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Could you build an analogue studio with $25,000?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
Could you build an analogue studio with $25,000?

Name says it all!

My band is gearing up to record our next full length album and we decided to spend our whole budget on building a studio instead of paying hourly at a commercial facility.

Our budget is around $25,000, but we could stretch it if necessary.

What we're going for is the sound of Daft Punk's Random Access Memories - creamy, full, 70's analogue sounds. Perhaps a lofty goal, but let's get creative! I've done a lot of research on that album and am quite familiar with the gear they used, but I would very much appreciate more input.

Mixing console and outboard pre's are the big question.

What we already have:

-PT 12
-Monitors
-Treated Room
-All Required Instruments
-Mics/Stands/Cables/Etc

What would you do with our budget?

Thank you so much!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
Gear Nut
Look up the id44 and asp 880s. Maybe it’s not quite enough inputs, maybe you want a board... But damn would you have a lot of money left over for mics if you went that way.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
Lives for gear
First thing I would do is locate a "Live room" somewhere that either has or includes access to an area with great sounded natural ambiance. I would want the ability to track in that space (As opposed to the Capitol records, "Elvis/Sinatra-reverb-dungeon" thing, where they hung (Hang, they were still there 6 years ago) speakers in the "Dungeon". Doesn't sound like this is something you are interested in though...you want STUFF.

But...You want to use a DAW? I'm assuming you do because you mentioned Protools as one of the tools you already have...so tape is not an option? Also, unless you have access to a tech, and have a real passion for it....and since you mentioned Protools and not tape, I'll guess you don't, it may be too much for you to deal with...plus, with maintenance issues, the price of a good machine, and many other factors that cost money, using tape could eat that $25,000 in a single afternoon.

Hmmm......You know, I actually don't think I have an answer for you....other than this....I've been around the block a few times, I've been in all the chairs, artist, producer, engineer, "Circuit" Song-writer...All these roles have lead me to be suspicious of certain things when I hear them...

Not suspicious of the PERSON saying them, but warry of a project when I hear certain things...I know it's not how you see it, but I see your question as one I have been asked 1000 x...

..."What do I throw money at, so I can be Daftpunk?" (Or insert any artist)

I rarely see these things turn out well, and would be inclined to tell you to LOOK AROUND YOU.......You see that stuff? USE THAT STUFF...Until there is something you want to hear that what you have is unable to do...at that point go buy the thing that you KNOW does what you want it to do.

Daft punk isn't gear...that's not where the sound/verve/je nais c'est quoi comes from, nor has their success ever been predicated on what was used to make that music.

As far as "This synth, that drum machine, that sampler" a quick Google on gear used for any song you like a sound in, will tell you what made it.

But if you want to get the "Vibe" of another group.....sorry, it's not for sale.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
Lives for gear
 
DistortingJack's Avatar
 

You can get the RAM sound in the box for not that much money. You just need to know what you’re doing.

If you want a real drum kit then get a great-sounding room, great mics, and a good interface.

An iD44 + an ASP880 will give you enough inputs. Then good mics, maybe some ribbons, will yield good enough results that you can shape the sound inside the box.

Good mics and acoustic treatment will set you back a large chunk of the 25k.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
Definitely a PT and plugins sound, so seems you're good to go.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
Lives for gear
 

if you're into analog, i suggest getting a used live mixing desk: some of the largest and best desks can be found for ridiculous prices these dsys... then add some hadware efx devices and converters; use pt on the inserts of the desk, do essential mixing/editing itb but refine via desk/efx. you need another converter to get back into pt et voilà!


oh, and forget tape and it doesn't need to be pt...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 
avare's Avatar
 

Lots of suggestions already. Proper multitrack tape machine and tape, mix down 2 track machine. Starting cheap shoot the performance spaces and adjust acoustics accordingly. Add diffusion in the main performance room.

I am writing this as writing in addition to what is already mentioned.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
Well said! And what a great perspective.

A few things I'd like to note:
-We are fortunate enough to have a great room to record in that I think will sound lovely for this project.
-We would love to record to tape (with which we do have access to a tech and certainly have a passion for it!), whether that be 2" or 1/4", and I'd be interested in hearing everyone's thoughts on using tape with our budget.
-We will be editing and arranging inside PT 12, but our intention is to do most processing OTB with minimal plug-in use.

As far as vibe goes - we have no desire to be daftpunk, we are very content in our alternative rock genre. We will be throwing money at this project regardless of the route we take, and in fact, we have found commercial studios to be quite stifling with their "time is money" mentality. We are ready to sink some serious time into the recording of our next project to learn more about ourselves and the sounds we make.

