Posted on Nov 25, 2008 06:31 pm
Member Since: Nov 25, 2008
I am new to this forum. I have been playing with computer music for many years.. but only recently wanted to get a bit more serious. My daughter is almost 11 and has interest in singing and playing piano, so because it gives us both something to do together that we enjoy, I figured I'd try to setup the studio a bit more so that I can record her. Man, I love this stuff! I wish I could get into it professionally and make a good living at it. lol.
Anyway.. that said, I have no problem connecting most things.. I have sound, I can record, etc. But, I am finding from reading links on this forum and other articles, that there is more to this mixing than just a couple EQ knobs and some speakers and a computer.
So.. wanted to ask a few general questions that pertain to my specific current setup, see if any of you gurus can offer some advice on how to make it better.
First thing is.. I am stuck in my garage, and mind you its not a clean garage set up for studio..its loaded with my kids bikes, toys, and lot of other crap. My "home" is really in a small corner where I have a decent L shaped desk and its crammed with my gear and my computer stuff and bills, papers, etc. In a nutshell, I'm a slob, I'll admit it. But that's another story for another post. ;)
So, my gear:
PC/Vista 32, Quad-core, 4GB ram, 2x320GB HD, 160GB main drive, dvd burner, etc.
I have a Edirol PCR-300 keyboard.. love this things. Solid construction, works great and over USB. I'm a fan of the Roland style pitch/mod joystick.
I have a Mackie 1202vlz I got before Mackie sent there gear to be built over seas. Great mixer.. has worked well for several years, but I am worrying that its starting to die. Every time I touch a mute button, or turn pan, or volume, I get some pops/clicks, and sometimes I lose sound on one side. I used to think it was my soundcard..or my cable, but I think it may now be the mixer.
I recently spent too much on gear. I bought KRK Limited Edition monitors.. I forget the model, but they are the yellow ones with 6" speakers. They sound great! Also bought the Edirol UA-25ex interface and a Beringer B-1 mic just yesterday with a desk stand for the mic.
Lastly I have a nice pair of Sennheiser 590 headphones. Love these things.. I still don't recall if they were studio based headphone.. but man they sound great!
Ok.. so for the questions:
1) Biggest thing I am not sure how to do is set up my monitors/headphones on the mixer so that I can go back and forth when recording vocals, then want to hear everything. I read something about the alt 3-4 bus, using the source buttons, etc.. but for the life of me I haven't been able to nail it down. What I do now is turn the volume of main mix all the way down (monitors are on main outs, and my sub (cheap yamaha sub that sounds good) is on the tape out. I figured the main out volume controls the tape out.. so I can turn up/down volume to the monitors and sub with this setup. I then press MUTE on the UA-25EX input on channel 11/12, and then press the pre/fader solo button to put it into the headphones. This works. I can hear in the headphones and use the CR/phones volume, but it seems like a lot to do. Better than switching the monitors on and off every time tho. So.. is there a better way that I can have all my sounds (including my UA-25EX output, my computer XiFI soundcard out, and my xbox 360 out..which all go into this so I can hear them on my great speakers), but still have a simple way to simply turn them off and hear the headphone..so I can record vocals while hearing the output of the computer music? I should add to this.. I am now using the UA25-EX as my main output..due to its 24-bit audio fidelity, over my SB xi-fi soundcard..which sounds decent still. I am aware of using the UA-25 monitor port for listening in on that... and maybe that's the way to do it. I was just thinking this nice mixer I got should have some way to do some sort of single button turn off monitors (and tape output for my sub). Last thing to add.. sometime in the near future, I plan on picking up the KRK 10" sub.. that will at least avoid the tape output issue I have right now with my current small sub. Then I can route outs to the sub, which then routs back to the speakers.. putting it all on one output.
2) This may be answered elsehwere..and if so a pointer would be great.. but ideally, my mixes sound like crap. I know I've got to learn some things. I've read a bit that with vocals, for example you want to use limiter (or compressor).. and the UA-25EX has one built in. I am guessing its not as good as some VST plugins or maybe even using my melodyne software.. but ultimately I want my vocal tracks to sound like any other CD out there... sure, I gotta learn to adjust the volumes right.. but it's much like when you record a home video with your camera.. it doesn't look like what you see in a movie. There are filters they apply to make it look darker or something. So.. what is the trick to making vocals sound like they were done in a real studio on a CD?
3) Do the quality of the cables make a huge difference if I am using the UA25..which is outside the computer? I know around electrical gear, the EM fields can add noise. I have some cheap 1/4" radio-shack 6foot cables, and one decent set that I use to sent the mixer to the monitors with. I do have these laying around/over/near computer, monitor, mixer, etc. Just wondering if there is anything I can do to clean up the sound that much more. But I gotta be honest.. my daughters voice came thru crystal clear. So not sure if this is a huge issue or not. I am impressed with this B-1 mic. I was going to try to get the MXL990/991 pair at GuitarCenter for $100.. but the B1 sounded nice in the store, and has that shock mount kit with it.. so I hope I made the right choice.. can't return mics apparently.
4) Is it only B/P sounds that make that sort of explosion sound in the mic? My mic has the foam cover on it.. figured I'd buy one of those round screens to go in front of it.. is it worth it? It's like $30.. so I don't mind.. but needed to let my credit card relax a bit after the shock of all this gear.
5) How the heck do I use the limiter/compressor on my UA-25. OR should I bypass it? I did mess with it and I got it to the point where I could yell into the mic and it wouldn't give that distorted recorded sound.. so that seemed very useful to have.. but what do you guys recommend.. does it alter the sound in any way such that I should avoid using it.
6) The pres I think are good on this UA-25.. but would you recommend a mic pre unit? They had one for $50.. wasn't sure I really needed it so I didn't get it this time around.
7) I am really digging Ableton Live 7. It's really neat how you can make clips, then play them clips in patterns and record it that way. Still learning it tho. Question is.. do you guys record vocals into the same software you lay your tracks down with.. for convenience (or perhaps plugins or something).. or do you use a separate program like SoundForge (which I own) to record audio.. then save/copy/load it up? Seems like a hassle to use separate apps.. I like to be able to stop/play back right after to hear the vocals with the song.
8) EQ on the way in.. or leave them flat and let the software plugins do the magic? Honestly the only thing I bring in right now is vocals. But I would like to sample some real instruments myself some day to have my "own" sounds to use. I have bought some sample CDs and such.. and the royalty free samples with magazines like ComputerMusic, FutureMusic, etc. But anyway.. wondering if I should leave the mixer EQ alone, set to the U on my mackie. I am guessing so on this one.
9) My desk is set up in such a way that my studio monitors are a bit below my ears, and I can't set the left side back off of the desk.. as the left side of my desk is right up against a wall.. and I can't do anything to fix this as it's a big long L desk. From what I read I want the tweeter at my ear height (or is it hte center of the speaker of woofer?), and in a triangular shap such that they are equi-distant from each other and me. Is this correct.. if not what is the "ideal" setup?
Well..I know this was long.. I apologize..but figured I'd ask in one big post rather than many others. Thanks for anyone that can lead me in the right direction. I look forward to participating more.
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