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Setting-up Pro Studio with £18,000/$28,000
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dimers
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#1
25th November 2012
Old 25th November 2012
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Setting-up Pro Studio with £18,000/$28,000

Hello Gearslutz!!

First ever thread here so be easy. Over carefull consideration and some savings i have decided to venture out of my home studio and into professional studio premises. The problem i face is funds which work out to be £25,000 total. Im putting £7,000 away for renting the premises and wages for a fair few months to get me started.
--Which leaves a chunky £18,000 or $28,000 for the dirtiest sluttiest gear i can get my hands on!
I understand this isnt alot of money in the grand scheme of things but i want my studio to grow and eventually have some great gear in there.

So the purpose of this post is to determine the best setup or gear to buy; second hand preferably because of the price range. I want to build the studio around a mixer for summing and recording with nice pre-amps and eq's etc. ----However i also want to be able to use a DAW (logic because protools system may be too expensive) in harmony with the desk. In an ideal world i would use the Allen & Heath GSR24m (motorized faders and total recall a big must have!!) but the price would take a huge amount of my budget (£6,000 with the firewire interface and power supply).
But what are my alternatives should i just go digital and sacrifice the appeal of analogue warmth or should i use a good quality old mixer like a soundcraft Ghost 32 (£1000).
The pros of and cons of each are heavily balancing on prices but i dont want to sacrifice workflow.

The main purposes of this studio is to record and produce typical band set-ups and facilitate good stacks, decent drum set and ofcourse microphones. Plus record vocal artists in a small booths with a good quality ribbon. All of which if i budget and shop around i am sure i can get quite cheap. At first i may have to do some tutoring or courses in there with the local colleges in order to gain extra income but thats neither here nor there......But If i was to get the Allen & Heath gsr24m i could also put in a projector and do post production for film rentouts! The possiblilities are endless with this mixer should i go out on a whim and buy it or will i be doomed if i do?


Basicall it all revolves round the hub of the studio the recording setup! I want a great workflow and total recall dont want many outboards if any because i will do editing within my DAW. If I didnt get the GSR24 is it even possible to do anything like this cheaper e.g. ghost with protools and a digidesign 192 rack?????
I need help with this because soon this is going to be a reality as the premises are nearly mine!! meze
P.S any second hand equipment can me sent my way for the right price and are there any good specialized places i should be looking for all this gear?
#2
26th November 2012
Old 26th November 2012
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Well, the Soundcraft Ghost and the A&H GSR24M are designed by the same guy

BUT

The A&H is a far, far better desk. The EQ is as good as anything on Planet Earth. The noise is very, very low and the build is really reliable. I tested this desk for ten days and it really lives up to its technical specs. The circuitry is based on the famous Focusrite desk from RN, but has been improved and has a fabulous bottom end.

http://www.audiomedia.com/Archives/AudioMedia201202.pdf Go to page 42!

The only down-side is that the converters (also very good) only go to 48kHz, but in the past 12 years of business, nobody has ever asked us to switch to any rate above that, despite having that facility! And having this desk means that you don't need to spend money on converters.

As for your DAW choice, I would go for all three market leaders (Reaper, PT and Logic) but make PT just the HD version without the card. It works and that's all you will need. A couple of touch-screens above the desk and some indirect lighting and you are good to go!
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dimers
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26th November 2012
Old 26th November 2012
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Thanks great to speak to someone who has used this desk! I have decided on the A&H due to the sheer practicalities and no need for outboard gear initially or converters! Ill be running Logic.
Would the firewire interface support 24 tracks on pro tools though? I believe i would have to get the HD.

Having this Desk would stop me from having to buy alot of other kit which is great to start a studio.

I was wondering, as i want to apeal to analogue customers; I want to provide tape reel to reel 4 track recording maybe a tascam. i have found a nice mint Akai gx-210d 4 track recorder; could i aux all 24 channels and send 4 aux's into the 4track and record the entire mix????

This would not only be a cool technique but apealing to the analogue market.
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26th November 2012
Old 26th November 2012
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On a $30,000 budget I really feel like any "console you buy is going to be too expensive to be worth it, especially when something like an Apogee Ensemble + 4 cool outboard preamps is gonna sound a lot nicer.

