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Recording equipment help - how to improve my sound?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by achase4u, Sep 28, 2009.

  1. achase4u

    achase4u Active Member

    I went from a pg57 mic, into behringer mixer pres, into my PC's creative sound blaster audigy -

    then upgraded to an sm 57/cascade fathead, going into an m-audio dmp-3 preamp, into an m-audio audiophile 192 on my pc.

    I heard some improvement, but not much. My sound, to me, is still way worse than alot of guys recordings I hear - not even pro.

    Im just trying to find out which part I should upgrade. Is there good converters/interfaces for 400 out there?

    What part do I need to upgrade to get a significantly better sound?

    To me, my sound gets kind of lost in the mix, the more tracks I put on.

    Its also just kind of plasticy sounding - not enough detail...

    Thank in advance...
  2. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Hey, welcome to the forums :D

    Your mics are solid, no need for upgrade there, but I would take a second look at the m-audio audiophile interface. Not that it's bad mind you, but it is the weakest link in the chain. i.e. your mics are a 6-7 and the interface is a 3, not good. A good mic interface needs knobs... and at least an XLR input? which I don't see on the product's description.

    Before you go putting money down (save it for a last resort) can you explain how you get the sound to disc and what, if anything, you do to it afterwards?
  3. achase4u

    achase4u Active Member

    Thanks for the welcome message!

    Well, basically I have the m-audio dmp-3 preamp for my mics - the xlr's go into it, and it has line out, which goes into the line in of the interface. So the interface really is just there for the AD/DA conversion, and to playback audio on the pc as its a PCI card.

    Basically, I just set the preamp level so it almost peaks, but doesnt - and I record in my DAW(reaper) using the audiophile 192 as the interface.

    BTW most of the time Im recording my Fender deluxe reverb reissue amp.

    So - once its in the daw, I just listen back that way.

    Sometimes I add a little bit of compression, maybe a little reverb. Thats really it. Hardly ever EQ

    Ive EQ'd, comp'd, reverb'd myself to death, and I just cant get the sound I want...

    Then I mixdown to 192bit mp3 or wav.
  4. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Can I hear something that you have recorded?
  5. achase4u

    achase4u Active Member

    http://soundclick.com/share?songid=...ass was recorded with the method I mentioned.
  6. achase4u

    achase4u Active Member


    Thats one that doesnt have any effect after ward. Sounded alot better in the room to me.
  7. achase4u

    achase4u Active Member

    heres one by a guy - Jack Devine

    His sound is sick IMO.

    He said he used a great river(always helps I bet) and a 57 on a deluxe reverb.

    I just hear alot better sound and detail...

  8. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    I love the LR echo, very well done. Now what dissatisfies you about the tone? Is it the clean tone, the lead tone or the slightly edgier fuzz tone?
  9. achase4u

    achase4u Active Member

    The clean tone/clean lead is mostly what I dont like.

    Thanks btw

    It just doesnt hit me in the ears with the dynamics and detail I would like... seems kind of thinned down from what I hear in the room.
  10. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Where on the speaker cone do you mic?
  11. achase4u

    achase4u Active Member

    Tons of different spots - I usually mess with that alot before I start recording any given track.

    Sometimes its angled in, sometimes angled out, sometimes straight in but between the center and edge... sometimes backed off a couple feet. Ive even gone from behind the cab, and side - tried lots of different ones.
  12. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Hmm, the track with the tele sounds like it could have been moved further off center to add some body. What tubes do you have in your amp? New/Old?
  13. achase4u

    achase4u Active Member

    Cant remember what tubes were in it when I recorded the tele, but about 3 months ago I put in tung sol 12ax7s and loved the change. Just still not in love with the recorded tones.

