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Pro or moist pro? Buying gear or renting time in "pro" studio 500 Series Preamps
Old 29th December 2010
  #1
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Pro or moist pro? Buying gear or renting time in "pro" studio

I'm recording an album (home studio) that will utilize a lot of Virtual Instruments. Someone else will be mixing so I'm just focusing on the actual recording. The only microphone needs will be for male vox and acoustic guitar. 2 simultaneous channels is all I need (and actually 1 channel would be fine). I'm looking for advice on whether I should go to the local "pro studio", utilize their equipment (and expertise), or purchase a reasonably priced "pro quality" mic and pre.

Obviously I could gain knowledge and work on quality gear in the "pro studio" but of course, that money is gone once the session ends. If I purchase, it will still be an asset and can be used on future endeavors.

I have an AT4050 which sound great on acoustic guitar. My mic options I'm looking at purchasing are something in the SoundDeluxe U195 or Peluso range . I was considering an Apogee mini-me (used) or something like the new Focusrite ISA One dig. I'm looking into these b/c they have converters. (obviously an additional 2K for converters pretty much puts the kaibosh on this plan) . I have an EMU 0404 which I assume would be a terrible choice to send the better mic and pre through for it's converters. Is this like getting killed on the last day of the war?

SO:

Are these mic and pre/converter choices "pro" enough? Or am I just getting more expensive pro-sumer gear? (I believe "moist pro" as it was once called). Or should I just save up a little more and get the next level?

I understand the importance of the room, the skill and all the other factors involved. I know that gear WON'T make a recording great. I have been down that path (and lost ). I just want 1 chain/path that I can have confidence in and know that it is "pro".

I appreciate you time and feedback.
Old 29th December 2010
  #2
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For playing around get an interface, for a specific album, go to a studio...

I will say though, the focusrite ISA one is a GREAT piece, good mic pre, nice DI...just pair it with an interface that has a spdif input...if you go to a studio, make sure you're super practiced, it will cost you less money...

Like personally i have like 30k+ in studio gear now (had to do a quote for insurance....even i was surprised...) but if i were doing an album i'd still go to a specific studio mainly because it'll get done that way...i'm never happy and keep changing things that i've done myself, if i went to a studio, they make decisions for me that are completely independent of my emotional connection of certain parts...i.e. they will probably make decisions that sound good and benefit the track. Sometimes you can't do that yourself if you wrote the material and recorded it yourself...another set of trained ears is always great...
Old 29th December 2010
  #3
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Thanks for your input. I do have an emu 0404 interface which could simply pass the data on to the cpu from the focusrite (or whatever).
Old 29th December 2010
  #4
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I think it comes down to what your big picture goals are.

Do you want to become really good at recording, mixing, production? How would you weigh that against the goals of making this particular album? How do you see your future?

Pro? Well the first thing is that the experience / knowledge / skill of the people doing the producing / recording / mixing in many ways is much more important then the gear. Further more.. its often the experience and knowledge to know which gear to bring out for which project.. so by buying the gear your self you're sorta stuck with a particular commitment which might not always be ideal.

I would say.. I'm not even sure if I know the EMU.. but in general.. I think.. well I think sorta average-e A/D probably wont work against you too much... so I don't really think you would need to spend 2k on converters.

I might do something like a duet + something less with more i/o.. or even just the more i/o and the ISA one option.. or some decent pre amp.. so that you can have a little bit of a balance.. between 1 or 2 really good channels and and more i/o if you come into a situation where you need it..

But also.. if you're going to start investing in studio stuff.. have an idea of where you can go now, and where you want to go long term, and how they fit together.

I will say that for acoustic guitar I'd personally want two channels.. and I'd also say.. there's something to be said for taking virtual synth sounds.. putting them through speakers.. and re-recording them.. to actually move air.. to get a sound with them.. as a way of compensating for apparent limitations in software...

having no experience with the ISA One I can only tell you that my impression is that it qualifies as pro.
Old 29th December 2010
  #5
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Thanks.

