1. Register NOW and become part of this fantastic knowledge base forum! This message will go away once you have registered.

This is going to be interesting...

Discussion in 'Recording' started by gonefishin, Jan 13, 2004.

  1. gonefishin

    gonefishin Guest

    Hello everyone,
    I'm not sure which forum would be most appropriate for me to post in. I read thru most of the forums and thought the " Small Steps " forum suited my intentions the best. Why? I suppose because I'm here to learn.

    This may sound strange, but I'm not really interested in making my own recordings. I've enjoyed music as far back as I can remember and I enjoy listening to music at home. I'm sure it's no surprise to you guys, that there are good and bad recordings out there. Fact is...I really don't know why someone would produce (and sell) some of the recordings that I listen to. I suppose which is what lead me to come here...to find out more about the process that goes into giving me a good product.

    I'd like to learn, not only why bad recordings are made (and sold)...but what makes a good recording good. Sure, I can hear what I believe is a good recording. But I really don't know what effort and techniques have to go into giving me a good product. I appreciate good music...and I appreciate a good recording. But I'm basically ignorant on how you guys get me a good recording. But I would like to learn what care and what thought goes into getting me a good product. How is it done...and what are your concern or compromises?

    I do understand that the opinions (and questions) that I may have, can be viewed as coming from an "outsider"...and that I'm not viewed as one of your peers. As of right now, I do not have an interest in recording my own music. So...

    ...If you feel that I, or my questions, may be outside of the interest of this website or outside of the focus of this website...please, just let me know. I will understand.

  2. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Best way to learn something is to ask questions so ask away.
  3. gonefishin

    gonefishin Guest

    Thank you Thomas :) Right now...I'm still doing a little more reading than writing. But I'll get there ;)

    take care>>>>


    Hey Gonefishin,

    I'm certainly more of a newbie than an expert relative to most of the people on this forum, but may be able to offer some aspects you may not be aware of. I've learned a great deal from this forum and found that people are very willing to answer any question from the most basic to the very complex.

    It sounds as though you're talking about two different things. Good music and good sound. It usually (though there are exceptions) takes both to make a "great" recording. If the music is great but the recording doesn't properly translate or capture what was being played, the intention of the musician doens't always/usually come across to the listener. Alternatively, a so-so song, or bad playing recorded in a top studio usually doesn't translate well. It may be able to decieve you by the initial sonic slickness (pleasing, impressive to listen to - ear candy), but after repeated listens, if the song or performances aren't good you'll realize it's empty.

    So, presumming your questions are more geared toward the technical side of what makes good sound (this being a forum for audio engineers, not songwriters, composers, producers, or performers) here are some of the basic elements that go into more accurately capturing good music:

    - Good musicians and songs
    - Type of Mics (good quality mics are vital)
    - Mic placement (the distance and height from the vocalist, the angle it's placed to an acoustic guitar, etc)
    - Room acoustics (more important than most people realize)
    - Mic preamps (used to power mics)
    - Processors/effects (compressors, EQ, reverb etc)
    - The mixing process (volume levels are balanced, effects can be added, stereo image etc)
    - Mastering (putting together all the songs on the album in order, cleaning up beginning and ends of songs, balancing volume levels from song to song, adjusting overall sound)

    Infront of and behind all of these steps are talented people with years of experience and finely tuned ears that are able to use the equipment and the process to capture and communicate good sound. There are many more aspects that go into good recordings and you can get as scientfic as you want taking about bit depth, dynamic range, acoustical physics, transformers, levels, the list goes on and on.

    So, maybe that list is all things you know already. Sorry if it's all too basic. If not, I hope it gives you a very "just breaking the surface" intro into some things you may not have known.

  5. gonefishin

    gonefishin Guest

    I'm interested in understanding a couple of things. I'd like to learn what effects different recording techniques and/or equipment has on the final sound of the product. I'd also like to know just what the thought process is when a person is recording music. Near as I can tell right now...The recording engineer has his pick of equipment used, mic placement, venue and eq...it seems that if a person isn't careful...he/she could end up doin' a lot of damage.

    This is the type of stuff I was hoping to discuss. I do apologize if this seems rather elementary to some. I'd like to find out just what work goes into all the aspects, of a recording, that you mentioned...and the thought process.

    I may be familiar with some qualities in a recording...but I've always viewed it from a completely different angle than you. I love listening to music and I enjoy my hobby of audio as well.

    I've certainly got my idea of what sounds good to me...and what sounds bad. I suppose my posting here was motivated to find out just why some recordings are recorded like they are. Not just why the bad ones are bad...but why the good ones are good.

    Are there any WAV file samples of various recording techniques? Providing both a good example of the technique and two poor examples of the same.

    Bare with me for the example.

    one set of files could be mic placement.

