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Author Topic: What's The Best, What's The Cheapest?  (Read 9650 times)

Fibes

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Re: What's The Best, What's The Cheapest?
« Reply #30 on: December 15, 2005, 10:26:30 am »

My philosophy on gear is very different than Harvey's but in a lot of ways it's the same. I don't have an SSL or three rooms or any of that stuff but i do have some great mics and outboard. I was advised by Dave fridmann when i was putting my room together to never buy a piece of gear "just to have one" or purchase a cheaper version of what i really want only to sell it and upgrade later when i've out grown it. So I've saved my pennies and bought things I LOVE and will do the job for me. BTW i'll never outgrow an SM57 so...5

My next upgrade will be to the room. The only gear will be a couple STDs and a new headphone system. Two of my biggest problems have been long guitar runs and running out of headroom on the headphones once i get past a certain number of players.

Headphone mixes are one of the most important things in our job description. For the same money i could get that EMI/Chandler pre but it would not help globally like the headphone system and acoustic treatment.  

BTW I got what Dave was saying and it ain't because the tamborine always gets tracked with the vocal mic at my shop.
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Dave Martin

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Re: What's The Best, What's The Cheapest?
« Reply #31 on: December 15, 2005, 10:42:21 am »

acorec wrote on Thu, 15 December 2005 08:06

Dave Martin wrote on Sat, 10 December 2005 13:06

I take a rather pragmatic approach to all this - the 'best' mic for a given application is the one that's out and on a stand. The second best is one that's in the mic closet. FAR down the list are ones that you don't yet own.



And you really want people to record at your facility with a work ethic like this?

No offense, but that is about the most rediculous answer I have ever read.



Think so? You're welcome to your opinion, of course. But You seem to miss the points of my statement - first, I think it's way more important to get a performance NOW than it is to make the talent stand around while you screw with mics and signal chain. Second, It's the music that's important, not the gear. Third, It's way more important to record than it is to lust after some piece of gear that you don't own.


I should also add that typically, there's a Lawson L47MP plugged into a Great River NV and a Tube-Tech CL-1B set up for vocals, a pair of R84's (Sitting by the Leslie, but get moved around) into Vintech X73's and a pair of KSM44's (pluggend into Manley preamps and an ELOP) for acoustics. And an RCA 74B on a stand next to the Deluxe, also plugged into a Great RIver NV and a Purple Audio MC76. The drum kit stays miked up, too. Last week, the Lawson was used for vocals, sax, and harmonicas, the KSM's were used not only for acoustic guitars, but one was also moved into the control room so I could use it for percussion overdubs, and the R84 was used or a quick mandolin overdub, as well as recording the organ on a couple of songs. (if I've got warning, I'll use a different mic for mando, but this was 'spur of the moment' - and it worked great from about three feet away.
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Tidewater

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Re: What's The Best, What's The Cheapest?
« Reply #32 on: December 15, 2005, 07:25:30 pm »

These are the caveats I was talking about. Everyone has a different work flow, so answers to any question here might contain knowlege that could be viewed in as many ways, as there are readers.

I have worked in enviromnents that were pretty normaled, where you could just hit the power switch, and go. That is a 'recordist doing bands/commercials' flow. Same places, DAW assembly/constructionist type productions, with rooms full of sound generating thingys, a 'producer doing bands/songwiting/commecials/ADR' flow.

Cool thing about all this gear, beyond the basics, it's just all components to be strung togther in the way that suits your way of doing things.. in rooms which there are no set plans for..

Ahh.. again a caveat, you can only decide some of the things, and follow rules with others, but this is all semantic.

It's freaking recording! Use the stuff that sounds best, and put the mic where your ear would be! Jeees!

STFU!

Sorry, started channeling Fletcher circa 1998.

M
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acorec

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Re: What's The Best, What's The Cheapest?
« Reply #33 on: December 16, 2005, 12:36:43 pm »

Mark Gensman wrote on Fri, 09 December 2005 21:19

[/B]quote title=acorec wrote on Fri, 09 December 2005 14:16
I give up here. This is going nowhere fast. Better you guys should use your "talants" in another hobby. If you can't tell the difference between quality equipment and cheap equipment and understand where you can get away with cheap stuff, and think that decent equipment is just hype and a fashinable statement with no redeeming qualities, you are definately in the wrong place.

There are plenty of hobbies that you can persue. Playing cards could be one as I am pretty sure the quality of the deck is not  that big of an issue.[/b]



Or I could always ride a Harley.. There's a great example of fashion over function..don't you think?

