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Well as for most of you that dont know, I have been about to purchase some equipment for recording my self, and possibly some bands that come along my way. I first started off just wanting to get some sound card to record myself with and thats it. But then I caught the recording bug! I heard the benifits of good digital, and want to set up a small studio in my house at first, and maybe expand. But thats on down the road, my first door I have yet to open, and thats buying all my gear. I was first looking at a budget of about 1000 dollars, but now thanks to my income tax check, I am looking at about $3000 dollars. Which as you know Puts me in a differant range (I think) than just prosumer level, (well depending on my tracks, I suppose) I have been getting great feedback from this site so I will continue to ask what my next move should be. so here goes

All I am worried about is Converters, Preamps, and mics. My monitors are going to be pretty cheap, cause I'm going for The NS 10's at the pawn shop, I like the theory that monitors arent meant to sound (good) but to sound honest, I feel that some people cant take the truth. (IMO) but I'm just a newbie.

Converters are tricky to me. Since I dont know what anything really sounds like, I am thinking of the (Lynx Two 6in/2 out model) or the (MOTU AD8 or 896)? does the lynx really stand up to companies like Apogee and Lucid? Or would my inexperienced ears even know the differance?

Preamps god I'm just so confused about colored and noncolored, tube, jfet, IC ? the only thing that has helped is the listening sessions. Which told me the VTB 1 sound a little like the John Hardy M1, and the Speck 5.0 sounds better than everything. Some of the Tube pres sound good, like the TL Audio Ivory 5001 and HHB Radius, But they color the sound a whole lot! I think I am looking for somthing in the middle of that. I have been thinking hard about the Octopre from focusrite, (Fats told me about it) but dont know what it sounds like in comparison to anything. One thing the listening sessions has taught me, is not to get anything, unless you know what it sounds like. I feel this is important to me, because I'm not just some pop/rock singer, I love to sing it is my strong point, I sing as back up for the NC school of the arts opera. I dont want to cut corners when it comes to vocals. Could someone please tell me the run down on pres, or maybe what pres you guys use? and why?

I would really appreciate some pro advice, I am sorry I keep bugging you guys with my stupid questions. :d:


Kurt Foster Fri, 01/17/2003 - 17:17

Well good for you about securing a larger budget. I advise you to look at the Aardvark Q10 for your converter / soundcard and then look at some quality mics. The extra cash could go for a nice compressor and perhaps a sub woofer to accompany the NS 10's so you can get some major lows to check your mix and to impress clients. $3000 still won't go very far. I don't recall if you have a computer yet. If you don't be sure to allow for a good one. The computer will be the heart of your studio and a good fast one with lots of memory and a swappable drive will be really nice. If you decide to go this way let me know and we can work together to help you put together a "hit list" for your upcoming purchases. BTW you’re not bugging me at all. That's what I'm here for. Right on dude!. Fats
Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D ,Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.

anonymous Fri, 01/17/2003 - 19:10

Hey kool! Thanks fats. I do have a computer. It is a Pentium 4 with 512 ddr ram, and 2 80 gig hard drives. I have been saving up all year and buying piece by piece. I will take your advice on the Aardvark Q10, if it is as good as you say it is. I trust you. The only experience I have had with converters, is when I bought the soundblaster live 5.1 about a year ago and figured out it sounded like dogshit. Then I started obsessing about converters. I guess thats why I want to over compensate with the super high end converters. Should I just go with the stock preamps on the Aardvark for general use?? And maybe get somthing like a Joemeek VC1q pre to spice things up a bit for a differant flavor when needed?? or should I just focus on the mics to do that?

Kurt Foster Fri, 01/17/2003 - 21:32

I would go with the Aardvark and mics. I can't say anything about the Joe Meek stuff other than I have no experience with it. I know of engineers I respect who like the compressor (the first one ..C1, I think, the stereo one with one meter) a lot. My taste in comps goes to UREI, United Audio Avalon, Manley, high end stuff like that. The same with mics, high end stuff.

