The irritating way to build a portable studio

This heroically irritating article on portable sound recording is a great introduction, assuming you're comfortable with author Gina Fant-Saez's six commandments: 1) You need to spend $5000 to get started. 2) Macs are for creative people. Only an accountant would buy a PC. 3) Pro Tools is great, only losers use other sequencers. 4) 'Most musicians' don't want to tweak soft synths through a MIDI controller. 5) M-Audio are brilliant, because they run Pro Tools. 6) If you buy a PC, 'I guarantee you will have headache upon headache trying to get everything working.' Hmm... Alternatively: Build a studio for £27 or £500. (via Make)


Comments:
"heroically irritating"
You said it mate... It's stunningly blinkered piece of Avid propaganda. To be read only if you want to be annoyed beyond belief that people are actually paid real human money to spout opinions like this in 2005.
AND i've wasted ten minutes of my day posting a comment on the f***ing thing. I'll never get those back. Bah!
 
Logic is a "MIDI sequencer that over the years added audio" and is only good if you want to make techno tracks?!!

Then there's the zero latency description: "The Mbox does include a knob to balance your playback tracks with your record tracks, but take it from one who has tried and tried, it’s almost useless"

Useless why?! Not to mention, *that's not what the knob does*. It balances the live recorded signal (prior to routing to the computer) with the signal routed through the computer. And it works -- but I'm guessing she doesn't understand what it does.

Then she claims FireWire is faster (true) and more reliable (false) and has less latency (wrong). (Actually, 200% better.)

Oh, and the mic pres don't sound any good on the Mbox. (Huh?)

Then she plugs in cheap plastic speakers . . .

This is a person with a lot of experience, and very possibly a lot of talent, but as far as this articles goes, there's some serious misinformation.
 
Protools right now is the rightwing of studio tools. It's the choice for the ones that really don't know what they want, but know they WANT something and have a lot of cash to spare. Like the fuckwit that wrote that article.
 
I think you're being a tad too harsh.
Remember she titled it "The Ultimate Setup", and to be fair, she's largely using industry standards. Nobody who buys that setup is going to be disappointed it.

Having said that, I'd hate to think that anyone got put off putting together a nice cheap (or virtually free!) studio because they read something like that.
 
It's not just about price. You could certainly put together a Pro Tools Mbox setup for around $2000. And likewise, you could run a setup around $5000 using other software and hardware; it's easy to blow that much on a SONAR or Logic setup, and it's not like she's using Pro Tools|HD hardware. I think the problem is, the article says many things that are misleading or blatantly wrong. It's too hard for people to get good advice on where to begin when there's so much superstition and misinformation floating around. That's really disappointing, and it does a disservice both to products from Digi/M-Audio and Apple that she endorses and those she short-shrifts.
 
I'd marry her. I don't agree with all her opinions, but her article's production values are pretty good, and she wouldn't get too mad at all the cables running through my house. Pro-tools feels like poo-that-doesn't-want-to-come-out to me though.
 
Love the idea that Pro Tools is right wing. Maybe Cubase is European centre left. Audiomulch is anti-capitalist anarchist. Ableton Live is...

Anyone?
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
Ableton is the middle-class university student who goes along to protests for a laugh...

Also, who are we to criticise Gina? I mean, she is a well respected, successful performing artist in her own right.
 
Protools right now is the rightwing of studio tools. It's the choice for the ones that really don't know what they want, but know they WANT something and have a lot of cash to spare. Like the fuckwit that wrote that article.

I think that is a little harsh and a bit of a generalisation. I am a Pro Tools user of many years but don't come close to your description.

1. I know what I want. A solid audio editing platform that makes manipulating a lot of audio a breeze.

2. I don't have that much money. That is why the MBox was the choice for me. It enabled me to use a reliable industry standard editing tool at a good price.

In the 15 years that I have been experimenting with sound I have used Cubase, Logic and Cool Edit. Pro Tools is the one for me. It suits my way of working and the kind of work I do.

I think her article was misleading and a little annoying but it is just the opinion of one person. Don't let it get to you.
 
it makes no sense, crazy mac people use logic, not protools. i know, i am one crazy mac person who loves logic... and i hate m-audio (they make horrible mac drivers when they get around to even doing that)
 
I think she's damn right. And she's pretty too.
PC are made for accountants and boring people,
we all acknowledge that.
 
