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If you were hiring my studio, what would you want to see in the racks ?
Old 11th October 2016
  #1
If you were hiring my studio, what would you want to see in the racks ?

Hello all,
For years now I've been trying to deny my true slutty nature and avoid buying outboard.
I always felt PREs were last in the chain of importance, behind Monitoring, Mics, Room and Performer.

However, I am now opening a boutique level recording studio and want to be able to attract potential bands and engineers.

I already have a room with a fantastic, flat response and flush mounted ATC 110s, Some great mics (Flea 49, Flea 47, pair Coles 4038, M 160, TLM 103, pair KM 184 etc.)

I have 16 Channels of Input via two Metric-Halo LIO-8s

The outboard I already have is:
- 2 Vintech X73
- 2 Vintech X73i
- 2 Distressors
- 1 UBK Fatso
- 8 Metric Halo Preamps

Would you want to see an LA2A ? An LL76 ?
The Metric Halo ULN-R PreAmps are super clean + versatile but don't add much in the way of character.
I'm thinking of adding 4-8 500 series API 512v. Do you think that's an obvious complementary flavor to the Vintechs ?
Dump the vintechs and pickup some BAE's or actual Neves ??
What say you ?
Old 12th October 2016
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by SongLoft View Post
Hello all,
For years now I've been trying to deny my true slutty nature and avoid buying outboard.
I always felt PREs were last in the chain of importance, behind Monitoring, Mics, Room and Performer.

However, I am now opening a boutique level recording studio and want to be able to attract potential bands and engineers.

I already have a room with a fantastic, flat response and flush mounted ATC 110s, Some great mics (Flea 49, Flea 47, pair Coles 4038, M 160, TLM 103, pair KM 184 etc.)

I have 16 Channels of Input via two Metric-Halo LIO-8s

The outboard I already have is:
- 2 Vintech X73
- 2 Vintech X73i
- 2 Distressors
- 1 UBK Fatso
- 8 Metric Halo Preamps

Would you want to see an LA2A ? An LL76 ?
The Metric Halo ULN-R PreAmps are super clean + versatile but don't add much in the way of character.
I'm thinking of adding 4-8 500 series API 512v. Do you think that's an obvious complementary flavor to the Vintechs ?
Dump the vintechs and pickup some BAE's or actual Neves ??
What say you ?
I think you're looking at things slightly skewed.

Bands (unless they're very technically minded and thus fall more into the 2nd category) shouldn't be concerned with gear. Really they should just be looking at 3 things.

- the person (ie you) they're coming to work with - do they make good recordings, are they pleasant to work with? You're the asset, the studio is the tool.

- Will they be able to record the way they want - ie if they're used to performing all as a band, can they do that? (this does cross over into gear, but it's more about space/headphones etc).

- will they be comfortable and creative in the space?

Other concerns are things like location, but generally you can work around anything like that.


If you're looking to appeal to visiting freelancers, the above all holds true, and then you're looking at gear too.

- for bands, I'd say 24io is a minimum. Ideally 32. I wouldn't consider a 16io tracking setup for a full band.

- I don't want to be told "you can't set things up like that". ie set things up to be universal, not preset to how "you" do it.

- you want familiarity. Ideally "name" brands not clones, but if the clones perform similarly, that's good enough for most. I'd say you're covered there. Boutique mics and processing is great, but only if there's enough of the standards too.

- NS10s too, plus some familiar near-fields (which is a personal choice, but ask around and see what most would like).

So don't know what other mics you have, but a good few 57s, 421s, 414s, ideally a good U87, an RE20/SM7, and personally I'd want a couple of Royers too.

- ideally, tracking a band I'd want a desk..but a good desk, worth using and not noisy. Sort of Neotech as a minimum, no mackies, or "modded this/that which makes it almost sort of like an SSL".

- at least one SSL-style compressor, a good stereo/dual mono EQ, and some more mono compression for sculpting sounds on the way in. Which means you'd need more mic amps wouldn't you, if the MH doesn't have post mic amp insert points?



Now, I could do it with less, but that's what I'd look for.

Maybe check out other studios in the area, see what prices they offer and what they have. Are you SURE you want to go commercial?!

