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How do you record?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by CherryFive, Jul 17, 2006.

  1. CherryFive

    CherryFive Guest

    Hiya! I'm glad I found this forum. This seems to be a huge recording community. Huge. Forgive me, I posted this exact message on another forum about an hour ago. I'm just copying and pasting - but every bit of the Q is relevant to any one who reads this here. Cheers!


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    I used to never want to ask superiors for help with recording. I never wanted to feel like I was being "helped". I don't know why. I guess complete stupidity is to blame. My new problem, or I guess old, is that I have some recording equipment and I don't know how to use it. I just realized this. It's really pathetic. And by the way, I apologize for the "newbie" approach to asking a question, but I feel that the tone of the question is unique enough to start a brand new thread over. This is the gear I have in my set up at the present.

    Recording Gear

    -1977 Teac 80-8 (8 tracks, ½" tape)
    -1979 Teac M15 console (16 channels, 8 bus)
    -2002 Yamaha MSP5 monitors
    -A box of at least 15 60's/70's mics (EV, Shure, Claricon) and one brand new Audix OM2 (all working).

    Instrument Gear (what I record with)

    - Fender Rhodes
    - Wurlitzer organ
    - Hammond organ
    - `74 Les Paul
    - `78 P bass
    - `76 Octave Cat synthesizer
    - `78 Ludwig Drums (disco silver!)
    - More stuff....



    As you can see, I have no outboard gear, like compressors or limiters or gates. By the way, I think you should know that my "studio" is merely for my own recording purposes. I do not intend to sell my services, or preach to any one on how to do things correctly when I know such little myself.
    I've been reading around a lot lately and seems that compressors and gates are nifty little things. So I search about compressors on google, and I always find articles describing how they work (i.e. ratio, attack, release etc) but these articles never explain to me how I am supposed to use them into the signal chain.



    My largest problems at the present are these:
    (some problems correctable with different mics, positions, etc)

    -Ride cymbal not sounding mid-rangy enough

    -Bass drum not sounding pointy/tight and bassy/pillowy enough at the same time

    -Bass guitar not sounding dense enough; lacking "evenness" as no compression is used, but mostly lacking "density" (which seems to be a problem beyond EQ treatment)

    -Hi-Hat leaking into the snare drum microphone, so I can't even see a reason to mic the hi-hats separately (though I would like to, and I would like to know how I can move the hi-hats to the right while keeping the snare close to the middle).

    -Overall lacking sound "density" - I am very baffled

    -Raising the Overall volume of the mix without having a certain portion of the tune clip (therefor volume remains lower).



    As you can see many problems are correctable, but I don't know how to address them with my feeble mind (at least not alone). Let me begin asking questions by starting from the very beginning; the signal path.

    What is my goal?

    I have a microphone on my bass drum (or any other instrument, direct or mic'd). Let's just say it isn't the best mic for the job. And that the room isn't properly treated, and that the tuning on the bass drum itself is sub-par. So the microphone runs from the bass drum to the XLR input on the mixer - let's say channel 1. Is it true that I want my EQ to be completely flat? Or am I supposed to adjust EQ before recording? This is one concept that slightly eludes me..
    Now moving onto input volume. Is the VU meter on the mixer supposed to read "0" when hit the bass drum? Is that the goal? Should the fader be set to the "shaded" area while the input volume is actually determined by the mic/line trim knob?
    Now onto the actual tape recording machine. Looking at VU meter 1 on the tape machine - is the goal to make this read "0"? Or do I want to try to record "hotter"?

    Now here is a second question/thought going through my mind; compression.
    Let us just say I buy a cheapie dbx compressor - just one of them since I am a poor flailing sack of $*^t 20 year old. Just one of them for the moment. Let's say I want to record my bass guitar with compression. Am I supposed to connect bass guitar to the compressor and then to the mixer? I've heard it's proper to record without any effect, and to add effects and comps later ...but this assumes I have multiple compressors. I will only have one. How should I tackle this issue? Is there a smarter way to approach this?

    Let's say I am playing my bass through a big amp ...and I want to mic the amp. Can I plug the mic that is micing the amp straight into the compressor and record like that?


    A final scenario - and I won't bother you with any more in this post.
    A talk about hi-hat bleeding into the snare mic. I think I have been told I need to buy a gate. I would imagine I can use the gate on the modular send/receive patches on the back of each channel strip, and use it post recording. Would this mean I would need two gates - one for the mic on the hi-hat , and one for the mic on the snare?




    As you can see, I lack many things that make a studio function properly, or sound decent. I am going for the bizarre 70's sound in an authentic way. Sadly for me, I lack simple things such as a patch bay. The deal is that I record by myself. When I record a song I've written, I record the drums first whilst playing the song in my head. Then I usually record bass guitar to the drum tracks. If you want to hear the sound I'm getting out of this current rig I can post up a couple of Mp3's (if anyone is curious)?


    I'd appreciate any help at all.


    I'll print the answers out and nail them to my studio walls!
    Thanks in advance,

    Best regards,
    John
     
  2. roguescout

    roguescout Guest

    WOW! That's a lot of questions!

    First recommendation... Use the "search" function for this forum and look for posts related to the specific questions you have. Use "AND" (without the quotes) between the keywords. Chances are every one of them has been answered several times. That is why this place kicks so much ass. All the answers are here!

    And the following site has a pretty good online guide for home/project recording:

    http://www.tweakheadz.com/guide.htm

    Good luck! Have fun with your gear! :cool:
     
  3. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Do you intend to put your recordings "on the computer"? To mix or make CD's or whatever? These days, you could do alot of, rather simple, "fix in the mix", with a computer and some recording software - after getting some nice, basic recording done on the tape machine.......

    Do you know how to set-up and maintain your gear(Tape machine, etc.)?

    Do you have a friend who IS "into" this sort of thing? A little knowledgeable(In person) advice, at least for the basics, can be most helpful!

    Other than that and as far as it goes, alot of this is just trial and mostly error, for all of us, at least at first. Learning compression or what mic sounds best on what, for instance. Yes, the written explanations are rarely helpful - just turning the knobs and listening sometimes works best. Though for almost anything today you can download actual product manuals and study them before any purchase - I HAVE sometimes found them to be instructive in an A-B-C fashion.....?

    NOW!!! I suggest you go back over your own post and restate your NUMBER 1 question! Possibly even starting a "new topic", just for that one question(No further background info), so as to make it perfectly clear, then seeing what the rest of the group can come up with to clarify ONE thing for you -- then go on from there.... Work the question to death if you must, 'til we get the answers right. If you still don't get it, we haven't explained it right - force us to do so!


    TG
     
  4. Rosemary

    Rosemary Guest

  5. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    You have quite "vintage" rig, eh? Cool. I used to cut projects on a 80-8. I dig the instrumentation, too. Except the CAT. I used to sell those dogs when they were made in the late 70s. Never could get the darned things to stabilize their tuning.
    Anyway, a couple of questions, comments. Does the 80-8 have dbx NR? Definitely a prerequisite to lay down decent tracks. Do you know how to calibrate said dbx and the machine? That will definitely affect your sound.
    You state that you have a box full of E-V, Shure, etc mics from the 60s-70s. Like what...RE15/16s, SM54s, 545SD, please clarify. If you don't have a large-diaphragm DYNAMIC like an EV RE20, a Shure SM7, or a Sennheiser MD421, you need to seriously aquire one. I would recommend a Beyer M99 or an E-V RE20 as a flexible mic that exceeds at low end like kick drums, bass amps, Leslie cabs (you DO have one of those, don't you?). Both of these mics are great on brass, vocals, pretty much anything that you throw at them. But especially bass stuff, which is probably NOT the case with a lot of the mics you have now. Too much$$?
    Look at an Audio-Technica ATM25 for the low end stuff. Or a Shure Beta 52, but I feel that that mic is strictly kick, a "one-trick pony".
    You might also want to get a decent large diaphragm condenser for vocals or, if you get the room sounding decent, on other stuff. A-T makes a great line of those, too (40 series). Love my AT4047s! With my M99 and RE20s, I can conquer the world! Sorry...
    You need to get a good compressor. Look at the FMR RNC and RNLA. Awesome performance, great price. Need cheaper? Get on e-Bay and check out used dbx, ORBAN, Valley, and SOME PreSonus boxes there.
    OK...How are you getting that Rhodes to the recorder? You are most likely not getting enough gain at the mixer's mic in to do it. This was always a big problem with the Rhodes. I would suggest getting a GT 'The Brick'...that puppy will get you enough gain for the Rhodes as a DI box. It will also work great as a DI for the bass, and makes an awesome mic pre for an old and tired SM57. The M15 is not the greatest sounding board, but you run that vocal or snare mic through the Brick, then through the board, and VOILA! you have a brand-new sound.
    As for the routing of the compressor(s), I can't remember if the M15 has "insert points"on the input channels. If so, no sweat. You run the "insert out" to the input on the compressor, then the output from the comp to the "insert input" on the board. Kinda like the reverb in and out cables on a Fender Twin. You do NOT route dynamics controllers and/or EQs through the effects send and return circuits on the mixer! The reasons are beyond the scope of this post. BTW, I have used a dbx 286a Mic Processor as a mic pre/ dynamics processor with great results in projects like yours. You can find that puppy on e-Bay, too.
    Anyway...
    You will have to play with the mic positioning regarding your ride cymbals.
    And be careful about how you aim the mic at the cymbal when it's hit, or you'll get a wierd "phase shifty swoosh" noise every time it's struck. You might find that small diaphragm condenser is good for that. Look at A-T, Rode NT4/NT5, or maybe an Audix i5 dynamic. They all do well for that.
    Whew! I gotta go..Later and good luck!
     
  6. skawful

    skawful Guest

    Sorry I'm to lazy to read your guy's 50,000 word posts but I just had an idea for you.

