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westhemann

recording equipment

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I have a Tascam US-1641 (8 XLR (microphone) inputs, 4 TRS 1/4" inputs, 2 amped guitar 1/4" inputs, midi in/out, spdif (RCA) in/out) all with simultaneous recording, a Line 6 TonePort UX2 (for modeling guitars and stuff), a Shure SM57, SM58, and three cheap but good Nady SP-5 microphones (I got all 3 for $20).

Just remember that a $1000 microphone will NOT instantly improve your recordings drastically over a $100 microphone. Other things, such as phase cancellation, microphone placement, room acoustics, preamps, compressors, parametric EQ make a world of difference. Learn about these terms/techniques and you'll notice over time, a significant improvement in your recordings. Know the difference between dynamic, condenser, and ribbon microphones, etc. Eventually you'll want to invest in a pair of studio monitors, but that's only if you start moving into a more sophisticated degree of recording.

Actual sound -> Microphone -> Interface -> Effects, EQ, etc. -> Final Export

Remember this chain - if one part of it screws up, the quality of the entire track is compromised. A broken guitar amp won't sound good, a microphone two floors up isn't going to pick up anything, an interface with preamps with tons of white noise will eviscerate your track, messing up your equalizer and making your guitar sound like a cellphone ringtone won't help, and exporting it at 32kbps mp3 is just going to sound plain bad.

My suggestion: Start simple. Sometimes, if you limit yourself to one or two microphone & guitar inputs, you keep your recordings much easier to manage. I started recording drumset with only one microphone, now I record with five microphones. If I had started with 5 microphones I would have had no idea how to place them, and things would have sounded terrible, and I just wouldn't had learned well.

If anyone ever wants help with recording, feel free to ask. I've been experimenting with recording myself (then my current band) for 2-3 years (I think), and just recently I've gotten my first request for another band to record at my house.

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yeha you can buy some pretty decent books that tell you were to place mic's esp. with regaurds to drum kits

i know roughly were to place the mics if you doing the whole kit but really a couple of decent condensers and a kick drum can do a good job

a rodes Nt3 is a good affordable condenser for drums

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RyanD- That sounds like very solid advise from what I have found. I especially agree with your showing the order of importance from source to final export. If a person could keep the order of importance in perspective they will have a better shot at good recordings. Although I don't discount the value of a good microphone that can do its job well. The best mic in the world has to be used properly or you will not capture the sound. Again Very solid advise.

I have tracked quite a few different bands/ or individuals. Some people can grasp the difference between live play and studio work, but it can be a real challenge when they do not understand. I have a brother in law that is a very consistent drummer, and has very good technique and control over his dynamics. He is very easy to record. I had a young fella that was a really cool live performer, but his technique made it challenging, and he could not keep his dynamics in check. I tried and tried to explain that when he played his open hat really hard, then would do this little delicate quiet work on his ride, then have his double kick work soft through a bit here and then almost put the beater through the head on the next couple measures. You just can't track like that. Recording different musicians can be fun and frustrating (I think drums have always been very challenging, almost as much as vocals).

Peace,Rich

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Thanks for the compliments!

Yeah, it's really hard to record drummers in particular..you have to tell them to not play like they're playing a live show, but if they do that, then they usually lose their "groove," and it juts gets messy after a while. Most people don't even understand how long it takes to get everything set up and then successfully record a good take. Good luck on your efforts! Hopefully they are paying you well :D

Tim - Analog compressors are pretty much not really useful for anyone unless you're a true pro audio man who gets paid and can live off his salary. Digital compressors can do the job much easier and cheaper for the home recording enthusiast. What are you recording?

For guitar amps, you typically only need one microphone. More than one microphone means you will have phase cancellation unless you spend a week placing them so that they are fully in phase, and that gets really, really messy. Try taking that SM57 and finding a good spot for it. Look up on the internet and see what other people have done, but don't copy their methods in their actuality. Build off of them. That's how I started, and eventually you'll find a position and technique that works well for you and your applications.

Most people stray from placing the microphone in the dead center of the cabinet speaker, but I know a professional who takes his Royer microphone and shoves it right in there (:D ..not like that) and gets a very impressive sound off of it. It's all in experimentation. There are so many different factors everywhere that no technique will provide the same results as someone else. Your actual instrument, room acoustics, everything I mentioned before.

What I'm trying to say is, take what you have right now, and do what you can to get the best sound out of them that you can. I wasn't able to get a good drumset sound until I tried some pretty unconventional methods after spending at least 2-3 hours a day just moving them and performing various tests. Make some recordings, post them up here and I'll give them a listen and see if I can do anything to help you out!

