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Thread: Configuring the setup and improving the working methods.

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    Configuring the setup and improving the working methods.

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    I've been through a major change in my home studio setup, and now I have almost all the gear I need and I'm really happy with it. The last problem to be solved before I can really concentrate on making music instead of buying gear, is to setup my studio in the best possible way and adjust my working methods so that I can make music easier and less painfully, and get the best results out of myself and my gear.

    And this is where I need your advice, and I think we all could learn quite a lot from each other.

    Ok, first here's my setup:

    *AMD 1200mhz, 512mb RAM, 80gt HD
    - Echo LAYLA 20-bit
    - Cubase SX 1.06
    - Reason 1 (maybe upgrading to 2.5)
    - Wavelab 3.0
    - Native Instruments B4, Pro-53
    - Waves Gold Bundle
    *Yamaha Motif ES6 (at the moment I have Classic but the ES is coming soon)
    *Spirit Folio SX mixer
    *Yamaha MS202 monitors (need to get new ones soon)
    *Beyerdynamic DT911 headphones (great!)
    *Behringer V-amp2
    *Mics: SM57, SM58, MD421

    I think this is going to be pretty much everything I need. Only thing I need to add is better monitors and maybe a condenser mic. The latter ain't that important, because I can go to the studio I'm working in for tracking if needed.

    I'm going to hook up everything trough the mixer, so that I can monitor everything easily without the computer. I have 8 inputs and 10 outputs to the PC, and I'm going to have 8 direct outs from the mixer to the PC and 2 stereo outs from the PC to the mixer, one main mix and one submix if needed for headphone mix when tracking. I mix everything in the computer so the mixer is more like a patcher, not using any EQ's etc. I have 4 outs from the Motif to channels 1-4 in the mixer, and going from there to the LAYLA ins 1-4. Mics on channels 5-6 (using the Spirit's preamps) and the V-amp on 7-8, going direct out to the LAYLA ins. I feed the monitors from the mixers monitor ins, and if I plug in the headphones the monitors get bypassed. I think I'm going to hook the Sub outs from the mixer to a hifi-system for listening music and checking my mixes, and that way I can easily patch my monitoring with the mixer.

    This setup seems to be the most flexible to me, what do you think?

    The next problem is using the PC, 'cause working mainly with software is quite new to me. I use the Motif for all the basic acoustic sounds, and the soft synths for synth sounds and hammond (the B4 kicks ass!), and the Reason for drums and some other stuff. Should I do all sequencing in Cubase, having it control the Motif and Reason, or have everything using it's own sequencer and using MTC to sync them? And should I do sequencing with midi or record everything to audio from the beginning? What I want is total recall, so is it possible to send a SysEx message from Cubase to Motif so that the Motif recalls all its voice and effects setting (using the Song mode) when I open a project in Cubase? Is there other things to think about in the working methods?

    And the final question: which should I use for sampling? I'm going to get 512mb RAM for the Motif, but I'm not quite sure if its easier to use that (need to get a USB HD to store samples) or just buy a soft sampler like Kontakt for sampling, 'cause it would be easier to have the samples in the PC's HD and do direct streaming from there, rather than waiting for the Motif to load it's RAM. And I'd need some way to transfer stuff from the PC to the USB HD and from there to the Motif, right? On the other hand, I'm going to use the Motif sampler anyway for live use, so I need to get the HD for it anyway. And the Motif's filters sound better than the Kontakt's soft ones, right?

    I hope you could help me with at least some of my questions, or at least share your own working methods with others so that we could get ideas to adapt to our own ways of working. I'd really appreciate the help. Thanks!

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    ...you guys have really no advice?

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    first thing:

    is your layla capable of 24 bit processing? If not, you need to drop it and go for one that is.. Namely, RME, PT002R, etc. You can really hear a difference BTW 16, and 24 bit. Also, sample at nothing less than 48K

    What I would do since it doesnt appear that you have a unit to mix your instruments down to (ie ADAT, etc.) is to sequence it all in midi into your DAW software. Then bounce each one to its own .wav file one at a time. That way, you can retain seperation for each track , and the studio you do your tracking in can mix your instruments correctly. You should record them with midi first so you can quantize each note for perfect timing. Unless you have impeccable timing dont record them as audio first to save yourself a headache.

    As far as what "sounds" better for your sampling, its really just preference. If you are using your motif for live applications you should just really get used to tweaking that thing on the fly and drop your soft synths. However, use your softsynths AND motif in the studio for a wider variety of sounds. Use your ears, for certainly one thing isnt "better" than the other regarding sounds as long as it is all "clean" coming into the computer.


    Also, you mentioned you channel your motif outs to the mixer, then to your layla. As far as recording and fidelity you want to limit the amount of gear that your "Front end" goes to before it hits your hard drives. Try plugging it directly to your layla. Out motif to in layla. Then for mixing go out layla to mixer, then to monitors. Remember to use monster cables for added fidelity.

    hope this helps


    -Micah

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    Yes his Layla 20 should handle 24 bit just fine. Now I am sure Blue will correct me if I am wrong on this, but a lot of 24 bit cards don't actually use the whole 24 bits for dynamic range, they only use 20.

