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mike - how much equipment ?
Old 8th June 2004
Lives for gear

mike - how much equipment ?

i need an unbiased opinion mic , as i go through this constant debate with friends on how much equipment one needs to produce a decent song. a lot feel defeated that they just cant afford it all so never get started. i point out all one really needs is
a decent basic set up like a 2ghz computer , good a/d/a like a lynx sound card, and a few decent mics and preamps.
and all the rest is the quality of the song ie; mutts /shania are successfull because of songwriting. whats your take ?
particularly youngsters feel they have to have so much equipment until i show them what can be done with a computer
and just a decent multitrack software like powertracks thats 29 dollars and does 24bit/96khz and 48 audio tracks which i feel is sufficient for anyone to express themselves. whats your take ?
what i have at home is far more than what was available years ago i feel when people did great songs on 3 track studers.
am i wrong ?
ps - i run a junkyard studio.
Old 8th June 2004
Lives for gear

also .....

one album that is one of my favorites and i consider so underrated is the first by the knack called get the knack.
i would be real curious how they engineered this including the techniques used and how they got such great guitar sounds.
if you look past the hit track my sharona there are some
excellent moments on many of the other songs on this album.
Old 8th June 2004
Lives for gear
Jose Mrochek's Avatar

I'm not Mike but would like to add a little something to your post with my point of view, and would love to hear Mike's opinion also.

I think equipment is totally dependant of who runs it. If Mike for example who has worked with SSL's for decades is given a computer, he is probably very well prepared to look for the "record" sound he knows by heart. By saying this I mean, you need to know what you are looking for when you are given a raw working platform like protools. How will you know the plugin came close to an SSL compressor, if you never used one ??? Or the other way around, a beginning mixer will probably make an SSL sound like a mackie.. gear is worthless without a mix engineer prepared to get the best out of it. Just a thought...
Old 8th June 2004
Lives for gear

good point jose. i agree entirely.
Old 8th June 2004
Lives for gear
preben's Avatar

What Jose said. Another example: I've owned and played a lot of Marshall guitar amps and oddly enough these are the amp tones I have most luck with emulating regardless of which emulating software (POD, V-amp, Sansamp, Amplitube etc etc) I use... simply because I know what to expect and I know when I'm close and when I'm not.

On the other hand I have looking through these pages to find something digital that does the SSL buss comp really well. Only problem is: It could be sitting right under my nose for all I know and I'd miss it - all I know is that it's supposed to be kind of magic, and from using one once or twice I know that I like what it does, BUT I don't REALLY know what it does and what it feels like when it does it...
Old 9th June 2004
Mike Shipley's Avatar

Manning , there is no harm starting out small , knowing that lots of fun and learning can be done with less expesive equipment , and even some surprising results, so don't feel held back by a small amont of gear. I've had parts of records to mix that came from quite lo-fi sources and it worked out fine. So tell your friends to go for it.

"two turntables and a ..microphone"
Old 9th June 2004
Lives for gear

mike - thanks - ,
i guess what we argue about most over coffee/debating is my position is one position(mine and others ie, one camp ) is you dont need a 100k pro tools rig to do a good song.
just something like powertracks(29 bucks !) or n track and some decent set of a/d/a and mics and pres. these other guys are saving like mad for tools and never getting anything done because , well you get the idea. they believe because the
"big boys" of the industry have all this stuff they need to as well.
its the old my jag/civic can go faster than your jag/civic syndrone.
i would like them to see your answer because imho they are spending themselves into big debt.
whereas me , after having recorded with the big boy stuff
for years there is no magic. i get a kick out of seeing what i can get out of throwaway yard sale/used stuff.
eg of junk...a few hundred max in equipment
the i'm too old to rock n roll song , or the working mans song...etc
in essence do they need tools etc ??
am i the one thats wrong ?
Old 9th June 2004
Lives for gear
tunesmith's Avatar

I think the question becomes:

How much of it is operator error / bad arranging / bad musicianship? I've chased the gear rabbit down the hole a few times myself, and while there is something to be said for great mics, pres, and conversion, I have concerns about some of the other stuff I have spent my hard earned money on.

I would adviSe your friends as such: If they've got Eminem rapping into a cheap mic and a cheap pre, then you're somewhere. It's a simple question to answer. Your talent, or the talent of the artist you're recording, exceeds the quality of the gear and that imbalance needs to be remedied.

