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Upgrading 002 studio with $1000-$2000
Old 31st July 2020
Here for the gear

Upgrading 002 studio with $1000-$2000

Hey all!

I have a low key project studio I use to record my band and my friends bands. It has always been more about a place to create demos or DIY recordings and as long as the gear works it has been a bit of and afterthought. I have $2k saved up and would like to invest some of it back into the room (trying to stay $1k-$2k but have wiggle room if it is going to be dramatically improved)... Since everything is functional and sounds pretty decent, I am having trouble figuring out where to put the money. My initial thought is upgrading or adding another preamp, or a BLA mod to the 002... Although I see mixed reviews of the BLA mod, some people say the improvement is night and day, some day it is unnoticeable.

This is the setup I use to record mostly drums, vocals, and direct/mic'd guitars:

002 running Pro Tools 10
M-Audio Octane 8 Channel Preamp
A bunch of SM7s, 58s, a Beta 52, and a Studio Projects C-1
JBL 305 monitors

I also have an Eleven Rack that I sometimes use.. As you can see I keep my setup pretty simple which works great for me and my intended use.

Any suggestions or ideas? Is there something I am not thinking of?

Appreciate any feedback!!!
Old 1st August 2020
If I were making a demo in your room, I'd want a nice channel strip and a better condenser mic.

There are some good mic choices under a grand now that I think would probably stay in your locker even if a rich uncle suddenly died. Three that I think are worth considering are these:

Beesneez BU87i Ben Sneezby's limited-run take on the original U87 is getting good reviews for its true-to-type sound and an amazing price: under $700 US. Seriously, who doesn't want a U87 in their demo studio? Get one while they last!

United Studio Technologies UT 800 When the designer of Warm's popular U47 clone set his sites on the U47FET, he took the money saved by ditching the tube and put it into higher-quality parts: A Heiserman-designed capsule and a real CineMag transformer. This is not a throw-away mic, it's a serious tool at $800 MAP.

Austrian Audio OC818 Is there a place for a multi-pattern condenser in a project studio? Actually there always has been, if we're talking about the AKG 414. Alas, after two corporate buy-outs, AKG have seriously lost their way. Well, the brand has, but the original design and production team is still in Vienna making the good stuff. Like the older, "good" 414's, this mic shows its C12 sonic heritage, but it comes with thoroughly-modern features. If $1k is too rich for you, there's a cardioid-only version for even less.

Those are all good choices, but they leave a bit too little money for a serious channel strip. I did see a somewhat battered UA LA-610 up on reverb for around $1k, but people seem to struggle with gain staging on those, which isn't a characteristic that you want when making quick demos. You can get used Grace m103's for a few hundred more than that, but it's a "clean, corrective" piece that doesn't yield the mojo your existing preamps lack. So I'm going to take all the "wiggle room" you gave me and assume you'll buy a nicer mic when the next COVID check comes in. Which means something really cool is within reach: There's an Aurora Audio GTQC listed on Reverb right now for $2200. If you can talk him down to $2k, pull the ripcord! This is a Neve-lineage preamp with a more open top end, a simple "get 'er done" EQ section, and a switch-hitting (opto or fet) compressor to boot. This is how you cut a finished vocal in a big hurry.

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
Old 5th August 2020
Here for the gear

[QUOTE=David Rick;14890629]If I were making a demo in your room, I'd want a nice channel strip and a better condenser mic.

hey thanks for the thoughtful response!! i am looking into all your suggestions. im thinking maybe a channel strip would be more useful for me and it wasnt something i had thought about previously

curious, if you had only one channel strip in my setup, what would you use it for? obviously vocals, would you use it when tracking guitars? what about drums, would you run one mic thru it? which mic?
Old 6th August 2020
The main thing to do with a channel strip is make the vocals sound more finished from the get-go. That inspires the vocalist to sing better. More than anything else, it's the compressor that does that. But having a preamp that's a cut above your typical interface preamp will spoil you.

People don't always compress acoustic guitar, but it can be handy to have some corrective EQ available. If you're recording a DI'd guitar, it may take both EQ and compression to make it sound decent. Recording DI'd bass though a good channel strip is a joy!

Obviously a single channel doesn't give you much leverage on drums, unless there's one thing that's a particular problem.
Old 6th August 2020
Gear Nut

Get the gang together and invest $500 in some DIY sound treatments for the room. A nice 4” thick ceiling cloud for starters and floor to ceiling bass traps for the available corners would be a good place to start.

Spend the rest on ONE analog input signal chain so that lead vocal (90% of what makes a great song) stand out. My suggestions would be

Mic Pre.....JHS Colourbox V2.’s in pedal format.....but it is INCREDIBLY well built and sounds fantastic. It’s a Neve 73 clone type and included a 3 band sweep eQ as well as selectable HP and a pad. It’s also a FANTASTIC’s our go to for BASS over everything else we have.

Compressor......for the $$$ and flexibility you want a good all rounder here, combining the best possible performance of 1176 and LA2A types of compression. I have found no better for the money than the Fredenstein VAS. I just got one on a rec here for a mobile rig and I’ve been putting it through it’s paces on existing tracks against my top outboards and I tell ya, this thing does 90% of what $5k of racks do.

Mics......that’s a pretty subjective area. One thing for sure....every project studio should have a Shure SM7B in the locker. It was good enough for’ll be good enough for you and your friends when run through the above. For loud rock and’s the king of all mics.

Anything left over?.........plug ins. Again subjective but do your homework. A good Pulteq eQ, an 1157 and LA2A, Tape saturation and a few channel strips. A GREAT delay will make ANY track stand out when used properly.....the Slate Digital Repeater comes to mind as my personal favorite.

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