My Small Recording Studio Success

I started recording with Cubase LE two years ago using a Focusrite 2i2 and I had no idea about mixing and just used headphones. I liked Cubase so much I purchased the Pro edition. Here’s what I finally ended up with – a zero latency home studio with great monitoring and mixes:

  • Cubase Pro
  • SSL2+ interface
  • Yamaha HS-5’s for stereo mixing
  • Avantone Cube for mono mixing
  • Fender Mustang 50 watt amp
  • Royer R10 and Shure SM-57 on the guitar amp
  • SE Electronics VR2 for vocals

That’s it – very simple. I had done shootouts on all of the sub $500 interfaces and tried all of the decent microphones in the $500 ish or less class, and these won hands down.

Mike Seniors Mixing Secrets for Small Studios was the major breakthrough. Once I carefully read his book my home studio went from schmoe to pro.

The SSL2+ is quite a bit better than the UA Volt 276 that I have. While I like the Volt 276 ergonomics better, the SSL2+ preamps are the cleanest out of all of the budget interfaces. The MOTU M2 is pretty nice too, but even though the SSL2+ has a few things I feel they could have done better, nothing came close to it’s clean sound.

The Case of The Muddy Mix (solved)

This book should be required reading

The Mike Senior book is the cats meow. Every word and sentence is good advice. Notice how his title includes “For the small studio”.

David Miles Hubers book is also fantastic. However, notice how it does not specify “For the small studio”. He does mention small ” project studios “, but the book isn’t based on the #1 problem with small studios – Heavy Compromises – in room treatment and budget.

I decided to try double miking and double tracking every track. That’s great if you have stereo pairs of really good mics, (which this book discusses), but I tried mix and match using lesser mics. Fail!

When I got the Avantone Mixcube, I instantly realized I had two many tracks, too many effects (plug ins) and I was using arbitrary Mic pairs. I also fell in love with the Universal Audio Volt 276 because if its awesome ergonomics. Turns out, the ugly duckling SSL2 has cleaner, clearer and crisp sound.

Then I really tested all of my mics and two posts back, you can see what I experienced.

Today I used the VR2 on vocals and Royer R10 and only had 4 tracks. No double tracking! No double tracking because that’s what caused all of my mixing problems, and with bad Mic choices.

The mixing time I spent with the Mixcube today was maybe 10 minutes. The whole experience was so much better and the end result is what I’ve wanted for many months.

Royer R10 Ribbon Mic Review

As I had expected, this Mic is quite flat and does require more gain than an active ribbon Mic. Using my Universal Audio Volt 276, if I use the built in effects, the R10 doesn’t require as much gain. But even without the effects, it seemed quiet – I’d have to crank my headphones way up to hear any noise, so I’d say you don’t need a Cloud Lifter or DBooster – at least if you are like me and just have a song writers project studio.

I tested the Mic using my very nice Eastman Mandolin MD-815 about 1 foot away and aimed at where the neck meets the body. I also used an empty bookshelf behind the Mic to get some reflected sound.

The sound as everyone reports is “realistic”. And the build quality is top notch.

However, I did order the Royer DBooster and will write a second review. There are several reasons I ordered the DBooster, and I’ll explain tomorrow in that follow up review.

I’ll also compare it with my Golden Age R1 MKIII Active ribbon mic, but with the R10 going through the DBooster.