Berlin Music Hotel (nhow) | Recording Studio & Room Service Guitars

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Feast your eyes on the world’s first hotel featuring recording suites and music managers on staff. The beauty and elegance of this Berlin music hotel is simply stunning. From room service guitars to its stunning views, this hotel is a must visit for musicians.

“nhow” Berlin Music Hotel Will Leave You Breathless

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304 Stunning Rooms

“nhow” features some of the most elegant looking rooms. Its super modern designs and vibrant colors give this hotel the fresh vibe we all want. Each room comes with 24-hour room service and a mini bar.

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Room Service Guitars

You read that right. They will bring you a guitar at 3am if that is what you want. This hotel is all about bringing out your creativity, so they won’t limit that in any way. This is particularly great if you are in the recording studio and you want the best guitar tone. “nhow” Berlin Music Hotel does not hesitate to make that a reality. This is the first hotel that offers room service guitars in the world!

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Hotel Recording Studios

The hotel features two recording suites. One is an analog recording suite and one is a digital recording suite.

Analog Suite

  • 48-channel Solid State Logic (SSL) board
  • Pro Tools & Logic based systems
  • Soundproof booth for vocals/isolation
  • Adam Audio A7X monitoring system
  • Mic assortment from Neumann, Shure, and Audio Technica

Digital Suite

  • 48-channel Solid State Logic (SSL) board
  • Pro Tools HD & Logic based systems
  • Soundproof booth for vocals/isolation
  • Adam Audio A7X monitoring system
  • Final Cut Pro video editing

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Stunning Views

The “nhow” Berlin Music Hotel features some of the best views in the city. The hotel’s architecture was carefully designed to have the best uninterupted sights you can ask for as a guest. “nhow” architect, Sergei Tchoban, specifically designed the outside of the building to literally hang over the Spree River, leaving the most clear view of the sights imaginable.

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Fair Pricing

Rates for the standard rooms start at just $120 per night, which for the amount of features that come with this hotel makes this a superb deal. If you are traveling across the pond though, airfare can be a bit on the high end if you don’t shop around. I highly recommend Booking.com. They find the cheapest rates available from any airline!



Condenser Mic Review: Neumann TLM 103 [Pros and Cons]

Neumann TLM 103 Condenser Mic Review - Home Studio Zone

Home Studio Zone Review

The Neumann name has become one of the most sought after brands in the microphone world. They have a wide range of high-quality, hand-made microphones that are referenced time and time again for their superb quality. In this condenser mic review, I will discuss the pros and cons of the Neumann TLM 103 and take an in-depth look at what this mic can do for your home studio. 

Neumann TLM 103 Pros

  • Rugged construction – makes a big statement about Neumann’s quality
  • Less expensive than some of the higher end Neumann mics
  • Offers clean, transparent recordings with a flat frequency response
  • Based on Transformerless Circuitry, which eliminates any RF interference that may affect the audio signal’s balance
  • Comes packed with a neat wooden case that will protect your mic from any damages when not in use
  • K103 capsule (based on K87 capsule famously used in U67 and U87 microphones)

Neumann TLM 103 Cons

  • Only offers cardioid polar pattern
  • Does not come with shock mount unlike most Nuemann microphones, only a hard stand mount
  • No frequency rolloff option
  • Has a bright top end so singers who are more sibilant need to be EQ’d

Some Technical Details

The TLM 103 is what Neumann calls a Universal Cardioid Microphone. This means that the microphone has somewhat of a “apple-shaped” directional pattern in which sound is picked up, accepting sound from the front and rejecting sound from the back. High-end Neumann mics, such as the u87, have switchable directional options like omni and figure-8 patterns.

This mic also features a high SPL rating of 138db. Even though there is no pad on the microphone, the TLM 103 can handle a large load and has a super low self noise. This eliminates any “need” for a pad. Having a -10db switch is nice in certain situations, but with this mic you can get away without having one fairly easily.

The TLM 103 has a flat frequency response up to 5kHz, and a 4db presence boosts for higher frequencies. This is great for certain applications such as low-mid range vocalists and instruments. However, this can be a slight issue for vocalists with natural sibilance in their voice, making the need for an EQ adjustment a neccessity. 

Some professionals say a great way to make the TLM 103 shine is to pair it with an Avalon vt737sp Preamp. This will add a unique coloration to your track and it really tends to make vocals pop. 

Here is a video showing off the unmixed, raw signal the Neumann TLM 103 captures:

And, here is a video of the TLM 103 first without any processing, then paired with a Avalon vt737sp Preamp:

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Overall, I would consider this to be a great addition to your home studio mic locker. The pros outweigh the cons by a long shot, and it is offered at a low price compared to most Neumann products. This large diaphragm microphone works exceptionally well for vocals, drum overheads, drum room, and guitar amps. I recently tried miking my Fender 1983 Concert with the TLM 103, and it sounded fantastic. For those who don’t have means to mic an amp, you might enjoy a previous article I wrote on how to get smashing guitar tones using a DI.

With it’s hand-built, rugged construction, the TLM 103 will be a microphone that you have for many years to come. I hope you found this condenser mic review helpful, and for more tips and tricks, be sure to visit the blog. 