I don't like to spend a lot of money on converters. It has been my observation that converters are obsolete and useless within a few years. So I go with something that is decent but not top of the line. The Aardvark will go obsolete also but hey, you gotta go with something! The pres in the Aardvark have been reported to be of fairly decent quality and you won't get better converters or clocking without spending at least 4 times as much. I always advise people to go with good transducers first. Speakers and mics. These can last almost forever and are the most important thing in the audio chain. Don’t forget an amp for the NS 10’s. A Haffler P3000 would do nice. You can look around for one used. Man we're gonna run out of money fast! He he he :D

Now regarding your computer. Is this a dedicated for audio machine or do you use it for Internet and gaming also? If it’s not dedicated to audio, you might consider picking up a cheepo computer and use it for the gaming and internet and take the Pentium 4 and get rid of everything on it except your OS and audio applications. Pull the modem card out of it and get a video card that won’t take too much system resources. 32 bit is plenty. I’m not a computer expert by any means but there is something about the video card being on the correct bus so be sure to check into that. I think I remember it has to be off the PCI bus. I will look around and see if I can find that info. Audio doesn’t need great video ability. Get a copy of XP Pro and perhaps another stick or two of RAM to bring it up to 1 gig. OPUS at the “Computing” Forum will be able to help you get your machine in top order to do audio. He has a list of tweaks for Windows machines that will deliver solid, glitch free operation with no crashes. OPUS is a freakin genius with computers. You can’t find better help anywhere on the planet I mean it and I’m sure all the others here will agree. That should be a pretty screaming machine once all that is done.

Have you had any thoughts about what DAW software you want to use? For Windows machines there are several available. I use Cubase but Nuendo is looking better to me all the time. Cubase SX is how ever about half the cost. Nuendo is around $1000. There are others and I’m sure we will hear from readers to share with you their thoughts and reasons on this.
Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D ,
Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.

anonymous Sat, 01/18/2003 - 03:08

Yes, you have a good point fats. The converters are just like processors, they do fade out pretty quickly. Now that I think about it, I would feel really bad if I was one of those people that bought one of the first 20 bit Echo cards a long time ago. And yes, the computer will be just for audio, Thanks for the info, I will be checking Opus out shortly. So I guess for now its mic time? Where do we start? my uses? I play a Fender Jazzmaster, through a Fender Super Reverb modified to 1 12 instead of 4 10 inche speakers, need mics for that? I have a 12 string acoustic, and my roomate plays an acoustic bass, (Which sounds like heaven) but it also has a Fishman pick-up in it. So I guess I need A good mic or two for Vocals, and some for Instruments. My voice is Naturally a Baratone, but I have been able to break into the Tinner range, (With much practice) So maybe that can give you some insight to what I really need.

Thanks Fats, You Rock!

Doublehelix Sat, 01/18/2003 - 03:56

Take a look at the Superlux drum mics, they are pretty cheap, and sound pretty good for the price.

They are made by Avlex:

This guy sells them online for pretty good prices:

The condenser overhead mics (PRA-268A and 268AH) didn't get great reviews (they were ok...), but the rest of the drum mic line was reviewed pretty favorably. If you have extra cash, there are better drum mics, but at these prices, you really can't go wrong.

Kurt Foster Sat, 01/18/2003 - 10:55

I don't know anything about those drum mics. DH is good buddy and I wouldn't want to contradict him in any way but he and I do have a different philosophy on some things. One of these is mics.

I think of recording gear in two different categories. “disposable” and “keeper”. Converters, recorders, computers all fall into the “disposable” column and when I purchase these items I do so knowing in the back of my mind that in a short while they will be something to throw over the fence at the neighbors. ( I’m an anti-social fu*k) Then there’s the keeper stuff like mics, speakers, outboard, instruments (btw, Jazzmaster, I’m jealous!).

