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Guest Tam o' Shantie

Help me build a home studio

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Guest Tam o' Shantie

I've gone back to basics with my latest plan. I needed a portable and simple to use setup that didn't rely on computers but could use them if required. As usual, budget is a big factor, so I'm looking for advice on the best bits for my minimal but potent recording studio.

I plan to be recording vocals, ambient/room drums, some acoustic guitar & piano.

Current setup:

Recording

Tascam 424 MK3 6 track recorder

DBX single-channel valve preamp

Monitoring

Alesis Monitor One MK2

AKG

Microphones

?

Outboard

?

Midi/Sequencing

XP laptop, P4 1.6ghz, 1gb RAM

Audiotrak/Maya 44 USB sound card

What I need:

- At least one versatile high quality microphone. SM57 is the obvious cheap all-rounder, but I wouldn't mind getting something a little more special. Audio-Technica 4033A would be lovely but the price is a little high. Any suggestions in between?

- At least one outboard effect unit for reverb effects. What are the models to avoid? Would like to spend under a hundred quid.

- A decent cheap compressor. I have always wanted one of the smaller Joe Meek units but they seem to be awfully rare now. Even ebay doesn't yield any results at the moment. Is there another cheap compressor with a bit of 'character' that is worth a look?

Thanks in advance.

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I don't know the acoustic properties of the "recording room" but I'd advise building bass traps. B&Q for the timber and fixings etc, and search the net for rigid fibreglass (rockwool) for example. There are decent videos on youtube to help you build bass traps. This is far far better than a few bits of inch thick pyramid foam which will only stop reflections of high frequencies.

Microphones, you NEED a Shure SM57 - more if you can afford it. Industry standard for recording guitar, and also very tasty on snare, and I think toms as well. Cheap all rounder doesn't do it justice really. Audix D6 if you need a great kick drum mic, which again is industry standard but a few more quid than the 57. I'm not the man to ask for overheads or vocal mics.

Probably worth recording bass purely through DI as well, rather than fannying around micing up bass amps and spending money on mics that do a good job. So something along the lines of a sansamp would be a worthy purchase. Although you don't mention the need for recording bass...

Assuming you are using a room with parallel walls (not a good thing due to standing waves), acoustic traeatment would make a bigger difference to your recordings than expensive gear, so I would definitely research that. I spent months reading about it, and I don't even own my own 'recording' studio (i.e. the actual room to record live instruments), but I built 4 bass traps for Nick Scholeys studio and fuck me are they useful.

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Guest Tam o' Shantie
I don't know the acoustic properties of the "recording room" but I'd advise building bass traps. B&Q for the timber and fixings etc, and search the net for rigid fibreglass (rockwool) for example. There are decent videos on youtube to help you build bass traps. This is far far better than a few bits of inch thick pyramid foam which will only stop reflections of high frequencies.

Microphones, you NEED a Shure SM57 - more if you can afford it. Industry standard for recording guitar, and also very tasty on snare, and I think toms as well. Cheap all rounder doesn't do it justice really. Audix D6 if you need a great kick drum mic, which again is industry standard but a few more quid than the 57. I'm not the man to ask for overheads or vocal mics.

Probably worth recording bass purely through DI as well, rather than fannying around micing up bass amps and spending money on mics that do a good job. So something along the lines of a sansamp would be a worthy purchase. Although you don't mention the need for recording bass...

Assuming you are using a room with parallel walls (not a good thing due to standing waves), acoustic traeatment would make a bigger difference to your recordings than expensive gear, so I would definitely research that. I spent months reading about it, and I don't even own my own 'recording' studio (i.e. the actual room to record live instruments), but I built 4 bass traps for Nick Scholeys studio and fuck me are they useful.

Hi Dan,

Thanks for the advice. As I said I will only be recording vocals, drums and possibly some piano. I already have an audio technica pro25 which used to do me for kick drum, which I may or may not implement. it might work if i shove it inside a piano though. as above at the very minimum i will have sm57...and i am used to recording with shure mics. i'm just wondering what people might recommend splashing out a little extra on. there are a huge amount of cheap large diaphram condensors out there these days but the quality seems to vary greatly between them. updated list then:

Recording

Tascam 424 MK3 6 track recorder

DBX single-channel valve preamp

Monitoring

Alesis Monitor One MK2

AKG

Microphones

Audio Technica PRO-25 bass/kick/cab/piano mic

Outboard

?

