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Prosumer DI to Pro Studio Upgrade

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by LiEiTiS, Dec 13, 2008.

  1. LiEiTiS

    LiEiTiS Guest

    I am posting in Pro Audio as I need advice to upgrade my prosumer studio, but I am admittedly still a neophyte to this realm of audio sophistication, so please be gentle.

    I have a $5000 budget and am looking to upgrade my current gear to do pro studio quality tracking at home, specifically with regards to DI recording- bass guitar, electic guitar, keyboards- one instrument at a time going directly in w/o amping. This way I can record these parts in my studio, then go to a real studio for voice, acoustic guitars, drums, and reamping (don't have good acoustics in my space).

    I am not sure what's the best equipment to buy for my budget, and am hoping you all can help.

    My hypothetical gear list:

    1) Rosetta 200
    2) Grace Design m201 or an ADL 600 (or anything else you might suggest) (would like to be able to record stereo guitar effects from my Boss GT-8 effect pedal)
    3) Mobile Symphony Card (as good as a PCIe Symphony card? any sound quality loss?)
    4) DI box? (like the Grace m201 as it has a DI input)

    I would also like to have flexible equipment in the sense that I might be using it for film work as well, including possible field recording and surround sound 7.1 mixing and scoring. Maybe I should upgrade to a Rosetta 800?

    My current equipment list is as follows:

    Macbook Pro 2.4 w/ 4 gigs of Ram
    Logic Studio 8
    Onyx 1220 Firewire mixer (actually like these preamps, but the firewire card converters stink IMHO)
    Dbx 166xl
    Boss GT-8
    Sansamp Bass DI
    Genelec 1030A (pair)
    Furman PL-PLUS Series II
    Godin LGX

    IYO, can I still use the preamps on the Mackie 1220 and run them into the Rosetta? (if need to record more than 2 channels) Or will it weaken the quality of the signal chain since they are not PRO preamps? Should I just sell it?

    Any and all advice is greatly appreciated.

  2. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    Fix the thread title so it doesn't look so juvenile, only advice I can give.

  3. Greener

    Greener Guest

    "IYO, can I still use the preamps on the Mackie 1220 and run them into the Rosetta? (if need to record more than 2 channels) Or will it weaken the quality of the signal chain since they are not PRO preamps? Should I just sell it? "

    In your opinion, do you like the sound your pre-amps give you?
    Are you listening to your recordings thinking "Gee, I wish that wasn't smeared like a trollops makeup" or something along those lines.

    The gear you list all sounds sweet. But before you unload your wallet on it, have you listened to see if it's what you want?
  4. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    DI Recording...
    Get a couple Radial or Countryman DIs. Everyone will agree that you can't go wrong with either of those. If you want to spend A LOT of cash on the DIs, get a REDDI or two. I've never used them but they get rave reviews. If you need a pre-amp/DI, then there's much more to choose from but both the Grace and Presonus are good units

    You need to determine how many inputs/outputs you will really need. I don't know how many channels are generally used when recording for film...the last Nagra I used was just a stereo unit, but that was forever ago.
    If you have to mix down in 7.1, you'll need 8 outputs (i think)...but not only that, do you have 8 speakers to listen to your 7.1 mix through?

    As for the Mackie question...those preamps are fine. Using them won't degrade the quality of your chain...it'll just make it different, just as if you were using any other preamp. Sure "pro" engineers aren't breaking down doors to buy VLZ's but if that's what you've got, make the best of it.

    The equipment you list is good and can get you "pro" quality sound, if'n ya know how to use it.
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    A couple of questions/comments. First, why Grace? I think of those as clear, clean, neutral pres. Something at the top of my list if I was going to record more classical acoustic music. Not the way I'd go for direct recording of electric instruments. In your situation, I'd be looking at pre/DI combiniations that emulate the '70s consoles of Neve, API, etc. For instance, I have the API 3124+, which would be perfect, but it has two more pres than you need for this project. You could go the lunchbox route and get just what you need here. (There are some threads on that subject within the last year.)

    The other question is more out of curiosity: how did you arrive at the conclusion that the converters in the Mackie "stink?" I have to admit that I'm a skeptic about claims about converter quality, especially when they are bundled with other parts of the signal chain and are hard to compare in a genuine A/B test. But I'm willing to learn.
  6. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    REDDI's are at the top of my list as far as a killer warm tube DI. Exceptional for bass and kb's. I guess they would be fine for guitar, but I've not tried them on a source that I normally would just mic the amp.

    Countryman, Grace and Whirlwind DI's are on the top of my list for general purpose DI's.

    Although I must again say that I've not liked an electric guitar that was DI'd for work that I've tracked. I'm sure for something that is out of the norm it would be fine, but IMHO it would be more as an effect than as a norm.
  7. Groff

    Groff Active Member

    Some good advices here.

