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What does it take to open a low end room? Dynamic Microphones
Old 29th January 2003
  #1
Gear Addict
 

What does it take to open a low end room?

A bit of a tongue-in-cheek response to the thread in high end, but what's the minimum it takes to get a studio up and running for paying customers who aren't just your friends or acquaintances?

What are the basic, generic equipment requirements in your opinion (on the level of is it mandatory to be able to burn cd's)?Let's hear about the hidden costs of doing business, the things you'd not immediately factor into the equation, like office supplies, electricity, etc.

I don't think anybody's going to talk me into doing this, myself, but I'm intellectually curious.

Bear
Old 29th January 2003
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

Low end rooms

I guess one question is how low can you go? I think most people start out with the idea of a few mics and a portable recording device and now I can make some money and have some fun.

If they are like me. Once you start you can't stop... But this will let me get this sound, or that will give me more flexibility, now I need more hard drive space, I can master it myself after I get this box/program... And a gearslut is born.

jason
Old 29th January 2003
  #3
Gear Addict
 
Curious G's Avatar
 

hmmm... a bunch of gear, no social life and (as Dan Bern says) "Balls big as grapefruit".

Seriously though, if I start adding up all I've spent in the last 14 years for my modest rig my wife will start crying again. Too damn much stuff to list here.

That being said, I think being open to the public and staying that way is more about competence than about gear. I've seen some really crazy work-arounds in studios that turn out great sounds.

To answer you specific q's... yeah I think you got to be able to burn CD's. Hidden costs? How about: Insurance (business and health), accounting/taxes, legal zoning, commercial banking/phone listings, and lots of stuff that isn't coming to mind at present.

Ouch! Bear, you're making my head hurt... Stop it!
Old 29th January 2003
  #4
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 

I tend to think of a MDM like an ADAT, along with a Mackie mixer (hopefully VLZ Pro)
as the entry level minimum for recording equipment. So I guess we'd be up to around
$800 or less so far assuming both are used.

Chris
Old 29th January 2003
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

I guess someone could purchase a Roland VS-840 and a pair of Marshall 603 condenser mics and start stereo recording projects. Even for band project the person can develop listening skills to find a good balance for live recording.

jason
Old 30th January 2003
  #6
Gear Addict
 

Sorry if I wasn't clear on the equipment issue. I'm not really talking in terms of specific pieces or necessarily even formats. I was thinking more in terms of "I think you should have a headphone cue rig and some sort of pitch correction (e.g. Autotune) capability" or "non-linear editing is a must" (not that I am necessarily asserting any of this myself). I didn't want this to be a shopping list thread so much as one about the capabilities you think one should have if they are going to charge money for their services.

The "So what makes a studio high end?" thread is refreshing because it isn't talking specifically about gear (not that there's anything wrong with that . . .) and is more about the whole package than the little bits. I wanted to get a similar discussion going on the low end of things.

Bear
Old 30th January 2003
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
Cape's Avatar
 

Professional lookin place - no beer cans lying around that are weeks old, spacious room, good ambience, drum sound most important to client, enough mic's - (if I could afford a female studio manager I would be laughing!!).

Equipment - well placed money reaps rewards but lots of money spent on lots of things means your studio will sound better and do anything. There's no perfect way, you learn (or go broke) as you go along.

I'm in the room size letting me down abit area (however I have got an over spill room), so think venue then gear. Budget bands, like to play together, and thats who you'll get first, not big buckeroons.
Old 30th January 2003
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
Cape's Avatar
 

Oh right -

Lots of XLR leads

Autotune only well used subtlely on pop tracks, otherwise no.

Good I/O meaning loads of options

Talkback system

Headphone distribution

DI boxes (nah, can't be arsed today!!)

Pre's not **** but atleast clear.

