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So much gear, so little money!
Old 6th March 2003
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
charleslee's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
So much gear, so little money!

Hi,

I know this has been asked numerous times, but I'll attempt anyway..

I am a user of Digi 001. Main job is Audio Post/Edit for picture/video. Once in a while we do VO jobs. Our current setup and gears are more than sufficient for that.

I have two Rode NT2, one SM58, dbx 386 mic/pre, and the Soundtracs Topaz 32 analogue mixer. (if you are interested, check my "gears" page in my website www.tworooms.com for more info)

Recently, we started into some song recording. Our Iso Room is not exactly big about 10 x 7 ft, and it's not exactly isolated, but it will do the job if under proper control.

So, I am wondering if there is anything I should get to improve the quality of my sound??

I find that my Rode NT2 is a bit too "detailed". My iso room is not big, so I cannot really do distant miking, and most of the time, the NT2 captures "saliva" and mouth "clicking" sounds very clearly when doing close miking of the singers.

I was looking at getting a good A/D; choosing between LUCID AD9624 and Apogee Rosetta. Then because of the recent DAC1 contest, I am thinking of getting a good D/A also. There is also the ADA1000 A/D & D/A convertor by Lucid that is quite affordable. Only thing is, it's 20 bit.

Or a Apogee Mini-me which can act as a mic-pre improvement over my current dbx 386, and also doubles as a simple A/D convertor.

Mics improvements choices includes the Rode NTK, Studio Projects? AudioTechnicas? or the Neuman TLM 103 if I can afford.

Anyway, my basic question is; to get a noticable improvement without spending a lot of money, which should come first?

1) a better mic (Rode NTK? TLM103? AudioTechnica? Studio Projects?)
2) a better mic-pre (mini-me?)
3) a good A/D convertor (Lucid? Rosetta? Benchmarks?)
4) any other gears I have over-looked?

I cannot afford the top-of-the-line products, so my choices are more towards those that are in affordable budget range.

Any advice, and suggested gears?

Thanks and Regards,
[Charles]
Old 6th March 2003
  #2
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
Better A/D is my suggestion..

Old 6th March 2003
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
charleslee's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Hi Jules,

Thanks for your comments. Short, sweet and to the point.

But, I am not good with short words, so the following is another long post..

Anyway, I'm not sure if I've written this here before, (I've asked somewhat a similar questions in many forums before..)

Most of the time, when I record vocals, I have a few setups.

My signal flow is something like this.
==============================================

A) Rode NT2 -> dbx386 (feeding +48V) -> (Analog Out) -> Soundtracs TOPAZ -> (Analog Buss out) -> analog IN of Digi001

For the above, I'm not sure if there will be "double amplification". Because the MIC signal is first amplified in the dbx386, then sometimes its amplified or reduced in my TOPAZ analogue mixer before going into 001. I need to do this because:

i) sometimes I need to "ride the faders" when recording certain singers
ii) Aux out of the same signal is sent to the headphone amp for the singer so that he/she is not hearing the delayed signal from Protools, ie. reducing latency issues.

B) Rode NT2 -> dbx386 (feeding +48V) -> (Analog Out) -> Soundtracs TOPAZ & (dbx 386 SPDIF out) -> Digi001

This method, I cannot "ride faders", but the same signal is simultaneously sent to both singer's headphone amp and 001 via spdif. If I ever forget to turn off the talkback mic, the singer will hear latency. There are also latency issues when I need to do punch-ins.

*NOTE: The dbx386 have "Insert", and sometimes it goes through my dbx 166 compressor too.

==============================================

All direct OUTs from 001 are fed into my mixer when I do a mixdown. And in Protools, I have an Aux channel taking the MAIN OUT of the mixer, so that I can Bounce-To-Disc.

*Note: OUT 1 & 2 of 001 cannot be fed into the MIXER, else there will be a feedback loop.

