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zylance
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Greetings, Remixing junkies. 8)

I have received what may be the best thing in my remixing career to date: A request from my father to make a studio out of an extra room for him and me. This is very fortunate, because:

A. I have an entire room to work with.

B. I have lots of mullah to work with.

This is where you guys (if you would like) help me out. In the past, I've been working on petty cash, just barely getting by buying things when they go on sale or relying on Christmas. Now I can get those expensive items all together, and pretty much make the studio I've always longed for.

What we want to do: Well, I want to make remixes :D This means a lot of different styles of course. We want to be able to record vocals, guitars, keyboards, synths, saxophones, other wind instruments, and maybe a grand piano.

Budget: Dad never told me how much he is willing to pay, which is actually a good thing. He usually buys the best of stuff, so I'm thinking around 15k - 20k.

The room: It's big, about 180 X 220 inch if it was square. I could pretty much fit what I want in there, unless it is one of those massive mixer boards (which I don't want anyways) Of course, since it is hardwood, some acoustic treatment might be in order.

The goods: With my limited knowledge (combined with Electronic Musician's tips) I came up with some parts I think would be good. I definitely want this to be PC based, for many obvious reasons. I configured a nice Alienware workstation for about 3.2k. It includes:

3.6 Xenon

2 gig of ram

2 250 gig hard drives

nvidia Quando 550

DVD burner

Liquid cooling

I was impressed with the rather low price considering the liquid cooling and the Xenon. There are still a couple of unknowns, like whether 2 3.2 processors would be better then 1 3.6. I also had the option of 3 or 4 gigs of ram, would that make a difference?

Other items I thought of:

Cubase SX3

FW-1082 FireWire Computer Audio Interface

Omnirax Force 12 Professional Workstation

Event Studio Precision 8 Powered Monitors

Shure SM57's

East West Colossus

Native Instruments Komplete 3

Some 49 key controller

Would all of that be satisfactory? I know I'm going to need more mics and a bunch of cables too. I already have a nice Fantom S form years ago, a QS6.0 from REALLY long ago, along with several items like guitars, basses, amps, and a mic or too. If there's anything you would suggest I change, please tell me; I really need an experienced eye! :wink:

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What we want to do: Well, I want to make remixes :D This means a lot of different styles of course. We want to be able to record vocals, guitars, keyboards, synths, saxophones, other wind instruments, and maybe a grand piano.

Okay.

Budget: Dad never told me how much he is willing to pay, which is actually a good thing. He usually buys the best of stuff, so I'm thinking around 15k - 20k.

What? Jesus.

The room: It's big, about 180 X 220 inch if it was square. I could pretty much fit what I want in there, unless it is one of those massive mixer boards (which I don't want anyways) Of course, since it is hardwood, some acoustic treatment might be in order.

Some? It's going to be something that'll suck some investment depending on how serious you are. It means basstraps and high-frequency damping.

http://www.studiotips.com/ Read.

I configured a nice Alienware workstation

Stop. Dump that idea because you'll pay most for the brand itself and an ugly case you're not seeing anyway.
nvidia Quando 550

No. You want to make music. Playing games is for something else. Get rid of that huge piece of power-sucking graphics card and invest your money more wisely.

like whether 2 3.2 processors would be better then 1 3.6. I also had the option of 3 or 4 gigs of ram, would that make a difference?

Not much and 2 would be enough to start with.

Remember, a better computer gives you a bigger e-penis but does not make you a better composer. You want to play games? Invest in an XBOX 360 for the guests, they love that shit.

Omnirax Force 12 Professional Workstation

How many hardware rack/module synths do you plan to buy? The only things there should be mic preamps otherwise.

See those empty spaces? If you're not going to fill 'm you don't need them.

Event Studio Precision 8 Powered Monitors

Shure SM57's

A Neumann wouldn't hurt either :). You're recording - it's a given that most pre-amplifiers found in mixers no matter what are not good. Invest in a few mic preamps, think something like Presonus, TL Audio, Focusrite, etc.

East West Colossus

Native Instruments Komplete 3

Some 49 key controller

See, this is what I don't get. You go for the full wazoo and then say "some 49 key controller".

Also, Colossus - you already have a Fantom. Don't get duplicates. Stylus RMX and Atmosphere would probably be more useful, too.

Why 49 keys? The money you'll save on dropping that stupid idea of a graphics card alone will give you room for 61 at least. Get yourself a CME UF-6 - anything with good keys should work. Don't be cheap on this because it'll be what you'll mainly play on.

Would all of that be satisfactory?

What do you have for the rest? Oh, nevermind.

I already have a nice Fantom S form years ago, a QS6.0 from REALLY long ago, along with several items like guitars, basses, amps, and a mic or two.

Use the Fantom as your controller or buy an extra knob box.

