wet/dry recording

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by watchtheworldtd, Dec 22, 2008.

  1. Hi,
    I've been scouring the web to find the answer to my question, but it's rather hard to phrase so here it goes.

    set-up i have:
    sm57, m-audio audio interface.
    at3035 with some boss multitrack recorder

    all the songs i try creating sound very "wet" i think is the term.
    it sounds as if i've been listening to my songs when i'm on an airplane. the sound isn't clear and crisp. it's like i played it underwater or with cotton in my ears.

    all i want to record is vocals and acoustic guitar.
    example of what i WANT the recordings should sound like is
    his voice is very clear and his guitar is crisp.

    but what i get is something like...
    "wagon wheel"
    her guitar and voice is all damp sounding and isn't very clear

    so basically my question is...
    what techniques are the DEFINITE way to solve this or what mics/interfaces etc. solve this problem?

    thanks :)
  2. jordy

    jordy Active Member

    Aug 25, 2008
    Reedsville, PA
    Home Page:
    ummm...not sure, but i think you might benefit from completely leaving the Boss multitrack out of the loop and just recording directly into the m-audio interface....my thoughts are the less in the way of getting directly into your DAW, the cleaner the signal.
    does your m-audio have to channels you can simultaneously use?- if not, i'd record in layers....ya know- guitar first then vocals second
    hope that helped
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Well you are listening to 2 completely different concepts of recording. It seems to mean that he would like to have the sound that appeared in your first example that you liked? And you did much care for that left right girl thing & the way it sounded?

    This is more of recording technique than that of equipment. Really. In fact, they could be identical equipment. But the concepts & execution are vastly different from one another.

    So how to obtain example 1 for yourself? First off, that's not a stereo guitar. That's two guitars. The vocal, it could be a U47 that cost $5,000? Or it could be a SM58 that cost $100. I know. You think I'm joking? I'm not. I'm real. That's how you really do it. The closer you are to the microphone, will provide a more rounded & intimate sound. This comes from the low frequencies getting boosted, the closer you worked the microphone. This is called proximity effect and you can use it if you know how? If you don't know how to use it you get mud. And nobody likes mud. So the idea is, proper placement. What might that be? I recommend at least 3 to 12 inches from the microphone. Stick an extra foam pop filter on a SM58. I recommend it. Not a pantyhose lollipop. And you are listening to some reasonable compression on that vocal which is placed in the center image. That means, it's in both the left & right channels equally.

    The same with the guitars. I would put the SM58 on the guitar in numerous places. You record a little. Listen a little. You can record the guitars in stereo, twice. But you may in fact want them to play back opposing each other from left & right? That's called production. So for that one that you liked your listening to up to 6 tracks. His vocal could actually be from 2 different microphones simultaneously? But I think just one.

    Now part of the problem that you are having with your sound that you say compares to the other one you didn't like is, improper microphone placement. Improper microphone type. Poor microphone computer interface or something as awful as a built-in sound card??

    Catching my drift? It doesn't take expensive equipment to sound good. But it takes world-class smarts to know how to do it well.

    Your complaint of wet sound is a complaint of improper level setting. Improper microphone placement. Improper microphone type. Maybe you're not even aiming into the microphone? But this simple stuff is beginner stuff. So listen to your teacher and go purchase yoursel an SM58 & an inexpensive USB or FireWire computer audio interface. You'll find them from $150 to an average of around $800 at your local music store. The audio interface will probably include a limited edition of quality multitrack software that has quality reverbs, compressors, limiters, equalizer's all built in. And you will have the first example sound this time next week. Merry Christmas.

    I hope Santa Claus brings you some new gear?
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  4. okay so putting things close is good.
    now what about all this i hear about acoustics of the room etc. does putting like rubber along the door cracks and padding all my walls and having like foam wall diffusers and what not REALLY make that sound difference?

    and when you say that his vocals could be from 2 different microphones,

    do you mean he recorded his vocals with two microphones at the same time? or did he record with microphone one, and then did another track with microphone two and just layered it?

    and when you said "you are listening to some reasonable compression on that vocal which is placed in the center image."
    i have no idea what compression does to a song. i don't know what a sample sounds with and without compression.
    nor do i know what the center image is haha.

    cause my general recording process goes.
    record guitar/vocals.
    slap some reverb
    bump the high's up
    adjust volumes appropriately
    then call it a day.

    i feel like im missing a lot of the post-recording process liek effects and mastering in general
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    When I say he might be on two microphones, that's really a loaded comment. There are some folks who don't know how to work a microphone properly. So we have won on them they think they're singing into. There's another one slightly further away that is the real microphone in use. Sometimes both may be employed at the same time? It all depends on what you're listening for & want.

