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7,000 dollar budget for project studio HELP Dynamic Microphones
Old 6th March 2011
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HermanV's Avatar

Thread Starter
7,000 dollar budget for project studio HELP

I friend of mine is putting together a "studio" in his condo and he needs help working around a small budget. I will be able to use the set up whenever I want since I am putting it together. We will be doing mostly singer/songwriter material and recording occasional rappers.
Despite the small budget we hope to achieve very good quality recordings that we can use as demos'

Anybody have any suggestions?
Old 6th March 2011
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Old 6th March 2011
Gear Head

Acoustic treatment, solid computer, good interface, decent mic's, and lots of practice using what you have to get the best.
Old 6th March 2011
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subby33's Avatar

Decent monitors, decent headphones, a powerful computer, decent mics, treat your room.

We cant tell you how to build a studio . . . there's a lot of research behind it.

Look up "Tweakz Guide" on google. That's a good starting point.
Old 6th March 2011
Gear maniac

Actually, my home studio is used for very similar work so I can probably help you...

Let me start by saying you can make a record...real productions...with the setup below. This is overkill for a "demo" studio...if you want to make demos, get an MBox and 2 SM57's.

Here goes...

Since you're only going to need a few channels, I think a good start would be:

iMac ($1200)
Apogee Duet ($500)
Logic ($500)

So, you're at $2200

You'll need mics to plug into that setup...the Shures are always a good way to start, and they are mics you'll never grow out of..


The 57 around the 12th fret with the SM7 on vocals should be great for the singer/songwriter stuff. All 3 mics should work great for rap vocals.

You can get all 3 for $550 new. Now you're at $2750.

You'll want to make your room sound decent...A few GIK screen panels (self-standing moveable "vocal booths") and a few absorbers ($800) should help. No construction necessary and these make a HUGE difference. I know.

By the way, this is not for "sound proofing." You'll still blow up the neighborhood with loud amps, drums, etc.



You'll need monitors and a few pairs of phones, and (maybe) a "hub" to interface your monitoring setup together...this is a good idea, especially with a Duet that has only one knob to control everything and one headphone out. The Presonus Monitor Station ($350) does this well, and it has a talkback mic which makes producing a lot nicer.


This, like everything else audio, is not just based on quality, but application and taste...and really what you get used to. I have been using Event 20/20's (which get unfairly s*** on in this forum) for about 8 years...they were $900 new. They're discontinued and can be had for $300 for the set on Craiglist...that's a steal.

That said, you can look into something new like the Adam A7's...that'll be $1200 for the pair.

You'll probably want a few pairs of phones...I use the Audio Technica ATH-M50's which are fantastic, both quality and value...It'll be $320 for both.

So now (if you go with the new Adams) you're at $5,420. Not bad.

Put aside a few hundred for cabling and miscellaneous (a book to teach you how to use Logic, a few cheap stands, lava lamps, etc.), and you're at $6,000....

That leaves you another $1,000 for a "money" preamp....I'd go the Great River ME-1NV. If, however, you are a singer songwriter without a decent axe, take the 1K and pick up a used Martin D18...that'll do a lot more for your studio than a mic preamp.

And that setup is t*ts...good luck.
Old 6th March 2011
Gear Head

Go to a hardware store and buy some rockwool, make your own bass traps. And make your own reflection panels, it will save money, and it's really not that hard.
Old 6th March 2011
Gear Maniac
popote_jr's Avatar

WB1984's answer covers it all...almost.

You'll need at least one LDC and one SDC, preferably a stereo pair of the later.

Condensers bring a different flavor to instruments and vocals than dynamics, which the shure's are.

Maybe an at4047 for LDC and two blue spark (180$ each) for SDC's would be a good start.

If you need more simultaneous inputs, ditch the duet and go for a motu.

If you want another flavor of mic, you can try a ribbon. They work wonders on vocals.

My 2 cents.
Old 6th March 2011
Gear nut

Here's what you should research. what mics you will NEED not what you would like so no u87's. An interface. Mic pre(halfway decent one if you want). The computer and DAW. dont forget about sound absorbsion. Also do not forget about a desk to put your computer and gear on, a few chairs, CABLES, mic stands, cue box, headphones, and some monitors.
Old 6th March 2011
Gear Maniac

Where's the fun in all that?

If your friend is actually trying to blow 7k on a studio, I doubt he's looking to end up with no mics over $400 each. People have egos to feed and studios need some glitz to attract the occasional potential customer, paid or otherwise.

While it's true that with solid apogee converters, one Neve channel, good monitoring and soundproofing and a selection of dependable dynamic mics, one would have an easy time making good demos, it's also true that you're not going to convince a lot of people to use a studio where all the front end is stuff they could buy for themselves.

Ask instead how to spend 5k on a good studio, and then look around for how far 2k can take you on the used condenser mic market. I used to see U87s under that ceiling all the time. Wish I'd snapped one up. Wonder what's currently at that mark that will end up growing in reputation and/or value. I bet it used to be U47s.

