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Filling The Racks!

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by mmilam, Oct 10, 2003.

  1. mmilam

    mmilam Guest

    Am building a new semi-pro studio. Trying to find a nice well-rounded list of outboard gear(pres, compressors/levelers, maybe eq's) to start with. Looking for sugestions on what gear to put in the racks that would not only sound good (most important, but might also include some "names" in there to attract business). Looking at spending $10-15k in outboard gear to start with. My first thought is to get an OK multi-channel pre (i.e. octopre) for non-critical channels and then have a few killer pres and compressors for the premium channels. ...Suggestions?

    Some more details... backend setup will be daw-based. Looking at either MOTU HD192's or Apogee's into DAW (DP/Nuendo; not sure) and tons of plugins (UAD, Powercore, Waves).
  2. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    Interesting post here...you have all this money to spend, and have no experience? No offense here, but it sounds fishey to me. It sounds like you are going from no gear at all to a semi-pro setup, which doesn't happen very often.

    Are you looking to buy something for real, or is this a research project for a school or something? Just be honest with us, and we'd be more then willing to help out!

    Like I said, I hope I haven't offended you, but we get all types of questions here, and yours is a bit suspicious sounding. Welcome to RO!!! :w:
  3. mmilam

    mmilam Guest


    True, I am not a "veteran pro engineer", but I am not a totally inexperienced "noobie" either. Personaly I've had asetup at home for several years (orignally used ADAT's now using DAWs). My setup I would have to say is "prosumer" level. ECHO, RNP, some decent mics. I have the knowledge and at least some experience, just have not had a bunch of cash to throw at some high-cost gear (the family thing is kinda more important)

    But if you want the whole story... this studio is more of a partnership with my father-in-law (outstanding musician for over 40 years). He has come into a bit of inheritance and has always wanted to own a studio. He wants to use the studio for personal recordings, but also wants to open it up to outside business. Regardless, he wants "pro" quality gear. He has asked me to help him put it together and work with him.

    So, just wanted to get some opinions on some high quality gear to research and find what would be a good nucleus to get us off and running, and build apon. Gear that will not get replaced later. Any help is appreciated.
  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Welcome to RO! Always happy to see a new person here that wants to "step up" to some pro gear. Since you are working in DAW, there in not going to be a need for more than a couple EQ's. I would go for the Amek Neve 9098s. These also come with a couple decent pres and list around $2400 I believe, $2000 street, but can be found used for $1000.

    JLM TMP8 is a nice 8 channel mic pre package I have been raving about recently JLM Audio and the Sebatron vmp - 4000, Sebatron. This is the exact pre combination I am using currently and I find it very flexible (Neve / Ameks, Sebatron and JLMs). The JLMs have that aggressive API / Focusrite Red Range quality that is so good on drums, although they sound good on acoustic guitars, vocals and bass and the Sebatron, being a valve pre has that warm tube punch. The Sebatron is great on acoustic guitars and bass and is very nice with a U87 for vocals that need to be "beefed up" (like mine). :d:

    The UA 1176 and LA2a's are a "must have" imo, and you will probably want 2 of each. Altogether, that will put you at about 12K right there. Or you can save 2K and instead of 2 LA2a's get a Manley EL OP which is for the most part, very similar to the LA2a but in Stereo (the EL OP has a different output amp, described as “a PULTEC on steroids”). The other 3 to 5k can go to a good U87 and / or a few more inexpensive mics. I would opt for at least one good mic, but you might need more bang for the buck, I don't know. But since you say you already have a collection of "some decent mics", I think you should consider the U87. It has a way of impressing clients and sounds wonderful through the Sebatron vmp pres.

