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Thoughts on using a high end digital console for a mid tier studio? Consoles
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
Looking for a console for a mid tier studio, budget $10k.

Myself and a couple friends from audio school are considering opening our own studio when we graduate. There are only a few other studios in the area that have decent capability. Besides running a business, I think we just want to have a space where we can freely make music, and where we can pool our resources to give us all a boost instead of trying to compete with each other. A couple of the more popular studios in my city use a Toft ATB32, another has a Neve 8232, and another is running a C24 with a bunch of outboard gear. The average going rate for studio time in my area is only about $50 an hour. But rent is also very low here, and we have a pretty lively music scene with a world class music school in the heart of the city. The only place in my area where you'll find truly high end studios are at the music schools like mine. One of the very popular studios in our area has only opened up about 4 years ago, they have gained popularity though very heavy social media presence, their awesome gear, and the space itself is really sweet. The owner of the studio graduated from the same program I'm attending.

I started this conversation looking for a digital console, after reading the replies I agree with the pros that analog is the way to go. I know the Toft ATB boards are popular but I have heard a lot of misgivings about their reliability.

Last edited by GiveMeYourGuitar; 1 week ago at 11:35 PM.. Reason: Wanted to broaden the discussion, and after reading the initial replies I changed my mind about what I want to talk about.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 

it's certainly smart to have a different system than the other studios in your area (unless you want to team up with another/similar studio?). if you're not using the desk yourself (in the studio), you can use it to mix live or rent it out so you may also want to check the live market/what's available around you regarding desks.

even if digital desks don't get used often in studios anymore (they ruled 20 years ago!), i can highly recommend using one: i have a studer vista here...

(10 years analog, 5 years digital tape, 5 years harddisk recorders, 10 years itb, now back on a digital desk for 5 years - and i'm not gonna change anytime soon; very happy with it!)



p.s. the a&h d-live s-series is very capable; i wouldn't call it high end though.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

You might want to put together a business plan, including deciding who your prospective target clients are going to be. Who are the people that decide they need to pay someone else for studio time, and why would they choose your studio over somewhere else?

Don’t forget you’re not just competing against the 2-3 professional studios in your area. You are also competing against every guy and his brother with a digital interface and plugins on his home computer. I’m not sure how a digital mixer stacks up to that type of competition, but it’s something you should consider.

On another note, if the only people in your area that can afford to have an API or SSL console is the school taking your tuition money-not people actually working in music after they graduate-then yikes. That does not bode well for your chances of succeeding as an owner of a studio in that area. That type of education really should come with a meeting with the career services department on the first day of class, or a written disclaimer of some sort.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Gear Guru
 

The reason recording studios are "prejudiced" against digital mixers is not because they are a "live sound thing". It's because they already have a digital mixer inside their DAW. For getting your work done, the digital console might feel right to you. For attracting clients? It sure wouldn't attract me! I would look at it and say, It's software inside, why not just mix ITB, then?


I say research whatever can be purchased cheaply and turned around for about the same as you bought it, because there is not much chance that a "mid tier" studio opened by 3 Guys Who Just Graduated from audio school will be in business for very long. No offense to you and your friends. It's an assessment of the industry itself. And the "studio business" in particular. This would have been a risky idea in 1985. In 2018, it's way way harder.

A mid-tier studio started by experienced pros with a track record and an established stable of paying clients will have a tough time. Look around this website and count the engineers. Now count the musicians who are recording themselves! So many people who could be your "customers" have purchased their own gear. And that gear is digital gear and they mix ITB, which is a form of digital mixer.

What is your mid-tier studio offering that they cannot do at home?

Not only have these self-recorders taken themselves out of consideration as potential clients, but I bet you anything most of them have hung out a sign and are looking to take customers themselves in their down time. They are now also partial competitors. There are some chunks of large money at the top. There are nickels and dimes at the bottom. The middle is exactly the area hardest-hit by the New Paradigms.

If you are determined to try your hand at what many would consider a suicide mission, nothing people say here will stop you. And who knows? Maybe you will be the ones to buck the odds. But for your own sake, I would still seriously put some attention to cushioning your "landing" by researching gear that holds its resale value.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Gear Addict
 
BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post

What is your mid-tier studio offering that they cannot do at home?
now thats a great question.

the answer to that question will dictate the sucess or failure of the business.

i suggest a well designed dedicated drum room, and a multiple room live space, for live band recordings, is essential to sucess.

musicans will book a big room when they need to.

the only exception to my advice might be a Mix only room, but there must be a few of those already available, and thats niece marketing, and you are not at that level yet.

