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hey folks-

first off, if this is too 'off-thread' for the DAW world post, my apologies. .

i'm wanting to improve the overall quality of audio going to my DAW. while everything right now is squeaky clean, it just sounds soul-less (and no, it's not the music that's the problem! :p ).
the main signal path is:

high-quality condenser mic --> Yamaha RM 800 mixer/pre-amp --> aardvark systems soundcard.
(using Win98 & cool edit pro mostly)

i've been looking into the RSP Saturator to beef up things overall, and also possibly getting some real nice mic preamp's (anything class A or discreet). cost wise the mic preamps are more expensive and more of a hassle to re-wire to bypass the mixer altogether. the 'Saturator' seems like a good overall solution, putting it between mixer and soundcard, and possibly even between soundcard and DAT when mixing/mastering to DAT.

anybody got their favorite solutions to this problem. ?

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Aaron-Carey Mon, 02/19/2001 - 14:22

Originally posted by ujaku:
hey folks-

high-quality condenser mic --> yamaha RM 800 mixer/pre-amp --> aardvark systems soundcard.
(using Win98 & cool edit pro mostly)

anybody got their favorite solutions to this problem....?

Lets get a little more info.
Which " high quality " condenser?
Which Aardvark sound card? the direct pro?
What kind of sample rate and bit depth ( resolution ) are you recording in?

The Aardvark direct pro can do 24/96 I believe.
If your levels and gain staging are correct and assuming you are running at 24/96, then I would look earlier at your signal chain before considering any signal processing ( analog OR digital)

Look at your source: if it sounds " soul less " to your ears at this stage, you are out of luck. If its guitar or bass put your ear in it, or the room, make sure it sounds good there...same for drums, vocals whatever.

Look at your mic technique: Wherever the source sounded good to your ears is a good place to put your mic. Turn your head 90 degrees and listen again... anything sound good there? If so, maybe an omni directivity setting on your mic is called for. If not, maybe cardiod.

It goes without saying that there are better mic preamps out there.

Once you know you got good tracks, maybe your app needs looking at. Cool Edit Pro is stable as all hell, but doesnt let you use plugins in the multitrack window. Check out Vegas by sonic foundry, or ask Rick about Nuendo. Both of these apps let you use/ render FX in the same way as you would on a real console.

After that, FX like Magneto, and the newest version of AIPL warmtone will "tube-ify" and "analog-ize " your tracks to a somewhat believable degree. Also try Antares Mic Modeler, but turn of the mic simulation and turn on the saturation.

anonymous Tue, 02/20/2001 - 03:19

You might want to check out almost any NEWER Mackie vlz pro mixer with XDR pre's. For pre amps they are the best buy out there when compared with almost any outboard preamp rigs under $1,500.00 -$2,500.00 (if your not into the effect given from sound deteriorating coloration).
Check out this months "Recording" mag. Yes, and I know you can't always go by potentially bias articles in mags but, I believe from personal experience that Mackie has really done an awesome job with these pre's that this article presents. Please note, if you do get a chance to try the XDR pre's make sure you bypass the channel and just go out from the channel insert, mono, this makes all the difference...
Oh yea, I guess you don't use cubase, but beware of Magneto ($150.00) if you use a mac.
I have been waiting for close to a year for an upgrade which allows you to use it on a floppless mac, it burns me up thinking about it, Steinberg has been telling me it will be ready in two weeks for at least eight months!!
Hey Rick G., maybe you can talk to them for me and put a little fire under their ass.
And no, I'm not going to buy a floppy drive to make it work, especially after they told me not to because " it doesn't always work". :mad:

lwilliam Tue, 02/20/2001 - 12:39

If that Yamaha RM800 is the 15-year-old compact mixer that I think it is, then I'm sure that upgrading the mic pre's will make a world of difference.

Aaron had some good questions that really need to be answered before too many suggestions can be useful for you. Which mic, which Aardvark, what bit depth are you using?

What is the immediate budget; how much can you spend in one shot?

