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Trouble recording bass


CalebBuck

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I recently got into home recording and have come across a major problem recording bass! I get this high pitch distortion when I record the bass. The rig I am using consists of:

Stingray 4-string

Ampeg V4BH

2x ampeg 4x10 cabs

aphex punch factory

I am recording with a sm57 run into a presonus firebox. That is firewired into Cakewalk's GT Pro3.

I bought all the recording gear because my band is doing our first full length album. I have recorded hours of electric guitar and have not come accross this problem yet. I have had a plexi cranked with an sm57 6 inches form the speaker and there was no distortion at all.

When I have the bass amp at 1/4 volume I get a bad hissing kind of distortion. Is my mic distorting? I haven't recorded much bass with a mic yet and just hit a brick wall. help me out here.

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I think i have narrowed it down to my pre-amp tubes in my head. I first heard the buzzing when my cab was miked. my direct signal did not have the buzz so i figured themmics were distorting. I then use the pre-amp out on my head direct into my pedal board. This setup produced the same buzz so I can say for sure now that i tis not the miking that is the problem. My Ampeg V4BH has a 12ax7 and a 12au7. I think I will try and replace them both. Anyone have any comments or ideas?
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Someone more knowledgeable about this than I am will chime in, I'm sure. In the mean time, I'd say hold off on replacing tubes--that sounds pretty extreme, & I'd be hesitant to think that's the real issue anyway. I could be wrong; but I'd say hold off until someone can drop some knowledge on us.

 

It also matters, I think, whether the result is distortion or buzzing. (You describe it both ways.) A buzz will be a sort of hum that's always there. Distortion will be a corruption of the bass sound itself. What kind of noise are you getting, exactly?

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Is the hiss/buzz all the time or jsut when the bass is playing? can you hear it when you play and it isnt miked?

Have you changed the way anything is plugged into the wall? Maybe it is a ground loop problem. When I added an MBOX to my set up my furepod started to have a high pitched whine.

Jonathan

 

 

 

 

 

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It's not a hum, it is much louder than the normal hum. It slowly has gotten worse and worse. It only makes the awful sound when I play, unlike the hum which is always there. It doesn't matter how low or high the note is, it still makes that noise.

 

It is most recognizeable when recording though. It sounds like a nasty high pitch distortion. Not very pleasant to say the least.

 

I have recently lost a lot of my headroom but I thought it was because I got a new bass and it just sounded different. The more I think about it the more it makes sense. The 12au7 tubes are used for clean tone and lots of headroom. Since I have lost so much headroom, i can only assume.

 

There's only two pre-amp tubes anyways, if that's not what it is then i'll just have some extra pre-amp tubes to use later.

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Exactly, it only buzzes when the bass is playing. If you don't play it doesn't buzz.

 

You can hear it when it is not miked but it is harder to pick out.

 

I have tried several different wall outlets in different rooms and have the same problem.

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Have you tried recording direct? Lots of folk here do this. Get an interface like Tascam US-122, plug your bass in and plug the interface into the PC via a USB cable. This gives a straight signal from the bass. I find it a little dry (no natural ambience) at times but when recorded with other instruments often sounds better.

 

Davo

"We will make you bob your head whether you want to or not". - David Sisk
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I usually go direct or thru an Avalon or Pultec tube preamplifier & then direct. Once I did a session where the producer ran my direct signal back thru a Fender Studio bass amp & mixed the two signals. You can hear it on the Texas Tornados "Hangin' On By A Thread" on Reprise records. The cut is " La Grande Vida" ( reggae song). The sound is pretty fat, but I can get that sound direct now. It sounds a lot like Willie Weeks' sound. It should, the producer was Clapton's producer & the DR Heartfield 5 string I used was just like his(purely by accident).

When you record amps you open the system up to noises & that's the 1st place I'd start looking. Old tubes like to distort on the top end.

"Shoot low, most of 'em are ridin' ponies"
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Could be the amp pre, or the mic. Also could be that you're overdriving the input on the Presonus, and you're getting nasty digital distortion.

 

In any case, I'd strongly suggest recording direct. Strip everything out of your chain and go as clean and simple as possible. The Presonus has a preamp and buffer, so there's no reason you can't plug your bass straight into it. And you've got a good recording instrument, so I'd say use that and be done with it. (If you need compression, add the Aphex.)

