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Save me from myself! New studio setup.

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Animaldrummer04, Jan 21, 2012.

  1. Animaldrummer04

    Animaldrummer04 Active Member

    Hey everybody! I've been going through some old threads and this is a really awesome and informative board, so thank you for that.

    My name is Andrew and I am currently in the Navy working with weapon system radars. My contract expires next January, and the plan is to get out and go to school full time. When I get out, I think I am going to take the plunge and finally realize my dream of being able to record myself. I play multiple instruments (as I bet a lot of people here do) and I have always wanted to record songs that were 100% me - the writing, arrangement, every instrument, vocals, and mixing.

    I am really stuck on which DAW to go with, and from what i'm reading it's largely a matter of preference. Still, I have to imagine that depending on what you are planning on doing with the program (hip hop, jazz, rock, country, symphonies) there are better-suited programs for particular styles. I initially decided to go with Reason 6 because of the huge amount of digital toys included. I love tinkering and tweaking and layering layers upon layers of thick reverb and delays - I'm a huge fan of the band Angels and Airwaves and I'm kind of looking for that post-rock sound that's huge and includes tons of sounds and synth. However, I started reading about Reaper and that sounds really good as well - I'm just the type of person that sees a $60 price tag and gets nervous rather than relieved. Tonight I was looking at Samplitude Pro X Suite, and that looks pretty freaking amazing... definitely the highest quality. Are there many tutorials for Samplitude? Is it worth the $1000 price tag? Is it ridiculously complicated? (I'm pretty quick to pick up new things and learned how to maximize Photoshop pretty quickly).

    At first (before doing any research), I had set my budget at about $3000 for everything I needed (which I had no clue what that would be). After considerable research, I threw that budget out the window and am coming at it more from an attitude that I want to start off from the beginning with respectable (passable?) gear, and I want everything right away instead of slowly buying mics and such (The goal is to slowly upgrade to higher quality items). I believe that my total is at around $5700 right now for the following gear. Any thoughts, advice, cautions, or wisdom is greatly appreciated before I buy something that I regret.

    • Reason 6 - See above ^^. Any advice?
    • Custom Audio Recording Computer I plan to build myself:
      ASUS Crosshair V Formula ATX AMD Gaming Motherboard with 3-Way SLI/CrossFireX Support and UEFI BIOS
      AMD FX-8150 3.6GHz Socket AM3+ Eight-Core Desktop Processor
      CORSAIR Vengeance 32GB (4 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 Desktop Memory
      ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 13 Limited Edition 92mm CPU Cooler for Intel and AMD
      Seagate Barracuda 160GB 3.5" SATA 6.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive (SYSTEM DRIVE)
      Seagate Barracuda 500GB 3.5" SATA 6.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive(SAMPLE DRIVE)
      Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" SATA 6.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive (PROJECT DRIVE)
      LITE-ON DVD Burner - Bulk Black SATA
      Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit
    • MOTU 8pre 16x12 FireWire Audio Interface
    • KRK Rokit Powered 8 Generation 2 Studio Monitors (2 of them)
    • Blue Bluebird (2 of them, for vocals and drum overheads)
    • Proscreen XL Pop Filter
    • Blue Dual Microphone Cables (for the Bluebirds)
    • Direct Sound EX-29 Extreme Isolation Headphones (tracking headphones)
    • Line 6 POD HD Guitar Desktop Multi-Effects (not sure if i need this or not... I do not have an amp)
    • AKG D 112 Kick Drum Microphone (bass drum)
    • AKG C518M Miniature Cardioid Condenser Microphone (two of them, for the toms)
    • Shure SM57 Instrument/Vocal Mic (snare)
    • Behringer C-1 Studio Condenser Microphone (hi hat)
    • GLS Audio 50ft Mic Cable Patch Cords - XLR Male to XLR Female Black Microphone Cables - 50' Balanced Mike Snake Cord (7 of them, for the drum mics)
    • Monster Cable Studio Pro 1000 Instrument Cable Straight-Angled (acoustic/electric/bass guitar cord)

    I read about the KRK ERGO Room Correction System, but i'm not sure if it's just snake oil or if it will actually be worth the price tag.

