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What gear(s) addition would best improve my recording setup? Condenser Microphones
Old 6 days ago
  #1
Gear Head
What gear(s) addition would best improve my recording setup?

Hi everyone,

First off, I am really a hobbyist. But, I really enjoy both playing music and the process of writing/recording and mixing my own songs. I have no plans of recording anyone else in the foreseable future.

I have never invested a lot of money in my recording setup, aside from some mics in the last 2-3 years. I would like to make some investments to try and bonify my setup and get better results.

My actual recording set up is :

room
: 10X17 treated with slanted ceiling and treated with a fair amount of OC 703 and 705.

Mics : Aston Spirit, AKG C214, KSM 137, SM7b, SM57, Fat Head II, Cad M179 and MXL V6.

Pre: either the pres in my Mackie 1402 VLZpro or on my Scarlett 8i6. I have a FetHead for the ribbon and SM7b. I record the bass trough a SansAmp bass driver.

Outboard processor : only a MPX 550 for headphone mix purposes only (reverb and compression on vocals - not printed to the DAW).

Monitors : M-audio SP-5b along with an m-audio subwoofer.

Recording medium : DAW

All mixing is done ITB with all tracks recorded completely dry aside from the HPF where needed. Most plugs are ik multimedia, your usual suspects.

I record mostly vox, guitars (acoustic and electrics) and a bass. Sometime a synth. My main acoustic is a all hog martin ooo15sm. My genre is folk rock. Songs a either slow naked acoustic songs or more orchestrated folk-rock songs. All drums are courtesy of EZ drummer...

here is my soundcloud page for some quick ideas of my style : Erikens | Free Listening on SoundCloud

I would like to have some outboard gears to track with and maybe commit a bit more on the way in to lower the load on my pc at mixtime.

Admittingly better recording and mixing technics will help too, but I'd like better gears also.

This year's budget would be around 1500-1800 USD. I don't think my wife would approve more

All comments and suggestions will be appreciated.
Old 6 days ago
  #2
Gear Nut
 

spend it on a hobby that get you outside :D

maybe monitors? thats a pretty good budget to upgrade those. you seem pretty well set other than that, assuming you are happy with your computer and software
Old 6 days ago
  #3
Gear Head
I run in the summer - pretty unexpansive!

I wasn’t really thinking about monitors. Are they that bad?
Old 6 days ago
  #4
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kharma44 View Post
I run in the summer - pretty unexpansive!

I wasn’t really thinking about monitors. Are they that bad?
i dont know, i have never heard them, but i assume by the price range of them that you could improve them with $1800, but as i have not heard them for myself i could be completely wrong and thats definitely something that your ears have to decide anyway, not mine.
im speaking practical too, you might decide you want something fun, like an instrument or effect, which only you can decide.
Old 6 days ago
  #5
Gear Nut
 

ironically, on the GS main page there is a list of ideas that might be of interest:

Ten of the Best Studio Monitors ($1,000 to $2,000)
Old 5 days ago
  #6
Gear Head
Well, the sp5b sure don't have stellar reviews. But new monitors don’t sound as cool as something with knobs I guess...
Old 5 days ago
  #7
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kharma44 View Post
Well, the sp5b sure don't have stellar reviews. But new monitors don’t sound as cool as something with knobs I guess...
yea i get that. you should have a think and get a better idea of what you need. if you dont need anything then put the money away for next year and have twice as much next year
Old 3 days ago
  #8
Gear Head
Yeah...

I would like better preamps than the ones I have, although I am unsure if it actually would make a difference as when I do listen to the comparisons available on the web between high end ones and cheaper ones like my Mackie's, I find the differences subtles and could hardly decide which is which or which sounds «better» if I do the test blinded. Still, the lust for better ones is still there.

Also, I think a compressor for tracking duddies would be nice, so I can lower the load on the cpu come mixtime. I tend to have lots of vox tracks, and each ends up with 2 stages of compression so that loads my cpu quite fast. Maybe I'll just grab a RNLA or Pro VLA II or a WA76!

