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Old 05-13-2013, 09:29 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default recording studio setup.

i am trying to setup a recording studio and so far this is what i have.

dual core 2.8 PC 2 gig ram (may need more)
lexicon alpha interface into PC
Yamaha emx 860 powered mixer into interface
behringer c9 condenser mic into xlr on mixer
dynamic mic into mixer
acoustic guitar recorded by mics
vocals through condenser mic.
running cubase audio software.

i am getting a pretty good result but i think it could be better. i get a tiny bit of interference like slight hiss or some occasional crackle. it maybe my connections or maybe its the mixer itself. would i be better off going straight into the interface with everything. i know some interfaces have a pre amp with phantom power would this be a better more direct connection.
at the moment i am recording in my lounge room and the play back sounds a bit dull and muddy is this because of the room im using. if so what sort of room should i use. i have access to a small room at the back of the house which is a utility room with the hot water tank in it. its about 8 x 8 and has a cement floor with partition walls. what sort of sound proofing would i need. i have some egg cartons as i heard they are good. just want to make sure its worth using as i will have to pay a small fee to use it. also am i better off recording the guitar plugged in to the mixer or interface as it sounds of bit muffled when i record it with the mics or will the room im in make that difference.
also need to learn about how to add effects to song. is there any common effect like condensing that is used with voice. i seem to add condenser and maybe humanizer or i have this pre set effects with lexicon that gives different rooms and chamber effects and you can also customize but i find i have to tone it right down as it is to echoy and make it sound separate from the guitar. i will have to do a audio course or something as its a bit over my head.
does the brand of the interface make much difference. i realize quality makes a difference but i am on a budget and will get better stuff when i can afford it and know whats the best way to go. the equip i have at the moment is fairly cheap but i think i can get better sound with a few adjustments. lastly i want to connect my keyboard to the setup. where would i plug it in to use as a midi device into the interface or PC. i know i should be able to find the device in my cubase device setup and then i can add vts instruments to it. i just want to get it setup in the right order to get the best result. sorry if i sound like a bit of a newbie but i am beginning to get my head around it just need to be pointed in the right direction.
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Last edited by stevesonthebay; 05-13-2013 at 09:37 AM.
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi. Just a few things. (Yes, this is just a few!)

First, I just want to speak to your PC situation, which should definitely not be overlooked. Those specs are really low, and although I don't know if you're feeling the effects of it, you definitely will if you start making larger arrangements with more than a few tracks and a couple plugins. If you're running a 32 bit OS, you won't be able to see more than like 3.5 gigs of RAM anyway, so just adding another 2 (of the same type) will benefit you. If it's a 64 bit OS, you can go as high as your motherboard will support, but you shouldn't need more than 8 for general purpose. My 12 gigs never even approach the limit.
The CPU will probably hold you over for now, but if you notice you're taxing the CPU in your arrangements, you'll need to think about upgrading.
I personally have an i7 960 quad-core, and even mine gets taxed in larger arrangements where I'm putting a lot of processing through it. Just something to think about.

As far as the other gear, It's a bit more difficult from my end to make any assertions. You really have to troubleshoot by eliminating each element of the signal chain to isolate where your issues are.
In regard to whether it would be better to go direct in to an interface, it really depends on whether the mixing console is the thing negatively affecting your quality. When I record, I put all my mics through my mixer, because it has good preamps, and my audio interface has no preamps at all. So although it's a matter of necessity, I do like the preamps Mackie included, so it's no loss. However, if you find that experimenting with the preamps on your audio interface yeilds better results than going through your mixer, then that's definitely what you should do. The simple fact of cutting out the middleman may or may not change the quality for the better, depending on what the weakest link is in the signal chain.