Nobody said anything about "getting away" with cheap equipment. Your discussion points seemingly ignore the fact that it has been said many times that a good engineer could record a rock and roll band with nothing but SM57 microphones. And do a great job.

I have never suggested high quality expensive equipment isn't worth every penny and much better than cheap equipment.. I personally don't know.

And there is the point. Is a multi thousand dollar mic "better" on a snare drum or guitar amp than the lowly 57?  Is the guy who uses the 57 supposed to give up and go play cards?

Isn't the finished product all that matters? That was my point.

It appears you are saying equipment is a substitute for talent. Either own and use the equipment or go play cards..  

When the price tag and brand name become more important than the finished product, I think something has been lost.

A good card player can win a lot of money using cheap beat up cards.




[/quote]

The finished product in anything you can name has to do with the quality and cost of materials (in the end).

A great engineer can make a good recording on cheap (or more to the point, inadequate) gear, but I don't know of a single one using inadequate gear. I really want to, and am dying for a good example of a great record being made with inadequate, cost-effective gear. I have heard and verified many of those bullsh** stories and have de-bunked all so far.

Top of the list: Boston recorded their first album in a home studio. So far from the truth.

Experience is first, talent is second, gear is third in making any great recording.

Talent is first, gear is second, experience is third in making a recording of a great performance.
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acorec

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Re: What's The Best, What's The Cheapest?
« Reply #34 on: December 20, 2005, 12:44:35 pm »

Dave Martin wrote on Thu, 15 December 2005 10:42

acorec wrote on Thu, 15 December 2005 08:06

Dave Martin wrote on Sat, 10 December 2005 13:06

I take a rather pragmatic approach to all this - the 'best' mic for a given application is the one that's out and on a stand. The second best is one that's in the mic closet. FAR down the list are ones that you don't yet own.



And you really want people to record at your facility with a work ethic like this?

No offense, but that is about the most rediculous answer I have ever read.



Think so? You're welcome to your opinion, of course. But You seem to miss the points of my statement - first, I think it's way more important to get a performance NOW than it is to make the talent stand around while you screw with mics and signal chain. Second, It's the music that's important, not the gear. Third, It's way more important to record than it is to lust after some piece of gear that you don't own.


I should also add that typically, there's a Lawson L47MP plugged into a Great River NV and a Tube-Tech CL-1B set up for vocals, a pair of R84's (Sitting by the Leslie, but get moved around) into Vintech X73's and a pair of KSM44's (pluggend into Manley preamps and an ELOP) for acoustics. And an RCA 74B on a stand next to the Deluxe, also plugged into a Great RIver NV and a Purple Audio MC76. The drum kit stays miked up, too. Last week, the Lawson was used for vocals, sax, and harmonicas, the KSM's were used not only for acoustic guitars, but one was also moved into the control room so I could use it for percussion overdubs, and the R84 was used or a quick mandolin overdub, as well as recording the organ on a couple of songs. (if I've got warning, I'll use a different mic for mando, but this was 'spur of the moment' - and it worked great from about three feet away.



I really don't mean to disrespect you at all, but, read the last paragraph you wrote very closely. There is not 1 cheap piece of equipment in there. You just listed the stuff that is (very high-end) "out there left on the stand" with a total pricetag well above $10-15,000!! I already stated that with good quality gear is much more flexable than the cheap stuff, You prove this to be fairly correct seeing as a great mic with great pre-amps can capture just about any source readily.

How exactly is your opinion even relevant here?
You do realize that many people here with $500 of total equipment are going to agree with you, quote you, and feel really good about themselves because you posted only the first paragraph. I am trying to understand your argument, why do you have all the high-end stuff if the cheap stuff will do the job?


Read my posts really carefully and you will see I never said you need high-end stuff, you do need to know what you need and that comes with experience with the equipment. Second, the industry name brands that have been around for years tend to have a *consistant* product, something I can rely on when I need to order another. The cheap stuff varies so much that two of the same can sound totally different.

Peace out and Merry X-mas.
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Fibes

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Re: What's The Best, What's The Cheapest?
« Reply #35 on: December 20, 2005, 01:18:58 pm »

Quote:

Read my posts really carefully


You attacked Dave without reading his posts carefully and continue to take him out of context after being prodded into responding to your quips insinuating he was lazy etc.

The bottom line here is that you both have valid points but they aren't as polarized as you'd think. Knowing the gear IS more important than having the gear.

One of the best vocal sounds we've tracked here was with an EV BK-1 because it happened to be up while doing scrstch tracks the day before. We tried it and the producer (big time guy with taste) insisted we not change anything, even the 20 db of Nuke from the distressor at certain peaks.

Can't we all just get along?  

