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> Scarlett Rack Solution, Home Recording improvements
Roadside
post Aug 21 2017, 02:54 PM
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So, a good friend and our vocalist is thinking about upgrading his basic "bed room studio" to a more advanced solution.

He is considering to buy a mic preamp for whole band recording as well as a new interface and some headphone preamp.
As he digged his Scarlett USB interface, following models are considered:

https://www.thomann.de/de/focusrite_scarlet...i20_2nd_gen.htm

https://www.thomann.de/de/focusrite_scarlet...arlett_405402_9

Invests for power supply and headphone preamp are less high and not considered.

How do you think will this improve over his current USB interface I think a scarlett 2i2.

From what I know I would assume that preamps built in to USB interfaces are quite good nowadays, but our vocals recording really miss quality of the pure vocal signal.

As the scarlett octopre is also not offering a tube preamp, there is only one major advantage which is the compression for each channel as well as the AD-/DA-transistor.

Wouldnt the scarlett 18i20 as an audio interface serve similar purposes? I am not an expert, but I cannot find the difference why it would make sense to buy the scarlett octo as a preamp.

Any thoughts?
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Mertay
post Aug 21 2017, 04:38 PM
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If he wants to record more channels on separate tracks these are the good budget options, but as you said they won't sound any better than his 2i2 as the components in the soundcard are probably the same.

That aside, as he has a 2i2 and if he wants a more pure vocal sound I'd assume a better mic. would make the most of the change for the money.


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Roadside
post Aug 21 2017, 06:23 PM
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Thanks, Mertay - so basically as I assumed.

https://www.thomann.de/de/art_tubeopto_8.ht...1&affid=181

How about such tube preamp? This should give a very different tone & atmosphere to vocals, doesn't it? And still suitable for electric guitar & drums?
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Todd Simpson
post Aug 21 2017, 06:28 PM
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You are spot on IMHO, for home recording, just the multi channel interface will do a very nice job. Also, putting preamps on each mic is a bit of overkill imho for home recording. To make the most out of money available, I'd say get a tube preamp and use it on the vocal tracks. But to be honest, you can get a very nice plugin that will do mostly the same thing and you can change the settings at any time and don't have to re record. That's the problem with a hardware chain IMHO, everything is "BURNED IN" when recording and you can't change it later, you have to re record.

So I can see getting more inputs, that's a nice unit after all smile.gif But maybe skip the octo pre and buy a few vocal specific plugins. The one from Izotop comes to mine which simulates an entire tube vocal chain.


https://www.izotope.com/en/products/mix/nectar.html



Of course, some folks are "purists" which is fine, I'm just not one of them smile.gif I'm a pragmatist which is why I like plugins. They allow you to get the same results in a mix and don't chain you to what's been recorded. You can always change the parameters at any time.

That's my two cents smile.gif

Todd



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Roadside
post Aug 21 2017, 06:45 PM
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These are well invested 2 cents smile.gif Totally agree with your opinion here, Todd, which is basically flexibility over traditional procedure. And of course money saving.

So, I saw a pic of your rack. Which hardware are you using then and why, if you are saying you do most of your stuff by using plug-ins?

Edit: just saw it's 230$ bucks. That's quite expensive for a "simple" vst isnt it? Maybe I need to check some more demos, but this sounds very digitalized to me. Actually I like the vocals better in the "before" mode biggrin.gif

This post has been edited by Roadside: Aug 21 2017, 06:49 PM
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Mertay
post Aug 21 2017, 06:59 PM
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QUOTE (Roadside @ Aug 21 2017, 05:23 PM) *
Thanks, Mertay - so basically as I assumed.

https://www.thomann.de/de/art_tubeopto_8.ht...1&affid=181

How about such tube preamp? This should give a very different tone & atmosphere to vocals, doesn't it? And still suitable for electric guitar & drums?


Well, the problem is if the problem is with the mic. itself then a better preamp may not help. The other thing is the more high-end you go then characters of hardware gets more obvius...like, a tiny beginner marshall and Fender amp may not matter in tone as they both suck but the bigger Fender and Marshall amps will sound very different both in a good way.

All mic. preamps are flat but the tiny saturation gives them character either warming the tone (like Neve) or giving presence (SSL). The differences appear more as you record more tracks with the preamps so side by side although they'll sound a bit different, the difference won't be as radical as using 2 different mic.s.

Thats why my vote is more on the mic. side unless he's already using something nice?

PS; with plug-ins, its easy to make something harsh sounding warmer but the opposite can be quite hard usually.


