Developing Audiophile Wondering Where to Go

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by superuser2, Mar 1, 2008.

  1. superuser2 macrumors member

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    #1
    I'm a middle-school student and I LOVE sound/music. From very young I've been running school concert audio, have used a serious house sound system for our talent show last year and will again this year for the talent show as well as the musical.

    I now have a Macbook Pro and a pair of UE-5s (Ultimate Ears super.fi Pro 5) which I listen to a lot and love the quality of.

    What I'm asking, is what could I do and where could I go with sound recording/live audio performance as a hobby?

    I don't want to spend a WHOLE lot of money and probably won't in the near future, but anything I could do spending a maximum of, say, $1000-1500? (Ideally more like a few hundred bucks.)

    Looking for ideas of something cool to do with this hobby and what I would need to buy to implement them.
     
  2. Drumjim85 macrumors 68030

    Drumjim85

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    #2
    are you asking for advice on what to buy, or what to do?

    and if its what to buy, are you asking for a live audio rig, or for your personal use?
     
  3. superuser2 thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    Mainly what to do, and then what I would need to do it.

    I'm kind of interested in both, but let's say a live audio rig.
     
  4. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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  5. superuser2 thread starter macrumors member

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    #5
    Logical, but not as fun.

    Unless you really think it's not a good idea to get into this kind of thing.

    Seriously. Any suggestions?
     
  6. xUKHCx Administrator emeritus

    xUKHCx

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    #6
    You can have a very good sounding setup for not too much money. For example my headphones and USB DAC/amp cost me about £400.

    I think a good place to start is to head over to Head-fi.org and read through the forums, I haven't been there for ages because I was spending too much money. They have a decent collection of posts about pretty much any range of spending from the small ~$20 up to the ridiculous.
     
  7. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #7
    it's a fine (and can be a seriously expensive) hobby. fun, easy to get into, an unending upgrade cycle...

    but if you don't know what you want to do with it, why bother? everything should start from the passion.

    there's a reason i don't have woodworking tools...
     
  8. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #8
    Buy a reasonable keyboard controller. Buy a pair of entry-level monitors. Plug both into MBP (with a mouse, definitely). Maybe get a guitar :p or a Mic too and plug both directly into the MBP. Crank up Garageband. Noodle. Start from there, upgrade as necessary...

    More live-orientated software wise, you could take a look at Ableton Live and put together a basic system around that.

    Learning an instrument helps as does roping other interested people in.

    Listening on high-end gear is something old farts like me should do IMO. You should be out there stage diving or what have you. Hi-Fi forums tend to be fairly distributed, with the exception of the abovementioned Head-Fi which is dedicated to headphone listening - but I think with your UE's you've gone as far as makes sense for casual portable listening at decent quality.
     
  9. superuser2 thread starter macrumors member

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    #9
    I would say I have a sort of a passion, just a very vague and developing one. I do want to develop it though, looking for advice on how to best do that.

    I've got a friend with some amazing piano skills; maybe if one of us gets a keyboard we can go from there.

    Monitors: check. I've got the UE-5s which is fine for solo. Maybe I can get friend to use a less expensive model or buy his own. ;)

    The C03U appears to be geared towards podcasters... would it do well for vocals, or is there something else you recommend? Also, if I have multiple USB mics can I plug them into a USB hub and record multiple channels at a time?

    I will check out those forums. Sounds interesting.

    Thanks guys. Keep it coming!
     
  10. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #10
    C03U is quite versatile. It'll work for vocals. If you get to the stage of needing lots of Mics, then that's when you buy an audio interface. Until then, keep it simple and cheap.
     
  11. hakukani macrumors regular

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    #11
    Go to lots and lots of live concerts--especially smaller venues or unamplified music. Learn what music sounds like live.
     
  12. Tarkovsky macrumors 6502

    Tarkovsky

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    #12
    I think the problem is choice, there's a lot of good gear and a lot of bad gear around. I'd recommend these forums as well www.head-fi.org, and avforums.com.

    I posted this for someone else but I think it applies here : Right now a quad 306 through a couple of kef crestas (with the kube outboard eq designed with the speakers) can be had together for about half that, and that is serious audiophile quality on a budget. They're exceptionally well matched, and pretty easy to find on ebay. They'll only hit 60, but until you bass trap your room up it's a waste of money to think about bass seriousely. When you do get yourself a storm - high input sub that retains the character of your amp and hits 20. I'd pay about $600 give or take (I did it for more like $500 but waited) and another $250 for the storm. All this gear would have cost $1000s new and is comparable to modern upper mid range systems.
    -
     
  13. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

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    #13
    I would HIGHLY recommend:

    [​IMG]
    Bowers & Wilkins 685s. Their new 680 series is absolutely stunning, and is pretty affordable too. They're so fast and dynamic - it's unbelievable for a speaker costing <$2000. A pair of 685s will set you back about $650.


