Re: build a studio

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Posted by JP on December 18, 1997 at 00:52:28:

In Reply to: build a studio posted by MÃ¥rten Blomqvist on December 08, 1997 at 14:53:45:

Dear Marten: Hi! I thought I'd take a stab at helping you with a home studio setup, at which I'm an old hand. I assume, however, that you are from a Scandinavian country, so I don't know what the availability of certain gear is over there. I do know we here in the States have stuff you guys don't have, but then you guys have stuff we'd love to have. I also assume that you don't want to spend a ton of dough, so I am going to present inexpensive alternatives wherever possible. I don't know what capabilities you want, so I'll list possibilities for different types of studios.

Eight track studio (analog)

I'd go with a used Roland R8 quarter inch reel to reel deck for about 900 bucks US. In the future, you can get a synchronizer to go with it to lock it up to another deck when you can afford one.
I'd get a new Mackie 1604VLZ for about 1200 dollars (not the original, which was too limited) which has a good EQ section, and plenty of effects busses. Then when finances permit, you could always get the Automation package to go with the Mackie board.
I'd get a Digitech Studio Quad or Studio 400 reverb, which will give you 4 independent reverb inputs and outputs. That's going to be about 500-600 dollars.
I'd get a couple of Alesis 3630 compressors (about 200 bucks each, or less used) which will give you at least 4 channels of independent compression. I'd get a DBX 166 expander/gate or other (Gatex, Valley People) for about 300 dollars. Total: about 3,400 dollars.
Sixteen track studio
You could just buy another of each of the above, but what I would do is buy two Alesis ADAT XT's. Used, they're about two thousand each, and well worth it. Don't buy the earlier model; it's unreliable used. Get a Mackie 24x8 board (about 2000 used).
Now if you want a sound module to go with your QuadraSynth, cool. You'll save some money over a second keyboard. That'll run ya about 500 dollars. I recommend the Yamaha MU 80 or MU 90. Are you the kind of person who wants a standalone sequencer? They're convenient, but they're not cost efficient. They don't do enough. The cheapest standalone sequencer is the MMT-8, and it's very cool in many ways and you can get one used for about 100 bucks. (They haven't made them in six years.) The other ones are like 200-300 bucks used and don't do all that much. But they're easy and fun to use, and usually don't freeze up or malfunction like a computer sequencer inevitably will. Now of course, the famous flagship computer sequencers are extremely cool, but they're not cheap. If you want hard disk digital recording with them, it'll run you about 500-700 dollars for the program itself. As for the computer, you'll need a PC or MAC, with at least 75 Mhz of speed. A Power Mac or good Pentium PC running Windows 95 will do just fine. Personally I use a cute and very cheap program called PowerTracks Pro which cost me 34 dollars delivered! It does about 90 percent of what the big ones do, and is one tenth the cost. The company is PG music in Canada; they also make BandInABox.
Now some will say, don't buy all that outboard gear; do it all in your computer. The truth is, you can't yet create truly professional mixes entirely on your desktop without spending big bucks. Oh sure, you could get a full blown Digidesign ProTools eight track hardware/software combination running on a fast Mac computer, but what with the expensive reverb, compression and EQ add-ons, you're talking an easy 8000 bucks. For 8k dollars, you can easily get two ADAT's, a good used board and plenty of effects, and it's more flexible and durable, and the sound quality would be nearly as good.
I hope the above is useful. If you have any more specific questions, I always give "sound" advice!

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