I personally think that the studios that real musicians want to record at have:

1) Nice sounding rooms
2) lots of instruments (gtrs, keyboards, amps, software instruments, etc.)
3) Nice mic collection.

I'm honestly not sure if "having a console" is necessarily that impressive to musicians anymore.

But, different strokes for different folks.
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#5
26th November 2012
Old 26th November 2012
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i prefer this type of tracking and summing i get what your saying but for me i need to see channels. Must be my dyspraxia shining through I have heard great things about the apogee and i with you on the mics and keyboards. I have found some bargains on an old korg mono/poly and an old sequential 6tacks and drumtracks
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27th November 2012
Old 27th November 2012
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I disagree with the idea of buying expensive and esoteric converters, simply because your customers will not give a hoot what you use. Remember that nearly all customers would not know the difference between an Apogee with ProTools HDX and a plate of mince.

By all means get good microphones. As Bruce Swedien says, they are your secret weapon!

The idea of renting a space is not so good. That pushes your fixed costs up and puts you on the wrong end of the property market and increases you commercial risk considerably.

Don't get too hung up on instruments, other than having some decent back-line. A drum kit and a real piano will do. Even if you have a 'Broadcaster-Telecaster' guitarists always play their own instruments.

A good room is very important, though if you cannot afford to buy a property with a good, large space, you can always make a small and robust desk and recorder set-up portable and hire some village hall and you can also do mobiles. If you have a secure place to park, a large trailer with a 4x4 could be your post-production room and you could use any hall or room in your neighbourhood.
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#7
27th November 2012
Old 27th November 2012
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I would prefer buying the A&H as well, especially cuz of the Firewire integration you got perfect control over your DAW of choice. There are even Midi-Mapping knobs.

The price is very attractive comparing it to other desks this quality you would easily pay 5000$ above.

The Toft ATB would also be one of my look ats.
#8
27th November 2012
Old 27th November 2012
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I would rather invest in a decent front end (mic, preamps, compressors, eqs) than in a console. And maybe get a summing solution for mixdown, if you want analog summing on your mixes. I know that's a totally different workflow than recoding with a console, but I think, considering your budget, you would get better results after all.

Last but not least: don't forget the cables. It'll cost you some bucks to buy all the cables you'll need.
#9
28th November 2012
Old 28th November 2012
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right, the cables lol. I remember when I set everything up but the cables I freaked out. My Budget was spend to the last penny and then I got the Bill for all cables. If I remember correctly it was like 1400 € and I didnt have 30K budget lol
#10
29th November 2012
Old 29th November 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John1982 View Post
I would rather invest in a decent front end (mic, preamps, compressors, eqs) than in a console. And maybe get a summing solution for mixdown, if you want analog summing on your mixes. I know that's a totally different workflow than recoding with a console, but I think, considering your budget, you would get better results after all.

Last but not least: don't forget the cables. It'll cost you some bucks to buy all the cables you'll need.
The counter point I would make to that is that some potential clients will take a desk much more seriously than a computer-only rig. It legitimises you as a studio in their eyes.

That's usually only clients without much studio experience, serious guys know better. But if you need to pay the bills you'll need some bread and butter clients, as well as serious reputation-building gigs.
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30th November 2012
Old 30th November 2012
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thats right i think the bread and butter is very important to make this successful!

I was looking at the A&H R16 which retails at about £1500 it has all the same eq's pre amps, workflow and pots as the Gsr24m but a quarter of the price!!! sure its not 24 channels but i could make do using the DAW! One other thing is it has firewire built into each channel so no need for a converter either. this has to be the most logical choice or am i wrong?
#12
30th November 2012
Old 30th November 2012
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Have you been somewhere to demo the unit and get a feel for it ?

It just looks a bit cheap and flimsy on the web photos

So what about the rest of your needs then

So far we have a desk but what mics do you own ?

What kind of setups will you be recording so we can get a feel for the kind and number of mics you should consider?

Drum mics ?
Room mics ?
Guitar Cab mics?
Vocal mics ?
Mics for loud sources and mics for quiet ones?

Cabling has already been mentioned but I will add that I have my Cabling alone insured for £1500

What about outboard fx and processing ?

If you are going to be on an analogue desk and are using it for tracking and/or mixing summing then a couple of pieces of outboard to plug into the desk or to use when tracking are a "Must Have" to me.

