Studio upgrade pathways

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Themistocles, Mar 11, 2021.

  1. Themistocles

    Themistocles SS.org Regular

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    Looking for opinions and experiences you have to share. So, the time has come to upgrade my recording studio as currently I can only lay 4 tracks at at time with my glitchy but decent sounding Lexicon Omega (outdated yeah, I also have my Roland VS880+cd burner though it gathers dust). Ive already got some nice mic pre's and plenty of mics... Ive run sound for some bands like 311, Offspring and had a small mobile recoding unit back in the early late 90's. I can get great sounds out of most things but less latency and more tracks is good. I use cubase.

    I dont have lightning connections so USB is likely my only route at the moment on my windows laptop but I prefer lower latencies as I play very precise music. I play my own drums when I have to like now but will lay down live tracks with a drummer again as soon as possible. Id like to have at least 8 simultaneous tracks available. Most of the time I plan to track at 96khz.. Ive been at 44.1 up to this point and frankly I'm super happy with the sounds Im getting... I try to use less mics on drums than more but 4 tracks is a bit limiting... especially if I want to lay say 5-7 tracks of drums and 1-2 tracks of keyboards with my partner during this stretch of the pandemic? Stable on windows 10 laptop... the lexicon, not terrible but not good either and it makes serious sessions more difficult.

    So far I see 2 paths

    Path 1 looks like: Audient ID 14 mkII plus a lightpipe expansion so 10 tracks simultaneously at 48khz or 6 at 96khz? ID44?

    Path 2: something like a Motu Ultralite-mk3 which should be able to lay 8 tracks at 192khz or is it just 96khz? it also has adat in and out so lots of expansion possibilities. https://motu.com/products/motuaudio/ultralite-mk3

    Ive been happy with what experimental stuff Ive demoed so far but that lexicon is glitchy as all get out and the tune quality exceeds what I thought was just something to pass the time... it deserves something a little more. Also, I have a lot of travel to do after being stuck at home for a year so something I can travel with is a plus. I like to have light and flexible/scalable options and Ive always tried to get very live sounding recordings, even when Im playing most of the instruments. I have USB C and B

    Any other suggestions or pearls of wisdom?
     
  2. eclecto-acoustic

    eclecto-acoustic "That" guy.

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    Unless you want to go the route of using UAD software and their DSP processing, I'd be looking no further than MOTU and RME for low latency performance.

    Don't be afraid of USB or buy into the marketing that Thunderbolt will inherently yield lower latencies for audio Interfaces. RME have been getting tons done on USB 2 that other manufacturers simply haven't, so it's not the protocol that's at issue.

    This is of course assuming you intend to do some processing and monitor the results in real time. If that's not the case, then basically any audio interface with an advertised direct monitoring feature will be fine.
     
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  3. Themistocles

    Themistocles SS.org Regular

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    I just started thinking I needed to look into RME last night so thanks for reminding me... Ive always liked MOTU for live recording. I tend to record pretty dry and am a bit of a minimalist. Direct monitoring is a must.

    I do like the audient preamps so having those as I trek around is partly why I like them though Im not likely to be carrying around the second unit to lightpipe in when Im travelling. Because I like.

    researching RME now... very good reputation for stability. After making that Lexicon Omega work all these years Im craving some more of that stability (to be fair it does have 2 decent sounding DBX 386 preamps... I can use them in stand alone mode.

    Anyone know how finicky the Audient is with lightpipe cjhannels
     
  4. Themistocles

    Themistocles SS.org Regular

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    Well maybe not that Motu as its pretty old and seems to be a bit unpopular with the windows crowd, clearly there are other devices in their lineup that are more advisable. Im open to suggestions. Audient with lightpipe still seems attractive unless people have had bad experiences with that route.

    I do like an interface with just 1-2 mic pres and then a lot of 1/4 inch input/output options as my board and specialty mic pres can take care of things when needed. I dont need an interface that has me carrying around 8 mic pre's when Im travelling.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2021
  5. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Most interfaces with built-in mic pres will also allow you to bypass the pre and use it as a simple line in, to run an external preamp. If your concern is size and space that's a totally different story, of course!
     
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  6. Themistocles

    Themistocles SS.org Regular

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    Yeah its size and space. When I need to put 8 mics up for a drum kit (I prefer to use 6 or even 5, Im a minimalist) then I can just plug into the quarter inch jacks to have enough pres. Frankly Im never micing drumkits that when Im traveling so the smaller footprint is quite advantageous. This thing looks like it checks off most of the boxes and then some: https://motu.com/products/avb/ultralite-avb/body.html Im not afraid of complicated interfaces. Now an Audient ID 14 mkII would require a lightpipe and an 8 pre unit that Id just leave at home in the studio and would only yield 4 more tracks at 96k (which is enough at 6 total or 10 total at 48khz for recording a small band). The Motu could handle that without any expansion and is a lot more scalable. That said the Audient seems to be a hands on interface, the motu is mostly done on screens and would be a great excuse to finally get a tablet.
     
  7. nickgray

    nickgray SS.org Regular

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    I would look into RME if you can afford it. There's this thread on Gearslutz:

    https://www.gearslutz.com/board/mus...erface-low-latency-performance-data-base.html

    The dude's been doing these benchmarks for a while. I'd take them with some grain of salt (needs to be tested with different CPUs and just generally those 3 benchmarks that he's doing are not enough), but the RTL is almost certainly solid. If you're on a budget, I would go the other way and get a Scarlett 18i20, I think the Scarlett range is the best bang for the buck as far as budget interfaces go. There just isn't anything in between tons of budget semi-pro interfaces and RME stuff, for Windows at least. I'm currently still looking for an interface myself, and there just aren't any good options - it's either go cheap or go RME.
     
