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Guest Tam o' Shantie
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Guest Tam o' Shantie

Anybody got a multitrack based studio at home? I'm trying to redesign my setup and get into a more analogue based setup. Current setup is a PC with M-Audio Delta 1010lt card running Adobe Audition and Alesis M1 Active 520 for monitoring. I'd like to keep my current stuff for making more digital based music & serious mixing, but I'd love to get a more portable setup for rawer lo-fi recording and demos.

Considering looking out for a Tascam 424 MkIII...are they really the dog's bollocks or is there a decent alternative out there? They look pretty good but the 6 recording channels put me off a little (would love another 2). It only has 2 effects sends, is this usable and if so what's the best way to use it? For example, if I have a compressor and a reverb unit, surely I can only set one parameter for each, not much use if I want heavy compression on vocals but something light on bass. Are there any units that do multiple effects that are even worth looking at?

Also, can people give me some mic advice as I'm a bit out of touch...I've sold off pretty much everything I own save for an SM58 and an Audio-Technica Pro 25. Rode NT1 seems to be the best cheap large diaphragm condenser but what else would give me a decent setup? I'd mostly be recording drums with 2-4 mics, and would also be trying to capture acoustic percussion, acoustic and electric guitar, vocals, and electric bass. Advice and discussion may now commence!

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You are also better off with one good setup rather than 2 incomplete setups. The Tascam also doesn't come close in terms of features to a good computer based recording setup.

When we talk of 'digital recording' we often overlook the fact that the analogue circuitry is no less important than if it was a 'analogue recording' setup.

To use a microphone at all, you should have a mic pre amp. If you do not, your gain structure will not be suitable and such things as phantom power are likely to be unachievable.

Good mic pre amps are worth investing in. High-end mic pre amps don't just exist becuase big studios have huge amounts of money to spend on them, they actually make a conciderable difference to the overall sound. When we hear 'x artist used x microphone on x recording'. he/she also used it with expensive pre amps.

Where can I get mic pre amps? Buy individual mic pre amps (usually valve), or get a set of multiple which may be class A or solid state. Often the most economical way is to get a mixing desk with direct outs.

My suggestion would be to buy a set of 4 mic pre amps with 4 good microphones. I am not overly knowledgable about them but a google search or harmony central recording forums post would get you some suggestions.

Concider this

drums: Shure Beta 52 or Audix D6 on kick. 2 x Octava M-012 or Samson CO-2's as overheads. Shure SM57 on Snare. This setup means you only need 4 mic pre amps of reasonable quality for your drum kit.

vocals: endless choices here but Concider using your overhead mics or SM57 to start off wtih.

Guitar SM57 + condensor

Bass D.I + kick mic on cab.

anything else, use SM57 and/or Condensors

You may prefer to purchase 2 Studio Projects B1 or C1 mics to use for overheads and vocals instead of the ones mentioned above.

Later an upgrade to a general purpose mic like AKG C414 for a 'clean' sound or if you want a bit more of 'edge' concidering Shure SM7 with a valve pre amp.

Also add more mic pre amps later with the purchase of more microphones.

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Guest Tam o' Shantie
You are also better off with one good setup rather than 2 incomplete setups. The Tascam also doesn't come close in terms of features to a good computer based recording setup.

When we talk of 'digital recording' we often overlook the fact that the analogue circuitry is no less important than if it was a 'analogue recording' setup.

To use a microphone at all, you should have a mic pre amp. If you do not, your gain structure will not be suitable and such things as phantom power are likely to be unachievable.

Good mic pre amps are worth investing in. High-end mic pre amps don't just exist becuase big studios have huge amounts of money to spend on them, they actually make a conciderable difference to the overall sound. When we hear 'x artist used x microphone on x recording'. he/she also used it with expensive pre amps.

Where can I get mic pre amps? Buy individual mic pre amps (usually valve), or get a set of multiple which may be class A or solid state. Often the most economical way is to get a mixing desk with direct outs.

