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Best FIRST upgrade from stock 003 Ribbon Microphones
Old 28th December 2010
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
Unexplainedbacon's Avatar
 

Best FIRST upgrade from stock 003

Finally stopped lurking and decided to pipe in; this site has helped me out A LOT with my understanding of the recording world. Thanks to all who contribute on here!

I'm a 003 user, trying to make substantial (yet incremental) improvements to my setup. I've been reading thread after thread on all subjects from preamps to converters to BLA mods etc, and for every person who recommends something, someone else seems to pop up and disagree.

My basic problem is that what comes out of my speakers (or headphones) is not identical (or close enough) to what comes from the source (in this case a guitar amp)

For clarification heres what I have

Mesa Dual rectifier->Audix i5->Mogami Gold cable->003->KRK Rokit 5 monitors -or- Sony MDR-7506 headphones.

Sonically there's just not that great clarity. I know the Digi Preamps are junk, and so are the converters and on and on.

But where to start? What will make the most difference. I have around 2k to spend. Knowing that I love gear, and good sound, I know in the future I'll be dumping much much more into this hobby.

P.S. I'm an experienced musician, but a Forum and Recording N00b, so forgive me if theres a lot of oversight in my post
Old 28th December 2010
  #2
Gear Head
 
Soul Finger's Avatar
 

I am very happy with a BLA signature modded 002.
Old 28th December 2010
  #3
Lives for gear
Probably a microphone will make the most difference actually. You can't expect the sound recorded is going to be the exact same sound you hear in the room, because you're listening to the amp from a different position, the microphone is probably sitting dead on the speaker, where as you're also hearing room reflections and that blah blah blah. What i've noticed though, and what a lot of people here may also suggest is a ribbon microphone. They seem to have the knack for getting a more natural tone.

The first thing i would recommend is moving your mic around until you get closer to a sound you want. If that doesn't work, maybe see if you can try some more mic's out, ones i would recommend trying out first are:

Shure sm57
Sennheiser md421
Sennheiser e609/e906
Cascade Fathead

I haven't tried the fathead, but thats cause i'm in australia, but apparently its fantastic, so make sure you at least give it a try if you can't find a decent position for the i5.
Old 28th December 2010
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Scott Whigham's Avatar
 

I'd echo what Nelson89 said. The Audix i5 is a polarizing mic for guitar: some love it, some hate it.

I'm a guitar player who was a noob at recording not long ago. If I had your gear and your budget but my knowledge, the first thing I'd do is buy 2-4 more mics with a plan of A/Bing them against each other until I found The Holy One. I'd then sell the rest. I'd buy them all used and sell them for what I paid.

If you aren't double tracking, the second thing I'd do is learn how to use two mics on a cab. Expect that to take months to learn (either that or I'm slow). If you are not double tracking but could, then do that. Play a different amp or guitar or hell even change up the tone controls a bit - something to offset. It will really thicken it up.

Lastly I'd wait. You have a sizeable budget and I'd want to keep as much for as long as I could. Your knowledge now may be low but, if you hang around here for another 2-3 months, everything you think you know today will be replaced. If you go out and buy "off the rack" (new) today then decide 2-3 months from now that you didn't need it, you'll take an immediate 20-50% hit. On $2000, that's a lot of cash. Buy used and only buy what you know will resale quickly.

And OP: do not fall victim to the "When I solo my guitars in the mix, my guitars sound puny and wimpy" syndrome. It is normal for solo'ed guitars to not sound huge. It's their place within the mix that matters most, not how they sound solo'ed.
Old 28th December 2010
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
Unexplainedbacon's Avatar
 

Thanks guys, I like the i5, I have used an SM57 a lot in the past, which I like, it sounds a little brighter to me than the i5, which is good for certain applications. I typically double track all my rhythm guitars, although sometimes I'll just duplicate and offset slightly for a very slight delay effect.

I've heard people mention a "lifting a blanket off of the monitors" experience after some upgrade they've done, and I feel like thats the kind of experience I want to have with my setup.

To me, its a clarity issue
Old 28th December 2010
  #6
Gear Addict
Definitely get a second mic! My avantone CR14 (sometimes coupled with Audix i5) is my holy grail close mic, while a different ribbon mic (I use GA R1) 8 foot or so back is often just the ticket. Man, room mics rock.
Old 28th December 2010
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
nuemes's Avatar
 

The fact that you said a SM57, "sounds a little brighter to me than the i5" is a hint. The Audix i5 is more hyped than a SM57 in the treble range.

Based on your list I'd start with new monitors or a good set of headphones if your room is an issue.
Old 28th December 2010
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Your gear is not the problem. Run away from this site as fast as you can!! heh

1. Most guitarists dial in their tones standing or sitting a couple feet or more away from the amp. Your microphone is hearing the amp from a different perspective - likely 6 to 12 inches away from the speaker. You may need to tweak your tone a bit (many guys find using less distortion helps)

2. Live guitar does not sound the same as recorded (produced) guitar. Recorded guitar has little low end in comparison and is often equalized to make room for vocals and other instruments.