However.... most pro/am guys that I know (myself included) get the cart ahead of the horse. I spent years looking for great guitar and drum samples when the solution was great guitar players and drummers. Putting your friend (who can't sing or rap or do ANYthing that the public is ever going to be even modestly interested in) in front of a $4000 mic isn't going to bring fortune and glory.

This is a harsh, cold, unforgiving reality. But it is reality. Perhaps before investing in expensive gear, we should all invest in an intro to audio engineering course at the local community college. I am back at a place where my gear exceeds my knowledge, and at least I have the presence of mind to recognize it.
Old 9th June 2004
Lives for gear
Froombosch's Avatar

I am in the real gearslut mode. Bought lots of new gear in last months. An Eventide H8000, Cranesong spider, 2 Lynx AES 16's, Distressor, Genelecs 1037's to name a few. All this new gear gives me new ideas and new possibilities I never had. I think I am not using all this gear to the limit and I still am frustrated because I do not get the sound of the latest Outkast album, but I am growing because of these new toys because I am learning faster that with more lo-end gear i used to have. heh

I know it will help me with the sounds I want to get, but when the drumkit is bad, I can not change the sound of the kit with the new tools, I need to work on the kit. When the drummer is bad I can chop things up in Nuendo, but when the drummer is good I'll work much better/faster. Because I am not a producer there is little I can do about that.

I can not give you the anwser, but when you know what to do you can use lesser gear, but in this moment I am learing to mix with the better gear.

my .002 cents
Old 9th June 2004
Lives for gear

i'm on the same page/agreement as you tunesmith.
i just do the best i can with what ive got. no choice really - i have an elderly mother in england i put first. i'm hoping to sell a few cd's just to give her extra happiness.
if they do well, great, if not . well its back to my career in computer engineering. always conputers need fixing up.
what i would like to know from mike is how the cars and the other groups like cheap trick both of which i think were great got their great guitar sounds. particularly the cars lead break on
i dont mind you coming here etc. took me quite a while to figure out how that was played. great guitarist. total talent who did those signature licks. conversely the great "feel" on surrender and the other songs by cheap trick. great stuff.
Old 10th June 2004
Lives for gear
enharmonic's Avatar


I was taught on an SSL, and had the luxury of learning a lot on "world-class" gear. As a result, I am having a difficult time putting a rig together that can deliver a measure of what I have worked on in the past. I don't have an SSL budget...or even 1/10th of an SSL budget at the moment, but what I do have is a need to be able to capture my ideas in a system that can be ported to a more traditional to save some time, and two...because often the first few times through a song are the most compelling IMO...and I've never had the opportunity to capture that energy.

Manning, you suggested a number of solutions to me the other day, and I am still reviewing them...but I'll be honest. I'm a Mac head through and through when it comes to audio. It's what I know best and it's how I think when I'm working.

With that in mind, I am very interested in Nuendo, or even Ableton Live 4. My modest front end will most likely be a Metric Halo ULN2+DSP, a couple of reasonably nice microphones, and a Dual 2 G5. I think I can get a lot done with this setup, and hope that it will allow me to realize my objectives as a singer/songwriter.

I've been away from engineering for a while due to injuries, and as a result of those injuries and limitations, I really don't see myself getting back into it as a career, but that dosen't mean that i want to stop completely. And as much as I miss having the big toys, I'd like to think that I can get more than just respectable results with the proper gear selection and a bit of talent .

We'll see. Please tell your friends that Rome wasn't built in a day. Everyone starts somewhere. Just do the best with what is available to you, and work your way into it.
Old 10th June 2004
Lives for gear

i feel your pain enharmonic. frankly i liked tunesmith's
comment about chasing gear rabbits down holes. probably the best comment ive heard in years. i really wish i had thought of that. no disrespect enharmonic but i think you could do better
for your money than dual mac G%. PLEASE - i BEG you !
ive been working in the past in senior positions in industry,
and i urge you to look at pricing. that is one wad of money for something, like all computer equipment thats obsolete within a short time. check out one of the other slutz threads on
opteron and amd 64 fx that noise reduces a file in like 1.75 seconds. now THATS COMPUTER PERFORMANCE IMHO.
if your leery about the PC why not do this. ive converted more than a few over to PC this way. find a friend or rent from a retailer a 2ghz amd barton PC just as a basic test.
put an rme sound card in it (rock solid drivers) . then go and try software demoes. the ones i love are n track, powertracks,
magix audio studio, rock solid on my system - a great computer programmer) as examples.
then go rent say a great river pre with a nice ribbon mic - how i wish i could afford one ! - and i bet you will hear great sound.
you can do all this without spending much money.
or do what a friend of mine did. he built an amd duron 1.3ghz system for 200 bucks out of scrap parts. it does 40 tracks for little investment. the key to great sound is not the computer or software but the a/d/a. and rme or even lynx if you have the
money is good. heck for songwriting even i'm hearing
the cheap soundcards at that do 24bit/96khz are good. just PLEASE do yourself a favour and keep an open mind and if you think i'm lying DO A PC TEST !!
Old 10th June 2004
Lives for gear

