How to Configure a Recording Studio Rig, Page 2
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Tweak's Guide
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Success

 

Introduction

For Noobs

MIDI Basics

Audio Basics

Studio Rigs

Studio Pics

Past Studios

Signal Flow

System Guide

Mac vs. PC

Audio Interfaces

Latency

Install Issues

Buy Gear 

Writing Music

Inspiration

Recorders

Keyboards

Controllers

CC Events

MIDI Routing

Mixers

Understanding your Mixer

Digital Mixers

Analog Mixers

Mixer Hookup

Control Surface

Microphones

Mic Preamps

Converters

Monitors

MIDI Modules

Effects

Sequencers

VST, AU, RTAS 

Soft Samplers

Soft Synths

Audio Plugins

Synth Prg Tips

MIDI to Audio

Cables

Impedance

Patchbays

Studio Setup

Room Acoustics

War on Hum

Quiet Room

Dual Monitors

DJ studio

Networking

16 vs 24 bit

Word Clock

Timecode

Build a DAW

Tracking

Record Vocal

Session Tips

Vocal Editing

AutoTune etc

Using EQ

Harmonizers

Guitar Tracks

Guitar Tone

Drum Tips

Drum Patterns

Hip Hop Beats

Cymbals

Sampling

Samplers

Compressors

Pan, Vol, FX

Mixing 101

Mix Methods

Mastering

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DJ

 

21 ways to assemble a
home recording RIG

page 2
Page    1   2   3   4   5   6

A Tour through the Diverse Home Studio options available Today



Rig #5 Project Mix System

Who it is for:

Ideal for those working alone or recording small ensembles.  For those who want to run Pro Tools M-powered but also want the flexibility to run other software.

Hooking it up:  

Both the Project mix and the Tascam 1884 are really easy to hook up cause everything is on the "big box" connector wise.  Your mics go into the XLR inputs, your synth goes into line inputs.  Your monitors should be connected to the main outs.  Connect your keyboard's MIDI i/o direct to the box.  Both MIDI and audio will go down the firewire cable to the computer so no additional interface is needed. 

 

M-Audio Project Mix I/O Control Surface/Interface
alternative:  Tascam FW1884 
fw1884
Tascam FW1884 DAW/Audio/MIDI Interface  or M-Audio Project Mix I/O Control Surface/Interface

 

KRK RP8g2 Rokit Powered 2-Way Active Monitor
This system can be upgraded with premium preamps if you decide to do so later, like the FMR RNP, Great River ME1-NV
Behringer B2031A Truth Active Monitors can save ypu some money

 

 
The Fantastic Motif XS
Any MIDI keyboard.  Suggestions Fantom G, Triton Xtreme, Motif XS

 

AKG K171 Studio Closed Headphones
 
MAudio Pro Tools M-Powered Recording Software (requires M-audio interface)
or
Steinberg Cubase Recording Software  or Logic Pro
Native Instruments NI Komplete Bundle

Add a computer

Studio Projects TB1 Tube Microphone
Dynamic Mic of choice like SM57
Rode NT4 Stereo Condenser Microphone

      Discussion of Rig #5

M-Audio has a good thing going here.  The Project Mix is your audio interface, mixer, control surface and midi interface all in one box.  8 preamps, ADAT, s/pdif, word clock.  Total i/o is 18x14.  Logic, Pro Tools M-Powered, and Cubase are supported among others.  What is cool here is that you can run Pro Tools M-Powered and also run other sequencers.  This makes it a bit more flexible than systems like the Digidesign 003 that runs Pro Tools LE.  So get a sequencer, add a few mics, monitors, controller (or keyboard) and a Mac or PC.  As always check out the other pages on TweakHeadz for advice on those items, but I think you'll enjoy this system more if you avoid the budget gear.  And the good thing is, you don't need that much!

Get the NI Komplete bundle to give you a whole lot of software synths, the great soft sampler, Kontakt, and many processors. The bundle is RTAS compatible as well as VST, AU and DX, so it is going to work in M-Powered as well as Cubase, Sonar or Logic. 