    Somewhere in here you need to get a decent monitoring system also, something better than the Events, like the new Yamaha MSP5's or MSP10's, KRK, Tannoys, Genelec etc.. and don't forget room treatments if you haven't already done that. That should get the thread started. My 2 cents, others will chime in I am sure...
  5. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    I would go with:
    2 Sebatron VM4000
    Dynaudio BM6A monitors
    2 At4050s, 2 C414, 2 Beta 57s, 1 Sm91 or Audix D6, 1 Sm81
    1 Focusrite ISA 430 ( forgot the number)
    going digital .. an used PT TDM mix system
    Some AKG/Sony headphones
  6. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    If you are recording acoustic drum kits you may want to look into the Sytek preamps and Sennheiser MD421 mics. 421s are great for toms, snare, and kick drums. Audix mics I've also heard good things about if you want something a little less expensive. The Sytek amps are really clean and only run about $800 for a quad.
  7. mjones4th

    mjones4th Active Member

    Oh, and keep in mind, customers (especially ones with money) like to see big names (like genelec) and big racks stuffed fulla gear, according to the afficianados here at RO.
    Get big name stuff to show, like a Neumann TLM-103, and get the stuff that gets the best reviews to actually use.

    And they like to see a nice pro looking facility. At least a control room and one booth with a windowed wall between. But nice, well constructed, racks built into the wall kind of stuff. Maybe a nice 48 channel board to feed your DAW. Oh and make sure your DAW is in a prominent location, some people choose digital studios just because.
  8. Nate Tschetter

    Nate Tschetter Active Member


    The most important thing is the room and working environment. The room has to sound good and offer a creative "vibe" to the performers. If it doesn't sound good, you'll end up wasting time "fixing" it later. If you don't have adequate attenuation to and from the outside, you'll worry about outside noise coming in or the cops coming and shutting you down.

    If you have that, then its important to know what you intend to do...what kind of music? What kinds of ensembles? Live bands? Overdubs? VO? Recording more than one musician at a time demands cue mix flexibility. Can you provide that? There are many good solutions to furthering that need.

    How about hooking it all up? You need places to put the gear and a patchbay. You need studio furniture for gear and people.

    Not trying to be a fart in a spacesuit but I'm going through the same situation. Rather than buy a bunch of shiny gear that is useless without a great room, I'm concentrating on the room with maybe a few pieces that will last a lifetime. I've not heard some of the pieces mentioned here but now is a great time to buy gear. There are many new pieces that sound good, are of a high quality build and will be a useful piece of kit for years to come. As far as "what" to chose, the best way is to hire a few pieces and comparing them yourself.

    Its a highly personal decision.
  9. mmilam

    mmilam Guest

    Thanks for the comments so far. And actually alot of the names I see are things that I have been looking into already, so its good to know that I'm on the right track. I am excited to see this studio take shape over the next year or so...

    I was wondering about the "48 channle board" thing. Since we were recording straight into the DAW, we were considering just going with a control surface setup as our main "console". But since right now we were not going the pro tools route, don't really have the option of a huge impressive control surface like the Control24. Do you think it would be a mistake to have something like a Mackie Universal Control with a few extender packs as the center point of the studio?
  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    A control surface will not be an item that has a long shelf life. You will end up with it sitting in a corner collecting dust at some point, unable to sell it because it will be incompatible with new programs and computer hardware. I personally don't understand why people feel the need for a control surface with DAWs seeing as mix's are automated. The need to move more than couple faders is just not there. I say invest in mics, speakers, pres, and comps first, then maybe a couple good hardware reverbs, to a lesser extent. These items will last a lifetime. The only thing a big console gives you is oooh factor and in the case of a large format console (the only thing that really sounds good) a lot of maintenance expenses.
  11. Clueless

    Clueless Guest

    You may want to follow this thread:

    (Dead Link Removed)

    Long and short: I (and others) have found that even though DAWs provide tons of apparent EQ, compression, etc., the accessability of those features can be sufficiently limited that you'll want to go outboard even for mixing channels.

    My prediction: you'll spend the $10-$15K you have budgeted here at a rate of $1K-$2K per rack space, and after 6-8 rack spaces will realize you need to spend another $20-40K on stuff that does't fit in a rack.