If there's anything you would suggest I change, please tell me; I really need an experienced eye! :wink:

Good choice on the monitors. Computer - reconsider. Expand that Tascam thing.

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Ok.. a few things.

1. No Alienware. Build the computer yourself or get one from a company that specializes in audio. Preferably, build it yourself. Don't bother with the Xeon; a 3.4ghz P4 Prescott is just fine. The 2 250gb hard drives is OK but a better idea might be to have a 80-120gb drive that will house Windows and all music applications, and then use the bigger, and usually slower drives, to house your samples and recorded audio. You also don't need a good video card. Any $40 POS like an ATI Radeon 9200 will do the trick.

Liquid cooling? Dual processors? Don't bother. Research quiet power supplies and quiet fans/cooling systems (or if you're getting a prefab computer from say Sweetwater it won't even matter). With a single powerful P4 processor you should be just fine for just about all applications, even running dozens of VSTs. This should reduce the cost of your computer by at LEAST $1000. Then, if you desperately want more power, you can put together 2 or 3 cheap computers with good processors, small HDs, 1gb RAM each, and then use those if you need to distribute processing power via MIDI Over Lan or FXTeleport. No need to go nuts all in one computer.

2. Pick up a pair of nice headphones too in the $100-$200 range. Sennheiser, Sony, AKG, whatever. Always good to have a secondary reference source.

3. Get a full length controller. If you are getting one of those ridiculously expensive desks, why not get a good controller too?

4. Acoustic treatment for the room. It might be worth it to have an expert come in and do this for you, but even the best monitors and the best rig is totally useless unless the room is properly treated.

5. Shure SM57s are great but you may want to look around if you're SERIOUS about recording, since these are technically "budget" misc. You might be able to find more instrument-specific ones that will do the job better.

6. Don't bother with Colossus. Komplete 3 has TONS of stuff. I would then look at a product like NI Bandstand or Sonic Reality Sampletank 2 XL if you want 'workstation' sounds. Between these things AND your two keyboards you should be fine.

7. Consider some mastering plugins. Waves Rennaisance is not a bad deal ($450 for the package) but don't get anything above that in the Waves line. PSP Audioware makes some great stuff as well, as does Sonalkis.

Those are just some start points. Don't spend your money until you do THOROUGH research!!

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A couple of hints from my side:

- To have the best acoustics, don't use the room's length, but width. This way your sonic doesn't clutter that much and you have less frequency problems. Good for mixing/engineering

As example:


YES:
___---________---___
| SETUP |
| |
| |
| |
----D---------------

The sparings up top are windows, D stands for door


A definite NO:
________
|setup |
| |
| |
| |
| |
| |
| D
| |
________

- On speakers I'd go with Genelec Active Nearfield Monitors. They're in the midrange in terms of price, they're very balanced and you can upgrade easily to 5.1 if you should ever work with that setup. It's up to you if you want to use a Stereo only system, or a 2.1 (stereo + subwoofer) system.

- Monitors on the same height of the ears (important for mixing and no altered sound)

- Try to build up your studio in an efficient way. Nothing is more nagging than having a slowed down and uncomfortable workflow (in this case... keyboard near the screens, etc).

- Speaking of screens, try to get LCDs. Best if 2. Trust me, your workflow in Cubase is way better this way. You also don't have any problems with recording noise (radiations). Especially good for guitars (E-Guitars).

- Ah yeah... if you want to do vocal or acoustic recordings (violin, guitar, etc) recordings, a good preamp and a large membran microphone is essential.

The rest was pretty much mentioned already.

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I gotta third the "Alienware sucks" statement. Even Gateway probably makes a similarly powerful computer for $2000 less than what they're asking. Actually my mom just got a very powerful Gateway for surprisingly cheap. Of course you should still make your own tower anyway if you could since it might be cheaper. I'm not that smart though so I buy premade ones :P

Another tip: You might wanna stay away from Pentium processors with hyperthreading. Apparently it causes problems in some software. I think develop

That acousic treatment bit is a rather large project. Unless you or your dad are carpenters though I would hire a professional :P.

Edit: Compyfox is spot on with the LCD comment. CRT monitors generate a lot of noise.

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Hmmm, 15k-20k is not really enough to build a full studio, but you can get away with a great amateur home setup.

It doesnt seem like you're looking to use a real drumset, so the time, money and frustration that goes into constructing a drum room and properly setting up a mic rig for it will not be an issue.

You've got some good things on there, but what I'd recommend to you is to scratch Colossus, and instead stay with Komplete 3 and buy Drumkit From Hell Superior. I also recommend you got with as much ram as your machine can handle.

And yeah, like stated above, go with a full 88 key controller, don't settle for less.

