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Author Topic: Preamps? Convertors? ....Me???  (Read 4964 times)

brandondrury

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Preamps? Convertors? ....Me???
« on: April 25, 2004, 04:41:08 am »

Hello,

I've been recording my ass off for 2 years and beginning to bring in a few bucks. (The accent being on  FEW  ).  Anyway, my skills are pushing the limits of my relatively entry level gear and I'm looking for the weakest link in the chain.  Until recently, this has certainly been me, but hopefully me won't be my worst problem for long.

My current rig is a pair of M-Audio Delta 1010 soundcards.  (16 in and out).  I have a Vintech Neve 1272 pair of preamps that I generally use for kick, snare top, guitar overdubs, and vocal overdubs in a typical rock setting.  I use the preamps in the Mackie 1604 VLZ for the remainder of the drums.

Anyway, I'm not exactly sure where to upgrade first.  It seams to me that I've got a pair of pro preamps.  My logic was to find an AD convertor to bypass those found in my Delta 1010 cards.  This would give me 2 to pro channels for vocals, electric guitar, snare top, and kick.  

Another option would be to continue using my Delta 1010 soundcard and get another high quality pair of preamps such as Grace 101, Avalon, etc.  I'm not really sure about that one yet.  My logic says to go with a "sterile" preamp to contrast my Neve 1272 channels.

One last option would be to go with some sort of 8 channel job such as the Presonus box.  This would eliminate the Mackie from the recording chain, but my Delta 1010's would still remain.  

Any advice would be appreciated.  I'm not the type of guy to purchase junk and replace it with more junk.  On that note, I'm trying to run a business and have eventual goals of acquiring my own facility.  I'm looking for the best balance of quality and price.  I can guarantee that my clients wont' hear the difference between a $1000 AD convertor and a $8000 AD convertor.

Once again, my thoughts on 2 completely pro channels seams to be the best.  What do you guys thing?

Brandon Drury
King of the Monster Trucks

Knastratt

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Re: Preamps? Convertors? ....Me???
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2004, 02:05:04 pm »

I think getting a good pre has a priority over new converters even though both are critical. Mytek converter + Chandler TG-2 pre perhaps?
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Erik

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Re: Preamps? Convertors? ....Me???
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2004, 03:32:40 pm »

The Vintech isn't bad (and is on the "cleaner" side of the Neve copies) so you've already got a good pre.  And, yeah I know it's always open season on Mackie around here, but I don't think the Mackie is going to be a huge problem in the near-term.

Believe it or not, you can make records on a Mackie, you've got the Vintech for comparison to keep you honest, so you can learn from there.  You didn't mention what mics you have, but I'm sure at least one of them will sound better on the Mackie than the Vintech on vocals.  Try it.

From your other post I think you should sort out your DAW issues.  A Digi 002 is going to be a substantial step up in terms of sound quality over the M-Audio stuff, plus it will give you the software features that your client base will expect.  Those preamps, unlike the ones in the 1010, are actually usable and will give you another point of comparison.

In short, I wouldn't invest in a standalone 2-channel convertor yet.  I don't think you'll get much bang for your buck at this point.

--Erik
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Erik Gavriluk, Bomb Factory Recording Studios
"The modern trouble is not the use of machinery, but the abuse of it." --Gustav Stickley, 1909

pipelineaudio

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Re: Preamps? Convertors? ....Me???
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2004, 07:03:38 pm »

"A Digi 002 is going to be a substantial step up in terms of sound quality over the M-Audio stuff"

please

"plus it will give you the software features that your client base will expect."

stop it.

If his client base was soooo "sophisticated" as to insist on a certain brand of software, they wouldnt be coming to him right now.

Conversely, if his skill is so great as it is, they also wont care which software he is running.

And furthermore, if his client base were so stupid as to dictate to him which tools to use, well.....

I agree with your conclusion about the 2 channels of converters maybe not being his best bang for the buck tho

moosapotamus

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Re: Preamps? Convertors? ....Me???
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2004, 08:20:38 pm »

brandondrury wrote on Sun, 25 April 2004 04:41

...my skills are pushing the limits of my relatively entry level gear...

I can relate to wanting to have better gear. But, you don't say much about what you feel the shortcomings of your current set-up are. When you listen to your mixes what, to your ear, is missing or lacking? Do you think that you will be able to hear a big difference between the Delta converters and, say, Apogee? If your clients won't, then you ought to accept that the upgrade is "just for you."

On the other hand, there a lot of other things that might be bugging you about the capabilities of your current set-up, like flexibility, reliability, and so on... What software are you using? Plug-ins? How about a UAD-1 or two?

Then again, you can never have too many quality preamps, right? How about a MP-2NV to compliment your Vintech? Or, maybe some API or Sytec to beef up your drum tracks?

Bottom line, I'd recommend giving your set-up a good hard critique and going after what you feel the shortcomings are. After all, it's your buck$$$.

~ Charlie

stef himself

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Re: Preamps? Convertors? ....Me???
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2004, 09:52:48 pm »

room room room room room!

