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DavidKmusic
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2nd October 2005
Old 2nd October 2005
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Need expertise on upgrading project studio

Just want opinions on what your next purchase would be if you had my gear, and had a thousand bucks to spend. I'm thinking about a pair of overheads, but what about a better interface/converters? A Distressor? I just want to get the most pro sound possible on this budget, for recording mostly conventional rock instruments including live drums. Also, i'd like to hear opinions on changing /upgrading interface, etc - even if it exceeds 1K. People in other forums suggested better monitors or sound treatment but I should add here that I mix most projects in big studios to take advantage of their plug-ins, monitors, etc. I just want to get professional quality tracks to disk.


DAW - G4 powerbook running DP 4.6
Interface - Motu 828 firewire box(1st generation)

Preamps/strips-
Great River ME-1
Avalon 737
Bellari RP 220
Motu 828 pres

mics - Sure KSM 32
AKG D112
SM57s (4)
SM58s (4)
Samson CO2 (2)

Virtuals - BFD triggered by Roland Vdrums
- Symphonic Orchestra
- Scarbee vintage keys

Monitors - Audix powerhouse
Misc - FMR RNC
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2nd October 2005
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I'd say go for upgrading your mics first.
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2nd October 2005
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2nd October 2005
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Sorry

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont
Sorry, I'm new to this. Wouldn't have reposted had I gotten responses that addressed my questions about converters, etc. and also more advice on mics, plug-ins etc. Thought that this forum might be a better place

Incidentally, thanks for all your help. I've learned that you want to sell me monitors and that you're on the look out for double-posting :-)
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2nd October 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidKmusic
Sorry, I'm new to this. Wouldn't have reposted had I gotten responses that addressed my questions about converters, etc. and also more advice on mics, plug-ins etc. Thought that this forum might be a better place

Incidentally, thanks for all your help. I've learned that you want to sell me monitors and that you're on the look out for double-posting :-)
Actually I don't want to sell you anything, and I am a moderator so I kind of look out for things like double posting etc...
fuuck
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2nd October 2005
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if I were you I'd be looking at nicer monitors and some more mics. While you say you mix at bigger studios I'd still say monitors are important because you realy need to know whats going to tape when your tracking!

Mics would be the main area though, probably get a second ksm32 so you've got a nice pair of overheads, then you'll want imho one higher end condenser soundelux 195, and a few nice dynamics.. a couple of 421's would do nicely.

it'd probably also be worth picking up an sm7 for an alternative to the condensers for vocals, aswell as having an excelent do anything type of mic.

But before all this make sure your room sounds great
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2nd October 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by username
if I were you I'd be looking at nicer monitors and some more mics. While you say you mix at bigger studios I'd still say monitors are important because you realy need to know whats going to tape when your tracking!

...But before all this make sure your room sounds great
Okay, that's what I was thinking. I had been looking at some Rhode NT-5s or something of the like for overheads but would it make more sense to get the second KSM? It would probably be comparable money. The second Sure wouldn't give me a new mic in the limited arsenal, but the question is whether the Sures would be superior to any matched condencers in that price range.


lastly, what's your process for treating a room...just trial and error on source location/mic placement, etc? Then what about baffles, etc? I would need portable and interchangable stuff as I'm often recording in different rooms of my place, and other locations as well.
As for monitors, what do folks recommend? Also, how do you feel about doing some amount of monitoring/editing with a pair of Grado RS 1s or Senn HD650?
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2nd October 2005
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sound treatment

Nevermind about the sound treatment, someone pointed me toward the Realtraps web site - very informative stuff

Still wondering about monitors and headphones though
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2nd October 2005
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In this order of importance.

1. Source (Gtr and Amp, Drums, Bass and ect.)

2. Room (Monitoring, Reflection)

3. Mic Assortment (Good Dynamics and Cond)

4. Mic Pres (API's or Neves)

5. Compressor

6. Digital Converters

That is as far as equip goes, outside that it is imperative you are not deaf.

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3rd October 2005
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i dont know if i am taking this too far but i'd sell the samson mics, the motu interface and i'd buy a fireface but if you want to keep your stuff i'll probably second the monitor opinion.

cheers

ps: you could also sell the avalon and start with an API lunchbox...........
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3rd October 2005
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More mics mate!

You want more mics to give you different flavors. (SM7s and MD421 are good ones already mentioned). IMO the 421 is more versatile because of the multi position roll-off switch (Speech or music). You also mentioned the Rode NT-5 as over heads ... they can be a nice choice for that, I use a pair of NT-1000s for OH. Another few really useful mics are the AT4033 and AT4050. ADK Hamburg & Vienna editions are good value for $$.

