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That Professional Sound.

Discussion in 'Recording' started by bornintheblues, Jul 12, 2007.

  1. JesterMasque

    JesterMasque Active Member

    Here is what I have found over my years of working through the crap of owning a home studio:

    Quality mic pre's and convertersare ESSENTIAL to a quality (or as you call it professional) sound.

    What model mic's are you using? What kind of amp/speaker setup?
     
  2. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    No offense, but if you don't know what mic preamps and compressors are, then no wonder you don't get a professional sound.
    Use the search function of this forum and learn what preamps and compressors are and how to use them (EQ's and reverb too), because they're essential to a good and professional sound. Your 8-track recorder should have all the effects needed, since they claim that there's everything you need to mix and master.
    And stay away from effects called "full", "live" and "warm". I don't know what they do, but they sure mess with all your frequencies.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't want to sound mean, but if you want to achieve a "professional" sound you should really know what you're doing.

    good luck
     
  3. TheBear

    TheBear Guest

    ya dude, its gunna take a lot of practice and a lot of studying to get the sound you want. i have my fair share of shitty recordings and theyre getting better. i dont have money for nice micpre's or anything pretty fancy so i just listen through my headphone mix to see if its the tone i want, i record it, i eq the tracks if need be, then listen to the speakers and then adjust my mix from there. also for your guitar you could also DI ur amp if ur amp allows. maybe u would like that better. just experiment, you'll get it.

    but with all that said, thats just me, you dont have to listen to me jabber on.
     
  4. DIGIT

    DIGIT Guest

    >>.I end up with this garage band sound. <<

    In Los Angeles, that can be worth millions!
     
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hey there bornintheblues! Welcome to RO. You have gotten some good advice so far. Let me add my 2 cents worth.

    Stand back and listen to your amp while you're playing. Do you REALLY hear the sound you want coming out of your amp? If no, then no amount of tweaking during the recording phase will help you. Only getting the tone right to begin with will help.

    More on that in a minute (or peppered all through I should say). Mainly, the reason that folks get a "garage band" sound (and I know EXACTLY what you're talking about) is because they record in the acoustical equivalent of a garage. In other words, the environment in which you record is not suited for recording. Even close miking, you'll find that the room plays a vital role in the sound of the recording. Baffling and "gobo-ing" will help to a degree, but only so much. (These two terms basically refer to temporarily isolating your sound through the use of movable acoustic absorption devices such as moving blankets on stands or devices designed for such purpose).

    Not that important at the moment...


    Refer to question 1. If you like the sound coming out of the amp, don't mess with the amp. However, if the sound coming out of the amp is good, the only thing to mess with (and I mean ONLY) is the placement of the microphone. As much as you might want to, DO NOT reach for EQ or effects to get a different sound. EQ and Effects are used to create a special sound, not correct a bad one!

    Try moving the mic all over the place - closer to the cone, farther away from the cone, more towards the dust cap, more towards the surround. Typically, a condenser mic is NOT the best choice for recording guitars through the amp. Usually a dynamic is the best choice. (Shure SM57 seems to be the venerable choice for most folks though it's not my first choice.) If you don't have one, borrow or buy one. It's a worth while investment!

    As mentioned by another poster - don't resort to effects with such vague names. If you don't know what it's doing to your mix, you should never use it.

    In addition, as I mentioned above - effects should never be used to *CORRECT* a sound. They should only be used to achieve a desired sound different than that possible with just mic and instrument alone. In other words - if your recording of an acoustic guitar doesn't sound right, don't try to fix it by EQing it and compressing it. Move the microphone until it sounds right. Always look to the source though. Does the source sound right? If the answer is "no" then no amount of tweaking in the world to the mic placement, EQ, compressor or other vague effects will fix this.

    If you're spending hours at the computer, then you're spending the wrong amount of time at the wrong part of the recording chain. You must get the mics right at the point at which they're picking up the sound.


    Trust these individuals, they know what they're talking about. Some engineers buy some gear, record some people and think they are now recording engineers. These are not the people to go to. (You know how you can tell? If they put up a mic in front of your instrument and then walk back to the control room and you never see them again except for through the glass. This guy would be a clueless engineer. Also, if you hear him/her make the statement "We'll fix it in the mix." These kinds of folks are dumbasses and not engineers. Move on to the next studio.)

    The people/person who said this = DUMBASS. Using a software package (let alone a specific one) will not make your mixes better.

    No. Editing is for splicing and trimming.

    Where are you located? Perhaps one of the seasoned veterans on the board can help you personally if they're close by.

    I would even go as far as to say that mediocre quality would be acceptable. The Mackie VLZ is a perfect example. It's not great, but it is certainly capable of a hit album

    You have them. All mics require mic preamps. Your Zoom recorder has them built in. The problem is they suck. (Sorry - just a fact). They're designed for lo-fi recordings at best. A good outboard pre is well worth the investment, however, not if you're using the Zoom as your recording device as the inputs are linked to the mic pres and you would only be sending "good" through "bad." This doesn't work so well.

    As for the compressor - honestly it's best if you don't have one. I don't mean this as an insult - a compressor is a wonderful tool. However, if used improperly, it's the most awful thing you can do to a mix. That being said, I'd guess that 85% or more of the people that have a compressor don't know how to use it properly.

    Honestly, your best bet, if you want a professional sound, is to go to a professional.

