My proposed home studio hardware set-up?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by rema, Sep 4, 2009.

  1. rema, Sep 4, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2010

    macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2006
    #1
    Pretty new to this all coming from a design background. Always
    Wanted to get into music, so plan on giving it a shot. I hope to
    make electronic sounding beats and rap over them ‘m.i.a’ sort of
    vibe.

    This is what I am thinking:
    [​IMG]

    Rode NT1A Studio Condenser Microphone
    Not the cheapest or most expensive I have seen, about £130
    good reviews from what I have seen, claims to be the quietest,
    not sure what that means exactly guess it is a good thing

    Microphone Pop Filter for mic Stand
    One thats cheap £10

    Behringer HPM 1000 Headphones
    These are really cheap £12 but they have gotten good reviews

    M-Audio Studiophile BX5A Deluxe Monitors
    Was initially looking at the Fostex PM04, but seems like M-audio
    is a better brand, these speakers basically the same price
    around the £150 mark and a little bit bigger

    Akai MPD24 Pad Controller
    I was initially going to get the Korg padkontrol, but saw a review
    Comparing it to the Akai and the Trigger something by M-audio.
    Basically the Akai won most of the categories and overall. £150

    Phonic Firefly 302 Plus Portable Firewire Interface
    Seems ok for what I want to do it cheapest fire interface I
    have Seen about £130. I was considering a usb one but
    heard Firewire Is better. I was considering the Focusrite Saffire
    but its £60 more and seems like it does the same thing with
    one extra mic input.

    Boom Mic Stand
    One that is cheap, but I am hearing the Rode mic is pretty
    heavy so I may get a slightly more expensive one £10

    Speaker Cable, Jack To Jack x2
    Cheap ones £10

    XLR - XLR Microphone Cable
    Cheap one £5

    I will be connecting this to my white 20’ imac 2.16GHz C2D 3gb
    running leopard

    This all costs just over £600, was looking to spend under £500.

    Is there anything else you think I will/might need. Also are there
    any cheaper or similar priced alternatives that will do a better/
    similar job.

    Any other tip or suggestions welcome

    Thanks

    rema
     
  2. macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #2
    Rode NT1A Studio Condenser Microphone
    Looks decent enough, comparable to the MXL V63M I just bought and the mic performs quite well.

    Phonic Firefly 302 Plus Portable Firewire Interface
    The most important thing here is that it has phantom power, otherwise your mic is useless. It has that so I'll speak to why I went with a mixer over an interface. They both do virtually the same thing but the interface is FW or USB and requires software to run. You could run into latency issues more than you could run into them if you used a mixer with a direct audio-in input. My mixer (which I just bought) is a direct audio in. I was catching latency issues with a 1/4" standard guitar cable of all things but I've since fixed that. There is zero latency with the mic I use. Using FW will cut down on some potential latency issues. Your key would be to ensure you're using the latest drivers and such. I will also say that I was using a Tascam interface (USB) and the second I went to Snow Leopard it was useless. I am sure Tascam will fix it, but since it was a loaner I did not care.

    Mic Stand
    I am using a table top one, there are stands that are better but for me this is perfect. I assume you'll be fine with whatever you have chosen.

    XLR - XLR Mic Cable
    Be careful here as with cables you kind of get what you pay for or don't pay for in this case. Just keep in mind if you're having issues replace the cheap cables before you blame the rest of the hardware.

    Microphone Pop Filter for mic Stand
    Yeah it'll be fine.

    Behringer HPM 1000 Headphones
    Again, you get what you pay for or don't pay for. I'm sure for basic recording you'll survive but you need to make sure you have highs and lows if you're going to monitor through headphones.

    M-Audio Studiophile BX5A Deluxe Monitors
    Similar to headphones you need to be able to hear all ranges. These are well regarded monitors as far as I know.

    Speaker Cable, Jack To Jack x2
    Same thing as the mic cable

    Akai MPD24 Pad Controller
    I know little about these so I went with the review and it looks great.


    You should be fine with this setup. It looks like the Rode has a shock mount, that is really to reduce noise from the vibration. I do not have one but I'm sure it couldn't hurt.

    Overall I think you've chosen some decent starter equipment. Are you going to use Garage Band or Logic?
     
  3. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2009
    #3
    First, welcome to the world of home recording!

