$2,000.00. What Should I Get?

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$2,000.00. What Should I Get?

Post by saxrmc » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:07 pm

I want to set up recording vocals. I basically need three things: (1) a microphone, (2) a protools set up like the mbox, and (3) a good preamp for the mic, maybe with a chanel strip. I know there are monitors, headphones, cables, etc. which I will get, but for our purposes here, let's not throw that into the equation. I have $2,000.00, maybe somewhat more to buy the three listed things.

The vocals I want to record will be me, soft male Elliot Smith-ish type voclas, and a female singer, who has a low-range Sade type voice with the power of an Etta James. I plan on recording indefinitely. The recording will be on my laptop at home and will also go to other peoples houses to record. What should I get and please explain why? Thanks.

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Post by joninc » Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:02 pm

what kind of music are you making? elliot smith and sade are miles apart sound wise...

does it have to be protools? (i'd recommend cubase over pro tools LE - better value for money). check out the presonus inspire - 2 channels mic pre/DI and 2 line inputes bundled with cubase and acid. cheaper and better than the mbox.

i'd stay clear of eq/comp strips in this price range - keep it simple. you can tweak it later. get a solid pre amp and mic rather than a soso channel strip.


mic - condensor or dynamic?

rode NT2 - versatile and cheap (maybe $300)
at4047 tube
apex 460 tube

dynamic - sm7 a studio staple (wilco/ray lamontagne/michael jackson/sheryl crow voc mic) - $400 new - smooth and forgiving.

preamp - you want vintage or new school?

RNP - 2 channels clean - no color - transformerless. $400 ish.

UA solo 610 - more high end 1 channel tube old school sound - $700 ish

ART pro MPA - decent mid level 2 channel tube pre amp with some character and HPF - can be had for $250 used
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Post by saxrmc » Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:19 pm

Thanks Joninc for replying. To answer your questions,
(1) the music I am making is miles apart, varies from track to track. Mixture of Beck, Portishead, Elliot Smith, Motown, and goes on.
(2) Yes it does have to be protools
(3) I think a condensor mic is more of what I'm looking for just because that's what anyone has ever reccomended.
(4) For the pre-amp, I'm not concerned so much about new or vintage, just whatever sound best.

Also thank you for putting in the descriptions, characteristics, prices, and artists that used the gear where you could. That was awesome.

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Post by joninc » Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:39 pm

i'd definitely consider the sm7 - it will give you a lot of these sounds. cheap condensers tend to have a harsh top end and your budget is basically $1500 for a mic and pre after you get your mbox or mbox 2.

i thought similarly when i was starting out - that a condensor was the thing you needed but not necessarily so. the sm7 really holds it's own.

so what's better is an impossible thing to answer - there are tons of options, opinions and whats better to me might be worse to you. it's really like flavors and what tastes good to you. it might be a bit of a dissappointment to find that no one mic will be ideal for everything.

some people really want a more modern sound and will like the "less colored" transformerless.

some people swear by tubes. that's what i thought i wanted when i started recording a few years back. i thought tube gear would be "warmer" and therefore smoother and nicer to listen to. but the truth is that a lot of cheap tube gear sounds grainy in a crappy and small in a way. although i don't mind my ART PROmpa - it sounded every bit as good as the pres in a drawmer 1960 (a much more expensive studio staple).

TO MY EARS. i discovered that what my ears like a lot is TRANSFORMERS - that's what a lot of those old designs are built on. i like the vintech stuff - the great river. these are big sounding units but prob beyond your budget unless you swing some sweet used gear.

for your budget i'd say - get a SM7 ($350 new on ebay) - a APEX 460 ($229 on ebay) and an RNP ($475) and a RNC compressor ($170 new on ebay). that will give you nice clean gain and 2 different flavors for vocals sounds. the RNC is a really versatile and usable compressor which can be really key in creating different sounds and reigning in dynamic performances. the RNP has insert jacks so it's very easy to attach the compressor.

you should get a lot of mileage, variety and decent sounds out of that gear. the 460 is great on percussion/acoustic/bass amp too and the sm7 is a great hihat mic and nice on electric guitars too.
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Post by JWL » Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:48 pm

I'd get at least 2 different, interesting mics. The 2 mics will enable you to get a variety of sounds, which in the context of a song will sound better than all tracks with the same tonality, imho.

Probably for that budget I'd grab a RNP (listed above.... I'd get this because it's uncolored, you don't want to stack up a bunch of similarly-colored tracks), an oktavamod 219 condenser (or possibly a Rode NT2A), a ribbon microphone (I like the Shinybox with an upgraded transformer).

I don't know much about pro tools so I'll let someone else comment. I do kinda like M-Audio stuff, so pro tools m-powered with one of the M-Audio Firewire dealios would be cool. another benefit of going the m-powered route is that you can easily use other apps with your hardware (sonar or cubase, acid, live etc). I know that some pro tools hardware is proprietary, and the hardware/software won't work without the other one. Silly.

