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Author Topic: Audio Equipment -- (Spinoff thread)  (Read 3485 times)

Renegade

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Audio Equipment -- (Spinoff thread)
« on: May 21, 2011, 10:02:44 PM »
Since this is really kind of off topic for the Apple religion thread (here), I'm spinning it off. Seems like there are quite a few people into it. :) YAY~!

The eurorack has good bang for the buck.  I used to have one before I got a Mackie Big Knob.  For audio equipment, it's difficult to find that good balance between price and quality.  The hardest thing is trying to figure out if the given price justifies the quality.  There's so much bullshit in the descriptions and the touted features, it's almost impossible to know.  Most of the so-called experts also spew a lot of bullshit.  It's hard to know if it's a monster cable type bullshit thing going on or if something truly is expensive because its very good.

A lot of the equipment is also unbalanced in their feature sets.  For example, for consumer grade mixers and such, I find that there are too many outputs and not enough inputs.  There are a lot of knobs and holes, and it looks like you can do a lot with it, but in the end, it makes me feel like I could have done the same with a few cheapo adapters and cable splicers.  There's seems to be a disconnect in the market between industry level studio equipment, and being able to achieve similar results on a consumer level.  I would like to see more products that are affordable that offer neat solutions to the typical consumer setup: speakers, computers, and a couple of instruments and mics.  But once you start trying to find stuff for your own setup, you'll run into a lot of really frustrating issues.  Anyway, I'm always here to poo poo on the party, right?

I liked a lot in the Behringer Eurorack UB1204FX-Pro, but always had issues with cabling that I didn't like. I just could never get the crystal clear sound that I wanted, and know I could get. (You can hear examples at http://www.dotnetpreacher.com/ -- still very good, but when editing, I always had slight noise there.) I primarily use a Shure SM-58, but also have a Behringer B-2 Pro.

So, I'm still looking at new mixers, but this time around I want USB. I'm a bit skittish about Firewire as it seems to be on the way out, so no point in going down the avenue of a dead technology.

On the current "consideration list" are:

http://www.behringer...oducts/X1204USB.aspx



http://www.mackie.com/products/profx8

Mackie-ProFX8-Top.jpgAudio Equipment -- (Spinoff thread)

Still looking around though. I want something nice and small as I don't need more than a few inputs at most.

There's seems to be a disconnect in the market between industry level studio equipment, and being able to achieve similar results on a consumer level.  I would like to see more products that are affordable that offer neat solutions to the typical consumer setup: speakers, computers, and a couple of instruments and mics.

+10~!

I find that's true in most sectors. The professional level and consumer level are worlds apart. The exception seems to be in digital cameras where the quality you can get in a consumer level DSLR is enough to produce professional level results.

For mics, the Shure SM-58 is dead set at the consumer level price, but is still an industry standard professional level piece of kit. It's simply an amazing piece of gear. I'd recommend that for anyone thinking of buying a mic for the first time. There's no sense in buying a mic for $50 that will give you 1/50th of the performance of an SM-58 for $100. It's a no brainer. Spend 2x as much and get 100x more performance. But it seems to be another one of those exceptions, but only because it's so cheap. It's still clearly a professional piece of gear.

The ultimate consumer mic would be a USB version of the SM-58. That would be the absolute end of the market. Anything produced after that would always be trying to catch up. $100 for a mic that's virtually indestructible, and that you can plug into your computer with no other gear, and that delivers top-notch sound that rivals mics far above its price point. That would be a "sign me up NOW".

Anyways, while I need to get a new mixer anyways, one of the reasons why I'm looking now is that I may be starting up a new podcast with someone else. Still working on the format and things, but it's going to be his show, and he'll be the host with me as co-host.

Still looking around though... We'll see.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

superboyac

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Re: Audio Equipment -- (Spinoff thread)
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2011, 10:40:23 PM »
See, after years of using this stuff, I've narrowed in on where most of the frustration is for me.  With these mixers, the main function I am looking for can be described this way:
I just want a box where I can bring in all the wires from my various equipment, and take the outputs out to various equipment.  Any extra functions, I'd like to keep to a minimum.  I don't necessarily want any actual processing on it.  But you need some of that.  For example, with two mono inputs, you'd like a couple of knobs for balance.  You'd want some basic volume control also.  Another important consideration is, are there going to be issues with audio because of this box?  Here's the problem.  Most musician types are not computer types.  They want equipment that does everything they need on the hardware.  That's why all these knobs are on there.  On the other hand, computer users like us would rather do all the fancy stuff on the computer since it's more convenient and way cheaper.  It's much cheaper to get some processing freeware or software than to get a box to do it.  Some will argue that the quality on the hard-wired equipment is better, but it's usually too expensive to even consider for me.  And I also question if the quality really is better....or significantly better.  I have my doubts, but how do you go about proving such things without quitting your day job?

