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Old 02-05-2003, 09:15 PM
Siberian Siberian is offline
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Default Here is my studio gear shopping list. Critique/ feedback requested.

First of all, sorry in advance for this extremely long-winded post. I just want to give some background as to what I'm using this stuff for and why I am doing all of this so you could better understand my thought process behind my equipment choices and therefore better critiqe the choices I will list later on.

As well, before I go any further, I just want to say that after asking numerous newbie questions here for the last week or two and researching older topics on this forum, I have gotten a lot of great, insightful advice from many of the members here. And I wholeheartedly thank all of you for that!

I am VERY new to recording and before starting this research, I had absolutely no idea what a mic preamp and an A/D convertor were let alone what they were used for! My only previous recording experience was as a musician cutting demos with my band Grigori3. (check out www.grigori3 if you would like to hear some previous mp3 recordings we did at a local studio). I'm the drummer by the way.

Up until now my band has been using the services of a couple different local recording studios to record our new material as we write it, at an average cost of about $50 to $100 bucks per hour. Since our music gets some radio and club airplay and has been featured on a couple of compilation albums available worldwide, we have a need to achieve a certain level of polished "radio ready" production quality. Our music can best be described as heavy, industrial, gothic, dance metal. Think Nine Inch Nails, Rob Zombie, Fear Factory kind of stuff but with a female vocalist. As such, it requires a "big production" sound. Big heavy powerful in your face drums, thick chunky guitars, phat warm bass tones, layers of keyboard arpeggiations and ambient synths, and lots of special effects on the vocals. That said, it takes a lot of hours to mix and process and tweek our recordings in order to achieve that kind of sound and at $50 to $100 bucks an hour, we never have enough money to get it sounding right. I equate this scenerio to the saying that is popular among mechanics who build hot rod cars. "Horsepower costs money. How fast do you want to go?" So we figure with our own gear we can spend as much time as we want experimenting with good mic placements, getting better signals, trying out different effects and eq settings to get things to sit better in the mix without phase cancellation problems.. etc.

Does that arguement make sense?

So we decided to invest in our own gear and learn to record on our own. In the long run I think we'll be better off and I am very confident that with some time and practice behind the board, we'll be able to achieve the results we are after with the gear I list later on. So I made the proposal to my band about a month ago that I would pay for the gear. Fortunately I am in a financial position to afford it. And if the band ever breaks up, there won't be any hassles as to who owns what. Hey, it was either this or a Harley Davidson. Aw heck, I'll get the Harley eventually anyway. This is more important to me right now.

Now mind you I have realistic expectations and no dillusions of grandeure about what I will be able to do with this gear. I know that most of the big stuff on the radio is done with 2" analog tape and that has a lot to do with the punchy in your face feel and sound. As well, they use hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and have "accousticly perfect" recording rooms and grammy award winning professional engineers that know what they are doing. I know that. But at the same time I know that consumer digital recording gear has come a long way and my belief is that we can AT LEAST do as well if not a few levels better than what we have achieved at the local studios. That is, once I have gained experience behind the board. And I'll be saving the money in the long run, so I can buy that Harley!

Anyway, finally to the point of my post. After all of my research, I have made some decisions on what gear to get in order to start up my first home studio, and I would like some feedback as to whether or not I have made some sound choices.

At first I wasn't sure if I wanted to go with protools or a Roland VS2480. Obviously you guys swayed me towards Protools or else I'd be making this announcement on the VS forum right now instead!

Then I wasn't sure if I wanted the Digi002 or the 001. After asking more questions I decided on the 001, mainly because of budget constraints. As long as I know I can upgrade to outboard pre's and a/d converters I'll be happy. The 002 would be nice, and there is still a very remote chance I might change my mind at the last minute and pull the trigger on 002 instead. But if my better judgment prevails, I'll stick to the plan and get the 001. The one thing that appeals to me most on the 002 is the better A/D converters and mic pre's. But if I can use the 001 with better outboard converters and pre's I'll settle for that. I don't NEED a control surface.

Then I didn't know if I should go with a Mac or a PC. As many of you know, everyone out there always says "mac mac mac" and scoffs at the idea of using a PC for music production. Admittedly, until I started reading this forum, I was convinced of this as well. Now after reading about all the great improvements to PC's and WinXP, I have found that the PC is definately the way to go.

So I just called my local Sam Ash store and put a Digi001 on reserve to pick up this weekend. I'm waiting until Friday because they are having a promotion this weekend where if you buy something more than $250.00, they give you a free accoustic guitar. I'm sure it's a total piece of crap but hey, it's free and I can use it to just mess around and write stuff on. And if I get bored with it I can just light it on fire, hit my bass player over the head with it, video tape the whole thing, and submit the tape for the upcoming release of "Worlds dumbest extrememe backyard wrestling stunts, volume 10".

So here's a summary of what I'll be doing;

-Digi001

-The "Allen" machine. AMD 2400 chip.

-maybe Waves Rennaissance bundle

-Maxx Bass plugin or rack module for that phat low end "club music" bass enhancement, or something else if anyone has a better suggestion.

