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Going direct for recording...


ChrisOfDoom

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Ok, my band is in the process of recording some songs, and naturally I decided to use the DI on my Workingmans 15 to assist me. Now, all I seem to be able to get out of it is this lifeless tone, nothing like what comes out of speaker on the amp. Does the DI on the WM 15 send a signal from the preamp or does it just send the signal straight from the bass?

 

Either way I am going to try to just mic the thing tomorrow, this just isn't working for me...

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Originally posted by Whacked:

I looked at the online manual.

 

It says that no front panel controls affect its signal. also says tone & volumne is controlled by the instrument.

 

SWR Workingmans 10/12/15 manual

So, a microphone it is, no way my Squire is going to hack it on its own without some SWR love.
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In the words of Eric Cartman, "F$@& the manual". What you get from the SWR's DI is what gets plugged into the 1/4" jack filtered through a transformer. It's what my soundman and I discovered years ago. What tone you get is what comes from your bass plus any FXs plugged into the SWR 1/4" in. Score one for ACTIVE on-board preamps!!!

 

In my old band we ignored the SWR D.I. and used a direct box in the effects loop to get the SWR preamp in the mix - usually a Countryman Type 85 or a SansAmp Bass DI. At times we did use the SWR D.I. into a separate board for hard-disk recording so we could mix a pure bass sound into the recordings if the live sound was too muddy.

 

Speaking from experience here, not techknowledge.

("Dammit, Jim, I'm a bass player not a... ")

:wave:

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The best way to increase your bass tone options during the mixing process of your band's recording, is to set up two tracks for bass, and feed one with a signal from your amp's DI, and also use a mic on the speaker cab to feed a signal to the second track. By using this tracking method, a blend of the two signals at mixdown will exponentually increase your chances of getting the best recorded tone possible.
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Originally posted by Edendude:

The best way to increase your bass tone options during the mixing process of your band's recording, is to set up two tracks for bass, and feed one with a signal from your amp's DI, and also use a mic on the speaker cab to feed a signal to the second track. By using this tracking method, a blend of the two signals at mixdown will exponentually increase your chances of getting the best recorded tone possible.

What he said. I might also add that the direct signal will stay more consistant, and the mic feed will not ( it will have peaks and lows as opposed the more consistant signal from the DI ). A really good job on the mix will be just as important as getting your sound on the track. Stay involved through the whole process to be sure your vision of the track is what makes it to the final mix.
Check out my work in progress.
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Lately I've been using my "Gasp" mackie pre-amp from my cheap little 1202. Go straight into nuendo and use the clean pop bass Plugin from Native Instruments Virtual Guitarist. Somehow this signal chain seems to mirror my eden metro's sound better than whats coming out of my eden metro's DI.

Together all sing their different songs in union - the Uni-verse.

My Current Project

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I'd rather DI than just use a mic. But both is better. If you are doing both, it can really help to put a slight delay on the DI's sound to phase align in with the mic sound, thus minimising cancellation of frequencies due to the interference patterns (kind of like the tone you get using a phaser pedal set to not sweep - the mids can go a bit strange and 'hollow')

 

Don't be afraid to EQ the DI'd sound afterwards to add the fatness that it's missing - a carefully EQ'd DI sound is more likely to punch through the mix than a mic'd sound. Of course, you need to find the balance between up front punchyness and warm round support, and that's difficult to do until the whole recording is in place. Hence the 2 channel, mic'd and DI'd approach. Ah, back to where we started...

 

Alex

 

P.S. You can also try adding reverb (carefully!) or delay (or double-tracking) to fatten up and push the bass sound back into the body of the mix.

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I always use my amp modeler and speaker emmulator when I record and nothing more. My head stays at home. The combinations are endless and full warm tones easy to find.

As far as mixing consoles go I think they can tweek your freqs but not breathe life into your tone. For final mix sure, bump a knob here and there but not for foundation IMO.

Try different mikes and see how they sound. Move them around the speaker a lot until you get what you want. Not everyone can afford a $200 instrument mic and why bother when a $75 vocal mic will work as well in a lot of instances?

Most of all, have fun.

