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Micing an amp vs. recording direct

Discussion in 'Recording' started by redCashion, Mar 6, 2001.

  1. redCashion

    redCashion Guest

    Hi, I love this forum and have appreciated alot of the advice presented here. I have a very elementary problem with getting quality sound when micing my amplifier and am not sure the reason for it. I am recording to HD, my signal chain is (in reverse order) SB Live Platinum, Digitech
    RP2000 (for compression, EQ, effects, etc), and then either straight to my guitar, or micing my Vox amp with a SM57.

    When I record direct, I get a sound that I find good, but maybe a bit dull. My ears at this point are probably not that
    discriminating, and that is the best way I could describe it. When I mic the amp, the sound seems very distant as though I
    were recording through a long tube or something. It has more edge, but much less immediacy and clarity and definition.

    I hear many people say that they mic their amp as their regular procedure in recording, but my results so far have been so bad
    that I must be doing something very very wrong. One thing is that I am not turning my amp up all that loud, but still the
    recording levels are ok at about -6db or so. Any help here would be much appreciated, thanks so much.
     
  2. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2001
    What signal chain are you using for your mic? Are you using a preamp or just plugging it right in to your soundcard?

    da Bear
     
  3. Earl Musick

    Earl Musick Guest

    Hello Red Cashion,
    Try this, record your amp a little closer, about 3" from the speaker, using your sm 57, move the mic around until it sounds right to you,then get a direct box, and take a line out, mix both tracks togeather. Depending on your signal chain, you my want to add a (good) compressor, my I suggest the RNC. hope this helps.
     
  4. gtrmac

    gtrmac Guest

    How are you getting the SM-57 into the soundcard? It is a balanced low impedence mic. I think the SB Live is an unbalanced high impedence input. This could cause loading down of the mic output and cut off the high frequency response. I would think about getting a better soundcard and also either a mixer with balanced inputs or a mic pre or recording channel to plug the mic into.
     
  5. jeronimo

    jeronimo Guest

    Hey, are you using distortion on your recordings??
     
  6. SonicPan

    SonicPan Guest

    One technique I find that works really well for distorted guitars, is to get a guitar sound that dosn't suck... record it... then do the same thing with a slitly different EQ... then again, and again... until I have about 5 or 6 layers of the same guitar rift. Then I pan them all differently and EQ them to the same levels, the result is a very powerful sounding guitar. I usally mic the guitar up and get a somewhat decent sound. And It usally sounds wimpy by itself but once I layer them it sounds really good. You could try that, of course if your not using distortion then you might have to take a different approch.
     
  7. KellDammit

    KellDammit Guest

    actually, that can work for clean guitars or just about any other instrument...synth pads come to mind particularly.
    a potential drawback is that you can overdo it pretty easily, and end up with mud in the end. just gotta try to remember that other instruments will have to live there too.
    also, since you're not likely to play one take exactly the same as another, you can lose the feel of the part because the subtleties of each performance are the first things to get lost when doubling. so you can get a bigger sound, but at the risk of losing the vibe of the performance. there are pros and cons no matter which way you go...
    you can use other instruments to reenforce the part in question too...perhaps the bassline could follow or harmonize the riff to add some extra emphasis when it's necessary. i've used brass (center) to follow distorted guitar chords (l&r)and it added tremendous impact. much more than another dubbed guitar would've. anything goes!

    it sounds like the original poster's problem is more fundamental tho...experimenting with mic placement, and a pre seem to be in order. if you can't swing a new pre, try using a compressor (set the threshold high so it doesn't compress, and use the output gain...presto, a pre!). it may not be ideal, but it should do the job till you can get something better. as a plus, if the compressor has a limiter you can set it to prevent peaks from clipping the audio card's input (a pretty good idea, regardless).

    kell
     
  8. RNorman

    RNorman Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2001
    Originally posted by SonicPan:
    One technique I find that works really well for distorted guitars, is to get a guitar sound that dosn't suck... record it... then do the same thing with a slitly different EQ... then again, and again... until I have about 5 or 6 layers of the same guitar rift. Then I pan them all differently and EQ them to the same levels, the result is a very powerful sounding guitar.