Macs are for people that dont know computers - they are for the idiots that have to call tech support to install a stick of RAM

and the "ultimate setup" involves equipment that is ALOT more expensive than this bullshit... try some RADAR systems, Apogee converters, and ADAM monitors for starters... throw in a bunch of UA and Neve outboard gear and you are getting close

what a fucking retard
 
I think I wouldn't be the only one who can see what she's trying to get at - but yes, I think that she's made some rather unfair generalizations and statements that as one commenter quite rightly said "Mac is the "ultimate creative machine" stretches the boundaries of credibility".

I battle with this shit everyday, I work on Macs and my home machine is a PC. Not because I cannot afford a mac, or because I don't understand the complexities of both systems, I just think that the differences between platform are becoming so minimal its almost beyond worth mentioning. For everything a Mac box does well, so does a PC. I prefer a PC because in my case I happen to like tinkering around with hardware, and also my Win XP SP2 system crashes application or otherwise about once every 3 months or so, where my work Mac OS 10.3.4 (can't update due to compatibility issues yet)has application crashes roughly twice a day.

I hate seeing this stuff because it just continues the myth that do creative things you need the right tools. You don't. You just need to be creative and do something.

Sounds like she's got a shitload of technical experience on a couple of platforms, but a well rounded piece of advice that doth not make.

I used to fix Digi systems many years ago, and I was somewhat amazed at the lack of support from Digidesign (especially from digi's tech folks here in Australia) and more often than not, I would have to go to the Digi User boards to get answers. Digi are not the be all and end all for pro audio, even IF their software is currently industry standard.

Anyway. I could rant on, but I have actual work to do. I think "irritating" sums it up best for me too. Sort of right, but also... sort of not.
 
The best thing is to read her comments back to other posters when she berates them for being clueless noobs....

"Ask 90% of any "professional" musicians, engineers, studios, producers, songwriters etc - and what do they use? Mac and Pro Tools."

PC and Cubase, moving to Tracktion. Anyone else out there want to join my 10%??

Anyway the AKG mics suck, and better can be had for less... Also, she specced way too few mics. That AKG project pak will mic one amp. (Direct/Ambient) (And they're useless for recording akps because of the mid-rolloff they provide for vocalists. Which is probably what she likes about them.)

The Sony Headphones are nice, but here's where AKG could have saved her 50$.

A PreSonus blue tube on her inputs and outputs could have addeed some warmth.

Frankly, listen to the sound sample she posted to her website. On rereading, I am amazed to find that these are live instruments.

Drums: While obviously programmed from MIDI, the best part of the track. However, afetr hearing her disdain the "Techno" types, funny to find her song requires a guy with Logic working some patches.

Guitar: Sounds awful. Thin. Like it was the first track recorded on 1/4" tape. Took me a while to isolate it from the mix.

Horns: Sound like cheesy synth horns and probably are. Gosh, don't know how a PC with Reason could have helped here.

Vocals: A Washed out "Enya" thang that doesn't make me think the Mics or pres are worth a sh*t. Hell, if that's all she's recording, get a paper cup and a string.

Bass: Sounds sequenced. Maybe it isn't, but it sounds sequenced.

Mix: Flatter than a Texas highway. Maybe good for those into the trancey thing, but where's the hook? One memorable line? This reminds me of some of the things first year students do with Reason. They get a bunch of sequencers going, fade them in and out, and fail to say anything musically. Name me one part of that song that is hummable. The engineer didn't leave enough space for each of the instruments in the mix either.

Jodi, If I had bought that setup, I would be very disappointed.

MBOX: 48Khz... Fine for project studios, but not otherwise. And of course, who the hell needs ADAT.

Also, if you think Firewire is going to let you transmit 10 192Khz streams in real time, I have a bridge to sell you.

Mics: Add 4 Shure 58's to start, and then get condenser mics for recording instruments, not vocals. Condensers are nice for vocals, but not necessary, and the 58's are good solid mics that do vocals at an "industry standard" level.

