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Recording a demo tomorrow, help is greatly appreciated =)

Discussion in 'Recording' started by StereoBoxJosh, Oct 9, 2007.

  1. Hi guys, let me introduce myself: I'm Josh 21 year old drummer from Texas. After numerous disasters with lost data from an old 8-track recorder, I've been reading and browsing around on your forum for about a month or so trying to learn what I can about digital when I have time.. and I think I'm just about ready tackle my first demo for my band. I'm taking an Audio Engineering course at my community college and it's the coolest class ever. Let me just say, that I have learned a lot from this forum so far, and for that, I thank you guys so much. Like I said, I'm trying to make a demo... nothing too special, just something that sounds presentable to sell.
    Here's what I'm working with:

    PC with:
    AMD X2 5000+ Dual Core Processor
    4GB DDR2 800 RAM
    500GB HD

    Musical Equipment:
    M-Audio Mobile Pre USB interface
    Shure Beta 58 Mic
    Audio-Technica Drum Mic set
    Various condenser mics

    Sonar 6 Producer Edition
    Various Plugins...

    We are a 6 piece indie band including Drums (DW set / good cymbals), Guitar (Marshall Halfstack, Gibson Nighthawk), Bass (Crappy Charvelle, good amp) Yamaha Keyboard, Synth, and Percussion (cowbell, tambourine, xylophone, etc.)

    I've practiced with the sonar program a bit by myself, so I don't think the recording aspect will pose many problems, just had a few questions if you don't mind helping me out:

    1. What would be a good style mic to record the percussion instruments? SM57 maybe?

    2. Not very familiar with keyboards? Do I plug straight into the interface?

    3. I read in another thread a moderator saying to be sure to invert the phase (polarity) of the bass drum in live sound situations, should I do this in recording as well?

    4. Should I flip the phase/polarity of anything else?

    5. I can't seem to see the actual eq pattern of the track while it's playing, is there a way to see this with Sonar? My professor does it a lot with LogicPro, where you can see which frequencies are being played, but I haven't figured that out yet....

    6. I know this is for the acoustics forum, but for the sake of saving a thread would it be better to record the drums in a 20ft x 20ft x 20ft Garage with a carpet floor, two walls covered with carpet, and wooden walls... or in a 15x12x8 room with furniture, carpet floors, sheetrock walls, and two windows?

    Hrmm, can't think of anything else right now...
  2. Kuzan

    Kuzan Guest

    Hi Josh

    I’m not sure if the demo is to sell for money or to sell yourselves to a record company. Either way it does not matter i guess.

    If a large part of your recording your demo is to have fun and have a record of what you guys have done, then just use your instincts, relax and do the best job you can.

    If you are serious about producing the best quality product with what you have, then I have some bad news for all of you (your ego’s actually).

    Track everything live, with you playing to a click track. Then replace everything track by track.

    Program the drums. You will get a more professional sound than what you are able to capture when recording live.
    If you don’t take that advise, then don’t hit everything has hard as you can, your biggest challenge (apart form a good sound) will be bleed.

    If the band is using the sounds generated by the keyboard, then plug it in directly.
    A better option would be to record the player’s midi info, manipulate it and then record it playing back through the keyboard to get the desired sound. This gives you the opportunity to quantize the notes etc.

    Regardless of if the bass player uses a processor or not, DI the bass.

    Unless the guitar player does not use a processor (Boss GT8 etc), and only uses an amp, then mic up the amp and record it. Other than that, DI the guitars as well. You will be hard pressed to get a better sound from a mic’d amp than from DIing the guitars through a processor.

    Just try and capture them as cleanly as possible. If you don’t have a great condenser and pre, then just use a 57 or 58. You can get some great results out of that. Compress, add some chorus (not much), some delay (1/4 and ½ with a litte feedback) and some reverb to suite the song.

    Use effects sparingly, or else you will date your track. It’s acceptable to use delays, overdrive on vox etc, but things like reverse verbs and other quirky effects will sound cool now, but not in two months time.

    Now to answer some of your questions if I can:

    1. What would be a good style mic to record the percussion instruments? SM57 maybe?
    Any of the condensers if they have a pad, or the 57.

    2. Not very familiar with keyboards? Do I plug straight into the interface?
    Answered above.

    3. I read in another thread a moderator saying to be sure to invert the phase (polarity) of the bass drum in live sound situations, should I do this in recording as well?
    If you mic the kit, don’t get the mics too close. You should be able to hear phasing. Invert if you hear a problem.

    4. Should I flip the phase/polarity of anything else?
    Only if phasing occurs with something

    5. I can't seem to see the actual eq pattern of the track while it's playing, is there a way to see this with Sonar? My professor does it a lot with LogicPro, where you can see which frequencies are being played, but I haven't figured that out yet....
    Can’t help you there, I use Cubase.

    6. I know this is for the acoustics forum, but for the sake of saving a thread would it be better to record the drums in a 20ft x 20ft x 20ft Garage with a carpet floor, two walls covered with carpet, and wooden walls... or in a 15x12x8 room with furniture, carpet floors, sheetrock walls, and two windows?
    Depends on the sound you are after. Only use the sound of the room if it is a good sounding room. Other than that, try and get as dead a sound as you are able to get and add verbs in the mix.