As far as big picture ( I should have mentioned this earlier ) I am definitely having someone else mix in a "pro" studio. I just want to lay down tracks @ home.

The suggestion about using standard converters is interesting. I'd love to NOT have to put any $ towards those if possible
Old 29th December 2010
  #6
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can't you rent gear to? Maybe that's what would make the most sense?
Old 29th December 2010
  #7
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ddageek's Avatar
 

Pro or moist pro? Buying gear or renting time in "pro" studio

The simple answer is this, if you are only recording yourself it's not about how "pro" the gear is but how it makes you sound!
If a sm57 sounds good use it, you need to simply audition some gear and if it works for you run with it!
Old 29th December 2010
  #8
Vum
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Quote:
As far as big picture ( I should have mentioned this earlier ) I am definitely having someone else mix in a "pro" studio. I just want to lay down tracks @ home.
On a technical note - you need to understand the mix process to get the most out of your recordings by avoiding common pitfalls that mix engineers regularly deal with from less experienced recordings: gain staging, mic placement, track labeling, frequency spectrum, masking --- I'd stick with whatever converters come with whatever you buy and focus on a decent pair of monitors that will get pretty deep into the sub-bass region.

No gear upgrade compares to the acoustic upgrades in your monitoring chain + acoustic treatment. Once you have these two things you'll better understand what it is you're capturing in your room and won't miss out on any "surprises".

As for whether or not you should go to a pro studio for tracking:

How about you go to a studio for 2 songs and do the rest at home and practice matching your results with what you got at the studio. That way, if you decide that you prefer the studio you're not out a ton of money and you can keep practicing at home, honing your skills.
Old 29th December 2010
  #9
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The great thing about going to a pro is that they have many flavors of mics and preamps, and can experiment to find the best match for you and your style, sound, etc. If you tell the engineer that you're hoping to put together a chain for home recording, he will probably help you find a great setup. It'll cost you maybe a few hundred dollars, but you'll get a song or two done, plus not waste the next 6 months buying and selling things trying to find a magic chain.

I can't say I'd go pro for the whole thing, since I (like everyone here) have gone down the recording engineer path. But I do think that if recording isn't a passion, you're better off working with a studio you trust and know.

Home studios are great for songwriting, etc, and I think everyone should have a basic setup. But when it comes to recording something for release, I think you benefit from having someone else watching the meters, etc.
Old 29th December 2010
  #10
Gear Head
 

What kind of experience do you have recording? I know you mentioned getting it mixed.....but you still have to track it well. And that involes the ability to distinguish good takes from bad takes.....and when you can make those good takes even better takes! ITB, OTB, great gear, good gear....there's no replacing the experience of working with a good producer. Not only from a quality of tracking perspective, but from a structural perspective as well. The ability to trim the fat and rework structures can make or break your songs, which is more important than the recording. And essentially.....that's an investment itself. I've learned so much from just being in that environment and recording records and that's helped me record at home. I wouldn't have been able to do it and would've missed out on a lot of knowledge without that experience. Not to discourage you from doing it yourself, just my 2 cents and another perspective.
Old 29th December 2010
  #11
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I've made 2 albums and I built a project studio a few years ago. I learned a lot of lessons, the biggest of which: I don't care about other people's crappy music. I like to work on my own stuff.

I have no allusions about this being a 'hit record'. I've been doing this off and on for about 15 years. I'm comfortable with the tracking/recording, arrangement and instrumentation. That being said, I know how valuable an extra set of ears is toward the end of the project which is why I'm bringing in someone else at that point. And yes, we may decide to do some additional tracking at that point.

I have plenty of knowledge about what NOT to do. I understand that the right gear is not necessarily the most expensive gear - but in the absence of having tried all the gear, what is one to do?