Judging from your post, you seem to be putting most of your energy in the PC that you're gonna get with this, that's bad. You need to focus more on the way you're going to arrange everything in the room and determining what hardware will be absolutely necessary. Don't clutter the place up with useless crap you'll never need, and the same goes for the PC.

There's no need to have an insane gaming PC to work on music. All you need is a decent enough video card, a ton of ram, good storage and LCDs. The main idea here is to create an environment where you can work smoothly and efficiently.

And if you're going to work with acoustic recordings, you'll need to take alot of care in preparing a good area to record in. If the room is big, consider building specific "chambers" where you can record an acoustic guitar or vox without having to worry about room ambiance and other unwanted noise.

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Before I say anything, I thank thee for all your prompt replies.

I'm seeing some general themes here.

1. Alienware is bad.

I personally own an alienware from several years ago when they weren't big. I am still pleased with the performance from it. Regardless, I will take all of your advice and build my own (I have some experience). I'll take zirc's advice and find some quiet fans, and I'll go with a P4. One thing to note, though, is that I plan to do some video editing on this system as well. Will a P4 with a bunch of ram be fine for that as well?

2. Colossus is bad.

I was looking for some software for the setup, and ran across Colossus. I listened to the audio demos, and was impressed. I guess it would be ok to go with something like Sampletank 2 XL instead, though I don't see why pick it instead of Colossus. I'll get some demos for it.

3. 49 keys is bad.

This one I admitidly agree with. My original plans were in a much smaller room, and I wouldn't be able to fit a large controller in there. I like that CME UF-6 a lot, that could be it.

Some of the more secluded responses:

Compy:

Thanks for the diagram; Fortunately for me, I already had my idea set up like that. Lets see... oooh. No offence, but those monitors are as ugly as hell. Do they really sound that great, better then the event studios? I already plan to have 2 lcds, preferably 19 inch or bigger. And based on all the sayings, a preamp is necessary, so I'm gonna do some more research.

Zircon:

I like your advice with the extra computers; I wont splurge yet, but I'll keep that in mind. And I have yet to look around for mics, I'll do that soon. Forgive my ignorance, but mastering plugins? What are they supposed to do? And of course, research first.

Yoozer:

Thanks for the link. That's a good site, but I think I'm going to hire a professional to do the acoustics. I really like that desk, but I do see what you mean about not using all the rack space. I am thinking about a rack case, so that might be a good idea. It looks like there are lots of Neumann mics. Do you happen to know a nice site that can help me choose? And with expand the tascam, do you mean get a higher end model? I don't need any more inputs then 8. I don't plan on recording drumkits or full orchestras.

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Hmmm, 15k-20k is not really enough to build a full studio, but you can get away with a great amateur home setup.

For that money, (20k) I could build a full one in the right room, as I have most of my equipment already.

Zoola:

Well the Genelec are pretty good active monitors. Of course it's not the only branch, but one of the most well known. In the end, your ears have to work with the speakers. So I'd listen though a bunch of them for sure (that's why I still want Alesis Monitor 1 Mk II, then again, comapred to the Genelec, they're passive monitors, and the frequency rance is more even).

Ah yeah... difference between active/passive:

Active - Amp already included in the speaker system

Passive - Amp not yet included in the speaker system

In terms of the room, congrats that you thought of that already for yourself. You did a good step towards better room acoustics without knowing some basic informations at that time. ;)

Keep up the good work, and good luck with your studio.

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For that money, (20k) I could build a full one in the right room, as I have most of my equipment already.

Well, I could have a studio for free if I already have one :)

The point is that I don't think he has a $65,000 grand piano in his house. What I mean is that 20K while being a good sum of money, can be easily wasted on things you don't really need.

Doing research is a very good way of finding out what you really need, and that way you might even realise that you won't need to spend all that money.

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Event Studio Precision 8 Powered Monitors

Shure SM57's

A Neumann wouldn't hurt either :). You're recording - it's a given that most pre-amplifiers found in mixers no matter what are not good. Invest in a few mic preamps, think something like Presonus, TL Audio, Focusrite, etc.

i second the preamp suggestion. if you're serious about recording then it'll be very worthwhile to invest in a good preamp

something like this for example

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/g=rec/search/detail/base_pid/180210/

or

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/g=rec/search/detail/base_pid/188218/

btw i'm not really recommending these, i don't know enough about preamps to be recommending anything

but i do plan on getting the Twintrak when i have enough money.. it's probably the best bang for the buck value in that price range

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I recommend the gearslutz forums, as they have many, many times more experience in stuff like this.

Uh... okay. :roll:

I think he's correct; but only in the sense that more people visit there and that while Remixing is just a part of OCR, GS has its complete forum dedicated to it.

Simply a matter of having a bigger sample population (sample as in statistics) and less mercy for "lol d00d u should use an audigy and warez ur plugins". Plus the mods can show actual experience there - most here only have a studio in name but don't rent it out or have a separate building for the business.

