Help!!! Cant get pro quality!

Member for

20 years 8 months
Submitted by Anonymous on Sun, 06/16/2002 - 00:07

Thank god I found this site.
I've been recording for MindWave Records for about a month. I've been able to produce some ok stuff. But this is no where near the kind of equipment I need to get the quality of sound I want. Here a list of what I have and how I'm going about recording my customers.
I have a 32 Behringer MX9000, a Mackie CFX20, Roland 1824 16 channel recorder with only 8 faders and only 6 hi-z inputs and 2 low-z inputs, $700 Behringer tube mic, 10 Nady drum mics, 6 Nady Live vocal mics, 2 audio technica condensers,
and finally, Cool Edit Pro.
First of all, I have all drums running into the behringer and going from subgroups 1-4 into tracks
3-6 of the roland, then I have the guitar hooked into the behringer and coming from the direct out straight into channel 7 of the Roland. And the same thing with the bass guitar. Then I run the vocal mics directly into the tracks 1&2 of the roland. Thus, every damn input of the roland is takin up, and I cant add anything else.
After I'm done recording, and all the playback levels are set. Then play it back one track at a time, and record each individual track over to seperate tracks in Cool Edit Pro. Then I time each track so that everything is play at the right time. Then I go back in EQ each track with Cool Edit's 30 band Equilizer. I also run the Hiss Reduction tool on every track. After all of this I add effects if needed, and do anything else that I feel a project might need. Then I mix it down and burn it on a cd. But no matter what, it still doesn't sound pro studio quality. Does anyone have any advice on how I can get better quality? I'm thinking of buying the Focusrite Control 24 Pro Tools HD package, and every other Pro Tools equipment I can get. But, unfortunatly I dont have $40,000 to lay on the table. So, that wont be happening for a little while. But, is there any better way I can record other than the way I'm doing it now? I wish I knew how to integrate the roland with my external mixer, so that I can playback and ajust the levels via the Behringer mixer. Is there anyway I could do that?
I've also thought about getting a SSL 9000J, but how would that integrate or work with my other equipment? I really need some of this answered.
I'm just starting out being a Sound Engineer.
Recording Rap music and making it sound pro quality is a piece of cake, but rock music is the biggest pain in the ass to make sound pro quality.
If anyone could help, I would greatly appreciate it. Oh,...almost forgot..I also have a Behringer dual 31-band equilizer.

For rock, you definitley want a good room for the drums. Stay away from low ceilings etc.

Good mic-pre's are a must.

I would switch to programs like Cubase, Nuendo, Logic Audio. This will give you lots of tracks, and editing capabilities. Alsoplug-ins

If you don't have a pile of cash, I would get something like MOTU 2408 or similar so you can have enough digital I/O's going straight into a digital mixer. Look for a used Panasonic DA-7 would be a good inexpensive way to go.

Again, the above will come nowhere close to the $40.000,- outlay for a PT's system, but should give you great results.


You simply failed to mention the the MOST IMPORTANT things in your studio. Your Monitor Loudspeakers, your room acoustics/treatments.

It will sound like ASS until you get a true representation of what is really going on.

I think you are doing overkill. Ever tryed to record things acoustially, no eq, no nothing..just strait up to hear the difference your mics, room, monitors are displaying to the actual sound? Until that is right are blowing massive amounts of smoke. (Billowing clouds). Get the simple room, mics, mic pre's, monitors and acoustics down FIRST!

Example, have a cat play a guitar..with no effects.. just mics (2) stereo..I don't listen with one ear, mic pres, no eq, no nothing. Listen to what comes back. If you swear that the guitar is the same as the recording then..then we go to step 2..if must be done on your platform to get reproduction basics correct..then fat mixes will magically start appearing.

Analogy is like trying to put a V-10 VIPER engine on a bicycle..plat form is not there to begin with.

Do the simple test. Use whatever means you can come up with to make SURE the sound from the instrument is very close to that ofg the extra highs, thickness, boomyness, or resonance..pure repro dude.

Not being an asshole..but damn..this is fundamental 101 baby stuff here.

Nothing will happen correctly until this is done. Period.

Read this for the general attitude of the end user.

3 Engineers contributed to this discussion, I am one of them.

Maybe this should have been posted on the digital board but it is inspired by the fascinating vinyl vs analog thread below.
If you post in this thread please treat the subject seriously and not throw insults at CDs, digital etc. There must be reasons for some records coming out so badly while others do not. Some which come to my mind:

1. Overload - I understand digital machines are intolerant of this

2. Over use of mixers - some of the best music in this collection are via early LPs before the use of multiple mics and multiple track tapes

3. Careless mastering (??)

4. Poor quality control in pressing

Most possibly many of the problems of creating a good LP still exist (and not all LPs are great, despite the enthusiasm for the product in many quarters) but there must be additional factors responsible for the hardness and harshness in some CDs which no SOA equipment can cure while other CDs can be responsible for excellent music.

