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Studio upgrade advice FF800 and Hilo Studio Monitors
Old 17th May 2018
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Studio upgrade advice FF800 and Hilo

hi all, I'm contemplating a long awaited home studio upgrade and have come up with a draft of an idea and thought I could use the wisdom of others more experienced to help me out.

I record mostly acoustic based music (but not exclusively) and currently I'm working with a FF800 and my main pres is a 2 channel CS Flamingo. I have a few mics to work with, nothing special. Alesis GT tube condenser, pair of KM184s, AT4033, AT4050, 57, 58, D112, Beyer M201. My buddy also has a few mic kits he has built which I have access to - ELAM 251 clone & beesneez ribbon.

My monitors are KRK V6 (the original black cone model)

I feel the gear is...ok, but I want to level up with my skills and my mixes so I'm thinking of a studio make-over while integrating some of the old gear.

My plan is to:
1. treat the room correctly for a combination of tracking acoustic instruments/vocals and mixing
2. upgrade the monitors to a pair of KH120 (and maybe a sub down the road)
3. upgrade the interface to a USB Hilo
4. keep the flamingo
5. keep the FF800
6. add some coloured pres and decent outboard compressors later on (maybe 500x)
7. get a patchbay

my question is can i use the Hilo as the AD/DA for tracking and mixing but keep the FF800 and use it as an analogue IO and plug it into the ADAT in and out of the Hilo?

I know the Hilo is supposed to be primarily a mastering device but the ADAT IO makes me think I can get a total of 8 analogue inputs via ADAT (plus the 2 line ins of the Hilo). I think I would still have to plug the FF into the computer and use TotalMix as an audio routing tool if I wanted to use the 4 pres on the front or the 8 IO lines in the back of the FF, but the Hilo would route the audio to and from the DAW (reaper on a PC). For critical tracks I would use the 2 Hilo line IO directly with the flamingo (or whatever good pres and comps I end up with). a Patchbay would be necessary to switch between tracking, mixing and mastering functions.

My logic behind this over selling the FF and getting something like a 8 channel Lynx (n) is:
1. better converters on the Hilo
2. 10 inputs with the Hilo and FF rather than 8 on the Lynx
3. more routing options with TotalMix
4. mixing with headphones would be part of my workflow and the Hilo seems to be a superior tool.
5. Hilo is less expensive than the Lynx.
6. mastering tools and level metering on the Hilo look useful
7. Hilo can be on the desktop and used as a monitor controller and switcher

I'm not a pro engineer but my ears are good and I feel like the room and the KRK monitors especially are holding me back. the FF AD converters seem fine, and clocked to the Hilo probably would improve them.

the Hilo, KH120 and room treatment are probably going to set me back around $5k CAD. I think that's pretty good value for money and a noticeable sonic upgrade to what I've got now. 10 IO is not huge but with some creative mic placement I could record a small ensemble. If anyone has any better ideas I'm all ears!
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