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Thread: advice on home studio set-up

  1. #1
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    greetings all,

    i've been thoroughly enjoying the posts on this site, and after reading through a number of threads, i'd like to humbly request some advice of my own.

    i'm currently in the process of expanding to a workable home set-up and i have a number of questions:

    i have a pc running in a windows environment with pentium 4 (1.4G) processor, 256 megs of ram, a good amount of hard disk space (35 Gigs) and a decent sound card. I can't pinpoint a particular style of production that I intend to solely focus on, although my interests range (in dance music styles, at least) from the progressive side of trance and house to various drum and bass/jungle influences. i grew up playing a number of different instruments, as well as djing for a while, and i have been leaning in the last couple of years toward migrating to more of a home studio/computer based environment to explore my musical ideas.

    i have debated for the last year or so whether to look into the Pro Tools LE setup, but recently I have been looking at either Propellerhead's Reason or the Cubase VST software, primarliy due to a desire to keep the cost down. Based on the information and interests i am outlining here, could anyone give me recommendations as to what would be best for my purposes? I've worked with Sound Forge's ACID quite a bit on a friend's computer, but this seemed much too loop-based (and uniquely so) for my tastes. i'm hoping to have a bit more flexibility as far as sequencing goes, and layering tracks on top of each other.

    as far as the sound sources that i will be using to record and sequence, i have currently have the following hardware/outboard gear that i have been working with for the last year or so.

    - a roland sp808 sampler
    - analog monosynth (future retro 777)
    - a fairly crappy yamaha keyboard (but great for tweaking/creating some interesting sounds)
    - boss dr202 drum machine

    i would also be micing (eventually, but perhaps not at first) various live instruments (perhaps sampling to pads or recording directly to hard disk) such as guitar/bass licks, horns, etc. i am also open to exploring availble soft synths and other software plug-ins, as well as the more traditional rack-mount sound modules and effects processors. although these are not immediate priorities, i hope to keep scalability in mind for adding things in the future.

    my immediate thoughts were to choose which software would be best, and also to buy a decent pair of studio monitors. i'm hoping to spend around $450 max for the monitors and an equal amount on any mixer or amp necessary. any advice on brands, and whether it would be better to get passive monitors or monitors with built in amps? i suppose it is best to have some sort of amp in the setup if the monitors don't have their own internal amps?

    along with the software and the monitors, i wanted to ask what else is an immediate need. as i mentioned above, i would assume an amp, if the monitors don't have their own? would i need some sort of mixer as well? something like one of the smaller mackie boards? the 1202 VLZ or 1402 VLZ? a friend also told me at some point that the behringers are decent, and relatively inexpensive? is a mixer or board even necessary at all?

    my friend who runs ACID has a pair of alesis monitors and an alesis amp, but he also runs the whole thing through one of the roland digital multitracks/mixers (i'm not sure which one).

    i guess what would help me most is to get advice and/or clarification on sort of a blueprint for the entire minimum setup. do i need a mixer (digital or otherwise) to centrally run everything through, and if so do i ALSO need an amp?

    another uninformed question, as i haven't set up a computer workstation for music before: how does everything interface with the computer/sound card itself? looking at the back of the cpu, it seems that on the sound card there are a number of 1/8 (or is it 1/16?) inch jacks - for the computer speaker out, a mic input and one or two others. one seems like a line out of sorts. would i need a cable that ran from this single small jack to my amp (or mixer if that's the case) on the other end by either RCAs or 1/4 plugs, depending on what i have?

    sorry for the long post, but i'm very anxious to get a clear idea of how best to proceed. i've participated in a number of such online communities before (there are a couple very good ones for the roland sp808), and they have always been invaluable as far as providing a forum for both requesting and dispensing advice. browsing futureproducers.com today for a while before posting left no doubt in my mind that i had come to the right place.

    thanks in advance for any pearls of wisdom.

    nathan thompson
    pasadena, ca

  2. #2
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    i guess such a long post was not the way to go. my bad.

    after some deliberation and a bit more research on my own, i think i'm going to go with reason to get my feet wet, so to speak.

    does anyone have advice on monitors in the $450-550 range, and what are the advantages/disadvantages of monitors with their own power source/amps?

    also, for outboard gear and micing instruments down the line a bit - would a mixing console such as one of the mackies (1202/1402VLZ) or behringers be a good way to go? thanks for your thoughts.

    peace and jah love,
    n8

  3. #3
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    You posted some good questions. I myself am in a similar stage of progress that you are. I have recently been looking into mixing boards and multitrack recorders and have been having a difficult time finding components that meet all of my requirements. However, I have been making some progress, so maybe what I've learned can help you.

    I currently have Cubase and am planning on getting Reason (good move there). I would probably recommend getting Cubase to help you in doing the main layouts of your tracks. The complex sounds, virtual synths, loops, etc... leave that to Reason.

    As for a multitrack, I have the following requirements: MUST have phantom power (I want to be able to hook nice condenser mics up to it), it needs to store tracks digitally (most use hard disks, CDs, or Zip drives), and it needs to have some sort of digital transfer mechanism to my computer (most use a SCSI cable or USB). I am still researching these, but so far the Korg D1600 is at the top of the list. Early on, I preferred the Roland VS1880, which seems to have quite a few features, but it lacks phantom power for the mic inputs. Too bad!

    I would assume that if you get a multitrack with decent EQ on it that you wouldn't need a mixer in addition, but I could be wrong.

    As for monitors, I've decided on the Tannoy System600. From what I've read about them, they seem to be pretty hot. They use what they call a "dual concentric" system of placing the woofer and tweeter, which basically means the tweeter sits right in the middle of the woofer. This means that no matter how close you get to the monitors, you don't miss highs or lows (put your ear next to a standard speaker and move your head up and down -- you'll see what I mean). This seems like an accuracy bonus to me when you're using monitors in the "near-field".

    Hope that helped a little!


  4. #4
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    Nathan - I replied to your initial post in your other posting under newbie producers.

    as far as mixing/micing, a good all around microphone is an AKG414. You can do anything with it. Another one is the Shure SM7 (not SM57). Dave Matthews did his vocals for the "Crash" album with an SM7 and I just used it to record this weekend as a mic for my Vox AC30 guitar amp. Sounded great.

    if you're going with cubase, you MUST get a preamp. preferably tube. It's simply a whole step up in the quality of your sound in. If you can afford it, I'd get the ProTools Digi001 system, as that comes with two mic preamps, and 8 audio inputs (for things coming from other preamps or DIs, samplers, etc.)

    Shoot me a line with any other questions (bobo@meticulous.com) if I miss your reply here. Good luck!

  5. #5
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    sorry but i need to close this thread.. you double posted, please avoid to double post on the site

    it's cool you are new here, no problem.

    to continue this discussion, check this thread:
    https://www.futureproducers.com/boar...?threadid=9762

    take care
    PLEASE HELP FP BY CLICKING ON

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