    It seems like a decent setup to me. If you need to cut the price down, hold off on the controller for a little bit. A controller isn't essential, it's basically just a faster and more intuitive way to enter notes, create fades, etc. in your software. But that brings up the question: what software are you using? GarageBand is decent, but you might find yourself limited by the drum samples and instruments available.
     
  4. macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    chicago
    #4
    it is popular, but i've little idea why. i think it's boring and too sizzly. in that price range, i prefer the AT2020.

    neither mic is particularly heavy, even a a cheapo stand should do fine.
     
  5. macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #5
    That is a good point, the pad is completely unnecessary for starting out as far as I'm concerned. It must be because I completely disregarded a need for it and I'm "just starting out".
     
  6. macrumors 6502a

    pkoch1

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    Location:
    Boston
    #6
    Well, if he/she is going to be inputting any drums, I bet it would be a much easier workflow to play it in with a drum controller than to draw in the notes with a mouse. I would still recommend it.

    I have the Korg padKontrol, and it works very well, but I usually end up playing drums with a normal MIDI keyboard because it is usually already out in the open ready for use.
     
  7. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2006
    #7
    Thanks for the replies, really appreciate them.

    Rode NT1A Studio Condenser Microphone
    Ok cool, 'zimv20' i did look at the AT2020 but wasn't sure if the shape
    made it more suitable for other stuff rather than vocals? It is cheaper
    but hasn’t got a shock mount.

    Behringer HPM 1000 Headphones
    I was thinking the headphones where just for listening to music while
    rapping or singing. But yea £12 is on the cheap side. Could you
    recommend any others?

    Akai MPD24 Pad Controller
    I like the tactility of it I was planning on getting a cheaper controller
    but this one seems to have the right balance. I tried musical typing and
    making tunes normally but feel this would help me out as well as
    make the process more fun/experimental.

    Phonic Firefly 302 Plus Portable Firewire Interface
    'jessica.' I am not sure what your saying here, is there a mixer that's
    a similar price? If I keep it all up to date will it be fine? I was planning
    on upgrading to 'Snow Leopard' but I remember when I upgraded
    from 'Panther' to 'Leopard' I had small issues with some other stuff so
    I might avoid snowy, well for now.

    XLR - XLR Mic Cable/Speaker Cable, Jack To Jack
    Is there a way I can tell good cables, besides the price as I don't really
    want to pay more than I need to.


    Software I was thinking of logic, but I need to look into it a bit more,
    'reason' and 'fruity loops' are also options, but I know even less about
    them.

    Thanks again for your help

    R
     
  8. macrumors 6502a

    pkoch1

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    Location:
    Boston
    #8
    The shape won't make a difference. Both the Rode NT1 and the AT2020 are side-address microphones. The Rode just doesn't have more metal at the top of the mic.



    Logic is Mac-only, Fruity Loops is PC-only, and you cannot record audio with Reason. Reason is strictly MIDI. That should help you narrow it down ;).

    I'd also seriously consider GarageBand. It has quite a lot of potential.
     
  9. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2006
    #9
    Is the shock mount important? i read somewhere
    that the AT2020 is noisy not sure what they meant
    by that thou.

    Cool, so fruity loops is out then and so is reason,
    i have garage band and have used it before but not
    seriously i will look in Logic as well

    Thanks
     
  10. macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    chicago
    #10
    Record looks pretty cool; it might be a good choice for those used to Reason.
     
  11. Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #11
    You're not getting far with a condenser mic and no shock mount... also (now this came up just recently in another thread...) how quiet is your room? Is this stuff living in a room with any kind of sound insulation, or is it just in a bedroom or spare room or somesuch? The condenser might be really important to capture the vocal subtleties for this kind of music, but you're probably going to be dealing with a lot of noise elimination.

    Also as far as the pad goes, it's probably a good place to look for something used if you're on a budget. But I'd guess that for doing beats and rap, it'll be really nice to have one.
     
  12. macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    chicago
    #12
    yes. it isolates the mic from room vibrations that would otherwise translate into sound in your recording.

    it probably meant they don't know how to properly gain stage (youch!).

    try both and keep the one you like.
     