Here's the signal flow again:

1) 001 SPDIF L/R OUT -> TASCAM DA-20 -> MIXER Ch 1 & 2
The DAT acts as a cheap SPDIF to Analog convertor

2) 001 OUT 3-8 -> Behringer Ultralink Pro -> MIXER Ch 3-8
The Behringer act as a 6-channel unbalanced to Balanced Line convertor because OUT 3-8 of 001 are unbalanced

3) 001 ADAT OUT(9-16) -> Alesis AI-3 -> MIXER Ch 9-16
The AI-3 act as an ADAT optical to Analog convertor

4) MIXER MAIN OUT L/R -> 001 Analog 1 & 2 IN


At the moment, the input is via the analog 1 & 2 IN of the 001. Here is where the A/D would be used when I finally purchase one. ie.

MIXER MAIN L& R OUT -> A/D convertor -> SPDIF IN of 001

The A/D would be used when tracking vocals also, ie.

A) MIC -> preamp -> Mixer -> A/D convertor -> SPDIF IN of 001 (if I need to ride faders) .. or
B) MIC ->preamp ->A/D convertor -> SPDIF IN of 001

Therefore, the A/D might need to be placed on a patchbay too.


I am showing my signal flow here, so that I thought someone can give me more advice on my setup.

Thanks & Regards,
[Charles]
Old 6th March 2003
  #4
Lives for gear
 
subspace's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
I'd vote for the mini-me, as it covers a few of those bases.
2) a better mic pre - 2 actually
3) a good A/D converter - apogee 24 bit
4) other gear?
- apogee 24 bit monitoring DAC
- apogee master clock to slave your 001 via SPDIF
- a tracking compression circuit, as well as soft limit
- a USB computer interface for possible laptop use
You need more mic choices too, but that would be a good starting point for a "money channel" me thinks. HTH
Old 6th March 2003
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
charleslee's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by posterchild
BTW, "So much gear, so little money" is the best title for a topic ever! heh
Thanks. I thought it's a bit too practical, and not really a witty title. (Besides, this was somewhat my answer for question #21, and that did not win me any DAC-1 .. ok ok.. sorry, i'll stop bitching about it, maybe i got my other answers wrong..)

Anyway, I forgot to mention, I also have a MOTU Digital Time Piece (DTP), and it acts as my "Master Clock", ie. it is clocking the dbx386's WORD IN (BNC), as well as feeding my 001 via spdif and PT's sync mode set to "S/PDIF (RCA)"

I was thinking abt the mini-me also. The link is available here

BUT, if I do get the Apogee's mini-me, should my DTP still continue to be the Master Clock? and how? coz, the mini-me have no WORD input.

I think only the Lucid AD9624 have WORD IN, the Rosetta, Mini-me and benchmark's ADs does not.

Then again, I'm not sure, but most probably all these, (even the Lucids) might have a better clock than my current DTP ??

Regards,
[Charles]
Old 6th March 2003
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
charleslee's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by posterchild

Yeah, but you got me to click on it! heh
heh. i c...


anyway, I just thought of this.. if I were to go ahead and get the mini-me as a good mic-pre and double up as an A/D, how can I send the mic signal to PT and simultaneously to the singer's headphone amp without having latency issues??

Regards,
[Charles]
Old 6th March 2003
  #7
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Re: So much gear, so little money!

Quote:
Originally posted by charleslee
Hi,

I know this has been asked numerous times, but I'll attempt anyway..

, the NT2 captures "saliva" and mouth "clicking" sounds very clearly when doing close miking of the singers.

Any advice, and suggested gears?

Thanks and Regards,
[Charles]

Try Apple Juice or an apple for this.

Its cheap and it works.heh
Old 6th March 2003
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
charleslee's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Re: Re: So much gear, so little money!

Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
Try Apple Juice or an apple for this.

Its cheap and it works.heh
Hmm, but i thought sweet things will tend to create more saliva in the mouth??

Anyway, back to the mini-me. A quick look at it's photo shows a "headphones" output at the back panel. So, to answer my own questions above, I think I can simultaneously feed mini-me's headphones OUT into my headphones amp, so the singer is not hearing a "delayed" signal, therefore latency is not an issue now

Guess I am quite impressed and set on getting the mini-me. Anybody want to stop me?? Of course I will not rush out and buy it now, coz I still need to raise a bit of funds to get it :(

Regards,
[Charles]
Old 7th March 2003
  #9
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
With all due respect, since it seems the acoustics in your studio resemble the kind a radio station faces, why not try out some
broadcast type microphones? Like the EV RE20 (PL20 for less $$)
Sennheiser MD421, and the Shure SM7 (or SM7B).