Engineers, anyone - ideas?



Follow Ups:

Related: Is there a directory of recordings by engineer or technique? - NickR 09:19:33 06/16/02 (0)

In Reply to: Explanation please: why are some digital recordings so bad and others so good? posted by John C. - Aussie on June 15, 2002 at 19:20:02:

Given a choice of 'good' performances my preference would usually be the disc produced with the simplest technique - for example a single stereo mic or one pair of mono mic's. I'm talking primarily classical music here.
Also, once confidence in a given engineer is gained it would be nice to be able to locate recordings done by this person.

Is there a directory one can use to locate recordings in this manner? If not, I might be willing to gather this info and post it on a simple web page if enough folks are interested.

I remember hearing a sampler (I think Opus 3) that used simple techniques and it really was quite enjoyable compared to most of the multi-mic productions that, for me, give a completely unnatural perspective.

Any thoughts on this would be great as it seems like it would be worth a little effort to make a nice reference for this info.

- Nick


At the risk of being overly dramatic... - NickR 07:59:14 06/16/02 (0)

In Reply to: Explanation please: why are some digital recordings so bad and others so good? posted by John C. - Aussie on June 15, 2002 at 19:20:02:

and re-stating what has already been well said:
There just aren't enough people who know what they are doing, and those that do are aften handcuffed such that they must choose between producing sub-standard work or staying employed.

Unfortunately this applies to many industries, as I can report first-hand in the computer software industry for example.

It's a hell of a world to be in today if you happen to value quality and workmanship.


Re: Explanation please: why are some digital recordings so bad and others so good? - RBP 07:42:23 06/16/02 (0)

This is mine explanation..True unfortunantly.

In Reply to: Explanation please: why are some digital recordings so bad and others so good? posted by John C. - Aussie on June 15, 2002 at 19:20:02:

Rodney covered the points well. Divergence of Monitor loudspeakers in studios, rushing to get the product out..(I have seen CD's go from Concept to Shelf in 2 weeks)untrained newbees running small home DAWS putting out tunes that get large distribution deals and just plain not listening goes on at a rabid rate. Since 1988, the "pushing of the envelope" toward 0 dB and wholesaale compression of the mix before mastering (bad technique)lends itself to poor quality sound. Transfering during glass mastering anomilies are all too apparent. These days the varables are so widespread, large studio facilities with high overhead and experienced personell are being forced to sellout to small 25 dollar an hour outfits. I reject about 40% of the work that comes across my desk as being "unmasterable" due to horrible sounding mixes. This from some majors as well. Pro tools can sound horrible in the wrong hands. first thing I do when I visit another studio for a session is spend no less than 20 hours in calibration. You would not believe the large facilities I have run into that have had these problems:
Monitors out of phase (!)
Amplifier master gains imbalanced. (Ch1/Ch2)
Poor acoustic environment.
500 feet of cable (22 gauge) between Pre and post signal path.
Cold solder joints in Patch bays.
Fragmented Hard drives in Workstations.
Gain management completly out of calibration.
Signal patch charting (missing the chart)
Producers that "know it all"
Houses that insist on using a cheap 200 dollar plug-in to master...the mix..then they send it out for mastering (wrong).

Good live recordings using the minimalist approach hands down "eats" that of huge budget commercial recordings. I was in a "universal" studio where everyone there was an intern as the chief engineer was on a 6 week vacation and their was major session going on. Imagine 8 sub 20 year olds running the show. That is what was going on. The Blind leading the Blinder. They knew how to make it sound good.........(right) All of them fresh out of the Backstreet boys barbershop...

Now the good...

Bruce Swieden (Michael Jacksons Engineer, Quincy as well) will take as long as it takes to his mixes. This fellow has hundreds of thousands of hours under his belt. He also is 60+ years old and very active. He gets paid. He has passion for his talent and the art. He will throw the book away to get what he wants. Their are about 70 engineers I deeply respect out there. Many visit this bbs. I think a full understanding of Loudspeakers, acoustic, music Therory (Musicians can make poor engineers but all good engineers play musical instuments), knowing your signal path and gain management, calibration..(before every session) proper maintainance of the studio and sheer experience are the keys. You see an old dude as the cheif engineer..well the experience and know how will show in the work. I have met many young engineers that had a good handle on the situation but their are so many varables in this game that getting a respectable translating mix and having the mastering done on a passionant level, takes a lot of water under the bridge.
Hearing is believing.