The strong point of this rig is the sophisticated automated mixing you can do in an easy to use interface.  As a control surface, the Project Mix will follow and control your software mixer in the sequencer giving you a great way to "mix in the box" from outside the box.  With Kontakt2 under the hood, you can add premium sample libraries at any time, giving you excellent source material. 





Rig #6 Old School Hip Hop Studio

    Discuss This Rig      This rig can be discussed here: Rig #6 Old School Hip Hop Studio

Who is it for:

Those doing sample based music, track at a time.  That includes hip hop.

Hooking it up:  

For a pages on how to put together an MPC based rig, go back to Signal Flow #3 and the MPC setup page.  The MPC or MV rig is simple--until you add  computer MIDI/Audio sequencer to the rig.  Still there are many ways to make the MPC work out depending on the role it plays for you.

Here's a handy comparison chart.  This document is a must read before you get your MPC.  Not all MPCs have mic preamps; not all DJ mixers have good professional mic preamps that use XLR connectors.  Not all MPC's do sample slicing or time stretch.  Also not that the pads are not the same.  You might notice that the pads on the hi price MPCs are square and the lower priced ones are rectangular. 
 

Adam A5 Powered Nearfield Monitor, Adam Sub7 Powered Studio Subwoofer

Akai MPC5000
Akai MPC 2500 
Akai MPC 1000
 
Shure SM58 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
or more upscale:
ElectrovoiceRE20
No computer required (unless you want one)
Alternative to the MPC: The MV8800 is more than just a sampler.  It has a synth onboard and can be used as a multi-track recorder.  You can connect a video monitor to it.  16 vintage drum machines onboard and some vintage Roland effects processors as well.  Ideal for hip hop and rap.  It will do the beat and the vocals, mix, master and burn.  While the MPC5000 has added features, it still does not have the higher quality display of the MV8800.  Also, you can connect a standard video monitor to the MV8800 for an even larger display. 
Numark TT1650 Direct Drive Turntable or Vestax PDX2000 Pro Turntable
Pioneer CDJ-1000 MK3 DJ CD/MP3 Player

 

Edirol PCR30 32-Note USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

Headphones

DJ Mixer  There is a DJ mixer for every budget and it greatly enhances the cheaper MPCs.  The MV8800 does not need one and neither does the new MPC 5000. Most have inputs for CD and phono.  Be picky that the preamps match your mics.  If you have condenser mics, make sure the mixer has phantom power.

 

Hip Hop and Rap rely, fundamentally, on groove.  Vocals need to be big, and are aided, classically speaking, by snippets of audio captured off vinyl.  These genres rose with digital sampling and when the first drum box/samplers came out they helped define the genre.  The MPC4000, 2500 and 1000 are direct descendants of this lineage which began with the MPC60.  The groove is tapped out on the pads, the snippets are sampled to the pads and if you want you can even assign a vocal to a pad.  When you get the flow down, you can work fast on an MPC, laying down tracks to make your beats in minutes, often without pressing stop on the recorder.  That is why hip hop studios like them.  

One approach is to do everything on the MPC.  No computers, mixers are necessary.  Many artists later add them for the flexibility, but you don't have to.  You can also take it with you to a pro studio to print your tracks, after you tweak the beat at home.

There is yet another variation of this rig with the M-Audio Project Mix, which can be used with a Mac or a PC and can also run Pro Tools M-Powered, good for those who think they may want to go with a Pro Tools system, but want to keep options open to other sequencers as well.

idea!All MPCs are not equal.  The MPC5000, 2500 and MPC 1000 (and the small MPC 500) feature USB sample transfer via compact flash cards which will make it easier to deal with.  The MPC 2000, the older version, uses SCSI to communicate to computers. 90's technology. My opinion: Avoid it, unless you already have a SCSI card and peripherals.  The MPC 5000 comes with more memory, an internal drive and an onboard analog style synth. It also has a phono input so you can connect your turntable directly without a DJ mixer or external preamp. 