"He is to music what Stevie Wonder is to photography." getz76

 

I have nothing nice to say so . . .

 

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Originally posted by punkin' patch-ulator:

As far as mixing consoles go I think they can tweek your freqs but not breathe life into your tone. For final mix sure, bump a knob here and there but not for foundation IMO.

I'll take an EQ on a decent board over an EQ on your average bass amp any day. The gain stage of the bass amp is what is important, not the EQ.

 

Originally posted by punkin' patch-ulator:

Not everyone can afford a $200 instrument mic and why bother when a $75 vocal mic will work as well in a lot of instances?

This is absurd. I'm not saying a $75 vocal mic won't work, but to suggest it will work "as well" is insane. This is like suggesting you run your bass amp through a Marshall 4x12" guitar cabinet; it'll work.

 

$200 for a good instrument mic is a good bargin. If you can find a good instrument mic at that pricepoint, jump on it.

 

I use some economy mics recording, and I've had good results. But I would NEVER suggest they are a subsitute for good mics. The first question I ask a studio engineer is what their mic locker contains. If they get excited to tell you about their mics, they mostly likely are proud of what's in there and understand the importance of using the right tool for the right job.

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This is absurd. I'm not saying a $75 vocal mic won't work, but to suggest it will work "as well" is insane. This is like suggesting you run your bass amp through a Marshall 4x12" guitar cabinet; it'll work.
That's a really big jump from what I was trying to get across there getz. I did say in a lot of instances after all. Home recording is worlds away from studio and we all know that.

I was simply stating my opinion on the subject and trying to help the guy out a bit. I noted your opinion, but didn't happen to agree with it. That's all. Geez dude.

"He is to music what Stevie Wonder is to photography." getz76

 

I have nothing nice to say so . . .

 

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I don't think it's a big jump.

 

The fellow is worried about his tone and specifically asked about the differences between a vocal mic and instrument mic. Suggesting that he uses a standard, dynamic vocal mic to record bass is probably not going to do wonders for his recorded tone.

 

If there wasn't a substantial difference in mics, why are there so many of them? Mics are an integral part of the sound chain, and to dismiss them as unimportant (as you implied) does not do them justice. It is as important as anything else in your signal chain.

 

Why is home recording different than studio recording? Are the goals the same? You still want the same results, no? A good recorded tone?

 

STOP MICROPHONE FASCISM!

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Again, thanks for all the replies.

 

We are a 3 piece metal band so I really am looking for a distinct sound, the dull sound I'm getting now might work if we had an extra guitar player, but we don't. I am currently pondering how I would go about recording two bass tracks, but I am having a hard enough time convincing my guitar player (the guy who owns the 4 track) that we need an extra track for the kick drum. He says its hard to squish tracks together, but really he just doesn't know how to do it.

 

For those of you who have attempted to make a decent recording on a four track. How well would it work if we were to get all four tracks laid in, squish them, and then go back over with a recording for the kick drum and another one of bass? I have had all this stuff explained to me before, and I am trying to do all of this right, but I am more or less clueless.

 

And Getz, we are doing this low budget style on a digital 4 track with very limited EQ options, so I am relying om a good signal from the beginning.

 

Again, help is much appritiated.

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Hey Getz. Am I seeing something you're not?

 

Try different mikes and see how they sound.
i agree if you mic you should use the best possible but if what you have is a $50 mic with a switch on it, that's what you have. I never said (or implied) that one mic is as good as any other. That would be absurd. I think I heard what Chris was asking and somehow you missed it.

"He is to music what Stevie Wonder is to photography." getz76

 

I have nothing nice to say so . . .

 

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It's gonna pretty much suck unless you have a little better selection of outboard gear and someone in the band who knows recording. Yes, four track worked for earlier Beatles. But they had incredible resources for the day IN ADDITION to four track.

 

And very expensive microphones (some of which are still prized today) were a big part of that. Actually DI has been an important part of bass recording since it was available. And with multi-way cabs with tweeters this is even more so if you have mic and room limitations (Yes, ROOM SOUND has been one of the most important components of recording, especially when technical electronics limitations are greater).

