Extremely General Question

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by DaveSemach, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. DaveSemach

    DaveSemach Member

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    I've been recording for a few years...nothing too involved...and as time goes by, I'll buy a new piece of equipment whenever I get the money.

    So far I'm using....
    Fender Strat and Gibsol Les Paul guitars
    Monster cables
    Line 6 POD XT Live - or - miced Fender amp with a 57
    Samson CO3 condenser Mic for vocals
    an M-Audio Fast-Track Pro Interface
    and Acid Pro on my PC

    I'll be working on something and I'll get it to sound pretty good. And then I start playing something on iTunes (RHCP, jimmies chicken shack.....), and It'll blow my freakin brain out of my head with how much better it sounds. The crisp highs, strong mids, and ballsy lows just blow my music away. I want that....or to get closer to that.
    Don't worry about drums. I know why they sound like crap (bad mics and didn't spend much time on it). I'm just talking about guitars, bass, and vocals.
    What am I missing?.....and don't say everything.
    Do I need a mic preamp?
    Should I get better mics?
    Or should I record on something external? if so what?

    sorry about how general that was. I'm new to this.
     
  2. bchamorro

    bchamorro Member

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    you need the room, the pro preamps, the converters, the mixing, the mastering...
     
  3. DaveSemach

    DaveSemach Member

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    ok. So I understand the general concepts of making a good room, mixing, and mastering. But as far as the preamps and converters....I dont quite understand.

    I'm saying that its about time for me to make another purchase. I was thinking about getting a mic preamp. But I don't know what to get. Like most people, I'm on a budget. Would getting a nice mic preamp really take my sound to the next level?
    Or should I get a nice equalizer?

    BTW. Can anyone suggest a really good (not outdated) book on recording? I'd like to read about mastering, equalizing, micing, setting up a good space, preamps, and that kind of stuff.
     
  4. Zero Point

    Zero Point Member

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    A good mic preamp can make all the difference in the world...

    Also I am not a fan of the Pod for recording. It is great as a mobile live rig, but I could never get one to sound worth a crap in a recording. Exactly the problems you mentioned. A lack of depth, voice, and warmth.

    What amp you have there? What is that Fender?

    Personally I would say keep playing with the mic placement. With the SM57, for instance, I prefer it off-axis. About four inches from the cone. That means to put it the exact center of the speaker, then angle it towards the center of the cone's radius.

    It really just takes a bit of practice to get the sound set up right. Also, adjust the sound of the amp as you hear it through the mic! :D This is a key element.

    -ZP
     
  5. chrisgraff

    chrisgraff Member

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    People love Neve 1073's on guitars because the thickness it brings to the low mids. Of all the clones I've used/owned, only one did that thing, (Brent Averill 1073).

    Any $1k+ preamp will be a bring improvement though. Considering/treating your room will also help quite a bit.

    There are some clips comparing mics/preamps converters HERE
     
  6. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    It's the same as your guitar rig, every part of the chain has an effect on the outcome but the most important part is the guy using it and his knowledge/ability to pull the sounds out of it.
     
  7. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    1. Great songs/arrangements

    2. Great players

    3. Great instruments

    4. Great room

    5. Great engineer

    6. Great gear

    In that order.

    Ludboy
     
  8. DaveSemach

    DaveSemach Member

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    What about the book thing?

    Can anyone suggest a really good (not outdated) book on recording? I'd like to read about mastering, equalizing, micing, setting up a good space, preamps, and that kind of stuff.

    I'm a good player, I'm working on the gear and writing. I'd like to learn how to be a good engineer.
     
  9. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    That's kind of like getting a book to learn how to be a good guitar player.
    You can read a lot of stuff but at the end of the day it's your ears and experience that make you a good engineer.
     
  10. chrisgraff

    chrisgraff Member

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    Try this

    Have you looked around youtube? Lot's of little video lessons there; some better than others, but worth a look.
     
  11. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    Just read everything you can get your hands on, and try out the things you read. Eventually, you will get there. Be patient with yourself.