Note that only the now discontinued MPC 4000 features 24 bit recording and high sample rates. Even the newest MPC 5000 is restricted to recording at 16 bits.   However, many home studios will not have use for all those features, and the simpler 2500 and basic 1000 will win out.  Budget studios might consider the MPC 500, the least expensive.  But if you have the cash, the MPC5000 is most able to do full productions by itself.

Upscale gear for scratch, chop and screw


Korg KP3 Kaoss Pad
Korg's KAOSS technology has been embraced by DJs, musicians and producers alike. No other interface is as intuitive, immediate or just plain fun to use. By simply touching, tapping or sliding your finger over the touchpad, the all-new KP3 allows you to control multiple effects parameters and manipulate samples in real time.
Yamaha TENORI-ON Music Creation Device
Media artist Toshio Iwai collaborated with Yamaha to design a totally new musical instrument. Tenori-on combines a MIDI controller, tone generator, sampler and stunning visual user interface. Most importantly it's a unique new way to approach playing and composing music. Music instantly becomes a wall of light graffiti as you paint the sounds across its 256 LED buttons.


 

You can also use the MPC as a slave in a computer rig. If that is your intention, you might not need the synth and hard drives on your MPC, and the MPC 2500 might be the best way to go.  As a slave, it works more like a sampler/sound module.  It will follow the sequencer's clock and stay in time and the computer sequencer can trigger the samples remotely over MIDI. 

I suggest the Shure SM58 for its rich proximity effect when spoken into at close range.  The Event Precision 8 monitors are known for good bass reproduction.  Add a MIDI keyboard and turntable as you see fit.  While most of the hardware samplers are now as extinct, the MPC has survived due to its ability to make hop hop beats.  You might want to compare it to the MV8800.

 

    Discuss This Rig      This rig can be discussed here: Rig #6 Old School Hip Hop Studio

 


 

Rig #7  Classic Computer Based All-Purpose Analog Mixer Rig

    Discuss This Rig      This rig can be discussed here: Rig #7 Classic Computer Based All-Purpose Analog Mixer Rig

 

Who is it for:

Ideal for those who like the "hands on"  hardware mixer approach, but want the benefits of the new software technologies, needs to record up to 8 simultaneous tracks for the band and keep it all reasonably priced.

Hooking Up this Rig:

Basically you have 2-8 channels going out of the mixer to the audio interface and 8 channels coming back from the audio interface to the mixer.  This means yes you can actually mix 8 channels on the mixer!   If you have hardware midi synths with sounds you can monitor those on the mixer.  This kind of hardware based rig can be extended and made more efficient with a patchbay.  That way you can quickly reconfigure what each channel of the mixer is doing. 

Allen and Heath ZED428 28-Channel Mixer
Mackie HR824Mk2 or suitable monitors
MAudio Audio Delta 1010 and Ableton Delta-Live Bundle (8in/8out PC Card)
A nice touch adds professional  plugins
Cakewalk SONAR Home Studio (Windows)
Rode NT2a and SM81
Sennheiser MD421 or RE20 or SM7b
 Add a PC with Sonar or Cubase.  The Delta comes with a lite version of the Ableton Live
 
The Delta series came out in the late 90's, and they run great on old computers with win98se as well as XP.  Check on Vista though, OK?.
Headphones of choice
Any MIDI keyboard --ideally one with sounds, like the dreamy sounding Korg X50 (hey, its a spinoff of the Triton family)
Korg X50 61-Key Synthesizer Keyboard
Behringer DI100 Active Direct Box 
(4 your guitar and unusual instrument at high impedance)

 

OK, lets get back to the home recording studio where our goal is to record musical performances in our homes on a computer. The hardware mixer approach has been around a long time and has the advantage of giving you more ins and outs for the money, more preamps, and real faders upon which to sculpt your mix. The Delta 1010 is a great choice for a PC mixer based rig.  Since the Zed 428 is providing the preamps, you only need line ins and outs here.  And if 8x8 i/o is not enough, you can get an additional Delta 1010 and stack 'em for a 16x16 analog i/o system.