I'm just trying to elicit some responses to help me in my decisions. Does my crap audio interface (E-mu 0404USB) have good enough converters to be able to translate a high quality pre? Or should I punt and get better converters along with a good pre? If you were in my situation and had $1000 - $1500 to spend on a pre (to work in existing set-up) and or pre/convertor combo what would you get for solid, clean, professional sounding recordings.
Old 29th December 2010
  #12
Gear Head
 

Sorry dude. I totally interpreted this wrong. Sounds like you do know what you're doing for tracking.

I personally have no advice on your converters. I've never used them personally so I have nothing good or bad to say about them. There will always be people that say they aren't good enough, yet there will be people using that setup and getting great results from it. The only thing I'd say is if you definitely want to upgrade your pre, try a good pre with your converters and if you can get great results with it.....that's all that matters. Maybe a good pre and a good compressor to tame a touch on the way in when tracking.
Old 29th December 2010
  #13
TLR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrankyChris View Post

I'm just trying to elicit some responses to help me in my decisions. Does my crap audio interface (E-mu 0404USB) have good enough converters to be able to translate a high quality pre? Or should I punt and get better converters along with a good pre? If you were in my situation and had $1000 - $1500 to spend on a pre (to work in existing set-up) and or pre/convertor combo what would you get for solid, clean, professional sounding recordings.
You're room acoustics always ends up being one of the biggest headaches you have to overcome before you start to focus on a subjective analysis of gear. That said, I'm assuming you know precisely what type of sound you are after so investing in a good Mic Pre might make a huge difference in your case without having to break the bank, definitely look at the Golden Age Project (Golden Age Project Pre 73) if the ISA is out of your price range, I have both in the studio and I love both. It will also allow you to have some money left over for a nicer interface (Ex. Apogee One - Apogee One) What DAW and Platform will you be using? This clearly would also further influence your pecking order for new gear.
Old 29th December 2010
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NateThruman View Post
Sorry dude. I totally interpreted this wrong. \
Sorry if I sounded like a complete tool. On rereading my post, it may have come across sorta' jerk-ish. I appreciate your input.
Old 29th December 2010
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TLR View Post
You're room acoustics always ends up being one of the biggest headaches you have to overcome before you start to focus on a subjective analysis of gear. That said, I'm assuming you know precisely what type of sound you are after so investing in a good Mic Pre might make a huge difference in your case without having to break the bank, definitely look at the Golden Age Project (Golden Age Project Pre 73) if the ISA is out of your price range, I have both in the studio and I love both. It will also allow you to have some money left over for a nicer interface (Ex. Apogee One - Apogee One) What DAW and Platform will you be using? This clearly would also further influence your pecking order for new gear.
I've invested in room treatment. I hear what you're saying. The problem is: it's kinda' hard to know which piece of equipment will work "best" in a situation without spending significant time with it. You have to "possess" the equip. before you can know. I know there is no one answer.
I guess I'm kinda' looking for good standards that hold their value. So if it doesn't work out - I can sell it (for a modest loss) and move onto something else. With pro-sumer gear it depreciates really quick.


I'll likely be using Reaper (as long a N.I. virtual instruments integrate OK). It'll be an adult alternative type album. Bruce Hornsby meets Jellyfish meets The Replacements. I'll be shooting for a tight sound. Maybe even Nashville tight. The room will be pretty dead - close micing on all.

Thanks for your suggestion on the GA 73 and APogee 1. I'm going to check them out right now.
Old 30th December 2010
  #16
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrankyChris View Post
I just want 1 chain/path that I can have confidence in and know that it is "pro".
Sounds like you already know what you are doing.

Get yourself one good 'money channel' and do some serious tracking. Do what you need to for your room.

Get a good mic and a good preamp.
Old 30th December 2010
  #17
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themaidsroom's Avatar
 

it is the best time to go to a studio where
your acoustic guitar and vocal will each have
amazing chains and multiple options.
options are the things that are tricky for home studios
to replicate.
personally, I would record both of those things to 2" 8 track and convert
them later and create a sound that is unobtainable in any other way.
a week's fees in a good studio will not even get you one good vocal mic in dosh, let alone the compressor, the mic pre, the board, the tape recorder not
to mention the human resource...........

be well


- jack
Old 30th December 2010
  #18
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Scott Whigham's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattsearles View Post
I think it comes down to what your big picture goals are.

