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Question about preamp/interface setup

Hello I'm new to the forums and just purchased some low budget equipment recently. I do mostly Hip Hop vocals and a little bit of female recording. Anyways I have an Audiobox USB Interface and a Tube MP Studio Preamp. I'm running the newest RODE NT1 through the Tube and then to the the interface through the Mic inputs/outputs. I was wondering if anyone had any advice on which console I should be focusing my gain on? I obviously want the cleanest and best signal I can get but still haven't figured it out, the vocals still sound dry to me.


DonnyThompson Tue, 07/14/2015 - 23:52
Just curious, if you are a single vocalist who only needs one mic input channel, why are you looking at buying a console - with multiple channels? Why do you think you even need a console?

FYI, the quality of your sound will only ever be as good as the lowest quality link in your signal chain. If you've got a signal chain that is made up entirely of low budget equipment, then you will only ever achieve a low budget sound.

Maybe we need to determine your knowledge level first, to make sure we are talking about the same things.... when you use terms like "dry"... to us, that indicates that you aren't using any effects (reverb, delay, etc.) on your vocals. And not that this is a bad thing, necessarily, but I'm not sure that we are talking about the same thing when you use a term like that. I'm also wondering if you are using the term "console" correctly...

We should start there... and determine how much ( or how little) you know about recording in general.

DonnyThompson Wed, 07/15/2015 - 09:50
That "shallow" sound is the sound of low budget gear. There's a reason why commercial hits sound the way they do, because those guys in those studios that turn out those songs are using very nice ( and very expensive) mics, preamps, and converters.
As I said previously, low budget equipment will give you low budget results.

It's not uncommon for studios to have $2000 invested into just one channel of recording/input gear, and that's not even including the mic... add another $1200 for that.
It's all about how serious you want to take it. If this is just a hobby for you, then don't bother investing in pricey gear. But, if you are serious about getting a quality sound, and you're not willing to accept that "basement studio" sound, then you're going to need a serious budget to get that kind of quality.

On the low side...and I'm talking minimum here, you're looking at $1500 ( or so) for a nice preamp ( with good AD converters) and a nice condenser mic.

We could be of further assistance if you would tell us what you have to spend...

Kurt Foster Wed, 07/15/2015 - 12:46
on the other hand, i hear all the time about some guy recording a mega hit CD on a Boss or Mac with an MAudio Fast Track or other low end solutions. of course in all these cases, the files are sent to a pro mixing engineer for mix. the key is to get it to sound good at the capture. if you can get "your sound" with cheapo gear more power to you.

for those of us who can't get there the answer is expensive mics, pres and better converters. monitors matter too. if you can't hear what you are doing correctly then your pissin' into the wind. ohh! room treatments are important too for the same reason. sooooooo..... are you sure this is what you want to do? lol.

Highbrid Wed, 07/15/2015 - 12:51
Well I have a credit card from Guitar Center approved for 2300$ but not the actual cash to outright buy some good stuff.. I have a very low paying job, bills, etc.. I am very serious about music it has been a passion of mine since I was little. My family all plays some kind of instrument, whether it be piano or guitar. The other problem I think I might have is finding a dedicated spot to use the recording equipment. I can't afford to build a booth right now. I bought the cheaper stuff to keep my payments low. I figured it wouldn't help much to invest in a nice Preamp and have a crappy Mic running through it but like I said I don't know much about recording gear.

Highbrid Wed, 07/15/2015 - 12:56
I'm wondering what some of you started out with and any advice.. Did you go to a pro Studio and just wait until you had enough $ to buy your own stuff? Or did you already have the money by the time you figured out you were serious about it? I know I'm an amateur but everyone has to start somewhere...

Kurt Foster Wed, 07/15/2015 - 13:03
dude, save the cash. don't go into debt for this.

what matters most is what is being recorded, not how it's recorded. i say save up for a decent mic. look for a nice dynamic like a Sennheiser 421, an EV RE 20, SM7b. or for a condenser, an AKG 414 XL (imo, get an older one) ... mics hold value better than other audio gear. everyone's always looking for mics. a good mic will take you further than anything else at this point.

also, ditch the ART. by plugging it into the PreSonus you are pre amping the mic twice. the pre in the PreSonus is better pre anyhow (i can't believe i said that). the ART is a starved plate design and it employs a low volt power supply ...... ecccch!

for your second question;

i started recording when i was a kid. i came from a lower working class background so finances were always a challenge. my parents would not co-sign a loan for me. so, at the start i recorded onto any cheap reel to reel machines i could get my paws on with what ever mics i could scrounge.

i moved into small format 4 track next and i bought stuff a piece at a time ..... i never went into debt though. in the end i wound up with a decent 4 track studio and began to be able to convince local bands to let me record them.

everything else was a progression from that. once you learn the craft you can work for others who are better heeled, helping them set up their studios and engineering for them. for me, that led to working in other larger studios on other peoples projects. i also went to recording class to formalize my knowledge base. i actually learned a lot there. once i had built up a client base, i took the plunge and opened my own room ....