    -get a DAW
    -get a decent 24 channel audio interface
    -get audition (only $150 for students!!!) or nuendo (or pro tools -blah-)
    -record all your vintage stuff onto your DAW (all seperate tracks of course)
    -mix using modern technology.
    -record final mix onto tape.
    -re input to DAW send 24bit pcm file to a mastering house that can record back onto tape.

    TAPE the ultimate compressor!

    then send it to me and let me hear how freakin cool it would sound.


    (some of those items might be out of order cuz i have no idea what i'm talking about!)
     
  7. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    You young guys just dont get it, tape was a fact of life, compression through tape helped peaks.
    We still needed stacks of compressors when tracking drums!!!
    My thoughts, going to tape in that manner wont help much, not as good as tracking to 2" tape, then mixing in the box, then retracking the 2 mix to 1/2"!!

    Oh, and Cherryfive:
    When micing your snare, use a top and bottom mic, and flip the top one out of phase, not the bottom one, that will help with HH bleed.
     
  8. CherryFive

    CherryFive Guest

    Roguescout,
    Thanks for the words. I used the search forum, and while not everything I asked was found, I did find quite a lot. I hadn't realized there was SO MUCH to look through here.

    Teddy G,
    I plan to keep it 100% analog until I do a two channel transfer to my PC (so I can burn a CD, or share the wav or .mp3 file with others). I have a pretty good grasp on calibrating my machine and lining up heads (much less troublesome than calibrating my 1976 Cat synthesizer, every other day!). You're right about trial and error bit. I should do MORE experimenting and the like. I'm going to "Set up" my new studio location in one of my single car garages in less than a month. Should be a real treat. If I had to ask my NUMBER one question as I realized I asked quite a lot (sorry) it would be this bit in my first post -

    the signal path.

    What is my goal?

    I have a microphone on my bass drum (or any other instrument, direct or mic'd). Let's just say it isn't the best mic for the job. And that the room isn't properly treated, and that the tuning on the bass drum itself is sub-par. So the microphone runs from the bass drum to the XLR input on the mixer - let's say channel 1. Is it true that I want my EQ to be completely flat? Or am I supposed to adjust EQ before recording? This is one concept that slightly eludes me..
    Now moving onto input volume. Is the VU meter on the mixer supposed to read "0" when hit the bass drum? Is that the goal? Should the fader be set to the "shaded" area while the input volume is actually determined by the mic/line trim knob?
    Now onto the actual tape recording machine. Looking at VU meter 1 on the tape machine - is the goal to make this read "0"? Or do I want to try to record "hotter"?



    I'm not sure why, but I haven't been able to find anything that cogently explains how I want to set up my signal path. Especially with analog stuff. Most home recording posts/sites/questions etc pertain to digital, and I'm not smart enough to transfer that information into something meaningful :)

    Rosemary,
    thank you for the kind encouragement. It's very clear to me that I need to do a lot MORE reading! I just need to find the right stuff to read. For example, a lot of web-sites describe the same stuff over and over again which interests me none, but then I branch out into something more "sophisticated"? This piece of literature is called the multi-track primer, which was printed in 1978. I read it, and some of it makes sense and I have gathered a great deal of information from it, but a lot of it is quite over my sad little head.

    Moonbaby, thanks for the long reply.
    My 80-8 does have the noise reduction module. I couldn't live without it! I don't have a large diaphram mic, no. I suppose I should really have one. It's just a catch 22. I want one, but at the moment I can only afford newer cheaper one. I feel like, well why not just save more money and find a nice 60s/70s capacitor mic instead of wasting my efforts on common stuff? I also feel that my mic selection isn't my largest factor in making my mixes sound rough; my biggest problem is me. Sadly I don't have a leslie, though I have another Hammond, which is basically a devide-down analog organ with a built in leslie!
    But the beyer M99 or ev RE20 do certainly look nice...drooling...
    Are some of those 150 dollar DBX compressors good enough? I wouldn't hesitate to buy one, but I've heard that cheaper compressors add a lot of "noise"...which is again another topic I can't really find much detailed information on. Really though, thanks for all of the pointers and ideas. Reading stuff like this opens my mind up a little! The rhodes isn't an issue usually- I plug it into a fender tube amp, crank it, and put a mic in front of it. I seem to get a good volume/density from the rhodes.
    Sorry skawful, I think I'm going to pass on the modern stuff!

    TV post sound, I would have no idea how to tackle the phase issue whilst using two microphones. The mixer I have is consumer grade, built in 1979 and it seems to have no phase switch. I'm not sure how I would deal with this...though two mics would be nice!

    If anyone is curious to see the sound I'm getting from my rig, here are three mp3 format songs i've written/recorded. I think you'll find the sounds are sometimes in need of density, and maybe it will shed some light onto my actual audition related problems

    http://octavecat.homestead.com/Ornery-Windows_2005.mp3

    Vivaldi - Spring Excerpt

    http://octavecat.homestead.com/Ornery-Tell_Me_2004.mp3

    Regards,
    John
     

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