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Starting a Home Studio

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Dirty Road Cola, Dec 8, 2002.


  1. Dirty Road Cola

    Dirty Road Cola Guest

    Sep 8, 2000
    Gainesville, FL
    Hi Guys,
    since i'm getting frustrated with trying to find studios around that aren't charging an arm and a leg for production/mixing (which I can do my self) I've decided to start a humble home studio. I plan on using a PC, since it can be acquired more easily and i know there may be some stability issues depending on the recording program i use. Basically, I'm posting this to get your opinions on the soundcard, mics, etc. I should get. Keep in mind i don't have extravagant money, but I wil be saving.

    Thanks,
    Neal
     
  2. Oysterman

    Oysterman

    Mar 30, 2000
    Sweden
    How many channels do you want to record simultaneously? If two are enough for you, I recommend my setup: MindPrint DI-Port paired with an RME Digi96/8. Since both products are MIG I suppose they don't carry the same price/performance ratio they do over here, but look them up if you can.

    That setup would give you a 2-channel breakout box (no computer-induced noise!), with very good mic pre's and AD/DA conversion for the price. RME's drivers are top notch. You'd have zero latency monitoring, too. Pair it with a piece of ASIO-compatible software (unfortunately RME cards don't have WDM drivers for SONAR) and there's a nice setup for you. My software of choice is Samplitude Studio (although the current version doesn't have ASIO, the soon-to-come v7.0 will), but it costs a fair sum ($400?). You have several choices depending what you need and what you're prepared to spend (or not spend... plenty of warez out there...).

    As for microphones, what are you going to record?

    If you're going to mix your own stuff, and want to become fairly good at it, you need a decent pair of reference monitors. But it's not really as important which pair of monitors you get, as it is properly KNOWING your monitors. And all monitors have a learning period - before doing any mixing at all I'd say spend a couple of weeks just listening to well-produced CDs. Event 20/20, Yorkville YSM-1 (or the powered YSM-1p) and M-Audio Studiophile are a couple of popular (at least in the US) low-priced monitors, but there are more. Monitors are important and what we hear in them is VERY individual, so it is a MUST to try them before buying them, preferably for a week.
     
  3. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I don't know much about recording on computers, as all the recording I've done has been on analog tape, and hard disk recorders and the like e.g. the Yamaha AW4416. But, I might be able to give you a little advice.

    As far as programs go, I know Pro Tools is available for PC, and Pro Tools is used in many studios, it's something of an industry standard. However I've never used it. I do know that as far as digital audio goes, Macs are the more popular choice. One reason is that they use SCSI Hard Drives - these tend to be much faster than the IDE ones that PCs use (though IDE ones are getting faster and faster) - and for reading and writing digital audio in real time, a fast HD is kinda essential. Macs have more efficient processors too, I believe. Another reason is stability. Quite frankly, PCs with Windows aren't stable. And that's when you're using them for ordinary things. I can imagine that they *could* be a nightmare for recording. They do crash a lot.

    But, I've not used PCs for recording, so I don't speak from experience. Maybe someone who has can verify their stability.

    If you haven't already bought the PC you're planning on using, you might consider going down a different route? Maybe a Mac - *or* a dedicated machine, such as the aforementioned Yamaha AW4416. The AW4416 is pretty good. It's a 16 track hard disk recorder & mixer. You can look up the specs. I'm looking at getting a Roland VS2480 - which is Roland's 24 track hard disk recorder and mixer. It looks to have many more features than the AW4416, including 96kHz sample rate. It's had good reviews too.
     
  4. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    This is very good advice, regardless of what setup you go for. Also, a spectrum analyser is useful. You may well find that whatever recording/mixing software you use has one built in. What it does is, it shows you how the sound is distributed over the frequency range - so you can see, and correct, any particular unwanted frequency boosts in particular areas, and get a more even overall sound.
     
  5. Oysterman

    Oysterman

    Mar 30, 2000
    Sweden
    Good point on the spectrum analyzer part, I really like the Brainspawn SpectR-Pro, well worth the $55: (http://www.brainspawn.com)

    Some other comments, though...

