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Gear Slut Help
Old 1st November 2002
  #1
Gear Addict
 

Gear Slut Help

Would you have a moment to ruminate over question?

I produce a local group, Dumfounded <www.dumfounded.com>, and in the process we are building up our project studio. We have the usual suspects, and then a few extras like an Apogee AD-8000 to Pro Tools (LE), a Summit tube pre and Compressor, a pair of Distressors, an MX-5050 1/2" 8 track, and some good mics: a Royer 121, MG 90A, Neuman KM84...

I like the tracks we are getting, but feel I could do more for the guys. I don't like what the studios in our area produce (we've tried three) our MP3.com tracks are an example. I don't feel as though the bottom end is as tight and round (I know, poor terms, like "warm.") as it should be, and the drum tracks, although hitting, still lack a little. I keep thinking we are missing what I saw described in an article in TapeOp about the UA 2108 Preamp.

Now I know what you are thinking...gear does not overcome technique in miking, recording, and all those other talents required to turn out great sound on 44.1/16...but the right gear sometimes makes it easier.

Our next addition was planned to be something that would help the drum tracks and bottom end...and I was thinking of the following additions (I know there's a little apples and oranges here, but bear with me...):

1. United Audio 2108 pre (apples), to enhance the input chain, focusing on tighter low end response and to have a solid-state ("harder") alternative to the Summit tube input (similar architecture, gain stage/output stage) or Mackie Analog 8-bus Console (doesn't saturate well).

2. Vintech X73/Focusrite/TubeTech pre?EQ (apples?) same end through more vintage pre topology going to disk.

3. .A pair of 1176LN's (oranges) again to achieve tighter low end due to the transformer output stage (like in the 2108) and better kick/snare dynamics. (Side benefit, another nice C/L for both tracking and output.)

4. Empirical Labs Fatso (oranges) same end, through tonal shaping and the transformer output, which perhaps contributes to the intended sonic goal.

Since every magazine review focuses only on one product, and you may have had the opportunity to use all of these products, perhaps you could lend some guidance to my search and thoughts (even insofar as "looking for tone in all the wrong places").

Digital (Pro Tools?) is the future, I want to get there with really good sounds. Could you please share a moment and your thoughts.

...J Bohrer, Producer, Dumfounded
<www.dumfonded.com>
<www.MP3.com/dumfounded>
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Old 2nd November 2002
  #2
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
jon's Avatar
 

Re: Gear Slut Help

Quote:
Originally posted by JB3
Our next addition was planned to be something that would help the drum tracks and bottom end...

Digital (Pro Tools?) is the future, I want to get there with really good sounds. Could you please share a moment and your thoughts.
Ah, drum sounds...the classic problem.

I don't think any of the gear you are looking at will suddenly transform your overall drum sound and bottom end.

Start with looking at your room, your drums and heads. Maybe mic choice and position.

Assuming that's covered, renting an analog tape machine for a week would be a time-proven way to achieve what you're missing.

Rent a machine, pay a tech to align it properly, buy one tape, record 3 takes of a track to it, transfer it into your DAW, go on to the next track, erasing and re-using the tape.

Better yet, track drums in a good studio to 2" with a good mic and pre collection and an excellent engineer who knows how to get that sound you want, transfer to your DAW, and do the overdubs at home.

I'm sure you won't follow any of this advice. People prefer to buy gear. Oh, well.
Old 2nd November 2002
  #3
Perhaps edit your post to elaborate on the "usuall suspects" and give us a full equip inventory. (or print it below)

Meanwhile, here's a few ideas for you:

1) Perhaps you could tempt a local pro engineer & perhaps drum tech whizz (working at a higher level than your good self) to come record the band (pay them) with you assisting and you learn some tricks off em about drum punch techniques. (with the gear you own).

