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The NEXT Studio Upgrade

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by Davedog, May 7, 2014.

  1. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Well, it has officially started. Probably the last for a while as I'm retired from my "career". But this time I will finish what I started several years ago. I have a full-length record starting next week so the upgrade will be in steps culminating in a total change in the orientation of the room and even furniture. I added a Manley Dual-Mono pre and a Six-pac Radial 500 rack which I will fill with compressors. My 900 series DBX stuff will be going on sale after the record is tracked as well as a couple other pieces. New TT bays with DB25 everything. And ProTools HD. I'm not sure if I stay native and go 11 with a Thunderbolt or sort of sidestep and do HD accel system @ HD10. All of that stuff is so cheap right now. Anyone with an opinion on this please chime in. I can actually get a PT HD3 system with a very nice Mac tower and an interface in my budget and that would give me the 'capture' machine for a future hybrid setup.

    Anyway.....Here We Go!
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    That's awesome Dave, the hard part is over! Making decisions on an upgrade like that couldn't have been easy? And what an ideal time to take advantage of an HD system, Good for you.

  3. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Thanks Chris. Your influence on really being honest about a defined and clear sound is partly to blame! LOL!!

    I added a nice pair of Audix SCX-25's to the mic collection and Monday will be auditioning a couple of Cathedral Pipes mics. One a U67 clone he built as a test mic and one a Regensburg U47 clone. Either one will be a great addition to the locker.

    On a side note...isn't it odd that just when you decide to do something like this and you choose a time that you're not too busy the work piles in the door like crazy!

    Singer-songwriter on Monday evening for a few hours. Simple, guitar and vocals but many songs. Crazy!
    audiokid likes this.
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Right on. :) I was starting to think I was becoming a bore around here.

    Audix SCX25A are excellent, nice move. Same ones right?
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Of course. That's the way it always goes. It's some kind of strange and hidden by-law in our charter as engineers that dictates that anytime you change gear, be it consoles, DAW platforms, Computer upgrades, or I/O's, that these changes are directly related to how much work comes calling. Anytime I've been swamped, I can almost always trace it back to corresponding with a major change in my gear or platform. ;)
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Yep Chris those are them. They make a matched pair specifically for piano recording.

    Added a Retro Doublewide comp to the 500 rack. Should be here in a few days. Also a Radial Komit comp. The Radial stuff is surprisingly good. The EXTC unit is on the list of little usable devices.
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Back from the mic shoot-out we did today. Went my studio Guru's room and recorded snippets of voice with five different mics. I took my trusty old Neumann U87 and one of my ADK Area 51 TT's. We listened to these and three Cathedral Pipes mics, The U67 clone, a C12 clone and the U47 clone. All through a mic pre built to his own specs by my Guru but very much an API in a lot of ways. Pristine conversion and speakers in a well treated room as well as a very dead vocal booth. And there was a surprise as well which I'll get to eventually.

    The U87 was along as a common denominator as I have owned this one for a long time and Steve has heard MANY of them in his work. What he didn't expect was how good this particular one sounds! And really, nor was I. Its 'one of those'. Apparently all the work (no real mods btw) done to it by Klaus has made it special. Or it always was... just covered by dirt......Anyway, a very pleasant start. We ran the ADK next and it was able to hold its own with all except a bit of sound-field went missing. But overall a very decent and serviceable mic, especially for what I paid for it. But there was the side by side difference in simply component costs, that made the differences stand out.

    Next we listened to the U67 mic. This is everything the U87 has and much more. My 87 doesn't have that bright toppy sound which I have heard MOST U87's have. So its a mellower tone. The Cathedral Pipes U67 has ALL things in its bandwidth. There's huge seemingly endless 'air', focused mids and tight firm low-end. It takes EQ very very well...as do ALL the mics tested here.....

    Next was the C12 Stephansdom Cathedral Pipes. This is mid-forward and right in-your-face clear. No mud. A huge proximity bump if you wanted it. Steve described it as his low-tenor/ baritone male voice go-to mic. Tom Waits would use this as well as Johnny Cash or Chris Cornell or Eddie Vedder.

