Recording dilema

da rummmer

Junior Member
If you had a choice to either record in a studio or in your basement... What would it be? Let me be specific, Recording in the studio you have all the equipment, but limited time... Preparation has to be at its best for sure. Most recording studios have specials around $400-$500 for a ten hour block, or bigger studios like Chicago Recording Company is somewhere around $100 p/hr. Regardless of where you record it gets quit expensive. With that said, what if you had good mics, good computer with a sweet interface and all the right equipment to record nice solid raw drum tracks? Would you feel more comfortable (time wise) recording? Maybe the money you spend on mics and such would be worth more than recording in a studio. I know big studios have huge expensive equipment, but do you need all that to get a good sound? I have seen studios use less mics and produce some very big and full drum tracks... If you did your homework and learned all the programs/ mics, perhaps it would take a while but it would be beneficial because the person that knows what sound you want is you! Now I'm not saying mix down or add effects, I'm talking raw drum tracks. Would an outside engineer or studio take your tracks to mix down? would the programs be compatible between both parties? How much would you have to spend on mics to get a premium recording/sound? would having a "descent" setup be god enough for raw tracks? What's the problem with this, or does this make sense? It just seems that once you have the equipment, you could spend hours on end perfecting anything you want without running up a multi thousand dollar bill.
I cannot imagine being able to be in the studio for days at a time like these super groups, having a multi hundred thousand dollar budget to record.... maybe you could now... with your own setup?
Rick
 

cnw60

Senior Member
can't speak from personal experience, but a friend who has some seriously nice recording gear has told me that drum tracks are the ONLY thing he takes into a studio to record. The stuff they have is just that much better (and that much more expensive) than even what he has. Beyond the issue of the gear, you also get access to the knowledge and experience of the guy(s) behind the board, and that experience can be priceless.

Having said that - given the expense of studio time, you better have everything worked out before you show up. One advantage of the basement approach is being able to experiment and screw around without the meter ticking away at $50+ per hour.
 
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DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
The main difference is not just the equipment, but the knowledge of the people running it.

I have some nice stuff in my home studio, but I'm still learning how to best use it all.

The last album I did, I recorded all the parts at my studio, then I took it to a pro studio to mix. I was mostly paying for the ears of the guy who runs the studio and his experience in mixing to make the songs sound the best it could. Something I could not have done myself very easily.
 

jer

Silver Member
Agree with DrumEatDrum, having experiance in the mix helps greatly with home recordings.

One of my bands records their own stuff with gear that our bass player has put together over the years, this thread gives an example of how it turned out and the gear we used:

http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=64419

it really depends on what your time line is like, if you get new recording gear, you'll have to spend a good chunk of time experimenting until you get a sound you are happy with. If it's a project you want to sound awesome fast, studio is the way to go.
 
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audiotech

Guest
$100 USD an hour would be a bargain compared to a few of the studios I've worked in, lol. My advice would be to get the music down pat in your home environment and leave the critical steps up to the studios if the project is of importance to you. The most important part of the tracking process is getting the sound accurately and with as little noise and distortion as possible to the recording media. This is a step that most amateurs cannot do without some compromises. Many, many times I've seen home mixes turned down when brought into the studio for mastering, there are just too many limitations on what the mastering engineer can do with a sub-par mix or tracking session. In most commercial studios, there are many people with years of experience that's been there and done that hundreds or even thousands of times. They know microphones and primarily the placement and their use for the best sonic quality. In the mix down session, the more people with experience might catch something that the first person missed. I'm not talking about the performance, that's what the producer and band have to keep an eye on, but I'm taking about anything and everything in the recording process itself.

Btw, there is no comparing recording environments between the commercial studio and someones basement.

Dennis
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Put me down for DIY
I've made some pretty nice sounding recordings in my house with my ameteur recording rig. Proper recording technique, good mics, good cords, and a good mixdown and master goes a long way. I am in no way saying I'm real good at it, but I know a lot more than I did when I got the stuff. It's a lot of work!

I've always loved recording, even before I played drums. (panasonic cassette player.) Of course I'm of the mindset that one should be self sufficient. The more you know from your own experimentation, the broader your knowledge of the incredibly complex world of recording will be. Can't just experiment in a pro studio anytime the urge hits, too expensive. The home gear is just at a point now where you should be able to produce professional sounding results from your studio. In the end it's just 2 tracks, L and R. You can always send it out to be mastered.

Save money, gain knowledge and experience concerning acoustics, have gear to show for money spent, have complete control over your recordings with no time limitations....all good reasons.