A/D half way house

DAW well, now your talking money
Old 30th January 2003
  #9
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

a low end studio? any vacant space and any sort of means of recording what is happening. headphone system? one pair is all that you need so you can OD.... initial tracking is live man.

my guess would be one of those portajobbies like the yamama aw4416's or vsXX80's or akai something or anothers... wanna go old school get a cassette 4 track.

my original low end room was in a basement, two rooms, a soundcraft 16 channel mixer, a yamama 4 track, a handful of sm57's, some cabling, an amp and pa speakers... a bunch of foam on the walls. sessions went stereo live feed to two tracks, a track for vox, a track for solos, or drums mono, bass, guitar, vox. or drums/bass, guitar1, guitar2, vox....
Old 30th January 2003
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Atmosphere

Cape wrote: Professional lookin place

Ok,
So how does the look of a lower end studio have an impact on the client? Are clients interested in a color coded decor and matching equipment racks or are they more into blinking lights, vu meters, cables, knobs, xlr fan tails, and some understanding of (what others might think is) technical chaos?

jason
Old 30th January 2003
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Saucyjack's Avatar
 

The answer can be many things....
I opened up my place on a part time basis about a year ago.It's a large "bonus room" over the garage.I'm based around a Yamaha AW4416 but have several nice outboard pieces (Cranesong,distressor Great River,Api,Soundelux)and some decent mics.I'm working on album project #3 currently.I play in a band around town and kinda "cherry pick" bands I like and want to record...started out 15/hr because I wanted some experience under my belt but rates are going to go up.

You definitely need at least 8 tracks at a minimum (and really 16 tracks)(non-linear editing is nice but I'm not sure it's necessary from the get go) for most projects,Good Headphone cue system,lots of cables,a way to archive projects,decent monitoring that YOU understand and can translate mixes and most of all good ears and a concept of recording.Nice mics,comps and pres and great to have and can entice folks to record with you,but I've heard some good sounding stuff on a Cassette 8 track with NT1 and Sm57s

Hell mostly you just need the Nads to do it then do it.

Hope that helps some.
Old 30th January 2003
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Saucyjack's Avatar
 

Oh and I forgot to add ....Good vibe/Comfortable space.....this is most necessary.
My studio is in my house but it's got a funky rec room kinda feel...creates a nice vibe,lets ideas flow.
Old 30th January 2003
  #13
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Hidden costs and hassles? Insurance. Office supplys. Bottled water for clients because no one will drink from the tap, entertainment (video games or new magazines), permits, collecting and paying taxes, rent. Making sure the landlord doesn't sell the building out from under you. That's happened to me twice in three years and it sucks. Money to cover advertising which is something you feel like you have to do but nobody pays attention to anyway. More cash to cover the phone bills. Half a brain to remember to block the 900 #'s because the band of 17 year olds will call them when your not looking. Money to cover repairs like the AC breaking in the middle of July when it's hotter inside the control room then it is outside. Money for accountants at the end of the year and the middle of the year. A lawyer to sue your now ex-landlord when you get less then 30 days notice... A lawyer to send a demand letter to clients who refuse to pay you who is also the same lawyer you use to inc. or form an LLC. Keeping tape and media in stock without running out at 1am on a Sunday. Should I keep going? I can come up with more reasons to NOT open a studio then I can to open one.

The gear really depends on what your doing. Obviously if your doing hip-hop you need different stuff then a live music gig. That's pretty much all I do so I'll gear it towards that.

16 tracks at a minimum
16 channels of mic pres with at least 20 channels for tape returns and FX
At least a dozen or so mics
Two DI boxes
Stereo cue system with 5-6 pairs of cans
3 effects units, a dedicated delay and maybe two multi-fx
14 mic stands for your dozen mics (because one will strip)
lots of cables and snakes
A solid patchbay with all the gozin's and gozouts for everything
A two-track of some kind. Maybe a DAT or Masterlink. These days I'd go with a computer and an A/D converter
Two sets of referance monitors
4-5 channels of compression with at least one good stereo compressor somewhere in there

Add huge balls, a solid stomache and a nice size bank account to cover all the expenses for at least a year and a half of no-income. All together you probably need at least $9,000 to $15K to get started before you write the first months rent check. Construction costs? Maybe another $5K at a minimum if your doing the labor yourself but then your probably paying the rent every month too so that outweighs any possible savings.

