Advice on my next studio buy for added 'pro' sound?
steveyraff
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#1
28th October 2010
Old 28th October 2010
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Advice on my next studio buy for added 'pro' sound?

Hey guys,

I know this is a ridiculously general question, but some advice or direction would be greatly appreciated at this current juncture.

Firstly, I'd just like to state that although my equipment is not currently the greatest in the world, I am not really interested in upgrading any of it just yet - I am still adding to it all for now.

So far I have a Mackie Onyx desk, but also using DAV-BG1 preamps and a TL Audio 5021 Compressor (which is a little boring but I believe the tubes are not fully functioning). My microphones include an SM7B, Audix 'D' range drum mics, SM57's, 58's, Oktava MK 012 condensers and KRK Rokit Monitors.

Its 'good' for a budget studio. I'd just love something to give everything that extra bit of silkiness or depth. Some that makes it sound a little less like a 'bedroom production'.

I think I have fairly decent mic's and pre's at this stage. I was going to get a Focusrite Liquidmix for good plugins, but I am really thinking of going for some nice outboard gear...

I was thinking maybe investing in another good compressor?
Or maybe some kind of aural exciter?

Any help is appreciated.

Steve.
#2
28th October 2010
Old 28th October 2010
  #2
Gear addict
 

The assumption is...

that you have already dealt with the acoustics of your tracking and monitoring room, that you have proper monitoring and already have achieved good results because your recording technique maximizes what you have.

If so, there is nothing in the recording chain you mention that should prevent you from getting some pretty great results...assuming you know what you're doing. And, if your technique is still not up to snuff, there is no magic piece of gear that will make that unimportant.

Still, two "magic bullets" in my armamentarium that help improve and remediate (for me) are:

Paul Frindle's Pro Audio DSP
SPL Transient Designer plug-in
steveyraff
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#3
28th October 2010
Old 28th October 2010
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bodoc View Post
that you have already dealt with the acoustics of your tracking and monitoring room, that you have proper monitoring and already have achieved good results because your recording technique maximizes what you have.

If so, there is nothing in the recording chain you mention that should prevent you from getting some pretty great results...assuming you know what you're doing. And, if your technique is still not up to snuff, there is no magic piece of gear that will make that unimportant.

Still, two "magic bullets" in my armamentarium that help improve and remediate (for me) are:

Paul Frindle's Pro Audio DSP
SPL Transient Designer plug-in

Thank you very much for that advice. I fully understand that with the best gear in the world, it still takes a lot of work on the acoustics of the recording environment coupled with good production practice. I am putting a lot of work and time into those two fronts!

I guess it was just that I had some money saved and was thinking about what to spend it on and would have liked a new outboard toy to play with. Was hoping something out there could have added some more warmth and smoothness.

I'll have a look into those plugin suggestions!

The Summit Audio TLA 50 or DBX 160x look tasty too.
#4
28th October 2010
Old 28th October 2010
  #4
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Jan1973's Avatar
 

I'm in about a similar situation, although I have a few more channels at my disposal for recording bands. That is, an 8-channel Tubetracker, an SPL GoldMike, and an Audient ASP AES/ADAT. So, we get similar quality recordings I'd say from a pure technology standpoint.

I can second the SPL Transient Designer. I got mine a few weeks ago at a bargain price of 99 €. Very valuable plugin, especially but not limited to drums.

I also have the LiquidMix, and I love it. While I certainly would love to have some of the emulated boxes in their original outboard form, I really appreciate what the little box can achieve.

Results are very nice, but the main benefit compared to other EQ/Comp VSTs (got the Kjaerhus Golden series for example and a few others) is the savings of CPU power. Compared to outboard, you can't argue the price of the box.

I'm thinking about buying the expansion board to have more channels available.

If you ask me, investing in a LiquidMix and the Transient Designer is no mistake at all.

Another useful kit I'd recommend is a re-amp setup. I got the Radial re-amp kit and love it. Feeding back DI and/or VSTi tracks into my 100W valve guitar amp absolutely rocks. Nothing beats that kind of warming up...

If you want to have a "warming" processor that implies less work, you might want to have a look at PSP's Vintage Warmer 2. I got the first incarnation, and it does it's job nicely.

