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Miking guitar cabs

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by freeflybigsky, Aug 10, 2009.

  1. I would like help deciding what the best mic choices are for my particular needs/budget.
    I have a very modest home studio.
    I have a purpose built PC for my recording.
    Motu 8pre is my external interface.
    Cubase SE3 is my recording software.
    I have an Engl Powerball guitar amp with a Randall 4x12 cab (equipped with Celestion Gt12-75s (will later replace with Vintage 30s).
    The guitar is an 82 Ibanez Artist with Seymour Duncan pickups (not active) and the guitar has 10-52 gauge strings on it tuned to drop C.
    The music style in this case will be heavy metal.
    The guitar 4x12 cab is isolated in its own "room" (oversized closet with carpet on floor/walls/door/ceiling). That "room" is about 1.5 times the width of the 4x12 cab. The height ceiling is angled to be highest when furthest away from the the front of the cab at about 10 feet and then down to 3.5 feet when a distance of about 3 feet behind the cab. The "room" is about 9 to 10 feet long/deep. Sorry for the excessive detail, but I want to get the best answers for my set up.
    I am currently using a Shure SM57 on the guitar cab. Actually, I am using two. One on one speaker and the other on another speaker. I have them EQ'd slightly differently and they sound great and without phase issues.
    But, I am missing some of the crisp highs that I think I could get with a condensor mic. I am very close to the sound that I want, but would love to get some crisp highs. I spent time setting up the mics with the distance to the speaker cone and the angle of the mic towards the speaker cone. I did most of my EQ adjustments on the guitar head itself so that I could do as little as possible in Cubase.
    I have been thinking about getting the Shure KSM32 to use along with my SM57. But I have only read about the KSM32, so I don't really know if it is the best mic for the job (with my less than optimal room). Again, sorry for all of the info, but I hope to hear from you on which mics you like best in a situation simliar to mine. Oh, and I have also considered getting a Sennheiser e609 even though it might be just another version of the SM57 (thoughts on that would help as well).
    Thanks so much for your time.
     
  2. apstrong

    apstrong Active Member

    Mic placement is everything. Almost everything. Some other things include llamas and Kentucky Fried Chicken. But they are not really relevant for our purposes here. Try putting one of the 57s 4 feet or so back from the cab. You may get very weird "room" sound due to the space the cab is in, but it's worth trying. Move it around and see what happens. I've gotten good results from a sm57 on the grill and a large diaphragm condensor or a small diaphragm condensor about 4-6 feet away from the cab - the condensor really picked up a lot of crunch back there (had to compensate for minor for phase issues). That was in a small room that was under construction and so every wall was covered in 3.5 inches of standard housing insulation that got covered up later, but it was a reasonably dead room at the time. Once the walls were covered up with drywall, the same condensor in the same space sounded like crap. But it's worth trying with a 57 before you go buying other mics.

    For what it's worth, I find the e609 very different from a 57, fewer lows and a crisper, brighter sound overall. Less body, more filling. Or something like that. That may not be what you want. Or it may be what you want. Only you and some llamas can say for sure. I've only used the 609 as a close mic on the cab so can't comment on how it performs at a distance. But i would resist the temptation to buy gear in order to solve the problem - first experiment with more radical mic placement options.
     
  3. Thanks for the reply. Will do.
     
  4. natural

    natural Active Member

    You generally will loose a good bit of the hi end crunch when you tune down that far. The whole gtr sound suffers and usually sounds mushy. But then, that's usually the sound your looking for by tuning down.
    You might experiment by tuning to D (or not tuning down at all) to primarily see first if that improves the sound.
    If it does, then you'll have to come to some decisions about that.
    If it doesn't, then you can tune back down to C and start to look into other esoteric options.
    If you're close and happy with everything else, a little eq and/or an exciter could be just the thing to solve this problem.
     
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Maybe you consider this understood, but you give a lot of detail about everything except the exact placement of the mic with respect to the speaker. It seems to me that with your isolation room as small as it is you should concentrate on getting the most you can with close micing - right at the grille cloth. If you are looking for highs, the center is usually the place to find them, but you really should make test tracks moving the mic an inch at a time from the center out to the edge. Then you might repeat the tests with the mic at different angles.

    Just for the record, I'm skeptical about the utility of micing two speakers with the basically the same technique. I prefer single speaker cabinets - one mic on the speaker. If you have a seriously good room then a room mic makes sense. But I'm not recording in Abbey Road studio A and it sounds like you aren't either. If you want more thickness - double track, but in my experience two close mics on the same amp just adds mud.
     
  6. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    get an MD421 mic.
     