    In addition, something that I haven't done a lot of research into yet is preparing the room for sound. I don't know what the room is going to look like yet (I am planning on saving up over the next year and buying it all pretty much the day i move into my new house after i separate from the Navy), and I have a couple books on my wish list on Amazon that i'll be buying over the next year to read about sound treatments for home studios. How much money should I allocate towards this? I am thinking that the recording room is going to be a spare bedroom (without bed and furniture). I will have my computer in that room as well.

    Kind of long, but I just decided to go with it. Thanks for reading, and any comments or advice is greatly appreciated! I'm super excited and I can't wait to start recording!
     
  2. Beat Poet

    Beat Poet Active Member

    With all that gear you want to think about recording other people, besides yourself!
     
  3. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Hi Andrew, welcome to Recording.org

    Firstly... Thank you for your service in the Navy! We are grateful.

    I'll let someone else much more knowledgeable address your computer choice, (there will be a Marine through here shortly to sort through that.)

    But at first glance, I see some very low-end condenser mics which are going to be a challenge for you in a spare bedroom situation. The extra sensitivity inherent in condenser mics is very likely going to work against you in an ordinary room. I don't think the really cheap condensers (like the the C1) are a very good investment in your case <or anyone else's>. It's good to have a few condenser mics too, but I'd rather see you invest in a couple good small diaphragm condensers. For example, the Rode NT5 is a favorite SDC around here and a great dollar value. Some folks love the Blue mics, but each one seems to have a very distinct sound. Make sure you love the sound if you're putting all your money in the one model. For the average person, dynamic mics will give you more of the sound you want and less of the artifacts from the room. The Shure SM57 and SM58 are unbeatable for versatility and properly positioned would minimize the sound of the room.


    Which brings us to the next question - Room Correcting Monitors/Controllers. They are better than nothing, but still no substitute for a well treated listening room. Most professionals would caution against using any kind of EQ in your monitor chain - unless it's absolutely necessary. I have a pair of the JBL monitors with Room Mode Correction - I leave it off. When you use the analyzer the resulting sweet spot is really small - I mean REALLY small and it's still hard to trust the bass levels. It's not a matter of whether you can make the mix sound good on your monitors - it's a matter of, will the mix you make with your monitors sound good on every other system.

    Every room has a unique sound, so until you get to that next step it's impossible to estimate. Your acoustical treatments could easily exceed the cost of the rest of your equipment combined. Read all you can, when you're house shopping - choosing one house over another may save you a lot of money in the long run if music is something you see as a long term pursuit. If you end up having any neighbors at all, noise getting in and noise getting out are always going to be a factor you'll have to address. A room in which you can have a symmetrical set-up will help quite a bit. Other than those generalizations, there's not much you can plan until you know the particulars or the recording room. (dimensions, shape, building materials, etc.) You might get lucky and find a house with a well designed home-theater room as a start for your music room.

    That's all I can think of at the moment, others are sure to chime in.


    Best of luck.
     
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Let me see what I can throw at you? The computer you're thinking about is really a secondary decision. Any current multi-core CPU-based computer will generally be more than adequate. You're not going to be playing high speed computer games on this computer. It's going to be a multi-track audio/video production machine. And your choice of audio interfaces will largely depend on what kind of computer you need to purchase.

    Let's face some cold hard facts. Most great rock 'n roll recordings utilize mostly a bag full of SHURE SM57/58/Beta 52/57/58's and a couple of decent (not Chinese) condenser microphones. That is the basis for most rock 'n roll recordings. I love the entire line of SHURE microphones and so does everybody else. So also being in the Navy, you know, American-built equipment is mostly all great and a good purchase for our country. The Chinese shall get your money in the purchase of your computer. And as you know, the computer will be your first obsolete device you will purchase, followed by a newer one, followed by a newer one, lather, rinse & repeat. That's a given. But those SHURE microphones will last you a a lifetime with great sound. I know it's hard to believe that a SM58 can actually be more of an advantageous purchase than a Neumann U 87 at $3300 US. But it's true.

