Help w/ killer simple setup for quality acoustic folk recording

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by kenoflife, Nov 26, 2017.

  1. kenoflife

    kenoflife Supporting Member

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    Starting to record a female vocalist - folk - with her acoustic guitar, and also track my guitars (acoustic, teles/335 thru amp) and harmony voice later. My living room has pretty nice verb/acoustic for this - at least won't intrude. Simple stuff - but I want it to be really first rate w/o investing too much more over what I already have.- and find a good work flow. I'd like to come up with a project that could be handed over for mastering.

    My experience was with a band project 10 years ago, in the living room w/ 9 inputs, and it actually came out great. After a year of working on it, and sitting down with the gold-record displaying master engineer at the end. Now wanting just a simple flow, turn it on and go and be first-rate for... spending less than a $1000 from what I already have. Have quality on the outset, but it all matters.

    What I have:

    acoustic part:
    Oktava MK12 - matched pair, cardiod - for acoustic guitar stereo miking - XY I assume
    Fishman loudbox, Red eye preamp, 2 acoustic guitars (Collings OM1A w/ pure mini)

    electric part:
    Vibrolux, Benson Monarch, teles, 335, pedals
    Senn E906, Cascade Fatboy II Ribbon mic (w/ Lundhal)

    vocal part:
    Shure SM58 and Beta 87A cardioid (I think of these more for performing than recording?)
    Safesound P1 mic pre/comp/limiter

    gear:
    Macbook air w/ 8 GB ram
    Logic9/DP7/Ableton9
    Equator D5 - actually my son kind of kidnapped these and now I have KRK Rockett5s :(

    Advice :) ?


    LDC mic for vocals? - had an AT4040 that died - looking to step up. Seems like $4-500 would be a minimum to get something better. Used is fine if I know its good - I want some quality as I'm aiming for a project (not just a demo) to be handed in for mastering. Or.... can I make the SM87A work? The singer has a lot of emotional nuance- sad songs about life and so on.

    USB interface? - Apogees and Motu from past have died. I have a good deal for a Focusrite 2i4 v2 for $95 new - great deal - guess that's kind of a standard at the lower end. I know TGP standards are to consider a Babyface or Audient or Apollo or something... but really? Would that $ best go to a different mic pre than the Safesound perhaps?

    Platform choice?
    Like to assess what is the best simple compressor/reverb from the 3 programs I already own, DP, Logic, Liive... I do have the Safesound P1 for outboard vocal compression...
    Ableton? Certainly I don't need its time morphing abilities - and wonder if it might compromise the sound and some level - my son is a master at Live and could conceivably add synth
    Digital Performer? In the past I used for the band project but kind of forgot how to get around
    Logic? seems more of a standard - maybe better for that w/ its plugins
    Open to new simple reverb/comp algorithms/plugins.

    Headphones? - to get that mic placement right - open to suggestion.



    I'd really appreciate any knowing advice - as I'm wanting to be more focused on the music than gear!
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2017
  2. Thor

    Thor Member

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    Sounds like a cool project. At the risk of sounding like a typical TGPer, I would not skimp on the interface. Take a look at the Antelope Audio Zen Studio. As for platform, Logic seems like a solid choice. Since you are recording in a living room rather than an acoustically treated studio, might also want to look into a portable isolation solution like the sE Electronics Reflexion Filter PRO. Good luck, and let us know how it turns out.
     
  3. ripgtr

    ripgtr Member

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    I think, for acoustic especially, one of the most important things is the room. It's pretty hard to get a great acoustic recording in a 12x14 untreated bedroom. I've gotten decent ones because the 12x14 room I have is pretty crammed with stuff, so it is hard to get standing waves and I put up pillows and comforters and such in places where the sound might bounce back into the mic, but no matter what I do, it still has some of that "small room" sound. I can minimize it but it never sounds like a real studio. One of the reasons studios are big.

