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Newbie Home Recorder, Any Help Advice or Knowledge???

Discussion in 'Recording' started by weber.595, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. weber.595

    weber.595 Active Member

    Hello all. I am quite new to the art of recording and I was wondering if anyone could help me out.

    Right now I am using a Shure SM57 mic to record guitar. I am placing it directly (1in away) in front of the center cone on the amplifier (a Laney). My question deals with how to get a fuller, warmer sound on the guitar. I want it to sound like Sufjan Stevens gets on his recordings (the guitar right at the beginning of this song Sufjan Stevens - Futile Devices - YouTube) because I am arpeggiating a chord, I want each note to ring out clearly.

    I know little about native decibel levels and what I should be aiming for. I know (think) the mic is -20dB below native level. Does this mean I really do need a preamp to boost it that 20dB? If so, what kind of preamps should I be looking for. Someone on another forum recommended a Mackie Onyx Blackjack as a good beginners level preamp. I don't know if this is true or not but it seems like a good price range for me.

    My troubles indeed lie in the fact that my recordings are very quiet, so I have to use a digital amplification (I use a plugin in Audacity to do this) on the track for it to be a good volume. However, when using this method it also amplifies the white noise in the background. So I use a white noise remover plugin to remove the excess noise, but then the noise is only gone during silence (any time the guitar is played the white noise is not removed and is still audible. So it's jumping back and forth between being there and not! Sounds terrible) Would a preamp fix this?

    As you can probably tell, I don't have much of a setup on my computer. I use Audacity to record my tracks. Will this seriously hinder the quality of my recordings, or can I get a good sound while still using Audacity. To me it seems like as long as I record it well (eg. mix it "naturally" on the amplifier, my playing volume, and eq settings) it shouldn't matter what program i use to record. However, I know I am probably dead wrong on this. Tell me why I am wrong (give me some concrete examples here, like some awesome plugins I don't even know about)

    Another thing is my sound card. I would think that sound card is pretty important for the quality of a recording. Right now I am just using the crappy sound card which came with my laptop. Will this make a big difference on my recording quality? If so, what are some good mid-range soundcards I can get below $100? Is the sound card more important than the preamp?

    How much should I amplify the guitar when recording? I normally put my amp at about 2.5/10 and my guitar at 7.5/10. Should I increase the volume if I want a better sound?

    I need to know more about preamps, how/why they are used. I need to know more about soundcards, programs, and digital recording in general.
  2. moles

    moles Active Member

    You need to be looking at the input meter on your interface, rather than getting too caught up in what your amp volume should be set up.
    I notice you didn't mention an interface in your post. Are you using one? Or MacGyver'ed some way to get into your PC's regular soundcard?
    EDIT: Just reread your post - laptop soundcard. Gotcha :)
    If you've got no input meters on the soundcard, then perhaps Audacity could be set up to display input level on the track meters while monitoring.
    FAILING THAT. If you do a test recording with a given level, and it's too soft - turn up a bit and try again. If you're making the best use of the tools you have, you might need to be able to trial-and-error you way through it.
  3. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    You were given good advice on the other forum: the Blackjack preamps are actually way beyond beginner level and can give totally pro results in the right hands.

    What is more, the Blackjack is ALSO an audio interface: it will solve your other problem as well.
  4. weber.595

    weber.595 Active Member

    Hey one of you guys mentioned input in your post. By that do you mean, how much volume is coming in through the microphone? So if I want the input to be louder I should increase the gain or something? I'm a little confused. Is there a way to increase the volume without raising the gain so high it sounds bad?
  5. moles

    moles Active Member

    Raising volume and raising gain are two separate things, and yet often they are the same.
    By input, I meant input into your recording system. That is a separate issue from how loud your amp is (although if the amp is turned up/microphone moved closer, then the input gain needs to be less - and so they are connected...dig?)
    You sound like you need a primer on gain structure. Google is your friend, as well as the search function on this forum...
    10 seconds on the intramanet returned these - I haven't read through them all but doubtless they contain some good info to get you started.
    The Basics Of Setting Gain Structure | Music Production
    Gain Structure For Soundcard Recording
    Ins & Outs Of Gain Structure
    The importance of gain structure when recording and mixing music. - MTT Open - Music Think Tank
  6. treidm

    treidm Active Member

    Hmmmm, My differing opinion:

    Local musician friend has used onyx preamps, since their debut. I have used his board along with his older VLZ Pro board at his request in tracking. I even own one myself, but don't ever use it anymore.
    Even my FMR RNP, totally destroys the onyx preamps sonically and I wouldn't put the RNP as pro level either.

