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Console questions...
Old 30th December 2010
  #1
Gear Head
 

Console questions...

Up to this point, I've done most of my recording work on a single victim (myself) and have done it via a simple audio I/F into DAW software into my computer (which, because it is seriously overbuilt, seems to have enough oommph to handle the job). I want to start recording my band. To do this in a timely/more simple fashion, I think I should have a console to allow me to more easily set levels and do some minor pre-processing of audio signals before they get into the DAW and to provide headphone mixes. So my first question is whether I need a console or not. Can I just tweak levels and look at the levels from the computer console program that came with my audio I/F? Would a console actually add anything worthwhile to the recording experience?

Next, I've looked at various console manufacturers and most of them seem to have a delineation between their "live" consoles and their "studio" consoles. However, I look at the specs and many of them seem similar. Logically, it would seem that the function of each (getting signal in, EQing it, sending signal to inserts/groups/auxes, and setting levels for a master output) is relatively similar. Is there really any difference? Would a live board (in general) sound worse than a studio board of the same price range? Are there features in a studio board that wouldn't necessarily be there on a live board or vice versa? Just wondering - I'm a newbie to the whole console thing...

Finally, would the addition of a console really add anything to my mixing experience? Right now I'm a bit leery about this because I'm relatively addicted to automation and tweaking channel and plugin envelopes and given that I don't the cash to buy a fully automated board, I'd hate to give that up.

Thanks in advance...
Old 31st December 2010
  #2
Lives for gear
 
turtlejon's Avatar
 

really a multi channel interface may serve you better, for less money, and yield better sounding results. it seems most people prefer dedicated recording hardware, and if they need a board, it's usually for live purposes. anything that will have that many features times that many channels, with good sonics, will probably be very expensive.
if you tell us more info, we may be able to offer some good suggestions.
what's the line-up of the band? what kind of mics do you have already? how many channels do you need? portable? do you plan to do live sound with the same equipment? will you record the live stuff? do you have bucketloads of cash burdening you down?
good luck!!
Old 31st December 2010
  #3
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by turtlejon View Post
really a multi channel interface may serve you better, for less money, and yield better sounding results. it seems most people prefer dedicated recording hardware, and if they need a board, it's usually for live purposes. anything that will have that many features times that many channels, with good sonics, will probably be very expensive.
if you tell us more info, we may be able to offer some good suggestions.
what's the line-up of the band? what kind of mics do you have already? how many channels do you need? portable? do you plan to do live sound with the same equipment? will you record the live stuff? do you have bucketloads of cash burdening you down?
good luck!!
The lineup for the band is two guitars, bass, and drums. Plus vocals, but I figured I'd track those separately anyway. The main taker of microphones is the drum kit and I figure I'd need at least 4 (kick, snare, OHx2) or 8 (kick, snare, hat, OHx2, tom x 3) channels there. I'd be working with at least 8 tracks (4 channels of drums as above, 3 channels for bass & guitars, and tracking vocals) and, perhaps, as many as 16 (8 channels for drums as above, 6 channels for guitars and bass - DI for reamping + amp for each, and the ubiquitous tracking vocals).

I'm not really interested in recording at a live performance (or recording live in general). To be honest, I'd be OK with just tracking drums and doing overdubs for everything else, but I figured it would help the drummer keep track of the song better and the recordings would have a better vibe with everyone playing together. And, I figure as long as people are playing, I might as well record it.

As for using the mixer live, I'm not really interested in doing that. I figure that my crappy little Mackie does a good enough job for the places that don't have their own PA system and I don't think I'd like to scuff up the new board that soon.

As for microphones, right now I have a selection of low-to-medium end mikes - 3 Shure SM57s, 2 SM58s, 2 Rode NT-1a's, 1 AKG D-112, 2 Sennheiser MD-421s, 2 EV PL37s, 2 Cascade FatHeads, a few old mikes (2 Shure SM61s and a pair of old Shure small-diaphram condenser mikes whose model numbers I forget at the moment), and a random assortment of "science project" mikes. Some of these are being used when we play live, some I've bought for recording, and some I've just scavenged from eBay because it seemed like they were going for a cheap price. At this point, I figure I have enough microphones to do a decent (for smaller values of decent) job of capturing the sound.

I'd also need to beef up my audio I/F to do this. Right now I've got 8 channels of inputs (four mike, four line-level but I also have three preamp/channel strips to feed those), but I'm going to have to buy more I/O channels if I want to record the band.

So that's about it. I have a couple of friends who I might want to record (vocals and acoustic guitar), too, but I figure if I have the facilities to record the band, I'd have the facilities to record them. No, I don't have a bucket of cash. What I do have I've collected over the years and, frankly, I'd probably buy whatever gear I do get used.

I hope that this has answered your questions. In any case, it's the middle one of mine that's always intrigued me - what's the difference between a live console and a studio console of the same price range/quality?
Old 31st December 2010
  #4
Lives for gear
 
turtlejon's Avatar
 

cool! sounds like a fun lineup.
if 16 inputs can get you by, and it's usually enough for a small band... then consider one of those 8 channel expander boxes that goes into the adat port, if you have one.i have used several of these boxes. what interface are you using? maybe there are some other digital ports you can utilize?
i really like getting the drums, bass and rhythm guitars, at least, together in the same room. for solos and vocals i find overdubs easier.
and add another couple channels for a pair of room mics. people talk about "glue" compressors and stuff, but a good pair of room mics really pulls the mix together in a way nothing else can.
the difference between the mixers is blurring more and more lately. back in the day mixers were usually configured differently, either inline, or split, dealing with pre's during tracking, but switching to line inputs which can double up for mixdown. typically recording mixers should be quieter than a live one, and, in more recent days, some have the firewire interface built in.
some firewire mixers may be faster to set up 16 channels etc. than a compact rack setup. i see what you mean.... those onyx have acceptable sound, and are super easy plug-and-play type devices, esp. on the mac.
that newer presonus board looks cool too, but with all those distracting gizmos, other things may be faster and cheaper...
either way, none of the knobs on those mixers-with-the-interface-built-in mean anything to the recording process except the pre amp gains. that's why i steer away from the mixer, too much unused weight and mass.... my onyx setup was almost too heavy to lift...
now a little 2 RU setup, and i'm good to go.
rock on!
Old 31st December 2010
  #5
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
You don't NEED a console, but in my experience, for tracking a band, it is much preferable. I mix ITB, but for tracking, I'd never do it without a console. Of course I HAVE a console, so that's easy for me to say.

As for the workflow, no one can really tell you. You have to try it for yourself. Maybe go to a studio that has one and book a tracking session there to see how it benefits the workflow. That will give you a good idea.

As for specs and features....well, specs are generally better on studio consoles, BUT the feature set is radically different. And for good reason. The most notable difference is monitoring. In-line vs. Split design, etc..

Personally, although a lot of people do it, there's no way I would use a live console for studio use. Just too limiting. Id rather work with just outboard gear. Good luck with your journey.

bp
Old 31st December 2010
  #6
Lives for gear
 
aj633's Avatar
A console can be useful for workflow, but not the best investment when it comes to preamps. My personal preference is to buy good pres (I own a pair of 3124+s), and I'm waiting on a console until I can buy something like an old Trident. If you just want the workflow of a console, get a cheaper digital mixer. That's the way I'd go...
Old 31st December 2010
  #7
Lives for gear
 

What interface are you using?

Are you aware of the difference between a control surface and a mixer (or console)?
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