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Best value way to upgrade documentary radio production?
Old 5th January 2019
  #1
Best value way to upgrade documentary radio production?

Hi GS folks! This is my first post, after years of reading the site. So first off, thanks for all the wisdom!

I run a documentary radio production company that for a long time was very small. However, we recently obtained a couple new clients and our work has started to play on national radio here in Canada more and more. None of this has made me wealthy, but it has made me feel pressure to improve my sound. At the moment I probably can't spend over $3,000 on improvements, but if there's something that is really, really essential, I might be able to save up for a while.

Here's my usual signal chain: RE20s > cloud lifters > UR44 > a crappy PC > Audition.

The UR44 has weak preamps, and so I have to jack the volume but the signal still comes in super quiet with some buzz/hum. If you were me what would you buy/sell to make sure you were getting enough signal into your DAW? Multiple single channel strips? A multi-channel pre-amp? An all-in-one interface?

More context (if it helps): I currently record in a medium-sized, square, acoustically-treated room (that sounds great to me). I often record multiple speakers at the same time (up to four) and I occasionally record acoustic and electric guitars in this space as well.There's nothing about the character of the sound that I am getting that I am in love with. Ultimately, I don't need a super "transparent" sound; just something warm and clean that works well for spoken word. I have some rack unit space that I can add things to.

Sorry if this has been covered before or if I posted this in the wrong place! I have tried to search on GS (and elsewhere) and there doesn't seem to be a lot of information out there for people in my position: documentary radio professionals who record their own stuff but who are still (somehow) not billionaires! I really appreciate any advice you have!
Old 5th January 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
 
BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
i dont know the UR44, but a good hi gain mic pre is a major componant of any recording chain.

i will personally suggest the AMEK-9098 mic/pre/eq. clean gain, lots of it, and simple tonal controls, and filters. run anything through it and the source will sound better.

if its single mic recording and the room is quiet from outside noise then you might also look at a Large Diaphram condensor.

a good analog compressor is great thing to have as well, for controling levels before the DAW.

so there it is.

1. condenser mic.
2. hi gain pre/eq
3. compressor analog.

hope that helps Buddha
Old 6th January 2019
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
So you apparently have four RE20 mics...

I'd upgrade everything else and maybe add a mic or two:

Replace the crappy PC with a Mac. If you want to go cheap then there are used Mac Minis from 2012 model and on to the current entry model with a quad I3 and a 256 GB drive for $999. The included Garage Band software should take care of the software. If you add Logic Pro and bump the SSD to 500 GB then that's $1,400.

Replace the audio interface with an Apogee Element 46. The mic preamps are neutral with a lot of gain. The converters are very good. Apogee also has plugins coming out for these. Refurbished from Apogee at $799.

I'd probably finish with one or two Neumann TLM 102 microphones, which go for around $500-$600 on the used, refurbished, "b" stock market.
Old 6th January 2019 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
i'd start with the desk: maybe at the upper limit but worth every penny...

Micro Series | Studer Professional Mixing Consoles

and no: don't buy macs unless you have to...
Old 8th January 2019 | Show parent
  #5
Thanks Ozraves! The Apogee Element 46 does look like pretty great value! That's a lot of clean gain for not a huge price. And because it's an interface I can always sell the UR44 and make it even cheaper.

Ultimately, I think you're right that the crappy PC needs to go soon. Perhaps to something that supports FireWire!

I'll stick with my software. Audition kills Garage Band for documentary production in my opinion. I also have Logic.

And the Neumann mic looks cool. Probably the last thing in my chain to start upgrading, but I do need an LDC eventually.

Anyway, I am pretty seriously thinking about the Apogee interface now. So thanks!
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