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Recording Bass - Micing or Direct Input

Discussion in 'Bass' started by bluefunk, Feb 12, 2004.

  1. bluefunk

    bluefunk Guest

    I read somewhere that recording directly into the mixer is better and more useful than micing instruments. So, with that in mind, I tried a direct recording of a bass line onto my DAW which is Sonar 2.2 and I wasn't very impressed with the amount of detail it picked up. For instance, all the little clicks and pops from the strings hitting the frets and pickups. Is there anyway to rectify the situation without having to switch to amp-mic recording? Other than using a pick instead of my fingers.
  2. mlessa2002

    mlessa2002 Active Member

    Jan 24, 2004
    Rio de Janeiro
    Hi There,

    I usually record a very loud bass player (actually he's a sort of Chris Squier on speed under the evil influence of the One Ring).

    He plays on a Rickenbaker 4003.

    I have found, from (little) experience, that EQ and compression will rid you of the clicks and pops.

    What works for me and Mr. Insane Bass Player is routing his bass through a V-AMP, setting that to minimal EQ settings and then using on-board plugins to rectify the clicks and pops.

    What bass are you playing on? if it's not something as naturally crunchy and boomy as a Rickenbaker, you might not even have to go that far.

    Of course, if you have the proper amp, decent microphones, knowledge on mic placement and a great sounding room, then this would be the best way to go. Otherwise, try using short attack/decay times, maybe 4:1 ratios, and you should be fine.


  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    This sounds more like a problem with bass set up or playing technique rather than a problem with recording methodology. Learn to play without getting pops and clicks. Adjust the bass set up so the strings are high enough that they don't buzz on the frets and hit the pickups. They really shouldn't do that in the first place. If you are playing a detuned instrument you need to use larger gauge strings to insure proper string tension. Get the instrument set up correctly before you worry if you are going to mic a cab or go direct.

    BTW, I like to do both if I can. The DI gives extended low end response and the speaker provides edge and a slight distortion that helps it cut through a mix and define well. Be sure to check that both the DI and mic are in phase.
  4. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Don't believe everything you read....

    Just because you have a way to record into your DAW directly, doesn't mean that the interface or DI is going to provide you with good or even acceptable results. Dozens of specific DI boxes as well as gear with a DI in the marketplace each have a specific tone. On top of that, if you have a cheap and/or crappy bass, no amount of processing it is gonna make it sound better than having a great sounding instrument to start with.
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Do you have a favorite bass DI? Or does it depend on the source and matierial? Which DIs do you like best? K.
  6. missilanious

    missilanious Guest

    Direct recording better....?
    Thats a very bold statement. Well its not true. Its just another option you have, either isn't considered better than the other, there two different things. Personally I like a blend of the two, (givin I have a great D.I to work with, just like I wouldn't expect getting a good tone micing an amp without the right mics, pre's, and basiclly signal path strait off the tone coming out of the amp). The one thing I don't recomend (which many poeple here will disagree) is recording direct into an amp simulator, like a bass pod. I loke those boxes as an effect but not as a "real amp sound", for that I'll record an amp and blend it with the D.I signal. On the topic of D.I bass recording, I like using the D.I on my M-610 and than into my Manley ELOP.
  7. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Ya, it depends on the source bass and if I am going to use an amp as well. For just the DI path, I mostly stick to and rely on three options. First and just about always is the Eclair Engineering Evil Twin Tube DI. Good, clean, full sounding with solid bass down to 8Hz. My second option is the DI in the API 512C preamp. Big, thick and phat. And third is reserved for the very clean and natural sound of the bass, which is also is often a bass with active pickups, is the Countryman Type-85. I also split my bass signal after the DI and then each one goes into a comp. Which comp how it gets used varies greatly and may even be used with no compression and/or limiting but for specific tone only. Comps of choice are: API 525, dbx 160SL, UA 1176 & LA2A, Manley Mono Vari-Mu & El-Op, Tube-Tech CL2A, Groove Tubes CL1s, Summit Audio TLA-100A, Meek VC1Qcs. Any of those comps and mabe even others are also be used durring mixdown for additional level management and/or tone as well.

    Other DI's and combos that get occasional use for bass are the Neve 1272, Vintech X81, Agular Tube DI, Focusrite Red via Countryman DI, Neotek Mic MAX via Countryman DI, Manley VoiceBox.
  8. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Distinguished Member

    Oct 7, 2001
    I am liking my Sansamp Bass Driver when going direct. I know it is not in the same category as the Evil Twin, but I do like the sound I get, and when you combine it with different-sounding mic pres, you can get some great sounding tracks.

    I am not a bass player, but back when I was a recording musician (4+ years ago), the last 2 studios we used had the Sansamp, and I always loved the sound we got, so when I started doing this myself, it was one of my first purchases!
  9. Treena Foster

    Treena Foster Active Member

    Jul 4, 2003

    I personally find that clicks and pops have more to do with a persons technique, (as long as the bass is setup properly) you need a muting and better left-hand, technique.

    The "clicking" is is probably also related to left hand technique - if you are not accurately fretting or pressing down too hard - so you need to fret just behind the fret lines not in the middle, for example.

    I would also suggest looking into flat wound strings, you will not notice as much fret noise with flats wounds.

    Just so you know, we have a Bass and Guitar forum here at RO, feel free to drop in and ask (us over there) any questions about bass you might have in the furture, we are always happy to help!