Short of that a flexible patchbay!
Old 12th October 2016
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Eganmedia's Avatar
Adding to what's been said, as a freelance engineer, I want to know that everything works, and the stuff that doesn't is labeled. Me and most people like me have our own mix rooms, and we make money by not spending it in other peoples' studios. The only reason I would go to another studio is for the recording environment. I used to have a large tracking room but my new studio doesn't have that. I'd want a big, good sounding room with a few ISO booths, lots of globos and a great headphone cue system. 24 simultaneous tracks minimum, and Pro Tools.

I know you asked about preamps, but honestly, if the mics are good, the wiring and converters are good, I'll be ok with any decent mic pre that simply gets out of the way. Grace are nice and unobtrusive. So are Hardys and plenty of others. Don't fill the rack with wonky "boutique clones" that are big on character. Keep it simple or classic. Provide an assistant and let the people make their recording.

Good tracking rooms are great, but they are hard to find. The space is the draw for outside engineers and producers. Outboard- specific, rare, expensive outboard can be rented cheaply and easily. The room is the only thing I'd pay a premium for.

Last edited by Eganmedia; 12th October 2016 at 03:36 AM.. Reason: Typo
Old 12th October 2016
  #4
Lives for gear
 

As a freelancer, I'm looking for specific gear which is pretty standard at any reasonable studio:

-NS10s

-a desk i can use for everything such as MCI, API, Neve, Neotek, trident, as long as the pres are good and theres some sort of workable EQ on the channel I'm cool. I also don't want to loose a tom fill to intermittent buss switches.

I will say I hate outboard pres, there's no fader, they're usually behind me at knee level or out of the sweet spot of the monitors and sometimes theres no polarity flip. I prefer to set my levels on the desk faders going to the ADC so with DAW faders at unity my mix is there. I think outboard mic pres are only appropriate for overdub rooms where you're doing vocals or only have a couple inputs. Drums or a full band with no desk is a total drag

-compressors: 1176s (at least a couple), distressors, La2A, LA3A, a pair of 160s. i love the TG2 but not a ton of places have them. Fatsos are also really handy and can do a lot.

-mics: 57s, U87, 421s, 121s, 4038s, fet47, km84s, (or something better), some sexy tube LDC is great but only if the rest of the locker has the basics covered

These are the gear things that I think are important if you want to attract freelancers. Its great when a place has some cool thing, but if I'm on the clock and am trying to get my client what they need, then rarely will i try something new (outboard, mics etc.) I'd rather put up what i know and get the job done quickly.

One big gear factor for me now is the ADC. I'm avoiding places that still have 192s and in general if the ADC blows then its on there forever. Best to get it right on the way in.
Old 12th October 2016
  #5
Lives for gear
 
AlexK's Avatar
 

Personally, I don't use NS10s, but you still need them I think!

I would like to see:

• Slow compression, something like a TubeTech CL1b, LA2A, a Summit TLA100, Gates etc

• Some good solid-state-up front sounding preamps, Daking, Forssell, Trident etc FWIW I think the Daking would be a FAR better (and noticeably cheaper) choice than 4x API 500 preamps.

• A channel of valve preamp, Fearn or suchlike. Maybe an older UA610 if you feel like spending less.

• You're running ProTools HD right?

• Zero-latency mixing for headphone feeds

• Pultec-style EQ

• Great selection of mics you have already, but you need U87s, and ideally older ones with a lower output for recording loud instruments. A C12 type-thing would be necessary for recording drums IMO too. Maybe add in the following to your list too:
- D112
- M201 pair
- Unidyne 545
- Royers

Also do you have a piano?

Also IMO the BAE preamps are the best Neves on the market atm, over the Neves and definitely the Vintechs.

I don't really care too much about the converters as long as they're not terrible. Many many other fish to fry...
Old 12th October 2016
  #6
Gear Nut
 

Don't forget a good coffee machine
Old 12th October 2016
  #7
As a musician im happy as long as it sounds good. As an engineer I'd want to have a quality bus compressor. SSL ideally, but id be ok with something like a TK Audio BC1. I'm not finicky if its a clone or the real thing as long as it sounds good. I run vintechs in my own rig and love them. A couple of decent EQ's. And a nice set of nearfields and id be happy. I'm not a fan of studios grabbing cheapo monitors as the only nearfields as a familiarity thing for their clients. In every room they sound so different. So it doesnt matter if its the same speaker. Best to get just a nice set of nearfields that works in that room. That way everyone can work on them. And ofc the ATC 110's are glorious so you are covered for mains there. Good mic stands are also something I'm always finicky about.
Old 12th October 2016
  #8
Thanks everyone for sharing your opinions. Some great insights for me in these posts...
(And thanks Adrian for taking a step back and looking at this from "the bigger picture.")

