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What's the best angle and distance to record a bass amp with a Shure SM57?

Discussion in 'Bass' started by psychonaut, May 4, 2013.

  1. psychonaut

    psychonaut Active Member

    Just as the title says, what is the best angle and distance?

    I've tried quite a few variations, but I still get a way too "fuzzy" sound to make it comfortable.
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    it depends on the scenario. close as you can if isolation is an issue, a couple inches off the front of the cab and slightly angled so the mic is pointing directly at the paper in the speaker cone ... aim to the 1/2 way point between the edge and the center of the cone.

    is it the amp making the "fuzzy" sound? gigo. do you think you might be overloading the pre amp? even at average levels, it's possible you are getting peaks that don't register on the meters. check the waveform .. is it clipping? is the amp cranked way up? you could be overloading the mic.

    a sm57 rolls off at 50 Hz. not the best choice for bass. you need a mic that gets down to 40 Hz or lower. think D112, 421, beta52, or an Audix D6. don't be afraid to try a LD capacitor ...

    a combo of di and mic can be nice .. watch for phasing issues. i like mics because they put an edge to the sound .. makes for better definition in the mix you can't get with a straight di signal.
  3. psychonaut

    psychonaut Active Member

    Thanks a lot, I will try this. I know the SM57 is not optimal, but it's what I got :)
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    A pair of 57's can work ok. Try pointing one about an inch from the edge of the speaker (not center) and up on the cloth. Place the other 57 behind the bass amp and flip the polarity on the channel. Move or reposition about 1/4 inch at a time until you find the sweet spot. Sometimes a 30 degree inward tilt works well. Sometimes not so much. Much depends on the bass cabinet.
  5. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    For recording, personally I find the sweet spot to be about 2+ feet from the cabinet, with the mic aimed directly at the speaker. This gives some of the more important wave forms time/space to properly develop. Putting a mic right up against a bass speaker never amounted to much use for me.

    It also helps to have a DI track of the performance and blend the 2 captures.
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member


    And then time align if you need to. Of course, the room will come into effect at this distance. Gobo off one side if you can.
  7. godchuanz

    godchuanz Active Member

    If you really must use only an SM57, your best bet will be to place it up close (1-2" max). Do consider the following:
    1) The SM57 doesn't have great bass response. You will need some EQ later on.

    2) Try both on-axis and edge. Get the bassist to play a riff while the mic is on-axis and record a sample. Then shift the mic position, get him to play the same thing, record it. Compare the two (level-matched) and see which one you like.

    3) Because bass is notoriously hard to treat acoustically, sometimes just moving your mic 1" gets a completely different bass response. Make sure your mic isn't in a null spot in the room. Try shifting the mic little by little, and you'll hear the difference in bass.

    4) Bass reverberation may be a problem with mic recordings of bass amps, so remember to treat your room as much as possible.

    I think bass amps are damn difficult to record. Most studios will at least parallel record a clean DI signal, and I'd suggest this too (that's if you have a DI box). Because it's so difficult to get a good sound from a mic on bass amp, you can always re-amp your recorded DI signal later if you're not satisfied with the result. In fact, I think most people will agree that the most important thing for a good bass recording is the DI track. You get it clean, no acoustic issues, and suitable for a lot of modelling/re-amping work.
  8. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    Didn't have a lot of time to get into much detail the other day, but bounced in to ask if you have an outboard compressor you can insert between your DI box and your interface. This can make a huge difference in the DI signal you capture, even if it's a low-end box. I'm always amazed at how nice an RNLA sounds between my DI box and interface; not to mention the obvious advantage of having a little compression on the bass. Smooths everything out, ya know?
  9. psychonaut

    psychonaut Active Member

    Is there any good bass microphones that's around the price of an SM57?

    Thanks for all of your tips, I've recorded both DI ( to my Mackie Onyx ) and through SM57. DI sounds good enough after some added effects from guitar rig, but I have to remove way too many frequences to even make it sound okay with the amp recording.
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Unfortunately the SM57/58 is one of those iconic pieces that just sounded great from the beginning and doesnt cost a lot to build so the price has always remained low even though it is truly a professional piece of gear. At its price point..aka: $50-$100....there aren't many things to compete with its quality. There's a lot of mics in its price range but few that equal it or demonstrate a quality presence in their sound.
  11. psychonaut

    psychonaut Active Member

    How much do you have to pay to get an okay bass mic then? If it's not a lot more, I might be able to afford it! (I can find used ones)
  12. godchuanz

    godchuanz Active Member

    Hi psychonaut,

    Judging by your difficulty in getting a good mic sound (having to remove a lot of freqs etc.), I think money would be better spent treating the room for targeting bass acoustics. Bass is really a pain-in-the-ass acoustically, and you typically get more returns from acoustic treatment than a change in microphone. It's especially problematic if the room resonates with any of your bass notes. It makes even the world best amp and microphone sound like a big ball of $#@!

    But if you really must use a microphone, I'd recommend you look at large diaphragm condensers. An LDC would have a frequency response that extends low enough to capture all that you need, with a lot of added noise :D But I think it's fine, as it's always simple to EQ away the unnecessary high freq noise. If it's me, I'd just get the cheapest one I can find, with a suitable SPL rating. The room acoustics and amp settings are gonna affect the recorded sound much more than the inherent characteristics of the mic anyway.
  13. psychonaut

    psychonaut Active Member

    I can only record in my bedroom, so there's not much I can do to change it. But I will make a drawing of it and post later, and maybe you can tell me if there's any easy things to make it sound better :)
  14. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    As a relatively cheap mic for bass cabinet, I think the Shure PG52 is a good choice. First, its a dynamic mic so it doesnt have the sensitivity and efficiency of a condenser, therefore it doesnt pick up as much of the room as a condenser might....Second, it goes down to 30hz which helps with bass frequencies and sub-harmonics...Third, even though its Shure's entry level kick drum mic, it sounds a LOT better on instruments than it does on drums....and Fourth, its dirt cheap used and its a Shure so chances are its survived anything that it was asked to do. I even own a BG version and use it on my bass cabinet when its not on a low tom. Not a particularly good kick drum mic but very good for bass cabinets. Although I do usually use an ATM25 on all things low-end, these cheap Shures work well.
  15. Matt Hepworth

    Matt Hepworth Active Member

    With a 57, look for the growl–you're not going to get big bottom. Head-on, 0.5-3" off the grill.
  16. psychonaut

    psychonaut Active Member

    Here's my room:
    imgur: the simple image sharer

    Where would be the best location to record stuff there? I can move the bass and guitar amp, but the bed and mixing desk and other desk have to stay where they are. The sound in the room isn't very good, but it's what I have to work with!

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