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Recording bass with M-Audio Fast Track Pro

Discussion in 'Bass' started by BuzzBass, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. BuzzBass

    BuzzBass Active Member

    Hey everbody,

    I recently bought a Fast Track Pro USB audio interface thinking that I would be able to get something cool from it by directly plugin my bass, then use Guitar Rig 5 to simulate an amp. It works, but the thing is that sounds like crap ! Am I doin something wrong ? Is there anything that is missing to my setup ? Im runnin on a brand new Macbook Pro with Ableton Live 8.

    ( If an older thread explain my probleme, please send me the links )

    Thanks, have a good day
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Well, obviously, you must be doing something wrong. You also included no information as to what you played it back through that made it sound crappy. If it's amplifier simulators... well yeah... not made for bass guitars, made for regular electric guitars. Which is designed to produce crappy. You all that crappy distortion, overload, fuzz on a guitar not on a bass guitar. Besides, many of us just take bass guitar with a simple DI box and recorded pretty clean with just a little limiting and maybe a little tweak of EQ. And of course you should be playing us back through quality studio control room monitor speakers. But then it should even play well through small computer speakers as well. It's all up to you how you tweak it to make it sound good and not crappy. I mean you didn't just pick up the bass guitar and start playing bass guitar without learning first how to play bass guitar, correct? Right. That's why there's professional people that know how to do this. And then there are the musicians who can play it. So the only reason why your bass guitar sounds like crap is because you're making it sound like crap from a lack of knowledge of how not to make it sound like crap.

    I never use cabinet emulations on bass guitar.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    You want the easiest, purest, most brain-dead easy way to record bass guitar?

    DI it into a decent audio I/O.

    There. That's it, that's all.

    If you're so inclined, maybe some slight compression on the way in to tame transients, or a tweak of EQ here or there if you have the ability to do so on the way into the box, otherwise, keep your levels healthy but within reason, and then add your GR or EQ from within the program.

    My suspicion is that it's the Guitar Rig plug in that is giving you the grief. Have you disabled the plug and simply listened to the bass without any processing?
  4. Harry

    Harry Active Member

    Hey there, I've used a Fast Track pro for a couple of years before getting a slightly more expensive focusrite interface, and the FTP is fairly adequate (though the quality difference from that vs a focusrite is noticable, even if its only a bit more expensive) and also a long time user of guitar rig...guitar rig really sucks for bass, even though its got the bass pro amp(just my opinion) I wonder are you compressing the bass at all of using just the emulation? I have a simple chain that I use now for bass using the SofTube Bass Amp Room, some compression, EQ and some distortion (distortion can really help a bass sit in a mix, especially in metal)

    You should play around with using a combination of the bass DI with no amp emulation but with just compression and EQ, and a separate track with the emulation. Listen to your song at a low level and step back from the speakers, does it sound even throughout the song? can you hear all the notes evenly?

    Though for ages I thought that plugins were just bad for bass, then it turned out I needed new bass strings, and that I was awful at playing bass, and that the bass was also broken. Check these first!

  5. BuzzBass

    BuzzBass Active Member

    Thanks for your answer,
    - Yeah, Im new to music production but I've been playing bass for years now. I'm using a MusicMan Classic Stingray 5 (active), a Boss Gt-6 pedal board and a Ampeg Ba115T, which has a line out. Maybe I can use a line cable to amp my bass before the Fast Track ? How would that sound ?

    - What your telling me is that a DI would be between my bass and the audio interface, then i wouldnt need to simule an amp with my Mac, just use the compression and EQ from Ableton ? Is that right ?

    Again thanks, I feel i'm near the goal
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Well, if you have that Ampegand it has a line level output, I would use that as the front end. Then you take that line level output and you go into the line level input on your computer audio interface. Then you get that great tube sound from that front end of your amplifier. That's way better than any direct input on any audio interface, anywhere. Yeah baby! That beautiful tube saturation, soft overload, is absolutely the way to go to get the most from your electric bass guitar. You get thin puny sound from one of those simple ass active DI inputs. Great for keyboard outputs. Great to plug your reel to reel or cassette deck into. Great if you like Cabinet software emulators. But you've got the classic tentacle of bass guitar amplifiers. And that beautiful and real tube circuitry utilizing high voltage plate supplies. Nothing compares.