But anyways, thanks for your input. I probably should sleep on it.
Old 2 days ago
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kharma44 View Post
Yeah...

I would like better preamps than the ones I have, although I am unsure if it actually would make a difference as when I do listen to the comparisons available on the web between high end ones and cheaper ones like my Mackie's, I find the differences subtles and could hardly decide which is which or which sounds «better» if I do the test blinded.
some might say this also points to a monitor upgrade.. lets say $800-$1000 maybe, or perhaps less - even the JBL LSR305 seem to be very well regarded, perhaps you don't need to pay more?

to be honest those preamps are fine.

I think also you should look at one each of the new klark teknik rack units, the KT76, KT-2A and the pultec, whatever that's called... all of those are also well regarded and will get you a huge sonic pallet to paint with!

or a daking fet ii

also - better mic stands? closed back phones?
Old 2 days ago
  #10
Gear Head
The Klark stuff is pretty hard to find in Canada and I am not to keen on buying of ebay and have it shipped in canada. Custom fees are always a surprise - often a bad one.

Thats why I'm considering th warm stuff. Although, perhaps the RNLA or Pro VLA would do just fine and a plus, they can be stereo which is a plus for recording a dual mic setup for ac guitars.
Old 2 days ago
  #11
I never get tired of recommending the Sebatron vmp-4000e. Insane value. But hard to get in Canada, I suppose...
Old 2 days ago
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Speaking as a long term hobbyist myself. The greater improvements always started with improving source instruments. There is so much clean headroom and tons of bang for the buck - and free plug-ins. If your monitors sound good to you on commercial grade recordings - then you probably don't need to worry about them. But a better guitar or whatever instrument you're recording will instantly sound like an improvement. - maybe it's as simple as a set-up or better tuning of drums percussion etc. Gear is for capturing it cleanly and allowing re-mixes - edits - add-infinitym. IMO..

Edit - missed the use of EZ-drummer in your OP. I'd add some real percussion for sure. Even adding just a real hi-hat and cymbals makes a very noticeable improvement. Never leave a fake bass on a final.
Old 1 day ago
  #13
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RBHan View Post
Speaking as a long term hobbyist myself. The greater improvements always started with improving source instruments. There is so much clean headroom and tons of bang for the buck - and free plug-ins. If your monitors sound good to you on commercial grade recordings - then you probably don't need to worry about them. But a better guitar or whatever instrument you're recording will instantly sound like an improvement. - maybe it's as simple as a set-up or better tuning of drums percussion etc. Gear is for capturing it cleanly and allowing re-mixes - edits - add-infinitym. IMO..

Edit - missed the use of EZ-drummer in your OP. I'd add some real percussion for sure. Even adding just a real hi-hat and cymbals makes a very noticeable improvement. Never leave a fake bass on a final.
yea this is a good point, good digital recreations of the instruments you dont play can help take your complete productions to another level and allow you to cover all elements on your own.

i can agree that EZ drummer would be a good option for this too, as well as other stuff made by toontrack, or something like kontakt with some patches
Old 1 day ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
I would probably aim for something like Interface - Monitors - Lead vocal microphone

although likely you're probably not going to get all 3 in the budget

the gear you have is fine, until one day maybe you outgrow certain specific pieces, or identify a deficit in some area

personally monitors have been something that has taken a long time for me to be happy with, it's been a struggle

interface/conversion/monitor controller are also a part of that equation.
Old 23 hours ago
  #15
Lives for gear
 
bowzin's Avatar
I had some of the gear you mentioned, so just from personal experience here's what moved the needle and added some excitement on my journey.

I think monitors would be a nice improvement. I'm a fan of the Presonus Sceptre's as they're pretty forgiving, and a big jump in depth and clarity from entry-level stuff for not much more money. See if you can source some Sceptre S6's for around $600-$1,000. I haven’t come across anything better that’s less than $1,000/pair USD but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something new out there.

