Help with next purchase please

Discussion in 'Recording' started by robchittum, Oct 8, 2003.

  1. robchittum

    robchittum Guest

    Hey folks,
    I am using a Yamaha AW4416 as my front end for Nuendo. I have a Sytek 4 channel mic pre and am looking for my next investment to upgrade performance. I am eyeing the Sabatron 4000e, and the UAD-1 for better compression and effects in general. I am also considering an external converter to bypass the on-board converters on the Yamaha (as I'm sure they leave something to be desired). Of the three items I have listed, what do you think my next move should be? Also, is there any other peice of equipment that I am missing that I should be considering here? Thanks.

  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    I think the biggest bang for the buck is in mics, comps and pres. That is to say quality front end does more that is noticeable, in terms of recording quality, than converters and effects cards. How much does a UAD card now go for (street)? I would think you could purchase a quality hardware comp like a Manley EL OP, (I got mine for $1800) for near what the UAD would go for. Yes you will only get 2 channels but in the case of the UAD, I believe that most users report only 4 channels per card anyhow. Hardware doesn't go obsolete (lasts indefinitely) while the UAD will be obsolete in five years at best (unless you never upgrade your computer or software).
  3. Idjiit

    Idjiit Guest

    The UAD-1 is closer to 600 bucks, actually. It's a steal, really.
  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    Really? I was thinking it was somewhere near $1100 for some reason. I stand corrected. Thanks for pointing that out. :D I still feel mics and pres make a bigger difference. A nice tube comp in the line can really fatten things up, even if you don't use it to compress but simply as a tube stage in your signal chain. You can't do that with an effects card.
  5. launchpad67a

    launchpad67a Guest

    Hi Rob,
    I agree with Kurt, great mics and great pre's will make a huge difference in your recordings. You have a great unit in the Yamaha but it lacks a few top quality parts.
    Invest in mics and pres, you will never regret the purchase.

  6. Idjiit

    Idjiit Guest

    Yep, I wasn't trying to dispute what you were saying at all. Just lettin' you know that the UAD-1 is much cheaper than you apparently thought. I'm not sure if they've dropped recently, since I've only recently started looking at them. :)

    There's no argument that investing in mics and pres, but it depends on what someone is trying to accomplish and on what budget. The UAD-1 is supposed to be great, and if you're using it for a 7-mic drum sound, I would wager you're going to get "more" out of the UAD than blowing your wad on a killer pre that can only be used on the overheads while you're tracking. Yeah, the UAD-1 may be irrelevant in a few years, but for some people it's worth it.

    You could make the argument that everything single thing people are producing in their DAWs will be obsolete in 5 years, and you wouldn't be far off the mark. But hopefully people are already taking that into consideration - I don't think the obsolesence of the UAD-1 is a huge bummer for people who've already accepted this.
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    I accept that the DAW I have will be road fodder in a few years. I don't have a problem with that at all and knowing this I spend as little as possible in this department. This is why I whine a snivvel alot about Pro Tools and Macintosh. It just seems like a waste. The TC and UAD cards don't get that much mleage in the DAWs. Most reports are that four or five instances of a compressor or 'verbs are all they are capible of. Maybe in a few years this will be different. In my expierence, one well placed high quality mic through a great pre, eq and comp will sound better than 20 crappy mics through crappy pres, eqs and and then processed in a UAD or TC type card. Garbage in, garbage out.

    When a person buys one quality piece that will be useable forever, they have started on a solid foundation that they can build upon, rather than making the same purchases repeatedly every few years. That's my approach. It has taken a while but I now have just about anything I need and I only have to replace my recorder (computer and the software) every few years. The rest stays because it is hardware. When I die or go deaf, it will be still worth what I paid for it on the most part.

    Others have different ways of getting to the same place that works too. If you have more cash flow than what you know to do with and need a tax write off, like many pro studios do, then playing the digital version of "Keep up with the Jonses" is the way to go. In the end, both approaches are valid and effective. You only need to decide which path you want to go down. my 2 cents. Kurt
  8. Idjiit

    Idjiit Guest

    Again, I don't really disagree at all. Going for the highest quality mics and pres that you can afford is a good way to go, especially long term. It's just a matter of balancing your current budget and short term needs, and taking the long view on where you see your studio career in the future. Not everyone perusing this board is looking to establish a world-reknowned studio, so the bang for the buck factor may be important.

