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Need Help from the Experts

Discussion in 'Recording' started by joshuafavela, Jul 20, 2003.

  1. joshuafavela

    joshuafavela Guest

    Hello,
    My name is Joshua. I came across this site desperately looking for sound (pun intended) advice for my up and coming home studio.
    I am probably in way over my head. But we all start somewhere. Just so you know where I'm coming from...I own a Mackie 1604-vlz mixer, RODE NT1000 mic, and use Alesis M1 monitors. I wish to record in the digital domain and I want to be able to achieve as close to, "industry standard," tracks as possible. This includes not only the individual tracking aspect of things but the mixing/mastering as well.
    I’m getting lost in the abyss of products out there and I just want to know from the pros what are the ESSENTIALS? What is imperative to me is I want as much BANG for my buck too. That is why I went with my RODE and Mackie toys.
    The following are products I've done some research on. Would someone please help me in deciding which way to go on these and why. I'd GREATLY Appreciate it!
    I’m currently looking at digital devices such as the Aark 24, Echo's Layla, and some MOTU products
    Software is my next question, what would you use? Cakewalk Sonar, Cool Edit Pro, Logic?
    Effects are next. Mackie's UAD-1, Lexicon, I’m not too sure on this one. I would like to have effects that are studio/live savvy. I'd like to be able to tweak the overall effect to track via my Mackie then back to my sound card using the 8in - 8 out method.
    Headphones which products stand out to you?
    As far as drums go...would you go with any specific mic pack or which ones would you use in conjunction w/each other to CAPTURE the kit? Kick, toms, snare, overheads.
    Now to post processing......this is where I'm really stumped.
    Compressors, Limiters, Sonic Maximizers, Exciters, man, THIS list is so vast. Please help me. Which of these are included in the essentials list? And why?
    My price ranges on most of these things is $500 - $1000 dollars each. BANG for the buck w/out having to sacrifice too much.
    Thanks so much. Any and all replies will be so much appreciated!

    Sincerely,
    Joshua Favela
     
  2. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    Some ideas:

    MICS: I'd get 4 of sm57's and a 421 to start.A pair of small diaphram condensers maybe like the rode NT5 and another rode NT1000. That way you'll have a pair of Large& Small Diaphram condensers.and Kick 421, Snare Top sm57, snare Bottom 57, Tom1 57, Tom 2 Sm57, OH's NT1000, hat NT5 ,ride NT5, etc one variation.

    COMPRESSOR: An RNC (really nice compressor) cheap and good, mono or stereo. (for Vocasl, Bass, etc).

    HeadPhones: I'd stay way from sony's or anything HiFi. Actually in my experiance is better to have somwthing darker so you can crank the volume and not cut someones head off. Darker smoother top on let's you hear more bottom and fundemental (better for pitch, etc.) . Get 4 pairs if you can. If you need more headphone outputs, I've seen a little samson box for around $80. Works just fine.

    Software and soundcard advice elswhere. I'm an Analog/Pro Tools guy. My one bit of advice in that land for growth would be to get logic if you already have a mac. It's a great (although a little bit of a learning curve) program, and now that MAc owns it, it will be the template of whatever they do nest in competition to Pr Tools. So learning it now MAY set you up well in the future. Of course, since Mac owns Logic now, the argument is that they'll make it way more usr friendly.

    If you buy Motu, you could start with whatever software they give you for free with the interface (they do that right?)...this should be fine for a while.

    RM
     
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I own a Mackie 1604-vlz mixer, RODE NT1000 mic, and use Alesis M1 monitors. I wish to record in the digital domain and I want to be able to achieve as close to, "industry standard," tracks as possible.

    The Mackie is fine for monitoring on, (listening) but I wouldn’t use it to pass any signal that is recorded. I would choose to mix in the computer.. to avoid an external mixer. There are no inexpensive mixers worth mentioning IMO in the lower priced levels. You need to be in the $20,000 range before they start sounding good. Your mic is good but you will want to get a few more in the future. You should think about a pair of small diaphragm condensers (The Studio Projects C4s are impressive for the costs) and some dynamic like the Shure SM57 (at least 3 or 4). Think about some better monitors..


    what are the ESSENTIALS? What is imperative to me is I want as much BANG for my buck too. That is why I went with my RODE and Mackie toys.

    Only you have the answer to that question. You know better than anyone what you will be doing. Enough mics and channels to record a live rhythm section if you are going to be doing that. Don’t forget headsets, cables and stands. Mic pres, some compression for the front end.. a few channels of EQ..

    Aardvark 24, Echo's Layla, and some MOTU products?

    I personally prefer the Aardvark products. MOTU is good also if you are going to be using an Apple computer. MOTU and Macintosh go hand in hand. If you are going to run a PC, I like the Aardvark!

    Cakewalk Sonar, Cool Edit Pro, Logic?