    As far as programs, I have used a bunch of different ones for recording. I have been using Reaper the last 10 years. Cheap, simple to start on but very powerful when you need it. They all sound the same, use what is easy for you and does what you need.
     
  4. kenoflife

    kenoflife Supporting Member

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    I already own those programs - I’ll go with Logic i guess

    I’ll send a photo of room - there’s not much in it and the acoustics just singing and walking around with a guitar are pretty awesome somehow -
     
  5. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    If you have a good room you're way ahead. Sounds like you do.

    I like my Audient iD22 interface a lot and noticed a sonic improvement when I stepped up from a budget interface.

    You can try recording lead vocals into the 58 or 87 and it may just work. You won't know until you try. I think you'll find that pops from breathing and mouth noises and such will be an issue. You have to sing pretty close to those kinds of mics, and that means you're hearing the mouth as much as the voice. With a large condenser you can back away from the mic and capture more of the voice and less of the distracting stuff. But again, this stuff can be very singer-specific so try what you have before you spend on something else.

    If you need a solid LDC at a value price, the AKG C4000 is a good one. I also like the Miktek C7e which can be had for about $600-700.

    I use Logic and I love it. I also really like the Slate Everything Bundle subscription for basic processing, faux mastering and the awesome Scuffham S-Gear. It is available for $15/month via subscription.

    Have fun and remember that the performance is the most important thing. There are great, great recordings that are technically imperfect. It's about the song and the performance.
     
  6. kenoflife

    kenoflife Supporting Member

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    I need really great vocals here....
     
  7. Mister Natural

    Mister Natural Member

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    really great vocal takes will prolly need a nice condenser mic - I'd recco whatever model of the shure KSM-series you can reach $$ for - with a pop filter
    for the USB interface, I can seriously vouch for the Tascam uh7000 which has amazing & clean mic pre's built in
    you're also likely to be happier with the acoustic GTRs mic'ed / non-amplified(or pure mini'd) & ringing out in that room - the Fishman stuff is really for the stage gigs
    the only other thing you'll need is practice, practice, practice
    let us know how the project goes . . . and don't forget to include some mp3 takes
    best of luck !
     
  8. kenoflife

    kenoflife Supporting Member

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    Well the $99 focusrite 2i4 v2 already sent - easy enough to sell it for that if I don't really want it :)
    I do think the Safesound P1 has a (1) pretty adequate mic pre and a good compressor - so that should work out for the vocals anyway - til I can get that Great River or something - right?

    A nice condensor - KSM? - would seem to be the investment point... and maybe stepping right up to an interface that really is clearly heads above the focusrite - maybe beyond the Audient - the Antelope looks good. We'll see how much I get into doing this.

    And....headphones? Just get the Sony MDR $100 things again... or ? for this....

    And yes - have the pop filter still from the band sessions.... you can hear how some of that CD turned out 12 years ago - a different living room. The gold-record guy helping me with sorting out the tracks and then mastering really helped. Everything in one take in living room - drums, acoustic and lead guitar, bass, lead (me) -- later was harp, vocals (we used a scratch vocal for the take), horns, and flute - most w/ my friends Manlay but also Safesound.



     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
  9. Fran Guidry

    Fran Guidry Member

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    It's worth remembering that what _you_ hear is nothing like what a _mic_ hears. And once the mic hears something it can be pretty tough to "unhear" it.

    Will your artist be playing and singing at the same time? If so, you probably don't want/need stereo mics on the guitar. Ideally you'd use a pair of figure 8 mics arranged to minimize bleed between the voice and guitar (minimize, not eliminate).

    Fran
     
  10. Papanate

    Papanate Gold Supporting Member

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    I really like the UA Apollo series for small setups.
    I would upgrade your Ram to the 16gb.
    After that I wouldn't buy anything else.
    With your current microphones you can cover
    most anything you want. The Beta 87a is good
    for male vox - some bigger female vox. With the Apollo
    setup she will sound fine.