But that's the way I think.  I just want to get everything into the computer and deal with it there.  That's why I got the Mackie Big Knob.  All it is is a bunch of inputs and outputs, with a pretty convenient master volume knob (hence the BIG knob; it really is quite a big knob; a rascally Brit must have named it!).  So that's what i ended up getting, and I think it's way better than those mixers for me.

The other thing that will commonly come up is buzzing issues.  Usually, these can be fixed with certain additional equipment that removes ground loops in the power system and such.  But sometimes it doesn't, and you're left wondering if something is wrong with your equipment.  Good luck figuring it out.  But I do have a couple of those buzz remover things, and they work well.

All in all, these products are extremely frustrating to shop for.  I usually get really frustrated, and in the end just settle on something that doesn't have too much of a headache.  I set it up, and forget about it and hope nothing comes up for a long time.

superboyac

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Re: Audio Equipment -- (Spinoff thread)
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2011, 10:43:28 PM »
Some questions I think I often ask myself with these mixer things:
"What are all these knobs and jacks?  How many of them will I use?  If not more than 20% of them, should I look for something simpler or more to the point?

"There are a lot of knobs and jacks, which looks cool, but are there some knobs and jacks that I need that are not there?  Is it going to be too much of a headache trying to shoehorn my desired setup into this thing because it doesn't have enough of this jack or that knob?"

"How do I know how good of a quality this is?  Buzzing?  Sound quality?  How am I supposed to know?"

Renegade

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Re: Audio Equipment -- (Spinoff thread)
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2011, 12:53:43 AM »
All in all, these products are extremely frustrating to shop for.  I usually get really frustrated, and in the end just settle on something that doesn't have too much of a headache.  I set it up, and forget about it and hope nothing comes up for a long time.

+1 for that.

I'm going to see if I can skate by with my Edirol UA-25. I'll give it a shot again and see.

My old DAW is gone, so I'm also looking to get some decent audio editing software. I have Adobe Soundbooth, but honestly, it's just complete and total shit. It used to be Cool Edit, and that was fantastic software. I have no clue how they managed to screw that up so badly. The only good thing about it is that it has a semi-consistent look with other Adobe Creative Suite programs. (I've been quite disappointed with Premiere in CS5 as well. Other than Photoshop and Illustrator, and perhaps InDesign, I will never buy any Adobe multimedia software ever again. I'd rather work on my Mac! Does that adequately express my displeasure with Adobe?)

I used to use Samplitude and SONAR, but I don't feel like shelling out for Samplitude again (no original information so I'm hosed there), and my SONAR CD is broken and gone (emailed support to see if I can get a download for it). They were both fantastic. Recording in SONAR was great, while editing in Samplitude was brilliant.

I'm thinking of going the Reaper route if I can't get SONAR, or maybe crossgrading to SONAR X1 Essentials from FL Studio. It's a $30 discount, which is ok, but nothing special, which makes me more prone to going the Reaper route.

I looked at some Alesis stuff, but I like the Mackie and Behringer stuff better. Alesis is kind of confusing. They have almost identically named products and no way to figure out the difference. WTF? Sorry. Moving on. If you can't explain your products, how the heck am I supposed to be able to use them? It's too bad as they look like they have some good stuff.

CORRECTION from above: Audition is the Cool Edit replacement.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker
« Last Edit: May 22, 2011, 02:04:40 AM by Renegade »

Dormouse

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Re: Audio Equipment -- (Spinoff thread)
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2011, 05:52:47 AM »
I'm thinking of going the Reaper route if I can't get SONAR, or maybe crossgrading to SONAR X1 Essentials from FL Studio.
I'd certainly recommend Reaper, even if you do soldier on with other DAWs. Very actively developed, very reasonably priced and with a very knowledgeable and helpful community; lots of veries in one package. When I think about what I'm doing/going to do, it is always with the idea that I will pull it all into Reaper in the end.

