Skip to main content

I recently picked up a PreSonus 1818VSL and got back into the recording game. I haven't done anything with my stuff in over 10 years. I used to use SONAR and had fairly decent results. My recordings are pretty close to what things sound like live but whenever I mix something down, it always sounds thin and quiet when compared to an "actual" recording from a decent studio.

My room is pretty bad but I'm getting decent results so far. I'm basically using PreSonus' "Fat Channel" as my main effect. I guess what I'm asking should be, what do people normally use to get the sound "thick" and big like a decent studio recording should be? I know this is an open-ended question with about a million answers but I'm hoping to find something I hadn't thought about. Thanks in advance for any information you might have. Great forum BTW!


pcrecord Fri, 01/12/2018 - 17:40

There is no 'sound good' button you can buy or use.
For whatever reason every musician think they have good ears but the majority of us need to be trained and work hard to distinguish frequencies, dynamics and for most good taste.
Recording audio is like cooking a cake. You need all the right ingredients to get good results.
Good sounding room, good sounding instrument, good performance, the right mic for the job, the right preamp for the job, good converters, skills to identify any problems and ears to place everything at its place and avoid masking and frequency buildups are the only answer.
But even with all that, most professional only record and mix. When times come to do the final touch, they send their mix to mastering engineers who specialize in placing the songs as an album who will sonicly compete to the actual market.

To address your specific question ; It all starts with the source and how it is recorded. You need that thick sound on a track to make it shine.

I'd say, give yourself a break. All the publicity says it's easy but it's not, they just want to sell more gear (often cheap gear). Well not true, it's easy to sound bad.. ;)

The good thing about this forum is that the members are honest and willing to help.
The best thing to do is to post one of your mix and ask for advice. Without hearing what you do, we can't say what you are doing wrong...
All newbs go to the same steps including myself. But when someone who've done that tells you how he/she was able to do better, you are somehow not alone anymore.

dvdhawk Sat, 01/13/2018 - 08:23

As always, pcrecord makes many great points. As he has suggested a sample of one of your mixes will help immensely.

A good mix starts with good tracking, the cumulative effect of a “pretty bad” room on multiple tracks will show as the tracks pile up. There’s nothing inherently wrong with your interface that would keep you from making a good recording, so tell us more about how you’re micing things up.

And as a side note, the “Fat Channel” is a decent channel strip, but it’s got “fat” in the name because of all the things it can do, not because it imparts any special thickness or bigness to the sound. (Just incase that was your line of reason for using it)

Recording and mixing are skills that take practice, trial and error, just like playing an instrument. Hang in there.

lu432 Tue, 01/16/2018 - 17:20

Hi Everyone,

This is my first post on this forum. I'm a mastering engineer from South Florida. I've been at the mastering game a few years. So a couple of things are working against you friend. Let me go thru them systematically, and be as helpful as I can.

My recordings are pretty close to what things sound like live but whenever I mix something down, it always sounds thin and quiet when compared to an "actual" recording from a decent studio.

So having a thin recording. has to do with appropriate recording techniques, at appropriate levels. Understanding things like impedance matching on microphones to get the best results. Understanding what makes something sound good with what equipment, and how to record to obtain the best performance and capture of that performance is important. Then at the mixing stage, it has to do with having a room that allows for balanced listening to identify what frequencies need to be bumped up or subtracted. This will affect how "thin or fat" or "clean or unpleasant" a track will sound. understanding dynamics and how to compress or limit different material is important, so it fits in a mix. Remember we only have so much headroom and everything has to fit!

My room is pretty bad but I'm getting decent results so far.

Great! Good to hear that you are getting decent results. Acoustics are of utmost importance. You may not realize but a lot of what your struggling with may have to do with several components. First of all your acoustics. Yes It may not look like it's doing much, but a good room does take the guessing out of the judgment calls, but with out it, it's a guessing game. By that I mean, how much lows, , how are the highs reacting, and even how your music translates to other systems. The next things that is affected is your ability to determine how much time you want to put into the guessing game. Let's face it, we don't all want to travel back and forth from the car or another system 1000 times to identify how our mixes are translating. It's time consuming and not a lot of fun.

Next experience. We don't all start out knowing how to mix or master a Grammy record. Don't worry. Things are going to be bad. Don't let that discourage you. Learn from it, and keep performing and recording. When you can pick other peoples brains, hire professionals and learn what you can. The more you learn and read the more your mixes will improve. As for the mastering, same thing, it's time, experience, and effort. As you improve your ears will become more attuned to different things and you'll know how much you can push or how little you can push certain elements in a song.

Finally and definitely last. equipment. Guys in major studios and mastering rooms, have access to equipment that, lets face it, is out of a lot of people's price range when they are starting (Sometimes not). They also know the tricks and what to listen for, and what equipment to use when to optimize the music they are working on. It's part of the fun of learning our craft. Learn about the basic stuff, how electricity affects your equipment, move into signal flow, then learn about dynamic, and phase based effects, and gradually learn how to use plugins and external gear to optimize your tracks. I hope that help man! Forums are great places to learn from different people and ask questions. See ya around on the forums :)

Lui :)

toader Sun, 01/21/2018 - 17:47

A good mix is the most important thing... Mastering is about polishing up the final mix, and setting the level where the client wants it... getting it louder if need be with minimum degradation. If you want to master, any good limiting plugin can get you loud, but there is a lot more that goes into it to really make it sound "good". Most important? Good room design and treatment, and good speakers. If you hear what's there correctly, you'll be able to make good decisions... You would not believe how much effort goes into rooms and speaker systems... It makes a huge difference. Be patient and kind to yourself - and persevere... failure is a great teacher - you'll get where you want to be if you don't give up. Good luck!


Topic Tags