Good luck!

Also..what equipment do you have? DAW? Microphones, preamps, audio interfaces, anything. I can better tailor my response to fit your needs if I can get that information. Cheers!

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would a compressor help?

It can to a degree, but you don't want to overuse it. If you are forced to compress too much to maintain a usable level you get a wall of mud. I use analog limiters, and compressors a bit (depending on what I am recording). They should be fairly transparent though, and I try to use them to allow me to push closer to the edge with very dynamic instruments (like drums). There is just nothing you can do when the player can't keep a reasonable degree of control though. If the compression is an effect, use the instruments signal chain. I am very cautious with compression up through mix down, layers of compression get ugly, and you want to have a fairly clean pallet for mastering (where most will compress to optimise your levels, it is so common most CD's would seem weak if you didn't).

As for micing cabs. I have been using two mics for a while (one at the cone, one set back a bit). They are tracked seperately, and can give you some cool options at mix down.

Peace,Rich

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If it's on the cheap, you'll get great bang-for buck out of the KRK Rokit5. It's not your only option, but it's one of the ones that's always mentioned so I figured I'd be the one. :D It's what I have, but I also have no real basis of comparison. No idea if other monitors in the range are better or worse. I only A/B'd with a set of Yorkvilles, and the KRKs won out.

Greg

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I compared the KRKs to some M1 Active 520s, and the KRKs sounded really bright and distinct, i really loved them. The Active 520s weren't as bright, but sounded just as distinct, plus they were £100 cheaper. I'll keep an eye out on the bay for the KRKs, but for now, the Active 520s are great!!

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As far as monitors, go with the best that you can afford and that sound good to your ears (as far as a general sound). Then allocate enough money for a cheap boom box or other listening device (I know, there are those who will consider this sacrilidge on this forum... just saying what i know works...) to listen to the tracks as many who download to their iPod or as a file ripped to mp3 format would hear them. This will let you know whet the end user will hear. After all if they don't like the sound, there will be no recommendations to their friends to check out your tracks! After all, we don't all have the luxury of having a pair of $4000 reference monitors sitting out in the back room...

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I haven't been following this thread, but it's timely since the new band's recording our demos tomorrow. We'll be doing that ourselves here at my place, in the old barn (actually sounds great during rehearsals).

The monitor question: Buy them as soon as you can. I have a pair of Alesis Monitor One MK2s...don't know if they sound better or worse than another set, but what I can say is they make a huge difference in mixing and getting the mix to sound right everywhere else. It took me a long time to give in and spend the bucks for them, but I really should have bought them much earlier -- no point in spending all that time fretting about mic placement, etc. if your mixes sound like crap. And without monitors, they will. Don't remember exactly what I paid for the Alesis set but they were reasonably priced (I already had the amp, so I bought passive) for the quality. Plus the place I bought from threw in a set of monitoring headphones (nice to have A/B capability).

I find it fairly easy to get the guitar sound I like, I'm more worried about the drums. I'll have up to 5 channels for those. Need two for the guitar (dual amp setup) and one for a tracking vocal. I have 8 inputs on my soundcard (Marion Marc 8 midi), so there's my limit.

One suggestion I read says to use just three mikes -- one pointed at the kick, the other two as overheads (but positioned at a level between the toms and cymbals), and those two can be placed behind the kit, instead of in front. The reasoning being that this treats the kit as a single instrument, and will produce a more natural sounding recording. I'm hoping it will be easier to mix too.

So I'm tempted to go that route -- but I'm thinking of adding a fourth mike farther away (and in front of the drums) to capture some of the room sound. I've read that I can place that mike sort of pointed toward the kick, and it will help bring out the snare too.

I plan to speak to the drummer about his dynamics, especially with the cymbals --he definitely slams on those things when we're playing live and the worry is that they'll dominate the rest of the drums. He's got pretty good control, so we'll see.

I use Cool Edit Pro for the multitracker. I've looked at more recent apps, but none of them seem to offer the same sort of instant accessibility as Cool Edit Pro. (I haven't looked at Adobe Audition, the updated version of Cool Edit Pro, but since Adobe's stuff all seems to get overly complex very quickly, I've been mistrustful). I really hate working with Cubase, just seems counterintuitive. CEP works great, almost never crashes (once you've figured out a couple of quirks), and is so simple to use it's ridiculous (I don't use Midi).

I just discovered a cool feature in CEP that lets you split a track into several new tracks based on the frequency ranges you set --I'm thinking this will be very useful for mixing the drum tracks, especially if I use just three mikes.

