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Author Topic: A Big Question (apologies if too big)  (Read 1796 times)


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A Big Question (apologies if too big)
« on: January 28, 2005, 07:08:55 am »

Hello All,

A somewhat complicated question, although I imagine not too complex for the experienced. I'm finding it difficult to phrase as clearly as I would like, but I hope that it will be clear to you. Many apologies if this question is too big for this forum. Even though the question does involve a good amount of opinion, I do appreciate any input that you can provide.

I have begun to put together a PC based studio. I want to be able to create not home or demo quality, but to be able to have a system that will allow me to create sounds that, at the end point, will equal the sonic quality of what is out there professionally--that is, to build a studio/have the tools that will allow me to go from recording all the way through to creating a finished product that will not sound less professional, sonically than what is out there.

Of course, writing this, the obvious caveats are jumping to mind--e.g. it depends upon the music you put in and the techniques, not simply the tools--but I would like to have all of the necessary tools to be able to have a system that, when I employ with appropriate skills, I can, on my own, create outcomes that will not be limited by the tools I have, or the lack of them.

Perhaps another way of putting this is:

What would be your suggestions for what I need to add to what I already have to have a "turnkey" studio that can create professionally sounding works, and will not be limited in the ability to do so by obvious links in the necessary items? What are the essentials in the chain that are missing here?

I suspect that there are many different choices and options here, but I suppose, being a novice, that I am looking for the essential chain--A + B + C + D etc.--the basic elements-- that, taken together, will allow for the creation of professional music compositions from start to finish--finish being distribution in CD form. I am aware that there are certain steps in the process such as mastering which occur, but do not yet understand the conceptual distinction between these steps--that is, thus far, I have just plugged various inputs into my 16 track KORG Digital and using various effect, tried to get it to "sound good". So I suspect some part of this requires a better understand of he necessary steps and consequent tools to get from A to Z.

Within the components, I am looking for maximum flexibility, ease of use, and ability to take advantage of as many sonic options as possible. Most important, though, is that I don't know what I need to add to what I have to have a complete set up that will allow me to produce CDs, start to finish, being my own distributor, with professional quality.

It may be worth noting that I plan to travel between two studios--one here, one in Asia, so plan to duplicate the setups in each place (carrying info back and forth on a laptop, I suppose, is how I've been thinking of it). Therefore, any thoughts on how to do this more economically without sacrifice of quality/flexibility/ease of use would be appreciated.

The set up (which I recognize at this point may limit my options) thus far is below:

Asus P4P800
Intel P4 3.0G 800FSB (Northwood C)
512Mb PC3200 DDR400
Energex PSU
Lite-On burner
WD 800JB 7,200rpm System
WD 360GD 10,000rpm SATA Audio

So: In your view, and taking into account the many caveats, what would I need to complete the system--one that would have the necessary quality, flexibility and economy that one would need to be able to create professionally sounding CDs from start to finish and so that I can distribute them based on what I've produced? Any suggestions?

Many thanks,



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Re: A Big Question (apologies if too big)
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2005, 09:01:18 am »


The only reason I can LMAO is I was in the same spot not too long ago...

Question: what kind of music will you be doing/recording?

I would think one thing to consider would be learning a little about acoustics first:

F. Alton Everest...look it up...

www.johnlsayers.com  ...  check it out...

Then read the entire REP forum including all the opinionated stuff since there is precious incite for the rest of us.

Signal chain as you alluded partly to is...


This is not a mantra.  You will understand more when you get at it..

Work hard

Have fun...

Does this help?

Lemme Nough Doc...


I used to be self effacing, but I couldn't even do that right....


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Re: A Big Question (apologies if too big)
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2005, 09:39:40 am »

One question, one comment.

What kind of music are you recording?

As far as quality goes, you get what you pay for.
For professional quality it's going to cost you.

James Duncan

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Re: A Big Question (apologies if too big)
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2005, 10:17:46 am »

As you mention, there is soooo much more to this than just gear!

I can offer a couple of little gems of advice:

1) Acoustically treat your rooms.

This is the most overlooked thing that you can do to improve your output. The pros all do it, the home guys don't see the need. To do it right, bigger rooms are almost required (not 100%, but it sure is easier). This makes any home recordings difficult due to size constraints, especially with drums.

