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Home Recording Set-up help

Discussion in 'Recording' started by TheMaestro, Oct 6, 2009.

  1. TheMaestro

    TheMaestro Guest

    Hi everyone.

    I want to create a set-up for as little as possible with professional results... Am I asking too much? Just kidding. Sort of.

    Ok, all I have at the moment is a newer Macbook Pro, Logic Express, a SM57, Mackie 1202 (4 pres), and a lot of instruments.

    I mostly play rock music but I like to play a little of everything. What I am mostly looking to do is record the songs that I have written. Except for vocals, I plan to record most of the parts myself. My biggest hang-up is the drums because of the number of pre-amps that I might need. But I have seen a few people say that they will use 4 mics (Bass, snare, and 2 overheads). Can you achieve pretty good results with this? If so, would something like the Apogee Duet be a good solution? For drums, could I use the 4 Mackie 1202 XLR inputs, set-up the mix and run it into the Duet (maybe bypass those pres even though they are better?).

    Since I will almost always be recording individual tracks, and am using a Mac, the Duet seems to be a great solution except for the drums. Any advice?

    Thanks in advance for any help that you can offer?
  2. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    With 4 mics you can track great drums, could you put those into the Mackie and submix to stereo? Absolutely. Can you send the stereo signal through the Apogee? Yes. Can you bypass the Apogee preamps? Probably not. Can you get good drum recordings by summing (mixing) to stereo before recording? Yes, but here is where experience is really an ally. When you record this way you are very limited in what you can do to tweak the recording later. You cannot for example bring up the snare, compress just the bass drum, you get what you got. This is how recordings were made for years.

    I am not familiar with Apogee's line of equipment and at $450.00 this is expensive for two channels. It may be due to extremely high quality preamps and converters or due to miniaturization, it is a very small unit.

    In the same price range Focusrite Pro 40, Motu pre8, and Presonus Studio Project all offer 8 channels and would allow you to track drums seperately. I just don't know how they compare for sonic quality.

    I bit of advice I might offer is everyone comes into recording and says I am just going to do this (one, two tracks, whatever) but once they are involved they frequently get bitten by recordingitis and soon are doing much more than they thought. I made the decision to jump into 8 channels when i first started and don't regret it in the least.YMMV.
  3. TheMaestro

    TheMaestro Guest

    Thanks for the reply.

    The Apogee is supposed to have great pres and converters which is what led me to it to begin with. It is also supposed to work seamlessly with Logic and Macs in general.

    I was originally looking at the MOTU Ultralite mk3 but the more I read, the less sure I became. I really wanted 8- 10 channels but my only reason was for tracking drums. Since I will typically be recording by myself, besides drums, are there any other reasons or situations why 2 inputs wouldn't be enough?

    My #1 priority is quality, #2 is budget, and #3 is simplicity. I guess at this point I am really just trying to figure out if I will really ever need more that the 2 inputs. I am thinking that if I can use the Mackie for the drums, as you suggested, I may not ever need more that the 2 inputs as my goal is really only to be able to record my own songs 1 instrument at a time.

    I got into recording about 10 years ago, but ended up with things like the Roland 880EX which just complicated the recording process with tons of options all navigated on a 2 inch screen. I am just now getting back around to picking this back up again. I really want to have the ability to plug and play (occasionally) just to throw down an idea to come back to later. I guess what I am saying is that I don't want the process of recording to take away from the fun of the music.

    The reason I am looking at the Apogee Duet now is because it appears to meet priorities #1 and #3 but I am trying to convince myself that 2 channels will be enough (with the Mackie as a backup just in case). If 2 channels won't be enough, I won't have a big problem going back to the Motu or looking at any other products that may meet my needs.

    Thanks again for your input. Any more info that you can provide will be appreciated.
  4. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    So I guess you need to decide if two is enough, I can't make that decision for you. There is little difference in two, eight or 16 channel interfaces as far as ease of use. They basically have a gain control for each channel. Where you are going to have a steep learning curve is with the software, which is where everything happens these days, mixing, effects, etc. Most interfaces come bundled with some type of studio software, cubase, protools, etc. These are not very intuitive as they perform a HUGE number of different tasks. If you are using Garageband or something you just need to check that whatever device you purchase (and most are) is compatible. Sorry can't answer the question of quality in the apogee.
    Two inputs are plenty for solo recording except for drums.
  5. TheMaestro

    TheMaestro Guest

    Thanks again for your help. I can't quite seem to make a decision but I think I am leaning toward the MOTU. It only has 2 pres as well but, if I am not mistaken, I could use the 4 pres from my Mackie and run them into the Motu, giving me 6 total pres when I need them? If so, this is likely the route I will go.

    Are there any other interfaces that, in your opinion, I should look at instead of the Motu to accomplish the same things?
  6. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Just to be clear if you are running things thru the Mackie you really only have the number of Pres available in the mixer because the pres in the interface are being utilized by the stereo out from the mixer. I know of no reason the Motu should not be considered.
  7. TheMaestro

    TheMaestro Guest

    Ok, after looking at the mixer again, I think I understand what you are saying but let me be sure. If I run 4 mics into the 4 Mackie pres, there is no direct out (after the pres) so I would still have to mix to stereo and then send into the Motu. But you are saying that I could not send the stereo mix to the 1/4" inputs on the Motu (that don't have pres)?

    Sorry if this is confusing. I don't know all of the lingo yet. Again, I appreciate your help.
  8. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Sorry I had not actually looked up the specs for this interface, my bad. The Motu has the capability of transmitting via firewire up to 8 channels so the mixer outputs could be seperate from the pres with this unit. How you are able to route out of the mixer is what will determine if you can have 2 or 4 seperate tracks coming from the Mackie. I don't have time right now to open the user guides but if you PM me with your email address I will try and do so this weekend when I am in the studio.
  9. TheMaestro

    TheMaestro Guest

    I sent you a PM.

    Sorry if this confuses the matter even more but what about the Motu 8pre as an alternative. I have been looking up information about it and it gets mixed reviews but I think that it could be a matter of whether you run it on a PC or a Mac as most people who state that they use Mac generally give it positive reviews.

    The main points of the 8pre is that it has 8 inputs with combo inputs, all with pres and converters. It only has 2 outputs and lacks some of the editing features of the Ultralite. The only other thing that I could find was that (according to a post in another forum) "the TRS jacks on the 8Pre are 10k ohms. The TRS jacks on the 828mk3 and 896mk3 are 220k ohms. Otherwise, sonic specifications on the pre amps are identical between all three models".

    Any thoughts?

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