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mic and mic preamp demo bare bones

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Hiya gang..

Here's a quick little acoustic thang I did this morning. My voice is pretty rough as I've played out the last 4 nights, and it was pretty early when I tracked it... before I had a sufficient amount of caffeine in my veins... LOL


Guitar: Washburn acoustic 6 string, mic was a Shure SM58, aimed halfway between soundhole and bridge at a distance of around from the guitar.*
Vocals: SM57
Preamp: PreSonus 1800VSL
Platform: Samplitude Pro X

Processing: with the exception of a little reverb to add some depth, and slight compression to tame transients, and a hint of compression on the 2-Bus, none. No added EQ or other special processing was used on the track levels or the 2-Bus.

*I desperately need to change strings on my guitar; I've noticed parts that sound a bit distorted on the guitar track.. but after going back and listening closely, it turns out that I'm getting a buzz emanating from the bridge on the G string, and that's what it turned out to be.

Motivation for posting: Simply to show a bare bones, simplistic Micing and recording workflow with the PreSonus and Samplitude, using workhorse mics, and to perhaps spark some discussion.

Personal thoughts:

Not bad, really. I'm sure I could have done far better with a nice condenser (which I have several of but for fun decided to see how dynamics would behave instead) and a high caliber pre, ( the PreSonus is by no means the caliber of a Neve or Millenia, but it really is a nice pre for the money)... and all in all, I think it turned out to be pretty decent. Not press quality by my own standards, but pretty decent for what was used, I think.

All comments, suggestions, etc., are of course more than welcome.

Although I need to mention that I don't think I'm gonna really do much further with this song, it's pretty sappy, and has been knocking around my brain for about 20 years now... but I felt it was a decent enough piece to use for the purposes of this post.




RemyRAD Sat, 08/16/2014 - 22:13

Donny you know how much I love your work and songs. And this is another. Thanks.

This recording didn't need no stinkin' condenser microphone thingies. No way. Not never. And it would have sounded equally lovely without the 7 but instead with a 57 and a 58. For those who can't afford SM-7's. They are so close it's comical. Great for those that want those extra switches and don't know the proper distance to be from a 58. Him him him but don't want to spend $300 plus when just $100 will do to achieve virtually identical results.

The sweetness factor in those Presonus Class A design microphone preamps works very well here. It may have been too edgy with API or Neve? Naw... I was only kidding LOL. But it was great sounding nevertheless.

And no extra gobbledygook. Thank you very much. That's the way to do it kids!

He's some kind of freakin' genius.
Mx. Remy Ann David

anonymous Sun, 08/17/2014 - 07:15

Thanks, gang.

"And it would have sounded equally lovely without the 7 but instead with a 57 and a 58..."

Remy: I did in fact use a 57 and a 58 for this test. I don't have an SM7 (anymore). I think you just misread my post.

PC - you're right about the noise...after seeing your comment, I went through my gain chain and saw that I had a dead channel cranked on the pre and assigned to the same track as the acoustic mic. My bad, and good ear on your part. I didn't hear it at first because I was monitoring at such a low level here on my end. ;)


thatjeffguy Sun, 08/17/2014 - 10:03

Nice Donny. It's a great example of good, bare-bones recording with good basic tools. It also displays how in the hands of an experienced engineer, those basic tools can build great sounding music. I have heard many a track recorded by amateurs using those same tools that sound like crap because they haven't learned even the basics of mic placement and gain staging and recording in a decent room. Thanks for posting!

anonymous Mon, 08/18/2014 - 07:50

Thanks Jeff. As I stated in my original post, I don't really even like this song all that much - which brings up a note to new songwriters out there... Yes, dear rookies... it is entirely possible for you to write a song that you end up not liking. I actually have more songs that I've written that I don't like, in ratio to the ones that I do like. ;)

Your comments were exactly what my intent was - to see what my preamp was capable of, and using bare bones gear. The mics I used would certainly not be my first choice to mic acoustic guitar or lead vocal with if I was doing a serious recording - I'd most certainly reach for my 414EB's and/or U89 if I was doing it for real (release).

I think that most of it really does comes down to the preamp, actually. Chris (audiokid) has mentioned this several times - how he can get average mics to sound fantastic by simply by plugging them into a great preamp such as a Millennia, Great River, or Neve...and I agree with him on this. In fact, based on what I have available to me, if I was forced to make a choice between using an SM57/58 into a Presonus or Focusrite pre, or, using a 414 or U87 into a Tascam pre, I'm certain that 90% of the time, I would opt for the first combination (song dependent of course).