Also, I'm not trusting my sound to an Mbox pre... A Blue Tube as mentioned before, and a 160A compressor/limiter would be a start, and route the entire output mix trough a blue tube as well to add some compression, warmth, and smooth digitizing artifacts as well.

And what up with speakers?? Play it back through the PA, use the headphones, or find a friend with a hi-fi, but how can you tell anything about your mix from JBL on-tours??

Arguing the other stuff, Pro-Tools vs. the world, Mac vs. PC... None of it matters to the actual final mix, and while Pro-Tools is a great piece of software, no one piece of software is generally fully capable of creating your opus, and whatever works for you works... So long as the final mix sounds good. Even her sample required 3 different versions of Pro-Tools, Logic, and a crapload of analogue at the mix point....

"If you want to work with other people and take your work to and from other studios, Pro Tools is the standard. That's a fact."

That's a lie. Even on your, "OMG, I so love sucking some pro-tools d*ck" project, you have at least two of the members using a different piece of software. This reminds me of when people would advocate against Word Perfect because Office was "more compatible with Windows 95".

The "Standard" is to ship files out in .wav format, without regard to the software on your machine or theirs. I have recently seen alot more people packaging as apple loops (wav), or Recycle Loops. Recycle loops are preferred for reasons that are obvious to anyone who has used them.

Man, did I just type this much??
 
my respect for o'reilly and make just fell through the floor
 
I really don't see what everybody is geting upset about....

She states some obvious realities in the US - ProTools is the defacto standard of the Recording Industry here. Anything that you use has to be compatitble. Good or bad, that's the way it is.

Mac vs. PC - any PRO who doesn't have BOTH computer platforms in his studio is way behind the times.

As far as the other stuff, no one seems to criticize Al Schmitt when he recommends Monster Cables, although there are several cables out there that are better - this is about endorsements and getting deals on gear for mentioning it in print - not the scientific reference on recording equipment.
 
Guys what are you talking about?

1. She is not as pretty and young as seen on photo.
2. She is a LAME BRICKWALLER

Don't you beleive?
 
From her site: "Gina Fant-Saez is a multi-dimensional creative visionary. A prolific producer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, digital
audio guru and distintive vocalist"

Although she missed out expert proofreader for some reason.

Ah I get it, it's the "multi-dimensional creative" way to spell distinctive.

Although it's a poor way of insulting someone to target their spelling, it's put me off the whole GFS thing, so I'll ask Tom to be my Audio Guru instead.
You up for it mate?
 
"Gina Fant-Saez is a multi-dimensional creative visionary" One would think multi-dimensional beings (MDBs) would have access to more advanced technology. In fact you need some pretty advanced miking techniques to record MDBs and 5.1 surround playback doesn't even begin to do them justice. You need at least 5.5.5.5.5.1.
 
I wouldn't critisize her, she's "multi-dimensional". God only knows what awesome powers she wields.
 
If she's going to use Sony CLOSED headphones instead of OPEN Sennheisers or AKGs, she'd better plug in something other than cheap plastic speakers as reference monitors.

dk-AT-davidkristian.com
 
I have never seen a group of more inarticulate, insulting comments.

I never said my opinions should be written in stone. My god, it's just one person's opinion... Do you guys throw objects at the television when Roger Ebert reviews a film. Chill out...

Take a look at eSession.com - look and see what 99% of everyone in my database is using. Mac & Pro Tools. Now, how many major label credits to you guys have???

FYI - I have two PC's - I know Logic, Ableton Live, Digital Performer, Cubase and Nuendo - I still think for LIVE musicians - the Mac and Pro Tools is far superior and ANYONE doing PROFESSIONAL music would back me up.

One more FYI - There is a way to differ in opinion with someone while still retaining digniity and eloquence, unfortunately, few people here have the class and intelligence to state their case as such...

Gina Fant-Saez
 
I have never seen a group of more inarticulate, insulting comments.

I never said my opinions should be written in stone. My god, it's just one person's opinion... Do you guys throw objects at the television when Roger Ebert reviews a film. Chill out...

Take a look at eSession.com - look and see what 99% of everyone in my database is using. Mac & Pro Tools. Now, how many major label credits to you guys have???

FYI - I have two PC's - I know Logic, Ableton Live, Digital Performer, Cubase and Nuendo - I still think for LIVE musicians - the Mac and Pro Tools is far superior and ANYONE doing PROFESSIONAL music would back me up.