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Fibes
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hargerst

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Re: What's The Best, What's The Cheapest?
« Reply #36 on: December 20, 2005, 01:23:20 pm »

And therein lies the problem.  All too often, we, as moderators, don't know who we're answering, or their current level of expertise and experience.  We hafta deal in generalities, or get more information.  

Over the last few years, I've tried to put myself into the shoes of a beginning hobbyist who has no intention of going beyond making a "decent" recording of his songs.  That's the bottom rung of the ladder I'm addressing.

From there, you go to people that want to do full arrangements, using pre-made drum tracks and a few live channels.  

Then, you have the next group that want to record their whole band, and produce a "commercial-quality" (whatever that means) CD in their house or garage.

Finally, you have the people that are ready to take on the commercial studios and offer their equipment/talent for hire.

Often, each of these groups will have different goals, needs, levels of expectation, and "one size doesn't fit all".

As moderators, it is our responsibility to try to address all these group's needs, but sometimes, there just isn't any "best answer".  

Dave plays in a higher dollar market than I do.  He believes in very high quality products for his studio and his choices have served him well.

So have mine, for the most part.  I live in a lower priced market and I have a budget mentality.  I look for cheap stuff that will serve my needs well.  Brand names are less important here - size matters more.  And results matter even more.  If you can give them a great sound, it doesn't matter how you got there.  

And maybe, that's our main difference of opinion, acorec.  I'll still keep looking for little gems like the dbx 242, undervalued, and seldom discussed.
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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
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john abney

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Re: What's The Best, What's The Cheapest?
« Reply #37 on: December 20, 2005, 03:56:18 pm »

acorec wrote, "dying for a good example of a great record being made with inadequate, cost-effective gear."

If the performance is great, if the song is worth the time spent on it, and that's the only recording of that song by that artist, then that has to be a 'great' record. Examples would include "When Was Jesus Born (Last Month of the Year)," "Come Out the Corner (You Cant't Hide)," and - believe it or not - "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" all as performed by the late Marion Williams.

best,

john
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Dave Martin

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Re: What's The Best, What's The Cheapest?
« Reply #38 on: December 21, 2005, 12:12:20 am »

acorec wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 11:44


How exactly is your opinion even relevant here?
You do realize that many people here with $500 of total equipment are going to agree with you, quote you, and feel really good about themselves because you posted only the first paragraph. I am trying to understand your argument, why do you have all the high-end stuff if the cheap stuff will do the job?


Read my posts really carefully and you will see I never said you need high-end stuff, you do need to know what you need and that comes with experience with the equipment. Second, the industry name brands that have been around for years tend to have a *consistant* product, something I can rely on when I need to order another. The cheap stuff varies so much that two of the same can sound totally different.




Well, careful reading of my original post may reveal that what I said was:
"I take a rather pragmatic approach to all this - the 'best' mic for a given application is the one that's out and on a stand. The second best is one that's in the mic closet. FAR down the list are ones that you don't yet own."

Most people would (and apparently DID) read that post in the spirit in which I wrote it - that it's more important to be RECORDING, than it is worrying about what to buy next. After that came a response from you that could have been construed as a personal (or professional) attack. I chose not to view it that way - was I wrong?

In this post (the one that I'm writing under at this time), You appear to be asking why I'm even here, as what I write has no relevance in this forum - well I'm here because Fletcher invited me here. Take it up with him via e-mail, if you like. Try fletcher@mercenary.com (And please, forward his response, if you don't mind - it should be enlightening).

Are you complaining because I use the gear that works for me - gear that you believe is 'high end'? Get over it. I never suggested that either 'high end' or 'cheap' was of any relevance, only that what you already own is the 'best'. My original post is STILL true - the best mic for a given application is the one that's available to use RIGHT NOW, while the inspiration is there. Strike while the iron is hot - damn the torpedos, and all that. It's better to get the right idea on tape NOW than it is to futz around for an hour to get the 'perfect' acoustic guitar sound, especially if during that futzing around time, the inspiration goes away.

And if you want a great record made with cost-effective gear, listen to "The Meters Live on the Queen Mary". My best guess is that it's a board tape - but the music trancends the quality of the recording. Why? Because it's the Meters, and they were having a great night.
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hargerst

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Re: What's The Best, What's The Cheapest?
« Reply #39 on: December 21, 2005, 09:07:53 am »

Dave,

acorec does tend to be somewhat "confrontational" in his posting style, but he often raises good points.  I did cringe when he wrote, "inadequate, cost-effective gear."  By my definition, the gear is "adequate" if it does exactly what it's supposed to do.

