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Different ways to do things - stuff we can do when tracking - What are your "tricks"?


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I wanna know what everybody does when they are tracking their recordings. I'll share some of my new experiments.

Recording is like playing music, an infinite climb up the mountain. There are always new things.

I've started compressing lightly on the way in. I may add another compressor plugin on mix down. Currently I'm using 2 different compressors - ART VLA Pro II for 2 channels (Focusrite ISA Two mic pre) and I've repurposed my Presonus Eureka channel strips - bypassing the mic pre, which I don't love - and going from other mic preamps (Blue Robbie and Focusrite ISA One) into the Return, which provides the Eureka compressor and EQ sections. Those can both be bypassed and the compressor can be in front of the EQ or behind it depending on your switching choices. So I leave that setup plugged in and ready. 

Compressors for tracking vocals and acoustic guitars are set to low ratios, no higher than 1:3 and the Threshold is set to catch the louder sounds and bring them down a bit. The Eureka EQ is 3 overlapping bands of true parametric EQ (Q, Frequency and Gain controls). I do use them a little bit, typically with the Q set to modify a larger, smoother swath of frequencies. These EQs can be used surgically but I don't want that for tracking. A subtle bit of bass rolloff or treble boost is more or less the extent of my use. Bypass button is your friend here, a quick way to compare results. 

I've been running electric bass guitar into the DI of the second channel of the ISA Two and from there into the ART VLA II. I have the ratio up a bit there 5:1 or so, the Threshold set a bit higher and the Attack a bit slower to allow realistic transients to be uncompressed. It's one of the best bass tones I've gotten, really fun to play. FWIW, I'm using an older Peavey Fury "Handcrafted in the USA" bass, it came with Schaller tuners and I put an EMG P-A pickup in it. D'Addario Brite Flats, I do a bit of sliding and round wound strings have too much finger noise. 

My other new discovery is based on a couple of microphone kits I got from Microphone Parts. I snagged one of the first run T-67 kits with the Platinum transformer, built it and it's a beauty. That is now my primary vocal mic, at the front of my humble plastic tub "isolation booth" and slanted upwards just a bit to reduce bleed from acoustic guitar in case my scratch track turns out to be a keeper. Nothing really new about any of that - but - I also built a Mod Kit with the T84-55 kit and the T 6.5 XF transformer, that combination has the highest level of second order harmonics of the MicParts kits. I've put that mic behind and to the side of the T-67. Putting a HPF up around 250hz on the "harmonic distortion mic" and blending in a bit of that tone with the sound of the T-67 makes the vocal track "pop" out a bit, it adds a different sort of "clarity" despite being distortion. It's not the same thing as adding treble in the mix, not at all. It's very smooth for one thing. 

I'm still messing about with all of the above, I haven't got any finished songs to share yet. So far these tricks are slowly getting tweaked but I like the results. 

So, what are your "tricks?" Cheers, Kuru

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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  • 1 year later...


Few and far between.  :)  But I always, always record totally "dry." Because it's much easier to add than subtract. 

 

The other one is try to record whenever the mood strikes and accept it won't be perfect or a keeper and not worry about it. Once in awhile, it will be a keeper anyway. 

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3 minutes ago, bill5 said:

Few and far between.  :)  But I always, always record totally "dry." Because it's much easier to add than subtract. 

 

The other one is try to record whenever the mood strikes and accept it won't be perfect or a keeper and not worry about it. Once in awhile, it will be a keeper anyway. 

And, having spent 13 months at a friend's vacant home due to water damage at my condo that apparently takes forever to fix, I got really used to working with a minimal ITB system and I like that now. Most of what I wrote in the OP is now in my past as I simplify. I do still use the Tech 21 Q-Strip on bass but just straight into the interface. 

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It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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3 minutes ago, bill5 said:

Yep I'm very much a minimalist and not at all ashamed to say no small part of that is getting lazier as I get older. But even that aside I think it's a good way to go music-wise and wish I had learned it sooner.

I am a curious sort and looking for both the best sound and the simplest way to get it. 

With so much of our new recording gear being digital, there are huge improvements in sound in just a few years. 

Some of the newer guitar amp plugins sound fantastic. And there is more than one way to use them, they are not just for guitars anymore. 

So easy to make a duplicate track, drop something fun in one of them and blend to taste. 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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35 minutes ago, bill5 said:

Absolutely. The only recording gear I have any interest in is an audio interface, speakers, and a few mics. 

I'll keep and use my Tech 21 Q-Strip if for no other reason than I can quickly and easily get great bass tracks with it. 

And I have one of those Focusrite ISA One lunchbox sort of contraptions on the desk. It's a great height for raising my screen so I might as well give it another spines a mic pre. 

