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Recommendations for upgrades or additions to new studio?
Old 3rd May 2012
  #1
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kram's Avatar
 

Recommendations for upgrades or additions to new studio?

Greetings Slutzsters!

This is my first post; I've spent far too much time on this site already without actually posting. I apologize for the long post, but I’m trying to provide enough information for you to make your recommendations. I’m looking for your suggestions regarding upgrades/additions to my new studio. I've made some mistakes in the past, and I'd like to avoid them this time. Thanks in advance for any advice or comments.

Over the last year I moved and built a studio in my attic (see Index of /pics) -- which cost a pretty penny and was more work than I ever imagined, but lots of fun! I’m addicted!

I'm having trouble deciding what my next investment should be: new converter, better mics; more outboard compression or eq? Recording classes? A Board? New computer? New monitors? A Savings Account? In other words, what would have the most impact on the quality of recording? Obviously, everything should be upgraded!!!

But this is a hobby for me; I'm not anticipating a career change or “making it big,” but I do have a passion for music, recording and production (I originally went to school for music/sound recording -- Dave Friedmann was across the hall freshman year, but we interacted very little -- but I quickly changed my pursuit and became a sociologist.)

As of right now, there are four folks I regularly work with (singer/songwriter types, no bands, although maybe a jazz trio). Here is one project that I engineered and helped produce (the Monday Morning EP was recorded at my old house; no serious room treatment, less variety in the front end; Ghosts was recorded in the new studio with what is below). I think these are loosely representative of what those I'm working with do. Folky, alternative rockish stuff. They certainly reflect my ability level.

For the most part, gear is "prosumer" standard, but I've come to be a big believer in the skill/talent/artistry of the person using it -- especially since I've come to appreciate how hard it is to do this well. So, if folks think I'd benefit most from training (books, classes), I'll certainly take no offense. But it’s not very slutty! I'm willing to save up for a big purchase if that seems like the best direction to go in, so while I'm in debt like most Americans, I don't want budget to limit this discussion, at least at this point. And I’m a patient Ebay shopper -- If I know what I want, I’ll wait, pick a price threshold, etc.

But after reading opinions and listening when I can, I’m not really convinced a 3 grand converter is the best way for me to go, nor am I convinced that a 5 grand mic is; compressors and eq are so much fun, but seems like folks get great results ITB. Maybe I should just upgrade my computer? Should I get the Apollo and take the UAD plunge? (I actually made it far through that thread, but had to stop!)

The method of work I've adopted involves getting as close to the sound we're going for before hitting record, so, I have come to the results I like the most by tracking with compression and eq (even running stuff through two eqs) and I tend to mix as I go; I continue to experiment with mic/preamp/eq/mic placement combinations and really enjoy the subtle ways things affect the sound. So, if a recommendation is for front end (compressor, eq) I'd like it to be tracking friendly/appropriate. Something that is great, but fussy, is probably not a good choice for me. And I haven't enjoyed running stuff out to gear and back in again, and I don't have a board (while I said price is not a factor, I’m not going to buy and API 1608 (unless you really think I should :=)

OK — enough said. Here’s my gear -- what do you think?

STUIOD EQUIPMENT LIST

DAW: Logic 9

Computer: iMac 3Ghz Intel Core Duo; 4gigs of ram (I do frequently run out of processing power)

Interface: Saffire Pro 40 (it is what it is)

Control: Faderport and Mixcontrol

Monitor: Yamaha HSM80s

Clock: Big Ben (got one real cheap on Ebay; I swear I hear a difference ;=)

Mics

AKG 414eb p48 and D1000E
Oktava MK 012 and 219 (both modded by Mike Joly)
Groove Tubes GT 67 and 60
Shure 57 and 58
EV RE20 and N/D868
Rode NT5s and M1
Superlux r102 ribbon
MXL 990

Outboard gear

Groove Tubes SuPre (probably could have done better for the money but overall I guess its good)
FMR PCB-6A (still learning this one!, but I really like it; I wish it had input control as a good sounding hot preamp causes too much compression even at its lowest settings)
Aphex compellor 320a (a mistake!)
Lexicon MX400 (another mistake, but it can make cool crappy sounds!) (I'd sell these on Ebay if I thought it would be worth the trouble, but based on watching, I doubt it.)

