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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi.

Im 17 years old, and I play guitar (alot). My Parents have split, and my mom has moved away to a seperate house. Cool thing about this house is that in the back yard, I have a guest house all to myself, AND a 15' x 15' shed. This is a BIG shed, with electricity. I just need to put an air conditioner in and put some drywall up and it would be a fully functional building.

I plan on using this as a studio. My band will be able to play and record demos, as well as jam in there, and I can record my silly little songs I write on my guitar.

I want it to be similar to Vai's mothership. http://www.mothershipstudio.com/studio/qtvr/qtvr_room.mov

That room has a great vibe about it. I love the wooden floors, the color of the walls, . . . .and the massive stack of amps and pile of great neon-colored floyd rose equipped guitars.

My bassist will donate a computer to record on. Ive got several recording programs (Acid, Cool Edit Pro) but I dont know what I need in the way of.

1.)) Recording hardware. Mics? Mixer? preamp? what do I NEED (bare minimum, I dont have much cash to work with)

2.)) Soundproofing. Soundproofing foam is EXPENSIVE, so I must look for alternatives. What are some good alternatives for a good noise cancelling insulation?

Thanks for the help, this is like a dream come true for me!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Note:

I HATE modeling stuff. NOOOO modeling stuff. I want to Mic my amps.

I will probably get alot of old used equipment from pawn shops, because Im short on cash, and I have no problem with using used gear.
 

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Gex said:
Yeah, i'm sure we'd all like a 'home recording studio' like Vai's, but it ain't gonna' happen now is it.

And as for modeling amps and stuff, on a limited budget it'll probably be the only way you're gonna' be able to do anything half-decent.

If you're serious about doing this then you've gotta be realistic!

To record properly with a miked amp and stuff you'll need loads of expensive gear.

Egg-Cartons.;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well, I never meant that I wanted a rig NEARLY as professional as his. I just wanted it to have that sort of feel.

Are you sure its necessary to have tons of equipment? I dont care about having perfect quality recording, IN FACT. . .I would prefer it to sound more vintage-y, like something recorded in the 70's and 80's, not this digitally perfect recording we have now.

Surely there is a budget way to get decent results?


Egg Cartons? As insulation under the drywall? or just tacked on the wall?
 

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For insulation, go to any upholstery shop and buy sheets of foam directly from them. I've been buying foam from my drummer's dad for years now & it's a very cheap alternative.
 

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To insulate the room from the outside, just use construction grade insulation between your studs. You won't keep the noise from being heard outside unless you do some serious soundproofing. Drywall isn't cheap, but using a double layer adds a lot of soundproofing. Foam and egg cartons are for deadening the recording area. That's a whole other lesson. There are reasons to use, and NOT to use acoustic sound traps. That's all about what you want your mics to hear. You need to get some recording magazines and books and do some cramming.

As for gear, the computer is rapidly replacing outboard gear. But you'll always need a great mic collection, and a solid way to import the signal. So that means a good breakout box and mic pres. Also a good "swiss army knife" mixer is a must for daily patchwork. Used Mackies are a great value.
 

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I'll throw in my .02 here...

First of all, sorry to hear about your parents split. It's tough to deal with at any age.

I was in a neighbor's house recently and he'd just put in special sound-proofing insulation in most of the house...(probably not a great idea with 3 daughters...but that's a whole other thing). My point is, they DO sell soundproofing insulation, so find it and use it behind your drywall, like frank said.

And while you're drywalling, get good at it - because you can make a lot of money for studio gear by drywalling for other people.

My advice to you, at 17, is get your room soundproofed enough so you don't annoy the neighbors...and then just play together and write together a lot. Worry about getting decent recording equipment in a few years. Don't forget about the music. A little PA mixing board and a few 57s/58s plugged into your bass player's computer will do fine for recording stuff to listen back to. It's still 100x better than those awful 4-track-cassettes we used to have to use.

My dad just gave me some stuff i recorded when i was in high school...it's ghastly. :p

Enjoy making the music for now while you have the time and the space to do so, without life's responsibilities and obligations to get in the way.

I had a friend in college who always just needed "one more" piece of gear before he could get going on his writing/recording project. Needless to say, he never got started. Think of what Beethoven and Mozart did with what THEY had in their time. You need an instrument and soul. Everything else is icing.

Good luck!
~Kenny
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thats some good info frank. It doesnt have to be silent on the outside of the shed, but I just dont want it loud enough to bother neighbors. I think my parents will pay for the drywall, but Im gonna have to supply the recording stuff myself. Im a regular pawnshop surfer, but Im gonna shift my interests toward recording gear now, and not just guitars and amps :)

I think, to minimize overbuying, im gonna start out with a mixer, and the PC, and just see the results. If I need something else, Ill get it, and slowly add to it that way.
 

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For the price of one Neumann U87 you could get enough drywall to make your 15'x15' room a 6" x 6" room :lol:

seriously....drywall is really inexpensive. Almost cheap enough to not have to factor into the cost.