There's lots of monitor options, I haven't tried all the newest stuff, but I tried a ton of stuff that was popular 10 or so years ago, and these were just noticeably better, pretty hard to think you wouldn't consider these an upgrade. Play with monitor position and the controls on the back until they melt into your space. Your space is treated with OC703 so that is excellent.

Since you probably don’t need super authoritative bass, the Neumann KH120’s are really popular. I thought they were very good but a little bass shy, but when I heard them it wasn’t my room so that may not be fair, but seems to match up with their size and other folks’ experience as well. I do rock and EDM so I need authoritative but not hyped bass, and the Sceptre’s make me very happy in that regard. The KH120’s may or may not have even better mids/highs though, and are generally more expensive, just another option.

After monitoring it gets tougher... I think I have a tendency to over-emphasize preamps and conversion, because they make up the "foundation" of your entire setup, just like monitors. Preamps, conversion, monitors, room treatment... that is like the audio foundation or backbone of a studio. So for me that was really important, but also… there are other things that would be fun and make a big splashy improvement, so it’s up to you.

Purchase Klanghelm MJUC plugin compressor immediately, don’t even read anything about it, just purchase it immediately and try it as the first compressor on your acoustic and vocal tracks and see what you think. Definitely a forum favorite, and it’s weirdly dirt cheap. You’re welcome!! Download his other free plugins also, they’re very good as well.

Also I’d add Valhalla Vintage Verb reverb plugin to that list as well. For less than $100 USD those two plugins are absolutely incredible and will make you happy.

If you’re set on compressors, either the Klark Teknik or Warm Audio are good recommendations. Or the GAP Comp3A perhaps also. The Klark Teknik KT-EQP Pultec tube EQ is very good and very cheap, even with import duties or what not it feels under-priced for the quality.

Next year, take all your budget and buy a killer microphone. In the $1,000-$1,500+ range, a signature piece like your nice guitar. This year you could do Presonus Sceptre S6’s for $800-$1,000 and a 3U Audio GZ67FET for $600 USD (email the owner directly: [email protected] for info and prices). That would be an instant studio upgrade there, I think you’d be thrilled.
Old 23 hours ago
  #16
Gear Nut
 

You need better monitors first. You gotta hear it, right?

Then maybe a couple of high end mics like a Royer, Neumann, Chandler etc

All of your other gear is fine.

Maybe you need a high end mic amp. But I don’t think so.

Your converters are really good and the mix of preamps is good.

You need monitors and then better mics.

If you want to color your sound pick up UAD or Softube 1 with a couple of add-on collections like the Neve and API.

Monitors first man.

EDIT: listened to your sound cloud. I dunno, maybe you should just buy a top shelf condenser and tube mic amp.

REDD Microphone | Chandler Limited

Or UA or Tubetech or Manley.

Why do you need all those mics? If you’re tracking 1 instrument at a time, then one great mic and preamp will do.

Monitors then a grogeous mic for your voice and guitars.

Put it on a payment plan. Vintage King has a line of credit oftentimes with 36 months at 0% with an autopay monthly.

That Chandler would be $125 a month interest free.

Something to think about.
Old 23 hours ago
  #17
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

I might not be entirely down with the "drown yourself in the bathtub" aspect, but otherwise, I think this has a lot going for it. I love your fingerpicking, and your voice carries a lot of emotion. But everything sounds a bit small.



I'd say you need a better preamp. And an interface that has a true line-in that will let you bypass the mic pre and get straight to the DAW from your new, better preamp.
Old 20 hours ago
  #18
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I might not be entirely down with the "drown yourself in the bathtub" aspect, but otherwise, I think this has a lot going for it. I love your fingerpicking, and your voice carries a lot of emotion. But everything sounds a bit small.



I'd say you need a better preamp. And an interface that has a true line-in that will let you bypass the mic pre and get straight to the DAW from your new, better preamp.
Right?

I’m hearing a gorgeous tube sound for this track.

I can’t imagine tracking this with a 1073 and SM7.

That would be sad.

This dude needs the warm and sparkly detail that nice tube circuits offer.
Old 19 hours ago
  #19
Lives for gear
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
Am I hearing an Elliott Smith influence?
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