#1
Hey guys, I'm looking to turn a room into my house into a recording studio for myself and maybe a few friends. I'm at the point where I want to make professional sounding recordings of my music that I can sell, with quality like the pros. However, I know how much gear is involved, and I don't know much about the whole concept or what s what and how it all works. Essentially, I'm a home recording noob. I have no clue of what plugs into what, that sort of thing.

Right now I have a laptop (fast processor, big HD, good graphics, USB 3.0, etc. Should be good enough), and my instruments/amps and effects pedals. My style is a mellow/ambient/clean/folk/indie sound (think Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Ros, etc. - That sort of thing).

I'm looking to record the following instruments:

1) Electric guitar - clean, most of the time, and post rock-ish. I wanna put a mic in front of my amp for this.
2) Acoustic guitar - I'll probably just put a condenser mic in front of this
3) Violin - Again, probably just a condenser mic, but then again, this is just the image I have in my mind. I'm no expert!
4) Synth - I have a keyboard with some nice effects, I'm thinking it will be okay. It has a MIDI/USB port and I have a cable for it.
5) Light percussion - Maybe not even a standard drum set, but bongos, or something homemade. Again, just think light.
6) Soft piano - I will probably just end up using the keyboard for this.
7) Light, reverb'd vocals - Maybe some falsettos and vocal harmonies here and there.

I actually think I want to record

That should give you a good idea of what my style is. there is also a link in my sig to my BandCamp page which has some decent quality recordings.

Recording gear wise, I did some research, and I know I'll need some, if not all, of the following equipment:

1) A multitrack mixer - I know very little about these. I've heard that I'll probably need one with about 16 tracks. I've also heard that an unpowered one is better for a studio.
2) A multitrack recorder - Again, not much knowledge of these. I heard that if you have a PC with a recording program and a mixer, a recorder won't be necessary.
3) A signal processor - No clue what this is.
4) Mics (and stands and a pop filter) - I think I'll be okay on my own with these. I heard condenser mics are "warmer" and maybe better suited for a home recording studio.
5) Preamp - I know some mixers have these built in, but I'm wondering if I'd be better off getting something seperate.
6) A sound card - Again, something I know very little about. I heard that if you have a recorder that plugs into your computer but is still a separate piece of gear, you don't need a soundcard.
7) PC Audio Interface - I believe MIDI plugs into this, as do speakers/headphones for audio playback.
8) Monitors/Headphones - I have some pretty nice speakers from an expensive stereo that I think could do the job. I also have a nice pair of noise cancelling headphones that should work.

Any tips, recommendations, questions, or whatever pieces of knowledge you can give me are greatly appreciated. I can give more info if needed. I will be also asking more specific questions as I think of them.

Thanks a ton!

MORE INFO:

Typically I prefer analog things over digital. This mostly refers to guitar effects though, recording gear could completely different. I guess it could also be compared to the sound of a tube amp VS a Line 6 Spider. I love warmth, and I don't love "fake" sounds.

I'm also always skeptical of things that are combined together, such as amps with built in effects. I'm really picky when it comes to tweaking tone and all of that. I like to be able to change little, specific things. Sometimes when things are combined together, the quality goes down and I lose that option. This is why I am leaning towards buying the pieces of equipment I mentioned separately, rather than a "2 in 1" deal. Again, feel free to change my mind, I'm certainly open if you have an idea.

My budget is around $1400, but feel free to go under, or over that.


QUESTIONS:
1) I really like the idea of a mixer, so I think I'm going to get one. If I have a mixer, a sound card, and a PC, do I need an external multitrack recorder?
Last edited by Fender1424 at Aug 28, 2011,
#2
Get a Zoom R24. It'll cover number 1, 2, 5 and 7 of your list. Probably also number 3 as well depending what you mean by it. That way you've got a fully functional multitracker which also acts as your PC interface and can control whatever software you choose if you decide you want to create the final mix on your PC..
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Last edited by GaryBillington at Aug 28, 2011,
#3
You really don't NEED a mixer. All you need is a recording interface IE: presonus firestudio, Mackie onyx blackbird, etc. You'll need a DAW. Cubase is my personal fav but Reaper is great and Pro Tools is the industry standard for some god awful reason. After investing in an interface and finding a DAW that you like all you need are mics/stands/cables.

How much do you intend on spending? There are a lot of things I could recommend but without a price I don't even want to mention half of them. Does your laptop have FireWire or just USB?
Last edited by vjferrara at Aug 28, 2011,
#4
Forgot to mention - if you are intending to use the PC for the final mix, the Zoom R24 usually comes bundled with a copy of Cubase so as you already have the PC it covers pretty much everything you'd need.
Gibson LP Traditional, LP GT, LP Studio, SG Standard x2
Barber Tone Press > EHX Worm >TC Polytune > EXH Glove > EHX East River Drive > Zoom G3 > TC Spark Mini Booster
EVH 5150 III LBXII
Jet City JCA22H
.
My SoundCloud
#5
Quote by vjferrara
You really don't NEED a mixer. All you need is a recording interface IE: presonus firestudio, Mackie onyx blackbird, etc. You'll need a DAW. Cubase is my personal fav but Reaper is great and Pro Tools is the industry standard for some god awful reason. After investing in an interface and finding a DAW that you like all you need are mics/stands/cables.

How much do you intend on spending? There are a lot of things I could recommend but without a price I don't even want to mention half of them. Does your laptop have FireWire or just USB?

Yeah, I've heard of other ways without a mixer. The whole idea of an external mixer just appeals to my taste and style I guess. Question... what exactly is DAW? I was actually looking into Cubase and Reaper the other day, I'm sure one of those will suit me. I was impressed by them both.