Not so sure about the Shure. Good for live voice; not so good with studio & a lot of instruments.

techidave

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Re: Audio Equipment -- (Spinoff thread)
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2011, 06:19:41 AM »
I vote for the Mackie mixer.  My experience with their 14 and 16 channel mixers have been positive.  While the SM-58 set the standards, I think it is falling behind these days.  My vote goes for Audio Technica microphones.  My experience comes from a school and church setting.  And not that much recording either.

I totally agree that there are not enough inputs. :(

Renegade

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Re: Audio Equipment -- (Spinoff thread)
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2011, 06:33:12 AM »
I hadn't tried Reaper before, but from the short test I gave it, I won't be happy with it.

I just like having different mouse tools, and I couldn't find anything like what I'm used to in it.

I might give it another spin later, but for now, I've started looking at the low-end Samplitude again. Debating... It's not cheap...



For Audio Technica, I looked at their mics a while back, but everything I liked was significantly more expensive. A friend bought their USB mic and it was very nice. I forget what he paid, but it wasn't cheap either. Came with a nice stand though.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Dormouse

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Re: Audio Equipment -- (Spinoff thread)
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2011, 12:52:59 PM »
The thing about Reaper is that you have to get the concepts behind the way it works, and they aren't the same as other DAWs you are used to. If you do get them, it is very powerful; but there's no getting away from the fact that it is very complex with any number of features that aren't obvious. I find it suits the way I think, but there's still a lot of stuff that will need to be discovered/learned to make full use of all its features (at least to the extent that I'd be interested in doing so); that's where the forum community comes in - there's usually someone who knows answering queries fairly quickly. I've only been playing around for it for a year or so and have a long way to go (and might have spent more time reading the forum than using the program  :-[). I'm certain I'd've cracked it fairly quickly with full immersion, but I have other programs I use and no spare time to allow me focus on it for a period of time.

Dormouse

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Re: Audio Equipment -- (Spinoff thread)
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2011, 12:59:34 PM »
For Audio Technica, I looked at their mics a while back, but everything I liked was significantly more expensive. A friend bought their USB mic and it was very nice. I forget what he paid, but it wasn't cheap either. Came with a nice stand though.

The 2020 is very cheap for what it is - the USB version costs a bit more but is also reasonably priced.

Not as cheap as the SM-58, but a good general purpose condenser mic for the studio.

superboyac

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Re: Audio Equipment -- (Spinoff thread)
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2011, 01:43:43 PM »
I've never tried Reaper also.  Years and years ago, I eventually settled on Cubase SX v3.  I don't know what version they are on now, but I actually got used to v3.  Still, it's too expensive for home use and even once I got used to it, it was still a pretty complicated animal.  I got a book and everything for it at one point too, but only read it in the bathroom occasionally.

A friend introduced me to Ableton Live a little later, and I liked it.  But when I tried it myself, I couldn't really get my head around it.  I still have the suspicion that it's a nice tool for something, I just don't know what.  If I were pressured today, I'd just go back to Cubase 3.

There's was an interesting freeware one that was posted here around last year.  Whatever happened to it?  It was like an expensive commercial grade application that was turned into freeware.  I never tried it, but there was talk about it being good or had the potential to be good.

superboyac

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Re: Audio Equipment -- (Spinoff thread)
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2012, 06:48:52 PM »
If Renegade is interested, here's my latest experiment with Reaper...

I just installed the latest Reaper...it's good.  I normally have used Cubase in the past, but I was a little curious today so I tried it out.  I am happy so far.  A lot easier to set up than Cubase.  Tiny download!  only 8MB.  Cubase is freaking huge (1-4GB, depending on options!!)  My vst's have worked with a lot less mystery than in cubase as far as setting everything up with the midi, inputs, outputs.  no lag, in fact, it is very snappy.  The interface is clean and pro.  I'm just going to record using this until i hit an obstacle.

So Renegade, I'm pretty happy with it right now, give it a shot.  I'm not sure what mouse things bothered you about it, but if you let me know, I'll try that out also.

Renegade

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Re: Audio Equipment -- (Spinoff thread)
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2012, 03:00:20 AM »
I'm still using Samplitude. Should check out Reaper again sometime though. I only have 1 Samplitude license, so it might be nice to have something on my laptop too.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker