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Building a little home studio

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Knobs, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. Knobs

    Knobs Active Member

    I've just ordered a Presonus studio channel strip mic pre with compressor and parametric eq. For a mic, I've sent for a Blue Microphones "Bluebird" with the little pop screen and shockmount nest. I got a cheap "On Stage" 7701B boom mic stand. For my recorder I've recently purchased a Tascam 2488 Neo on Ebay.

    My intent is to record Bluegrass acoustic instruments one at a time (multi-tracking). When I'm finished initializing CDs, I'll send them away to a friend to "master".

    Am I on the right plan? Comments? Helpful suggestions? Thanks.
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Hi there Mr. Magoo and welcome. You've made a fine choice in your selections and purchase. You've got the right idea. What I am most curious to know is, while you're 2488 will accept up to four XLR microphones and your PreSonus is a fine, feature laden, quality analog microphone channel, why you only want to record your instruments in Mono? Part of the feature of a good acoustic recording is the stereoscopic sound. And for that you need at least a pair of microphones. And with that pair you would need an additional PreSonus matching microphone channel. Or just use a pair plugged directly into your 2488. You still get to record one instrument at a time. But with that you can also establish an actual Stereophonic recording. Recording with a single microphone and just positioning those individual instruments around the left center and right image, isn't exactly stereo. It's paned Mono. Sure you can add a dab of reverbs and time delays to enhance that stereo experience. But with your current system, stereo recording is not an option. Not yet. So get another one of those microphones and plug it into your 2488 along with the other one into your 2488 and hear what you're missing, please. And then there's that timing and spacing that you can really create. And that's acoustic man. You're just going to make electronically modified reproduction of you play an instrument. That's not exactly a recording but something more like a document. This is where stereo envelops a listener. It's much more than effects and reverbs. It's the real deal. And with that you need two.

    That's right you make your recording by first tracking. Then you mix. You must be happy with your mix. Mastering has the ability to improve an already good product. It's not a magic pill for fixing what ain't right. Your 2488 is a very powerful and very capable device. There really is nothing that can't be accomplished with that that can be accomplished with its $150,000 competitors devices. It's all in knowing what a good recording is supposed to sound like. So while you're off to a good start ponder what I have said. Save up your coinage for that second microphone.

    I bet you can't eat just one?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  3. Knobs

    Knobs Active Member

    OK. You've talked me into it. I can clearly see your point. I'm going to order another "Bluebird" and another Presonus.

    Thank you very much for taking the time to detail your rationale so clearly. Sincerely, "Knobs Magoo".
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    That's great Knobs. And thank you. One of the things us engineering folk like to do is to record real stereo. There is a multitude of different techniques that produce a multitude of different flavored sounds. Within many home studios, acoustics are frequently some kind of compromise. Acoustics in the home studio environment is more of a misnomer. Most folks need to avoid the acoustics of small rooms. They certainly have their limitations as getting big ambient drum sounds have to be produced more electronically than acoustically. But you also don't want to be hearing flutter echoes bouncing between your walls. And that's not taken care of by foam but by diffusion. Bass trapping also comes into play in smaller rooms. But bass traps can also be rather large and are sometimes impractical in smaller rooms. So while the Bluebird may be a fine studio condenser microphone, those can also cause their own problems. Another reason why so many of us rely heavily upon dynamic microphones and ribbon microphones. Those can be quite a bit less sensitive to otherwise extraneous non-flattering acoustics. And many plucked instruments benefit from ribbon microphone technology in and above what a condenser microphone can even deliver. So you may want to look into a pair of those also? I have seen and know plenty of the world's greatest engineers who have stuck up a SHURE SM-7 (approximately $325) in comparison to a $5000 vintage Neumann U-47. On vocals, on guitars, you name it. Even that venerable SM57 will sound killer on a good microphone preamp like you are purchasing. So don't discount those lesser expensive, general-purpose, PA style microphones. They are truly the workhorse of the industry. I've gotten some great acoustic guitar recordings with just a pair of 57/58's (they are identical capsules) into a couple of Neve or API preamps. I wouldn't have even wanted a condenser microphone. But my reasons are based more upon live capture and broadcast, live recordings, etc.. Though this still holds true in the studio as well. And in the studio I am less likely to have one of my precious and expensive microphones destroyed by accident as it is so common a thing to happen on a live location recording. Don't get me wrong, I drag the good microphones out for specific and different jobs and environments. For instance a beautiful American music of the 30s and 40s presentation at the Corcoran Art Gallery in DC. For that, sung and performed by people of that era, I dragged out the RCA 77 DX ribbon microphones and Neumann 67's & 56 tube condenser microphones along with my German Beyer ribbon microphones to get that 30s-40s flavor. No tube preamps but discrete transistor API instead to digital multitrack. It absolutely sounded like the real deal of the times. I almost brought out the tube microphone preamps for that one but I love the sound of my discrete all transistor stuff the best. And no EQ was actually necessary. Even the old 77 DX has a Proximity cut filter when used for vocals. And the piano sounded mighty sweet with the 67's. OK so I had an 87 on that also. But I wanted it to sound vintage and it did. I didn't want it to sound state-of-the-art. So I didn't use my SM 81's nor the 414's, etc.. I didn't want that kind of picture. It had all the right kind of bandwidth limitation it needed to have. Your Bluebird will sound much like a Neumann 47 which is totally awesome.

