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The Next Step....

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by carefree_wanderer, Dec 26, 2004.

  1. Hello, this is my first post on the forums, so please forgive any protocol errors I may make. I have been searching recording.org for pretty close to four hours and am yet to find a direct answer to my question.

    I have been making amateur recordings of our band at the house for a year or so achieving a moderate amount of sound quality using the following setup: All instruments and mic's hooked into a 32 channel mixer which is fed directly to a plain jane sound card. I record using Sound Forge 7.0. The following equipment is used as well in case it effects anything that I am unaware of:

    Samson 7 piece drum mic's
    Behringer C-1 condenser mics for the Guitar cab and Bass Cab
    Samson C03 condensers for vocals
    The computer used has 512 mb of ram, and a plenty fast processor.

    Now my question is what is the next logical step to achieving a higher quality sound, and have more control of the editing process of the finished product? I would like to be able to split all of the instruments and vocals coming in into different channels to modify them on the comp. Would this be best achieved with a high quality soundcard, a multitrack recorder, is it personal preference, or is there some other alternative?

    Thank you in advance for any help given, and I'd like to thank whoever founded this site because in the few hours I have spent on here, the amount I have learned has been enormous. Also if any other information is needed please let me know, I am willing to spend up to about $1000 dollars.
  2. midiwhale

    midiwhale Guest

    welcome wanderer,

    as you've already surmised you need a mulitrack system so that you can mix after the event (rather than the live stereo mix you do now).

    It looks like you're using about 12 chnanels so far, IMHO 16 would certainly surfice. I presume you have some DI boxes as well for synths, bass, etc..

    As you already have a PC, assuming it's up to the task (?) the best performance/value option is probably the computer route. But I'm reluctant to say so ;-)

    Hardware wise the Fostex D24, Mackie 24, or some of the Roland or Yamaha combi products might do you. Just BE ALERT as how many SIMULTANEOUS tracks the device can record.
    Many say 16 track for instance but can only do 8 at a time. No use for live! Also most of them have a "token" number of mic pres should you wish to bypass yor exsiitng mixer.

    As you already have a mixer, assuming it's up to the job (?) you could just get the recorder engine, like the Fostex D24. Certainly with the Fostex you have the option (extra cost) to transfer it to PC (file wise) for editing over network LAN. Or it has ADAT outs for a sound card.

    PC wise, again as you have the mixer with mic pres (asuming it's up to the job), I have 2 suggestions;

    1) An RME HDSP 9652 sound card (with ADAT connections) with two Behringer ADA8000. It can do mic or line level, so even if you didn't have the desk it would work for you.
    The RME is a GREAT sound card, low PC stress. The weak link is the Behringer's but for your budget, and less than ideal "live" situation....

    2) Two Presonus FirePods. This only requires a FireWire connection on your computer.
    These have lovely Mic pres, 8 of them. Again it can do mic or line level, so you can either bypass the PA mixer, or not.
    The Presonus also comes BUNDLED with Cubase SE so you have multitrack software as well !! I don't think there is a track limit on SE, but I use SX, so please confrm this!
    I haven't tried two FirePods in sixteen track simultaneous record mode, so again please confirm this really works. AFAIK it should.

    All my suggestions fit around your $1000 budget - "ish".

    What I haven't included (other than option 2) is the multitrack recording software. As this will take it beyond your budget.
    Sony Vegas is a possibility. As is Adobe/Syntrillium Cool Edit/Audition.
    I think the cheapest option might be Mackie Traction (V1 FREE via Guitar Mag at the moment). I "think" it can do multitrack recording. I'm an ardent Cubase user I'm afraid.
    I know there are some other very cheap or free multitrack software out there too (even with VST plug-in support). Google should reveal them. (Search for "VST hosts" perhaps.)

    IMHO the other weak link is your existing microphones.

  3. tedcrop

    tedcrop Guest

    I would look into Cubase SX3
    and an RME PCI card and Multiface

    This is probably about 1400 but it would be worth it. with this you have a good starting point to expand. If you go cheaper you will regret it later. Trust me.

    This will let you feed your pres from your board into 8 individual tracks going into RME and cubase. Later you could add a Presonus Digimax maybe into the ADAT intrface of the multiface and you would have 16 tracks.