    Unless you are a Tom Dowd caliber engineer and doubtful that any of us are..... Those preamps are just not anywhere near pro level, PERIOD!
    Very good in that price range for what they do, but not accurate that they could give pro results, unless maybe they were by far the weakest link in the chain with pro level gear all around them & the Tape Op is extremely competent.

    Just don't put them in that "Pro level" category...
  7. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Ignoring for the moment the fact that you are talking out of your arse, what are you doing with my avatar?
  8. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Well, it seems my moderator powers don't extend to deleting your stolen avatar.

    FYI that gif you nicked from me is the gain reduction meter from my FL4TT3RY compressor plugin, now superceded by FL4TT3RY2

    I designed the compressor algorithm from scratch, then created the graphics myself, then created my own animated avatar from it, and I do NOT give you permission to use it, especially not with your elitist anti-Mackie attitude, and snobish "I don't use plugins" signature.

    Honestly, some people... "~100% OTB NOW~ (UNPLUGGED THE PLUG-INS)" ... except your avatar is the 100% digitally generated graphics from a 100% digital plug-in (Windows only btw. Bet you're a mac snob as well?). :rolleyes:
  9. Mirrormix

    Mirrormix Active Member

    This whole statement is pretty ridiculous IMO. What exactly is "pro level" then?

    Anybody who has experience and knows what they are doing can get any preamp that isn't broken to work wonderfully in a recording. You seem like you've been spending too much time around clueless wannabe's that don't know a thing about actual recording. Or, perhaps gear snobs that justify their decisions by denying that anything contrary to their "level" of kit can get the job done.

    I just happen to have recordings made with what you would probably consider "pro level" gear and what you would undoubtedly not consider such. Care to try a double blind test?

    Right now you're definitely spouting some pretty misleading stuff. I think it would do you good to know the truth.
  10. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Exactly. If you can't get decent results from Mackie Onyx pre-amps you suck as an engineer.

    To the OP: buy the Blackjack, its a great choice and should serve you well. Don't pay attention to the treidm idiot above, who's opinion was no doubt obtained the same way as his avatar.
  11. treidm

    treidm Active Member

    I got the avatar from another forum site, where it is being used by another person. He didn't say anything about you. I don't know if he came here to get it, but I assure you I didn't know you had a trademarked avatar. I will switch it out for another and pass your thoughts on to the gentleman I acquired it from.
    I've got 30 or 40 meter avatars, if it's yours, and I'll take your word for it, it is a nice one, but when I got it, it wasn't mentioned that is was trademarked, so I will now assume he didn't have your permission for the trademarked avatar either.

    As for the "talking out your....etc..." type comments?
    They are rude and uncalled for.

    I have my opinion, which is why I started with, "Hmmmm, My differing opinion:"
    And I'm sure like anyone else, my opinion is based on my experiences.

    I didn't start with, your talking out your ass, your a dumb ass and your opinion is crap, you hang around clueless idiots etc....

    You are very rude for a moderator....Calling me names for what I posted? Are you kidding?
    Are you the main moderator?
    How old are you? You are acting VERY young to say the least...
    Please pm me with who runs this site, thanks

    Not even sure what a mac snob is?

    You are being an ass in so many directions, I can't really respond to all.

    "IIRs Exactly. If you can't get decent results from Mackie Onyx pre-amps you suck as an engineer."
    You didn't say decent, you said PRO RESULTS

    If you think mackie onyx preamps are pro level, that's great. Others including me may have a differing opinion and only consider them mid level preamps, that's all. Don't take it so personal if someone disagrees with you.....

    EDIT: Ahhhhhh, I get the snob thing now. No I don't use a mac computer. When I did track, mix and if you can call it mastering, on computers, I did it on PC running Windows. Everything I do now is standalone OTB.
  12. Mirrormix

    Mirrormix Active Member

    The trouble is in thinking in terms of "pro level" gear.