I think everyone that is serious should have one really good condenser, one really good dynamic & one really good ribbon mic and grow from there!

In the overall picture I tend to find that where you are converting from one type of energy to another (ie acoustical energy to electrical energy & vise versa) are the 2 most critical areas in any setup. ie mics & monitors. If you get really good gear in these 2 areas and make sure everything else is OK (ie not total crap) then you'll do fine.

.... my 2 cents worth
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3rd October 2005
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interface

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexi
i dont know if i am taking this too far but i'd sell the samson mics, the motu interface and i'd buy a fireface but if you want to keep your stuff i'll probably second the monitor opinion.

cheers

ps: you could also sell the avalon and start with an API lunchbox...........
I'm not married to the motu by any means. I'd like to get the highest quality 8 channel firewire interface that I can afford. How do people feel the fireface compares with the Apogee Rosetta 800 and others? Keeping in mind that I don't mix at my own studio, but rather transfer files directly from my hardrive into bigger studios Pro-tools rigs, what is my optimum firwire input set-up? (keep motu and add apogee clock? get fireface? get Rosetta?)

thanks
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3rd October 2005
Old 3rd October 2005
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suggestions

the 2 most critical areas in any setup. ie mics & monitors. If you get really good gear in these 2 areas and make sure everything else is OK (ie not total crap) then you'll do fine.

...[/QUOTe

Thanks, any suggestions on monitors? What about tracking/editing with Grado RS-1 cans ...Is this forbidden?
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3rd October 2005
Old 3rd October 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidKmusic
I'm not married to the motu by any means. I'd like to get the highest quality 8 channel firewire interface that I can afford. How do people feel the fireface compares with the Apogee Rosetta 800 and others? Keeping in mind that I don't mix at my own studio, but rather transfer files directly from my hardrive into bigger studios Pro-tools rigs, what is my optimum firwire input set-up? (keep motu and add apogee clock? get fireface? get Rosetta?)

thanks
Changing one thing like the Motu, will not make that big of a difference in sound quality. Changing multiple things will. Since it is expensive to do that, I would suggest buying things that have staying power and hold their value. Interfaces and converters do not, so put your money into good mics and good mic pre's. Buy things that are highly sought after, this way they go up in value. API's, Neve's, Neumann's, Emerical Lab's, SPL, Urei, DBX, AKG, Royer, Avalon (Certain Stuff), GML, Lexicon just to name a few. Build slowly, as the other posts said, start with mics and pres, I did this and that is when I noticed the biggest difference. I have gone through 6 interfaces in a 15 year run with gear, from ADATS to ProTools HD. I still use and have the Neve 1073's I bought in 1993. I still use the AKG 414's I bought in 1990. I still use and have the DBX 160XT I bought in 1991. The interfaces will change overtime and the Interface you have or are going to buy will be worth nothing, you will need to upgrade your interface but wait until you get the front end of it together.

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3rd October 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtstudi@pacbell


....The interfaces will change overtime and the Interface you have or are going to buy will be worth nothing, you will need to upgrade your interface but wait until you get the front end of it together.

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That makes sense, particularly from an investment standpoint. But I guess my main concern is balancing getting "good enough" quality now, with making sound investments for the future.

Historically I've only used my gear to demo my own stuff, but recently I've been producing a lot, and had clients record their basics with me, and then taken them to the big boys for overdubs, editing/mixing. My feeling was that I couldn't get by with the 828 and my outboard gear, but with the help of virtual instruments, and a couple good pres (GR, Avalon) I have to say that the final results have been quite good. I just want to get the best quality possible for paying clients.

thanks for the help
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3rd October 2005
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cans

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidKmusic
Thanks, any suggestions on monitors? What about tracking/editing with Grado RS-1 cans ...Is this forbidden?
you keep asking the question and no one has addressed it yet. headphones are not a bad idea, but honestly a good pair of studio monitors is more practical. a pair of even the most comfortable non-fatiguing cans will drive you nuts after a while, compared to decent monitors.

this is my personal opinion, but it's backed up by hundreds of hours in top-level studios. you can check for things in headphones, but overall they're a temporary thing. also it's difficult to keep your volume levels in check with cans. we all know if you blast your ears you lose your hearing and that's the last thing you need.

working with your budget, i would focus on mics, acoustics, a/d converters and monitors. what will benefit you the most long-term?
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4th October 2005
Old 4th October 2005
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Monitors...what's the problem?? etc

Quote:
Originally Posted by charlienyc
working with your budget, i would focus on mics, acoustics, a/d converters and monitors. what will benefit you the most long-term?
First off, thanks for addressing the headphone question.