I have about $1400 to spend on this project. But I guess that could be a little more flexible. It has two USB 2.0 ports and one USB 3.0 port. No FireWire though. Would there be a way to get some sort of a FireWire USB adapter for my laptop?

Thanks a lot for your help man, I appreciate it.
#6
Quote by GaryBillington
Forgot to mention - if you are intending to use the PC for the final mix, the Zoom R24 usually comes bundled with a copy of Cubase so as you already have the PC it covers pretty much everything you'd need.

Awesome, thanks! I'm looking into it right now.
#7
DAW stands for "Digital Audio Workstation".

It is basically referring to any digital recording solution, be it software or a standalone multitracker, however most of the people on this site use it to refer solely to software.
Gibson LP Traditional, LP GT, LP Studio, SG Standard x2
Barber Tone Press > EHX Worm >TC Polytune > EXH Glove > EHX East River Drive > Zoom G3 > TC Spark Mini Booster
EVH 5150 III LBXII
Jet City JCA22H
.
My SoundCloud
#8
Quote by GaryBillington
DAW stands for "Digital Audio Workstation".

It is basically referring to any digital recording solution, be it software or a standalone multitracker, however most of the people on this site use it to refer solely to software.

Okay, I get it now. Makes sense. Thanks man.
#9
Quote by Fender1424
I'm looking to turn a room into a recording studio to make professional sounding recordings of my music that I can sell, with quality like the pros....

Essentially, I'm a home recording noob. I have no clue of what plugs into what, that sort of thing. ...

My budget is around $1400, but feel free to go under, or over that.


You are SOOO in over your head. Your intentions are admirable - and possible - but not in a time-frame or a budget that you'll be happy with right now.

What if you said this?

"I'm looking to make professional performances of my piano music that I can sell, with quality like the pros....

Essentially, I've never played piano.

My budget is around $1400, but feel free to go under, or over that."


Would you agree that a sensible answer would be, "Well, expect to invest at least five but closer to ten years or more actually getting good at piano. Also, $1400 will not get you a professional piano."

Of course that would be a sensible answer.

Let me plug that answer back into your recording question:

"Well, expect to invest at least five but closer to ten years or more actually learning and practicing recording. Also, $1400 will not get you enough professional recording gear to meet your needs."

Now, let's go through a couple of things:

What mics do you currently have? Ultimately, these make probably the single biggest difference to the quality of your recordings as far as things you can purchase. The biggest difference is made by the skill and knowledge of the person recording.

Your speakers will not suffice. Monitors look like stereo speakers, but they are not stereo speakers.

You only need firewire if your interface requires it.

Your first task will be to decide on an interface. In order to do that, we need to determine your needs. How many tracks do you want to be able to record *simultaneously* ? Keep in mind that, if you ever want to record live drums, you will need at least eight inputs.

I used to use a mixer. I had a 24 channel mixer that I ran into a Delta 1010 interface, which had ten ins and ten outs. I upgraded and now no longer require a mixer. My new interface has WAAAY better preamps (just like a great amp makes a guitar sound good, a great preamp makes a mic sound good....), and offers all of the flexibility that I used to rely on from my mixer. Don't get hung up on whether or not you use a mixer. Get hung up on what is going to work for you and give you the best results you can afford.

Let's start there...

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#10
if you want the look and feel of a mixer, but want the flexibility and options opened up by using a software based recording setup, you want to look into a control surface. unfortunately, most of the ones that are good will eat most of your budget. ive heard that this is a solid one on a budget. motorized faders, some rotory knobs, and enough control to get you going. but all it does is duplicate what is going on in software with a hands on console. nice to have, but isnt something to get hung up on.

but hey, thats only one aspect. before you even get there, you have to get the sound to your computer. that typically means audio interface (assuming we arent going external recorder). your audio interface is going to be the connection point to the computer. firewire is often better with a large number of ins and outs, but i dont know how much supports usb 3.0 yet, so that might be as good/better. as chris said, you are going to want 8 mic ins if you plan on doing a full drum kit. other than that, you want 2-4, depending on what you are doing. and of course midi in/out for your keyboard and/or your controller. expect to spend $500-700 on an 8 channel interface, and $300+ for 2-4 channels.

for mics, my thought would be a large diaphram condensor, a pair of small diaphragm condensors and something for the amp (sm57 is a standard choice, or an e609). depending on how much the rest of the stuff you get is, this is probably where you have the most flexibility. you can either go for a lower number of mics of higher quality, or go for a bit of a variety and sacrifice some quality.

monitors are something that can be expensive, but you dont always need them to start. you get better results mixing on monitors, but starting on some decent speakers and flat response headphones can be ok. you will want a set of monitors later though. expect to spend a minimum of $3-400 for a pair.
#12
Everything here is correct, but I have made some changes to reflect the "pro sound" that the original poster is looking for. They are bolded.

Quote by jof1029
expect to spend $1000-1500 on an 8 channel interface, and $700+ for 2-4 channels.

for mics, my thought would be a large diaphram condensor, a pair of small diaphragm condensors and something for the amp (sm57 is a standard choice, or an e609). the rest of the stuff is expensive, but this is probably the one place where you have almost no flexibility. you can go for a lower number of mics of higher quality, or go for a bit of a variety, but it will cost you more money.

monitors are something that can be expensive, but you dont really have a choice. you get better results mixing on monitors, so some decent speakers and flat response headphones can be ok for basic project mixes, but will not give you pro results. expect to spend a minimum of $800-1000 for a pair.


CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#13
^ i was looking more at his budget than at getting professional quality. as should be quite obvious to anyone looking at the budgeting breakdown you listed, $1400-1500 is not going to get you professional quality gear. but you can get a setup work using that will get solid results, and thats more what i was looking at.
#14
^ Yes.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.