~K
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
kennydoe said:
probably not a great idea with 3 daughters...but that's a whole other thing).
:)

kennydoe said:
A little PA mixing board and a few 57s/58s plugged into your bass player's computer will do fine for recording stuff to listen back to. It's still 100x better than those awful 4-track-cassettes we used to have to use.
Thats really all I want to do, that would be enough to make me quite happy. I can always build on it later. I just want to start using it this summer, and have some basic recording stuff. Im just calling it a studio, because that will be that shed's only function. Im real excited about this. . . :)

Lots of good info, thanks Kenny.

revsharp: Ill do that, when I want some foam to kill the extra acoustics in the studio.
 

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Sorry to hear about your folks.

Kenny's advice is rock solid, follow it! A PC is a budget musician's best friend. It offers so much freedom at such little cost... A few mics, a board and a PC can give you killer recording possibilities. You just have to get to know your equipment.

A couple more ideas: if you're recording only guitar/bass, you might consider making an isolation box for the amp (why soundproof the whole room if it's only the amp that's loud?). My (extremely) limited experience tells me that 'undampened' surfaces give great overtones. The only demo I ever recorded with my band (on a 4-track) was done at a club where we used to gig. My tone was really dark, so it got buried in the mix. We tried EQ but nothing at all. Lastly, we put the cab in the girl's restroom and miked it. The tiles brightened up the sound and made it really rich, tight and alive. Of course the final mix was total crap, but I learnt a good lesson :D
 

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Also, if you are planning on double layering drywall, consider using different thicknesses for each layer. They will each block different frequencies that way, using the same thicknesses tends to allow specific frequencies to leak through both layers. You can also get acoustic caulk. Little holes leak sound like crazy...ie, outlets and air vents. Sound proofing equals air tight, where air gets in, sounds comes out. Hard connections to firm structures also allow frequency leakage...so using drywall screws to attach drywall to studs provides a path of least resistance for frequencies to enter the structure and propogate outside. The fewer of those the better, and it is best to have air gaps between layers. Sound proofing is all about physics so do some research to maximize your effectiveness especially since you're on a budget.
 

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Hey how about something like roofing paper, or 1/4" styrofoam insulation between the two drywall sheets? BTW, you are going to insulate and drywall the ceiling, right? Or is that already done? A drop ceiling is okay, too, so long as you've got that insulated and blocked off.

The isolation room for the amp is a good idea. There's also some company that makes an isolated speaker cabinet with a mic in there, so you can crank it and it's hardly audible. I think it's "isocab" or something.

There're two opposing forces here. You want to dampen the sound to the outside, but you also want a room that sounds good when you're in it. Everyone has a different idea of what makes a room sound good. I like small wooden rooms for drums and guitars. Really I like small wooden rooms for everything. But some people like big open rooms, or tile walls, maybe a bathroom for vocals or lead guitar. Others want totally dead rooms for vocals. So then you'd build your vocal booth with foam all over. But that room will probably sound bad to you on the electric guitar amp. I like vocals in a small reflective room, but with sound dampening in front of the singer, behind the mic. Kind of like a three-sided room, so the mic gets the room but not the bounce back. I don't like vocal mics in the center of a room.

You've got to start reading recording books and magazines before you plan your room out, or else you'll keep changing it as you go along. I know what I'd do with a 15x15 room, but I'm sure it's different than what you'll want to do.
 

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Gex said:
I dont care about having perfect quality recording, IN FACT. . .I would prefer it to sound more vintage-y, like something recorded in the 70's and 80's, not this digitally perfect recording we have now.
You have the choice of cheap digital technology which is massively customisable (e.g. VST) or analog which is expensive. A good tape machine will set you back 1000s, never mind the patchbays, mixing desks etc. Unless you're loaded I would recommend VST and a good soundcard, a good compressor and a desk big enough for your recording needs. You can do everything else on software and unless you're a pro engineer I'm betting the quality will be miles better than you would get on analog gear. You also said you hate modelling stuff - Many pro sessions guys use V-amps etc now because although it might not sound exactly like the amp you want, micing up an amp in usually less than perfect acoustic conditions is an art form in itself, and again you'll probably get better results through a $100 V-amp.

Regards,

Dave
 

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Just a few thoughts on the subject:

Miking amps is not too difficult. If you've got a good sounding amp, just stick an SM57 in front of the speaker, f.ex. 2 inches from the center, 2 inches from the grille and you're basically set. Only a little adjustment is usually needed from there on.

For quiet recording, I prefer Palmer speaker simulators (got an ADIG-P4, if my memory serves) over v-amps.

Get a good sound card. Check out Aardvarks, Echo Audios, MOTUs, RMEs... just make sure you have a decent amount of inputs. Mike preamps won't hurt either. PCI or Firewire beat USB in speed.

For compressors, get a couple of FMR Audio RNC 1773's. They're cheap, they rock and are extremely easy to use. They beat Behringers & other cheapos any day. www.mercenaryaudio.com sells them in various configurations, and you can also find some info on their site.

For software Cubase SE is pretty good, and has been very stable in my setup. It also runs good on a bit slower cpus (got an AMD 1 GHz 512 Mb DDR). Cubase SE can also be found very cheap used - that's how I got mine.

Good luck!
 
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