Thoughts on my recording setup?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by DISK, Dec 29, 2004.

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    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

  1. DISK

    DISK Guest

    Hello all. I am planning on recording an album sometime this spring with some friends. I have some experience with recording & mixing and have a very modest setup. I have just a few questions that I must ask before I start in on this project. Also, if anyone has any input in general, it would be greatly appreciated.

    So here is a list of my gear:

    AMD Athlon XP 3000+ / 1 GB PC2700 / 80GB 7200rpm hard drive / M-Audio Revolution 7.1

    Outboard gear
    Echo Layla24
    Behringer MDX2600 Composer Pro-XL Compressor
    Behringer MIC2200 UltragainĀ® Pro

    Sonar 4 Producers Edition
    Cool Edit Pro 2.0

    MXL 990
    MXL 991
    Shure SM57
    Shure SM58

    plan on buying M-Audio Bx5s

    The type of music that I will be recording will be similar to The Stills, The Killers, Keane, Jimmy Eat World (circa 1997-99), etc...

    Also, the audio production on these bands' albums are what I am shooting for. Now, I do have some experience with recording a band. Though I do admit that I am completely amateur. Anyways, the recording space that I have is just a two car garage. It is mostly empty and it is insulated. It has wood and drywall walls ceiling, and the floor is concrete. I was thinking that I would carpet the floor and hang carpet directly in front of the two garage doors.

    I am thinking that I should record at 24bit/44.1khz, but if anyone can tell me why some other combination would be better for this, then I am willing to listen! Also, I have a friend that has some different mics than me (not sure what they are at this moment, I'm at work!), but I am sure I will be borrowing a few.

    I am probably going to borrow his 16 channel Allen & Heath mixer to. So, if anyone has any ideas on anything, please drop a post! I am specifically looking to get some really good guitar and drum sounds. I have a Marshall JCM900 100watt head with the 1960a cab. I also have a Marshall 2x12 100 watt valvestate combo amp (bought in 98, its an older vavlestate). I hope to borrow a Fender 100 watt 2x12 Twin amp as well. The main guitar is an Gibson Les Paul Classic. I have always just recorded each guitar part through the JCM900 with a SM57 direct on about 4" in front of one of the cones. I have never been pleased with this sound and want to try some new ways out looking for that "bigger, fuller guitar sound".

    I plan on either mixing this project myself and then taking it somewhere to have it mastered (perhaps with analog tape to warm it up?) or if I can afford it, taking all the tracks into a studio and having them mix it and then taking it somewhere else to have it mastered. I need to know also if you can import Sonar 4 files into Pro Tools. Or how would I go about exporting them otherwise?

    Thanks for any and all suggestions!
  2. Nemesys

    Nemesys Guest

    The quoted above comment caught my eye, so I thought I'd suggest first and foremost that you up the sample rate to 48 minimum from 44.1. Even consider 96 kHz if you can manage the disk space.

    44.1kHz is the Red Book standard, which is what you get when you make duplicate CD's for distribution.... which is the MINIMUM quality you want. During the actual recording process, you need a bit of additional "overhead" as I like to call it.... to compensate for the degradations you may incur as your bounce and process your signal through various pieces of equipment, particularly outboard eqpt where you've got an analog connection.

    If you track at 44.1kHz.... then by the time your done processing.... what your going to end up with is something thats actually less than 'CD-audio' quality. Hence you track at a higher bit and sample rate... and then after all the processing is said and done, the perceived audio quality will be roughly equivelant to your standard red book recorded music disc.
  3. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    I'd lie to point out that in the afrementioned situation, this is the least important issue of all those mentioned.
  4. Nemesys

    Nemesys Guest

    People tend to get very irritated when you tell them all their equipment is inadequate or that their entire home studio (i.e. his garage) should be modified for better soundproofing and acoustics.... so thats about the only thing I had to say, short of telling the person I don't like their choice of gear :)

    Although.... he didn't buy the monitors [speakers] yet.... so we can start by suggesting better ones.... if he's got the money to spend.

    Although, personally I believe those M-Audios are fairly decent sounding monitors for the price..... so the next thing on the list is to advise him to lose the Behringer products and to maybe purchase a really nice condensor or ribbon microphone to start his collection.
  5. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    I see your point. I wasn't going to go that far, but seriously, many many things will make or break the sound before sampling rate or bit depth.
  6. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Distinguished Member

    Jun 8, 2003
    Central Village, CT
    Home Page:
    My only comment has to do with the room and acoustics.......

    You want (or should want) a live floor and a dead ceiling..... so I would consider treatment for the ceiling - probably leaning towards some 703 hung below the ceiling with (if you can afford it) maybe 8" between the 2.

    You don't say how the walls are finished - but I'll let you know that no carpet in the world is rated to be hung in front of a door - in fact it's a death trap waiting for someone.

    Vertical carpet - hung in front of something (or even in the middle of a room) will flame up real REAL fast if something goes wrong.

    Even carpet rated for wall installation (Berber is the only one I know of) is not rated to hang without being attached to the wall with 100% bonding of the 2.

    Otherwise I am not competent to coment on your question - in as much as I am not a pro in any other field than construction.

  7. bossa

    bossa Active Member

    Dec 27, 2004

    I place a Rode NT1000 (large diaphram w/phantom) about 3-4 feet from the guitar's speaker cabinet and think it sounds way better than the old sm57 mic up close. You don't have to crank the amp all the way up to get a fuller sound either, just get a tone you like.

  8. DISK

    DISK Guest

    thank you all for your input!