I should have prefaced my post explaining I know my room and setup are more suited to overdubs / mixing / small ensembles.
My main bread and butter is working as a media composer (film, tv, web etc) so the main focus of my room is to record my own projects.
It's overkill for me to go to PT HD and a large format console etc.

These posts are making me further realize however, the distance between "project studio" and a full-on "commercial studio."
I'm not aiming to record a full band at once so I guess it's a matter of finding my niche and developing a client base from there.
I think I need to figure out if it makes sense to invest in gear suited for a mix room or for a small ensemble tracking / overdub.

I already have engineers asking if they can reference mixes in my room so I've seen proof that freelancers appreciate the sonics and modal balance.

Adrian, you brought up a great point about bands and what's important to them in a studio.
The genesis of this began when I was tracking a small ensemble for a folk artist. He was talking to his mates about their future recording plans and in an offhand
way he said "...well when we can get into a real studio we should...."

I know he meant no offense but it got me thinking ; What does a "real" studio appear like to an artist who is not technical / gear savvy.

Anyway, thanks again everyone. This sharing of opinions is when a forum like GearSlutz is at its best
Old 13th October 2016
  #9
Lives for gear
I'd go for an LA2A or 1176 - arguably, there are possibly better compressors out there but they don't command the fame these do. That said.... it's funny, most good musicians really won't know what a LA2A or 1176 is! Buy that stuff for YOU --- if others value it... then great! In general, I've never had someone say, "I'm coming in for your LA2A." - but they do appreciate it when I tell them what it is.

Sure most musicians might know the names of Neve, Neumann and maybe some others but it does seem to me most good musicians have little idea of gear. Those kind of guys spent their time on learning their instruments not studio gear.

Then there are the guys like me...good musicians and gear hound. I know so much about gear that I can't be satisfied in most studios. You'd go broke trying to impress guys like me with gear. I might come in for your room if you have a good sounding one.
Old 13th October 2016
  #10
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by piano View Post

Sure most musicians might know the names of Neve, Neumann and maybe some others but it does seem to me most good musicians have little idea of gear. Those kind of guys spent their time on learning their instruments not studio gear.
Yeah, I'm first a musician and started engineering along the way, and I think a lot of the small project studios that open think that the audio gear is what attracts musicians.
Most musicians I know are more like " if it sounds good, whatever works".
They come for the space, the atmosphere, like some said a great headphone cue system is a huge plus.

I've gone to a number of project studio in recent years where the guys'll have racks and racks of boutique outboard pres but the recording space sounds terrible and their best mic is like a TLM103. For the price of all those pres, I'd far rather have a U87, a good U47 clone, a pair of 84s and a pair of coles and 16 channels of cheaper workhorse pres, like dav or sytek, or a small studer board.

Also as a musician, I've been really often in the situation where the engineer, where the engineer tries out different pres for my instrument and it just goes on and on and on. For the way I like to work, I like the engineer to put up like the 2 or 3 mics he thinks might work, listen, pick the best one and in 3 minutes we're rolling and recording.

Another thing I like to see are a couple good boutique recording amps, a nice drum kit with a little tasteful selection of snares, a couple nice guitars, a piano , an old wurlitzer, some funky guitar pedals. That gets me and most musicians I know at least a lot more excited than pres.
Old 13th October 2016
  #11
Lives for gear
 
127Riot's Avatar
 

Gear

If I were to record and or mix in your space what I would want to see is some of the gear listed below or a good higher end clone of that gear.

Mics- Neuman U-87/47, flea's will do for sure! Royer 121/101, AEA R88, Beyer 160, Shure SM-57's, Sennhieser MD-421's/441.

Pre's- Api/Neve/telefunken/Calrec.

Comp's- Smart C2, Api 2500, Distressor's, Dbx 160's, Sta level.

Effects- A Real Plate Reverb.

A nice Analog Console would be cool to.

Most importantly as mentioned is you and your Space/Room.
Old 13th October 2016
  #12
Lives for gear
I would say if you want to attract local freelancers, go talk to them and see what they want.
Show them that you are committed to their success, and maybe hire them for some of the work you are not so experienced at.

