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opinions on my future mini studio

Discussion in 'Recording' started by mycamel, Aug 11, 2004.

  1. mycamel

    mycamel Guest

    Hi everyone.

    I'm putting together a portable mini studio and I was just wondering if anyone would like to offer comments/ opinions/ suggestions on my choices of gear. I'll mostly be recording typical rock instruments.

    I'm starting off with a Toshiba laptop, which I already have. It's a 1.7GHz centrino, 512MB RAM, 60GB drive.

    Next, I'm pretty sure I'll be going with a Presonus Firepod for input. Based on the specs, it seems to be exactly what I need. I'm a little skeptical because I cannot find any user reviews anywhere for it yet....but 45 days should be enough time to figure out if it has any serious problems.

    Now for mics....right now I have a Shure SM58 that I've been using to mess around with vocals and guitar cabinets. Based on the results I've gotten with that and doing some research, I decided to go with all Shure mics. Here's what I'm thinking....there is a kit DMK57-52 that comes with a Beta 52A and 3 SM57s. It's about the same price as buying everything separately, except it also comes with 3 A56D drum clamps. In addition to that, I would get a Beta 56A and 2 SM81 condensers. So my drum configuration would be:

    Kick --> Beta 52A
    Snare --> Beta 56A
    Toms --> SM57 (x3)
    Overheads --> SM81 (x2)

    I've never recorded drums, so any input on that configuration would be very helpful. As far as recording acoustic guitar, electric guitar cabinents, bass cabinets, piano, and brass/woodwinds, I think those mics would provide me with a good selection to work with. The only thing left would be a good vocal mic. I might just experiment with the aforementioned, or try a Beta 87A.

    The Firepod comes with Cubase, so I would use that and some combination of plug-ins for all post-processing. Aside from cables and stands, I think that's all I should need (aside from practice) to make good recordings.

    Thanks for reading my post. I appreciate any feedback.

  2. maintiger

    maintiger Distinguished Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    Home Page:
    A good place to start- shure mics you will keep forever- start recording as it will time some time to develop your chops. This is far more important than fancy equipment right now. Once you put in your time and develop both your chops and your ears you can start moving up in the equipment chain. It is amazing what good results an experience engineer with good ears can achieve with modest equipment. By the same token if you put a recording engineer who is experienced and with good ears with top notch equipment you will get top notch results. The opposite is certainly true. Someone who doesn't know what he's doing with top notch equipment will not get great results (other than by pure chance) When I got my first portastudio in the 80's I used to make terrible sounding recording except for one that sounded quite good- that one was luck, the rest was just bad technique!
  3. Ellegaard

    Ellegaard Active Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Central Copenhagen
    Sounds really nice! Firewire is absolutely the way to go when you go mobile. I'm using a FireWire 410 from M-Audio in conjunction with a Dell, 1 GHz 256 MB RAM 10 GB harddisk, which means it's pretty far from being anything close to a super-computer, but it gives me a portable studio, ultra-low latency with the M-Audio ASIO drivers, and I have no trouble at all handling a large number of tracks in spite of the computer's limitations (let alone the fact that it's a Dell!). However, I do all the editing on my desktop which is far more powerful and handles VST instruments and effects much more superior. I prefer it that way, since I generally don't really like working on laptops for longer periods.

    Concerning mic techniques - I'm sure you can have great results with what you have. Like Maintiger says, it's so much a question of mic placement and technique, and high quality gear doesn't guarantee you high quality results.

    Good luck!
  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    The mics you are thinking about will do the job very nicely.

    As for the PreSonus Firepod, http://www.presonus.com/firepod.html , the pres in it are the same fare we are all used to from PreSonus. I recently published a review on the M80 pre from PreSonus ( Click here to read the review.) and I was impressed with it's functionality. It's not going to sound like a Neve or API in any sense but there are a lot of features that can't be ignored.

    The Firepod doesn't seem to have all the features found in the M80 however. There are no phase flips that I can see, (you should be able to deal with phase in the recording software though) and no pads. I am assuming there is global switchable phantom on all channels, I can't see any switches for phantom, pads, or phase on the individual channels in the pics on the PreSonus web site.

    There's no denying the convenience of this all in one interface and pre amp package, you may find yourself wishing for more of these features however.

    The software that is included is Cubase LE ... I really like Cubase. I use it myself and I find it very intuitive as a former analog guy ... it works very much like a traditional recorder / console combination. LE is not an automated version of Cubase and mixing with a mouse without automation can be a real pain. You may decide later to upgrade to Cubase SX, just for the automation abilities.

    That's it from me... good luck.

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