    I specialize in live on location recordings. Acoustics good & bad make no real difference in rock 'n roll recording especially when most of your microphones are dynamic, cardioid, super cardioid, hyper cardioid. So when I'm recording live, even in horrible acoustical environments, I don't fight the acoustics, I use them, accentuate them, augment them. And you end up with a great recording. Separation? See a lawyer for that. Bleed? Try a Tampax Tampon. Flutter echoes? Try a large floor to ceiling bookshelf stuffed with books that can be obtained free from libraries & schools. Then everybody will think you are so much more intelligent also when they see all of those books. Even if you're only utilizing the books for mass & diffusion. You'll also want some decent transformer coupled input microphone preamp such as API & Neve & Auditronics, etc.. Those transformer coupled preamps will have a sweetness to them that no transformer less preamps have. Those transformer less preamps were more important in the days of Analog Tape than in today's digital only world. You ain't recording symphony orchestras in your studio, right? So you want some full lush color in your front-end before it hits the computer audio interface. And even if those computer audio interfaces have 8 XLR microphone inputs, they also usually accept a 1/4 inch line level input as well. In that respect, you would have your lush sounding preamps feeding the line level input. When you want transformer less, you'll feed the microphones in directly through the XLR and voilà, you'll have both.

    Monitors can be virtually anything you like the sound of. I still love my old multiple pairs of JBL 4310/4311/4312/4408/4411/L 19's, along with my newer passive & active KRK's. On occasion, I have to utilize other monitor speakers at other studios. So when I have to do that, I always bring a series of reference CDs to get acclimated to different monitors. And I always use the same reference CDs by other engineers I know and love including my own since I love my own engineering as well. So I have my preferences but I really don't care what I use when I have aligned my hearing to whatever monitors are put before me. I also don't give a damn what consoles I use even though I have my own personal preferences. And that runs the gamut from crappy TA-SCAM to Behringer's to Mackie's and everything else in between. It really doesn't matter in the hands of a professional. Though it does matter when you're looking for a sonic signature sound. And that's why I strictly have API & Neve. If you have either of those two or both, you won't be wanting for anything else. So a couple of Neve & a couple of API is a worthy investment that to date, have always held their value both sonically & financially. Everything else out there is fly-by-night. DO NOT read into specifications as strictly a basis of your purchasing decisions. You are not recording with your eyes but with your ears, hopefully.

    So I recommend to most home recording enthusiasts that you treat everyone of your recordings as if it was " On Location ". Otherwise, you're going to spend as much or more for acoustical treatment to create a dead box than you will on equipment. And the equipment is the most important part of this recording equation not creating a dead box. Sometimes people don't believe this but then again, YOU CAN'T FIX STUPID.

    I don't believe in recording schools either.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  5. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I'll be back later. For now the pc build looks basically ok but 32gb ddr3 is overkill unless you are processing hd movies. 8 or 16gb is plenty. Also, gaming mobos aren't a bonus for audio production though you should consider using your hdtv big screen for a monitor. Inre fans, multiple large fans spinning slowly will provide better cooling and stay very quiet as well.



    Sent from my DROIDX using Tapatalk
     
  6. Animaldrummer04

    Animaldrummer04 Active Member

    Thank you!

    Thanks everyone for your replies! I tried to get on earlier today but I’m actually out to sea right now and the internet is spotty at best.

    Remy, I think you have convinced me to give the Shure mics a try. I’m the kind of person that gets nervous about buying disproportionately cheaply priced items (that type of person would be “broke”), so I was a bit nervous about using them. If so many people are vouching for them though, I guess I can’t go wrong.

    You talk about different mixing consoles, but I am confused because I was under the impression that the mixing takes place in the DAW on a software console. Am I supposed to go through a hardware console before it even goes in to the DAW?

    I haven’t heard any of the equipment in use that I have listed as of yet. My plan was to narrow down the playing field by way of word-of-mouth and reviews and then when it’s closer to the time I will be purchasing I would go out and start listening to them and make my final decisions. I cannot go and listen to them now because I know myself. What would happen is I would walk out the door with all the stuff I listed and a huge charge on my credit card! I can’t get too excited before I have the money to spend.

