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Have some extra cash and am looking into upgrading some of the chain! Opinions!

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Mauisnow13, Feb 1, 2010.


What's the weak link?

  1. Interface

    1 vote(s)
  2. Preamp

    0 vote(s)
  3. Mics

    0 vote(s)
  1. Mauisnow13

    Mauisnow13 Active Member

    Well, I have some money (about 1k) not much, but enough to buy some upgrades. Here is my current setup, let me know what you guys think the weak links are, and hopefully some suggestions for replacement.

    Computer: MacBook Pro, 4GB RAM, Solid state hard drive, etc.

    Interface: Presonus FirePod

    Preamp: Aphex 107 with the tube upgrade

    Mics: SM57, MXL 990/991. The MXL mics are the first things up for the upgrade of course. Thinking of getting a C414 and a pair of NT5's. Throw out other options if you have them! I recently have taken a liking to some of the Rode large condenser mics also.

    I work with a lot of acoustic artists and instruments, and I figured the C414 is a great multi purpose mic. Vocals and acoustic instruments come through great on them. The NT5's would be used for stereo micing instruments and overheads.

    So, throw out any opinions on my setup and upgrade options! I've been doing a lot of research on stuff but thought it would be interesting to open up a discussion where you guys can argue. ;)

    Let me know if I'm missing anything in my list. Thanks!
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I would go for NT55s rather than the NT5s. The extra capsules (omni) and the pad and filter switches are well worth the extra. However, unless you have a cheap source for your C414, I don't think there will be a lot of change from your $1K after you have got one of those.

    For additional gear, you could consider a "clean" pre-amp, but whether you would get any real benefit from one depends on how you connect it up. How do you interface the Aphex pre-amp? Do its outputs go through input channels of the FirePod, or do you take them into the channel 1/2 insert returns on the FirePod rear panel?
  3. Mauisnow13

    Mauisnow13 Active Member

    I am bypassing the preamps on the firepod with the aphex. The aphex is still fairly new and I haven't really had too much time to play around with it and get a feel for it. Hell, i might even decide to sell the aphex and going through the firepod preamps. They are fairly clean, just wanted to try a semi tube preamp to see what it would do for the sound. I got the aphex for about $100 so I decided it was a deal I couldn't pass up, even if I didn't like it. They're one of the preferred low budget pre's from what I've researched and been told on here.

    The C414 I can get for about $700 brand new in box, not used. The pair of NT5's I can get for $300 brand new also. I'm also doing my research on a Neumann TLM103. Got to try one out the other day and I was very impressed with the smoothness of the sound. I've been hearing great things about the Rode K2, too.

    Any opinions on the C414 vs. TLM103 vs. K2 topic?
  4. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    I have a K2 and really like it. I'll use it on all karaoke style moneymaking sessions where I don't want to get spit on my U87. I bought a 414 vintage mic once but either it was a bad one or it didnt suit my usage, I sold it and the buyer was very happy with it.

    To me it sounds like you haven't got to grips with what you have yet. This and the adage 'buy once and buy smart' seem to be your guidance here.

    My initial comment and vote were for preamps, the Aphex is a nothingness and you won't really hear the improvement a better mic will give you. Its like the other old adage, get good speakers first, as a good amp will sound bad through bad speakers. Then again, some people prefer to have the amp right first so it comes down to your working methods.

    What you've done with the TLM103 is very sensible. If you can beg or borrow a preamp to try with your mics and vice versa, that would be your best bet. Buying secondhand, as long as you do it sensibly, allows you to sell onwards for what you paid. However a TLM103 would be a great choice, as would anything sensible that will retain its resale value. Pro gear will retain value, your NT5s will not.

    My recommendations would be this:

    1) Make sure your sound treatment is done first. No point in any of this in an untreated room. This is a cheap option too.
    2) Try and test a pro preamp and see if the improvement it gives you outweighs the TL103 improvement.
    3) Decide on mic or preamps
    4) If its mic, don't buy the NT5s. Save up for the Josephson C42s, Charter Oak M900s, or a pair of Gefell 930s I think they are. These latter solve your LD/SD issues in a flash as they are great as a stereo pair, even though they are LD. If preamps, look seriously at the 7th circle deal (box, psu, one kit, $300 discount) as it will get you started with a very flexible and expandable setup for sub $1000. Alternatively look at a great river, sebatron or API 3124.
  5. Mauisnow13

    Mauisnow13 Active Member

    Thanks for that response, it helped me very much, and I'll definitely look into the suggestions.

    If I was planning on staying here for a while I would treat the room more, but I am moving around at least once a year for college and such, so it isn't a wise choice in my opinion, correct me if you think otherwise. I also recently gained access to a studio, so I may be able to save up some more.

    I have heard nothing but good reviews on the NT5's, and many people recommend them, which is why they were in the lineup. I am more concerned with a mic for vocals though, hence C414/TLM/K2. I really have a feeling my mics will not sound up to par, through nearly any setup. I have gotten decent sound through them before, but they ARE $50 each. So, they aren't the best. Definitely time for an upgrade imo. I am definitely looking to buy wise, and get an all around mic that will work in a variety of setups. "Buy once, Buy smart".

    BTW, I am currently running the KRK Rokit 5 Monitors, which I love. Reminded me when you talked about speakers.

    Thanks again for the response
  6. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    If you can move them, building a couple of frame panels using 4x1inch wood, filling them with 4-inch fibreglass RWA60 or 503 (dependent on country), wrapping that in pond netting using a staple gun and then covering the whole thing in velvet effect cloth, will do wonders for your sound. You can lean them against the wall and put them in the corners when you record, and when you move, you can put feet on them and use them for gobos. Rockwool (fibreglass) here is 600x1200mm so I build these 1800 high x 1200 wide, and put triangular MDF feet on them, we use them for everything. They look great, lie flat against the wall, and you can move them anywhere. Total cost to build is maybe $50. Money very well spent.

    Although the picture is very embarrassing, its about 4 years old and was from our start-out, you can see them below in the maroon velvet. Its a rehearsal room but you get the idea.

    The NT5s are fine as an interim purchase but later you will regret it. If you want to get a mic for vocals, the Gefell M930 is $1249 new. I am sure you can get a deal for $1000. Then you can add a second later for a stereo pair. Its very small and very versatile. I'd seriously recommend this for you. It will last a lot longer in your arsenal than the NT5s will.
  7. Mauisnow13

    Mauisnow13 Active Member

    Well the NT5's wouldn't really be for vocals. Mainly overheads and some instruments. I'm mainly looking at the C414, the K2, and the TLM103. I get to go play around with a TLM here in about an hour, so we'll see how it responds to my voice.

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