    Spend a lot of time researching gain structure as well
    as proper mic placement. You'll be amazed at how good
    you can make your setup sound.
     
  11. kenoflife

    kenoflife Supporting Member

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    Really? You’d advise not getting an LDC and focusing on the Apollo alone?
     
  12. Major Dude

    Major Dude Supporting Member

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    I use Logic with UA Apollo Twin. The Apollo really is great.

    Anyway, the best money I have spent on a microphone for vocals and acoustic instruments...well any source really, has proved to be the Neumann TLM 102. Unless money was no object, if I could have only one recording mic it would the 102
     
  13. kenoflife

    kenoflife Supporting Member

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    I expected that to be a lot more $ actually (the TLM 102)
     
  14. Hurricane

    Hurricane Member

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    ¡ Nice recording , killer grooves man - Love the lady's voice . Nice tempos , they smoke !

    Can't loose with the 2i4 Scarlett . I have a 6i6 and love what is does , the price is the killer .
    I haggled a new 2nd.Gen for $200.00 a few months ago . I want a mac but- - -

    I have to work with what I have . HP TouchSmart 610 / Win 10 64 bit w/4gigs of ram - yep - so
    I use outboard hardware for FX before the CPU .

    I do what you do acoustically as well as use Godin LGXSA midi synth guitar with my Roland GR33
    guitar synth module .

    I'm using a SM57 & a Samson C01 LDC with phantom , these two round out the sound of an acoustic
    guitar really nice . Their quality is gets the job done for me . Both are price @ around $100.00 .

    Judging from your two recordings , you are going to get some quality stuff recorded , my respect - I blow
    harp too .

    EZ :

    HR
     
  15. kenoflife

    kenoflife Supporting Member

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    Thanks!

    I realize that the 2i4 is at least on par w/ the Motu Traveler I used those years ago.
    The AT4040 - since broken down - also seemed to work well enough.

    I think for initial recording anyway I'll be fine with the 2i4 - if we really hit it off I'll upgrade in a heartbeat.
    The thing w/ the Apollo Twin is it seems like than one wants really the Duo, and then the additional modules, etc = $. Maybe worth - say compared to an RME Babyface Pro? - because it will take a mediocre mic and make it stellar? or something like that?
    I like the idea of a big dynamic field where its just going to sit right the first time, just a little colored. I know its a large world out there w/ choices- I tend to do best w/ music when I go for something on the low end of the high end - less buttons but just 'right'.

    With great mics for the electric and acoustic guitars I feel more than set w/ the Oktava pair, Fathead, and e906. Really I think the lack of an LDC is the issue and question of purchase at the moment. Just not sure the Beta87a, or the other mics, will do. Not only for the vocals but for perhaps a distance mic for the amp, or just an all around good mic to have. Seems the initial investment here and in any recording endeavor is to find that LDC for perhaps around the $400 mark - used is absolutely fine (unless one really has to beware of used mics like this for some reason)
     
  16. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    The whole reason to get an Apollo over anything else is because you'd want to invest in the UAD plugins. They really don't sound any better then anything else so if investing in the UAD platform doesn't interest you pick another interface. Personally I dig the Focusrite gear, RME is good too and so is Motu. If you can't get good sounds with any of those its not the interfaces fault... and none of them make "mediocre mics" sound stellar. That's marketing BS.

    Personally I can't imagine trying to do any serious recording with only 2 input channels. At least four or even eight would be minimum. If you record acoustic guitar in stereo that's two... take the DI as well because why not? And with a vocal that's four inputs at the same time.

    Now imagine that's all patched with levels up and you want to immediately add percussion, shakers, do a pass of electric without disturbing the acoustic & vocal setup?