As suggested earlier, work on mic placement and production technique. That said, if you really want to blow some dough, I love my MD421 for recording heavy guitar. Tames a bit 'o that high end sizzle. (57 works great for clean/blues stuff)
Old 29th December 2010
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
Unexplainedbacon's Avatar
 

Thanks guys. So the general feeling I'm getting here is not to make any big moves equipment wise, other than some new mics etc.

Even using virtual instruments/midi etc. the sound just isnt that great IMO. But comparing to mastered commercial releases I guess I cant hope for too much.

Btw, Im not only a guitarist. But that was my example for the signal chain, so there are other issues with the acoustics of my recording room etc with those things.
Old 29th December 2010
  #10
Lives for gear
 
Scott Whigham's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unexplainedbacon View Post
I've heard people mention a "lifting a blanket off of the monitors" experience after some upgrade they've done, and I feel like thats the kind of experience I want to have with my setup.

To me, its a clarity issue
Quote:
Originally Posted by nuemes View Post
Based on your list I'd start with new monitors or a good set of headphones if your room is an issue.
Yeah, I think that the monitors will give you that clarity that you crave. For my money, it is impossible to beat the value that a pair of Adam A7s can offer. I picked up a used set for $750 and wow what a difference. I had the KRK 5s, 6s, and 8s and there's just no comparison. Incredible.

For $2k, new monitors and consider new pres. If you'll be doing this $500-$1000 at a time (rather than spending $2k each time), consider getting a lunchbox-style enclosure/PSU (like the API Lunchbox) and filling that bad mofo up over the next 1-3 years. Let's say you spend $900 on monitors - that leaves you with $1100.

API Lunchbox (used): $375
Avedis MA5 pre (used): $675
New cables to wire it up: $50-100

You would definitely see a massive improvement across the board. I listed the MA5 but there are about 4-8 pres in that price that are all great; that just happens to be my favorite for guitars in that range.
Old 30th December 2010
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
Unexplainedbacon's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Whigham View Post
Yeah, I think that the monitors will give you that clarity that you crave. For my money, it is impossible to beat the value that a pair of Adam A7s can offer. I picked up a used set for $750 and wow what a difference. I had the KRK 5s, 6s, and 8s and there's just no comparison. Incredible.

For $2k, new monitors and consider new pres. If you'll be doing this $500-$1000 at a time (rather than spending $2k each time), consider getting a lunchbox-style enclosure/PSU (like the API Lunchbox) and filling that bad mofo up over the next 1-3 years. Let's say you spend $900 on monitors - that leaves you with $1100.

API Lunchbox (used): $375
Avedis MA5 pre (used): $675
New cables to wire it up: $50-100

You would definitely see a massive improvement across the board. I listed the MA5 but there are about 4-8 pres in that price that are all great; that just happens to be my favorite for guitars in that range.
Thats an awesome recommendation Scott, I've been lusting after all this stuff since getting on here, and new pre's and monitors sound good. Although I feel like id need to treat my room, which raises a whole different question.

Question: What are your thoughts on pre's with A/D conversion built in. Like killing two birds with one stone, then Id just need to get a D/A unit at some point?


Edit: I'd also like to address an unmentioned point; the money is definitely burning a hole in my pocket. Before someone mentions that, I'm well aware of it, and I just want to make sure that I buy GOOD USEFUL stuff, while also quenching my gear thirst.
Old 30th December 2010
  #12
Lives for gear
Don't buy anything yet!

First, set up an aux with a convolution reverb, one with a short-ish (8th note or quarter note) delay, and one with a long (half note or whole note) delay.

Be sure to set the effects 100% wet.

Apply these effects to taste to your recorded track. Use more of the convolution reverb than maybe you would intuitively use.

Add a compressor to your track as well, acting just to shave off the peaks.

How does it sound now?
Old 30th December 2010
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Scott Whigham's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unexplainedbacon View Post
I'd also like to address an unmentioned point; the money is definitely burning a hole in my pocket...
I'll let others chime in before I do on the pres/converters. As for this aspect, let me say two things:
  • You must become my new friend because that's the same way I am when I get any money lol
  • Butttttttttttt I remind myself of this quote, attributed to Ben Franklin: "Money flows from the impatient to the patient"
This is as much applicable in buying recording gear as anything else.

Here's a coded message to help you: B_U_YxU_S_E_DxG_E_A_Rx_O_Rx_L_O_S_Ex3_0_%_E_V_E_R_Y_T_I_M_ExY_O_UxU_P_G_R_A_D_E
Old 30th December 2010
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Scott Whigham's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Confusionator View Post
First, set up an aux with a convolution reverb, one with a short-ish (8th note or quarter note) delay, and one with a long (half note or whole note) delay.

Be sure to set the effects 100% wet.

Apply these effects to taste to your recorded track. Use more of the convolution reverb than maybe you would intuitively use.

Add a compressor to your track as well, acting just to shave off the peaks.