Your call though, it is a commitment.
 

da rummmer

Junior Member
I agree having someone with experience is probably worth more than anything. I know people who have a good backround with the programs and such... I guess I need to just drop the doe to get some sickly good mics. I would love to just go down and jam to a click and try many dif. things in our songs... (while recording it all)! I may just be dreaming tho.

Thanks for the input guys
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I helped a friend build a studio in his house, I did alot of soldering and wiring. Alot of fixing older audio gear. The one thing that would kill the basement studio owner is the maintenance on the gear. And what if you run into power issues? Say you do get alot of money and invest in alot of recording gear, there's a chance you may be drawing more current than your city allows for a residential area, so there's a whole 'nother thing to deal with on top of the maintenance of the gear too.

Microphones? My buddy just spent $10,500.00 on ONE re-built Telefunken U47 (the company that eventually became Neumann). And this was after his mic cabinet was pretty full with other standards, like several AKG 414's, Neumann U87's....

I do like the DIY approach myself, but my intention isn't to crank out stuff that will compete on the big level. I use it mainly for demoes. I would think you're in a "six of one - half a dozen of the other" decision. You can spend the money and time learning how to do it yourself, or you could just spend the money on studio rental with the crew, and get your project done in a short amount of time. If I could go into the studio all the time I would, because then I can concentrate on the music being made rather than being my own engineer.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
There's no need to worry about current draw. Electronics don't use that much current. Air Conditioners, heat pumps, electric ovens and dryers...each one of them draws many times what a studio will draw.
Maintenance on new audio gear? Who fixes new stuff? It's under warranty.
And you can do fine with a $300.00 condenser mic, you don't need $10,000.00 mics by any means.
It is a lot of work though. No disrespect intended Bo, just callin em like I see em.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
No insult taken. That'[s just what my buddy did. After a while I was wondering if he was going to be able to compete with Capitol Records in Downtown Hollywood. We were concerned with the current draw because every thing he has has a tube in it, he ended up paying for additional power from the city (after I suggested we just tap into his neighbors' line...)

But the old vintage stuff, you fix. The new digital stuff, you replace. I get that. You haven't lived until you've replaced the capacitors in all your API mic pres (he had 32 of those, each with 5 capacitors each. Grrrr.....) As much as I hated fixing stuff, there was a sound to it that you can't get with the new crop of stuff, and he had offers from Maurice White back then and Snoop Dogg even came around to look, but it was such a headache...

I myself own that CAD Trion 8000 tube mic that I got for $250. Great mic, after I replaced the stock Chinese tube with an NOS RCA tube from the '60s.

But seriously, after all that work, he has a great studio. However, I'm thinkin', if it's important enough, I'd still probably rent a nice studio and get the project done instead of tinkering around. The tinkering gets in the way of the process, which I think is already hard enough.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I think the answer to your question lies in the expected end result. If you want something of commercial quality, you really have little choice but to go commercial. However, if you want something to throw at bar owners to get gigs, then the home route is just fine if done properly. The home recording experience is valuable too. Recording your band playing as a band (rather than individual sessions) is a great idea to capture some of that live vibe. Bar owners pick up on the vibe more than just about anything else. They want something that sounds like a good time right out of the box. I recorded 3 tracks with my band a few months ago, just to produce a gig getting CD. We made the mistake of going into a low rent studio on a cheap deal. We ended up with a dry/lifeless recording. Ok, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. Certainly, my drums sound better in real life than captured in that studio. It should be the other way around. In hindsight, we'd have done better recording a gig!

We're recording some original tunes next year. These are for publishing/ broadcast. Whole different approach. That will be full on commercial studio all the way. As I said, your decision should be guided by your expectation of the end result. What are you trying to achieve? What are you going to do with the recording? Good luck.
 
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audiotech

Guest
Alot of fixing older audio gear. The one thing that would kill the basement studio owner is the maintenance on the gear.
This is where it can get very expensive. I've been repairing, down to the component, audio gear for most of my life. I wouldn't be able to do what I do without having the necessary test equipment available to me to make instant repairs. Who really has the cash available to have duplicate equipment so that you can still remain operative while another piece is being repaired, maybe states away? I have thousands invested in test equipment to repair anything from a broken mic cable to the RF section in wireless microphones to that of completely tearing down, re-heading and re-biasing of reel machines I so much love. Audio engineering is in itself a very encompassing field. Warranties are great until they expire or until you have to hold up production because of a faulty piece of equipment.