    Then down the road you could higher quality pres and/or converters with no problem. If you waste your money on cheaper stuf you will probably find yourself throwing it in the garbage in six months.

    I think that simpler is better.

    Pres into multiface into PCI card into Cubase
  4. tedcrop

    tedcrop Guest

    Budgets SUCK ASS.......bacon rocks
  5. Thanks for all the help, I am a bit curious about some of the terms mean however. What is a "multiface" and a "pres?"
  6. midiwhale

    midiwhale Guest

    In this context pre's is short for microphone pre-amplifier.
    (most computer sound cards only have line level inputs)

    Multiface is the name of an RME computer sound card product
    see http://www.rme-audio.com
  7. MrSparkle

    MrSparkle Guest


    Multiface is an RME product... check the specs out at their website. When anyone refers to pres they mean PREAMPS... usually for mics. They range quite significantly in price and quality... i.e. $2500 for two good channels right down to cheap bad ones at around $50. The sound you can get out of a good pre depends also on your mics. Many desks come with pres in them as well.
    I would do a search on this site for pres and preamps if you need find out more about them... Also check out LYNX products. They make PCI cards for multitrack recording. I've seen afew people speak highly of them but I'm not sure what they're like as I've never used one.
  8. Ok, let me run this by real quick then, and just tell me if this is a good idea, bad idea, or even possible:

    Run all drum mic's into the previously owned mixer, which is fed to a firepod along with all of the other mic's or instruments, which is then fed to the computer, to the Cubase LE software.

    I am hoping this will work rather than using two seperate Firepod's so I can allocate more money on a couple of high quality mic's rather than what I've been using now.

    Next qustion: Would it be more wise to feed everything into an Analog to Digital converter (I figured AD/DA out on my own) and then to a PCI card? If this is the case, is there an alternative to the RME HDSP 9652. It seems extremely pricy, and I would still need to purchase software and the converter. This is the only thing that inclines me towards the firepod at the moment, but if there is good reason to go this route instead, I am more than willing to spend the money.

    Lastly, is there any other hardware necessary that I am forgetting if I were to go either of these two routes. Thanks again for the help.
  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Fredericksburg, VA

    There is a difference in quality from the Firepod to the RME Stuff. You do get what you pay for. If quality is ultimately your goal, you would be better suited with the RME stuff. However, I completely understand the quality vs. budget struggle. I started out by buying stuff that was decent, but not great. Soon after I started that, I began to realize that the decent stuff was now (now that my recording chops were getting better) garbage and virtually worthless on E-bay.

    Notice, at the beginnning of the message I said you would be "better suited with the RME stuff." That doesn't mean it's the best, it just means that it's good stuff, it will take you a long way and if you do ever need to sell it to upgrade, you will have an easier time with it than most mid-level gear.

    You could, for example, get an RME Multiface ($750 or so) and have room left over for some software. There is nothing wrong with using the little brothers of Cubase SX3 (SL, LE, etc.) They are cheaper and will get you started. You can upgrade your software later when you find out exactly what you want. (BTW, if you are a student anywhere, you can get great academic pricing on Cubase SX and SL.)

    As for the idea that you could get the firepod and still have some money left over for some good mics - don't do it. See my comments above about wasting money. For the price you would pay for the Firepod and the difference you would have left over, there aren't any "good" mics in that range. There are decent mics in that range, but you already have "decent mics." The difference between what you have and a 3 or 4 hundred dollar mic is negligable. (There are noteable exceptions such as the AT 4047, but you really have to know how to use these mics.)

    Get good with what you have, develop a bigger budget from selling your services and albums and then come back and buy some good stuff. Don't waste your money buying mid-level crap that you will regret 2 or 3 years from now.

    Before I purchase anything in the audio realm, I ask myself the following: Will I be able to use this in my studio in 20 years? If the answer is no, I reconsider. (Of course, anything involving computers is a different story) Things such as quality cables, good mic pre's, consoles, AD/DA converters, good microphones, amplification and monitors are things that last forever. Fads, such as the firewire all-in-one boxes will be short lived.

    my $.02

    Jeremy :cool:

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