I'm hoping to be able to borrow an SM57 for the guitar --otherwise, I'll have to use an SM58.

Preamps are the biggest problem-- my mixer only has four. I bought a mic preamp, which gives me five, and I'll use a Sansamp Tri-AC for one side of the guitars. I'll have to use a PA mixer for the last two preamps, but one track is the vocals, which will be redone later anyway. (I have an old Teac 3440s here-- 4-track reel-to-reel-- which would give me 4 preamps too, but I lost the power cord!)

Last thing I'm trying to decide is what resolution to record at. I'll do 24 bit (CEP actually interpolates at 32-bit) but from what I've read, I'm going to stick to 44.1k -- although my computer's brand new, plenty of RAM, I could probably handle 8 tracks @ 96k --I just wonder if it's worth it, since these are only meant as demos.

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we are using the Mackie firewire interface (satellite onyx) and it's working very well with our laptops! and tracktion comes free along with it. We use sonar though (been using it for over 4 years).

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Mickguard.

The idea of using three microphones is an old and very very good idea (think of all the motown!) set it up as you suggest and move all the microphones until you get a good balance. or what you can also do is stick two microphones in a stereo pair where they sound good with the whole set and mic up the snare and the kick just to add that little bit extra as necessary as they are the most important rythmwise. The more mics the more time you spend mucking about trying to sort phase issues! another option is to use a mixer for the drums using loads of mics and mixing them down and recording that. If you like a huge kick sound rip apart an old speaker and use the woofer as a huge passive microphone!

There is an excelent book we used as a text book at college.

Modern Recording Techniques by David miles huber and Robert E stein. would be well worth a look. it covers everything you would need to know from mics to acoustic treatments etc but its not annoyingly technical!

found a link for it here

="http://www.modrec.com/excerpt.html"]http://www.modrec.com/excerpt.html

thats not a particularly good excerpt they have up though!

Edited by joshvegas

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If you like a huge kick sound rip apart an old speaker and use the woofer as a huge passive microphone!

I read about that trick - I have a 2x12 cabinet here --- would I be able to run a lead from that into the mixer then? (It has a mono/stereo switch, so I'd only use one speaker). Should I be worried about blowing anything up?

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I haven't actually made one. I'v only used one when mucking about ages ago and that was just a spare car speaker cone attached to an xlr and fired into the mixer there is probably a huge impedence mismatch but it sounded huge! (you need another mic to get the click of the initial hit) you can also run your finger on the cone and tap it but watch your levels! I'm pretty sure muse have done this for one of their albums if you google it you might find out more my initial search came out with the yamaha sub kick and hme made equivalents which fix the speaker in a small drum.

A guitar driver i would have thought didn't have a good enough frequency range I'd more inclined to grab an old hi fi speaker (the classic is to use a Yamaha NS10 monitor). Secondly you need to remove the speaker form the cab to allow the driver to move freely (a sealed box especially would be like having a big cushion behind it!) just like a neuman type capsule.

I've also used microphonic guitars (tune the strings and you can get weird filtering effects and headphones for a really nasty cheap sound!)

Edited by joshvegas

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I've also used microphonic guitars (tune the strings and you can get weird filtering effects and headphones for a really nasty cheap sound!)

Heh heh, now you're talking my language. I'm definitely trying to avoid any semblance of that ultra-slick production that pretty much destroyed most music in the last decade. Even bands that should sound good get boring after a while, because the recordings are just too perfect.

My favorite albums are all pretty low-fi when I think about it...I've been listening to different things lately, trying to get ideas of global sounds. And pretty much everything I'm really attracted to ends up being pretty raw --sometimes just because of when it was recorded (rockabilly) or other factors (Velvet Underground, Suicide).

I think my goal here though is to get fairly clean, somewhat neutral recordings for the most part. That way I'll be able to play with the software to really develop what I'm looking for.

Oh yeah, I also find it interesting that most of the music I listen to has the drums mixed pretty far down...even though in this band (since there's only two of us) the drums actually take on more of a lead role...if you can imagine that...

I do have an old guitar amp speaker kicking around, I'll try stripping a jack to hook that up...unless someone is going to tell me I'll blow up a preamp that way...

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You'll not blow the preamp its just a microphone just treat it how you'd treat any microphone start with zero gain and build it up and avoid hitting the cone when the gain is well up! I doub't you'd get a clean sound though. jusf found this article on sound on sound http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec03/arti.../richcostey.htm scroll down to the picture of the two drums in the pool you see an ns10 driver on one of them.

