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Lessons learned by a teenager

Discussion in 'Recording' started by funkbomb, Aug 22, 2004.

  1. funkbomb

    funkbomb Guest

    Recording for me may be the start of a hobby or a career, but there is no doubt that it holds a certain fascination for me, and I'm sure many of you as well.

    I started with a single cheap vocal mic suspended by some string from the ceiling over my drumset running to a tape recorder; then moved to two mics. I bought a cheap mixer, my first big investment, because I had two friends with guitars that I wanted to record as well. I mowed the lawn three times to pay that off.

    Then I realized there was a whole world of recording. And what a beautiful sight that was.
    Shure PG Drumset Mics: Something like 13 lawn mows.

    I moved on to miking my guitarists, and upon reading from this site decided to purchase an SM57 and a Unidyne III (the same mic essentially), mics I will probably use years from now. I then purchased a Marshall VXM condenser for vocals and a separate ART preamp (BAD bad products don't buy ART I had to resolder the 1/4" input because it loosened; but you probably already knew that).

    I'm now 16 and have a Delta 1010 and am looking to purchase the MD421 along with many other mics (the Shure 55s among them; ain't it pretty?); because from what I have learned here the seinheisser is simply indespensible, the tic-tac-on-a-date-after-eating-lasagna equivalent to the recording studio essential. I also plan to Auralex-atize my garage for acoustic correction and purchase a good quality pair of accurate headphones for mixing (monitors are above and beyond my pocketbook). But alas, there is no end to the amount of equipment you can buy. I've learned it's purely about planning ahead and using what you've got to the best of your ability.

    I've also learned many other things along the line, of course perhaps some of it incorrectly. If you'd care to read these are the 5+ things I have learned in the short but exciting experience I've had in recording.

    1. Mics are beautiful. Cherish them. Besides some of their good looks some clearly sound more amazing then others but--If you don't know them well I find myself scratching my head how I so easily screwed up that recording, when it so simply was bad in the first place. The first thing I did was scrap that cruddy mike I swiped from the tech booth at my school. Uggh. Made me want to wash my hands after touching it.

    2. Adobe Audition does not have a 'yoga' or 'massage' button. But it does seem to have every freakin' other button out there. After I mix music for about an hour, I'm still ready to go but it seems...messy. Nothing is the way I want it, I feel all cramped and I want to leave and come back and have it all just the way it was when I just finished recording it for the first time; no compression applied, no equilization, nothing just go away!!! But alas this never happens and I feel like scrapping the whole song just to retake it.

    3. Limiting actually isn't that difficult. At first I thought there were automatic plugins that did this for you. But then I figured out that, correct me if I'm wrong but, you have to go through and adjust levels at certain parts of the song so it doesn't go over. So I drew little dips and curves with the volume line in Audition and now the little red light doesn't flash anymore. I no longer suffer from epileptic seizures every time I mix and this makes me happy. This whole limiting thing took me forever to figure out.

    4. The first and best step to great sound is: have it sound great in the first place. At first I figured I could turn a tinny distorted guitar into a clean rumbling hulk of an instrument by running it through a barrage of plugins, etc. But really, it's about sounding good live, and recording and enhancing it from the great sounding condition that it's already in. I thought I could make up for the crappy mikes using Andares Mic Modeler, which makes the mic you used sound like another. But you can't put in something that isn't there. It took me forever to grasp that you can't add 180Hz lows to a recording that doesn't go below 300 using equalization. The frequencies simply aren't there to be enhanced. Behold!

    5. A great recording can turn ugly, and fast. I know I'll have a great recording that sounds fantasmically orgastic and then I'll...just...add...that...little bit of...compression...and...uggh. Now it sounds terrible. Wait, the undo thing doesn't work. How do I? Wait where's the original? Well I'll just go have some Easy Mac and hope it turns up when I get back.

    I probably have more that are itching to get out of my head but I want to go to bed and have responses by the time I wake up. Or something like that.

    I know it's mostly a useless post (i.e. not asking a question, not giving assistance, stating the obvious, not being useful) but I wanted to get my thoughts out and hear if I'm even heading in the right direction. Not talking to people in this field of expertise makes me start to wonder if I'm going out on some lone recording tangent or if I'm still on the right track. Or if I'm just crazy.

  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    I'd say your on the right track of thought for only being a kid and a drummer... And you should now be told that limiting correctly for musical results is indeed rather complex and difficult. It takes a whole lot more skill to do it correctly than preventing the red light from comming on. You can certainly do as much damage or more trying to re-draw in waveforms as leaving the overs alone.
  3. funkbomb

    funkbomb Guest

    Thank you! This is good redirection, I now know I need to start learning how to correctly perform limiting. These forums are simply an indespensable learning tool.
  4. maintiger

    maintiger Distinguished Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    Home Page:
    Hey Ben, think how lucky we are in an age with so many recording tools at our disposal! Go for it man! When I was a kid I loved recording but the best I could get was a cheap mono reel to reel and a cheap cheap mic- a few years later I got a porta studio when they first came out and I though that was the gnat's ass. But there is absolutely no comparison with the tools available then and now. If I was 16 now instead of then, I would as well mow a ton of lawns to get equipment, just as you are doing. Allright.
  5. DarkAngel

    DarkAngel Guest

    Thats some bloody useful info IMO, I just came back from recording a friends band with a soundcraft spirit folio 12-2 mixer (designed for live use) a SM58 on drums and a tie mic from the 50s for the toms and cymbals. The recordings sound alright for a first time mixer and a lack of equipment. This forum is going to be very useful to me I belive, as all forums are. :D
  6. funkbomb

    funkbomb Guest

    what's a tie mic? lol :-?

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