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Basement Studio

Member for

14 years 8 months

 

For those who hate to read, the main points:
Just starting
$4-5k budget
Transforming my basement
Style: Acoustic guitar, vocals, some electric
Information on setting up acoustics for a room
Looking for: a nice 'real' sound
Estimated costs / suggestions: mixers, compressors, mics, the works


Hey everyone, I'm new here, and have pretty much just started out recording music. Right now I run on my laptop, and for equipment I only have an SM57 and a little behringer xenyx 502.

I guess for what it is, it gets the job done. But I want something that sounds really nice and not so 'far off'

My budget - $4-5000
Project - Transform my basement into a studio
Get some good stuff for recording

I'm a songwriter and most of my stuff is acoustic with mixed drums (drumkit from hell + fruity loops to tie it together) But I love all kinds of music so I have some songs that use electric guitar and of course you gotta love some techno once in a while.

I would describe my style as somewhere in between Jack Johnson, Matt Pond PA, and with a little Joe Satriani mixed in.

 

Comments

Member for

17 years 6 months

Cucco Mon, 01/08/2007 - 05:32
Jeremy wrote: I personally would get 1 brick pre and a fmr rnp.

Well....if he were to get the Onyx and the two bricks, as I suggested in the scenarios above, I doubt he would find any "limitations." In addition, I would think the FMR would be redundant seeing as how it's a "transparent" pre just as the Mackies are (and seeing as how I have both and FAR prefer the Mackies - they aren't that far off of my Millennias and Graces!). In addition, perhaps he would like to mic (in stereo) a guitar with some heft to it. A stereo pair of the bricks would come in mighty handy.

Jeremy wrote:
I like to give myself options when I record, not limitations. You very much limit yourself in my personal opinion using a kick snare overheads mic scheme. Even if I mic the kick twice and all the toms, when it comes to the kit I start mixing only with snare, kick, overheads, if nothing else is needed so be it, but the tracks are there if you need the toms mic'd, or the room. I like to have tracks to play with, not spending time tring to eq the overheads to see if I could get a little more oomph out of that tom roll.

I find that the bane of young engineers (as well as a clear sign of their youth in the business) is the drum kit (and the piano as well). Let me state this as clearly and as uninsultingly as possible.

If you need to use more than 3 to 4 mics on a drum kit, you are doing something wrong.

If you EVER need to use EQ on a drum kit, you are doing something wrong.


Simply put, your microphones should be placed correctly and your kit should be tuned properly. Period. If you need more snare - move your overhead. If you need more tom, move your overhead. For the love of God - do NOT mic every piece of the kit. You will have far more resulting errors with phasing (and then the need to EQ each piece and/or gate it - which sounds like SH*T) which will smear the sound of the kit.

Jeremy wrote:
I do also agree treatment is vital, and deserves to be number one, monitoring for a newbie dosent fit the #2. You CAN make great mixes without spending genelec cash.

No.

I'm not saying you need to spend Genelec cash (seeing as how that is at a minimum $2000 and I made recommendations as low as $500.)

Monitoring, next to room acoustics, is THE most important ingredient to a good mix. Period.

If you can't hear what you're mixing 100% accurately, then you are wasting your time and your clients time.

Spend more money on your monitors than anything else at first. You can make 1 mic sound like 10 if you know how to use it. Poor monitors are poor monitors. You CANNOT get a mix sounding right on inferior monitors.

J.

Member for

16 years 1 month

Jeremy Mon, 01/08/2007 - 07:18
I agree that monitors are the weakest link in any recording chain, and I would agree that 500-800 need to be appropreated here.

The problem I have with moving mics all day long is this. you move the mic to pick up more snare, but you ended up getting a hotter crash than needed. So you spend time to dmpen the crash by adding just a tad bit of tape. When you tamed the crash enough to your taste, youget a fine snare sound, but you dont get the toms the way you wanted, so you move the mic back a little, and rise it a tad. Now that snare needs to get tuned to get more out of it, but the hotter snare dosent sit well with the entire sound of the kit. If the kit sounds good and everything is in very good tune with itself and the room I mic it. Steve Albini records his drums in a room with a very high ceiling, but it is nothing but concrete walls, and mics the room with several mics.
Truth of the matter is find what works for you in your room with the equipment you have. You will have 10 people give you 10 different ways to do something, and all can have very good results. I personally like to mic the whole drum kit, so I may have the options I previously mentioned, or I can use drum replacement software (drumagog) which, gives great drum sounds.

