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Starting a studio, need gear

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by Stratton, Jan 12, 2005.

  1. Stratton

    Stratton Guest

    Well, I am a newbie (hopefully not for long). I just moved to Colorado Springs from Korea (Army). I have been writing music for about 7 years and playing the guitar and drums for about 13 years. I have also been researching and using pro audio gear to record/learn recording aspects.
    I want to upgrade the studio equipment I have. Through lengthy research I have found that every audiophile loves and hates every piece of equipment out there. I think Neve is the only brand everyone loves, unfortunately, I am not independently wealthy. I have about $1500 to start with and should have another $500 - $700 at the end of Feb.
    Here is my inventory:
    Sony Vaio 2 ghz pent.
    120 gig / 60 gig HD
    512K RAM
    DVD play only
    Echo Gina (2 in/10 out, 20 bit old version) PCI card
    CAD M177 condenser
    Liquid Sound Jeckel/Hyde effects Pedal
    Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 w/ waves native and several other plug-ins
    Behringer UB1202 Eurorack 12 Input Mixer (please do not shoot me for this!)
    Plenty of stands and cables
    I am buying a recording desk with an 8 rack space

    Here are the items I have looked at so far:

    Cakewalk Sonar 4 Studio
    EMU PCI 0404
    Event TR5
    Presonus blue tube micpre
    R0DE NT1A

    I also need to buy a bass.
    I want to record my acoustic DI and Miked
    I also what to create warm vocals
    My music is mainly played on acoustic guitar. I use Drums on Demand and other loopable live drums.

    I do not use samplers or MIDI (I like using real instruments)
    I basically want a decent set-up that will allow me to produce quality recordings that are pleasant to the ear.

    If you want to hear what I recorded in Korea you can check out my site and see for yourself just what I need to do (in my defense I recorded all the tracks in 5 weeks, between shifts, in my barracks room)
  2. JeffreyMajeau

    JeffreyMajeau Active Member

    Rather than buy a set of monitors without hearing them, see if you can take a CD of material you know very well and audition a few. Ideally, you should be auditioning them in your room, but that's not always possible.

    I'd skip the BlueTube. The FMR RNP is a little more expensive, but a much more quality piece. Search around on the forums for "preamps" either here, or at gearslutz.com or at recforums.prosoundweb.com

    There's a lot of pre's out there, in a variety of price ranges, but the pre is one place where it's better to spend a bit more.

    Mics are sorta like speakers, you have to audition a few on a source to find what you want. That means that you have to build up a collection. If you buy the NT1A, you'll learn it's strengths and weaknesses and what it can and can't do.

    Welcome, good luck!

  3. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    IMO if there is one mic that is an absolute necessity in any studio is an SM57! If you ever question what mic you should use for a certain application...try a 57 and you'll most likely stick with it. My opinion of course. For an $80 mic, you can use it on just about anything and get results that are at least respectable.

    I've heard a lot of people go back and forth on this....but if you purchase a blue tube, replace the tube with a nicer tube, there should be a slight step up. Remember that this is a $99 preamp and the parts, labor to build, manufacturing, etc are paid for in part with that $99 you spend on it. It gives you an idea as to the quality of parts and design....nothing to write home about. I could be wrong.
  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I would skip the Event TR5s and the Presonus blue tube micpre ....

    IMO, the pres in your Behringer are just as good as the ones mentioned so far ... the RNP included ... Their may be some small sonic differences but none of these cheap pres have any depth or dimension to them. Very flat and lifeless sounding to my ear.

    About a year ago, I did a comparison of the RNP to other pres ... audio results were posted here on RO in a blind fashon ... of the respondents, most said a Mackie pre sounded better ... Check the reviews forum to hear the results yourself ... If the RNP sold for 1/4th what is goes for, I would recommend it but at $500, ($250 per channel), I see no justification for such a purchase. More hype than substance. I really doubt that any improvment would be realized with the RNPs over a small format consoles pres ...

