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  #16  
Old 11-01-2010, 01:50 PM
alohachris alohachris is offline
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Default Aloha Chuck

Aloha Chuck,

The most common description of the MOTU 896's sound [U]that I've commonly read is "cloudy."

I've also heard that that unit performs much better after a Black Lion modification.

The 896 may provide eight mic pre's, but of what quality? Same for the conversion & clock. Especially, when compared with the excellent Apogee Ensemble, more expensive Metric Halo ULN-8, RME FireFace 800, or great Apogee Rosetta 800.

The topline is the Lynx Aurora 8/FW.

Presonus & Focusrites? Not a fan by comparison.

003 rack for Pro Tools? Not very good pre's or conversion in my experience.

For Mac's, I'm a real fan of the Ensemble for multitracking. It has it all, IMO. And you can use one of your good mic preamps in front of it & "line in" for more channels. Ya don't really need more XLR inputs.

For more reading, go to Gearslutz & punch in "MOTU 896 versus ..." or just go over to this well-known supplier's site to compare features, prices or get other ideas:

http://www.sweetwater.com/c683--Fire...es/popular/all

Don't forget the user's forums either. Invaluable.

Whatever works for your ears, braddah Chuck, is the right one. But plan the whole rig in advance for compatibility so it all works together.

alohachris
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  #17  
Old 11-01-2010, 02:49 PM
lclyman lclyman is offline
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Hi Chuck,
I thought I'd answer you here on the forum instead of directly to your email earlier today..

As you mentioned..I am not a Pro Tools advocate at all..

I think there are better more intuitive programs out there and if you simply want to record easily and do simple mixing and editing tasks there are plenty of options available...

On the PC side look at Cubase...it's a PC first program that was eventually ported over for Macs too..

Sonar is good also...and only available for PC...

On the Mac side..Aloha Chris's suggestion of Mac/Logic/Apogee duet is a good one for 2 channel recording..

Though I remember thinking yeas ago that "Logic" was the most ironically named program I had ever experienced..talk about unintuitive and steep learning curve just to get basic things done..

I'm assuming that it's gotten a lot better in that regard since Apple bought them out..but that was my experience with it..

There are demos available for all the DAW's so I would suggest downloading them and try to do basic things..and choose the program that lets you get the farthest without hitting the manual or online help forums..

Just remember they all do the same things and no DAW sounds any better than the others...Save instead for good mics, pres and converters..

Larry
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  #18  
Old 11-01-2010, 03:56 PM
alohachris alohachris is offline
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Default Aloha Chuck!

Aloha!

I agree with Larry about trying out the free downloads of various DAW's to see which workflow works best for you. They're all different, but all work similarly. Just have to find the workflow that's for your individual sensibilities & the downloads are a great place to do that. I did that for three years before finally deciding on Logic Pro 9.

BTW, Logic WAS a bear in the earlier iterations, but Logic 9 is very intuitive for me. And it was demystified by the Apple trainers.

All the best in your search.

alohachris
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  #19  
Old 11-01-2010, 07:06 PM
flagstaffcharli flagstaffcharli is offline
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The two-channel system no longer meets my needs. I want to have the capacity to track an entire album here. The moment I go with only two channels will be the moment I need three. I want to have the ability to record up to eight mics because dumping money into this means I'll be using this for years.

Unfortunately, I can't audition Logic until I get a Mac. Catch 22.

Lots to learn.
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  #20  
Old 11-01-2010, 09:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flagstaffcharli View Post
The two-channel system no longer meets my needs. I want to have the capacity to track an entire album here. The moment I go with only two channels will be the moment I need three. I want to have the ability to record up to eight mics because dumping money into this means I'll be using this for years.
Eight mics is a lot. Not for a pro studio, of course, but wanting to record 8 things at once raises other cans of worms. Do you have multiple rooms for tracking isolation, for example? I assume 8 mics means lots of musicians, are you planning for headphone distribution for all of them? A small home studio that can track 1 instrument at a time is pretty easy, beyond that, it gets complicated fast, and the choice of DAW is just the start.
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  #21  
Old 11-01-2010, 09:30 PM
flagstaffcharli flagstaffcharli is offline
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Hi Doug,

I think 90% of my recording is going to be me singing and playing guitar.

