Does this sound like a good plan?

Mark C

Member
Messages
4,417
I'm just getting into recording and have very little to work with at the moment. I work as a high school teacher, so I have a reasonable income, but I'm not rolling in money. Currently, I have a Digidesign MBox and a Dell Tower that I can dedicate to music. I also have an SM57 and an inexpensive condensor as well as a pair of powered Alesis monitors. My plan is to gradually build up a decent project studio, so here is what I have in mind. I plan on recording Electric and Acoustic guitar, bass, eventually keyboards and vocals. For drums, I'll use loops, a Roland R8 or I'll go rent a studio for a day to get real drums and take the Pro Tools files home to finish tracking. Within the next few years, I'd like to get to the point where I can record and mix quality demos in my house.

Tax return - Get a decent mic pre and compressor. I'm thinking FMR RNC and RMP, from what I've read they sound like the best I can hope for on my miniscule budget. Get the dell tower set up, add more Ram and hook up an external harddrive and start learning to use what little I have.

After working with the above for a little while, upgrade to a Didi 002 or 003, depending on budget and what's available on Ebay. Get a better condensor mic for recording acoustic guitars/vocals. Hopefully I'll be at this stage near the end of summer. Maybe also add a decent parametric EQ. (I've been looking at the Speck ASC)

During my summer break - Clean out my small studio space, and do some work with drywall, green glue and a little studio foam. The goal won't be to make it soundproof, but to hopefully control the sound a little better and get the room to sound halfway decent. Thankfully, I'm pretty handy so I think I can do most of the work myself. Spend more time learning to use what I have at this point until I save up more money to upgrade.

Next year, tax time. Upgrade the Alesis monitors to something better, maybe get an outboard Reverb/Delay unit and an analog summing box. This is about where I think I want to be:
Digi 002 or 003
Decent quality outboard gear, including a Mic pre, compressor, EQ, Reverb/Delay.
A couple of reasonably priced mics (I'm looking at the Studio Projects C1, Rode NT1, and a few others in that price range)
A few nice plug ins
A decent pair of studio monitors
A Speaker Coffin for recording electric guitar
All in a moderately treated room where I can track and mix.

I've tried to read up on this stuff, but it is difficult to figure out what works best, since so many people have vastly different needs and many of the experts keep recommending ultra-high end gear to guys who obviously can't afford it. I know some people like to use plug ins for everything, others like lots of outboard gear. I want gear that will allow me to get good tones, and capture the sound of the live performance, so I'm not looking to create loops and samples, etc. etc. I simply want to be able to create recordings that capture the dynamics of my instruments and performances. I've heard talented players make home recordings that sound great to my ear, so I'm pretty sure this is possible. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
 

Mark C

Member
Messages
4,417
Just one more thought.....
Thinking in guitarist terms, A dream rig might be a D'Pergo or Gustavsson into a Bruno or Divided by Thirteen amp. Lots of dollars and lots of tone, however, I think we all know that a great player could get pretty damn close to those tones with a tweaked MIM strat, Tokai LP and a Peavey classic 30 or Reissue Fender amp. That's what I'm looking for - a small studio that will let me get 90% of the sound I hear in my head since I know I can't afford the gear that will get me 100%.;)
 
Messages
489
Well I'll take first crack at chipping away at this...

First, the RNP is a decent sounding pre and the RNC is a nice little compressor. Not bad choices at all (I own the RNC and RNLA).

Not sure if your budget will stretch this far, but I recommend the Chameleon Labs stuff. Great sounding pres and the EQ on th 7602 is PHENOMINAL for the price. Absolutely AWESOME on guitar and bass and they have a TON of gain so most any mic can be made to sound awesome. The 7622 is just the pres if that's your bag. Also they just released a stereo compressor that absolutely is getting terrific reviews. Look it up. Like I said, a little pricey but it's "the next step up" from the FMR stuff.

Alright, as for good condenser mics, I recommend the AKG 414, it is super versatile and they go for relatively low price on Ebay (I got mine for not more than a RODE NTK). You have a bunch of patterns to choose from so you get to learn that AND the mic sounds AWESOME to boot. Not a "Budget" condenser by any means.

Instead of adding an EQ at this stage, I'd recommend expanding the mic locker a bit more. Look at oktavamod and see what they can do to a $350 pair of SDC's. I love my MC012's on acoustic. Just AWESOME sounding.

Also, check out the Cascade Fathead and maybe the transformer upgrade, if you can swing it. I don't own one but they seem to get stellar reviews and stand up to Royers and AEA's favorably. Excellent bang for buck.

Now another option is the Sennheiser MD421. I LOVE IT on electric guitar. Keep an eye on ebay and you can score one around the $250 mark, easy.

BUT if you HAVE to have an EQ right now, I'd recommend looking at the Orban stuff on ebay. The 622B and 642B are excellent pieces for relatively low cost.