also enharmonic i think the gap between junkyard equipment that i use and high end is getting narrower. one of my songs
at soundclick called Hi tech man was num 1 in the blues section for quite a time. a year ago. this song , as i was helping my mother, no money to even rent pre's/ribbons etc. it used a ten dollar mic pre i designed out of admittedly decent low noise transistors(a buck ! each) and a junk sound card and cheap under 100 buck mics. now compare to H lady or take my love that used huge capital outlays by a studio in equipment eg: like what you were trained on. is there millions in difference in sound quality ? - i dont think so. in summary i dont think one has to spend a lot these days to get a tune put together.
Old 10th June 2004
Lives for gear
boody's Avatar

Originally posted by manning1
in summary i dont think one has to spend a lot these days to get a tune put together.
amen to that!

For me gear = tools. Tools help. Without quality tools it will be harder to achive quality results, but its still doable. You just do what your tools allow you to do and get creative. Too sophisticated tools might even be bad for creativity if your not ready to use 'm I think. You go like "oh, this tool is used on this and that record, so now I should be able to sound like this and that". While the only thing really intresting is getting your own sound. Even lo-fi no budget sounds can be the bomb if there's an original creative vision behind it

but gear is like new toys, and for that, its really fun chasing it and bring it home proudly..... "look mom, see what I caught today!!!"

regards, Budy
Old 10th June 2004
Lives for gear

boody - also let me comment that a lot of recordists miss some major values and deals by always pursuing a high end first policy.
just a simple example , in n track studio or
or any other tracker that supports vst plug ins you can plug in SIR
reverb which is free. yup free ! it uses impulses. (check out i think it is all you need is a good pro impulse.
or another example - in magix audio studio as one of a million features is each track is like a track strip in the mixer view ,
so you just plug in the eq or compression or echo or reverb effects you want. now turning to it has some of its own built in effects which are very interesting.
then there is which seems to be a research project that is free software and emulates different guitar amps and stomp boxes. or lets turn to powertracks which has some great 50's vibe vintage like guitar and base effects built in.
if people dont investigate the foregoing i think they are missing a lot of potential to add to their songs. check out i think it is. an interesting site of plug ins and hosts.
see what i mean ? there are other options out there that people miss.
Old 11th June 2004
Lives for gear
boody's Avatar

Originally posted by manning1
then there is which seems to be a research project that is free software and emulates different guitar amps and stomp boxes.
I dig that; I use simulanalog stuff all over the place. Great on guitar, great on rhodes, great on just about anything thumbsup. I also use a lot of the free digitalfishphones stuff. That guy Sascha is a great programmer; his compressor stuff works on a lot of things, even on kicks.

Great stuff is out there, even free stuff....

creativity is free for sure heh
Old 11th June 2004
Lives for gear
Sugarnutz's Avatar
Originally posted by enharmonic
I was taught on an SSL, and had the luxury of learning a lot on "world-class" gear. As a result, I am having a difficult time putting a rig together that can deliver a measure of what I have worked on in the past.
I have seen a lot of AEs over the years that learned this way and I feel it was not in their best interest to do so. If you learn how to get good sounds/make good records on mediocre gear, you can really shine on the top-notch stuff. I saw one AE that was OD’ing drums with my partner playing and could not punch in on the fly, he had to rely on the pre-roll/auto-punch from a Mit X850/SSL 6000 and it really wasn't enough time to catch a groove before the punch (it was about 2 bars if that and I never really used that system so I don't know if it could have been changed). I came in and my partner hollered at me to give him about 6-8 bars and punch the track, we finished in 20 mins what they had been working 3 hours to do. I'm not saying that your abilities are that bad, I'm saying that when relying on tools to do the work your abilities don't get the opportunity to reach your full potential. All AEs should start on a 4 or 8 track and progress from there. In the old days you started in the mastering room cutting dubs and learning how to use a razor blade.

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