    This is not unlike how we would do it in the studio with you. If I've got a bass guitar player that has a particularly good amplifier and cabinet, many of those amplifiers feature XLR, mic or line level outputs for recording feeds. In which case I usually take the output that there amplifier has available. This helps to preserve the tone that they get from their amplifier head. Sometimes with a pre-post switch allowing or bypassing the equalization on the amplifier. And so your amplifier is definitely not a $.98 transistor or IC chip. It's a for real front end bass guitar preamp. And that costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars. That DI input on your computer audio interface than, is basically nothing more than a high impedance low line level input and certainly, innocuous, relatively neutral and well, the way a line level input should be, i.e. no color, no fat, no punch, no saturation or soft overload. So nothing to write home about. Whereas your Ampeg sure the hell is something to write home about!.

    Now this is starting to make sense!
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  7. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    nice bass setup, i'd just di it, and if more than a demo type thing, mic the cab, w/ a 441, d12. DI is the sound i think due the inherit tightness of commercial recordings (performance/editing), but i'm still down w/ some grit, so i tend to mic the cab, as well. use it or not at least it's there. I got this 'cool' fuzz sound from my buddy's cab, that could not be fabricated any other way, very appropriate for the blues-rock songs we were rocking

    i think it was dr. dre who said it's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. I think he was talking about weapons, not bass tracks, but still realavant.
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I was stupid. I am stupid. I meant to say to also mic the cabinet. So you take that line level output and go into the DI input. And you try out some microphones and stick that into the other XLR channel input. You don't want to print that as a stereo track. You want to tell the time line to record the left channel only (in one timeline channel). Then you enable another timeline channel and tell it to record only the right channel. You may also be able to select whether that should be printed as a single mono track of each as a single, dual mono/stereo track. Which would make a total of 4 Tracks as 2 stereo pairs that are actually dual mono each. One pair would be the line level output from your amplifier and the other one would be from the microphone on the cabinet of the speaker. They wouldn't be two pairs that would be DI left and microphone right. No.

    There is a small hitch in this get along. There will be a timing difference between the direct input and the microphone on the cabinet. This small timing error is a phase shift. This phase shift will cause nasty sounding comb filtering cancellations and augmentations to occur. This may require that you will have to zoom in to a peak, right down to the sample. This way, you'll be able to align the two peaks. And if you had tracked live with a drummer, I would generally delay the DI direct track to match the timing of the microphone track. This will ensure no other peculiar phase anomalies and cancellations will happen from the bleed pickup from the drum set. So it's a good bet to only delay the DI track by those few samples of difference you'll see when fully zoomed in to some peak transient. You know when you pick and pop that bass.

    Now go to it buddy. We want to hear what you got?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    You didn't mention in your first post that you had the Ampeg amp... that's a pretty important thing to leave out.

    At which point, I absolutely concur with Remy and Kmetal - do a combination of a mic on the amp and use a DI as well.

    You're using a digitally-based amp/cabinet emulator plug-in when you already have a great cabinet? :confused: LOL, that's a little like driving a Yugo and complaining that it drives horribly when you have a Lexus parked in your garage.

    There's no emulation necessary if you already have a great amp/cabinet at your disposal to begin with.

    Kmetal and I will have to respectfully disagree about one thing here, though... and that's the use of of the D112; I'm not a fan and never have been, I would opt instead for an EV RE20, or even an AKG 414 if you have one. In a pinch, and if budget constraints prohibit you from buying any of those mics, use a simple Shure SM57/58... you won't be disappointed, for a mic that can be had new-to-almost new for around $100, and it's uses are almost limitless, from mic'ing snare and toms to guitar and bass amps, to vocals, brass, and even a kick drum, it's one of those must-have mics to have in your microphone locker.

    On a final note, and just as a suggestion, from now on when posting a question, it would be much more helpful to us to give you more help, if you mentioned all the gear you were working with, LOL, the Ampeg was a pretty crucial piece of information to leave out. ;)
  10. BuzzBass

    BuzzBass Active Member

    Hey thanks everybody, this website is incredible.

    First, I'm going to buy a line cable, what I should have done a long time ago hahaha.

    Then, if I'm not satisfied, I'll buy a Shure SM57 and a DI. Any special recomandation for the DI ?

    And the first time that I'll get something interesting, you can be sure that i'll post it here.

