Advice on building from scratch - TOTAL Novice

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Member Since: Oct 20, 2011

Hello Forum - Nice to be here I am hoping to be a valued member of this forum and learn everything I can from you guys !

I just wondered if the experienced recording professionals could offer me some pearls of wisdom setting up a new studio from scratch.

So Far :
I have a Tower PC built from scratch with two 500 gig sata drives,two external 500 gig firewire HDD drives running XP (yet to be optimised purely for music as I read ) and 3 fans cooling the system.

My Gear :
Two Gen Monitors for listening back
Two 17in LCD Monitors
sound card m-audio quattro and omni break out box
1 korg o5/rw
1 boss se70
roland pcr-m30 midi controller

Propellerheads - Reason 3 with orchestra and sounds pack
Cubase 4 - with dongle
Nuendo 3 - with dongle
Steinberg Grand and Halion 3, Mic Moduler.
Amplitude and a load of other stuff I bought from ebay.
TC helicon create XL
200w m-audio AMP
Senheiser headphones
Microphones shure87c, samson uo1 and finally my SE 2200a.
behringer 6 channel mixer

So I am hoping this is a good start for gear ??
I slowly bought all this gear to start a small home studio and now I have its all become overwhelming and now obviously there is better gear out there (as I have been buying it since I was 16) I don't know where to start in setting it all up and should I first change the sound card etc..

First Question :
Should I change my M-audio and omni break out box set up for either a new Mbox2 or a Presonus Firebox recording sound card.
As I was told setup is easier and using firebox latency is a lot less and my card is very old now.

Second Question
Can I use the editorol PCR M30 to play all the sounds than buying a big workstation keyboard to play Cubase, Pro tools, Nuendo as I can't seem to hear sounds when I play the keys
when I set up an instrument track to record - what am I doing wrong ?
I have installed drivers on the keyboard to my pc too and open up projects added an instrument track but still here nothing or see nothing on the mixer that there is a sound coming through ?...

Third Question
Should I buy an out board compressor or just use a plugin for recording vocals. As I have been offered quite a few software plugins for a very good price from a studio thats closing.

Fourth Question
What software can I use to build beats and can that then be used in either Cubase, Nuendo or Pro Tools. BFD is 30 and am thinking of getting it is it worth it ? Is Fruity Loops worth a look ?

Fifth and Final Question
Is it worth investing in building my own vocal traps as I have seen on the net (my dad has lets me take the his attic to do all this and I laid down a floor carpeted it and it still very echoey and I was told vocals need to be recorded try.....

Sorry for the ramblings of a very in-experienced 18 year old but I am trying to prove to my dad I am not a failure and have worked my arse off to get all this gear to turn my dreams into a reality but I don't have the technical know how how to set this lot up.
Taken advice from mates what to buy was helpful but I think some of my gear is out of date now and I think the sound card might need to be sold and a new one bought first

And what configuration I should use to get the best out of the limited space and limited money left. I want to record live vocals and live guitars and everthing else make on the keyboard using relevant programs but should I first get the newer sound card and if so which one. Mbox2 or Firebox

Sorry for being such a novice and I would happily pay someone to help set this lot up if anyone lives near watford?

Thank you for you replies in advance.


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MASSIVE Mastering, LLC
Since: Aug 05, 2008

Oct 20, 2011 12:15 pm

(3rd): I'm a big fan of hardware compressors, but I'm NOT a fan of compressing at the input -- Far too much can go wrong even when you're not aware of it and there's no "undo" click.

(5th): Broadband trapping - LOTS of it (especially if you're in an overtly audibly "echoey" space) - should have been the first thing you invested in. Too often it's the last. You can't even tell if your monitoring chain is working properly (much less attempt to make any sort of critical assessment of what's coming through them) until the room is reasonably consistent and accurate across the spectrum.

Rockstar Vatican Assassin
Since: Mar 20, 2009

Oct 20, 2011 12:57 pm

a very in-experienced 18 year old but I am trying to prove to my dad I am not a failure
My first piece of advice is to get a job doing what you know how to do well first, make your "income" money, and accept this project as a hobby that earns you extra cash on the side. You'll never make any parent happy until you're doing better than them. Its a fact. Being 18 and asking all these questions only proves you're not ready nor have the clientele to make this anything more than just a hobby for the first couple of years.

Now... for some friendlier advice:
1st Question: Find something that has more than 6 inputs and has built-in mic preamps. There's lots of options out there to choose from (from USB to Firewire, etc...).