    You definitely have enough mics to do some damage. If you want to add a few go for it but there's no reason that you "need" anything else. Use microphones for recording, the mic doesn't care what's in front of it. Whether or not they sound "good" in context of the songs is going to depend on your personal aesthetic.
     
  17. kenoflife

    kenoflife Supporting Member

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    I didn't do so bad w/ just the traveler before...
    And true - more inputs would be better - maybe thats the way to think - that Zenpro thing looked interesting..but is it more marketing BS as compared to a multi-input Motu or Focusrite?
    Still think I need at least one LDC ....
     
  18. tribedescribe

    tribedescribe Member

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    Your on the right track, focus on the LDC mic. The focusrite 2i4 will do the job and gives you line inputs for your external pre. If your trying to record LD vocals and acoustic at the same time the best way to do this is with two figure 8 mics. Figure 8 mics have the strongest null allowing you to separate the two signals(acoustic/voc) much more than other patterns. If your recording them separate(best option) there is a slew of very capable mic's in your price range. If you get the 2i4 that gives you $800 for a LDC. In that price range new/used I would look into mic's by Shure, Lauten, Miktek, Mojave, and Neumann. Based on their reputation new Warm audio wa-47 also looks really intriguing. If your recording the same person a lot I would find a mic that complements their sepcific voice. If you can't try them out in person with her read tons of forums on the mic's above and listen to them online. At least you'll make a educated guess.

    The Miktek cv3 gets lots of love and seems like a mic that would work well for your situation. Below is a used one on reverb for $680.

    https://reverb.com/item/7275443-miktek-cv3-large-diaphragm-multi-pattern-tube-condenser
     
  19. kenoflife

    kenoflife Supporting Member

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    Not sure about the two figure 8 mic idea -
    I see this: https://ehomerecordingstudio.com/stereo-microphone-techniques/
    And there is the 'mid/side stereo recording' pattern where you need one mic thats a Figure 8 (the LDC I could choose) and the other being a SDC (an Oktava SDC I have)

    And of course I can already try the X/Y pattern w/ the Oktavas for acoustic guitar (Collings OM1A - should record beautifully)
    and the e906/Fathead ribbon I have for guitar amp - and presumably could also try the new LDC at a distance.

    Seems the LDC's main use would be for vocals, and as an all arounder
    The Miktek looks good
    The Amethyst Vinrage seem to review very well, though don't do figure 8, and at $499 on sale ....
    could almost consider a pair

    https://violetmicsus.myshopify.com/products/copy-of-the-amethyst
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2017
  20. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    Do a forum search. These came up a few months ago and IIRC at least one or two people attempted to order, had poor communication, the transaction flagged as fraudulent and attempted to cancel their order. I don't wanna derail this thread but I'd avoid anything from Violet like the plague.

    If you still have your broken AT4033 they offer, or at least did at one point... a very reasonable flat repair rate. All those AT 40 series mics are solid and great. I'd reach for those before gambling on unknowns every time.

    The two mic thing that @tribedescribe is talking about requires two matching mics with figure 8 patterns, not just two mics.

    Figure 8 patterns have an excellent null and with a matched pair you can set one on the acoustic, one on the vocal and have at least 90% or slightly better isolation between them. Its definitely an advanced recording technique, post graduate level stuff and not covered in recording 101.

    Honestly, if your looking for "great" tracks that really all starts and ends with the artist... especially with an acoustic based album because there's nothing to hide behind. Either they're performing great and it comes across or they aren't and its still going to come across.

    As the engineer/producer you need to pick the gear and set up an environment that's going to make her as comfortable as possible so the guard can be let down. That's the only way to get "excellent killer" tracks. All the other hooey about microphones and preamps and whatever else is completely secondary at best.

    The first thing I'd want, and really need to know... especially in the case of vocals is can the artist separate their guitar playing from the singing?

    Many can't.

    And if they can't then you need to do whatever you need to do to get both down at the same time without a bunch of excuses.

    Start there and everything else should fall into place.
     
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