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Gonna buy studio equipment

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Arnstein, Jun 22, 2010.

  1. Arnstein

    Arnstein Active Member

    I got $1900 and I have a Macbook Pro, midi-keyboard, Logic Pro, but need a soundcard and studiomonitors, and a microphone(and maybe something more? I don't know :p). I have no clue about this kind of thing whatsoever, so I need advice. What should I give priority with 1900 dollars? More expensive soundcard and less expensive studiomonitors or vice versa? And what's the best soundcard for this budget? etc.
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    You say "studio equipment", but what sort of studio? What are you intending to record? How many channels at a time?

    You almost certainly need an audio interface that has two or more channels of microphone pre-amps and at least two channels of output to feed a pair of nearfield monitors. If you aim to be tracking, you need extra output channels and headphone amplifiers for the performers. If your recording ambitions include recording drums, you will need 3 or 4 microphones and corresponding input channels.

    In all cases, you will require a good acoustic space in which to record, so allocate some of your budget for acoustic treatment of the room that will be your studio.

    Do you know any project studios in your area where you could sit in and see how this is all done? You would be in a much better position to know what you want than saying "I have no clue about this kind of thing whatsoever" and getting a whole slew of conflicting opinions on what you should buy.
  3. Arnstein

    Arnstein Active Member

    I got a very good place to record, no worries!

    I think what I need is a good audio interface and studiomonitors for mixing. I play jazz and play in a quartet and quintet, but I guess I need way too many channels to record that. I'm thinking of maybe 8 channels? Does such an audio interface fit my budget?

    I also want to sample many different instruments and mix them in Logic and Pro Tools.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    My clueless jazz aficionado, you certainly need to understand what you want to record and how. You can record jazz with just 2 microphones. On the other hand, there are those of us that would utilize quite a few more than that in many different applications & scenarios. That would be my choice. Damn close to a dozen microphones. Then as many good preamps into a purpose built recorder (which I prefer over going into the computer). Not that I haven't made multi-track recordings direct into the computer? I have and I don't find them as reliable nor consistent as a purpose built digital disk recorder. And while I'm a great advocate of utilizing Shure dynamic microphones on just about anything, jazz is where I draw the line. I'll generally utilize finer condenser microphones on jazz gigs than I will on rock 'n roll smegma. So you just have to ask yourself, punk, " Do I feel lucky today?"

    On the question better monitors or better microphones? Right. Check. You need both. I've quite enjoyed my portable powered KRK monitors and find that they translate well to my larger JBL control room monitors. Which then translates well to my car stereo & headphones. On a nice jazz guitar amplifier, I have frequently utilized SM 7' dynamics and/or Beyer M160/130 ribbons or, even U 87 condenser microphones. I am more fluid in how I record jazz than rock 'n roll. Most interfaces these days use a selection of commonly available analog to digital converter chips. So more often than not, everything here is better when it comes to analog to digital conversion. Does that mean the microphone preamps are better? Hell no. They're improved. They are state-of-the-art. They don't sound like old-school preamps. Which isn't necessarily better even if it's better. Better is only better if you think it is better. It's not better if you are only reading advertisements, specification sheets and magazine interviews. Everybody wants to keep their jobs. So you really don't get the full lowdown on any of this stuff except from people like us. So there you go. Everything you needed to know to make you realize you are not quite up to your potential yet. It'll come.

    I'm my own favorite engineer
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  5. Arnstein

    Arnstein Active Member

    Wow, that certainly didn't make things easier, which is what I really wanted :p

    I've recorded jazz before, I used 1 mic on trumpet, 1 on guitar, 2 on bass, 3 on drums, 1 overlay in the room where trumpet, guitar and bass played, and one overlay(is that even the right name?) on the drum-room. It turned out ok, not great, but ok.

