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advice on upgrading my studio Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 20th December 2010
  #1
Here for the gear
 

advice on upgrading my studio

Hi there,

Sorry for the long post, and thanks in advance for any help / opinions!

I'm a tv & film composer in the UK, and I'm in a position to spend quite a bit of money on my studio (something like £20k potentially). I've been lurking round here for a long time and opinions on various bits of equipment have informed my choices in the past (though for everything big I've demoed a few alternatives). I am very pressed for time as I am working flat out, but for boring tax reasons I really should spend the money in the next few weeks. I would obviously want to demo the pieces before committing but won't have much time for thorough testing.

I work in quite a few genres as a composer and usually have to work at great speed, so I'm quite a lazy set and forget type of producer when it comes to recording. I've treated my room a fair bit, though it needs more work which I will also be doing in due course.

I primarily use:

AKG 414 xl-ii, Beyer 930mc pair (also own sm57 + at4033)
Pacifica preamp
Sometimes running into Drawmer 1960 as tracking compressor (used to be my preamp, but Pacifica was vast step up).
Into Fireface 800
Logic 9 on a mac pro with Vienna Slave (tonnes of samples and plugins etc & Duende card)
Out through a SM-Pro Mpatch2 monitor controller to Focal Twin 6s.

Acoustically I record mostly guitars, ukes, banjos, glocks, double bass, misc percussion (but not full kit), DI elec bass, usually DI (to my continuing shame...!) electric guitar (although I own a Mesa Boogie studio 22+) and Vocals. I have sessions with visiting players recording violin, flute, trumpet and other instruments (always one at a time). I use tonnes of samples, but always try to get acoustic instruments onto tracks to warm them up.

Like i say, mostly because I'm under intense time pressures I tend to grab a mic, stick it through my basic chain and record it. I'm not the kind of composer who's likely to demo 5 mics and 5 preamps every time to see what works.

At the moment, I am really happy with the speakers and with the Preamp. Quite happy with the mics (though probably need to expand here), not so happy with the compressor, happy with the fireface stability but not so sure about the converters (never use the pres). I've not got time to mess with my system completely so I'm not going over to a protools setup or anything like that at the mo. Mostly I'm keen to get the best possible chain into the computer, and based on my own research here and elsewhere, I'm thinking....

Couple more mics to complement my 'collection': poss U87, poss a valvet? bit stumped here.

Possibly an alternate colour from the Pacifica pre. When I last demoed some, I really loved the Thermionic EarlyBird (can't remember which it was) but couldn't afford it at the time. Wondered about a Rooster as a complete alternative? Or a tubetech mec1.

Better compressor(s). I had been thinking of getting an mc77, but have been deliberating about a tubetech cl1b. On the other hand a distressor seems very flexible. In a way, i like the idea of fewer knobs so i can just set it and forget it (or at least have my setting for guitar, vox etc). Do you think I need a stereo pair of whatever I pick if I record a guitar in stereo with one mc30 at the neck and one 414 at the soundhole as i sometimes do, through the pacifica?). Obviously a pair would be nice. I do about 60% of my recording in mono though.

Better converter to feed my fireface (both AD and DA). Been very much inclined towards the Cranesong Hedd based on reports, but also interested in Lavry blue 4496-12. Obviously I would need to demo. Don't think i would also need a separate clock like a Big Ben as i wouldn't have much other dig gear?

Other possibilities:

Do I need a better monitor controller? I quite like the m-Patch, though.
Better solution for DI-d bass, eg. A-designs Reddi (much better than pacifica di?)
Amp power soaker so I can record electric through my Mesa Boogie? any recommendations?
UAD2-quad card. I've enjoyed the duende plugins a lot and think they're great. But I don't find them warm really.
Summing device? I really don't know where to begin with this.

I bounce ITB due to having to turn things around at such short notice, but I could be persuaded to change my ways!!

Sorry again for the epic post, but any advice you can offer about my suggestions or others you may have would be great.

David
Old 20th December 2010
  #2
Gear Guru
 
Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Sorry you got no response to your first post here David. But what's missing from your "What should I buy?" thread is a description of any problems you have and are trying to solve. Maybe you already have everything you need? heh

--Ethan

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Old 20th December 2010
  #3
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Old 21st December 2010
  #4
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
Sorry you got no response to your first post here David. But what's missing from your "What should I buy?" thread is a description of any problems you have and are trying to solve. Maybe you already have everything you need? heh
Thanks Ethan,

Yes I guess you're right... I'm really not unhappy with the results I'm getting (and the fact that I have lots of work indicates that it's not too bad), but I guess I still feel there is further to go... A nice warm tracking compressor for guitars and vox, a little extra magic from a mic, perhaps a bit more clarity across the mix with better converters / clock.

Definitely think my bass and electric guitar recordings could be improved a lot... which is why I was interested in the Reddi for bass. At the mo I just DI my epiphone viola bass through the pacifica, into the 1960 for a bit of comp. Sounds good, but not stunning, i suppose.

I'll probably just demo a bunch of stuff and see if it does anything for me.

And Chris - I'm going to get somebody in to look at the studio from the acoustic point of view, if that's what you mean?

Thanks,
David
Old 21st December 2010
  #5
Gear Guru
 
Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sch... View Post
I'm going to get somebody in to look at the studio from the acoustic point of view
That will probably make a bigger improvement than anything else you could do.

--Ethan

________________
The Acoustic Treatment Experts
Old 21st December 2010
  #6
Lives for gear
 

I don't know if you ever record drums but having enough preamps to do so is a good idea. Even if they are the same "flavor". Sytek or something like that would probably be ok. Never used one though.

Mics. That is why its called a mic locker because there is a ton of mics in there and for a good reason. you need a wide variety of mics cheaps expensive all types and you can get good sounding of both. Which ones to get? Search around there are a ton of posts and judgment on that type of stuff is subjective.

If you haven't already done it upgrade the pickup on your epiphone. It will make the most improvement on your bass recordings and will also be the cheapest way to improve your bass recordings so it's a win win type of thing.
Old 21st December 2010
  #7
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beefy View Post
I don't know if you ever record drums but having enough preamps to do so is a good idea. Even if they are the same "flavor". Sytek or something like that would probably be ok. Never used one though.

Mics. That is why its called a mic locker because there is a ton of mics in there and for a good reason. you need a wide variety of mics cheaps expensive all types and you can get good sounding of both. Which ones to get? Search around there are a ton of posts and judgment on that type of stuff is subjective.

If you haven't already done it upgrade the pickup on your epiphone. It will make the most improvement on your bass recordings and will also be the cheapest way to improve your bass recordings so it's a win win type of thing.
Are vocal mics like U87's good for drums...I got a deal on four, it would be great if they could be used on drums somehow.
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