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My mobile multitrack setup: gear and what I've learned

Discussion in 'Recording' started by GentleG, Oct 26, 2005.

  1. GentleG

    GentleG Guest

    Hi all

    I've been multitracking on my notebook for over a year now.
    And seeing all the questions on this board brings back memories to when I was shopping for the right budget gear.
    I got a lot of information from reading thousands of posts on this great forum and in return I would like to a add a little information myself.

    I hope some of you may find it usefull if I describe my little setup and what it does for me;
    It may help you to decide what you want if you want to start multitrack recording.

    1. Notebook (about E.800,- a year, also used for other stuff): most important about it is, is that it has a fast harddrive: 7200bpm.
    I used to have 512Mb which was more than enough for recording. CPU: anything more than 1GHz will easily do
    I use Cubase (about E.99,- a year), works for me

    2. Soundcard: Presonus firepod (E.700,-), has worked since day one, very high value for money, 8mic preamps + phantom + spdif, no adat
    Not expandable, but will probably be a dinosaur anyway in a year or two

    3. Mindprint DI-port (E.100 second hand): 2 channel micpre with spdif (24/44 or 24/48)out, into the firepod (the pres are not as good as the ones on the firepod, but at least they don't have too much noise, so you can crank the 57's and it adds 2 channels to the firepod

    This allows me to record 10 tracks at 24/44 or 8 at 24/96

    4. Most important: the mics
    Why are they the most important? Because they stay. 1., 2. & 3. are useless in a couple of years time and worth nothing.

    I have a Shure DMK57-52 drummickit (E.400,-): it consists of 3 sm57, 3 clamps and a beta52a
    you can never have too many 57's, great on guitarcabinets, snare, toms, brass.
    52: large dynamic, used to have a akg d112 too, sounds somewhat comparable, nice on kick, basscabinet, low-brass (trombone, tuba) and as a alternative / second on guitarcabinets

    Two matched pairs of Oktava MK012 (E.400 per pair), great value for money, my favourite mics: small condenser ge used on stereo piano, overhead, room, choirs, basicly anything but close up vocals
    I prefer these above the other small condenser in this price range (such as rode nt5, akg c1000s, akg c430 and the small shures)

    Two Rode NT1A (E.200 a piece): large condenser, gets used on accoustic guitar, sax, close-up vocals, basicly anything woody and windy
    These would be my first to upgrade on, because they can sound sligtly less pleasant in the higher regions, but this can be overcome by carefull placement of the mics. Other times I actually like this, especially on accoustic guitars. I've read good reviews of the large condensers by Studio Projects and AT, but they are more expensive (around E.400)

    AT3035 (second hand for only E.70 :) ) large condenser: haven't really tried it yet

    5. Cables and stands (> E500,- I guess): seriously underestimated when I first started shopping: they weigh and cost much more than I thought. micclamps are great: save space and weight, not only on drums but also on upright piano (open toplid)
    Oh, and on trombones to make 'm unplayable;)

    6.knowledge & experience
    Yes, you can shop for these: just buy yourself some time
    Just read anything you can:
    this forum has invaluable information, just read it all, yes all
    nice books: Modern recording techniques by Huber & Runstein, The microphone book by John Eargle (pretty technical)
    go to shure site and download their 'microphone techniques'
    and of course practise: I offered myself to anyone for next to nothing just to get handson experience.
    Now I charge to compensate for any lack of utter happiness: the more I like it, the less they pay (which is more people / performance / trombone related then music-style-wise)
    Try different things: pop/rock, choir, jazz, solo piano, voice-over
    Because you'll learn different things at different rates

    7. working spouse / other income / some sort of future:
    I hoped to earn back my small investment in under 2 years: this seems to be realistic. My medium term goal is to be able (money) to update the pc/soundcard/software as times go by and slowly upgrade on mics and eventually micpres only by using money I've earned using it. Hopefully it will also allow me the occasional beer-intake or such:)

    8. Joy
    Do it because you really like it, need it. There really is no other reason.
    (Although you may have to record a trombone once in a while: avoid at all costs)

    Easy to make mistakes:
    - spending money on anything that's obsolete in a couple of years:
    nevermind the better soundcard, your still learning right? get better mics, they'll last untill you know more and then some
    - using too many mics/channels: start with good performers in a good room and get a good sound from two roommics;
    only then you may want to spotmic and even if you do, don't push it's fader up too much unless you've got a very good reason to do so


    I hope my post is a good start for this thread to become a 'what works for me' type-of-place' (please add)
    and therefore a helpfull alternative to the many (sometimes repetetive) question-answer type threads

    Cheers
     
  2. GentleG

    GentleG Guest

    Like already stated above: I underestimated micstands and such
    One thig that's almost killing me is the weight and lack of height of my stands (most of them are K&M )

    Because I'm a one man amateur recording enthousiast I record on location. Most of the time I need to get my stuff inside myself, preferably in 1 go, as I don't want my gear left alone.

