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Home Studio in the works. Next step?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by SmashKAB, Apr 12, 2009.

  1. SmashKAB

    SmashKAB Active Member

    Hey, So I'm building a studio in the basement. Gotta nice room for it and everything. So far my equipment includes;
    Mics
    -EV EL35 x 4
    -EV EL33 x 1
    -Behringer C4 x 2
    -Apex120 x 1
    -FAKE SM57 x 2 (I got ripped off on ebay)

    Interface & Mixer
    -Behringer Europower PMH880S Rack Soundboard
    -M-Audio 410 Firewire

    Computer & Software
    -Asus 3.2 duo Core With XP
    -320gb HD 7200 rpm, 32 mb cache
    -3.2gb ram
    -Adobe Audition 2.0

    Pics here!
    http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewPicture&friendID=115920814&albumId=2373297

    Its gonna be a long road to a full quality studio. I need a game plan. Any suggestions on what to buy next, and how to properly build a sound room would be greatly appreciated. :D
     
  2. ahavill

    ahavill Guest

    What are your goals: do you want to record drums? Will you be doing vocal overdubs? Demos for local bands, or just your own projects? Rock or hip hop or classical or...?
    A direct quote from moderator Bob Rogers : "buy as little equipment as you can of as high a quality as you can afford."
    If I were you I would avoid buying any more cheap gear that you don't really NEED- ie the Behringer C4. Is that a compressor? you probably have a plug-in compressor that sounds a lot better inside your software. And, you should probably avoid compression altogether unless you completely understand how it works & what the side effects are.
    And, the Aphex 120? Isn't that a distribution amp? All the question marks are because I can't see what you would need that for in your current setup.
    Beyond that, keep the big picture in mind. Your recording chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so just keep replacing the weakest links with serious, professional equipment. For example, the Behr PMH880S is a powered PA mixer/amp combo, designed for really basic live shows or presentations. Its built to be compact, with lots of features, and cheap. Notice how "great sound quality" is not in that list. It is not designed to be in a recording studio. If you are using it to run monitors when your band rehearses, fine. But I would completely bypass it when recording, & go straight from the mic into your M-Audio interface into the computer. If you need to have a mixing console to record, get a small Mackie or Yamaha, which will sound pretty good & last a long time.
    You haven't mentioned your monitors. Are you using monitor speakers or just headphones? Either way, I'd get the best you can possibly afford, & spend some time acoustically treating your studio. If you can't accurately hear what you're doing, you will constantly have problems with your mixes.
    After that, especially if you are recording vocals, get a "real" microphone. You need to own a Shure SM58 at the very least, not a fancy studio microphone but many, many hit records have been recorded on it, and it is a good starting point that is well worth the $100. Plus, it has the same capsule as an SM57, so if you unscrew the metal grill it basically IS an SM57.
    And if you are serious about this you'll need to get a fancy studio microphone like the Neumann 87. If the idea of a mic that costs as much as a used car terrifies you, check out the Rode mics. They are built well, sound great, and can be had for less than $500.
    Finally I'd say to save your money until you know the gear you've got, inside & out. Even though you don't have all the toys you think you need, you can get a good sound by experimenting with techniques such as mic placement, improving your mixing skills (which is why you do need good headphones or monitors,) and simply making your band sound better to start with. And you will learn a lot more by working with what you've got, rather than looking for a magic box that will make everything sound wonderful. Haven't found that yet.
     
  3. SmashKAB

    SmashKAB Active Member

    Hahahaha, ok. I guess I should have been a bit more specific aside from you know… construct a studio. Ok so my end goal (probably a few years from now) is to have a fully operation studio I can use for;
    1. My own personal recording projects. I have 2 bands and 2 sides going right now. I think it would be worth while to be able to do all the recording and mixing here. For demos at first & hopefully one day be able to put out amazing sounding tracks.
    2. Run a recording business. Again I’d start with cheap demos and as my skill & equipment improves I can go from there. It’s also note worthy that a lot of the recording studios around here (KW Ontario) are run by hacks… of the 5 studios I’ve been to only one knew what he was doing. The rest of them half assed it. Slapping generic effects on… essentially missing the mastering phase entirely. I plan on putting time & effort into making the songs I record sound as good as they can possibly. :D
    3. I also consider myself a competent Metal/Rock/Progressive Drummer. I’d like to be able to do session work here.

