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Recording / live sound setup recommendation

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Looking for advice for my son’s bedroom / recording / live sound setup. After he graduates next year he will be attending CRAS in Gilbert AZ  ( http://www.cras.edu/campuses/gilbert-campus/ ). In preparation for that over the last year we have been slowly accumulating gear to support his direction. Although CRAS offers several different audio “cycles” that he will be required to complete currently he is interested in recording arts and live sound. So my wife and I are going to give him a room in the house just for that. The goal will be for him to do simple recording of his guitar playing electric, bass and acoustics having the ability to playback via his monitors or his large PA system. In addition to setting his large PA system up for family get togethers, school events etc etc for music playback via his laptop or ipad. I will list out what equipment he has currently at the end of the post. I think I have just about everything he needs with the exception of a mixer but curious what others have done or would do. How would I have a dual setup that would allow him to say record a guitar track then play it back by either his small jbl monitors or the larger 456 / sub setup or both? Is there anything else needed to support this? I appreciate any and all advice from those that have done this or are currently doing this.

 List of equipment.

Current Recording Setup

Apple Macbook with DAW (Pro tools lite, garageband etc)

Focusrite scarlet audio interface

JBL 305 monitors (powered)

Audio technical phones (can’t remember model number)

Sure SM58 mic

This setup currently works well he can easily record a track and play it back via the small JBL monitors BUT we wanna here those 456's!!

 

Live Sound Gear

Ashly MQX 2310 31 band

Ashly XR 1001 – Analog crossover

Crown Macro Tech power amp

Crown XLS 1002

Klipsch KPT-456

EV TL770 subwoofer

Equipment Needed????

Mixer

Power conditioners

Sub amp

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How large a mixer would he want for live use, i.e., number of input channels, number of output busses, etc.?

 

You have opened a real can of worms with this. The school has high end equipment and will push him towards that, which isn't a bad thing to do necessarily. The campus studio B&C both have Otari RTR machines while studio A has an awesome Studer A827 deck. I think it is nice that they aren't pushing you into ProTools, but do a lot of analogue recording.

 

More money can get you lots of gear. Or spend a little and sometimes be wanting more. Presonus, Soundcraft, even Behringer/Midas can get you a 16 input and up for a reasonable price, with mixers that can give you a usb our to record each input on a separate track . Your son probably already knows this.

 

Bruce

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If I had the funds I would buy him a Behinger X32 but for now just something simple. As far as how large of a mixer will he need nothing big for now. He just wants to be able to use his laptop to run the 456 setup.

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I would look at the Soundcraft Signature MTK 22...

 

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Sig22MT--soundcraft-signature-22-mtk-mixer-and-audio-interface-with-effects

 

You can use it as a 22 input interface, and it has an SD card slot to do a stereo recording. They also have a smaller model. A lot of interfaces like this only record up to 48k sample rate (like this one), but a lot of this is changing.

 

I have a lot of acquaintances from the US, Germany, and Australia, who only record at 48K. I know there is a difference, but is still works. To put it in perspective, Dire Straits, Brothers in arms was done at 48k, albeit on a $150K RTR digital deck... 😉

 

Bruce

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Bruce - Thanks for the information I really appreciate you taking the time to educate me.

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The list of gear you have right now isnt half bad for a high schooler!

If he really just wants to play DJ then just about any mixer will do a fair job, but if he wants to really get into live mixing and/or recording/studio mixing, I would highly recommend getting into the digital mixer realm (Behringer x32 is about the best you can do for minimum dollar and is used regularly by small to mid sized professional productions!) I prefer the Yamaha CL/QL lines and use them almost daily but they are a little more $, try looking used.

Otherwise, I would recommend looking into the used market for higher end analog mixers (which now sell for pennies on the dollar, now that digital gear is accepted and used on 97% of pro-level shows!) Look for soundcraft, Allen Heath, Yamaha, try to learn about which models were considered pro-level because all of these manufacturers made inexpensive garbage for the "store-market" that did not compare to their better lines (which now sell used for store-level prices!). The problem with analog is that the mixer is only one step, you still need equalizers, dynamics controls (gate/expander/compressor) and effects (Reverb, delay, many others). Digital desks offer good if not great (usually) eq (way better than low to mid grade analog desks) and dynamics on every input channel and sometimes output busses also, as well as good internal effects and usually remote control (to walk the room, or stage if mixing monitors), all in one small box- analog gear needs racks of add-ons to match what you get with digital.