If you like lo fi and world sounds you need a bulbul tarang http://chandrakantha.com/articles/indian_music/bulbul.html

I had an electric one until someone stole it!

Edited by joshvegas

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I used to use 2 mics for drums, but now i use 6 and i prefer that sound. You can get some good recordings only using 2 mics, but i like to EQ all the kit separately. I also prefer to record at 96KHz. I used to record at 44KHz but for some reason it would always sound muddy. I think i've finally got a set-up worked out that suits my needs =D

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I'd agree with the 96k absolutely! I wasn't trying to suggest that numerous mics was worse just that they are not necessary to record a top quality drum track and provided you have a good ear you can set up the microphones so that EQ is barely necessary! It all depend how you work and what you want out the other end.

At college we had pro level studios mixers tape machines etc. fun but I was much happier in the smaller demo type studios with just a small mixer and an eight track reel to reel analogue tape machine a band that knew their stuff were tight and in tune and go for a live take. you have to be more creative but man it sounds good when you get it right!

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We ended up recording in 24bit/96k ...computer and soundcard had no problems at all handling the higher resolution, and there's a definite difference over the 24bit/44k recordings I'd been making. I'm really amazed at how little noise there is (on the drum tracks....my guitar/amp/pedals are a whirlwind of buzzes, hums and other goodies).

We also used five mikes finally. Couldn't get the sound we wanted with just three mikes -- partly because the drummer does a lot of work on the toms. So in the end we had a mike in the kick, one on the snare, one on the lo tom, one between the hi toms and finally an 'room' mike positioned to catch the cymbals and hi-hat.

The sound is pretty decent, considering our inexperience and the rough conditions. With a bit of EQ I'm finding it pretty easy to nudge everything into place. It's going to take a while to get all the mixes done...I've got to re-record my vocals, and some of my guitar parts (since I recorded a tracking vocal at the same time)...

The kick is still a little...floppy...hard to describe--doesn't have the tight focus that I'd like it to have.

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I'm not sure what hardware you have. Kicks are hard to get right I find if you really can't get it to sound good you can run the kick track through a gate and use it as a trigger for a sample and mix the two together to get the idiosyncracies and a fuller sound. I'm sure you could do this in software but I've never done it and wouldn't know where to start! where was the mic placed on the drum and what was it also was the drum tuned? that makes a BIG difference!

I can't recommend that book enough by the way.

Edited by joshvegas

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I'm not sure what hardware you have. Kicks are hard to get right I find if you really can't get it to sound good you can run the kick track through a gate and use it as a trigger for a sample and mix the two together to get the idiosyncracies and a fuller sound. I'm sure you could do this in software but I've never done it and wouldn't know where to start! where was the mic placed on the drum and what was it also was the drum tuned? that makes a BIG difference!

I can't recommend that book enough by the way.

I'll be picking up the book.

The kick is okay just a bit flabby. I'm experimenting with building a matching track with a good-sounding kick sample I have here. That should help focus the sound (although it's going to take a while).

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I have that book and its a great read.

It took me ages to get a decent kick. When i was using two mics it would sound really good, but when i started using 6 and mic'ing up the bass drum seperately it sounded flat and dull. I usually add a little compression to my kicks to give them a little bit more life.

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I have that book and its a great read.

It took me ages to get a decent kick. When i was using two mics it would sound really good, but when i started using 6 and mic'ing up the bass drum seperately it sounded flat and dull. I usually add a little compression to my kicks to give them a little bit more life.

When we get into a studio, we'll be able to spend more time working out the right sound. In the meantime, I have a few kick drum samples that I like -- it's pretty easy to plug them into a track so that it matches exactly the original kick track (within a couple thousandths of a second). Takes quite a long time to program, but the result is better than we were able to achieve by ourselves. Although I use both tracks -- our kick track has a nice boomy sound to it, the programmed track has better definition.

I'm doing the same with some of the snare tracks (which takes even longer than the kick). There's no way I can capture all the nuances of his snare playing with the snare hits I have, so I'm using them just to add a bit of crack to the overall mix (the snare he was playing was more woody than snarish, if that makes sense).

As I'm mixing these tracks I'm finding that most of the time I'm muting the two tom mikes we put on -- the kick tracks, the snare mike and the overhead/room mike pretty much cover the full picture, the tom mikes just add in more sound than necessary.

I'll be seeing a friend tomorrow who's trained as a studio engineer, I'm going to see if he'll come by to give me some tips n' tricks on mixing.

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