Get Crushing Guitar Tones Using A DI Box

Crushing Guitar Tones DI Box Mesa Amp picture

If you use amp sims, then you know how frustrating it can be searching for the perfect guitar tone. Amp sims alone can’t do it. Sure, double and quad tracking definitely help. But even that never seems to get that real “tube-saturated” tone. This guide will explain the benefits of having a DI box and how you can get crushing guitar tones in your home studio.

Benefits

  • Capture the best possible signal for use in situations you may want to reamp
  • Capture a mic-level raw DI recording so you can choose a different amp sim later
  • Improves overall tone by adding tightness

What Does A DI Box Do?

A Direct Box (DI) is a tool that musicians use for both live and studio environments. Its main functionality is to take the Hi-Z unbalanced instrument-level signal and convert it into a balanced mic-level signal. This gives your signal a “tightness” sound thus making your guitar tone tighter.

Active Vs Passive

There will be two options out there when searching for a DI box: Active and Passive. What type of box you need will depend on your instruments.

Active Box

  • Requires power source from batteries or phantom power
  • Has preamp to improve weak signals from low-level impedance
  • Highly transparent

Passive Box

  • Does not require power source
  • Impedance matching
  • Does not improve weak signals
  • Zero noise added by active circuits

So which should you get? Well, that depends on your gear. Many audio professionals say to use an active DI box for a passive pickup guitar, and to use a passive DI box on an active pickup guitar. This is because when you pair active/active and passive/passive, you lose some top end and mid range out of your tone. This can be fixed later with a simple EQ trick, but in most cases it is best practice to capture the right tone at the source.

Recommendations

Radial J48 Active DI

crushing guitar tones radial DI box

This box is the best one I’ve tried. Once I recorded my first track with it, I found that no other Active DI compared. It is a little pricey, but it will level up your mixes in a big way.

More Info

Radial JDI Passive DI

crushing guitar tones radial JDI Passive Direct Box

I have personally found that this particular DI works especially well for pianos, but can be a great pair for an active guitar with a set EMG’s. With the EMG putting out such a strong signal, the passive does a better job of handling the hot input level.

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Best Studio Microphones For Vocals On A Budget

Photo of a large diaphragm condenser microphone Best Studio Microphones

Vocals are primarily categorized as the most important section of a song. I’m not saying that other sections are not important, but vocals are meant to be up front and in your face. So, it is imperative that the quality of your vocals are top-notch. This guide for best studio microphones for vocals will help those who are on a tight budget but still seek that quality sound in their recordings. If you are not concerned about price, consider looking at my TLM 103 Condenser Mic Review. This is my favorite mic that I own in my locker, but it comes with a larger price tag than what will be discussed here.

Recomended Studio Vocal Mics That Won’t Break The Bank

Shure SM7B – $399.99

This flat, wide-range frequency responsive microphone produces some of the cleanest recordings you will hear for under $1000. It is an extremely versatile mic that is commonly used in a variety of applications, such as recording vocals, drums, overheads, bass, and radio personalities. This will be a staple in your mic locker for years to come and coming in at just $399.99, this is a no brainer pickup for the home studio engineer. It features:

  • Bass rolloff and mid-range emphasis (presence boost) controls
  • Improved rejection of electromagnetic hum
  • Internal “air suspension” shock isolation virtually eliminates mechanical noise transmission
  • Installed pop filter cap eliminates need for any additional protection against explosive breath sounds
  • Yoke mounting with captive stand nut for fast and easy mounting and dismounting
  • Classic cardioid polar pattern
  • Rugged construction, built to last
  • Interchangeable frequency response caps for additional control of mid-high boosts

This is a great pick up for the beginning audio engineer to a seasoned professional.

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Rode NT1A Anniversary Package – $229.99

This package is an absolute must for someone who needs an entire vocal setup, and it can be had for just $229. For what comes with it makes this a solid choice for a beginner who’s looking for a startup bundle, or a recording veteran looking to expand their mic locker.

The NT1A comes packaged with:

  • Rode SM6 shock mount
  • Integrated Pop Filter
  • 20′ XLR microphone cable
  • Dust cover
  • NT1-A Studio Secrets DVD

This microphone is a household name in the audio world. It is highly-spoken of by many professionals and is definitely a Home Studio Zone recommendation.


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Warm Audio WA87 – $599.99

Ok, this particular microphone is my absolute favorite mic under $1000 by a long shot! It is a bit more expensive than the previous mics mentioned, but I felt this needed to be addressed. It is a close replica of the famous Neumann U87 at a fraction of the price! Furthermore, it comes in at just $599, so you will be able to experience a super close replica of what used to be an unmatched sound without breaking the bank.

  • Based on the classic “87-style” circuit
  • Capsule – Lens Kondensator – full replica of the K87 capsule
  • 125db SPL rating (without pad), 132db SPL rating (with pad)
  • Pad: -10db
  • Polar Patterns: Cardioid, Figure eight, and omnidirectional
  • -117db Noise
  • Includes Shock Mount, Hard Mount, and Wooden Box

If you have a budget that can fit this microphone, I highly recommend picking one of these up because if you could have a one-trick pony vocal mic, this would be it. In my opinion, it is the best studio microphone under $1000. Some say that the Warm Audio WA-87 sounds a bit cleaner than the original U87. I’ll let you decide:

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