    I prefer Cubase or Nuendo.. for PC.. Logic or Tools for Mac.. these seem to be the ones that are surfacing as the industry standards.

    Mackie's UAD-1, Lexicon, I would like to have effects that are studio/live savvy. I'd like to be able to tweak the overall effect to track via my Mackie then back to my sound card using the 8in - 8 out method.

    The UAD card is nice as is the Lexicon.. TC Electronics also has the Power Core. All good solutions but be aware these cards run out of gas pretty quickly. You could easily use more than one in a full blown production..


    Headphones which products stand out to you?

    I like Sony headphones..


    As far as drums go...would you go with any specific mic pack or which ones would you use in conjunction w/each other to CAPTURE the kit? Kick, toms, snare, overheads.

    Kick: Audix D6, get more than one for double kick drum sets.
    Snare: SM57
    Toms: Sennheiser 421’s, ATM Pro 35’s, SM57’s. There are others too..
    Overheads and hi hat: AKG 451’s, AKG 414’s, ATM 4033’s (overheads only), Studio Projects C4, Rode NT5 to name a few.

    Now to post processing......this is where I'm really stumped.
    Compressors, Limiters, Sonic Maximizers, Exciters, man, THIS list is so vast. Please help me. Which of these are included in the essentials list? And why?


    Sonic Maximizers are pretty much out of style. They were popular back when many home recordists used narrow gauge tape formats that needed help. Today’s digital systems pretty much negate the need for these things. (thank goodness). I would be looking more for pieces that will be of use as front end as well as in post processing. Manley EL OP.. I can’t say enough about this compressor.. It is wonderful! UA’s LA2a and 11765.. studio standards. The Manley Vari Mu and the SLAM! Both great pieces.. Some quality Eq’s.. like Massenberg if you can afford them. Manley, the Speck ASC eq is nice.


    My price ranges on most of these things is $500 - $1000 dollars each. BANG for the buck w/out having to sacrifice too much.
    Thanks so much.


    Well I don’t know if that’s’ going to fit a lot of the things I mentioned. I would advise, getting some good pieces and going at it slowly. If you purchase budget pieces, at some point you will just want to trade up. You will discover at that point that there is not really much of a resale value to the more common budget pieces. On the other hand if you purchase quality pieces, they will always hold some value. Some vintage pieces sell for many times the original list price.
    :w:
     
  4. joshuafavela

    joshuafavela Guest

    RecorderMan,
    I was floored by your reply. I cant thank you enough for your time and wisdom. I like your interests...they are like mine. Family and work. More questions, if I may. You would definitely go Mac into the digital realm? How do I start going that direction? As far as EQ's would you give me a brief rundown in an instrument chart on which frequencies are good and which are bad? For example, vocals, drums, guitar, bass, keys, horns? That's about it. I’m not a MIDI guy at all (thank god) I'm already nose high in my learning curve.
    I am a newbie in all aspects. The One thing I cling to about my studio ventures are that my ears tell me the story. The mastery, I've found is how to get the hardware/software to emulate the symphonies I hear in my head.

    Sincerely,
    Joshua
     
  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Budgets do put quite a constraint on the acquisition of fine recording gear.You being in such a position, I would suggest looking at used gear, especially for the processing.Be prepared to spend in the upper end of your budget for these items as the the 'better' stuff is more money.

    One thing no one has mentioned is the Protools LE 002 rack mount.They street at around $1200 and a gold bundle plug-in pack is another $900.There are 4 mic pres in this and they re Focusrites(i think) and sound quite good.You could use the Mackie for monitoring and for any outboard gear you might also pick up.You can track @96khz with this new item they've released and its so much improved over the 001.The gold bundle has most of the digital emulations of the great classic outboard gear and sounds quite convincing.There is also mastering plugs in this pack that are being used in a lot of digital mastering suites.Digital eq's, the L1 mastering plugin etc.Check it out.

    For a drum mic pack, I would go with an Audix Pro Pack.I think theres a D6,2-D2's,and 2-D4's.This will do a 4 piece without a problem and adding a pair of Studio Projects C4's for overheads will sound very good on any drumset.Having a good drumset is the first step.

    Another mic you may want to add would be a multi patterned LD condenser.Listen to several to choose.

    good luck.Having confidence in ones ears is a great thing.
     
  6. by

    by Guest

    Some notes I found, may be a direct quote from a book, I don't know... but it'll probably sound like I'm reading from a book, but I'm not

    the thing with EQ is to not over due it too much. That's easier said then done. It's generally better to "cut" then it is to "boost". If something sounds good, but isn't clear, then "cut", if you want something to sound different, then boost. You can't boost frequencies that arn't there. IF something sounds muddy, cut some around 250Hz, if it sounds honky, cut at 500. These are just places to start out. Think is three demensions when mixing, panning is left to right, EQ is up and down, and volume is front to back. Reverbs and effects are sorta front and back as well. Alot of times, you'll want each instrument to be in it's own "spot" so you can define it easily. You may have to "juggle" frequencies on different instruments so they aren't fighting each other for attention (like, boosting at 400 for one track and boosting at 600 for another) But do whatever sounds good to you, there's no rules...


