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[Needs reality check] Building out first recording/mixing studio Condenser Microphones
Old 28th December 2017
  #1
Here for the gear
[Needs reality check] Building out first recording/mixing studio

Hi all! :: New to this forum, been lurking for a while though. Always appreciate the depth of experience and knowledge here, and feel right at home among so many others who take their gear perhaps a little too seriously

I NEED YOUR HELP.

I think I either have a serious emotional problem, or a hobby that's becoming a job I'll lose money working at. I need a reality check, and this seems like the perfect place to ask for that. While I'm sure you all can help with selecting gear (and I welcome any suggestions you might have), I'm even more interested in your professional experience, hearing if I'm crazy or not, and if there is perhaps a better way to accomplish what (I think) I'm setting out to do: Build a small home studio.

Some background: I've been doing live sound for small groups, mostly informal, for 10+ years, and have been dabbling in recording, mixing/remixing, video sound, etc. for about as long. I'm also a part time musician/performer, voiceover artist, and touring festival DJ. I went shopping for a good microphone recently and went off the flipping deep end I'm sure most of you can relate!!

At this point, I haven't spent any money yet. It's difficult to tell if I've been researching with gear lust or been brainwashed by marketing, but I went out to spend ~$1,500 on one or two good mics, and after three restless nights scouring the internet for shootouts, gear reviews, DIY forums, YouTube tutorials and reading probably 20+ hours of select GS threads, my shopping cart at sweetwater has close to $25,000 worth of gear in it. WTF.

I have a tiny bit of money saved up to play with (<$10,000) and really want to maximize what I can do at home, but I can't afford everything all at once. I'm thinking I'd like to build out a small isolation booth for recording solo vocals, voiceovers, guitarists & other instrumentalists. I want to build around an amazing mic, and not skimp where I don't have to.

I'm thinking of doing this in phases, adding to everything after I've saved more money, and I'd love feedback on my thinking & strategy. Feel free to tell me I'm full of **** or whatever, I'm not thin skinned... but please do not confuse me for a professional who ought to know better! I'm an enthusiast, who wants to do more V/O work as a part time gig and have fun recording myself and friends in his spare time. Bang for buck is a consideration, and I'm handy and enjoy building, so I'd rather put my money towards INCREDIBLE sounding equipment than on expensive treatments (though I do know and value acoustic treatment!)

What I have so far:

Interafce & Recording Equipment
Apollo Twin DUO (Thunderbolt / MKi)
Zoom f4
Ableton Live 9 Suite
Komplete 10
Mackie XR824 (x2) monitors
Furman PL-8C power conditioner
Macbook Pro (2014)
Westone UM Pro 30 IEM

Microphones
Sure Beta58a
Sure Beta87a
Sure 57 (x2)
Violet Goldfinger (x2)
Sennheiser 416

Here's what I'm thinking for phase 1:

Build out my garage with a vocal isolation booth & mixing station
($1-3,000)

Acoustic treatment (bass traps, diffusers, etc)
soundproofing
hvac improvements

Purchase hardware
(~$7,000)

Chandler Limited REDD Microphone
SE Electronics Reflexion Filter Pro
Apollo Twin QUAD MKii (w/ Black Lion Mod)
+ Additional UAD plugins
PreSonus FaderPort
PreSonus Monitor Station V2

Phase 2 (ongoing):

Purchase tons of more hardware
($$$$$$$)

Universal Audio 4710d
Warm Audio TB12 (x2)
Stam SA-2A (x2)
Universal Audio 8p (w/ Black Lion Mod)
Universal Audio UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt OCTO
Schoeps CMC64 (x2 matched)
Warm Audio WA-14
Stam SA-87 (x2)
Sure SMB7

*******

So does this make sense? Am I crazy to spend this much on a hobby - and should I try to justify these purchases by creating a studio at home that's worth renting out? Is there anything I'm missing here that would improve the sound I'll get dramatically -- or subtly? Are there opportunity costs I'm missing out on in other parts of my life that ought to take precedence?

Hoping to hear from some more seasoned pros who have more perspective on life, the industry, etc. Thanks in advance!
Old 28th December 2017
  #2
Lives for gear
 
FreshProduce's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenDragon View Post
Hi all! :: New to this forum, been lurking for a while though. Always appreciate the depth of experience and knowledge here, and feel right at home among so many others who take their gear perhaps a little too seriously

I NEED YOUR HELP.

