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The Home Studio Thread!

streeterstreeter Posts: 625Moderator, Pro
What do you guys use? Daws Preamps Interfaces Mics Acoustic treatments Favourite plugins. Headphones Monitors I'll go first. Daw=Logic Pro X Interface= Focusrite Scarlett 2 input Mic= rhode Nt1 and a shure 57 Preamp= can't justify with $200 mic and $150 dollar interface Acoustic treatment = don't even have a pop filter, gotta be extra careful on those consonants hahaha Plugins= whatever came with logic + some cool starter kits from toontrack Headphones= AKG k171's... Closest thing I've got that is anywhere near industry standard Monitors= cheap pair of Fostex that are at least 7 years old. But... I've been thinking about upgrading my home studio situation and I had an avalanche type situation... Good Mic needs a good Audio interface needs a good acoustic environment. So things I have been looking at are... BabyFace blue by RME which is an interface that may justify a preamp such as the Focustire ISA one classic. This interface would also justify a good Mic... so I was checking out the c414 XLII as they seem to get very positive reviews and seemingly can be stuck on any acoustic instrument and get dynamite results. If I was going to go pure vocal microphone and get a little more expensive I'd be tempted by the Nuemann TLM 103. Now all this would be pretty cool but I'd need some sort acoustic treatment. Does anyone have any experience with DIY portable vocal Boooths or even commercial products like this... http://www.amazon.com/CAD-Audio-AS32-Acousti-Shield-Enclosure/dp/B006YTZOOS/ref=sr_1_2?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1432375932&sr=1-2&keywords=portable+vocal+booth @highmtn @philmaher At anyone who wants to join the conversation

Comments

  • 15 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • streeterstreeter Posts: 625Moderator, Pro
    Sorry for the wall of text... Posting from my IPad.
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 9,892Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro

    I'm using an old, antiquated DAW that I like a lot.  It's called PARIS. It's an emulation of analog tape sound.  It's has its own hardware cards that you install in your computer, and has hardware A to D and D to A converters as well. Within the PARIS program are EQ, compression, limiting, delays, and great reverbs, as well as audio editing and automix editing.

    In the same computer I use a UAD/2 card that runs plugins. I use the plugins to process tracks after the fact, due to the latency and the fact that the UAD/2 can cause the computer to crash a lot more.  Within that UAD/2 program I use the LA-2A Compressor/Limiter, the 1176 Limiter/Compressor, and the Pultec EQ.  In my dreams I have the hardware versions of these units.  Most of the other plugins that came with the UAD/2 are of relatively little use to me.

    I have modest costing mics.  No biggie premium high-dollar ones.   My favorite one is a used one I bought from eBay, and I paid about $350 for it.  It's a Groove Tubes GT66, which is a vacuum tube mic.  It has a brick power supply to run the tube.  Groove Tubes sold out to Sterling Audio, and I think Sterling still sells the mic under their own brand name.  I think they now cost new about what I paid for my old one, perhaps less.  I have some other similar cost mics, but I seem to prefer the GT66 over those.

    You would have to say that this mic has a "vintage" sound.  Nice, glassy sparkle on top, and rich lows.  I usually boost the upper mids a bit.  

    I run this into a UA 610 tube preamp.  It's a bare-bones, but high-quality, tube preamp.  This is the same front-end that the early consoles had in them when the Beach Boys, Beatles, Elvis, etc. were recording on in the 1960's.  You know, the consoles you see in the old photos that have the giant knobs on them.  This has the giant knob.

    I also use a hardware channel strip (Focusrite Voicemaster) that has a solid-state preamp, noise gate, EQ, optical compression, and de-esser.

    With that equipment I have more than enough to get a good vocal sound...  that is, as long as I have a good vocal to record through it.

    I have sound-dampening materials on the walls, mostly to reduce the amount of bothering others if I'm mixing down at higher volumes. I don't think that acoustical treatment is mandatory, unless you are using some distant mic techniques.  In that instance you would have the mic cranked up enough to hear the sound of the room.  If you are using close-miking techniques, you won't hear the room.  You may need acoustical treatment in order to tame your room for mixing down with loudspeakers, so that the acoustics of your room won't fool your ears as you are making mixdown or mastering EQ decisions. 

