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Home Studio Blues

Discussion in 'Recording' started by gaferg, Jun 11, 2001.

  1. gaferg

    gaferg Guest

    With the dizzying array of home studio choices available these days, what would you recommend for someone who wants to record easy to use, album-quality (potential indie release) on the cheap? "All-in-ones" like the Roland VS or Yamaha approach, ADAT, or computer-based recording.

    I'm most familiar with the VS and have been recording some decent tracks with the VS-840. However, I'm very disappointed with the lack of head room and the puny result when I mix to cassette. Not to mention the lack of disk space.

    What can be done to fatten it up and provide some modicum of the presence one gets in a commercial studio? Would I get more of the quality I seek out of an Alesis Studio Pack than the Roland?

    Thanks for your help. Fergie
     
  2. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    If cassete mixdown is your weak link, fix that issue first. You can go to DAT, Masterlink, stand-alone CD-R, computer based CD-R (basic burning package or with a good editor like Sound Forge, Spark or Peak (or is it Bias, I confuse those), or you could get an open real analog deck.

    I'd skip the Studio Pack, pretty much as an absolute. It won't get you any closer to where you want to go.

    Bear
     
  3. MRF

    MRF Guest

    I'm not terribly experienced with recording - I've done more live mixing. I used to do some cassette based recording. I recently got the digi001 and would highly recomend it. The abilities are astounding! I find I can do things I thought would take years of experience.

    MRF
     
  4. mrivers

    mrivers Guest

    Originally posted by Fergie:
    With the dizzying array of home studio choices available these days, what would you recommend for someone who wants to record easy to use, album-quality (potential indie release) on the cheap? "All-in-ones" like the Roland VS or Yamaha approach, ADAT, or computer-based recording.

    I'm most familiar with the VS and have been recording some decent tracks with the VS-840. However, I'm very disappointed with the lack of head room and the puny result when I mix to cassette. Not to mention the lack of disk space.

    What can be done to fatten it up and provide some modicum of the presence one gets in a commercial studio? Would I get more of the quality I seek out of an Alesis Studio Pack than the Roland?

    Thanks for your help. Fergie


    Your apparent lack of headroom is something that you can fix by managing your recording and mixing levels better. You need to learn the limits of every part in the chain and be sure that you don't exceed them. Find out where you're running out of headroom and reduce the level at that point. No more problems.

    If your problem is that your mix to cassette doesn't sound as good as your mix straight to the monitors out of the VS840, that's understandable. Off the cassette and mix to something that sounds better. DAT, CD-R, computer, whatever.

    The best way to fatten up sounds is to do it right at the source. Try different mics. There are so many inexpensive and fairly civilized ones out there now that it makes sense to have a mic locker just like "real" studios.

    Do you have any experience with computer workstation software? I'd suggest that it might be a good time to invest in a good quality (I hesitate to say "pro quality" because nobody knows what that means) stereo sound card and a basic editing program with some processing capability. You can use your computer as a mixdown recorder without a lot of hassle, edit between alternate takes, clean up starts and stops, experiment with some overall compression or equalization (learn what they do) arrange songs in the order you want to hear them, and when you think you have something you like, make a few CDs and play them around to see how you did.

    Don't get hung up with a lot of computer hardware that's going to become obsolete in a couple of years. Stay with the basics for a while yet.
     
  5. gaferg

    gaferg Guest

    Thanks for your prompt responses to my initial questions. Of course, I have more.
    Please pardon my ignorance, but I'm here to learn.

    The responses mention mixing to DAT, CD-R, or Masterlink. Is there an advantage to DAT If one is ultimately planning to record to CD? Can you use it as a retrievable storage medium (bypassing the zip drive) in the VS environment? What about CD-RW? Can CDs be used as a retrievable, editable storage medium in digital recording applications? With both CD burning capability and hard disk storage (as well as post gain and finishing features), Masterlink seems like it might be a good solution. Is it Roland-compatible? Is someone else making a similar product?