I'm clear on the sound treatment, which is what I think I'll tackle first. The next would be good monitors, which I'm no closer to a decision on given what a divisive topic monitor choice seems to be!! It seems that any decent monitors should do the job, provided the engineer understands how they translate to other systems/speakers and compensates accordingly.... right? So what is all the arguing about? Other than preference on how much, and what kind, of compensation you'll have to make - which then just comes down to preference. (I suspect a lot of guys on here struggle with the concept of subjectivity...yes?)

I've also decided that I'll probably pick up another KSM 32 so I'll have a pair for OH and then a 414 for it's versatility. Eventually, I'll look at a higher end condenscer too, after trying a bunch out.

Which just leaves me with the interface/converter question. Maybe I need to do a little more comparing of my final mixes to ones done on other systems to decide if I want to upgrade the Motu right now. If I do, I still don't know which way to go...would a Fireface or Apogee make a significant difference?
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4th October 2005
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you nailed it

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidKmusic
It seems that any decent monitors should do the job, provided the engineer understands how they translate to other systems/speakers and compensates accordingly.... right?
you got it. find all the models within your budget, listen and decide what works the best for you. maybe narrow it down to two or three pairs in a showroom, then bring them to your studio and listen.

Quote:
(I suspect a lot of guys on here struggle with the concept of subjectivity...yes?)
i woudn't say anything about the guys here in particular ;-) i would say gear heads in general struggle with it. hey engineers have opinions about everything. the thing is how you decide what gear works best for you is a subjective matter. what sounds best to your ears and is comfortable for you to use will usually make the best piece of gear for you. it's easy to take your opinions and turn them into suggestions for someone else... i hear

you're on the right track!
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4th October 2005
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thanks

[QUOTE=charlienyc]

it's easy to take your opinions and turn them into suggestions for someone else... i hear

you're on the right track!
[/QUOTe

Yes, and no offense intended, to anyone, with my original comment. I think people are just passionate about what they like, and are usually trying to be helpful. Besides, it's not as entertaining to read "those monitors don't work for me" as it is "what are you guys f#$@ing deaf?! :-)


Again, thanks so much..this forum has made a world of difference for a budding engineer/producer like me. I've learned more in a few days here than they tought me at Berklee!!

Last edited by DavidKmusic; 4th October 2005 at 01:55 PM.. Reason: misplaced quote
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4th October 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidKmusic
That makes sense, particularly from an investment standpoint. But I guess my main concern is balancing getting "good enough" quality now, with making sound investments for the future.

Historically I've only used my gear to demo my own stuff, but recently I've been producing a lot, and had clients record their basics with me, and then taken them to the big boys for overdubs, editing/mixing. My feeling was that I couldn't get by with the 828 and my outboard gear, but with the help of virtual instruments, and a couple good pres (GR, Avalon) I have to say that the final results have been quite good. I just want to get the best quality possible for paying clients.

thanks for the help
The only thing I can say to that is Protools HD, but that is quite an investment. Compatibility is important to me and the other studios I work with, but Protools doesn't mean better quality. I have heard some badly recorded stuff come from an 80's series Neve and Protools HD. I would prefer getting files starting at Bar Zero that were recorded well and organized. If the engineer recording in Protools, Logic, Digital Performer or Cubase is not organized compatibily doesn't matter. To make it short, if you want quality, don't count on Protools to get it. If you want compatibility, then Protools is the answer, if you are well organized. As far as other A to D converters, you won't notice a Huge difference. Mic pre's and microphones would be a more notable change.

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4th October 2005
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Pro-tools

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtstudi@pacbell

To make it short, if you want quality, don't count on Protools to get it. If you want compatibility, then Protools is the answer, if you are well organized. As far as other A to D converters, you won't notice a Huge difference. Mic pre's and microphones would be a more notable change.

