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Thread: Home studio build help!

  1. #1
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    Home studio build help!

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    Hi!

    I've been given a $600 budget to build a studio for my school. I'm going to be building a studio desk (which I've modeled in sketchup and will attach the photo), with a built in rack mount, but I need some help with my parts list.

    I'm feel pretty confident with studio gear, as I've been recording off and on for over 5 years, but I'm struggling with a few crucial pieces.

    So far this is what I have. Some opinions or alternate recommendations would be rad.

    Mics:

    1x Pyle PDMIC78 (already have 3, really like how they sound. Even more than the SM57 honestly).
    1x MXL 990 (nice clear vocal mic, really sensitive, but vocals are crisp)
    1x MXL 991 (great multipurpose small diaphragm condenser, especially for drum recording)

    Mic Hardware:

    1x pop filter
    2x boom stands
    4x drum mic clips

    Interface:

    This is where I'm having a tough time. I really love the look of the Behringer XENYX X2222 USB, because I think it would be awesome to have a semi-giant mixer sitting on the recording desk, and the audio and built in FX seem to sound pretty great.

    The other option would be the Focusrite Saffire Pro 40, which is a much more "modern" firewire audio interface, with 8 focusrite mic preamps, and many many outputs. However, the only control you get over the raw input it volume level. Which isn't a huge problem, but having control over the different EQ levels would be nice.

    The Pro 40 comes in at $279
    The X2222 USB comes in at $249

    Acoustic Dampening:

    I'm buying a 24 pack of 1ft x 1ft square wall foam to place around the room to help with sound dampening. This also happens to be a fairly large room, so I will be looking into alternative dampening to complement the nicer wall foam.

    Monitors

    Mackie CR3s - very generic, but should work well.

    Okay. That about sums it up. We already have other mic stands, a Nektar Panorama P6, many XLR cables, and plenty of cords and connectors to make any of these setups work. The DAW we're using is Pro Tools, and the computer is a 21" iMac with plenty of storage and ram.

    Does this list look good? Let me know! Thanks.


    Here's the desk btw:

    studio-desk-jpg

  2. #2
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    You'll want to do a little research on monitor placement.

    FireWire is actually on the way out and has been, but if the iMac has the port I'd go for that over the Behringer any day I've actually got 2 of their mixers so not a hater, but I've got a Saffire Pro 26 and it's very good for what I do.

    But, a desk and some mics are only the start. What will you be recording and what kind of room will that be in? Wall foam is generally not well liked as a treatment solution but it keeps the foam companies in business....
    Last edited by keith.rogers; 2 Weeks Ago at 16:32.

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    Get the Saffire, not the mixer. All your EQ work will be done 'in the box' - in your recording software (DAW), which you haven't mentioned.

    Don't waste your money on 24 pieces of foam. How large is the room? What are you going to be recording in there?

    Similarly, don't waste you money on those 3" speakers - they don't put out anything below 90Hz (that's not even the bottom E string on a guitar), and any mixing you are doing on those will not translate well to other systems. And they don't have much volume, either.
    Last edited by mjbphotos; 2 Weeks Ago at 16:45.
    Mike B My new album on CD Baby: Fact and Fiction
    My Bandcamp site: http://mikebirchmusic.bandcamp.com

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    The room is a about 20 ft by 20ft and has 8 ft ceilings. I know. Not ideal at all.

    DAW wise, we're currently deciding between Pro Tools and Logic.

    What would you recommend for sound proofing and monitoring?

    We have some unpowered 6inch speakers with tweeters from a Fender Passport that we can use as monitors. Would that be a good enough choice? Apologies in advance if that's a dumb question.

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    Assume that the DAW is not part of our budget, as PT would deplete it.
    A square room is not good at all. You can't 'soundproof' it without a lot of construction, and it will take a lot of rockwool full frequency traps to tame reflections and nodes. Using some traps as movable gobos, you might be able to set up a smaller portion of the room for mixing. You could spend $600 just on self-built traps for a room that size and still have a lot of problems.

    What is the largest number of tracks (using mics) you will want to record at any one time? Will the budget allow you to buy more equipment in the future? Does your computer have Firewire? You would most likely do better using a USB interface, as Firewire is on its way out - the Saffire Pro 40 is an older model (hence its now-cheap price).

    8" PA speakers typically don't have much of a low range either , and tend to be hyped in the mids, not good for mixing purposes, and you would still need a power amp for those.

    Since this is a school project, some kind of fund drive/event should be used to up your budget.
    Mike B My new album on CD Baby: Fact and Fiction
    My Bandcamp site: http://mikebirchmusic.bandcamp.com

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    What's the studio for? For teaching? for recording?
    Podcasts? Radio? Hard East coast Techno?

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    You aren't going to get ANY sound proofing in your budget - $600 is clearly totally insufficient. You can buy some sound TREATMENT - which is totally different and can tame (sometimes) unpleasant reflections, resonances and maybe make the room more pleasant to work is, but the noise you make will leak out and noise outside will leak in. This will cost a very large amount of money to fix, and at the very least will require a new room to be built inside the old one. Is the six hundred supposed to cover equipment and the room treatment? Wow?

    The microphone is a Chinese copy of the SM57, and whatever you think about the sound, they are nowhere near the real Shure mic in terms of tone, reliability, technical standards and internal handling noise. The factory price is less than $10, and that's a sample to the UK. They'e not awful, but they're not an equivalent, no matter what you think. They also have lousy consistency - one might be pretty good, the next one dull, the next one having very poor handling noise, and while they're a mic, they're not at all brilliant.

    In education, the key feature is the practice - what you learn, you can use. Pro-Tools will stretch the budget and really isn't that education friendly. Logic and Cubase are by far the most popular, with things like Reaper and others being very popular - simply because it's the kind of stuff people have in their bedrooms. PT is pretty much found only in serious studios. It's great, just not that good in schools and colleges.

    You're not really building a studio, you're equipping a room for recording - and to be honest, the results will be a bit grim for so many reasons.

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    I've been looking at your list and trying to decide on a priority with your limited funds. I'm assuming that, because this will be in a school, there will be students learning about recording, so the priorities should reflect that.

    Mixer: The Focusrite will be the better quality interface. If you're looking ahead to purchase good equipment now that will be good for years the Focusrite is what you need, mixing in the box as noted above. But I understand having a physical mixer for users and students to learn on, so that's something you'll need to decide for yourself.

    You didn't say whether the DAW software will come out of the budget or if you already have it. If not I suggest Logic - professional software with good virtual instruments and effects. Lots of users and less expensive than Pro Tools or Cubase. If you really want to save money here there is also Reaper.

    Putting up foam will not be very beneficial for your situation. Putting up foam is usually a poor man's solution that doesn't end up helping much. The foam may reduce a ringing or echo but it can also create more problems than it solves. And proper treatment would cost well beyond your budget. Looking at your situation I think you need the most help with your monitors, since you can't make good recordings if you can't hear properly. Even a decent pair of 5" speakers would be in improvement over what you have. Perhaps go with Reaper to save money and put as much money as you can into monitors. You can move to Logic/Pro Tool/whatever in the future/next fiscal year, although you may want to invest in decent mics next.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maxmercier View Post
    The room is a about 20 ft by 20ft and has 8 ft ceilings. I know. Not ideal at all.
    According to AMROC, you are correct. You can see your room data here. This will also show you how to improve it.

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    Yep $600 will never get the gear and to room useful. Forget buying foam.

    Alan.

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