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Hi guys,

Been trying to upgrade my home recording setup to suit my knack for a more colored, analog sound. I'm just another guy after that "analog warmth" (surprise, surprise). Anyways, I'm currently recording everything direct into my Apogee Duet with Logic, and relying on amp simulators and comp. plugins, etc. which has worked out okay, but I'd like to warm up and get a better direct sound at the source going in.

I'd like to record 4-8 tracks simultaneously for drums. I like them to sound gritty and sorta blown out like 60's psych stuff, the new Tame Impala record is sorta what I had in mind. My question is, should I invest in an old tube mic preamp, an audio interface with more inputs, or an old mixer and just use the internal pres? Still kinda new to this stuff. What's the best way of going about this? Could I run multiple mics through a tube pre? And how does one hook this up to an interface? I've noticed some old pres has RCA out, how does that work?

Any recommendations, directions, advice, smug comments, a point in the right direction are all greatly appreciated. I'm just a noob that wants to figure this stuff out. Thank you


KurtFoster Sat, 10/13/2012 - 22:00

i clicked the word Logic and checked this software you are using. that looks pretty nice.

oh well on to your question ... you don't mention what kind of outboard you may have so i will assume you don't have any.
you should get some.
to do any of this you will need mic pres of different flavors and in at least pairs, compressors and eqs reverbs and effects box's.

a mixer/ console is coolist (imo) but a good one would be expensive. anything less than several grand is not going to yield the results you may want. i would stay away from any of the new stuff you can get at most retail stores and search for some real high end solutions. one way is hybrid summing systems with outboard equipment (modern approach) another is a console and outboard (very old school). the decision you make should depend on what you like.

big consoles
have wow factor (when clients see it they say "wow!").
have large control surfaces with great tactile feel and control, large heavy power supplies and they take up a lot of space
generate heat. enough to heat a room.
cost a lot and never sell for as much. always have ongoing maintenance issues /expenses. my mci console and tape machines and associated hardware and systems cost me at least $300 a month (in the late 90's) to keep in top condition. i love big consoles. if i had lots of cash i needed to dispose of i would buy an analog console. and several tape machines too!

HYBRID systems;
require some type of summing "solution", none of them cheap.
have fewer maintenance issues. are more reliable. new gear (usually)
are more compact (can be portable even).
can also cost a lot and never sell for as much. you don't own stuff, stuff owns you.
hybrid sytems in general don't run as hot. uses less electricity ='s generates less heat.
don't have as nice of a control surface. can be "fiddly".
can offer different colors and levels of transparency. very flexible.
require patch bays and interfacing. this alone can drive up the cost of a system by 30 or 40%.

this one i like;
you may be able to get the sound you are looking for by doing send /return inserts on your channels or stems / bus's through your converters ins /outs using those mic pres, eq's, compressors, de essers reverbs and effects, whatever or adding either real room reverb or outboard effects analog or digital delays etc. through the effects sends, returning them through mixer channels or both at the same time! this is very cool. plus side is you don't shell out for a summing solution. you still sum in the box. since your running 64 bit summing choking shouldn't be an issue.

This technique requires a lot of send and returns / channels of conversion but no summing hardware. lots use at least 16 channels of converters in addition to a nice aes/ebu or spdif 2 channel converter to record/play back the 2-bus stuff so you don't have to use sample rate conversion. again, since your running 64 bit summing choking shouldn't be an issue.

crap i wrote a book.

mmmph! gaaaaa! suicideahhhh!

audiokid Sat, 10/13/2012 - 22:43

Awesome advise Kurt.

The hybrid crowd is growing.

To add,

Maybe try a Folcrom. This is a very inexpensive way to go hybrid and beef up your sound. You buy the Folcrom for under a grand. Cable = a few more hundred to start, add an interface and DA then try an API stereo pre and maybe something like the 5500. Start there. The pre can be used for both tracking and mixing. It serves two purposes.
Send your drums out to that and use the API to give the drums that API sound. That's probably the best hybrid bang for your buck.