    If you are miking your voice at the distance that you see Ken in his videos, you don't need to worry much about the sound of the room being heard in the microphone.  You are usually going to be using a cardioid pickup pattern on your vocal mic when you are tracking vocals, so the back side of the mic will be dead.  It could pick up some reflections if you place the mic next to a wall, but there isn't much reason to do that.  Ken is now recording in a very acoustically live room.  If he wants to, he can step back and crank the mic and get a lot of natural room ambience.

    If you get into a tiny booth, you might hear reflections or phase cancellations in that.  I just put the mic in the middle of the room or somewhere that I can reach the recording controls, and don't worry much about the room because I'm within about a foot of the mic.  Maybe about six inches away or less.  That seems far-off, because in a live situation, I'm always much closer to the mic.  You do want to avoid getting the sound of the computer fans into the mic.  A noise gate will help with that.  Also, placement of your computer, or a vented enclosure for your computer can help.

    You should use a mesh pop filter.  The foam pop filters mess with the sound somewhat.  With a mesh filter, it will reduce the pops and you won't have to be distracted by trying to minimize them.

    The C414's are good mic's.  I've used them lots of times in the studio, usually for the ride cymbal.  I don't have any experience with them for vocals, but I know they are good quality mics.

    The TLM 103 would be a fine mic for vocals.  In my dreams I have an M149 and an Avalon 737... sound familiar?

    Good, closed back headphones are a must.  The AKG's you have are good phones.  I use the Sony MDR 7506 phones.  They're an inexpensive, general-duty phone set.

    No need to apologize for a text wall.  Why hold back on what you have to say, if that's what it takes to get your message completed?


    Bob

  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 9,892Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro

    Oh, yeah, and I forgot to mention that I have a separate computer that runs a midi program linked to the PARIS computer.  I put this together back in the old days before the DAW programs were very good at running both.  The midi computer chases the DAW. 

    Crazy...

    But it works.


    Bob

  • streeterstreeter Posts: 625Moderator, Pro
    That's awesome. Thanks @highmtn
  • My humble setup consists of

    Macbook Pro 2.6 i7 (quad core) 16gb RAM Solid State Hd

    Logic Pro 9 - works great for me! if something ain't broke..

    Line 6 KB37 Interface - serious amateur interface HOWEVER, using the pod farm program I can monitor with as many fx as I like with no latency ever. I walk into fully equipped studios that have latency issues so where it may not have the best mic pre, never having latency is a massive plus. I do see that other interfaces are starting to offer comp and reverb as separate plugins so you can monitor them outside your DAW meaning no latency, but i got the line 6 about 8 years ago, I've looked at getting a focusrite saffire or something but literally cannot warrant it! I have no problems with the line 6. I don't ever track any sounds using pod farm, i literally just go straight through to logic.

    Rode NT1-A - great mic, not expensive about £120 I think at the moment, but I've had it next to a u87 and its held its own, again id struggle to warrant replacing it with something else.

    I feel like mic's are a very opinion driven thing, obviously everyone has a different voice so one mic doesn't fit all. Because I've used the nt1a for my whole singing "career" haha i wouldn't be surprised if it has shaped the way I sing to get the best sound I can through that mic. Did a session once for and we hired a neve 1073 preamp and a u87 and it didn't blow me away, didn't even come close, to the point where me and the studio owner were like is it not working properly, but i think thats just the hype that surrounds some of this holy grail gear. not saying its not great, but doesn't mean you can't get a great sound from much cheaper stuff. 

    I'm a firm believer in "I can achieve anything i want" I don't like to think "i can't get that sound because i don't have this or that" which obviously has some limitations however means I'm always striving to be the best i can and never blame my gear if I can't get something how i want it to sound.

    Shure SM57 - for electric guitars, twinned with the rode if i want something special. I really feel the 57 does have a "sound" and especially getting those rock tones. after a string of guitar heads, i currently have an EVH 50w 5150iii, and blows my mind every time I plug in! 5150 is the home of 80s rock guitar tones and that's what I'm all about!

    Yamaha HS50 Monitors - Small speakers but they've got volume and sound great across the board on all genres.

    Beyer dynamic dt770 80ohm headphones - For a long while i was just using cheap Sony headphones which in fairness most listeners will be listening through something similar so if it sounds good in them then i know it will for the general population. but getting the beyers has helped as sometimes can't mix too loud through the yammys so they're the next best thing. comfortable too for wearing over long periods!