I think I either have a serious emotional problem, or a hobby that's becoming a job I'll lose money working at. I need a reality check, and this seems like the perfect place to ask for that. While I'm sure you all can help with selecting gear (and I welcome any suggestions you might have), I'm even more interested in your professional experience, hearing if I'm crazy or not, and if there is perhaps a better way to accomplish what (I think) I'm setting out to do: Build a small home studio.

Some background: I've been doing live sound for small groups, mostly informal, for 10+ years, and have been dabbling in recording, mixing/remixing, video sound, etc. for about as long. I'm also a part time musician/performer, voiceover artist, and touring festival DJ. I went shopping for a good microphone recently and went off the flipping deep end I'm sure most of you can relate!!

At this point, I haven't spent any money yet. It's difficult to tell if I've been researching with gear lust or been brainwashed by marketing, but I went out to spend ~$1,500 on one or two good mics, and after three restless nights scouring the internet for shootouts, gear reviews, DIY forums, YouTube tutorials and reading probably 20+ hours of select GS threads, my shopping cart at sweetwater has close to $25,000 worth of gear in it. WTF.

I have a tiny bit of money saved up to play with (<$10,000) and really want to maximize what I can do at home, but I can't afford everything all at once. I'm thinking I'd like to build out a small isolation booth for recording solo vocals, voiceovers, guitarists & other instrumentalists. I want to build around an amazing mic, and not skimp where I don't have to.

I'm thinking of doing this in phases, adding to everything after I've saved more money, and I'd love feedback on my thinking & strategy. Feel free to tell me I'm full of **** or whatever, I'm not thin skinned... but please do not confuse me for a professional who ought to know better! I'm an enthusiast, who wants to do more V/O work as a part time gig and have fun recording myself and friends in his spare time. Bang for buck is a consideration, and I'm handy and enjoy building, so I'd rather put my money towards INCREDIBLE sounding equipment than on expensive treatments (though I do know and value acoustic treatment!)

What I have so far:

Interafce & Recording Equipment
Apollo Twin DUO (Thunderbolt / MKi)
Zoom f4
Ableton Live 9 Suite
Komplete 10
Mackie XR824 (x2) monitors
Furman PL-8C power conditioner
Macbook Pro (2014)
Westone UM Pro 30 IEM

Microphones
Sure Beta58a
Sure Beta87a
Sure 57 (x2)
Violet Goldfinger (x2)
Sennheiser 416

Here's what I'm thinking for phase 1:

Build out my garage with a vocal isolation booth & mixing station
($1-3,000)

Acoustic treatment (bass traps, diffusers, etc)
soundproofing
hvac improvements

Purchase hardware
(~$7,000)

Chandler Limited REDD Microphone
SE Electronics Reflexion Filter Pro
Apollo Twin QUAD MKii (w/ Black Lion Mod)
+ Additional UAD plugins
PreSonus FaderPort
PreSonus Monitor Station V2

Phase 2 (ongoing):

Purchase tons of more hardware
($$$$$$$)

Universal Audio 4710d
Warm Audio TB12 (x2)
Stam SA-2A (x2)
Universal Audio 8p (w/ Black Lion Mod)
Universal Audio UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt OCTO
Schoeps CMC64 (x2 matched)
Warm Audio WA-14
Stam SA-87 (x2)
Sure SMB7

*******

So does this make sense? Am I crazy to spend this much on a hobby - and should I try to justify these purchases by creating a studio at home that's worth renting out? Is there anything I'm missing here that would improve the sound I'll get dramatically -- or subtly? Are there opportunity costs I'm missing out on in other parts of my life that ought to take precedence?

Hoping to hear from some more seasoned pros who have more perspective on life, the industry, etc. Thanks in advance!
Even some pros might offer advise that wouldn't suit your specific circumstances and lifestyle. With that being said, take everything you read in this thread with a grain of salt, if you will.

As far as renting out goes, you're not in control of who is attracted to your space. Most people wouldn't want strangers fiddling around in their studio, being that you have no way of telling if they even have proper studio edicate or not. Or if they're a closet clepto. (Ive heard plenty of horror stories about peoples entire studios getting robbed by clientele) you don't wanna spend 10k just to have it stolen by some piece of **** who can't earn what he wants the right way.

