how loud should I play when micing an amp?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by gregorybj, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. gregorybj

    gregorybj Senior Member

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    I usually keep the volume around 3 or 4 on the amp. I could turn it up, but I see little point because the louder the amp the lower I have to turn the volume of the track down in the mixer in order for it not to clip. What do you guys say?

    Thanks!
     
  2. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    Several..actually, MANY factors here...

    Where does the amp sound best..... for one.... Great sounds start at the source.

    How good are the preamps for applying makeup gain to a quiet signal? Crappy pre's cranked up introduce lots of noise....

    Can the mic you are using handle high SPL's?

    I'd add, I don't think there is a one size fits all approach. Different sounds require different approaches. I've had great recorded tones with a quiet amp, and great sounds with a cranked amp. Trust your ears.
     
  3. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Loud enough that it sounds good
     
  4. meterman

    meterman Member

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    lol true!

    I'm curious too, whether most people use a pad when recording loud amps, or just use less gain from the preamps? For instance if I'm recording amps at moderate volume the gain settings on my Great River will be way down around 9:00, maybe +25dB. Should I be using a -20dB pad so I can get more gain and "color" from the preamp?

    One issue I've noticed when trying to record loud amps in my home studio/office is lots of sympathetic vibration and rattling, usually on a certain frequency low note. I've minimized it but can't seem to get rid of it completely. Recently I started using a good attenuator to control my volume more while maintaining my tone and I think it helps alot with eliminating this rattling and probably with minimizing reflections and room sound, etc....
     
  5. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    You could try it both ways and see which you prefer. What I do, for any instrument or voice, is start with the preamp gain all the way down, turn it up 'til it's right, and stop.

    With certain condenser mics, on certain instruments, the signal at the lowest gain setting is already too hot; that's when I'll use a pad. Sometime's I use the mic's pad, if it has one and it's a high quality mic, but usually the preamp pad. I find that tambourines, shakers, handclaps and other high-freq percussion are more likely to need a pad than guitar cabs.
     
  6. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    Pads do compromise sound quality, especially on the mic.

    The answer depends on the mic, its output level, what it will take in terms of SPL, how much gain your mixer or preamp can take, where on the speaker cone you put the mic, how far away the mic is...in fact, there are innumerable variables.

    You just have to experiment. You do want the amp to sound its best. Then take it from there.

    My son just worked on a major label project with a well known producer, and he told me that they tried a zillion different mic placements to get a variety of sounds. That's a good thing, it makes you learn what can happen.

    I once accidentally left a mic powered on, facing the glass window of the recording booth, kitty corner from the miked amp. It was a condenser and I'd put a plastic ziploc bag over it to keep dust off (thinking I'd powered the mic preamp and the power supply down). When I played back the tracks, I realized what had happened, and I soloed the track, getting this very strange sound that was really cool in the track. So I blended it with the "proper" mic, and it sounded great - on that particular song. Never worked on another song, tho. So you just never know.
     
  7. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    LOL....and 25 years from now it will be refered to as "The Shefman Technique" Guys will be arguing on forums about what kind of plastic bag was used!! :D

    " I have it on direct authority that it was a dual lock, sandwich sized bag"....:bow
     
  8. Hamp

    Hamp Member

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    There is only one volume: "eleven."
     
  9. Hamp

    Hamp Member

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    Are the sympathetic vibrations coming through the amp/speaker or is it a lamp shade? It took me some time to discover that the noise I was hearing was power tube rattle.
     
  10. meterman

    meterman Member

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    Hmm that's a good question, never thought of that! I think in my case it's both, clearly some rattling of misc. stuff in the room but also there has been a noise I can't pinpoint coming from my cab, I thought it was a loose screw or something but I suppose it could be the tubes in the head above the cab. Thanks for the suggestion! In any case using the attenuator seems to reduce the volumes enough to solve the problem...
     
  11. Wheeler004

    Wheeler004 Member

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    As others have stated, it depends on a number of different variables. Assuming your mic can handle it, your best bet is to put the amp where its giving you the tones you are looking for. Use the preamp to attenuate the signal so you don't clip the input stage of your recording interface. If you have controls for both input and output gain on your preamp, you can crank the input gain while keeping the output gain low to squeeze a little more color out of your preamp.
     
  12. pulverizer

    pulverizer Member

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    Dudes right.....there are no rules in audio engineering my friend......

    Put it at the volume you think the amp sounds best.......adjust your pre accordingly.:dude
     

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