Wanting to start a small studio.

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by ndjx, Dec 18, 2002.

  1. ndjx


    Oct 26, 2001
    Hey everyone,

    I want to make my own studio. Nothing huge or anything super fancy but I need some suggestions. Any help is much appreciated.

    1) Help choosing a mixer. I want at least 8 channels and one with panning with stereo on 4 channels. I don't wanna spend over $450. I've been looking at Samson and Behringer.

    2) Studio Monitors. I was looking at this Halfer with studio monitors package at Musicians Friend:

    Good idea? Bad?

    3) Recommendations for a compressor? I don't wanna spend alot on this. Two channels would be nice. Good quality.

    4) Anything else you can recommend or advice.

  2. Johnalex


    Jul 20, 2001
    South Carolina
    Well all that looks decent..but you need something to record to..such as a computer, A/DAT, harddrive, reel to reel, cassesette..just something.
  3. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    Starting a small studio

    This is a long post and I'm not even going to apologise (correct my spelling or grammar).

    This is my advise to you based on setting up my own studio in 2000. The first problem is that there is way too much gear to choose from.

    So the very first question you need to ask yourself is…"What do I want my studio for?" This needs explaining. Many stand alone systems and computer interfaces only allow 2 inputs at any time. This means that you cannot record a drum kit, brass section, string quartet or ensemble playing situations without compromise. If you want to use MIDI loops drum machines etc then 2 inputs will be fine.

    The next question is "Can I use my PC?" The answer is of course you can but here are some limitations. Most stock soundcards are not good enough for recording and you will need a breakout box if you wish to record multiple sound sources at one given time. Then there's the software. Whilst on PC's there are some other factors. If the PC is in the living area of your house and you co-habit will the 'others' be ok with you recording whilst they are watching Star Trek? Also if the PC is used for surfing, homework etc will you be able to record when you want to?

    Now factor in the budget and you should be able to make a decision based on these questions. Having decided to go for a digital 8 track I went and bought a 4 track cassette Portastudio as it was the only system in budget that would record multiple sources. I record to tape then transfer to PC and overdub using Cakewalk or Audacity.

    To actually answer you questions

    1 Mackie VL 12 14 16 whatever these mixers are quite expensive for us bottom feeders but are excellent value and the preamps are very good. I like them better than

    2 Spirit Folio mixers which are IMHO not as good but cheaper.

    I would advise against Behringer because you will outgrow their stuff very quickly. It's like saving up for Mim Fender instead of buying a Squire (worth it if you can do it).

    Compressor-don't bother spend you money on a decent mixer/recorder/software/breakout box.

    Monitors- I run a pair of Auratones of the headphone socket of my Tascam. I get a lot of stick for it but used in conjunction with my PC monitors, hi fi and Peugot 406 (yes I burn a disc and sit in my car with it) I can get a mix I'm happy with.
  4. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Well, you said to correct your grammar ;)
  5. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    Thanks Moley
  6. ndjx


    Oct 26, 2001
  7. CS


    Dec 11, 1999

    The device in that link is a twin deck CD recorder. You could use it to record a band or a live performance or a live musician with a backing track but there are easier ways of doing it.

    The generally accepted ways of recording music are to either use a dedicated recorder and the cheaper ones are known by the generic term Portastudio's which happens to be owned by Tascam but its sort of like (in UK) a vacuum cleaner known as the brand name Hoover and becoming a verb (I'm hoovering the living room). I digress. Oh yeah...or using a PC with dedicated software and hardware to for the use of recording. The PC route also makes it easier to master your masterpieces (sic) if you have a CD writer. The unit in your link would serve for mastering if you chose the portastudio route. So you would simply play the multitracked stuff into the CD recorder and then copy a load for your friends family etc.

    OK let's take the Portastudio route. We use the Tascam 424mkIII as I have one. This thing is about 280 and consists of a 6 track mixer (8 on mixdown)
    that records to 4 tracks of cassette tape. A simple example would be that I would record the following.