My suggestion would be to buy a set of 4 mic pre amps with 4 good microphones. I am not overly knowledgable about them but a google search or harmony central recording forums post would get you some suggestions.

Concider this

drums: Shure Beta 52 or Audix D6 on kick. 2 x Octava M-012 or Samson CO-2's as overheads. Shure SM57 on Snare. This setup means you only need 4 mic pre amps of reasonable quality for your drum kit.

vocals: endless choices here but Concider using your overhead mics or SM57 to start off wtih.

Guitar SM57 + condensor

Bass D.I + kick mic on cab.

anything else, use SM57 and/or Condensors

You may prefer to purchase 2 Studio Projects B1 or C1 mics to use for overheads and vocals instead of the ones mentioned above.

Later an upgrade to a general purpose mic like AKG C414 for a 'clean' sound or if you want a bit more of 'edge' concidering Shure SM7 with a valve pre amp.

Also add more mic pre amps later with the purchase of more microphones.

Sorry, but I should have been more clear. I'm looking for advice on budget outboard effects and mics. And frankly, I disagree with a lot of what you're saying...I have been recording at home for about 5 years on all sorts of bottom-line gear and I don't think a high end pre is going to be the most valuable piece of gear to me over a decent budget mic and multi FX. I already have a cheap DBX valve pre anyway, which has given me some decent results over the years. What i'm trying to acheive is having a portable setup, which will be compatable with my existing digital gear if required, but which will stand on its own when needed for very basic lo-fi/punk/noise/hip hop recording/production. I want to know if there are decent rivals to the 424, and what people recommend in terms of BUDGET GEAR. Let's just say I have 200 bucks to spend, and I have a 424, a DBX valve pre, an SM58 and a Pro 25 and a set of alesis monitors. How would you best expand my collection by at least 1 mic and 1 versatile effects unit, and allow me to produce a tight and punchy, if slightly raw demo.

EDIT: obviously I am aiming to buy completely 2nd hand, as even I am aware that 200 won't buy a lot of new audio gear

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Go for a Boss Micro BR

This is high on my shopping list, i would go for a

Boss Micro-BR if i were you. Costs 150 quid new, you have 50 left for effects or mics .

It has 8 virtual tracks, it is digital so you can ping pong without loss of quality (as opposed to anything analog) and it fits in your pocket. It got effects built in and a drum machine.

There are no advantages in going analog unless you go for really expensive boutique gear. I am sure there are other opinions on this though.

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If the multitracker you want doesn't have enough channels, you could get a good analogue notepad mixer and use that to sum all the drum channels for example before routing it into the digital multitracker, with the added advantage of being able to overdrive the inputs in the analogue domain.

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Guest Tam o' Shantie

i'm wanting a tape based system because I like the sound of them better. i'm wanting warm, fuzzy recordings. the notepad mixer sounds good, but i might get the 488 which has 8 channels anyway. it's mostly for demoing and making organic recordings.

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i'm wanting a tape based system because I like the sound of them better. i'm wanting warm, fuzzy recordings. the notepad mixer sounds good, but i might get the 488 which has 8 channels anyway. it's mostly for demoing and making organic recordings.

This is the old analog X digital discussion !

I think that if you filter out some high freqs and add some white noise, your Micro-BR will sound just like a 4-track tape. The real warm analog sound, as observed in tube amplifiers e.g. is caused by increased dynamic range and subtle compression curves as compared to digital systems. But cheaper tape based recorders do not have a better dynamic range, they only have squeezed spectrum and noise.

I am sure i won't change your mind though!

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Guest Tam o' Shantie

For example, a quick look at SOS user ads gives this:

DBX 266XL 2 channel compressor/limiter/gate : 50

Lexicon MPX 100 2 channel reverb/delay/echo/chorus : 80

Oktava MK319 large diaphragm condenser : 90

Can anyone advise a better way to spend 220 in getting a versatile and reasonable sounding set up?