The Peavey PVM 520i used runs about $125 or less on e-bay,
and it's an excellent "sleeper" LD dynamic vocal mike BTW.

The Studio Projects VTB-1 mic pre which is noticably superior to
your DBX unit, is expected to drop to around $130(!) in the next
6 weeks or so, and that would make it way less than $300 for a
pair. Your SM58 should work well with it too (I have an SM57).

Chris
Old 8th March 2003
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
charleslee's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Broadcast mikes? Hmm, sounds interesting. Anybody tried them before?? It sounds good over the air, maybe because of the bandwidth, but on TV, or CDs, I'm not sure...


Anyway, another product to consider that I came across, is the AMEK / Neve 9098 DMA. It's a mic-pre, not an A/D. BUT, it's a Neve !!!

Most likely i'll still go for the mini-me. Been hunting for a comparison shootout, but cannot seem to find any. Anybody have any idea if somebody did it already?? 3daudio don't have the mini-me in their list.

Regards,
[Charles]
Old 8th March 2003
  #11
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Well the Shure SM7 was "tried" on Thriller for Wacko Jacko's
vocals and it did pretty good-35 million+ sold.

Many more millions of records have been sold using that, and the Beyer M88,
EV RE20, Sennheiser 441, 421, RCA 77DX (ribbon), to just name a few.
Just learned that the Beyer 160 ribbon was used for Winwood's vocals on
"Dear Mr. Fantasy" album by the late, truly great, Jimmy Miller.

Chris
Old 8th March 2003
  #12
Lives for gear
 
pounce's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
first off, i concur that a dynamic mic might be a good choice, and i second the choices given. try a sm7, md421, or re20. any decent pre will do, and perhaps what is on your console already?

the ad is a BIG issue. i have and like the apogee stuff well enough, but if money allows there _are_ better options. lucid and benchmark will also do you solid. that said, i get perfectly fine results with my apogee, which gets a cool reception here, but still performs just fine...esp for a voice over situation.

getting to your dtp question. the ad converter should be the clock master for the system. you can distribute that word clock via the dtp, and that is the function it should provide. it does not have a better clock than the ones found in the better converters. and the conversion is likely to sound worse with a lesser clock as opposed to it's own internal.
Old 8th March 2003
  #13
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'll second both good converters and dynamic mikes. Add to that an RNP which by all accounts has a killer synergy with dynamic mikes.

My shortlist of dynamics includes:

SM-57

This damn mike has been kicking condensers' butts for as long as I've been recording. Most people wouldn't believe how many benchmark 1960s American records were recorded with a couple condensers and a flock of Shure 546s which was the predecessor of the 57. When I was a kid I thought I was too good to be using 57s. Ten years later I found myself miking superstars with them while 15 vintage Neumanns and Teles. were left in the mike cabinet. Only a fool wouldn't have three or four SM-57s on hand at all times. I often set one up as a "talkback" mike and end up using it a LOT!

Beyer M-88

On many peoples' voices it sounds remarkably like a U-87 only better because you can get a perfectly useable recording in a small room with a live drumkit. I've never heard ANY other mike even come close to the job it does of rejecting the rest of the room. The only "gotcha" is that occasionally there is a sibilance problem. Before I found M-88s, I used Sennheiser 441s which I thought were marginally acceptable.

EV 635a

Another killer. A lot of singers' mike technique improves dramatically when they hold the mike in their hand while they sing. This will dramatically reduce the amount of limiting necessary which in turn will make a voice really cut through a mix. The 635a is also wonderful on percussion beating out a lot of condensers. One thing to watch is that while they advertised driving nails with them, the high frequency response becomes impaired if the mike has been banged around very much so a couple new ones is a better idea than buying used.