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I understand. I've been very organized with labeling tracks, making sure they all start at bar zero, etc. It would be nice to skip the steps of transferring files into other DAWs but for the difference in cost, I can live with it for now. Additionally, I know guys who transfer projects back and forth all the time between Pro-tools systems and still have issues because they don't have the same plug-ins, etc. My process of tracking here, and mixing elsewhere is working well for me.. I'll take the advice an focus on on the front end

Thanks
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5th October 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtstudi@pacbell
To make it short, if you want quality, don't count on Protools to get it. If you want compatibility, then Protools is the answer, if you are well organized. As far as other A to D converters, you won't notice a Huge difference. Mic pre's and microphones would be a more notable change.
i respectfully semi-disagree in that the older ProTools Mix/TDM systems can be made to sound a thousand times better with the use of a good clock. at Hit Factory we "got away" with using these systems well into the HD age simply because we had installed Aardvark Ardsync clocks in every rig.

i do agree organization is important. if you're naming your tracks "audio 1," "audio 2" and so forth, you should stay away from DAWs for the good of humankind! tutt

i also agree good mics and pres upstream will make a more notable change. it's just that A/D converters, even Digi 888s, can sound remarkably decent if they're slaved to a good clock. most are not.
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5th October 2005
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so David, you might want to look at upgrading your clock source too. how's that $1k budget looking now?
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5th October 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charlienyc
so David, you might want to look at upgrading your clock source too. how's that $1k budget looking now?
Horribly inadequate, but I kinda suspected that. I just dropped $500 on sound treatment, and $400 on another KSM 32 so I'd have a matched pair of overheads. Now I'm still looking at monitors, a 414, and a clock, or better converters. I'd also like an LA2A and/or a Distressor - but they can wait.

Part of the problem is that I'm unclear on how one incorporates an external clock, or converters into a setup like mine (with the Motu interface)

some help?

thanks
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5th October 2005
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Not really "High End" this lot but here goes...

I think you need to take a four-stage approach and allocate $1000 to each step, which you'll have to achieve one at a time, depending on what your priorities are.

I would consider:

$1000 Interface upgrade: Metric Halo 2882
$1000 Monitor Upgrade: BlueSky ProDesks
$1000 Room Treatment: Bass traps etc
$1000 Microphone upgrade: SDC pair (like Avenson, or search Forum) and maybe a C414 (OK, that's more than 1k!)

You'll have to shop around for prices etc but expenditure in that sort of ball-park will already make a huge difference to your recording process.

After that you can then work on building up a decent microphone locker without feeling the rest of your chain is compromising your recordings in the meantime.
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5th October 2005
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$1000 for quality patchbays and cabling
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6th October 2005
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Thanks

I realize this isn't very "high end", apart from maybe a few pieces of my outboard gear - But I figured this would be the place to get advice from the true gearheads, So that eventually I'll be a high end guy.

But for now...

That was the first mention of the Metric Halo interface, what is the consensus on the converters?

Also, I do have a quality TRS patchbay and good cables. Just to reiterate, I've invested in the sound treatment so my next priority is monitors. Beyond that, it's either focus on mics or upgrade the interface/converters (or add a clock?) I've gotten conflicting advice on where my priority should be.

Last edited by DavidKmusic; 6th October 2005 at 02:58 AM.. Reason: forgot somthing
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6th October 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidKmusic
I've gotten conflicting advice on where my priority should be.
Gearslutz wouldn't be half the place it is if we all agreed on everything!

Seriously though, the only surefire way to start making smart selections on where best to spend your money is to go out and start auditioning stuff yourself. The Forum can arm you with the helpful, and often widely differing opinions of other people, but ultimately you gotta go listen for yourself and let your own ears decide.
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6th October 2005
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mics..

another ksm32 would be great because they're very good OH mics on drums, work for vocals and are good on both acoustic and electric guitars. a akg414 sure doesn't hurt either.
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10th October 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charlienyc
i respectfully semi-disagree in that the older ProTools Mix/TDM systems can be made to sound a thousand times better with the use of a good clock. at Hit Factory we "got away" with using these systems well into the HD age simply because we had installed Aardvark Ardsync clocks in every rig.

i do agree organization is important. if you're naming your tracks "audio 1," "audio 2" and so forth, you should stay away from DAWs for the good of humankind! tutt

i also agree good mics and pres upstream will make a more notable change. it's just that A/D converters, even Digi 888s, can sound remarkably decent if they're slaved to a good clock. most are not.
That was my point and you actually do agree. The protagonist we are talking about here does not have alot of resources (funds), you are correct in the suggestion of a decent clock, but that won't make a huge difference if he does not have the basics. Don't get me wrong, I use Protools everyday and believe it makes a good sounding record, and so do a lot of others. I have also heard demos done in Protools and other hardware DAWS that sound not so good. I believe this is partly due to an engineering inept, and lack of quality in the front end of the DAW.


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