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Post by nlmd311 » Tue Apr 03, 2007 7:41 am

You've got some good tips so far, the only thing I think you may want to consider on top of the microphone(s), pre, and ProTools hardware/software is something like this: http://www.realtraps.com/p_pvb.htm
This could be a serious tool for you if you are planning on doing most of your recording in a variety of settings. The best thing is that you could get more mileage out of it and use it to help with acoustic guitar mic'ing, as well as amps and drums to a certain extent. Vocals seem to be high up on your list of sounds you want to work with and I'd say making sure you have some decent treatment will only make them easier to capture and control, especially if your space is going to constantly change (location recording!).
And just so it doesn't seem like a biased pimp, Studio Projects makes a similar product as well as does someone else whose site I can't remember right now.

Hope that helps

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Post by LVC_Jeff » Tue Apr 03, 2007 9:16 am

If it were me....MBox Pro, UA610, and a Shinybox ribbon...I think that's under $2K...
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Post by honkyjonk » Tue Apr 03, 2007 10:09 am

Hmmm. A couple reccomendations for the UA unit that half the people who have them hate. I guess that speaks to the other half that love them.

If you were into building stuff for yourself, you could get a LOT of value for your money.

For example,

The Hamptone JFET preamp kit: $700 (is that right? I think it's $700. Used to be cheaper. I have the tube one, which is more expensive. You can record anything with it. Totally versatile. It would suit both those voices. As far as I've heard there's a lot of people who even like the JFET version better.)

A Nady TCM 1050, which has the same circuit as the Apex 460 and Nady TCM1150, but it has a bigger headbasket. Upgrade this thing with a Peluso capsule, a cinemag or Peluso Xformer, different C8 cap. Mods described here: http://studioforums.com/eve/forums/a/tp ... 1621015622 All this can be done for less than $500

Or for a more neutral LDC, an AT4050.

And a Shure SM7B (full compass has the best price on these. $320 I believe?) Just make sure and get this mic if you get anything.

Then you have $450 left for an MBox.

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Post by treymonfauntre » Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:23 pm

shure sm7 / heil pr30 / electrovoice re20
they're all high end dynamics that cut through a mix. they unfortunately need a lot of gain, which some cheaper preamps don't supply so well. if you're looking for fast results i'd check out some of the audio technica condenser mics like the 4033 or even the 4040.

the mbox isn't as bad as people percieve it to be. if you aren't playing a great song then sure its not going to sound great. but its definitely not going to make a great song sound awful.

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Post by darjama » Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:47 pm

mbox 2 pro - $700 (personally I'd go for an rme fireface or HDSP solution, but I'm not big on protools)
sm7 - $300
at4060 - $700, a really nice sounding tube mic (there's on open box one at 8thstreet dot com right now at this price). Another alternative might be the new chameleon labs ts2. I haven't heard this one, but advance word is good and it should have lots of tonal options.

hmm, I'm not leaving a lot of money for preamps, am I? If you don't feel like the built-in pre's are giving you everything you need look into the black lion audio mod for $295. Or pick up an EH 12AYZ or groove tube brick pre for some variety for $180.

I'll echo what a few others have said about wanting to have more than a condenser. No microphone is going to sound great on every source, and a pair like this is going to cover a lot of bases. Plus 2 mics give you some stereo options.

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Post by Coco » Tue Apr 03, 2007 2:21 pm

honkyjonk wrote:Hmmm. A couple reccomendations for the UA unit that half the people who have them hate. I guess that speaks to the other half that love them.
The 2-610 makes a decent vocal pre and bass DI.

I have not used the solo 610 so I can't comment as I believe the pres in each model are slightly different.
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Post by syrupcore » Tue Apr 03, 2007 3:18 pm


definitely get two mics. the second one can be a 70 dollar used sm58 but you will not be sorry.

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Post by saxrmc » Tue Apr 03, 2007 9:11 pm

I appreciate everyone's comments. This is all great input. Just curious, I haven't seen any mention of blue mics listed here but in person people have told me they're great.

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Post by angopop » Tue Apr 03, 2007 10:14 pm

First thing to get would be another 2 grand. Then you can do everything else that you want.

Why don't you spent the 2,000 on a good recording in a pro studio?


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Post by chris harris » Tue Apr 03, 2007 10:22 pm

angopop wrote:First thing to get would be another 2 grand. Then you can do everything else that you want.

Why don't you spent the 2,000 on a good recording in a pro studio?

uhhh... did you even bother looking around to see where you are?
this is the kind of idiotic response you expect to see in those other forums. that kind of bullshit attitude isn't really welcome here.

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