    Hope some of these suggestions help you.
  3. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I think that maybe there some misunderstanding over the "phase-flip" statement. Usually, you do this when you have multiple mics on the same source. Examples: Front and rear kick drum mics, top and bottom snare drum mics, multiple tom mics, etc. If you hear a "nasally", "whimpy", unnatural tone coming from the mic, it's a candidate to reverse the polarity. I realize that drummers have a hard time with this, but, in many cases, the fewer mics you have on the kit, the better off you'll be.
    You'll be better off concentrating on maintaining the kit so that it's rattle/buzz/squeak-free, properly tuned, and played like you want it to sound. I've had too many problems with drummers who either held back or slashed the kit. Screw the bleed. You'll get some no matter what, use it to your advantage. Some of he greatest recordings of modern times have plenty of it. Use your ears to determine what's right.
    As far as room size is concerned, I like the biggest one I can put the drums in, especially ceiling height. Have some sound-deadening blankets handy to position if you need to control reflections.
    A 57 for percussion? Sometimes-certainly on the cowbell to get that "gonk". For the xylophone, a decent small-diaphragm condenser (SDC) will bring out the "sparkle" of that instrument. Tambourine can be difficult with a cheap condenser-it's easy to "smear" the jangles. Try the SDC first, then a 57. Which do you prefer?
    Personally, as a guitar player, I know that the guitar-and-amp configuration that a player is used to is critical for his/her sound. As a longtime sound engineer (live and recorded), good or bad, I try to deal with whatever rig that player is used to playing. There are some times where the amp and the room do not work well together (loud Marshall in a small room, for instance). I would have a smaller amp onhand (Princeton, Deluxe, etc). You can certainly DI the guitarist's tracks as an OPTION to reamp later, BUT try to keep the rig that they're used to intact as much as possible.
    As far as Sonar is concerned, I work with a couple of composers who swear by it. Yes, it does have some sort of spectrum display. The only composer who uses that feature is literally deaf above 5Khz. I wouldn't bother with it. Once again, use your ears. Good luck!
  4. Thanks a million guys =).

    To elaborate on what you were saying before, I'm mainly just recording the demo for fun, along with distributing to a few friends and fans... and i think it will be a great learning experience.

    So a click track huh... I don't have too much experience with them. Is it difficult to play / record over yourself using the headphones like that? I hear a lot of people saying this, and I've made that suggestion to my brother when he would record us with his 8-track. He swears it would be hard for most drummers.
    Also, since my interface only has two inputs, I'm thinking about recording the drums in sections... not meaning verse/chorus sections, but lets say bass/snare/hh on first take, then toms on second take, then overhead cymbals. What do you guys think of that? The drums will most definitely be the hardest thing to record for me =(

    DI the guitar - My guitarist is weird. He idolizes the Mars Volta's Omar Rodriguez and has a real "sloppy mustard" guitar sound. We have fairly decent equipment i.e. good pedals, great amp/head combo, etc ...but he can't seem to shake the infamous zoom pedal. His setup is the following: From Gibson guitar - phase shifter pedal - d3 delay pedal - various effect pedals he never uses - zoom pedal - noise compressor - Marshall head/stack. Any suggestions here? And... do I plug from his pedals to interface or from the back of the head?

    A few more little questions...

    1. Where should I put the bass drum mic?

    2. Does it matter where the drums are in the room? Right now they are in vertically in the center horizontally on the left facing the center.

    3. Fans/Air conditioning!!!
    -Our practice garage is hottttt! I'm pretty sure fans are a bad idea huh? For the other instruments, we're recording inside. Air conditioning bad too?

    4. How long is a reasonable amount of time to spend on one song? I hear about bands being in the studio for around 8 months, which sounds crazy. I'm thinking I can hopefully record at least the drums and guitar in 6 hours.

    What else should I worry about? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated...

    Once again, thank you guys so much. I'm going to give it a shot this afternoon around 4 o'clock. As soon am I done (if i get done), I will post up a link to what i've recorded so far...

  5. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Fans?!?!? LOL!! MANY years ago when I was experimenting with home recording (a Teac 3340S 4-track), I recorded a fusion band in the den. We lived in Florida, every room had a ceiling fan slowly spinning to keep the seabreeze flowing. I ran the tape back after the first take and gave it a listen. There was this horrible phase-shifter-like swishing noise happening on the drums/cymbals. It was the fan over the kit!!!
    A/C noise can be an issue, too. Chill the room down real good before you shut it off to record.
    I'd mic the guitar cab, but I'm old school.
    You don't have any kind of mic mixer? No, I guess not, hadn't noticed that little tidbit. I'd try an OH and a kick (inside the drum, aimed at the side for more resonance, at the head for less) first. Dubbing drums is a real strange thing. And I've only been able to use click tracks with good results using professional drummers who were used to that. Put another way: (1) Drummer+(1) Pr of phones+ (1) HOT day=Mucho Problemo
  6. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    This one. This one will yield far better results then the 20x20x20 cube option.
  7. Kuzan

    Kuzan Guest

    Due to the time difference, you are probably busy or finished by now. In case not, like Moonbaby said, while recording just turn the air conditioning and fans off. Turn them back on while you take breaks.