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Roadside
post Aug 21 2017, 07:25 PM
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Good to know as we do not need a warmer sound. Harsh might be the right word if that is a property that is sth you want toachieve.

So he is using https://www.thomann.de/de/rode_nt1a_complet...1&affid=181 which is quite a decent mic at least according to all the reviews out there. What do you think?
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Mertay
post Aug 21 2017, 07:36 PM
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QUOTE (Roadside @ Aug 21 2017, 06:25 PM) *
Good to know as we do not need a warmer sound. Harsh might be the right word if that is a property that is sth you want toachieve.

So he is using https://www.thomann.de/de/rode_nt1a_complet...1&affid=181 which is quite a decent mic at least according to all the reviews out there. What do you think?


Cool, I have no worrys of the mic. now. Still just to be sure, could you upload a dry sample of his vocals? it might give me and friends here on what the vocal recording might want be it software, preamp or anything else.


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Roadside
post Aug 21 2017, 08:35 PM
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QUOTE (Mertay @ Aug 21 2017, 07:59 PM) *
Well, the problem is if the problem is with the mic. itself then a better preamp may not help. The other thing is the more high-end you go then characters of hardware gets more obvius...like, a tiny beginner marshall and Fender amp may not matter in tone as they both suck but the bigger Fender and Marshall amps will sound very different both in a good way.

All mic. preamps are flat but the tiny saturation gives them character either warming the tone (like Neve) or giving presence (SSL). The differences appear more as you record more tracks with the preamps so side by side although they'll sound a bit different, the difference won't be as radical as using 2 different mic.s.

Thats why my vote is more on the mic. side unless he's already using something nice?

PS; with plug-ins, its easy to make something harsh sounding warmer but the opposite can be quite hard usually.


https://soundcloud.com/tim-heger-962320112/vocalsample
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Mertay
post Aug 21 2017, 09:36 PM
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QUOTE (Roadside @ Aug 21 2017, 07:35 PM) *


Can you confirm there was no reverb fx on that track? cause if not the first thing I noticed was there's a lot of room echo sound in it. This might be the very reason the vocal has problem in the mix.

Also there wasn't much upper harmonics (and the rode nt1 is to my experience good at catching those harmonics) but this might be due to soundclouds destructive conversion...

This post has been edited by Mertay: Aug 21 2017, 09:37 PM


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Roadside
post Aug 21 2017, 10:13 PM
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QUOTE (Mertay @ Aug 21 2017, 10:36 PM) *
Can you confirm there was no reverb fx on that track? cause if not the first thing I noticed was there's a lot of room echo sound in it. This might be the very reason the vocal has problem in the mix.

Also there wasn't much upper harmonics (and the rode nt1 is to my experience good at catching those harmonics) but this might be due to soundclouds destructive conversion...


There is definitely no FX at all. Yes, we recorded this in my large living room. Like 45 sqm, very uneven shape. Might this be an issue?
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Mertay
post Aug 21 2017, 10:47 PM
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QUOTE (Roadside @ Aug 21 2017, 09:13 PM) *
There is definitely no FX at all. Yes, we recorded this in my large living room. Like 45 sqm, very uneven shape. Might this be an issue?


Not sure if only but definitly an issue, unwanted reverberation can cause problems leading to muddy/low definition sounds. I never tried it myself but the affordable solution is to make DIY iso boxes, I'm sharing 1-2 pictures from web;

https://www.google.com.tr/imgres?imgurl=htt...=mrc&uact=8

https://www.google.com.tr/imgres?imgurl=htt...=mrc&uact=8

Either making a box shape or a large square is really up to you. SE makes the best of these products (https://www.seelectronics.com/reflexion-filter-pro/) but try making one first as from the pic.s it shouldn't be hard or expensive.

This post has been edited by Mertay: Aug 21 2017, 10:48 PM


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Roadside
post Aug 22 2017, 06:44 AM
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We used: https://www.session.de/SE-ELECTRONICS-Refle...n-Filter-X.html

Which is of course not sealing top or bot, but I assume this should be sufficient for now? Maybe we just need another vocalist biggrin.gif
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Mertay
post Aug 22 2017, 09:01 AM
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QUOTE (Roadside @ Aug 22 2017, 05:44 AM) *
We used: https://www.session.de/SE-ELECTRONICS-Refle...n-Filter-X.html

Which is of course not sealing top or bot, but I assume this should be sufficient for now? Maybe we just need another vocalist biggrin.gif


Cool, then a room small enough not to create echo is needed, its a matter of experimenting in his free time.