Buddha
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
The reason recording studios are "prejudiced" against digital mixers is not because they are a "live sound thing". It's because they already have a digital mixer inside their DAW. For getting your work done, the digital console might feel right to you. For attracting clients? It sure wouldn't attract me! I would look at it and say, It's software inside, why not just mix ITB, then?


I say research whatever can be purchased cheaply and turned around for about the same as you bought it, because there is not much chance that a "mid tier" studio opened by 3 Guys Who Just Graduated from audio school will be in business for very long. No offense to you and your friends. It's an assessment of the industry itself. And the "studio business" in particular. This would have been a risky idea in 1985. In 2018, it's way way harder.

A mid-tier studio started by experienced pros with a track record and an established stable of paying clients will have a tough time. Look around this website and count the engineers. Now count the musicians who are recording themselves! So many people who could be your "customers" have purchased their own gear. And that gear is digital gear and they mix ITB, which is a form of digital mixer.

What is your mid-tier studio offering that they cannot do at home?

Not only have these self-recorders taken themselves out of consideration as potential clients, but I bet you anything most of them have hung out a sign and are looking to take customers themselves in their down time. They are now also partial competitors. There are some chunks of large money at the top. There are nickels and dimes at the bottom. The middle is exactly the area hardest-hit by the New Paradigms.

If you are determined to try your hand at what many would consider a suicide mission, nothing people say here will stop you. And who knows? Maybe you will be the ones to buck the odds. But for your own sake, I would still seriously put some attention to cushioning your "landing" by researching gear that holds its resale value.

Honestly I welcome the critique, these are important things to consider. That's why I've come to this forum, to get advice from actual professionals in the industry.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by GiveMeYourGuitar View Post
Honestly I welcome the critique, these are important things to consider. That's why I've come to this forum, to get advice from actual professionals in the industry.
Classy response. I’m impressed.

If you are capable, that type of attitude is why you will succeed.

Honestly, don’t market your gear as the biggest reason to use your studio. Use your location, actual space, your happy customers, and the great music you record.

Who really cares what board you use? Buy what works for your budget and make sure you have money left over for actual operating expenses and visibility. The sound quality of any of those options is more than capable for recording and mixing an amazing album.

Only gear heads know what all this gear is anyways. Customers only know what they hear and how you make them feel.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
The reason recording studios are "prejudiced" against digital mixers is not because they are a "live sound thing". It's because they already have a digital mixer inside their DAW. For getting your work done, the digital console might feel right to you. For attracting clients? It sure wouldn't attract me! I would look at it and say, It's software inside, why not just mix ITB, then?


I say research whatever can be purchased cheaply and turned around for about the same as you bought it, because there is not much chance that a "mid tier" studio opened by 3 Guys Who Just Graduated from audio school will be in business for very long. No offense to you and your friends. It's an assessment of the industry itself. And the "studio business" in particular. This would have been a risky idea in 1985. In 2018, it's way way harder.

A mid-tier studio started by experienced pros with a track record and an established stable of paying clients will have a tough time. Look around this website and count the engineers. Now count the musicians who are recording themselves! So many people who could be your "customers" have purchased their own gear. And that gear is digital gear and they mix ITB, which is a form of digital mixer.

What is your mid-tier studio offering that they cannot do at home?

Not only have these self-recorders taken themselves out of consideration as potential clients, but I bet you anything most of them have hung out a sign and are looking to take customers themselves in their down time. They are now also partial competitors. There are some chunks of large money at the top. There are nickels and dimes at the bottom. The middle is exactly the area hardest-hit by the New Paradigms.