    The only people I know that truly think like that are amateurs that don't know what they're talking about or "pros" that have some vested interest in spreading nonsense.

    There is gear and there are pros. They are not the same, nor do they have anything really to do with the quality of each other. A skilled "pro" can use whatever gear they have available (especially these days) and create professional sounding results.
  13. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    I have never given anyone permission to use that animation, what's more I have never been asked.

    Pro results in the right hands...
  14. treidm

    treidm Active Member

    I still have a different opinion.

    As an example:
    You have THIS gear available, by YOUR premise:
    Shure PG57 mic
    Alesis 3030 compressor
    Behringer Minimic MIC800 preamp
    TASCAM DP-004 Digital 4-track recorder
    Behringer Xenyx 1002 mixer
    Behringer HPM1000 headphones

    Your opinion as stated above would be that with "whatever gear they have available" a "skilled pro" could get "professional sounding results"
    IMO I would have to see (Hear) that to believe it.

    My differing opinion is to a certain degree the level of gear does matter.
    The level of experience an engineer has, may very well far outweigh the above.
    But the 2 (Working as a living in real studio friends) engineers I know have probably been instrumental in what my opinions are now. It is fortunate that I can try gear that I cannot afford to buy. I myself am NOT what I would call a "pro".
    I make a main living out of the music industry.
    I have tracked, mixed & mastered our bands music for years.
    I also do paid projects for other bands.
    By no means does that make me a pro.

    I mostly have (To me) mid level gear
    some examples....
    FMR RNC's
    Revox PR99 MKIII
    with some pro level gear mixed in.....
    AKG C414 B-ULS
    Dynaudio BM 6A MKII (Maybe they are high/mid grade?)

    Just a few examples.

    I'm thinking also that many posters here trying to get advice are NOT "pro's", or they would probably be giving the answers not asking them (In general)
    So if these posters that may not be pro level engineers, have lower level gear and may not know the technics needed to get "pro" level results.

    If they don't have the skills or gear, not sure what results they would get.
    I know what poor results I myself got with lack of experience & skills combined with beginner level gear when I first started.
    In my case what skills I learned only took me so far, then personally I needed to raise the level of my gear, then learn that gear...
    I wish I had skipped a few of the steps though, but just didn't have good advice at that time & hadn't met my engineer friends yet.
    I just kept making gear baby steps in beginning
  15. Mirrormix

    Mirrormix Active Member

    So you're saying that by listening to the end product you can tell what "level" of gear something was recorded on?

    I can definitely put that assertion to the test.

    I do this stuff for a living. I have all kinds of "bling" gear. But I would have no problem using all of that Behringer and other stuff you mentioned and I could definitely make recordings that would sound professional with it.

    What you apparently (and not all that surprisingly) misunderstand is the fallacy of the argument that asserts that gear has some kind of absolute intrinsic "level" of professionalism. Who would determine something like that anyway? It's not the gear that makes the recordings professional sounding or not. It's the skill of the people involved with the production and the decisions they make when using whatever gear they have available. That you and whoever you've been "learning" from don't know this is too bad.

    I don't buy gear because it costs a lot or because the name on it is what people like to associate their productions with. I buy it because it works and it fits the needs of the project at hand. As I have become more experienced as a professional I have found that I prefer a certain level of feature and build quality, mostly because it's more reliable and because it can do some of the esoteric things that I might want to be done. But really most of the low budget gear these days is perfectly capable of sounding fantastic, when used properly and skillfully working within the limitations of the gear. It's that good. Never before has it been more true than now that if you can't get a great recording it's not the gear's fault.

    You might have a differing opinion, but it's obviously not founded in direct experience at the professional level.

    I tell you what, I'll put my recordings on "cheap gear" against your recordings on your "mid-level" gear and we'll see who's sounds more professional. How about that?
  16. treidm

    treidm Active Member

    I'm not looking for a battle of words with you, I offered my opinion without making disparaging or rude comments about you or the other posters character or abilities or their friends.

    I will tell you this though and it's a FACT, you wouldn't speak to me in this manner in person, I GUARANTEE IT!!!!!!
    You are safe behind your keyboard.............

