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The Truth about Expensive Studio Gear

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by Thin white duke, Aug 6, 2020.

  1. ReverendRevolver

    ReverendRevolver Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm pretty sure I'm holding my Gear back....
    Its pretty awesome, and I suck way more than I should after doing this stuff so long.....

    ;)



    But really, I'm excited to end up with some free time to start messing with recording again. It reminds me of when I was just starting out gigging:
    You have X equipment. Your goal is to execute these songs in this setting. GO!
    I was a teenager, and during school could only work a few hours a week. So I ran with what I had.

    Same principle applies with recording now. My working theory is I can record a whole band with what I have now, an Interface with 2 XLR inputs, some headphones, and the cheapest drum kit I can find on CL (aiming south of $150 yields 2 results a month on average.) The only "upgrade" I'm allowing myself is mic(s), because while I have 2 functioning dynamics and a decent condenser, a pair of SM57s or one and an e609 have been on the bucket list for when I can gig again anyway.
     
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  2. TwangerWannabe

    TwangerWannabe Tele-Holic

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    Let's also clarify, if you have access to a world class studio, that's not necessarily being a snob, but if you INSIST that it has to be the high end, most expensive stuff or nothing at all then yes, you're a snob.

    In the late 90's I was lucky enough to be a GA then assistant engineer at a world class studio in NYC, and before that was an intern at the Hit Factory in NYC. I feel super fortunate to have had those experiences and actually be able to touch, use and experience some of the most amazing gear on the planet, and it was like a kid in the candy store during the rare times when any one of the rooms wasn't booked and I could invite friends in to record them.

    The thing is, if you don't really even know how to use the gear, it doesn't matter how good or expensive it is if you dont know how to use it. Just like guitars. You can have the most expensive Custom Shop Tele and the most sought after, flavor of the month boutique PTP amp. If you can't play it it doesn't really matter what kind of gear you have.

    Back then we didn't have any of the options we have today as far as home recording. Heck, I remember recording to 48 track Sony DASH machines that were the size of an oven! Now you can get a respectable sounding recording with a iPad or iPhone, super cheap interface and decent mic on a budget.

    Advances in technology has brought the opportunity of being able to do in your home what we used to only be able to do in a well-equipped studio, but you still have to know how to use the gear to get good sounds. With all the relatively affordable gear we have at our disposal today if you can't get a decent sounding recording on a budget at your home it's not the gear's fault.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
  3. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    You'll need more inputs for a drumkit. But you'll need zero mic inputs for MIDI drums samples, which are probably already in your DAW.

    What the "pros" don't want you to know: Modern MIDI drum samples/loops with minor editing and tweaking sound better than any budget drum setup in a budget recording project. AND will still cost tons less. No need for multiple mics, inputs, and extreme soundproofing or "unique" acoustics.

    Pass on the savings to your clients. They will appreciate that far more than they will care about hurting the drummer's fee-fees.
     
  4. ReverendRevolver

    ReverendRevolver Tele-Afflicted

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    I'll look into what I can get out of whatever DAW I go with and go from there. Its probably worth mentioning I'm just recording myself, who cant play drums, so I was going to run 2 mics at a time and do kick/snare, then hats n toms.

    Do the drums in most DAWs sound as good in the total mix as acoustics with dynamic mics?
    First project is re-recording the first album of stuff from an old band, but the Drummers in prison. So, itll be me on everything, then getting the singer to add his stuff, then me on backing vocals.
     
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  5. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    Nowadays we can extend our cheap DIY sensibilities into video. And with good reason, as that's where the future (now) is. Kill two birds with one stone by filming your tracking, and edit it all together into a video once the song is mixed down. We all have an iPad and/or phone with camera. Use them. Video software is free (VDSC). Reaper is (kinda) free. Already have a desktop and/or laptop. Any off the shelf computer can do this.

    A couple of clips toward the end of this video show the extent of the gear I used. VERY basic, and VERY cheap. All one track at a time. The only live micing were for the vocals and two guitar amps. Bass was DI'ed with BDI21, and drums were MIDI. Ignore the tiny clip of me playing drums. That's just there for fun.

    Not the greatest song or recording. But that's not the point. I did it all myself, with VERY minimal cost. I also have limited time. So, this is as good as I can do and get a complete song project and video done, in a short time frame (one day). If no one sees or hears it, no biggie. It's not like I'm losing any dough on it if it doesn't "sell". :lol:

     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
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  6. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    They sound almost as good as very well recorded drum sounds. It's tricky to get the patterns and rhythm to sound more natural, as well as fills. You are also limited by AD/DA conversion, etc... But the point is that it is VERY hard and expensive to get a good live drum recorded sound. You either need to pay tons to have it done right, or pay next to nothing with MIDI and have it sound better than cheaply recorded drums. That make sense?
     
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  7. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    The good drum software uses actual samples of great drummers playing real drums in optimal recording environments so they sound really awesome. But you lose a little of the human feel unless you’re really careful. Real drummers don’t hit their snare exactly the same way every single measure, but that’s what you get if you copy and paste a one measure sample for multiple measures.
     
  8. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    The only times I've heard MIDI drum tracks that sounded as good as a live drummer have been when the MIDI programming was done by an actual drummer. If you have a drummer though, why not have them... well, you know... PLAY THE DRUMS? It's really not rocket surgery to track live drums- a lot of your favorite classic rock albums were tracked with three mics on the kit. Sure you don't have U67s laying around like Glyn Johns did, but you really don't have to. A couple of $99 MXLs and a 57 will do the job just fine. IMHO, having a rhythm track where the whole band records at once nets you a much better vibe than piecing it together.