That being said, I personally go for the old favorites and stick with the major brands when making purchases in the “keeper” category. Mics (“keepers”) are one of the most important things you will purchase for your set up. I have a bias towards the German mics, AKG, Neumann, Beyer, Sennheiser and the “old standard”, Shures. I also really like the Audio Technica mics (Japan). Right now as you start you may only need one of each type of mic I am going to suggest. Later on down the line you will find it is handy to have pairs or even trios of mics. Especially when you begin to record drums. Don’t discount the need to get great drum tones. A great drum recording goes a long way to making a great record! Have you ever been attracted to a record that had crappy sounding drums?

As for what you said your going to record at the moment here are some ideas about what mics you should consider.

Acoustic guitar; Pencil (aka; small diaphragm) condenser mics like the AKG C451, AKG 460 ( I don’t know if they make the 460 anymore), one of the Audio Technica pencils or a large diaphragm condenser like the Neumann U87. Also very useable is the old favorite the Audio Technica medium diaphragm 4033. (you may have to look for the 4033 as a used piece). The 4033 and its newer counterparts also make a great vocal mic.

For the guitar amp I would recommend the Sennheiser 421 and Shure SM57. Also of use in some situations is the U87 , the ATM 4033. There are others but these are what I use.

For vocals a large diaphragm condenser like the U87 is usually in order but I have heard vocal recordings that were wonderful on the SM57. Also as I previously mentioned Audio Technica makes some great large diaphragm condensers for vocals. In some situations the Sennheiser 421 and 441 are very useable on vocals too.

For the acoustic bass, once again a large or medium diaphragm mics like the U87 and the 4033 or if you’re going to simply go direct a decent direct box like the Countryman is in order. DI quality can range into quite expensive box’s and they can be very nice but the Countryman is ok and is very robust in construction. There are better available but it works fine.

In the interest of fairness, now that I have stated my preferences, there is another approach to consider. To tell the truth I think it may be the one you may want to consider (if you can live with it). That would be to take a look at the “Studio Projects” line of mics. These are made in China :D ,
Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.

anonymous Sun, 01/19/2003 - 00:45

Fats, I'm interested in the suggestion you made earlier, about getting a sub to run with the NS10's. I've finally got mine set up to my satisfaction. I've been thinking along the lines of a sub to go with them. I don't no where to start. Can you recommend something with the right sort of crossover to go with the NS10's.

Thanks, JD

Kurt Foster Sun, 01/19/2003 - 08:17

I think Yamaha makes a sub. Tannoy does too. Hey “Mr. Roberts”! can you help with this? I’m not into subs my self so I’m not up on them… Bill might be able to shed some light on this question. I would however stay with the major manufactures. Maybe even the Mackie :D ,
Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.

Doublehelix Sun, 01/19/2003 - 17:41

Fats makes good recommendations, and his comments on mics are good ones. However sometimes as home project studio "engineers", we make some tough choices. In this case, $3,000 to build a whole studio limits the available choices! Again, remember that this guy is just starting out, and is "catching the bug" as he puts it!

In my opinion, when first starting out, it is important to have a couple of good sounding mics, but since beginner's techniques are... well... "beginners techniques", there is a lot yet to learn. I think that most things that are bought at the very early stage mostly fall in the "disposable" catagory. Even a cheap Chinese mic can give "respectable" results to a novice! And believe it or not, these same cheap Chinese mics have *some* resale value (not much, I agree, and they certainly won't *appreciate* or hold value).

For the home recordist, "great mics" are better than "good mics", but "good" mics are better than "no mics"!!!

Once you've been doing this for a while (1-2 years), you can start dedicating more of your budget and time to this thing after you decide that it is something you want to stick with, and decide if you have a "knack" for it! Then sell those cheaper mics and buy some "real" mics...

Just my opinion...