    If I didn't make it clear, I want advice on what equipment I should get when I got a budget on 1900$. I want to use this equipment to record some of my jazzbands(most likely the string swing band, as it doesn't have drums that needs 45256 mics) and also sample instruments as the kora from the gambia or the fula flute, so I can use them in electronic music.
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Okay so you have $1900 US. Here are some of the things that you will need. You need a pair of ribbon microphones. They don't have to be active ribbons. Great on strings of all kinds, trumpets, saxophones, female vocalists, percussion. Then you'll also need a decent pair of dynamic microphones such as the Sennheiser M.D. 421's. Variable rolloff filter and they don't overload. And a couple of small capsule condenser microphones and a couple of large capsule condenser microphones. So now that we've taken care of the microphones how much money is left for preamps? Not enough for really good ones. Maybe enough to purchase some Pre-sonus transformer less thingies. Otherwise you might have enough money to purchase a used API 3124, 4 channel preamp but no other microphones. Perhaps you should keep your paper route a little longer so you can save up for some more equipment and then some more equipment followed by more equipment. To be topped off just right with yet more equipment. And don't forget it's already obsolete so you'll want to buy some new equipment after you buy some old equipment new. Now you're cooking with gas and I'm getting gas.

    She's a real nowhere man. Sitting in her nowhere can. Talking like no one can to nobody.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  7. Arnstein

    Arnstein Active Member

    I can always borrow microphones from the university till I can afford them myself, so I'd rather focus on an audio interface and studio monitors first. I guess I have to get a Digidesign audio interface since I want to use Pro Tools, or are there many audio interfaces that are better, so I should get them and use them with Logic, Cubase etc?
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Say you can borrow the microphones, good. Better audio interface? ProTools? A no-brainer is the new Mackie Onyx that is ProTools M-powered. Then you get some truly good microphone preamp's with the ability to add some equalization if you should so prefer. A multitrack interface. Proper monitoring facilities. Compatible with all Pro tools systems. So all of your recordings would still be interchangeable amongst other ProTools Studios. You can purchase as many plug-ins as you want. The reason I don't like Digidesign equipment is because they feel that they have some kind of proprietary blah blah inside they don't want other people to know that. So proprietary blah blah that folks like Black lion Audio have modified ProTools systems extensively for better sound. So their proprietary blah blah is just that blah blah. And I don't like that about a professional company withholding information that is important to professional technicians in the field that are required to maintain Studios. That's professional blah blah which isn't very impressive. And the M. audio gear also is quite nice and you save a stack of $on it. It too is ProTools compatible with the M-powered series of ProTools.

    But then again you could use a quality audio interface such as the Apogee's and others like that for all of your tracking & overdubs. Then you can utilize a $250 US Micro M Box for $250 and get ProTools thrown in. Then you can do all your mixing and ProTools, on your laptop, anywhere and still run a lot of those RTA real time audio plug-ins. None of us professionals use a single piece of anything. We utilized wherever is necessary to get the job done in a professional manner. None of which happens to be related to ProTools unless you are so inclined to be a "ProTools guy" great. I was an analog guy. Yup, Ampex, MCI, Scully, 3M including all of those analog consoles like API, Sphere, Neve, MCI, Harrison, Flickinger, Quad Eight, Olive and on. Where does that get me? Not even a darned 7-Eleven coffee.

    I tweak your tape recorder yes?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  9. Arnstein

    Arnstein Active Member

    Wow, thank you very much!

    I just want to make it clear that I don't want to be a Pro Tools only guy, I just want to have the opportunity to have it, especially since the university have a course in Pro Tools.

    I can probably afford Mackie Onyx 820i or 1220i! It's just that it's such a big investment!

