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Another newbie needing advice

Discussion in 'Recording' started by chrisco, Feb 7, 2012.

  1. chrisco

    chrisco Active Member


    Home enthusiast here. I've been using ProTools LE 8 and a DiGi 003 Rack for about a year now and am wondering if I should change my set-up. I use Shure 57s to record guitar and bass and a 58 for vocals. My levels are fine, but my recordings just never seem to sound that good. I play around with EQ and compressor effects but they don't seem to help much.
    I'm just now learning about Pre-Amps and have read some engineers say the 003 doesn't have good preamps. I do like using the ProTools software, but I'm not married to it. Is it possible the mediocre sound is my error, OR would you look to go with another interface (I've just read threads with recommendtions of MOTU and PreSonus models). My budget is $500-$800. 4 inputs are sufficient. Thanks a lot for your feedback!
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    You should be able to get perfectly adequate recordings from a set of 57s/58s going into a Digi003. They won't be of the same quality that really top-grade equipment could give you, but the problems you describe sound more like those of technique and room acoustics than those of equipment. I would not rush out and spend more cash until you have managed to get the best result from what you already have.

    Tell us a bit more about how you work: are you recording all the tracks at once or building them up one at a time ("tracking")? What sort of acoustic environment are you recording in? Are you miking the bass amplifier or taking the bass directly into the interface? What type of guitar amp are you using, how do you place it and the microphone and how loud is it during the recording session? Are you unhappy with any of the instrument or vocal tracks on their own, or is it that you can't seem to get a satisfying mix of the tracks?
  3. chrisco

    chrisco Active Member

    Thanks for responding; I track one-at-a-time, in large-ish room 20x20 feet....use a 57 pointed directly at my Fender Vibro Champ tube amp 2 inches away....I can crank the amp to 5 (fairly loud) but rarely go louder.....Bass is DI (bad idea I'm sure) the bass always sounds weak....and my vocals are also DI with the sm58. Even alone, the vocals seem to sound "flat" and the guitar "muddy." I trigger BFD drums via MIDI with a Roland V-Drum Kit.
    When I play tracks together they also seem to "step on" each other. I can't get that quality like when you can single out instruments in a professional recording and hear them crisply. I add and tweak compressors, but don't notice much improvement. I have the 003 going into my stereo receiver via 1/4 adapters for sound output because I dont have monitors yet. Not sure how this affects things.
    I hear you're supposed to use EQ to separate sounds into their own frequencies but for all my trial-and-error-mixing my recordings still sound muddy and "chaotic."
  4. Dethwretch

    Dethwretch Active Member

    Try moving your mic around where you have it pointing at your guitar speaker..Move it closer/away, change the angle it's pointing at the speaker etc, while monitoring it through your headphones. This can have drastic effects on the tone. SM57s are killer mics for guitar, so your good there. I would leave any effects out (other than distortion) while your recording, and then add it later during mixing if you need to. Also, your amp doesn't need to be cranked to 10 when your recording, as long as your getting good levels at the mixer.
  5. chrisco

    chrisco Active Member

    Will do. Thanks.
  6. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    Also to get good results your room is the prime factor.

    Do you have a treated room?
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    He doesn't have to worry about the room. He only needs to learn how to record things and mix things properly. His 003, more than adequate. Hey it's even more professional than most have. I don't have to like it to know that about it.

    Dude you are on a new path in life. No different than like getting the feel of a new car. And it doesn't do you any good to have a GPS direction device unless you've read the manual and know how to push the right buttons. So even though it's supposed to tell you where to go...You've got to push its buttons before it tells you where to go. Sometimes people have told me I seem to be able to interface directly with them on that level and they don't like it? I don't know why? I'm the engineer. Sometimes you have to go through the manual more than once. Sometimes you have to read other manuals to understand the manual you just read. And all you really need to know how to do is to set your gain trim properly along with where you put your fabulous sounding and recording SM57 microphone. You might also want to check out books on home recording techniques. Even if you're not going to record anything other than yourself, these books do help to give you a better understanding of how all of this equipment and where it should be utilized in a Howdy duty kind of way can be beneficial.

    You didn't end up with this 003 because your roommate who was renting your other bedroom from you, didn't pay the rent last month? Or the month before? Or the month before?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  8. chrisco

    chrisco Active Member

    Totally hearing you that I need to learn more about properly "driving" the interface, sans GPS, so to speak. My concern was that my Digi 003 is the vehicle that can get me there if I'm a good enough driver. I used an MBox previously.
    Concepts like "setting the gain trim" are nebulous to me, so clearly this lack of knowledge is going to impact my tracking and mixing. Seems like a more sound oriented (rather than software oriented) guidebook is what I need to work with. Gracias....
  9. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Maybe you should post a short problem clip for us to listen to on a streaming site such as Soundcloud.

    Does your Fender amp give you the sound you are looking for even when you have it not too loud?

    Bass going direct into the DI inputs of the interface should be fine and may well give you a better result than trying to mic a bass amp.

    You could well be overloading the inputs of your domestic amplifier when driving them from the line outputs of the 003.
  10. chrisco

    chrisco Active Member

    Interesting....I'm surprised to hear that DI is okay for my bass tracking, that's good to hear. My bass tracks seem to lack "fullness" (I guess that's the word), maybe I need to work with EQing more. I hadn't thought about recording with my guitar amp at different volumes to see how the recorded sound is affected....I will experiment with that. it's usually my vocal tracks that I'm most unhappy with. Maybe it's my singing.....SoundCloud is new to me so I will definitely look into it. Thanks for the response.

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