-Presonus Digimax LT for extra mic inputs. I'm 99% sure on this, however there is the possibility I might try the Focusrite Octopre instead if you guys think it would be a better choice for drums. Mind you the main purpose for the extra pre's is to mic my DW drum kit. Kick, snare, two overheads, hihat, and four toms. Either way, I am assuming that by using either one of these units with the sp/dif output I will bypass the internal A/D converters that everyone says suck so badly on the Digi001. Right? I'll still have to use at least one of the Digi001 mic pre's, so maybe I'll use that for the hihat or one of the seldom used toms. That's where I sometimes wonder if maybe the Digi002 would be a better choice, what with the four high quality built in mic pre's and the additional eight from the Digimax.

-Monitors to be determined. I still have to research that. I >ASSUME< that something with 8" woofers would be best for me because of the bass heavy nature of our music as I mentioned above. I don't want monitors that have weak bass output. Then again, I don't know. Maybe 6" woofers WOULD be enough, and for that matter, maybe even better for more accurate mixes. If I go with 6" then I suppose I can get better monitors for the money. I've budgeted up to around $800 give or take for monitors, however if I can get away with spending less, I'd love to and use the extra money for something else like maybe an extra one-channel high quality preamp for vocals and/or guitars. At the same time, if someone manages to convince me that I should spend a little more on monitors... fine. I will. In the lower budget range I was looking at the stuff from Event Electronics, like the TR6 or TR8 for around $400 to $500, or the Behringer Truth's for $400 if you can still find them. In the middle budget I was considering KRK V6 or V8 which range from $700 to $1100. I was told that the KRK V series are very good, accurate monitors and this is where I am sort of leaning at this point. And in the higher budget, the Mackie HR-624 or 824. I've seen the 824's on ebay for under $1000. Now if anyone has any suggestions in this department, I'm all ears. Should I consider 6" or 8" woofers and why?

-For Mic's, I am first concentrating on drum mic's and I'll use some of them for double duty for bass and guitar, then upgrade where needed down the road. I already have some tom mics. Radio Shack, of all places, used to make a knockoff of the popular Sennheiser E604 and they are selling them on clearance at $20 bucks each... if you can even still find them. A lot of my drummer friends have them and for the money they swear that these mics work very well in recording and live situations. So I bought four of them to try out on my toms. Hey, for $20 bucks why not! It's a small gamble. If they suck I'll replace them with something better but for now they'll do. Down the road I'll probably get Audix D2's for the 10" and 12" rack toms and the 14" floor tom. And then an Audix D4 for the 16" floor tom. For snare I'll get an SM 57, which will also do double duty on the guitar amp. For kick I'm getting an Audix D6, which will also pull double duty on the bass amp. I'm not sure what to use for overheads and for the hihats yet. So any suggestions there would be welcome! As well, I might want to experiment with a 2nd mic underneath the snare and I have no idea what I would use. And for vocals, my keyboard player already has a good vocal mic so we'll use that for now.

-Aside from that, I'll need a 100 foot snake to run the mic cables from the drums to the control room. The drums will be recorded upstairs and the control room is going to be in the basement. I'll need a few mic/boom stands, assorted cables, and some blankets and/or foam panels to temporarily hang in various parts of the house for recording and mixing. I've got hardwood floors throughout the entire house and no carpeting. The rooms are very live sounding so I know I'll have to do some echo control.

-I'm also building a home made, semi portable control room desk with an integrated rack to accomodate the Digi001 and outboard preamp while leaving enough room for future rack mount add-on devices. I'll also leave enough space on the main desk top area to accomodate a future control surface if I decide to add one later on. Since I'm pretty handy with building stuff I can design and build a nice work desk no problem.

My original budget was to stay somewhere between $4000 and $5000 bucks to get this whole thing up and running. I think I'm definately going to be able to do that and still have enough money left over to buy a big bottle of tylenol to keep the headaches at bay, and a gallon of grain alcohol to ease my nerves while I learn how to USE all of this stuff!

Whew! So there you have it. My first home studio in the making. This is just the beginning. I want to start out modest and small and upgrade or add on as my skills and needs grow. I think I have done a good job of researching my options and have allocated the appropriate amount of funds to the right places so that I can avoid short term dissapointment and the need to upgrade right away.

Again I want to thank all of you for answering my questions thus far and apologize for this extremely boring and long winded post.

If there is anything I left out as far as important gear I will need, or if you have any feedback or suggestions regarding the gear I have listed above, I'm all ears! It's going to be a few weeks until I have all of this equipment and in the mean time I have been reading some books on basic recording techniques so I at least have somewhere to start when I finally get it all set up.

I am really looking forward to diving into this new hobby head first. And I am looking forward to learning from all of you, making lots of mistakes, learning from them, and becoming a better engineer in the long run!
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  #2  
Old 02-05-2003, 10:25 PM
Bastiaan Bastiaan is offline
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Default Re: Here is my studio gear shopping list. Critique/ feedback requested.

- You might consider the Waves Native Powerpack. I see the L1 as a must myself...

- I don't see a large diafragm condensor listed. You might want one or 2 for vocals, guitar, drums...

