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Dsp or sound card?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Ramin, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. Ramin

    Ramin Guest

    Hi everybody, great forum btw.

    I need some advice about what I should do to make my music sound better and commercial, I know that is what everybody is looking for so I'm gonna be more specific.

    I have been working on a song for months where all the sounds are from softwares like Quantum Leap's Colossus, Stylus RMX, Hypersonic e.t.c. and arranged in Cubase SX.

    I think that it sounds really good for being produced and mixed in a home studio but I also believe that it could sound much better and "commercial".

    I've been researching to find out if I should invest money in buying a dsp card ,like uad 2 or powercore, in order to be able to use better mixing plugins or invest the money to buy a better sound card, like RME fireface or one of MOTU's cards since I'm using a $200 sound card right now, the Delta 1010LT.

    I have to say that I'm now using Waves plugins wich also are really high quality plugins but I just can't get it to sound as good as my reference songs.

    I really appreciate any help.

  2. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    To really make it sound commercial, crunch it into an mp3 and get it streamed on itunes.com
  3. Ramin

    Ramin Guest

    Are you serios?
  4. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

  5. Ramin

    Ramin Guest

    But how would it help? And if that is the way of doing it why would anyone spend time and money into mixing and mastering?
  6. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    It is ironic isn't it.
  7. Ramin

    Ramin Guest

    Well thank you for your respons, but do you mind explaining a little bit more about this?
  8. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    Well, I was just thinking, ya know, folks go through a lot of anguish and trouble with gear acquisition, recording, the whole process is nerve racking from what I have read. Why not just record it as best you can and after you crunch it into an mp3 and stream it online, who knows what you really did or how good it really is, ya know?

    Matter of fact, I was listening to tvontheradio today, and I am telling you, those guys recorded the lead voice in a small square room! I am not kidding you, that is what it sounded like to me. And it is a crunched-p3 with a video?

    Can't deny the success of that ;)
  9. Ramin

    Ramin Guest

    Well I understand your point, but me personally don't want to release something that I'm not sure about and that's why I'm trying to figure out what the next step is for me, but thank again for your respond.
  10. cfaalm

    cfaalm Active Member

    Before you invest in plug-ins or soundcards: Is your room acoustically treated? Are your monitors adequate? What systems did you check your mix on? How did they differ? What do YOU miss in your mix? Is there anyone who can help you listening and perhaps make comments? Can someone help you with the mix?

    There are so many factors that can influence a mix that it is hard to tell you what to do. I think now rushing out to buy a powercore or UAD-DSP-card would be a waste money.

    Half or more of that really commercial stuff isn't even mixed in the box i.e. the mixing is done on an analog console like a Neve or SSL. They use selected preamps, microphones and A/D converters. On top of that they add education/experience/imagination.

    I think it was Keith Richards who said: It's not whether you have the option, but whether you can make the choice. So I guess for now I'd agree with Space. Just publish the darn thing. You can always remix when you think you can do a better job. Better mixes come from experience, not just punishing yourself over one song.

    Why don't you post it here, so people with experience can give you a little feedback?
  11. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    We need more info (at least I do). 1. What kind of budget are you thinking about? 2. As I understand it, right now you are creating everything on the computer - no analog is converted to digital and then mixed with the computer generated sounds - Is that correct? Is that the way you plan to create your music, or are you planning to record vocals, etc.? 3. What is your monitoring, listening environment like? What kind of monitors? What kind of room?
  12. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    Bob asks good questions.

    You said you are unsatisfied with what you hear. You said everything is generated by software. A better interface won't help. That Delta should sound just fine for playing back software instruments. It should actually not be that bad for recording vocals/instruments.

    It's not the interface. It has to be the mix, the sounds of the software instruments, the amp/speakers, the room, etc.

    Assuming you have a decent set of monitoring equipment, and the room isn't an 8x8' concrete box, start with the mix. Are you tweaking the instruments to stay out of each others' way? Since you have no control over mic'ing a software instrument, you have to manipulate it using EQ, etc. (OK...so it's possible the sets have different mic placement algorithms, but..)