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Todd Simpson
post Aug 24 2017, 08:09 PM
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Also deadening all the rampant audio reflections with anything will help. Carpets on the walls, foam padding, just anything to try to break it up. small spaces are tough to record an entire band in.

Todd

QUOTE (Mertay @ Aug 22 2017, 04:01 AM) *
Cool, then a room small enough not to create echo is needed, its a matter of experimenting in his free time.


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PosterBoy
post Aug 25 2017, 01:38 PM
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Demo vocals at home. Find a local studio to do the final vocal takes in.


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Todd Simpson
post Aug 26 2017, 12:04 PM
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Per usual the preset are not great, but it's got a host of very handy vocal bits stuffed in to one plugin. There are similar versions of such vsts by various vendors so yeah, go get some demos and do some research to find the best one for you smile.gif You can get a huge rack worth of gear in just one little handy vst which has total recall of all settings with each save smile.gif

In my rack, all I'm using is a power conditioner, 11 Rack, myasnikov tube guitar preamp, and Rocktron velocity 300 power amp. The bottom rack is all stuff that I've gotten rid of since adding the Iconnectivity4+ as all of it became redundant. The Iconnectivity can connect to two computers (one pc tower, one mack laptop for example) has wads of in and outs and is highly flexible routing via software and mobile app.

Todd

QUOTE (Roadside @ Aug 21 2017, 01:45 PM) *
These are well invested 2 cents smile.gif Totally agree with your opinion here, Todd, which is basically flexibility over traditional procedure. And of course money saving.

So, I saw a pic of your rack. Which hardware are you using then and why, if you are saying you do most of your stuff by using plug-ins?

Edit: just saw it's 230$ bucks. That's quite expensive for a "simple" vst isnt it? Maybe I need to check some more demos, but this sounds very digitalized to me. Actually I like the vocals better in the "before" mode biggrin.gif


This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Aug 26 2017, 12:08 PM


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jstcrsn
post Aug 26 2017, 01:38 PM
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QUOTE (Mertay @ Aug 21 2017, 04:38 PM) *
That aside, as he has a 2i2 and if he wants a more pure vocal sound I'd assume a better mic. would make the most of the change for the money.

I read all your links and products , IMO I agree about the mic ( mic being the weak point) , I would consider this the starting point if you want to get close http://www.guitarcenter.com/Sterling-Audio...r-Microphone.gc

Its not something we like to hear , but there is a reason good mics are expensive

This post has been edited by jstcrsn: Aug 26 2017, 01:40 PM
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jstcrsn
post Aug 30 2017, 03:07 AM
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I was wondering if you could rent an expensive mic , just to record things , then at least you would know you have the best starting place
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Todd Simpson
post Aug 30 2017, 04:04 AM
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This is a great way to go if you have the budget for it. A decent studio will charge around 35 to 50 per hour or so. The good news is that for that price you get to use any mic they've got and a decent studio will have mics that you could probably never afford otherwise like really nice Neuman condenser mics etc. Also, they have wads of plugins/rack gear, and an Isolation booth, etc. All the ingredients to make a good vocal track, not to mention (hopefully) an experienced audio engineer.

However, as with many bands, they are looking to come up with the best they can do on their own, at home, with the gear that they've got. This is a good way to learn things as you will figure it out by doing it. One tip is to NEVER record the vocals at the same time you are tracking instruments. Especially in a small room. Just track the instruments. Then go back and do the vocals. Here is where using plugins comes in handy as you can always go back and change the settings on all the plugins used on the vocals as many times as you like and save the settings or the entire channel strip as a preset. Much easier than making notes on where each knob in a rack full of gear was located.

As for expense, a decent vocal plugin will run 100 to 300 US. Some folks get OZONE and then just use bits of it for most things as it's modular and you can use just the EQ etc. Not to mention a decent rack mount vocal preamp will easily cost that much.

But as has been mentioned, it does start with the MIC (assuming the vocalist is on point of course). The better the mic, the better the recording. IT's that simple. The mic you are using should be more than adequate to be honest. Sure, a better mic will yield a bit better results, but hearing the diff between a 200 and 500 mic in a mix usually makes me thing that extra money could have been spent elsewhere. Jumping to a 1,000 Neuman will let you hear things you didn't hear before, and the prices only go north from there for high end mics.

But back to basics, make sure to record vocals by themselves if you aren't already. Get a decent vocal plugin (try several demos) and go from there smile.gif

Todd


QUOTE (PosterBoy @ Aug 25 2017, 08:38 AM) *
Demo vocals at home. Find a local studio to do the final vocal takes in.



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