Basement studio: buy dynamics?

Recording Techniques, People Skills, Gear, Recording Spaces, Computers, and DIY

Moderators: drumsound, tomb

User avatar
Peterson Goodwyn
pushin' record
Posts: 218
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 1:00 pm
Location: West Philly
Contact:

Basement studio: buy dynamics?

Post by Peterson Goodwyn » Sat Jan 24, 2009 6:39 am

Hi, my name is Peterson. I've posted a couple of times but I thought I'd preface this one with a bit of an introduction. I'm am pretty new to engineering but very serious and hoping to make it into a career. I am putting a little studio together in my basement and I am looking for some broad gear-buying advice. My current line of thinking is that since I will be recording in a less-than-ideal acoustic environment, I should focus on getting some quality dynamics rather than bright, detailed, condensers. A PR40 instead of a 4033, say. Or a 421 instead of a pair of MK012s. Not that those mics are comparable, but you get the picture.

What do you think? Will this allow me to get better recordings of vocals, acoustic guitar, and drums without maximizing the "recorded in a basement" ambience? I intern a couple of "real" studios and I often hear a high quality condenser, like a pair of 4050s, and think, WOW! that would really reveal how awful my room sounds

Addendum: I love to hear the sound of a room in a recording, and some very non-traditional sounding rooms can sound great in the right context, but I think for my purposes and with my set of clients, I would be better of trying to minimize the basement sound rather than embrace it.

delo054
pluggin' in mics
Posts: 32
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 12:00 pm

Post by delo054 » Sat Jan 24, 2009 6:46 am

I also record in my basement, and with a little treatment, it should be no problem...you should be choosing mics to indulge whatever source you are recording...not trying to mask problems in your set up....sweep the room, and its pretty easy to find inexpensive ways to fix most things....i have had suprisingly good results... considering the low ceilings i can get killer drum sounds with a little work.....just my two cents

User avatar
Waltz Mastering
steve albini likes it
Posts: 335
Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 4:22 am
Location: Third Stone From The Sun
Contact:

Post by Waltz Mastering » Sat Jan 24, 2009 6:47 am

Just because it's a basement doesn't mean it will sound bad. The best thing do is borrow some good mics and do some test. With close miking you'll get more instrument and less room anyway. Having a better mic I think would be the way to go... or a mix of both

TW
Last edited by Waltz Mastering on Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
blackdiscoball
suffering 'studio suck'
Posts: 469
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2005 5:32 pm

Post by blackdiscoball » Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:02 am

I would agree with everyone else but say, buys some dynamics. Many of good dynamics are cheaper to buy then a good condenser mic so you get got more for your money.For instance you can buy a shure SM57, sennhieser E609, and a AKF RE-20 for about the price of a 4050. That's 3 different flavors for the price of one! (although the 4050 is REALLY versatile mic so you get a lot of uses out of it as well) I have a love for dynamics because you can get a bunch for cheap and have a ton of different sounds in your arsenal.
myspace.com/blackdiscoballstudio/

Judas Jetski
carpal tunnel
Posts: 1584
Joined: Sun Jan 16, 2005 7:30 pm
Location: The US North Coast
Contact:

Post by Judas Jetski » Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:05 am

I have a pair of Oktava(mod) MK-012s which are spectacular. And, yes, now I can hear how rotten my basement sounds (although it's a basement, not a basement studio). I'm not sure I'd go back to what I was using before, though. For instance, I think if I was recording drums alone, the unwanted room sound would be less of a problem. I've got a few tricks up my sleeve for minimizing my horrible basement acoustics, and I'm sure you would do the same. But I think it's probably harder to fix the sounds coming from an inadequate microphone than it is to fix the sounds coming from an inadequate room.

And like everyone else says, there are lots of cheap things you can do to fix a room, if you're willing to get creative. For example, I stacked my summer tires in an otherwise unusable, unfixable (sonically) corner of my basement. Made a huge difference right away. Next, I'm going to use some leftover paneling to cover up the floor joists to see if that helps.
New Judas Jetski EP up! andysmash.bandcamp.com

www.andysmash.com

User avatar
timmymacdd
takin' a dinner break
Posts: 164
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:35 am
Location: Rochester, MI
Contact:

Post by timmymacdd » Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:21 am

Cheap condenser mics are better than any dynamic microphone.

I would personally rather use 100 dollar compresor mics than 100 dollar dynamic mics....they pick up way way way better and more sound.....

ALTHOUGH the whole entire trick is using what you have to sound as great as it can in your mic choice and room.

It makes no difference actually.....truthfully you get an engineer that knows what he/she is doing and it will sound awsome with whatever room, gear, or mic that you have.