Member for

17 years 6 months

Cucco Mon, 01/08/2007 - 08:21
Jeremy wrote: I agree that monitors are the weakest link in any recording chain, and I would agree that 500-800 need to be appropreated here.

The problem I have with moving mics all day long is this. you move the mic to pick up more snare, but you ended up getting a hotter crash than needed. So you spend time to dmpen the crash by adding just a tad bit of tape. When you tamed the crash enough to your taste, youget a fine snare sound, but you dont get the toms the way you wanted, so you move the mic back a little, and rise it a tad. Now that snare needs to get tuned to get more out of it, but the hotter snare dosent sit well with the entire sound of the kit. If the kit sounds good and everything is in very good tune with itself and the room I mic it. Steve Albini records his drums in a room with a very high ceiling, but it is nothing but concrete walls, and mics the room with several mics.
Truth of the matter is find what works for you in your room with the equipment you have. You will have 10 people give you 10 different ways to do something, and all can have very good results. I personally like to mic the whole drum kit, so I may have the options I previously mentioned, or I can use drum replacement software (drumagog) which, gives great drum sounds.

I hear what you're saying here and I'm not trying to insult or be disrespectful, but it is QUITE possible to mic the kit and rather successfully so without mic'ing every piece. Moving the mics is the ONLY correct way to EQ the kit. If you want to "Drumagog", by all means, mic each piece, but I have yet to encounter a drum kit in my nearly 15 years of professional recording which I could not tune and get mic'ed with 3 mics when the kit is tuned properly and the mics are placed properly. Granted I may spend 30 minutes setting up the mics, but it's usually worth it and saves me at LEAST that much time in messing with effects later.

As for the monitors - how can one possibly quantify a maximum budget that one should work with for monitors? $500-$800 will simply not buy you a decent monitor. The only (and I do mean ONLY) exception is the NHT M-00. Everything else in that range should merely be considered glorified computer speakers. And the NHT's are by no means full-range so a good subwoofer is required for full-range. (Though I use the M-00s just fine on-location with no sub and rarely miss it.)

This gentleman has a very reasonable budget to work with for a basement studio. If he cheaps out on the monitors now, he'll wind up selling them for
J.

Member for

16 years 1 month

Jeremy Tue, 01/09/2007 - 12:57
No I said everything he buys should be purchased on ebay, and preferably lightly used, unless he finds a screaming deal. 800 bucks on lightly used monitors will suit his needs, and wont depreciate much, so if an upgrade is ever decided upon he wont be loosing his pants. We all know on here that 4500-4000 bucks sounds like alot of cash until it comes time to spend it, and it goes......sadly.....way too fast.

Now when you say you are using 3 mics are you really using 4, and just not counting the overheads as 2? I know you can use a single overhead with good results if you dont stereo them. Or are you just using overheads and kick? I always have a snare mic'd. Just wanted to make sure I understand exactly what you are doing here.

Member for

15 years

Scoobie Tue, 01/09/2007 - 15:04
Cucco's right about using just 3 mic's on drums.......

I tend to mic the whole kit, even if it's to just satisfy the drummer. But when mix'in, 80% of the time I'm only using the 2 OH's and Kick. I usally have a hard time with to much Snare in my Overheads...........so I don't really need the snare mic .

Far as buying cheap monitors. Don't go there......I've been down that road. The money that I have wasted on monitors would have bought me a killer pair.
So get the best you can in your budget......