    No one has an opinion about Samplitude vs Reason 6? I am really leaning towards Samplitude because of it’s object-oriented editing, and mastering plugins, but I like the diversity of effects and rack options with Reason. I think I would only consider Reaper if someone convinced me that Samplitude was a bad choice. Has anybody used both Samplitude and Reason 6 that has an opinion?

    I checked out the Neve and API preamps and those are a little out of my budget for right now; however I realized that I should have some sort of tube amp (and then things spiraled out of control from there. I’m thinking:

    Instead of the MOTU, the Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56.
    Presonus Bluetube dp tube preamp
    Shure Beta 57a mics for snare and hi hat
    [URL="link removed 604 [/URL]mics for drum overheads

    Jack – I hear you about the overkill… I just don’t want to even think about my computer limiting what I can do as far as number of tracks. I’m do 16 instead of 32GB. I’ve never built a computer before, just have a lot of friends that do – I was getting that fan because I plan on overclocking the CPU to about 4.6GHz. Will the slower fans cool the chip down enough? What motherboard would you recommend?

    Thanks everyone for your advice!
     
  7. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    While I am using eight year old laptops for my business, there is NO point in purchasing old tech to start out. Computers are not becoming as obsolete as quickly as they were in the 1990's or even the first half of 2000's. So, you are on the right track though you might consider a purpose built machine as these often have custom BIOS as well.

    Take a look at MSI X58 and Asus P6T for first gen Core i5/i7 processors. For second gen i7 look at Asus P9X79. If you want to see what professional music computer folks put into their machine then look at PC Audio Labs (#1 IMO), Rain, and ADK. You will want a PCIe firewire 800 card with a Texas Instruments chipset. Three or four internal drives will be excellent. Make sure the mobo has enough SATA headers for the hard drives and BluRay burner and an eSATA port can be handy as well.

    MoTU makes some good interfaces that have their own PCIe card as interface to computer which is better in my mind than Firewire though I personally use Firewire all the time mostly because I'm a mobile based rig. I think among the class of interfaces you are looking, make sure you have enough line inputs for external mic preamps and also some ADAT ports for additional connection.

    Samplitude is an excellent DAW. Honestly for starting out, Reaper is very excellent as well and is wicked fast. Reaper does not have the feature set of Samplitude but is excellent none the less with frequent updates and excellent help files.

    You should skip the Bluetube. And skip the MXL 604. Good tube gear is not over rated but middle level and certainly low level tube gear is more propaganda than substance. With respect to Remy and her wonderful Neve and API preamps, there are other worthy offerings even if they do not have iron as their base attraction. Check out True Systems for one example though other are there too. As to the MXL, skip them. I bought a box of various ones when I left the Corps because I was flat broke but I had experience on my side about how to baby them along until I could afford real microphones vice toys. You will be much better served by Rode NT55 pair as your first small diaphragm condenser (SDC). I second recommendations of any SM57/SM58/SM7b. Also add to this list Sennheiser 421, Electro Voice RE20. Ribbons are something you should add to your list as well. Some good entry level candidates are Avantone CR14 (I think that was the model), and Cascade Fathead II, as well as Audio Technica has one AT4081. Eventually when you are ready to branch to large diaphragm condenser microphones good options include AT4060, AT4047, AKG C414XLS.

    You do not need an external mixer as long as your audio interface can provide enough inputs to get the tracks you want. You can mix everything down "in the box" (ITB). Many of us have a hybrid sort of system where we sum outside the box. Some prefer to work like the old days and mix down an entire band or show and run the final mix from the 2-bus into a converter and into the DAW. All ways are valid if the final product is quality.

    Semper Fidelis. Wishing I were overseas.
     
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    An aside. Know that most of us use more than one piece of DAW software as no single program is all things to all jobs especially when it comes to MIDI or looping etc.
     
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    There are digital mixers and there are software, digital mixer surfaces. They are both alike and different. An actual digital mixer will have all of your equalizers, microphone preamps, automated faders, compressors, limiters, effects, all built into it. It may even have audio recording capabilities. A digital software control surface is generally designed to work with a computer running someone's particular or general software. DSP and all the processing is done within the computer and not the control surface. It's just a matter of personal preference & flexibility. Generally, computers can be upgraded where digital mixers may or may not be upgradable. But everything is running on some kind of operating system one way or another. Some manufacturers frequently will make newer and more enhanced versions available for their hardware.