I'm sure if you search for five minutes you'll find a ton of "best mic under 2k" threads. Anything close to that ceiling is going to be amazing.

DIY all the sound treatment you can. There's an ipod/phone app for rtas to check how the room is EQed. That will give you an idea of where to start changing the room acoustics.

Better yet, build a vocal booth with your friend, since it sounds like everything you're doing would fit in a booth, and you can get louder within small apartment walls if you put up more walls, even closer between them. That turns the whole room into an "insulating space" where the source vocal reverberates and dies out before your firend's neighbors hear a thing. It also keeps your friend's neighbors off your recordings.

But don't spend 7k on professional room treatment and leave only one SM7 as the cherry on top. Yes, most of Thriller was cut on SM7s, but it was cut on six of them, and a bunch of other mics, going into the most expensive tube mixer the world has ever seen.

If this were me, looking to spend 7k to turn a room into a studio, I'd start watching ebay and find out the price of reel to reel tape machines to get some old school mojo and Millennia/True/Earthworks preamps to get some modern clean tones.

I'd look for a DIY vocal booth plan, because everything you're doing sounds like it happens with one person singing and another person producing, and you can get louder and more natural in an apartment if you add some extra walls in the middle of the room.

I'd look at 1k of high grade, hand-made vocal booth (floated floor, space below the ceiling, no parallel surfaces, heavy plywood wrapped in rock-wool or heavy pvc, some room treatment inside), 2k of great vocal mic, 1-2k of great preamps and 2k of standard project studio. I'm sure you can search and find a ton of threads on how to build a workable project studio with 1k or 2k. You'll probably want to add a decent headphone amp with a couple of headphone extension cables running into the booth.

Yes, the above posts have a lot of good sense in terms of suggesting that you ultimately can't make good demos without at least decent tools in a lot of different areas, but I'm assuming that someone who starts a studio with seven grand is going to have a dime here and there in the future to add to it and make it better down the line. I'm also assuming that for that kind of an investment he wants a couple awesome things that he can point to right away and say, "look at this amazing studio."

To me, a properly insulated vocal booth with heavy-duty bass blocking outside and a few natural wood surfaces inside to give it a bit of sweet reverb... that would be pretty amazing.

A fancy, expensive microphone hanging inside it and a little window to give the producer a thumb's up after a good take... that says "come over and ask nicely if you can use my amazing studio."

Fancy foam room dividers say, "ask if you can borrow my fancy foam room dividers." Which might be more your style, since it's not your studio anyway, but I'd still rather be able to borrow a kicking vocal booth with an amazing mic and a great preamp than a whole lot of above average stuff.

With a great preamp and a great mic, you can put down great tracks. Then if it really blows up, you can get them mixed somewhere that has $10k monitors and racks of proper mixing equipment. Or if it kind of blows up, you can go and start upgrading your own stuff. But with 7k, you want to figure out one strength your studio is going to have and develop that. If that strength is "tracking singers and guitarists," then you need 1-2 channels of great mic/preamp and a good booth. Who cares how new your computer is?
Old 7th March 2011
Gear Maniac

Originally Posted by Swedishsteel View Post
Here's what you should research. what mics you will NEED not what you would like so no u87's. An interface. Mic pre(halfway decent one if you want). The computer and DAW. dont forget about sound absorbsion. Also do not forget about a desk to put your computer and gear on, a few chairs, CABLES, mic stands, cue box, headphones, and some monitors.

CABLES. Often looked over but very important as well. Acoustic treatment also. But think the latter over thoroughly and use expertise. Sure basstraps etc. are very necessary, but what about the total picture; meaning high frequenty vs mid vs low, all should be balanced in order to mix well.
Old 7th March 2011
Gear maniac

I don't disagree with any of the advice's all good.

I agree with the DIY and used can free up money for more gear like the LDC mentioned above.

I also agree with Eli. If you're looking to rent out that studio, the equipment I suggest above wont 't sell it. Not to mention, having a legendary LDC (or one of the modern adaptions, e.g. Peluso) would be great.

Just a few considerations.....With an active thread about the SM7 being overhyped, I don't wish to add to "its hype" ... but the mic is ridiculous for $350 and should be great for the applications you list for the studio, at least for now (as mentioned above, you can always upgrade as you go). It's known to shine on up-front and aggressive music like an example, here's one of my side projects (and also the last song I finished that is ready to print)...the 3 lead vocals parts are all the SM7 > Great River > Duet: Do not play this track around kids

And here's a good example of what it can sound like on a "singer/songwriter" YouTube - Laredo (Live In Studio) - Kenneth Pattengale

Anyway, a lot to think about and a lot of good advice in here.
Old 7th March 2011
Gear maniac

Oh, and for the singer/songwriter's a demo I put together here for my buddy...

Lead vocal,SM7

Acoustic guitar (tracked live with vocal), Blue Ball, of all mics..