Finally, if at all possible I think it is best to always have two of every mike you use. That way you can compare mike positions directly. A 57 in the right place will beat a 251 in the wrong place every time but you really need two identical mikes to fine tune the positioning.
Old 8th March 2003
  #14
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Bob Olhsson

EV 635a
[snip]
One thing to watch is that while they advertised driving nails with them, the high frequency response becomes impaired if the mike has been banged around very much so a couple new ones is a better idea than buying used.
Hmm. Mine are probably of this variety by a bit. Still available new, but the price seems like a lot considering I routinely manage to find used ones for $25 or less. I kind of like the no-highs/no-lows aspect for some things. Maybe this is why they haven't really struck me for standard vocals, though. There is a definite charm to my beaters and I wouldn't part with them, 'cause when they work, they can outdo some bigshot mics.

Bear
Old 8th March 2003
  #15
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Yeah, after I made my last post, realized the EV 635a
and the SM57 should have been included.
Bob (and anyone else), adding 2 dB @ 200 Hz with a "Q"
of between .7 and 1.0 seemed to fill out the bass on it.
Is that a typical adjustment?

On the M88, cutting 2 dB @ 200 Hz sounds nice and clear
on my voice, with a Q of 1.0.
On the SM57, been adding 2dB @ 200 Hz with a Q of 1.0,
and 2 dB @ 12kHz (air) using shelf EQ.
Not able to judge what to cut between 1kHz and 3kHz on it
well yet though

I'm able to run the Beyer Soundstar X1N and Peavey PVM 520i
flat with no EQ, at least on initial tracking. The X19 was Beyer's
answer to the Sennheiser 421, except it has a higher frequency
repsonse (up to 18kHz), and the Peavey goes up to 19 kHz.
The M88 and the X1N are the two favorites for my vocals.
The tech at Beyer told me that the M88TG model I own is better
at mitigating sibilance, than the "regular" M88 BTW.

Chris

P.S. A bit O/T, I've found the Studio Projects B1 to sound very
"natural", like the EV 635a. It's a condenser though.
TOTALLY different in tone than the "C" series, with an
even top end.
Old 9th March 2003
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
charleslee's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
These are dynamic mics, right? A quick search at sweetwater.com showed that the Beyerdynamics M88TG is abt 336USD and the Shure SM7 B is 442USD

Wow, they cost as much as the Rode NTK that I was contemplating..

Anyway, I do have the Shure SM58. What is the major difference between it and the SM57 ??

Maybe I'll try using it for a vocal singing recording, and compare it with my Rode NT2.

Regarding clocks, yup, I guess as much, ie. if I were to get the Apogee Mini-Me, I should use it as a master clock instead of the MOTU DTP. Only thing is, Apogee has no WORD out, only WORD via SPDIF...
Old 9th March 2003
  #17
Gear Addict
 
Curious G's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Re: So much gear, so little money!

Quote:
Originally posted by charleslee: ... the NT2 captures "saliva" and mouth "clicking" sounds very clearly when doing close miking of the singers.
I vote with Thrill on this. A tart apple (like a Granny Smith or Pink Lady) and plenty of water. Some apple juices have too much added sugar and can be counterproductive. Hey... an apple... now there's a seriously low cost/risk investment to improve your sound...
Old 9th March 2003
  #18
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by charleslee
... they cost as much as the Rode NTK that I was contemplating..

Anyway, I do have the Shure SM58. What is the major difference between it and the SM57 ??
Some dynamics do indeed cost as much or more than a cheap condenser! Still for a given price-point they usually offer a better value. Where cheap condensers usually fail is how well they accept eq., i.e. sound really great with just a little eq. This can make a huge difference in a performance. In a second-class acoustical environment dynamics will often sound better than ANY condenser.

A 58 is NOT a 57! The ball and whatever Shure does to correct for it really screws up the sound. A 57 behind a pop screen is what we are talking about for vocals, NOT a 58.
Old 10th March 2003
  #19
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Last night I helped with the sound on a Barbershop show that was using a '58 to help "enhance" the quartets volume.
It was amazing how much better it sounded once he unscrewed
the top piece off and got rid of the foam windscreen.

Sorry my question about EQing the EV 635a and '57 was buried in my last post. The comment about them accepting EQ better makes a lot of sense, and confirms my (limited) amount of experience with that.

Charles, how about just buying used on e-bay?
Got my M88TG in mint condition for only $150 US.
They seem to go for under $200 at times.