    I'm really grateful guys !
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    A line cable is nothing more than a regular guitar to amplifier cable. 1/4 inch mono to 1/4 inch mono. TS to TS. You already have one of those otherwise you wouldn't be able to plug your guitar into anything. I mean I know you're from Montréal but come on now LOL.

    The only reason to have a DI box is to take a unbalanced 1/4 inch output from a keyboard instrument or, from a line level output from a guitar amplifier head that needs to be plugged into an XLR microphone input on a recording or PA console that is more than 10 feet away and generally at least 50-100 feet or more. Because you cannot send a 1/4 inch high impedance keyboard or guitar output up 100 feet of cable without first converting that low-level signal to something else. And that something else generally means a low impedance balanced feed over a long distance. So your computer audio interface that's less than 10 feet from you doesn't need a DI box of any kind. It's got that DI input on it already.

    There are different kinds of DI boxes. Some have a simple passive transformer and can be utilized bidirectionally meaning that you can run them backwards. And the transformer can also provide for highly advantageous electrical isolation. But a transformer DI box also loads down all passive guitar pickups. Because those DI Transformers are generally around 50,000 ohms where a guitar wants to see 1-2 million ohms. So, if you have passive pickup guitars, you'll want an active DI box. The active boxes have the same kind of high impedance load a tube in your guitar amplifier would have which is 1-2 million ohms. And that won't load down the guitar pickups. When you load down the guitar pickups, you lose strength, energy, fidelity to a certain and predictable extent. And a lot of us lived with that back in the 1970s and it wasn't horrible. That DI input on your computer audio interface is a perfectly lovely active DI box input integrated into the computer audio interface and is part of the microphone preamplifier stage. So don't waste your money on a box you don't need. Only worthwhile if you want that electrical isolation that also includes a ground lift switch? And you really have no need for that. So stop trying to figure out what else to waste your money on and get down to some good recording with what you already have which is already great.

    Your response actually makes me think you did not really fully comprehend anything that was actually suggested? A lot of this technobabble is difficult for people to weed through and that's certainly understandable. Of course indicating that you're going to go out and buy a 1/4 inch to 1/4 inch patch cable would lead me to believe all you have is a single guitar cable and nothing more? So, yeah, you'll need 2 of those. I don't know many guitarists that don't have at least two guitar cables already?

    And then you indicated if you are not satisfied, you'll get that 57? Satisfied or not? You should still have that 57. Better still, a 58. They're the same. One looks like Britney Spears and the other one looks like Karl Malden. Inside they are the same. Imagine that? And the 58 makes for a great vocal microphone. You need a lot more foam for 57 to use as a vocal microphone. You can unscrew the ball of the 58 to have a 57. Or you can stick a big piece of foam of 57. Either way, there'll also great vocal microphones, drum microphones. And a de facto standard on guitar cabinets of all types.

    Now how does the satisfaction factor play into this all? Not satisfied with your Ampeg? Not satisfied with your bass guitar? Not satisfied trying to listen to your bass guitar on 4 inch speakers powered from 2 W amplifiers? Certainly not until you learn how to record equalize, limit and mix it right. So that your bass guitar sounds like a bass guitar whether it's coming out a 1 inch laptop speaker or a pair of Westlake's with double 15 inch woofers in each box. So that will require good recording, good EQ, good limiting and good levels. Otherwise you'll never be satisfied with anything that you ever get from an equipment standpoint. You've already got the superior front end on that Ampeg. Nothing else can match or touch that. Other things can only imitate or emulate. Sort of like knowing you've not got what it takes without a little blue pill. When half the time the problem is in the bighead and not the little head. Sometimes a placebo will work just as well. And it away, that DI input on your computer audio interface is something of a placebo. While it actually does what it's supposed to do it won't necessarily make you the man that you could be in your mixing and recording skills. And that's why you have that Ampeg, to give your bass guitar some balls. You like balls don't you? You've got a couple with you most of the time? And then you've got that big one. And that's what you want to sound like. Big balls instead of Needle Dick and the Bug Fuguer's. And that's what bass is all about... baby.

    I want BIG. (Sound that is... )
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  12. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    You don't need a a DI. You already have one.

    Your amp already has a balanced ( XLR) output. Plug an XLR cable into your amp's output and run it to the input of your Fast Track. You are now "DI'd".