Peace.........Scoobie

Member for

21 years

Member Thu, 01/04/2007 - 21:38
hmm, 4-5 grand is definately good, so all you need is recording equipment, you already have guitars/drum sets, i use for my setup the presonus firepod around $700. and it has 8 combo line/xlr preamplified inputs, it sounds great and comes with cubase le so you don't need to spend any money on software and more on hardware, get lots of mics!, if you think your going to be doing drums even 1 song out of 10, get that 1 song with drums sounding up to par, if you have a bad drum sound, the whole song will sound bad, if you do go with the firepod, mic your drumset with anywhere from 4-6 inputs, snare,bass,hi tom, mid tom, floor tom, and 2 overheads, if only four, then get rid of the over heads, and the mid tom, or keep the over heads and get rid of the tom mics altogether, for drum mics, use your sm 57 for the snare, and i'd go buy a shure beta 52 for your bass drum, and for your toms you could buy some more sm57s, they are cheap and sound amazing, or you can buy a drum mic kit for pretty cheap, i'm a big fan on shure mics, there kits are damn good, i'd go for
that, if your recording electric guitar, your gonna need an amp to mic the sound, use one of your sm 57s for the mic, oh, your going to need a lot of xlr cables and a few line cables, include them in your budget, they add up, and for vocals get something along the lines of a marshall mxl2003, sounds good and is pretty cheap compared to the high end mics which could take of your buget in 2 or 3 mic purchases. record your acoustic guitar with the sm57s, i swear they are amazing. alright for acoustics, go to a store that specifically sells wood, and buy lots and lots of acoustic board, 4by8 sheets of 1 inch thick green acoustic board, the stuff works great, i don't know where you live, but where i live in toronto, i got mine at home depot, just screw them up to your walls. set up your drum kit in an open area, with the bass drum facing the most open area, when recording all stuff, amps, acoustic guitar, face it all to the most open area, your also going to need some monitoring speakers, this is really your call, easy enough to find. your also going to need a headphone amp and some headphones, i use the apex aha4 headphone amp, it has 4 outputs for headphones, but i only use 2, 1 for me, and 1 for the person doing whatever, playing drums, playing guitar etc. and for headphones, i use 2 sony mdr-xd100. for your drums you could get creative and make a little wall around them about 4 feet after your bass drum make it out of wood, and put the acoustic board on it, a lot of studios do this, i don't, but trust the studios more then me.. hah, and yea i think for the most part i covered everything. hope everythign works well, take some pics, i'd like to see how it turns out when it's finished, see you later



links for the items:

-presonus firepod - http://www.zzounds.com/item--PRSFIREPOD

-vocal mic - http://www.zzounds.com/item--MSHMXL2003

-drum kit mics(overheads not included) - http://www.zzounds.com/item--SHUPGDMK4

-overhead mics(get 2) - http://www.zzounds.com/item--AUDF15

-headphones(getatleast2) - http://www.zzounds.com/item--SNYMDR7505
(i couldn't find the ones i have, but these are about the same. probably better)

- headphone amp - http://www.zzounds.com/item--PRSHP4
(also couldn't find mine, but again this is probably better too)

- guitar amp - http://www.zzounds.com/item--MSHMGSTACK1
or - http://www.zzounds.com/item--MSHMG100DFX

- studio monitors - http://www.zzounds.com/item--MDOBX5A

- upgrade if theres money left over to - http://www.zzounds.com/item--STECUBASESX

hope this helps!, happy recording!

Member for

17 years 6 months

Cucco Tue, 01/09/2007 - 19:53
Jeremy wrote: No I said everything he buys should be purchased on ebay, and preferably lightly used, unless he finds a screaming deal. 800 bucks on lightly used monitors will suit his needs, and wont depreciate much, so if an upgrade is ever decided upon he wont be loosing his pants. We all know on here that 4500-4000 bucks sounds like alot of cash until it comes time to spend it, and it goes......sadly.....way too fast.

Now when you say you are using 3 mics are you really using 4, and just not counting the overheads as 2? I know you can use a single overhead with good results if you dont stereo them. Or are you just using overheads and kick? I always have a snare mic'd. Just wanted to make sure I understand exactly what you are doing here.

Fair enough - $800 on used monitors will probably yield decent monitors.

As for the kit - nope, I mean 3 mics. Two overheads and 1 kick. Very rarely do I ever find the need for more than that and it's usually to highlight special parts of a kit (like a 3" splash or crazy loud cowbell...)

If I need more snare, I aim one of the overheads a little more at the snare. If I need more toms and less cymbals, I pull the mics up and back a little and angle them into the kit.

One of my favorite 3 mic setups involves M/S in front of the kit and a kick drum mic (often on the beater side of the drum - which, BTW, can be used to also highlight the snare. Just think - Fig 8 or omni under the snare aimed at the kick - you get both the kick and the snare and the snare is even hitting the inverted polarity side of the mic. And if you MUST EQ, at least each part - kick and snare - operate in two completely different bands so you can tweak each individually.)


J.

