Help! My $10000 rig sounds worse than my $1000 one.

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by p0llen_p0ny, Aug 4, 2005.

  1. p0llen_p0ny

    p0llen_p0ny Guest

    Ok. So I've upgraded my recording setup. I originally had a Roland VS-880EX and... that's it. Decent mics... a few D112s, 57s, some large diaphragm condensers. Not much but it sounded quite good.

    I've just bought a Mackie 24/8, a MOTU 24io, a capable PC setup, and a few Aphex compressors. The whole setup is Mogami wired.

    This should sound better than my old setup but it doesn't. Frankly it sounds like absolute $*^t. The depth and beefyness, for lack of a better word, I got from my VS-880 simply isn't there.

    I thought it might be the preamps on the Mackie board that were making it sound shitty, but could they really be worse than the preamps on the VS-880?

    I really have no idea why it sounds so bad. I'm quite angry and disappointed. I would have expected my new setup to sound better, not worse, than my old one.

    Does anyone have any ideas why this is so?
  2. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2001
    Give it some time. You have a large learning curve ahead of you. Play with it for a couple of months an see how you feel then.
    A mate of mine went through a similar thing going from an 880 to an Mbox. He hated it at first, but now would never go back.

    and the VS880 doesn't have any mic preamps in the normal sense of the term. Only takes 1/4" jacks, which I spose are preamped of sorts, but not balanced.
  3. McCheese

    McCheese Well-Known Member

    Mar 24, 2005
    While Mark has a very good point, there is also the fact that Mackie's are notorious for bad summing. That said, this should still be a marked improvement from the VS-880. Take some time to get used to it, and then see what you think.

    I'm not sure how you have it set up, but you may consider trying to run your monitors directly out of the 24 i/o (instead of the board, if it's set up that way) to see if there is much of a difference.
  4. buzz

    buzz Guest

    You are obviously doing something wrong or have it hooked up wrong I used to have an 880 and the sound was HORRIBLE !!! ( well not that bad but )

    You cannot overdrive the mix bus or any inputs on any digital recorder ( even the 880 ) and I also doubt that the Mackie mix bus is any worse than the 880 !!! 880=16bit

    Bypass the compressors first , the beefyness you talk of was probably the RDAC comppression , you just got used to it as a sound .

    Again check your setup this setup should superior to an 880 !!!

  5. gnarr

    gnarr Guest

    My mackie 32*8 sounds great. are you using the direct outs or tape out to the tape? Check if your gains are "right". I've seen people pushing the faders al the way up with the gain almost in "off" position, and the opposite, wondering why the sound sucked :lol:
  6. p0llen_p0ny

    p0llen_p0ny Guest

    Actually they are balanced. The TRS kind.
  7. p0llen_p0ny

    p0llen_p0ny Guest

    Yeah I've used the direct outs and the tape outs. All the levels are set correctly. Could it be the converters on the MOTU?
  8. Arrowfan

    Arrowfan Guest

    I haven't used the 24 I/O, but MOTU converters are generally decent (low end of pro). Before upgrading to an RME Fireface I used MOTU's 896HD and found the converters to be a little on the cold side. But still far better than anything 16 bit.

    If you still have the VS around, try making direct comparisons between the Mackie + MOTU and the VS unit.

    Since you're using the Mackie preamps and skipping the whole summing section by using the direct outs to connect the MOTU, I can't imagine its the Mackie (who's preamps are not bad at all, especially considering their price).

    From my experience beefyness is a result of: good mics, good live room, good preamps. Considering you're using the same mics and same live room ... it must be those preamps ehh? But as the others have said - the Mackie preamps are definitely better than whatever the VS has.

    A good way to troubleshoot is to verify each stage step by step. Since you're using the same mics try just the mics into the Mackie and get a good mix on the Mackie (using the Mackie main outs or phones). Although Mackie isn't known for having great summing - FFS it's not that bad!!

    Then try hooking up the MOTU via the Mackie direct outs. Set the MOTU's CueMix so that all the inputs are being mixed down to a stereo out bus. Monitor via that CueMix bus.

    If this sounds worse to you than monitoring via the Mackie then its the MOTU who's sound you are objecting to.

    Finally, try recording to computer (be sure to set your audio software to MOTU Firewire Audio, 24 bit / 48 Khz) then play that back monitoring via a MOTU setereo out.

    If it IS the MOTU and you really can't stand the sound, and you can still return/swap the Mackie & MOTU ... you may consider Mackie's Onyx 24 ch. mixer with the Firewire upgrade.

    To my knowledge the Onyx and the 24 i/o are the two cheapest ways to get 24 ch of audio into computer.

    Also it would really help if you clarified how your new setup sounds worse. Is there any distortion at all? Is it only the beefyness that seems to be missing??

    24 bit should sound a lot better than 16 bit - more clarity, more headroom, more transparency.
  9. Randyman...

    Randyman... Well-Known Member

    Jun 1, 2003
    Houston, TX
    I know I also suffered from this after going from my intimate familiarity with my VS-2480 unit to a Nuendo+RME based DAW. The EQ and effects are so much different on a computer based DAW compared to an "all in one", and you have almost endless options, so you have to get to know all of your options before you can have the same level of familiarity you had with the 880. Knowing your "mixer" inside and out is the key IMO.

    Like mentioned, just give it time...

  10. p0llen_p0ny

    p0llen_p0ny Guest

    That's exactly what I thought. The tracks I get out of the Roland seem much warmer and it seems easier to mix them. I transfered tracks I recorded on the Roland and played them through the MOTU and they still sound better than tracks I recorded with the Mackie/MOTU setup.

    True. Maybe I'm just expecting too much. Hmph, oh well. Time to start saving for some Sebatrons.

    Overall warmth seems to be lacking. No distortion to speak of. The levels aren't as dynamic. You know when your mix is really bouncing. When maximized, my Roland recorded tracks would dip down as far as -27. With the MOTU/Mackie the valleys only seem to go as far as -9 or -10.
  11. gnarr

    gnarr Guest

    try one thing. put the faders to unity gain, and than increase you gain until it's "right" in the daw.

    I remember when i first used my 8-bus, i put the gain up until the clip light started flashing, and then turned it back down a littlebit, and had my faders almost all the way down. And when i started recording i noticed that tere were a lot less dynamics than usually.
  12. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2001

    As far as I am concerned, that is the correct way to run a mixer in any situation.

  13. remco

    remco Guest

    Dejavu ??

    Got, verry similar experience
    I think (part) of the problem is that the VS machines got a very 'distinct' sound.
    The way we mix/track is directed by the way the machine sound.
    But yes, I was horrified by the 'clean' sound i got from my new setup.
    but yeah, we have the adjust micing/tracking technice

  14. p0llen_p0ny

    p0llen_p0ny Guest

    I always have the faders set to unity.
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