    Interesting. Were you ever a photographer? I ask because this is typically known as bracketing in photography, and I'm sure as a composite it works fine. But without trying to sound condescending, I doubt that Ansel Adams would have approved of bracketing, and for players who aren't necessarily able to hit that magical moment time after time it could be very frustrating. Seems to me that learning to record the one part correctly is a better foundation to build upon, and doing guitar to digital is a particularly hard thing to learn to get correctly, especially in one pass.

    Also, it very much depends on the type of sound the original poster is trying to capture. Distorted guitars can usually be recorded quieter than acoustic, because, in general, distorted guitars are also compressed guitars who's average level is about the same. An acoustic has dynamic range. An electric without distortion can cause some of the same problems as an acoustic. Hard to capture because of worrying about the peaks. The point being that a distorted guitar can be brought up in the mix without losing much of what makes it a distorted guitar and without it becoming overbearing. An acoustic or cleanly played electric requires constant attention to recording levels in order to maintain some viability in mixing. As you bring them down, they change in tonal characteristics, yes, even in digital.

    To the original poster, I'd recommend you bypass all the effects on recording and add them back in during mixing. Lacking the ability to get the "sound" that makes you feel comfortable with the performance, some type of monitoring system that allows you to feel the music better while still recording clean would be a positive. Post processing gives you all the benefits of gaining a sound without printing one you don't like.
     
  9. SonicPan

    SonicPan Guest

    Bracketing huh :) ... That's actually a really interesting and practical technique. Your guaranteed a good exposure. You know, Now that I think of it, I would say that alot of sound production, engineering, mixing etc.. do exactly what this is. Do you know how many times I've gotten the advice to "Go get better Gear". "Go get this piece of hardware because it will give a crystal clear sound no matter what you do." It sucks because most amateurs, like myself, can't afford high priced equipment. So for the time being, Im stuck trying to mask a professional sound using what ever techniques I can pick up. (which im defiantly going to give that layered brass/guitar thing a try, thanks KellDammit
    )
    But I do agree that in most cases you should record a part correctly and clean and then work from that. I would only suggest that sometimes it helps to layer the sound to give it more texture.
    About the micing the amp, My personally opinion is that the best guitar sounds that I ever recorded was from a miced guitar into a cheap little four track. I've never been able to reproduce with a computer how nice guitars sound in analog.

    (also, Professionals are Professionals because they know what their stuff, so I hope I didn't imply that their only as good as their gear)
     
  10. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2000
    Originally posted by SonicPan:
    Do you know how many times I've gotten the advice to "Go get better Gear". "Go get this piece of hardware because it will give a crystal clear sound no matter what you do." It sucks because most amateurs, like myself, can't afford high priced equipment.

    You need experience to get the most out of your better, more expensive gear. Some people get into a rut with their setup and think they're getting the most out of what they have, when there may be many techniques they haven't tried yet. You have to establish if the "Brick-wall of Quality" is coming from the gear or the user. That is why I sincerely hope you don't get that "Go run out and buy $*^t" advice from anyone here (unless it really is the logical answer for your particular situation).

    But I do agree that in most cases you should record a part correctly and clean and then work from that.

    To each his own. Some prefer to get it to tape the way they want it in the mix, fx and all. And if they know their stuff, it helps things go a lot quicker later on. No endless trying to "match the demo" (oy vey :roll: ). I've worked both ways, and each has its advantages.

    (also, Professionals are Professionals because they know what their stuff, so I hope I didn't imply that their only as good as their gear)

    (Dead Link Removed)

    As long as you keep trying to learn something new every day, there will always be something new to learn.
     

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