    I have tried to not stoop to name calling and rude comments, and so you know..it doesn't make you sound REAL professional.

    It makes you sound childish.

    I hope the OP reads all posts completely and takes all with a grain of salt and can glean something useful.
    I still don't believe onyx preamps are "pro level" and I own a mackie board w/ them (It's actually the best thing about the board if using them bypassing the mixer)

    Please show me where I said anything of that sort?
    You can try and twist to make an argument if you wish, I hope readers notice what I have actually posted. Looks like you want a safe internet forum fight.
    You will win this because I will soon give up trying to talk civilized to you.
    I wish we could have this discussion in person....

    If you could do the same with any gear, there would be no need for anything but the cheapest gear. Why do you have a Grace, UA, & Neve preamps? Just for color and a transparent one?
    Wait you can use any gear and get pro results, so why not just use onyx preamps instead of the higher priced ones you use?
    I hope the OP sees what is being said.

    I've only said that in my opinion the onyx preamps are not pro level, nothing more.
    Good for what they are. With my mixer (which I don't use anymore), they are the best feature.
  17. Mirrormix

    Mirrormix Active Member

    Are you kidding me?

    Nobody has insulted you. What I've done is decided to argue against your assertion that there is such a thing as "pro level" gear aside from the "pro" that might be using it. I've also argued that a skilled and experienced professional can make professional sounding recordings with whatever gear they have available. I then asked a question to clarify what you were saying about "pro level" gear. My question is based on the implication that goes along with what you have been arguing.

    You say gear has to be "pro level" to make recordings that sound professional. That implies that there is a sound that is intrinsic in the gear itself that is professional, which implies that you can hear the sound of the gear quality based on the sound of the recordings made with it. I question if that's what you're suggesting and I challenge you if you actually are suggesting that with my last post.

    That you have decided to get upset is on you. Besides that, what difference would it make if we were in person? I'd say the same thing. What would you do, try to fight me like an animal or a child that can't get their way? THAT'S childish. Physical intimidation is hardly proving your point. If anything it makes it look as though you don't know what you're talking about and have gotten caught in your own nonsense. Which to be honest with you is what I've suspected all along. You have yet to say anything that suggests otherwise to me.

    Why don't you pay attention to what you're arguing and try to present a cogent, sound argument? Or can you not do that?
  18. treidm

    treidm Active Member

    Looking back at posts it wasn't you, it was IIRs. So I am sorry if I got wrapped up in what he said and blew off at you.
    But he did insult me, my friends etc....

    Sorry again, I blew off at you by mistake.

    I still have my opinion and will freely discuss it, if you like. I would much rather discuss thoughts and opinions, leaving out all the personal attacks

    But, you have been trying to read into and twist or add things I never said in your argument, like....
    "You say gear has to be "pro level" to make recordings that sound professional" [Just one example]

    Never said it. Please show in any of my posts where you saw this........

    I will discuss, but you need to refrain from using things I DIDN't say, as if I said them

    As far as this:
    "Besides that, what difference would it make if we were in person? I'd say the same thing. What would you do, try to fight me like an animal or a child that can't get their way? THAT'S childish. Physical intimidation is hardly proving your point."

    Since it wasn't you, but the other poster, it is a mute point. But yes as childish as it may sound to you, if someone attacks me verbally and with warning continues, I will have no problem getting it in the gravel!

    Guess that means you are pro level engineer, but beginner level fighter? IT's A JOKE :)
  19. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    As I said: you got them the same way you got your avatar.

    (Why would anyone even want to do that anyway? Your avatar is supposed to say something about you, right? If you don't have the abilities to create your own animated VU meter you could simply upload a photo, right? What kind of person would want to steal someone else's personality like that?)
  20. Mirrormix

    Mirrormix Active Member

    Fair enough. Those words you did not type. But you did argue their meaning when you said this:
    That statement does say that Onyx preamps are not accurate "that they could give pro results..." Further you go on in the thread to assert this notion of "pro level" gear. So while I did extrapolate your argument and rephrase it. I wasn't distorting it's meaning at all. Unless you are now suggesting that you didn't mean what you originally appeared to argue.

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