    For amps:
    [​IMG]
    Rotel RA04 - matches the B&Ws very well sonically (fast, forward, very dynamic, but not massively 'in-your-face' sounding). You'll find one for $599. Very good amplifier.

    They do a version called the RA05 which is $200 more and adds remote control functionality. Everything else is the same.

    The Rotel amps are also very good because they're very flexible for the price. They offer pre-outs (which most budget amplifiers do not), so you can bi-amp the B&W speakers later on if you want to.


    I'd recommend you use your MacBook Pro as the source, the audio output + high quality ripped AAC content in iTunes sounds acceptable, and then when you have the money, get a decent CD player (again, the Rotels are very good) and maybe a decent turntable if you want one.
     
  14. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

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    Jun 14, 2006
    #14
    Missed the comments about using it as a live audio rig.
    You're gonna need a bit more than $1500 to get a decent live audio rig.

    For example, you could go for Nexo PS15s (if you want something truly 'fantastic' sounding, but also very suitable for live audio use), and they'll set you back about $4000 for the pair + ~$1500 for the electronics needed to drive them (add on to that a decent amplifier and you start to get the idea).
    However, Nexos aren't that rugged - the weight of the magnets on the back of the drivers (specifically the plastic tweeter horns) eventually pulls the back of the driver off under the weight.

    You'd be looking at a pair of dB Technologies speakers if you wanted to get 'serious' sounding live sound speakers. They cost about twice as much as the Nexos I believe.

    Sonically, the B&Ws I recommended above would be on par, if not better - although of course these are hifi speakers (never, EVER think about using them for any kind of live audio).

    I would recommend staying away from live audio until you have some serious money saved up. It's a very very expensive field to get in to. I've been using a $15k rig today, which isn't exactly high-end.

    However, I came home and switched on my hifi + £180 Bowers & Wilkins speakers and the sound was streets ahead.
     
  15. superuser2 thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 1, 2008
    #15
    Hmm... so maybe live audio isn't a good idea. There's no way I'm spending that much money.

    Are the B&W's worth it? Are they that much better than my UE's? Also, do you have any idea of how I could try and listen to one?

    The website seems to talk more about their design than their sound - do they really sound good?

    Also, let's talk microphones. Anything besides the Samson C03U I should be looking at?
     
  16. Tarkovsky macrumors 6502

    Tarkovsky

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    #16
    I think buying anything new would be madness. Hi-fi hasn't improved drastically over the decades (the hi-end is now more affordable however). Same goes for most non-digital gear. I'm forever happy with my at-4050, I got it for £150, and it seems to have just about the right balance of character and usability. But TBH, my experience is quite limmited, so take that with a pinch of salt.
     
  17. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

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    #17
    The B&Ws are definitely worth it. They will only generally talk about the design on the website because the sound is something which can only be explained by listening in person.

    Believe me, sound per pound, these B&Ws are just about the best speakers money can buy you.
    They would definitely, easily, without any difficulties outperform your UEs, especially with a good amp like the Rotel behind them.

    As far as Mics go, if you want a USB/Mic combo, the Samson is arguably the best on the market.

    However, if you want to go more serious, I would recommend an Alesis MultiMix Firewire mixing desk + a Rhode NT1a microphone, or maybe an SE Electronics 2200A (a little more expensive).


    Speakers have come a long way in the last 6 years, let alone 20 years. Comparing my dad's Rotel RA612 + Goodmans Minister speakers to my Nad C300 + B&W DM303s (which is a lot cheaper overall than my dad's system, but ~25 years newer), there is no comparison. The new system is incomparably better.
     
  18. tremendous macrumors 6502

    tremendous

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    #18
    passions aren't developed by spending money. i'd say put the money in the bank and wait and see what happens. you don't need to buy stuff to try and create an interest in it. wait for the interest to appear - because believe me, spending a lot of money on something is a really bad way of finding out you don't like it.
     
  19. superuser2 thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 1, 2008
    #19
    Okay. I will look into the B&Ws in the U.S. - everything I find seems to be British and I really don't want to pay international shipping. The Samson CO3U I would probably buy from Amazon.

    I'll most likely start with the microphone rather than the speakers, and buy the speakers later if I'm not satisfied with my UEs or want more, etc. I may try and get in with a student band.

    (I believe I do have a passion for recorded sound in general because I appreciate and use my UEs so much. I'm looking for something I can do with it for a small to moderate amount of money.)
     