 

Also, look into Mackie digital iPad-controlled mixers (I forget the models but they have a smaller one that the iPad sits in, and another unit with more features/channels that is a rack mountable box and uses the iPad as a control surface- I believe the rack mountable model also allows multi-track recording/playback). Especially if you find them used, this can offer you great bang for the buck and will see use in some respect or another into the future (mid grade analog gear will suffice for now but quickly go out of style as he gets deeper into the business!)

I recommend avoiding other Mackie products, they have allot of sex appeal in the low level of the industry, and in video production (which usually haven't the first clue about audio other than "I can hear it"!), but is not very accepted in "pro" audio industry (except as a keyboard mixer as part of a large keys rig, they are used all the time for that!)

Edited by Ashayinfla
Content & spelling correction

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As for a sub amp, the best sounding amp you can find would be the older "analog" crown macro-tech amps, but they are power hogs and very heavy!

They were available up to 1200wpc @ 8 ohms (and easily 2 ohm stable @ ~2500wrms per ch!) If the macro tech model you have is big enough to feed your subs, I recommend doing that and find something else for your mids.

Many other options are available, used will give you better quality gear at low prices (even if needing repair- learn how to repair gear or make friends with someone at a repair shop!). New gives you mediocre grade quality unless you shell out $$ for the good stuff! The older gear is also usually more repairable, new gear is usually throw away - even the higher grade gear usually gets circuit board replacement rather than component repair due to everything being built using smd (micro) components (circuit boards are all built using robots, component replacement is nearly if not completely impossible in most cases!).

 

 

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It doesn't hurt to collect information, but, unless this is a surprise, create a budget and let him pick out the gear [perhaps after he has been in the program a while].  A home printed gift certificate for a certain amount of $$$, "Use to buy home studio equipment>"

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YES ^^^^

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But, to add to this. Stick with stuff that has you learning about audio, and stay away from all the controlling from your iPad/cell phone, etc., technologies. Learn how to get a single instrument to sound correct, either on tape or on a hard drive. Learn how microphones work, how condenser mics work. Then you can add the other toys. Some of the nicest recordings I have heard (or made) used very little equipment. If you learn how things work, you can learn how to make those things work for you.

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1 hour ago, Marvel said:

But, to add to this. Stick with stuff that has you learning about audio, and stay away from all the controlling from your iPad/cell phone, etc., technologies. Learn how to get a single instrument to sound correct, either on tape or on a hard drive. Learn how microphones work, how condenser mics work. Then you can add the other toys. Some of the nicest recordings I have heard (or made) used very little equipment. If you learn how things work, you can learn how to make those things work for you.

Good points. He has been recording his guitar tracks for about a year he enjoys it. I'm just trying to educate myself and to also help him inergrate a live PA rig. It's great father son time and hopefully I will learn something along the way also.

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I would say the wireless remote stuff is more helpful than not...

I totally agree that the best recordings can be made with little to no extra gear (eq, dynamics, etc) BUT

I come from a live sound point of view and I will say:

It is absolutely imperative that you LEARN ABOUT ALL THE DETAILS OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF GEAR (and much of that will be covered in his schooling if he doesn't pick it up already on his own) but if you plan on using the system out and about as a PA, especially eventually for more than just his own music (other bands/musicians playing over his system) then you will want to be able to walk away from a non-ideal mix position and adjust the sound as you move, and having access to (and understanding how and when to use) good eq and compression/gating/etc is imperative if you want to shine as an engineer!!!!

 

Plus today we are in a digital world... Many of these features come standard in run-of-the-mill gear, and learning to master them is the part that takes brains!  If you deal in any type of pro live productions in the future, you will likely have all the bells and whistles (like ipad control and comps/gates available on every channel) available, so be careful / consider avoiding a purchase now that will be out of date by next year (after a year of schooling and seeing what lelse is around!)