    Next or lastly...the U47 Notre Dame Cathedral Pipes. Vintage. Slightly dark without sacrificing any frequencies. Rich, full, larger than life soundscape, wide wide wide.....OKAY! I GET IT!. This is why these things cost a bundle. The problem being that the old ones have to have been maintained to sound like this. My limited experience with a U47 anything has been with a U47 fet mic.

    If I had an unlimited budget I would have all of them. But to pick just one for my needs it is the U67 tube clone.

    Now the "surprise".

    Those of you who know me and follow the occasional things I have to say may be aware of my love for Conrad Amplifiers. I've even convinced a couple of folks on here that these are indeed, TONE GOD GENERATORS. So........

    Part of the reason for the performance of these guitar amps is the WIRE. You'll have to go the the Conrad site to get more info about just what this wire is, but I will say without reservation that it makes an immediately identifiable difference.

    Cathedral Pipes mics are built with this wire.

    Steve happened to have a 7 conductor cable he built....with this wire....for the tube mics-to-power supply connection. Not to say the stock wire isn't great....but there is a difference and without seeing what wire he was using..being ensconsed in the vocal booth....I can tell you the blind test proved it to me.....TO ME a REAL OLD SCHOOL ELECTRICIAN for Gawds sake. I know wire and why it does what it does and how it does what it does and until today, the differences in some brands...Canare, Monster, Belden etc etc etc ...has been negligible at best.

    No longer.

    We hooked that single cable up to my decent but slightly lacking in performance ADK Tube mic and suddenly, it was up there with the others. Not quite the same but enough of a jump that the price tag on them got a lot smaller and the value a lot larger.

    And don't get me started about when he switched the power cord on the playback amp to a special one.

    I never believed until now.

    Anyway. I added a U67 Cathedral Pipes clone to the locker and three 7 pin cables. One for the U67 and two for my trusty ADK TT's.

    And on it goes. Next we'll discover the joys of building my own LA2A from a kit. (I heard one today.....)
    audiokid likes this.
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Nice post Dave and refreshing.

    I "heard" wire some years back and although most people laugh and scoff at this, I've been smiling in silence. I have silver cable and I can tell you, I did tests and the young ears in my CR, all heard noticeable difference between Mogami and Accusound SILVER.
    So, I have silver cable between all my gear and converters.
    You are at a new level my friend.

    Thanks for sharing all this.
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    A very interesting post. I never doubted that wire could make a difference. I don't have the technical reasons, so y'all put your flame throwers down now. LOL.

    I would assume that because different metals have different conductivity/resistance, that it would affect the voltage flow, and the result would be a more constant and steady signal..

    I know that one of the reasons that the vintage AKG 414 EB model sounds so good and is so sought after, is because it had a brass CK-12 diaphragm ring - instead of a nylon ring like the newer 414 models have.

    So yes, It only makes sense that the use of better conductive materials will make a difference in sound quality.

    But...there are some snake oil and balloon juice theories and products out there. You still can't get me to accept that a special African Mahogany knob on my Tele is going to make it sound better. ;)
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    LOL! Funny post Donny! There is , in fact, a lot of snake-oil being sold under the guise of "this will make you sound better and look taller...." Much like the age-old "Sounds just like the classic (insert German manufacturer here)..." there's no getting around the shilling based on any recordists fears that there's something better just around the corner that I absolutely NEED ARGGGHHH!!!!

    For me, its learning a new skill set. Really getting into the depth of digital recording and learning it from an expert.

    That's one of the things being on these pages all these years has taught me. Someone, somewhere, knows their $*^t inside and out, and they're willing to teach it if someone is willing to learn.

    You're never too old to get something new percolating in the brain. Its healthy. I've spun a few feet of tape in my life but that never made me an expert on tape spinning. But every time I engaged in that, I hoped to be better at it.

    Yes, the wire thing has everything to do with conductivity but theres more science to this than simply impedance. I can't even speak to the depths of what happens with this technology thats currently (see what I did there!?) becoming a reality. I 'understand' it simply because of my career in wiring things up....houses, offices, hospitals, machinery, lighting, etc etc etc...the list is long and involved a huge swing through a lot of different needs and techniques. On these things I am an expert. But the advent of high-end technology and the use of computer operated everything... has brought the technology of the physics and make up of the transmission of signal through a media such as wire to extremes. Control wiring and the products associated with that have become quite the scientific frontiers.