    There are going to be more aspects to this business of course, my sister & I are starting up a line of t-shirts, promotions, music videos…ect…ect… eventually I wanna be able to do that all in my basement… or somewhere anyways.

    Right now my plan is to upgrade equipment when I have enough money… This stuff is what I spend all my money on anyways. Regardless if I was gonna try and make a carrer out of it or not… I would still be buying it all! :p

    Currently my game plan consists of a big list of things I want/need for this studio to work. Second is a list of things I need to do to make this studio work. I need help from adding things to & structuring these lists.

    So far my buy list looks like.
    Mics
    • Ribbon Mic for vocals?
    • 2 Real Sm57s
    Play back upgrades
    • 2nd set of vic studio headphones (and probably 3 more after that enough for a whole band anyways)
    • Two 8th inch extension cables
    Drums
    • Set of Dream Custom Cymbals (HH, China Ride, 2 Chinas, 2 Crashes)
    • Studio Custom Kit (I’ve been looking at the Yamaha Recording Custom)
    • Jazz kit???
    Recording Interface Upgrades
    • Firepod?
    • Behringer XENYX 2442FX Mixer?
    • 8 cable snake, 12 later
    • Higher quality XLR Cables

    Computer Upgrades
    • 2nd Monitor
    • Cubase? Pro Tools? Nuendo?
    • Powerful Laptop?
    • 2Tb HD Space
    • Light Scribe Burner

    There are a few more categories, come to think of it I’m not sure why I added drums but eh. Anyways the list of things I need to do is a very intricate project list. But I need to figure out how to go about constructing my sound room and control room.
     
  4. SmashKAB

    SmashKAB Active Member

    I occurs to me I forgot to state what my mixing sound system was. I have a Yamaha Htr-6140 AV receiver. A pair of 3 foot tall speakers(I'm not sure what brand the are they don't say. :S but they boxy with two mid sized speakers and a tweeter each.) I also have a set of Centrios speakers sitting on top. but I only use them as a second set of speakers so far, I'll probably hook them up for simultaneous play as the Centrios have a great mid range. But the main point I need to make is that my mixing station has a crisp clear sound top to bottom. It'll suit me for the time being. I need to upgrade my recording section first.
     
  5. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    • Two 8th inch extension cables
    • Behringer XENYX 2442FX Mixer?

    Why are you faffing around with 1/8" cables. Get real headphones on the go!

    And don't buy from Behringer, it's cheap plasticy noisy and backed by sleazy business practices.
     
  6. SmashKAB

    SmashKAB Active Member

    Aye Aye Captain!


    But what are these 'real' headphones you speak of?
     
  7. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Anything that doesn't involve plugging into 1/8" jacks.

    (Note, the HD280s I have do have a 1/8" jack on them which is all well and good but I use the 1/4" adapter they supplied to plug it into mixers etc.)

    1/4" jacks aren't inherently better than 1/8" jacks, it's just that most gear will use 1/4" and any extensions/adapters you use will degrade quality - it's better to keep things native.
     