 

just my 2 cents

-Ashayinfla

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Behringer X32

 

I currently have both the X32 and Yamaha TF5. I also have extensive experience with just about every digital console out there. The short story that nobody wants to admit is that the X32 sound quality is very competitive at every price point. You might be surprised how many installations have ended up with the X32 - even when budgets weren't a factor.

 

The biggest reason I recommend the X32 for dual live sound / recording is because you can also use it for DAW control. So instead of mixing on your computer with your mouse, you use the faders on the console to adjust the mix in the DAW.

https://music-group.force.com/musickb/view/article/behringer/X32-Can-The-Console-Be-Used-As-A-Control-Surface-For-A-DAW

 

The TF5 doesn't have that feature. The only reason I picked up a TF5 is because the user interface was more intuitive for the volunteer staff at my church. Both have iPad control, but the X32 iPad interface is way way way better. In fact, it's better than any other digital console out there. It's even better than the X32 console interface.

 

As for the DAW, I would recommend Reaper....mostly because it's free. But if you're gonna spend money, then go with ProTools. It's what everyone uses these days and you'll be able to use anything else after learning it.

 

You will probably come across recommendations for the PreSonus StudioLive and Soundcraft Si series, and you'll find a lot of people happy with them. However, I have yet to meet someone that has used all four consoles and preferred either the PreSonus or Soundcraft. They just have some really odd annoying quirks, and don't have anywhere near the processing power of the X32 and TF5. The next step up from those four would be the Yamaha CL5, but that's a totally different price point. Oh, and don't bother with the Behringer XR lineup. If you want to save money, go with the X32 Rack and a large screen iPad (older generations are totally fine for that). There's an Android app too if you do the android thing, but not for the Yamaha consoles.

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Dr who- don't forget Yamaha CL's little brother the QL.

What I like about CL and QL (and TF, although I haven't used that line personally- I use cls and/or ql's almost every day!) Is that with dante you can plug Ethernet directly into your computer and get up to 64ch digitally in or out without any hardware, just a very inexpensive driver software!

Allen & Heath use dante too, and I believe you can get a dante adaptor for behringer x32 but not sure.

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11 hours ago, Marvel said:

But, to add to this. Stick with stuff that has you learning about audio, and stay away from all the controlling from your iPad/cell phone, etc., technologies. Learn how to get a single instrument to sound correct, either on tape or on a hard drive. Learn how microphones work, how condenser mics work. Then you can add the other toys. Some of the nicest recordings I have heard (or made) used very little equipment. If you learn how things work, you can learn how to make those things work for you.

I couldn't disagree more!

 

The wireless interface that you get with an iPad removes one of the biggest shackles for a sound engineer: the location of the mixing console. I've been doing a lot of sound training lately and I gotta say it's soooooo much easier with the iPad. We get to talk around the room talking about and experiencing how the sound changes everywhere, and then learning to mix for the whole room. Walking up to a monitor on stage and hearing what the musician hears is one thing....being able to adjust it live brings entirely new meaning to the learning sound engineer. I use this all the time to teach "referencing the mix".....and learning how to correlate the booth mix to the stage mix for the musicians.

 

Don't get me wrong - I'm a curmudgeon old fart that wants his analog knobs back, but the ability to move around while mixing is such a pleasant change of pace. I've intentionally done entire concerts (40 channel live recording mixes with realtime patching swaps, delay feeds, monitors, etc...) with an iPad because I could sit in a better location.

 

However, I totally agree that it's best to learn the basics. Just because your console has comp/gates and crap tons of FX, EQ, and other processing doesn't mean you should be using it. 80% of the mix happens with mic placement and speaker configuration. 15% is faders and gain structure, 4% EQ, and that last 1% is the other 90% of the processing in the box.

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12 minutes ago, Ashayinfla said:

Dr who- don't forget Yamaha CL's little brother the QL.

 What I like about CL and QL (and TF, although I haven't used that line personally- I use cls and/or ql's almost every day!) Is that with dante you can plug Ethernet directly into your computer and get up to 64ch digitally in or out without any hardware, just a very inexpensive driver software!