Eraserfish Mon, 10/15/2012 - 06:08

Kurt strikes again... great advice, and got me thinking about my workflow as well. What is bugging me about the new DAWS is that everything stays inside the box. Cool for clean, but I'm looking for a way to use outboard effects, pre's, comp etc to influence my individual tracks, capture that influence in the software, then export/ render to mp3 as I usually do. In other words, I want to set up fx loops in my DAW that will capture outboard gear. I believe this is possible, but I just started looking into it.
Question for audiokid- I was looking into the folcrom you suggested, but I don't believe my ADA interface has DB-25 ports in which to feed the RMS216 (I don't think the OP's apogee Duet has those either). What do you suggest for getting the summed outputs into it then, or is there another device that would accept the individual tracks out through fire wire or SPDIF?
Then of course the last dumb question of the day, when using a device like the folcrom, once you have the summed output in stereo XLR, what do you do with it? Are you feeding it back into the computer to capture it and eventually turn it into a wav or mp3?

@ Sugar382- Your apogee duet is an awesome device.....for two tracks. That is going to limit your ability to set up multiple tracks for drums. The best you can do is record drums in stereo from a submixer, but the main problem with that is if your mix isn't completely perfect, you are stuck with a really loud snare, high hat etc., or other problem that you can't fix later. For drums you really want each mic on it's own tracked input, so if you are serious about recording drums, that 2 in will be your weak link, and you may have to think about an audio interface with 6-8 inputs. The secret to warmth (analog type sound) is mic and pre-amp. I've been reading these forums and studying for about 3 months now and you will have to figure what is best for you, but from all I've learned I can summarize in a few words.

Cheap condensor mics suck, don't waste your money- some good one's AT 4047/ AKG 214/ 414 (Studio Projects B1 is the cheapest mic I've used that actually give's some good results without being tinny or sibilant). Cad makes a few that sound good for cheap and they are others as well (look in the Microphones forum)

Ribbon mics are awesome and there are some cheap options like Cascade's and some non-cheap options like the AEA 84

Dynamic mics can give very acceptable results- the SM57 or 58 can sound great through a good preamp or even alone some guys like the cheap AT2020 but I would take a 57 over it any day. Ultra cheap combo- sm57($60) or cascade fathead ii ($175 new) through a cloudlifter (125$) = two producers I know asking me what I used for mic and pre-amp. There are ways of getting awesome results without breaking the bank.

Preamps are tougher, good luck in your research because their are hundreds of options and lots of opinions. I've settled on the 500 series so I can tweak and change as I grow, but to get pro sound you will pay $$$. Cheap options in a box can be had for under 1000$, but usually only give you a single or stereo input. Damn drummers, they make everything cost so much more. That's why I only use digital drums now. Acoustic drums for me =Too much work, too loud, too much equipment, too many complaints from the neighbors (Sorry to the Drummers of the World). Good luck in your search, and post if you find what you are looking for.

KurtFoster Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:34

i'm not audiokid but i can answer part of this. as far as ins n' outz ... the best way to accomplish this is to get a patch bay.

basically you're going to set up your in s 'n outz from all your gear on a patch bay just like an analog studio. mic pres can be 1/2 normaled to converter inputs and converter outs can be 1/2 normaled to your summing mixer or just appear on outs ready to patch to analog-ville. all your outboard should appear on tie lines (no normals). you can get db25 to 1/4" snakes if you choose a 1/4" patch bay or get db25 to db25's for a tt bay. if i had lots of cash i'd opt for the tt bays as they are more space efficient, durable and just look cooler!

Accessories_Patchbays http://www.patchbay…

all passive summing networks like the Folcrom exhibit level loss. once you have the summed tracks in the Folcrum the idea is to use a pair of your pre amps to add the color / flavor or lack thereof to bump the levels back up and then on to whatever you are mixing to. the duet would be perfectly suited to doing your analog to digital two track mix. part of the scheme is to mix to a different box to avoid sample rate conversions, so short / long ... you'll need more converters for multi track capture and otb processing insert send / returns and otb effects sends / returns.

you'll need to buy some mic pres and associated hardware compressors, eq's and other goodies to mangle the signals, a patch bay and interfacing cables to route things and another way to record your stereo files. although i can't think of a reason you wouldn't be able to just print back to the DAW in another program or instance of Logic through the Apogge.

as far as tracking drums, 4 tracks is enough. kick, snare and overheads. more than that and the inexpierenced recordist in poorly designed enviornmentsnwill usually run ito phase and bad room reflection issues. 8 to 10 or more mics on a drum kit can be overwhelming and pig to mix. keep it simple. many great recordings from the past had only one track for the drums using as few as 2 or 3 mics at best.

mmmph! gahhhh! suicide ahhhhh!

audiokid Mon, 10/15/2012 - 17:45

Eraserfish, post: 394720 wrote:
Question for audiokid- I was looking into the folcrom you suggested, but I don't believe my ADA interface has DB-25 ports in which to feed the RMS216 (I don't think the OP's apogee Duet has those either). What do you suggest for getting the summed outputs into it then, or is there another device that would accept the individual tracks out through fire wire or SPDIF?
Then of course the last dumb question of the day, when using a device like the folcrom, once you have the summed output in stereo XLR, what do you do with it? Are you feeding it back into the computer to capture it and eventually turn it into a wav or mp3?

