Need help selecting home studio recording equipment.
Mar 10, 2006 at 10:37 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6

wnewport

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I am not sure if this is in the right part of the forum.

My friend is looking to buy a microphone to start recording his band. I couldn't offer much advice on exactly what he needed or how much he needed to spend.

Here is some background info and requirments...

The music would be produced in a basement room with carpetted walls, and maybe some low-grade isolation as well.

The mic would be for mainly drums, vocals, and guitar. So no speciallity varieties of microphones.

He wants to record to his computer using software and a soundcard he has not yet selected.

There is not really a set price, more of what is the best bang for your buck. If I had to guessitmate on what is acceptable maybe $1000 total for the mic, soundcard and software. Is there any other equipment that he should get rather than instruments/computers?

Any advice/information would very appreciated.

-Wyatt
 
Mar 10, 2006 at 11:03 PM Post #2 of 6

Sycraft

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Man, there is just such a range in mics that it's hard to pin it down to a mic I'd recommend above all others. For the range listed, you really need to think about more than one mic.

For the guitar, assuming we are talking electric here, go for an SM57. That's a Shure instrument mic, maybe $80. You might scoff, but seriously, the engineers I know use just that, and they have $5000 mics on hand. Distorted guitar sounds ever so sweet through a 57.

For vocals an SM58 would be an accepable low cost solution. They use them for live work all the time. Low cost, under $100 probably, and rugged as hell. You couild also look at a Shure Beta, either a 58A or an 87A or C. Call it $150-250 depending on which one.

Now being it's a studio you needen't stick with dynamic mics for vocals, though they work fine and can be handled. You can get a condensor and stand mount it. For those, go large diagphram. I wouldn't even really know what to recommend specificly, but look at the AKG C3000, the M-Audio Nova, Luna, or Solais, and the Behringer B-1 and B-2. Price varies widly, going from like $130 for the B-1 to $300 for the C3000, and you can easily find ones that go over $4000.

For drums, that's another beast. You need a minimum of two mics, and four is more realistic. You need two overheads to get all the sound. For this, a good omni condensor. Oktava MK-12s ($200 each) are good for that, Shure SM81s would probably work well ($350 each), you might look at the M-Audio Pulsar ($130 each) though I've never heard it, and the Sennheiser K6 with ME62 head ($350 each) would do nicely while the MKH-20 ($1200 each) would be ideal.

Thing is, with just overheads, it'll lack punch. You need a kick drum mic. The Shure Beta 52 is what you want here, that'll be like $180. I suppose an SM-57 could be tried, but I think it'll function poorly.

The other consideration is then the snare in particular but also the toms. Cymbals may overwhelm them with just overheads. Put a mic or two or three on them so you can bring the levels up. For that, SM-57s should work ok, there are better ones, but I'm assuming I've already overwhelmed your budget.

As for the rest of the equipment, get a good soundcard with enough inputs to run all the mics he wants at once. Either make sure it has mic preamps built in, or plan on buing those (or a mixer with mic pres). I'd say look at EMU or M-Audio for reasonable prices, MOTU if you can splurge (but then we are talking over a grand just for the card).

Mix that with whatever software you like, and you are done. This is, of course, assuming a reasonable computer. Doesn't need to be blazing fast, but needs to have a reasonable CPU (P4 at least) good amount of RAM (gig at least) and drives that can handle capturing all the streams at once.
 
Mar 10, 2006 at 11:43 PM Post #3 of 6

wnewport

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Thanks for the great information, I never thought it would get this complex, but it makes sense.

One thing I am not clear on is how well the microphones perform when all of the sounds, vocals/guitar/drums/other instruments, were being produced at once in an inclosed area.

Thank you for doing a very thurough job in explaining the microphone selection.

The buyer of this plays the drums mainly and does vocals, and since it is at his house, those are the primary concerns. I don't see it wise for him to invest in too much in equipment at this stage.

So what would be the minimal you would recommend? As of now I am thinking of an M-Audio Nova and Shure SM57's since they seem pretty versital.

I am still a little lost how much money to spend on a soundcard. The creative 1820 seems very practical, but it also quite a bit of money. The M-audio Delta 44 is another consideration. It looks like 200 dollars is good price point for that.

Thanks again, Wyatt
 
Mar 11, 2006 at 3:49 AM Post #4 of 6

Sycraft

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Well if the drums are the main concern, you can't really do it with a Nova and SM57. Drums have to be recorded in stereo to sound at all good, there's just too much to them for a monaural recording. So you need stereo mics of some kind. I suppose you could try 2 SM 57, but that really isn't going to cut it. Not enough high end for the cymbals. If you really can only get two mics, look at two Oktavas, they can be used for vocals too, though they aren't ideal. I suppose you could mic the drums with just two mics, but that entails placing them further from the drums, room micing it's called. You'll get echo and such from the room in there and it will make a good mix harder to achieve. Also the cymbals are likely to be overbearing, and the kick lacking in punch.

Really, you need 4 mics minimum. Get Two Oktavas, a SM57 or 58, and a Beta 52. Use the Oktavas as overheads, the 52 for the kick, and the 57/58 as a snare/tom mic. You can then use the 57, or espically 58, as a vocal mic (the 58 will work for instruments too).

I know that's not what you want to hear, but drums are just complex. Micing them with two mics isn't really something that can be done well. Due to the large nature of the setup and the wide range of sound (kick drums produce frequencies under 100Hz, cymbals go to the ultrasonics) you need a lot of mics. Professionally, I've seen 6-10 mics used for drums.

For sound cards, the Delta 44 would work fine, not a stellar sound card, but good. Do note it has no mic preamps, so you'll need to buy those as well.
 
Mar 11, 2006 at 9:39 AM Post #5 of 6

wnewport

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If my friend wants to spend the money, I think I will recommend the shure drum mic kit/setup for conveince. As of now the musical ability of the performer will be the weakest link.
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What would be a good soundcard that has everything included?
 
Mar 12, 2006 at 11:57 PM Post #6 of 6

Sycraft

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Well, I'm not aware of any soundcards out there with 4+ channels, all with preamps. Doesn't mean there aren't any, but I can't tell you what they are. The way to go is to get a soundcard with enough channels for all the mics that'll be used (looks like 6 in the case of the Shure kit) and then get either preamps or a mixer. The M-Audio Audiobuddy would work fine, it's a two channel preamp that's not too expensive. PRobably a better way to go though is just to get a mixer. One of the small Behringer Xenys mixers would do a good job, like the 1222FX. That would also allow for the use of more mics than soundcard channels. You could have 6 mics fed into a Delta 44 because the mixer could downmix a couple of the mics for you.

With a mixer, you could even go for a two channel soundcard. In that case, you'd need to make sure the mix sounded good beofre recording, since you can't adjust levels later, but it'd work.
 

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