Looking to upgrade front end: Roland 2480

Discussion in 'Synths / Samplers & VSTi' started by Mike Tate, Jan 28, 2004.

  1. Mike Tate

    Mike Tate Guest

    Here's my situation:
    I have an amateur "studio". It is based around the following stuff:

    Roland 2480 hard disc recorder
    Mackie VLZ 1202 mini mixer
    Tannoy Reveal Actives w/ Tannoy subwoofer
    Studio Projects C1
    AKG D112
    2 Oktava MC012's
    AGK 3000....something or another (forget the model name)
    bunch of SM57's
    few SM58's
    other random mics that come and go

    So....pretty modest gear. I work exclusively with a pop band named Omnisoul. They're all very talented and sound quite professional. My goal is to record them with a broadcast-quality sound. I have no interest in mastering. My recording would be sent to a proper professional to handle the mastering.

    I have all the confidence in the world in the song writing and performance ability of the band. I have confidence in my recording and mixing ability. I would like my equipment to catch up with the rest of us....

    I don't have the biggest budget in the world, but I would like to put some money into improving the front end of my recording system. I'm thinking attacking the preamp-A/D converter-word clock. I've heard good things about the Avalon M5 preamp, but I know nothing about A/D converters and word clocks. Any recommendations? Or am I focusing on the wrong part of my equipment? Should I be looking at mics first? Monitors?

    Thanks for the help.
  2. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    How much you want to spend? You should be able to get a good mic, preamp and converter for around $3000 + - it will make a big difference in the sound

    of course with mics you can spend as much as you want but there are many mid price mics available that can give you a decent sound- same with preamps- (plan to spend at least 2k for pre and mic, though, more if you want something special-

    as for converters I am happy with my apogee rosetta 96k- they run about $1200 new or you can find them in ebay often for about $700

    Give us more details what you looking for - a mic for vocals? male/female? need more than one input on preamp, etc also, will you be recording your band all at once or separate tracks- that would make the differnce in the equipment

    peace :D
  3. Mike Tate

    Mike Tate Guest

    Thanks for the reply.

    I'm willing to spend about $2000 and down....however I'm also willing to buy in chunks. If I have to buy a $2000 pre today and then a $2000 A/D converter 6 months down the line that's fine.

    It is a male singer. Audio clips are up at http://. All of those recordings except for "Waiting (Save your Life)" came from my current setup although I've gotten better in the year since those were made. :) To anybody who can't hear those, it is a male singer with acoustic guitar, electric guitar, drums, bass, keys.

    What I am looking for more specifically is for my stuff approach the quality of "Waiting (Save your Life)" (that one was from a pro studio).

    Right now I'd be fine with one killer channel. I know I'm never going to afford 8 killer channels for drums, and my other pre's are OK if multiple inputs are ever needed for anything else. Our studio work is mostly overdubs after the drum tracking, so I'm recording single mono tracks most of the time. I would like a versitile channel however. It will see many different mics and pretty much anything from bass guitar to vocals.

    Another big snag that I forgot to mention is room problems. I frequently do remote recordings. We have no proper studio space, so when we find a good room for a specific instrument we pack up and go there. I also rent, so I was not free to modify the house too much (volume and noise is never a problem however). The room I mix in is alright-ish. Kind of a finished basement deal. I've done my best to "learn" it.
  4. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    I listened to waiting and scare the night and eventhough the difference was noticeable was probably not as much as you think (on the other hand it might just be the mp3s making things homogeneous) I just put on you say and that was a little more duller, the drums seem a bit like cardboard- but overall a good demo sound-

    Now I got back to heavens on- the drums are better in this one- last one, speak nice song-

    overall you lack top end sheen and definition in your recordings- you may and may not improve the sound- I used to have a vs880 and that's the same problem I had with that unit, clarity and definition- I don't know if the vs24... has improved on that, but that was my experience-

    I am now recording to Digital performer 4.12 on a mac- when I got that several years ago I could tell the difference right away between the roland and DP- Then I added good mics, great pres and AD converters and it just got that much better- However the basic sound befor all those additions was still better than the vs880

