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Equipment for switching music between recording and DJ

Discussion in 'Recording' started by DrewZ312, Jan 2, 2015.

  1. DrewZ312

    DrewZ312 Active Member

    I could really use some advice on choosing equipment. I have a custom built PC and I want to be able to switch back and forth between music production (recording), DJ (both live and recording) and listening to music with as much quality as possible. In other words switchable between flat and non-flat. Where I am especially lost is the USB Audio Interface and DAC. I really wish there was a piece of equipment that will do both and does not cost a fortune! Here is some of the equipment I am considering and please feel free to make any suggestions but I need affordable but still very good stuff to get started! I have been a DJ on and off for many years but this will be my first attempt at computer DJ-ing and very little experience with music production.

    MSI Z97 Gaming 9 ACK (motherboard with built-in Wolfson DAC) - leary of USB and UEFI issues
    PreSonus Eris E8 Active Studio Monitors
    Ultimate Support MS-80B Studio Monitor Stands
    Pioneer Pro DDJ-SR
    Shure SM58S Vocal Microphone - live
    Rode NT1A Vocal Condenser Microphone - studio
    Akai MPC STUDIO Music Production Controller
    Akai Professional MPK225 MIDI Controller
    Sennheiser HD8 DJ Headphones
    Audio Technica ATH-M50

    Here is where I am confused with what to do:

    PreSonus Monitor Station V2
    PreSonus | Monitor Station V2

    Alto Professional ZMX122FX 8-Channel Mixer
    Alto Professional - ZMX Series > ZMX122FX

    UD-H01 | TEAC

    Roland Quad-Capture Audio Interface
    QUAD-CAPTURE: USB 2.0 Audio Interface | Roland U.S.

    Any good advice will be sincerely appreciated! I know I should not need all 4 (directly above with links) but I just want as many options and mic pre-amps as possible. I know Pioneer has some studio monitors that are switchable but my plans were to eventually upgrade to Yamaha HS8's and then Adam or Focal later on. Possibly a Yamaha MIDI/keyboard later also.
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I can't help you with the DJ part. I can tell you that, in order to record and mix with great sonics, substantial money is required, unless you're just a hobbyist, at which point there are many cheap options for you.
    Just don't expect a pro sound out of budget gear.

    You can pick up an entry level, 2 channel audio interface/mic preamp for around $150. Both Presonus and Focusrite have entry level models in this price range. They both also have built-in converters that will support up to 98k SR, so you won't need a separate stand alone converter.

    Everything on your list is typical entry level grade gear.

    Why don't you tell us your budget... as well as more detail regarding your recording goals. The more you tell us, the more we can help you.
    DrewZ312 likes this.
  3. pcrecord

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

    I agree with Donny, Presonus and Focusrite make audio interfaces that could go in the studio and live without any problems.
    Their preamps are fairly good for the price tag. You just need to plan how many tracks you want to record at once and buy the unit accordingly.

    Reading the OP, I find some incompatibilities;
    First, the gaming PC and also DJ vs Recording.
    Most gaming and DJ activity use a lot of internet communications now a day. This is the biggest risk for the stability of recording work.
    Also gaming computer tweaks are often incompatible with audio optimisations.

    The first thing I would do is Buy an audio interface for live and recording then a budget laptop for DJ nights.

    The difference doesn't lie in the DAC but more in the speaker choices. Have 2 sets; studio monitors and live speakers. They are not compatible activities (at least speaker wise)

    I have the Yamaha HS8 they are very good monitors for the price but they need to be at least 3 feet from the wall to build up bass or you will need to buy their sub unit. (which I'm gonna do soon)
    DrewZ312 likes this.
  4. DrewZ312

    DrewZ312 Active Member

    My budget is $200 to $300 for most equipment, one piece at a time. In some cases I'll save a little more if it is for a good quality piece of gear that will give me much better results. I'll work my way up to the more expensive stuff later. Pioneer has studio monitors that switch back and forth and I just thought there might be some piece of gear that allows me to do the same thing. For everything other than parties I have a laptop and most clubs, bars, etc. have their own PA system.

