Making the most of (Top tips please)

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by gubber, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. gubber

    gubber Guest

    Hi dudes, I'm another recent sign up after reading the infamous Jp22 thread.

    I'm going to the countryside this weekend for a jam/recording session with some mates. I have a completely half-assed very basic attempt at a home studio but am fairly convinced I can get something ok out of it. I was hoping to get a few nuggets of info from some of you about making the most out of what i've got. I know I need equipment X,Y and Z but for the time being this is all I have.

    A PC with Audigy 2 soundcard and Sonar 4 + a reasonable supply of plugins. I also have Reason.
    1 Dynamic mic and a little 4 channel mixer with Mic-Preamp.
    Midi keyboard.

    Ok...after you've stopped laughing at how crap my set up is.. read on..

    I've read a book called Guerrilla Home Recording so I've got a handle on what compression etc. does. And it seems to talk a fair amount of sense.

    I'll most likely be recording Acoustic and Electric guitar (I have amps) and bass. As well as vocals, lead and backing.

    Here are some questions....

    1) Even though I don't have a DI box I seem to be able to get a reasonable signal from electric guitar through my mixer/preamp. I also have amplitube. Should I record like this or mic up an amp?? (and what about bass).

    2) When I record strumming acoustic guitar with the mic, whats the best way to reduce the sound of the pick on the strings.

    3) Do you have any golden rules, that will let me get a vaguely decent sound overall.

    4) How important is the room I record in... what can I do to improve it.

    I know I'm a bit vague but any help you all have would be greatfully received.
  2. poprocks

    poprocks Guest

    Ideally your mixer will have an instrument insert. Use this to record direct. See if Amplitube gets you the sound you need. A nice-sounding amp in a good room will probably sound better than amp modeling software. But if you don't have these things, the software can be pretty helpful.

    Aim away from the soundhole, or where the pick is hitting the strings. Try the 12th fret, or the body for more bass.

    Practice and learn.

    Room is important, but so many of us are limited in this respect. The best way to deal with a crappy sounding room is to deaden it as much as possible. If you've got a closet with lots of clothes hanging up, have your vocalist sing facing into the closet. Ideally you can hang a blanket behind him/her to stop reflections from seeping into the mic, too. Try to make the room quiet. Turn off appliances, etc.

    Have fun ... That comes thru in recordings, too!
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I think your question and concepts are quite valid. Plus you're going to have a lot of fun with this.

    My suggestion, since your Sound Blaster card only has a single 2 channel line input. Plug your microphone into your mixer, pan it to Center and take the stereo output of the mixer, to the Sound Blaster card, to its line input (you'll need another necessary patch cord and/or a couple of additional adapters to get everything plugged in) from RadioShaft. Put the one decent microphone just on your vocalist. Work it tight. Try to get a good feel and record that. Then with your software, you can go back and overdub the other instrumentalists, one at a time. Don't forget a single pair of headphones! You will be able to Mic, with your single microphone, each amplifier cabinet while also taking a direct of each instrument with either an ancillary output from the instrument amplifier and/or even something like a "Y" cable to the mixer, one pair at a time and lay each instrument in two channels, through the mixer to Sonar, via line input, this way you can keep the 2 feeds separate, to left and right separated. You'll be able to manipulate each instrument better that way, in post, in the software. It will make with awesome stereo as well. Later, if you feel the need, recut the vocal or, vocals. Sonar 4, is a powerful and versatile program.

    Now you'll have a 2 track Master and in software, add a little compression and/or limiting and a touch of some reverb.

    Conversely, if you really have the need to cut everything live at once? Stop at RadioShaft, pick up a couple of hopelessly cheap and awful microphones, either dynamic or condenser, mic the guitar cabinets with those (get some 1/8" or 1/4" extension cords if you need), using duct tape to affix the microphones to the front of the cabinets, pan the guitars left and right, put the one good microphone on the vocal panned Center, a cheap Y cable to derive a direct for the bass, so that you can feed its amplifier and the mixer simultaneously, also panned to Center.

    Of course, you will have to set levels for your mix prior to recording. Now this is important. Make sure, that all of your volume controls on your little mixer are two thirds of the way up, trim the gain settings for all 4 inputs so that you are not over driving any of the inputs or outputs of that mixer, i.e. keep it lower than normal for the extended headroom, hiss and noise should not be a problem. Keep it slightly on the lower side of things and plug into your Sound Blaster, line in. You may also need to get a ground cheater AC plug adapter for the bass amplifier or, for that matter perhaps the computer instead/in addition, to prevent the ground loop on the direct bass input to prevent hum. Do not overdrive the line input on the Sound Blaster card it will clip badly. (make sure the floor is not wet and you're not in bare feet)

    You will come away with a surprisingly good recording. Total extraneous expenditures at RadioShaft, around 20 bucks, $40 if you want to go really high-quality! Then you will scratch your head and wonder why everybody needs thousands of dollars of equipment? I dunno' either?

    So, what I have described here is for a four piece band, 1 singer, 2 guitars, 1 bassist, into a cheap 4 input mixer.

    Have fun! Don't forget the beer!
    Let me know how it goes?
  4. gubber

    gubber Guest

    Wow guys, thanks a lot for your help.

    I'd never thought about splitting my mono signals to left and right to make two channels. That could come in handy.

    I don't fully understand the ground loop concept. It might be a problem for me to avoid grounding since I live in the UK, everything has 3 prong plugs.

    If I just plug everything in to the same power strip will that work?

    Yeah! Beers for sure, its mostly about the having fun bit and if we can record something then thats a bonus.
  5. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    Just to make sure you understand, RAD wasn't talking about making a stereo signal out of a split mono signal. I believe he was talking about recording a mic'd signal down the left channel and the direct signal (when applicable) down the right channel. Once they are recorded into your software (onto 2 separate tracks-not a single stereo track), you can pan these down the middle, left, right, whathaveya.
    But recording one mono signal and recording it to two channels is redundant and unneccessary.

    Also, make sure you understand how the retarded Audigy card works for recording. Many people get goofed up with the fact that you will record your signal and everything else being played back, all onto the new track you are recording unless you change the settings of the Audigy. Somewhere under Control Panel, Sound, Recording Settings, bring down the fader for "What You Hear"
  6. gubber

    gubber Guest

    Thanks for the clarification Reggie... I did understand but perhaps I didn't quite use the right language to explain that I understood... if that makes any sense :)

    Cheers for the Audigy advice too.. I think I've got it sussed in terms of recording what I'm trying to record. Although I it messed me around for a while when I was first starting.
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I guess I did not adequately explain myself but Reggie did a beautiful job of interpreting what I was trying to say. The reason I suggested this technique was so you have a choice of the acoustic pickup with the microphone, on the cabinet and/or the ability to take the direct feed from the other channel and add your IK multimedia, Amplitube modeling software plug-in to create a contrasting effect, with a separate amplifier cabinet sound, allowing you to create a broader stereo image if you like. That is why the microphone and the direct feed should be printed to 2 separate tracks as opposed to just a stereo pair (which could still be done that way if desired). To go a little further, when you have a direct and a microphone, there will be a very tiny time differential between the microphone in the direct, which can/will cause some phasing problems. It is for that reason that you may want to add a very few milliseconds of delay on the direct signal, so as to better synchronize with the microphone signal.

    Thank you Reggie!

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