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Here We Go: 1st Post...Analyze My Setup???!

Discussion in 'Recording' started by TheGreatAmericanSlum, May 22, 2008.

  1. TheGreatAmericanSlum

    TheGreatAmericanSlum Active Member

    May 22, 2008
    Home Page:
    Let me start by saying hello, and thanks in advance literally years of advice I’ve already collected from several of y’all during the recording of my bands last 2 records, which we did in our dingy Baltimore rowhouse (I’ve just always been kind of afraid to join the board, or any board for that matter). Free free to check out http://www.myspace.com/payolareserve if you’re interested in the results of the setup I’ll describe here in a sec:

    I currently run the following:

    Vox: Shure KSM44 >>> SP-VTB1 (usually)

    Kick: Shure 819 (bound) >>> Bellari RP220
    Snare: SM57 >>> Bellari RP220
    Toms Hi & Lo: SM57s & 58s >>> Art Tube MPs
    Overheads: Joe Meek JM-27 pair OR AKG C3000 >>> SP-VTB1

    Fender Vibrolux (2x10) and Twin (2x12) both reissues: SM57 >>> Bellari or VTB1 or Tube MP

    Bass (all mics!) >>> both SM57 on cab and AKG3000 about 5 feet back and 4 feet off ground >>> HHB Radius 10 and VTB1

    Acoustics (Vintage Gibsons, both Country&Western and Heritage): KSM44 >>> VTB1

    Guitars are all American Fenders (both teles and strats). I also have a “Stellar” Ribbon mic I got on ebay a while back that occasionally sounds pretty cool. All percussion usually done on the KSM44 w/ or w/o dB cut depending on what it is.

    We recorded all of this in a room roughly 25’ x 15’ w/ acoustic foam around all the walls, oriental carpets over a hard hard floor and “drop kind of” roof that occasionally rattles (ie loud bass!). Anyway, it’s our rehearsal studio space, it’s connected to the house and I love it (prob cuz it’s included in my rent ;))

    Ok so I take all this stuff and run it through an 8ch Firepod (CUBASE LE) and firewire to my comp (PC, 2g proc, 2g ram, blah blah blah). I monitor w/ Rockit K5 near fields (pretty good for my small room).

    I mix in the program w/ in software effects and a big ole Waves Plug-in bundle. We do the mix dry (leaving about 2-3 dB headroom) and send it to my Otari MK55 (2ch ¼” tape) for “tape compression feel”.

    Then I send it back into Cubase, this time w/ about 3-4 dBs headroom (for mastering) and add master effects to the newly stereo track from Waves (L2) and Isotope Ozone and send off the desktop as a WAV to burn CD’s w/ Sony CD Architect.

    $*^t, I just gave away my whole method. I guess I’m finally ready to question the whole thing!

    My bassist just left and took his HHB Radius 10, one SM57 (i need to get 2 more anyway), 2 Tube MPs and the AKG C3000.

    So I want some advice!!!

    What could improve my recording chain?
    Is this method crazy?
    I am going from A-D then D-A then A-D again, I know. Crazy?

    I need better preamps. Looking for 2ch tube pres on E-bay for ~$100-600
    -Focusrite TwinTrak
    -Various TL Audio
    -Aphex 107
    -Various HHB (they sound nice I think)
    -Dual tube MP (I know it’s corny, but I just can’t run dry into the firepod…yuck)

    Also need mics. Looking for what will sound best for the least money of course!
    -AKG C414 (will it really make the diff?)
    -AKG C3000 (should I just replace it?)
    -AT 3035 (would that sound better?)
    -Shure SM81s (will a pair of these blow away my Joe Meeks?)
    -Sennheiser MD421 (always heard of this dude, does it really rule?)
    -Studio Projects T3 (tube multipattern…heard awesome things!)

    I’m always thinking about getting an old (or just a good) mixer and using those preamps as well, although it seems like a waste of $$$ (ie Ramsa, Soundcraft etc…)

    How about a better sound card, does that make a difference?
    How about upgrading to the full Cubase? I seem to meet all my needs w/ LE, but does the full sound better?
    How about daisy chaining firepods?

    Ideally I’m looking for a situation where we can track solid basic tracks as close to live as possible (ie at least acoustic and drum kit, possibly w/ an electric rhythm and bass as well). For now I use 5 mics on the drums (ovhd + 4 pc kit) which only leaves 3 channels.

    I’d really like to just improve the situation, not overhaul the whole damn thing. I like Cubase and I like the firepod and it’s a great base. I know I need a couple more 57s, but which mics and or preamps (for cheap as possible) will give me the best jump for a new project!???

    Any thoughts from you dudes? This is my first post and I guess I’ve been building it up for a couple years. I’m a guitar then piano then drum/percussion player who happened to end up in the producer role due to just wanting to learn how to do it. I’ve been at it for about 3 years and learn more and more all the time. I suppose maybe it’s time for some feedback. Ha!

    ~love, al
  2. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Welcome Al. Gosh you DO hve a lot of questions and they're all bundled together! At least you made them readable...... :wink:

    People ask this question all the time about upgrading and whether this or that method is the 'correct' one. If it works, you get the signal you're trying to capture on the recorder you have, if you're able to then manipulate this signal into a form of a song that you hear in your head, then your method is working for you.

    Is there a 'better' way? Is there an easier way with the same results? Probably. But that doesnt make it 'right' for you. You know how your gear works in your room and if you're satisfied with the results then no one can tell you its 'wrong' or right.

    I will interject this into your feelings of an upgrade in gear.... A very good preamp with the mics you have already will put you quite a ways down the road to higher quality sound. The KSM44 is a great mic and it is so responsive to higher grade preamps. If you buy a 'colored' pre it will produce a signal that will be a high quality, colored, signal. If you want crystal clear and clean with no artifacts, that mic will produce that as well.

    I can answer one other part of your question easily.. A pair of SM81's will definately take your SDC collection up a bunch. I lOvE em.
  3. TheGreatAmericanSlum

    TheGreatAmericanSlum Active Member

    May 22, 2008
    Home Page:
    Thanks for the feedback Dave!


    SM81: What should be the main purpose of these mics for me? I currently use a pair of JM-27s (joe meek SDCs) for overhead drums and that's about it. We usually run our percussion instruments and guitar cabs through the Shure KSM44 cuz it's a better mic. Where would a pair of SM81's excel? Shall I lose the JM27s?

    Mic PRE:
    -I really do need something better/decent and don't have tons of money. I do think I'll get an Aphex 107 since I've heard they're the best bang for buck and I was considering getting an ART dualMP but feel the 107 will be better.
    -Anybody know anything about TL Audio, HHB, JoeMeek or Focusrite (green) preamps? They seem to be good for the $300-800 pricerange.
    -Also, for something around $1k what would be the best fit w/ a Shure KSM44 for vocals? Thinking between Focusrite Red series, Avalon, etc...

  4. Crankitup

    Crankitup Guest

    You should look into a lunchbox for pre's. Down the road you'll be able to expand and fill it up with some nice pre's. And for 1k you could get a lunchbox with an API 512c or something comparable

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