Taking the next step

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by WEPMAH, Oct 7, 2005.


    WEPMAH Guest

    This is my first post here at recording.org. I know there are a lot of knowledgable people in these forums with a lot to say, and I'm looking for direction.

    I'm a musician, formally trained to some degree (a BA in Music Composition), with a modest little computer-based studio in my basement that I've put a lot of sweat and time into. I write and record my own music, which at the moment is primarily alternative rock music for lack of a better term. No longer aided by a band, I build songs from the ground up, first drums, then adding overdubs. Here is my current gear list for some context:

    2 - MOTU 828 mkIIs running into a PC with Cubase
    Focusrite Octopre 8-channel preamp
    HHB Radius 10 4-channel tube preamp
    ART Pro VLA compressor
    dbx 266 compressor
    AKG C414 (old one!)
    2 - C1000's
    EV RE20 (just refurbed)
    2 - MXL 2003's
    Event PS6 monitors
    handful of Shure SM57's and a Beta 52
    Behringer Eurorack mixer for sending headphone mixes to the tracking room

    I'm looking to improve the quality of my recordings without spending thousands of dollars (which I don't have anyway). I'm comfortable with the results I get with my current setup, but I'd like to take it up a notch. I'm willing to sell certain pieces if necessary in order to maximize what I have. I'm leaning toward selling the HHB for a better preamp or preamps.

    What is the best value out there? I know mic pres make a big difference, but there are so many options. Microphones as well. Any advice?

    (If it helps, I know the whole deal with "garbage in, garbage out". I have quality instruments and know a few things about getting decent sounds, even I don't go about in the most technical manner.)

    Thanks ahead of time.
  2. satyr607

    satyr607 Active Member

    Oct 8, 2005
    Home Page:
    This might be a tad bit out of my arena (I would give a nut for some of your equip) but you seem to be lacking when it comes to mikes, depending on what genre af music your in and what you are recording. I would spill out for a kick ass cond mic,...but thats just me.

    Edited because I missed the AKG,...nevermind me,...too much Jim Beam
  3. o2x

    o2x Active Member

    Mar 17, 2005
    You have some pretty decent kit, but IMO without spending a fairly hefty chunk on new kit you'll be replacing gear which won't show a huge amount of difference.

    There are exceptions to the rule however. For mics, i'd go for the AT40xx range. Not a whole lot a dosh, but a great sound.

    Preamps, well - in the less than $1k bracket you always have the brick (or two). You could always build your own, or get a lunchbox and add to it as your funds dictate.

    Your monitors maybe too. The Events are OK, but see if you can try some alternatives from Dynaudio/Genelec/Tannoy/KRK et al. Just replacing your monitors may make a sizeable difference.

    Remember, there's always loads of kit floating around second hand. One man's junk is another man's gold as they say. Don't feel that you have to get the 'latest toy' because people are raving about it. Always listen for yourself and decide whether spending your hard earned cash is justified or whether you'll be buying something which just fills up rack space.

    WEPMAH Guest

    That's definitely helpful. I would like to find a nice condenser, something versatile that sounds good on my own vocals. Honestly, although people swear by the C414, I hate the way my voice sounds through it. I often sing in a loud "head voice" style, and that mic just sounds harsh to me. I definitely won't get rid of it, but I ought to try some other mics. My trusty SM57 works better in those situations.

    I've also borrowed a pair of AT4033's before, but never got to sing through them unfortunately. They made good drum overheads though.

    How about Rode mics? I've heard the NT2 or NTK are good values.

    I've been eyeing The Brick for a while now, and your feedback o2x may have just pushed me in that direction. I'm also considering a Peavey VMP 2 (my friend records everything through his and it sounds phenomenal) or even the Trident S20. It's either 2 Bricks or one of those. What do I gain/lose with either direction?
  5. o2x

    o2x Active Member

    Mar 17, 2005
    I've never heard the Peavey AMR, so I cannot comment on that piece of kit. The Trident is a nice piece, warmer than others in the same price bracket, but if your thinking of spending that sort of moolah on a dual channel pre, then you have lots of choice.

    Grace Design 101 (x2)
    Summit Audio 2BA-221 (x2)
    SPL Gold Mic channel
    Sebatron 2000e

    They then go up and up and up.

    With regard to RODE mics, some people swear by them, but I have and NTK which I rarely use these days. (I Prefer the AT4047). I find the NTK a bit weak in the top end. The AT seems very smooth across the whole range. Many people love the K2, but I haven't had a chance to give one a go yet. I'm not saying they're poor by any means, they are nice mics, just not my personal preference.

    Another great mic is the Geffel 930, but i fear at about $900 this is gonna be a bit steep.

    My best advice is to set an absolute budget and go and listen to a few pieces of kit (some stores will even give you stuff on a 30 day return basis).

    If you don't like anything that you can afford, then don't buy it just for the sake of it. Save a little more and audition again.
  6. Mr-Nice

    Mr-Nice Guest

    Welcome to RO, I take it you are looking to improve your vocal recordings? A good mic and pre would be a start.

    But dont get anything that I or anyone else tells you to get. If you can goto a store to audition some gear you have in mind and that would be your best bet. Depending on how your voice is each mic may behave differently to it, thats why you should test several mics out first.
  7. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    Jul 21, 2002
    My opinion: the trick is to not have one or two "go to" mics for specific applications like vocals....use what you have and match up the best mic/pre combo to the source.

    That said, you really can't go wrong with an API or clone, or a Neve or clone, with a decent assortment of mics...SM57s have been used on countless #1 hits, as similarly priced and vintage designs. That RE20 you have is one I would seriously look at as a strong contender in the vocal choice process...

    Also consider the entire chain, both pre and post recording...some report a 57 though an API is one thing...a 57 through an API AND a higher end compresor is something else altogether. I agree with the AT 40XX series...Snake Reynolds describes them as "very accurate - it records what you give it" ... coming from Snake that's a pretty high endorsement of what they are and what they can do...

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