    Plug ins wise - waves bundle, CLA stuff is great for instant gratification, apart from that just the classics, 1176,api eq's, 670 comp. pianoteq 4 for piano sounds, hands down best piano plugin I've heard. melodyne for vocal tuning, nothing else comes close, completely transparent and a child could use it. You can tune a whole vocal track in a matter of minutes, and if you wanted to really fine tune it, it'd take you an hour tops. i remember getting stiffed on the last record my band did because the producer was tuning the vocals, but it would take him days to do it using antares stuff and even then it still was rubbish!

    And all that is just in room in my house. I've been to a number of mixing and tracking studios that are just rooms in houses.

    If I'm doing drums at the studio, d112/audix d6 on the kick. 57 snare top and 414 snr bottom, 421's on the toms, if you want a killer tom sound, the only option! been using some never small diaphragm condensers for oh's lately but i'm not too fussy! and whatever condensers are about for some room mic's and thats just through a mackie 32.8 at the studio.

    I don't like doing anything on the way in, capture it all raw and then process it after!

    thats pretty much it in a nutshell i think!

  • streeterstreeter Posts: 625Moderator, Pro
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    philmaher said:
    My humble setup consists of

    Macbook Pro 2.6 i7 (quad core) 16gb RAM Solid State Hd

    Logic Pro 9 - works great for me! if something ain't broke..

    Line 6 KB37 Interface - serious amateur interface HOWEVER, using the pod farm program I can monitor with as many fx as I like with no latency ever. I walk into fully equipped studios that have latency issues so where it may not have the best mic pre, never having latency is a massive plus. I do see that other interfaces are starting to offer comp and reverb as separate plugins so you can monitor them outside your DAW meaning no latency, but i got the line 6 about 8 years ago, I've looked at getting a focusrite saffire or something but literally cannot warrant it! I have no problems with the line 6. I don't ever track any sounds using pod farm, i literally just go straight through to logic.

    Rode NT1-A - great mic, not expensive about £120 I think at the moment, but I've had it next to a u87 and its held its own, again id struggle to warrant replacing it with something else.

    I feel like mic's are a very opinion driven thing, obviously everyone has a different voice so one mic doesn't fit all. Because I've used the nt1a for my whole singing "career" haha i wouldn't be surprised if it has shaped the way I sing to get the best sound I can through that mic. Did a session once for and we hired a neve 1073 preamp and a u87 and it didn't blow me away, didn't even come close, to the point where me and the studio owner were like is it not working properly, but i think thats just the hype that surrounds some of this holy grail gear. not saying its not great, but doesn't mean you can't get a great sound from much cheaper stuff. 

    I'm a firm believer in "I can achieve anything i want" I don't like to think "i can't get that sound because i don't have this or that" which obviously has some limitations however means I'm always striving to be the best i can and never blame my gear if I can't get something how i want it to sound.

    Shure SM57 - for electric guitars, twinned with the rode if i want something special. I really feel the 57 does have a "sound" and especially getting those rock tones. after a string of guitar heads, i currently have an EVH 50w 5150iii, and blows my mind every time I plug in! 5150 is the home of 80s rock guitar tones and that's what I'm all about!

    Yamaha HS50 Monitors - Small speakers but they've got volume and sound great across the board on all genres.

    Beyer dynamic dt770 80ohm headphones - For a long while i was just using cheap Sony headphones which in fairness most listeners will be listening through something similar so if it sounds good in them then i know it will for the general population. but getting the beyers has helped as sometimes can't mix too loud through the yammys so they're the next best thing. comfortable too for wearing over long periods!

    Plug ins wise - waves bundle, CLA stuff is great for instant gratification, apart from that just the classics, 1176,api eq's, 670 comp. pianoteq 4 for piano sounds, hands down best piano plugin I've heard. melodyne for vocal tuning, nothing else comes close, completely transparent and a child could use it. You can tune a whole vocal track in a matter of minutes, and if you wanted to really fine tune it, it'd take you an hour tops. i remember getting stiffed on the last record my band did because the producer was tuning the vocals, but it would take him days to do it using antares stuff and even then it still was rubbish!