TL;DR - We need some quality gear!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
Lives for gear
 
GYMusic's Avatar
2" - 24 plus a 1/4" or 1/2" mix down machine and a console... are you ready for the sticker shock? especially when you buy from one of the "used gear" shops? Plus, have you thought of the price of rolling 2" inch tape to capture every take? Just a reality check.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
Lives for gear
 
tkaitkai's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toakley View Post
-We would love to record to tape (with which we do have access to a tech and certainly have a passion for it!), whether that be 2" or 1/4", and I'd be interested in hearing everyone's thoughts on using tape with our budget.
I wouldn’t bother. For $25,000, you can get a lot of really nice gear and make great sounding records that rival what you can get from tape. A good tape machine will take a considerable chunk out of your budget and introduce all of the headaches and frustrations of working with tape.

Since you already have instruments, monitors, and a treated space, I’d spend most of the money on mics and outboard. Get one or two really nice LDCs, a bunch of workhorse dyanmics/ribbons/SDCs, 16 or more channels of workhorse I/O (preamps and AD/DA), and a few high end preamps/compressors/EQs for important channels (i.e. vocals and stereo bus).
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
Lives for gear
 
thismercifulfate's Avatar
Reality check: Is anyone in your band a professional recording engineer? If you want to sound like Daft Punk, the amount of money you throw at the gear doesn't matter if no one knows what they're doing with it. If the answer is no, then don't waste your money. Find the right engineer and/or producer to work with who will get you the sound you're after.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Oldone's Avatar
I say no. Here's what it took.

https://www.puremix.net/video/inside...daft-punk.html

https://www.uaudio.com/blog/artist-i...mick-guzauski/

Mixed at Conway studios probably their 80 Channel Neve 88R but they also have an SSL in the B room. Go look at their gear lists.

As others have said, if you have an A rated engineer, all things are possible.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
Lives for gear
 
proxy's Avatar
 

Lots of other details to fill in if one were to give a great answer.

But in broad perspective, I personally would split the difference between acquiring *things*, and paying for *expertise*.

I would spend half on gear that could be used to capture great performances very well, and presumably be used for several projects: nice microphones and preamps.

I would spend the other half paying someone to professionally mix it, and someone to professionally master it.

Or, just dive in and try to do it all yourself. You’ll certainly learn a lot, but I think my first suggestion is likely to yield a better end result, and there’s probably even plenty to learn through that process.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Toakley View Post
Name says it all!

My band is gearing up to record our next full length album and we decided to spend our whole budget on building a studio instead of paying hourly at a commercial facility.

Our budget is around $25,000, but we could stretch it if necessary.

What we're going for is the sound of Daft Punk's Random Access Memories - creamy, full, 70's analogue sounds. Perhaps a lofty goal, but let's get creative! I've done a lot of research on that album and am quite familiar with the gear they used, but I would very much appreciate more input.

Mixing console and outboard pre's are the big question.

What we already have:

-PT 12
-Monitors
-Treated Room
-All Required Instruments
-Mics/Stands/Cables/Etc

What would you do with our budget?

Thank you so much!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toakley View Post
What we're going for is the sound of Daft Punk's Random Access Memories - creamy, full, 70's analogue sounds.
“At that time, there wasn’t really anything close to an analogue console (in the digital realm) as far as sounding good was concerned. It was night and day. We toured with a classic Midas Heritage console. So that was really the beginning of the analogue-only concept that carried through to Random Access Memories.”
-Daft Punk

https://www.musictech.net/features/r...cess-memories/
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
Lives for gear
 

If you are willing to process each track separately, and are willing to skip the tape, yes.

Balance cost across these components. Buy two of the best mics with your favorite color, two of the best preamps with your favorite color ie Coil Audio, Fearn, TG, Neve, API etc, a perfectly neutral converter; Lynx Hilo or Aurora(n), and a MATCHED pair of the best compressors ie 176, Sta, Fearn, Requisite, 1176 etc. if budget allows or later, add a Neve MBP. If you like reverb in addition to the room, find your favorite used. You will need to be patient and shop hard but, that is part of the fun.

I also like the Speck Via fader + M for mixing and the LL Monotor for headphone work. If you want more color while mixing, Chandler’s Mini Mixer has transformers on every channel. Silver Bullet is a lot of bang for the buck and has color preamps and enough sweet, basic eq if you like eq.

The excellent neutral converter allows you to post process to add color/vibe AND you can always add more to the setup.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
Gear Nut
 

Well, if you want to approach the sound from Daft Punk RAM, you'll will need far more than gear :p

Beside that they used a whole array of modular synthetiser, analog consoles, tape recorder and so on, so you'll probably be short 200.000 bucks on your budget.

