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Basic Home Recording Set Up

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Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby NateDawg » Sun Sep 09, 2018 12:54 pm

Newbie putting together my first basic home recording set-up.

Mainly for recording vocals/Voice overs and occasional guitar.

I want studio 24bit, 96kHz quality with the best possible daisy chaining of eq without breaking the bank.

So far, this is my plan:

Shure SM57 --> TritonAudio Fethead Preamp --> Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Interface --> Laptop Then output to a usb mixing desk (if poss?) & KNS8400 Headphones for monitoring/mixing.

I'd like to add the mixer in so I can add a bit control (reverb etc) for live monitoring without effecting the recording. And also inputting my mini-disc player for backing tracks when recording vocals.

But do I need a mixer or can all that be done on a DAW easily enough?

Or could I achieve all this on a mulitracker, such as the Zoom R8?

Any thoughts and advice would be appreciated. :thumbup:
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Re: Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby James Perrett » Sun Sep 09, 2018 2:03 pm

I'd say that you don't need a mixer as effects can be handled by the DAW or by the software control panel associated with the interface.

You could probably get away without the Fethead if you used an interface with quieter mic preamps - one of the Audient range would be worth looking at as they have quieter preamps than the cheaper Focusrites.

If you are using a mini disc it might be worth looking for an interface with an SPDIF input for the mini disc.
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Re: Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby NateDawg » Sun Sep 09, 2018 2:35 pm

James Perrett wrote:I'd say that you don't need a mixer as effects can be handled by the DAW or by the software control panel associated with the interface.

You could probably get away without the Fethead if you used an interface with quieter mic preamps - one of the Audient range would be worth looking at as they have quieter preamps than the cheaper Focusrites.

If you are using a mini disc it might be worth looking for an interface with an SPDIF input for the mini disc.

Thanks James! I've seen an Audient iD14 for only £80 more than the Scarlett. If I didn't require the Fethead or mixer it would be a pretty big saving!
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Re: Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby Dave B » Sun Sep 09, 2018 2:56 pm

There's a couple of things I'd query :

1. 96k - why? Is there a specific reason you want this and feel you should have it? Most gear will happily run at this speed, but most of us don't use it. There's a few good threads in this forum / the mixing forum about whether it's worth it. If you are doing stuff for video, then 48k is usually fine. Most of us are happy just running at 44.1k.

2. External mic pre + SM57. If you were using a posh mic, then I'd understand the desire for a dedicated pre, but if you are just using a 57, then I wouldn't bother. The limiting factor here is not your pre.

3. SM57 for vocals / voiceovers. I would suggest something else unless you are hell bent on 57 and feel that it's the right sound for you. If I were recording guitars, then I would be happy to stick one in front of a loud cab, but would use other mics for anything else (especially acoustic).

4. Interface and mixer - especially if you are using usb for both - is just asking for trouble. You can record and monitor in real time on most interfaces. I'd look for an interface which has the features and channel count that I need and just use that to keep things simple. Oh, and multiple usb devices simultaneously can be a nightmare (although I've had an ok time when running on a Mac).

Some people still want a dedicated multi-tracker and one of those would probably be fine for your needs. Me, I'm a DAW kind of guy.

If you let us know what you mean when you say you will be recording 'vocals', 'voiceovers', and 'guitars' in a bit more detail, and give us some idea of your budget and the kind of space that you will be recording in (which is the most important part of this - gear won't solve basic acoustic issues), then we can help you make the best choices.

:)
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Re: Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby blinddrew » Sun Sep 09, 2018 2:58 pm

Like James I'd be inclined to ditch the mixer and look for an interface with a couple more inputs instead. Staying at the budget end of the range a 6i6 might be worth a look, it's got SPDF and midi.
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Re: Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Sep 09, 2018 4:39 pm

Plus one to all above, especially the recording room which will definitely need some treatment of you want to achieve decent results.

And definitely look at a better mic.
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Re: Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby Wonks » Sun Sep 09, 2018 6:13 pm

'Studio quality' is achieved in a studio. Not because of the equipment used, but because it is a studio and has had the relevant acoustic treatment done to it in order to get the right environment for good recordings. So start thinking about the space you plan to record in. Look at some of the threads in the DIY Electronics and Studio Design sub-forum.

Is it really quiet, or can you hear noise from roads, aircraft, neighbours, elsewhere in your house/flat/etc? You will undoubtedly need some room treatment to get a more even room frequency response (which doesn't necessarily have to cost a lot), but you may also need soundproofing (which can get really expensive).

