Help on an audio engineer setup

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by afroAnt, Oct 7, 2012.

  1. afroAnt macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2011
    I have an assignment to design an office, desk and workstation for a sound engineer. I have no idea what an audio engineer would need. The budget is unlimited but it has to be reasonable and not over kill I.E. i don't think a sound engineer would need 96gb of ram. For the computer all i have is a:
    • Mac Pro
    • 1x 3.33GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon processor
    • 32GB (4x8GB) RAM Kit
    • 4x 480GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G solid-state drive
    • ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB

    I also need a list of what types of input and output devices and any other hardware peripheral devices a sound engineer would need.

    Your help would be much appreciated.
  2. fastlanephil macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2007
    I would call They have specialists that can assist you in your purchases with a one on one.
  3. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    there are not enough requirements stated to spec out a system. by "assignment" do you mean a school assignment?
  4. spoonie1972 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 17, 2012
    being a pretengineer myself, i'd want as many cores you could throw at me and at least 32gb in a workstation.

    i'm partial to mytek and lucid converters, but RME and Protools make decent stuff as well.

    If your engineer has to play with the rest of the world as far as 'standards' go, a Protools HDX is recommended. Not inexpensive, but for production line work almost a necessity. For an enclosed music studio, anything else will probably work fine.

  5. afroAnt thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2011
    yes its a school assignment. for I.T. electronics
  6. henchman macrumors 6502a

    Dec 28, 2004
    I'm an audio engineer.

    A quad core mini server i7 with 16 ggs of ram
    The dual 500 gb internal drives are sufficient.
    Dual monitors
    Protools and an audio interface, preferably surround.
    If its for sounddesign and dialog editing, which it most likely will be, you don't
    Need a super expensive interface. I use a presonus firebox myself.
    You can get a copy of Protools HD natve software on EBay for $850
    A 5.1 speaker set up
    And various plugins.
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    THe computer and electronics is easy. Call up sweetwater and tell them what you want to do and they will ship it out to you.

    but the HARD PART is the room itself. Walls and flooring and ceiling and the ration of the distances and the shape of the room matter a LOT.

    In the best possible design no two surfaces in the room will be parallel. The room might be an ir-regular pentagon with a slopped ceiling. and then all the first reflection points are covered in accustic panels and you have defusers on the ceiling and bass traps on all 90 degree corners. Some rooms really are built like this. And then the normal sound isolation contruction technics are used (staggeed studs, metal spacers under the drywall, sealed doors...) This would be a first class work room that you'd find in a high end professional studio. Thes are tyially built inside a lager square room so there is some air gap between the odd shape room and the building. Use double drywall in the inside walls.

    In the WORST possable design you build a perfect cube where the walls and ceiling are all perfect squares and then you finish the surfaces in hard materials. That is as bad as it gets.

    Likely you compromise and build only a few of the corners not 90 degrees then after instaling the studio moniter speakers in the "correct" equalateral triangle position then test and add acoustic treamants to the walls the ceiling and maybe place a rug on the floor or not. This give best bang per buck.

    All this solves just one problem: sound takes mutiple paths from the speakers to the engineer. The direct path and reflections off the room boundaries. These will add in and out of phase. In the wost case there are standing waves in the room. This can't happen in a pentagon as there are no parallel surfaces.

    The engineer will want to hear SOME reflections, else the place will sound "dead". The trick is "balance" and for that you will need expert advice and limey fine tuning after the room is built.

    For the computer. HIDE it. The thing has a noisy fan and noisy disk drives. Build a closet for the noisy gear and use long cables to go to the desktop. Leave room for more equipment in the closet.

    Lighting: All of Apples screens are "glossy" (AKA "mirror like") I'd paint the rear wall a dark neutral color and watch the placment of lights so they will not be seen in the monitor/mirror

    For the computer you need a BACKUP system that allow for OFF SITE backup. Yes use Time Machine to some local disk array. But you need some way to rotate the date off site to some other building. Think a bit fire or theft of the equipment. (theft is a very common way to loose data.)


    That is a huge guess, that the engineer woud want to use Protools. He will deside for himself later. Apple's "Logic" is also commonly used and then there is a ton of other software he might like. And I mean a "ton".

    The "firebox" is a good suggestion. I have one but it just broke yesterday after four years. I hope they don't charge and arm and a leg to fix it. I thing the new version of this box is "Fire Studio". It is about the same thing. firebox is discontinued, and I hope still serviceable.
  8. henchman macrumors 6502a

    Dec 28, 2004
    That's why the OP needs to bar down what the audio engineer is king to be doing. If its sound-design for audio post, then he will definitely need Pro-Tools.
    If its music production then there are a lot more options.
    Knowing what the audio-engineer will be doing, will determine what he will and won't need.
  9. afroAnt thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2011
    The studio that I'm designing for my assignment will be for music production. I don't want too many choices the best of the best is fine it's just a school assignment. I'm not actually designing a studio for a real person. I just need an idea of what the best brands are and what equipment and room specs would be ideal. If you can give me a list that would be awesome!
  10. afroAnt thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2011
    Thanks for the info! That's going to help me heaps when I design it on sketch up.
  11. TableSyrup macrumors 6502

    May 29, 2012
    For a class project, I would suggest spec'ing Pro Tools Native.

    I would justify that position (which software) based on industry standards.

    It would be silly to spec anything else for professional purposes.

    That said, With that Mac, if budget allows, you could spec HDX1 and Mytec boxes with a minimum of 16 I/O (Preferably 32)

    OR, if the budget weren't to allow for that, you could go with HD|Native and HD I/O's, or Lynx/Apogee, whichever fits the budget.

    (Don't rule out spec'ing used equipment, if you are allowed, it will drastically reduce your budget, look up AltoMusic or GSharpMusic on ebay, they almost always have bundles, or at least a bunch of Avid hardware)

    Also - DO NOT spec HD, Core, Accel, Process Cards. It is old generation and will be obsolete with the release of 11, so that would be a horrible move.... also, same goes for the Blue/Silver interfaces, stay away from them too

    You should get a good clock. Apogee has great stuff but it may not fit your budget. I would stay away from Digidesign Sync, while it isnt terrible, it is likely to be updated and dropped. If you need something budget, call Black Lion Audio. A good clocking source is important for high end audio.

    One last front end point, in most cases, unless you have a large high end console, you don't generally need as many outputs, so 32 in and 16 out would be great.

    Control surface.... this is going to be a tough one. You NEEEEEEED a surface.... for professional workflow it is a must (Being able to ride faders against each other in a mix is priceless...)

    I would suggest at least 24 faders. Anything less becomes restrictive in most mix environments.... if you've ever worked wtih 24+ you know what I'm talking about.... the more faders you have in front of you the better..... Can't tell you how valuble it is to be able to change, say, lead vocal and snare levels against each other at the same time without the need for VCA groupings or having to shuffle track positions around.... so more faders is not only going to help many people improve their mixes, but at least drastically speed up their workflow.

    Tascam US-2400 is the cheapest thing I can think of right now, and while it is unofficially 'supported' currently, it is hard to know whether it will be in PT11, but I would be amazed if it wasn't cause that would mean Avid dropping HUI and I don't see that happening.

    While it is a low end board, it will definitely suit the function you need and should allow you to put the bucks where they really count with the other equipment. Remember, while higher end controllers are great, they are not as important as your converters, etc. (I've owned pro controls, control 24's, a D Command for 2 weeks, and I've worked on almost every Icon, a few SSL's, Harissons, etc)

    Accoustics..... year. As already mentioned, stay away from parallel surfaces wherever possible, and if you can, wave your ceiling. Or at least structure/slope it... but while this is a spec assignment, I would wave it - look it up. Also, you can work with a slew of materials. You don't have to be all absorptive. Go for some extra cred and really research this part, cause you could have the best equipment in the world, and it will still sound like crap in a poor environment. You can use accoustic foam, diffusers, wood (I love rough sawn cedar, it sounds amaxing), wood or poly block arrays (Another thing I am fond of, and I mix/match em with accoustic foam), Cultured Stone (Man made, looks like stone), etc. The trick is keeping the room diffused where it needs to be and absorbed where it needs to be.... you don't necessarily want a room completely 'dead' - but there are literally novels on this stuff ;)

    Mics... I'll only briefly address vocals, but I'm particularly fond of Neumanns (70's U87 in particular, but also like the TLM149 and the budget TLM103), Violet Design / JZ Mics (I demo'd their line before it was for sale in the states, and their mics are amazzing!), and some of the Blue line (The higher end ones..... nearly all designed by JZ's company)

    Cables - Cables will always sneak up n get ya. Spec for built in 'trough's' in floors walls or ceilings (Floors and walls best if you can) to channels or patch panels in proper positions (Behind consoles/racks, and in booths and machine rooms) and spec for Gepco or Mogami cable.... Gepco will save you some bucks, and it's great - SNAKES, install cable.... as many channels as you need for each split. Ends.... Neutriks suffice as they are good ends and good price.

    Spec a machine room or whisper/iso (isolation) 'racks' .... the small climate controlled room/closet that your interfaces. That way you don't have the fan noise of your gear in your mix environment.

    Monitors (Speakers) ... Spec for NS-10M's for nearfield, a great sub, a surround setup (May as well go 7.1, blue sky has some good deals), sppec some mid fields, and spec some farfields to build in to a 'soffit' in front of mix position or in the wall in front of it.

    Windows, be sure yo double pane and slope - just look it up.

    Just figured I'd throw in a couple things. Good luck
  12. afroAnt thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2011
    Thanks for the info!

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