Do you want to become really good at recording, mixing, production? How would you weigh that against the goals of making this particular album? How do you see your future?
I would also ask if this was something you see yourself needing to do again in the future? If that's the case, I think I'd opt for buying the gear myself rather than going to a studio. That's because my goals are that I want to get very good at recording and mixing. YMMV

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattsearles View Post
I will say that for acoustic guitar I'd personally want two channels.. and I'd also say.. there's something to be said for taking virtual synth sounds.. putting them through speakers.. and re-recording them.. to actually move air.. to get a sound with them.. as a way of compensating for apparent limitations in software...
I prefer two mics as well when recording songs where the acoustic guitar is super prominent (like solo, instrumental which is what I do). For an acoustic deep in the mix, I doubt it matters though. OP - it sounds like you have a lot going on in your mixes. Single or dual channel fit you best?
Old 30th December 2010
  #19
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CrankyChris's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Whigham View Post
I would also ask if this was something you see yourself needing to do again in the future? If that's the case, I think I'd opt for buying the gear myself rather than going to a studio. That's because my goals are that I want to get very good at recording and mixing. YMMV

I prefer two mics as well when recording songs where the acoustic guitar is super prominent (like solo, instrumental which is what I do). For an acoustic deep in the mix, I doubt it matters though. OP - it sounds like you have a lot going on in your mixes. Single or dual channel fit you best?
You have it right. When the acoustic is simply a rhythm instrument or a 'flavor' I like to go with 1 channel b/c ...well... it takes up less room in the mix. For more intricate / fingerpicking, etc. where the acoustic guitar is a focal point, I prefer 2/stereo tracks. I mention that 1 is fine b/c I already have 2 pres' in my emu 0404 usb which are more than capable - just not fantastic.

I definitely will use in the gear in the future. Having done this for quite a few years, I realize that this is simply what I do. And if only 18 people hear it, well that's OK because I really enjoy the process of making music. I'm doing it for myself.
Old 30th December 2010
  #20
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Ain't Nobody's Avatar
 

Pro or moist pro?

Moist. Definitely moist.
Old 30th December 2010
  #21
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CrankyChris's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
Sounds like you already know what you are doing.

Get yourself one good 'money channel' and do some serious tracking. Do what you need to for your room.

Get a good mic and a good preamp.
Nail On Head!

MY problems is: I don't know what a good/respectable money channel is?

IS the Focusrite ISA one w/ dig outs a money channel? I know I wouldn't consider their silver range "money". How about an Apogee mini me? Or should I forget the upgraded converter angle and just get a 1073 clone.

As I said: I have an AT 4050 and $200 audio interface. I know I could use a money pre - but do I need to consider upping my converters?

Thanks for your input.
Old 30th December 2010
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Apollo Soul View Post
Moist. Definitely moist.
That's what I'm looking for.

Any suggestions for my situation?
Old 30th December 2010
  #23
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Scott Whigham's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrankyChris View Post
You have it right. When the acoustic is simply a rhythm instrument or a 'flavor' I like to go with 1 channel b/c ...well... it takes up less room in the mix. For more intricate / fingerpicking, etc. where the acoustic guitar is a focal point, I prefer 2/stereo tracks. I mention that 1 is fine b/c I already have 2 pres' in my emu 0404 usb which are more than capable - just not fantastic.

I definitely will use in the gear in the future. Having done this for quite a few years, I realize that this is simply what I do. And if only 18 people hear it, well that's OK because I really enjoy the process of making music. I'm doing it for myself.
Well, your first answer affects the answer to the second. I like gear. I'm a ****ing slut for it. I like learning all the ins and outs of the whole process too. So if that's you, forget the studios

Since you have a good room, I'd suggest starting with a lunchbox and adding pres + gear over the next 1-2 years.

