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Recording suggestions

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Metalguy, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. Metalguy

    Metalguy Guest

    Hi everyone, Let me first state I have practically zero recording experience other than the few takes I have done recently. I am looking for some basic advice to make at least a decent demo/rough draft until we can scrape up some money to have a professional handle it. We have some of our stuff uploaded here http://www.myspace.com/massacrewithinband so you can get a jist of what the style is like at least. Anyway I have been googling my butt off in order to get a better understanding of how to do this and get a decent mix going.

    One problem(at least I think) is we're using an old fostex x-16 4-track and it only has one mic input so my first couple question are in regards to drums and those questions are.

    1. Is there a way to splice multiple mics into the single input and if so is it worth pursuing or not really? It seems like most studio drum set ups I have looked at have 5+ mics going at the same time.

    2. If not what's a good way(if any) to get a decent drum take with only one mic(shure 58 ) to work with?

    My next few questions are in regards to guitars/bass.

    From what I have gathered through searching the internet is the general rule of thumb is to do 2 seperate guitar tracks with different eq, amp, guitar, etc and pan each one somewhat left and the other to the right but not full left or right. I am wondering if this is a good guide to follow or if there may be other suggestions for doing so?

    I have also heard about doing 4 seperate guitar tracks and doing similar as above, is this generally a good idea or just a waste of time/tracks?

    The music is made with only one guitarist in mind so I don't want to overdub to much and make the songs impossible to play live, even though the riffs are fairly basic I can't sound like 3+ of me live :lol: I mainly just want to "beef up" the sound and get a harder hitting sound from the guitars than we currently have available.

    Also from what I have gathered it seems that the bass should be done only once and no doubling should be done. Is this generally correct?

    My next couple of questions are in regards to the vox, although we haven't really did much with vox other than a basic guideline for the rhythms, rough draft lyrics, etc we do plan to do something more solid a little later today.

    My questions pertaining to vocals are.

    1. Should I allow a little red for the vocals(+3 or so)? The one problem I have with vocals(aside from being a terrible producer :) ) is that when I mix on the x-12 and play it back through a monitor(an old 25watt radioshack keyboard amp) the vox seem too low in the mix. There are times where it is more normalized which leads to my next question.

    2. Do I need to have the vocalist try to sing/scream at the exact same volume for the whole song or have the mic recording from a distance(like mic'ing the amps) or should I not worry so much about the varying levels and just try to patch it up with a compressor/limiter?

    And 1 last question in regards to bouncing tracks, I am still a little unsure of how that works, and how much post-editing I will be able to apply to a track that has multiple tracks merged into one. I have just been recording 1 track for everything(due to the limited space on a 4-track.), any tips on bouncing tracks would be greatly appreciated. Also, is it possible to bounce tracks to a computer instead of a tape deck and then put the mixed tracks back onto the 4-track or should I just stick with using a stereo?

    Well those are my basic Q's for now, I am sure there's quite a bit of questions there so some answers to any of these questions would be a great deal of help.

    Thanks,
    Mike
     
  2. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    Thanks for all the information. Data filled posts like this are easier to answer.
    You would need a mixer. $100 will get you a small one. The recorderman technique uses just two microphones and gives a nice sound. One microphone is going to be difficult, but somewhere in front of the kit has worked for me in a pinch. Make sure you have a good kick and snare balance, and that the cymbals are not too loud.
    Yes, this is called double tracking. It works best if your time is really tight. Sloppy playing gets exaggerated using this method. Generally the more tracks you can layer the bigger as long as it doesn't get loose. Live and recorded are two different things. Don't worry about your recording sounding like your live performance.
    Red is never good IMHO. Lower the other parts, and compress the vocals. Boost the presence.
    Vocal tone is more important than volume. If screaming the whole song gives you the right tone, then that is what you have to do. However screaming is a great way to destroy your voice permanently, so I can't say I endorse it. To exaggerate, you can't make a whisper song like a scream by raising the volume.
    Editing: none. A little EQ may help, but that's about it.

    I would recommend saving your cash and getting some studio time once you have your songs down. Call around and get some quotes. When compared to the amount of gear you would have to buy to get a decent recording it's really more economical to go to a studio.
     
