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Pushing digi 003 to HD quality

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Homer080, May 4, 2010.

  1. Homer080

    Homer080 Active Member

    As I don't have the budget to invest in a Protools HD setup, but still would like my sessions to be easily compatible with HD-equipped pro-studios, I am planning to do something else. Since the tracks counts, midi possibilities, and the resolution (up to 96khz) of Protools LE have gone up I am seriously considering buying a 003 Rack + Factory and pimping it up.

    Would the setup underneath be sufficient to reach HD-quality at a fraction of the price?

    - PC with Windows XP, 4gb, fast i7 processors and fast hard drives.
    - Digidesign 003 Rack + Factory
    - RME Adi 8 DS ad/da converter
    - 1 DAV BG-2 4-channel pre-amp
    - 2 Golden Age Pre73's
    - Main microphone: Gefell UM92-1.s
    - A bunch of synths and soft synths
    - KRK Rp8 monitors
    - Tannoy SRM12 monitors
    - Room treatment
    - Samson patchbay
    - Mogami and Klotz cables

    My plan is to bypass the clock of the digi and use the RME clock, which is supposed to be much better. I will also use the RME for conversion via lightpipe and bypass the digi conversion. The digi's pre's won't be used either. With the DAV BG-2 and the PRe73's (and I also have one Aphex 207 lying around) I hope to have found pro quality preamps within my budget limits.

    Ofcourse a lot is riding on the performance of musicians, the engineer and the sound of the room. But will this setup soundwise be up to par, taking into account that I am not planning on recording bands or orchestras live but will work track by track? And with hitting the maximum inputs and preamp (8 mic's -> 8 channels) count only when I record drums.

    Whats important to me is also low latency and not running into processor trouble when I have 40 tracks and some plugins running...

    (the exchange program between 003 and HD2+192 i/o for 5.000 is not a bad prospect either)

    I am pretty new to this game. So does it make sense?
  2. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Do you already have some of this gear? The ADI alone is $1900 at Sweetwater. The DAV is about $1000. The UM92-1 is about $4000. You're already well into an HD system here if you buy an Mbox 2 mini for $250 and trade up. You'll still need preamp but that won't be too much more considering what's on your list.

    Not that I'm suggesting buying into an HD system at this point. I don't think it's a good idea. The HD systems are on their way out. Hence the great "deal" on the trade up. They're waiting to ditch their HD systems before they unveil their next big thing. I don't mean to trash on AVID. I really like ProTools.......but, they are in a major transition right now. No one really knows what's going to happen in the next year or so.

    If I were you, I'd invest in an MBox 2 Pro, a good electronic kit, one or two decent condensors, a "bag full of Sm 57's" (a la Remy Ann David) and two decent preamps. You'll still come up on top and you'll still be compatible with the HD systems. They'll be around in the "pro" studios for a while. Not everyone is going to want to upgrade for the sake of upgrading.

    The quality of the recording is up to you. Don't expect miracles just because you traded up. In the end, it will be your skill that's going to make the difference.
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Good advise Hueseph.
  4. Homer080

    Homer080 Active Member

    I own the ADI, which cost me about half the Sweetwater price. The computer is here already too, as is most of the outboard gear. The digi 003, the DAV and the new microphone (the Gefell vocal mic would be a step up for me; I already own a pair of KM84's which I use for drum overheads and for acoustic guitar). Up to now I work mainly analog, with a Roland VS2480 for tracking live stuff.

    One thing I forgot to mention: I am planning to use the setup commercially and as the basis of a small label I am forming with my band and which will feature a couple of other acts to. So it definately has to be up to par. I am actually a musician who formerly worked at his homestudio and took projects to pro-studios for drum overdubs etc. The new setup should in the long run help my band to keep ownership of masters (and produce these at a lower cost) and songs and earn a bit of money. For example: this project was recorded and released (small scale) with a label in Holland so we don't own it, which I don't like ;-) Google
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    You would not end up with an HD-equivalent setup if you went for an 003/PTLE rig. The LE part of PTLE stands for "limited edition", not without good reason. The PC's CPU is the only processor doing all the calculations, and it does not take effects, EQ and dynamics on many tracks before it runs out of steam. Your dream of 40 tracks with plug-ins running with low latency is unrealistic. An HD system is scalable, that is, you add processing hardware to cope with the number of concurrent tracks you require.

    For recording, the system components you outline would get you 8 tracks (at 44.1/48 KHz) of much higher quality than if you attempted to use the pre-amps and converters in the 003. You could expand by a further two tracks by using the S/PDIF input of the 003 and an S/PDIF-equipped pre-amp such as the Audient Mico.

    I can't see the Mbox 2 Pro being that useful to you on its own, as it has S/PDIF but no ADAT input. What it would do is allow you to run PTLE for mixdown, but you would record using a different DAW connected to a good-quality interface such as an RME FireFace 800. The TotalMix feature of the FF800 allows you to generate zero-latency headphone mixes, and you can use the S/PDIF output of the Mbox connected via the FF800 to drive your monitors from PTLE.
  6. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    In that case don't even bother with the Mbox 2 Pro. Just get a Micro or a Mini and use it as a dongle. The idea of tracking with a Fireface seems like a good one. Better quality than any of the "prosumer" products from Avid.

    For that matter, buy the mini and trade up to an HD1 system. It's about $6000.00
  7. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Just one last thing, and I'm sure you know this all too well already. ProTools LE does not have Automatic Plugin Delay Compensation. You have to use a plugin(ironically) , which of course you have to purchase either with a Digidesign bundle or from from a third party.
  8. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    When you are mixing, you really need good stereo output for monitoring. The S/PDIF on the Mbox 2 and Mbox2 Pro allows this to be done from PTLE without having to tire your ears by listening through the Digidesign DACs. Neither of the Mbox 2 Mini or Micro has S/PDIF.

    I think Hueseph's earlier comments about the HD systems are very relevant.
  9. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Good point. Well taken.
  10. Homer080

    Homer080 Active Member

    Yes, I bought Mellowmuse ATA for this. Quite cheap and it works like a charm. Although when I check plugin latency in my mix window, there seems be only a little of that around. The highest plugin latency I found until now has been 129, which is not that much. Many tracks with plugs on the don't even have plugin latency. Could this be because my pc is quite quick? I have the i7 with 8 cores.

    Actually in my current setup I am able to run big mixes with lots and lots of plugs if I just use a bigger buffer. No problem at all. Even if I include soft synths and a heavy plug like Amplitube my performance meter never hits 50% of what my computer can do. Eq, compression, reverbs (CSR & Lexicon) don't seem to eat up too much cpu.

    So after about six months later I can say that the setup is doing what I wanted. Just one problem (oversight of mine): the 003 doesn't accept smux. So even with the double speed feature of the RME I can't record in 96khz using a third party converter.

    Protools 9 offers the opportunity of selling the 003, though, record at 96khz, and maybe buying some new gear ;-)
  11. Steve@Russo

    Steve@Russo Active Member

    I owned 003 and couple with a dbox I would have to say I thought that sounded just as good as my HD2, using the same pre's and mics etc. just a thought
  12. davesanridge

    davesanridge Active Member

    Pro Tools 9!!! Get that and any high end audio interface from any manufacturer besides Avid and you're gold. HD City!
  13. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    Protools nine native is a baby DAW still lacking many important features.
    Avid calls it the most advances and sophisticated DAW on earth... What earth? Not this I am sitting in...lol..

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