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Gain Levels

Discussion in 'Recording' started by sillyman, Apr 22, 2001.

  1. sillyman

    sillyman Guest

    Quick question,

    I've been noticing as I record things on each track, especially when using microphones (SM57's) that there isn't really much play in the amount of gain i can use. it seems that there is like almost no sound going through unless the gain is cranked up extremely high. And then when it is up there, it's extremely sensative to going over into the peaking zone. I have the faders of the tracks at 0dB and everything seems intact. i didn't know if it may just be this specific type of microphone, or maybe even the types of cables I'm using. If you have any input, please let me know. Thanks
  2. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Need a little more info.

    What are you recording with the 57?
    Into what pre?
    Does it go thru any other gear before it gets to the recorder?
    Which recorder are you using?
  3. sillyman

    sillyman Guest

    hey there,

    I'm just doing some vocal tracks and going directly into the VS-880. No Pre's at all. Everything I record has been totally direct. Does that maybe have something to do with it? I guess I even notice it sometimes when I'm running guitars and basses true it direct also, but it's not as bad..usually there is more room for change in the gain, but when using the 57's direct for vocals, it has to be almost up all the way and then the smallest movement of the gain could make it extremely quiet.
    Hope that helps....let me know if you need to get more info.
  4. Curve Dominant

    Curve Dominant Active Member


    The VS is a great recording tool, but it needs help sometimes. Its A/D converters are not going to cut you any slack. If you just plug a mic, or a bass, or a guitar directly into it, and expect phatt sounds, you are expecting too much. There are two ways to approach solving this:

    1. Use the on-board FX in the insert stage to boost your signal. We'll use the SM57 as an example. Route the mic to the channel that you want to record to. Then, press the Fader-Edit button to orange (input stage), and press the Select button for the channel that your mic is plugged into. This is where you insert A31 VO:Vocal Efx patch. There are a lot of settings that you can tweak here that will boost the input to maximize the recorded sound. Experiment with these settings until you are satisfied that the tracking level will be hot, but not over-compressed.

    2. Use an outboard mic pre-amp, compressor, or limiter. You should do this anyway, in addition to option #1. I plug my SM57 into an Alesis NanoCompressor ($95) to limit the sound, and then into the VS880EX, with a compression patch on the insert stage. I get HOT vocal tracks with this method, but you must bear in mind that I have been experimenting with these techniques for many years, and you may have to put your nose to the grindstone for awhile if you want a world-class sound for so cheap a rig.

    Look into purchasing a A/D converter if you want to maximize recording to digital. The dbx386 is a mic-preamp with a tube stage and digital outputs, for around $450. Or you could spring $2000 for a Rupert Neve pre...it's all about you budget.

    good luck...curvedominant
  5. For the 1680s there was a mod developed which allowed changing out the stock opanmps for op270 or other compatibles of your choice. I didn't have the nerve to try it and went the outboard pre route myself since it involved desoldering the old opamps and replacing with sockets. Those who can solder on multilayer PCBs fouind it to be an noticable improvement for about 20 bucks worht of parts and a bit of their time.

    I still have the document Ole Frost developed which is extremely detailed if anyone's interested.
  6. Curve Dominant

    Curve Dominant Active Member


    What pre are ya using? Just curious.

  7. Thanks for asking...
    I like my Sytek w/Burr Browns, and the pre's on my desk (DDA DMR12) sound nice and big to. I've got a DBx 586 which is good on some things too.

    I've been through a ton (for me) of money this year replacing the 1680s w/ a mackie hdr2496, the DDA and associated cabling, 2 PCM80 and a TC M-one reverbs, 2 RNCs and a pair of LA4s. I will be buying 6-10 channels of world class pres and more comps at the end of june when I get a lump sum for taking early retirement from the day job.
  8. sillyman

    sillyman Guest

    i've been toying a bit with the effects on the 880 and trying to insert them into the vocals like you said. It definitly does help a bit, but i can tell I'm going to need to really take some time to fiddle with the settings. There are so many here..it's great!
    Now, another quick question. Effects......when adding effects to tracks, how can you use more then two at once. Can you record a track with an effect on it, then later use effects on top of them? Seems like I can only get two working at once, and I'm trying to put seperate effects on Drums, Bass, Guitar, and vocals. How do I go about this?
  9. JS