One more FYI - There is a way to differ in opinion with someone while still retaining digniity and eloquence, unfortunately, few people here have the class and intelligence to state their case as such...

Gina Fant-Saez
 
If you think pro tools is good for live performance, you have never worked in theatre.
I don't think you will find a single theatre in the world using pro tools for cues.
 
Erm...
I know lots and lots of people doing professional music that wouldn't back you up. So you're actually wrong. ProTools is great, dont get me wrong. But you state opinions like facts and with little or no support of said comments, it means that you're simply ignorant or stupid. Or possibly both.

Here's something similar that I invented just now to point out how poinlessly rubbish your comments are:
"White people are FAR better than black people at sport, ANYONE who does sport PROFESSIONALLY would back me up". Non?
Oh an "FYI" I have class and dignity, but not for stupid poopooheads like you.
 
This is like listening to guitar players..."anyone who uses thin picks is an idiot" etc
 
alright! ad hominem and ad popularum arguments are awesome!
 
erm, ad populum. damn it.

someone say something bad about the machinedrum, so i can make myself feel better.
 
Actually, Macs have better latency than PCs and UNIX based systems, so in theory Macs are better than PCs for Live Systems.

But, saying that Pro Tools is better than any other software... fuck it. It´s just for saying "Oh, I use Pro Tools who it´s expensive than your software, so I´m better than you". It´s an elitist stuff.
It´s like saying that Internet Explorer is better than Fx or Opera or Safari just because everyone uses it.

People don´t know shit about computers -like this lady over here-, so they use the so called "standarts".

I hope you think about it.
 
This was both informative and freakin' hilarious!!!
 
It is sad that this didn't stay as a Mac V PC debate, which anyone passionate about digital recording can easily waste a weekend on...
Gina, has ever right to her opinion just like anyone else.
Comments referring to her as being a "little lady" or not as good looking as her photo are not relevant to the topic and only make the writers look foolish and very small minded.The personal attack on her was unfair. After each verbal bashing Gina took, she replied with respect and proof of her years of experience working in the industry.
She didn't get any responses from her question; How many major label credits to you guys have???
She could have also asked;
When was the last time one of you worked with Bob Clearmountain? Sorry when? The last SSL you installed in your own studio? What? Sorry can't hear you..

I say thanks Gina, shame on the rest of you.

PC , Mac, Pro tools, Logic, whatever you use, some of people on this forum will always sound shit because that is what is in their mind and hearts….
 
Ok. Her system have good sides. But.....
Mac- Ok
Pro tools good but it runs with m-audio interface.
Pro tools is profesional but all m-audio portable interfaces is semiprofesional.
Some examples:
M-audio Microtrack - why the phantom power is 30v.? how many microphones use 30V. phantom power. See the Edirol R-09 -same price but bild in stereo mic and 48V phanto power.
Now for Ozonic. Again stuped things....
Ozonic have 4 inputs but why only 1 is mic input?
Its portable and use fireware for powersuply, but why dont have a bateries suply. If you use fireware for power suply your laptop batery go for 20 min.
See the Novation X-Station for same price 2 combo mic/line inputs 48V. phantom power for both. Bild in synh. FX procesor, more good control sufice. Focusrite mic preamph. USB power suply and batery power suply.
This is a reason for me to dont get Pro Tools. The portable hardware for Pro Tools is M-audio but its sucks.
Head phones Sony? Why? The Sony head phones is no a standart like ProTools in software.
The standarts here is Seniheizer and Bayer Dynamic.
AKG and Audio-technica good but the best is Neumann. For portable thinks the best is KM 184.
 
I hate to admit it, but I can relate to all of her "commandments." You mean most people think this way? I thought I was the only one (wouldn't admit it outright, though). Maybe that's the first step. And knowing is half the battle. I've been making efforts to go beyond the ProTools/M-audio scene and look at others. It's a big overwhelming world out there and it's easy to get stuck in your comfort zone. Maybe her way of laughing at it, makes it easier to not take ourselves too seriously.

A shout out to all the lady sound engineers.
----------
OliviaB.
San Diego DUI lawyer
 
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