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Is my equipment good enough to make a decent R&B Song ?
Old 12th August 2005
  #1
Gear Head
 
RobDex's Avatar
 

Is my equipment good enough to make a decent R&B Song ?

Hi !

I run a little studio just as a hobby, but with intension to in the future really make this for real. Im struggling with making R&B, and i wonder if its possible for me to do something decent with my stuff. I mean do you have to have an SSL or something powerful like that to make a song sounding like Usher,destinys mm. Is it possible to make it on a low budget ?

Mackie 32-8
Krk K-rock monitors
Layla 24 soundcard
Neuman TLM 103
NTK
ART Pro Vla
Tla Audio Fat 2
Tc M-One
Sony Dps v55
2xDBX 166
Daw computer 3.66 2 gigs ram rather powerful actually
Cubase SX2
Jv 2080,basstation, Drumstation,Proteus 2000, Mophatt etc

For now im mixing on the mackie and iknow its ****ty desk, but im on a small budget for now. is it better to mix in SX ? What Console should i buy analog or Digital ? If analog console whats the most bang for the buck that could give me decent quality ? I know also that i probably must get a better preamp and better converters. please could anybody guide me in the right direction.

Reg Rob
Old 12th August 2005
  #2
Moderator
 
TonyBelmont's Avatar
 

All the gear in the world won't make you a hit.

Concentrate on your production and making good tracks. Having an SSL is not gonna make your tracks sound better, period. Having an experienced engineer sitting behind your Mackie could equal greater results than someone who doesn't have great ears behind an SSL. If the tracks you make now without the SSL, etc. aren't good enough for Usher than they won't be with a million dollar studio.

Don't worry about the gear, just keep making the tracks and maybe get yourself a Digi 002....
Old 12th August 2005
  #3
Lives for gear
 

I would sell the Mackie, Art and Layla and all your outboard effects. Take that money and buy toward a good mic pre and A/D and mix inside Cubase.

My chain, for example, is the TLM103-->UA610-->Rosetta

Make sure you have some good plug-ins as well like the Waves Bundle.
Old 12th August 2005
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobDex
Is my equipment good enough to make a decent R&B Song ?
Yes!

Honestly what you get with that highend gear are the last, hard to get, five percent. What you get with a cool song idea, great artists and an experienced engineer/producer are 95 percent.

Soooo... make your mind strong and not your pocket poor.

Andreas
Old 12th August 2005
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Stoneface's Avatar
 

I also would suggest a jump to Protools. I have the Digi002 rack and love it and it's very affordable compared to the HD systems. Converters aren't to bad either although I do run Apogee's.. I'd also take a look at your synth collection. I've never been a fan of the EMU stuff but whatever works for you. Maybe dump the 2080 and try and upgrade to the Fantom. Yamaha Motif is a very nice board too. Or, do it in true slut style and buy both.

As for your Mackie 32*8, I also would a vote to dump that board, asap. Looks big an impressive to clients but way more than you need. If you mix in the box (Protools) you can pick up a nice small mixer to monitor your keyboards through. I choose the Mackie LM-3204 which only takes up 5 rack spaces and has 32 inputs just like your big ol' board, yet only cost me like $250.

Next I would be seeing what my budget was for a good mic pre. This can really make a big difference if you want quality vocals.

As it was stated earlier, it really does come down to talent but going from low-budget to medium budget is a HUGE jump in overall quality. Not so much the same when going from medium to high end. The more you end up investing, the smaller the differences will be.

If I had to put a priority on which to do first, I would upgrade my synths and work on getting better production. Then move into better mic pres to catch really nice vocals.

BTW-try to get your hands on an MPC. It's an invaluable tool for both Hip-Hop and R&B . It's usually been my experience, if your drums suck, your song sucks. Make sure you get yourself some good drum sounds. Good luck!
Old 13th August 2005
  #6
Lives for gear
 

Dude... SX 2 is fine. You can mix in SX and get great results. I wouldn't dump it for PT unless you plan on mixing in a pro studio later. Even then I'd keep it and buy an MBox for compatibility. That's exactly what I did. Save your money, keep the Mackie and use it as a monitor mixer. Mix in SX. If you can't get a god mix in SX you won't get a good mix in PT either.

