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What medium is in the big rooms these days?
Old 7th September 2002
  #1
Registered User
 
🎧 15 years
What medium is in the big rooms these days?

Hi all -

I'm coming back after about a 4 year leave to the recording industry. I've pretty exclusively worked in world class rooms in NYC w/ mostly Neve, SSL, and Studers.

Now that I'm coming back (in Colorado this time), I see digital all over the place. What are people seeing used on the big projects these days? Are poeple still heavily using 2" or is digi truely taking over?

In the rooms that are digi, are you seeing computer based recording like Protools or stand alone disk systems like RADAR? Or even Tape digital (reel based like D827 or Sony)?

Thanks...

-Tom
Old 8th September 2002
  #2
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C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I think you see it all realy ....

Definately HIGH budget stuff is still very much recorded on 2 inch or digital tape ... Sony's all over the place.

The big consoles ... are still there and still very much used .... no doubt. And especially the consoles are there to stay I think. But not 2 inch. DAW is IMHO taking over and gettiing better as we speak .... primarily as a recording medium. I know of at least 2 mothership world class studios here in the neighbourhood that rarely will use their tape machines anymore. ProTools is kinda the standard in DAW but plenty of valid alternitives out there. Radar the first coming to mind, but also Nuendo is looking great. But those same studios will still mix everything on their consoles. Digital ones like Capricorn or Oxford or analog ones like SSL's , Neve's, Amek's, .....

BUT .... DAW mixing is there , very present and definately in to stay too.

In like 3 years from now at the most IMHO you'll see a 50/50 thing. Big consoles / daws for mixing too.


IMHO of course
Old 8th September 2002
  #3
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
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🎧 15 years
Over here in France...

Demo projects: Recorded and mixed in budget DAWs (typically Digi 001, Cubase, DP).

Small & Medium budget music projects: Recorded/edited on ProTools MixPlus...2" sometimes too...some of the smaller ones are mixed in ProTools, the others on an analog desk, generally an SSL.

Higher budget projects: Studer 2" and/or ProTools or Sony 3348HR as recorders...editing on ProTools MixPlus with high-end converters...mixed on an analog SSL.

We see a lot of 2" use for rock/metal/pop music, sometimes also for hip hop/R&B/dance genres. But we're oriented toward those things. Other big rooms here that do more French variety styles get by with one Studer for 2-3 rooms.

If there is a track to mix that was recorded to ProTools, I will often transfer it to 2" before mixing it on an SSL.

But, as you have seen, low-cost digital is everywhere.
Old 8th September 2002
  #4
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Here's a reality check of what is popular in the studio demand market.

For about 300 $ a day I have a choice between older SSL series - Ameks - DDA 's - 2 inch studers and Sony digitals with good quality outboard and good sounding rooms.

For about 500 $ a day I can go to a studio wich offers me :

Choice between SSL9k - Capricorn - Oxford - Neve VRP Outboard I have wet dreams about and 2 inch to lign up between here and NY (about 5000 miles I think)

Reality is that those studio's list higher but will offer those 500$ a day rate on demand .... you know why?? .... take a guess ......

5 years ago you couldn't get those rooms for 5 hours at that rate.

I charge more then that and don't have to discuss the price.


Low cost DAW's studio's ..... sure they exists .... along and together with low costs analog big console studio's. And expensive ones ..... yup .... those too .... along and together with big analog console studio's too.


There is more factors playing these days then just having a big console in your room to charge high rates. 20 years ago maybe yes .... today ..... nope .... the world has changed and not only because of what happened a year ago on wednesday.
Old 8th September 2002
  #5
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
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🎧 15 years
Chris...an Oxford, VRP, or Capricon costs about half as much to buy as a 9k...client demand for them is lower too...and that difference is reflected in the room rates of the studios I know in Paris, NYC and LA.

Is there a 9k in Belgium?

Studios in Belgium are known to be inexpensive, pulling in label bookings from France...makes sense, rents and costs aren't the same as in London or Paris.

There are two bands I am scheduled to mix soon whose last albums were done in Belgium for cost reasons. I think they got what they paid for, though.
Old 8th September 2002
  #6
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Mixing on a 9k for $500 a day?

That would make it worth the trip, especially if you had several projects you could bring over there.