I know I'm leaving stuff out. Still tempted?
Old 30th January 2003
  #14
Lives for gear
 
sonic dogg's Avatar
In the phone book, the local music rags, the cheap stuff for sale rags and on every music store bulletin board here locally, there are by my own count over 80 recording facilities of some sort....they all have business cards...most have a web site...some are the real deal though there are no 'A' rooms to speak of...most are digital...ie.nuendo,hammerfall,protools..etc...some have a sound conditioned room...some have two or more....a few have great gear...a lot have not so hot engineers...some even are going for that 'traditional' vibe with 2" and analog and great mic lockers....very very few are making any money....and they'er doing work...for zilch...nada....i have a 'low-end' facility....its ready to go...its every thing a demo minded songwriter could want....anything gearwise i dont have i can rent or borrow....i have a nice fridge....a big-screen in the 'lounge'..a golf course in the back yard....parking gallor....privacy....a view.....i know how my gear works and i dont mind trying out different things...i have a very very good patchbay system...a very decent stereo cue with cans for 6 or more......a perfect $25/hr set-up.........why in heavens name would i want to become one of the 80 who dont make a dime at it?....its all paid for....i do have a tax number and a business license....i write off all our time every year making demos of our stuff.......why would i want to screw that up.......it is a good question though ,bear.....i have fond memories of when there was a studio for hire and i was a big part of it......but never again......i would, however work for someone else in THEIR room...as an engineer or producer...let them take on the headache....................................!tut
Old 30th January 2003
  #15
Jay,
You are describing the upper end of 'low end'.
I'm with Alpha and Saucyjack. The original question was what was the minimum?
I've worked in a lot of studios that only had a handful of battered mics, one cue system, 2 or 3 pairs of headphones. Lots of studios survive despite not being able to track drums for example.
I've used 'low end' studios particularly for recording vocals or saxes etc... because I can't make much noise at home - despite having much better gear than the average low ender.
Old 30th January 2003
  #16
Old 30th January 2003
  #17
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

yeah, a lot of the posts i have read so far seem to be more on the upper low to mid end studios.... LOW end is the bare necessities to get sound to a medium. a computer running cool edit pro and the stock sound card could suffice.
Old 30th January 2003
  #18
Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk
LOW end is the bare necessities to get sound to a medium.
In the context of this thread I'd define it as the bare minimum to attract a few paying customers.
In the UK that can mean;
a couple of old Adats
a 16 channel desk
a couple of mics
at least one set of headphones
an amp and speakers
and a computer for sequencing and cd burning.
Old 30th January 2003
  #19
Gear Addict
 
Curious G's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
Hidden costs and hassles? Insurance. Office supplys. Bottled water for clients because no one will drink from the tap, entertainment (video games or new magazines), permits, collecting and paying taxes, rent. Making sure the landlord doesn't sell the building out from under you.... Still tempted?
I have to laugh 'cause it's all so true. Makes the post office look like a good career choice!

But on the low low end I guess a couple omnis, a set of cans and a DA-P20 dat deck (or 2 track recorder of some type w/mic inputs) would get you there for basic live recording. I go on remotes with a similar set up pretty regularly.
Old 30th January 2003
  #20
Lives for gear
 
Midlandmorgan's Avatar
 

A friend of mine has a Sony 4 track mini disc recorder, SM57, el cheapo Yamaha processor (EX500?) and a piecemeal 486 computer with a Midiman stereo sound card...don't know his software...anyway, this guy is making songwriter demos for less than it costs for me to open the doors...

Get this: he bought the minidisc for $50.00, picked the mic out of a music store dumpster, soldered one wire to get it functioning perfectly...all in all I think he's got about $200.00 in it...
Old 30th January 2003
  #21
Lives for gear
 
Steve Smith's Avatar
 

I think the first thing you need to find is a market.

If there a a bunch of small/low end studios in your aera, find out what they have and what they charge... What are the local plyers looking for? If it is like here and they can go to someones basemennt 32 track computer based studio for about 15-20 an hour, you have to decide if you want to compete or surpass that..

after you figure that out, the gear is easy..

Or, if you are just looking for a side gig, get the "Alpha/Saucy" setup and rock out baby! ( as a side note, in your market ( wherever that is) that setup may be the bomb.. who knows!)
Old 30th January 2003
  #22
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by chrisso
Jay,
You are describing the upper end of 'low end'.
I'm with Alpha and Saucyjack. The original question was what was the minimum?
Minimum? Whatever gets sound to a medium. The easiet way to go is a decent pair of mics. At least SM81's, a preamp and a DAT machine or other 2-track medium.