-stef
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brandondrury

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Re: Preamps? Convertors? ....Me???
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2004, 05:23:43 am »

First of all, my instincts from my limited experience tells me that the gear I have doesn't mean shit.  Because I'm a dumb ass, I'll probably ruin any differences the Digi 002 will make by using eq stupidly. (Cutting the wrong frequencies)

The people who pay me to record come to me because they know they will taken care of better by me than by anyone else locally.  In other words, I'm the cheapest!... and I actually give a fuck what their recording sounds like.  They aren't concerned about the software I use and seldom do any of the bands / musicians I record ever have a clue as to what is going on.

I'm not sure if it's me, my mics, my room, or what but my recordings seam to lack a certain depth to them.  It sounds like all the instruments are blurred together and it's often difficult to distinguish a particular instrument.  I've realized this problem just recently and have been attempting to give each instrument a part of the frequency spectrum.  However, this just means I have to use more eq and I really don't like doing that.  

I would guess the biggest issue is my room.  I recently did a live recording (with my rig which I use in the studio) at a local bar on a drum set that I've recorded many times in my studio.  The difference was quite noticable.  My mom would have been able to tell a difference.  The bar recordings sounded much clearer in the high end, on the drums anyway.

I've considered doing some acoustic work to my live room, but I read a couple acoustic books last year.  After reading them I determined that it would impossible to get an acoustically ideal room based on the my level of ignorance on the subject.  I'm currently renting my recording area and I'm not sure how long I'm going to stay.  This has prevented me from doing any serious acoustic work.

I guess purchasing $1000 AD convertors won't make up for the room.  However, with vocals, guitar, and bass the room hasn't been a problem (at least I don't think it's been a problem). I expect the improved convertors to open up my soundstage a little.  It expect it to add a bit of clarity into my recordings.  I've read that some engineers use less eq with high quality convertors.  All of these seam appealing to me.  

At worst,  I'll run my Vintech 1272 into a pair of nice convertors.  If I can't tell a difference then, at least I know it's not my signal chain.  It's either my lack of ability causing the shitty mixes or (my personal favorite excuse) the musician!

Brandon Drury

Turbo

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Re: Preamps? Convertors? ....Me???
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2004, 06:20:53 am »

Shot me but I think the 002 idea coming from Erik is a good one. Cheap, easy to use all in one box ops. You can use other software with it and with a laptop it's very transportable for location work.


Nick
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Fletcher

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Re: Preamps? Convertors? ....Me???
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2004, 06:38:57 am »

How high is the ceiling in your room?  Creating a recording environment isn't nearly as daunting a task as creating a control room... you can have some fun with making a recording environment where a control room requires some really [seriously] heavy science.

The hardest thing to overcome in most "project studios" are ceilings that don't have enough height... where the instruments in the room have a "boxy" kind of tone to them.  This isn't always bad [think Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On"], but it is something that will have to be paid some mind while you work.
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch.  
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

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Re: Preamps? Convertors? ....Me???
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2004, 08:11:38 am »

Trust me on this, the 002/002R is only gonna give you a sideways improvement over a Delta 1010 (Which I truly abhor BTW, but the 002 isn't substantially better).

The Mackie XDR pres are OK, they border this side of meh, but they are useable.

Problem is, you don't have anything with character in your rig.

You have a collection of sterile (And near sterile) preamps... good, but not ideal.

So complementing those preamps should be your first priority.

And that's gonna depend on budget.

But if you can't stretch far, then get an API 500C lunchbox (Or the Old School Audio version, which is a bit cheaper) and slowly fill it up with 512C modules.

Forget Grace, FMR or Presonus (Except maybe the Presonus MP20, that one's actually interesting)... again, better than what you have, but not a significant quality or character jump.

And then... only then... when you have paid off your new toys, consider ditching the 1010's for an RME HDSP9652 and some Apogee AD16 converters.

Oh and BTW... fletcher is absolutely right... think about the room.
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John Ivan

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Re: Preamps? Convertors? ....Me???
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2004, 09:04:08 am »

HI;

It sounds to me like you are pretty new at the recording thing, which is great because this can be a very exciting time. I'm new also when compared to many around here. I think you might be looking in the wrong places for improvement. If your in a small,boxy room that has no treatment, It simply wont matter what converters you have.Period. If your sort of new at this and want to get better at it,I would think about the following. Read every thing you can about acoustics {buy Alton Everest's books } You wont get a small room with low ceilings to sound perfect but, you can improve it a lot.With the pre's you have,you can get a large variety of sounds if you invest in mics. They don't have to cost a ton of money either. You want,bright,flat,mellow,tubby,cardioid, ,omni, figure eight,condenser's, dinamic's {including ribbons}.Every sort of mic you can get your hands on.If you want to do yourself a favor, spend stupendous amounts of time trying mic's and pre's,on every instrument in every combination you can, in every inch of the room and take notes.Converters is the very last thing I would think about right now.