500 Series (I love the series and would prefer to fill slots)
API 10 space rack (three spaces left!)
Great River
two Purple ODDs (they can do more than I originally knew)
API 512c, 560 eq (I find the 560 great while tracking)
Buzz Elixir (my favorite so far, but I love the API and GR too, though it does freak out with a squeal sometimes when gain is pushed, so I have to send it in again, but the first time those guys where great).

Plugins
Liquid Mix 16 (I don't really like it, but it does save on processing and there a few things I feel I can get it to do well; it does clash with USB of the Pro 40 on occasion; have to boot things in the proper order, etc. -- I'd love to dump it and not need it).
Softube: CL1B; Fet; TSAR (used all the time)
Fabfilter: Pro L, G, Q, C. (really enjoying these)
DMG Equality (mainly for analogue mode)
East West Spaces (sounds great, use all the time)
IRCAM Reverb (this can do really interesting things)
Vertigo VSC 2 (use all the time)
TriTone Digital eqs (don't use these much, there just something funny about them -- they sound good at first, but then, yuck.)
PSP 85, N20 (still diving into that hole! but love it)
Elosis E2Desser (useful, sill learning it)
Melda Production: all free and dynamic eq as well — which is just too much in some ways but very useful.
Voxengo: all the free ones, use the mid/side a lot; love the overtone eq on buses and with mid/side stuff.
Waves API collection (I like these very much).
Sonimus Satson (never used a real console, but I like it.)
Old 4th May 2012
  #2
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Kram,

First off, that's a great looking home studio. Congrats on your work.

My philosophy is simple: maximize the quality of the things you use the most. Along those lines, a few things jump out at me.

(1) Your interface/converters are nowhere near on par with the rest of your gear. I'd start there. Figure out how many channels of i/o you need and go for the best you can. The first time I heard a real high-end converter (it was a Weiss ADC2, which we still use to "print" our 2-mixes out of the console) I was floored. Though something like that is probably not practical for your setup, an Orpheus or Metric Halo would work wonders in replacing the Saffire.

(2) Monitors. I'm not a huge fan of the Yamahas. Not the highest priority item but I'd upgrade 'em. I've listened to hundreds of speakers and I keep coming back to the ProAc studio 100s. We use them alongside PMC AML1s in our room. You'll need an amp as they are passive. I've settled on an Audio Research D130, but have also had luck with a Bryston 3B. Other people swear by the combination of the ProAcs with old McIntosh amps.

(3) I'm always a fan of having the ability to assemble at least one good "channel strip". It doesn't have to be all in one box (though, man, do I love our Aurora GTQCs) although that can be nice for simplicity. I think you need a good compressor that will be suitable for tracking and mixing. My current favorite is the Retro 176. It does everything.

By the way, the API 1608 is wonderful for your type of work. We're in love with ours. It's a big purchase, but if you sold every piece of outboard you have to help finance one (and I recognize you'll still need to put up a lot of cash) you wouldn't regret it for an instant.

Hope this helps.

Adam
Old 5th May 2012
  #3
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Thanks so much for your kind words about the studio and taking the time to explore my situation. I spent a great deal of time researching and planning, and of course constructing, and I'm beside myself with what I've been able to accomplish (with a lot of help from friends) and how much of a difference it makes! It is such a pleasure to spend time here, whether mixing or tracking. The family joins me up hear a lot!