As far as "cost-effective gear.", the RNC and the dbx 242 come to mind as pieces of gear that can easily fill in for similar peces costing many multiples more.

We also leave some mics set up; the V69ME (dark), the TLM103 (medium), or the Studio Projects T3 (bright) for vocals, for example.

For overheads, we'll often use the AEA R84's, but sometimes the MXL 603's (or 604's), the Oktava MC-012's, or the Shure SM81's will win out for that task.  Alex is growing fond of the ADK Hamburgs for overheads as well.

By a lot of people's standards, most of the above gear would be considered "inadequate, cost-effective gear."  It works for us.
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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
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bblackwood

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Re: What's The Best, What's The Cheapest?
« Reply #40 on: December 21, 2005, 09:32:34 am »

Dollars to donuts that a good engineer with 'cost-effective' gear will run circles around any hobbyist with the best gear there is.

I think DM's point is that you need to hone your chops, not worry so much about what mic is plugged into what pre. I once cut a record that was tracked entirely on SM-57's through dbx silver mic pre's and the mixes were stunning because the engineer was awesome. I've also cut a few records where they had every high-end tool known to mankind and it sounded like garbage - crappy engineer...
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Brad Blackwood
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Dave Martin

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Re: What's The Best, What's The Cheapest?
« Reply #41 on: December 21, 2005, 10:52:03 am »

hargerst wrote on Wed, 21 December 2005 08:07

 By my definition, the gear is "adequate" if it does exactly what it's supposed to do.



Sure, Harvey - and I'll even go farther - gear is 'adequate' if it does what you NEED it to do, whether it's supposed to do that or not. As an example, I've got a couple of old GE broadcast limiters here (paid $400-$500 for the pair, if I remember correctly). The way I use them has nothing to do with what they were 'supposed to do' when they were built And I suspect that the original designer would be horrified by the sound I get from them). But I like 'em.

It seems as tough society has forgotten that 'meets expectations' is not a bad grade; the intentional illogic of Garrison Keilor's "...and all the children are above average' has been carried over to all walks of life, including audio gear. my experience is that any grading of audio equipment (adequate, high end, or whatever) HAS to be application specific - while I don't generally use an SM57 on vocals (for MY work, it's not 'adequate' as a general rule), on snare, my Lawson wouldn't be 'adequate'. Now that I think about it, I could use the 57 for vocals whil I cannot an  L47 on snare; the Lawson simply won't fit in the space where I put the snare mic. (And if I used the Lawson wherever it would fit, it would no longer be the same application).
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Dave Martin

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Re: What's The Best, What's The Cheapest?
« Reply #42 on: December 21, 2005, 10:58:13 am »

bblackwood wrote on Wed, 21 December 2005 08:32

 
I've also cut a few records where they had every high-end tool known to mankind and it sounded like garbage - crappy engineer...


Sure. And BB, that record I sent you last week was recorded with cheap gear (by non-engineers, too). It sounds like it was recorded with cheap gear by non-engineers. Nevertheless,the record mostly still works for be because I like the performance and the songs.
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Fibes

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Re: What's The Best, What's The Cheapest?
« Reply #43 on: December 21, 2005, 11:08:52 am »

Persoanlly the best gear IMO is the stuff that stays around the shop and gets used. We have a few pieces that don't get used much but far exceed the price point of a bunch of heavily used inexpensive stuff. Two of them that are laying around a lot happen to be German mics starting with an N...

Anywho, the hammer is the most commonly used screwdriver.

We all know why.

it's handy.

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Fibes
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josh

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Re: What's The Best, What's The Cheapest?
« Reply #44 on: December 21, 2005, 11:10:39 am »

there's so much more human emotion attached with "gear" than objective technical stuff anyway ...  not to mention just getting the right performance, the right take, etc.

I mean, we make recordings with our GigaStudio rig with The Black Grand (piano library) that are beyond spectacular, sound-wise.  However, some players won't play the kind of performance on it that they would with a real live grand piano even though the sound and tone of the "real thing", by and large, is not in the league with TBG.  So which gear is better?  The cheap, out of tune piano recorded by inexperienced engineers but played better by the player, or the brilliant-sounding piano with world-class recorded tone that maybe doesn't inspire such a great performance?

I guess technically a piano isn't "gear" but this kind of holds up for other gear too.

There's just more to it than the gear choice.  There's always the factor of the predictability, experience, etc., of the gear, the quality of the tone/recording, and the effect it has on the performer.  All this focusing on gear is kind of fool's gold IMHO.  You can make great recordings with not-great gear.  Sweet dreams are made of these ... who am I to disagree?
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