API Lunchbox (used): $375
Avedis MA5 pre (used): $675
Great River MP500NV (used): $675

Two great pres for $1800 plus extendability. After that, get a couple of Purple M77s and API 550As when you have the budget.

However, if we're dealing with a $3500+ budget today, I think you have other options.
Old 30th December 2010
  #24
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CrankyChris's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Whigham View Post
Well, your first answer affects the answer to the second. I like gear. I'm a ****ing slut for it. I like learning all the ins and outs of the whole process too. So if that's you, forget the studios

Since you have a good room, I'd suggest starting with a lunchbox and adding pres + gear over the next 1-2 years.

API Lunchbox (used): $375
Avedis MA5 pre (used): $675
Great River MP500NV (used): $675

Two great pres for $1800 plus extendability. After that, get a couple of Purple M77s and API 550As when you have the budget.

However, if we're dealing with a $3500+ budget today, I think you have other options.
Great info! Thanks! I'll look into these. I've heard a lot of great things about the Great River (and API of course).

I see no mention of converters. Would I lose a lot of fidelity by plugging these pres into my $200 audio interface? Are you of the opinion that at this price point, I should use what I have b/c of the cost? Thoughts?
Old 30th December 2010
  #25
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Unclenny's Avatar
I would spend as much as possible on a good mic/pre combo (I went with a channel strip for my primary channel so I could sculpt EQ and compression)....and not worry about converters right now.

You won't be stacking up a lot of tracks, so you most likely will not notice a difference with better conversion.

You will, however, hear an immediate and tangible improvement if you upgrade your front end. Vocals are so important......start there.
Old 30th December 2010
  #26
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Scott Whigham's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
I would spend as much as possible on a good mic/pre combo (I went with a channel strip for my primary channel so I could sculpt EQ and compression)....and not worry about converters right now.

You won't be stacking up a lot of tracks, so you most likely will not notice a difference with better conversion.

You will, however, hear an immediate and tangible improvement if you upgrade your front end. Vocals are so important......start there.
+1

Converters are an important part of the chain so definitely plan on upgrading those. It's just not that important right now. Better mics/pres will matter the most to you, I think.
Old 30th December 2010
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrankyChris View Post
SO:

Are these mic and pre/converter choices "pro" enough? Or am I just getting more expensive pro-sumer gear? (I believe "moist pro" as it was once called). Or should I just save up a little more and get the next level?

I understand the importance of the room, the skill and all the other factors involved. I know that gear WON'T make a recording great. I have been down that path (and lost ). I just want 1 chain/path that I can have confidence in and know that it is "pro".
I normally tell people to go to the pros and not waste money on more and more kit (and not just because I own a studio!!!) But that is because they want to record things like drums and piano, big stuff like that.

BUT

This time, I think that you will be better served, getting your own modest set-up and recording yourself. Don't get too caught up in questions of audio quality, when 90% of the success of the project is down to the music.

Any money left over from something like that is best spent, getting the final project edited and mixed to perfection. This is best done by a really good freelance engineer with his own rig.

Oh, and good luck BTW!
Old 30th December 2010
  #28
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CrankyChris's Avatar
 

Great info!

Thanks again.
Old 30th December 2010
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrankyChris View Post
...but of course, that money is gone once the session ends. If I purchase, it will still be an asset and can be used on future endeavors.
Well, it's actually not gone forever-- it's invested in a sexy recording that can be in your demo reel forever. It's up to you to decide if that's worth it to you. I believe "pro" is in the performance. Unless you're using the worst gear on the planet, your "pro" performance will shine through perfectly even with "mediocre" gear. Also an experienced engineer may guide your performance and help evolve it into something great that you might have never imagined by yourself.
Old 30th December 2010
  #30
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John Suitcase's Avatar
 

Yes, I think any good quality pre (a 1073 clone would be my choice, but without hearing your voice/songs/etc it's hard to say for sure!) will do fine for your situation. I haven't used the EMU converters, but I've heard people say they're quite good.

The lunchbox idea is cool, if you're planning to keep adding stuff. Seems like new pieces come out every day!
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