Hm... that could be a lot of fun.
Old 8th September 2002
  #7
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I haven't seen a 2" machine rolling since we moved to Nashville a year and a half ago. It's practically all Radar or PT used as a tape deck.
Old 8th September 2002
  #8
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NathanEldred's Avatar
 
7 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
$500 a day for a top notch room? You better check your USD exchange rate. In my area $500 a day (let's say a day is 10 hours) will get you a studio with about a TOTAL $100,000 - $200,000 investement depending on how you look at it. And like Fletcher says, any studio under $40/hr is just "practicing". Our area's biggest room with an old SSL G+ is no less than $1100 day, and again depending on how you look at the investment it's in the $400-$500K range (what's the going price of a used G+ these days?) and they haven't bought a new piece of gear in 4 years either, and they charge rentals for the higher end mics and outboard like the U47's and 1073's. Personally I think that a day rate should be based on the total investment divided by about 365. So a million dollar studio should be charging around $300 per hour IMO. But of course there are exceptions in every price category, and I'm sure past the million dollar mark there is a diminishing return on the daily rate (hence multiple room studios).
Old 8th September 2002
  #9
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Diginerd's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Pretty much the story in Europe. the big rooms have had to drop their trousers as the desktop guys have forced their way into the market.

The US is a different ball-game, at leat you still have respect for the major investment in time & skill (ok, cash as well!) that goes to making a big room great.

I have to say that music production studios are not the way to make money out of the industry in Europe unless you are well established. Post-production, mastering and specialist tasks are the easier way to make cash...

Of course all this is IMHO, feel free to discuss further!! heh
Old 8th September 2002
  #10
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e-cue's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Most of the studios I work at in LA are going, or have gone pro Pro Tools. The majority of the stuff I work on is upper-budget hip-hop, R&B or pop music, and I've barely used analog on these in the last 2 years. At least for multitracking.

I'm thinking about marketing "Tape Oxide Scent" incense. Think it'll fly?
Old 8th September 2002
  #11
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
e-cue....

How soon before:

1) you go PTHD 96k?

2) They all go PTHD 96?

Jules
Old 8th September 2002
  #12
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
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🎧 15 years
Diginerd,

I think London is a different market from "Europe" (is the UK part of Europe? Doesn't seem the Brits think so, but I digress). Anyway, different from here.

It's bad now in London, apparently, as the UK industry hasn't been exporting as well as usual for a few years now and a lot of work has gone underground to DAWs and tiny spaces...which may not be helping matters, but that's speculation.

In town over here, the bigger studios had a very good start in 2002. A couple of them (Mega with their 2 9ks and 2 Axiom MTs) comes to mind) enjoyed 25% sales increases in 2001 compared to 2000 and 30% margins before taxes (surf on www.societe.com and type in a Paris studio name...to see the last 3 years of balance sheets). Average rates for top rooms are $1500 up to $2500 per day, plus media sales, plus engineer. The first two SSL 9000 K series desks sold in Europe were delivered in Paris this summer, as well as the first Neve 88R a year or so ago. Who knows, maybe things will become like London here...I sure hope not. Judging from the expectations of our client producers, and what they are looking for in a studio, it seems there will be plenty of work for the half-dozen best studios in the city.

Fortunately, enough majors and indies and private producers appreciate the space, the desk, the acoustics, the bigs...enough to pay what they are worth. $500/day? What a joke...we would not even cover our fixed costs. My experience so far has been this: When we moved to a 5000 sqr ft existing one-room studio with bigs and a 3348 and brought in the J and the Studer, I was awfully worried (and warned about) being too expensive for my old clients and too new for roping in big new ones i.e. "stuck in the middle". Certainly valid points. As it happens, the old clients stayed with us and found more resources to 'move up' to our new rates...and our first clients before we had the refurb work finished were labels from Universal, Sony and Virgin that I had never worked with before. Mix work and clients are coming in that I could not have gotten with the old smaller, mid-level PT+DDA facility...rock bands and pop stars, sure, but also orchestras and an upcoming musical with 50 musicians...which is new for me. Maybe we'll lose it all in 2003, but right now we're booked until December, we're paying our bills, we're learning, and we're looking to continue expanding in what everyone considers a bad market.

The profitable path seems to be in selling packages...studio plus engineer...for album mixes...or entire albums. In these budget-conscious times, a package of studio + engineer that really knows it can be more cost-efficient for a label than renting a studio with assistant, plus hiring a free-lancer who rents in a ton of stuff and who maybe doesn't know the console or PT or the room well.

Anyway, as jungle girl wrote to me back in June 2001, sometimes you gotta just say what the f*** and go for it. You win or you lose, but damn, you lived.
Old 9th September 2002
  #13
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e-cue's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Jules
e-cue....

How soon before:

1) you go PTHD 96k?

2) They all go PTHD 96?

