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Getting ready to revamp, could use some advice

Discussion in 'Recording' started by ob1027, Jun 28, 2012.

  1. ob1027

    ob1027 Active Member

    Currently I have the PreSonus Firestudio 26x26 as my audio interface connected to a 2009 Mac 2.1 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 4GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM running 10.6.8. I have not purchased a full version of any sequencer but have been playing around with Cubase, Sonar, and Reaper. I strictly use the preamps on the Firestudio and have a very small but decent collection of mics. I have been using this setup for about 4-5 years now and wish I had gone the route of a physical mixer with hardware to use. I like stuff. I have my sights on the Mackie Onyx 1640i but need the MIDI options so I figure a MIDI interface is the next purchase. I really like the expandability options from the Firestudio and would be bummed out to lose those but it seems redundant to have both AI's. I want to leave room in the future to add individual pre's as needed and MAYBE upgrade to a better DAC (still debatable) but I want to keep my options open. One of the things that I am cautious of doing is lots of ITB recording/mixing because I feel that I would need to really invest in a top of the line computer and I would still run the risk of overloading the CPU. I am not opposed to OTB recording and honestly I think I would enjoy it more. Now I face the issue of investing in all this hardware. Ideally this is where I think I want to go: analog mixer with some kind of AI so that I can 'see' what I'm recording and edit accordingly but have my audio come back to me so that I can add effects, etc. as I see fit for individual channels and as a whole. I think getting a good synth modular or two would be ideal. I am really into samples and I think the virtual world has the monopoly in that mainly because of file size, so I would use my computer for sampling too. From that point I would like to record to a physical device connected to the mixer but I honestly have very little knowledge or experience with any of those so I don't even know where to start looking concerning those. My goals are as follows: (a) have physical gear because I think it looks cool and I'm of the mindset that that real deal is better than the virtual deal (b) minimize CPU stress so I don't have to deal with keeping my computer better than my software (c) minimize latency (d) I think analog is more reliable than digital minus the final recording. Any thoughts or ideas would be appreciated and I'm all ears to hear how you do it and the pros/cons you've encountered. Thanks in advance!
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Hi and welcome!

    From your post, it seems that your priorities are not fully focussed in the direction of recording and mixing to the best quality you can within a budget, although you may have been joking about certain gear looking cool. Low/medium price live sound mixers do not generally fit into the area of studio recording, although there are exceptions, of which the A+H Zed-R16 certainly is one and the Mackie Onyx 1640i that you mentioned may be another.

    The Presonus FireStudio is a fine interface with 8 mic pre-amps and 2 pairs of ADAT lightpipe I/O that can be used for expansion. However, if you really want to record multiple channels not using a computer, you have to look either in the direction of the venerable (and now discontinued) Alesis HD24XR hard disk recorder or else something like the newer RME FireFace UFX with a USB drive attached.

    The HD24XR would fit in well (up to 16 channels) with the ADAT I/O on your existing FireStudio, and would also replay in analog to allow you to use a standard analog mixer if you are certain that OTB mixing is what you want. You would need enough channels of external pre-amps. You could capture the 2-track mix either on a couple of spare HD24XR channels or back to the PC using two channels of your FireStudio.

    If you were to go the UFX route, you may still need some external pre-amps, but you would record on to the USB drive. You would then take the drive and plug it into a computer USB port, from where you could replay up to 12 channels out of the UFX into an external mixer and capture the 2-track mix.

    Going the Zed-R16 route gives you 16 channels of great pre-amps and mixing. You would have to use the computer for the digital recording or else use an Alesis HD24 (since it's digital it doesn't need to be the XR version). Replay and mixdown would be either from the computer or the HD24 back into the computer via the main FireWire outputs or else perform an analog capture to the HD24 (XR version better in this case).

    Quite a lot of different routes for you to consider.
  3. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    What are your goals, a studio for personal use or for business?
    Either way the space you put your equipment should be your first priority. Plan for room treatment.

    I actually took the mixer out of my setup, and I go straight to my MOTU 828.

    My business goal, is to do only the projects I want to. With a sprinkling of corporate or small business projects with budget.

    I also have video production skills, and own a CD/DVD duplication system, for small runs of product.
    I can also transfer VHS to DVD.

    I have to hustle to stay in business, plus work a fulltime job to make a living.

    Be aware that most bands that have budget, have their own PT|HD rigs ( true for my region near Seattle ), and if you make a business plan based just on musicians chances of failure is high, because your clients are the least likely to have any money.

    Make a plan first, a studio is much more than equipment.
  4. ob1027

    ob1027 Active Member

    Thanks for both replies! I have to say, I've posted this same question on two other forums with zero replies so many thanks for you input! I will look into that equipment mentioned in the first response and my goal is business. We don't have a huge music scene where I live and ideally musicians are where my focus is but I figure I wouldn't be making a living off of that. Do you have any places to start looking at that will help with room design? I've done some research but if you have any first hand experience at any level of it im all ears. I currently have my garage in which I can frame anything up inside of it, its big enough to hold two full size SUVs (which I don't have). I'm thinking of building three rooms: a control room, a solo room, and a room for a 4-5 piece band. The UFX doesn't sound like a route I would want to take, having to save to USB then transfer, then play with, then do it all over if I want to change anything. Maybe I misunderstood that but that seems like too many steps. The Zed-16 sounds perfect, but thats a big initial investment. In the long run I know I would be spending plus some but that's a lot up front, though it looks like it might be worth saving up for. What really sells me on it is the MIDI, ADAT, and Firewire ports. I'm trying to stay realistic within my skill level but not short change myself when I want to upgrade, if I ever get to that point.

    In a nutshell: Plug into mixer, get a good mix from the mixer then go to computer to tweak it a bit, come back to mixer and record on an external recorder of some sort either via digital or a/d. I want my synths external. I know I was talking about budget and this is my long term goal. In the mean time I'll still be recording on the computer, I'm just trying to get away from that. Again, thank you guys so much for responding!

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