Spending 20k on a personal studio is a dream for many more 'amatuer' artists than you'd think. (I do Not want to turn this thread into yet another 'pro vs amatuer' cess pool)

I would highly recommend building a floating room if you intend on spending some serious money on gear and acoustics. There are cheap solutions to achieving this, and it would make a world of difference in your recordings. (Probably as much if not more than any diffusion or bass traps that you could construct)

Take it one step at a time. Rome wasn't built in a day and you will want to spend time becoming familiar with your gear anyway. I, for one wouldn't be able to handle dropping my savings on all the gear I want at once, being that I'd want to play with it all at once and would end up preventing myself from learning each piece of gear in a reasonable amount of time.. but to each their own. Still.. One step at a time.

Hope this aids you in your journey brother.

Happy new years
Old 28th December 2017
  #3
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreshProduce View Post
Spending 20k on a personal studio is a dream for many more 'amatuer' artists than you'd think.
I think I can pretty clearly see how this happened to me - I dreamed of success in the music industry, and when that didn't materialize, my ego said "Well, *I'm* amazing, it must be that I don't have good gear!"

Upgrading to better gear has made such a huge difference in my creations, in my sound - but it hasn't exactly been profitable!! It's so addictive...

Quote:
Originally Posted by FreshProduce View Post
I would highly recommend building a floating room if you intend on spending some serious money on gear and acoustics. There are cheap solutions to achieving this, and it would make a world of difference in your recordings.
I've heard a little bit about this, I'll peruse the forum more and hit up youtube! Thanks!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by FreshProduce View Post
Take it one step at a time. Rome wasn't built in a day and you will want to spend time becoming familiar with your gear anyway.
@FreshProduce - Yes. Good point. One step at a time. If you were in my shoes, where would you start? I don't mind opinions, or I wouldn't have posted on Gearslutz I know it depends on one's goals, and in my case that's achieving studio quality female and male vocals & voiceovers.
Old 28th December 2017
  #4
Lives for gear
 
FreshProduce's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenDragon View Post
I think I can pretty clearly see how this happened to me - I dreamed of success in the music industry, and when that didn't materialize, my ego said "Well, *I'm* amazing, it must be that I don't have good gear!"

Upgrading to better gear has made such a huge difference in my creations, in my sound - but it hasn't exactly been profitable!! It's so addictive...



I've heard a little bit about this, I'll peruse the forum more and hit up youtube! Thanks!!



@FreshProduce - Yes. Good point. One step at a time. If you were in my shoes, where would you start? I don't mind opinions, or I wouldn't have posted on Gearslutz I know it depends on one's goals, and in my case that's achieving studio quality female and male vocals & voiceovers.
I would invest in acoustic treatment and/or a floating room (Or both) before going ape **** purchasing gear. Many guys on this forum will tell you straight up that the gear you have is only as good as the room it's being recorded in. (And the users ability, obviously)

Me? I'd build that floating room and probably an anti-echoic chamber. Especially if you're recording vocals. An artist doesn't go get all the finest paint in the world before making sure he has the right canvas, you feel Me? But again, everything is up to you. If you'd rather take a unique path (in music or in life in general), do you, ya know?

And yes. It is quite addictive. I don't have tattoos but I could imagine it's similar.

"Just ONE more synth modulator!"
"Just ONE more set of cans THEN I'll be ready to record.."

lol.
Old 29th December 2017
  #5
Here for the gear
@FreshProduce - thanks for the suggestions, I've been all over the place with this, and it's really valuable to hear the kind of advice you're giving me!

There are so many rabbit holes to go down here... Spent the last 24 hours researching floating floors and anechoic chambers & sound treatment. I'm coming to the conclusion that recording engineers are artists in their own right, and vastly under recognized and undervalued by the public.

After taking the lid off of this can of worms, I've learned seven important things:

1. Floating floors can be excellent game-changers when done right. They serve a specific function, and in the right circumstances, it's money well spent. When not needed, the best case scenario is that it's a waste of money when done well, and the worst case scenario is that it's done poorly and creates MORE audio problems.


2. They're most useful when tracking drums or bass (isolating the control room from low frequency bleed during tracking, and preventing feedback from control room monitors from affecting tracking), or when the studio is frequently exposed to external low frequencies such as trains, heavy trucks, or nearby factory work - the kinds of <100Hz harmonics that will really screw with serious audio production.

