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REcording Direct Bass... butter or not?

Discussion in 'Bass' started by LeroyGodspeed, Feb 16, 2005.

  1. When it comes to bass, aka the rhythmic foundation of a tune... aka the only element you can feel down in your... well... you know what i mean.

    What do you think is the best way to capture it Direct? Perhaps through something like a SansAmp Dirct box? or running through a guitar emulation plug-in like Amplitube? Are insane EQ's often necessary? or is direct just an utter waist of time... and micing a bass cab is the way to go...

    I suppose of course the type of bass your looking for is the question... I am looking for a fat, hard rock tone... or even the psuedo-synthetic feel found in electronic music...

    any thoughts?
  2. Randyman...

    Randyman... Well-Known Member

    Jun 1, 2003
    Houston, TX
    We finally laid a few tracks with my band through my new Avalon U5 DI box. Bass player uses an American Jazz, and plays with a pick - so he needs a bit of "beef". I used EQ preset #1 on the DI Outs, and also fed the Bass Rig off this EQ'ed signal.

    I always like te be flexible at mixdown-time (What little mixing I do), so I "mult" the bass while tracking. I took the "Line" out of the U-5 into an Aphex 661 Expressor (to the AD), took the U5's "Mic" out into an HHB Classic 80 Tube Mic Pre mildly saturated (to the AD), and also used the U-5 as a pre-amp to the bass player's SWR/Ampeg rig. Then I mic'ed the 4x10" cab @ 6" with an Audix D-4 into an API Pre Clone (to the AD), and @ 18" with a GT-55 LDC into the other side of the HHB Classic 80 (to the AD).

    My bass player was was pleased (as was I ;) ), and I have many options at mix time. That's my easy insurance w/o re-amping or fussing too much with analog insert loops on a DAW. I'll still use analog insert loops @ mix time when needed. Plug-in effects/Amp Modeling can also be a great tool if used wisely. I like "The Real Deal" :cool:

  3. ChrisMorrow

    ChrisMorrow Guest

    i think if you have the inputs/tracks it's well worth recording both the direct and the amp at the same time. being able to adjust the clarity with the di versus the woolyness from the amp gives a lot more control in mixing.

    as far as a hard rock sound

    i really think the bass/strings/pickups/playing are soooo important (unless you are going for a lo-fi thing, which it doesn't seem like), so much of the signal (especially the di) relies on it and it's not like guitar where the amp adds a ton of tone. maybe that sounds a bit too obvious, but it gets really crappy to start having to add body, or sub or clarity into a bass sound.

    i think flat wounds sound much better, especially if the player is hard on the strings or using a pick.
    i heard the sansamp was really good, but then i heard better things about the avalon.
    the bass pod seems to have cool synthy stuff for bass, one of the settings blew the speakers on an amp over here.

    hope this helps/makes sense (its late.. . .
  4. audiofreqs

    audiofreqs Guest

    anybody have any experience with the alesis subharmonic synthesizer?
  5. BenLindell

    BenLindell Guest


    Being a bassist, i love the mix of direct from my sansamp bass driver, and a mic or two on my bass cab. My philosphy, if you can afford the tracks, use them, and give yourself the options latter on. The Sansamp sounds great, I never record without it, i personally havent found amplitube all that great for bass sounds, but thats me.

  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    I take a direct off my SWR Studio 300 and at times I will mic the cabs too ... it depends. The 300 is a bi amp rig so when I mic it, the best results I have got was with a 4033 on the 2 -10 cab and a D112 or a U87 on the 15 cab.

    But I rarely bother, especially in live tracking situations where spill might be an issue. I hate turning up the bass and hearing more guitar and drums. This can really be a problem when you want to compress the bass. If you really need it, you can always re amp later.

    For the most part, the DI works fine, if you are using decent mic / line pres to start with. A lot of what has been described previously sounds a bit over involved to me, like it would take so long to set up that all the spontaneity would be diminished. I prefer to work fast and keep things as fresh and simple as possible because to my ear that's what sounds the best. Less is more. Performance is more important than anything else.

    Remember, processing gear never improves the quality of a signal ... it only makes it different while degrading it at the same time. Sometimes different isn't really better, it's just different.
  7. Randyman...

    Randyman... Well-Known Member

    Jun 1, 2003
    Houston, TX
    I'd assume the "Less is more" was directed at me ;) . Agreed, but I would say the U5 has to be at the top of the "doesn't improve" the sound list - but it sure comes close :) (a great unit IMO). I'd say it IS better sounding than plugging into a Line input of incorrect impedance, but that is obvious (but DOES make the bass sound "better" in this case, correct ? ;) ).

    I had all of this set up before my Bass Player arrived, and I needed to get a feel for my new gear (First time to experiment with most of it) - what works, what sounds like what, etc. Opposed to patching up all of my portable gear for mix-down time, I opted to record 4 different paths to 4 different tracks. Now, I can listen, and see what unit did what to the sound, and store that in my memory for future applications (w/o hooking up TONS of stuff for a quick mix and comparison of my outboard gear). Once I decide what track(s) I'm keeping, the unused tracks are removed from the session (but kept for archiving). Sometimes, if the player is NOT of 100% consistent "Pro" quality, help from our end is needed IMO (I'm not tracking national acts, just local "Joe Blows" who have day jobs.).

    Point taken, Kurt - just thought I'd share my motives (discovering my new gear's appropriate applications). That said, I really like my U5 :cool: .

  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Same here I wasn't directing that at you alone ... a lot of people do stuff like that all the time. .... and please don't take it that I am critisizing your approach ... not at all ... I have gone to even further extreems at times. I am only sharing my approach as well.

    I would agree with your observations as to the U5 as well .... far better to use a quality pre amp / di than to go through a line input on a mixer ... I would however go straight from the Avalon to the recorder.
  9. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    The U5 rocks.And use whatever gets you where you want to go.The Aphex is a very nice 'secret weapon' for bass.
  10. DaveRunyan

    DaveRunyan Active Member

    Dec 13, 2004
    First off I am a bass player! In recording many bass parts now both live and in a studio setting I have discovered something that I never would have thought of. A lot of the bass players I have recorded don't seem to have their guitars set up as nicely as guitarists generally do. (I know that is an unfair generalization) The bridge intonation has been kind of whacked quite often. Open strings perfectly in tune but halfway up the neck it goes out just enough to sound kind of wrong. It took me a while to figure out what was going on. I started auto tuning bass parts and a lot of low frequency funkiness simply went away. It's just another thought of why a bass may not sit in a mix well.
  11. rudedogg

    rudedogg Guest

    <disclaimer> i am a bass player as well.</disclaimer>

    i think the most important thing for tracking bass is the bass guitar itself. my '74 fender p bass sounds great no matter what we throw it through. i mainly record rock/pop. but my standard method of tracking bass is putting it directly into my lowest noise preamp (this is not that big of deal cause the old fender can be a bit noisey) and record 1 channel direct, and then put up a mic right on the grill.

    i use the di to capture the lows and high mids, and i use the mic to capture more of the mids, and try to get a good blend of highs. this ends up giving me of a very natural sound, like im standing right there.

    when mixing i will compress it to taste, and then eq and maybe get a little grit thru the amplitube if necessary. also, recording a vintage 70s SVT head doesn't hurt either. :)

    good luck, i can't wait to get my hands on the u5 and see what the hype is about.


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