But call me old school, I think a studio that wants to record live music should have enough gear to record a whole band playing at the same time without doing overdubs. Of couse doing dance or hip-hop is a totally different thing. But if you want to record a four piece band you need at least a dozen mics and probably 16 tracks to compete. Sure, you could do it with 8 but with everyother studio offering 64 tracks of digital who's going to go with the 8-track guy?

Go ahead, ask me why I bought a 2" 24 rather then a 2" 16, even though the 2" 16 sounds better and is cheaper. If your going to be in business you need to compete and offer people something that they don't have or don't have access to. Lots of people don't think about the quality of the engineer and just look at the equipment list.
Old 30th January 2003
  #23
Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
Lots of people don't think about the quality of the engineer and just look at the equipment list.
And even beyond that the rate card....
Old 30th January 2003
  #24
Gear Maniac
 

With everyone having access to some type of cost effective digital medium for home recording today. At some point the focus has to come back to listening and the quality of an engineer for doing his/her job.

The problem is I don't think that people listen to music like they once did. Maybe its my age group and kids today do listen but it seems like music is more for background music to life. People just don't sit and listen to music like they sit and watch TV. Even live bands don't have the draw like they once did in this (rural) area. Maybe it is just me.

jason
Old 31st January 2003
  #25
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Nah, it's not just where you are. I was talking to the owner of the Stanhope House tonight (www.stanhopehouse.com) and she was trying to figure out what direction to go in over the next year because the bands aren't drawing like they used to. I've been doing sound there on and off over about 4 years and attendance is way down. I think the best selling show that's been there since October was the North Mississippi All-stars which drew about 200 people on a Tuesday night. Tonight the band drew about 50 people but they're a local band who plays there once a month. Still, it's sad to see a major B-level venue with attendance like that.

And I do get salvage projects from bands that record themselves. The smarter ones know when to give up and let someone else take over or call for help. Some people still realize the value of the engineer but it's getting more and more rare.
Old 31st January 2003
  #26
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
It seems like most of the low end studio issues have been addressed.

But remember the one important thing you will need for your "low end" studio,

And that is....


A lot of "low end" cash to make it so! heh
Old 31st January 2003
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

Has anyone had good luck raising cash from outside sources (banks, family, whatever) or are you putting on the credit card? Maybe you have bought over time and are not in dept over it. I am interested in what direction you have gone and if you feel it was worth doing.

jason
Old 31st January 2003
  #28
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by jspartz
Has anyone had good luck raising cash from outside sources (banks, family, whatever) or are you putting on the credit card? Maybe you have bought over time and are not in dept over it. I am interested in what direction you have gone and if you feel it was worth doing.

jason
The first place I look for funds when I buy new goodies is in my own "future's market." Based on my confirmed future gigs, I bang up the cards and/or reach in the "boot" to buy what I need. Then, I pay it back in full when the bread comes in from the client. This practice may limit your buying spree, but it keeps you safe.

You can build a nice credit line with the card companies this way. You become one of the 2%'ers that pay in full. Believe it or not, they like seeing you pay it in full, since their big profit comes from the 98%'res that pay on time at a "nice" interest rate.

IMO, by paying your balance on time, in time it can build your credit line very well. The card companies love to up your credit line hoping you'll eventually met your match and pay your balance monthly at that "nice" rate. Keep in mind, when you pay on time, every time, your interest rate can come down dramatically. It's nice to buy your gear at 0% percentage financing over 6 or so months.

This pratice helps build your credit line, so you can easily borrow from any outside source. Banks and such look at your credit history when making their decision.

It's worth doing when proper thought has gone into it. The mismanagement of a budget can be a real bummer.
Old 31st January 2003
  #29
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Totally. I've bought a few things with the Scam Cash and Banjo Depot cards when they offer 12 or 15 months at 0%. I'll go in and buy something nice & big that I normally wouldn't have been able to buy and then chip away it with $50 or $100 a month over the year making one big lump at the end to pay the final balance. But like Steve said, that interest can catch up real quick if you aren't careful. Everything I own has been purchased a little at a time over 6 or more years. With the exception of a $14K loan (on the console and downpayments on the now defunct space) I paid cash for almost everything.
Old 1st February 2003
  #30
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

good thing interest can be deducted.... of course my credit is in the ****ter although no fault from the gear purchases.
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