3. Half the fun of building out a studio is the "IKEA effect" of designing or building something one's self, which creates lasting memories attached to it, and a sense of accomplishment & personal investment that has lasting impact on the user. This seems to be just as important (if not moreso) than how it affects audio quality. Both aspects contribute to the joy one experiences when in the studio.

4. Foam bass traps are not all created equal, and while some inexpensive ones do "something", you more or less get what you pay for. The DIY solution here is rockwool, and I'm finding very experienced sound engineers speaking as highly of it as 703.

5. Anechoic chambers are an extreme solution, mostly used in the production of hi-fidelity sample packs and ADR/Foley production work. Also useful for industrial design purposes. For tracking studio quality vocals, 50-75% coverage with a mix of dispersion and absorbtion seems to be the sweet spot, as most artist's ears are unaccustomed to their own voice inside a truly "dead" or "dry" room. Using cardiod mic mode (vs figure 8 or Omni) helps in smaller rooms.

6. There is a HUGE difference between soundproofing (aka isolation), which affects the interactions between the studio and it's surroundings, and the creation of suitably dry interior sound, which requires sound absorbtion and sound dispersion. Each is important in their own right, for vastly different reasons.

7. Building a "room within a room" with a lot of mass in the walls and a floating floor solves many of the problems people in my situation face, but it can also solve a lot of problems I *don't* have. It's important, from an efficiency standpoint, to start with the minimum, identify the issues I have with recordings, and address them individually. This goes for gear, too - buying the most expensive gear might be solving problems I don't have. It's important for me to separate my ego's needs (and spurious desires) from my artistic/engineering needs from my client's needs, and consider each in turn.

******

It looks like for my purposes, a floating floor is not as big a deal if I build in my garage, since it is a "slab on grade" situation. I do need to consider that the HVAC and water run through there. Also, the washer/dryer are in the next room. The biggest discovery in this process has been that I need to coordinate REALLY well with my housemate if I want to make excellent recordings!
Old 29th December 2017
  #6
So they make kit vocal booths that would work well.

Generally for a good clean vocal, you really need a dead room. Some will disagree, but we're not talking amazing room vs dead, we're talking garage vs dead, so...

The kit booths look good and are relatively easy to set up. You can also build one, but with that room, put a window so you can see in, double pane it and make them not parallel || but / \ if that makes sense. The window doesn't need to be much more than 16"x16" and thick plexi works just as well as glass if you do build. The booth (as much as it will pain some to hear) should be covered floor to ceiling in Auralex. It looks slick and kills all the early reflections. It's not "acoustic treatment" the way other things like rockwool panels are, which you should use for your control room.

The next thing to consider is this, for every rapper I've ever worked with, they all basically demand the following equipment from every studio they work in:

Neumann U87 $3500 (tops, you can find them closer to 2500)
Avalon 737 $2500

I'm not going to argue the merits of either of those two, but that's a sufficiently nice chain for a single vocal, and it's the stuff that people who only have a cursory understanding of a studio will want to see.

You'll want a good pop filter and an excellent pair of headphones, not overly expensive, AKG makes a $100 set that's sufficient.

And as silly as it sounds: Buy a board. People who do hire studios will regard a studio with a mixing board higher than one without. Avoid Behringers, but anything else from Mackie, Allen & Heath, etc will do just fine. TAC Scorpion comes to mind actually. There were a lot of famous records made on those so it's a sales point. It's actually what I'd upgrade my Tascam from if I ever do. And then get either a Lexicon MX200 or MX400. Then, you can quickly set the headphone level for the performer both their voice and the backing track without any issues of latency, add reverb quick and easy, and look good doing it. And when it comes down to attracting clients, looking good is annoyingly important.

For monitoring, your mackies will do well, maybe add a subwoofer.

From a gear standpoint, that'll cover you entirely. You could actually sell a bunch of stuff in your list if you really aren't going to track bands.

Acoustic Treatment for sure. Get a chair that looks slick.

You can't really control who's going to be attracted to your studio, but in my experience, these are the things that have attracted the mastering clients I've worked with to the tracking facilities they used.

The other thing I'd add is get a 4K camcorder and set it up in the booth so you can videotape (outdated term) the performance and then they can turn around and use it in their music video. Panasonic DSLRs are the only ones I know that'll run a long time without shutting off automatically.

Be sure there's room for a couch and be prepared for some clients to roll in 4-5 people deep. I had that even during mastering (!) for the attended sessions. It's kinda fun, I learned how to make barbeque properly...