Doublehelix Mon, 01/20/2003 - 04:46

Yeah Fats...ya know I read that (the famous "In interest of fairness..." paragraph), and somehow by the time I hit the "reply" button and started typing, it must have slipped right out!!! One of those senior moments! :) My post about the Superlux mics was more focussed on drum mics however since he was thinking about passing on buying the drum mics for a while...

As far as quality goes, I am currently working to upgrade my studio as we speak, as I make the transition from "disposable" to "keeper"... It is painful on the wallet, but pleasing to the ear! :) Unfortuanately, I am having to do it in "baby steps"... buying a quality vocal mic and some quality mic pres...but the drum mics...lower on the priority list, so I have just bought some "disposable" Superlux drum mics...they have been getting pretty good reviews however, and are pretty cheap compared to the competition... Someday, I will dispose of them too, and upgrade to something better... (I actually have SM57s and have access to a MD421 that I am trying to buy...).

Doublehelix Mon, 01/20/2003 - 07:29

When I use the words "to tape", I am actually talking about recording to my computer's hard drive! It is an expression I use that is a habit that is hard to break since I have been saying that for 20+ years! I guess it a "virtual" tape!

Others may indeed be talking about real tape, and there are lots of user here that record to 2" reels.

It is kind of used a generic way of saying recording to a storage medium of some type.

Kurt Foster Mon, 01/20/2003 - 08:01

To tape is a generic term. It really means to the recorder.
DH, …. In terms of the drum mics, one inexpensive solution I have found is the ATM Pro 35 clip ons. These are very surprising! I have 6 of these and they sound remarkably good. I use them on snare, (top & bottom) and toms. I tried one on a kick once (just for ruks) and it sucked! But these are real cool for the other applications. They also work well on saxophones, clipped to the side of Leslie cabs and inside a piano! I worked with a guy that plays guitar and keyboards for "The Tubes" on a bunch of projects back in '98 and '99 and we tried everything I had on the K. Kawai 7' grand that I had. This was a beautiful piano but he was never satisfied with what went to “tape” and kept wanting to use his electric piano ( no taste). :D ... This went on for several weeks / months. Needles to say I was very disturbed by this. One day I clipped a couple of these Pro 35's on some pieces of cardboard and slipped them into the piano near the hammers. When this guy heard it he said "THAT'S the sound I want!!! Why didn't you do that sooner?" Some guys are never happy! .... Fats
Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D ,
Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.

themidiroom Thu, 01/23/2003 - 07:50

I've got some of those Marshall electronics mics (MXL series) Those are probably disposable according to Fats, but great for the money. My Groove Tubes GT55 mic really nice especially for $300. I do have some SM57s and plan to graduate to a Neumann at some point, but I'll keep my starter mics just the same.


Kurt Foster Thu, 01/23/2003 - 11:06

Just to be sure we’re clear on this …. IMO there’s nothing wrong with disposable. I just want you to have a heads up on it and be aware of the ramifications of your purchase decision. Happy shopping! Fats
Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.

audiowkstation Thu, 01/23/2003 - 14:48

Whoa, nice thread..I missed it.

As far as a sub. I am an STRONG believer in dual stereo subs. Their a phase cues in low freqencies between channels that must be heard. A single sub cannot move both directions at the same time and therefore if a hint of out of phase or shifted phase info is in the bass, it will translate totally wrong and especially live recording and mastering.

Dual subs in stereo crossed over at 55hZ is best for the NS10's but then, to balance, you do not want to ever hear the subs or have them add weight to the mix. You want them to magically and seemlessly extend the lows, not add to them. Takes a keen ear. They should measure flat with 1K and 30HZ in the system.

Hope this helps.

Mono sub is a big no no in my world. (except when I have to master 5.1..which should have been 5.2 all along.) they dropped the ball on that one. Imagine, all sub manufactures could double their sales as well. DUH!!!!

PS, the "knotheads" say bass is omni directional. It is very directional in my room. 25hZ can be way over there every time.

jdsdj98 Thu, 01/23/2003 - 15:42

Just a quick two cents after reading through this one.