This should be #1 on the list!!! And, this doesn't mean just going out and buying a bunch of Auralex foam. We are talking bass trapping, diffusion, absorbtion, etc. It is really quite complicated, and if done incorrectly, will actually hurt more than help.

2) You need to invest in the best monitors you can afford.

Trust me on this one!!! Buying tons of gear, and then skimping on monitors is like buying a race car, and then putting a Hugo engine in it. You should spend more time evaluating monitors than anything else you buy, and it should take a HUGE hunk of your budget.

3) Don't try mastering yourself.

Once you have your mixes complete, send your work out to be mastered. Without doubt, this will make your stuff sound more pro than anything else you can do!

A lot of what is left is of an opinionary nature...this mic sounds better than that one, etc. You can find tons of advice here and other places. If you can, check out your purchases before you buy, and remember, things that are "standards" (Neumann, Neve, API, etc.) are that way for a reason. They sound good, and have stood the test of time.

Good luck!
James Duncan

"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
Napoleon Bonaparte


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Re: A Big Question (apologies if too big)
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2005, 04:35:20 pm »

It seems to me that the computer itself is going to have very little to do with how you work stacks up against commercially produced work.

I completely agree on the previous posts regarding acoustics and monitoring.

Size of the space you're working in can be a big factor.  

And finally, the quality of mics, pre's, processors and converters is what's really going to shape your sound WAY more than what kind of PC you get.

And if you're really serious... Get someone else to master your mixes.  There's nothing wrong with being able to do a Q&D mastering job but that is no substitute for having it mastered professionally.


-David Perrault


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Re: A Big Question (apologies if too big)
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2005, 08:05:32 pm »


If we're to believe all the advertising hype, almost anything sold these days will do all that you ask.  Unfortunately, the truth is somewhat less ideal.

A big part of getting really great recordings (even assuming the best musicians, songs, instruments, and arrangements) is knowing which parts of the recording chain need adjusting to get the best recording, and understanding how each part contributes to the sound.  

Good acoustics (the room) and good evaluation equipment (the monitor chain) also add to the equation, since it's important that you accurately hear how any changes affect the music.

In a typical studio, the engineer has a myrid number of choices as to what components to use to process a particular chain.  Most home studios don't have that luxury.  Most home studios don't have the monitoring accuracy or the acoustics to work with either, so there are three strikes going in, before you even push record.  

So, does that mean your quest is hopeless?  No, but it will depend on your exact situation as far as the minimum equipment you'll need, and knowing when to go outside your coccoon to have something done that you're not equipped to handle.

What instruments are you planning to record that will need to be miked?  How many tracks will you need for all the parts you're likely to use?  Will you be recording drums?  Other people?  What kind of music?  How comfortable are you with understanding signal flow and processing?  How much are you willing to spend to have this capability?  How many albums will you be recording in one year?

If it's only for producing one or two albums a year, it might be more cost effective to use an existing, low priced studio.

I'm not trying to dampen your enthusiasm, but the mental and physical commitment to building a studio (that can produce consistent "professional" results) is very high.  Mastering is even more of a dedicated commitment, requiring a very different set of tools.

A "good" studio can cost tens of thousands of dollars; a "great" studio can cost ten or a hundred times more than that.
Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio


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Re: A Big Question (apologies if too big)
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2005, 12:32:43 am »


I just made a similar post over at Fletcher's, who actually suggested I post here. I am currently starting over from scratch with my gear for reasons I won't go into. I have owned over the last 10 years close to $40,000.00 of "pro-sumer" gear and I can tell you that NONE of it was "good enough" for my taste. I would be more than happy to share my two cents with you, but it would really help to know what kind of stuff you're doing, as the sonic definition of "professional" can really vary. There are many records by artists I really admire that were quite successful commercially  but that to my ears, are not all that great sonically. If you're after "1950's Deutsche Grammaphone" professional You will need many thousand cubic feet of acoustically sweet space and many thousands of dollars of high end microphones. Even "Metal" these days is really pretty expensive sonically (just read any serious thread by slipperman) If you're doing quirky off beat techno pop you might pull it off "in the box" with a motu rig, but something tells me you're not a big "They Might Be Giants" fan Smile  

Please tell us what you're up to Smile



"he who is offended too easily by making jokes of the putos is a man who should not stand behind you when you lean over to fix the car motor"

-Carlos Obregon
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