I also appreciate your philosophy, and it is very helpful to hear your experience. I was just speaking with one of my collaborators about the conversion issue (vs. a mic as first, next step) and we decided to see who might have responded today. I've always really liked what I've seen about the Halo but never really looked at the Orpheus, which I'm now researching. I'm also gearing up to research your other recommendations; as much time as I've spent lurking here, few of those -- except the Retro -- rings a bell. I really appreciate it. And thanks for the 1608 push -- I might just begin a special savings account for that as it would be absolutely a dream come true!
Old 5th May 2012
  #4
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The Apollo is a backward step. I'd get something like a Lynx Aurora if you want better converters.

Might be time to think about better monitors.

Overall, that's a decent list of gear you've got. Is there a particular sound you want but can't get?
Old 5th May 2012
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgruff View Post
The Apollo is a backward step. I'd get something like a Lynx Aurora if you want better converters.

Might be time to think about better monitors.

Overall, that's a decent list of gear you've got. Is there a particular sound you want but can't get?
What the hell are you talking about, this converter test is misinformation, you shouldn't influence peolpe with these figures.
I owned the original duet and the duet 2 for mobile rig, and i can assure than the duet 2 isn't a backward step in terms of accuracy, i can even say it's a big step up!
However in this test the original duet is above, maybe it's more "transparent" after 10 loop-back but for music production, the duet 2 is miles away.
Same with the UFX, at the very bottom i don't think it's a step backward compare to the ff400, knowing both well.

Have you actually listened or worked with any of these??
Also if you rely on this test, why don't you advice the motu 828 mk2 which is cheaper and above the aurora and the orpheus?
Old 5th May 2012
  #6
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The test is what it is. It measures transparency. I think the UFX, for example, had something going wrong in the bass end and problems with ringing and smeared transients. Can't remember for sure. Of course these are very small (but measurable) problems.

Focusrite are all over the place in the tests but they seemed to have scored a hit with the 40. If you already have a mid-range interface like this, there's no point trying to "upgrade" to an Apollo.

Quote:
Have you actually listened or worked with any of these??
Let me guess: you've got an Apollo?
Old 5th May 2012
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgruff View Post
The test is what it is. It measures transparency. I think the UFX, for example, had something going wrong in the bass end and problems with ringing and smeared transients. Can't remember for sure. Of course these are very small (but measurable) problems.

Focusrite are all over the place in the tests but they seemed to have scored a hit with the 40. If you already have a mid-range interface like this, there's no point trying to "upgrade" to an Apollo.



Let me guess: you've got an Apollo?
No i don't have an Apollo.
My message wasn't to defend the Apollo, which i've never heard or worked with (probably like you!).
My message was about your advice based on a meaningless test...
If you really rely on this test, i just don't understand why you would recommend the aurora instead of the motu 828 mk2, who has a better score and is much cheaper...
Old 5th May 2012
  #8
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If you want to buy second-hand sure that could be a good choice.
Old 5th May 2012
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgruff View Post
If you want to buy second-hand sure that could be a good choice.
Old 5th May 2012
  #10
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The OP is asking about better converters and I think you've made your point by now. We get it: you don't like the transparency test. Any complaints about that are best raised the other topic.
Old 5th May 2012
  #11
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The OB is asking about better converters for music production not for a looping test...
Old 5th May 2012
  #12
WKG
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgruff View Post
The test is what it is. It measures transparency. I think the UFX, for example, had something going wrong in the bass end and problems with ringing and smeared transients. Can't remember for sure. Of course these are very small (but measurable) problems.
The UFX is an excellent piece and exhibits none of the issues you reference. I could see however how you may think that after seeing some numbers that may suggest it, psychoacoustic suggestion is a powerful thing indeed...

Of course if I need to run any audio I am working on through 10 passes of AD-DA there are much more serious problems aside from whatever box I am using.
Old 5th May 2012
  #13
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This is not the place to discuss the loopback test.
Old 5th May 2012
  #14
WKG
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgruff View Post
This is not the place to discuss the loopback test.
You brought it in....

Old 5th May 2012
  #15
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No ****. Someone wondering about better conversion just might be interested in an objective test of ADDA transparency don't ya think?

