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Upgrading my small studio...thoughts??
Old 22nd October 2013
  #1
Here for the gear
 
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Upgrading my small studio...thoughts??

Hello everyone...ive been a Gearslutz fan for yearsss and ive used the posts on here as a chief consultant for new studio gear, or even live gear. But ive never posted on here, until now!

(now that i got all that out of the way)

Ive been working with artists for many years now, in engineering, production, mixing and mastering in the Houston area. Got a BA in Music Technology in 09 in Oklahoma (during which i spent 6 weeks at the REC Workshop in Chillicothe OH). Blah, blah, blah....

Now to the actual question...i've been running a home studio (in my garage) since '07 with this setup: AT 3035 mic --- M-Audio Firewire 1814 interface ---- to my iMac 07 version (via firewire) ---- to KRK Rokit 8 monitors.

That's it...very basic setup. But im going to upgrade in a few months to much better gear, b/c i know and read that no matter how much plugins you have in your DAW (and i use anywhere from Brainworx to Softube to SPL to Oxford to good 'ol Waves), without any outboard gear (like a/d d/a converters), your mixes will ALWAYS sound boxy...regardless of how good of a mixing/mastering engineer you are.

My primary genre is R&B/Hip-Hop, but i also make Soul, Gospel, Pop, Dance, Rock, African & Reggae styles as well.

I want to upgrade piece-by-piece, but of course i want to make sure im getting the right gear at an affordable price (but on a pro-level). Here's what im thinking:

I need a a/d d/a converter BAD! Ive been seeing the Lynx 8 channel converters for a while...how good are those?

As for as the interface, would i need the Digi 003 (or 002)...or just go for the 192 i/o...or would it even matter if im getting a good a/d d/a converter?

I also want to get the Neve 1073 for my vocals, but i heard there's a similar brand/build that has a similar sound...

I hear the UAD-2 are good to get get access to the UA plugins...are they worth it?

And Im def going to upgrade my iMac (cause the screen is going out)...do you recommend a newer iMac or just get the new Mac Pro?

I know these are alot of questions, but anyone that can answer these will be a great help. Thanks!
Old 22nd October 2013
  #2
Lives for gear
1. I think the UAD plugins are fantastic, and I own them. I am slowly buying more. However... they are not leaps and bounds over native plugins. I use a combination of both at the moment. Don't get me wrong... they sound fantastic... but so do native plugins.

The biggest reason I bought into UAD was to pull resources away from my CPU. Even though I have a 3930K, 1) like the idea of having all of that CPU to process the instruments and not so much the mixing plugs, 2) they do sound good, 3) it's a secure system and I like having things that other people don't. It looks like really good to clients, so that's an inherent plus. They know you're legit

2) I don't have much experience with higherend gear.. i'm close to the same level you are. I'm approx 8 month away from making some higher end purchases. The highest end thing i've bought so far is an RME UCX.

I says this to say that I keep my ear low to the ground, much like you, and it sounds like you should probably look at a Vintech73. That gets a lot of buzz, and is recommended a lot.

3) I would stay away from the digi interfaces. they are almost completely phased out at this point. They are reported to not sound good... one of the reasons why BLA makes so much money.. they built a rep for modding them so they sound good.

Honestly... i feel that if you're looking to go to the next level... it means having a solid interface you can grow with. One with great drivers... and a clean I/O, so you can "upgrade" it later if necessary. One with good preamps. For me.. that meant RME UFX. I couldn't afford the UFX, so i settled for UCX... since it had all the I/O i needed, and i didn't feel the need to save an extra $700 bucks or so. The preamps are ridiculously clean... the DA is good... and the drivers are superb. I will eventually expand it through SPDIF and grab a highend DA unit. You can also expand thru ADAT. And TotalMix FX is seriously a godsend to any studio. The routing flexibility is fantastic. I hear it's the best... but I haven't directly compared it to higher end competition.

4) I'd consider adding a new pair of monitors.. and keeping your KRK's for reference. You could do better than the Rokits. This would be a huge improvement, especially once you have a very good DA. Upgrade the interface first... then the monitors. Just makes more sense to me.


I had the Firewire 410... so i'm familiar with your interface, since it's a large version of the FW410 that I had. It's not a bad interface at all. The preamps are good... and the DA was "okay". However.. from there, I upgraded to an Echo Audiofire4 and noticed that the DA completely blew it out of the water. At that moment, I realized the older MAudio interfaces didn't have good DA. I literally heard reverb tails and highend shimmer in cymbals that I had no clue was there. It was soo noticable in fact that I thought I broke my monitors. I was scared. lol. Took me like 15 mins to realize that the super highpitched terrible cymbal sound I was hearing was the actual sample... and it was my first time hearing it. It was like being blind, and then seeing color for the first time. That drastic. And that was on some old MAudio BX5 monitors... so.. the DA made that much of a difference. Note however.. that I don't hear much difference between audiofire4 and UCX. So... I think once you get to a certain standard level of DA... it's just a game of inches. But... with that Firewire 1814.. i'd bet you'd notice the DA difference. I thought it was obvious.
Old 22nd October 2013
  #3
How many people do you need to record at once?
Old 23rd October 2013
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

Answers:

Lynx are very good, get the firewire card for it to go into your mac.

You need monitors badly. Keep the KRK's for alternate playback.

If you are going outboard, the most cost efficient way to get excellent results is to pick up a Lunchbox. There are many Neve sounding preamps that you can buy in the 600-900 range that are excellent - Vintech, Avedis, Heritage.

The next thing that will change your mixing forever is outboard compression.

Finally...

Spend some time in the Studio Building forum here, and as a result, spend some money making sure your garage sounds good -- otherwise you will not hear much difference when you buy good gear.

Hope that helps.
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