If you are determined to try your hand at what many would consider a suicide mission, nothing people say here will stop you. And who knows? Maybe you will be the ones to buck the odds. But for your own sake, I would still seriously put some attention to cushioning your "landing" by researching gear that holds its resale value.
...while i would not book your room only 'cause you have some kinda built-in mixer in your interface/daw and have some plug ins!

did you decide on protools long ago? what are your 888 interface and tdm plugins worth today? how much did you spend on upgrading to current versions of both hardware and software? - possibly the same (or maybe much more?!) than someone who bought say a dm2000 or dmx r100, rme digiface and nuendo2 almost twenty years ago. this gear still serves as pretty capable mixer, i/o device and recording/editing platform while your digital gear most likely became obsolete - entirely!

one reason i get jobs is 'cause i can provide a multitude of mixes to very large ensembles very fast, use these settings when prdoction moves over the concert hall and back to the studio: it would be impossible to do this on a software mixer!

i haven't been checking lately, but how many auxes/mix-minus-busses/subgroups/matrices/master busses/dcs's can a modern daw do? and how fast could you get say 48 aux mixes going plus mix 128 channels from both mic and tracks and record back into daw? still sure you wanna do this on a software mixer? recording alone puts a heavy load on the daw...

(i admit we're talking high end now but that's what's in the title of this thread)

so my point is: you cannot know what these crazy young folks might end up doing: it's possible that a digital desk might be a smart choice for their endeavour!
Old 1 week ago
  #9
If I were straight out of uni - I wouldn’t consider opening my own “studio”. 3 inexperienced heads do not equal one with experience.

I’d maybe sort out a small space - for single overdubs, production and mixing - that only really requires a stereo input chain, and decent monitoring - and work on finding artists to develop relationships and reputation with. Then - if you need a space to record a band - hire a bigger space!

The commercial studio game is not being an engineer/producer - it’s being a studio manager. You don’t really want to have to take every gig going if the band is awful, just to keep the doors open.

And without any real commercial experience, you’ll make all the same mistakes as every other newbie, and it could cost you a lot.

Maybe with 10yrs of experience, you’ll know exactly what is needed by your clients - THEN you open the studio.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
PS a $25k Allen and Heath console is still “mid range” really. I’m no expert in digital studio consoles, as has been mentioned digital consoles are far more common in broadcast/live, and every high end room I’ve been to has had an analogue console - but I’d consider a “high end” digital console to be something like the SSL C200 or whatever their latest model is, or the Euphonix System 5 - often found on scoring stages.

Not to say the A and H isn’t a good board - it may we’ll be - it’s just not really a draw to anyone vaguely knowledgeable about studios in the way even an AMS neve would be.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Lives for gear
 

From what I can see, most mid-level studios in LA are using C24s.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
the answer to that question will dictate the sucess or failure of the business.

i suggest a well designed dedicated drum room, and a multiple room live space, for live band recordings, is essential to sucess.
It may not be the only path to success, but a big beautiful sounding space, isolated from the hustle and bustle of outside noises, with room (and inputs) for a whole band to play together, certainly falls in the category of 'things they cannot do at home'.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

First, devil’s advocate - the Digico S21 is available online for $6.5-7.5k and gets you 24 mic inputs and 16 outputs with a built in USB audio interface. It’s a quite good value and IMO the workflow and audio quality are both much better than the Allen and Heath.

BUT

Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
I’d maybe sort out a small space - for single overdubs, production and mixing - that only really requires a stereo input chain, and decent monitoring - and work on finding artists to develop relationships and reputation with. Then - if you need a space to record a band - hire a bigger space!
I agree with this - build the client base, mic locker, and instrument collection over a couple years and then you’ll have stuff to put in that room and people who will be excited to work there!
Old 1 week ago
  #14
Gear Addict
 
BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
It may not be the only path to success, but a big beautiful sounding space, isolated from the hustle and bustle of outside noises, with room (and inputs) for a whole band to play together, certainly falls in the category of 'things they cannot do at home'.
yes Joeq. im with you on that one.

certainly not the only path, but if the rooms and vibe are good, it will bring in the clients and eventually the bookings.

and its a good place to start from.

buddha
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Old 1 week ago
  #15
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by inasilentway View Post
First, devil’s advocate - the Digico S21 is available online for $6.5-7.5k and gets you 24 mic inputs and 16 outputs with a built in USB audio interface. It’s a quite good value and IMO the workflow and audio quality are both much better than the Allen and Heath.
it's okay to have personal preference on workflow but this is nonsense: check specs, performance, price etc. and sit down on both of these desks: s21 is a bit above entry level (downgraded from the sd range), s7000 is a serious contender on mid to higher level (and heavily upgraded since ealier ilive series)!
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
it's okay to have personal preference on workflow but this is nonsense: check specs, performance, price etc. and sit down on both of these desks: s21 is a bit above entry level (downgraded from the sd range), s7000 is a serious contender in the mid to higher level class (and heavily upgraded since ealier ilive series)!
It’s still not a “high end digital console” compared to some of the names I mentioned.

