New to forum - looking for tips for no-software studio

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by The Peacocks, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. The Peacocks

    The Peacocks Member

    Mar 5, 2011
    Hi all!

    I've been recording for a while now but everything I know is just from fooling around and experimenting on my own. I've been fairly satisfied with my music as a beginner, but I'm ready to take things to the next level. I just don't know how! haha I just have so many questions and I'm hoping the forum community will help me out.

    I use a Tascam 2488 and do all my editing and mixing through there - no software. I want to eventually get ProTools, but at the moment finances won't allow it. I play my Jackson Dinky (hate it) through a Digitech RP300A. Sometimes I run it straight into the recorder, sometimes I mic the Behringer GMX210 amp. I've been experimenting with different setups and just can't seem to get the kind of sound I want. (Part of it is this cursed's so evil!) I have a simple Yamaha bass guitar but just recently acquired a Boss ME-20B fx board for it that I'm still in the process of figuring out. I've also just recently acquired a set of drum mics that I haven't gotten the chance to break out yet. My "studio" is currently in a spare bedroom. It's not the ideal acoustic setting, but it'll work for what I need.

    I guess I'm just hoping to find out tips on how to get a more professional sound without dropping more money. As I said, I do all mixing and editing through my Tascam recorder. But because I've never worked with anybody before or taken any recording courses, I've never learned the secrets to a good sound. The one feature I've learned to be extremely thankful for is turning on the vocal compressor which makes the vocals sound great. But I don't know how to do that for instruments. The guitar is wild and raw. I want to control it and make it more full and crisp. How do I "compress" all the other instruments? Is it only possible by buying a compressor? What is this "noise gate" I keep hearing about? haha Is it possible to get a good solid sound using the equipment that I currently have? I know I won't achieve gold-record sound without a gold-record studio. But I'm hoping that I can get a sound that's at least somewhat competitive in the indie market, not that I'm going for $$.

    Any help/thoughts/ideas/resources/advice/mentoring would be greatly appreciated.

    If you fancy yourself a listen so you can hear what things sound like currently, check me out:

    The Peacocks | Facebook
    Google <-- MySpace page (dunno why it says Google)

  2. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Munich / Germany
    Home Page:
    I really want to help, but I have a living outside RO..

    What I gather from your post is that you have no real idea what you are doing, but you want to learn "the good sound" with
    next to no budget nor gear and hardly any self-studies. I know, this is the Home Recording section of RO. But, can you Google?
    Noise gate - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I think, it would be much more efficient to learn all the basics you need and then come here with specific questions where you got stuck.
    This job is a never stop learning profession. It takes years to get behind the trade. Audio schools or reading and self-studying is the only way, along
    with on-job-training that gets you somewhere. If you want to do it post-by-post through a forum you should have Highlander gens. It will takes ages and
    the information you gather will be partly flawed.

    Go to a music store and buy a good book on recording... Safe money for gear, recognise that the cheaper way is to go with a DAW software, eventhough
    I personally miss my console everytime I start mixing...
    DAW key-turn that works 5.000 $, Console and outboard FX eqiv. to a DAW 30.000 $ +++ (excl. monitors and mics, of course)
  3. treidm

    treidm Active Member

    Jun 10, 2011
    WOW! Condescending & Rude reply. I just joined this forum today. Hope this isn't how things are here?

    Peacocks you can record completely standalone (No computers).
    For compressors I will offer a few suggested points to start, then you can diddle till you get it right.

    Electric Guitar:
    Threshold set for constant compression (around -3dB) "turning the Threshold up or down for a thinner or chunkier tone"
    Ratio set for 6:1
    Knee set for Soft
    Peak/RMS set for RMS

    Threshold set so only the peaks are compressed (around 0dB)
    Ratio set for 4:1
    Knee set for Hard
    Peak/RMS set for Peak
    Don't know your attack/release settings but try..
    Attack set around 9 o’clock
    Release set around 10 o’clock

    Give these a try and diddle around, you will get it, just be patient.

    I did the computer based recording and realized I got just as good if not better recordings, with standalone gear, done years ago, and I liked the hands on feel better. So I am re-building my home studio and completely steering clear of computer recording. I am on a budget so buying some used, or mid to lower grade gear at first is a must. Going back to standalone and also going to incorporate more analog into the chain.

    Do what you like and remember, the album "Nebraska" by Bruce Springsteen, was recorded on a TASCAM 424 4-track cassette recorder.
  4. Ripeart

    Ripeart Active Member

    May 13, 2011
    Miami, FL
    Home Page:
    Big K wasn't condescending or rude, s/he is actually right on target. Go to school, read everything you can get your hands on, offer to work for free at a studio, and lurk forums. Most importantly the OP should do projects and experiment. When you run into an issue, post the issue here and it will be answered thoughtfully and fully, usually!