While there is nothing wrong with using pro tools, The fact that your NOT using it has nothing what so ever to do with how your recordings sound.If you have other engineers coming in insisting on using pro tools then fine. If your the engineer then spend your money on the stuff that matters.Mic's, the room, and knowledge.These things have always mattered more than everything else {excepting the source it's self}and they always will..


Do some recordings on your rig this week and then,work your ass off on the room and micing stuff, tuning drums and general recording chops. Come back after you think you've learned more and make a recording on an 8 track cassette. Which recording do you think will sound better. People will always be telling you you need to have the latest this and that. I have learned over the years that doing this over and over means more than anything else.


A digi oo2 is going to be a step up? fucking please Erica Get a grip!!
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Brian Young

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Re: Preamps? Convertors? ....Me???
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2004, 03:34:46 pm »

You could buy a bunch o minitraps from http://www.realtraps.com ... that'll definitely improve the sound of your room, and you can take them with you when you move. Just a suggestion.
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brandondrury

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Re: Preamps? Convertors? ....Me???
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2004, 04:52:04 pm »

Okay, I'll go into more depth about my situation here.

My rig consists of:

Monitors:
Macke Hr824's
Alesis Monitor Ones
Klipsche Hifi system with 12" powered sub

Mics:
6 SM 57's
MD421
SM 91 kick mic
Audix tom mics (I can't remember the model number)
2 Oktava MC012s
1 AKG 414

Preamps:
Vintech 2 channel 1272 Re-issue
Mackie 1604 VLZ

Compressor (which I seldom use going to disk)
Presonus ACP 88

Soundcards
2 Delta 1010 Soundcards

Software
Sonic Foundry Vegas Video 3.0

Plugins
Waves Gold Bundle
A bunch of Sonic Foundry Plugins

Rooms (see image)
My 20 feet long and 15 feet wide "live room" is an old living room.  I tore out the carpet and the drop ceiling.  The ceiling is 9 feet tall and I believe it's surface is plaster.  I know a junk of what looked like concrete fell and and hit me on the head once.  The floor is unfinished hardwood.  


The walls are parallel, but I decided to play with power tools one day and went to the hardware store.  I built some gobos.  Two of them are 4x8 and two are 4x4. They are plywood on one side and pegboard on the other.  I filled them with R-11 insulation.  The 4x8 Gobos ended up weighing about a million pounds, I so just lean them to break up the parallel walls in the room as best as I can.  I generally leave the plywood side against the wall and the pegboard side facing the center of the room.

The control room is probably a nitemare from an acoustical point of view.  It's half plywood floors and half 1 ft x 1 ft plastic tiles.  The walls are are square and finished with wall paper or paint.  The ceiling is 9 ft but I left the drop ceiling alone so it's probably about 7.5 - 8 ft.  

It's important to note ( I think ) that everything is open.  As you can see in the picture, the opening between the live room and control room is about 6 feet wide and 6.5 feet tall.  It has no doors.  It's just an opening.  (I'm not sure what the official term is).  I left it alone to save cash, work, and time.  I also figured that it may help the room seem bigger.  This was a blind guess.

The control room as shown actually has a kitchen on the opposite side of the control room.  It's open as well.  As far as your concerned, you could probably extend the control room another 10 feet or so.  Toss in a stove, a microwave, cabinets, a sink, and a fridge.  Once again, I thought dividing everything would cause the small room problems I've read about.

Okay, that's my situation as best as I can describe it.  My desk with my computer, monitors, etc is at the bottom of the control room image, but I forgot to put that in there and it faces the live room.  

Here's the link to my amazing graphical layout of my studio
http://www.brandondrury.com/MP3/layout.gif


I appreciate everyone wasting their time on me.  

I figure why you all are in the charitable, feed the homeless, plant a tree type of mood, I would go ahead and post a few samples to demonstrate where I am and where I need help.

I have a feeling that the mere mention of better convertors will be laughed at when you hear my work, but fuck off!!

Anyway,

Sample 1 is supposed to be the stripped down, shitty song at the end of a rockin' album. You'll hear me say go and hear the uncut strings rattling on the headstock.   I turned the 1272 preamp all the way up and compressed it pretty hard.  It's a dude singing with his acoustic guitar.  I used my AKG 414 probably in omni mode.  You can hear the room sound pretty well.  More than likely I ran it through my "mastering" bus which consists of of an eq that cuts 400 Hz by about 1 db an boosts 4k by abuot 1 dB.  It also contains an imaging expander which is supposed to widen the stereo image.  I don't know what it does to a mono signal, but I more than likely left it on there.  The mastering bus also contains the Wave L1 limiting thing.

http://www.brandondrury.com/MP3/room1.mp3

Sample 2 is one of their rockers.  Drums and bass were tracked at once.  (The bass amp in another room).  Guitars and vocals were overdubbed.

http://www.brandondrury.com/MP3/room2.mp3

Feel free to bash the living shit out of me in all ways.  I would prefer constructive critism but I could stand hearing "you have no talent and should quit".

This is the sample chapter.  If anyone would like to order my entire book entitled "Bugging People with Better Things To Do About Problems With Recording" please send me $19.95.

Thanks a lot,
Brandon Drury
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