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Need Advice on which road to take.

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Guitarfreak, Dec 13, 2009.

  1. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    So from a recent project I came to the conclusion that my recording front end is a bit weak gain wise. I am using the PreSonus FireBox which is a two channel device. This means that I either have to buy a two channel preamp with lots of gain to boost the signal before it hits the converter or save up for an upgrade converter. I could also build a preamp though, if it isn't terribly hard. Before doing it though I need to know if it would be worth it, i.e. would it harm the signal? would it have enough gain to be useful to me? would it be cost-effective? would building a 2-channel preamp be out of the realm of possibility for me at this point?

    So basically this is where I am: Interface, Preamp, or Homemade Preamp. Not going to take action on it anytime soon though, right now I've got more important things, still just in the research phase. Max budget is $500, and if I can't buy a spectacular 2 or more channel preamp for that much then screw it, I'll save up for a new converter if that's what I really need anyway. Right? What are your thoughts on the matter?

  2. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    I'm not going to recommend a preamp there are many more knowledgeable people here to do that but if you are considering a preamp then you want to make certain that it is s/pdif capable that way you can use the Firebox as a converter without going through the preamps. Is your gain problem related to your recent acoustic recording?
  3. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Yes. It wasn't until I had the preamps cranked and still could only reach 30-25dB on one of the mics. The mics weren't even far from the guitar itself, the one in question actually got hit a few times during recording, hence the obvious edits.
  4. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Sorry I missed what mic you were using...was it a ribbon?
  5. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Hey bro, here is the link in case you need the background info. They were 57's.

  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Even with a classical guitar you shouldn't have a problem. You've puzzled me a bit GF. Do you have a pic of the setup?

    Now, it sounds like a no brainer that the physical setup for micing an acoustic nylon or steel string is different than a head or cab. I think what you're finding is the reality. You're going to have to spend as much time working on this new technique as you did on your amplified recordings.

    One of the chamber performers I regularly have the "privilege" of recording uses a single 57 knockoff and is dead set on where she is going to place it. The wrong place in my opinion. Anyway, I never have any issue with getting enough initial gain. She is a decent but quite quiet classical player too. The M-Audio 410 was the only device that I came close to turning up high. No issues with any other piece of gear I own. Now I've never used your Presonus Firebox other than to test drive one for a weekend so maybe it's powers are weak. Maybe it's just getting used to recording au naturale.
  7. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    I have since put away the setup, but I made you a quick mock-up from memory.

  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Try pointing one of the 57's at the bridge and point the other at the 12th fret-the one with the double mother of pearl dots. Those are much better starting points for you. Where you have the right and 57 it can't possibly pick up any sound as there isn't any emanating from the tuning machines or nut.
  9. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Cool Jack. I will try that the next time I track something acoustically. I could swear I heard on here or somewhere else that it is pretty common to use a 57 at the nut of acoustic to fill out the high end. Anywho, you are right though it sounded like butt up there.

    Anyway, for the sake of storytelling cause I'm a nerd for this stuff :D I tracked with the neck mic at the nut and thought the tone sounded a bit thin, so I moved it a bit. Listened again and ended up moving it again to the 3rd fret where it sounded best IMO. As for the body mic, I started at where the neck meets the body but pointed at the sound hole. Hated it. Moved it to directly over the soundhole. Little better. Moved it just under the soundhole pointed at halfway spot between hole and bridge. Great bottom tone, blended nicely with the higher tone. Lots of pick attack, but not too much mud.

    So there, aren't you proud of me? I learned to critically listen haha. That and these monitors are helping me a LOT with the whole recording/mixing process.
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I'm glad you experimented. I think you just misremembered and juxtaposed nut for bridge. I'm not saying my description is set in stone, just the basic starting point. Just for kicks I jumped over to DPA microphones app guide. They are discussing nylon or gut strings but it works equally well for steel string. 2nd paragraph mentions the same two points and though hard to see is illustrated in the first photo.

    http://www.dpamicrophones.com/en/Microphone-University/ApplicationGuide/Acoustic Guitar.aspx