And get an alarm system and an insurance policy. When I was open to the public, I also kept a .38 revolver out of sight but in easy reach and instant access of the board god forbid.

The best way to work with your housemate in terms of keeping them from doing laundry is to set up a light with a switch so you can signal that you're recording, bonus points if you stick one in the booth, too, and then be good about helping them do the laundry for being patient (start the machine after the session for them, that kinda thing). Keeping a google calendar shared with all the session times also helps.

In the end, expect to not make any money back and be pleasantly surprised if you break even.

You've got a good plan and a sufficient budget to build something worth paying to record in, but I think you should focus primarily on people with pre-existing music to record over since they *will* pay for *some* recording time. The projects where you're doing all the music and they come in to sing/rap, it's a huge time suck (I usually spend 200-300 hours on projects like that) and nobody's going to have enough money to pay you for those projects. That's a labor of love.

Welcome to the rabbit hole. Remember, the client needs a top-end vocal chain and the ability for you to pipe in reverb into their headphones.

OH, also get a NAS for backups and a monitor for your computer. I use a Mac Mini in my studio and it's sufficient, the important thing is to have a flashy screen.

Be sure to do mood lighting and such.
Old 29th December 2017
  #7
Gear Nut
 

Have you considered the economics of renting out a studio? Before you make any gear decisions look at what it’s going to cost to run and insure.

Write a business plan for it so you know what you need to ear and what to spend marketing etc. Your normal live sound users probably only record every couple of years are you in an area that is desperate for another studio and therefore likely to make money

This is likely to push you towards a personal studio rather than anything commercial!!!

This enables you to slow down your purchases, As far as the equipment goes if you build a vocal isolation booth you wont need the reflection filter as the design and treatment of the booth will do the same job.
Old 30th December 2017
  #8
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenDragon View Post
I think I either have a serious emotional problem...
yeah, it's called G.A.S.

Quote:
So does this make sense? Am I crazy to spend this much on a hobby
I know a guy whose hobby is collecting antique automobiles. One of his cars could buy you ten studios like what you are proposing. Of course his day job is in real estate.

Quote:
- and should I try to justify these purchases by creating a studio at home that's worth renting out?
IMO, you don't need a 'justification' to spend money on what you love doing. Even if you did, renting out a studio in the sense of "build it and they will come" is a quaint notion that belongs to the previous century. It stopped happening a long time ago. The kind of money you need to actually attract strangers with just your gear - is an order of magnitude greater than what you can afford. If a market even exists where you are and is not already filled!

You may find a niche in your area, but it is probably going to be based on you, not your gear list. For example, you mentioned voice-over. A good iso booth, a great mike and you can offer your VO services to film and video companies and so on. Get Source-Connect (I think it's $35 a month) and you could work with anyone anywhere in more or less real time.

Then if there are other VO artists in your area who need that front end and the connection, they might come to you. And maybe your mic and booth would attract a few rappers. But at this point in history, I say get what you need/want for YOU and let any "justification" money it brings in be considered a bonus.

Quote:
Are there opportunity costs I'm missing out on in other parts of my life that ought to take precedence?
This gets into an area that nobody on the internet can help you with. It's your life. I can tell you in my life, I gave up a lot of the normal stuff that people do to keep myself in the game.
Old 30th December 2017
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Owen L T's Avatar
On the acoustic side of things: yes to 703-based solutions or similar. On the other hand 2" or 4" foam panels are a waste of space - people who are new to home studios get sucked into buying them because (a) they *look* like some vague idea of what a studio wall should look like; (b) they're super cheap, leaving more money to spend on shiny gear. But all they do is tamp down reflections above 1k, leaving you with a boxy, muddy vocals.

Don't waste your money building out a vocal booth unless exterior noise is a serious issue, and you need to sound-proof. Otherwise, you'd be much better off tracking and mixing in one decent-sized space, with sufficient broad-band and bass trapping (including ceiling clouds above mix position and, if needed, the area where you'll track vocals).

Even some big-name producers (Ken Lewis, for example) just track vocals in the same room where they mix.