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Well, I have little knowledge on the matter, but I hae been told that you can never have to many SM-57s, and with my little experience I am inclined to agree. You will be amazed at how fast you use 'em, particularly when micing up an entire band. Of course, that only matters if you need lots of instruments miked up at once. If you are only going to have one or two plugged in at once, it would probably be better to get fewer, more specialised mics. SM57s are all rounders: you can record just about anything with them, but they aren't OMG WOW at everything.

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I recommend the gearslutz forums, as they have many, many times more experience in stuff like this.

Uh... okay. :roll:

I think he's correct; but only in the sense that more people visit there and that while Remixing is just a part of OCR, GS has its complete forum dedicated to it.

Simply a matter of having a bigger sample population (sample as in statistics) and less mercy for "lol d00d u should use an audigy and warez ur plugins". Plus the mods can show actual experience there - most here only have a studio in name but don't rent it out or have a separate building for the business.

Alot of gearslutz members are studio owners or recording engineers. They also have guest recording engineers come on and answer questions for a month -- people who have worked on multi-platinum selling albums. These people are professionals, and can offer advice that the amateur and hobbyist focused OCR would likely not be able to cover nearly as well. If you're going to spend $15k on a studio, those guys would be the ones to ask.

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Well the Genelec are pretty good active monitors. Of course it's not the only branch, but one of the most well known. In the end, your ears have to work with the speakers. So I'd listen though a bunch of them for sure (that's why I still want Alesis Monitor 1 Mk II, then again, comapred to the Genelec, they're passive monitors, and the frequency rance is more even).

More like the Mackie HR284 monitors The frequency response it awesomely flat, if not a little pricey :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Alright, after that long break, I'm back. I was actually cleaning out the entire room for the studio (it used to be my bedroom). I have pics!

-----------------------------------------------------

IMG_4299.jpg

Here is the view when you first enter the room. My dad and I dragged an old area rug in there to help dampen the sound. (It really helps too, cuts the reverb in half; still way too much, though.) That desk is an old one we are gonna get rid of.

IMG_4300.jpg

This shows the door I was standing in. I believe we are gonna put the desk setup against that wall with the crazy design.

IMG_4302.jpg

A view from the opposite corner. Those doors are the closet, the random junk on the side are things that are gonna stay in the studio.

----------------------------------------------------

I'm going to try to get a blueprint / block diagram of our ideas in the studio, but that's pretty much it for now.

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TIPS

No matter how much money you have, I can't stress this enough:

1. Save as much money as possible any way you can.

2. Don't get what you don't need.

Now, when I tell you to save money I don't mean going and buying budget crap, rather buy the good stuff for as little money as possible. For example, if you spend more than $1300 on NI Komplete 3, you've spent too much. You could even buy NI Komplet 2 and pay to upgrade to 3 and save money. Right now on Ebay, NI Komplete 3 is less than $1,200.

You do not need a liquid cooling system. This Zalman would definitely be sufficient. There's even a bigger version. I've had a friend wake up one morning to find his watercooler broke, spilled and fried some of his computer parts.

HARDDRIVES

You absolutely should get two 250 gig harddrives and distribute large sound libraries between the two for DFD (Direct from Disk) streaming. This tip was given to me at NorthernSounds forum. If you want, you could even have duplicates of all the libraries on each harddrive. I heard from NorthernSounds forum that Hitachi was the fastest (and best choice) 7200RPM 250gig harddrives.

CPU

For a CPU, why hasn't AMD Dual Core been mentioned? Dual Core processors were created to handle lots of different programs at once (for example, many VSTs). Here's this: AMD 939 Dual Core)

RAM

As for RAM, 2 gigs is really the minimum. With this budget, 4 is more like it, maybe two of these: Patriot 2x1GB RAM. With such a budget, and with the amount of harddrive space, RAM, and CPU I am suggesting, you should get some huge libraries. If not, go with 2 gigs of ram.

HOST (Cubase SX)

I would say DEFINITELY get Cubase SX, don't spend more than $500. Cubase SX is awesome for a combination of lots of audio recordings and midi. The Customizeable options for Cubase is immense, my favorite feature: being able to erase all hotkeys and assing them to whatever I want. You can even create macros (a string of hotkey commands) and theres a hotkey for ANYTHING.

MIDI CONTROL

If you're thinking about a midi keyboard, definitely think about the CME Line. It's pure awesome and the price is amazing. 49, 61, 76, 88 keys. lots of features like aftertouch.

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Anyways... I got blueprints!

blueprint1.png

I know, not very blue, but it shows the general layout of the room (it was made with Solid edge and photoshop). It shows where we want to set up and where things will go. There are windows on the top half of the room.

Any weird things you see with this print?

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