    The hard part for fringe benefits of this spiraling technology, such as applications to our points of view, is to weed out just exactly what is real and what is sham. I don't want to pay $100 for a mic cable unless it has obvious audible differences to the better.

    What I heard yesterday does.

    BTW. Teles only sound "right" with knurled knobs......At least mine does.
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Nice one again Dave.
    There comes a point of realization, mass don't hear transient detail because their ears are full of wax, its because their entire process is smeared at some level making it impossible to have discussion on this level. Wire, and other detail then becomes snake oil. Then, you get Remy in on a tangent and ya might as well stop talking my friend. I'm warning you pal... :whistle:

    Why does all this fuss and overkill matter?
    Generally speaking. The transients is where the magic lives and where stereo either stays open or starts closing in to where you hear phase shift.
    Welcome to plug-ins , transient quantization. Wait until you start hearing that closer up lol. Thats when it really gets funny. You are done man! hehe.
  12. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Yep. My mentor talks in transient details. and he makes great sounding Pop records. AND he can edit a drum track in about 15 minutes.

    The hash and smear have always been available to my ears. I have heard this forever but have learned to live with it. And have made some very decent recordings in spite of limitations of mine and other systems. I think a LOT of people work this way. After a while, your brain filters all this out and until you hear things in a pristine and clear environment its not going to be an issue.

    I have a goal here. I will have some compromise at some point in this process as I have a limited budget and I don't own this house. So this limits me to portable sound control and room configuration. But that will change as work comes in. And it will. Honing my skills at the computer part of this process brings me closer to the normal modern expectations of recording techniques and I do know how to control the source with selection and placement of mics and selection of devices to input. That never changes.

    There's a reason that even with the plethora of gear choices that the tried and true designs are still being used.

    I could always get the 75 to 90 percent done with anything I had.....NOW I'm looking for that fabled 10%.
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    "I have a goal here. I will have some compromise at some point in this process as I have a limited budget and I don't own this house. So this limits me to portable sound control and room configuration. But that will change as work comes in."

    Dave, have you thought about mobile traps? I'm only suggesting this because you don't own the house you are in, and because of this I would think you wouldn't want to put big money into permanent solutions. This has nothing to do with gear because that follows you wherever you end up going...but you may want to investigate acoustic treatment that is a more mobile and less permanent.

    IMHO of course.
  14. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Yeah... whatever happened to those ASC " Tube Traps "? What? Have they fallen out of Vogue? They were all the rage for setting up a portable control room a few years ago. They are actually lightweight and mounted on Manhasset style music stands. I actually considered making my own. Though I never did.

    I really think Chris is leading the way in both quality and what the recording studio is morphing into. Who doesn't marvel at something that has a sound that will blow your socks off? I mean, these days, I come from a different direction but in time, I'll likely end up with something that is but a fraction of the quality that Chris and Dave are using. But it will be better than my old fashion workhorse rock 'n roll JBL & KRK's?

    Dave, you're retiring? Retiring from what? Oh... you mean a fake retirement? And me, 59 soon and I'm just getting started. I'm relocating, moving to, Austin, Texas. And where I think people will still want to track on old Neve and API stuff? There is all these rock 'n roll documentaries coming out now with tales of exactly that. And for the next 10 years or so, I'm going to ride the ride, walk the walk and talk the talk. Get my groove up and my sound, down. Yay doggy. And another one half-dozen other plans.

    I'm going to the great beyond!
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Do I have a missing post here?

    Here's the gist of my missing reply....

    My local Pro Audio Store With All My Money (superdigital.com) has had a bunch of Tube Traps for sale for a long time. Maybe they aren't in style anymore...don't know... They work great but not in my room due to size and shape. I'm going with movie theatre curtains and gobos.

    Remy, I retired from being an Electrician for many many years. My knees are gone and I can't climb ladders any more so I retired as a Union Electrician.

    Hopefully running my studio and playing live as well as my retirement will keep me out of debtors prison!