  13. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2006
    #13
    It will be in bedroom, yea my room is quiet but i dont really
    know what to compare it to, i tried recording vocals using
    the built in mic on my imac and there was some background
    noise , will not noise exactly but additional sounds. I thought
    this was due to the mic. I wasnt really planning on sound
    insulation as such due to costs, was looking in to d.i.y
    methods. Not sure what you meant by 'but you're probably
    going to be dealing with a lot of noise elimination'

    'zimv20' what do you mean by 'don't know how to properly
    gain stage'
     
  14. Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #14
    A proper large diaphragm condenser mic is much closer to "hearing a pin drop on the floor" than to being forgiving... what I mean is that, if your Mac's internal condenser mic pics up ambient noise, there is going to be a lot more of it on the much more sensitive studio condensers you're looking at.

    The track that you record with them, completely independent of things like noise from bad equipment (e.g. some digitizers introduce noise), is also going to record cars driving by and people walking in other rooms in the house and all manner of crap you're probably not used to noticing.

    It won't be a big deal for just playing around, but you'll have to do something about all the ambient noise you record to keep it from ruining your mixed-down recording... that's all I mean.
     
  15. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2006
    #15
    thanks 'mkrishnan' i understand what your saying
    now, so how can i avoid/stop/reduce/eradicate the
    ambient noise.
     
  16. macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    chicago
    #16
    gainstaging refers to setting audio levels of everything in the record chain to 1) keep the signal above noise floor, and 2) operate each piece of gear within its optimum range.

    imagine if you plug your ipod into a receiver and 1) turn the ipod volume way up, and 2) turn the receiver way volume down to compensate. it would probably sound like crap, lots of noise and such. by playing around, you could find a happy medium where you get a good signal that sounds good, i.e. you've properly gainstaged it.

    same thing with the studio gear. if someone sets up a mic such that it doesn't pick up the source well (for example, by being too far away from the source, or has the guitar amp playing too quietly), then one will probably compensate by upping the gain on the mic pre. this can introduce unwanted noise, and the confused engineer may blame the mic.
     
  17. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2006
    #17
    Thanks 'zimv20' i get what your saying now
     
  18. macrumors 6502a

    pkoch1

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    Location:
    Boston
    #18
    Yes, and you can also open Reason projects in Record to add audio to them. I think it's great if you already have Reason, but is not too different from garageband otherwise.

    EDIT: Okay, I take that back. I just watched the promo video again. Looks pretty cool. I wonder how much the SSL stuff sounds like an SSL, haha.
     
  19. macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #19
    The simplest thing is to move the mic really close and then turn it down. This make the voice louder compared to the other sounds but also changes the sound too. Also you can use a mic with a more directional pattern. These mics reject any sound that is not directly in front of them. Listen to what studio engineers say but do NOT copy what they do. They work in a quiet studio and what you are doing is more akin to what a sound man does on a location shot for the local TV news station. You do not see large diaphram studio condenser mics on the end of the sound guy's hand held boom. No, he isolates the desired sound from the noise. That built-in mic on theMac Book is non-directional and picks up everything you don't want a mic like that in a noisy house. Think about "stage mics" too. The ones singers use on stage those also have to be pointed directly at the source, try even a 30 degree tilt and the sound rolls off a lot. These mics are used so as not to pick up the sound of the band's own amps.

    What you want is not just a "good mic" but a mic suited to your use.
     
  20. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2008
    #20
    If you're half-way serious about making a home studio you're going to have to read up some on acoustic treatment for the room. Search for some basic home studio treatment techniques and you'll get the idea of why you need to do it. It's the one thing many people skip, a lot of the time because of cost, but it's very important.

    As you read up on why it's important you'll find some pretty creative and cheap (relative to retail acoustic treatment, anyway) alternative ways of improving your room's sound. For doing vocals you might want to start out with a version of a portable voiceover studio...basically a foam box.

    But, even though you are starting with a raw room just get making music. By doing that you'll hear how your room sounds and how much it will change when you start adding even homemade bass traps and panels.
     
  21. macrumors 68020

    Liquorpuki

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2009
    Location:
    City of Angels
    #21
    Are you doing hiphop?

    I'm not a mic expert but I use a NT1A for rap vocals and it's a good mic. It IS a little sizzly, especially without post processing, but I tweak the EQ's and add compression and for rap vocals at least, it ends up sounding good. And that advice about gainstaging is necessary. That mic can pick up sound from your neighbor's house so you need to know how to isolate the noise. I can put the mic 12 feet away in a closet, shut the closet door, and still get earsplitting feedback. But with the right gainstaging, I can have the mic out in the open, 3-4 feet away from monitors, rap over the monitors and on playback it's like the monitors aren't even there.