    A guide track from drum machine and guitar on track 1
    a drum track using 3 mic to 3 channels but record to track 2
    Bass on track 3
    'bounce' tracks 2 and 3 on 1 scrubbing the guide
    guitar on 2
    voice on 3
    keyboards or percussion on 4


    1 bass and drums
    2 guitar
    3 voice
    4 something else

    The PC route would work in a similar way but you would do it on PC and the number of tracks limited by the software package.

    RE the mixer-if you are seriously going to need a mixer for an extended period of time then the Mackie is awesome.

    If you are unsure and maybe not use a mixer much then the Behringer won't cost much.

    However if you want to do a bit of recording here and there with mates and at home a Portastudio is the way to go and some have good integral mixers. I use mine to record onto Cakewalk on my PC. Tascam actually suggest using it as a live mixer as a standby emergency type thing. You can get portastudios from 100 to 2000 from 4 track cassette to 16 track digital with a built in CD player and internal outboard effects (I'm aware of the oxymoron).

    Hope that helps
  8. Ah, Behringer!!! I personally wouldn't get one of their desks, I have used their apparently top of the range desk and it was not good, so I don't think their cheaper ones will be any good either. Depends on how good you want the quality of your recordings to be I suppose. Having said that, the Behringer do the Composer Pro compressor, which is a decent compressor and only about £80 ($115-120 roughly).

    Desk-wise I think you'd be better of with Soundcraft than Behringer if your budget is quite limited. Mackie would be a good one to go for if you think you could get the money for it, it'll definitely be a better long term investment anyway.
  9. awesome


    Aug 14, 2002
    What are your planning to do with this studio?
  10. 1.) Look at the Soundcraft/Spirit M series of mixers, like an M8. Or check out a Mackie mixer. Behringer makes fuctional equipment, especially for the price, but for just a little more money, you can get a mixer with better presamps and EQ. Plus they're easier on the ears (and your mixes!) than a Behringer mixer.

    2.) That Hafler amp is functional for an introductory setup. It's not pro quality, but it sounds godd, especially for the price - good choice. But go into some different stores with your favorite CDs and check out the different monitor selections. Who knows - those Proto Js might work. But at least listen to some others, if possible. Also, your room and music styles influence monitor choice; they all have different characteristics, and everyone's ears are different, so pick your monitors accordingly.

    3.) I like Behringer compressors for their price and sound. An FMR Really Nice Compressor is a better value, although more costly. DBX makes some decent sounding units on the low cost side as well.

    4.) You have a computer so why not buy a decent soundcard and a CD burner, then get a good recording program? Your recording options may open up. Recording straight to CD is probably (repeat: probably) more troublesome than it's worth. Although budget dictates most of these decisions, it's usually worth it to spend some more time researching and listening to equipment, while saving, to get gear that you will be happy with in the long run.

    Anyways, these are pretty generic answers. If you give us your music style(s), mics available, # of musicians and instruments, recording room dimensions and sound, equipment you already have, etc...we can give you more specific details. Plus, you can run searches at www.homerecording.com/bbs and recpit.prosoundweb.com for a ton of info.

    Good Luck ! :)
  11. ndjx


    Oct 26, 2001
    I wanna use this for my band(we play hardcore stuff I guess) and my other band(funky comedy rock) I'm starting soon. Not only that but I have friends in other bands who I've talked to and know they'd be interested in using something like this. I also wanna do some decent live recordings as well. Another thing of course is fun. But anyways...

    I've heard good things about the Really Nice Compressor it's either that or the Behringer Composer.

    I looked at the Spirit Stuff by Soundcraft and it's more expensive than the Mackie boards... any others? Samson?

    I know some of you have suggested using a computer but I'd prefer going to the Portastudio route or using some like that.

    I have a few Nady Mics right now but I'm going to get some Shure's and maybe a drum mic kit of some sort.

    Thanks alot you guys have been alot of help so far.
  12. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    Nothing wrong with that. With all the high end gear he has access to, Dr. Dre still listens to mixes in his car to make sure they are right.