2nd Question: RTFM (ahahahah!!!) I have no idea, so its the best advice I can give you!!

3rd Question: Speaking for myself, I only use software compressors. I'd rather create garbage out (that I can go back and fix) vs garbage in which would require an entirely new retake.

4th Question: Build beats? I'm a drummer and this question offends me (LOL)!!!

5th Question: EBAY. All kinds of portable vocal traps and acoustic foam companies out there selling this **** cheap. As far as vocals needing to be very try (I'm assuming you meant to say dry), I think that's subjective. You record dry so you add reverb and other FX **** via plugins after the fact. However, room placement and experimentation could produce what you're looking for and/or add a bit of creativity. Listen to the band Thursday - You'll hear what I'm talking about.

As for room configuration... plenty of articles out there, but most of what I read seem to use the same basic standards: If your room is square, add traps to the corners and layers of pink (insulation) foam boards and sheetrock to the walls. Then add acoustic foam treatments as necessary to bring down some of the low and high frequencies.

I'll have some pics up pretty soon showing off my low budget studio. It's not the best and probably not even close to what I needed to do, but its all I got and will certainly sound better than what it was.

Since: Oct 20, 2011

Oct 21, 2011 10:21 am

Thanks Man thanks for all you advice yes Id like to see how you built your studio via pics. Yes the room I have as a hard wood floor lamenate and its has triangle TOP to it so you can image sound flies everywhere.

I am only looking at a small section of the corner of this room to lay down vocals so maybe gonna but some rs45 rockwool and covery it with think muslin material for now as a start and have got a very think carpet on the floor. then Gonna build something in that section of the room something like a vocal trap but on legs and it will enclose and cover the entire section of that corner.
Im also borrowing an se reflection filter and that good too for now...

Then look at sticking the foam in certain sections but also looking at some really thick ol duvets hanging up on t bar mic stands just for now as learn the basics of recording dry vocals...

My audio quattro is usb and has very solid mic pre amps and 4x2 inputs so that will ahve to do for now.

Software compression cool I have a bout 5 plugins that I bought from a closing dwon studio so that will be loads for now.

Im friends with loads of drummers but I would have no where to record them so for now this will have to do space is limited to record a drum kit or I would. BFD will have to do for now,


bace135 in the house tonight!
Since: Jan 28, 2003

Oct 25, 2011 09:57 pm

Question: What are you wanting to record? Bands? One instrument at a time? Just vocals?

If the M-audio is not giving you problems, I'd probably stick with that until you need to upgrade it (depending on if you need more inputs for your recording plans).

For the keyboard, it looks like it is just a midi controller. If you want to make music with it, you need to connect it to a hardware or software synth. You can connect via USB to your computer (which I'm assuming you did). Then you need to create a synth track or synth instrument in the program. I don't know how logic or cubase works, but know Reason pretty well. There is likely a preferences page that you have to direct the program to your keyboard (select it as your midi input).

Stick with software compressor .

You can build beats in Reason.

Don't know anything about treating rooms.. never recorded in a treated room before.

Since: Nov 08, 2010

Oct 27, 2011 10:27 am

Welcome to the forum, sir. I'm extremely amature at this stuff. But I'll tell you...These are some of the finest people I've ever had the joy of working with. My recording rig is exremely modest and I don't have half the stuff you mentioned. However, these guys have taught me how to maximize my equiptment, and I think I've gotten to where I can put out a pretty clean recording. Check out my profile. 2 Years ago I was still using the old 4 track cassette unit. Now I'm using early PC recording stuff because its cheap. I can't get enough of these guys. You sir, are in for a treat on this site...Good luck!

Since: May 14, 2011

Oct 31, 2011 02:43 pm

One mistake you can make on room treatment is making the room dead by adding soft materials. This will damp the high end but does nothing to tame the bass end and will spoil the sound of your room.

You don't want a dead lifeless room. Think bass absorption first. Second think more bass absorption, third don't forget the first thing.

MASSIVE Mastering, LLC
Since: Aug 05, 2008

Oct 31, 2011 03:06 pm

You don't want a dead lifeless room. Think bass absorption first. Second think more bass absorption, third don't forget the first thing.

Word. I've been in SO many rooms with far too much top end absorption -- I've yet to be in a room with too much low/broadband absorption.

It's what separates the "eh" from the "nice..."

Since: Apr 03, 2002

Oct 31, 2011 03:07 pm

Want to experience something really weird, walk into a totally dead dead you can hear your heart beat...freakin strange...we have some hearing aid manufacturers around here that have these rooms...bizarre feeling.

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