And really - choosing a console is not the issue here.
Old 1 week ago
  #17
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
It’s still not a “high end digital console” compared to some of the names I mentioned.

And really - choosing a console is not the issue here.
i agree on the first part (and mentioned it in my first post), i don't agree on the second part: the op is obiously planning to get a digital console as a front end and if so, we better might suggest a few things to consider - it's also okay trying to tell him it's bs; i do not necessarily think so even if it's a live console (which also have some advantages not found in high level digital studio consoles - and vice versa)
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
i agree on the first part (and mentioned it in my first post), i don't agree on the second part: the op is obiously planning to get a digital console as a front end and if so, we better might suggest a few things to consider - it's also okay trying to tell him it's bs; i do not necessarily think so even if it's a live console (which also have some advantages not found in high level digital studio consoles - and vice versa)
What I mean is - the real issue is “starting a studio” with no actual experience. That’s a far bigger issue than what console to get.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
If I were straight out of uni - I wouldn’t consider opening my own “studio”. 3 inexperienced heads do not equal one with experience.

I’d maybe sort out a small space - for single overdubs, production and mixing - that only really requires a stereo input chain, and decent monitoring - and work on finding artists to develop relationships and reputation with. Then - if you need a space to record a band - hire a bigger space!

The commercial studio game is not being an engineer/producer - it’s being a studio manager. You don’t really want to have to take every gig going if the band is awful, just to keep the doors open.

And without any real commercial experience, you’ll make all the same mistakes as every other newbie, and it could cost you a lot.

Maybe with 10yrs of experience, you’ll know exactly what is needed by your clients - THEN you open the studio.
FWIW all three of us already make a little money from recording/live sound, we are the top of our admittedly small class. I also teach guitar. We would really just be consolidating our resources instead of competing with each other. But one of the problems I've found is that, getting experience in a real studio is nearly impossible outside of school. I even have a fairly high level contact in the industry who said she would see if she could help me find an internship, but even at that most studios aren't really looking for interns. Even if they were, the odds of getting a job at a studio after that is slim, because why hire someone when there are 100 people like me who will also do the work for free? Getting experience working for someone else would be great before running my own show, but nobody is hiring.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
If I was opening new studio now, I would consider the SSl XL mixer with 8 SSl Eq's on board and then some Neve or API 500 series for channels 9-16 to work with a DAW.

If you want more of a DAW controller, the SSl Matrix with at least a full X Rack with Eq's. A second SSl rack with the SSl bus compressor and their mono compressors The reason is being able to save settings is a huge time saver with it.

People at home studio will see you have a vibe and sound they cat get and will be willing to use your studio. It will also be a large enough desk to impress clients. If that is too rich, a API The Desk with 4 API Eq's in it. You could track 4 channels with it, use the 2 bus compressor, and sum your mix through the 16 channels.

Effects in digital desks don't sound better than third party plug in's from UAD, Brainworx, Softube and others.
Old 1 week ago
  #21
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GiveMeYourGuitar View Post
FWIW all three of us already make a little money from recording/live sound, we are the top of our admittedly small class. I also teach guitar. We would really just be consolidating our resources instead of competing with each other. But one of the problems I've found is that, getting experience in a real studio is nearly impossible outside of school. I even have a fairly high level contact in the industry who said she would see if she could help me find an internship, but even at that most studios aren't really looking for interns. Even if they were, the odds of getting a job at a studio after that is slim, because why hire someone when there are 100 people like me who will also do the work for free? Getting experience working for someone else would be great before running my own show, but nobody is hiring.
Working at an established studio as a free intern for a few months is still way less expensive than owning and operating your own start-up studio. Part of the experience you need is seeing how the business side of a studio works. Simply knowing how to operate the equipment in a studio is not all it takes to be a successful business owner.

On the other hand, if all you really want to do is be an engineer or producer, not a studio owner, focus on that. You don’t necessarily need own a bunch of gear to do that. You can have the artists you work with pay for the studio time, and let someone else worry about the actual ownership and operation of the studio.