Midi/Sequencing

XP laptop, P4 1.6ghz, 1gb RAM

Audiotrak/Maya 44 USB sound card

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57's are so versatile. I used a couple of those to do a lot for home recording but you should also look at getting a nice, affordable condenser too.

At home I have a Sontronics STC 2. It's nice enough (a bit thick in the lower mids) but I've done acoustic guitar and vocals with it and been fairly happy with the results. You should also check out Rode's NT 1A and 1000 large diaphragm mics. I've used those before and been really happy with the sound.

I've heard (but not personally recorded with) the AKG C2000 and it seemed decent.

Spend on condensers. It is not worth your money or time to dip below the 100 mark when it comes to these sorts of mics.

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Guest Tam o' Shantie

quite like the look of some of those t.bone mics that thomann.de do. heard mixed opinions, but some people really piling on the praise. they do tube mics for like 200 quid and several ribbon models for under 100! chinese stuff but if it's good i aint no snob.

fx anyone? need some biiiig reverbs. might just do them on the PC though.

114889.jpg 125 quid for a tube mic!

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for a cheap all round LDC, get a Studio Projects B1, it can handle drums, guitar amps, vocals etc. It's under 100, but it's rather good for the pennies. It'd be a better investment than the T.Bone mics for sure!

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Guest Tam o' Shantie
for a cheap all round LDC, get a Studio Projects B1, it can handle drums, guitar amps, vocals etc. It's under 100, but it's rather good for the pennies. It'd be a better investment than the T.Bone mics for sure!

I was just about to update the post saying i was gonna get one. they seem to be unanimously praised, amongst others by paul white. price is right, i think i will maybe get one of these and a 2nd hand sm57.

next question, how are the joemeek channel strips/compressors? i have a dbx valve pre somewhere but might have lost it. has anyone had decent experiences with any of the cheaper reverb units?

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Guest Tam o' Shantie

Recording

Tascam 424 MK3 6 track recorder

DBX single-channel valve preamp

ART X-Direct active D.I box

Monitoring

Alesis Monitor One MK2 speakers

AKG K-55 headphones

Microphones

Studio Projects B1 ?

Shure SM57 ?

Outboard

?

Midi/Sequencing

XP laptop, P4 1.6ghz, 1gb RAM

Audiotrak/Maya 44 USB sound card

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Alesis Multimix 8 USB Mixing Desk

Behringer Monitors

Line6 Spider II Head/ Hayden CAB

Shure SM58A Beta

Shure SM57

Dell Latitude D620 with Mac OSX x86 on it(2GB Ram)

M-Audio Oxygen 8

Avoid The Morning [NEW SONG UP!!] on MySpace Music - Free Streaming MP3s, Pictures & Music Downloads

Find My Way Back Home on there.. drums were done at toms and some triggers used then the rest done in my one bedroom flat.

PS This is not the final mix but you get the rough idea...

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If you give me your email I'll send you a couple of things that might help. (particularly with mic choices and more importantly how to use them). And try not to get too wrapped up in the outboard thing! Remember that great recordings were being made decades ago before these shiny toys were available.

ps I've done a considerable amount of recording, both studio and live and would be delighted to pass on my own experiences

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Guest Tam o' Shantie

hi bob.

thomas dot banks at gmail dot com

i have recorded at home for years but bypassed the old tape multitrack in favour of digital sequencing programs. since i left home in my teens i only really sporadically got the chance to record (when I was home at my folks' was about it) as the flats i have lived in all had paper thin walls. the only outboard gear i am looking for is a compressor for vintage sounding room drums & i am a fan of heavily compressed vocals (always wanted one of the joemeek opticals) and some reverb as i am going to want a fair bit of this on my vocals for effect, see beach boys vox for my needs

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Guest Tam o' Shantie

Recording

Tascam 424 MK3 6 track recorder

DBX single-channel valve preamp

ART X-Direct active D.I box

Monitoring

Alesis Monitor One MK2 speakers

AKG K-55 headphones

Microphones

Studio Projects B1

Audio Technica Pro-25

Outboard

?

Midi/Sequencing

XP laptop, P4 1.6ghz, 1gb RAM

Audiotrak/Maya 44 USB sound card

------------------

Does anybody know which of the cheaper JoeMeek units would be best for using as an outboard compressor?

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