 

The problem per se is NOT DI specifically in this case. It IS, however, either:

 

1) YOUR RIG's DI

2) or your bass sound

3) or your conception of what your bass sound is bigger than what your DI and signal chain will allow.

 

A more versatile signal chain that is feeding a good DI will of course give a more flexible and varigated sound than one that takes the bass's signal pre-EQ and pre any other filtering or shaping. You could get some shaping/filtering from the cab, but as getz76 intimates, for bass and kick especially this is hampered by limited bandwidth cheaper vocal mics.

 

Just as it is with THEORY, one cannot truly get what they need here at the LDLd. It helps to get some REAL BOOKS ABOUT THEORY and RECORDING. Then you can study and experiment with in-depth references at hand. Real meatspace mentors and teachers can help you progress faster. Here, even the best can only outline what to look for and what to listen for.

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Originally posted by ChrisOfDoom:

Again, help is much appreciated.

Well, here goes!

 

The joy of 4-tracks is that the limitations force you to stop worrying about engineering and start getting on with the music. I'm really enjoying going back to my trusty old cassette 4-track and we're getting some amazing sounding recordings with it.

 

The key to making good recordings is to get the music right, the arrangement right, and the instrument and vocal sounds right. Get that sorted before you start choosing mics (or in your case, switching on el supremo budget mics). (Recording engineer mantra: You can't polish a turd).

 

I presume this 4-track lets you record four tracks at once. Unless you're seasoned session players you'll get a much better vibe from recording all of you in the room together.

 

One of the most important things is the room acoustic - you can't remove a bad acoustic from a recording - so make sure the room you're recording in sounds good. Get the drums tuned right - be fussy, it's important! Check for any extraneous squeaks and rattles from the hardware, and then mess around with damping the heads to keep the sound tight and clear. A leather wallet often does a fine job on damping the snare and use stuff like blu-tak and/or gaffa tape on the toms. You may need a bit of tape on some of the cymbals, particularly the ride if it's prone to swelling out of control.

 

Once you're happy with the acoustic sound of the drum kit in that room, get your main drum mic out. A PZM is a decent budget option, but I strongly recommend borrowing, hiring or buying a large diaphragm condenser. You can get them for about $100 nowadays and they rule for studio recording of anything, not just vocals. Big fat sound, with way more bottom and top than a 58, and much more midrange resolution (i.e. clarity and realism). If you're desperate, use an SM57 and be prepared to do a bit of EQing to get the top-end back. The sound from the drums radiates off the top and bottom heads, from the cymbals it radiates off the top and bottom of the cymbal and from the hi-hats it shoots out sideways from the gap between them. Bear that in mind when moving the mic around to get the most balanced sound.

 

For our recordings we've found that having the mic vertically level with the crash cymbals, out about 3' in front of the kit pointing at the point between the two rack toms works well. Another good position is directly above the drummer's head pointing down at the snare drum (we don't do that because my drummer's snare is exceedingly LOUD!) The mic runs through a preamp, into the 4-track onto track one. There's no need for an external preamp, the ones built into your recorder will be fine.

 

Then add a second drum mic for the kick drum. Many drummers prefer to put the kick mic inside the drum, pointing at the back skin, about halfway between the centre and edge of the skin. Personally, I prefer the sound of micing the front skin from a greater distance, like 12"-18" away, which gives a more natural sound. For metal, you'll probably want the closed mic clicky sound. Suck it and see. Record that mic onto track two. If you can borrow, rent or buy an AKG D112 or similar dedicated bass drum mic, it will make your life a lot easier. If not an SM58 will do a decent job.

 

Next the bass and guitar. Position your amps so they're as far away as possible from the kit and pointing at the back of the drum mics to minimise bleed. Set the volumes so that you're as quiet as possible without killing the vibe in the room - that way the recording will sound way bigger, fatter and less muddy (due to minimising bleed, room resonance, drum resonance, and the effects of the fletcher-munson curve i.e. get a fat clear sound at high volume and turn it down and it'll sound thin and midrangey).