If you're a songwriter and just a recording hobbyist, DON'T get caught up to much with the gear. Write your songs. People like me who try to sqeeze every last quality drop obsess over things that make little difference to the consumer. That's the gig. I've seen some good songwriters get sidetracked by that time and time again.

Don't get caught up in that unless you have a desire to be a good engineer. If you make that choice expect your songwriting to suffer, at least initially. The technical stuff will get in the way.

Lawrence
Old 13th August 2005
  #7
Moderator
 
TonyBelmont's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lawrence
Dude... SX 2 is fine. You can mix in SX and get great results. I wouldn't dump it for PT unless you plan on mixing in a pro studio later. Even then I'd keep it and buy an MBox for compatibility. That's exactly what I did. Save your money, keep the Mackie and use it as a monitor mixer. Mix in SX. If you can't get a god mix in SX you won't get a good mix in PT either.

If you're a songwriter and just a recording hobbyist, DON'T get caught up to much with the gear. Write your songs. People like me who try to sqeeze every last quality drop obsess over things that make little difference to the consumer. That's the gig. I've seen some good songwriters get sidetracked by that time and time again.

Don't get caught up in that unless you have a desire to be a good engineer. If you make that choice expect your songwriting to suffer, at least initially. The technical stuff will get in the way.

Lawrence
His major weakness is his converter. That's why getting the 002rack would benefit him. You are absolutely right about Cubase though. But, getting the 002r would improve his sound even if he continued to use Cubase in conjunction with it. The 002r sounds much better than the Mbox and would provide 8 channels for his keyboards.
Old 13th August 2005
  #8
jgo
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont
All the gear in the world won't make you a hit.

Concentrate on your production and making good tracks. Having an SSL is not gonna make your tracks sound better, period. Having an experienced engineer sitting behind your Mackie could equal greater results than someone who doesn't have great ears behind an SSL. If the tracks you make now without the SSL, etc. aren't good enough for Usher than they won't be with a million dollar studio.

Don't worry about the gear, just keep making the tracks and maybe get yourself a Digi 002....

TRUTH

Old 13th August 2005
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobDex
Hi !

I run a little studio just as a hobby, but with intension to in the future really make this for real. Im struggling with making R&B, and i wonder if its possible for me to do something decent with my stuff. I mean do you have to have an SSL or something powerful like that to make a song sounding like Usher,destinys mm. Is it possible to make it on a low budget ?

Mackie 32-8
Krk K-rock monitors
Layla 24 soundcard
Neuman TLM 103
NTK
ART Pro Vla
Tla Audio Fat 2
Tc M-One
Sony Dps v55
2xDBX 166
Daw computer 3.66 2 gigs ram rather powerful actually
Cubase SX2
Jv 2080,basstation, Drumstation,Proteus 2000, Mophatt etc

For now im mixing on the mackie and iknow its ****ty desk, but im on a small budget for now. is it better to mix in SX ? What Console should i buy analog or Digital ? If analog console whats the most bang for the buck that could give me decent quality ? I know also that i probably must get a better preamp and better converters. please could anybody guide me in the right direction.

Reg Rob

really its all about the beat and arrangement ideas and singer.. talent and experience. you could make an amazing track with nothing but RNP, cubase and a shure mic
Old 13th August 2005
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
beatzz's Avatar
 

exactly!

Exactly! Just to echo what everybody else here said, don't get caught up in the equipment you have/don't have. I used to have this tendency to say:

If only i had this mixer, this keyboard, or this mic, then i could get pro results. Then i found out these were all just excuses for lack of talent.