Member for

16 years 1 month

Jeremy Thu, 01/04/2007 - 22:34
Im sorry Sk8aholic is very novice here, he meens well, but dosent quite have the insight you may want. Dont take that as an insult please Sk8. You have given yourself good options with the allocated money. You need to decide how you want to record. If you want to go firewire into a comp. You havent eeven told us if you have a really nice comp to record to. If not that chews up a BUNCH of your money, or you can go with a studio in a box method. Please go the computer route, give yourself options not limitations.

Member for

21 years

Member Thu, 01/04/2007 - 23:33
haha, fair enough, that's your opinion, but you more less just told me mine was wrong and didn't answer it your self. spend the time and answer his questions, the setup i explained works perfect, sounds great and i havn't had any complaints about my recordings, people always ask where my band recorded, and i say at my home, and they are always impressed. anyways, he said he uses a laptop, so i figured it was good enough to run what i listed, i'm sorry jeremy i still stand by what i said, i think if he did the setup, he would be very pleased wit the outcome, not only that, it's way easier to setup, then if he would get into a protools. all i did was describe my setup, i spent around 4 grand on everything, not including my computer, i don't think he wants to go pro here, i think he was simply asking to get a good nice sound with a semi-pro set up, and i think what i described will do that. the equipment i mentioned will cost about $3400 - $3500, so he has $1500 left to spend on acoustics, and that upgrade to cubase 4. i think it's in his check, why don't you tell him what to buy, and show the links, and add it all up and see what it comes to.

Member for

21 years

Member Mon, 02/05/2007 - 14:28
If you're not tracking drums, guitar, bass and vocals all together consider one of earthworks drum mic kits. they're a little pricy, but the mics can be used for more than just drums. They sound amazing, very 3-dimensional you'll love them on accoustic and electric guitar... Just thought I'd throw it out there.

Member for

14 years 8 months

EricIndecisive Fri, 01/05/2007 - 10:29
thanks both of you for your replies!

Sorry I didn't state evertything earlier either. My laptop right now is a beast:
3.4 ghz, 2 gigs of ram, plenty of hard drive space. I guess it is a pretty good sound card (this was a gaming computer) and it has a line in, microphone, etc. But if I had some extra money I would probably build my own computer with a sick soundcard, and decent everything else, since this is the laptop I use for school and everything else, and sense it moves around a lot, i tend to have hard drive problems.

Right now this is what I use:
Shure SM57
Behringer Xenyx 502 (little 45$ mixer)
Adobe Audition (for everything but drums)
Drumkit from Hell (for drum sounds)
Fruity Loops (to put them together)


Using the SM57, I record my acoustic guitar and it sounds really damn good for 100$ mic, and its recorded in my room right in front of the computer. It actually comes in much clearer than a kid I know that goes to a 'studio'.

For equipment I have plenty of guitars, bass and guitar amp, effects pedals, noise cancelling pedals... I don't have a drumset but using the drumkit from hell I do get pretty good ones. I would love to get one down the road, but I'm not very rythmic with my hands.

I get comments on my music that the voice doesn't sound like it 'fits' the music. They don't mean the style, just the way that it's recorded, it seems tacked on. I have gotten a little better at it, putting more on a certain channel, adding a little reverb, and cutting out the 'out of level' parts.

My main problem with vocals is that I can't sing with any emotion due to the fact that the levels get extremely out of hand. I have parts that go high and ones that stay low. Is that what a compressor does? It just amazes me that the guy from Foo Fighters can scream into that thing and it all comes out balanced.

My space is pretty small, about 13x 16 feet with a 7 foot high ceiling, and a pole in like the middle of the room. But its 16 feet to a 2 foot deep bench that goes along the whole wall, so I think I could putt he computer and stuff up there.

Also, I'm planning on selling a lot of things on ebay, working this semester at college, and also over the summer, so my budget might be even a little higher.

I will check out all of those things that you posted sk8aholic, and jeremy, what is the difference between firewire and line in? I like to have it all on the computer since I am pretty PC savvy, and am really getting used to editing audio in the program.