Just go for what you like and can afford within your budget !
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
Here for the gear
 

I’ve been there, I spent all my advance on gear to make a dream record, but I didn’t achieve it and over the years sold the pieces of gear we bought, mics, pre pre amps, drums, etc. If I had that kind of money again? I’d support studios and use them for the great gear they have. They’re there for a reason. That’s what I realised.

For the results you seek, they are in well equipped studios with the knowledgable people able to take you there. If none of you in the band really have the insight and the producer role, then you will squander this money quickly and have a difficult time building the studio and achieving the sound you so desire. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but highly likely to bring you a headache.

Just getting the drums right is one of the biggest challenges for this type of production. The rest is achievable at home and DIY if you know how to get there, but drums are a key element of the 70s approach and what RAM sounds like. You should save a chunk of that budget working with the right mixer at the end of your recording! I finished my old record and didn’t have any money to mix and was at the time not proficient at mixing as I am today.

With your 25K budget you can spend half of it tracking the essentials in a good studio and you can still buy some pieces of gear if you want to continue recording in your own space.

Spend your money wisely and focus on making the best record you can, and aim for that to open doors in the future that will allow you to invest in your own studio and gear. It’s not now or never either.

25K can get you a lot of things, but it can also get you a just a few things with the inappropriate purchases.

You can record, mix and master an incredibly pro sounding record with that budget and work with really good people and I would go down the Classic route to making this record.

If you were a solo bedroom producer who can make anything out of anything, then sure spend 25K on just gear and enjoy yourself. It’s a different dynamic with bands. Hope some of this helps
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
Gear Addict
 
Murky Waters's Avatar
 

Consider a 32-channel Soundcraft Delta console and get it modded by Jim Williams. Add ample channels of very nice converters, and some ribbon and tube microphones (possibly an outboard pre or two), as well as the other usual mic suspects (57, 421...), and you are up and running and possibly under budget.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

If you want to record with tape I say do it. Buy a refurbed Mara Machines MCI and take your pick of used consoles. Or match a 16 track MCI with a brand new Trident 68 and use the pres in there if you’re happy with your mics and room. If you get the right board you don’t need to bother with outboard pres at all. There’s a million reasons not to go this direction, people have already given you a lot of them, but if you want to record this way then go for it.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
if you're into analog, i suggest getting a used live mixing desk: some of the largest and best desks can be found for ridiculous prices these dsys... then add some hadware efx devices and converters; use pt on the inserts of the desk, do essential mixing/editing itb but refine via desk/efx. you need another converter to get back into pt et voilà!


oh, and forget tape and it doesn't need to be pt...
Any specific gear recommendations?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by avare View Post
Lots of suggestions already. Proper multitrack tape machine and tape, mix down 2 track machine. Starting cheap shoot the performance spaces and adjust acoustics accordingly. Add diffusion in the main performance room.

I am writing this as writing in addition to what is already mentioned.
Can you recommend any tape machines?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by GYMusic View Post
2" - 24 plus a 1/4" or 1/2" mix down machine and a console... are you ready for the sticker shock? especially when you buy from one of the "used gear" shops? Plus, have you thought of the price of rolling 2" inch tape to capture every take? Just a reality check.
Yes I'm ready, hit me.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismercifulfate View Post
Reality check: Is anyone in your band a professional recording engineer? If you want to sound like Daft Punk, the amount of money you throw at the gear doesn't matter if no one knows what they're doing with it. If the answer is no, then don't waste your money. Find the right engineer and/or producer to work with who will get you the sound you're after.
Yep! Went to university for audio engineering and have been practicing for 10 years!

No desire to sound like Daft Punk, we are quite far from them in genre anyway. I mentioned them because I enjoyed the sonic quality of the album.

Always good to check your reality though!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldone View Post
I say no. Here's what it took.

https://www.puremix.net/video/inside...daft-punk.html

https://www.uaudio.com/blog/artist-i...mick-guzauski/

Mixed at Conway studios probably their 80 Channel Neve 88R but they also have an SSL in the B room. Go look at their gear lists.

As others have said, if you have an A rated engineer, all things are possible.
Great resources, thanks!

We have the engineer covered, just looking for gear recommendations!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by proxy View Post
Lots of other details to fill in if one were to give a great answer.

But in broad perspective, I personally would split the difference between acquiring *things*, and paying for *expertise*.

I would spend half on gear that could be used to capture great performances very well, and presumably be used for several projects: nice microphones and preamps.

I would spend the other half paying someone to professionally mix it, and someone to professionally master it.