2) I can tell you that a Royer 121 is great for guitars and also delivering those elusive sub frequencies to an Apogee AD8000 on KICK DRUM. So also (as I understand it) is using a speaker as a mic on kick drum (do a search for that thread)

Look forward to the gear list and advice you get from others.

Old 2nd November 2002
  #4
Lives for gear
 
studjo's Avatar
 

Recently I wasn't very happy with a bass drum I recorded. During the mix I did high pass the kick ^@50 Hz and I enjoyed a much thighter kick.

Just an idea

Jo
Old 2nd November 2002
  #5
Gear Addict
 

Gear List

Here we go (and thanks for your comments):

Input to output:

Console:
Mackie Analog 8 Bus

Analog:
Otari MX5050mkIIIA (1/2" 8 Tk)

Digital:
ProTools LE 5.2.1(Mac G4)

A/D/A:
Digidesign Digi001
Apogee AD-8000

Monitors:
Mackie HR-824

Mama's Little Helpers:
Summit TPA-200 Tube Pre
Summit DCL-200 C/L
Distressor ELX8 (2)
Lexi MPX-1

Mics:
Gefell U-92 (1) tube
Shure KSM-44
Royer R-121
Neumann KM-84 (2)
Shure SM-57 (5)
Shure SM-58 (3)

Ancillary:
HHb BurnIt Plus CD Recorder
Panasonic SV 3700 DAT

Main Rm: 40' x 35' Odd Angle, High Ceiling
Iso areas avail.

That's us!

...J
Old 2nd November 2002
  #6
Gear Addict
 

Replies...

Jon (and Jules),

I appreciate your posts...and your direction.

Ocean Way and Westlake are out of budget, and the low-end studios don't cut it where we are...Our second out of house experience with a mid-budget (Ana/Digi) studio cost a lot and gave us mediocre results.

Our latest tracks/mixes (recorded with the equipment listed above and at home)are much better, which means (I would assume) that my artists are getting better and my own art is improving (as my late Step-Dad Chuck Jones used to say, "It may take 10,000 drawings to get the one you want.") - we're beginning to see a glimmer of hope...

However, my own Dad used to say: "Buy the right tool for the job, do it right, you'll have the tool for next time and you'll save the cost of paying someone with that tool to come and fix what you broke because you didn't have it..."

So, somewhere in between the learning curve of producing my guys and being a gear slut, I'm just trying to have the right things in the right places knowing I'll be able to get what I hear in my head to the tape/hard disk, just like you guys with the credits. (In regard to this, I hope you think my choices in gear to this point have been well made...)

As for the hired gun approach, I've given real strong thought to that, but I really don't know who to approach - they have to be better than I and better than the guys we've paid to record us previously. I've had a couple of other local guys (with credits!) come in to listen and play with our tracks, but in each case I felt as though they hadn't added enough by the time they walked away to consider "hiring" them to work with us.

So, I will keep looking, for that help as suggested by our guest moderator and you, Jon and Jules, be it plug-ins, equipment, and/or a mentor, either here at home or in the forums. Until then, I am trying to learn to use what we've got really well, and, where necessary, add to it so that it get's what I'm after.

...J
Old 2nd November 2002
  #7
Are King Sound & Video still around (Jimmy Sloan)? They have a beautiful 32 in API with a 2" Studer and a sweet vintage front end. I think they were in the $1500 a day range, which is a hell of a lot less than Ocean Way.
Old 2nd November 2002
  #8
Lives for gear
 
groundcontrol's Avatar
 

The funny thing with digital is that I've often found that rolling of the extreme subs have rewarded me with a better useable low end. Switching on a quality hi-pass filter at around 30-40Hz frequently results in the perception of almost "more" bass. I often start my bd/bass equing when mixing in PT with the sort of frequency contouring that comes for free with an analog machine: a roll off at 30-40Hz and a gentle boost in the 90-110Hz range. This can be done in a single step when using a good "ringing" shelf eq like the Massive Passive or on PT the Sony Oxford eq. You shelf off at around 60Hz while boosting the "Q factor" up until you have the curve you want:i.e. -XdB below 50Hz and a +Xdb bell around 100Hz. It's really like boosting and cutting at the same time at the same frequency on the Pultec. This approach is equally useful in the hi-end. Loosing a lot of ultra-hi **** coupled with a little hype around 8-10k frequently sounds more "real" than linear from DC to light on everything.