    I am open to recommendations as far as anything worth spending more on but then it will take me longer to get started.
  5. DrewZ312

    DrewZ312 Active Member

    I already have a laptop and most places have their own PA system. I'm an IT so I can probably resolve any incompatibilities or issues. If necessary, I can disconnect completely from the internet when recording. I built the PC and continue to upgrade and change it so it's NOT going anywhere! Not really sure what gaming computer tweaks you are referring to, I do not game online at all. All my music will be stored on a 4TB external hard drive. There has to be a way to switch between live listening and flat studio sound. If I have to buy active studio monitors and a PA system for home and party use then it's going to take me even longer. I understand what you are saying but what happens when I want to record myself DJ-ing?! : )
  6. pcrecord

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

    If there is, I'm not aware it exists. The best monitors are those who will expose defects in your music. Flat is not enjoyable to common people. Most of my customers are freaking bad about my sound until they go in their car to listen to the mix... Even if I explain that the monitors are not pleasing on purpose. Some just need to reassured.

    I'm also an IT, (for the past 12 years) and I used DAWs for the past 15 years. If you are doing it for yourself. You can deal with instability and take the time to look for solutions. If you offer a service and get paid, a dedicated stable system is a must ! (at least for me)

    You can do that with any speakers or headphones because songs and most samples are pre-mastered. Where good reference is a must is when you mix tracks you record with a mic. To adjust the sound you need a true audio representation because it's the only way you can have a chance that your music translate nicely on most sound systems. (ex : if your monitors give you too much bass, chances are you may not mix enough and your music will sound thin.. )
  7. DrewZ312

    DrewZ312 Active Member

    Thank you very much (both of you) for your help. I have always been the type to want to combine as much as possible but I guess in this case I should not. Sounds like you know your stuff so I will take your advice. I guess I will have to focus on DJ-ing again first and hopefully build an entirely different system for recording. So much for the days of recording mixes onto cassette tapes and CD's! Everything will just take me longer than I had anticipated. So I will use my laptop for DJ-ing, and build a dedicated PC for recording and my current PC for gaming. What should a dedicated music production PC consist of? Have you built one? If so what parts? I want professional sounding material and since I have to wait anyway I would rather just get good enough equipment to make professional sounding recordings. Is there any list of parts I can go off of...or what has worked best for others in the past as far as a dedicated recording PC? I could just do a MAC but options seem much more limited for custom building.
  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    $200-$300 budget definitely puts you in the "entry level/hobbyist" class.

    Not that this is a bad thing, we all have to start somewhere... but you shouldn't get your hopes up about achieving anything even remotely close to a "professional" sound with the gear you are limited to in that budget.

    There are professional members here who have $10k invested just in microphones alone, with another $1500 - $7000 invested in preamps and converters. Tack on another grand or two for studio monitors, power amps, cabling, etc., and it's not at all hard to have upwards of $20-$30k invested in even a small studio.

    The pioneer speakers you are speaking of will not give you an accurate picture of what your mixes will sound like. It's likely that, as home audio speakers, they have been "hyped" in both the lower and top end frequencies. You could manage to get a decent mix on them, but the minute you take that mix out to play on another system, it will likely be extremely skewed, and will not sound the same as it did when playing back through those speakers - and, in your home as well. Room acoustics are also a major factor in mixing spaces, you want to make sure that the room you are mixing in is as "flat" as possible, so that the room itself isn't "lying" to you about how your mix truly sounds, and acoustic treatment isn't cheap, either.

    Audio Recording never has been - and never will be - cheap, at least not to do it right.

    If your main bread and butter is DJ'ing, then perhaps you should stick with that for awhile, and either put money aside for some nice audio recording gear, or, invest it back into your DJ service.

    I can't offer any advice about DJ equipment. I would if I could - I'm just not able to, because it's not my thang. ;)

  9. pcrecord

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

    Drew, DJing doesn't need a lot of hi-end gear. You can find presonus or focusrite audio interface that combined to any laptop will do very good job.

    As for professional recording, it all depends what you want to record. If you want to do voice over, karaoke or simply present your DJ skills with youtube videos on which you talk a bit, then the same audio interface will do the job.

    Now, if you are to record a band or some artists album, the game is different.
    I'll wait until your precision about what you want to do..
  10. DrewZ312

    DrewZ312 Active Member

    I just like to plan ahead and I can go above that, as I said it will just take me longer to save. Since it is not in the cards anytime soon I might as well plan for the equipment that costs more. As far as the Pioneers, it was just an example. I thought that if one pair of monitors is capable of switching then maybe there are other ways. I have been looking into room acoustics also and I will probably make my own. So what type of gear do I need for recordings that sound professional? It sounds like mics and pre-amps play a very important role. Is there any pieces of equipment that are mid-range in price that will still sound professional? The types of music I want to record (besides my own mixes) is rap, hip hop, and RnB. This is why I like the Akai gear. So what do I need to sound worthy of being played on the radio (besides talent and lots of practice)?!
  11. DrewZ312