 

I strongly recommend DIing the bass in this situation unless you can get a decent BIG mic (but not the same as the kick mic or you'll end up competing for the same sonic space). Just accept that you'll have to add EQ on the 4-track - it's amazing what a bit of boost at 100Hz and cut at 800Hz will do to fatten up a bass sound (careful with midrange cut because that's where your growl and body is - think high mid cut, low mid boost). Record your DI'd signal onto track three.

 

Finally the guitar - something like an SM58 aimed halfway between edge and centre of one of the speakers should get the sound sorted. Move the mic towards the edge for more bass and to the centre for more highs. Beware of too much bass on the recorded guitar - if it has too much bottom it'll end up booming and sounding crap. Record this miced signal onto track four. Again, keep the volume down - if you get a good guitar sound at really high volume, once it's turned down it will sound way too midrangey. Remember that this recording will be listened to at home stereo level, not live band volume.

 

Bounce (read the manual) these four tracks onto one of the tracks. Forget stereo - mono is louder (and better when you've so few tracks and mono miced drums). Try to archive everything before bouncing so you can so a number of bounces with different mixes.

 

Then you'll have three tracks to add vocals which means you can have some backing vocals and maybe composite the main vocal from a few different takes.

 

Any questions?!!

 

Alex

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The joy of 4-tracks is that the limitations force you to stop worrying about engineering and start getting on with the music.
Actually I was about to write a post about the limitations of four tracks being a huge impetus on LEARNING to handle technical issues and make best use of available technology. Until recently, most aspiring engineers have learned on cheap 4 tracks and 2 tracks with sound-on-sound. You had to GET YOUR CCHIZZNITZ TOGETHAH to make sometrhing of even passable interest on such machines, and when you graduated to 8 or more tracks would actually have a clue on how to best use them. And a lot of incentive.
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GREAT post Alex, and good of you to spend the time. I'd disagree with a couple of points however. This being one:

 

If you can borrow, rent or buy an AKG D112 or similar dedicated bass drum mic, it will make your life a lot easier. If not an SM58 will do a decent job.
The 58 is a sucky mic for this. The problems it has are compounded when the bass guitar also is being done in a budget way, because they will both end up competing for that same sonic space in at loeast part of their range. The 59 makes a good proximity "boom" at 80 or 100 Hz, and not much at 40 or 60 Hz. The best mics for kick are typically tailored to make a lot of sound around the lower bass frequencies and slope off rapicly above the mid bass (where the SM58 is just beginning to come on strong regardless of proximity or not). Then the ideal kick mic is acoustically "gone" through most of the midrange (where, again, the 58 is strong), and then the good kick mic comes on again at upper mids to make the beater/click sound. Alternately, a good extended lows mic with a lot of carving out on the mids is great.

 

Why? This makes the kick drum a big part of the mix without competing as much for the bass guitar space. The bass guitar should also have some 40 Hz action, but should also be capable of mid mids and upper mids.

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Doin' this on the cheap, huh? First put some new strings on your bass. That's going to help your tone. I think a DI might not be good for your situation, so miking your amp might be the best angle. Now, how to do that cheap. Go to a local music store and buy a decent instrument mic like an EV RE-20 to mic your cab. Buy it with a credit card. The RE-20 is also decent for doing vocals too. Then, when you're done recording return the mic to the store within the alotted time that the store gives you. Just make sure that they'll accept a return. I know a lot of people who've been strapped for cash that have done this. It's kinda ghetto, but it gets things done.

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Originally posted by greenboy:

Actually I was about to write a post about the limitations of four tracks being a huge impetus on LEARNING to handle technical issues and make best use of available technology.

Yes, there's that as well. I've been waiting for years for someone to come out with a decent portable digital multitrack that can do 24 bit recording with 8 tracks at once at a decent price (and Tascam have finally managed it) and in the interim period have been trying to find out how I can get every ounce of tone out of a wee cassette. In summary:

 

Get the sources right. Position the mics correctly. Use the most suitable mics for the application. Get the gain staging right (amazing how little hiss and distortion there is on cassette when you drive it correctly, though dbx really helps). Relax and enjoy the fact there are no more decisions to make! :D

 

Alex

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Originally posted by punkin' patch-ulator:

Not everyone can afford a $200 instrument mic and why bother when a $75 vocal mic will work as well in a lot of instances?