Member for

21 years

Member Fri, 01/05/2007 - 13:17
basically your meaning of line in would be buying somesort of mixing board with tons of inputs, and then connecting them with line cables (1/4") to an expensive soundcard that has lots of inputs, if you want to go that way, it will cost you more and be harder to install, basically the soundcard will have connectors on it that you can plug into giveing you more inputs, such as the m-audio delta soundcards which have a breakout box connected to the soundcard, that has a certain amount of inputs and outputs that you connect to using the mixing board. Firewire just connects to your computer using 1 firewire cable, from the firepod to the computer which means no need to spend money on a soundcard, sound cards are expensive, because with the soundcard you need to buy other things like external preamps or mixing consoles, which altogether add up, the firepod has 8 combo 1/4" and xlr preampplified inputs, with 8 1/4" outputs, and also has a midi in/output and s/pdif in/outpus. all 8 of the combo inputs are sent to the computer with through firewire, and the inputs are shown as 8 seperate tracks which can be recorded simitaniously in your software program. just open up your mixer in the program and there they are.
Since you're not going to be using drums, like real drums, miking them. it will save you lots of money on mics. which can be added more to acoustics in your room.
for your vocals being uneven in level, this really comes down to the vocalist singing at the same level, compressors will help with this a lot, but if the vocalist is singing parts way higher then others or lower then others, youre recordings will still come out being not the same levels through out the song, even with using the compressor. basically just try and sing the same level through out the whole part, maybe do it in parts, sing the first bit, and check it to see if it's a good level, then if you like it, go onto the next stoping at every pause in vocals and checking to see if it's the same level. and yes, work with compressing in the program also, a cool effect i use sometimes is the fm radio compresser in cubase sx, but work with them, spend lots of time on mixing vocals.
but anyways, if you choose to go the way of getting a good soundcard, get something that's expensive and has many inputs becasue otherwise you will find your self needing or wanting more as time passes, the only reason why i bought my firepod was becasue i can upgrade it to 16 from 8, but i don't think i'll ever need more then 16 inputs at once since i'm recording all the instruments seperately. but of course i could use up 16 inputs if i really wanted to. editing audio in the program would be the same using firewire or a soundcard, you're still bringing audio in, but anyways you seem to want the soundcard way, so good luck with it! enjoy

happy recording.

Member for

14 years 8 months

EricIndecisive Fri, 01/05/2007 - 15:03
haha i guess i really have no idea about different ways of recording! i have a stereo 1/4" to 1/8" cord that goes right into the microphone slot on my computer. so it goes microphone -> little mixer -> cord -> computer

i thought that what i would essentially be doing is getting a bigger mixer, better mic, etc. but i guess that getting firewire would be great, it sounds fast and easy. up to 8 tracks simultaneously would be really cool. but dont you need a good soundcard to get good playback when youre listening to it again?

so right now, my SM57 works really great for my guitar. but a bit of noise still comes through when recording, is this the microphone or the little mixer preamp?

and i hear that condensor mics are a lot better for vocals and really warm up the sound of them, is that true?

im glad that a compressor will help a lot. but for right now this will be good practice trying to control my voice and getting comfortable levels. im no amazing singer, but its fun to try.

so could i get a bigger mixer and connect that to the firepod? or is that just beating a dead horse. i read that recording is 90% getting it perfect on the way in, and 10% is processing.

thanks sk8, it seems like youre pretty knowledgeable on this stuff, so i appreciate all the help!

Member for

21 years

Member Thu, 01/25/2007 - 14:27
drumkit

I admit that I didn't read ALL the posts to find out if someone had caught this yet... but you're all debating drum mics whereas the guy never mentioned having a drumkit that I had read.

He mentioned having "drumkit from hell" which is a midi drum program.
GT The Brick preamp

So my first suggestion would be to save money by not buying drum mics.

If you have the guitar, and you're using synth-drums, and you're STILL looking to spend $4k, then you might as well go all out and buy a Neumann tube mic, a nice tube preamp, and... hmm... sure... a firepod. See, you can even skip the mixer by multitracking, and recording seperate takes between the vocals and guitar.


That's the easiest was to spend $4k when all you need is a mic, pre-amp, and a method of input.

Member for

21 years

Member Thu, 01/25/2007 - 16:46
Acoustic Treatment

I would like to get into the acoustic treatment a bit more... I too am relocating my studio into a basement type of room. It'l be broken up into 2 rooms (control room and live tracking room). The ceilings are low (prob about 6') and as of now, it is completely cement all around. I have a complete Auralex kit for my control room, but I have yet to figure out what exactly I'm going to do to the tracking room.

Does anyone have some basic recomendations on a tight budget (ie: simply using carpet, should I use hardwood flooring, etc etc). Any help would be great. Thanks!
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