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Itching to buy new stuff! Can I ask for some help please?

Member for

21 years 2 months
Hi, I can see myself spending a lot of time on these forums :)

As the subject implies, I'm looking to upgrade...

This is my current setup:

DAW - Decent PC running Cubase SX2 with a number of plugins
interface - Audiophile 2496 PCI card
mixer - Behringer Eurodesk 1604 mixer
mic -Shure SM57 mic

The methods I use to record:

Drums, I am using Roland V-drums triggering BFD plugin via MIDI.
Elec. Guitar, SM57 on a H&K Triamp, straight into crap mixer.
Ac. Guitar, Yamaha APX-5A internal pickups into mixer
Bass, active pickups straight into mixer
Vocals, SM57 straight into mixer
Keyboard, MIDI keyboard using VST plugins

As you can well imagine, I get poor results recording acoustic/electric guitar, bass and vocals.

I've been reading a lot about getting a decent mic/preamp, so here is what I'm trying to achieve:

I have two goals: Improve sound and increase inputs.
Maybe kill 2 birds with 1 stone if I can afford it, but I'm putting the priority on the sound quality. I mainly record alone, but occasionally a couple of friends help out and it would be handy to be able to record each seperately.

The other day, I popped into a couple of local shops for some advice, and they said that the mic preamps weren't the most important thing, and then told me I should go for a Yamaha 01X, which will give me multiple inputs, some ok pres, and some handy control surface options, as well as some onboard effects etc. And if I want to improve the sound further, I should buy a new mic (he recommended an SE Electronics tube mic, can't remember which one, but I remember hI'm saying it had 9 polar positions)

So I then asked what they would recommend if I didn't want extra inputs just yet, and wanted to concentrate on a mic/pre. So one guy said I should just buy a Focusrite channel strip and call it a day. hmmmm, then after reading more, I've confused myself silly: do I stick with the Audiophile card and scrap the Behringer mixer, and buy a nice mic with a decent pre, something like "the brick", or get a channel strip that includes the extra bits like compression etc (At the moment I use plugins for compression etc, not sure if this is a good idea) OR do I upgrade the audiophile and go for something like the 01X/Fireface/828 MkII that might save me in the long run when I want more inputs, and hope the pres are ok, and if they're not, look at getting better pres.

Too many options has fragmented my mind :? I would love it if somebody could give some advice.

I don't mind scrapping all of what I got and start a fresh, but I have around £1,000 GBP to play with (give or take a couple hundred if need be) [approx $1,800]

I play mainly Rock/Funk.

What would you do on that kind of budget, if you were me?
Many thanks


Member for

19 years 5 months

David French Mon, 12/20/2004 - 11:58
Using the perfect mic pre as opposed to a crap mic pre can give you about a 5% max improvement in sound quality in my modestly experienced opinion. I have heard great sounds from behringer pres. Investigate source (guitar hardware, tone control settings, etc.), mic placement, and acoustics before you think of getting more gear. Experiment like crazy and keep coming back for advice.

Member for

19 years 4 months

Kurt Foster Mon, 12/20/2004 - 13:35
My opinion is that the mics and pres are the most important thing in the audio chain .. great converters will yield nothing more than well converted crap if the mic and the pre is not up to snuff.

By good mic pres I mean something along the lines of a Great River MP2NV, Sebatron, JLM TMP8, Millennia STT-1, AMEK System 9098 ... (the ones I use) or Vintechs, DW Fearn, APIs ... Focusrite Red Range (not the Platinum series stuff) ... or vintage or cloned Neves .. (other than the 1272). Good mics are some of but not all Neumanns, AKGs, Shures, ATMs, and not (for the most part) any of the Chinese knock offs.

I would not ever use the Behringer to pass signal through to the recorder ... only for monitoring ... Those things sound awful IMO .

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Mon, 12/20/2004 - 14:09
Cheers guys

Considering I have about £1,000 ($1,800) to spend, what should I go for?

Ideally I would like a nice mic, preamp and possibly some interface that will give me about 8 inputs with good converters.

Things that I've seen recently:
Maybe the "MXL 603S + MXL 2003 Recording Pack Plus" set for about £200? a Joemeek or Focusrite preamp? then some interface like a MOTU, Presonus etc?

Are these bad choices?