Again, the fact that there are 100s of people looking for work and willing to do it for free in your area is a sign that there is simply not enough work to go around and support more studios in your area.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
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rectifried's Avatar
I’ve been a professional musician my whole life and producer for the last 18 years
So take this with a grain
If anything iTunes and Spotify has taught us with that customer experience at most important to people with regards to music

Find the best Space and make it as cool as you can
Invest in great headphone mixer stations-this is huge
Get something people don’t have access to at home
Like a very good piano

Get some fun instruments for inspiration vibe
So a songwriter or band will say “ they had this awesome Xxx.. from the 90s!” On their insta

Now for the op question :Find a decent analog board to A) to get more pres
(You can get a few good vocal and Kick snare chains in outboard )

This is key;
This analog board will be what many clients will want to Instagram in front of or show them at while they listen back
When they walk in they will think “studio”

This insta snap is how your word of mouth will work
People want to show that their in a “real” studio
And not a folding table with a laptop
(Which is how’s a lot of pop is made lol)

Sounds like a hustle but it’s just simple human need to show each other things or to say now I’m in the recording studio..
Like most things you’ll prob mix ITb 98%
Get a monitor controller

Get the mics and room dialed so setup is fast

Put some classic pics of artists recording on the walls to make the subliminal connection to the client

Find the highest regarded artists bands in your area and offer time at a super discount
Then Instagram them at your place

Then see if you can tie in with that recording school you went to on some special class or 3 day boot camp you could advertise

Its fun to have your own spot and friends to work with I get that.
why not give a try.. Stax took years to make any dent. Stan and Estell were a banker and teacher. and did it on weekends, with local bands [ which became Booker T MGs]

Just a few thoughts

Oh yeah Digital board ... hmm I wouldn’t

Plus an analog board might seem like a bit of a "prop".
But, as a bonus You can get all "man bun hipster" and say "Were Analog... Man"

Last edited by rectifried; 1 week ago at 09:58 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by GiveMeYourGuitar View Post
FWIW all three of us already make a little money from recording/live sound, we are the top of our admittedly small class. I also teach guitar. We would really just be consolidating our resources instead of competing with each other. But one of the problems I've found is that, getting experience in a real studio is nearly impossible outside of school. I even have a fairly high level contact in the industry who said she would see if she could help me find an internship, but even at that most studios aren't really looking for interns. Even if they were, the odds of getting a job at a studio after that is slim, because why hire someone when there are 100 people like me who will also do the work for free? Getting experience working for someone else would be great before running my own show, but nobody is hiring.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Singlecutz View Post
Working at an established studio as a free intern for a few months is still way less expensive than owning and operating your own start-up studio. Part of the experience you need is seeing how the business side of a studio works. Simply knowing how to operate the equipment in a studio is not all it takes to be a successful business owner.

On the other hand, if all you really want to do is be an engineer or producer, not a studio owner, focus on that. You don’t necessarily need own a bunch of gear to do that. You can have the artists you work with pay for the studio time, and let someone else worry about the actual ownership and operation of the studio.

Again, the fact that there are 100s of people looking for work and willing to do it for free in your area is a sign that there is simply not enough work to go around and support more studios in your area.
This is exactly right.

There’s hundreds working for free...so why are you expecting people to pay for a decent studio, when there’s no track record?

And reread what I wrote. I’m not suggesting you hang around until you get an unpaid internship (though a few weeks of quality work experience would teach you more than your degree I’d wager - speaking from experience I learned more in 6 months of being a runner than in 3 years of a good degree).

I’m suggesting you don’t go full blast with another larger tracking space - not unless your area is devoid of such and the need is great (which it doesn’t seem like it is).

Start with a small production space, and market yourself as the asset. When you need a larger space - and 90% of the time you won’t - hire one. The rest of the time, you’re not paying the overhead and you don’t need all the gear or the space.

I speak from experience - I did this successfully in London for a couple of years (admittedly with some experience first), and I know of many others taking this route. In many ways it’s the “new way to progress”.

If you have a genuine business plan, a hole in the market (I get the point about offering something home studios don’t have, but the market of people who’s otherwise record at home is bottom feeding and soul destroying a lot of the time - and hard to break out of) real clients lined up and a proper understanding of how a studio business runs - go ahead and buck the trend.

I reckon now I could run a commercial studio relatively well in most markets - because I’ve spent the last 15 years in and out of them. I couldn’t have at 21, leaving uni.
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