  8. ahavill

    ahavill Guest

    Gotta agree with codemonkey here. I actually think the Behr gear sounds good & has tons of features for the price, BUT... he's right. The stuff is built terribly with cheap parts. Usually works when you start, it just starts failing immediately. Especially a mixer, with so many controls, everything packed in tightly to keep it small...if you have budget components assembled in some third-world factory, its a recipe for disaster.
    And, I don't know what you had in mind for the 1/8" ext cables (running long lines for musicians in the control room?) but its kinda strange thing to include on your list of gear you need. Overall, assuming you don't have an unlimited budget, start thinking like this: buy gear based on NEED not WANT. Like I said before, replace the weakest links first, before even thinking about 2nd monitors, ribbon mics, etc. And, once again, try to buy for the long term. For example, you say you want an 8-ch snake, "12 later." The difference in cost is not that much; if you will need 12 eventually, get it now.
    Also I feel like you are still kinda skipping over monitors. In the audio world you have to hear things accurately, period. Your speakers may sound "good" but that can be bad as studio monitors, unless they are very even & flat response. That is hard to find in anything that's not designed to be a studio monitor. It sounds like you basically have a home stereo system for monitoring, which will tend to make things sound better than they are. If you have problems with your mixes sounding different on other people's systems, that's probably why. You said you "need to upgrade the recording section first," but I wonder... If you can't get accurate monitoring, you're f'd.
    Is the M-Audio 410 compatible with ProTools Mpowered? If you are trying to do pro studio /session work, you just have to have PT. I kinda hate that but its reality. If another program really appeals to you , sure, use it, but figure out how to transfer those projects into PT.
    I would get a really good mic, again if you're serious about this get one Neumann before you get a bunch of cheap mics. That, into the M-audio, into some pro software. ProTools, Nuendo, DP, Logic all good, like I said go the PT route unless you have some compelling reason not to. That, & good monitors, or at least really good (ie Ultrasone) headphones.
    The bad news is that just getting a U87 & "real" studio monitors can EASILY run you $5000. Which could probably pay for most of your entire list of wants. I'll re-quote here: "buy as little equipment as you can of as high a quality as you can afford." AND: "Buy what you NEED not what you WANT." Think about this: you said most of the rec studios in the area have no clue. So, if you could offer "ProTools recording, Neumann vocal mic" alone, & you have some skills, you could clean up. People will pay you more if you have the real stuff. I know that I wouldn't pay someone to record me on Behringer gear with no studio monitors & some budget mic. Once you do enough $20/hr sessions & produce quality product, you'll have so many people calling to book, that you'll be "forced" to raise your prices. Been there, done that, it works. And, a Neumann 87 or knowing how to use PT is something that will be a moneymaker FOREVER. The Behr 1224FX? not so much.
     
  9. SmashKAB

    SmashKAB Active Member

    Ok so invest in a 'Neumann U 87 Ai' first? and you say the m-audio will do me for now? I think the only thing that concerns me there is when I record drums, I'll only be able to bring it in on 2 tracks. L & R. Would it be worth my while to get a PreSonus Firepod? I'd like to be able to gate and edit my snare/bass/toms/cymbals separately. and in the mean time (While I'm saving some cash for the Neumann) I'm going to do a bunch of demos.. I haven't really looked into PT yet. Adobe Audition is the program we used in Highschool, that's the one I got used to. I can see where it lacks in intricacy. But it's really easy to use.
     
  10. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    You're on the right track, minus the B*r stuff.
    Mine sits on the floor.

    Work w/ what you've got. Make the best of it you can.

    When you upgrade, make it quality enough to be a "lifetime" upgrade. Lesson I learned later than I wish.

    Your monitoring will work for now, but not for long. Ahavill's point is well-made: no matter how good your other gear, if you don't have a flat, decent monitoring system, you'll have trouble getting your mixes to translate.
    That said, if you can learn where your system lies to you, you can work around it.

    While I don't believe you have to have a U87 and PT to make good recordings, those two look pretty good under your name as far as attracting clients is concerned.
    People find out that Akon (or whoever) recorded w/ a Neumann and ProTools, and that's what THEY want.

    This is a hobby/venture that can get really expensive, really fast.

    The suggestions of Need before Want, and being competent w/ what you have are paramount!
     