    SCSI is not really needed for DAWs anymore. A 7200 RPM IDE HDD gives me all I need. Or what about 24 tracks 44.1 kHz 24-bit audio using only 15-20% of my hard drive bandwidth? :)

    My Win2K system crashes very rarely (once I stopped using Sonar and my POS STAudio card). If it does, it's because I push it too far (trying to do something while audio playback eats 100% of my CPU, for instance). And I even have the dreaded VIA KT133A chipset on my motherboard!

    And you can't compare the professional ProTools systems with their home-studio setups. The difference lies in the hardware (which costs $10,000+!). And "industry standard" doesn't necessarily mean it's the best deal... ;)
     
  6. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I stand corrected :)

    So, how much would an equivalent PC setup cost, in comparison to, say, the Roland VS2480? The VS2480 is about £2,500 over here. I'm just talking the hardware & software equivalent to what the VS2480 has.
     
  7. Dirty Road Cola

    Dirty Road Cola Guest

    Sep 8, 2000
    Gainesville, FL
    Thank you for your help guys, keep the replies comin' ;)
     
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Just to expand on this, I'm a Mac dude, which means that PC guys roll their eyes at me and say clever things like "paid that much, huh?".

    I'll be happy to answer any Mac questions I can, but I don't know squat about any PC software, nor do I care to (no offense to Windows dudes).
     
  9. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    :rolleyes: Paid that much huh? ;) :D BTW, I went with the studiophile monitors. Big thumbs up, best I've heard for the price and a good bit beyond that price.
     
  10. jasonbraatz

    jasonbraatz

    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    as far as i can see...if you want to record more than 2 channels, the Aardvark Q10 is the best setup out there. 8 mic pres, 2 guitar inputs, shielded PCI card, midi, lots of outputs.....can get them new on ebay for 750.


    that's what i'm planning on doing. an athlon XP1700 clocked to 2.0ghz, 100GB 7200rpm hard drive, dual monitor matrox card, 17" monitor and 15" flat panel...mmmmmm, with one or two of those q10's and a good set of monitors there's NOTHING you couldn't do.
     
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Yeah, I'm digging the hell out of mine as well. Enjoy! :)
     
  12. jazzbo

    jazzbo

    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Wow Chris, you must've paid a lot if you're on Mac.
     
  13. Oysterman

    Oysterman

    Mar 30, 2000
    Sweden
    "Best" as in "best bang for the buck", maybe. There are always better stuff out there if you have the $. ;)
     
  14. jasonbraatz

    jasonbraatz

    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA

    yeah, of course :) for the 750 though, there's no setup that gives you 8 mic preamps, two guitar inputs, 8 outputs, midi in out, etc etc etc...
     
  15. Here's our "home studio" setup:

    Guitarist recently bought, he had been saving:

    Computer: 1Ghz, 500Megs of RAM, 80Gb HDD, Sound Blaster Audigy Professional recording extentsion ($550).. total cost $2200 (on finance about $20 Per week).

    Mixing Desk he just bought: Behringer MX2004, 20 channel mixing desk, very clean sound, lots of head room, great reviews. $550 on special from $800. Shop around its amazing what u find. It has 8 balanced Inputs and 4 stereo inputs. With a few unbalanced as well. It has a patch section on the back to patch in effects/EQ's etc in separate channels.

    Mics: SM57's for drums, AKG D112 (or a Beyer M-88) for Kick drum. These can be hired and we do hire. $44 per day gets us 5 57's and a kick drum mic, with leads and stands supplied. If you are charging a band, this can be covered in the charge.

    *This is where having uncles as sound engineers comes in handy*

    Made a few phone calls and borrowed a flight case with 7 parametric EQ's, 2 Compressors and a rack mounted Noise gate with 4 noise gates in it and a patch bay to keep it clean.

    Again these can be hired for like $11 for say the 4 channel noise gate. We will also be hiring a Multi-core or borrowing one if possible, but if you are just doing guitars or vocals then this is not necessary.

    Rig up a old PA amp i had lying around, or use my power amp from my rig to drive some monitor speakers in the control room..

    So in essence as a band it will cost us $60 per day to record, and we have $350 in the account. Guitars and vocals will be done at home, the drums we're doing at our place of rehearsal.

    Its easy and cheap. Also make your own leads, saves money trust me!

    :D:D

    Merls