    Do you know what it is that makes Jack's recordings sound better? I guess hes probably got better gear, save for the sm57... they just have so much depth and detail. They stick out on the track without being too loud...
  14. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Tung-Sol's are great tubes, a bit bitey though, lots of gain. I didn't expect you to like them for this style of music though. I would have recommended Mullard 12ax7's for you, it's got the same open presence as the Tung-Sol except a little less bite and about 25% less gain.

    From listening to his sound clips it sounds like he recorded the guitar track with the amp a good deal louder. You can tell that when he digs in it gets fuzzy and when he backs off it cleans up. Try getting your amp settings to that *sweet spot* and then recording it.
  15. achase4u

    achase4u Active Member

    I'll give that a try. I also realize hes got much nicer stuff though - like the great river pre - Im not sure what interface or converters he has.

    So the Mullards are less gainy huh? Thats interesting. I might try some.

    I need to try some different 6v6's too...
  16. achase4u

    achase4u Active Member

    do you have any recordings I can hear?
  17. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Nothing in your style. My cab needs an upgrade big time, sounds cheap and plastic, but my wallet is tight at the moment.

    I am going to re-record this hopefully soon

    Here is a nice clean number, again not finished

    And my myspace has a bunch of fun stuff :D
  18. achase4u

    achase4u Active Member

    Sweet! Sounds good!
  19. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Gf "Your mics are solid, no need for upgrade there, but I would take a second look at the m-audio audiophile interface. Not that it's bad mind you, but it is the weakest link in the chain. i.e. your mics are a 6-7 and the interface is a 3, not good. A good mic interface needs knobs... and at least an XLR input? which I don't see on the product's description."

    These two units IMO are as good as any mid range interface on the market. The audiophile is basically an A/D/A converter and the preamp has the "knobs" GF is talking about as well as XLR inputs. You should be able to get reasonable results with these units.

    Would you get better results with a Great River and possibly a better converter? Yes but with an investment of about $1500 or more. There are a lot of very good guitar recordings being done with equipment similar to what you have.

    You may have gain staging issues, I don't know, what levels are you getting in the DAW during recording? I don't use Reaper but in Cubase you can check incoming levels. While setting the preamp to just below peaking is a beginning what you really want to set is the level that your DAW is recording at, good signal with plenty of headroom.

    Some other suggestions are (and sorry but I can't listen to your samples on this computer.)

    Set up a test recording session. Track the same musical passage in each test as if you were doubling the recording, each in a different track.
    Start with the 57 just off center 3"-4" away. Then tweak the tone controls of the amp and listen to a/b/c etc. Try and identify what you like or dislike about the sound, remember in close mic recording the mic is "hearing" the speaker more than the room so the settings that sound good in the room may not be best for the recording. Play with the amp gain usually turning down can be helpful but if you are not getting a good sound from the amp then you need that first and foremost. Try recording with and without reverb. Are you using any pedals? Because they can be a major tone suck more evident during recording. Get the amp up off the floor. Once you have a tone that you think is best then try the same tests with mics and placements. You need to do this as scientifically as possible and come back to listening to the recordings again side by side (A/B) with fresh ears (another day) until you "dial in" the best sound. While this process is time consuming once you have found the right set up you will be able to recreate it at will.

    I will try and listen to the recordings later today but that will be on a pair of computer speakers which brings up the issue of what is it that you are monitoring with?
  20. achase4u

    achase4u Active Member

    I see I see. So I guess I need to learn how to use my stuff better.

    Ive really exhausted myself with mic placement...

    In my DAW - Im getting probably up to -2.0 db just before peaking basically.

    Whats gain staging?

    I dont use pedals most of the time. I usually tweak the amp so it sounds best on recording...

    I have no monitors - Im listening with sennheiser hd497 headphones. Though they arent that good, I can hear the quality of other tracks that I feel is lacking in mine.

    So what does one do with a guitar track normally? For a clean track, like on Jack Devines stuff.

    Would you add mild comp, or alot? Would you add reverb? Multiple reverbs? Im just not sure, but I can hear every detail in his tracks, its fantastic sounding to me...

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