Something else I'd also buy in hardware, is a reverb processor. I got an MPX-1, and I prefer the sound over any plugin I have. I play tracks into the unit for any room ambience I want to have and record it back into the computer once I'm happy with it, to free up the processor for another ambience. That includes reverb and delay usually. However, some delay plugins are quite nice too, and I use them sometimes too (Audio Damage comes to mind).
#5
28th October 2010
Old 28th October 2010
  #5
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
 

What have you got on the DAW and Plugins front? Perhaps you should start looking to maximise that end of things? Start saving for 2nd hand Pro Tools HD or get yourself a 2nd hand 002/003 maybe? If you're already covered on DAW & Interface, maybe a Waves bundle or similar? Or Nomad Factory make a very cool set of alternatives.

I would say, at your size of place, plug-ins will get you further than outboard.

If outboard is where your heart lies though, Digital Village have got some great offers on Focusrite Platinum gear atm. Doing Twintrak Pros (2 channels of mic pres & dynamics) with the digital card for £400 ish.
#6
28th October 2010
Old 28th October 2010
  #6
Have you done any work to the acoustics in your room? Noting is warm like a room that doesn't suck the life out of what you are recording. If you are working in an untreated or improperly treated bedroom no amount of gear will get the "bedroom" out of your sound.
#7
28th October 2010
Old 28th October 2010
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonwagner View Post
Have you done any work to the acoustics in your room? Noting is warm like a room that doesn't suck the life out of what you are recording. If you are working in an untreated or improperly treated bedroom no amount of gear will get the "bedroom" out of your sound.
If you weren't aware, the OP is building his own studio from scratch.

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/studi...me-needed.html
#8
28th October 2010
Old 28th October 2010
  #8
Gear Head
 

Try listening to a few mix-bus compressors.

I purchased a Drawmer 1968, and I find that just a gentle touch of it on my stereo out goes a long way towards gluing songs together and making things sound like a "pro" mix. It can also get saucy if you feed it a hot drum bus and do parallel compression. Highly recommended.
#9
28th October 2010
Old 28th October 2010
  #9
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Flying_Dutchman's Avatar
 

Api 2500 (or maybe Drawmer 1968... another vibe/colour) + Toft EQ/channel strip (the big rack mounted one with preamps and comp., 500-600 used) could help you imo without too much investment
#10
28th October 2010
Old 28th October 2010
  #10
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Ernest Buckley's Avatar
You mentioned an Aural Exciter...

I just threw one out that I purchased for around $400 in 1999.

I would have given it to you for free. Its really not what you want though.

I would encourage you to learn to make better recordings with what you already have. Learn more about mic placement and then mixing skills. All things you can read on line or purchase in book form.
#11
28th October 2010
Old 28th October 2010
  #11
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Do you have a really good pair of headphones?
#12
28th October 2010
Old 28th October 2010
  #12
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TheRealRoach's Avatar
Depending on your tastes, some nice outboard reverb and delays produce audible improvements very quickly. My modest selection of reverb/echos always generates wows, whereas the coolest compressor or EQ always still requires some explanation as to why it's cool.
steveyraff
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#13
28th October 2010
Old 28th October 2010
  #13
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by therealbigd View Post
If you weren't aware, the OP is building his own studio from scratch.

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/studi...me-needed.html
Thanks Big D!

I am taking acoustics seriously when in comes to the new build. At the minute, I was just thinking on the technology front. It is probably another good compressor and maybe some more good pre's I am after. Also, I don't actually have many quality plugins. Usually just using Logic's and a few freebie 3rd party ones I downloaded.

Thanks for the food for thought all.
#14
28th October 2010
Old 28th October 2010
  #14
For plug ins I use Universal Audio and Sound Toys. The UAD cards are really nice for expanding your processing power, I also like the idea that while they are only plug ins, I am still getting to use and understand some of the most widely used hardware. So some day hopefully when I am able to purchase or work on the real thing I will have a good amount of experience and knowledge of them. They also sound really nice! Soundtoys stuff is a lot of fun to work with. I wouldn't go to crazy on plug ins right off though since a good selection of mics and pres will be much more important.

You might want to consider some large diaphragm condensers, unless I missed them on your list you don't have any. I like the mods Michael Joly does, great bang for the buck.