    DI means "direct injection/input". It's simply a way to get your instrument into a mixing device, and in your case, the mixing device is your computer, or, to convert an unbalanced line to a balanced one.

    Although, again, with that Ampeg, you should consider also miking the speaker as well.
  13. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Pause a moment and consider the type of cable you would need. The only user manual I have been able to find on the Ampeg BA115T shows the line out as an XLR jack, along with the description "balanced", whereas in the signal flow diagram later in the manual it shows the line out as an unbalanced phone jack. The signal level is given as 125mV, without saying whether that is a typical or a max pre-clip.

    You will have to tell us what connector you have on your amp, and whether the manual that came with the amp is more explicit about the signal characteristics at the line out connector. If it's an XLR and you are going to use a lead to go into the unbalanced jack input of the combo connectors on the FTP front panel (switched to "line" level), you need a correctly wired unbalanced XLR-TS jack cable.
  14. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Its XLR, Bos. I looked it up as I was curious myself.


    The Fast Track that he mentioned as his Audio I/O accepts XLR as well.

    Attached Files:

  15. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The likely interpretation of the Ampeg signal flow diagram showing the line out as a TS jack symbol with resistor to ground from the sleeve is that it's a single-ended signal on the +ve output with an impedance-matching resistor on the -ve output. This arrangement is colloquially known by various names such as "pseudo-balanced" or "impedance-balanced".

    If the choice had to be a standard cable, an XLR(F) to TRS lead would be best. I would actively avoid feeding the Ampeg output (or any non-microphone signal) into the XLR section of the combo input on the FTP, both in the interests of avoiding first-stage overload but more to protect against inadvertent application of the FTP's phantom power button. I doubt the Ampeg's line output is transformer-coupled.
  16. BuzzBass

    BuzzBass Active Member

    All good by line i meant XLR, it's just that my english is bad and it takes me an hour to read and fully understand your answers.

    - And yeah ,I'm going to learn a bit of mastering,mixing,EQing,Limiting and Compressing. I don't know how, but I'll do it because I understand this is very important

    I got everything I needed now, thanks to all of you !
  17. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    LOL... that one made me laugh.

    I'm gonna steal that one. ;)
  18. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    That good XLR cable you're talking about may actually not be the correct cable to use here? That's because, when you plug into your XLR input, there is an extra stage of pre-amplification that you don't want, don't need.

    So if that output is XLR? You still need to go to the 1/4 inch input on your computer audio interface, not the XLR. And you don't want to do that using a direct box/DI. And especially, not an active DI because they are only a single direction device. You could use a transformer DI but this will boost the signal yet another 10 DB which will take your average +4 output up to +14. Which is more than 65 DB too high for an XLR microphone input. So don't go there. Don't do that.

    You could however utilize a transformer DI box, run backwards. Which would mean, you would also need a female XLR to female XLR barrel adapter. You would then take your XLR output from your mixer, plug that into the female to female sex changer and into the XLR on the transformer direct box. He would then take the 1/4 inch output, to your 1/4 inch input on your computer audio interface. The direct box will then knock down the level by 10 DB instead of increasing it by 10 DB. And you will also have a ground lift switch on that DI box which helps to prevent any possible ground loop issues. And some of them also have pad switches on them to prevent saturating the DI box transformer. And that DI box will be placed right there at your computer audio interface and not halfway across the room with a long 1/4 inch to 1/4 inch guitar cable. No.

    So you sort of have everything you need but you sort of don't. You're still going to have problems if you don't understand the correct technical way to go about this.

    Yes, I am sorry that you're having problems with English. I guess you have been raised in a very staunch and strict French-Canadian household? And I know that's a difficult position for you to be in as I also can't speak French worth a damn myself. So every time I go to Montréal for a convention and people look at my first name, they immediately start talking to me in French. And all I can say in French is that I do not speak French. And I too find it quite frustrating when I used to go into Canada all the time, or I really loved Montréal and could barely communicate with people. I actually got into a strictly French-Canadian only nightclub back in 1978. The doorman would greet you before you went in by speaking to you and asking you a question in French. I had no idea what he was asking me? But I responded with a resounding OUI. And so they thought I was a French speaker. Until he introduced me to the bartender and the bartender asked me for my order, I guess? And then all hell broke loose when I said " I'd like to have a whiskey sour ", in English. LMAO.

    Everybody thinks I'm French with his first name I have LOL.
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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