I liked it as a mic pre in the past, transformer and a bit of grit in the tone. 

I'm using an SSL 2+ and the mic preamps are very clean and quiet. The headphone amps are really good too, especially considering the price of the unit. 

That said, at some point I'll probably get the SSL 12 because 4 channels in would be just about perfect for setting things up and leaving them without getting too far into it. 

I'll be selling a pair of Mackie HR824 monitors. They're nice but a bit too much for my small space. Yamaha MSP5s are working great here. 

 

Yes on mics!!! I'm all cardioid at this point, the space isn't good for omni or figure 8 and hyper or super cardioid mics have a tail, picks up background noise. 

Some Mic-Parts condensers and 3 different moving coil mics, I'm good. 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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I'm studio-less at the moment :(  And have exactly two mics to my name. I don't want to get into building one until I move, but that keeps getting put off. Eventually when I do, I plan to buy about a handful of mics just to try diff things (all for vocals). 

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I've been experimenting with using outboard gear as plug in inserts in various places in my DAW. These days I'm mostly the songwriter, producer and performer, and I find it critical to get a nearly there mix right up front in order to feel the song properly, especially for drums. Mix as you go! One thing I like about this approach is the tracks remain dry though I hear plenty of goo. I still find most digital recording to be too clinical, especially my own!

 

I use Studio One and the "pipeline" functionality works well for me. (Pipeline allows you to assign sends and returns to outboard gear from the DAW in a plug in UI). I have an Aphex 141B DAC which helps me use eight of my 24 ADAT outs and I return to open line ins.

 

The fun part is...I recently acquired two Drawmer units - a 1974 EQ and a 1978 Compressor. I've been recording live drums through the 1978 on the drum bus. I'm one of those drummers that likes it to sound big in my headphones and am pleased as punch with this toy. Super flexible, can be obtrusive but I dial it way back, just enough to keep things in check and a little forward.

 

I also have an ART PRO VLA II set up on a parallel bus to my mix bus and send both of those to what I call the 2 bus where I EQ the whole thing through the 1974. I like what this does to the sound I hear when tracking.

 

I'm surprised with 3 hardware inserts that latency isn't an issue but so far it's been good. I'm sure as track counts grow so too will latency but I think in this configuration the latency for each device is independent and contemporaneous so only the longest lag matters. I have these returns going into a Focusrite Clarett 8PreX which has no trouble with the ADC part of the picture. The dirty patch bay is starting to piss me off though :D

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  • 8 months later...

Kind of specific but...

Things to try in micing a Leslie speaker (122, 147, etc):
- a pair of your choice for top rotor placed at back (louvered side) corner, pointing each to the center of each side.
Nice sound.

- a decent boundry mic placed in cavity, back corner (pad underneath). A nasty-wonderful tonality.
- add a direct out to organ (OBL-2 for example) to low-pass and balance with the low rotor mic.
- M/S micing

Piano (baby G to grand):
- add a choice mic placed under piano, pointing upward from near back toward center or keybed in addition to your standard micing above. 

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  • 5 weeks later...
On 12/21/2023 at 12:12 PM, JoJoB3 said:

Kind of specific but...

Things to try in micing a Leslie speaker (122, 147, etc):
- a pair of your choice for top rotor placed at back (louvered side) corner, pointing each to the center of each side.
Nice sound.

- a decent boundry mic placed in cavity, back corner (pad underneath). A nasty-wonderful tonality.
- add a direct out to organ (OBL-2 for example) to low-pass and balance with the low rotor mic.
- M/S micing

Piano (baby G to grand):
- add a choice mic placed under piano, pointing upward from near back toward center or keybed in addition to your standard micing above. 

Good stuff JoJoB3. I don't happen to own any of that gear but hopefully others will find it useful. 😇

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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If I possessed an acoustic piano of any kind, I'd be doing anything to it that didn't leave dirty fingerprints on it. A shotgun mic can open doors to other worlds. Prepared piano yields great results. but I don't think I'd be clipping things to its inner workings without a technician scowling over my shoulder. Its far removed from tweezing synth controls.

"Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium

  will surely become its signature.

 CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit –

   all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided."
      ~ Brian Eno, 1996

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Pretty much the only thing I record is vocals, everything else is software.  I just go directly from mic to interface preamp.  If I actually had any outboard gear like a compressor, I might experiment with doing it on the way in.  It's been ages since I did anything else other than a couple of lousy recordings of my acoustic guitar with a Zoom h2.   I did record my band's guitarist, nothing fancy just mono with the only mic I had on hand, my live vocal mic (e935).

It's a different world, daws...it kind of hurts my brain to record at say -18db, my fingers start twitching because that's way too low!  The tape noise will be awful in the mix!  

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