    A high-end DSP card still can't polish a turd, and it's doubtful you'll hear much improvement through a Fireface, because it's just playing back, not recording.

    Get creative with EQ, panning, compression, and other effects. You may find all you really need to do is get things out of each others' space, and it may open things up. You may even think about copying tracks to a different-but-same instrument. Maybe your bass guitar is woofy? Play around with a different sound. Maybe that's it? Maybe EQ the top-end out of that woofy bass, find another bright bass instrument, EQ some low out of that, and trigger them both together. Now, stick a kick in the hole in the middle of both you just created.

    Y'know...stuff like that. It may not sound right because you've been chasing your tail trying to balance out overlapping frequencies, when all you may need to do is get rid of the overlapping frequencies?

    If you can't get it sounding good through Waves plug-ins, I doubt you'll get much more improvement from anything else.

    Just something to consider. Experiment. BTW, Make sure you back up and store what you think you have close before starting more experimentation.
    But, you probably already knew that. :wink:

  13. Ramin

    Ramin Guest

    Hi guys, thanks for all your comments, it is really appretiated.

    Cfaalm, my room is not fully acoustically treated, I have some sponges behind my monitors and on the opposit wall but that is it.
    I got my monitors for couple of months ago and this is the first song that I'm working on with these monitors.
    The first place I check my song is in the car, which is my main reference system, and then at home in different speakers and also on a PA system.

    What I really miss is the warmth and that the song feels digital and harsh as I heard someone say.
    That is why I was thinking about to get a more expensive soundcard, maybe the more expensive soundcard would make it sound better. Or if I use UAD plugins, maybe they would make it sound warmer.
    I also want to add that I don't mind to spend time and gain knowledge and experience, that is exactly what I have been doing for the past 4 months, but I just want to make sure that I have the right equipment to give me the sound that I want because if not then I'm sitting here everyday and playing around with all kind of plugins and different ways of mixing without getting anywhere.

    Mr. Bob Rogers, I don't really have a limit for my budget as long as I find the right equipment that could give me what I need.
    And that is true, everything is created on the computer with some of the top VSTi exept my vocal track, but I was told from a very skilled studio engineer that even if all the sound is "internal" you need to have a powerfull sound card when you record your midi tracks to wave.

    Again thanks for all your comments.

    Btw I'm on my way to SAE Miami to enroll in their Audio Technology class that started yersterday, I really want to learn more about this.
  14. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I'm guessing this is wrong, but I have to admit that I really don't know anything about the signal path that internally generated or stored sound would travel when being recorded to a .wav file. Could someone clue me in?
  15. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    The soundcard doesn't have to be powerful. Generally plugins are handled by your CPU. That includes your VSTis. A DSP card would help, provided that it supports the plugins you are using.

    Muse reasearch has a product called Receptor which will support many more VSTs than UAD1 or Powercore AFAIK.
  16. Ramin

    Ramin Guest

    Now, this is stuff that I need to know more about, how to give the sounds their on room/place in the mix. But the question is how?
    Any body knows any good books/DVDs about this topic?

    Thank you Kapt.Krunch
  17. jordy

    jordy Active Member

    hey there....ummm i have the book, "Home Recording for Dummies". -it's a good book. it goes into some pretty good detail with mixing.....i believe that there's a couple pages that give some reference as to what eq range settings to have certain instruments and stuff....that might help.
  18. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Here's a great excerpt from "The Mixing Engineer's Handbook" by Bob Owsinski. A good guidline but certainly not the law. The book is worth it's price tag.

  19. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    Yep, and in the end...mp3'ed and streamed on-line ;)

    With nothing but software as the "instruments" how can it be so difficult to get high quality sound? Running fruity loops with a soundblaster you can(meaning I have) get big sound. I dunno, maybe there is a lose nut on the keyboard? ;)
  20. Ramin

    Ramin Guest

    Alright guys, I'm just gonna study the books and do some research online and take a break from the song and mixing and get back to it when I have some more knowledge about the topic.

    Again, thanks alot everybody, I promise that I will post both before and the after song when I'm ready.

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