- Don't forget some headphones and the means to use them (lines going up, headphone amp, headphones itself, etc.)
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  #3  
Old 02-05-2003, 10:42 PM
Siberian Siberian is offline
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Default Re: Here is my studio gear shopping list. Critique/ feedback requested.

yes, the Waves Native is another option I will consider. I guess I need to first figure out what I need and why I need it. Maybe I'll just start out with the basic digirack plugins that come with the 001 and see what limitations I have from there.

What specifically on drums would I use the large diaphram condensor for? I thought I had all the drum mic's covered. No?

For monitoring, I already have two decent pairs of headphones. I guess I would need a multi channel headphone amp if I want more than one person to use phones simultaneously. We always do one instrument at a time for actual recording, but sometimes we have the guitar and/ or bass run a scratch track simultaneous with the actual drum track for reference purposes. So yes, I guess I better address that. Would I just get like a three or four channel headphone amp and connect it to the headphone jack on the 001?
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Old 02-06-2003, 12:21 AM
1Nation 1Nation is offline
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Default Re: Here is my studio gear shopping list. Critique/ feedback requested.

To tell you the truth. I don't think you need all of that stuff All you need is better ears. The Digi 001 and the Allen machine would probably be a good move. But I would hold off on the other stuff until your ears acclimate. You don't want to damage your speakers (or ears)after all.

Please listen to my project at 7Psalms.com. I feel it's about 60-70% solid (production wise) My stuff now is about 70-80% solid and I'm using worse converters and less effects.

This is just MHO. Take it or leave it. Peace (to all who keep it)
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Old 02-06-2003, 12:35 AM
Keith Lowdon Keith Lowdon is offline
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Default Re: Here is my studio gear shopping list. Critique/ feedback requested.

You might want to wait and buy plugins later. You can always try out the Waves stuff for a couple of weeks after you get some songs to work with - that way you can figure out what you need while listening to your own material. It might take you a while to figure out how to use the system in a way that you are happy with so you have time before buying plugins.
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Old 02-06-2003, 12:46 AM
Siberian Siberian is offline
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Default Re: Here is my studio gear shopping list. Critique/ feedback requested.

yea, that makes sense. I guess there are some free plugin trials I can download as well, once I get to that point. My best bet is to just learn the basics with the digirack plugs.

In reply to 1Nation... besides extra plugins and maybe the maxbass module (which is something I'd add later on anyway), what other stuff should I do without? I can't mix without monitors. And the extra mic pre's are necessary for tracking live drums. Can't do it with just the two mic pre's on the 001 alone. Other than that, the other stuff is pretty much essential... cables, mic's stands... right? Or am I missing something?
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Old 02-06-2003, 12:58 AM
1Nation 1Nation is offline
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Default Re: Here is my studio gear shopping list. Critique/ feedback requested.

You still up? Me too! [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

Personally I would rather hear two well placed mics on a kit than 100 pricey mics through great pres, converters, and compressors. YMMV.

And don't underestimate the power of direct guitar and bass signals. I could show you some POD (Line 6) recordings that would make you go [img]images/icons/shocked.gif[/img] Trust no man, only trust your ears!

Peace, I'm really going to bed now.

P.S. The digirack plug-ins will teach you a lot about what's right and what's wrong with plug-ins. No need to throw money away just yet.
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Old 02-06-2003, 01:31 AM
Siberian Siberian is offline
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Default Re: Here is my studio gear shopping list. Critique/ feedback requested.

Yup, I'm still up. Been sitting at this keyboard since I got home from work.... 12 hours ago. No kidding!

I totally understand what you mean, but still, I want to learn how to mic my kit with more than two mic's. I need that separation so I can tweek the drums for a more produced "in your face" kind of sound, rather than just a "back of the mix" sort of "just there" bland drum sound. I'm not trying to knock the method of mic'ing drums with two overheads. I'm just saying that there are limitations to the control you would have over the mix. And besides, that was a BIG reason I chose Protools over the Roland VS2480. The 2480 only has 24 tracks and I didn't want to be bouncing drums down to two tracks. I want total and complete control over every part of the mix. I know that it will take some time to get good a mixing, but I'd rather start learning now than later.

Anyway, I just bought the Digimax LT. Found a brand new one on Ebay for $575 with the "buy it now" option. Considering it goes for $800 new I just went ahead and grabbed it.
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Old 02-06-2003, 03:29 AM
1Nation 1Nation is offline
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Default Re: Here is my studio gear shopping list. Critique/ feedback requested.

Well I officially can't get to sleep. So I'll go in to work in about half an hour. (They call that sleep onset disorder)

Without sleep I can be a little too bold (Read overbearing), but if you already bought the digimax then I'm sure there's a reason.

The reason I wanted you to start with two mics is to learn the importance of mic placement. After all, I wouldn't use two mics on most final mixes either. Are you a drummer???
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Old 02-06-2003, 07:58 AM
Siberian Siberian is offline
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Default Re: Here is my studio gear shopping list. Critique/ feedback requested.

Yes, I am a drummer.
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