    Kontakt is an excellent soft sampler. I own it and use it all the time.

    For the most part only you can decide what works best for you. There are hundreds of ways to use the same equipment and no two people will probably like the same setup.

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    Originally posted by Tim20
    Now I am sure Blue will correct me if I am wrong on this, but a lot of 24 bit cards don't actually use the whole 24 bits for dynamic range, they only use 20.
    Something like that, but it is a whole lot better than 16 bits. Better to record at 24 bits and 44.1khz than 16 bits and 96khz. Even some gear, although not much at all, use 24bits and only 44.1khz or 48khz max

    Just wanted to throw that in there.

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    Oh yeah Sleepy, definetly better than 16 bit. I have a Layla 20 and stopped the 16 bit thing several years ago. The difference was astounding.

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    Originally posted by www.legacimusic.com
    first thing:

    is your layla capable of 24 bit processing? If not, you need to drop it and go for one that is.. Namely, RME, PT002R, etc. You can really hear a difference BTW 16, and 24 bit. Also, sample at nothing less than 48K
    Layla is capable of only 20-bit AFAIK, but since it's a very high quality card, I think it'll be enough. I got it used reeeally cheap, so I ain't dropping it yet. No money for a better one, and it works really well so no need to change that. And 44,1kHz seems enough, it's going to end up like that anyway (CD) so why sample higher? Altough I use 24 bits in Cubase, so is the so-called 20-bit Layla really doing 24 bits, or is this just some internal processing bit depth?

    What I would do since it doesnt appear that you have a unit to mix your instruments down to (ie ADAT, etc.) is to sequence it all in midi into your DAW software. Then bounce each one to its own .wav file one at a time. That way, you can retain seperation for each track , and the studio you do your tracking in can mix your instruments correctly. You should record them with midi first so you can quantize each note for perfect timing. Unless you have impeccable timing dont record them as audio first to save yourself a headache.
    I think I'll be doing most of the stuff with midi first. I have 16 channels with Motif from Cubase, and more for soft synths. I haven't yet hit the limit, but I think I'll have to be bouncing some soft synth tracks to audio when the CPU starts choking. When I have the song ready as midi, I record the midi-parts as audio, and record some live instruments and singers also. So first midi, then audio, right?

    Do you think it's a good idea to mix in the end, or mix all the time during the process?

    How about trackin/mixing in the real studio? We have a Pro Tools HD system in there, so what should be the best way to transfer my tracks to there (and back)? Make a .wav file of all the tracks, everything beginning at beat 1 so it's easy to sync it up, or is there a better way? I'm not going to get Pro Tools to home, 'cause I like Cubase more for midi stuff and I don't have the budget for PT...

    As far as what "sounds" better for your sampling, its really just preference. If you are using your motif for live applications you should just really get used to tweaking that thing on the fly and drop your soft synths. However, use your softsynths AND motif in the studio for a wider variety of sounds. Use your ears, for certainly one thing isnt "better" than the other regarding sounds as long as it is all "clean" coming into the computer.
    You're right, I have to learn to sample with the Motif anyway for live use, so it's same to use that also. But since I have to load the samples into RAM every time I use it, I think it would be a good idea to also have some soft sampler that can do disk streaming, so it's faster to use. Maybe buying Reason 2.5 some day, there I'd have the NN-XT which is quite a decent sampler, right? Also Dr. REX, the one in Reason 1.0 can't read stereo REX2 files. Would it be a good investment to get ReCycle, can I make the older version REX files with ReCycle 2.0?

    Also, you mentioned you channel your motif outs to the mixer, then to your layla. As far as recording and fidelity you want to limit the amount of gear that your "Front end" goes to before it hits your hard drives. Try plugging it directly to your layla. Out motif to in layla. Then for mixing go out layla to mixer, then to monitors. Remember to use monster cables for added fidelity.
    The problem is, I want to be able to use the Motif without powering up the PC, so I need to route it through the mixer for monitoring. I've been told it should also add some analog warmth when routed trough the mixer, or is this just hype?

    hope this helps
    Yeah, it does help. Thanks for you and other guys too. But there's still lots of stuff to think about...

    Also, I know there's many topics about this, but which monitors would you suggest: Behringer Truth, Tannoy Reveal Active or ESI nEar05 ? These are the ones that would fit my 500 budget and I've heard these all are very nice for the price.. what do you think?

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    And 44,1kHz seems enough, it's going to end up like that anyway (CD) so why sample higher?
    Actually, this is a misconception for many new producers. Although the standard is 16b 44.1k for CDS, to sample at a higher rate in the record process actually makes it sound cleaner. I have no idea as to why, but I know what I hear. When I compare say a 96k to a 44.1 k recording, I can pick them out with my eyes closed. I think it has to do with all of the post processing that happens after you lay down the audio (compressors, limiters, verb, etc.) Its good to have that extra headroom.