    "Magic frequency" (ehehe? again, just a starting point)

    Bass Guitar: bottom at 50-80Hz, attack at 700Hz, snap at 2.5kHz
    Kick Drum: bottom at 80-100Hz, hollowness at 400Hz, point at 3-5kHz
    Snare: fatness 120-240Hz, boing 900Hz, crisp 5Hz, snap 10kHz
    Toms: fullness 240-500Hz, attack 5-7kHz
    Floor Toms: fullness 80-120Hz, attack 5kHz
    HiHats/Cymbals: clang at 200Hz, sparkle at 8-10kHz
    Electric Guitar: full 240-500Hz, presence 1.5-2.5kHz, reduce 1kHz for 4X12 cab
    Acoustic Guitar: fullness 80Hz, body 240, presence 2-5k
    Organ: fullness 80, body 240, presence 2-5k
    Piano fullness 80Hz, presence 2.5-5kHz, Honky Tonk at 2.5kHz
    Horns: fullness 120-240, piercing at 5kHz
    Voice: Full at 120, boom 240, pres. 5k, sibilence 5k, air 10-15kHz
    Strings: fullness 240, scratchiness at 7-10kHz
    Conga: ring at 200, slap at 5k

    other tips: use narrow Q when cutting, wide Q when boosting.
    roll off the bottom to stick out, roll off top to blend in
    for snare, boost 5dB @ 2kHz or so, find it (the point), then narrow and adjust
    for bass at 100 and 140Hz, boost one, cut the other, boost 1kHz
    for fat guitar, boost midrange 9dB, sweep until sounds thick but bright enough to cut though, then reduce to 4dB
    for vocals, boost a little at 125-250 for chesty, 2kHz-4kHz for closer consonants.


    I hope this helps. there are also charts that are more visual and people who could explain things better then me.
     
  7. joshuafavela

    joshuafavela Guest

    Thanks all for your input. All time and efforts helping this newbie out are so greatly appreciated.
    I'm at a crossroads as to which platform to use. Keep in mind the $$s and cents aspect.
    Logic 5 Platinum in conjunction with MOTU's Firewire 828
    OR
    ProTools LE 002 w/of course entry Level Pro Tools?
    Im taking into consideration the point that RecorderMan made...
    Mac now owns Logic and it might be in my best interest to go that route. What do you Jedi Masters think?
    Id love some feedback on this issue.
    Again any and all of your time and efforts are greatly appreciated.
    Joshua - newbie
     
  8. by

    by Guest

    Yeah, the Motu 828 comes with a free copy of AudioDesk - an audio editor used for recording and mixing, it has the basic effects you need (EQ, compression, reverb, delay, etc..)

    I've used Logic and ProTools alot on both Mac and higher-end PCs - with mixed results. But the Motu and AudioDesk set-up into my friends old G3 (Mac) Labtop - I've have had no problems at all, ever! Audio Desk has enough features to get fine results, it's interface and operation is simple (much like ProTools) and I think is a much better starting point then Logic - you can always buy that later once you've well mastered the basics of recording and mixing.

    ...[By the way, out of all these, I use Logic on PC the most and absolutely love it for VST and MIDI, really complex set-ups and effects processing and automation... but, I've been using it for over 6 years now and seem to be using it less and less as my main audio editor. It's definately capable of doing everything, but at times it's just like a big funky toy. Personally, if I want to get serious, I go for simplicity, and doing even the simplest things in Logic can sometimes be a headache as it's much easier and faster to do in another program. is just my opinions though.]
     
  9. Guest

    jr:

    i'm sure you are well aware of this, but just to make clear for any less experienced lurkers out there:

    take EQ charts ("good" and "bad" frequencies) with a grain of salt. Maybe they are useful in giving you a starting point for frequencies to examine, but after that you must use your ears to make any valid EQ decisions. when your ears argue with the chart, forget the chart...
     
  10. trses335

    trses335 Guest

    I agree 100% with the above post. This is a fun ear/eq training thing I've been trying. First, record several tracks of instruments like acoustic guitar, bass, shaker, etc. Try to get the best sound possible. Set the eq charts aside for a bit. Pick a track, start with maybe your low frequency eq. Set the Q high (narrow peak) and set the eq gain high. Sweep through slowly while the track plays. Listen for frequencies that jump in volume, or sound woofy, nasal, hollow, etc. Make notes on where they occur. These might be areas where you might want to cut your eq to improve the sound. Try with other frequency bands, low-mid, hi-mid and high.
    Then compare to the eq charts. I've read about this for years, but never really took the time to listen and experiment. Best of luck with your new studio. Have fun....
     

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