3 Studios, 3 Budgets: What Would You Buy?

Mar 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Markkus Rovito, Kevin Becka, and Wes Maebe


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The Apollo comes with a small collection of classic plug-ins, but we’ll need more. I chose the following UAD-2 plug-in bundles: the Magnetic Tape ($599), Classic Compressors ($399), EMT Classic Reverbs ($359), Ampex ATR0-102 Mastering Tape Recorder ($349), and Fatso Jr./Sr. ($299). To expand the plug-in options on the Native side I’ve chosen the McDSP Emerald Pack V5 ($1,495), SoundToys Native Effects Bundle ($495), Waves Native Platinum Bundle ($1,600), Celemony Melodyne Studio ($569) and Antares Auto Tune ($299). These native options offer other plug-in flavors, plus the ability to tune up your performances for the final mix.

McDSP Emerald Pack V5

McDSP Emerald Pack V5

The big question is which DAW to use, and that depends on whether you’re Mac or PC-based. For Mac I’ve chosen Pro Tools 10 ($699), which is a real bargain since we don’t need HD horsepower for this room. I’ve also chosen to add the Complete Production Toolkit ($1,999) which offers expanded track counts (256), disc caching, surround mixing, advanced automation functions and more. If you’re on the PC side of things, then it’s Sequoia 12 from Magix. This audio production powerhouse features 64-bit or 32-bit operation, many mastering features, the latest loudness metering for broadcast and post users, spectral track editing and much more.

MAGIX Sequoia 12

MAGIX Sequoia 12

Now that we’re done inside the box, let’s get out to our monitors using the Dangerous Music Source ($899). This affordable back end features two speaker outputs, two headphone outs, the ability to monitor digital, analog and USB sources separately or together, and more.

Dangerous Music Source

Dangerous Music Source

For speakers we’re going big with Focal SM9s ($3,595 each). Although this is our biggest expense, we’re saving money and real estate because the SM9s offer both two- and three-way operation at the push of a button. This allows you to optimize the space in your listening area while getting another reference for your mixes—without buying a second pair of monitors. The SM9s have an extended bottom end via the top-mounted passive radiator, negating the need for a sub, which is also a money saver.

Focal SM9

Focal SM9

So there you have it. The total comes in just above the $25k mark, but with some nips, tucks and creative wrangling you can get it under budget. What’s great about this particular group of products is that they are all high-quality choices that will give you the best-sounding tracks possible, and ultimately, that’s what is going to make you happy when you hit the space bar.

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