    When I have the song ready as midi, I record the midi-parts as audio, and record some live instruments and singers also. So first midi, then audio, right?
    What I do is just leave it as midi until mixdown day. So all through the tracking stage I leave the midi as is so I can be quick to edit the arrangement. Sometimes I change my mind, change keys, leave parts out, add more quantize swing, and I can do that with a snap in protools le.

    Do you think it's a good idea to mix in the end, or mix all the time during the process?
    I like to mix as I go... but not where there are musicians there who havent tracked their parts yet. LOL It would suck to be a musician waiting for an engineer for 2 hours as he comps and cleans a vocal. I just do the fast stuff, like verbs, compression, and pans.

    How about trackin/mixing in the real studio? We have a Pro Tools HD system in there, so what should be the best way to transfer my tracks to there (and back)? Make a .wav file of all the tracks, everything beginning at beat 1 so it's easy to sync it up, or is there a better way? I'm not going to get Pro Tools to home, 'cause I like Cubase more for midi stuff and I don't have the budget for PT...
    I have been told that nuendo exports to a protools project file, but I havent actually used it myself. If you are going to be transferring back and forth, I say you just go with the flow and get protools. Its really not that hard to learn, and in my opinion the most effeicient DAW platform I've worked with. Regarding your budget, I think you should just cop for a protools le system if you are going to import your tracks to another protools studio. It makes life so much easier. The PTLE stuff is actually pretty comparable in price to the other m-audio gear, rme, etc. I've seen guys come in the big studio with cakewalk. logic, and other files and it really is just a pain in the ass when you could just save it as a protools file. Besides that, protools files OPEN just fine in many other software. Its true! just not the other way around.



    Maybe buying Reason 2.5 some day, there I'd have the NN-XT which is quite a decent sampler, right? Also Dr. REX, the one in Reason 1.0 can't read stereo REX2 files. Would it be a good investment to get ReCycle, can I make the older version REX files with ReCycle 2.0?
    Im not much on softsynths, but if it sounds good, buy it. Go download it online first to see if its worth it. If it is go support the companies and buy it.

    The problem is, I want to be able to use the Motif without powering up the PC, so I need to route it through the mixer for monitoring. I've been told it should also add some analog warmth when routed trough the mixer, or is this just hype?
    Im sure your motif has more than one set of outputs right? Just route one to your recorder, and the other to your mixer. If not, I wouldn't just patch it straight to your recorder during tracking days, and unpatch it in the latter. Whoever told you to do this patching through your mixer first, then your card misunderstands the difference between "warm" and signal to noise ratio. Since everything you are working with is digital, you want to minimize your front end electrics. If you want it warm, just add that in the end with a warming plugin, or tape emulator. The only thing the patching will add that way is unwanted noise and hiss. It will only be amplified once its in the computer and you amplify the files, you amplify the hiss right along with it.

    but which monitors would you suggest: Behringer Truth, Tannoy Reveal Active or ESI nEar05 ?
    I wouldnt recommned any of those. I have A/B tested all the monitors listed above with the exception of ESI. For your budget you can get a really nice pair of Event Tr8-n's Those kick the socks off of the others in the price range.

    -Micah

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    Originally posted by www.legacimusic.com
    Remember to use monster cables for added fidelity.

    hope this helps


    -Micah
    I tried really hard to resist, but I just couldn't bite my tongue any longer.
    Monster isn't the only company that makes good cables.
    Legacimusic isn't the first person around here to make such a suggestion.
    Yes, Monster cables are good. But, there are several others that are just as good, if not better (ProCo, Horizon, Planet Waves, etc.)
    And the myth that Monster cables will somehow make your tracks shine is just that--a myth.
    You may begin to hear a slight improvement in sound quality if you have 50-foot cable runs. But most home/project studios don't have runs that long.
    The truth is you won't be able to hear the difference between a signal that's traveled across a 10-foot Monster cable and one that's traveled across a 10-foot Hosa cable that cost half as much.
    When you buy high-end cables, you are paying for the construction and the warrantee. The more expensive cables have metal connectors. The cheaper ones use molded plastic whenever possible. And the expensive cables usually come with a lifetime guarantee, while the cheaper ones may carry only a 5-10 year guarantee.
    Take it from someone who has approximately $4,000 worth of cables in his home studio but now wishes he could get some of that money back to buy two AMEK CIBs.
    If your studio isn't already earning you money, it doesn't really make sense to spend $20 or more on a single 3-foot cable--as I did just yesterday.
    Your hard-earned money will be more wisely spent in other areas.
    Last edited by Smooth L; 11-30-2003 at 11:26 AM.
    [url=www.smoothl.com][img]http://www.hiphopphilly.com/images/l_rollie_banner.jpg[/img][/url]

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    when I make an investment, I buy once and thats it. I bought monster because they have the less colorization from cables that I've heard with my own ears, and they offer a lifetime warranty. Anything happens between now and the time I die, I can replace them over and over and over. So Im thinkin, its like buying one cable for my life as a musician.. why not? Unless someone else offers THAT warranty with the same quality cables, I will continue to buy monster even if it is expensive.


    -Micah

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