Chris
Old 10th March 2003
  #20
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Yeah, my M-88TG was off of ebay, brand new, for around $180 if I remember. I've been browsing for other Beyers and haven't seen quite the same deal, but you can probably score a new one for $250 if you try. If I had to, I'd pay normal street prices for a new one, though. Great mic, and unfairly ignored.

Bear
Old 10th March 2003
  #21
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I would have guessed that the M88 would sound more like the U89 than
the U87, due to the powerful low end response and warmth.
Haven't had the pleasure of singing through either one-yet!

Chris
Old 12th March 2003
  #22
Gear Maniac
 
charleslee's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'm not sure if looks can be deceiving, but if i were to choose between the beyerdynamic M88 and sennheiser's 421, I will choose 421, coz the M88 (TG?) looks like a normal karaoke mic from the outside

btw, sorry for being such a wimp and slow on deciding what to buy.. i have yet to save enough $$$ for the mini-me, so i guess it will take a while before i can start playing with these "new toys", ie. 421 or M88 off ebay and a brand new mini-me

Regards,
[Charles]
Old 12th March 2003
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
DigiDutch's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Off topic

Yo Charles,

What are those small LCD screens I see hanging near the Rode NT mike?

Those look cool!
Old 13th March 2003
  #24
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I've been experimenting with using the EV 635a (very close) and
M88TG at the same time for vocals and really like it so far, without
using any EQ on either.
You can blend them together to adjust the tone when you go to mix.

Chris
Old 13th March 2003
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
charleslee's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Re: Off topic

Quote:
Originally posted by DigiDutch
Yo Charles,

What are those small LCD screens I see hanging near the Rode NT mike?

Those look cool!
Hi, thanks for checking me out

The monitor is for playing back of video for the VO artiste if he/she need to lip-sync or need to do VO according the picture/video cut.

One plan I had in mind was also to feed it "lyrics" according to bars/beats or timecode so that singers don't have to read from paper.

Also, another idea is to feed it timecode or bar/beats numbers so that when i do a punch in, the performer knows when to get ready and start, or know where i start playback from.

Cool ideas eh? But i have yet to get these new ideas done. So it is just feeding video for VOs at the moment. heh.

By the way, my website happens to be down at the moment, and if anyone else is wondering what the hell I'm talking about, here's the picture:

temp yahoo image store

Regards,
[Charles]
Old 13th March 2003
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
charleslee's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
oophs picture did not load, hope this one will :
Attached Thumbnails
So much gear, so little money!-iso_lcd.jpg  
Old 13th March 2003
  #27
Gear Addict
 
Curious G's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Cool idea... who makes the monitor? Mac or PC based? Does it require a special video card?
Old 13th March 2003
  #28
Lives for gear
 
dave-G's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Not to get too side tracked, but what's the difference in the new Beyer M88s? I had a pair of them in the late 1980's but they were stolen. I'd kinda like to get some more at some point, but is the new M88TG the same as the "old" one? If so, what was/is the M88 "Classic" model?. Are either of them as good as the old ones, or is the used market the only answer?

-dave
Old 13th March 2003
  #29
Gear Maniac
 
charleslee's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Curious G
Cool idea... who makes the monitor? Mac or PC based? Does it require a special video card?
Oh, its' some made-in-taiwan LCD monitor with video input (composite / RCA) only. no VGA inputs.

I guess we shouldnt sidetrack too much abt my setup, although it sort of still falls in the category of "So much Gear ", but as you can see, most of my stuffs are really affordable to many people, so it is not "too much money!! "

now...where were we.. oh yes.. alternative mics and the Apogee mini-me ..
Old 14th March 2003
  #30
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
According to the technician I spoke with who works on them,
the M88TG is a better choice for a somewhat breathy/sibilant singer like myself. That along with a LOUD voice, made it a great
fit, he said. The implication was that with a quieter vocalist the
"classic" M88 would be very slighty more transparent.
On the other hand, if it's dropped it's way more fragile than the
TG (Tour Group) model.

Anyway you slice it, the M88 is my favorite dynamic vocal microphone for ballads, and the Soundstar X1N or M88 can be a
toss-up on uptempo material.

Chris
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