Equipment will never make or break a song in my opinon.
Old 13th August 2005
  #11
Lives for gear
 

I worked with a group called Arrested Development who made a couple big hits and won a grammy using an Alesis HR-16 and an Ensoniq EPS. Your gear is world class in comparrison.
Old 13th August 2005
  #12
Gear Head
 
RobDex's Avatar
 

Wow Thanks for all information !

its true about making good tracs, and now I know wich direction i should go for uppgrading my system later on.


Thanks again
Old 13th August 2005
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Stoneface's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by beatzz
Exactly! Just to echo what everybody else here said, don't get caught up in the equipment you have/don't have.

Equipment will never make or break a song in my opinon.
I respectfully disagree with this. With technology becoming cheaper and cheaper with more project/basement studios than ever, the majors DO expect a certain level of recording quality. This is also true for the consumer. While writing a great song, producing a great song and all the rest is obviously key, to have poor recording quality in this day and age is really unacceptable if you truly take your music serious. If the majors and the consumer don't think you take it serious, why would they?
Old 14th August 2005
  #14
Gear Addict
 

I think It doesn't matter what you have..I have heard some incredible mixes by seasoned enginners out of an mbox....which would kick the ass of anything I could come up on my Apogees...... humans are intellignet and equipment isn't...but I also agree that a simple effective A.D/Pre chain is never a bad idea..... However I am starting to sense that in this day in age of PRO-SUMMER gear and hordes of HACKS the sonic divide between what is professional and average will become more apparent..and will be more important in the years to come...to disiguish oneself sonically from dude with a P.C and a cracked piece of software.... Those wanted to be in the big leages and stay there will have to step up cause the masses are learing.....
Old 14th August 2005
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoneface
I respectfully disagree with this. With technology becoming cheaper and cheaper with more project/basement studios than ever, the majors DO expect a certain level of recording quality. This is also true for the consumer. While writing a great song, producing a great song and all the rest is obviously key, to have poor recording quality in this day and age is really unacceptable if you truly take your music serious. If the majors and the consumer don't think you take it serious, why would they?
i agree but this dude should be rockin it with the tlm 103 just fine

once youve got a decent mic and pre and room, all these can be had for less than $500 combined, its much more about arrangement and guiding the singer to sound his/her best to get to "that" level of quality (given s/he has got what it takes)
Old 14th August 2005
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoneface
I respectfully disagree with this. With technology becoming cheaper and cheaper with more project/basement studios than ever, the majors DO expect a certain level of recording quality. This is also true for the consumer. While writing a great song, producing a great song and all the rest is obviously key, to have poor recording quality in this day and age is really unacceptable if you truly take your music serious. If the majors and the consumer don't think you take it serious, why would they?
I understand whwere you're comign from, but I personally feel the opposite. I think the quality bar of expectations is so far down that it is below home recording levels. I see so much stuff comin in that was obviously done on 001s and of such poor quality it makes me want to cry. Mixing has now become Fixing. It's very rare to me to get high aquality recordings even though some of thse budgets are through the roof. I am willing to bet that the majority of people on this forum take quality far more serious than most people at the majors. I am sure the majors *think* they do, but in this new world of lawyer run labels, there is less and less people who know about music.

Of course that's only my perspective, but it's all I am seeing these days.
Old 14th August 2005
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Stoneface's Avatar
 

I'm really glad to see that we can disagree in a respectful way. That's really cool and shows the maturity of many of you here. I think we are pretty much saying the same thing. A good song, writing etc. is what it's all about. But if you are going to shop to a label or manager come with the best you can quality wise. I used to murder cats on a 4-track. They were slappin away on an MPC and I could pull of better sound quality mixes and tracks than 99% of them. Yes, to toot my own horn, I'm savvy as hell at droppin' these beats. My talent speaks for it's self. Now I just want to couple my talent with the highest recording quality I can afford to give myself every advantage possible.

Nice thread fellaz. Way to chop it up on a peaceful nature.

Old 14th August 2005
  #18
Lives for gear
 
GP_Hawk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobDex
Wow Thanks for all information !

its true about making good tracs, and now I know wich direction i should go for uppgrading my system later on.