Outside of that, and not having a kick ass room...
I'd say go for a great niche service.
Like vocal tracking in a relaxing environment with a top shelf assortment of tools for just that. Professionally treated small room, real 67,87,47,C12... 1073, V72... LA2A, 1176(a and d), 176... and kick ass monitoring so I can hear it.
If you had ALL that, in killer shape, I come track vocals at your place.

Or maybe an insane collection of acoustic guitars... and the smaller set of tools to capture that.

Vintage synths...


Seriously, ask those you are wanting to lure in....
I'll just have you spending money. haha!


Good luck!!!


D
Old 13th October 2016
  #13
Moderator
 
matt thomas's Avatar
From a bands perspective, which is generally non gear:

Good track record
Good coffee (cafe style espresso)
Simple cooking facilities and decent size refrigerator (that doesn't cause pops in the audio gear!)
Friendly management
Place to hang out and stuff to do when not recording. Could be pool table etc, or located near cool cafe district for example.
Piano.
Good vibe in a spacious recording space.
Good visibility between control room and various recording spaces
I don't like low ceilings
Familiarity to engineer/producer, to facilitate speed.
Location.
Car parking
Loading bay or easy load in (no stairs). Decent sized elevator if needed. I had a disaster one time because the elevator was smaller than the studio owner had said.
A studio where someone can enter the building without disturbing anyone.

I pretty much wouldn't care about gear if you have most of the above.

Artists might like a decent headphone system, and monitors that can go loud and deep.

Its also nice to have an ampeg all tube rig with 8x10 cab for bands, and possibly a few snare drums.

Matt

Last edited by matt thomas; 14th October 2016 at 10:21 AM..
Old 13th October 2016
  #14
It sounds like you already have the gear and room covered.

From here on out it's about the end product, how the bands perceive your ability to be on the same page as them (you will often become the defacto co producer), and lastly the price.

Also, just my experience, when you consult with a group, and you either see them live or hear their live recording (so you can hear what they do), if they are not tight don't record them immediately just because you want the biz. It's in their best interest and yours for them to woodshed until they are as perfectly rehearsed as possible. They will save money, and the recording will sound significantly better.
Old 13th October 2016
  #15
Lives for gear
Nice gear...
I insist on a 2" machine, a 1/4" machine, a console...
A EMT 140 and some kind springreverb.

Outboard; a LA-2A, 1176 and a Pair of dbx 160's... Happy camper...
Well, some ppl want other stuff.

Best,
Tom
Old 14th October 2016
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
I think you're looking at things slightly skewed.

Bands (unless they're very technically minded and thus fall more into the 2nd category) shouldn't be concerned with gear. Really they should just be looking at 3 things.

- the person (ie you) they're coming to work with - do they make good recordings, are they pleasant to work with? You're the asset, the studio is the tool.

- Will they be able to record the way they want - ie if they're used to performing all as a band, can they do that? (this does cross over into gear, but it's more about space/headphones etc).

- will they be comfortable and creative in the space?

Other concerns are things like location, but generally you can work around anything like that.


If you're looking to appeal to visiting freelancers, the above all holds true, and then you're looking at gear too.

- for bands, I'd say 24io is a minimum. Ideally 32. I wouldn't consider a 16io tracking setup for a full band.

- I don't want to be told "you can't set things up like that". ie set things up to be universal, not preset to how "you" do it.

- you want familiarity. Ideally "name" brands not clones, but if the clones perform similarly, that's good enough for most. I'd say you're covered there. Boutique mics and processing is great, but only if there's enough of the standards too.

- NS10s too, plus some familiar near-fields (which is a personal choice, but ask around and see what most would like).

So don't know what other mics you have, but a good few 57s, 421s, 414s, ideally a good U87, an RE20/SM7, and personally I'd want a couple of Royers too.

- ideally, tracking a band I'd want a desk..but a good desk, worth using and not noisy. Sort of Neotech as a minimum, no mackies, or "modded this/that which makes it almost sort of like an SSL".

- at least one SSL-style compressor, a good stereo/dual mono EQ, and some more mono compression for sculpting sounds on the way in. Which means you'd need more mic amps wouldn't you, if the MH doesn't have post mic amp insert points?



Now, I could do it with less, but that's what I'd look for.

Maybe check out other studios in the area, see what prices they offer and what they have. Are you SURE you want to go commercial?!