    Now, I disagree that mic preamps and converters are crucially important. And I say this with lots of broadcast music experience. Do they make a difference? Yeah, of course, but what makes a recording sound like a major label release?

    The real deal "record label sound" comes first from choosing the right musicians. I can't stress this enough.

    Then, microphones, using great mic techniques, recording and mixing in good rooms, and THEN using processing gear like compressors, EQs, reverbs and limiters. Then to a lesser but still not unimportant degree preamps, and after all that's said and done, a mix buss, and lastly converters, etc.

    I just did a bunch of broadcast tracks using a portable interface with no-big-deal converters because that's what was on hand, since I was moving from room to room and needed consistent sound. And this was a big project; the result sounded great, no one would listen to this and sniff, "you shoulda used more impressive converters."

    The fact that you are blown away by the sound of data-compressed iTunes stuff shows that the converters are not as crucial to achieving pro sound as some argue; after all, data compression isn't great "sonic stuff" yet the tracks still sound good. So you can see that it's everything else that went into them that makes a larger difference.

    I recently had an interesting experience. I was cutting tracks for a project for a car company, and in the middle of the project, got a call from the same car company to write another track, and both had to be done the next day. Obviously, I couldn't do both at once.

    So I wrote a very quick piece, and had a friend in Nashville who offered to cut the tracks for me with his wonderful studio musicians. The tracks sounded good, yes, but what REALLY made them great was the quality of the playing, the tone of the original drumkit, the skills involved on the instruments. World class stuff. THEN he recorded it nicely, but didn't process it. The PLAYING had major label sound written all over it.

    I hardly had to do anything to mix it, the tracks were that good to start with.

    So I guess the bottom line is: don't get hung up on gear. Sure, it's good to have great gear, but that isn't going to make your tracks great.

    The musicianship is the alpha and the omega, and the rest is nice to talk about, but it's basically not going to mean a damn thing unless the musicians, the producer, and whoever else is involved in the playing and creative decisions such as the arrangement, are good in the first place.

    Think how often you're handed someone's perfectly nice CD, and how few times you listen to it. Then think about those unforgettable songs that blow you away, that you listened to hundreds of times.

    I'll bet bottom dollar that you were NOT listening to whether they had fantastic converters, or the tonefulness of the preamps. You were listening to a performance, to the tune, to the arrangement. That's still the thing, that will always be the thing.

    Everything else is mere icing on the cake. I love icing. But you still have to bake the cake.
     
  12. kandrus

    kandrus Member

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    One thing a lot of people do it they buy tons of stuff...

    What you want to do is invest in one, or two really great signal paths.

    Get a nice pre (the Vintec x73i is kinda cool...) and a great mic. Great converters...

    Like everyone is saying... pro players and pro gear make pro recordings.

    Kyle
     
  13. DaveSemach

    DaveSemach Member

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    I'm a professional musician. I travel and get paid to play guitar for different gigs. I'm a good player, but a bit of a perfectionist. Every time I start to write something, I get frustrated with my recording limitations/quality and I scrap what I wrote. I don't want to do that any more.
    I want my recordings to sound good. And that has a lot to do with my gear and very little to do with my playing. I like the way I sound.
    I've been a serious musician for over half of my life. But I don't know much about recording. I don't even know what a converter is, or what you mean by investing in one or two great signal paths.
    I need to experience on how to be a better engineer for myself, but I am asking what else I need to get a decent setup to learn on. I listed what I have at the top, and I don't know what else I need.
     
  14. DaveSemach

    DaveSemach Member

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    For example....If I get a rack compressor, how do I use/change the compression after I've recorded?

    Guitar(amp mic)--->---compressor--->---Computer.
    Once it's recorded on the computer, I can't change the compression.

    You see what I mean when I'm asking for a book. I'm very much a beginner.
     
  15. 2leod

    2leod Re-Member Gold Supporting Member

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    There are more tools available to the average guy who's interested in recording than ever before, tools that sound good and are fun to use. You have to ask yourself specific questions about what you want out of the recordings, like whether you want to put together an albums worth of material, sell your CDs when you perform or just record what you're writing. It's not fair to compare what you're doing (you say you are new at this) with commercial releases, just accept that for what it's worth, and if you like to learn about recording stuff on forums, here's a couple you might want to check out.

