Recording flat or not

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by alfonce, Aug 12, 2005.

  1. alfonce

    alfonce Guest

    Hi there,

    I am about to embark on a recording using a hard disk recorder and a digital desk and an mpc 4000 along with a whole host of live instruments.

    I just wonderd if I should record to disk without any eq, compression or fx and then add these back on top later.

    Its a little different with the mpc as this is a mix from as many as 20 internal tracks down to 2 tracks on my hd recorder - its only 8 track.

    My feeling is to get everyting into my hd recorder at optimum signal to noise and then when it starts to come to mix - add all the eg fx and compression then.


  2. remco

    remco Guest

    That's common practice to record 'flat'
    You could use a bit of compression/limiter when you record it to 'tape'

  3. TornadoTed

    TornadoTed Guest

    Yeah I would generally record flat, maybe just a little bit of compression and some bass roll off on overheads, HH, tambourine etc.
  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    It depends on what you are trying to do.

    Recording "flat" (sans EQ and dynamics processing) is the approach to use if you want a "modern sound" .... if you are trying to get something to sound like the 70' or 80's (all analog) you will not get there recording flat and then adding EQ and compression later, especially if you are mixing "in the box" or with a small mixer. I don't care what plugs or FX cards you have, they just don't sound the same. Also many of those old recordings were processed both at tracking and at mix .... some of those sounds cannot be achieved any other way. I ran ADATs for years with an analog console and outboard and it sounded very good despite the 16 bit sampling rates. The difference came from the MCI console and URIE and Manley comp / limiters.

    Once I got rid of the board and moved into DAW at 24 bits, I found I couldn't get the same sound. It has taken some time poking and hoping and some new mic pres for me to find the right combination of elements to use on the way "into the box" in order to get the sounds I have gotten used to. I EQ sometimes and compress or limit almost all the time. Of course I have lived with my comps and limiters for years (and they are very good ones) so I know what to expect from them. It's easy to predict the results.

    Until you do know where you are headed, it's safest to record sans EQ and dynamics but don't dismiss the approach completely and when you have an extra minute or two, try taking a few dB off the top with a comp or limiter on the way to the recorder. Your mixes will love you for it!
  5. sickyboy

    sickyboy Guest

    Kurt, I'm using a mackie 1604vlz pro going direct out to a 002R. I have outboard comp and effects plus eq on the channel strip but i always record dry just utilizing the mic pres. Maybe i should run the kick and snare thru the comp first? maybe some eq on the overheads? Dosent my mixer bypass those things when using direct out? how about panning? should i do that on the mixer? Reading these boards, you seem to take alot of time helping these cats out. Thats hellacool...
  6. jahme

    jahme Guest

    I would definitely have the vocals sounf flat. However, in my behringer mixer, i put the EQ's for HI more and LO less. this makes the vocals sound flat and clear.
  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    I'm gonna expand on what Kurt says here a bit. All in all, much of it is very good info.

    DAWs and Tape work and sound completely different. In many ways, the DAW is superiour to tape in that it's far easier to correct mistakes of bad takes and so on, but certainly, the sound of tape and the common practice of "tracking wet" to tape made it much more of an art than simply tracking dry and loading on a bunch of hacked Waves plugs...

    However, don't feel that all is lost if you track dry - you can still get very good results using outboard boxes (or plugs, but outboard will be what I'm talking about here) with dry tracks.

    Here's what I mean. If you're not sure, record it dry (or "flat"). This gives you more options in the future anyway. Your sound will be a tad lifeless and overly clean. Solo a track that you want to work on - say a vocal track. Patch it to an Aux Bus in your DAW. The output of your Aux bus should be sent to an output channel on your soundcard. Take the output and run it to your boxes (compressor/reverb/etc). Now take the input back in to your box onto a new channel. This will increase your track count by one and depending on the DAW, could cause a little latency on the newly recorded track (easily adjustable by sliding it back in time.)

    You now have 2 tracks - the dry (flat) one and the processed one. Considering the amazing track count of some DAWs nowadays, you truly have the option of making some amazing sounds this way. It takes a while (as it all has to be done in real time, no clicking "render" on an external compressor :cry: ), but the results can be amazing.

    The fact is, you can get some amazing (even vintage) sounds out of today's great DAWs.

    Now get to it and learn as much as you can about those amazing external boxes out there...

    J. :D
  8. sickyboy

    sickyboy Guest

    Thats great advice.

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