    You simply cannot get a pro sound in an untreated acoustical environment with budget gear. I have a small studio (capable of a "professional sound") and I have a little over $150,000 in gear (I only know this b/c I just had to write up paperwork for tax assessment and for insurance purposes). With all that gear, I'm only about 1/3 to 1/4 where I'd like to be! Also, I've trained extensively as a musician and as an engineer through college and privately. It's because of the latter why I can get a professional sound - 20 years of training helps. I'll admit, I'm rather young, so when I started recording 20 years ago, I was a child and was merely playing. However, it was the start of something much bigger.

    My advice would be -

    If you want a professional sound, go to a professional. Not a "psuedo-professional" (the guys who own studios but really have no clue what they're doing - they just like pushing buttons and smoking pot), but a real professional. A guy/gal who takes immense pride in their work, their craft and their education and will *work* to get a good sound. (The flip side of that coin is, you have to be a professional or act as one to get that kind of treatment from a pro. If the instruments don't sound good going in, no pro can get you a pro sound.)

    If you want to record yourself and get a pro sound....the advice is a little harder to swallow. You'll have to invest time and money. The time will come from the education and training aspect. You can "train from home" by reading as much as possible (here on RO or other similar boards or in books and magazines). Then, take those lessons learned and apply them with years and years of practice. Then and only then will you be able to be informed enough to know what hardware/software to buy and why you are buying it. Then and only then will you get a professional sound.

    It's a difficult answer to swallow and I've obviously wasted up a lot of digital ink to tell it to you. Please don't shoot the messenger and again, welcome.

    Cheers!

    Jeremy
     
  6. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    No sir, it is as common as rain the world over.

    The guy running the studio where ever you decide to get recorded at is most likely the only player in his band as well:)
     
  7. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    Dude, I don't have a band either, do everything myself. I know it's not professional quality like you're looking for, and I don't mean to be bragging about myself or anything, but listen to my song and see the quality that you can get. It's not pro but definitely listenable. $150 for equipment, recorded right in my room. Once you get used to using stuff you can get a lot out of it.
     
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    One approach to take when working with your Zoom is to ignore the tone and just worry about the song. Use the Zoom to work out parts and arrangements. That way you are using your time at home to experiment musically, and when you get to a real studio all of the practice is done and you can just get a good sound recorded. If you are well rehearsed and have your ideas worked out, pro studio time is not that expensive.

    Of course, as you work with the Zoom you will probably get better at recording. You may want to spend some money on better recording gear as you learn more. But one thing you will notice from reading this and other forums - you can't save money by buying recording equipment and recording your own music. In every case I've ever known, when there is one musician/band involved you can get better results for less money by using a professional studio. The only reason to buy good recording equipment is that you are interested in recording for its own sake.
     
  9. bwmac

    bwmac Active Member

    I would say don't give up.
    I have used apex mics and that large con. 435 is the wrong choice.
    Grap a cheap dynamic mic at the music store (or borrow one) and compair them.
    hang the mic over the amp so its against the grill (play with position later) and put a pillow against it to stop the back slap reverb. Oh turn the amp reverb off.
    See if this helps.
    But keep at it and come back in a month and
    tell us how you did it.
    DONT GIVE UP.
    If you hit a dead end come ask again
     
  10. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    As Jeremy eluded too and BobRoger said Practice! Having the zoom is a great asset, everyone here had to start somewhere. As you get better you can afford better tools. Now is the time to learn and make mistakes. Those Apex 435s can work wonders if you learn how to coax them a little.

    As for compressors, Jeremy is right they can do awful things to a track, but you know what.... go do awful things, make mistakes and learn. Read what you can get your hands on...this forum has lots of info just serch around.

    Go have fun, blow things things up, destroy songs, and learn why. That way you will earn your 20 years expierence.
     
  11. bwmac

    bwmac Active Member

     
  12. bwmac

    bwmac Active Member


    Thats it, like he said :D
     
  13. peterhunt

    peterhunt Guest

    I used to have the problem where the final product in the headphones sounds totally different from when you play it in the car,

    The problem is that you don't have an accurate monitoring system. You're probably just using regular old headphones. The Right Thing To Do is to throw a couple hundred dollars towards real studio monitors. What's cheaper, not quite as good, but good enough for MySpace is to buy headphones with a reasonably flat frequency response. I chose the Sennheiser HD280 PRO ($100). I'm sure people will make fun of me for using them, but they work OK for me (then again, I try to get by on as little money spent as possible).

    I think if you get a decent monitoring setup, a lot of your problems will go away. You can monitor your guitar amp as you move your mics around to really hear what sound you'll be getting rather than just guessing. You still won't get the professional sheen, but you will get something thats worth listening to.

    Try throwing $100 at this problem before dropping more on nice mic pre's and expensive microphones (the SM57 is a MUST HAVE, however).
     
  14. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Not really sure the problem is mix translation, but regardless you have to get to know your monitors. The only way to do so is test a mix on as many different systems as you can. Take careful notes, and remix to find the average mix that translates to most systems. Thats to goal, but after a while you will get to know your monitors and mix according. Nice monitors help, but you still have to do your due diligence and test the mix out before commiting to it.
     
  15. peterhunt

    peterhunt Guest

    I've found it a good idea to listen to songs similar to what you're recording on your monitoring setup with no EQ to get the feel of how it should sound.
     
  16. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    It appears bornintheblue got pissed off and deleted his/her content in the threads. I've since been asked to remove this entire topic by bornintheblue. This explains what happened.
     
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