    And quite frankly, for some people (this is absolutely in no way aimed at you, Rob) the difference between the mic pres in a prosumer box and a slicko piece of professional tube gear may be negligible in comparison to adding the ability to run 4 channels of killer reverb, or have a slew of available comps and EQs. In short, the UAD-1 may indeed prove to be much more useful than a nice expensive pre-amp.

    As usual, the person making the decision needs to try to get their hands on the gear, assess the differences and make a judgement for themselves. :) Rob didn't mention what kind of stuff he's recording, which would undoubtedly have quite an effect on the recommendations he gets from anyone here. :D

    As for me, I would love to focus more on my front end, so I would go the road of better pres and mics. :D
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    Judging from Rob has already, AW4416, Sytek and what he is eyeing, Sebatron VMP 4000 (which I heartily recommend) I think he is looking to the high end. Not to keep beating a dead horse, but the UAD can only run a few instances of the LA2a, 1176 or 'verbs, so it's not really a "slew of comps and EQs" but rather just a few. I just want to make that clear to the other readers of this thread so they aren't misinformed or have their expectations raised to unreasonable levels. If sample and bit rates would settle down a bit, I would be more receptive to the software and card approach. Two or three UAD and TC cards would be so cool. It is awesome to walk into a control room and see only the keyboard and a flat panel monitor. It's a very clean and sleek look. To not have to hassel interfacing, patch bays etc. could be a real plus too as well as a considerable savings. There's both up and down sides to the use of hardware vs. software and assist cards.
  10. Idjiit

    Idjiit Guest

    I would be curious to hear exactly what people are only getting 4 instances of. Reverb is always demanding, so 4 instances of stereo reverb per UAD doesn't seem unreasonable to me. If it's 4 stereo EQs, I might agree - but from the research I've done, it doesn't seem to be quite as dire as that, with people using over twice as many instances even with ancient host machines. And of course, people can always "print" this stuff to another track if they want to free up DSP power.

    At any rate, we're in agreement - and I think it's important to give DAW users perspective on what they're doing. I'm personally very concerned that essentially no one has a good answer for me regarding archiving projects long term. DVD? Keep it on a hard drive? Bounce to tape? It would be a shame to have all these masters disappear over the years since there is such flux in the industry... :)
  11. robchittum

    robchittum Guest

    Thanks for the comments guys. I definately respect your opinions. I do want to consider the best options for the long haul. I consider myself a hobbyist at best, but I have been getting a little "business" with the little guys that can't afford $60 to $75 for a "real studio" I have a main focus on acoustic and bluegrass music, but it seems like there is a good market for punk and alternative bands in my area, and any money that I do make is going toward new and better equipment. I plan on pursuing this hobby for the rest of my life, so good hardware makes sense to me. I don't know that I buy into the obsolencense (sp?) thing. I know that bigger and better things will come along, but I figure that if it sounds good now, then it will sound good 5 years from now. To me, a lot of the technology is surpassing the capabilities of the human ears anyway. The UAD card can be had for around $530, and while it may not stand the test of time, it seems like a worthwhile investment according to many. I am pretty happy with my decision to go with the Sytek ($800 investment) and have heard my recordings improve dramatically with that pre. The Sabatron sounds like a winner too. Compression is something that I know that I need to get a more polished sound, and if a hardware box is the way to go, then I will save for that. I went with the Yamaha AW4416 due to it being the best at the time, and I know it has limitations, but it seems to work pretty well for most applications. I am limited somewhat with only having 8 inputs, but I can usually work around that. As far as mics go, I am using Oktava MC-012's for acoustic instruments, a Studio Projects T3 for vocals, and I'm eyeing a matched pair of AKG C-414 UL??'s for the future (for drum overheads and vocals). As I said, I want to beef up the front end. I am glad to hear that converters are not as important as good pres and mics, as that is pretty much how I have been leaning. Anyway, thanks again for the comments.