Hope that helps...
Old 5th November 2002
  #9
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Re: Replies...

Quote:
Originally posted by JB3


Our latest tracks/mixes (recorded with the equipment listed above and at home)are much better, which means (I would assume) that my artists are getting better and my own art is improving (as my late Step-Dad Chuck Jones used to say, "It may take 10,000 drawings to get the one you want.") - we're beginning to see a glimmer of hope...


...J [/B]
Chuck Jones was you step-Dad. How cool is that? I'm a big cartoon fan.

I'd come out and help in trade for some of his drawings or cells...
Old 5th November 2002
  #10
Lives for gear
 
Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

Hi.. here is my 2cents worth...

Forget FATSO... i may be commiting sucide and certain flame war here but its WAY over priced for what it does.. buy a few ART pre amps and chain them together with RNC's and go for gold!... All the fuzz(warmth) and compression u need which is far more controlable and cheaper...(cascading gain stages)
(prolly get away with that for $500 if u huint around for some crustly old ART pre's and or RNC)

Averill preamps or API 3124... these are a godsend for any rock type gig becuase they are so flexible for (killer)drums, bass (amp + DI) & electric gtrs, some vocals and misc.. did i mention that they sound ace! ($2250)

Brent Averill Calrec modules racked up a pair runs for $2500 and they are EVERY bit as useful as a neve type module.... 1161's were engineered rippoffs ofthe 33114.... sleepers

As far as compressors go... 1176's are great and only they can do what they do.. your distressors can get close but not the same if u know what i mean.... maybe consider a pair of Dakings.. they are sublime in most applications and just sound so nice and musical.... i can smell an 1176 a mile away even tho i luve them to bits they are as common as.... and they both work out around the same sorta price i believe...

If you are after an all in one channel strip seriosuly consider the new Focusrite ISA 220 'Session pack'.. all the important bits from the ISA 430 but with the 'blend function' and the optional stereo AD/DA.... not sure on Us price but well worth the price of admission for the pre/eq and comp alone..

Have fun... its a nice lil setup u will have urself...... let us know how u go!

PEACE
Wiggy
Old 5th November 2002
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Tim L's Avatar
 

Re: Gear List

Quote:
Originally posted by JB3
Mackie Analog 8 Bus
I suffered through owning the Mackie for several years. I found the thing damn near incapable of producing anything resembling a solid bass tone. No definition and no balls. You should seriously consider dumping the thing and getting something better. You may very well be getting good sounds but with the Mackie in the way you'll never know.
Old 5th November 2002
  #12
Gear Addict
 

Thank You, can I have another Sir?

I really appreciate the continuing flow of info, guys.

I haven't fully had time to digest all of your comments yet, but please keep then cards and letters comin' folks. I am reading and ruminating over each post with great appreciation.

...J / JB3
Old 6th November 2002
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

I suffered through owning the Mackie for several years. I found the thing damn near incapable of producing anything resembling a solid bass tone. No definition and no balls

LOL.... the combination of very little headroom and a narrow stereo image, passable EQ aned mix buss problems.. equate to all of the above problems when trying to make some half decent mixes... as soona s you start putt some LF energy in the mix the headroom gets goobled up quiker than a flock of starving seagulls....

All tho having said that.. they are Ok for monitoring during tracking.. provided u dont lie to listen too loud!


But they are great for th e$$ and provide a lot of usability.. just people need to know its limits and not expect it to sound liek an SSL etc

PEACE
Wiggy
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