    The MPD is good if you came from the MPC world OR you're trying to chop up samples. Personally, I drum better on a keyboard but when I'm chopping up samples, I prefer 16 pads. Plus Akai has a bunch of beatmaking tools that I can't do without - 16 level tweaking, the Q-Slider, note repeat, etc.
     
  22. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2006
    #22
    'pkoch1' I think i am leaning more towards logic or even the
    express version. I have not used Reason before i can get
    logic on stydent discount and also go to the apple store
    for one of those free lecture things to get started.

    'mcpryon2' i managed to speak to a sound guy online rather
    randomly. And now i'm thinking of building a small recording
    booth out of wood and foam like the size of a waldrobe for
    doing vocals but i hadn't really budgeted for it. Now Just trying
    to work out foam alternative to the professional stuff. The guy
    said to use the foam that lines sound boxes like PA/DJ
    equipement. But i doubt i will be able to find enought of it
    cheaply. Somebody also suggested matress foam but need to
    look into this. Have you got any links to other 'basic home studio
    treatment techniques'. if i build the booth would i still need to treat the
    room?

    'ChrisA' So what sort of mic would you recommend? I have had some
    one mention a shure mic which was for live proformances. But from
    all the studio video/pictures ive seen from pro's and people doing
    what i want to do ive mostly seen large diaphram studio condenser

    'Liquorpuki' Ok cool, i'ts a toss between this mic and the AT2020
    it is cheaper but doesnt have shock mount. Yea i guess it will be
    Hip-Hop as i'm plan to rap over beats. I am rather new to the MPC/D
    world i saw a guy make a some on youtube it sounded good so that
    was part of my inspiration, i have tried keyboards in the past but
    i think i would prefer pads.

    Mic location: If i make the booth it is going t be risght next to the desk
    with all my other stuff on

    Thanks Again for the replies

    R
     
  23. macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    chicago
    #23
    terrible idea. you'll kill all the high end and it'll sound like you've recorded vocals in a box. which you would have.

    you want to record vocals in a room with a high-ish ceiling. it is advisable to treat the area, but not with a lot high-freq-killing foam. much, much better to place some basstraps (e.g. some minitraps from realtraps.com or 244 traps from gikacoustics.com) in the area to tame peaks and nulls.

    do that and you'll be ahead of 98% of home recordists.
     
  24. macrumors 68020

    Liquorpuki

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2009
    Location:
    City of Angels
    #24
    I'll add from experience, if you're getting started, a booth is a waste of money especially if you're doing rap, where vocals are allowed to be grimy and 99% of the time your beat is created without recording through a mic. I have about $1000 worth of Auralex foam I don't need sitting in stacks in a closet because I don't need it for making demo quality hiphop

    My friend hooked up the NT1A to a cheap M-Audio firewire interface into Logic Express and we placed the mic about 4 feet away from the computer, set the gains, rapped over the monitors, and the playback sounded good. Meanwhile his room was tiny as hell, had laundry all over the place, no traps or acoustic treatment, and a ton of random crap lying around reflecting sound every which way. But he knew his equipment. Save the room treatment for last, when you've already milked your gear for best possible sound

    For comparison, Styles of Beyond's 2000 Fold was recorded in a bathroom. The Go! Team albums were recorded in their kitchen.

    Have fun learning MPC style production - it's totally worth the learning curve. And if you haven't, check out Boon Doc on youtube. The guy is amazing with chopped samples
     
  25. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2006
    #25
    'zimv20' ok cool thanks for letting me know, the guy i spoke
    two seemed to think it was a great idea, but he was just random
    dude from the net so its cool. Actually saved me alot of time and
    money as im not greatest at D.i.y. I will look into traps but will
    probabily leave this till im all set up and running, or maybe not
    bother due to lack or wall space and money.

    'Liquorpuki' thanks for the encouragement I'm will just focus on
    getting the money together get the mics and all that and take
    it from there. I checked boom doc he seems cool i listened to
    alot of random people on youtube on mpc and similar pads. I
    saw this guys ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5acHDtDgbM )
    video a few months back inspired me to go down the MPC route
    He not the greatest but i hadn't really seen what an Mpc/d could
    do till that.
     

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