This isn't the place to duplicate all the arguments in the other topic.
Old 5th May 2012
  #16
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For me it always starts with mics and speakers, I'd at least look at Focal Cms 65s but will always shoot for something more full range.
The mic collection is sort of Bland nothing that says wow !
Converters are OK I could make a record with a Saphire, but if I was wiring in the box I wouldn't mind 2 great ch of AD and DA say Lavry or mytek
Old 6th May 2012
  #17
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More thoughts on upgrades...

Folks: thanks for the interest.

For starters, I've never really loved the Yamahas -- but only after some experience did I respect my own view. They were purchased on the recommendation of a Sweetwater guy, and really, they've done me well. But they're fatiguing, a bit brittle and muddy, but in the end, in the new room, they translate pretty well (maybe a sub would help, as a stop gap?). So, while I don't think this will be my first step in this next series of upgrades, I do think I need a qualitative leap in monitors (since the OP suggested passive monitors, I tentatively ask if there is some general consensus regarding passive, active and quality; I've never looked in to that)

And, as for mics being blah, I too agree (which makes the choice of what to upgrade first harder). I do love the older 414, especially on guitars and toms, and my own voice. But in the end nothing really sticks out as particularly strong or amazing. As I said in the first forum (I guess this one is a creation of the mods) I have had trouble getting a "big" vocal sound; and while I'm pretty satisfied with electric guitars, vox is an issue (and acoustics to a degree too, but less with the new room; drums I suppose will be deemed lacking once the excitement of the new kit wears off).

In addition, I don't really like my low end and depth, and I suspect some of that is combination of a mics, skill but possibly also conversion, but IDK. Overall, I just feel that while I'm getting improvements with the new studio, and getting more experience, I still feel the overall sounds is "B" grade. Which for some projects is just fine! The new studio makes me sense the limits of my mics, monitors and interface more -- and thus my query!

Now, the issue of converters. The whole converter thing has really just confused me -- so to set a standard for decision making, let me say that I'm not really motivated to spend thousands on conversion unless the difference is obvious (e.g., my collaborators would notice without being instructed what to listen for). I'm sure there are subtle and important differences, and I don't want to devalue scientific tests; however, I want to begin upgrading and want to know where to begin, and I want to begin where I'm not going to have to struggle to notice a difference or convince the family that the missing cash was well disposed of!

So, I'm all for skipping the intermediate stage of conversion IF that is what is required -- so I'm looking for folks who know the Pro 40 and have upgraded to something that clearly made a difference. Is the harshness of the Yamahas and muddy low end in part a conversion issue?

I've viewed most of the Apollo forums and listened, and I'm just not convinced that this is the right direction -- and it just seems a bit too good to be true (I'm skeptical, I'll admit it, but my computer get's taxed so that is the seduction for me -- I'm not really all the excited about printing plugins, but it is cool).

And while a Lynx, I'm sure, would be good, it seems a firewire interface model would best serve my setup at present (iMac) -- with software mixer, MIDI, etc. -- so the Orpheus and Metric Halo do fit the bill (although I'm not excited about no XLR and wall warts with the MH). I'm not super interested in the effects of UFX, but this rejection is based on minimal investigation and a simple sense of "I don't want to pay for that -- I want great conversion and simple, flexible functionality", so if they are outstanding, let me know. I don't really care about pre's either, although four nice clean ones cant hurt (which is why the LIO seems like a good option for me at the moment).

But, everyone has helped me narrowed things down -- I'll wait on the monitors, wait on the channel strip/outboard. I now need to decide either for a mic or converter/interface investment, and of course, which ones!
Old 6th May 2012
  #18
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Kram if its lowend that s the problem, think monitors! like I told lugo you can't get bass right if you cant hear it! Bass really means big and powerfull! That costs $$ Keep the Yamahas as nearfields ! I saw some old KRK (when they used Focal Drivers ) 3 ways on ebay for $1500 add a adcom 555 and wow! or maybe some used JBL LSR 3 ways!
Mics, listen To Gefell, Beesneez, Lawson Boch. These all give you that 3d dimensionality that made the classics classic.
Old 6th May 2012
  #19
Your current audio interface is already excellent and has a very transparent sound to it. It's capable of delivering pro results. I'd hazard a guess that you wouldn't hear a difference if you upgrade your converters.