If you do have to build a booth, due to external noise, then make sure to allow for 6-8" of acoustic treatment on all walls and ceiling; when the walls are that close to the mic, you have to get a super dead sound, because any room tone that does make its way into the mic will sound like ... a little box. Hence the odd situation where it's actually easier to treat a larger room for tracking, as the walls are further from the mic, and the liveliness of the room might not be quite so jarring if it has some natural decay to it.
Old 30th December 2017
  #10
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Owen L T View Post
Hence the odd situation where it's actually easier to treat a larger room for tracking, as the walls are further from the mic, and the liveliness of the room might not be quite so jarring if it has some natural decay to it.
for music and for singing and rapping, I would agree

But I once lost a Books-on-Tape account because they said my recording was 'too live' - even though the artist was close to the mic, surrounded by gobos, chair on a rug, under a "cloud" , and in the middle of a very well-treated room.

So I went and listened to the stuff they had available on their website, and I realized that all of their voices were not only very dry, they all had that "boothy" quality. Every last one of them. I think in some industries, that sound is considered "pro" and you are expected to have it. It's not enough that it is 'dead', they actually seem to want that boxy boothy thing.
Old 30th December 2017
  #11
Lives for gear
 
FreshProduce's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Owen L T View Post
On the acoustic side of things: yes to 703-based solutions or similar. On the other hand 2" or 4" foam panels are a waste of space - people who are new to home studios get sucked into buying them because (a) they *look* like some vague idea of what a studio wall should look like; (b) they're super cheap, leaving more money to spend on shiny gear. But all they do is tamp down reflections above 1k, leaving you with a boxy, muddy vocals.

Don't waste your money building out a vocal booth unless exterior noise is a serious issue, and you need to sound-proof. Otherwise, you'd be much better off tracking and mixing in one decent-sized space, with sufficient broad-band and bass trapping (including ceiling clouds above mix position and, if needed, the area where you'll track vocals).

Even some big-name producers (Ken Lewis, for example) just track vocals in the same room where they mix.

If you do have to build a booth, due to external noise, then make sure to allow for 6-8" of acoustic treatment on all walls and ceiling; when the walls are that close to the mic, you have to get a super dead sound, because any room tone that does make its way into the mic will sound like ... a little box. Hence the odd situation where it's actually easier to treat a larger room for tracking, as the walls are further from the mic, and the liveliness of the room might not be quite so jarring if it has some natural decay to it.
Take every comment you've posted on this website, arrange them.. and write a book. I learn something new nearly every comment you post. Thank you for sharing your expertise. I've spent years working with an industry cat and enjoying his wisdom but it's nice to have another set of experienced ears be as generous with their wisdom.
Old 30th December 2017
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Owen L T's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
for music and for singing and rapping, I would agree

But I once lost a Books-on-Tape account because they said my recording was 'too live' - even though the artist was close to the mic, surrounded by gobos, chair on a rug, under a "cloud" , and in the middle of a very well-treated room.

So I went and listened to the stuff they had available on their website, and I realized that all of their voices were not only very dry, they all had that "boothy" quality. Every last one of them. I think in some industries, that sound is considered "pro" and you are expected to have it. It's not enough that it is 'dead', they actually seem to want that boxy boothy thing.
Yeah, that's a totally fair point. In my head I was thinking about vocals sitting in a mix - where there is nothing you can do to make a baked-in boxy vocal sit in a modern production, especially with a lot of ITB stuff, which was my first thought when I saw Komplete 10 in the OP's list.

I'm in central London, in a lower-ground floor flat, and the only noise that gets picked up is (a) subway trains (one runs right below me); and (b) the occasional emergency-services car/truck.

The only time I really noticed (a) was doing a steel-pan sample library - where the sound of the subway is much more audible through headphones than it is in the room. After about 15 minutes of our first session (note-by-note sampling) we fell into a rhythm where if the player heard an approaching train, he'd just wait until it passed before striking the next note.
Old 30th December 2017
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Owen L T's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreshProduce View Post
Take every comment you've posted on this website, arrange them.. and write a book. I learn something new nearly every comment you post. Thank you for sharing your expertise. I've spent years working with an industry cat and enjoying his wisdom but it's nice to have another set of experienced ears be as generous with their wisdom.
Thanks, I really appreciate that. Honestly, a lot of people on here (like joeq) have a lot more experience than I do with this stuff - but my professional background involved a lot of writing, so my posts sound like I'm more knowledgeable than I really am! The few lessons I've learned the hard way - like small-room acoustics, and all the false economies one can make with acoustic treatment - I tend to beat the drum on with some regularity, in hope that I can save one or two people from wasting years wrestling with similar issues.
Old 10th January 2018
  #14
Here for the gear
Thanks for your input, everyone! I've been meditating over all of this, and have calmed down considerably.
@Mrhstudio - yes, I've been renting time at studios and there are lots of good reasons to keep doing that. You're right - I need a home studio that is dialed in for specific purposes. I've given that serious thought in the last couple weeks...