Jules

I think this all depends on when engineer's start doing all their sessions in 96K. Most people on HD rigs are still doing 48K / 44.1 K for compatibility. I'll probably stick with TDM for at least another year unless the world is already at 96K. And I believe this will happen about half a year after the plug in's catch up, but it will probably happen differently for different styles of music. Could be wrong, but I was pretty acurate in my pro tools taking over predictions so far.
Old 9th September 2002
  #14
Gear Guru
 
NathanEldred's Avatar
 
7 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by e-cue

And I believe this will happen about half a year after the plug in's catch up. Could be wrong, but I was pretty acurate in my pro tools taking over predictions so far.
So are you thinking about 18 months? That's a long time in computer land. I can't even imagine where things will be in a year and a half for both macs and PCs. For all we know in early 2004 Emagic Logic will be the standard and PCs will easily be doing 128 tracks @ 96k (maybe) yuktyy.
Old 9th September 2002
  #15
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Not to sound like an ass, but if I thought somebody would make it worth my while, I could show you 128 tracks at 96K on a PC this week, FWIW. I'd put money on that.

Not that I have the slightest use for 96K, on a personal level. But I do like screwing around with technology at the bleeding edge. I'm a bit of a Techno-masochist, I suppose. 128 tracks at 96K sounds do-able to me.

But I agree with your general jist. 18 months is forever as far as DAW development. The future is zooming into view ever faster it seems.

How about this prediction?

The current PT HD hardware will be remembered as the zenith of PT hardware sales. Expensive and dedicated DSP hardware will decline from about 6-12 months in the future.

(Warning: Moving to somewhat OT.)

This forum is primarily populated by Mac users, I believe. I think you guys are in for some sort of quantum leap forward in terms of CPU power in the not distant future. I think it has to be so for Apple's longterm viability, and so I think they will figure it out..

Apple is primarily a hardware company, and nothing propels new sales like "The Next Big Thing." Jobs and Co. will find a solution to the current Motorola dilemma. They're smart guys, mostly. A high speed G5, or a twin core Power4, or even an AMD Hammer would be the missing ingredient to make OSX a world beater.

I'm a "PC" guy, I suppose, though I'll use whatever works. The PC side has been experiencing an increase in power at a dizzying rate. CPU speeds have increased nearly 1 GHz in the last 12 months, with the CPUs getting more powerful per MHz at the same time. I think many Mac users are simply unaware of how powerful these things have become, just because it's off their radar screen. FWIW, the current IZ Radar is a PC motherboard running BeOS. Weird, huh?

The economy of scale for desktop computers is insane when compared to dedicated audio DSP. In the years between Mix and HD, a Farm card approximately doubled in power. In the same length of time, PCs increased more akin to 4-6 times in power.

My point is that the morphing in studio gear and formats we've seen in the last 2 years will continue at at an even greater pace. I believe dedicated audio "realtime render farms" based on dual or quad CPUs will take over more and more functionality in the studio. M-Lan, MADI and other protocols will make massive audio networking commonplace, with DSP chores distributed to more than one computer and dedicated cold rooms will become the norm in "real" facilities featuring only DAWS.

It's coming, sooner than we think. In 1998, who would have predicted you couldn't give a 3348 away?

Was I at least sort of back on topic here at the end?


Regards,
Brian T
Old 10th September 2002
  #16
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thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Hi Brian, your giving a 3348 away? Hey I'll take it. Just kidding of course. Here in NYC, $500 for the day a a top studio is actually possible. Catch them in a bad month, and you are in. I predict HD will take over the market, sooner rather than later. I think alot of the Mixplus people that have been holding out are people that made big investments in Apogee D8000's, and they are pissed because of the investment. I've seen more AD8000's for sale now, than ever before. An 888/24 for a $1000 is not uncommon. I think Jules, the deal is not the 96K thing, what's gonna break the camels back are the track counts you get at 44.1K/48K. For better or worse, we will have to deal with songs that are 128 tracks and up. As crazy as that sounds I've been seeing them more and more. I think to get that many tracks on a Mix Plus takes almost (2)systems. While in HD its possible. Just in the Post world alone, I've spoken to lots of guys that are switching over from Fairlights to HD. Its taking over in that world at a fast rate. Its coming!!!
Old 10th September 2002
  #17
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I've been 128 tracks (and I mean realworld useable) for about 2 years now, all in the computer. It doesn't take long for that number to seem normal, just like hopping from 24 to 48.

And yes, you're going to be shocked at how many situations will clear 90 tracks, once it's hassle free. Scary really.


Regards,
Brian T
Old 10th September 2002
  #18
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e-cue's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
What I REALLY want is, LESS GOTDAMN TRACKS and MORE GOTDAMN processing.
Old 10th September 2002
  #19
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by BrianT

The economy of scale for desktop computers is insane when compared to dedicated audio DSP. In the years between Mix and HD, a Farm card approximately doubled in power. In the same length of time, PCs increased more akin to 4-6 times in power.
More important, this power permits the use of high-level programming tools which in turn means that audio geeks with ears such as Hutch, Dave Hill or even Brian T will be able to design digital tools hands on instead of needing to hand the coding over to DSP code geeks who know little or nothing about audio. At the high-end, it could also mean in-house customization of digital tools, a digital studio shop.
Old 10th September 2002
  #20
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by e-cue
What I REALLY want is, LESS GOTDAMN TRACKS and MORE GOTDAMN processing.
And what I want is less processing and more music. (Or talent, if you wish...
Old 10th September 2002
  #21
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
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🎧 15 years
My focus is on hopefully mixing some great music and producing some big records more than what tracks / plug-ins / sample rates are possible inside some soon-to-be-obsolete computer config. Whatta music killer to me.