I'd personally upgrade the monitors to a nice pair of actives. The advantage with the actives is that all the electronics within the monitor have been custom built for that specific unit, thus giving optimal results for that driver & cabinet design. If you have the money, skip the sub and buy larger monitors which can deliver the bass you need. A sub is always a compromise. This is the reason why the really expensive monitors are designed not to need a sub: they deliver the low end themselves.

I second the suggestions made by ddageek:
Gefells are an excellent choice for mics and it's hard to go wrong with them. I'd buy one Gefell. Check their selection here:

microphones

I'd also try out Shure SM7B if it delivers a different but usable flavor for your vocals. Some people love the mic, some don't. It works fabulously for some voices.

Since your workflow is "one way only" (signal flows from the instrument into the computer), there's no need to buy any mixing outboard gear (unless you want to change your workflow in which case I recommend a nice mixer/console). However, you might benefit from new instruments/guitar cabs or maybe some analog effects units? Check out Thermionic Culture Vulture for some nice stereo distortion. Or maybe try some filtering effects with Niio Analog Iotine Core. Or how about a keyboard/synthesizer?

All in all I'd say you have a really well thought out studio already.
Old 6th May 2012
  #20
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Monitors or Converter?

I'm surprised the monitors have become a central focus -- I actually almost forgot to include them when posting my gear. That's not to say I don't agree, and maybe that is the best place to begin, so I'm in a better position to actually fully hear a difference with any future upgrades, whatever they maybe.

IDK -- there are now two competing ways to proceed -- upgrade converter, which will make a big difference, and another, which says, converter is pro level-ish, get better monitors. (My guitar cables are really quite good!)

I have a Guitar Center near my house, any experience returning gear there (I'm skeptical)? I think I might just go get a pair of Adams or Focals (or converters, but don't know what they have without looking) and see how much of a difference I notice with that (if returns are not a hassle) to get some real reference. Of course, I like 'em, I'll keep em and sell the yamahas.

Oh, and its mic month at sweetwater, and I've always wanted the SM7b, so I'll get the cloud lifter deal, just not that much cash for something I'm sure I'll use. So that's a done deal! Thanks for reminding me.

After messing with my less than high end mic stands this morning, maybe I'll just go buy a few of those high end ones mercenary has!!!

Thanks again to all of you for your input.
Old 6th May 2012
  #21
maybe throw down on a pair of Coles 4038 ribbon mics for your drum overheads/ rooms. You might be really happy with the results
Old 6th May 2012
  #22
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I would start with maxing out that API rackspace.

I would sell the Great River and buy two AML ez1073's because for the same footprint you could have two vintage Neve style Preamps with full EQ built in.

*I love Great River products, but I would rather have the MP-2NV as a rack unit so you can patch it into an EQ 2NV. I think it's a different sound than any "Neve" classic 1073 preamp personally, they're cousins but I've always found the GR to be inbetween a 1073 and an API preamp.''

Then maybe get another Buzz preamp since you seem taken with it so you can pair them up with your ODD EQ's and keep your API pre and 560 EQ for tracking sources like Bass or Snare Drum, which tend to need a punchy mid-range, faster transient response and more sculpting. (You would have five good pres with EQ this way)

If you wire up your patchbay right you can link your ODD EQ's for bus duties during a mix, and you would able to use the "line" input via XLR inputs on the back of the 500 series rack for the AML ez1073's to access the EQ's without the preamp for bus duties too.

So when you go to mix now you'd have two really good pairs of EQ's for sculpting tones.

