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What is missing in this studio setup?

Check out the equipment list for this studio. Wouldn't give your eye teeth for it? But is there something missing... something that will make all the difference to a recording?

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Comment from an Audio Masterclass visitor...

I'm starting up a studio here in Southern Mexico. I've been using Cakewalk products ( Now, Sonar 5 producer) for about 8 years now, and have bought gear for my new studio. Here's a list of my gear...

  • Microphones
    • 2 Rode K2 tube mic
    • 2 pairs of Rode NT5 small diaphragm condensers
    • 1 Rode NT2000 large diaphragm condenser mic
  • Mic Pre's standalone
    • Focusrite Octopre
    • Aurora Audio GTQ2 stereo pre (Neveish!!)
  • Consoles:
    • Allen and Heath GS3000 24 channel with meter bridge (and two tube pre's!!)
    • Mackie Onyx 1640 16 channel mixer
  • ADDA Converters:
    • Apogee AD16x AD converter
    • Apogee mini DAC two channel reference converter
  • DSP cards:
    • Two TC PowerCores
    • Two Universal Audio UAD-1's ( all the plugs)
  • Software:
    • Sonar 5 producer Edition
    • Gigastudio 3 Orchestra
    • Reason 2.5
    • PMI Old Lady and Emperor sampled pianos for Gigastudio 3

I'm still trying to figure out what is the best way to set it up. Which pre's to use, and for which
instruments? How to set up the signal flow? Whether I should use the Allen and Heath to track with (for use of its EQ's )?

I'm thinking of sending my 2 bus out through the GTQ2 at unity gain with a splash of EQ, and then through the tube stage of the Allen and Heath and out to the Allen and Heath channels for final EQ tweaking.

There are so many options... When I get more DA , then maybe I'll mix down on the Allen and Heath... I need guidance!! Can you give me a pointer or two?

Luke

David Mellor responds...

This is certainly an impressive gear list. Anyone would be pleased to record in a studio so well-equipped. Except there is something extremely important that is missing, and you even mention what it is!

If you had more microphones - and I would advise having mics from a selection of manufacturers not just one - you would be able to record a band, presuming you have enough space.

This would make sense. Track them through the Allen & Heath into your AD-16x, giving you sixteen channels of input into your computer. You can use EQ as you need. It's a while since I used the GS3000 and I can't remember whether it has direct channel outputs (which you would need to get more than eight outputs), but I would guess that it does. If it doesn't, you could use the insert point sends, but they are pre-EQ, so you couldn't use EQ on those tracks. Even so, that would all still be workable.

Now where you have the problem is in mixing. You only have two channels of digital-to-analog conversion, so you can't use the board for mixing; you have to mix within Sonar.

To me this makes nonsense of having the board in the first place. I would have had two 8-channel mic preamps, such as the Octopre (you would have found the Octopre LE much easier to install). That would give sixteen inputs, and you have all the EQ you need in your plug-ins, and plenty of power to run them thanks to the PowerCores.

But the Allen & Heath GS3000 is an impressive centerpiece for a studio, so you should definitely use it. For this to be practical, you need more channels of digital-to-analog conversion, such as the sixteen-channel Apogee DA-16X. Ideally, you would like even more channels of D-to-A, but you could mix background vocals, for instance, in Sonar and output them as a stereo pair of tracks.

The Mackie Onyx seems redundant in either scenario. And having the A&H GS3000 makes the Octopre redundant too. But keep the Aurora - having an outboard mic pre will add another texture to your sound.

So in conclusion, more mics from a variety of manufacturers, lose the Mackie and the Octopre, and invest in more D-to-A. That will give you a very versatile recording setup, and make the signal path entirely logical.

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By David Mellor Monday December 12, 2005
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