Here's my plan:

1. Have Black Lion Audio perform their mod on my Apollo Twin Duo (mark 1). This looks like the most direct and least expensive way to up my game in terms of input quality - their AD converter mods get some rave reviews. I already own the interface, so this is a good first step, and I can start recording and adjusting my sound without the need to drop thousands on analog gear right away. I'll explore the UAD plugin universe and maybe drop a couple hundred bucks on a 3-pack at some point this year - but for now, I'll stick with the ones I already have.
@donsolo - I haven't recorded with rappers much in the past, but if I do, I'll grab an Avalon and a U87... I used to DJ in the rap game and I know exactly the attitude you're talking about, just didn't know how it applied to studio work. Thanks for the tip!

I already have a couple decent mixing boards, great pop filter, IEMs and Sennheiser monitoring cans, and a slick chair. From my days running live sound, I know the value of "visual sound reinforcement" LOL - it somehow sounds better when people see what they think is lots of expensive gear.
@Owen L T - A friend recently let me tag along to a gold & platinum recording engineer's home studio. He had stripped down to bare essentials (just one rack of gear), tracked in a large room with VERY minimal acoustic treatment, with his monitoring station right there in the room. I thought we were at some poser's house and my expectations were VERY low. But then I heard the results (outstanding!) and googled him - wow! Just an unassuming dude.

Couch, camcorder, alarm system - all great suggestions! Thanks @donsolo, I'll be referring back to this thread for months.

2. Purchase MJE Oktovamod NT1a with MJE 3 micron 47 capsule. Made this decision after talking with a friend who also does voice work. He previously owned a vintage U87 and now uses the Hulk 990 by MJE (same capsule) and LOVES it. I also talked to Michael Joly extensively about what I intend to use it for, and he was very helpful in our email exchange.

The NT1a starts with a great signal to noise ratio, and with a full suite of mods from electronics and capsule to headbasket, it puts me in the ballpark of U87 sound quality for 1/5 the cost. I really appreciate Michael's design philosophy, as well as the intention he puts into his work. Energy is important to me - it's the intangible things that make my experience of music qualitatively different. He lets people audition mics for 30 days, too - so a low risk acquisition!

3. Start the process of renovating my garage, and see if I can get past the gear acquisition phase and into booking actual studio time & recording. Record, listen, and fix problems as I go, rather than guessing and wasting a bunch of money. Build a cheap, temporary, portable vocal booth in my walk-in closet so I can start in on VO work right away.
@donsolo I'm interested to do both VO work (where they DO love that boothy sound) as well as singers, so I'm going to do both - a room for tracking, and a booth for VO.
@joeq wow, solid tips, thanks!! You've really helped me clear my head and ground in what *I* want, and why. Many thanks
@FreshProduce thanks again!

I feel warmly welcomed by this amazing community
Old 10th January 2018
  #15
Lives for gear
 
FreshProduce's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenDragon View Post
Thanks for your input, everyone! I've been meditating over all of this, and have calmed down considerably.
@Mrhstudio - yes, I've been renting time at studios and there are lots of good reasons to keep doing that. You're right - I need a home studio that is dialed in for specific purposes. I've given that serious thought in the last couple weeks...

Here's my plan:

1. Have Black Lion Audio perform their mod on my Apollo Twin Duo (mark 1). This looks like the most direct and least expensive way to up my game in terms of input quality - their AD converter mods get some rave reviews. I already own the interface, so this is a good first step, and I can start recording and adjusting my sound without the need to drop thousands on analog gear right away. I'll explore the UAD plugin universe and maybe drop a couple hundred bucks on a 3-pack at some point this year - but for now, I'll stick with the ones I already have.
@donsolo - I haven't recorded with rappers much in the past, but if I do, I'll grab an Avalon and a U87... I used to DJ in the rap game and I know exactly the attitude you're talking about, just didn't know how it applied to studio work. Thanks for the tip!