Or, just dive in and try to do it all yourself. You’ll certainly learn a lot, but I think my first suggestion is likely to yield a better end result, and there’s probably even plenty to learn through that process.
Can you recommend any preamps?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZEF View Post
“At that time, there wasn’t really anything close to an analogue console (in the digital realm) as far as sounding good was concerned. It was night and day. We toured with a classic Midas Heritage console. So that was really the beginning of the analogue-only concept that carried through to Random Access Memories.”
-Daft Punk

https://www.musictech.net/features/r...cess-memories/
Super cool. Thanks for sharing.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenLMorgan View Post
If you are willing to process each track separately, and are willing to skip the tape, yes.

Balance cost across these components. Buy two of the best mics with your favorite color, two of the best preamps with your favorite color ie Coil Audio, Fearn, TG, Neve, API etc, a perfectly neutral converter; Lynx Hilo or Aurora(n), and a MATCHED pair of the best compressors ie 176, Sta, Fearn, Requisite, 1176 etc. if budget allows or later, add a Neve MBP. If you like reverb in addition to the room, find your favorite used. You will need to be patient and shop hard but, that is part of the fun.

I also like the Speck Via fader + M for mixing and the LL Monotor for headphone work. If you want more color while mixing, Chandler’s Mini Mixer has transformers on every channel. Silver Bullet is a lot of bang for the buck and has color preamps and enough sweet, basic eq if you like eq.

The excellent neutral converter allows you to post process to add color/vibe AND you can always add more to the setup.
Extremely helpful, any recommendations on mixing consoles?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by mappee View Post
Forget it. Take the money and find a studio where you're comfortable with staff and room. You will get the best results with the least amount of headaches.

A band should be concerned with group performance rather than the recording process. Wearing too many hats encompasses learning curves above and beyond the cost of equipment, commissioning, maintenance, etc. If you are serious about your band, well?

I'm not saying it's impossible to set up a recording environment with 25K but it will take so much energy and a pot full of luck to get it right. A studio being more than the money that buys the equipment.
If the intent is to have a demo studio for your band then we have a different situation and 25K should get you that, but for a master recording book a room.
We have actually done it both ways. We did all the recording and mixing on our first album, then we went to an awesome commercial studio (with very friendly and talented staff/engineers) and after having both experiences we feel much more comfortable doing it ourselves where we know we can take time to experiment.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #29
Gear Maniac
 

Tracking a live rock band means you want a large room. What is the cubic volume of the room where the drums will be tracked? How tall is the ceiling? You want a tall ceiling and lots of cubic volume for drums.

A number of famous rock records were recorded in giant houses that were rented out. If I were you, I would skip the idea of tape. Create a great mobile setup capable of recording 16 channels simultaneously. Get great Neve and API preamps... using an API "lunchbox" will allow you to collect a number of them efficiently into a compact form factor. Then rent a giant house for a week or two to do your tracking. Then bring the tracks back to your live room, which will be re-purposed to be your mixing/overdub room.

Get a serious monitor setup if you don't already have one... at least $5k/pair for your mains.

I would do something like $7k on mics, $7k on monitors, $7k on preamps/converters/headphones/miscellaneous. That leaves you $4k to rent a mansion somewhere with 20 foot high ceilings.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by tubezipper View Post
I’ve been there, I spent all my advance on gear to make a dream record, but I didn’t achieve it and over the years sold the pieces of gear we bought, mics, pre pre amps, drums, etc. If I had that kind of money again? I’d support studios and use them for the great gear they have. They’re there for a reason. That’s what I realised.

For the results you seek, they are in well equipped studios with the knowledgable people able to take you there. If none of you in the band really have the insight and the producer role, then you will squander this money quickly and have a difficult time building the studio and achieving the sound you so desire. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but highly likely to bring you a headache.

Just getting the drums right is one of the biggest challenges for this type of production. The rest is achievable at home and DIY if you know how to get there, but drums are a key element of the 70s approach and what RAM sounds like. You should save a chunk of that budget working with the right mixer at the end of your recording! I finished my old record and didn’t have any money to mix and was at the time not proficient at mixing as I am today.

With your 25K budget you can spend half of it tracking the essentials in a good studio and you can still buy some pieces of gear if you want to continue recording in your own space.

Spend your money wisely and focus on making the best record you can, and aim for that to open doors in the future that will allow you to invest in your own studio and gear. It’s not now or never either.

25K can get you a lot of things, but it can also get you a just a few things with the inappropriate purchases.

You can record, mix and master an incredibly pro sounding record with that budget and work with really good people and I would go down the Classic route to making this record.

If you were a solo bedroom producer who can make anything out of anything, then sure spend 25K on just gear and enjoy yourself. It’s a different dynamic with bands. Hope some of this helps
Thanks for sharing your experience. Do you feel like your gear wasn't up to the quality of the studios you speak of? We already have plans to outsource mixing and mastering so no headaches there!

You are very right that 25k spent the wrong way could yield bad results, thats where I was hoping for some gear recommendations
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