Thanks again
I would definately upgrade to SX3. At least do that. thumbsup And by all means, HAVE FUN! heh
Old 14th August 2005
  #19
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont
His major weakness is his converter. That's why getting the 002rack would benefit him. You are absolutely right about Cubase though. But, getting the 002r would improve his sound even if he continued to use Cubase in conjunction with it. The 002r sounds much better than the Mbox and would provide 8 channels for his keyboards.
Behringer ADA8000. $299. 8 channels. heh

Of course an 002R is a great peice of gear.

Lawrence
Old 14th August 2005
  #20
Gear Head
 
RobDex's Avatar
 

Are the AD/DA really that bad in the Layla 24 ? What about doing this, Keep the TLM 103, Buy Digi 002 and a neve preamp The Portico 5012. Upgrade to SX3, buy UAD-1 card or Powercore or both. Keep my synths, sell the Mackie,the DBX's etc. but i will keep the ART I like it to much. I have already stylus RMX and Atmosphere. About synths is there a really big differene between the new synths and my old one in the soundquality ? How much would be thinking this could make my tracs sound better ? 20% or more or less

Regards Rob
Old 14th August 2005
  #21
Lives for gear
 
Stoneface's Avatar
 

Jv 2080,basstation, Drumstation,Proteus 2000, Mophatt etc

This is your list of synths, correct?

The 2080 I would sell to get into the 5080 or the Fantom X. At least the 5080
Bass station I would keep and spend more time running sounds through it and tweaking it and anything I could do to take advantage of it's filters. Remember, keyboards arn't about getting the hottest new sounds, it's just about having the tools to create the sound you want. Always "tweek" to find your own sound.
Drum Station-Never used one. Was always curious but you might want to think about getting into an MPC. For most in Hip-Hop and R&B, it can change your production and song making life.
Proteus 2000-Never liked EMu modules. Some people swear by them. To me they sound cold and cheap. If it dosen't knock your socks off, I'd sell it.
MoPhatt-Same deal. Little better for the style of music you are doing so their may be some very usable stuff still on there. I wouldn''t know.

Do that, add a Motif and you're straight. If you can't make hits with that, it's not meant to be.

Don't think you can go wrong with the other stuff you mentioned. GL!
Old 15th August 2005
  #22
Gear Head
 
RobDex's Avatar
 

I do like the 2080 it has 3 expansins in it, i like the emu's also. They are kind allround sounding to me. I forgott to mention that i have the Nordrack 2 for filters and stuff like that i think its rather nice. Why is the MPC so good ? in wich why will it improve my way of working ?

Regards Rob
Old 15th August 2005
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
SoulSpace's Avatar
 

Rob,

You've got some nice gear. Whatever you do, don't obsess about gear for very long if your purpose is to write and produce. I'll tell you what I would do, as I am doing similar. Obsess about gear for about a month or two...try some stuff out, if it doesn't make you immediately say "wow, this is a great piece of gear, this improves my sound a LOT", RETURN IT or SELL IT.

After a month or two of this gear obsession, STOP! Make MUSIC with what you have, it will take you that long to get the most out of what you have anyway, and don't even think about gear for another year or two...at least. Don't look back.

Now my $0.02 on your gear (I'm only commenting on stuff that I know);

Cubase SX. KEEP IT, master it, it rocks, upgrade to SX 3
Stylus, keep it, master it
Atmosphere, keep it, master it
Get some more good soft synths, they're cheap and they ROCK.
UAD-1, get one.
Mackie, try out a Yamaha O1v96 (decent preamps, lots of digital i/o, works well with Cubase)
The Portico is nice, check it out
Get a good DI box, Reddi, Radial, or similar

TLM/NTK....hmmm, this is where it get's tricky. You know GOOD mics make a hell of a difference, but they are expensive. Depending on where you are, I would RENT/demo some mics to see what works for you and/or your singers. Then when you have a good knowledge of mics, only rent those that work for you for the session in question until you can buy. If you hit the lottery, get a Korby system, your vocal mic problems will be solved.