I appreciate your replies 8-)

Member for

19 years 11 months

Davedog Mon, 12/20/2004 - 18:01
The MXL's are a hit or miss kinda thing...if you find one built on wednesday when everybody in the factory was happy then you might get a good one...this is the main problem with Chinese mics...theres just no consistancy.You might want to look into the Sound Projects mics for a resonably priced and usable mic.Mic pres in your price range are not going to sound that good...but then if you're a really good engineer this shouldnt be a problem....A Sound Projects C3 and a Sebatron VMP2000 should about clear your budget...This is going to sound pretty damn good in my book...

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Mon, 12/20/2004 - 19:17
man i recently upgraded my setup and did a LOT of research. here's how I would spend the money:

1) Converter - i found my converter swap made a massive difference (bigger than mics or pres.) but i went from an st audio c-port to a Lynx two. So, my first recommendation is get a Lynx two... that will run you a little under $1K .... config options are 4 in/4out, 2in/6out 6in/2out. i got the 6 in/2out - but now thinking i should have gotten the 4in/4out card so i'd have more than just monitor outputs.

2) With the remaining funds I would get a good mic first... the AKG C414 is a good choice and I've seen them go on ebay for under $600 (I got my TLII there for something similar). Can't go wrong with that mic. There are other good choices here like a R0de NTK tube mic ... about $500 retail I believe. Another "darker" (to me anyway) mic choice is the BLUE Baby Bottle (a little under $500)... and it looks cool! A little "brighter" would be the AT4033 or similar... those are also under $500... although to my ears not as "full".... but a LOT of people have used them...

3) Now, technically that leaves only a few bucks for a good pre. So, I would save up a few more $$ and get something worthwhile. I just picked up a Manley mono tube pre on ebay for about $800 - and it's awesome. I'll probably never touch my presonus again! Other options here include the Grace pre's on the low-end (about $500/channel I think)... the Great River ME-1NV single channel for about $1K per channel.... etc... I can't think of anything that worthwhile in the $500 to $1000 range per channel... maybe someone else here can. Most of the other "pro" pres are $1k per channel and up.

So, if you buy a Lynx two plus an NTK plus a Grace 101, you'd have a pretty nice chain for around $2K ... if you can squeeze another $175 for an FMR RNC (Really Nice Compressor), you would might be able to get more out of your vocals and acoustic recordings. Now, I haven't personally used an NTK with a Grace - but I would expect the NTK's tube warmth combined with the clarity of the Grace would be a good match.

this approach keeps your components discrete as well, so if you want to upgrade your grace to a fearn, you can keep your lynx (which you'll not soon let go of...)

also, if you buy used on ebay you will save some $$ as well... i'm sure others will say be careful on ebay, but i've never had any problems.


Member for

19 years 4 months

Kurt Foster Mon, 12/20/2004 - 22:33
When Davedog said "Sound Projects" he meant Studio Projects ... but don't fret, he always mixes things up ... he calls my D28 a "Morton" .. The Studio Projects mics are about the only inexpensive Chinese mic I recommend ... as they are all quality checked by the importer, Alan Hyatt at PMI music group ..

Other inexpensive mics I like are the Audio Technicas ... and I really like the CAD M9 a lot. Here's a link to a [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.recordin…"]review [/]="http://www.recordin…"]review [/] I wrote on the M9 which you can find in the RO E Mag.

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 12/21/2004 - 07:44
Thanks again. It seems like I need to split this into two upgrades:
1) Upgrade the audiophile card and Behringer mixer for a good interface with decent converters
2) Get some suitable mics and pres

So I'll try and sort the 1st option quickly...

We've hit a snag with the USA/UK recommendations :( You mentioned the Lynx Two going for $1K, you would imagine I could pick one up for the equivelent of £550, but no it's £1k (double the price, hence blowing my budget!!)

What other option is there? maybe one of these firewire rack doobries that will give me a few more inputs and good enough converters?

Member for

19 years 7 months

sdevino Tue, 12/21/2004 - 09:55
I agree with some and disagree with others.

1st, as was mentioned by someone else earlier, learning where how to place mics will increase the quality of your recordings more than anything you could buy. SO practice and listen, practice and listen. Moving a mic 1 cm will effect the sound more than a $20,000 upgrade.

2nd. If you don't have good monitors than you won't be able to tell what difference all the mics, mic pres and converters recommended above are really making. Save up your money and get some good monitors or if you really can't wait, go buy a Shure KSM mic 27, 32 or 44 in the mean time. The Shure KSM44 is multipattern so it will cover a lot of requirements and it sounds better than many mics that cost 2x to 3x its price. You should be able to buy 2 for your budget.