So I would be thinking :

Compression :

2 dual/stereo for buss work/tracking kick/snare/ mix buss compression

1 choice mono for tracking vox and/or Bass or another instrument

Then at mixtime you could have say one dual comp on drum Buss ,one on mixbuss and the mono over the vox for example

EQ :

Lets ignore and say that you are happy with desk eq for now.

FX :

I would again suggest you have at least one nice Reverb unit and one nice Delay/Multi FX

Again for use in the desk at mixtime but also to be used when tracking etc by sending the monitor mixes with some FX to the artists.


OK so we have a desk with pres and eq , outboard FX, Mics and cabling.

Next !

Instruments ?

Acoustic treatment?

Monitors ?

Furniture ?


Electrical teatment of facility if necessary by installing new cabling and own fuse to your facility etc etc.

In addition to stabilizing and screening, protecting from spikes, R.F. interferance etc etc.

Next !
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#13
30th November 2012
Old 30th November 2012
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I really think that a R16 isn't that much of a client magnet. You see those kind of mixers in every home recording Studio, Rehearsal Room and of course on stage...
An 16-24ch Allen+Heath, Mackie, Soundcraft or any other of those kind mixer is really not that special to bands. It starts from 48/56 Channels that people seem to be impressed by a console...(and your Console sounding better than ordinary 16ch consoles is not a fact they consider, believe me)

Get 2-4 High Class Pre's, a 16 Ch Console (without converter), nice RME/Apogee/Lynx... Converters, a very very very good Monitoring System, and treat your Room. Use the rest for good Mics and decent cabling.

With that kind of budged I wouldn't focus on Outboard Eqs or Dynamics...OTB really summs up everything...Racks, Patchbay...


So, focus on the Sound and try to reach poeple with Demo Songs recorded in your Studio, not with nice Pics of your Studio...;-). Also get WiFi...

Cheers
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30th November 2012
Old 30th November 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dimers View Post
thats right i think the bread and butter is very important to make this successful!

I was looking at the A&H R16 which retails at about £1500 it has all the same eq's pre amps, workflow and pots as the Gsr24m but a quarter of the price!!! sure its not 24 channels but i could make do using the DAW! One other thing is it has firewire built into each channel so no need for a converter either. this has to be the most logical choice or am i wrong?
I wouldn't call the r16 a "professional console". It's a bang for the buck budget console. Fiddly but feature packed.
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30th November 2012
Old 30th November 2012
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Absolutely not a pro here but that doesn't like a lot of money BUT that means less lost if it doesn't work
My feeling would be to look for someone looking to sell a studio business that is in some already set up. That way at least the room etc will betaken care of and a lot of the head-scratching done. Who know they might want to sell gear with it.
#16
30th November 2012
Old 30th November 2012
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I would skip the desk and head for preamps + interface. Maybe a Mackie Mcu + extender.

After having a decent setup I would wire everything so that when you record bands everything is already setup. Mic's, monitoring for the band, levels, everything. Plus a comfy sofa plus table for the band. So that you basically only have to press play to record. Bands don't want to spend hours while you're setting up drum mic's and choosing mic pre's. Bands I have met just wanna record straight away.

I would save more of the money for just living expenses. In the beginning i would rather have money for one month than buying a mic pre/comp for £1 000. If you get your business going then you can buy that stuff later on if you can afford it. In the beginning it's more important to know that you have money for living expenses. At least six-twelve months. Cos' things will take a LOT more time than you think. And IMO bands won't care if you have very expensive pre's or standard interface pre's and such. Just make it going fast, get a good creative workflow, good-sounding and bands will love it.

Ofcourse, my thoughts and opinions are not always right. Just my two cents. Just trying to help out.

I wish you good luck mate and it sounds like a LOT of fun!
#17
1st December 2012
Old 1st December 2012
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I have no Desk but when people walk into mine they are like "WOW !"

And this is just setup in my home right now.

Now i added things bit by it as well as making a few bigger moves but you could have something similar.

My Basic Setup as an example :-

I/O

Interface: RME Fireface UFX
AD/DA : Apogee Rosetta 800

Pres :

Great River ME 2 NV - 2 channels
Sebatron VMP 2000 vu - 2 channels
Demeter Tube - 2 channels
RME (fireface) - 4 channels

Dynamics :

Drawmer 1968 ME - 2 channels
Distressors brit mod - 2 channels, matched pair

EQ :

Great River EQ 2 NV - 2 channels

Outboard fx :

Lexicon
TC Electronic
Boutique modded pedals and fx


Now i have all this setup along with my silent computers ,a few synth modules in a total of 3 x 14 u rack units, all filled with some breathing space from the odd 1 u blank.