  3. Metalguy

    Metalguy Guest

    Ok, I know the last time I did the drum track I had it about 3-4ft in front of the kit aimed slightly downwards(when it was aimed level, or from other positions the toms/snare/cymbals were fine but the kicks were pretty non-existant) I guess it's just going to be tough to get a decent drum track with just one mic. I'll have to get a small mixer today.

    Gotcha, I'll have to fiddle around with that later today.

    Ok so my goal would be to keep everything at/near 0db correct?

    Ok, gotcha. Well I know our vocalist really just sings/screams from his chest/stomach and doesn't really strain his vocal chords per-se. I have seen what super harsh screaming can do to ones vocals permenantly. I know a fairly popular band avenge sevenfold's vocalist injured his voice quite bad although the vocals did have a nice hard edge to them. I am pretty sure Chino from the Deftones hurt his voice pretty good(just listen to the song "Elite" , my vocal chords cringe just listening to it!). We've been try to keep the sensitivity for the mic/line input kinda high just so he won't have to really strain, but I know for the recording we have posted up it was kinda low which honestly ruined the take, but we do try to keep our vocalist safe in that regard.

    That's what I figured, So do you think bouncing tracks is really worth it or should we try to get an 8 or more track recorder and skip merging multiple tracks?

    That's definitely what we want to do. We would like to get a quasi-presentable rough demo on our own first however, We won't be looking to spend a fortune on doing on our own, but I don't think picking a few extra pieces of gear will hurt us too bad, plus you can never have too much gear right! :p I have definitely learned from your reply and I thank you for sharing your insight. This will help us out for sure in working on our project.

    Thanks again,
    Mike
     
  4. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    To get things to play with each other it's common to have the guitar peaking at -10dB and the vocals near 0dB. Even with this wide spread in peak level, they may sound balanced. Essentially you just don't want anything to go over 0dB.
    If you have a lap top, or can record near a computer, I recommend getting an 8 channel USB interface such as the Presonus Fire Pod and use the software that it comes with it. Software is much more flexible than a multitrack recorder. You also don't need a mixer if you go that route. And they probably have something similar at the local music store.
     
  5. Metalguy

    Metalguy Guest

    Ok, I'll have to try that also. I know I did the guitars around 0db or just slightly over(the meter would ocasionally flicker red for a quick second) and our drummer had a hard time hearing the guitars during his turn. We are picking up a berhinger HA400 headphone amplifier so that should help. -10db seems really low, but I am pretty sure you know what you're talking about so I'll experiment with that tonight.

    Do you have any advice on where the drums should max out? I am guessing somewhere near what the guitars would be at(around -10db) correct?

    That's a problem at the moment as I don't have a laptop, I do have a regular tower PC with Audacity on it(that's what I've been using to do the final mixing on), but I have no serious software or VST plug-ins to throw on it.

    I will have to check out the music store and see what they got for mini-mixers for sure though. Right now for us, analog is our best bet, especially since we record/practice in a pretty cold garage. It has a wood burning stove, but it takes a while to heat up and I can't risk my only PC getting trashed from the cold.
     
  6. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    For tracking you want your levels peaking at about -6dB so you have some head room. When you are mixing you could have a big gap from vocals to guitar. That is where the -10dB comes into play. Sorry that was not clear before.
     
  7. Metalguy

    Metalguy Guest

    Ok just want to make sure I have this straight. All the tracks "Combined" should not hit over 0db correct?
     
  8. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    Oooohh The X12. I was thinking the MR series! Because that is tape based you actually probably want to push it a little. Drums touching +6 red is ok for hard hits, everything else should be about +3 for loud parts when tracking. The whole mix should be at about +3.
     
  9. Metalguy

    Metalguy Guest

    Oh ok cool, I'll experiment with that tommorow. Yeah we use the old analog cassette tapes lol.

    I did use your suggestion earlier about keeping it around -10db and actually thought it sounded way smoother than previously, especially on the drums. I know the toms didn't have that bassed-out muffled sound like before and nothing got over 0db(it stayed mainly around -10/-6 range, with an ocasional peak at 0db during fills, hard cymbal hits, etc. Overall I thought it sounded much better than our previous efforts. We are going to work on getting a better recording of one of our songs tommorow.

    Thanks for all your help,
    Mike
     
  10. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    Nice! When you run below 0dB on a cassette deck you get a truer representation of the sound, but you get more hiss. Sounds like you have found a trade off that works for you.
     

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