I'd eventually get another 10 slot rack and get another API pre and 560 EQ as to have three good stereo pairs of preamp flavors if I wasn't going to be counting on in the box processing as much.

This would leave room for expansion, and give you yet again one more pair of EQ's for bus duties when mixing in your DAW.

You could in theory use your 560 EQ's on a drum bus, your ez1073 EQ's on a guitar or vocal bus, and then keep your ODD EQ's for master bus duties using them to push 12K to get a nice pro upper mid-range that's not sibilant.

I like this more than saying you need to get top of the line converters or whatever because if you're a hobbyist, you really don't.

Decent mics paired with those stereo pairs of pres / EQ's will always give you decent results if you're conservative with your gainstaging going in.

You can compress in the box with a lot more convincing "soul" than you can EQ because digital EQ's leave fewer artifacts.

I would also look into Waves NLS or Steven Slate SCC to simulate a master section of a console and line noise.

If you decide that you miss the great river and want to go to 8 pres after that getting an MP2NV would be wiser since you could eventually buy an EQ 2NV to pair it with...if you go with something else, maybe a 19 rack stereo buzz elixir pre for more of the same pre you tend to like, that's fine too...but the real bonus at that point is having the stereo D/I for Keyboards.

And if you go with that extra 10 slot, etc as previously described you'd have 8 slots left over for various compressors. (I would get stereo or pairs of mono compressors though so you can use them in your DAW on a bus same as your EQ's)

For converters, I don't know...RME makes great stuff, a pair of used Firefaces linked via ADAT would be more than you would ever need and then you'd have 8 more cheapie pres to work with. You can get a couple used easy.

Or maybe a pair of black lion modded M-Audio 2626's...I just feel weird telling you to spend more on converters if this isn't about making commercial releases. A lot of modern records are being done with sub-par gear as far as high end equipment is concerned, mainly because the budgets of yesteryear just aren't there to support very many projects at all.

As long as you can record in 24Bit, 48K you're going to be competitive in most respects, even if you're not at the upper echelon of conversion rates / sound.

If you were trying to be a pro mixing or mastering engineer then it would be a different story, but you can get new monitors and things over time after sorting out a few good stereo pairs of pres / EQ for tracking and mixing without worrying about that sort of thing as long as you aren't trying to make money doing this.

Basically I'm for having stereo pairs of different colors so than the choice of preamps is as much of an EQ thing as patching in EQ's themselves would be. I think that will give you satisfying results because different pairs of pres will sound best on different sources.

As for Mics....the best instrument mic I've ever heard and own is a Crowley and Tripp "El Diablo" ribbon. Shure bought them out and have relabeled the same mic, made the same way as the Shure KSM 353, it's not cheap, but those mics...the Coles 4038, and the Royer 121 are all really smoky sounding mics that will capture great guitars, acoustic or electric, and work well on drums. The advantage of the KSM 353 is that will sound amazing on bass cabs and kick drum, and NEVER blow up or give you technical problems.

After that, a good LDC that can do figure 8 patter would be amazing, or even a pair. I tend to prefer figure 8 on most sources because you get more natural reflections. I also prefer M49 and e251 type designs for most general purposes over say U87's and U47's...(but all of those mics are standards people tend to be familiar with)

Bock Audio would be a good place to start...but...again I'd rather have stereo pres and EQ's first. Heck I'd rather have a few good ribbons (in pairs if possible) first as well. Getting good drum or live band tacks is just so much easier that way.
Old 6th May 2012
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kram View Post
I'm surprised the monitors have become a central focus -- I actually almost forgot to include them when posting my gear. That's not to say I don't agree, and maybe that is the best place to begin, so I'm in a better position to actually fully hear a difference with any future upgrades, whatever they maybe.
Exactly. If you're going to be chasing the last few per cent of audio perfection, you'll need a really excellent monitoring environment - that includes room acoustics as well as the monitors themselves. Here's a couple of tests to try which can be quite eye-opening.
Old 7th May 2012
  #24
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Walking in to GC I doubt your going to find anything thats going to go much lower than the Yamahas! yes Focal 65s or solos are excellent nearfeilds but your not getting anything in the bottom octaves!
I have 32 ch of coveted Ramsa/Panasonic DA and AD most people didnt notice when I switched in a Behringer! AD wise THe $79 MCM modded by Jim Williams Will run with a Lavry DA10/11 !
Old 7th May 2012
  #25
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Time for a test...