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  8. KingAenarion

    KingAenarion Resident Studio Nerd

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    I've had a first generation RME UFX for 10 years now. It still outperforms most interfaces I've worked with elsewhere, and it's USB 2. The ONLY issue it's had in that time was the PSU went, and the replacement was a couple of hundred AUD$, and turnaround was like 2 weeks.

    I got a chance to try the new UFX II and II+ models when they came out and they were exceptionally stable and fast.

    They only have 4 mic pres, but they have the 16 channels of ADAT in and 8 line ins for your existing mic pres, and the II+ has a MADI optical in which is sick for working with modern live rigs.
     
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  9. Themistocles

    Themistocles SS.org Regular

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    Oh that RME is beyond ideal and probably one of the best options in the $1.5k range. I bet if they had a 1 mic pre version with 4-7 line ins and adat for under a grand (say $600-750) they would rule the small private/portable project studio universe. I think that's the problem here... Im looking for prosumer capabilities without a lot of fluff. A lot of the budget stuff is loaded with software I already have and its price is bloated compared to raw performance and almost all the stuff I like the looks of is over a grand. But all this is good. If there is something that I really like like that motu I may spring for it otherwise ill cobble together something like the audient ID 14 mkII and slap an adat outboard to it for 4-8 more simultaneous tracks (10 tracks will handle most situations for me). Otherwise I might just grab a motu M4 for home use and borrow other gear if someone wants to track some live stuff (I live in a place with so many musicians, many famous and Im plugged in). Partially Im just itching for a big live jam and Ive got a venue available... once a few of us have our jabs (some already do) we can decompress by having a weekend recording marathon (I was thinking about that even before this pandemic). Looking for a RME solution in my budget (under a grand and to be fiscally responsible no more than $600).

    All great info... its a chore sussing out all this. Im certain lots of others are going through this same thing. Whats different is I already have a lot of gear so I dont really need many more mic pres or bundled software.

    *Edit but as I continue to look at RME I keep finding solutions in my range. It doesnt help (differentiation wise) that all of their devices seem to have been named by the Borg Collective. I do have a few older laptops sitting around with cardbus options. I could just wipe them, strip them down and upgrade their drives. ...options.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2021
  10. nickgray

    nickgray SS.org Regular

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    You can also go with a Babyface and add an ADAT pre, Babyface has 8 ADAT inputs. Another interesting option is to first get a sound card with ADAT outs, and then grab Babyface later, so that the old sound card becomes an ADAT pre.
     
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  11. nightlight

    nightlight SS.org Regular

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    Have you looked into the Fireface UCX? 8 1/4" inputs, including two combi mic pres, plus ADAT and SPDIF. It is fairly compact, so you could travel with it. Should fit in your budget too.
     
  12. KingAenarion

    KingAenarion Resident Studio Nerd

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    The the Babyface or UC/UCX are all you need!
     
  13. Themistocles

    Themistocles SS.org Regular

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    Yeah those are very enticing. Thanks for foregrounding those RME options... Im a minimalist so I appreciate their aesthetic/ethos as well.
     
  14. Themistocles

    Themistocles SS.org Regular

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    Not finding RME in my price range (less than 500) so Im looking at Audient ID MkII with an adat extension or a Motu Ultralite MK4 or AVB. Can anyone compare these two? Im on a PC so I guess the question is the AD side of the Motu vs the Audient (audient should be a little better on its 2 mic channels and depending on the adat I use a little worse than the Motu line inputs?). And the Motus's low latency/driver stability. Can anyone speak tho the updated audient drivers, how far off from motu are they? I do Like the motu as a mobile rig platform but audient seems best suited to personal studio which is my prime focus right now. I do like the sound of Burl Bomber converters so it would be cool to have those compared to the motus which are fine but dont really have a noticeable character. I can get character other ways though.

    BTW sold my old vs880... who knew someone would want it these days?
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2021
  15. Themistocles

    Themistocles SS.org Regular

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  16. Themistocles

    Themistocles SS.org Regular

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    Btw loving the motu. It has a warm thic yet articulate smooth sound. The Mic pres are good and detailed with a nice smooth treble attribute rather than tinny... I have other mic pres that are either very neutral or have tons of character... Id say the Motu is transparent and a tad bit darker but musical but responds well to my favorite EQ's like SSL Native's. I think Im nabbing a black lion revolution now too so I can have different setups for the drum/duitar room and places I record vocals abd other guitars and only need 2 channes rather than the motu's awesome 18. Motu drivers are stable with little latency. I can also grab the motu and do good live recordings of friend's bands if I want.
     
  17. VESmedic

    VESmedic SS.org Regular

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    I just wanna say for the record, I wouldn’t worry about 192hz or 96 in the least. No one records at that in today’s modern world for audio production. 24 but 48k is plenty, and is the standard in most studios, especially for heavier oriented music.
     
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  18. Themistocles

    Themistocles SS.org Regular

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    Agreed, I am recording at 96 just for giggles and its more experimental stuff (sometimes a lot of violas and percussion) with a lot of dynamic range... which reminds me I want to A/B them just for geeks sake. I am liking the sound overall. I lucked out with having some good sounding rooms including the drum room as I use a modified Glyn Johns technique using 5 mics and unusual ones at that. I love my AKG d190 for the snare.
     

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