The outputs have to be analog.

Example: DAW > 8 or 16 DA> Folcrom> sum (preamp)> 2-bus AD > DAW :)
There are many breakout options ( breakout means DB25 to individual IO, mono XLR, TRS, RCA etc). Find your favourite custom cable guy and have them make the breakout they way you need it, including if you are going to add a patchbay.

The DB25 (Dsub) are a simple and neat way to install all those I/O on the summing device.
Choose the cable for your converters. DB25 on one end and whatever you need on the other. Buy good cable. Make sense?

Yes, you feed the summed stereo out back to your DAW or another recording system example: ( DSD, same DAW or a second DAW, Tape machine, DAT, Portable CD recorder, whatever).

I've been looking at the SSL XPatch. Its a digital patchbay, looks pretty cool but I don't believe phantom will pass through it. More ideal for summing and mastering.
Another reason why I chose the MixDream, it has inserts so a patchbay isn't big on my list.

Nice post Kurt.

RemyRAD Fri, 10/19/2012 - 00:14

Really I would stay away from the tube equipment. Some of its phony i.e. depleted plate voltages. Where the tube is not doing any amplification whatsoever. It's only there to add distortion. Good tube preamps are very nice. Nice if you can find good tubes on a consistent level. These aren't the tubes you use in your guitar amplifiers. Well, they are but they're not. They need to be low noise versions selected through testing procedures. And you don't get that with cheap stuff. You just get somebody's Chinese tube. The Chinese offer up fine food but their tubes have a little left to be desired. And because of that, I simply recommend discrete, transistorized and transformer coupled electronics/preamps. That's where we got most of our rock 'n roll hits starting in the late 1960s and up to today from API, Neve, plenty of others like that. All discrete transistor stuff.

With the discrete transistor stuff, you get to push the envelope, the limit. You can't do that with IC chips. And that's where these preamps really get cool sounding. Right on that edge where that little operational amplifier begins to go nonlinear and while the output is also starting to saturate the transformer winding core. THAT'S the sound of rock and roll that we all know and love the sound of. So look for those pieces with the transformer inputs and outputs along with discrete transistor electronics. And you'll get that warmth. Brother will you get that warmth. Yeah baby!

Now go spank your monkey while clicking your heels together and saying " I want to record rock. I want to record rock. I want to record rock. "

I don't have a monkey
Mx. Remy Ann David

RemyRAD Fri, 10/19/2012 - 11:03

Now you understand what these transistors and these Transformers, these are old school designs. These will not sound like the crispy bright transformer less and direct coupled thingies everybody is pushing today. These are all highly colored big, fat, smooth, clean, fast. They certainly aren't brittle or bright. And they are all quite silky. The transistor circuitry is fast and the Transformers are slow. It's a good coupling. And that's an expression you don't hear much anymore, coupling. When things coupled together the right way, magic happens. When things don't couple together properly, nasty cancellation is usually the result of some sort or another. Hence the coupling of the sound waves to the diaphragm of the microphones is paramount. So you are looking for the focal point in the sound where the coupling becomes additive. You don't want anything lost through heat in incorrect coupling. Then the sound just flies off into thin air and it sounds just like that. You could hear when everything is in focus and coupled together. Your brain will instantly say this is right. But focusing sound is a little more difficult than focusing a camera. You can see when the camera is not in focus. Can you hear when the audio is not in focus? Of course you can. And that's the tricky part. How to focus a microphone 101. And that's why you make little moves with the microphone when positioning.

I remember these guys some years ago, that made this remote-controlled mechanical gizmo to position your microphone on the bass drum by remote control. I thought that was pretty funny for an accomplished engineer who did not have an A.-2. What no unpaid interns either? Everybody needs to make a buck.