    PS: I really want to get an analog synth some time!
    PPS: 7-eleven coffee sucks! :p
  10. Arnstein

    Arnstein Active Member

    A guy said that I need an audio interface as well as the Mackie Onyx, and that I would get horrible sound if I just plugged the Mackie Onyx straight into the Macbook Pro. Is this true?
  11. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    I would look at the online music sites and find a recording package that fits your budget and comes with an interface that will actually work properly with a Macbook Pro (either FW or USB), comes with 2 monitors and maybe a couple mics and stands and cables...Sweetwater.com and Musician's Friend both have recording packages available and you can always call Sweetwater and they will get you exactly the best system for your needs!!
  12. Arnstein

    Arnstein Active Member

    Yeah, I'm starting to get a picture of what to buy now!
    But do you have an answer to my last post, which was:

    A guy said that I need an audio interface as well as the Mackie Onyx, and that I would get horrible sound if I just plugged the Mackie Onyx straight into the Macbook Pro. Is this true?
  13. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Well if you want a mixer/interface the Mackie Onyx with firewire is one choice and yes you should be able to plug it into a firewire connection on your Mac....I would check firewire chipset compatibility.
    I have a PC with Cubase and use the RME FF800 and a Allen & Heath ZEDR16 which is similar to the Mackie Onyx.
    Some people like the Mackie sound and some like the Allen & Heath sound and some like the RME sound....
    For around $2000 you can get a A&H ZEDR16....$1500 for RME FF800 and I think the Mackie Onyx are slightly cheaper.
    That would get you the interface but no monitors or mic!
    Read all the reviews you can find on all the different manufacturers because people on internet forums aren't necessarily experts.....so just take all of this as additional information and suggestions...do the research and choose what you can afford and need!

    Doon - Tracks - SoundCloud
  14. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Whoever that "guy" was, he's WRONG. The newest versions of the Onyx line have built-in Firewire connectivity and they sound great.
  15. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Ya really...was this "guy" trying to sell you extra stuff maybe.....be wary my friend!
    Read, learn, listen but use you own knowledge and head....
    "theres a sucker born every minute and two to take him - PT Barnum"
    The world is full of hype....no honesty left....
  16. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Yes, nearly as good as the Zed-R16! But it's likely that the "guy" was referring to connecting the analog output of a non-i series of Onyx mixer to the line input of the internal Mac soundcard, and he would have been correct.
  17. Arnstein

    Arnstein Active Member

    Okay, thank you guys! I guess I will buy the Mackie Onyx 1220i, some studio monitors(I made another thread about this, so I have some suggestions there, but you can come with more if you want), and maybe a mic too.
  18. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    While I am not an owner of neither, I would say that is simply, not exactly correct. Since the Onyx mixer is a FireWire enabled interface already, you should be able to perform your monitoring through it. This may be a personal subjective call on his part? Like you could have such better digital to analog converters in the ABC blah blah micro huge box...? Sure, Lavery, Apogee, Pyramix, API. How much money you got kiddo?

    And if you think that you can save a few dollars by purchasing a Digidesign micro M-Box, for $250, that includes the $300 Pro tools LE software that you would have to spend $300 on for the ProTools M-Powered version? You can't. It's a great catch 22. Now the FireWire interface only allows for a certain amount of simultaneous inputs & outputs. Perhaps in that way he felt that, you would already be using all of them in one direction and would need an additional ancillary interface for unimpeded playback purposes? And since you indicated you don't want to be just a ProTools Guy, another decent audio interface with some other decent bundled LE style software is probably also in your future. But if you already have that, you are golden. The other possible issue may be that if you are working in 24-bit mode, you may be restricted as to simultaneous inputs & outputs? So this all may be valid in a confusing kind of way. Welcome to audio. But since the Mackie Onyx is able to replace the Digidesign/M-Audio equipment, it in all likelihood performs similarly to an M-Audio piece of equipment. Besides, that really doesn't make much sense when you think about overdubbing. So I think it's inaccurate information from another sales geek.

    Bad information travels quickly
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  19. mberry593

    mberry593 Active Member

    Hi Remy, Mike Berry here. I thought that I should post some words to calm you down about Avid but instead I just got myself agitated.

    +1 on the Avid documentation issue. Here is my mini rant.