ANd like another poster here said there are craploads of totally free ways to make a basement sound good enough. and lots and lots of tricks. There are so many tricks that noone has even figured them all out yet. SO whatever you actually end up with learn to use it and it will sound really great. No matter what you get when you start out you will be laughing in one year that you thought it was good.....hehe

ANd whos to say that in five years people won't be saying that recording in the basement is the way to go? music is style....I would have never thought that kids wearing eyeshadow was going to be cool....or that long hair bands would ever look goofy...or that rap would still be here. SO it is not too far fetched to believe that in 5 years most bands will be recording their tracks in basements...and that WILL be the sound. WHo knows?

The way sound goes into a microphone and what you do to it afterwards is so warped....that both mics can come to the same place after filters/effects/EQ/compression or at least close to it....it is only a matter of the time it takes and what you have to do to a signal. We prefer to not have to do much to the sound but if you do have to do much sometimes it really will sound awesome. I would say that every studio and every mic setup has some ups and downs.....it is just the knowledge of getting it to sound right that actually makes the track sound great. That is why you hear people talking about mic placement and sound re-enforcement, and performance of the players and good monitoring systems....mic choice is only about 10 percent of the actual sound so either way go with what you can afford.

AND ebay and craigslist the crap out of your choices...this world is full of engineers with mics to sell so they can move up......or they have a real job and tried to get into music production and suck so they have to sell all of their equiptment for pennies on the dollar......take advantage- I do. I look to sweetwater and cut 55 percent off the price of anything I want new and that is what I will pay used......and I get every item I want for half price ....A lot of people want me to pay 80 percent of the price and I laugh my ass off and move on to the next one.....half off the going new price is key and there are so many mics floating around out there that it is the normal price. most items can be bought lower than half price. And you can call it recycling if you feel guilty.....why should it sit in someone else's basement not getting used?
Last edited by timmymacdd on Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
blackdiscoball
suffering 'studio suck'
Posts: 469
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2005 5:32 pm

Post by blackdiscoball » Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:26 am

SO it is not too far fetched to believe that in 5 years most bands will be recording their tracks in basements...and that WILL be the sound. WHo knows?
5 years? How about now!
myspace.com/blackdiscoballstudio/

User avatar
timmymacdd
takin' a dinner break
Posts: 164
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:35 am
Location: Rochester, MI
Contact:

Post by timmymacdd » Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:39 am

blackdiscoball wrote:
SO it is not too far fetched to believe that in 5 years most bands will be recording their tracks in basements...and that WILL be the sound. WHo knows?
5 years? How about now!
Most of my favorite bands come from myspace basements....and record in their basement or some other crappy venue. F$$K record labels....live shows sell to me anyways.

I think people just like to blame their inadequate room situations or mics for their inadequate recording savvy.

kayagum
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3489
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 11:11 pm
Location: Saint Paul, MN

Post by kayagum » Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:54 am

Meathands has posted one of the smartest initial posts on this board- seriously! :D

Instead of thinking about "what's the best $100 mic"- why not think "what's the best mic(s) for my situation?"

BTW: I think you're spot on (why do you think radio announcers tend to use large diaphragm dynamics in their closet-size radio booth)- plus even when you get condensor mics later, you will still find that you will use your dynamic mics. There are a thousand reasons why you will find these mics in ALL studios!

Plus, I just think dynamics sound more "balanced" for a lot of applications. Not just music- I recorded a whole theater show's worth of foley recordings with just a SM7b into my RNP straight to file, and I didn't have to do ANYTHING to the file. One take and done. That's how it's supposed to work, especially when you have to record literally dozens of cues fast. That's how I define a workhorse mic.

That being said, you can make sensitive mics work in crappy space if you (a) pay attention to the pickup pattern and sensitivity of the mic, and (b) use some strategically placed baffling and gobos. I personally love my SE Reflexion filter, but even some blankets or foam bits in the right place can make a difference.

User avatar
Jay Reynolds
carpal tunnel
Posts: 1604
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2008 5:48 pm
Location: Austin, TX
Contact:

Post by Jay Reynolds » Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:00 am

+1 on leaning towards dynamics. But I also agree that you should borrow a condenser or two and see what different placements do for the sound. after all, even with dynamics, placement will still be a consideration. And you might find that you still get better results with a recorderman/glynn johns setup for drums than with a close mics+over heads setup. Which might mean you'd want 2 condensors in your locker.

As far as "Cheap condenser mics are better than any dynamic microphone", I've got a tenor sax that begs to differ. It doesn't even like my 414uls or my tlm 103. But it loves it the sm7b and re20. Believe me when I tell you I've put this to the test over and over in my room. My bari doesn't really love the LCDs either.

In fact, an re20 was used on all the sax work here:
http://www.myspace.com/superaction80
Prog out with your cog out.