You've mentioned an SM57, but have you misheard or misunderstood someone mentioning a Shure SM7a, which is a fairly standard high-quality dynamic mic often used for voice-overs (until you know about the SM7, its a fairly easy mistake to make)? It is mainly a studio, rather than a stage mic. The SM7a is also one of the standard mics used by rappers. But for more general vocals and recording, a large diameter capacitor mic is the normal starting point. These can be had from not a lot to very expensive, but something a bit above £100 should give you good results. Don't forget to include for stands, a good shockmount and a pop-filter.
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Re: Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby NateDawg » Sun Sep 09, 2018 6:19 pm

Dave B wrote:There's a couple of things I'd query :

1. 96k - why? Is there a specific reason you want this and feel you should have it? Most gear will happily run at this speed, but most of us don't use it. There's a few good threads in this forum / the mixing forum about whether it's worth it. If you are doing stuff for video, then 48k is usually fine. Most of us are happy just running at 44.1k.

2. External mic pre + SM57. If you were using a posh mic, then I'd understand the desire for a dedicated pre, but if you are just using a 57, then I wouldn't bother. The limiting factor here is not your pre.

3. SM57 for vocals / voiceovers. I would suggest something else unless you are hell bent on 57 and feel that it's the right sound for you. If I were recording guitars, then I would be happy to stick one in front of a loud cab, but would use other mics for anything else (especially acoustic).

4. Interface and mixer - especially if you are using usb for both - is just asking for trouble. You can record and monitor in real time on most interfaces. I'd look for an interface which has the features and channel count that I need and just use that to keep things simple. Oh, and multiple usb devices simultaneously can be a nightmare (although I've had an ok time when running on a Mac).

Some people still want a dedicated multi-tracker and one of those would probably be fine for your needs. Me, I'm a DAW kind of guy.

If you let us know what you mean when you say you will be recording 'vocals', 'voiceovers', and 'guitars' in a bit more detail, and give us some idea of your budget and the kind of space that you will be recording in (which is the most important part of this - gear won't solve basic acoustic issues), then we can help you make the best choices.

:)

Hi,

Mainly this is for recording singing demos of my voice (but not solely) on a variety of different music- rock, swing, musical theatre, singer songwriter etc and a variety of voice overs demos inc. audio books, radio ads and anything a voice over artist might record.

I wasn’t very specific because ideally, I’d like the set up to be flexible and with as close to a studio sound as I can manage on a measly budget.

Obviously SM57 isn’t a high end mic, but it seems very popular and highly recommended as a versatile mic for a starter kit.

I’ll be recording in the spare room in a poorly soundproofed apartment next to a main road.
It’s going to be a challenge, I know.
But any soundproofing/acoustic treatments will have to be temporary and a (fairly cheap) improvised isolation booth, as it’s a rented flat.

The dynamic mic just seemed to be the best way to go in helping block out some of the traffic noise.
The Sennheiser E835 looks like it would be quite effective.

I’ve got a budget of £400-£450 max.

If you have recommendations of a set up in that range I’d love to hear it!

Cheers.
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Re: Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby ef37a » Sun Sep 09, 2018 8:12 pm

I am with the majority here, ditch the mixer, at least for now.

I shall punt my favourite AI of course! The Native Instruments KA6. The pre amps don't have masses of gain but are very quiet and I have recorded son on acoustic guitar with a '57. But, recording acoustic guitar with any dynamic and AI is a struggle. I am rather taken by the SE small D capacitors recently reviewed, SE 8s were they?

The KA6 two extra line inputs for the MD and S/PDIF (but like almost all AI, it is co ax and, AFAIK, all MDs are optical?) MIDI, well! You never know what might happen?

I have yet to read of a better AI in terms of connectivity, converter quality and especially the stability of the drivers and the low latency at anything like the money?

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Re: Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby James Perrett » Sun Sep 09, 2018 8:28 pm

ef37a wrote:The KA6 two extra line inputs for the MD and S/PDIF (but like almost all AI, it is co ax and, AFAIK, all MDs are optical?) MIDI, well! You never know what might happen?

Most of the Audient interfaces (apart from the iD4) have an optical digital input which (as far as I remember) can be used with either ADAT or SPDIF signals.

In the early days I used the SM57's predecessor, the 545, quite a bit and found it a useful mic for many things. Some people would suggest the Beyer m201 as a better all rounder but it is more expensive.
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Re: Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby Humble Bee » Sun Sep 09, 2018 8:52 pm

Heres my vocal take for 450 quid...

Audient iD14 € 225.00
Rode NT-A Vocal Bundle € 139.00
AKG K-271 MKII € 85.00
K&M 210/9 € 42.00
Cordial CMT 3 FM-BK € 14.30

Total € 505.30

Total Pound Sterling £450.00 ish


All not so expensive stuff from quality brands.

Prices from the big T…

Add your granny’s fattest winter duvet and a computer.
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Re: Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby ef37a » Mon Sep 10, 2018 7:06 am

Yes, very good setup Bee but the iD4 does not have the second pair of line inputs of the KA6.

OP...Tricky innit?!

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Re: Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby James Perrett » Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:15 pm

ef37a wrote:Yes, very good setup Bee but the iD4 does not have the second pair of line inputs of the KA6.