  10. dymaxian

    dymaxian Guest

    The only sure way to get a good track out of bass is to experiment. We can give you all kinds of advice, but the bass seems to be the instrument that a) has the greatest variations for noise induced by the musician- the clicks and pops and other performance nuances vary so widely you can't really second-guess them... and b) can suffer the greatest damage if you don't deal with the noisyness very well. Every time I get a new bass player thru, I set up as many mics around their amp, and get direct signals from as many different outputs as I can, and just record a scratch track for a few bars to see what we get.

    Another thing to remember, is that depending on the sound you're trying to get, the clicking and popping might actually help you out more than it hurts. If you get rid of all of the player's little noises and playing mannerisms, you might as well just MIDI the track and be done with it. There's a bunch of old recordings where the bass sounds just dirty enough to really jam. I'm not saying you should let it all hang out here; if it's distracting, try to get it under control. If it doesn't really hurt anything, let it slide.

    For my own playing (I play bass in the band I'm in, so I get plenty of time to experiment) my best combination at this point is a direct line out of my effects board (BOSS GT-5b) for low end stuff, and either an SM57 or Beta52 on my cabinet, pointing right at the outside edge of the voice coil. I've recently picked up a StudioProjects B1 and haven't tried it out yet... We'll see where it gets us. The advantage I have with my setup is that the cabinet (Peavey 8x10) seems to filter out the high popping and clicking all on it's own, so mics put in front of it don't really need much work. I'll usually put a low-pass at 200 or 300 Hz for the pedals, and mix that into the mic'd sound to beef up the bottom when it needs it.

    This may not work at all for you guys. But you can try it.

    Hey mods! Perhaps it wouldn't be a bad idea to sticky a thread for micing of various instruments, kinda making a FAQ at the top of the forum for people who come in asking "how do I mic a..."

    Of course, you could probably fill a whole new division or the forum with that kind of thing.

    Just thinking out loud.

  11. e-cue

    e-cue Active Member

    Oct 5, 2000
    I usually always do both. Reddi Di into a Little Labs IBP and I'll mic the amp usually with a D12E and use the IBP to get the phase locked dead on. I'll record both to seperate tracks so I've got the best of both worlds.
  12. billsnodgrass

    billsnodgrass Active Member

    Feb 13, 2004
    Both a good DI(a must) and a re20 or 421 or a d112 or even 57 if thats all you got
    you can always reamp with the DI
  13. Babyhead

    Babyhead Guest

    Yeah...what he said.

    If you want good bass tone, use good gear, obviously. But the trick most bass players don't get is that in the studio you want as much gain as possible so you can touch it soft as possible. Watch the meters while you play and try and smooth it out that way. You are better off not compressing at all.

    "Compression is for bad bass players."
    -Mike Elizando

    Also, if you are using more than one source, as always...phase phase phase.

  14. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    All factors mentioned are good ones....there is no substitute in the world for a bass player with an EVEN handed attack.Heavy is fine as well as light as a feather.If they are even.Its been my experience that the uneven attack is the one that requires all sorts of processing.And processing creates a 'difference' in sound and sound quality.Not necessarily good.There are many good basses.The Evil Twin DI is a killer box.The Countryman 85 is my favorite because it adds nothing.The sound of the bass in the proper hands is what I personally like.This is when having a high quality bass is the answer.I personally like 60's era P-basses.The pickups are generally the best as far as Fender is concerned.
  15. heinz

    heinz Guest

    the D.I. on the Chandler TG2 sounds great on P-Bass... huge but articulate.
  16. Tungstengruvsten

    Tungstengruvsten Active Member

    Sep 10, 2001
    Guelph, Ontario
    I use both, each on their own tracks. For micing, the usual suspects(re20, 421, sm7...usually sm7) and I've really been liking the Avalon U5. Used it on a 72 jazz and it rocked.

    The current band's bass player i'm working with plays a Modulus 5 string through a David Eden Traveller, which has it's own "Recording Output" ie DI....only problem I can find is it's a really low level output-i have to go through a preamp to kick it up at least 25dB and that's with the bass amp loud! Anyone else have any experience with the Eden's? It's a newer one, and we've defeated the comp/limiter but still can't get the same levels as a DI before the head.
  17. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2003
    Does that Eden have a pre and post gain? I have a '94 Trace elliot 1225VT that has an XLR out from the tube pre, I just set level from the pre gain pot. It's killer.
  18. Babyhead

    Babyhead Guest

    I used to own an Eden Traveler wt-300 and from the begining, I've regarded the DI as an afterthought. Electronically ballanced cornercutting BS. The Avalon is good, an API 312 with a DI is better. ET66 always delvivers. Also, you have to hear how eratic the bass is in order to smooth it out with your playing. Recording with compressors makes me think I have more play in the bass. ('72 Jazz)

  19. Chance

    Chance Guest

    Personally I will go direct and mic the amp. concentrating on the performance and spirit of the performance. If we get a good mic'd sound cool, if not, we re-amp. that way the bass players, chops won't get stale. With reamping, the performance is done and we can focus in with different mics, position-of-mic, even different amps.
  20. mikE@THECAVE

    mikE@THECAVE Guest

    Im not a good bass player but I have to agree with Babyhead here.Any noises seem louder with compression.When you guys use compression on bass what ratios do you use?

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