Hardware gear in a software studio?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by marioman38, Mar 29, 2009.

  1. marioman38 macrumors 6502a

    marioman38

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    #1
    Which pieces of hardware would I want in a new home studio to record a band with a few friends.

    By this I mean, what are the advantages of using hardware such as a compressor compared to the one in Logic 8?

    If I have Logic 8, and Reason 4, do I really need a compressor, reverb, or eq?

    Well, no, but if I were to buy 2 pieces of hardware, which would be good. A hardware compressor over the software, or will I need to spend A LOT of $$ to get a better sounding one then the Logic 8 insert?

    To sum it all up, has software now made these types of hardware effects practically useless?

    (I am currently looking at a Tascam 1082 interface, and an Axiom 49 MIDI controller. A Presonus TubePRE, and SM57. And potentially adding a MicroKorg later on.)

    Thanks :)
     
  2. WinterMute Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

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    #2
    Mics and pre-amps, any recording is only as good as it's source, don't believe the "fix it in the mix" boys...!

    You will need an interface with multiple inputs obviously, but after that you need good mics and good pre's.

    If you can get Pre's that feature decent dynamic control, that'll help, as I find a little dynamic control on the way in is worth a ton of it later.
     
  3. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #3
    no.

    no.
     
  4. ashjamben macrumors 6502a

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  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #5
    If you have some spare cash that you need to spend I think some mics might be your first priority. The equipment that is cosest to the music matters the most.

    But before you do anything you need to identify the problem you are fixing. What about the sound don't you like. Be very specific, write down the problem(s) and order the list by importance if there is more than one item on it.

    Maybe the "fix" will be acoustic treatments of the room or simply moving a mic a slight distance. Who knows -- you can't fix unidentified problems
     
  6. marioman38 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    marioman38

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    #6
    Yup, I'm thinking the Guitar and Bass will go through a pre for now. SM57 for vocals, and an Axiom to control soft synths.

    Is there any need for a hardware reverb or compressor though, or will the ones Built into Logic or Reason do better than the hardware?

    Thanks :)
     
  7. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #7
    i'd rather use plugs than cheap hardware. i'd rather use good hardware than plugs.

    where "good hardware" starts around $600 per channel.
     
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #8


    I think the theory says that if you use hardware, analog compression before the A/D converter then you can take better advantage of the dynamic range of the A/D. You'd hear a little less quantization noise. But if you are using a good 24-bit converter quantization noise is already low. And then if you do use the analog hardware you loose the ability to adjust the parameters in post production. The small gain in "quality" may be lost later because you gave up some flexibility and had to "settle" with a compression setting that is cast in stone the day the track was recorded.

    No one can say which is best. Me? I'd go with flexibility because I know I don't know enough to get any setting correct on the first try.
     
  9. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #9
    personally, i think that's wrong. i've said it a couple times before, but i think it bears repeating: recording into your a/d at low levels (shooting for somewhere between -18 and -36 dbfs) will result in better sounds at mixdown. seriously, the lower i record, the better things turn out.

    that said, i think the _only_ reason to track with a compressor is for its sonic footprint, and absolutely _not_ to keep from getting overs. if you're in danger of getting overs, then i say turn it down a lot.

    to the OP: the hardware compressor with which i regularly track is an 1176. everything else is typically reserved for mixdown. you don't _need_ to track with compressors and EQ's, but it can be wonderful if done right. and it can be crap to mix with if not done right. practice makes perfect.
     
  10. marioman38 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    marioman38

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    #10
    Ok, that makes sense. I think I'll just record at the low levels like you were saying, and make sure everything is set to 24 bit. Doesn't sound like a hardware compressor is nesessary for me. Reverb should be just fine with plugs, as well as EQ. (I think I'm going to toss the idea of the TubePre however, and go with an M-Audio DMP3).

    Yes, I will hopefully get better with experience. In all honesty, I wouldn't even be able to properly set up a compressor as I stand now. I've only used the one in Reason 4 and tweak the settings individually to get the effect I am looking for. I'm a noob :rolleyes:
     
  11. Dr Sound macrumors member

    Dr Sound

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    #11
    I know many people who live by this theory...