I can only imagine how great my vocal or acoustic sound would be if I used my beloved 414EB's through a preamp like a Great River, Neve, or Millennia. ;)



anonymous Mon, 08/18/2014 - 08:01

Again, I apologize for the noise... I didn't notice it because my monitoring volume was pretty low on my end, but thanks to PC for pointing it out. Turns out that I had an open dead channel on my pre that was cranked pretty high, and also assigned to the tracks that I was recording. DUH. LOL... whoops! Bush League mistake on my part. ;)


thatjeffguy Mon, 08/18/2014 - 09:39

Don't you just hate it when a mistake like that slips by? Head slap!
Have to agree with you Donny. I own a Great River MP-2NV and find myself often running a 57 or maybe SM7 through it on vocals and they end up sounding great. Basic, quality tools.
Also agree on songwriting. I'm sure I've written over a thousand in my life and the vast majority were quite forgettable (as proof, I have forgotten them!). Worth it though to get to those few gems that shine through!
Good thread!

anonymous Tue, 08/19/2014 - 01:42

you're right Kurt. I should have referenced it hotter... although I recorded and mixed it (very quickly) at 4 am, and so as not to wake the girlfriend, who had just come off a 72 hour shift at the fire station, I referenced quietly. Although I have to admit, with the exception of checking mixes, I rarely mix for long periods of time at 85db. I just can't do it much any more without fatiguing my ears.

I know you and I are around the same age... are you still able to mix at 85 for an extended period of time?

kmetal Tue, 08/19/2014 - 22:16

The thing about this recording is the immediacy. And sometimes cheap likes cheap. Start putting airy mics up, and see how passable those converters still are. It sounds fine as it it, as it should. Incrementally improving pieces in the chain wouldn't make a big difference until next thing you know Donny is in Headley Grange slamming on some kit w the vintage ribbon 20 ft high :)

Setup time is such a buzzkill, that's why I like a simple home setup like a tablet, or basic interface w just one knob.

The thing with simple arrangements like this is how important little things become. Ya know, like if you listened a few times and then you added just a simple elemen like a triangle or spoons, or a basic ooh and ah it like puts a spotlight of a change on the song, in a sense that it would be very noticicable if it were taken away. Where as if it were the third chorus in a Latin song you'd barely bat an eye if a similar layer were taken away.

Whenever I get songs tracked like this i immediately start thinking layers, key points of things, if the songs is gonna evolve any more than singer guitar. Which maybe it won't. So many well arranged songs have this like momentum to them where the song and the mix is like constantly morphing the whole time, even if it is simple things like thre note motifs, or handclaps or whatever.

This is where something like this would benefit from a groups ideas, but often it immediately is forgtotten about as room acoustics cable brands and whatever else technology wise comes up. Until you know what's gonna be where it makes no sense to consider rooms or gear. It really is funny just how good the 57 really is tho. Good stuff overall!

stevie_m Sun, 08/24/2014 - 00:43

Very pleasant track, Donny. Crazy it took 20 years to finally lay it down. Definitely sounds like press quality to me, but I'm obviously very new. The acoustic tone sounds really great. What's your trick to getting a great, natural acoustic tone without having to overdub and stereoize? How much did you have to manipulate the EQ? I don't have a dedicated preamp, but am using an Alesis MultiMix4 (does that serve the purpose of a preamp?)

Again, wonderful track.

anonymous Mon, 08/25/2014 - 04:10


The intent of the experiment was to see how a simple miking array would sound. The 58 isn't my personal 1st choice for acoustic. I'm a fan of M-S miking, normally using 2 AKG 414's. But as far as a straight ahead, no nonsense, mono miking test, the 57 was passable. It lacked some of the esoteric nuances that I normally like to hear on an acoustic, but I don't think it was at all bad, by any means.

XY is another fave of mine, where you can pick up the warmth of the body, the human factor with finger picking, and the presence and silk that is more towards the bridge.

I'm considering building a small, moveable diffuser, to put across from the guitar (behind the mics) to see what the result will be, I just haven't decided which type would be best, or if it would even be worth it. I'm currently researching that.

As a final note, I'd offer the suggestion to not overlook the option of recording in mono. Yes, stereo is great for that depth and space, but there's nothing at all wrong with a track recorded in mono, either. Especially for beginners, You'll have more control in the final mix as to balance (forward or back) and in placement ( L to R), with less issues to contend with.

IMHO of course.




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