Dennis
 

da rummmer

Junior Member
I see where you guys are coming from, I guess the end result is pretty much getting the best sound I can out of what I got... I know that I can spend money like $1,800 bucks on a mic package... how would that sound?... we would have to see, but like bo said tinkering around would be to much rather than just hitting the studio to get it done in short amount of time. I'm gonna try the home recording stuff... Ill do some samples and post them to see what you guys think of the quality.
 

cnw60

Senior Member
I see where you guys are coming from, I guess the end result is pretty much getting the best sound I can out of what I got... I know that I can spend money like $1,800 bucks on a mic package... how would that sound?... we would have to see, but like bo said tinkering around would be to much rather than just hitting the studio to get it done in short amount of time. I'm gonna try the home recording stuff... Ill do some samples and post them to see what you guys think of the quality.
Like most things related to sound quality, there can be a virtual black hole that you can keep throwing money into if you're not careful.

Mics are just one part of the front end, I know people who have spent more for dedicated pre-amps to run the mics through than for the mics themselves. Just to get the best possible signal going to the board. Add compressors, limiters, gates and other processing gear to that. It's possible to do that stuff digitally, but different engineers all have their own method, along with the reasons why it's better to do one way or the other, depending on the situation.

Another guy I know just spent $1800 for a standalone ADC to get better sound than he was getting using the one built into his board. A monetary black hole... if you're obsessive about it.

BUT - at the same time, I'll record our band practices in my basement with a couple hundred dollars worth of mics, running through a $125 8 channel Peavey mixer to a direct line-in on my $40 mp3 player. Surprising enough, it sounds pretty darn good!

Even spending a hundred grand on gear is gonna' yield crappy results if the recording space stinks, or if you don't know how to place mics (or if you don't tune your drums properly). Hell - if you've got a great room (like Carnegie Hall :)) and one sweet mic located in the right place - you can make a fine recording of a whole syphony orchestra.

So I think it would be hard to go wrong by starting off with some industry standard mics (SM-57's, Beta-52 or AKG D112, etc), doing some research and just experimenting.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I helped a friend build a studio in his house, I did alot of soldering and wiring.
There's no need to worry about current draw. Electronics don't use that much current. Air Conditioners, heat pumps, electric ovens and dryers...each one of them draws many times what a studio will draw..
I have to go with Bo here. Power can be an issue. Larry is right that a computer workstation and some electronics isn't going to draw much power, but if you add in your buddies guitar amp, and your bass players amp, a fan, and maybe some lighting, you're probably going to blow a circuit. My studio is one room, but it's wired on 4 different circuit breakers, and the AC is on it's own breaker, all to avoid such issues.

If you get an extensive amount of ubber high end recording equipment, power conditioning becomes an issue as well, but that's taking it to another level.

This is where it can get very expensive. I've been repairing, down to the component, audio gear for most of my life. I wouldn't be able to do what I do without having the necessary test equipment available to me to make instant repairs. Who really has the cash available to have duplicate equipment so that you can still remain operative while another piece is being repaired, maybe states away? I have thousands invested in test equipment to repair anything from a broken mic cable to the RF section in wireless microphones to that of completely tearing down, re-heading and re-biasing of reel machines I so much love. Audio engineering is in itself a very encompassing field. Warranties are great until they expire or until you have to hold up production because of a faulty piece of equipment.

Dennis
True if you're using a lot of outboard gear. Now, so much gear is software based, I don't think this is the issue it once was. At least not for the average home studio.

I'm big DIY person. I've got a lot in recording gear. Although like cnw60 said, no matter how much I buy, there is always something I'm without, and it becomes and endless trail of needing/wanting something new.

I want more mics, but I can't just look at the cost of the mic, I need to factor in another pre-amp, plus a stand and cables, and that all adds up supper quick.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Maybe we need to count the wattage? I always thought that heaters, aircon and clothes dryers draw far more power than amps etc. Does anyone have the kinds of numbers we're looking at?

It might be worth adding that soundproofed music rooms often have aircon.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Not actually wattage, but current. I have an industrial vacuum cleaner for the house, that draws 12 amps of current. The standard outlet in a house is rated for a 15 amp draw, but it would depend on what your main circuit breaker powering the house can handle. Usually it's between 15 and 20 amps, though.

Going back to my buddy with the studio, before we figured his power problems out, he had to shut down the rest of his house so he could run the studio. So, for a few hours, the fridge was off, no house AC, no TVs going, nothing. Not an acceptable situation.

Why not get one of those all-in-one Roland or Yamaha devices to start with? Then you're only worrying about one piece of gear, and if you can plug in 8 mics into it, you're good. Lots of artists have used those kinds of machines to great results.
 
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