    Tracking this weekend went great! Its nice to work with professionals. They (most of the time) get whats going on. all the gear worked seemlessly as it should. I'm loving the Manley pre. With the new U67 clone its really good. Vocal tracks and acoustic guitar through it with a smidge of DBX 160SL on the comp. Smooth. I ran the bass guitar through the ADK AP2 pre as usual only this time I set it up as a Neve-like pre with an op-amp thats voiced like a Neve and a Cinemag transformer. New 1176 clone in the 500 rack, stock Jazz bass and BOOM...there it is. I've been using the Jensen transformer with an API 2520 op-amp and a touch of either DBX over-easy comp or a Symetrix comp on bass but this combo sounded great. There won't need to be anything at mix other than level control.Once again the Toft delivered punchy, quiet, and full sounding drums.
    kmetal likes this.
  16. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    It sounds like you are off to the races, Dave. ;)

    Sometimes - not often enough anymore for me - we get reminded as to why we started down this road to begin with. You get a session like the one you had this past weekend, and you remember just how cool it can be when all the pistons are firing; good musicians, good gear, creative people...

    I liked reading your post. ;)


  17. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Cool things, let's hear it. Sylvia Massey is using the burl mothership conversion system which was on her site a little while ago.

    Conversion is such an area of debate. So are components, I think people are mostly in agreement that the best recordings are made from the best material
  18. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    After a certain level, as long as there isn't another version to compare to, most of everything passes. As long as we aren't comparing, the song is all that's important. And that goes for the room acoustics and even MP3.

    Mass don't care enough to hear the difference and most want the cheaper option to win.

    Now if we could just stop all the brain washing , I think I've heard the same 40 songs being played for the last 3 months.
    Are products popular because they are that good or because they are in the spin? :whistle:

    Do we even know we are part of the spin? We used to have a brain, now we are a product for the manufacturer, not the other way around.
    kmetal likes this.
  19. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    You know that's very interesting Chris, your thought, that we are now a product for the manufacturer. This role always was, but as the playing field narrows, I'd think it'd be easier to get "that commercial sound". It's not tho.

    I just always silently, compare how the audio and video worlds are doing there thing, and video just doesn't seem to have the same hang ups in quality. Obviously two vastly different fields, that relate to each other. But I've never, ever heard someone say to me that the video world is I hurting cuz go pro cams are affordable, or final cut is the problem for bad movies.

    I think this role has always been victim to the manufactureer but now there are more "levels". Like back in the day manufacturers focus was consoles, so they needed decent chains the whole way thru. But it's becoming so itemized that it's ridiculous. And I'm gonna be very honest, it's showing what the musicians quality level is at. Since we can use the same plugins as everyone else can, I think it's exposing how many different takes there are on "good sound".

    The really hard part about this whole thing is who do u ask? Nobody seems to have a handle, from people who are paid like bob Katz, to people scraping by, but it's like the big dogs don't even know how to improve things overall.

    So maybe we are or aren't at a pinnacle. If the idea is to project sound from wood boxes paper and some copper, maybe it's time to really think innovation.
  20. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I think that maybe, just maybe, the gear merchants are capitalizing on peoples confusion, or naivete, about what works and sounds 'right'. There are lots and lots of designs these days to capture sound through. Lots of ways to print it. Lots and lots of choices.

    What choices make things more 'musical' ? A great arrangement of a well tracked and superbly performed well written song is the true path to musical nirvana.

    Any cassette deck with a basic mic will get this done. Maybe not radio ready, but you'll certainly get the idea. If the song stands on its own.....

    Here's a question. Why does every studio of substance in the world have three of the same basic staples at their disposal? I'm talking hardware here. Two are very specific and one is generic. Besides the mics, besides the DAW, besides the tape machine.....three things in common to make hit records, or not hit records.....three things at capture.....

    And theres a hundred 'versions' or 'clones' available.

    Quality preamp. 1176. LA2A.

    Everything else is either an offshoot of these designs, a reverb, or a way to route things.

    I don't know if the classical capture guys use these as much, but for any sort of popular music of any genre these are the tools getting it done. Of course you can use other things. Of course it'll sound great! but one the whole, in every room, there is at least one of each to make records with.

    I'll be building mine.

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