  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Everything spoken so far is the truth....
    First - even though you're close miking, the idea of covering every surface with carpet is killing your tone. Carpet does nothing for acoustic treatment except kill the high frequencies in the room and make everything sound dull and lifeless. Get rid of it!
    Second, get the cab out of the closet. Again, even with close miking, having a more open space will make the cab sound more alive.
    Third, get rid of that second mic. If you like the sound of both mics but one EQ'ed differently than the other, then simply double the track in your DAW. There won't be any difference except even less likelihood of phasing issues due to mics being off by an inch or two. Try double tracking if you want a bigger sound.

    Cheers-
    J.
     
  8. Thanks!

    Great! Thanks for all of the help. I really appreciate you all taking the time to answer my questions. I will try bringing the cab out of the closet and into the room, but man it is going to be loud! At the very least, if it ends up back in the closet, I will remove the carpet I have in there. I will also remove the second sm57. I put two up initially because I can set them in front of different speakers at different angles and reduce the number of times that I have to go back into the closet to change mic angles while trying to find the right distance/angle. My initial intent was to only use one. But then they sounded fine together. But you are right, only one is needed. The sound I am getting with the SM57 is really good. It is not muddy at all. I backed off of the gain on the amp to the point where I still get the angry guitar sound but have the clarity of each note coming thru. I just thought that a second mic that was better at picking up the highs might be a nice complement to my SM57. And did not think that the room would play much part in the sound in this case due to using a SM57 which is very directional and having it close mic'd on such a loud source (4x12 cab). But that could very well just be my inexperience. So I will try your suggestions and I am sure that they will improve my sound. Thanks again. It is really nice to have a place that I can get solid info from well informed individuals. I have purchased many books on these subjects and try to read as much as I can on this stuff. But it takes a lot of hands on to really apply it correctly. Thanks again. I will certainly be bugging all of you at some point on recording vocals.
     
  9. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    OK - there's another thing you need to experiment with - lower volume. High volume can cause a lot of problems during the recording process, but volume per se doesn't add anything to the recorded sound. Now yes, an amp and speaker behave differently at high volumes and this can contribute to the sound, but the volume itself doesn't matter once the sound gets recorded. The problem is that volume means a great deal in a live environment and it is easy to confuse volume and tone.

    So crank your preamp and turn down the power amp and see what your recorded sound is like at much lower total volume. You may be in for a surprise.
     
  10. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Well, this is just my opinion but, I don't think having the amp in the closet is such a bad idea necessarily. I would spend time putting up gobos to isolate the amp in the first place and often the room adds issues of it's own. Mic placement is crucial here though. You almost need two people to get the sound just right or at least a good set of closed headphones. Careful, loud headphones can cause feedback and that could hurt real bad. I am thinking specifically for metal sound though. For a cleaner jazz or blues tone, out of the closet might work better.

    I personally think adding a condenser is unnecessary. Better mic placement should resolve things. Again, personally, one mic should do the trick. I think we have a tendency to over-complicate things. A different mic might be better. I agree with the suggestion of the 421. It's a great sounding mic. A bit more grit than a 57.
     
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Move the mic to the center of the cone for crisp and towards the edge for more lows. Angle for definition.

    It sounds like you're almost there. You dont need any other mic than a 57 to get that sound. If you have the definition you want then maybe a bit of EQ on one of the mics will get that crisp edge.

    What preamp did you say you're using?
     
  12. I just have a Motu 8pre for the preamp. I had a firepod before that but I prefer the Motu. I know that there are a lot nicer options out there, but little by little I will get key components. Like a good mic pre and a good compressor and a good vocal mic. The mics I have so far are:
    1 Audix D6 (kick drum), 1 AKG D112 (floor tom), 4 Shure SM57s (guitars, toms), 1 Shure SM58 (live vocals), MXL 990 (yuck garbage), MXL 991 (more yuck garbage), Shure SM-81 (acoustic guitar).
    For headphones I have the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro/80. I have some small Yamaha monitors which I am not a fan of (need a sub). I also have an electronic drum kit (Roland D12 VDrums) with BFD software. And I have some Waves plugins I can use when needed as inserts or sends. It sounds like most of you agree on using 1 mic, and ultra patient mic placement. I will keep that Sennheiser in mind. It may be my next purchase. This love of music sure is hard on the wallet :)
     
  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Join the club.
     
  14. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Dues are to be paid at the end of the month...and the beginning...and the middle...
     
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    My 'wish list' just recently topped out at around 100K.
     
  16. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    So you're saying your list still includes DW Fearn gear.
     
  17. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Mine sure does!
     
  18. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    There was a point a couple of years ago where I thought that ALL the outboard in the rack would be red.
     

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