Just looked more at the room post you had done, that barn looks really cool but will be a big project. If you are anywhere close to making that happen, that is where I would put all my time and money before any gear.
#15
28th October 2010
Old 28th October 2010
  #15
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
 

Seeing that your budget isn't 'all there' Steve, I would recommend the Nomad Factory plugins. I think they are really good plug-ins, and often use them in preference to their Waves equivalents. A friend gave them to me on an iLok, as he's mixing all OTB nowadays. (I gave him some Drawmer Powergates if anyone wondered). They represent absolutely superb value for money. The 'Everything' pack comes in at about £700-800, and includes all sorts of different EQs (including a VERY good Pultec emulation), Dynamics (including a 'Vintage Warmer' type thing and a Fairchild emulation) and a variety of 'Vintage' 'Motown' and more modern generic plug-ins. All that for £7-800 isn't bad! You'd only get 2 decent bits of outboard for that.

The Abbey Road bundles are better by sound quality (so highly recommend them, sound AMAZING) but not nearly as versatile as Nomad. The same for Lexicon.

But whilst Waves do make some great stuff, now that I've got the Nomad stuff, I don't think I'd be all that tempted to buy Waves again. I'm using the Nomad far more. (CPU use is better too, as it happens).
#16
28th October 2010
Old 28th October 2010
  #16
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonwagner View Post
For plug ins I use Universal Audio and Sound Toys. The UAD cards are really nice for expanding your processing power, I also like the idea that while they are only plug ins, I am still getting to use and understand some of the most widely used hardware. So some day hopefully when I am able to purchase or work on the real thing I will have a good amount of experience and knowledge of them.
True. But I think you could say that about any decent hardware-emulating equipment. People can argue, but after I'd been using the Waves SSL plugs for about 6 months, I could go into SSL studios and get the sound I envisaged off the EQ much quicker than before.

Quote:
They also sound really nice! Soundtoys stuff is a lot of fun to work with.
Agreed on both counts. I'm not lucky enough to own Sound Toys, but the studio I work in has. I thought 'blah, I'll never use that silly stuff' but have since found that I use decapitator and the filter one a lot. The filter one is especially cool, you can set it up to have no effect on a guitar during the note, but 'wah' up to the note and back down as the note rolls off. It's really cool!

Quote:
I wouldn't go to crazy on plug ins right off though since a good selection of mics and pres will be much more important.
I would disagree here though. In SteveyRaff's market (smaller bands, I'm guessing from his website), I think that whilst yes there will be a good amount of work recording bands, there will be more in mixing - both for clients he recorded, and clients sending their work in. Therefore, I'd put mixing setup ahead of recording setup, and say that plugins and outboard were very worth spending money on. And in a smaller, lower budget setup, I would say that plug-ins offer far better value for money.
#17
29th October 2010
Old 29th October 2010
  #17
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sound toys native bundle is nice!
#18
29th October 2010
Old 29th October 2010
  #18
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danetate's Avatar
 

I would certainly consider a nice tube mic to be one of the most noticeable improvements in the area of warming up and being silky.
#19
29th October 2010
Old 29th October 2010
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by therealbigd View Post
I would disagree here though. In SteveyRaff's market (smaller bands, I'm guessing from his website), I think that whilst yes there will be a good amount of work recording bands, there will be more in mixing - both for clients he recorded, and clients sending their work in. Therefore, I'd put mixing setup ahead of recording setup, and say that plugins and outboard were very worth spending money on. And in a smaller, lower budget setup, I would say that plug-ins offer far better value for money.
That makes sense, atm I just work with bands from start to final mix so I didn't really consider the mixing only market.
#20
29th October 2010
Old 29th October 2010
  #20
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uncle duncan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by danetate View Post
I would certainly consider a nice tube mic to be one of the most noticeable improvements in the area of warming up and being silky.
+1. If the only vocal mic I had was an sm7b, I think I'd have to kill myself. A really reasonably priced tube mic for vocals is the mxl Genesis. There's also the modded 460, but I'd get JJ Audio to do the work, since they appreciate different genres of music, and different styles of microphones.

If the OP is doing rock music, he needs a ribbon mic. Ribbon mics really make a distorted guitar amp sound nice, unless one prefers the buzzing bumblebee sound of a 57.

For adding room sound to a guitar amp, a fig 8 mic is nice. You aim it at the walls, instead of the amp. The null of the fig 8 pattern picks up none of the direct sound of the amp, only the room reflections. This way there's no comb filtering when you add the room mic to the amp mic in the mix.

It's all about getting good sounds at the recording stage, rather than trying to fix the recorded sounds with plugins.
#21
29th October 2010
Old 29th October 2010
  #21
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
For me it would be like:

Do I really need a new toy?

Yes OK I need a new toy!

But what to buy?

Maybe I buy this time something cheap but a thing no one uses anymore.
With this may my sound is going to be different from the todays taste.
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