As Tony mentioned, even the little Mackie 1202 and 1404 mixers will have better preamps than an old Yamaha mixer. I'm glad Recording Mag came out with their rather positive article on the Mackie XDR preamps, but I picked them out as a really good buy months ago when I heard them on's 3D Mic Pre CD where they went up against some $2000 preamps and faired pretty well.

user_gamesound Tue, 02/20/2001 - 13:07


the yamaha RM800 mixers came out around 1996 to compete w/ the multi-bus mackies at the time.....guess we all know who won that scuffle. it's clean and actually quite transparent.

anyways, youse guys asked for it so here are mo' details:

1) my mics range from 57's, Oktava MC012's
AT pro 25, Oktava 319 among assorted
others (dynamics mostly)
2) the aardvark soundcard is the aark
20/20, which is 20-bit max resolution
3) usually i record at 20-bit, 44.1 khz -
i stay @ 44.1 because the music usually
ends up on CD anyway.

when tracking drums, i use the Oktava MC012's as an omni spaced pair as overheads,
either the AT pro 25 or Oktava 319 on kick and a 57 on snare. the room has a tile floor and high ceilings.....

does that help?

anonymous Wed, 02/21/2001 - 03:16

Hi Rick how's it going,
Thanks for the reply, yea, I checked it out yesterday then called Steinberg USA to get my updated cd rom and guess what they told me........ "Yea, we're supposed to have them......hold on......(back to the phone) ok, there not here yet, we'll have them in about TWO WEEKS!!!!!!
At that point all I could do was laugh.
Tell me, does Steinberg have a manual that they hand out to employes that says: Rule # 1 - whenever a customer calls asking for............ Tell them "TWO WEEKS"
LOL......... peace :roll:

anonymous Wed, 02/21/2001 - 07:46

Sorry for going off on your thread with my silly Steinberg issue..
The first thing I think you really have to do is think about where you want to go with your set up ie., demos, finished cds, tracks to be mastered etc.. Then you have to look at your budget. Once a budget has been determined you should research all you can and find out whats the best stuff for your price range. Then finally, make sure you don't blow too much $ into just one part of the signal chain. For example buying a Rosetta ADC rig and using a sure 57 for your main mic cause you couldn’t afford better.I think you get the idea.
If you look over these forums I think you can see that there are people working on a lot of different levels (studio tools cost wise). You’ll notice that most of the time the tools they use are compatible with in their set ups.
Also, remember to not get caught up in all that product promotional hype crap. This is key.........happy hunting! ;)

lwilliam Fri, 02/23/2001 - 14:49

If the drums are the most "soulless" part of your recordings, then I would certainly examine both the quality of the kit and ESPECIALLY the tuning of the kit. Start at the source of the sound.

Certainly, to make a recording sound "modern", you'll have to use some type of compression. I personally prefer to use very little compression when recording and save it for the mixdown, where I can tailor the settings to the mix.

Adding (or capturing) "soul" in the recording involves these elements (in about this order):

1. the player; this cannot be emphasized enough. Last weekend, I went to an industry showcase where about six different bands played. All the drummers used the same kit which was already set up and mic'ed. The difference in the sound of the drums was absolutely astounding - depending on who was pounding on them.

2. the quality of the instrument - a Fender Squire bass or a cheezy amp just aren't going to sound fat, no matter what you do to them.

3. the quality of the signal chain. Finally, here is where you can improve things a little from the engineering standpoint. Yea, a nice Class A design might help, a nice tube pre might help. How about mic'ing techniques? Each of these would be an incremental improvement.

4. Mixdown - again, here's another area to get significant improvement through GOOD EQ, compression and other effects. A DOD stompbox for an insert compressor will make your track sound smaller and lose detail.

Try to focus on a single instrument that seems to be the weak point in your recording and work on improving that. One thing at a time. Wringing that last 10% of quality out of a recording that separates your sound from a beginner's demo is what seems to take the longest to learn.

Remember, tho', that capturing soul onto a recording has been done on 1950 Ampex mono 1/4" recorders with 40db signal/noise ratios. The performance is everything.


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