These have a Roland Juno 106 and an extra computer monitor on top.

Then I have a big wide office desk that has my Mackie Control,Graphics tab,Korg drum pad.

On the other side of that desk I have a Korg M1 with an access virus Rack and Moog module.

Then I have my Mackie 824 and a giant set of 120 cm tall Hifi speakers and amp valued at £3,000 for 5.1 surround.

Now add in all the acoustic treatment, say 8 true bass traps and some mid traps etc equaling 15 total.

So people walk into my apt which is also my studio and even people who record in pro studios are like "F*CK Yeah !"

Flashing lights everywhere !

LOL
#18
1st December 2012
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But seriously I am talking about signed artists or professionals who have been around

They don't actually care that I have a desk or not as long as the Job is getting done.

The same way i wouldn't care about going and tracking in a big room and the control room was all outboard and DAW with no mixer.

Although of course a nice desk would be a plus but then we are looking at a second hand price of about £5000 - £10,000 just for the desk .

Although the benefit here is in getting some quality eq and pres with the right desk

Second hand Trident or Euphonix ?

To me and a lot of those i know Its all about the sound,the atmosphere, the room.

Now If I walk into a studio with a £1500 mixer as its front end I will walk straight out again as i know my conversion,routing,quality of sound etc etc have all just gone straight down the toilet

But give me a nice room with good acoustics, a feel , some good choice mics,pres and outboard all going into some High Calibre convertors and a second hand Mackie control or similar and I will be happy as will a hell of a lot of people.

Of course a nice 24 track console for summing and tracking, routing choice outboard through etc would be awesome.

Buts its a BIG budget item unless you find the right piece 2nd hand
#19
1st December 2012
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Why are you opening a studio?
Do you already have a long list of clients?

Would it not make more sense to rent a room with a good desk and treated live room. That way you can have alot more gear than 18 grands worth, spend that on more outboard if you need it and then save the rest to get a really nice desk when you have more clients and a steady stream of income.
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2nd December 2012
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Aha the voice of reason,logic and extremely valid points above.

I was still in "Gear" mode but these financial points are just as important If not more so If this is to be your sole means of income right now.

Actual and projected projects need to be considered.

Are you in an area where your services are required?

As with any "startup" Have you projected to make a complete loss on your business year 1, hopefully manage to break even year 2 , then look at profit year 3 .

Can you afford to live in a state of loss for at least 2-3 years ?

Especially as even though year 3 should hopefully begin profit it may be the end of that year before you are getting a decent income rather than just enough to keep studio open.

I would proect mid to end year 3 to manage to exist on your own income rather than every penny going back into rent of premises,upkeep of gear,advertising,cheap jobs that cause a small loss but can get your name out and around etc etc etc

I have seen a thousand people do similar to you expecting to make a profit and income after a couple of months but NOPE.

They have all failed within year 1 simply by not realizing that they need to account for the losses of your business for a couple of years.

So you need to cover; rent,bills,equipment upkeep, travel,food ,advertising etc etc

Now you may be lucky and it all kicks off by end of year one but don't count on it
#21
3rd December 2012
Old 3rd December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funkynuts View Post
Aha the voice of reason,logic and extremely valid points above.

I should add a disclaimer, saying that I am an assistant in a studio that is open for other engineers to come and work in
#22
4th December 2012
Old 4th December 2012
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Think a reality check might be in order. The mention of getting a projector to do film post makes me fear your dreams may be reaching beyond your experience.

not trying to be a jerk.... But think this through unless you've money to burn. A studio isn't about gear; it's about clients, connections, recording rooms, location, track record and understanding the market.
#23
4th December 2012
Old 4th December 2012
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Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
Think a reality check might be in order. The mention of getting a projector to do film post makes me fear your dreams may be reaching beyond your experience.

not trying to be a jerk.... But think this through unless you've money to burn. A studio isn't about gear; it's about clients, connections, recording rooms, location, track record and understanding the market.
This is desperately true!