The OP could always use the mini disc as an A/D convertor to gain some extra inputs. There is also the option to add an 8 channel A/D to give even more inputs.

However, the KA6 appears to be one of the few affordable interfaces that can match the performance of the Audient mic preamps.
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Re: Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby Humble Bee » Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:42 pm

I came from an Audient iD22 before switching to UAD Apollo twin mkii and the Audient preamp is at least as good as the Apollo. Especially for vocals. They sound great!

The quality of the microphone is far more important than the preamp in general and in cheap setups like this even more so IMHO. And the difference between good and great is expensive.

If the room is really crap sounding with loads of external noice as the OP mentions, maybe it's better to get a good dynamic. But if you want better than an SM58 (which is not bad) the budget will not be sufficient (SM7b, and upwards).

Great vocals have been recorded by great singers with SM58's! Or at least that's what some legends say... and Hugh:

https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advi ... ively-room
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Re: Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby CS70 » Mon Sep 10, 2018 4:03 pm

NateDawg wrote:I’ll be recording in the spare room in a poorly soundproofed apartment next to a main road.
It’s going to be a challenge, I know.
But any soundproofing/acoustic treatments will have to be temporary and a (fairly cheap) improvised isolation booth, as it’s a rented flat.

The room is the most important bit for studio quality recording, something that most new beginners don't know (and sometimes won't accept, because you can't just buy one ;-).

That said, a rented flat works just fine as effective treatment for vocals consists of a duvet hanging from a mic stand set up as a T on your back, a pop filter, perhaps a reflexion filter behind the mic and, if you have a very reflective floor, a carpet. It can be set up in ten minutes, and will make more difference than buying the most expensive interface on the market. Way more difference.

For the 57, it works, but if your aim is studio vocals and not live (or guitar cab micking), a reasonable condenser (an AT2020 say) sounds much better.. in a treated space.

However - just like with the room - the most important thing is not the kit, but your performance. The chain of diminishing gains is performance -> room -> mic -> anything else really.

Put Aretha Franklin with a duvet hanging behind her and a half decent mic and it'll sound awsome. But Bozo Sunday Demoist in a top studio and it'll suck big time.
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Re: Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby Mojobone » Mon Sep 10, 2018 6:14 pm

Seems to me you'll need to maximize signal to noise ratio, given your location. The SM57 doesn't have a lot of output (same goes for the terrific SM7B) and and the preamps in prosumer interfaces tend not to feature a lot of gain. Typical condensers can have a sturdy amount of output, but they're 'grabby' and will suck up sound like a greedy mosquito; in my location, I can clearly hear semis changing gears on the interstate 8 miles away, so I recommend a sturdy preamp, (60-70dB) some temporary soundproofing and a decent makeshift booth. That, a low-cut filter and one of those commercially-available mic shields can go a long way.

I believe a small format mixer with USB might be your best bet because it comes with zero-latency monitoring, which is an expensive option in an interface, comparatively speaking, and that lets you spend more on your mic. Even with the likely sub $20 converter chip, you'll be able to hear the difference a better mic makes. Soundcraft, for instance, has a USB mixer with 60dB mic preamps and quite usable onboard Lexicon effects for stuff like confidence reverb.

Oh, and regarding bit depth/sample rate? Lower round-trip latency is one of the reasons I operate at 24/96; the other is that several of my VIs and plugins sound better and run smoother, and what the heck, terabyte drives are cheap.
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Re: Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:07 pm

Good suggestion regarding the USB mixer, plenty of inputs and reasonably decent mic pres. Not any good if the OP wants to record multiple tracks for later mixdown though.

The issue with maximising wanted sound and minimising 'noise' is best addressed by simply getting closer to the microphone, the sensitivity or otherwise of the mic/preamp makes no difference whatsoever. I'm a huge advocate of capacitor mics over dynamics for most things (but would probably have a couple of ribbons too if I could afford them), especially compared to the venerable SM58 (which works well for some rock vocals but is not good for many of the styles mentioned).

However in this case (a relatively noisy room) a LDC is not going to be the answer but a stage vocal mic of some kind. My goto (budget) stage vocal condenser is an SE-H1 which I use for most styles. They can be had for little more than SM58 money, are much airier and don't have the 'presence peak' that makes the '58s so good at cutting through a rock band (but not so good at more natural sounding stuff). I also don't subscribe to the theory that because capacitors have a more extended top end they automatically capture more noise and even if they do, you can eq back to a more dynamic like response.

Finally this article gives a brilliant insight into producing professional; voiceovers in less than ideal environments. https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/recording-voiceover-on-road
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Re: Basic Home Recording Set Up

Postby artzmusic » Tue Sep 11, 2018 10:47 pm

Since you have a less than ideal location, have you considered taking your laptop and mic to another location when you're ready for the final take on vocals? Do you have access to a better room at University or a business office after hours?

A conference room at a hotel might be available. Get breakfast there and ask if you can record a little something before you check out. :thumbup:

Rick
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