herecomesyourman's view was kind of where I was leaning when I started the post, and I appreciate the thought given to how to maximize the 500 series gear. I think it is a good plan to take up over time, at least in principle.

I have on two occasions used the ODDs for the 2 bus, and frankly I wasn't impressed; but I bet I'd get better results on an instrument buss, or what not (I have been looking for good ebay deals on the 560 as well. But it certainly could have been the song, and it certainly could have been the fact that I'm not getting the bass sound I need (either because of the room or the monitors). I've actually picked out about three 500 series comps which I think would suit my purposes well, and I keep my eye out for them on ebay incase of a real good deal. The point about ITB eq vs ITB compression is an interesting point, but I'd still like to track with a real comp. When I get it right, the PCB really does make the mix go better, with better results. But I don't believe the PCB is for every vocal or every voice, and I know I can and should get something better (maybe the 3 grand retro 176, but the 500 series one might get me close).

I did do quite a bit of research when constructing the room and while it is not at all optimal in size, I have three large slat resonators which are calculated to cover the various problem frequencies one would expect with the dimension I work with, as well as absorbers for early reflections.

And, since I really know I should do some basic testing of the mix room, I will, this evening, take mcgruff's suggestion and see where things are. Maybe there are some key frequencies still causing problems. But I'm pretty certain as a result of this discussion that the miss and high end of the Yamaha's is not to my liking either and, that is not a room issue (and nothing I've read here suggests its the converters).

I did once again some listening to a variety of CDs today that I know well and only a few sounded really enjoyable to listen to -- the tendency is for the monitors to sound harsh (some things actually sound sibilant) and I'm thinking there is an issue with the high mids in particular. Sure, they are to reveal things, but I have a hard time believing that the engineer heard what I hear when bouncing the final mix.

On another note, while I consider this a hobby I didn't mean I'm not interested in being professional or making money -- what I meant to convey is that I don't believe it is realistic to think I can expect whatever artistic success I do achieve to enable me to quit my job! I.e., I'm not investing in a studio in order to make a living; its not my business or full time endeavor. But, once I put the finishing touches on the studio -- of which this upgrade is a part -- I'll offer my services for cash (those I now work with have contributed in various ways to making the studio a reality)! I just don't, given what I gather about the music industry, expect to make my living this way (heck, if I recoup half of what I've spent so far, that would be great). So, while a high end studio has the best of everything, and I can't, I do want to build into the studio those key elements which get me close in terms of the projects I typically do. I guess I'm trying to figure out what that means in concrete terms.

So, I've come to the conclusion that I probably need to figure out a way to test out converters and monitors to know for sure if I can expect the kind of big boost I'm looking for. I kind of know how to interpret discussions of pres and eqs and compressors, relatively anyway.

But perhaps that is the wrong approach -- maybe, as has the been the case all along for me, the quality is more a cumulative affect, rarely contingent on any single element. So, unless my test tonight tells me otherwise, I'm actually thinking a more enjoyable, high end monitor experience might just be the ticket at this point. But that was not at all where I thought I'd end up. We'll see.
Old 7th May 2012
  #26
Here for the gear
 
kram's Avatar
 

Test results

So the test revealed no noticable level change from 40hz up to 100hz; there was a dip between 100hz and 150hz, and a peak at 200hz; and some movement between 200hz and 300hz (this explains some of the low end issues in draft mixes, as I'm likely overcompensating boosts in the 100hz - 150hz range and overdoing cuts at 200 - 250hz; this may be part of my issue in getting low end right). The level changes -- judging by moving a fader to try and make the level sound consistent -- appear to be around 3db. Most changes seemed pretty minor, but the 200hz boost causes me the most concern; G#, A and A# boost the most as notes. Stereo imaging seemed fine. I might try recording the tests from mix position to get a more accurate sense of level change -- or should I buy a meter (if so, suggestions)?