    I am on the other side of the table as I like to Replace a lot of my Sounds (sound replacer) and Sample a lot so having the Best Wave Form Possible allows for me to do that..

    If you could give us some sort of Budget it would make it easier...

    I would use a D/I Box for your Bass..

    I would also spend my money on Mics and Pre-Amps and an Interface of Course..

    Hardware is not a big issue as mixing can be done with limited tools and a creative mind..

    I also like Pro-tools as Digidesign allows for Rentals on Plug-Ins so you can Rent some Plug-Ins when its time to Mix....
     
  12. WinterMute Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

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    #12
    I still live by the maxim "source is everything", I'm not a "fix it in the mix" engineer at all. I have students who use sound replacer a lot for drums etc, and one of my techs is responsible for BFD, so we know a thing or two about drum sounds.

    I think all great recordings start with great mic and pre-amps, and that the recording platform is largely secondary these days. Add to that good monitoring in a decent room, and you can pretty much nail the tracking and mixing.

    Properly recorded tracks mix themselves to an extent.

    That said, all this posturing costs money, and I'm lucky to have access to studios with very good hardware and monitoring, and I only record and mix live bands, mainly rock or indie. I'm fully aware that other genres require different hardware and techniques.

    Still, you can't go far wrong investing in good input and good monitors.
     
  13. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #13
    at 18db you are only "loosing" about 2 and a half bits. That's but really ust using the botton of the A/D's range. assuming you are starting with 24 buts you are still geting 20 bits of A/D even at your levels.

    I thought the the OP is using a cheap 16-bit A/D and an SM57. He will get into A/D noise if he is only using the lower 12-bits and doing a lot of processing in software. Still I said "turn it up but not so that it clips." Which might just turn out to be 18 or 36 db on drum and but maybe not on a vocal.
     
  14. marioman38 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    marioman38

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    #14
    The A/D would be done through the Tascam FW-1082, which I am pretty sure can do 24 bits. I am thinking SM57->M-audio DMP3->Tascam FW-1082 Line In.

    How we got about talking about drums, I am not sure. I was asking about Hardware versions of plugins available in Logic and Reason, and have concluded that soft plugs are equal to about $600 in hardware. A cheap $200 Hardware reverb isn't going to sound as decent as the one in Logic 8.

    The only thing I am thinking now is having cheap hardware (maybe a compressor and reverb) in the headphone monitor chain for vocals, mainly because I can't figure how to monitor the effect without recording it, and still have low latency.
     
  15. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #15
    do you really need that? i can't even recall the last time i fed 'verb into headphones. maybe the early 90's?
     
  16. pkoch1 macrumors 6502a

    pkoch1

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    #16
    To be honest, every time I've recorded vocals lately, the singer has wanted a touch of reverb in the headphones.
     
  17. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #17
    what about the "turn-a-fake-knob-and-ask-how's-that" trick? :)
     
  18. Dr Sound macrumors member

    Dr Sound

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    #18

    Are you serious?

    Have you ever asked why?

    To me id give them the dry Mix... Then when they don't like the sound you Mix the Vocal-track right there real quick and BOOM your a GOD...

    One more question..

    Anyone of them like your Headphone Mix over your Final Mix???

    Just having a good time....
     
  19. pkoch1 macrumors 6502a

    pkoch1

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    #19
    It usually gives them some confidence that improves their performance. A lot of singers get self-conscious when they are exposed like that. There is going to be reverb in the mix anyways, why not give them a taste of it? It's all about the vibe and the performance in the studio. Whatever makes the singer sing better is what should be done.

    May I ask why you don't use reverb in the headphones? I'm not trying to argue, I'm just curious ;)

    I've never had anybody ask about getting the headphone mix back for the actual mix, haha. Has it happened to you ever? Or do you even ever track with reverb in the headphones?


    And I have used the turn-a-knob-and-say-How's-That? many times. Works like a charm. ;)

    Artist: Can you make the guitar sound a little more...[insert non-musical adjective here: eg. flammable]?
    Me: Hows that?
    Artist: Ahh...much better.
     
  20. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #20
    yeah, i thought so :)


    and to whoever was asking about 'verb in the headphone: since it's a time-delay effect, you can actually do it with software. no need for low latency here.
     

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