A max scenario might be me, a percussionist, a bass player, and one other person. No. My home is not ideal. Neither were either of the studio spaces we worked in for my current project. But using my home is $40-60 cheaper per hour. That's a lot of money.

What I'm basically trying to do is get myself into a position where I'm prepared for possibilities. My favorite collaborators are in Chicago and New York, far from here. Earlier this year I flew people around, paid them, and paid studio rates. That's not a realistic approach from a financial point of view after this one project.

I think that if I chose to fly those folks to me again, I might like to try to make my home work. There are possibilities here, and I'm not impressed that most studios at my price point in my area offer a situation that is so superior to my home that it justifies the price tag.

I'm just trying to get prepared for possible scenarios. I intend to record a number of projects in the next couple years.

I think "problems" are a fact of life on my budget. The world will not end because there are some imperfections on a recording. I'd love to record into an old Neumann board in an architecturally sound room with a pro engineer and a producer tweaking my arrangements and hot shot session guys etc.., But that's not my world. In my world I have found some people I really dig and who I'd like to work with again - but who are unfortunately far from here. And I think we all prefer working together than via email, at least for basic tracking. In my world I'm writing a lot of songs and I want to continue putting them "in play." Part of this is figuring out how to continue doing that.

Thanks!
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  #22  
Old 11-01-2010, 09:48 PM
flagstaffcharli flagstaffcharli is offline
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PS: just watched the "Unconditional" vid. Good stuff which I think deserves to be captured on good quality gear.
Thank you! We actually recorded that earlier this year. I'll happily send CDs off to Scotland and Hawaii when I finally get them.
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  #23  
Old 11-01-2010, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by flagstaffcharli View Post
A max scenario might be me, a percussionist, a bass player, and one other person.
So one approach is just to be prepared at the most basic level, and scale up later if needed. For example, I use a Mac and Logic and an RME AES-32 sound card. That gives me 16 simultaneous channels in and 16 out, digital. So in theory, I can handle 16 mics, if needed. But right now, I only use 4 in max, and I have only 4 preamp channels, and 4 A/D converter channels to feed those digital inputs. Most of the time time I use just half that (2 mics). If I needed to add more, I could pick up, (or borrow) more preamps and A/Ds, and plug them in without changing my basic setup. Like I say, the logistics of recording enough pieces to need 8 mic inputs would leave me with bigger issues, like where to put all those people, how to prevent bleed between them, how to provide monitoring, but at least I wouldn't have to learn a new piece of recording software or change my basic setup.

One way to reduce at least the bleed issues is to go direct wherever you can - bass, for example, probably doesn't need a mic, at least on the initial take. Now you just need to mic a guitar and figure out how to prevent a percussionist from completely clobbering your guitar mics. I'd be tempted to record a trio like that with pickups for guitar and bass, mic for the percussion. Then overdub to replace the pickup tracks, if necessary. Or I'd do a scratch track at home and go to a good studio with isolation rooms for the final recording :-)
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  #24  
Old 11-01-2010, 11:02 PM
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There's another technique: don't fight the bleed. Use a single mic a la the Cowboy Junkies with their Trinity Sessions album.

This has to take place in a good room since you won't be able to keep it out of the take by close micing - but OK you don't want to talk about that right now.

A drum kit could be a big problem. You'd probably have to put vocals and acoustic guitars through a PA to match levels. Or starve the drummer for a week or two until he's too weak to hit the drums hard.

A single mic would make huge demands on your musicianship. Everyone has to control their volume carefully. Maybe four or five people all have to play the whole piece together right through, perfectly. One mistake by anyone and it's back to square one. That could create tension which could ruin the performance. But if you can all play, and you can create a good acoustic space, it might just work.
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  #25  
Old 11-01-2010, 11:56 PM
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There's another technique: don't fight the bleed. .
Yeah, I was going to suggest that. Depends on the music, and the relative volume of instruments, of course. But I recorded a celtic group some time back in my small studio, just circled around a stereo mic setup. Sounded excellent, and very natural, with a nicer blend than I'd have gotten with isolated tracks.
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  #26  
Old 11-02-2010, 12:48 AM
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It's an interesting problem: if you split everything up into bits, the individual pieces are easier to deal with on their own but sooner or later they all have to be stitched back together into a unified whole.