    Second, Mike mentioned fattening up the sound through mic selection. Makes sense. I'm using pretty basic stuff now (SM-57, Sennheiser E835). I've also heard that pre-compression or tube-pre will help with the gain my stuff is missing. Any thoughts?

    Finally (for now), I'm certainly not wedded to Roland. Mike mentioned getting a stereo sound card and a basic editing program with some processing capability for mixdown. What about for tracking? Any suggestions? Also, in a computer-based approach, are there any reasonably priced outboard mixers that you would recommend for the long haul? What are the advantages and disadvantages of a computer-based rig?

    Thanks again, Fergie
     
  6. ken

    ken Guest

    Hi,

    May I suggest that you find a moderately inexpensive method to track with at home, perhaps a VS-840 and then mix at a nicer studio? I recently recorded some tracks on a Yamaha MD-8 and then transferred the tracks to Cubase (pc through a MOTU system) at a small studio and was able to use all the available compressors, eqs, and plug-in effects to bring these mixes to life. It isn't really enough to have good recorder to make a good recording. You have to have nice mics and preamps, you need good monitors to hear if your mic placement is good. Let us not forget the experience and developed ears that a long time engineer can lend your project. The money you save on the recorder pays for that extra help.

    Good luck.

    Be well,
    Ken
     
  7. Jon Best

    Jon Best Active Member

    Originally posted by Fergie:

    The responses mention mixing to DAT, CD-R, or Masterlink. Is there an advantage to DAT If one is ultimately planning to record to CD?

    Not really, with the exception that you can re-record over a DAT. All in all, probably not worth the expense. Mike was probably right on with the suggestion for a decent stereo soundcard and some software to mix to.

    Can you use it as a retrievable storage medium (bypassing the zip drive) in the VS environment?

    Not DAT, no- you could dump two tracks at at time onto a DAT, and dump them back in later, but you'd have to slide them around manually to match them up.

    What about CD-RW? Can CDs be used as a retrievable, editable storage medium in digital recording applications?

    Not with the VS-840- you have to go up to the 880/890 to get CD support.

    With both CD burning capability and hard disk storage (as well as post gain and finishing features), Masterlink seems like it might be a good solution. Is it Roland-compatible? Is someone else making a similar product?

    Masterlink is great, it's what I use, but again, you're not going to be able to use it to back anything up. Plus, it costs more than the 840! The VS840 is pretty much limited to zip, or Jazz, Orb and MO with the optional SCSI card. None of these are good mixdown mediums!

    Second, Mike mentioned fattening up the sound through mic selection. Makes sense. I'm using pretty basic stuff now (SM-57, Sennheiser E835). I've also heard that pre-compression or tube-pre will help with the gain my stuff is missing. Any thoughts?

    Don't worry about the tube bandwagon- you can build tube or solid state well, and you can build them both crappily- good tube gear seems to run more expensive than good solid state. It's a good idea to have some mic options, though- experiment, find out what you don't have in a mic that you think you should (soundwise), and go listen for that thing. Lather, rinse, repeat, and you'll end up with a pretty healthy mic locker.

    Finally (for now), I'm certainly not wedded to Roland. Mike mentioned getting a stereo sound card and a basic editing program with some processing capability for mixdown. What about for tracking? Any suggestions? Also, in a computer-based approach, are there any reasonably priced outboard mixers that you would recommend for the long haul? What are the advantages and disadvantages of a computer-based rig?

    The advantages are that you can get a lot of capability for not much money, and that the upgrade path is pretty easy to follow bits at a time. The disadvantage is that dedicated hardware generally works, and works the same all the time. If you're really comfortable with computers, then go for it- I'd bet you don't look back. If not, you're potentially buying into a bunch of hassles. Personally, I hate computers- even though I'm going for my A+ certification next month.

    Thanks again, Fergie[/QB]
     

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