    The bridge mic is for body and the 12 fret mic is for the high freqs. Just like when you were working with the cone on a cab, twist and point the mic towards the sound hole and away to check out the variation possible in sound. Also, you'll probably want to be in the 6-12" distance from the guitar body itself on the same plane. I don't remember if you have any NT5/NT55's or not but this would be a spot to try them out.
  11. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Oh yeah....the picture helped immensely with the diagnosis.
  12. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Something you mentioned earlier caught my attention so I decided to research a little bit. You mentioned that you had to nearly crank the M-Audio 410 when using a 57 knockoff. I downloaded the PDF from m-audio website and the preamps have a range of 66dB gain. I then went to presonus website and found that the FireBox preamps has only 45dB of gain. Which would explain why my levels are so low (among other things like mic position). But I figure since even you struggled with it that that's a good point of reference.
  13. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I dislike the 410 immensely. I think you'll be fine when you move the mic closer to the guitar body. #1 rule is don't believe specs too much. Especially from M-Audio. Did I mention I dislike the 410? I only have it for PT-M Powered. And I'll guarantee that there isn't a ton of gain on the 410. Certainly not clean usable gain.
  14. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Ah, mic postioning, hmmm.....
    One of the reasons I asked if this was due to your recent acoustic recording was partly because I suspected mic positioning might be the cause but also I was thinking that perhaps you ought to take the money you are considering for a preamp and put it towards a good small diaphragm condenser mic like the Rode NT55. These are much more sensitive mics and are not going to require as much gain when micing quiet sources. I prefer sdc for acoustic guitar though I have used 57s a lot. With the Presonus (Studio Project) I have had the gain set pretty high but not maxed and gotten better recording levels than you are experiencing.
  15. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Thanks jg. I'll keep that mic bookmarked for the future, it looks like a solid choice. Do you think that you would record vocals with that, or would you stick with a LDC for vox?

    I was thinking about a new mic, perhaps a nice condenser because that would open a whole new world of tonal options, but then I decided that that's not really a true solution to the problem since I'd still need a better interface as well. Having a bunch of really nice mics running through a low end interface seems a lot like having a really expensive boutique tube amp head going through a Marshall MG cab. At least that analogy makes sense to me haha, I am after all the guitar guy. Would you agree or no?

    For Jack, I found the reason I thought mic at nut was good idea lol


    Which is part of this article.

  16. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    I have the oddest collection of mics acquired over a lot of years of field recording and live gigging. I do not own a LDC that I really like for male rock vocals or even acoustic type vocals. I like the sound of my own vocals through the 58, or Senneheiser 945. I have been singing thru the 58 for twenty plus years and it just sounds "right" to me.
    As far as putting better mics thru your interface IMO the one you have is a mid level interface, not as low level as you seem to think. Even Cucco who is pretty rough on manufacturers said that he was suprised by the quality of Presonus gear and listed it as useable which for it's price range I thought was a left handed compliment. LOL. Better mics will get you a better sound before a better preamp will get you a better sound through a lesser mic. In any event investing that money in a mic that is of good quality is hardly putting the horse before the cart. In guitar allegories I'd rather play a great axe through a decent amp than a cheap guitar through a top of the line amp. Amps only amplify what they are fed warts and all. But thats my two cents worth.
  17. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    GF-That article is discussing stereo mic techniques which nearly 100% of the time indicates condenser microphones of one type or another. They can be placed further away. Even so, I wouldn't point it at the nut of a guitar. What sounds are coming from there anyway? For dynamic mics you can't be that far away. E for Effort though! :)

    I'm afraid to say there is some misinformation in that article though the generalities are more or less correct. That guy isn't an acoustic recording engineer I'm guessing. Go with the info from the Yamaha book.
  18. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    jg, good argument. What I struggle with is getting good clarity from the SM58. Great tone, but it's like I either get clarity or good signal. I know you and others have said to use it a few inches away but the gain on the FB needs to be cranked to max and then what you are left with is less volume/presence in the signal and more noise in the recording. The other scenario I have is when I put the mic right to my mouth and the resulting signal is a bit muddy because of the proximity effect, or thin because I chopped off the offending mud. Just something that I struggle with. Also when recording screams I can't seem to get the tone to sound right. Then again I have no idea how to record screams. I've heard bare studio tracks that were recorded with a condenser mic and it had 'that' sound to it so I figured maybe a condenser would be the way to go. Thanks for the wisdom jg, always appreciated.

    Jack, that's funny man, I referred to that article a few times lol. Not the most in-depth article, but for basic knowledge it was great. What exactly was incorrect about it, just so I can learn and maybe flush some biased info. I may have to get the Yamaha book sometime. It's not like its going to be pulled from shelves anytime soon right?
  19. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    The Yamaha Sound Reinforcement Handbook might be available at your local Library and many times they can order it for you if they don't have it on the shelf. Most Libraries nowadays have online search and local branch pickups specifically for those types of reference books....
    I used to have the 1st edition of that handbook which was hardbound and had a yellow cover. Don't know what happened to it....I still have the black Yamaha 2nd edition and it is of course a definitive soundman's handbook...
  20. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Check out these. They aren't the end all be all either but better. The most egregious error was in the Decca Tree description. While it is not uncommon to use cardioid mic's the idea is actually to use omni's (originally Neumann M50s).



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