    DrewZ312 Active Member

    I have been a DJ on and off for 30 years. I always used Technics turntables though. I have 2 friends that DJ for a living also and are connected with radio stations in Chicago and Indianapolis. Where I was lost is how to combine it all into one system but it sounds as though it will not produce the best results. So...now I want to plan what I will need for a completely separate recording loop. I wish there were lists of the best equipment by genre or some way to plan it out so I know exactly what I am going after, how much it will all cost, and how long it will take me to get where I want to be. Very grateful for all the advice, thank you again.
  12. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Get yourself the serato scratch program and interface. That will take care of your dj ing and listening needs, as well as being compact portable, and somewhat of a standard, or at least it was a few years ago when was the tech for a night club. I'm not sure if it has recording capability.

    You need two sets of speakers, entertainment speakers, and monitors. Your Eris monitors should get you buy and I don't believe the hsms will be an sort of an improvemt. A pair of powered 12" pa speakers from Yamaha, jbl, or qsc, is fine for djing, but I'm not sure why you'd need that if most of your gigs have pas already.

    A word on mixing on hifi speakers, I used to do this, and still to this day, a lot of those mixes move as well, or better than some of mine, done on "monitors". As long as your matching up what your stuff sounds like compared to others on the same system, it's not going to matter a whole lot for what your doing. Most people will disagree with this. But hear me out. It's very difficult to make a flat speaker. And very expensive to make a flat room. So the reality is, budget speakers aren't flat like the expensive ones are, and even if they were, what's the point in a room That's not comparably flat.

    If any manufacturers plan around crappy room acoustics it's hifi manufactures. To me when your mixing on hifi speakers (again using references like u have to on any monitoring system) your mixing in the environment that it's likely to be heard on. as opposed to this imaginary notion of flat the speaker companies selling 300$ speakers will tell you. So while you may not have the detail, in between certain areas, but you sure know how your 100hz is, your vocal range, and your highs. These are areas, that hyped or not that, if you match the to your references, you'll be in the ballpark. And the areas most steroe system designers make sure they hit, usually in an exhaggerated nature, which is okay, as long as your is generally as exhaggerated.

    I actually enjoy listening to tunes on reference speakers, because the clarity is usually amazing, and while perhaps not as exciting on the low end as a hyped system, you hear things you wouldn't otherwise hear.

    Okay, im ready for the lashings now :)

    I'm coming to the realization that your music will probably never sound as good as it does in the studio you mixed it, and it's hinestly taken me a while to kinda get over the disappointment, as I move from the 6k set of speakers to my car. A lot of it was user error, and I've grown better, but its a sad th that a lot of the finer details that are labored on neve pr get re produced properly.

    The othe side of this, is not matter what your room sounds like, how flat, the customer is going to listen on their own systems, and unless they are professionals themselves, you'll likely be making your final mix decisions based on some clouded consumer devices anyway.
  13. pcrecord

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

    If you are gonna use a computer for DJ work, many use Virtual DJ combine with a controler.
    Something like this : http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MIXDECKExp which comes with it's own audio interface is a good choice but there are many more.

    As for recording, again, you weren't very precise on what kind of recording setup you aspire to.
    If it's voice only. There's a lot of units that can do the job but yes, the first step is to control the room's accoustics so you don't get bad reverbs/delays many home rooms offer.

    So what can you buy at first on which you can add up ?
    Here's an exemple : http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/SaffPro26
    This unit has fair preamps for the price and with the digital inputs you could add better preamps later on.
    Exemple, the ISA One + digital converter :
    The ISA one is one of the lower cost hi-end preamps. Has a ton of clean power and although it's not the most transparent, it sound a lot better than the preamps you find in affordable audio interfaces.

    After that you need mic(s)
    You could start with a shure SM58 or a SM57 they are affordable and sound good on many instruments, specially in non threated environements.
    Along the way, there is many mic choices and it all depends on the vocal itself. A shure KSM44 and a AKG 414 are classics that will mostly never sound bad. If you want a mic just for you, you must go in a store and try them until you find the one that matches your voice. It's the way we do it in the studio. Try them all if you need and end up with the right one instead of what is popular of hyped.. ;)
  14. DrewZ312

    DrewZ312 Active Member

    Serato comes with the Pioneer controllers. I was planning to get Numark Mixtrack Pro II until one of my DJ friends told me that the quality of the Pioneers is way better and to try for the Pro if I can afford to.

