Re: [ecasound] Deciding on a setup for recording studio

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Subject: Re: [ecasound] Deciding on a setup for recording studio
From: Michal Seta (
Date: Sat Feb 01 2003 - 06:05:52 EET


I'm not going to repeat what Justin said (well, I'll try not to) but I've got some thoughts.

I have 5400 RPM drive (tuned with hdparm) (FUJITSU MPF3153AT)
and an (QUANTUM FIREBALL lct15 07) ATA drive that I pulled out of my iMac when it died (7 GB). the quantum HD is used for audio (recording, playing, storage). It's not a big HD but so far, considering my needs, I have had no problems. I _think_ the quantum is 7200 RPMs but haven't been able to find out (anyone got an idea?).

The rest is:
Celeron 566MHz
NVidia tnt card
ENS1371 card (so, obviously I cannot record more than 2 mono tracks simultaneusly)
Kernel 2.4.18 (low lat patched)
Debian (woody/testing combination)

So this is not an optimal system but it is plenty for most of my audio needs. I am mainly interested in real-time/interactive stuff that's how I mostly use the system.

However, I have been able to run a PD (pure-data) patch (which consumed about 30 - 50% CPU cycles) as a jack client and record the output of the patch and 2 mono channels to and ardour session (4 mono tracs) without any audio dropouts. The only problem I had was a little latency caused by the fact that I haven't yet figured out how to make PD behave with jack server run at -p 64. But since I didn't need hw monitoring of live input for that setup I was just fine.

It'd be nice to have a higher quality audio card, though. And multichannel. They're getting cheaper.

I have read about your project a couple of months ago and I totally dig it. I was daydreaming about setting something like that up here in canada but unfortunately I don't have the time right now to get into it. I think I will, though. So, from purely philosophical/aesthetic point of view, I think that from the start you must ensure the highest possible quality. That would mean investing in an audio I/O that's at least a notch higher than consummer level. You don't want people to equate the Open Studio concept with mediocre quality right from the start. Not that you cannot do a decent recording with an ens1371... But it's a little noisy... And only 2 channels...

Other than that, software-wise it's all up to the needs that your studio(s) will address. I would put ardour to the test, though, and I'm sure that ardour developers would be into that, too. Ardour can already perform and do things on the par with commercial software. And I think some people use it in their studios for production already.

In my opinion, what's the most important is the quality of audio at the recording stage and then at the playback. What's in the middle, could be garbage. In the digital domain, especially, you don't loose much information. So having a clean and high quality I/O is important but also the room and the mics. Choosing a mic is black magic. I don't have much experience with mics but be prepared to spend more than you think. So is choosing speakers. You need some good quality flat, direct field speakers (as Justing said) for fine tuning mixes (or godforbid mastering, if you're adventurous enough). But you should also have a possibility of having a standard computer speakers, car speakers, ghettoblaster, whatever to listen to mixes and ensure they sound ok on consummer type equipment.

aside from that I have a mackie 1202 mixer. I'm very happy with it. 4 mono channels (with mic and line level inputs + phantom power) 4 stereo channels and [only] 2 aux sends. But it's ok. Probably not what you'd expect to see in a typical studio but it's a great machine. I also use self-powered direct-field monitors (Events, project studio 5) and they're OK for the price range. They've got a decent freq response and they sound flat enough for some basic mixing. With speakers like that you need a subwoofer, though, because a lot of the low-end gets lost. I don't have one.

For audio work I use ecasound, ardour, PD (my main processing/sequencing unit) and of course LADSPA plugins (with all of those apps). I'm getting into ZynAddSubFX ( and now that jack support has been added I think it will be a great tool. Soundtracker is great for setting up some loops (as much fun as a tracker could/should be). Sweep for sound editing (but I still love snd! and use it frequently).

I never got into the tools that allow you to do MIDI and audio sequencing (Rosengarden, Muse) I'm not convinced to those tools (I never liked Cubase, Logic, DigitalPerformer but I loved Performer as a MIDI sequencer) that try to pack everything into one package. I use Muse for some MIDI sequencing. I'd like to see a dedicated MIDI sequencing tool that has everything one could possibly imagine (and scripting support for stuff we think we will imagine).

For graphics:
CUPS printing system. It replaces lpr and supports lots of printers and works great. Configurig is easy, too. Go for it.

GIMP (that's obvious)
Sketch (you can probably get page layouts for your fav CD stickers in Illustrator or PS format and use them in sketch. I use CD stomper, the layouts needed a _little_ tweaking)
Scribus - - a page layout app a little PgaeMaker or Quark. Could be useful (for OpenStudios Gazette :) ?)

excuse this random/chaotic rambling. I just wanted to say something.
Now, I guess this discussion should go to LAU or something :)

Michal Seta
No One Receiving
NOR - "The Release of the Wandering-Eyed Girl" now shipping!

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