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The Challenge: Building

Member for

21 years 2 months

A rather extensive question for those who might have the time/interest/inclination (of course I understand this seems too involved--I realize many here have more experince than I):

I would like to set up a home studio in an apartment for the purpose of creating high quality demos of songs based around acoustic guitar and voice, also incorporating bass, drums, keys, strings on many of the songs, which will typically also involve 3-4 part vocal harmonies.

My knowledge is perhaps a step above basic. I've been recording for many years, as an avocation, with little knowledge however of equipment. I began in the era of multitrack cassette, and my recording deck is a Yamaha MTX-8 8 track cassette, which I am willing to replace with a digital if it will give me better recording quality/flexibility. However, I have little knowledge of the advantages/use of digital recording. I use an old 1980s Roland drum machine.
I know of MIDI but do not know/understand as yet how to incorporate it in recording (I have a vague suspicion that shifting to computer-based recording would expand flexibility and precision, but do not know as yet how to create a rudimentary set up, etc.).

That having been said:

What would any of you regard as basic components that would constitute a home studio for high quality demos of the type described above? I suspect there are many choices, so, if inclined, please feel free to offer any opinions on particular components re:

Recorder--digital or analog
Vocal and instrument mics
Effects to sonically manipulate/ punch up vocal and guitar
Drum sounds

I am budgeting between 3-5000 for the entire set up.

I recognize that I may have excluded many basic components necessary to get high quality sound here, and would welcome any additions that the more experienced would regard as necessary or useful.

Any descriptions of such a basic setup in terms of the items needed, and particular models woul would recommend, as well as compatibilities of each component with the rest, would be high appreciated.

For those who regard this questions as possibly too much in one bite, or redundant, my apologies.

Very Best,

Alan Lipman


Member for

19 years 7 months

sdevino Tue, 03/11/2003 - 03:00
You will need the $3-5k just for sound proofing for the neighbors won't you???

Well, assuming you have solved that problem my first choice would be, to practice like crazy then go to a real studio and record 3-5 songs on real gear with a real engineer. Anything short of this on your budget, with your engineering background is likely to be very dissappointing.

Next choice:
$1000 for monitors (the #1 most important part of your recording chain) I am tempted to suggest $3000, because this is what I think it takes, but you will be able to mix for $1000.

2 great microphones: I would suggest 1 small diaphragm like an Earthworks TC30k and 1 multipattern large diaphragm mic like the Shure KSM44 (this mic is better than my TLM103, and U87 imo).

2 not as great microphones like the sm57.

So you should have about $2500 left.
Buy an iMac and a digidesign MBox. This will give you excellent mic pres and up to 24 channels of recorded audio and playback/monitoring. ($2000)

A good pair of headphones with high isolation $200 (Senheisser HD280, sound OK, not great but give 30dB of isolation).

Then save up $1500 more and buy the best Waves bundle you can afford. You really want the Rennaisance Bundle and L2.

Then go take some lessons from someone Like Me!!! :)
Or better yet, make friends with someone with some technical skills to record for you.

You could make world class records with setup.

The next thing on my list would a soft synth or a used keyboard/synth.

Good Luck!


Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Sat, 03/15/2003 - 00:26
This is a fairly common question, you should search the forums because you will find plenty of info. In fact, there is an entire forum just for beginners.
Steve has posted some solid recommendations. the Mbox will give you 2 channels of quality inputs plus the Pro Tools software. It doesn't sound like you need more than that. Spending some money on basic sound proofing will help tons. If you can build a rudimentary sound booth to record in that will help (there are actually prefab options from Auralex).
I would strongly suggest that you develop a relationship with a local studio. You should be able to find someone who can help you out for $25 bucks an hour. What I suggest is you get a computer/Mbox or integrated unit that you can use at home and also drag to a local studio. YOu could get your rhythm tracks (drum machine beats and bass, guitar if your are willing to DI instead of use a mic) set up at home, then record your acoustic guitars and vocals at a studio. Involving someone else will also give you important feedback, save you time, money, and energy.
If you decide to do scratch tracks at home, I wouldn't bother with an expensive condenser mic. It will pick up too much of the background noise. Studio Projects makes great mics at great prices, you also would do well with an sm57 as a dynamic mic. Doc