    I have a Mbox3 Pro. Actually it sounds reasonably good. BUT professional it isn't & it drives me NUTS! First the line inputs have the usual +4/-10 switch but neither is correct. They have too much gain....and no, it isn't a termination issue. +4 in comes up in Pro Tools at -10 dBFS. There is no fader control on the line level inputs so you can't adjust them. I don't mind not having a fader if they are correct, but they aren't. I would like to plug a mixer into the line inputs and have it come out at -20dBFS but it doesn't work. I wouldn't even mind -18 but -10 is too far off to use. Even with a Mackie that wouldn't come out right. As you can probably guess, I built up a box with some 10 dB resistive pads.

    Next, the mic inputs. Unlike the line inputs, they have too little gain. I compared them to some other equipment including a nice, new SSL console and they have about 15 to 20 dB less gain than the other devices. That is not a problem at all with a condensor mic, but with a dynamic or ribbon, it isn't enough. What is worse is that the controls don't have an audio taper. As you increase the gain, you get to a point about 3 o'clock and the gain shoots up drastically making the last few degrees of rotation very difficult to use. When I need gain, I have to resort to patching something into the insert points....not the best idea for S/N ratio.

    I know it is not just me having these problems. Others are complaining about it on the DUC & there is an old entry in Pro Tools Ideascale about fixing these things.

    So here is where the documentation comes in. As you are well aware, it isn't a big problem to change the gain of an opamp a little if you are careful about the compensation. (Yes, my eyesight is still good enough to do surface mount work) But it is a big pain if you have to start out by following the traces around to replicate the circuit. It sure would be a big help for me to fix these things if they would divulge the schematic. I have tried. I even asked Russ UK if he knew how to get them. No joy. Everything I ever bought from Neve came with a schematic. Everything I ever bought from MCI came with a schematic. Everything I ever bought from API came with a schematic. Everything I ever bought from RCA came with a schematic. The LA3 manual had a schematic. The 1176 manual had a schematic. I guess that the mbox pro is in a different category.

    .....and another thing..... Did they fail to do any field testing on these things? Anyone would have noticed these problems. I have calibrated test equipment so I can put numbers on the problems but of course I noticed the problems operationally before I did any measurements. You just can't simply plug stuff into these boxes and have them work reasonably....it is painfully obvious.

    I will close on a happier note. There are a lot of people complaining on the DUC about other problems with these boxes. I own both a Mbox 3 & a Mbox 3 pro and have been using both for well over a year with no other problems from them. I did have some difficulty with the mbox but it turned out to be computer related and not Avid related. I will also say again that they do sound very good in spite of the level problems.

    Regards and appologies for highjacking the thread,
  20. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Hi Mike! It's been a lifetime, a generation since we've seen each other or talked. We've lost a lot of friends already at NBC who were our age and younger. I still think about Mark Biggs almost daily, George Lopez, Tim Russert, oh my God... so many others. We're all baby boomers. I thought we were supposed to live forever, young? WTF? I couldn't make it to any of the memorial services at NBC for our friends. You know I had brain surgery 6.5 years ago which brought me back from the brink of death. Misdiagnosed in 91 as multiple sclerosis. Though the doctor still say I have MS. Yeah, my favorite stereo microphone technique. So I guess I do?

    The Avid stuff wouldn't sound as horrible if they simply supplied us with a direct line input to the A/D converter. I'll tell you it certainly does not interface well with my Neve from Control B-A. Only H pads help. And what's with that -10 indication with +4 input? Everyone knows that digital zero VU have had numerous references from -12, -15, -18 so why they made it -10 just tells me they really don't know much about audio or the interfacing thereof? Proprietary my ASS! The only thing proprietary is their lack of brain power.

    Now for folks who are reading this older than yourself, Mike was/is one of the best and hottest chief technical engineers I've ever had the pleasure of working with and for from NBC radio and TV. We've known each other since 1981 and I don't think we've talked for the past 10 years maybe more? But it's great to see him joining us here at Recording.org because Mike brings more to the table here that I think I could ever. In fact, when I say a lot of things are 100% adequate, that's me always quoting you! So cool to hear you and see you here. How's the wife? How's your eyesight? Obviously you're hearing is still great. That's why he's one of the best, kids. There's a lot to learn from this man.

    He is one of my personal heroes
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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