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Reamping - Overtones, or just Air?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by skiffdriver, Jun 13, 2009.

  1. skiffdriver

    skiffdriver Active Member

    I love this forum! I've learned a hell of a lot. I'm still a total greenhorn, but I'd be much worse off without all of you. Now I've got a question.

    I just got an Apogee Duet to run into Garageband, and was playing around with drum sounds, mic placement, etc., with The Greatest Drummer In The World (seriously; I'm his ex-bass-player, and loved playing with him). The economics of where we live being what they are, his kick drum beater head is totally shot (his front head was just split, too, by a live sound guy sticking a mic inside it), so I was getting a pretty anemic sound out in front. His crash and ride cymbals are cracked, so we left those in the car, leaving just kick, snare, floor tom, and hat (he wants a new head for his snare, too). I put my SM58 on his side of the kick, between the floor tom and the pedal, pointed at the beater, and my SM57 up high, about four feet up, pointed straight down at the snare (these are the only two mics I've got right now, unless you count the karaoke mic my sister-in-law gave me that someone threw at her for free). Decent sound. He liked it. I liked it. His exact words were "It's definitely lo-fi, but in a Beastie Boys kind of way."

    So, it was OK. I messed around with it a little after he went home. I duped the kick track, put a lowpass filter on it at 500 Hz, and, just for shits and giggles, ran it through my Acoustic Image Contra bass amp. For those who aren't aware, the AI uses split speakers, a 10 inch downfiring woofer and a 6 inch (I think) front-firing tweeter (I highly recommend them for any gigging upright bassists- they sound great and take lots of abuse- I've accidentally poured at least two beers into mine, and it seems to sound even better). I put the 58 up close against the tweeter and the 57 about 2.5 feet back. The close 58 was a little woofier, which I liked at first, but came to prefer the thwackier sound of the farther back mic. Seemed to bring the tom out a little more, too. It was promising enough mixed into the original kit that I did the same thing on the overhead track, this time with a hipass on @1200Hz and a lowpass on @5200Hz, through the AI and into the 57 about 2.5 feet from the tweeter. Result: A much "fuller" drum sound. It wasn't perfect by a long shot, but it's food for thought for me, given my (low) experience level and what I've got.

    But I like to know the fundamentals behind the results, and I'm almost totally ignorant about what's going on on a physical level.

    So: The duped, filtered tracks, when mixed with the live drums, sounded, well, plastic. Processed. A little too obvious. But the reamped tracks sounded Good with the others. When you take these plastic, processed tracks and put them through a speaker, what, exactly, are you getting? Does running them through a speaker "bring back" the harmonic overtones you've just mercilessly removed? Does the speaker take the woofy, thuddy, processed sound and, through its physical action as a speaker, "automatically" generate overtones, like a good acoustic guitar "automatically" generates certain characteristics no matter what hamhanded incompetent schmuck is playing it? Or is this just an incomprehensible example of the beneficial aspects of pushing a soundwave through actual air? Or am I asking the wrong question?
  2. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    "I've accidentally poured at least two beers into mine, and it seems to sound even better)"


    You sure weren't just drinking too much of the stuff when you listened to it?
  3. skiffdriver

    skiffdriver Active Member

    I assure you I listened to it sober, now and then.

    Somehow the Guinness made it sound... stouter?
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    You may be doing other things when you reamp but you are definitely adding some room sound - early reflections, etc with the 57.

    But seriously .... you poured two pints of Guinness on an AI Contra????

    If you don't mind me hijacking the thread, have you played electric bass through the Contra? I've heard them on URB and they are great, but I don't ply upright enough to justify it. Electric bass, throw in keyboard...maybe. Don't think I would try the Guinness mod though.
  5. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    You would try the Guiness though...

    Stout, egad man that makes my normal puns look tame.

    What kind of acoustic treatment is there? I know the massive filtering you applied will affect it but I agree, you're adding extra room noise which equates to a well set reverb.
  6. skiffdriver

    skiffdriver Active Member

    So it's less a matter of adding in frequencies I removed and more like, as Codemonkey said, a well set reverb? In other words, if I ever learn to set reverb well, I can abandon my plans to run every single track I record in the future through the Contra?

    Strictly speaking, I didn't "pour" them on it. I "knocked" them into it. And they weren't whole pints. I always drank some _before_ I put the glass on the amp.

    I don't mind at all. I love yammering on about how much I love my Contra. I play my Rick through it, and it sounds great. Very, very clean sound. If you want some crunch, look elsewhere, or plug a pedal into the effects loop. I've never gigged with it on electric, though I intend to as soon as the aforementioned drummer and I get our act together. It's not super loud, but that's what the direct out is for. I don't know what it would sound like onstage with lots of distorted guitars, since I was in a band with acoustic instruments, but I could always hear it over the accordion. It'll reproduce whatever's coming out of the pickups. Electric guitar sounds nice too; again, very clean.
  7. skiffdriver

    skiffdriver Active Member

    My wife calls the acoustic treatment "furniture". And I can open the front door to let out any standing waves.
  8. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    I doubt that you would be able to reproduce your results with just reverb, as when anything has been HPF or LPF and then run through an amp and speakers you are very likely to have altered the tonality a significant amount.
    All of this seems like the very long way around the barn. The worlds best drummer and from the sound of it the worlds worst drum kit. I guess whatever the F works but really buy some heads. Just a note the SM57 is a great workhorse mic but really tails down in freq. response in the 40-150 hz range where a good deal of the bass drums tonality starts.
    "And I can open the front door to let out any standing waves."
    As long as no outstanding waves go out the door as well.
  9. iamfrobs

    iamfrobs Guest

    Ha ha ha ha. I actually couldn't stop laughing for like four minutes.

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