I can mix your recordings by remote control. I use my fingers.
Mx. Remy Ann David

KurtFoster Fri, 10/19/2012 - 14:30

there is plenty of tube stuff out there that is not depleted voltage. it's not cheap though. i remember how everyone bitched and sniveled about the coloration of audio and how wonderful transparent circuits would be?

for quite a while that was the goal. promo brochures were full of statements regarding how "transparent" their circuits were. for the longest time i thought transparent was good (better). after all why would the manufactures all tout transparency?

as soon as tape passed we all started looking for some color and feel ... now, i think there's a place for both. if you want to record rock & roll or pop music ... you want that color. transparent is better for classical or orchestral work for the largest part. it's not either or ... there's a place for both. calm down for chrissake.

as far as passive summers here's one i stumbled across recently that is VERY affordable at 150 to 400 bucks! the cool thing about these kind of summers is you can add color by using a Neve or API or even tube pres to bump the level of the outputs or if you choose you can go transparent with Grace, Millennia or other "clean" pres .. the choice is yours. your summing flavor will no longer be dictated by what kind of console you have. the world is yours.

[[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.unitaudi…"]Unit Audio - Unit Audio Home[/]="http://www.unitaudi…"]Unit Audio - Unit Audio Home[/]

check them out.


RemyRAD Sun, 10/21/2012 - 06:29

To be honest, I don't find one better than the other. I merely find one somewhat different, from the other one. I like the vocals better in the analog summation where I like drums better in the digitally summed version. So which one is better? Better is what you perceive to be better for your purposes, that's all. There isn't any better. It's what it is.

I really hate all of these deliberations on what is " better ". Everybody is being polluted with marketing hype. You get better when you improve your own technique. That's what makes things better more so in and above any small technological incremental improvements. Modern violins are actually better than those 200-year-old violins. But what is sought after by the violinist in pursuit of better sound? It's their technique that's what. Not the box. That too has been proven countless times over. So what makes the violinist better? And audio is no different. Your dentist may be better than your internist. So who are you going to have take out your appendix? Certainly not your dentist, no matter how much better he might be.

So to review: if you're recording is crappy, it doesn't matter if it is digitally summed or an analog summation. It will still be crappy in a better way? That means it's still crap. And that better will never be realized.

It's only better when the fat lady sings.
Mx. Remy Ann David

audiokid Sun, 10/21/2012 - 09:12

Remy, do you know, or have an ideal as to why you like the vocals in the Analog summation?

And for argument sake over gear doesn't matter "hype", I'd bet even my youngest child would do a good job crushing your theory on this one.
Lets have a shootout lol, we'll see what sounds "better" without edits or eq, tracking a choir in a church.

You use this:


And I'll use this:


I have all this gear (hype) in my hand right now.

Attached files

KurtFoster Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:56

i have mucho respect for you Remy but in this particular discussion i am forced to disagree with you.

i myself have been in the fortunate position to have had the opportunity to own and operate a studio that had great equipment and a great acoustic environment. both make a huge difference.

i have also been forced to move on and once i was recording in the box i found nothing but frustration. i used high end mics and pres, compressors and processing, monitors and the works and still found the recordings i was making lacked in quality compared to the stuff i had previously recorded in analog-ville or even with cheap mixers and ADATS.

in frustration i decided that i would take some direct outs from my daw and try mixing them on a cheapo analog smackie mixer i own and surprise surprise everything began to sound MUCH BETTER! please note this occurred a few years ago, long before the whole summing fad came along and i was just using a cheezo SR24. i have to pose the question,; why do you think all the big rooms are bringing out their PT channels and mixing them on an API/ Neve/ SSL?

to summarize, i am confident analog summing does make a difference in 32 bit systems. i cannot speak to the topic in 64 bit system although some industry experts i have a lot of respect for have said that 64 bit summing is much better. if i only had some clients to make it all worthwhile i would invest in a new 64 bit DAW but what's the point (at this point)?

i would think to have a summing mixer in your arsenal of tricks these days would be a good thing. i actually think we should have a selection of them. the little passive ones like the UNIT or a Folcrom along side a couple of active summing networks is just more tools in the bag. there's lots of opportunities to pull off some tricks with summing networks. i don't understand your resistance.

mmmphhh! ghhaaaaa! suicide ahhhhhhh!

check this out!…

audiokid Sun, 10/21/2012 - 12:59

To the best of my knowledge, I'm 100% 64 bit. Sequoia 12 is 64 bit and I am on Win7 64. The plug-ins are both. But, Hybrid still rocks and will always move right along with the DAW. The better the DAW gets, the better source for hybrid.

Samplitude ProX /Seqioua 12 = awesome. best tracking/mixing/editing / hybrid/mastering system going. And the Midi features are starting to blow me away.