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Author Topic: A decision to make, early on in the planning process  (Read 1536 times)

Consul

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A decision to make, early on in the planning process
« on: August 02, 2004, 04:02:11 PM »

I am asking this question here because you seem like a very nice and patient group of folks to ask.

Like about a million other Americans, I am a musician/songwriter-type person who wants to build a home studio. Unlike many of those others, however, I understand the importance of room acoustics, and of having high-quality gear instead of what you can buy for cheap on eBay or from Guitar Center. Since I am electronically-inclined, I have been building my own mics, mic preamps, and compressors thanks to the good people at The Lab pro audio DIY forum.

My main question, of course, comes down to what kind of workflow I want to design my studio around. When it comes to tracking, it all works the same way: good mics, to good mic pres, to the hard disk. During mixing is when things change, though.

You've all heard the arguments: In-The-Box (ITB), or Out-of-The-Box (OTB) mixing. Which is better? For me, it's more a question of which is most practical.

Option One - OTB

I have the skill to put together, though not necessarily design, a halfway-decent passive summing buss. I could combine this with various compressors and EQs, and have a pretty good sounding system with good workflow options. It would operate similarly to a modular synthesizer, where you patch everything together in your desired signal flows, then pipe all of your final signals into the summing buss.

It would have the advantage of creating a very intuitive workflow, at least for me. The disadvantage, though, is the number of actual devices I would need. I'm balking at the number of EQs and comps I would need to solder together.

Option Two - ITB

Imagine if you will, an AD/DA card, small but good-quality, like a Lynx2 4 in/4 out card. Not enough outs to mix OTB, but the higher-quality converters would allow signals to go out of the box to external analog gear, then come back in, ready for final mixing.

To speak of the disadvantages first, this workflow does not strike me as being intuitive. I would be limited to being able to process a handful of tracks at a time. It would break the workflow up into three parts instead of two (tracking, processing, and mix, rather than combining the last two together).

There is, however, one great advantage: the amount of outboard gear needed is minimized. In fact, the amount of gear, and therefore the amount of soldering, needed goes down by a great percentage.

So, it comes down to having an intuitive workflow versus being easier and less expensive to build.

I would prefer not to use any plugins at all, and rely strictly upon good outboard gear for all of my needs.

WWYD?
(What would you do?)  Wink
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Darren Landrum

"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic." - Dave Barry

Consul

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Re: A decision to make, early on in the planning process
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2004, 06:30:46 PM »

Either this is considered a stupid question, or nobody really has an opinion.

If I am out of line, please tell me and I'll go away.

Personally, I'm leaning toward going OTB, and spending real time and money to build a system that will create the smoothest workflow. It seems the best long-term choice.
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Darren Landrum

"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic." - Dave Barry

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Re: A decision to make, early on in the planning process
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2004, 06:39:27 PM »

Consul, why make the decision to do one or the other when you can have both? I certainly make use of all the tools available to me and I would never limit myself with such a choice. I use whatever it takes to get the job done, and done well. Sometimes I have to pull out all of the stops and use combinations of both. I do not believe in placing any restrictions in choice. I choose it all. I use it all as well. Some gigs require experimentation and frankly, their are NO rules..just common sense.
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http://balancedmastering.com

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Consul

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Re: A decision to make, early on in the planning process
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2004, 06:43:25 PM »

Thanks, Bill.

There certainly is no reason why I couldn't use both approaches as deemed necessary. I'm really just thinking of what would make my work easier in the long run.

I'm a single musician, composing my own pieces, and performing them all myself on various instruments. I need a set-up that I can run by myself during tracking. When that's done, I need as smooth of a workflow as possible for mixdown.

Do not be too frightened, though. I intend to send the final mixes out for professional mastering. It seems the least I can do for cutting so many corners. Wink
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Darren Landrum

"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic." - Dave Barry

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Re: A decision to make, early on in the planning process
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2004, 07:09:16 PM »

I play (or play around with ) bass and trombone and I like to compose using these instruments. One valuable asset for me is that of a single adat machine. It allows for me to "punch in" with a footswitch for truly hands off record enable. Any simalar situation where you can trigger the recorders from your playing position certainly makes it easier. Look toward some form of operating your record enable comfortably. After I track everything on the adat, I can dump it to whatever I like for modification, edits, etc. Adats are outdated. I used this as an example of one thing that makes for eaiser life while composing.

Just imagine sitting, having everything controllable and comfortable.
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Consul

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Re: A decision to make, early on in the planning process
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2004, 07:21:51 PM »

I've been thinking a lot about the special design considerations for the one-man band and recordist. Having a "record start/stop" pedal would make things a lot easier, for sure.

I am ultimately out to create professional results, but given that I prefer the sound of classic seventies recordings more than modern ones, I'll be focusing a lot on recording techniques of the period.

As an example, Steve Albini created a sample for Royer using the R-121 as a single drum overhead. He then had one other mic for bass drum, then bussed it into a compressor. The final drum sound is mono, but I think it sounds fantastic. (You can here the sample right here if you'd like.)

That's a lot of what I've been thinking about. Technique and workflow are what I think will get me good final results.
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Darren Landrum

"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic." - Dave Barry

John Ivan

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Re: A decision to make, early on in the planning process
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2004, 12:28:54 PM »

The way I work is dictated,at least to some degree by the deals I found on gear. I know this isn't the ideal way to do things but,that's how it turned out. When I started, the only option was a console and some sort of tape machine. I still like working on a full service mixer. I like the fact that I can code & clock my DA-88's to the computer and have the best of both worlds going. If I need to edit something, the computer is sitting there waiting to go. I can also use the computer for large groups of things like, backing vocals. Sometimes I'll record room sounds or Reverb returns to the computer. I will sometimes get a MIDI project in and will have Midi, Tape,And hard drive audio going at the same time.


So, I guess you need to figure out how you like to work. For me, If I need to make an EQ change, I want it right in my hand. Same goes for comps and reverbs. Having said all that, I have good friends who make GREAT sounding records without leaving the box AT ALL. It's all pretty crazy.



I am still looking at 2" analog machines. This way, I will have another option for clients,and, I'll have my favorite sound for my own stuff.
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Consul

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Re: A decision to make, early on in the planning process
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2004, 04:44:58 PM »

I've made my decision, and it was a question of time more than anything.

I'm going to go the ITB route, using external analog gear for processing. This will mean I'll need a good sound card that can handle sampling something twice. I'm thinking the Lynx2 4-in/4-out model.

This will require me to build much fewer total devices. I'll be done quicker, which will mean I can start being productive quicker. I think I'd prefer that more than anything. I'm also beginning to think this entire ITB/OTB argument is moot, anyway.
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Darren Landrum

"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic." - Dave Barry

floodstage

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Re: A decision to make, early on in the planning process
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2004, 09:12:30 PM »

Just to confuse the situation, there is a 3rd, hybrid option.  
A hard disc recorder.  (preferably one that has GUI editing)  Use it like a tape deck or pull the hard drive and drop the files into your DAW.  

If you need a , the hard disk recorder has a punch in foot switch that works fine (and it has a remote control that controls all the essential functions as well)

Hard disk recorders are very nice to track on, awesome for remotes, and not bad during mixdown either.
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