    One of the fun things you'll be able to do with that PreSonus tube microphone channel is to actually discover what that tube can do for you. When working with preamps of this type, you don't always want to adjust them accurately and appropriately. That's because the magic begins to happen when the tube starts to go slightly nonlinear from slightly too much gain. This will create a soft overload with heavier second harmonic/even harmonic distortion components and that's very musical sounding. It also becomes bigger than life sounding. So you get to tweak for the color you want. If you just operate it at its normal parameters, it will be nothing more than just another preamp. Integrated circuit chip circuitry doesn't work out quite the same way. Once you start to exceed its parameters, they just get nasty sounding. So the stock microphone inputs on your device will be more like that. You'll have to be a little more careful not to overload those. But you will also need to turn down the output level from your PreSonus microphone channel so as not to overload the line level input when feeding your console. It will be a fascinating and fabulous learning experience for you that will bring forth some lovely recordings. I'm very excited for you and can't wait to hear some examples when you get them ready for us to hear. Sound cloud is a good place to post any examples. They don't require anyone to sign up for anything. You just sign up to post.

    Acoustic music is real music
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  5. Knobs

    Knobs Active Member

    I'm wondering if you've heard much chatter about the quality of the 12ax7 tube in the Presonus mic pre. I've been reading that some engineers have changed the tube in these units and got a sweeter, more resonant tone.

    Also, I have to relate this story: I bought a brand new Shure SM57 in the box, never unwrapped for $28.50 at a thrift store yesterday. Wow, I can remember when these mics were $40.00 or 50.00 new (now they're $99.00 and list for $124.00), but to grab one of the shelf brand new for less than $30.00 was a real find. I asked him if he had any Neumann U87's and he had the deer-in-the-headlights kinda look. lol.
  6. Knobs

    Knobs Active Member

    My little studio room is more than likely going to be subject to standing waves where diffusion will be necessary to reflect sound at angles. It's a rectangular room with my monitors set up on the shorter side. I'll probably end up having to purchase a sub woofer because of an expected lack of bass frequency detail.

    I'm wondering about recording in stereo with two cardiod mics. It might be better to purchase a ribbon mic (something like the Avantone C14 at around $250.00) and have this as a figure 8 mic side-chained to a cardiod mic (my "Bluebird") and run them both through an inexpensive 2-channel mic-pre like the MPA-2 (around $270.00). Your thoughts?

    Again, Thank You very much for your input.
  7. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I read this as starting out a studio to record bluegrass, is this correct? In a small room with limited acoustic treatments, an LDC mic like the BLUE is probably not in your best interest. These mics tend to pick up too much "room sound" due to their wider pattern and poorer off-axis coloration. A more suitable mic would be a pair of SDC's- check out the Shure SM-81 or the Rode NT-5 (pr). Either of these will provide better detail and less off-axis issues than an LDC. And, yes, a pair of cardioid mics like that is exactly what you use to mic acoustical instruments in stereo...
    The Avantone ribbon can come in handy, especially if you have a harsher-sounding stringed instrument like a scartchy fiddle. But the gain that a ribbon like that requires will NEVER be provided by a cheap (quality, not necessarily price) preamp like what you have listed. A better-quality 2-channel mic pre like the FMR RNP or an Audient Mico will provide you with better tools to record acoustic instruments. The Studio Channel has a bad rep for being a warmed-over Blue Tube preamp and they were notorious for noise and headroom issues. Bluegrass usually doesn't require much (if any) compression, and the 2488 offers that (as well as EQ) in it's processing section, so why do you want a channel strip? Especially a budget one? I mean, if you were doing rap...
    As far as a sub is concerned, I would wait until you get used to your monitors and how well the mixes that you do on them translate over to other systems.
    (2) Rode NT-5's $430
    (1) FMR RNP $500
    If you can't get killer acoustic tracks with that, there is something else wrong :) And you'd still have $$ left over for the Avantone and maybe an FMR RNC 2-ch compressor to go along with the preamp...If you HAVE to have compression on a tight budget, that puppy is it !
    Best wishes!
    Paddle faster, daddy, I hear banjo music!
  8. Knobs

    Knobs Active Member

    Thank You, moonbaby. I'm especially convinced not to purchase the cheap channel strip mic pre. I'll also take your advice to hold off on the subwoofer. Thanks for the links to quality mic pres.
  9. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Two links for more info on this type of recording...
    InnocentEar is a website that will give you some good info on mic'ing techniques for acoustical instruments for the less experienced... and
    ronansrecordingshow Ronan Chris Murphy reviews some inexpensive ($500) mic pre's, the FMR is one of them. Very good info there.
  10. Knobs

    Knobs Active Member

    Thank You for the additional, informative links.

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