  20. Tarkovsky macrumors 6502

    Tarkovsky

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    #20
    I just don't know how anyone could justify buying anything new if they are really are sound per pound... Hi quality hi-fi/pro audio equipment generally doesn't degrade (in fact it often sounds better with use) and for the same money you can usually get such better sound from second hand stuff. You really have to know where to look. A lot of this is dependant upon you knowing what to look for of course. And I've suggested a lot of British stuff as I'm English (and we've made some good gear over the past 40 years) but the land of the cheeseburger has made a very sizable contribution to audio nirvana as well. I'm not massively in the know, though I think Rotel and NAD are good amp makes, but you'd be best off asking on a hi-fi/audiophile site.

    Wierdly enough i'd try www.head-fi.org, even though it's built for headphones primarily, it's very lively and at the worst they'll point you to other forums. It's also American dominated and it's so well known that manufacturers/famous brands frequently get involved in the discussion.

    They aren't going to like this hear but I think their powered monitors don't (with notable exceptions from quad/kef and other brands) represent either the value for money of a separate set up. Money is a real constraint for me as I'm a 2nd year undergrad, but I still reckon my set-up would rival that of most home studios, and I did it all for cheap because I waited and followed friends advice, read reviews and most importantly bought second hand.
     
  21. tremendous macrumors 6502

    tremendous

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    #21
    I'm still really confused what exactly you are going to be doing.
     
  22. bgalizio macrumors member

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    #22
    What exactly do you want to do?

    If you want to RECORD live music: go to taperssection.com. Lots of great info on ambient live music recordings. Read a whole bunch, digest it, then ask questions.
     
  23. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

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    #23
    Everybody's giving completely different advice, which is very confusing.

    Second hand kit is a good idea, for something which is likely to be bashed to bits. If the OP really wants to get the hang of something properly, simple, new, unused kit is better. Speakers are the only thing which sound better with time, and in terms of sound per pound, the B&Ws are going to give better sound than anything even second hand (believe me, they're incredible for the price).



    RE the Samson Mic. This isn't really a proper microphone. It has a good mic in it, and mostly likely a mediocre audio interface, but that's the problem - it's designed to be simple 'plug and play' and offers next to no flexibility. If you want to do anything slightly more complex, you can't use it in tandem with another microphone or interface, you'll need to buy something else again.

    Believe me, it may cost more, but it's FAR more flexible. Get an Alesis MultiMix Firewire 8 (the cheapest model, works very very well) and a Rhode NT1a. Next to faultless for the price, will work for years and years and sounds good and is very flexible.

    You can easily connect the Alesis mixing desk (which has a built in Firewire audio interface) straight into the Rotel amp or whatever.

    If you want to get recording kit first, then do, but don't make the mistake of getting a USB Microphone which offers NO flexibility if you want to do something with more than 1 microphone or audio source.
     
  24. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #24
    I suppose that depends on whether you want to start with a $250 mic and a basic soundcard you'll be replacing pretty soon in any case if you get serious, or a $130 self-contained mic which is quite versatile, gives acceptable results for all manner of recording uses and go with the built-in sound for the rest for the moment.

    Personally, I find the C03U quite handy by itself, and it lends itself to amateur general-purpose / vocal use more than a regular phantom-powered mic. It's certainly not quite as convenient in terms of recording as connecting a regular mic to a knob-infested interface/board, but actually the lack of the paraphenalia surrounding it can be an advantage in minimalist vocal / recording situations.

    You're quite right though - the way the OP is phrasing the question he needs to be clearer about what he wants recommendations on.
     
  25. superuser2 thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 1, 2008
    #25
    Re tremendous: I'm sort of trying to figure that out. I have an interest in sound engineering; I want to know what I can do with it, and what kind of gear is necessary to do it.

    A couple scenarios I have come up with so far:

    • Compose/create ambient/electronic music or drum beats: I would need synths, a DAW, and a keyboard or other hardware MIDI controller.
    • Work for a student band: I would want to record (electric) guitars and vocals at reasonable quality, and would probably want a portable setup for concerts/performances. (We're 12-14 year olds, so in this case super-quality isn't everything.)
    • Learn guitar and (eventually) record guitar/voice solos, or meet up with other people with the same sort of interest.
    • Get a seriously cool hi-fi or headphone setup: headphones or loudspeakers, and amp, and a source (probably my MBP or iPod).
    #1 - #3 would probably mean I'd have to get #4 :).

    So this sort of thing. Anything I missed? And would equipment would you recommend for each scenario? (Ideally both a cheaper and a higher-quality option.)
     

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