    And all that is just in room in my house. I've been to a number of mixing and tracking studios that are just rooms in houses.

    If I'm doing drums at the studio, d112/audix d6 on the kick. 57 snare top and 414 snr bottom, 421's on the toms, if you want a killer tom sound, the only option! been using some never small diaphragm condensers for oh's lately but i'm not too fussy! and whatever condensers are about for some room mic's and thats just through a mackie 32.8 at the studio.

    I don't like doing anything on the way in, capture it all raw and then process it after!

    thats pretty much it in a nutshell i think!


    Awesome. Thanks @philmaher How does the waves stuff work exactly. I haven't checked it out for years but every so often they have throw away specials. Do I still need an ILok or dongle?? Regarding melodyne, I've always had a fear of using it (cheating... Ego... Getting lazy... Won't sound like a natural performance... Sounding like a robot).. Is it fairly standard industry practice now days to use it? Even in home production stuff?
  • They've done away with the ilok now, just has an authorisation manager. Melodyne is good, you can have it transparent if you want or more noticeable. 

    I actually sing takes in tune now (haha) and my latest cover coming out later this month has no tuning! milestone.. I wouldn't say it made me cheat, i think it helped me not feel terrible about my voice, you can sing something slightly off the grid and it sounds pretty rubbish, but just tweaking it onto the grid can make it sound good, and thats quite a confidence builder to think, actually my voice doesn't sound bad as such, i just need to sing more in tune. I can imagine a lot of people hear a take back that isn't in tune and just go well, i can't sing! One producer i worked with always said he was more worried about capturing a performance than it being perfectly in tune because thats fixable. at the end of the day if its a terrible vocal, you're not going to save it with tuning but if its not bad, tuning can make all the difference, just a nice little polish on top, and with todays standard of everything being perfectly in tune to the cent, if you're not in tune it can sound amateur. 

    Obviously in an ideal situation everyone would play and sing amazingly, but its not the case, drums get edited and replaced, bass gets tuned and edited, guitars get edited, so it's gotta be the same treatment for vocals.

    as i said, its such a quick process now anyway, literally you can highlight your whole track and pull it to the grid from 1-100% in one click and its does a pretty a good job, and then you can tweak. you can do all your formant and vibrato and all sorts but i don't use any of that, think thats when you start to loose your imperfections.
  • streeterstreeter Posts: 625Moderator, Pro
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Thanks again @philmaher.

    I might check it out again as the band is looking to do something real polished. That second paragraph really puts things in perspective. Because I've had the luxury of doing things at home I've always tried to do complete takes in one shot with only reverb and compression so it's taken me up to 20 times to get one full, one take and that's cool. I'm still new to the journey so it's awesome practice.

    I've seen some other clips of vocal coaches using relatively obvious Autotune in spots to sell their products/lessons... and i think that has given me a a very 'holier than thou' approach to auto tuning.
  • I probably have one of the cheaper set-ups (that's still relatively prosumer).

    Computer is the most expensive - ASUS G74SX-DH71. Very large laptop that I purchased for graphic design work.

    Roland MMP-2 Mic Modeling Preamp - I bypass the mic modeling and sometimes the EQ. Mostly because I don't feel like I know enough to use it. Really cool gizmo though. The default EQ preset for "Rock Male Vocal" makes me sound like a chipmunk, supposedly due to the 5db boost to Hi-Mids, of which I already have an abundance. Is there really a reason to use the mic-modeling?

    AT3035 Condensor Mic w/ Pop Filter - @streeter, despite what some music store owners will tell you, you can create your own pop filter. There is no reason to pay $40 for one when you can stretch a thin sock over some wiring or something. I got one off amazon for $10 I think. The mic itself gets the job done but honestly I've learned to tweak the signal from an SM-58 to sound pretty good.

    All of this goes into this thing: http://www.bossus.com/products/micro_br_br-80/ . Before I borrowed a pre-amp and mic from a friend, all I had was an SM-58 and this. No, not even a mic stand...keep your hand still hahaha... Has awesome built-in effects for guitar and such.

    DAW is Cakewalk Sonar X3. A lot of people I've known have spoken out against it. I don't really know why, but it has always worked for me. I think I remember something about it not having enough looping capabilities or something, but for simple vocal recording it is way more than enough.





