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Upgrade time! (Baby Steps)
Old 9th November 2009
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
npulsipher's Avatar
Upgrade time! (Baby Steps)

Hallelujah! I'm finally in a position where I can start upgrading my gear! I don't have a ton of extra dough, but I've got enough that I can upgrade one piece of gear... ...wish I could do it all in one swoop but such is the life of a college student.

My problem is that I don't know what will be the most beneficial to the overall sound of my recordings. I do mostly small chamber groups and church choirs and with my current setup I get way to much room noise and the ever so wonderful background hiss because I have to turn up my mic gain really high to hear everything in a chamber setting.

My current setup is mics to usb interface to laptop. I'm not giving out anymore detail cause I'm too ashamed of it all and frankly anything would be better. (To any other beginners out there DON"T EVER GO TO GUITAR CENTER! You'll regret it.)

So what do you all think would do me the most good? New mics, or a new interface? I was also considering adding a mixer just cause I hate having to use a mouse to adjust levels and eq. (i.e. the new mackie onyx i series looks pretty sweet, but would they work for what I'm doing?)

Thanks!
Old 9th November 2009
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Heartfelt's Avatar
Hey there.

There is no shame in starting out. You will find many, many opinions. Lots of folks agree on a few things. Get your monitoring up to par, including treating your room because if what you hear isn't accurate (or relatively accurate) mixing will be a chore. From there, most agree to start at the mic and work your way down.

Hope that helps a tiny bit... no offense, TiNy.
Rob
Old 9th November 2009
  #3
Gear Nut
 
Jan1973's Avatar
To answer your question it would be good to know what you already have.

I'm doing mostly quite similar jobs, and on location I'm quite happy with my stereo mic setup (Oktava 012) and an EMU 0404 mic pre and A/D.

While I agree you sometimes have to turn up the gain quite some and get background noise (mostly people coughing), I never had much hiss or constant noise on my recordings, although I record from quite unfavorable mic positions sometimes due to the restrictions put on us by the priest. One solution I sometimes implement is a second stage of preamps. Works a treat even though its a pair of Behringer MIC200...

What changed a lot for me quiality-wise indeed - just like Heartfelt mentioned, was the monitoring setup at home. I recently bought a pair of "Yamaha MSP5 Studio" monitors - what a difference to my 2.1 Altec Lansing setup! Now I can hear what's going on in the recordings.

Future plans include decent pres and A/D, namely a Focusrite ISA828 with the add-on converter card. That'll allow for parallel recording of 8 tracks. Then an Alesis HD24 as a backup (in parallel to recording straight into the laptop) and some more mics (a second pair of Oktavas - multi pattern this time, probably a pair of Rode M3s, then we'll see, maybe a pair of higher end mics - dpa comes to mind).

But for that step we're looking at 4200 Euros plus... so it'll take some time. I will probably start with the HD24, because the thing I'm nervous about most is a hard drive head crash. So backup is my priority one, as I'm quite happy with the results already and so are my clients.

If you already have a nice listening environment and half-way decent recording equipment, I'd go for a backup solution, namely a hard disk recorder plus laptop setup.
Old 9th November 2009
  #4
Gear Nut
 
rockstheparty's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by npulsipher View Post

So what do you all think would do me the most good? New mics, or a new interface? I was also considering adding a mixer just cause I hate having to use a mouse to adjust levels and eq. (i.e. the new mackie onyx i series looks pretty sweet, but would they work for what I'm doing?)

Thanks!
if it were me, audio interface would be first. I've made that mistake before and, never again! Depending on your step up, it can make an enormous difference.
Old 9th November 2009
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
npulsipher's Avatar
Thanks for your suggestions so far! I probably also should have mentioned that I'm trying to stay around $350. I know that's not a lot, especially when you're trying to buy gear, but that's all I got.

I guess it would also swallow my pride and tell you what gear i'm using now so you can tell me what absolutely has to go. I've got a Line 6 UX2 (talk about monitoring problems! The thing hisses like a banshee if you turn the headphones up past 9 o'clock!) and MXL's 990/991 package.
Old 9th November 2009
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
ChrisCummins's Avatar
 

Here's my opinion:

First priority should be spend some money on building room treatments, this will solve your room noise problem, and if you record in the same room you monitor in, this will also radically improve your monitoring at the same time. Also, arrange your room optimally for acoustics (read Ethan's articles on acoustics for info). This should produce the best increase in record quality for the money spent (DIY acoustic treatment is very cheap, compared to see gear upgrading).

For now, you could use software/plugins to filter out hiss. Next upgrade would be replacing whatever piece of gear it is that provides that hiss, so you now have low noise recordings in a good room. When cash can be spared, upgrade the monitors so you are hearing accurately what you are recordings.

Finally, within the constraints of your budget, set about upgrading each piece of gear with better suited gear for your application, chosing them for their sonic quality.

Hopefully that's some help.
Regards
Old 10th November 2009
  #7
Lives for gear
 
rty5150's Avatar
 

get those rooms sounding good, there is no excuse to record a crappy room. get it right at the source!
Old 10th November 2009
  #8
Lives for gear
 
David C.'s Avatar
 

I've made loads of great live recordings with an AT 822 mic straight into a dat machine. I'd look into the EMU interface and then try and pick up a good stereo mic.
Old 10th November 2009
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
npulsipher's Avatar
I should also clarify that I do my recording on location in either churches or recital halls.
Old 10th November 2009
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
ChrisCummins's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by npulsipher View Post
I should also clarify that I do my recording on location in either churches or recital halls.
Ah, in which case, you should be researching and practicing our mic technique so as to learn how to record in a room like that without picking up all that room sound you're getting.

Regards
Old 10th November 2009
  #11
Lives for gear
 
rty5150's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by npulsipher View Post
I should also clarify that I do my recording on location in either churches or recital halls.
build gobos and bring them with you to the site. control the reflections and you can place them rather inconspicuously.
Old 11th November 2009
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
npulsipher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kittyflipping View Post
if it were me, audio interface would be first. I've made that mistake before and, never again! Depending on your step up, it can make an enormous difference.
If I do decide to upgrade the interface, what would you suggest? I was looking at the E-MUs that have been suggested to me a few times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heartfelt View Post
Hey there.

From there, most agree to start at the mic and work your way down.


Rob
Any suggestions? I've heard a couple really nice samples in other threads of paired Avantone ck1s, also heard some good things about m-audio pulsarIIs?
Old 11th November 2009
  #13
Lives for gear
 
David C.'s Avatar
 

The trick is mics way way up in the air and pointed towards the performance. Much above the talking and banter and crowd noise. I used to wire my stereo mic to drop ceilings in clubs and run the wire back to my dat.

I would invest in a tall tripod thing if you're recording in auditoriums or high ceiling places just to get the mics away from the crowd.
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