  11. ahavill

    ahavill Guest

    I've used Audition before but not too much. How many tracks can you record simultaneously? The Firepod would get you more ins of course, but only if the software supports it.
    As you may know the ProTools stuff only works with certain hardware. The M-Audio ProFire is pretty comaprable to the Firepod, however only the ProFire is PT compatible.
    As soapfloats points out, if you are in the business of booking clients, there are certain things that carry a lot of weight with people simply because they are "known." Meaning, the Firepod might be the best thing for you to get, based on specs, sound quality, & price; however, being able to say "yeah I've got ProTools" might bring in enough bookings & extra income to make it worthwhile. Also I feel like most of these seq programs do the same thing, with slightly different control layouts. Which means if you know how to use Audition, PT is not going to be much different- just the buttons in diff places. Sure it will be a little awkward at first, but don't be afraid of PT. All these companies are constantly trying to make their products easier to use, & just looking at screenshots of Audition I feel like it would be an easy move to PT.
    And, I totally understand you want to be able to separate the drums, but at least consider this: if you're a drummer & you're setting this up in your home studio, you could submix a few mics (or hell, 20 mics) of drums down to the 2-track. Not enough snare on the result? Adjust. Feel like the kick isn't quite right? Adjust. Sure it will take hrs/days/weeks to get it totally dialed in, but if you are in your home studio, you can just leave everything in the "sweet spots." Obviously you don't have separation after the fact, but the idea is to have a pre-set great drum sound, where you don't need to do much in post. The downside of close-micing every drum & separating every track is that the engineer has to completely build the drum sound; all the dynamics & balance that the drummer performed naturally have to be re-created. I think the greatest drum sounds come from minimal micing. Kick, Snare, Overheads. If you want to get more involved, put up HH, Ride & Tom mics. Once you get into micing every drum, snr top & bottom, ohs, cymbal mics...it just puts a lot of pressure on the engineer, to make it sound like what the drummer played in the room.
     
  12. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    I think that there is a great deal of good info here, but I just have to say that you do not have to go the Protools route to have a professional studio. A good number of the pro studios I use are using Nuendo (Cubase.) I am not everyone but in choosing studios to record in over the years I was always more interested in the engineers ability and credits than I was in the equipment. I am not saying that I would use a studio that had three beat up 57's as a mic cabinet only that I chose engineers that were compatible with the styles of music we were recording. Someone with a strong folk background would not be my choice for a death metal project and vice versa.

    It is hard to make all the right decisions when considering building a home recording space but there is a tendency to fixate on gear when an overall approach might be better. The spaces we record in are very important to the sound, if I were given the option of the Neumann for several thousand dollars and treating my space for better acoustics I would choose the latter first. I mean how good is a great condenser mic going to sound in a bad room?

    If I were looking to record demo's for bands I think an eight input interface (at least) is a must, two track recordings can be done with room mics just very difficult. I have found that most bands wanting demos have little to no studio experience and are best recorded live rather than seperate tracking. Some of these guys just get freaked having to wear headphones. There are also cost issues for most of these situations, can they afford eight hours of studio time to track seperately? Usually not.

    You said that you wil be buying this gear anyway, so I think that it is important that you get stuff that works for what it is you want to do first. Drum mics and channels might be a priorty.

    Lastly monitors, monitors, monitors. You absolutely can not get by without them. You can not evaluate gear, effects, recordings without them.
     
  13. SmashKAB

    SmashKAB Active Member

    First off.. Thanks for all the info guys. much appreciated!

    We are planning on renovating the sound room in the basement. I’m not entirely sure what the dimensions of room are. (I’ll get that info tonight). However it is a decent size. Standard bedroom size I’d say. We are getting rid of the closet. I’m wondering what the renovations will entail. I know there are sheets of sound absorbing material that I can just sort of slap onto the wall. But I’m wondering if I should go all out and re-build the frame + add specific insulation…ect…ect. (I’ll worry about this in a different thread, but point taken! )

    Considering the general consensus is that I should invest in quality right away. I’ll get that M-audio ProFire 2626. It looks to like a solid piece of technology! Also I would like to use ProTools in the future. I think that’ll come around the same time as the mic. I’d like a legitimate copy to learn with.

    Also I completely agree with needing a flat mixing station. My buddy and I had a huge argument about the bass on one of our tracks.. I insisted that it sounded great and was loud enough, where as he couldn’t hear it. My speakers are meant for a home entertainment system. So I should probably replace them with something else. At one point headphones were mentioned… is that a good option? I’m assuming they’d be about $500. But for now this would be ideal since I’m a night hawk, and do my best work in everything when its like 2 in the morning. :p
     
  14. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Open back headphones -> $150 to $1000, depends on what you want to pay.

    Sony MDR-7506 come to mind.
     

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