I'm not sure I could get the room to be flatter in response given its size (apprx 10x12x7.5). Again, the slats seem to be doing a good job in the low end, but the 100-300hz range is important, and knowing this now will help in itself. I'm going to email Ethan and get his view, and possibly post to John Sayers. There are also settings on the back of the Yamaha's that I'll experiment with again, given this information (I think I turned on "room control" with the assumption that because this is a small room, I should use it).

As of right now, I think this means that getting speakers with extended low frequencies might not be as important as getting better ones with a tighter bass response in general, and a better mid and high end sound. But if this problem is deemed to be "big", expensive speakers won't fix it. Careful use of headphones can help in the interim, although I try to stay away from them as they are so seductive, as they have lead me to make poor judgments when I relied upon in the past when I had a very poor mixing room.
Old 7th May 2012
  #27
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mcgruff's Avatar
 

In general, I think small rooms need to be quite dead compared to larger ones. Hopefully you'll get more detailed advice from EW. From the pix it looks like you're well on your way.
Old 7th May 2012
  #28
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by kram View Post
I'm surprised the monitors have become a central focus
Mics and monitors always deserve a critical approach because they have the most potential for undesirable coloration and distortion. If you feel good about the function of the Yamahas in your mixing environment, then be patient and audition potential upgrades at home. If I had functional monitors - meaning that I could produce a mix that translated across a variety of playback systems - then I'd make damn sure I was buying an upgrade if making a change. For control room monitor upgrades, I want to hear more resolution in the midrange because that equals more analytical capability. If you can accomplish that while widening your bandwidth, all the better. You really want to audition in your space and remember - increased resolution doesn't always sound "better". But make no mistake - improving your monitoring can be a huge upgrade and may require more control room acoustics tweaking.

I don't think you mentioned a budget. It would be good to know what buck ballpark you can work with. The way I look at the system as a whole and prioritizing upgrades is to ask what are the major limiting hardware, software, egonomic and mojo-limiting aspects. If you really can't hone in on that then don't spend - instead be patient and think more, spend less. Maybe a new cajon or keyboard is what you need more than a mic or pre? Be patient and rent a few mics and really wring them out in terms of how they behave versus placement on a range of sources. It would be easy for me to chime in agreement with the poster that mentioned getting a channel strip. My project studio has benefited in a big way by going down that path. But is it what you need? Focus on your perceptions of system weakness or capability limitations and the situation should clarify itself.
Old 8th May 2012
  #29
Here for the gear
 
kram's Avatar
 

In terms of cost, I was thinking that I could swing three grand. For anything more I would have to wait a few months, so as not to incur huge amounts of debt. But I can go out in the next week and buy a Lynx Aurora, or a good set of monitors, or a Lawson.

My research on room acoustics revealed simply that I could use more trapping and that I should carefully measure the distance my monitors are from both the ceiling and the floor to minimize standing waves effect. So I'll build a few more absorbers, and keep measuring, while I continue to search for the next upgrade.

I appreciate the suggestion to carefully review the entire system, that's what I'm trying to do, and while I'm eager as all sluts are to buy stuff, I'm also eager to do it right and methodically. Thanks for all your help.

BTW: I'm finishing my review of the Apollo, as there seems to be reasonable enthusiasm for the converter, etc,, and as I said, my computer gets taxed so in a day-to-day operational sense, that is something that frustrates me, always having to freeze tracks, etc.
Old 8th May 2012
  #30
Here for the gear
 

It wouldn't be wise to use an Aurora with Yamaha HSM80s, they are not bad monitors but you need something better to take the most of great converters..
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