But that's just me and my strange priorities. Gotta go back downstairs and finish a mix now.
Old 11th September 2002
  #22
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
BT said

"How about this prediction?

The current PT HD hardware will be remembered as the zenith of PT hardware sales. Expensive and dedicated DSP hardware will decline from about 6-12 months in the future"

I agree that PTHD and TDMII may be the last of the TDM Mohicans.

But where it wins out over other developing softwares is that it is doing its high track count low latency and high sample rate thing now and will take anyone aboard right the way through to 'the other side' of the DAW wars. (unless there is some monkey business between Apple & Digi over a Logic squabble)

Now the HUGE advertizing profile of Pro Tools will pay off.

If I had the cash I would get PTHD in a heartbeat and knowing it would last me 3 or so years....

No sweat, I will just have to develop my chops with the gear I have and try to find better sounding bands that make my job easier and give me a hit!
Old 11th September 2002
  #23
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I agree, in the present. Jules. HD is just better than Mix, and does represent the current zenith in DAWs as far as functionality goes. No doubt there. Sonics can be debated, but there is no more capable DAW system currently.

If I was a PT user, I would already have PTHD, not for sample rate increase, but for DSP horsepower and track count. And set up a default session with 80-96 tracks and some really decent sounding EQ and compression on every channel. My current system has 4 band excellent EQ and good dynamocs on all 128 channels, out of the box, before any 3rd party plugins.

I find that I tend to be more productive mixing when there's zero decision, hassle or need to stop "tape" just to grab the EQ and lift 10K 1.5 dB. Just like a "real" console.....fluid. I never, ever, ever, ever want the thought to cross my mind, "Should I burn the DSP power for that?". Yuck. I would be back on an analog console in 2 seconds.

5 or 6 Process cards would make that a reality for PT without having to go easy on quality of your default EQ and plugin choices. Plus the additional TDM II connections would give you the ability to actually use that power. A pro DAW ought to run like a good console with it's default session settings, *before* you add any additional plugins, IMO. Additional plugins should equate to outboard gear.

It just makes sense for a PT user to go HD, IMO. I was originally talking more about the state of things in the 18-36 month range. 36 months is probably the realistic maximum lifespan for computer based anything at this point in time.

BT
Old 11th September 2002
  #24
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
jon's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by BrianT
set up a default session with 80-96 tracks and some really decent sounding EQ and compression on every channel. BT
The only problem is that all those EQ and comp crud-ins on every channel inside ProTools really degrade the sound.

PT HD would be an interesting upgrade to me if I were into mixing all in PT (which is not the case) or if I regularly needed 64+ track counts sent out to a console (which may happen someday).

So far, no one has sent in any PT HD sessions...all MixPlus. I hope to not upgrade until the next generation.
Old 11th September 2002
  #25
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
You can always just rent PTHD when you need it Jon
Old 11th September 2002
  #26
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
I rarely run out of DSP on my average track count sessions (40ish). I think I have I core & 4 Mix cards & 1 old DSP card - I bought most of em second hand on the net.

I think Mix + is / will become, the 'Formula Ford' of DAWS (a race car catagory where ALL the cars are EXACTLY the same, so the skill is purely in the driving of them)

Old 11th September 2002
  #27
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
You can always just rent PTHD when you need it Jon
Old 11th September 2002
  #28
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
GS member Renie came over for coffee and a gear chat. (she's a GREAT midi / dance / pop producer BTW) and we came to the same opinion BT - PTHD for us (when we can afford it)

but we both agreed to keep our eyes on Logic, (which we both hate for its audio handeling / look)

Should Logic get a 'simple' audio funtion like PT... and superior audio quality...... we MIGHT get interested...

Meanwhile, full steam ahead with PT.

Old 11th September 2002
  #29
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
jon's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
A few engineers and pro audio manufacturers got together for lunch (pizza) today here at the studio. One thing that came out was that only one of the major studios in Paris has bought an HD system (an HD2 with 2 HD192s) and it has not been used on a session yet...but their MixPlus system with 6 AD8000s is running daily.

One of the top two Digi distributors reported they've only sold a handful of HD systems...none to studios...rather to home project studios owned by composers who are creating and mixing their demos, jingles and film projects on it.

FWIW, YMMV, etc.
Old 12th September 2002
  #30
Lives for gear
 
e-cue's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Yeah, seems like Paris is always behind the technology curve.
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