User avatar
blackdiscoball
suffering 'studio suck'
Posts: 469
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2005 5:32 pm

Post by blackdiscoball » Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:04 am

plus even when you get condensor mics later, you will still find that you will use your dynamic mics. There are a thousand reasons why you will find these mics in ALL studios!
Exactly, what I meant to say. I guess I really like dynamic mics. I've recorded whole songs with nothing but dynamics, ribbons for drum overheads, moving coils on everything else, SM 58 for vocals... etc. It was pretty easy to mix since I didn't have this huge excess of frequencies I didn't want to use. And like stated, 5 years down the line your $100 MXL probable wont be much use to you since you now own a bunch of nice condensers, but I bet that the Sm57, or equivalent dynamic mic will still be useful. And as for dynamics not being as detailed as condensers... generally no, the transients aren't replicated as accurately, but that's OK, I think that its a more pleasing version, I don't need that open high hats loud quick transients crushing my ears, Ill take a ribbon on it any day!
myspace.com/blackdiscoballstudio/

User avatar
NeglectedFred
pushin' record
Posts: 248
Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2005 6:53 pm
Location: Salt Lake City

Post by NeglectedFred » Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:45 am

Sometimes it's easier for people who are not in your situation to understand it more clearly - so just go with me for a sec... I think you'll be able to answer your own question a little better.

Let's say this is 8mmOp, a video forum - and you want to start a video recording studio recording local commercials or infomercials, or what have you..

The lighting in your basement isn't that good, would it be a good idea to avoid HiDef cameras in hopes to hide the fact that you couldn't get a good picture anyway?

It's a little ridiculous, considering the cost of lighting vs. the cost of good cameras..

Room treatment vs. Microphones....

Me personally, I've thrown a lot of money out in my journey to get good sounds, and if I would have started with the mindset of creating the best sound at the source (instruments and environment) I'd have more cash for things I could use now.
I eat glue.

norton
buyin' a studio
Posts: 839
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2003 4:42 pm
Location: minneapolis

Post by norton » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:01 am

I think i see where you're going here..... It's a multi-layered question.

1) If your room is less than ideal, do you really want to pick up "more" of that?... and
2) will dynamic mic's be better suited to this particular environment?


You've gotten some really good responses too, I think.

For me... I'd have to say that you should run away from MOST cheap condenser mic's... they really put on a great shine at first, but there's usually a TON of hashy garbage lurking just under the sugar coated surface. Not to mention the honky resonant woof you get from the mic's pingy body.

For instance... lots of harsh off axis phase related yuk. Something that your room is guaranteed to be putting out in spades... if it's untreated. Think cymbal decay bouncing from all the walls and mixing together to form a cascading wall of ear ringing zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzaaaaanggggggg. oh how i hate that sound.

If you go with Ribbon mics at least your mic's won't be adding to the room hash, in the way that cheap condensers will. But they'll still pick it up if it's there.

Good dynamic mics are aweome things to behold for sure.

But you've got to TREAT your SPACE! There really isn't any way around that fact. You can do it yourself... pretty cheaply. You can check out GIK, Realtraps, or modtraps (shameless plug). Hang up some blankets... go ultra commando if you need to.

OR take what you see there and DIY. Whether you use spot treatment or go whole hoggg you'll totally notice the benefits and all your mic's will sound better. hands down.


good luck!

User avatar
DrummerMan
george martin
Posts: 1374
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2008 12:18 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Contact:

Post by DrummerMan » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:47 am

timmymacdd wrote:Cheap condenser mics are better than any dynamic microphone.
Sorry dude, but I have to wholeheartedly disagree with this statement as well. I have actively and methodically chosen dynamics like re20's, sm7's, sennheiser 441's, and shure 55's (even 57's and 58's) over even high quality condensers like Neumann u87's and other fancy LDC's, not to mention the plethora of cheap condensers that are always around, and on a wide variety of sources. It's not to say that one is always better than the other, it's just that they sound different for different uses.


That being said, I'd agree that room treatment will be your best friend here, followed by a variety of types of mics. Even if room treatment cuts into your mic budget, in my opinion, you'll probably be able to get away with less mics to make stuff sound good. I'm mostly thinking here about the fact of how amazed I am at the sound I can get off drums with one mic in a good sounding room as opposed to 5+ mics in a shit room. I mean, we all have our tricks to make stuff work, but I'd go for the former, myself, any day.
Geoff Mann
composer | drummer | Los Angeles, CA

User avatar
;ivlunsdystf
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3290
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 7:15 am
Location: The Great Frontier of the Southern Anoka Sand Plain
Contact:

Post by ;ivlunsdystf » Sat Jan 24, 2009 11:08 am

Gottasay: I disagree with the whole "dynamics by nature are not as good as condensers" premise of this thread. It's like regular gas vs. diesel: pros and cons either way.

I am perhaps biased because I rarely fire up condensers now, and record in an increasingly tiny room which does increasingly seem to play best with dynamics.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 56 guests