    The questions asked are extremely general and it would be a waste of time to respond specifically. That being said, generate thoughtful questions and you will get thoughtful responses. All of the advice and help on these forums is free and some of it is incredibly insightful. Respect common sense and help others help you!

    My advice to the OP is to post an equipment list so we can address the weakest points first. Good luck mang.
  5. treidm

    treidm Active Member

    Jun 10, 2011
    Not everyone is looking for a career in the recording industry and/or doesn't have the funds to go to school. They may not even have a real studio within 100 miles of them. He/She may just have a home studio on a very small budget and is not savvy enough to even know what to list in question or how to ask in the way a seasoned engineer would understand. Until it's revealed that a person is NOT serious, I personally don't think any help is as you said, is "a waste of time to respond". I always try and remember when times in life I have been very uninformed about something and couldn't articulate my questions, but was so thankful when I got help anyway. They tried to NICELY prod the information they needed from me to help, and some would just offer general help.

    Just because someone doesn't have the same desire to be a "working commercial studio engineer", doesn't mean he/she doesn't have a passion for recording themselves or others at home.

    I can't discern who deserves help and who is a waste of time to help.
    I'll just try and help, if possible.

    Good luck in your career, Reid
  6. Tom Fodor

    Tom Fodor Active Member

    Jun 25, 2003
    Queensland Australia
    Start at the beginning. Do some reading about acoustic design and treatment of your rooms (this can be done for next to nothing and will deliver better results than $20k worth of turd polishing equipment. Once you understand these principles the rest will begin to fall into place. It's all about maintaining the quality from source to finished product. Do not buy cheap gear just so you can have something to work with, save and buy the very best you can afford. One great mic is better than 20 average ones. One great Channel strip will serve you better than a desk jam packed mediocrity. Apply this to everything you do in your studio and you will get great results. Oh and don't listen to fools on forums who don't have a clue what the are talking about. try to learn from other peoples mistakes, only idiots who don't listen try to learn from their own or by diddle-ing blindly. There, you now have a place to start,and I'm sure that many of the experienced and well educated engineers who frequent this forum will be be more than willing to offer you practical usable advice. You need to be asking the right questions young one. Read some books, like "Modern recording techniques" and you will know what is going on a bit better.

    Lesson one

    Quality in = quality out.
  7. Given To Fly

    Given To Fly Active Member

    Jan 5, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    I admire your desire to go mostly analog. But it may a difficult thing to do. I'll just throw this out there; I got into recording through the Avid Eleven Rack. At the moment, Sweetwater is selling them for $699 and it comes with Pro Tools 10. It's a ridiculous bargain: Your are getting either the Eleven Rack for free, or Pro Tools 10 for free. I realize this throws you right back into digital recording but if you want to eventually get Pro Tools, the Eleven Rack is an awesome preamp/audio interface to go along with it.
    As for acoustic treatment and room design, it would probably be more useful to get something, anything, recorded first. It may not sound great at first but it will help you understand why room treatment is so important as well as prepare you for that "little slice of hell." :)
    But definitely consume as much information as you can by talking with experts, the Internet is 50/50, books are certainly more reliable.
    You sound like you have a fair grasp on what you are doing. There not many people who go down the analog path, but there might be easier ways to get the sound you want. Just my 2 cents! :)
  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    You do realize that you don't need to drop 3 grand on a Pro Tools system to get really good results from a digital recording platform, right?

    An average current PC, a decent audio I/O, and a program like Reaper can get you up and running and kicking the $*^t out of your current rig and it's limitations, to the point where I guarantee you that within two hours of using it, you'll wonder why you even bothered with a consumer grade analog multi track.

    You also need to do research.... A LOT of research, on things like EQ, panning, gain structure... and by all means PLEASE... if you do nothing else...PLEASE research Gain Reduction (compressors, limiters) as well as downward expanders (noise gates)... the worst thing a newbie can do is to slap a compressor on every track with no regard to what it is or what it actually does. Out of all the problems I hear with new recording hobbyists, misuse of gain reduction is probably problem number 1.... and number 2... and number 3....

    You don't need a degree in this field to record and have fun. But you do need to know what the tools are and what they do before you use them - if you want to have anything or anywhere near that of a listenable end result. Put it this way....I'm not a carpenter, but I do know not to use a wrench to pound in a nail...

    And, while Big K's answer may have come off as terse, the truth is, this craft is so broad, so wide, and encompasses so much that it's impossible for those of us who are experienced to answer questions that are vague.

    It's not your fault, per se'... but you do need to do a little research on your own. We can certainly help, but we ain't gonna do it or learn it for you.

    We all started knowing little to nothing about this craft... which is part art and part science... those of us who became professionals at it put in our time, our discipline and our years, to study and learn, in many cases, on our own, and for many of us old enough to have started out on tape - this was back in a world when there was no google, no yahoo - we didn't have the wealth of info at our fingertips like you do today with the mere click of a mouse.

    By all means, ask your questions... but it's gonna help us to help you a lot more if you do some of your own thinkin' and learning.


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