Budget Recording Studio – An Update

It has been nearly a year since my post on what I want for a studio upgrade because there have been a couple of new products that I think get me everything I need for nearly my original $300 price point. In addition it has been surprisingly difficult to find an Eleven Rack under $300. As a quick review my requirements were as follows:

  • Can I quickly capture an idea?
  • Am I able to get the sound I hear in my head?
  • Can I get a dry track at the same time?
  • Can I get the dynamics I want?
  • Can I get back to previous settings quickly?
  • Does it limit noise from my home studio environment (computer, family, dogs)?
  • Can I record whenever I want (in other words do I need a mic to capture and wake people up at 2am)?
  • Can I use that tone away from my studio?
  • Does a device need to be attached to run the software?

I had originally focused on the Eleven Rack or Bias Amp with an interface, both of which were just under the $300 budget.  A couple of changes this year have me now focused on Bias Amp and the interface, although I would be going over my initial budget a bit.

The first change was with Positive Grid.  They released a stand-alone version of the Bias Amp software so that you can now use it with or without the DAW.  The tones are killer and this ability puts that over the top, especially with the Eleven Rack now aging significantly (USB 1.0 and still not really coming under $300 even used).  The second is that Behringer (yes, I know) has come out with the UMC1820 at $300.  This is a rack mounted interface (which would work great with my desk mounted racks) that has 18 inputs, including 8 pre-amps that can be XLR, instrument, or line.  My hope is that since this interface would not be leaving my studio, that it will last.  With Bias Amp Desktop (not looking for professional at this time) at between $70 and $100 (depending on sales) it would complete the upgrade at $400 and the expansion of inputs is worth that extra money.

The other piece of equipment set to come out later this year that helps confirm this direction is the Bias Rack from Positive Grid (edit 11/02/16: there is now a pre-amp version as well at $999).  At $1200 it certainly isn’t “budget”, but looking down the road a bit it would fit in with playing live, allowing me to take the tones I will have spent time creating and push them to my power amp on stage.  In addition it appears I would get the upgraded version of Bias Amp Professional as well.  It would definitely be a tough call between that and the Mesa Boogie 5:25 but since this isn’t eminent it is just a mental exercise at this point.

To finish up then, a UMC1820 plus Bias Amp Desktop will allow me to quickly capture an idea with ample tone crafting all while keeping things quiet without having to have a specific interface attached.  Getting the tone away from my studio would still be difficult but would have a path forward with at least two devices.  I’ll be setting aside $35 a paycheck with the goal of being able to get these two things in January.  Since I hope to be done writing my EP and start tracking in January this lines up perfectly.  I would love to hear people’s thoughts on that setup.  Am I crazy?  Did I miss something?


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