The entire stem mixes for the largest recording project ever on Planet Earth were done on a laptop on the train into Town. Why? Because they were short of time, that's why. No projector, no certified room, just one of the best music editors in the business. He did the stem mixes every day on that train and just checked them in the studio.

I know of one set of rather scruffy post rooms in a regional city in the UK that is always busy. They do not have loads of kit, just cheap monitors and cheap DAWs. Someone else set up a competing operation with every bell and whistle. Indirect lighting, £250,000 desk, the very best monitors, sexy bird in the reception area, the lot! A year later, they went out of business!

There are plenty of gaps in the market, but they seem to all depend on having or knowing the right people.
#24
4th December 2012
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That the op thinks an analogue mixer will help him do film post gives some indication as to post experience!
#25
4th December 2012
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Keep 90% of that money to pay your living expenses whilst you get enough clients willing to pay you money to buy the gear you want.

I've spent about £3k total in the last 5 years and have a very basic setup and have been getting by just fine and keeping clients happy (and getting new ones) for those 5 years.
#26
5th December 2012
Old 5th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Byre View Post
I disagree with the idea of buying expensive and esoteric converters, simply because your customers will not give a hoot what you use. Remember that nearly all customers would not know the difference between an Apogee with ProTools HDX and a plate of mince.

By all means get good microphones. As Bruce Swedien says, they are your secret weapon!

The idea of renting a space is not so good. That pushes your fixed costs up and puts you on the wrong end of the property market and increases you commercial risk considerably.

Don't get too hung up on instruments, other than having some decent back-line. A drum kit and a real piano will do. Even if you have a 'Broadcaster-Telecaster' guitarists always play their own instruments.

A good room is very important, though if you cannot afford to buy a property with a good, large space, you can always make a small and robust desk and recorder set-up portable and hire some village hall and you can also do mobiles. If you have a secure place to park, a large trailer with a 4x4 could be your post-production room and you could use any hall or room in your neighbourhood.
I see none of this £18k has been assigned to marketing.

OP - do you honestly have a good steady flow of work, or are you hoping becoming a 'studio' rather than a 'bedroom' will find you more work?

The fact is that if nobody knows you exist, your 'studio' will get no more work than your bedroom.

I know you want loads of gear, what studio owner doesn't? But it is a proven theory that a poorly equipped studio with great marketing will get more bands in a month than a well equipped studio which nobody exists.

As the byre already pointed out, gear does not make sales. Yes, everyone loves to get their photo taken in front of a million knobs and buttons on top of an SSL but they don't know what it does or what difference it makes.

Another big thing people forget is that the studio has to be a nice place to spend your time. If you're spending a week somewhere doing a record it has to be a nice place to be. I have been to some studios which are full of all the top end outboard gear and Pro Tools HD etc, but they are windowless boxes of stuffy air which after 3 hours of beer farts and sweaty musicians are the most horrid dungeons on earth. They could be selling me 72 channels of SSL for £100 a day and I would not want to be there. Air Con should be considered a must, natural daylight is also important although if you really can't get it you should at least have some nice lighting. (There are some nice daylight simulator things available, the NHS give them to people with sleep problems who are up all night and sleep in the day). Don't go down the route of a windowless black box with strip lights because nobody will want to be there any longer than they have to be.

I know it sounds nuts but if I were opening a studio I think I'd want £18k just for the comforts and marketing before you even got onto gear. Air Con which does not stuff the sound proofing or make loads of noise will knock you for a couple of grand straight away. A pair of hard wearing sofas will be another thou, (don't get a free thing off gumtree, nobody wants to spend their weekend sat in soaked-in beer and fag smoke), and some basic furniture another probably. Mood lighting is reasonably cost efficient if you go down the LED route. On the marketing front you should be getting in the top 10 hits for "recording studio (location)" every time, with a decent website - not made in Wix or whatever but actually assembled by somebody who knows about websites. I know we all think we are casual web designers, but professional web designers view us with the same sort of view as we hold guitarists who buy Logic and think they can make an album.

Sorry to sound negative but if you want to invest in a business you have already chosen the wrong one, and the pea sized amount of money you have will not go half as far as you think. I don't think you've accounted for set up costs properly, if you establish your business to serve anybody other than your friends you will have spent your entire budget before you even get your first microphone.
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