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Guest Tam o' Shantie
This is the old analog X digital discussion !

I think that if you filter out some high freqs and add some white noise, your Micro-BR will sound just like a 4-track tape. The real warm analog sound, as observed in tube amplifiers e.g. is caused by increased dynamic range and subtle compression curves as compared to digital systems. But cheaper tape based recorders do not have a better dynamic range, they only have squeezed spectrum and noise.

I am sure i won't change your mind though!

I've only really recorded at home with digital, and I am aware that the tape compression is more easily observed on 1/4" tape rather than cassettes, but the clipping from a tape multitracker vs a digital one is far nicer, and if used gently can sound quite nice. I don't think the same sound can be acheived by filtering hi eq & adding white noise, as you put it.

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Sorry, but I should have been more clear. I'm looking for advice on budget outboard effects and mics. And frankly, I disagree with a lot of what you're saying...I have been recording at home for about 5 years on all sorts of bottom-line gear and I don't think a high end pre is going to be the most valuable piece of gear to me over a decent budget mic and multi FX. I already have a cheap DBX valve pre anyway, which has given me some decent results over the years. What i'm trying to acheive is having a portable setup, which will be compatable with my existing digital gear if required, but which will stand on its own when needed for very basic lo-fi/punk/noise/hip hop recording/production. I want to know if there are decent rivals to the 424, and what people recommend in terms of BUDGET GEAR. Let's just say I have 200 bucks to spend, and I have a 424, a DBX valve pre, an SM58 and a Pro 25 and a set of alesis monitors. How would you best expand my collection by at least 1 mic and 1 versatile effects unit, and allow me to produce a tight and punchy, if slightly raw demo.

EDIT: obviously I am aiming to buy completely 2nd hand, as even I am aware that 200 won't buy a lot of new audio gear

I couldn't understand the last bit of your original post on what gear you already own, I was under the impression you were saving up to buy it. I also probably should have been more clear. I was not suggesting buying high end pre amps. I was however suggesting buying budget pre amps, one for every mic you are likely to use at once and preferably two of the same type for overheads. A set of 4 would be ideal. M-Audio and ART make some reasonable quality budget pre amps.

Is the pro 25 the predecessor to the Audio Technica ATM 25? If so, you probably already have a very good kick mic.

The most useful microphones you could probably buy at the moment is 2 condensor mics of the same type. A stereo pair is preferable but not essential. There is usually enough consistancy in manufacturing that 2 microphones of the same type will be sufficent for most stereo imaging applications (especailly on a 200 budget).

Mic up your drum kit as follows.

two condensors as overheads

SM58 on snare

Pro 25 on kick

I also notice now you have a 424. by the following, I thought it was something you were concidering buying.

Considering looking out for a Tascam 424 MkIII...are they really the dog's bollocks or is there a decent alternative out there?

Budget effects processor? Not sure what would be a good idea here. Possibly an Alesis unit? You generally get more for your money with software, these days. The standard effects that come wtih Cubase, Sonar and Logic will probbaly be an upgrade over most budget outboard processors.

There is also quite a range of freeware VST effects plugins of reasonable quality around. Look Here

If I were you, I would be tempted to leave the effects processor for now and focus on microphones and pre amps. EVERY sound engineer will tell you that pre amps make a big difference. However, without a number of decent microphones nobody will notice the difference. Get your yourself 4 good microphones and pre amps to start with and build up from there.

You should be able to get a very good drum sound with 2 overheads, kick and snare mic. Some of the best drum recordings were recorded that way.

So my advice is purchase 2 condensor microphones and 3-4 pre amps (microphones wont sound right without pre amps). If you must purchase an outboard processor, concider alesis or some budget lexicon or TC electronics unit secondhand.