Kurt Foster Wed, 07/15/2015 - 13:26
no. a lot of folks like them a lot. i think they sound kinda flat and non dimensional ... and that thin sound you are describing is indicative of less expensive mics. again a good dynamic will take you a long way. if you have to have a condenser mic, the 414 is probably the best for cheap you can get.

you don't need a better sound card. the PreSonus is doing all that for you.

Chris Perra Wed, 07/15/2015 - 16:19
I'd start with Kurts suggestion of going direct to the presonus. I'd also try different mic placements. For warmer get closer, for thinner back off the mic. Do you have a pop filter? Also have you ever used a high end mic/pre setup with your voice. Most of the sound you want to get is possible with your setup if the source sound is good quality. If you have the experience of using high end stuff and knowing you sound great with it then you can address the upgrading gear situation. However upgrading gear to more transparent stuff won't make things sound better if the source sound isn't there first. Or if mic technique or gain structure isn't used correctly. Scour the net for different mic techniques,.. great gear definitely helps but a distance of mic placement of even an inch makes a bigger difference than gear many times.

Highbrid Wed, 07/15/2015 - 18:27
Ok i will try moving closer to the mic. I have recorded in a few professional studios, and my voice is where it needs to be, just need a little more warmth. I also am going to pick up an acoustic shield and possibly a Blue Microphone this weekend. Is there any other "better" pres/interfaces in the 100-200$ range?

Kurt Foster Wed, 07/15/2015 - 18:40
Highbrid, post: 430734, member: 49350 wrote: Ok i will try moving closer to the mic. I have recorded in a few professional studios, and my voice is where it needs to be, just need a little more warmth. I also am going to pick up an acoustic shield and possibly a Blue Microphone this weekend. Is there any other "better" pres/interfaces in the 100-200$ range?

Blue makes some nice mics but the lower priced ones are nothing to write home about. again try to find a nice dynamic mic ... even a SM57 or 58 can work better than a cheap condenser most the time.

pcrecord Thu, 07/16/2015 - 14:00
Highbrid, post: 430753, member: 49350 wrote: The Preamp was a Neve and the Mic was an AKG C414 if I am remembering right.. But like I said I cannot afford that stuff.. I hear everyone talking about nice condensers for vocals all the time.. Do you think an SM57 would do me justice? And do you need a good Preamp for that Mic?
Combinaisons of mic and preamps are unlimited and a great part of the results will be valid but different.
A great preamp and condenser may fail to sound good in an untreated room, so the place where you record does mather.

I think I would favor that sm57 with a highend preamp over a highend condenser with the tube MP any day, specially in a less than perfect room. But that's just me.

You really need to go to a store and hear the difference for yourself. bring your own headphones (those you like and know well) and try many mics in your price range.
There is a few dynamic mics that may surprise you, sm57-58 are work horses that every studios have for good reasons..
Preamps are tricky, start with your audiobox, but on the low price side, there isn't a lot of options.. Mayby the ART Pro MPA may fit the bill
But with a low level mic like a sm57-58, a ISA one would make a good match.

In the end, none of us heard your voice and can truely target your needs. . . Try in a store or rent, this is the best way to find the tools that fits you !

Kurt Foster Thu, 07/16/2015 - 16:36
ahh .... Neve pre and a 414 ... hard to beat. that's a very good signal chain.

there is nothing better than the pre amp in your PreSonus that you can get for less than $500. at that point, i'd say the ISA is a good choice and a SM 57/58 will surprise you i think. again, hard to see an improvement until you get ove $500 +.

Davedog Thu, 07/16/2015 - 16:44
A vocal is a very user specific thing to record. What works on one may not work on another. And so on. The only way to really know is to try things. You already have an example of what really worked well established when you went into the pro room. Work towards that in your search but try them in real time and in person before you decide.




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