I was harping on this dandy of a like, Matt.

 

Suggesting a vocal mic for bass to improve sound over a DI (even if lifeless) is pointing someone in the wrong direction. I agree, trial and error is often a way to get results, but sending someone to find a gas leak with a lighter is not suggested.

 

COD, using a 4-track can be fun. I understand your frustration. I've been there.

 

A couple of questions:

 

- do you have any mixer?

- what type of 4 track? Any EQ options?

- is there any way you can isolate the drums?

- can you take the preamp out of the SWR and send it to the recorder?

- how tight is the band?

- does your 4 track have the ability to bounce tracks down to a single track?

 

More information will help.

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For cassette four track, the most useful piece of equipment to have was a good rack mount two channel compressor. Two of them if possible, for a total of four channels, but two channels of compression properly used could improve the mix umtyhundred percent.
.
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Originally posted by Nick's lab of the strange & bizarre:

Go to a local music store and buy a decent instrument mic like an EV RE-20 to mic your cab. Buy it with a credit card. The RE-20 is also decent for doing vocals too.

The RE-20 is FANTABULOUS. I want one. Fantastic mic. If I'm not mistaken, it was designed for broadcast radio (DJ mic)... sounds great on a bass cab, bass drum, or for THICK vocals.
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Originally posted by greenboy:

For cassette four track, the most useful piece of equipment to have was a good rack mount two channel compressor. Two of them if possible, for a total of four channels, but two channels of compression properly used could improve the mix umtyhundred percent.

Clarify - pre or post mix?

 

I tend to use minimal compression on the inputs (just drums, usually) and use a heavier hand on the mixdown (not to flatten the crap out of it, but to hide some of my sloppy mixing technique).

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Originally posted by greenboy:

GREAT post Alex, and good of you to spend the time.

Thank! I'm quite excited about ye olde cassette 4-track after last week's recording coming out far better than I'd have imagined possible. Good mics make such a difference - hurrah for cheap U47 copies and (real) D112s!!!

 

Originally posted by greenboy:

The 58 is a sucky mic for this...

That's very interesting. I'd always thought that the typical kick's main frequency was around 80Hz so I presumed that was the main focus on tape (plus the 'clicky' bit up top). I mentioned the 58 because back at Uni we did some experimenting with sampling the kick using a D112, SM57 and SM58. The D112 ruled (obviously) but the 58 sounded much better than the 57 to our surprise.

 

SM58 response:

 

http://www.shure.com/images/response/fSM58_large.gif

 

D112 response:

 

http://www.akg.com/mediadatabase/pspic/midres//71/midres1093360418_d1124055c3c412c1e.JPG

 

It's really clear how the D112 is perfectly tailored for kick drums when you look at that graph. No wonder it sounds so great! The other thing I've noticed about it is that the sheer weight of the diaphragm rounds off and fills out the sound to give it remarkable solidity.

 

Alex

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If you are on a tight budget, it's best to shop for mics that can serve many purposes. You want high SPL handling, extneded and [near]falt bandwidth, and then some simple EQ for tailoring the more extreme uses (kick drum in particular). There are handheld-looking designs that are affordable that also have the ability to do kick and bass and guitar (though SM57 OR ITS EQUIV IN ANOTHER BRAND suits guitar and snare so well it's good to have one or two of those around) without dying from sound pressure or losing the lower end definition (proximity effect tends to be boomy on vocal mics, but not extended in lows).

 

That said, even the cheaper DRUM kit mic sets around do a great job for the price. Check Carvin ferinstance for a mic set that does a creditable job live or in the home studio.

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C Alex,

 

Live, the preponderance of action for kick seems to be at 63 Hz to 80 Hz, but engineering with a better system and tuned decently for a room one can move that down to 50 Hz to 63 Hz, and even put more 40 Hz there. This has less to do with drum tuning and size or the quality of the mic (many kick mics go to 20 Hz no problemo anyway) and more to do with long waveform acoustic problems and PA limitations.

 

For recordind one can easily place the kick in wider and lower space. In this case, it is mor more dependent on drum tuning/size and the type of mix and vibe you wish to achieve.

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