    JS Guest

    Hello guys (and gals),
    I am surrounded by Rolands in my production room including VM7200 with all the buzz and wistels, Variphrase, XV5080, JV1080, JP8000, Juno106, SRV2000. Just ask.
    The mic pres on the Roland may be decent but not that great if you wish to do some good old tone shaping. Better go through an external pre before hitting the desk at line level. For SM57 I have found that the Great River pres do wonders but others, at lower budget range, can do the trick too. I have a Meek pre-compressor VC3 that is fine for coloring things up on the cheep ($300?). Get the 57 into the pre and on to the desk so it shows nice -4dBFS. Do this by incressing the external pre level (not the desk pre!!!) and on to the recorder.
  10. sillyman

    sillyman Guest


    Thanks for the input. I'll have to look into saving some cash for a pre. I'd like to get some nicer microphones too as I know things would be much better then, but I don't have Phantom power either so i'd need to get something for that to with some of the nicer Mics.
    I have to say though, i spent some time with the amp simulators on this machine with the guitar going direct, and I've gotten much better sounds than i had before. i'm quite happy with the things this machine can pull off with that effects card. Very cool!
    More later...thanks for all of the help guys.
  11. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but if I remember rightly (haven't seen a VS880 for a while) there are no XLR/pre-amped inputs? Everything goes in at line level? At least a friend of mine was having these same troubles and was getting heaps of hiss. Anyway he got a little Behringer 4ch mixer to plug his mic into and then ran the mixer output to the 880 input. Solved his probs.
    Still not fantastic but at least his mic signal was pre-amped.
    I would still recommend you save up your pennies and buy a propper mic-pre. You can get a middle of the road job which work very nicely for less than $300.
    Good luck
  12. sillyman

    sillyman Guest

    You are correct, this machine has no XLR inputs. The cords I have for the mics are XLR to 1/4" right now for that reason. I don't really know too much about mic pre;s, so if you have some suggestions, let me know. I know some people have listed some in previous posts under this category, but if anyone else see's something that they like that hasn't been listed, let me know what it is and why it's so nice. Interested to know.
  13. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    OK... Grab yourself a Behringer Eurorack MX602A http://www.behringer.com/eng/products/eurorack/mx602a.htm
    You should be able to pick one up fairly cheap (shouldn't be much over US$100) and it's a good enough short term option. Make sure you use a balanced lead between the mixer and the 880.
    The MX602A has some nice little features such as phantom power, 2 XLR and 2 stereo line inputs, external power supply for quiet operation, and it's a handy little beast to have around for a number of other uses.

    As for dedicated Mic pre's, I'm just starting to look for one myself so I'm really qualified to advise you there. I run the Digi001 system and have up till now been happy enough with its built-in pre's.

    Good luck
  14. JS

    JS Guest

    Without starting a new manufacturers war I would strongly (and that is STRONGLY) advice against any product whos manufacturers name starts with B, that is based on sound quality alone. If you need a decent mic pre on the cheap try to raise couple of hunderds and get a Mackie 1202 VLZ Pro (XDR). For your money you get 4 pres and a mixer attached, no faders. If you go console insert out into your card you bypass the channel strip and get a decent sound into the card. These are not top of the line pres but fairly good ones. I aleays have the impression that a lot of the '90 sound is Mackies' overload distortion...
  15. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    Don't get me wrong.... I'm definately not trying to push the "B" product. :D
    I'm simply trying to offer a cheap short-term solution. I don't have a VS880, but my suggestion came from a friend who does and did exactly what mentioned above. He is now getting some suprisingly good results.
    Lets face it... anything's better than plugging a mic straight in with a XLR to 1/4" lead!
  16. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    It's not the connector, but the internal electronics that determine whether a given box is intended to provide amplification for microphones or simply to accomodate signals that are already at line level.

    I don't have an 880 either, so I don't know which is the case with that unit. I think the Korg has 1/4" mic inputs. Either way, it probably still sounds crappier than the "B" pre. hehe. I just wanted to clear up the terminology. :)
  17. sillyman

    sillyman Guest


    Well, it's too late cause I already purchased the Behringer Eurorack and it's gonna be here in a couple days. I got it used from Ebay though, so i'll try it out and see how it works. If I'm not happy with it, I'll get someone else to buy it off of me for the same price..or maybe higher ;)
    I'm willing to give it a shot, especially with my budget. I'm a freelance musician, I need not say more..HAHA

  18. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    You are spot on with your comment.
    I usually assume that if there is no XLR connector it's not expecting anything at mic level?
    Maybe our esteemed moderator could clear this up?..... just for interest's sake :)

    I'm confident that the Eurorack will do the job for you in the short term at least. You will now have pretty much the same settup as my friend. If you send me your email address I'll send you a sample of what he's done with it.

  19. Curve Dominant

    Curve Dominant Active Member

    >>I usually assume that if there is no XLR connector it's not expecting anything at mic level? Maybe our esteemed moderator could clear this up?..... just for interest's sake

    Correctamundo. Use a line transformer.

    Once again: hit the VS inputs hard, however ya wanna do it. If ya need help, a pre or compressor will help.

    To be honest, I can plug anything direct into the VS and get a hot signal. An SM57? No problem. The box will take what ya give it, and amplify it, or not. A Strat direct in? Cool. What ya do with it is up to you. The box has got all the tools necessary to track. Go blow $$$ on pre's and whatnot. I'm not your mom. The VS is truly all-in-one. If ya can't get that, ya need to go back to Recording 101. But, really, all ya really need is the box, and some skills.

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