    [ October 10, 2003, 11:50 AM: Message edited by: Kurt Foster ]
  12. mmilam

    mmilam Guest

    I fully understand this and we are definitely putting alot of effort in this. The building is being built from scratch specifically for this purpose. We have already been to numerous design sites researching designs and finding out proper room configurations and acoustic features. We will be building the rooms seperate from each other, and are considering installing floating floors for the control and tracking rooms. We are even considering hiring an architect with experience in designing studios, but fear to know the added cost of his services. The one good thing is that my Father-in-Law the one who will actuallly own the studio also owns a construction business, so the construction will be covered and done by professionals.

    I agree. Which is why that 15-20K was to get us started on rack gear. We have already budgeted another 15-20k for other expenses (DAW, Mic stands, Cable, Studio specific furniture, etc...)

    I agree with you to some extent. This is one reason why we have thought about not going the ProTools route. Becuase we don't want to spend $25k of what we have just getting the basic ProTools setup with a couple of 192i/o's and control24. But at some point in going the DAW route we are going to have to invest in things that will be outdated and useless eventually. I think on the grand scheme of things, the investment in a control surface is minor compared to the amount spent on outboard gear, software and of course the building itself. But I am trying to make sure that the outboard gear I do get is going to last a lifetime. Am interested to hear if any "semi-pros" have gone the control surface route, or have considered it and then changed their minds. Am a little confused. What exactly are these smaller digital "semi-pro" studios using? ...an analog console that only gets used for routing signals (skips preamp and eq sections) I just figured a control surface might bridge the gap a little bit.

    Thanks for the comments... keep them coming!
  13. mjones4th

    mjones4th Active Member

    LOL My point exactly!

    Logic and a G5 is a good solution. You can add a Logic Control or two, and a few Control XT's. That should last you at least three years, then you can sell the G5 for 6-700 bucks and buy a G6.

    Or you could peecee it, and swap your mobo/cpu every two years.

    But pro-tools will get you customers.

  14. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    $15K is barley a down payment for a real working studio. You'll easily spend $10K on just monitors, room treatment and cables/snakes/connectors/racks/furniture/stands/patchbays as well as other general accessories if you want just the decent level of quality to support your outboard, mixer/controller, DAW, I/O interfaces and Mics that your gonna need. It would be very wise to consider hiring a professional audio/studio consultant to help you think and plan this well out in advance before spending any money on gear.
  15. jdier

    jdier Active Member

    If you really have all of the money flying out of your old man's hole and you are concerned about an impressive center piece, sonce you seem comfortable with mixing inside a software program you may want to consider something like this instead of the control surface.


    It would certainly get people's attention when they come into the control room.

    Just food for thought.

  16. mjones4th

    mjones4th Active Member

    Talk about shock factor.

    That is kewl
  17. Nate Tschetter

    Nate Tschetter Active Member


    Its also reported all over the 'net as a potential scam. Do a little Googling before plunking down any money to these folks.

    Besides, one could buy the individual components that make up that system for cheaper than what they're asking.
  18. Nate Tschetter

    Nate Tschetter Active Member

    That's excellent...I wouldn't fear the arcitect because he'll design everything to code. When you go to sell it, you'll want it done to code otherwise, you'll have to make it that way after the fact and its much more difficult and expensive to do it that way.
  19. Richard Monroe

    Richard Monroe Active Member

    You're doing fine. You're asking the right people the right questions. It's not realy that people want to bust your balls because you're making a considerable investment in this project, and they don't want you to lose your shirts.
    You want to build a project studio that works, because it's a dream? Do it. Concentrate on the equipment that will make the sound you want to hear, and plan for what you will be recording. If you want to record rock bands, that big mixing console is the way to go, but I think filling a rack is a good thing to do.
    I like the Pendulum dual channel strip for a tube amp, and Avalon AD2022 for fairly clean gain.
    Because I have been tracking dry, I have very few opinions on FX. Get one good compressor. Concentrate on mics and preamps, what you use to record comes and goes, but the mics and the pres live forever. A good project studio should be an unholy combination of top level gear that works and cheap gear that works.
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