    Good mic pres are expensive, no getting around this ... so if you are serious about getting some be prepared to spend over $700 or $800 for a single channel unit that is worth talking about. There is much back and forth here at RO on mic pres ... do a search and read up on it.

    As far as monitors ... it's pretty much the same thing ... not much worthy of mention that isn't pretty pricey ... one exception IMO is the Yamaha MSP5's at $500 a pair ..
  5. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Kurt...how do you feel about Sytek pres? I've seen the 4 channel going for $869.
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I'm not too wild about them .... small power supplies equals small sound IMO...

    A lot of guys seem to like them, Steve Albini for one, Audio Gaff for another .. and you gotta respect that. Both of them have been at this for a long time and know what they are talking about ... The Syteks are better than most other lower end mic pres (close but still, no cigar IMO). I would rather see a company like Sebatron get the business.

    Personally, I have never been very wild about the sound (or lack of sound) of Neotek consoles, which the Sytek is modeled after. I think they (the Syteks) run out of headroom quickly, which is symptomatic of the inadiquate power supply. I also wonder why the Burr Brown chip switch? Either the thing sounds good, or needs improvment. I think the Burr Browns are used to compensate for the lack of a transformer in the audio path on the cheap. Transformers are expensive. I have often wondered, what the Burr Brown chip does to "warm up" the signal? Does it have a slower slew rate (a common approach to making solid state circuts fatter sounding)? If so then in reality, the Burr Brown chip is degrading the signal, not making it better ... I can't say, I just wonder if this is what is happening?

    Great designs shouldn't need to be modified IMO and the idea that different sounding pres are needed for different things is mostly hyperbole. Any really good pre will work on anything ... many great records have been recorded using the pres in one console..
  7. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    I can respect that. I'm still doing the preamp search and I think I'm just going to bite the bullet and get a 4 channel Sebatron. At least I can mic the better half of a kit(kick, snare, OH's) and keep the toms running into my board.

    Stratton, sorry for hijacking your post. I'm done now.
  8. JeffreyMajeau

    JeffreyMajeau Active Member

    Hear hear! And if the song sucks with a bad pre, more often than not, it sucks more clearly with a better pre. You can make good music with low end gear. It won't sound as good as a record done with better gear, but it shouldn't sound horrid, either. We focus on minutiae way too much, IMHO. Gimme a 4-track with built in mic pres for all I care, if the song is good, it'll move people. If the song sucks, nobody's going to care that you used a Fairchild 670 on the drum subgroup.
  9. Stratton

    Stratton Guest


    Thanks for all the helpful Advice! I forgot to mention that I will do periodic updates to my system as funds become available. For instance, the first major purchase I am saving for is the Avalon M5 micpre. My initial purchase is just to get me started. There is a tremendous learning curve when it comes to proaudio and I want to polish my technique. I am, however, very focused on my music and writing quality. Although high end pro gear is the only way to go when it comes to perfection, I truly believe with a moderate DAW , capturing a quality performance is not daunting if you apply a high level of talent. I understand the importance of a solid mic cabinet, I also have an SM58. The 57 is surly a recording staple, I will probably pick one up as well. I am holding off on the TR5’s. I listened to the TR8’s and loved them. The NT1A is very good but I really liked the KSM27 ($299). Cakewalk Studio seemed pretty user friendly and I like the feel of Sonar better that Pro Audio 9. The Blue Tube, IMO, worked well for the acoustic I tested it through (ovation) as an instrument pre. I thought is sounded okay on the vocals (used a KSM27 and R0de NT1A). The highlight of the testing was the PODxt Live foot board. I played a Schecter S-1 through it and it was more than I expected! Enough of my rambling. Thanks again and I hope to lay down some tracks to share with you all soon!
  10. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    I use TR8's as of now. They work for me until I have the money to move into the "pro" realm of monitors. It is my opinion that until I have an acoustically treated control room....I'm not blowing the wad on great monitors. I try to listen to CDs relative to what I'm mixing to tune my ears. Then I go for it....my mixes won't win a grammy, but they make me happy for now.

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