I already have a couple decent mixing boards, great pop filter, IEMs and Sennheiser monitoring cans, and a slick chair. From my days running live sound, I know the value of "visual sound reinforcement" LOL - it somehow sounds better when people see what they think is lots of expensive gear.
@Owen L T - A friend recently let me tag along to a gold & platinum recording engineer's home studio. He had stripped down to bare essentials (just one rack of gear), tracked in a large room with VERY minimal acoustic treatment, with his monitoring station right there in the room. I thought we were at some poser's house and my expectations were VERY low. But then I heard the results (outstanding!) and googled him - wow! Just an unassuming dude.

Couch, camcorder, alarm system - all great suggestions! Thanks @donsolo, I'll be referring back to this thread for months.

2. Purchase MJE Oktovamod NT1a with MJE 3 micron 47 capsule. Made this decision after talking with a friend who also does voice work. He previously owned a vintage U87 and now uses the Hulk 990 by MJE (same capsule) and LOVES it. I also talked to Michael Joly extensively about what I intend to use it for, and he was very helpful in our email exchange.

The NT1a starts with a great signal to noise ratio, and with a full suite of mods from electronics and capsule to headbasket, it puts me in the ballpark of U87 sound quality for 1/5 the cost. I really appreciate Michael's design philosophy, as well as the intention he puts into his work. Energy is important to me - it's the intangible things that make my experience of music qualitatively different. He lets people audition mics for 30 days, too - so a low risk acquisition!

3. Start the process of renovating my garage, and see if I can get past the gear acquisition phase and into booking actual studio time & recording. Record, listen, and fix problems as I go, rather than guessing and wasting a bunch of money. Build a cheap, temporary, portable vocal booth in my walk-in closet so I can start in on VO work right away.
@donsolo I'm interested to do both VO work (where they DO love that boothy sound) as well as singers, so I'm going to do both - a room for tracking, and a booth for VO.
@joeq wow, solid tips, thanks!! You've really helped me clear my head and ground in what *I* want, and why. Many thanks
@FreshProduce thanks again!

I feel warmly welcomed by this amazing community
As Owen mentioned.. building a booth isn't the best way to spend your money. I'm an emcee myself and trust me when I tell you.. If 'not having a booth' is a deal breaker for a client.. That client probably wasn't anything too special to begin with.

Look into getting an isolation shield if you can't afford the acoustic treatment you'd like for vox. They are a great solution for getting decent vocals on a budget. Aside from making your mic stand rather top heavy.. they are great. Also, if you need to read lyrics or script off off paper while recording, it's kinda difficult to see around it comfortably. (Not that you should really be reading while cutting anyway)

And yes, as a whole, this community is pretty great. Just be thorough always in checking your responses everywhere on the internet, as there's always that one guy who thinks he knows 100% more than he actually does. He's extremely overly confident in his level of knowledge too
Old 10th January 2018
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Owen L T's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenDragon View Post
@Owen L T - A friend recently let me tag along to a gold & platinum recording engineer's home studio. He had stripped down to bare essentials (just one rack of gear), tracked in a large room with VERY minimal acoustic treatment, with his monitoring station right there in the room. I thought we were at some poser's house and my expectations were VERY low. But then I heard the results (outstanding!) and googled him - wow! Just an unassuming dude.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenDragon View Post
Build a cheap, temporary, portable vocal booth in my walk-in closet so I can start in on VO work right away.
Yeah, that's why I mentioned Ken Lewis's set-up. In a nice sized room, you can track vocals without covering every square inch with acoustic panels. But, for those panels that you do need, foam is a waste of space - is the point I was making.

And as soon as you start moving into smaller spaces - like, say, a walk-in closet - you'll need a TON of acoustic treatment, because all the walls are so close to the mic, so room reflections are an instant issue.
Old 11th January 2018
  #17
Here for the gear
 

If you end up with more of a live sound overall, I would definitely suggest getting a Kaotica Eyeball for the VO work. It gives some of that “boot” sound, but it’s really inexpensive (ca. $200 back when I reviewed it) and unlike room treatments, there’s basically no tweaking involved. Is it exactly the same as a vocal booth? No, but I’ve tracked some phenomenal vocals in a completely untreated project studio with one for a client (using that U87 and 737 combo in some cases and a Telefunken 251 in others).

To be clear - I am NOT discouraging the room treatment, especially for recording anything other than vocals. The Eyeball just has a much shorter learning curve and can be taken on or off a mic to significantly change the sound in about a minute or two.
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