    +1 for the Lunchbox and many modules (=colors) to choose.


    If you go to 19'', Great River MP2NV is one of the most versatile preamp from clean to colored.

    For the price of Rosetta 200, you can get 8 in/out from Lynx Aurora 8. Pretty much the same quality.

    A pair of JDV mk3 or REDDI for DIs.
  8. LiEiTiS

    LiEiTiS Guest

    Thanks everyone for the input, you all rock. You've broadened my gear horizons considerably. My replies:

    Space- My apologies, sometimes write with the caps lock on. After I posted and looked at it compared to the others, I wanted to change it but couldn't immediately figure out how. Then fell asleep.

    Greener- when I play guitar and sing directly through the 1220 Onyx mixer, and listen via the monitor outs, I actually like the preamp sound (not bad at all- clean, lots of head room- but it's not wonderful of course). However, after recording and playback through the Mackie firewire card, the guitar and vocal tracks sound like arse imho. I am wondering what the preamps will sound like through the Rosetta converters.

    Have listened to the Rosetta converters, and they are great imho. Haven't heard any preamps or DIs, but going to GC tomorrow to try whatever they have out. Going for a pop/rock/alternative/country type sound. Any suggestions?

    pr0gr4m- I definitely want a DI I can use for my electric guitars when insp. hits, then be able to reamp the track for that bigger full pro sound later. Therefore, might go with a REDDI, as it can seemingly do everything I need- bass, keys, and guitar- very well, according to user feedback.

    As far as my I/Os go, at the moment I only need two Ins to record stereo instruments and two outs to listen, but would like to be able to upgrade in the future and not have to redo my studio to do it (with new units and cards and software and such). Might go the Apogee Rosetta route as the system is easily expandable (mobile card option as well), and the sound quality is hard to beat.

    BobRogers- I was thinking that for a universal multi-application preamp it should be as clean and clear as possible (not colored), this way the sound can be more easily manipulated and controlled in the reamping process or the mix (more possibilities to work a clean sound than colored right?). Any thoughts on that?

    Wow, the lunchbox route looks interestingly great. From what I gathered, I first get a lunchbox housing and then add whatever channels I want from various manufacturers- LOVE the expandability of it. Are some housings better than others? Is the API lunchbox better than the A Designs or the Avedis Audio one in terms of sound quality, or is it just simply a matter of size, shape, and slots? Also, on API's site, I couldn't find a 500 series unit for the 312 channel you recommended. Would it be the 512? Also, are they separate channels, or can you signal chain them? ex. a preamp into an EQ?

    Imho the Mackie firewire converters stink because the sound I get from the mixer itself (directly through my Genelec 1030s) is so much better as opposed to the recorded (unaffected) playback sound (sounds very similar to the 828 mkii I used to have, but little better). From the computer it just sounds thin and weak; puny is a good word for it compared to other converters I've heard (and read about). And my Genelec's are no slouch, so it's not an issue of poor monitors.

    MadMax- Have you tried to run elec. guitar through the REDDI? I found someone say "I think the price is definitely well worth it if you like big, full, warm bass. I also think the REDDI is the only usable electric guitar DI I've ever heard because the tone seems to sit further back in the speakers than most DI's that sound like they are on top of the speakers..." any experience with this?

    Groff- Looked at the Aurora 8, but the way I would have to connect it would be via firewire, which I doubt is the best way to go sonically (if it was, why wouldn't high end converter companies just make firewire connections standard and forget about manufacturing the PCI and Express cards?)-- Once when I had a Powermac G5, I talked with a rep from Sweetwater, as I was thinking about going into my PowerMac via optical I/O straight from the Rosetta and bypass the Rosetta X-cards, but he said then the sound would be subject to the Mac's sound card quality, therefore diminishing the sound quality. I thought that because it was already digital (converted via the Apogee and then sent out), that it would be the same. Any advice on that from anyone?
  9. Groff

    Groff Active Member

    Prefered way by many pros to connect AD/DA to computer is via AES PCI card (Lynx, RME). So if you are extremely picky about the quality, go for it.

    Apogee X-FW card (+ firemix) works just fine here at my place. I didn't compare to AES connection though. I doubt there is significant audible differences. Maybe just 1 ms additional latency.

    I wouldn't complicate too much about it.
  10. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    I don't think Firewire vs PCI has any affect on audio quality..at that point it's just digital data. I may be wrong here but isn't it just an interface?

    If there are differences I would think they would be with throughput and and general performance rather than sonic character.
  11. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    Think nothing of it Lieitis...that is the same thing I do at work!
  12. Groff

    Groff Active Member


    Firewire connection has some limits and OS/driver/compatibility/stability problems.
  13. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    I use the Lynx L22 as my PCI card. Really happy with it. It has 16 digital i/0 or 2 Analog I/O. The ADC on the card is quite nice.

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