I can demonstrate how right Rodney is. - Kev 22:39:49 06/15/02 (0)

In Reply to: Explanation please: why are some digital recordings so bad and others so good? posted by John C. - Aussie on June 15, 2002 at 19:20:02:

I own a number of "collections" CDs, where recordings from a variety of an artist's releases are compiled onto a single CD.
Clearly evident, on my system, is the varying quality of studio recordings from *track to track.* Thus, one can discern a great deal with respect to how many technical resources were used (or withheld) in capturing the studio performance.

There is a significant variance in the quality of recordings among both LPs and CDs in my collection. A few LPs sound like crap, and I reserve them for my garage system. Quite a bit more are simply uninvolving. Only a few CD recordings of classical music rise to the superb level; a lot more of the rock and pop variety are superior to LPs.

I can relish both formats. But, as John intimates in 2, 3, and 4, the perfomance must be tranferred to medium in a faithful manner. The reasons why it may not can be easily identified and not necessarily a fertile matter of discussion. Otherwise, one can engage in a vain argument that, today, audio components are generally incapable of reproducing whatever musical information the format offers.


Re: Explanation please: why are some digital recordings so bad and others so good? - Rodney Gold 20:59:58 06/15/02 (0)

In Reply to: Explanation please: why are some digital recordings so bad and others so good? posted by John C. - Aussie on June 15, 2002 at 19:20:02:

If music transferred to whichever media is mastered/rcorded/mixed properly and transferred properly it will sound good.
Take the best sounding CD and that is how good it CAN be
Folks that swear analog is better are commenting on their own personal taste for LESS info , a different sound or have problems with the digital part of their system or have a retro point of view.
I have analog and Digital , enjoy both , and have crappy sounding Cd/LPs' and eargasmic ones too.
I also have identical remastered CD's/LPs and have "compared" em , they sound different , but still great on whatever system I play em on

In terms of digital , digital clipping (too hot a signal transferred to digital) sounds VERY bad , poor mastering techniques like not using dither or noise shaping or mangling of the digital signal in the low resolution domain , using masters meant for LP , AD transfers using low res converters inducing truncation distortion etc , impact on sonics.
A lot of the problem is that there was a perception that the digital signal was so robust that you couldnt mess it up as well as the fact that there was a perception that processing a signal in the digital domain was irrelevant in respect of sonics , EG that a sample rate comversion from 44.1 to 48 and than back to 44.1 wouldnt impact sound at all. NO digital process is "transparent"
The other factor of course is that an audiophile's requirements IRO sonics are vastly different to the primary market , the average man in the street , and most stuff is mastered for the primary (read profitable) market. There was/is often no economic sense in taking a LOT of extra care and time in the mastering process.
For Example , NOT using compression would make a CD sound bad on a cheap home system (and might even do so on an audiophiles) as either average levels would have to be low to take into account peaks deleting low level info or making the listener play it at a much louder level (amp clipping?) or if that wasnt the case , the peaks would have to be clipped to maintain av level.
There are also far less variables in the reproduction of digital than Vinyl , most CDPs sound pretty similar regardless , analog rigs have the table , the cart and the phono stage to consider and can sound wildly divergent compared to CDps.

Rodney Gold

yo neo: what sound card are you using to send your audio into cool edit Pro? with the addition of what what everyone else talked about such as: sound reinforcements, mic placement, monitors, ect..., the quality of your soundcard places a factor as well. Also what i do to get a cleaner recording is to try to avoid as much external equipment as possible when using a DAW, so if you have the ability to go directly into your soundcard, then do it.

Hey guys, just wanna say you have given me plenty to think about and improve upon.
Thanks for your help and support.
By the way, Here are the important parts that I left out of my studio equipment list.
Have a pc with P3 700MHz processor, and 1000MB of PC133 SDRAM, and a Sound Blaster Live!.
We're using NADY Starpower mics for drums, and
Shure SM57's for guitar mics. However, we do not have any special and expensive acoustics foam for the rooms. We are using $6 a sheet of 4'x 6' sheets of bedding foam for cover the walls.
This foam was put up before I ever started working here at MindWave. I intend to buy Auralex Acoustics foam to cover the walls.
Although I'm very unsure of what that will cost to cover all of the rooms. If you know of any cheaper foam, please let me know.
We are also using 2 Ross Systems Monitors.
These are mostly used for live stage monitoring,
and arent used in the studio.
But I intend on getting 2 Genelec active studio monitors and a pair of Makie HR824 near field monitors. Hopfully this will give me some clean clear crisp sound of my recordings.
Well I gotta run guys, got customers to try my best to satisfy, thanks for the help.