    I like your general recording & production concepts. Not much different from the way I do things. But with 38 years of experience. So sort of like the difference between working at McDonald's (not Douglas) or working for Lawrence Livermore laboratories.

    No idea what compression is? No idea what compression does? Sure you do. You mean you've never listen to a hit song? Oh? You have? Then you know what compression is. It's what makes things sound professional when you use it properly. That's what you find in your software and on the shelves of professional audio dealers. But I think you might find that just a little more attention to simplicity & detail will provide you with a better product. Slapping on reverb sounds like slapping on reverb. And I don't always bump the highs up. Except of course where it's applicable. And remember, less is more. Keep it simple stupid. And don't run your levels too hot. Overloaded Digital is just plain nasty sounding. Unless you're using it in a creative manner? Which I've done. Which I do. Where applicable. But recording things with overloads is just bad. There is no reason to do so in Digital. That was an old analog tape thing.

    So when you record the vocal ? Get a little closer. Keep your levels from peaking out. When you start to mix, add some compression to the vocal. You may want to add a couple of DB boost at 10kHz? But certainly not much more. You may also need to roll a little bass off also? The compression will add density to the vocal. It's that density that gives you that smooth professional flavor. The guitars will likely require more limiting than compression? Compressors & limiters are the same but used at different levels. So a limiter does just that. You set the threshold where you want the level to stop. And it will limit everything to that level.

    Starting to get the idea?

    When you start to add reverb, short, bright, dry reverb's are much more pleasant to listen to than the Sistine Chapel. So again, less is more. And who says size doesn't matter??

    Then once you finish the entire project & mix. That's when you go ahead and compress & limit the entire thing all over again. This time with different settings. You might also had a little extra equalization? So that's the mastering process. All technical instructions were obtained from bazooka bubblegum rappers. So you might want to go out and buy a few pieces?

    Look at this big bubble! (pop) oh no it's in my hair
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  6. it sounds as if compression is very importante. but if it's just so easy to say that compression seems to make that extra "dry" sound i'm looking for than how come everyone doesn't do that? it seems like there's a lot more to it than i'm thinking. or am i just overplaying this? i feel like i'm missing some huge step or understanding.

    with compression isn't there a "attack/release/and noise gate" or something of that nature that i need to adjust? i'm assuming i just need to adjust those to my own personal preferences.

    and getting rid of bass, i generally just go to the specific tracks little mini equalizer thing go down to the negatives to whatever i think sounds right. is there some kind of bass-specific-limiter that can achieve this or is what i was doing right?
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Compression and/or limiting can control signals in a way that your hand & fingers cannot. The use of & the amount of is a purely subjective entity. There are no rules. No cut and dry suggestions. Some singers are so good at working microphones and some microphones sound so good that no compression and/or limiting may not be necessary depending upon the performer & equipment used.

    Whereas, frequently, I'll use some kind of limiting on bass & electronic keyboards whose player likes to tweak their volume to full with too large a dynamic excursion. So that will get limiter. But limiting and/or compression also can bring on a dull lifelessness quality that makes it objectionable to listen to. So overaggressive limiting and/or compression can either sound good? Or it can sound very bad causing all sorts of problems such as the rise of background noise to program levels. Unnatural sounding gating can be equally awful.

    So while you now understand how important compression and/or limiting is, you'll have to start to try utilizing it to become proficient with it. You'll find that a little goes along way in tailoring the sound to your exact dementia. That's not a typo. When it comes to audio engineering we frequently get demented. So start experimenting with any kind of dynamics range plug-ins your software has ? Start with simple broadband software or hardware units. Stay away from the multiband compressors. Those are highly specialized in their functioning. So knowing how important it is you should start experimenting with it. When everything smooths out & sits right, you'll know you're there.

    I stick compressors and/or limiters on most tracks individually. Different compressor limiters on different instruments & singers. Some aggressive. Some barely moving the meter. And when it all comes together, you've got a pro product. Assuming here we are speaking in terms of popular music, rock-and-roll, gospel, etc. not, orchestral & operatic. Those are different animals and require different treatment.

    So you're getting closer
    Ms. Remy Ann David

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