    You might also want to look into the Navy's fine audio recording facilities? All of the branches of the military have incredible studios that are regularly updated, upgraded, replaced and older stuff stuck into nearly permanent storage. So there is a wealth of information maybe even on board? So you wouldn't mind reenlisting if you were given that opportunity would you? I know its a great job to have in the military. You know, recording and traveling, traveling and recording, drinking, good hotels, good food and a new and different partner every night. Besides, you probably already know they use a boatload of good stuff.

    I found out I got seasick. But doing stolls in airplanes doesn't bother me.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  10. Animaldrummer04

    Animaldrummer04 Active Member

    Remy, I think that if i wasn't already in it you might have just recruited me again! If only it was like that...

    I'm on a destroyer, one of the Navy's smaller ships. We don't even have a doctor on board much less any kind of recording capabilities. Because of the particular radar that i work on, I am guaranteed to never be stationed on a carrier, and the only shore duty they let me have is to go teach other people to work on the radar. I can however ask around to find out where there's a studio on base here in Norfolk.
     
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Well, they need good well-trained people. They negotiate for new contracts don't they? You could reenlist in the Air Force. Boling has a wonderful recording studio. AFRTS ain't bad either. Washington DC weather is quite nice. And you'll be the first to know when the next terrorist attack occurs.

    Radar is so cool. That is as long as you don't stand in front of the emitter. Popcorn anyone?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  12. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    The Navy's recording facilities are at bases with active duty bands. These facilities generally run on Mac and Protools. The gear itself may or may not be state of the art depending on the DoD budget, the Band Officer of that particular band, and the imagination of whomever is Sound Chief. Being an audio engineer in Nav/MC is an unofficial secondary job but you have to be in the music MOS. To lat move to that field would require going to the career counselor as well as contacting NavMus and taking an audition for competency on a wind or brass instrument. The AF audition situation is much tighter audition but no field duty at all.

    Sent from my DROIDX using Tapatalk
     
  13. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Also, know that with the massive downsizing of NAV/MC as well as the sister services that once out, it is not likely to get back in easily or at all. Being a radar operator would help this but MIL and certainly Congress would rather train a baby face than reenlist a Salty Dog. The Marine Corps shut down two complete field bands as of 1 January, 2012. There are MUS at AFSOM that are sitting on their hands because there is no money to PCS or the associated TMO costs.
     
  14. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I'm really sorry to hear about that. More history down the tubes. Down periscope. Dive, dive! I guess it couldn't be more true than that? So much for gratifying careers in the military.

    4 F
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  15. Animaldrummer04

    Animaldrummer04 Active Member

    Yeah, I've thought about cross-rating before, but I have what they consider a "critical NEC" (or MOS), which means that I am pretty much stuck doing what I do for my entire Navy career. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy what I do, for the most part. Also, Woodwinds and Brass instruments are about the only groups of instruments that I don't know how to play, so that wouldn't work out for me very well anyway.

    On the topic of manning - There are 4 slots allotted to my ship for technicians that work on my radar (SPY-1D). Because of downsizing, I have been the only one here since October, and there is no one slated to come anytime soon (they have someone tentatively scheduled to arrive in September). It's been 16 hour days 6-7 days a week since October!
     
  16. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Well you've still come to the right place here. Obviously you're already at a high level of technical competency and understanding. Not to worry about the woodwinds and brass since you can also utilize sample libraries of those. So, next question? Since 16 hour days, 6-7 days a week and is already part of your life, you should have no problems in the recording & broadcast industry. I've actually worked some 36 hour continuous shifts in my days at NBC-TV, Washington DC. Thankfully, I've never had a family of my own. So it was never a problem for me. Of course there are those others that want to have a life. And what's life without music? Give me more music or give me death. (Maybe I should be careful for what I wish for?)

    You're on the right track my friend, I mean sailor.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  17. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Honestly, I would stick out 20. You can always work on your audio skills while in service and having a montly check coming in guaranteed is a welcome thing when you are starting out fresh. Hell, it would be a welcome thing now.
     

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