    1) I know about the headroom issue with recording at 44.1 vs a higher sample rate. But since the only converter I have is Sonar 4's (and CEP 2.0), I am wondering if its worth it. And if it is, should I record at 88.2 or 96khz? I've heard different things about each regarding wich one yields better results due to the SRC process.

    2) Yeah, I know the Behringer pre and comp are sub par at best, but are they really that horrible or could I still get some really good sounds using them?

    3) As far as the room (garage), would it be better more towards the "dead" side or more towards the "live" side? Without anything in there as far as carpeting or foam, it is very live. If I clap my hands together, there is a high pitched slap back. Also, I understand what you are saying about hanging carpet above the garage doors. Their would be nothing by them though (maybe a drum kit and a few mics), and I live in Michigan and its about 10 degrees here right now! Their is a heater in the garage (professionally built in, but in order to keep the heat in and hence make it comfortable, there needs to be carpet on the floor and something in front of the garage doors).

    4) as far as micing the guitar. what about close micing with the 57 and then using one of the condensors on a 45 degree angle a little farther back?

    5) anyone have any thoughts about the mixing and mastering (I talked about some different ideas in my first post).

    6) Is the Layla24 a good A/D converter?
    7) Are Monster Cables good XLR cables? I was planning on picking up a few more XLR cables and I'm not sure how much better one brand is over the other and since all my equipment isn't that good anyway, if I should bother getting the "higher end" cables?

    Thanks again for any input/suggestions!
  9. badbear

    badbear Guest

    This is not good advice, sorry to say. With your current rig, DISK, I doubt very seriously if you could detect the difference between 96k and 44.1k. (Some people can't with any gear). Upsampling to 48k causes more degradation to the signal than just leaving it at 44.1k, which is not 'the minimum; it's a standard. Unless you have some world class converters, the cure is worse than the disease.
  10. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    Hi Bill, welcome to RO. That's what I was getting at with my first post, but I didn't want to hijack the thread. DISK, i'm sorry you didn't get better answers. I'd help you myself, but I don't do a lot of 'band' recording; however, I can tell you a few things. First, your computer is more than capable if you have it set up right. If you want help on this, you can search for or ask about this in the DAWs and Computing Forum. You will definitely need the A&H mixer for the pres. Ditch the Behringer gear; the A&H pres will likely be better and you either have or can get for free some nice compressor plugins. Stay at 24/44.1. As for guitars, record several different takes through all amps and guitars that you have available with different tone settings and mic positions each time. I'd stick with a single close mic since it's easier. Try panning them various degrees of opposite. The Layla converters are fine. DOn't worry about things like this; There are much more important matters. Don't buy monster cables. This is another very small issue that you shouldn't worry with. Just buy a nice generic quad cables and be done. About the room, this, beside your skill and ears, will likely be the biggest factor determining the quality of your recording. You are going to need absorption. I'd make a post in the Acoustics forum about guerilla treatment tactics if I were you. As for pro mixing/mastering... why not pro recording? If you had to choose only one and they all cost the same, your first choice should be recording, second mixing, third mastering. It's a trickle down effect; Well recorded songs mix themselves, well mixed songs are easier to master, and mastering can polish a diamond better than it can polish a turd. I hope that helped.
  11. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    Two more things. You are going to need some more mics. See if you can get a couple 'bass' dynamics like AKG D112, Audix D6, or similar. These will be useful for kick and bass cab. Also, record your bass both direct and miked at the same time for flexibility. Do you have only one MXL991? How many 57s and 58s do you have? You will probably find that dynamic mics will help you reduce the negative effects of the room, so if I were doing this recording, I might try to use them exclusively. I bet you can get a better sound out of the Shure's than you can out of the Marshalls on all sources anyway. Shure is an old established mic manufacturer and 57s and 58s are found in every studio around the world; Marshall is a video surveillance manufacturer that jumped on the home studio bandwagon in the last couple years in order to try and get some of the profits by selling cheap but expensive looking mics. Now the second thing. Use most of your time listening and experimenting. Trust your ears to tell you what works and what doesn't. Dont' stop until it's right.

    Also, read this entire thread several times.
  12. DISK

    DISK Guest

    Thanks for the info David!

    1) Yeah, I know that paying for studio time would be the best route, but I really enjoy the recording that I have done before. I just need to acquire better equipment and more experience and I will have a life-long hobby at the ver least. More importantly though, I don't have tons of money and I enjoy the freedom to try many different ideas while in the recording process. Having months to perfect the music is what I enjoy about home recording.

    2) Thanks for the advice about posting on the acoustic forum. I will do that soon and hopefully gain some good tips and tricks to help make the room sound better.

    3) I have just recently become more aware of the importance of phasing. Its something that in my previous experiences I never thought about. After reading some discussions on this forum however, I realize that I need to do some homework on this issue. Do you have any readings that you could refer me to? Either books or online material.

    4) I have only 1 SM57, 1 SM58, 1 MXL991, and 1 MXL990. I have a friend that has a few different (and a few of the same) mics that I can borrow. I can't remember exactly which mics he has at the moment though.

    5) Thats good to hear that I don't really have to bother getting some Monster Cables. So they really wouldn't make a noticeable difference with the setup I have?

    Thanks again for all the input!
  13. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    So long as you know what phase cancellation is, understand the basic math behind it, and know a few rules of thumb like the 3-1 distance rule, the next step is to play with mics and familiarize yourself with the sound of it. Liek I said, read that thread many times; it's one of the best on RO.

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