Harmony overdub, SM7

Amp overdub, SM7
Attached Files

Wild Heart.mp3 (1.56 MB, 111 views)

Old 7th March 2011
Lives for gear
KeithMoonwannabe's Avatar

7k is more than enough to get a good setup for a singer songwriter for demo purposes if this was starting a commercial studio I'd give you a different answer but what I'm about to tell you will get you where you want without spending unnecessary amounts of money.

I'd suggest a simple interface with no frills. Unless you guys really foresee tracking a bunch of sources at once in the near future in which case I'd suggest a Mackie Onyx Blackbird $500.

IE Mackie Onyx Blackjack or EMU 0404 usb. $150-$200

That will give you adequate preamplification and conversion for your purposes everything else you guys would need should be done ITB on your budget because for demos you simply don't need anything more and spending low budgets on outboard gear won't really get you a better sound.

Do you guys have a computer if not pick one up. Mac or PC doesn't make a scrap of difference.

You will also need recording software you can license a copy of Reaper pretty cheap. Both interfaces I mentioned include recording software. If you guys really want pro compatibility it'd probably be best to get the Mackie as it works with Pro Tools 9. Obviously when you get into software like PT, Logic, etc they become more expensive so this is a variable cost. I don't agree that more expensive will necessarily do you any better it's just a matter of your preferences.

Do you guys want the ability to do like sampling and midi? If so you'll want to pickup a midi controller and some software like reason.

Next I'd suggest building a mic locker that will compliment a range of sources since vocals and acoustic guitars are primary I'd suggest simply seeing what works best for those applications. You'll probably want to get a dynamic tailored for voice, a pair of SDC for stereo miking, a ribbon mic for a smoother flavor, and a LDC for brighter flavor. (I like Shure mics but I think for this application all dynamics is the wrong approach to take as all three of those mics are variations on each other and they really aren't the best tools for the task unless you want less detail and less room in the recording).

If it were me I'd probably suggest the following mics
AT4047 MP (multi patterns will come in handy, esp for minimal recordings where you may experiement with different stereo mikings this mic also has a great sound it's neutral with a hint of vibe so you can track just about anything with this honestly if your budget would allow I'd suggest getting a pair of these that way you can do a pair of omnis, blumlein stereo, etc)
AT4041 pair (if you guys track acoustic instruments or drums at any given time you will probably need a good pair of SDC at your disposal and these are definitely a good buy I've seen them as low as $360 a pair and that was this week)
Cascade Fathead II or Shinybox 46 (preferably with Lundahl tranny this will give you a great distinct flavor for vocals and acoustic instruments and a wonderful pairing to your dynamic mic should you need to track electric guitar)
E/V RE-20 or Shure SM7b (they work great for vocals, guitar cabs, bass cabs, etc)
that mic locker should cost you under 2k and would definitely give you excellent results and more importantly a good variety of flavors to experiment with and these will all be capable of getting you professional results.

I think room treatment is probably the best investment you guys can make so I'd suggest doing a search or starting a thread in that section with dimensions of the environment you'll be using. The DIY will be much cheaper and you can tailor the room however you want. Spend your money here! Because if the room doesn't sound good your recording will never truly flourish.

From there don't forget stands, cables, furnishings, etc.

Best of luck to you. But I'm sure my proposal came in way under your desired budget put the rest of the money into savings or go get a drink and a nice meal. Spending tons of money doesn't always make the end result that much better. Because 95% of a great recording happens with the performer and the room the last 5% is just the ability of the engineer to use the tools at their disposal to capture that magic.
Old 7th March 2011
Lives for gear
HermanV's Avatar

Thread Starter
Thank you guys so much for your suggestionsheh

Me and my friend will be making some panels this week as well as figuring out how we are going to build a booth inside this room since there is enough space. He already has a very nice desk and a Mac pro and we decided we're going to go with pro tools 9 and we are still debating on buying a RME Fireface interface since it is pretty expensive for a firewire interface.

We have Shure sm7's and Neumann TLM, Mojave Audio MA-200, and AKG 414 microphones in mind.
Old 7th March 2011
Lives for gear
KeithMoonwannabe's Avatar

seriously you guys have some nice ideas but the problem I'm seeing with your mic selection is repetition.
Get some stark contrast going.

I'd say pick your favorite LDC (either the TLM or the Mojave), your favorite LDD (SM7b), a pair of SDC (like the AT4041 I suggested, other decent options would be SM81, Oktava MK012, etc), and a ribbon (if you want to sepnd more than a Cascade Fathead or Shinybox look at Beyerdynamic, AEA, Audio-Technica, etc).

Because from an artist's and engineer's standpoint you will get more variety of tones to work with this way.

Being able to switch from one LDC to another LDC isn't going to have the same effect as going from say a TLM103 to a Shinybox 46 MXL or to a Shure SM7b. Obviously any of these mics including a pair of SDC would also highly benefit recording acoustic guitar with a multitude of flavors.

What good is owning a bunch of mics if they all essentially meet the same criteria? You never know what different pieces and projects will call for so seriously it's better to have different paints to throw on the canvas than a variation of the same color.
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