    Poor sample #1 - mic placement too far wave file

    Poor sample #2 - mic placement too close wave file

    Good sample - proper mic placement

    substitute any and all procedures you feel necessary. proper mic placement, proper phasing, recordings in poor room conditions...good room conditions, hot recordings, dynamic recordings, using the wrong mic for a given situation...etc.

    thanks for listening :)
  6. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Your right. You can do a lot of damage and many who record do. You could even say that doing so is part of the learning to curve to getting good at recording. The exact thought process is likely to be different for each person doing it and that is what makes it a form of art using the tools of science. Your thought process changes over time as you gain experience from failure as well as stumbling onto what works well. Once you have mastered the skills in the use, application and having the in depth knowledge of all of your tools, you will have a vast array of experience to draw from that is also a never ending cycle that takes consistant time and effort if you want to continue on a path of personal and professional growth. From this experience and growth you then can preconcieve what you want to do, how you want to do it, what tools you want to use and start to taylor your artistic end of it to match and complement the musical goals of the song, instruments and the musicians from the very beginning. This is the basic concept of pre-production that many don't bother with or talk much about, but is as important as anything else in the success of the whole recording project.



    Go to the audio projects topic on this site. There people submit their work for review. You can listen to tunes and then read feedback. That'd be a good way to start I would say.



    Gonefishin - another thing you may want to consider is buying some gear and do some experimenting. If you're really interested in learning more even if you don't have the desire to make a living at it, there's much to be learned by just trying some things. Even if you had a very inexpensive set up, you'd quickly notice what it sounds like when the mic is too close, too far, what room is more echoey, what room is sweeter, what input level sounds better, etc. You'll also have more of an appreciation for what goes into good recordings. You'll say, why doesn't mine sound like this or that? And then try different techniques or change the eq to get closer to the desired effect. It's amazing what new things you'll start hearing in recordings you've been familiar with for a long time and some of the things you once thought sounded good, might start to show their short commings. Just a thought.

  9. gonefishin

    gonefishin Guest

    Thanks guys!

    SOUNDman. You bring up some good points...and I will check out the projects page.

    The examples I brought up were just a few examples. I was thinking my examples could be extended into mic placement and techniques. Such as...I've done some reading about using a figure8 mic setup...I could picture this...and have read some basics about it. But what exactly does this mic configuration sound like? and what would it's counter part sound like. What does an improper figure8 set up sound like...and what does a proper one sound like. Are there advantages/disadvantages to using this system in certain situations?

    I have heard recordings where it seemed like it was close mic'd. Or live recording that were in a "live" room. Or some recording where it seemed as tho the final mastering just took a ruler and slid everything on the eq way up...not only taking away from the sound of various instruments...but also left me with little room for dynamics on this recording.

    A popular example of this (in my mind) is the Nora Jones CD. Sure, everything sounds ok...but it seems as tho it's recorded so hot, that it leaves little room for the dynamics in the medium and in the music. Another cd, which I feel is on the other spectrum of this, would be Mapleshade.com recordings. Sometimes it seems like they do have some problems with close mic'ing...or the rooms. But these things seem really inconsequential to the overall recording quality. Everything seems to be fairly well preserved in the music. the tone...the dynamics of the instruments ...Heck...in their live performances ...you can even hear the room in their recordings. I think this is a situation where the pre-plan and fore-thought of the recording process outweighs occasional times that a performer may overload the mic, while he/she leans in a little too close while belting out a song or two.

    I think I may be having some troubles communicating what exactly I'm trying to say. You are right tho...it would be best if I got me some equipment to start experimenting. But hey...I have to finish upgrading my stereo first! (the DIY bug has kind of gotten me ;) ) I just hope hope I'm not coming off as tho I think I could actually learn what process constitutes a good recording. I know that can only be had by not only reading and studying the field. but also by hands on teachings and years of experience. I DO greatly respect what you guys do for me.

  10. gonefishin

    gonefishin Guest

    another reason why I'm intrigued by this board. (Yes, as I've said...I like both music and audio systems). While alot of the home audio world (the world I live in) is plagued by voodoo and snake oil...you guys hold the key (at least...some of them) many times in home audio...the best products are the ones with the best advertising. But you look at recorded music from a different prespective than the majority of consumers...you not only know what the performance sounded like to begin with...but also how it was made. Now I may like or dislike some of the things you've done (in the recording)...but you still know how you did it...and i haven't a clue.

    Bottom line...a good recording will always be a good recording. No matter what the system you play it on. Even if it's an old boombox with one blown speaker. Which leads us to a poor recording...which will (also)...always be what it is. I'd just like to understand your job a little better than I do now.

    What goes into setting up a soundstage on a recording? ...or placement of instruments? width and depth?

    I would guess this has to do with phasing issues...but I'm not sure.

    I've listened to some amateur recordings...and while quite good...the instruments just all seemed to be on the same plane, instead of having their own space.

    Thanks again :)
  11. maintiger

    maintiger Distinguished Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    Home Page:
    and there is the factor of overmastering- seems like all ther record companies now days want their CD's inordently loud and they squash the daylights out in the mastering process- there's no room for the music to breathe in many modern recordings due to over compressing in the mastering stage. That's a well know fact that has been d1scussed at lenght in these forums at one time or another
  12. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    I saw a comment by Ed Cherney in EQ this last month ... He was saying that the record companies are demanding that CDs be mastered so that you can hear them in a car going 90 mph with the windows open... ok for in the car but sucks for home or critical enviornment listening.

Share This Page