I'd like to back Doublehelix up on Superlux mics. For whatever reason they're slipping below the radar in the world of budget mics. I have a pair of Superlux CH-8B's, one of their large diaphragm condensers, and they sound GREAT. Given to me by a former employer in lieu of $$$. Granted, they were my first mics, and I've since invested in some better stuff, but they couldn't be beat for the price. In a blind listening test, A/B'd against an 87, my inexperienced ears, along with a couple of pairs of VERY experienced ears, picked the s-lux as being the 87. We were all impressed. Retails for <$190. One old school, once big-time engineer friend of mine approaching retirement has jettisoned all of his 87's in favor of a pair of the Superlux's. They're pretty darn decent mics for the $$, a big plus on a budget.

Just wanted to add this 'cause it's the first time I've ever seen anyone else mention Superlux mic's.

Kurt Foster Thu, 01/23/2003 - 23:22

Cycle 60,
I have mentioned this before but it amazes me how everyone uses the U87 as a standard to measure other mics against. IMO the 87 is an unremarkable sounding mic. It's like vanilla ice cream. So many mics that sound better than the U87.

Bill, on the subs, can you recommend some brands and models for the reader please? I agree about the stereo / mono sub thing. I love to mic a bass amp in stereo. It is so cool, it makes a big hole in the middle for the kick, snare and vocals. Gets the bass out of the way. Fats
Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.

Kurt Foster Sat, 01/25/2003 - 20:14

Hey John, :D No really I have found my U87 to be of best use in picking up ambient information. When re amping and remiking situations or as a room mic with a guitar amp it excels. My favorite trick with an 87 is to put it in figure 8 pattern and place it facing sideways behind an open back guitar cab and then mike the front with some 421's. This produces an extremely deep sounding stereo track. I love the 87 for things like that but I much prefer an AKG C12, C12a or even an ATM 4033 for most vocal chores and on acoustic guitars. The 87 just doesn't seem to have a strong midrange. I am interested to hear your take on this. ??? Fats
Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.

Pez Sun, 01/26/2003 - 10:18

Fats, I've got the new U87ai. I can't compare it to the C12 since I don't have one of those. I've heard a lot of positive comments about that mic. Wish I had one to try out. I'm doing mostly acoustic recordings of Bluegrass and Oldtime bands, singer songwriters, and voiceovers. My take on the 87 is that it works on about everything. I especially like it for strings so I use it to record fiddle quite a bit. I think you have more experience with mics then I do. In other studios I've borrowed Neuman tube mics from the Indigo Girls (name dropping here as if I'm cool lol) and used 414s and of course a variety of small condensors. The only other large condenser mics I have are the CAD E200 and a Studio Projects C1. For solo acoustic guitarists who sing I'll use the 87 for their vocal and another small condensor mic on the guitar and just let it bleed. (hey that would be a great name for an album- don't ya think). I still seem to have enough control to mix the two and the ambient sound of the guitar leaking into the vocal mic seems to work well for me. If anything I find myself adding highs to the U87 if I feel I have to. Haven't noticed much problem with the mids.
To be honest I find your take on the U87 refreshing. It seems like it's hard to get honest opinions on gear these days. Either people repeat what they have heard or defend the gear they have as if they're protecting their investment.
If the deal goes through I'll be recording some electric gear next Saturday. I've done a bit of that on Analog gear but this will be the first time on digital so maybe I'll get a chance to try your mic technique. Thanks for sharing that. Finding a good guitar amp combination is the first thing I look for. I used to use an old 50's Les Paul Goldtop with the soapbars through a small tube amp cranked but unfortunately I sold the guitar when I thought I needed the money to pay taxes. Miss it dearly sometimes. I still have some great Teles however. I hope I don't miss the tape compression on the guitar too much. I'm used to slammin the levels but that aint gonna work for digital I'm afraid.

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