I'm not a great player myself so I really need multiple takes to get the one that's usable. However you do have to be careful not to lose sight of the big picture and it takes a hell of a lot of time. There's a lot to be said for the simplicity of a single mic, if you can make that work.
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  #27  
Old 11-02-2010, 11:37 AM
flagstaffcharli flagstaffcharli is offline
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We took some of the "Don't fight the bleed" approach in both studios where we've worked on this project. It can lead to problems. We had to scrap a drum track we did here in Flagstaff and record it again in Chicago due to phase issues. Fortunately, I'm working with a real good percussionist who is capable of that kind of thing.

The trade is the ability to edit things in isolation later for a "real" performance of the basic tracks. So far, I really like that real performance. You get dynamics, a tight feel, and some interplay between the folks recording. Larry might chime in here again about that, because a lot of that was his idea. He's working on some guitar overdubs for my project right now. (I can't wait to share this stuff, but it will probably be after the first of the year!)

I think having 6-7 mics open during recording doesn't mean you use them all. But having options in an imperfect acoustic environment is a good idea. I also happen to be a guy who prefers to try not to do scratch vocals and rerecord later. I'll do it if necessary, but I like the feel of singing during that initial performance. Since I play and sing at the same time, bleed is an issue right from the get-go.

The drum set presents too many problems. That will probably always be done in rented time in a studio, at least in the near future. But because I do children's music and contemporary folk thing, drum set is only required for some of my stuff. I like the idea of using bodhran, cajon, shakers, congas, etc..,

Thanks for your input. I'm starting to get my head around the shape of the system I need, if not the specific software and hardware.
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  #28  
Old 11-02-2010, 11:52 AM
flagstaffcharli flagstaffcharli is offline
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So one approach is just to be prepared at the most basic level, and scale up later if needed. For example...

Yes. I think this is kind of my thinking. I'm not going to have eight channels of high quality pre amps right away. I might go the route of an interface like the Apogee Ensemble that Chris recommended where there are already sufficient inputs and I just need to borrow a couple of nice pres or make due with the onboard ones if necessary. I'm not a real technical kind of tinkerer and the easier my system looks to me the better I'm going to deal with it.

I did a CD a couple years ago on my Yamaha DAW and one of the things I liked was just being able to plug-in and record, so my Mac or PC based system should be close to that.
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  #29  
Old 11-02-2010, 11:57 AM
SuperB23 SuperB23 is offline
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I will be honest I didn't read through this whole thread. I do highly recommend going to Mac route and then going with logic pro 9 over protools. More bang for the buck and easier to use. The Mac computers run silent while recording and logic comes with amazing presets, instruments libraries, and tons of loops. Pickup any new IMAC and Logic pro and a decent firewire interface and you are ready to go. I've recorded three albums with logic now and I love it. I only typically use about 5% of what the software can do. Good luck with your decision.
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  #30  
Old 11-02-2010, 12:04 PM
Fran Guidry Fran Guidry is offline
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Originally Posted by flagstaffcharli View Post
I've been playing around with this question for almost a year now. I'm going to make the jump to a pc-based ProTools rig from my old Yamaha DAW.

After the first of the year I plan to spend some money. I am primarily interested in tracking mic'd instruments (guitars, cajon, hand percussion, mic'd amps, mandolin, etc... and voice.) I probably need no more than eight tracks max at any given time, but I could use the capability to record 4-6 balanced inputs at one time. I am not interested so much in mixing (only rough mixes as needed) or mastering at home. I plan to use pro studios and pro people to put the final touches on future recordings. But I want to be able to track here at home at my leisure.

...

Spend my money! This forum is always good at that. Seriously, thanks in advance for ideas and feel free to point me towards online resources. It's a bit of a challenge finding the right ones.

Cheers!
I try not to post about things I haven't used personally, but I'll make an exception here. For what you describe it seems like Protools is the obvious way to go, and M-Powered with an M-Audio Ultra 8r is the interface you need. Firewire has become a stepchild, not available on a lot of latest generation computers. You don't need huge track counts, vast suites of plugins, or other extended features. You don't need MIDI or digital inputs.

While you're reading internet forums about problems with Protools and Windows, think for a moment about how many systems are out there and working every day without problems, not generating any complaints or discussions.

Find an integrator that will build you a guaranteed system around a laptop and M-powered and get back to making music.

Here's another thing to consider. Have you asked the advice of any of the commercial engineers you'll be using?

Fran
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