this date, I don't believe that there is any better sounding stand-alone reverb.... but, they ain't cheap. ;) That being said, it kinda sounds like you are pretty well set with digital reverbs.

    I agree with PC that some audio samples would be helpful - perhaps you could provide us with something that you've done, as well as something you really like that you are shooting for ?

    IMHO of course.

  12. gianlu5080

    gianlu5080 Active Member

    Thank you DonnyThompson,
    very very informative and interesting suggestions...
    I'll for sure check out the book you recommended, in fact I must say I tuned my small tracking room (4.5 x 3.5 x 2.65 m) mainly by ear and without too much technical and scientific background...
    I know the Bricasti M7 and for now is a bit too expensive, but I agree it is probably the best hardware reverb today.
    I have not measured RT60 but I'll do, what is in your opinion a good RT60 value for clear but also not too dry acoustic grand piano?
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    "I'll for sure check out the book you recommended, in fact I must say I tuned my small tracking room (4.5 x 3.5 x 2.65 m) mainly by ear and without too much technical and scientific background..."

    Yeah, that wasn't really the right way to go about it. Acoustics is a science, lots of math - geometry and physics with specific formulas that need to be adhered to, to do it right, anyway. To take a stab in the dark at treatment without really having numbers and dimensions to base it on is not the way you want to go about it.

    "I have not measured RT60 but I'll do, what is in your opinion a good RT60 value for clear but also not too dry acoustic grand piano?"

    Values will vary greatly depending on specific frequencies and frequency ranges. For example, low frequencies will hang around longer than higher frequencies will. So, its not simply just a question of "the best RT for a piano", although I'm sure there are probably numbers for an acoustic scenario like that - depending on expectations and desired results - but I think that in that type of situation, we'd be talking about much larger spaces.

    I'm not sure that your room is big enough to take advantage of whatever natural "ambiance" there may be. "Ambiance" in a room as small as yours may be of the unpleasant type(s) of reflection; things like flutter echo, or standing waves in corners, etc., ....and I wouldn't think that these would be something that would be desired.

    It may be a case of you deadening the room as much as possible, and then adding reflection and ambiance through artificial/digital means, but then again, you have to pay close attention to which frequencies you are absorbing, and to what degree.

    One of our resident acoustic experts here - like Space, Andre or Rod - could tell you with far more accuracy than I; however, should none of them respond to this post, I would once again steer you ( firmly LOL) towards Rod's book for that kind of information. There are far too many factors at play in the equation. Room dimensions, shape, the type of materials that make up your room, are but a few of the parameters involved in acoustic treatment ... not to mention what types of treatment you currently have in place. For example, if your idea of "treatment" was to simply throw up several 1" thick squares of auralex, then you haven't done a thing for frequency-related issues below 1k.

    Sorry, but, that's as far as I'm willing to go. Though I've studied acoustics, I am in no way an acoustics expert, and having me wagering a guess that may result in you taking that guess as an actual suggestion isn't a smart thing to do... for either of us. ;)

  14. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    If ya got some adjacent rooms leave the door half open an mess around w some mics in there. There is no way to build or design an acoustically perfect system from building to final volume knob. Steve miller recorded the joker in a garage studio.

    If all other things were equaly, eq all day, seteroe, or a pair. Use it for tracking and mixing, it won't lose value the same way a digital reverb box will, if it loses much value at all.

    If the room itself is so bad w all the guerrilla acoustics you can muster up, that your tracks still aren't useable, then a reverb isn't gonna help. It's just gonna sustain mush.

    Fwiw you didn't mention you tried Softube, or the lexicon verb plugs. Those are the two best plugs I've used for that, besides adobe auditions stock verb.

    You might be surprised what you can muster up using distance micing in an adjacent room. There's something about the energy in recording the air that is moving around.

    I use delays more as much or more than verb, and it's kinda fun to blend different verbs and delays and make a new space, and keep it subtle.

    Room acoustics can get confusing, if you reall are interested in doing more than quilts and laundry piled in the corners, you gotta take your time. Blankets and mic placement ccan go a long way. I've heard herbie Hancock will only record w the piano top off.

    But besides your instrument and room it's mics-then conversion. I'd get some some super good conversion, like this http://www.sweetwater.com/c796--Burl_Audio--AD_DA_Converters

    Or at least try them. Sylvia Massey got some. I like what their spewing in the sales pitch.

    What about like a Yamaha spx 90, or eventide harmonizer, or lexicon lxp, for a new toy while you consider something that will make a bigger difference? What item in particular depends on what you want, thicker? Clearer?
  15. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Valhallaroom, and valhallaroom vintage are two verbs plugins to consider.
    As of any tools plugin or hardware, you need to learn how they work and what the adjustements knob do. Most preset are useless so you need to dig in.. ;)

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