  12. Richard Monroe

    Richard Monroe Active Member

    Framingham, Mass.
    Home Page:
    I am ambivalent here, because, on the one hand, I agree with the idea that mics and pres are the most critical part of the signal chain aside from the source and the room. However, using the A-D converter and the pres of your DAW, routing the signal through that Yammie will chop off most of the advantages of a cool front end.
    I've just finished tracking an album on a Roland VS1824CD, and the difference in sound is dramatic when the pre (any pre) is routed through a good A-D box, in this case Lucid AD9624. The problem with the front end-is-the-key theory, is that with your DAW then you run the signal through another front end that isn't that hot, really.
    I'm not that familiar with your standalone, but the only way I can really bypass the Roland's pres and A-D is only 2 tracks at a time, by S/PDIF.
    You didn't describe any mics and outboard pres that you use, but I'd probably start with a good A-D converter, and then mics and pres, in this case.-Richie
  13. Idjiit

    Idjiit Guest

    If the majority of the stuff you're doing is acoustic, then I would definitely agree with Kurt. It sounds like you've made a good investment in the Sytek, it seems to me getting the 414's sooner than later would benefit you the most and then getting a high quality comp/eq would be next. Since a lot of your stuff will be stereo mixing (if you do X/Y, etc. for mic'ing the instruments?) you may want to look at a mic pre that allows you to blend the signals - this is in contrast to the Sytek which is basically just four separate pres.

    If the majority of the stuff was punk (I've done a lot of recordings with punk bands), I would get the UAD-1 simply because a lot of times you end up having to "fix" recordings due to unideal situations - bad drummers, bad drum-kits, ultra-loud performances, tons of bleed-through, etc. I would take what Kurt and I have said about the UAD, and come up with your own conclusions. There seems to be a disagreement about how many channels it will realistically provide you. I would imagine this is a combination of the effects you're using, what sample freq. you're running at (I'm assuming 44.1/48k since you're using the Yamaha, right?), and what the host machine is. Check out this forum dedicated to the UAD for more answers: Seems like there's a lot of rabid UAD users out there, so I would take the opinions with a grain of salt. ;)
  14. robchittum

    robchittum Guest

    Hi Richie,
    So you have gotten a big improvement in sound using an outboard A-D converter? I bought the Yamaha knowing that I would sacrifice in the areas of mic pres and converters. The Yamaha does 44.1 and 48 K and upto 24 bits. I usually record in the 16 bit / 44.1K because I don't hear a large enough difference (although I'm sure there is one to those with golden ears) to justify eating up that much hard drive space. I have 16 tracks of ADAT in/out that would be available to use with an outboard A-D converter. Thanks.

  15. Idjiit

    Idjiit Guest

    Rob -
    What DAW are you using? You'll hear the biggest difference between 16 and 24bits when utilizing plugins, not necessarily just listening to two different tracks recorded at differing bit lengths, if that makes sense.
  16. robchittum

    robchittum Guest

  17. Bowisc

    Bowisc Active Member

    For someone who's mixing in the box, I believe the UAD-1 is an excellent tool.

    I payed $500 for my UAD-1 new, and legit. Sure, the plugs are not as good as the hardware units, but for the money, this card is pretty impressive.

    Yes, the actual hardware will eventually become obsolete, just as any other piece of digital/computer hardware. But the plugs will keep coming. I know folks using 2 cards nicely.

    I can run up to 4 reverbs + 12- 1176's + 8 Pultecs and a few other plugs on 32 track mixes without limits. This is on a 733Mhz G4 with 1.5G RAM. The "EX" Compressor and EQ plug-in is very, very usable, and you can run a ton of these without hogging CPU. They will kill any stock Cubase, Cakewalk, Logic plug-in handsdown, IMO.

    Their new Cambridge EQ plug-in ($150) is very accurate and a good tool. Look for their soon to be released Fairchild plug.

    I was a huge skeptic of the UAD-1 card for many reasons. I waited a long time with many hesitations. But when I saw the special price, I took the plunge and haven't looked back since. I use it on every piece of work. I've even gone back and re-mixed some stuff. I regret not getting this card sooner. I rarely even use my Waves Gold plugs anymore. The UAD-1 is that good to me.

    The LA2A, 1176, and Pultec plugs alone are worth the $500. My opinion here, so take it with a grain of salt.

    Good luck Rob!

  18. Idjiit

    Idjiit Guest

    Holy $*^t! Well there goes that theory, Kurt! ;) I would be curious to see others experiences on PCs instead of Macs...
  19. by

    by Guest

    Also consider upgrading to 2.0 (nuendo)... The summing algorithms have improved a good deal. That still might not be as good as analog though. :)
  20. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    What I had heard regarding the amount of instances on the UAD was four of the comps, 1176 or LA2as and that was it. I don't think it was on a Mac, although I don't see how that would have much of a bearing on the subject. If Boswic says he's running 11 of them, it's hard to argue with. He usually isn't wong when he says somthing. I read that in a review of the UAD in one of the rags like Mix or EQ. I will have to look and see if I still have it, I throw them out after a couple of months.

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