    GS

    PSW

    The thing is, learning to make great sounding recordings is a skill, and quite a different discipline than being a musician. Give some thought to having a local studio record one of your songs, it might give you a better idea of what's involved.
     
  16. chrisgraff

    chrisgraff Member

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    A converter turns an analog signal into digital information and usually back as well (depending on the unit). Many units offered today do both, although some are still sold separately - AD converter vs. DA converter. .


    When people say "signal path", they mean mic, mic pre, compressor and/or EQ, as well as AD/DA converter.

    My advice: get a good mic pre ($1000+), and a better converter (digi003, RME, Apoggee, etc.)
     
  17. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    When I first got seriously into recording 5 years ago I believed that it was possible for a DIY guy to obtain big lable quality. There is so much available now to the common guy it's mind boggling. Well, after 5 years of doing this, and spending a lot of money with my three piece band I've got great results and we're all very happy with the final product we get.

    We got the oppertunity to record at a very serious professional studio twice in two years. One quarter of the mic's alone are worth more than my house! The Neve board is somewhere around $750,000.00 used, the rooms were all built with one thing in mind and there were pro's running this stuff that dwarf my knowledge 10 times over. I quickly realized there is no way a home studio can compete with that. On one hand I was kind of defeated knowing my time and hard earned money was chasing somthing i'll never attain, but on the other hand, i'm proud that my modest home studio can produce some pretty good sounding recordings.

    The biggest thing i've learned out of all my experiences, is that the songs, arrangements and performances are truely the single most important factor. As musicians I think we do listen to production closer than the average listener. I could easily tell my recordings from the pro studio's. But i'm just guessing my wife, my brothers and many of my friends could not. They listen to the music, not the production. Thats assuming there is nothing seriously "wrong" with the recordings. I remember showing my brother some of my first "rough cuts" from my studio. I figured it sounded pretty good but the first thing he said was "where is the singing?" (hadn't done vox yet). I'm like, " but dude, listen to the great drum tones" He said they sounded like drums, is this an instrumental??!!

    Since going to that studio I did come to terms with a few things on all of this. Maybe the signal path is different but the process is the same. A band sets up and plays, gets whatever tracks they are going for on first takes, and overdub's everything else. I know thats not always the case. But my point is that playing in time, tuning, inspired performance and the band finding that magical "pocket" is really the essence of what it's all about. Lastly, i'd add that there are indeed benifits to the home studio. A comfortable and inexpensive place to get the best performance possible is one of them.
     
  18. 5E3

    5E3 Member

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    Rob2001 ^^^^^^^^

    Excellent post! So good I read it twice. Well done! :AOK
     
  19. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    The solution may not be easily affordable and it gets even more complex
    if you are planning on recording live drum kits.

    For the above average home project studio I would first recommend an iMac 20" or 24" or a Mac Pro Tower.
    As far as a good interface, the Apogee Duet would be my first choice
    for 2 very good quality I/O's and above average built in mic pre's.
    the RME Fireface is another highly respected interface.
    For a dedicated 2 channel mic pre, the DAV BG-1 has rave reviews in the
    somewhat reasonable price range.

    The novice interfaces like the M-Audios have not provided for +4 professional grade input signals.
    I was very disappointed to learn this after purchasing my M-Audio ProjectMix I/O.

    For mics, I'd have a few SM57's an SM7, an AT4050 and wish I could
    afford a pair of Royer 121's

    All this does not even take into account the need for a good recording quality guitar amp.

    For Fender cleans, the Gries 5 would be a great choice.

    Try not to get too frustrated with all these costs.
    It takes plenty of time and savings for most of us to put together a great system.
     
  20. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    And so who it turns out did the fantastic playing in Nashville that I mentioned in my earlier post? The major label quality stuff I mentioned that my clients loved?

    None other than our own ChrisGraff!

    Small world, eh?

    Chris, you are the man! BIG THUMBS UP for saving the track! ;)
     

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