As far as your room sound, this is highly up to what results you like best, but in general, smaller rooms sound worse because there's more reflection back into the microphone, which makes the "sound" of the room more apparent. This is not what you want if the room sounds bad, and you can tell whether that's the case just by listening to your recording and not liking the room sound.
In your case, the larger room is not giving you the results you want, so definitely try the smaller one and let your ears decide, but also don't forget that microphone positioning and physical placement of the recording position in the room will also make a difference in the recorded sound.
Adding to that, the kind of environment you're in will affect the outcome as well. If you're in a large room with no furniture, bare walls, and a lot of bad-sounding echo/reverberation, that's going to come through in the recording. But remember that you might get better results by adding some room treatment to a larger room rather than recording in a smaller one. You can't take that boxy, small-room sound out of a recording without recording in a completely dead space, and then that requires you to scoop out tons of midrange grossness to compensate for the lack of high end reverberation, which means you'll be doing corrective measures a lot more in the mix.
If you can make a larger room sound better by identifying the physical issues and correcting them, you'll end up with a better source audio that needs less treatment after the fact. And that usually means just taking care of those major flutter echos and maybe throwing in some larger items to sorta break up the reflections.
If you sit at your recording position in the larger room and just clap, you should be able to tell where those high frequencies are bouncing around, and then put things on the walls in those locations, and maybe bringing in a book case and other large items to make the room less "live".
If it's not "live" at all, but has total wall-to-wall carpeting and cushy sofas and all that, then you would think about bringing in more reflective items like standup mirrors, planks of wood, etc. and positioning them in such a way as to give the room a more reflective, brighter "live" sound. In either scenario, the goal is to make the room sound balanced tonally.

BUT. If the room isn't the problem, then it may be necessary to look at the microphone. If you consistently get dull sounding material no matter where you record, your culprit is likely the microphone and/or the placement. Read up on optimum placement of the microphones for your guitar, up and down the neck. For your condenser, it should be picking up a wide range of frequencies, you you might want to reassess where you are placing the microphone in the space.

Also, I just want to point out that soundproofing isn't going to help you. Soundproofing is to keep sound from escaping the room, and keep outside sound from entering. If that's a concern, great, but treating a room so that it sounds natural and balanced in a recording is separate from soundproofing, and you do not need to soundproof unless you're worried about external noise coming in, or your noise going out.

As for effects, you first need to focus on getting a good raw sound. When you've accomplished that, then you should focus on EQ so that you can fix any remaining frequency problems, and maybe boost up the good frequencies. I won't go into all of that here, so you should read up on mixing with EQ.
Another important aspect is compression, and you should read up on that as well. And when it comes to reverb/delay, that is all personal preference, but it wouldn't hurt to learn about how to optimize such effects in context with a mix.

Finally, regarding MIDI. Assuming you have a keyboard that has a MIDI out port, and your audio interface has a MIDI in port, then all you need is a MIDI cable. When the keyboard is powered on, Cubase should recognize it as a MIDI source and allow you to route it into an instrument channel to trigger it.
I don't use Cubase, but I know this is a common feature in any modern DAW software.

Ultimately, I would hold off on making any new purchases at the moment. Get the basics down and be confident that you can actually make the best out of what you have. When you've learned and mastered the techniques that help you achieve this, then you should consider upgrading the equipment.

Learning the techniques only cost time, and there are plenty of resources all over the web. There's no sense in jumping the gun to get better gear that costs money when you'd still lack the technique to actually utilize that gear effectively in the first place.

Just something to think about.
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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freebase, we are very lucky to have you.

if you don't mind me asking, how did you learn all this stuff, and are you ever going to write a book or start a youtube channel or something? i know there are lots of resources available, but your knowledge coupled with your penchant for succinct explanations is of great service to anyone wanting good information.
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P A N View Post


freebase, we are very lucky to have you.

if you don't mind me asking, how did you learn all this stuff, and are you ever going to write a book or start a youtube channel or something? i know there are lots of resources available, but your knowledge coupled with your penchant for succinct explanations is of great service to anyone wanting good information.
Started out in the late 90s. Didn't have the kind of resources we have now on the internet. But when those resources became available, I ate them up and put them to practice.

And no, I won't ever write a book or start a channel. Plenty people out there have already done that, and those are the people I learned from. I don't need to reinvent the wheel. I just enjoy helping people in general with things that I know about, and pointing them in the right direction.

Thanks!
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Old 05-13-2013, 07:14 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freebase Dali View Post
Started out in the late 90s. Didn't have the kind of resources we have now on the internet. But when those resources became available, I ate them up and put them to practice.

And no, I won't ever write a book or start a channel. Plenty people out there have already done that, and those are the people I learned from. I don't need to reinvent the wheel. I just enjoy helping people in general with things that I know about, and pointing them in the right direction.