    Since you are recording your drums one piece at a time it's going to help with bleed (I know others don't mind this) and you may just get a better sound. I'll tell you why. If you are not playing to a click of sorts and there is something that you have played wrong or out of time, if you have recorded the kit as a whole, it makes it impossible to cut and space the offending beat due to the bleed. Trust me, I've faced this problem more times that I care to mention.

    99% of guitar players are hung up on their set-up and sound, which is why in my last post I said that the bad news was actually an ego related issue. But if the demo is to have fun and give out to friends, for the sake of his ego and your friendship just let it ride and mic the amp.

    All that said. Relax, follow your instincts and your ears and have fun. Otherwise there is no point to music anyway.

    Let us know how it went.

  8. Thanks again!!! Well my "six hour" project turned into about 8 hour one and I'm almost finished recording. Tons of new questions have surfaced, but for the most part it sounds great (way better than I thought it would.)

    Now, I'm the first to say I'm no expert, but i tried various mics (none over $100 b/c I'm poor) on my bass drum and couldn't get a decent sound what so ever, including my audio technica bass drum mic. Finally I settled with an unlikely Shure Beta 58. I've never recorded before, but my professor and everyone I talk to sais to follow your ears and my band mates agree, with some mixing it will be wonderful. That's where the questions come in.

    Here's what I did:

    I have a two input interface. I placed the beta 58 near the bass drum head positioned where the nulls would take care of the snare. I mic'd up my snare with the audio technica set (snare mic) and put the hihats up close so it would pick up both. I was amazed at how great and isolated each ended up... So three takes later my part was done. Wow. That was quick! Especially for a 6 minute song, twice as long as the rest of ours.

    I had to put a little bit of a bass effect on the bass drum so it would sound less like a "thaawp" and more like "thoomp". Is this a good idea?

    Next up was guitar. I used the snare mic for my set again as my guitarist refused to go DI. It sounded good but he wasn't as confident in the song as I first anticipated so we recorded in parts. So far so good? Not really... There is some crackle in the recording. I want to keep the mixing / adding plugins until after I finish recording everything. What is a good plugin to illiminate extra noise in the guitar track?

    Next up keyboard. No problems here... DI, couple takes, went smooth...

    Then Xylophone. Beta 58 sounded best here yet again... the crickets were so loud outside I chose against a condenser. I'm starting to think I'm stupid by now thinking this mic sounds best... but =( ????

    Next we did bass. It was good, a couple of takes that went easier than the rest. I did not DI that either... used the actually bass drum mic for the audio technica kit... sounds good (I think)

    This is what we have left:
    Toms & Cymbals
    Guitar in the outro

    Should be able to finish that today. Got another 8 hours scheduled.

    The biggest problems however came from the recording program itself. After the first 7 tracks (all guitar and the 2 drums) the new tracks wouldn't record on. It would go for a second and the message would say "audio starting" then immideately say "Audio stopped." I messed around with it and I have a temporary solution, but help on how to fix this would be awesome. Here's where my question list starts again:

    1. What does the term "dropout" mean? I recieved this message when quite frequently when having the problems at the end.

    2. To fix this problem, I just recorded over (layer) an old track. Kinda sux though... one track has like 8 different layers =( ...i was thinking since it wont let me record on those other tracks, and If I drag and drop to another track after I record the original it will STILL say dropout again... i could just record over a track (for instance keyboard) over and over again and when the entire recording is finished then drag and drop and mix everything after. Sound good?

    3. How do I fix that guitar crackle without recording it again?

    4. Monitors. I've recorded just using headphones. Should I invest in some $100 monitors (i saw some monitors on sale for $100 at Guitar Center). I plugged the interface out into our PA speakers sounded great!!

    5. Panning: Is there any way to pan any track into two separate directions? like one part right one part left... or do I have to split the track and pan one side each way? Either way the guitar solo will be awesome.

    6. Just to clarify... there is no track or memory limit to each song correct? My band mates thought that might be my problem... I'm fairly certain it's not but just to be safe.

    7. Mixing: I have no idea where to start other than the obvious. Any pointers?

    Thanks again for everything. I'm going to to start recording again in about 4 hours again. I'm so eager to post it up for you guys to give me your feedback. Hopefully I can do so this evening.
  9. Kuzan

    Kuzan Guest

    Glad to hear it went so well!
    Again, I can't help you with your program, but it does sound like a track limitation problem.

    Sounds like you are recording your guitar tracks in stereo. Rather record two mono tracks which should let you pan as you like.

    To get rid of noise, look for a de-noizer, de-clicker or x-crackle plugin. In Cubase I think they come standard, but I use Waves plugins for that. They will effect the sound through.

    As for the sound, if you like what you get from your Sure, then that's all that counts.

    In the mix, cut some of the very lows and highs on the bass. Play with the EQ, you should be able to get a rocking sound.

    Good luch with the rest.

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