Since we are recording vocals and instruments here we are going to start with a beefy Mic selection.  The Rode NT2a is a condenser mic which is great for vocals and has the versatility to be called in for many other uses.  The MD421, a dynamic mic, is good for drums, loud vocals, voice-overs and cabs.   Of course you can always add the studio staple mics like the Shure SM57 (dynamic) and the SM81 (small condenser).  Of course there are many great microphones around, and you don't necessarily need them all to get started.  Remember from the guide the essentials are a good large condenser, a good small condenser and a dynamic. 

The Allen & Heath Zed 428 is a true 4 bus mixer so you will have all 4 busses routed to the audio interface. You also have direct outs which can be used for additional routings. You can use balanced cables for everything but the inserts and keep the noise floor way down even with long cable runs.  This gives you the option of hardware effects processors and enough inputs to run several synths, modules, mics. For recording guitar or bass direct you want to add the DI-100 direct box.

You can even do out of the box mixes on this system, using the analog summing on the Zed 428 to combine signals. 

There are many different effects processors to choose from in the hardware domain. You might consider one that has USB that can be inserted into your sequencer as a VST plugin, yet be powered as a hardware device.  Lexicon has a line of processors that do this.  Look at the MX200, MX400 and MX400XL.

  check itIts a wonderful system, as it lets you into both the virtual studio of your sequencer and the hardware world, and merges them together where you decide what you want to do. Don't fall into the mistake of thinking "mixerless is better".  Do you really want to do everything with a mouse on a computer screen?  The people who choose this rig yell back "NO!"  This classic approach takes longer to set up and there are more cables, but it remains the most flexible and complete of all approaches.


While this rig is not terribly expensive you can cut costs even more by getting the Delta 1010LT instead of the 1010 (The LT version does not have a break out box, it has a break out cable and the i/o is unbalanced.).  Substitute Behringer or Yamaha 2+2 bus mixer for the Allen&Heath and you have saved some serious cashola.

    Discuss This Rig      This rig can be discussed here: Rig #7 Classic Computer Based All-Purpose Analog Mixer Rig


 

 

Rig #8  The Ultimate Sonar Based PC Rig:  The V-studio 700

Discuss This Rig      This rig can be discussed here: Rig #8 PC DAW Firewire Studio with motorized faders

Who it is for:

The V-Studio 700 is for those who want a one box solution that includes and audio interface, control surface, mixing and a Roland Fantom sound source.  in other words, for those that do not want to compromise.  The hardware is made by Roland and was designed specifically for using Sonar Producer as a DAW on a PC

Hooking it Up: 

The V-studio 700 hooks up to a computer by a USB 2.0 cable which passes all the audio, midi and control surface data in both directions. Your mics keyboards, monitors, and headphones all connect on the back of the 700R

 

Sonar V-studio 700
v700r

Cakewalk Sonar V-Studio 700 Recording System
Includes V-Studio 700C, 700R, Roland Fantom VS Synthesizer, and Sonar Producer Edition.

 

Rode NT2a
or suitable large condenser
 
Sonar is bundled with the V-studio 700
Headphones of choice
Sennheiser MD421, Electrovoice RE20 or dynamic of choice
axiom pro
M-audio Axiom Pro 49
 Ozone
 or Waves
Computer: The more plugins and soft synths you use, the more powerful it needs to be
Shure SM81 or small condenser of choice
 
Sound Forge  (and CD Architect)
and add the PC and some soft synths

 

Three powerful pieces make up the core here:  Sonar, your keyboard, and the V-studio 700  They put you right on the edge of music production technology.  The onboard Fantom VS hardware synth gives you 1400 ready to use sounds with no waiting.  That gives you enough sounds and control to create in any music style and come up with your own signature.  Of course you can add 3rd party soft synths and processors like you can with any other DAW. 

 

check itSound Forge and CD Architect gives you mastering capabilities.  You can pipe audio from inside Sonar to Forge with ease, and from CD architect back to Forge for final editing. 

In sum, Massive Power and flexibility are yours with this system.  An ideal PC based studio.

Discuss This Rig      This rig can be discussed here: Rig #8 PC DAW Firewire Studio with motorized faders

 

 


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