    Not sure what hsms is. 12" powered speakers sound like a good idea for parties and stuff. They are portable and provide some good bass. I may be mistaken but I think the idea of flat sounding monitor speakers is that if your recording sounds good on them that it will sound good on the majority of audio systems. That, and of course the clarity and ability to pinpoint any flaws.

    I enjoyed hearing music on monitors also and that's one of the reasons I was hoping to create a unified system. I was reading articles written by audio engineers on room acoustics and panels. If you use the right materials you can create much of what is needed for a fraction of the cost.
  15. DrewZ312

    DrewZ312 Active Member

    Thanks, that gives me a general idea. What would be the next step up on the mic pre-amp? Rap, Hip Hop, RnB. Mostly voice and DJ is what I would want to record. My voice is ok but I would mostly be recording other people rapping and singing. My own voice maybe when announcing stuff as a DJ. Creation of beats/songs using MPC and MIDI...that's about it really. I planned on using the Shure SM58S for live stuff (it has an on off switch) and a condenser mic for recording vocals. Most likely I'll be creating a vocal booth. Chances are that I will end up with a variety of mics. I just wanted to use the Rode NT1A to get started. As far as the MSI motherboard I listed...would that work for a dedicated recording PC or should I stick with ASUS for lowest total harmonic distortion?
  16. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I'm not clear why you can't use the same computer for recording and djing. The HSMs I was referring to was the Yamaha speakers you mentioned as a potential upgrade from the Eris. I haven't heard the Eris, but the HSMs are pretty basic, and probably not a significant upgrade. Something like the focals, Neumanns, Would be the next step up in class, which would make it truly worth the cost. Otherwise it's probably pretty much a cross grade, that cost you some extra $.

    You are correct on why monitors are used. But the problem is that manufacturers don't use a common method for testing, so it's possible to make an un-flat (technical term) speaker test flat. Also, this requires a flat room. Obviously nothing is perfect, but my point was that your monitoring should be comparable to the room for best results. In other words, you aren't hearing what a 5$k pair of flat speakers are actually reproducing, unless the room is also proportionally as good. In other words you don't want to have a turbo charged 12 cylinder race car, that has Honda civic tires.

    Not sure if this is appropriate, but if you don't own the rode yet, pm me, I have one I used about 5 times, and it's been in the original box since, I'd be interested in selling it.
    DrewZ312 likes this.
  17. pcrecord

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

    Choice of motherboard, CPU, Memory, HDD, Case, Power supply and video card won't change anything to the sound. They will only influence performances, stability and how long your computer will work.

    Audio recording chain goes like that : Room acoustics, Instrument/voice, mic, preamp and/or audio interface, converter, monitors and listening room.

    A lot of rap artists use the ISA one, with a Akg414 or a Neumann tlm 103 and yes SM57 and 58 are used by the best artists too...
    Other option of preamp goes to UA610 or LA610 and many more...
    DrewZ312 and kmetal like this.
  18. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    An sm7 is a de facto for hip hop. Close enough is the the 57/58. For your style, ISO, your going to have a very hard time beating the presonus eurekas channel. It's an instant modern type sound, love it for vocals. Got a very very transparent compressor, and a decent eq, which has a usable top end I use to add vocal air. Warning: the eureka is the one. There's a cheaper channel strip, and a brand new channel strip that replaced the eureka. Neither is close, those reflect there modest price tag, where the eureka, far surpasses the couple hundred it fetches. This thing has beat out a lot of other boutique, and standard upper end pres from API and Manley. Again vocal chains are like shoes, and one doesn't fit all, but an sm and the eureka is an excellent place to start for hip hop and r n b. I don't think it can be beat by anything in its price range.
    DrewZ312 likes this.
  19. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    The short answer is No. The longer answer is based on what you consider "mid range price" to be .... If your idea of "mid range" is a total budget of $1000, then no. But if you're idea of spending $1000 on a single channel mic pre, (say, a Grace M101) then yes, you can get professional results.
    Now add to that a nice condenser microphone, say an AKG 414 for $900, then yes, this, along with the $1000 preamp, will also get you professional results.
    Now add monitors... mid range would be something like Focals; around $1500 a pair, and this will also help you to get professional results.

    Now... onto your room acoustics.... don't even think about doing it yourself until you've read this book:


    Professional results come from professional gear used by professionals that have acquired the knowledge necessary to know the gear. ;)

    DrewZ312, kmetal and pcrecord like this.
  20. DrewZ312

    DrewZ312 Active Member

    Which Neumann's?

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