    I have a friend who has a vs1680 and I still hear that kind of quality out of those recordings=

    What I am trying to say is that having had experience with the 880 and the 1680 sounding that way, I am not sure if the answer lies in front the end or not- I haven't heard any tracks done on a vs2408/ so please look around and compare in your area-

    you can never go wrong with great mics and pres, they never lose their value and you'll keep them forever- when you decide to sell them if you ever do) you probably will get more than you paid for now- As to which mic to get, you have to try them and see which one fits your voice the best- Neumann U87 is one of the standards and you can find them for about $2000, although there are myriads of other choices available, some for more some for less- I heard a Blue Blueberry sounding good ona vocalist with a voice close to your range- you might want to rent one out and try it (they sell for about a grand) On a more friendly budget note there are some tube mics that are great on male vocalists, the rode ntk ($500) the SP T3 ($700) rode K2 (700) and on up- Don't forget to check out the AKG c414 TLII, that's the ticket for many a singer- just to show you how funny the marriage between voice and mic is, I've been using a U87 on my voice for rock songs, an rca d77 for jazz songs but I just happen to buy 2Oktava M319 from Guitar center and one of them is a great match for my voice! I will be comparing it to the u87 sometime this week but regardless, it is totally usaeble and we are talking about a $100 mic with a get one free promotion! I know I got lucky, but I have to brag :D

    As to pres, you can spend all kind of cash on them- I've used several good ones but my current favorite is a grace 101- I got the hi gain edition to use with ribbon mics and Im very happy with it- Again, you might want something with a little more attitude like a manley or a great river, you have to find out for yourself-

    AD converters do make a big difference, at least in my set up- My apogee has improved my sound and its clock has tightened my motu 828mkII considerably

    Sorry to have cast a doubt on your roland recorder. Like I said, I haven't tried that particular model but I heard earlier ones and that was the sound that came out of them- It might be their compression scheme- they say is transparent but???

    I think your best bet would be to look around, maybe rent some mics and check them out- hey, in my area I can rent an '87 for about $30/day, that's cheap to find out- A c141 rents for about $20/day and if you can set up a recording session, it won't be wasted money either! same goes for pres- AD's I recommend any of the apogee- I heard the lucids and they are ok but not as good in my book a the rosettas- Hey you can get a rosetta 800 for about 2k and gives you 8ch, enough to lay down your drums! :D

  5. Mike Tate

    Mike Tate Guest

    I know exactly what you mean about that "sheen" buisness. It's been driving me nuts. My newer stuff doesn't suffer as much from it, so I'm chalking at least some of it up to technique. I'll post some rythmn tracks of our in-progress stuff tomorrow.

    I'm hoping it's not the Roland compression. I've heard it do good things before. Victor Wooten put out an album ("Yin Yang" I think...) that was tracked and mixed entirely on a VS 1680. He had all of the fancy outboard front end stuff and pros running the thing, so that has to at least help a bit. If I could achive at least what Victor got out of that album I'd be happy.

    And damn, thanks for all the advise!

    Oh, and does anybody have an opinion of the Avalon M5 preamp?
  6. Mike Tate

    Mike Tate Guest

    Well, I'm back again. After much reading I went ahead and bought a Great River MP-1NV.

    That brings me to the A/D conversion end of things. There is no way I can afford an outboard A/D converter right now, so that's out of the question. I'll come back to that in another 6 months. :) Here's the issue: If I take a line out from my new Great River pre and send it to the Roland, there's no way to bypass the Roland pre's. Not a single insert on the machine. I can turn the gain way down on the Roland, but that's about it. I have access to an entry level A/D converter (M Audio Duo). With that, I could bypass the Roland front end entirely.

    So.... would I be better off using the Roland A/D converters and risk sending my signal through the Roland pre's at a very low gain setting, or would I be better off using the cheap A/D converters in the M Audio Duo and bypassing the Roland front end? What's the lesser of two evils here....
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