Thanks!
i'm kind of the same way. i can tell though that regardless of my experience your mind has what seems like a fairly complete grasp on this kind of stuff.

anyway. understandable about the book/channel. it has been done. really i was hoping you'd tell me you already had a channel, and direct me to it, cuz i'm partial to the way you explain things.

GRACIAS BACK.
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Old 05-13-2013, 07:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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There's a lot of stuff out there, but if you want to get a lot of good tips and don't mind a guy mixing Christian music, search on YT for this:

Recording Revolution.

Go to the videos, then go back to his earlier videos and find his "5 minutes to a better mix" series. He has 3. It's literally 31 5 minute tips, times 3. (start with the earliest first.)
The good thing about them is they're explained very simply and visually, and he's a great commentator.
Some of it you will know, some maybe not. But I often refer people to his series because they're extremely easy to understand, and they often apply no matter which genre is being used.

Of course, there are many other sources out there, but his is a good starting place.
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Old 06-04-2013, 08:59 AM   #7 (permalink)
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yeah thanks for the great advise. my computer was off line for a while and i had to re install windows. most of the problems i was having were the mic. i bought a condenser mic and now everything is clear and there is hardly any interference noise. it was only a cheap 2nd hand one a belhringer c3 but it does the job for now as im on a budget.
yes i am finding out my computer is not powerful enough to cope with some of the projects im doing. sometimes freezes and just goes like its jumping and skipping on occasions. it will do for now but i know i will have to upgrade later when i can afford it. bloody hobbies costing so much but i love it.
i have put on hold the studio room and thanks for the advice maybe it is to small a room and the hassle of moving everything and then going there to record each time. got use to being able to just do it at the spur of the moment in my lounge room. the noise factor is ok at the moment as the neighbor on one side is hardly there and the other side is further away from where i record with another room in between. like you said i can make the room sound better with some absorbing or reflecting items which i will experiment with. the mic seemed to solve a lot for me and the vocals are sounding much better. not sure about the guitar though sounds a bit muddy so like you said have to try different positions with mic placement and the acoustics of the room. not sure if my large condenser mic is the best for recording acoustic guitar. i see most people using a smaller condenser mic right on the guitar when recording.
your right about getting the basics sorted first before anything else. i am redoing the songs with the new mic and will experiment with the placement to try and find the best sound. i also go through my mixer as it has preamps and and now that the interference issue is sorted there is no problems. as for the mixing and effects i am slowly learning but like you said not doing my head in over it as it will come gotta get the basics right first.
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Old 06-09-2013, 08:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
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i think i will need to upgrade my computer sooner rather than later. i was able to increase the CPU usage in the control panel to more as i found it gave me better latency. now when i increase it i lose the sound so i have to keep it at the current setting. this is OK but sometimes i get a bit of latency and i have to reset the audio in control panel. i also suspect the recordings are slightly slower and not so lively. so now my computer is starting to have a hard time keeping up with cubase.
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Old 06-09-2013, 09:11 PM   #9 (permalink)
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A high ceiling would be ideal and its architecture is important. Soft, cushy things absorb sound, which is not something you want I don't think.
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Old 06-11-2013, 10:53 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevesonthebay View Post
i think i will need to upgrade my computer sooner rather than later. i was able to increase the CPU usage in the control panel to more as i found it gave me better latency. now when i increase it i lose the sound so i have to keep it at the current setting. this is OK but sometimes i get a bit of latency and i have to reset the audio in control panel. i also suspect the recordings are slightly slower and not so lively. so now my computer is starting to have a hard time keeping up with cubase.
Adjusting your buffers will allow you to affect latency. You can usually do this in either the control panel of your audio interface and/or the audio settings of your music program.
The trade-off here is that lower buffers will reduce your latency but if it's set too low and your computer can't handle it, you can get interrupted playback and stuttering/popping.
In general, it's best to have your buffers lower when recording, as that's where your latency is really going to show itself, and higher when mixing and playing back, where latency isn't as much of a concern.

Also, ensuring you're using the right driver for your audio interface is a good idea. You should be able to switch through different drivers in Cubase. Sometimes one will work better than the other, but in general, if your audio interface recommends Asio drivers, those will be the best to use. Trying different drivers to see which gives you the best performance might turn up something useful.
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