    Regarding Melodyne, I'd say it is a pretty handy tool to have. If you are regarding line-by-line, use the plugin version. Else, get the standalone version. When you are recording alone and it's 3 AM, sometimes it is hard to tell if something you just recorded has a cool personal flourish or if it is just off. This helps with that as a pitchline monitor. The best part is that you don't even need the paid version if you don't plan to adjust the vocal track; the free version can monitor the pitch and timing just fine. Some people claim to be able to hear Melodyne'd tracks but I am not one of those. If something is correct from within a quarter or half step, it sounds exactly the same but on key. I WILL SAY, that a Melodyne'd track of me and an organic track of me just singing the same song on key sound different. However, this is more likely because the program analyzes the vocal line for single notes and recommends that note's fluctuations center around the exact key. However, natural human voices slide up and down to touch the notes. It's handy for understanding and seeing minutia. In addition, if you're sending pre-production demos to bandmembers, it's handy to make sure everything is square. People love to criticize. Also if you're recording jingles and such, you might want a polished, artificial sound. The list goes on. Bottom line, personally I'd say that obviously don't use it as a crutch, but don't be afraid to use it when it makes sense. If you spent hundreds on a studio recording session, don't go back in to fix one note that no one noticed that day. 
  • streeterstreeter Posts: 625Moderator, Pro
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Thanks for your input @blondiewales... You guys certainly have me interested. There's 3 versions of melodyne running around... $99 $250ish and off the charts... Will the $99 suffice? I have no idea if the clips I viewed were melodyned but they were definitely autotuned... Maybe by an inferior program. I've also been checking out the waves signature series vocal plugins for about 145 but the demo doesn't even work so I'm hesitant to throw cash down on it.
  • The $99 one isn't that useful because you can literally just move notes up or down from what i remember, its a very rough tool, sometimes it will analyse like a phrase of 2 notes as just one note and you need to cut it to make it 2 notes, and you can't do that on the cheaper version. you can always try and then upgrade to the next version until you can do what you need to. Theres "correct pitch" and "correct drift." I find if you just correct the pitch you still have your performance, just in tune. if you correct the drift then it starts to sound suspect.

    I'm sure this is a common thing among singers, but every now and then i will sing a take, and it sounds like its been tuned, or you voice has just jumped every so slightly in the same way auto tune would jump your voice to the next note. and your faced with the situation of, its a good take but it sounds like its been tuned, so do i now have to do another not so good take so that people don't think its tuned. Basically you can't really win with public perception, some will be like yea thats tuned when it hasn't been near a tuner and some stuff is tuned that people think isn't. As long as it sounds good, how you got there doesn't matter, what happens in the studio stays in the studio.

     You won't be disappointed by the CLA stuff, they all sound great vocals/drums/bass/guitar/unplugged. The other ones artist sigs arn't so good.

    Ive actually been having problems with my pop filter recently, basically not catching the pops/plosives, even when i actively pull back on them, thinking maybe its worn, maybe i want to try a metal filter, any thoughts?
  • streeterstreeter Posts: 625Moderator, Pro
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Out of interest @philmaher version of melodyne do you have? Premium or mid level? Haha this guy was very autotuned for a few phrases... Entered robot mode. I can't tell where you have autotuned your stuff as a casual listener. If I really put the headphones on and made an effort to find it, I wonder if I could... But clubs, parties and weddings wouldn't be listening for it anyway... Yeah the CLA stuff really grabbed my attention. There's a workshop with Chris actually working through a Greenday tune with the plugins he built for waves.
  • I use the editor version, don't have any need for the DNA polyphonic note changing stuff. I try and keep it as transparent as possible, but as I've progressed with singing (in tune) I need to use it less and less :) It's also a great tool to see your vocal on a grid, and you can see how flat or sharp you are, and see your improvement as you progress. Yea seen some great videos from CLA :) 
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 9,892Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro

    My autotune is a bit antiquated.  I use MyEar, version 1.0.0.

    Then, if needed, I process it, using KTVA.

    ; ^)

  • streeterstreeter Posts: 625Moderator, Pro
    highmtn said:

    My autotune is a bit antiquated.  I use MyEar, version 1.0.0.

    Then, if needed, I process it, using KTVA.

    ; ^)


    Those are some old school plugins @highmtn
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 9,892Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
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