How does it sound now?
lol - totally applicable given the user name!
Old 30th December 2010
  #15
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Whigham View Post
lol - totally applicable given the user name!
It's the arrow, not the Indian. And, while I never use a pre as low-budget as the 002 in my own studio, I know that recording noobies often chase gear when they need to be chasing ambience first.

Remember, the original poster is a self-professed noobie (as we all were at some point).

I've taught a lot of recordists. I've seen things click for them when they start to explore taking a raw sound and putting it in space. That's why I offer the suggestion here.

I've heard too many examples of Gearslutz members' recordings that use great gear but don't get the low-cut filtering and the ambience effects right. I'm sure, by contrast, Mutt Lange could make a record that would knock us all out on a Behringer board with Samson mics.

But I guess that it's easier to recommend gear than it is to recommend technique.


fuuck



Old 31st December 2010
  #16
Here for the gear
 
pklett101's Avatar
 

Best FIRST upgrade from stock 003

Quote:
Originally Posted by unexplainedbacon
finally stopped lurking and decided to pipe in; this site has helped me out a lot with my understanding of the recording world. Thanks to all who contribute on here!

I'm a 003 user, trying to make substantial (yet incremental) improvements to my setup. I've been reading thread after thread on all subjects from preamps to converters to bla mods etc, and for every person who recommends something, someone else seems to pop up and disagree.

My basic problem is that what comes out of my speakers (or headphones) is not identical (or close enough) to what comes from the source (in this case a guitar amp)

for clarification heres what i have

mesa dual rectifier->audix i5->mogami gold cable->003->krk rokit 5 monitors -or- sony mdr-7506 headphones.

Sonically there's just not that great clarity. I know the digi preamps are junk, and so are the converters and on and on.

But where to start? What will make the most difference. I have around 2k to spend. Knowing that i love gear, and good sound, i know in the future i'll be dumping much much more into this hobby.

P.s. I'm an experienced musician, but a forum and recording n00b, so forgive me if theres a lot of oversight in my post
black lion mod is awesome!
Old 31st December 2010
  #17
Lives for gear
 
aj633's Avatar
The problem with the 003 is preamps and AD/DA. A dynamic mic is going to give you a muddy, hyped sound a lot of times on guitar. My first thought would be API A2D ($1450) and maybe a ribbon mic (Fathead, R121, AEA R84). You could use the ribbon and a dynamic together.
Old 31st December 2010
  #18
Gear Head
 
Enuncia's Avatar
 

Just a general reply from all the posts I read.

I have NEVER been a fan of the KRK series of monitors, they always seem to have too much mud, no clarity at all. HOWEVER, they are useful to keep around, as they do a pretty good job of re-producing most "commercial" grade speakers out there. I have the same problem with most headphones, I can never get a good balanced, flat response out of them.

To answer some other folk's question, the Cascade Fathead is a great mic on guitars (albeit not ALL the time, but I've never been disappointed). I have also had really good results from a Heil PR-30 on guitar cabs.

When it comes to outboard pre's with their own built-in A/D conversion, they're one of the best ways to get other pre's into your 003. In this way you get a pre that you want, and since you're bringing it into the 003 digitally, you bypass it's A/D converter. It's also the only way to get the 003 all the way up to it's available 18 simultaneous inputs.
Old 31st December 2010
  #19
Lives for gear
 

In addition to the other good information regarding mic positioning and room treatment, always remember...

You are not trying to get a good sound out of your amp, you're trying to get a good sound out of your recorder.

Adjust your amp while listening through headphones plugged into your 003. When you think you've got it, do a short recording, and check the sound as played back through your monitors.

Lather...rinse...repeat...

You may end up with something less than the tone you desire coming out of your amp, but exactly the right tone coming out of your monitors.

I'm a drummer, and I know how to tune my drums so they will record well, but they really sound crappy just listening to the kit.

Good luck!
Old 31st December 2010
  #20
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdenton View Post
In addition to the other good information regarding mic positioning and room treatment, always remember...

You are not trying to get a good sound out of your amp, you're trying to get a good sound out of your recorder.

Adjust your amp while listening through headphones plugged into your 003. When you think you've got it, do a short recording, and check the sound as played back through your monitors.

Lather...rinse...repeat...

You may end up with something less than the tone you desire coming out of your amp, but exactly the right tone coming out of your monitors.

I'm a drummer, and I know how to tune my drums so they will record well, but they really sound crappy just listening to the kit.

Good luck!
That's an excellent point.
Old 1st January 2011
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
Unexplainedbacon's Avatar
 

Thanks guys. Some good advice. I do use reverb sparingly, as it doesn't fit for all types of music, but I assume he was advocating very judicious use for the sake of adding ambience. I'll try that, I don't have any TOP notch verbs in my collection, TL space may be my best, and I'll give that a try.

Adam at mercenary recommended the API A2D for the great Pre's and A/D (He said the pre's are sonically similar to the 512) and then something like the Dangerous Dbox for the D/A. Thats pushing a bit beyond my budget, but It fits with my incremental approach to upgrading.

Those Royer ribbon mics are nice, I used them when I took a recording class over here at Fullerton College, among others. The problem is they get expensive! Point noted though, I appreciate that advice
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