    Of course, if you get to the mix stage and the drum sounds aren't cutting it, you can always trigger samples- all DAWs these days will do it. I recently remixed some stuff I recorded 25 years ago in an impromptu demo session- it sounded pretty good overall, but I really wanted a better snare sound (heh, don't we all...). It was just a simple matter of mounting a plugin and doing a bit of tweaking, and the improvement was noticeable.
     
  9. mojek

    mojek Tele-Meister

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    100% agree, GB is very underrated and if you know how to use it, there is no execuse to make bad recording with it:)
     
  10. EspyHop

    EspyHop Tele-Holic

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    Recorded in a garage on a Tascam 4-track with Radio Shack mics and a Stereo Memory Man.

    The album this is from (Bee Thousand) initially sold 50,000 copies and is considered one of the greatest indie rock albums ever.

    A great song is great regardless.

     
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  11. mojek

    mojek Tele-Meister

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    I remember in 90’s we had casette player,cheap mix and electret mic’s(excellent mics, $0.2 each). First recorded in 2 lines (Left and right) and then again on second casette recorder with first 2 lines mixed in it. We didn’t have ca$h, we wanted to play, spend money for beer and fun, so the recording was literally free of charge:)
    In years, we have bought some equippment, but the best recordings we made were always the cheapest. Without stress in expensive studios:)
     
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  12. TwangerWannabe

    TwangerWannabe Tele-Holic

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    Such a great record! Got to see these guys with Iggy Pop, Rocket From the Crypt, Superchunk and the Replacements several years ago. What a lineup that was!
     
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  13. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Good information!

    But delivering it in the style of a 9th grader trapped in a 50-year-old's body is just ridiculous.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
  14. maxvintage

    maxvintage Poster Extraordinaire

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    IMHO what you need is a good mixing room. You can't really do away with that. A good listening space for mixing is hard to accomplish and it's not sexy--it's not expensive gear and has no snob appeal, but it's the heart of the enterprise. I could never get that right, so I always had a very hard time getting mixes to "translate" to different listening formats

    Alternatively you could just assume your audience is listening on headphones and mix on headphones. That seems like a viable approach, and there's software that can emulate various other listening devices pretty well via headphones.

    Also IMHO recording is like HiFi, the domain of insane cork sniffery. As everybody points out, consumer gear can accomplish levels of clarity and precision and signal to noise ratio undreamed of in 1978.

    And the bottom line, this is just so true, is that a good performance is the key--good songs, good performances, nobody cares what compressor you used.

    Roger Nichols with Steely Dan always said that he did as little as possible--very very minimal changes to eq, very minimal compression, very minimal reverb etc. Get guys who can play well, get them a good sound, which they likely already have, amic them well, nd you really don't have to do anything else.
     
  15. maxvintage

    maxvintage Poster Extraordinaire

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    Also drums--Superior drummer is astonishing. No it's not a real drummer but for most things....it sounds fantastic at default and you can do all sorts of stuff with it. If I tracked a real drummer unless he was great I'd probably map his hits to superior drummer's sounds
     
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  16. drumtime

    drumtime Tele-Holic

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    The drums in your DAW will sound a lot better until you learn how to record acoustic drums -- which is very challenging. It's fun to learn about how and where to place mics, different mic strategies, etc, but it takes a lot of time to learn, during which you will not be playing, writing, or recording.
     
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  17. Beachbum

    Beachbum Friend of Leo's

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    A friend of mine and I recorded this on a cassette 4 track 23 years ago. No monitors, one take on one mono track mic'd off the amps with no effects. On top of that we were both completely butt faced.:)

     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
  18. kLyon

    kLyon Tele-Holic

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    True and well-said.

    I have a good friend who was one of the prime drummers of the rock era.

    (Gary Mallaber: something like 40 platinum albums, starting with Van Morrison's Moondance and ending - so far - with Springsteen's Lucky Town... I'm not sure... but you've heard him, I guarantee it)

    I've been working with him since the early 80's (starting when I was in - yes, believe it or not - a ska band with him)); he's a great player and a great, no-nonsense guy.

    He played on an album I produced for a singer-songwriter named Larkin McLean a few years ago; it was a "modern production," I came to his place with all the parts except the drums already done and he overdubbed the drums. It was a blast, he did a great job. When we started talking about the situation he said this:

    "It'll never be like it used to be. We're professionals, we can make good records, but the great records?" (Here he referenced Moondance, "that'll never happen again, that magic..."

    He was talking about those days when a take happened, a magic combination of time, space, and... humans... and you knew that was it.

    It's sad, but that's life.

    If we live long enough, it seems, we experience the passing of our... era, relevance, whatever. I saw it with the big band era guys I learned from, now I'm feeling it myself. At least we're not alone)
     
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  19. EspyHop

    EspyHop Tele-Holic

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    I don’t completely agree that it’s not still like that from time to time. I was here for this recording (I’m clapping with the band). Anyway, they did the three guitars, bass, and drums in one take. Then the keyboard and vocals were overdubbed. Ironically, the hand claps were the only part that required multiple takes. We thought it was going to take eight hours or more to record this, and it was done in just about an hour and a half (recorded on 24 track ADAT).

     
  20. Ed Driscoll

    Ed Driscoll Tele-Afflicted

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    Superior Drummer is awesome. The dryer patches sound great with a bit of extra compression, and the "John" patch at about 88 BPM is the closest I'll ever get to playing with Bonham in Headley Grange.
     
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