Allen & Heath use dante too, and I believe you can get a dante adaptor for behringer x32 but not sure.

Oh, I forgot to mention the Allen & Heath Qu32. I believe it has a DAW controller driver available for it now. That might be something to consider in comparison to the X32.

 

Ya, Dante is amazing - but you get the same functionality out of the box with a single USB2.0 cable to the computer. You're just limited to 32 channels. The Dante starts to make sense when channels counts get larger, or you're trying to send a bunch of digital data over a long distance. The USB only works when the computer is next to your console.

 

I don't think the Qu32 has a Dante card option though. The X32 and TF5 definitely do.

 

The QL consoles are a big step up in price from these other guys though. I think I'd personally make the jump from TF to CL unless I needed the automixer function built into the QL.

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On 6/5/2018 at 3:12 PM, rockhound said:

If I had the funds I would buy him a Behinger X32 but for now just something simple. As far as how large of a mixer will he need nothing big for now. He just wants to be able to use his laptop to run the 456 setup.

Oh shoot - are you saying the X32 is outta the price range? What about the X32 Rack at $1k?

 

The Behringer XR series isn't horrible, but he will quickly outgrow it. The XR12 is $250 and the XR18 is $600. They have fewer mic-pre's, but the same general USB recording capability, and can only be controlled via iPad.

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1 hour ago, DrWho said:

I think I'd personally make the jump from TF to CL unless I needed the automixer function built into the QL.

I know all of this is out of the price range of the thread starter (sorry to hijack your thread!) But QL is practically a CL with a few less knobs, built in I/O interface (16 or 32 in X 8 or 16 out as opposed to 8x8 on-board all the CL models- no need to rely on outboard Rio units; but both come with redundant dante connection as standard, not an add-on option) and slightly less processing power (one less rack of eq's, still 8 fx processors and 8x premium processors, All have the same available fx/proc's available)

 

The "auto-mixer" you mention is the Dan Dugan processor (which can take over 1/2 of your eq page for 8ch, or your full page for 16ch) and is essential for corporate work or theater where you have multiple mics in a room with spoken word and only one or two people actually talking at a time- when you open many mics at once within a fairly close vicinity, they all tend to pick up lower frequency sound together and it all adds up, causing low frequency feedback before any of the mics have actually reached a good level individually- Dugan auto-mixer monitors signals (via post-fader insert), and uses real-time monitoring and what seems like expanding/gating on every mic. Only opening the ones with more signal (person/people speaking) and if there is more than one mic with similar signals it opens them both up, reducing each one's level by a ratio relatives to how much input level is on each one- so two equal-level channels will have a cut of 6db per channel (when they add together you get 0db) and the more mics with similar signal, the more it cuts from each one so when they All add up/mix together is the same level as one mic- in the end, it doesn't "build the mix for you" (contrary to how the name implies) but YOU build the mix and control the level of each mic, and the Dugan automatically closes out any mic with out a usable signal and regulated open mics so you don't have mics adding up extra room noise and possible feedback. The end result is a much cleaner sounding output signal (compared to a room with 8-16 mics all open) and transparent opening and closing of the mics between speakers (people speaking, not transducers)! It is a must have when using lavalier mics or table top panel discussions! On a corporate stage I often put everything into it- lavs, ear mics, podiums, q&a handhelds, it always works flawlessly!  But it will wreak havoc on your musical mix so avoid using it on choir mics or anything else involving music mixing!

And Dan Dugan auto-mixer is an option to use in place of a half or full page of eq's on both CL and QL series consoles (as of ver3+ software update; it wasn't on CL when it first came out, but was added to CL shortly after QL was introduced)- so don't think that's a "defining feature" of a QL console- QL can do so much more, about anything a CL can do (but an iPad makes it much quicker/easier because there's less knobs/controls on the control surface)- Dugan Automixer is just one option for either of the CL or QL consoles!

 

Now back to affordable console for music mixing:

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Doc, just trying to keep it simple to start. I know the advantage of being able to be antwhere in the room and make adjustments. Ha, I'm an older fart than you (just turned 69), but I just know it can get overwhelming with all the gear and technology.

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