Alright, as for the room... Is it finished already? If it is (as in there is drywall on the walls) green glue and more drywall won't add anything in the "make my room sound better" department. Check out GIK Acoustics and Rigid Fiber Glass over any "Studio Foam." Then read up over on www.johnlsayers.com and figure out what you need. This is the part that could suck up the most of your money if done wrong, so hopefully you'll study up (HA!) before taking the plunge. There's a lot to learn about room acoustics and most folks have figured most of it out already.

I've been thinking alot about analog summing and I've come to this conclusion... If I'm going to sum analog, it really isn't to far fetched to MIX analog.

For example, I have a Digi002R and the Behringer ADA8000 (one of their few DECENT pieces). I'll be picking up another AD/DA to take advantage of the spdif (RME ADI-2) and get to 18 I/O. Then it's to the board (which is a hard decision because everything is SO personal when it gets to decent boards) and off to the mix bus (Orban 642B, Chameleon Labs Bus Comp, and a kurzweil rumour) and back in to PT.
 

indravayu

Senior Member
Messages
1,714
Next year, tax time. Upgrade the Alesis monitors to something better, maybe get an outboard Reverb/Delay unit and an analog summing box.

Do some searches on summing boxes at Gearslutz.com - a lot of folks over there feel they are unnecessary.

- Chris
 

Mark C

Member
Messages
4,417
Thanks for the replies guys. I hadn't heard of gearslutz before, so that was a revelation! Timmy, I started looking at some of your suggestions - thanks for taking the time to give me some more ideas. Hopefully this will all start to come together nicely so I can start getting my ideas recorded.
 

Sunbreak Music

Senior Member
Messages
1,140
You can go really far ITB ("in the box")--so I would start adding the outboard gear later.

Something like the UAD-1 is used in lots and lots of top end facilities, and is a great bridge to stand on while you pick up pieces of nice outboard gear.

You've got the bug, so you're in it now!
 

IPlayHamers

Member
Messages
1,223
If you can, stay away from ProTools LE. It just sounds thin. The DIGI 002/003 are horrible interfaces. If you really want a good sound and don't have alot of money check out Samplitude, Sonar or Cubase with a RME Fireface 400 or 800 as your AD/DA converter.

First you have unlimited tracks, where as ProTools LE only has 32 and charges if you want to add a measly 16 extra tracks. The editing in Samplitude is superior to that of PT and from what I can tell, Sonar and Cubase are better as well. (I use Samp 9). Also, you need a RTAS to VST converter if you want to use VST plugins, which there are many very good and useful ones for free all over the net.

The reason I point this out is that I do professional recording for a living and had PT LE for about a year. I was never happy with the way it sounded and also with the track limitations. If you're willing to take a little time to learn one of these other programs, you'll be extremely happier in the long run.

Here's a piece I did resently with my Samp 9/RME Fireface 800 rig. Mics were a Peluso 2247LE and Audix i5. Preamp is a Universal Audio 2-610.

I hope you like it.

http://www.filefreak.com/pfiles/4945...%20(Final).wma
 

IPlayHamers

Member
Messages
1,223
I saw that someone mentioned the UAD-1 cards. I have 2 in my computer. The song I did used the LA2A on the vocals, Neve 1073 on guitars and Neve 33609C and EMT Plate 140 on the stereo buss.
 

Mark C

Member
Messages
4,417
Thanks guys! I looked at the UAD-1 card, and that looks interesting, I just might go with that if it will work with what I'm currently running. I think I'm going to go with my original idea for the mic pre and compressor and get the FMR units and stop there for the time being as far as outboard gear. I think that will be enough to get me started with my limited budget and setup. Once I think I know what I'm doing and have some more money, I'll consider upgrading to a better mic pre and compressor.

I looked at the Oktava mics and I think I'm going to get one of their large diaphragm condensors and have it modded at Oktavamod. Later on, I'll probably get a matched pair of small diaphragm condensors for stereo recording of my acoustic guitars - again the Oktavas look like a nice mic for the price.

I'm currently limited to protools LE, since I already have the software and the MBOX, so I'll stick with it until I have the funds to really upgrade the platform, at which point I'll do more research and decide whether I want to move to another platform or stick with protools. I do have to admit I like the idea of being able to take my tracks elsewhere for mixing or recording live drums, since protools is so popular.

I think doing all this should give me a decent start. I definately need to do some sound treatment, as I could hear the ringing in my room when my dog barked at the mailman earlier today! I looked at the Sayers website, lots of cool info on there, and great ideas for building my own absorbers and bass traps which I think I can do during my summer break.

This should be fun, albeit somewhat exhausting. Thanks for all the replies so far, I appreciate you guys sharing your knowledge with a newbie. If anyone has any more ideas, I'm all ears.
 




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