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Guest Tam o' Shantie

I don't yet own a multitracker, but I think I will pick up a 424 mkIII. 4 inputs, 6 tracks, should be fine for portable recording. Each channel has an individual output too which should make it a doddle to export to my computer studio. I think you're right and I should ditch the effects. I just want to get into the habit of recording again, as my flat doesn't really allow it, and my computer setup is far from being portable. With the cassette deck, I could head out to my folks' house or rent a practice room for an hour and get cracking. The DBX pre will stay, but I'll need to get a decent condenser (AT4033) to go along with my limited collection of dynamic mics. Are Joemeeks really as good as they sound? I've ALWAYS wanted their stuff, and they seem so reasonably priced - could pick up a couple of the more budget channel strips for about 150

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Guest Tam o' Shantie

if by some insane turn of events, I'm able to afford a couple of hundred bucks' worth of gear over the next few months, I think i'll pick up a 424mkIII, an AT4033 and a Joemeek channel strip or two. Anybody used the green gear, and able to make a recommendation on which Joe I should get to know?

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something like this:

eBay.co.uk: TASCAM 38 REEL TO REEL 8 TRACK RECORDER + LOOM (item 290105667950 end time 22-Apr-07 21:45:00 BST)

a small mixer, some outboard gear and a few mics and you'll be rocking.

But, you'll be worried about tape supply, head alignment and wear.

You'd be right to be worried, too! I bought one years ago from a local studio who were upgrading to 16 track, and it took a few hours for some tracks to go into record mode, then, after a couple of hours recording time, other tracks stopped recording. It made it hard to be spontaneous.

I passed it onto a friend who made enquiries about getting it fixed, and even getting it done through his work (a music shop) it was horrendously expensive. I think it finally ended up unused at Drumblair studios.

I'm now using an Akai 12 track, which has its off-moments, but is otherwise an easy machine to use, and the quality is fine for what I do.

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The Tascam 688 is what you need, its an eight track cassette based multitrack with a very versatile mixer. They're hard to come by but don't cost anything like they used to...armed with a few mics and some outboard gear, it can become your studio. There were some studios that operated with just this gear alone!!

15c2_3.JPG

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Guest Tam o' Shantie
The Tascam 688 is what you need, its an eight track cassette based multitrack with a very versatile mixer. They're hard to come by but don't cost anything like they used to...armed with a few mics and some outboard gear, it can become your studio. There were some studios that operated with just this gear alone!!

15c2_3.JPG

Looks amazing! If you're who I think you are, didn't you pick up a tascam multitrack a while back? 488?

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I strongly agree with the idea of getting a Tascam 38. They are nice and simple to opperate and easy to fix or get fixed. There is pleanty of tape available, both new and used. Just remember to keep the heads clean!

If somebody wants to make their own demos, a reel to reel is a great way to go and the learning curve is no where near as steep as with most software. A reel to reel can be used together with your Audition for editing and added effets that you do not have.

Combined with an old A&H or Soundcraft mixer, you have almost all you need.

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You'd be right to be worried, too! I bought one years ago from a local studio who were upgrading to 16 track, and it took a few hours for some tracks to go into record mode, then, after a couple of hours recording time, other tracks stopped recording. It made it hard to be spontaneous.

I passed it onto a friend who made enquiries about getting it fixed, and even getting it done through his work (a music shop) it was horrendously expensive. I think it finally ended up unused at Drumblair studios.

This suprises me, as I have just fixed one up and they really are very simple machines. You can even get a complete service kit consisting of all belts and rubber parts either from Tascam or from a company in Italy.

Though, when it comes to old tape machines, it is important to get a good one. Usually the machines that were in demo studios were worked to death, which is probably what happened here. The best is to buy from hobby studios that only used them now and then.

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You're right...I think it was just worn out. Hence the quotations for fixing it were frightening.

I actually went back to a 4-track cassette portastudio for a while, and was happy enough, despite the hiss.

You can pay a small fortune for that 'retro hiss computer plugin' these days Alan. You are so down with all the top producers. Mark Ronson eat yer heart out!

:love:

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