Protools suggestion...I go against the grain. Get an Mbox, if you're going to become master of Cubase, you'll only need the Mbox for compatability checks, etc.

MPC suggestion...I go against the grain. You have Cubase, a VERY good midi sequencer, I would stick to Cubase and master it.
Old 15th August 2005
  #24
Gear Head
 
RobDex's Avatar
 

SoulSpace Thanks for god tips !

Ive already own The NTK and TLM 103 so for know Im okay with the mics for a while.the Yamaha O1v96 ive tried it and I didnt like it at all. The Mackie D8b i like but its gone out of production, so iI figure to Mix in the box. Im gonna post a track later on and it would be nice if anyone could comment the soundquality on it.

Regards Rob
Old 15th August 2005
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
Ijustmake-Beats's Avatar
 

I would agree with Dopamine's advice. To start with make sure your front end is as good as you can possibly get it, capturing sounds at the highest level possible is probably half the battle. You've already got good mics so as well as a buying a good preamp (possible suggestions being the RNP, Avalon 737, Langevin DVC, something from Universal Audio or something from www.brentaverill.com all depending on your budget) upgrading your soundcard to something like the Digidesign 002r, Metric Halo 2882, or the RME Fireface would be a good idea for the improved conversion. Then get a good set of plugins. If you are capturing your sounds well then naturally your mixes will also sound much better, wheather you do it itb in your home studio or it gets done somewhere on an SSL.

As far as your sound sources go sonically I think you've already got enough to get started with some perfectly viable r'n'b. Use your Mackie for monitoring but to preserve sound quality I'd track things directly into the soundcard, a highly quality DI would be the icing on the cake if you can afford one.
Old 15th August 2005
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
Ijustmake-Beats's Avatar
 

Since your sound sources are sufficient I think the question of upgrading synths etc comes down mostly to your workflow. For example I like to always keep a workstation synth around as a controller, for immediate sounds and for a ready sequencer to capture quick ideas on. I think the MPC is also mainly a matter of workflow, as opposed to sound quality, as many people will tell you that it will help you to interact with your music much better at the songwriting stage. You may be perfectly happy doing things the way that you currently are though so the solution is probably to get some time on a good workstation and an MPC and see how you like it, then check your budget and make the call. If you're just looking to refresh your soundset though then that's probably something that a couple of quality plugins and a sample CD or two can cover for less money. Good luck...
Old 15th August 2005
  #27
Lives for gear
 
Stoneface's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobDex
I do like the 2080 it has 3 expansins in it, i like the emu's also. They are kind allround sounding to me. I forgott to mention that i have the Nordrack 2 for filters and stuff like that i think its rather nice. Why is the MPC so good ? in wich why will it improve my way of working ?

Regards Rob
It may or may not improve your way of working. For some, it's heaven sent and they wonder how they ever got along without it and for others, it becomes a door stop. Good thing about the MPC is they can be found on eBay for good prices. (XL-$700-900) If you don't like it, there is always someone looking for an MPC so it's really hard to lose on it.
Old 15th August 2005
  #28
Lives for gear
 
sleepwalker's Avatar
 

The Layla is no worse than the 002's converter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont
His major weakness is his converter. That's why getting the 002rack would benefit him. You are absolutely right about Cubase though. But, getting the 002r would improve his sound even if he continued to use Cubase in conjunction with it. The 002r sounds much better than the Mbox and would provide 8 channels for his keyboards.
Old 16th August 2005
  #29
Gear Head
 
RobDex's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepwalker
The Layla is no worse than the 002's converter.
Is it really like that, un that case I maybe could keep my Layla soundcard. Any thoughts ?
Old 16th August 2005
  #30
Moderator
 
TonyBelmont's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepwalker
The Layla is no worse than the 002's converter.
I disagree.
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