How do you know what acoustic treatment is needed? Has anyone done a TEF analysis? Have you crunched some numbers concerning room dimensions, material or reverberation? I would not put up ANY sound treatment without doing a thorough analysis first. Then Home Depot or your local lumber supply has everything you need for treatment.

Here is what you can do to improve sound in most effective to least effective order:

1. experiment with mic placement and selection. This will have more dramatic effect on the sound quality than all other improvements you could make combined.

2. Get exceptional monitors so you can hear what the mic placement effects are and what the room sounds like. Genelecs and Mackies are not exceptional they are both hyped to specific tastes. They are both very good but also tend to result in ear fatigue or a biased sound. Right now I would consider ADAMS and Earthworks to be the 2 most exceptional sounding monitor companies for less than $3000.

Once you take steps 1 and 2 you will start to hear for yourself exactly what is needed because you will be able to hear every single detail.

If you're recording multiple drum mics, then definitely make sure your space is properly treated for acoustics, and that you are getting the right sounds from your sources, ie. properly placed mics, good equipment, and even good musicians. Also, when you're recording your guitars/basses, if you can afford to, pick up a couple of DI boxes so that you can change your impedances from high to low...I've found that bass guitars in particular sound much more clean and controlled when you go in DI, and use about 4-6 dB of compression at 6:1. And like what's been posted already, try using programs like Cubase or Nuendo. Especially Nuendo. It has almost the same capabilities for editing as ProTools, and with MUCH better sound quality.

What you need, my friend is not more gear but a stronger education regarding the recording studio, the gear you have, signal flow, "best practice" given your set up etc. It seems that you're doing things in a very cumbersome way.

Coming here is a good start but you should really have some consultations with experienced engineers in your area. Maybe you could find someone reputable to come to your facility and pay them to get things staightened out.

Originally posted by Neo:
I've also thought about getting a SSL 9000J, but how would that integrate or work with my other equipment? .

Are you guys blind, this is a f**ing joke


I take posts here seriously. This is not the romper room of other sites. Trolls usually are found out about..look at the good interaction..and I am an independent and own a G+ SL 8000. If he can find an off lease 9000 for may help him out. Some folks can blow a Million dollars on equipment without any problem. We have all scales here at RO from the project studio to full blown facilities. Never underestimate the diversity of 7000+ members.

Let's say..for fucks sake..this guy was BSting. So what..look at the interaction and the recommendations, all can look at!

Pretty good eh?

Well Neo,

one thing I can suggest, is the following. If your main drumroom has low ceilings, then deaden the ceiling. This should prevent the reflections off the ceiling going straight back into the overheads.


Opinions are like art, everyone has a different one...Theres a lot of incredibly high quality advice here to digest and I for one am not going to critique a bunch of it for my own pleasure..but i do have an observation or two to lend to the foray..
1. As has been said...treatment of your drum area is essential to good separation and control of sound
2. Nady mics are not my favorites (opinion only derived from usage) I am currently using the D2 pack from Audix and have found them to be quite good...not the level of the higher quality stuff the bigger budget guys use but certainly a step up from where you are...
3.NEVER rely on the eq section of ANY beringer product....they just sound like a cheap mackie...again an a nice used soundcraft ghost....around $5k most anywhere..
4. Spend a lot of time as Bear mentioned getting things to sound good without eq...
5. good luck!

better yet: don't eq anything.

at least eq nothing going into the system.

when mixing, basicly i cut sub shit out, and maybe do some screwing around to get the vox to sit. but if yr eq blows--don't use it.

f. dalton everest's "the master handbook of acoustics"--get it, read it, teach yrself trig and physics again if you need to.

check yr mixes in the car. works like a charm.


Yeah, it's a pretty weird post - how will the SSL integrate well with my Roland?

But, for the sake of argument, in addition to all of the above good advice, what scared me was the dumping one track at a time into Cool Edit and then trying to line up the timing!

If you are used to your Roland machine and like using it, maybe the easiest way to go would be to upgrade to their new 24 track model. Then you'll have both the inputs and the track count you'll need. I don't have any experience on the Roland devices, but it seems with the upgrade you'll be able to avoid the whole Cool Edit routine, at least until there is a compelling reason to use it.

Meanwhile, like the rest of us, you can spend the rest of your life gradually accumulating an ever improving collection of mics, preamps, and outboard gear, as well as improving your room acoustics, etc. Are you sure you want to do this - it may not be too late to get sucked in if you run now! :D