Short of that a flexible patchbay!
I'd pretty much guess as per the Analog Days, all studios are idiosyncratic and thus a certain routing and or free flowing PatchBay where universally most things can be pulled up, numbered and named is certainly required. That's just sheer operational courtesy and expected design, though again tie lines and certain equipment may well default to certain capture devices, so it's indeed a thin Red Line! I'd look around at what other small commercial Studios are offering and seek their rates so you can place yourself comfortably within you regional marketplace etc.

More power to you though!
Good Luck!
Old 14th October 2016
  #17
Gear Addict
 

Take a print image of plugins and tape them on a wooden rack, many will feel like home then.
Old 17th October 2016
  #18
Lives for gear
 
shalimo's Avatar
 

I have my own set-up. When looking at a studio I first look at the space then the gear but what makes a studio great is the resulting end product. So often I would ask to hear a recent project before I commit. I've heard some awesome music coming out of studios with basic gears and awful music coming out of studios with tons of high end gear. I also don't like uber high end where in the end it's a paralysis of choices. The best is a great place with great sound, awesome acoustic, and a friendly staff. If you have all those qualities I believe you would do well by having a decent amount of high end gear.

Last edited by shalimo; 18th October 2016 at 02:02 AM..
Old 18th October 2016
  #19
Lives for gear
 
iangomes's Avatar
I would agree with finding your niche. Be the go-to guy for something (vocals, acc guitar, synths, drums) and focus on that. You have to go pretty high end, but there is a LOT ($$) that goes into making a great all-round studio for other engineers.
Old 18th October 2016
  #20
Gear Addict
 

Im not too picky and honestly I can work with anything. If I was to really want something, probably I'd want at least 8 solid pres of same type, 16 ideal, ...not prosumer but actual hand built quality pres. I'd want drums to sound like they were tracked through a console, all same signature. I don't want different pres for top/bottom snare, inner/outer kick, etc. That can work fine that way, but I kind of like when the whole mix image is sharing a similar vibe, and only certain things I might choose different gear for contrast. I don't like to start with everything in contrast and have to make it all blend. If you have a console, then a couple outboard pres with different color to them is great for things like vocals that need to stand out.
Old 18th October 2016
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by heyhey View Post
Im not too picky and honestly I can work with anything. If I was to really want something, probably I'd want at least 8 solid pres of same type, 16 ideal, ...not prosumer but actual hand built quality pres. I'd want drums to sound like they were tracked through a console, all same signature. I don't want different pres for top/bottom snare, inner/outer kick, etc. That can work fine that way, but I kind of like when the whole mix image is sharing a similar vibe, and only certain things I might choose different gear for contrast. I don't like to start with everything in contrast and have to make it all blend. If you have a console, then a couple outboard pres with different color to them is great for things like vocals that need to stand out.
This is something I've been mulling over as well as I figure out my PreAmp decision. I too would prefer having all of my drum mics going through the same Pre's but I can't say I'm 100% it's actually a good technique or just my OCD kicking in

I can imagine the draw of a console ( which I don't have as my workflow is ITB -- Advertising Clients demanding instant recalls etc. )

I've been involved in recordings where we tracked through a Vintage Neve 8026 (26x16x24 with 1073 mic pre/eqs) and I feel this did "gel" the sound of the band.
However, if every instrument was tracked through a different PreAmp company, would I be able to tell in a blind test ??

Again, thanks everyone for your contributions ! Some great + useful info in here as I burn through some credit cards
Old 18th October 2016
  #22
- NS-10ms or Mixcubes.

- an LA2a. It's a workhorse vocal and bass tracking comp... and it sounds beautiful.

- A GREAT sounding room.

- A patchbay. Nothing smells funnier than a guy with a bunch of outboard and no patchbay.
Old 18th October 2016
  #23
Lives for gear
 
Plush's Avatar
I would want to make sure that you listen well. With critical listening ear.
Old 20th October 2016
  #24
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DomiBabi View Post
- NS-10ms or Mixcubes.

- an LA2a. It's a workhorse vocal and bass tracking comp... and it sounds beautiful.

- A GREAT sounding room.

- A patchbay. Nothing smells funnier than a guy with a bunch of outboard and no patchbay.
Except a session where the Tape Op has a dedicated Job rewiring rack units behind the Outboard Racks!
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