    The trouble with my (affordable) micstands is they are geared toward live pa work: though and durable. I guess I bought them because I didn't knew where to look for alternatives. Now I know:

    Don't search for micstands, but search for lighting stands made of aluminium (f.e. by Manfrotto).
    Yes they are a bit more expensive, but still affordable.

    Again, I hope my rambings will help some of the other beginners on this forum.
    Feel free to add your own personal ramblings to this thread

    Cheers
     
  3. aphid

    aphid Guest

    very helpfull G, very much appreicated! especially your feedback on laptop specs...
     
  4. GentleG

    GentleG Guest

    ok, still no light weigth micstands, but ...

    Since I've been doing more pop/rock close micing lately
    I wanted some mics to suit.

    At this point, as a generalization, I would say
    Condensers are great for choirs, jazz, accoustic in general
    Dynamics are great for anything up close (no accoustics, just direct)

    therefore I'm expanding my dynamic library:
    2x Beyer Soundstar x1, supposedly an alternative to Sennheiser MD421, but less snap, more grunt
    2x Akg D224, 2-way dynamic, like a MD441 is, but less upper, upper highs,
    1x EV RE20, I wish I had more money to buy it a spouse :)

    Still looking for a good deal on something that's great on high SPL, low freq, such as D12 or so

    Of course, in a couple of months I get more choir gigs, and I'll be buying condensers again ;)

    Cheers

    Please add your way of working / gear / criticism etc.
     
  5. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    GentleG:
    As you stated that you were looking for a LF mic and also lamenting the price of the E-V RE20, you might want to check out the Beyer M99. I have one of these, as do some others on this site. I also have a couple of RE20s. I am in the States where E-V products are less expensive, Beyers are much more expensive and harder to find. Being in Europe, you are probably finding just the oppsite: E-Vs are pricey, Beyers a better value.
    You might take a serious look at the Beyer M99 (a large-diaphragm dynamic). Mine makes a great voice-over mic AND a great LF mic-kick drum, bass amps, brass instruments, etc.It sounds similar to the RE20, but with a bit more "attitude". And I'll bet that you can afford one of those over there!
    Also, I would be careful about the Beyer SoundStar. I had a couple of those several years ago, and they were nothing compared to the 421...
    Not the best reliability, disappointing sound quality.
     
  6. GentleG

    GentleG Guest

    very true

    I actually bought the ev re20 from the usa
    even with shipping and import tax and vat it's still cheaper then buying here in EU
    te M99 is half the price of a ev re20 :)
    I'll have it high on my to buy list

    I actually like the soundstars on keyboard cabinets to make 'm less digital / piercing
    They add instant grunt
    Not very well suited for anything high fidelity

    Cheers
     
  7. GentleG

    GentleG Guest

    update:

    the EV RE20 got lost in the mail... :(
    luckily I did get my money back and bougth a M99 new :)

    sold the X1 and 224, both interesting, but not for me now

    bougth instead:
    beyer M260
    Senneheiser MD 421-II
    MD 431-II
    SM58

    and some mic-splitters and snakes for live work

    Great :)

    Still looking ($) for:
    EV RE20
    MD421-I
    D12E

    And of course still: ligther / higher mic stands...

    Cheers :wink:
     
  8. GentleG

    GentleG Guest

    Just a small update since I keep using this thread as a reference:

    Microphones

    2 Rode NT1A
    4 Oktava mk012-03
    3 Shure SM57lc
    1 Shure Beta52A
    1 Shure SM58
    1 Sennheiser MD 421N
    1 Sennheiser MD 421-II
    1 Sennheiser MD 431-II
    2 Sennheiser MD 441u
    1 Beyer M260N
    1 Beyer M99
     
  9. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Hi, G:
    What do you think of the M99? And you have TWO 441s...lucky dude! How are they priced in your part of the world?
     
  10. GentleG

    GentleG Guest

    M99 < E.300,- (compared to <E.500,- for the RE20):
    actually I haven't really tested them that well
    only a few tries on vocal and basscab, nice

    the 2 441
    very very very lucky indeed
    I got them on ebay, only a few minutes after they were put up forbuy-it-now
    the seller just buys complete stores, and doesn't know what he's selling, can you believe it?

    especially since they are consecutive serial numbers and in mint condition with everything on them, each with freq plot in case with booklet and the cases in cardboard :)
    and now the fun part: I got 'm for E.150,- each (Normally < E.700,-)

    I got the 421N for only E.100,- including origianl leather pouch:) also ebay buy-it-now, also only a few minutes after it was online

    but in practise, I haven't been recording that much lately:
    1 toddler and 1 baby and 1 better half, combined with kindergarten (read: every flue and sickness imaginable for several months in a row)
    and my two regular recording bands in trouble

    the good thing is, I now know better what I want and what not:
    not commercial, just for the fun of it (and beer)
    only bands who know what they want and that can deliver,
    so only recording / mixing, no producing / bandpsychology

    once I get my next choir gig confirmed I will buy those light and heigh micstands....

    cheers
     
  11. MadTiger3000

    MadTiger3000 Active Member

    Keep it all in balance -- in the mix of life.

    Good luck on the choir gig.
     

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