 

I'd only add a mic signal to get some "air" mid-range grit, or a "live" ambience, and frankly, particularly in a band recording, "air" and "ambience" on a bass track is just high end noise and hiss and clacking. If you insist on using a mic signal, experiment with miking the different speakers in your cab. You'd be surprised at how different the individual speakers will sound on tape. As for whether or not you're overdriving the mic -this should be easy to figure out. Lower your amp volume. If it goes away, it's the mic. If your preamp tubes are bad, you should be able to hear that even when you're not recording.

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I am definately not clipping the input. I have the pre synced where it is recording at around -6dB when I have that channel's volume at the same setting. I have played the amp super loud and have played it super quiet and I get the same noise.

 

The waveform looks fine. Very full and even. There is definately no clipping going on. I have tried recording direct and have never been satisfied comepletely. I just can't get my sound off of the computer.

 

I have had my head since january and have played lots of shows so the pre-amp tubes are prolly ready to go.

 

My question is no longer about clipping the recording rig, it is about the preamp tubes needing replaced. Are there any traditional tube amp guys on here or is most everyone recording direct?

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I would think most everyone takes a direct signal, no matter what else you take. The engineers I work with all want the bass given to them direct & all the onboard EQ set absolutely flat. It's not my live sound at all, but it provides them with ALL the frequencies to work with later. If you tailor the sound by cutting out stuff or adding other stuff, that's pretty much it. If they want to bring something out to make it cut thru the mix a little better, they may or may not be able to do it. I usually get them to fix my playback sound so it sounds more like my live sound, but the recorder is getting it flat. Remember, you can always play back the direct track thru an amp later.
"Shoot low, most of 'em are ridin' ponies"
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Originally posted by Moe Monsarrat:

I would think most everyone takes a direct signal, no matter what else you take. The engineers I work with all want the bass given to them direct & all the onboard EQ set absolutely flat. It's not my live sound at all, but it provides them with ALL the frequencies to work with later. If you tailor the sound by cutting out stuff or adding other stuff, that's pretty much it. If they want to bring something out to make it cut thru the mix a little better, they may or may not be able to do it. I usually get them to fix my playback sound so it sounds more like my live sound, but the recorder is getting it flat. Remember, you can always play back the direct track thru an amp later.

Yes. Exactly. And for all those reasons. Record direct and record a mic'd signal from your amp simultaneously if you insist on capturing a mic'd signal.

 

Go listen to the direct stuff I recorded last night for Newf on his "Pickups for Project P" thread. Direct preamp signal with a flat EQ, no bass EQ, no post recording EQ, no mastering, no nothing.

 

The sudden loss of overhead and obnoxious sounds coming from your amp does sound like the tubes are unhappy. How old is the amp? Tubes should last a good long while (year+) even when the amp is used daily.

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Preamp tubes can last a very, very long time. If the amp is not old, they might be defective or the amp might have been abused.

 

Power tubes, it depends. At least the V4 is not that expensive to retube.

 

Why are you using two 4x10" cabinets for recording? One should be enough.

 

Try another amplifier through the cabinet, too. Change all the cables. Eliminate as many variables as possible.

 

Suggestion: if you are only using an SM57, I would agree with the other fine folks and also take a direct signal. The SM57 is less than ideal for a full bass signal, but if it works for you, do it.

 

If you do take a mic signal and a DI, do not forget to line up the two tracks to deal with the delay from the mic signal. The DI signal travels at the speed of light while the mic line travels at the speed of sound between the speaker and the microphone. It might not sound like a big difference, but take a CLOSE look at the wave forms and you'll see the peaks are not aligned. This can cause phase issues and leave your bass sounding thin... nudge the tracks until you find the sweetspot.

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Strip everything down to bass into the PC (preferably thru a DI...or using the mic pres on the Firebox...) Make sure in this way that it is not from your bass. SR's, when the gain and treble are carnked up CAN be noisy.

 

Put a fresh battery in the bass.

 

Next...change instrument cables.

Change out whatever cabling you have going thru to the computer (if using USB or Firewire, this could be the culprit as well.)

 

Ok...then go back to micing up your rig. Trade out the mic cable.

Make sure the 57 is in good shape...try running a vocal thru it.

 

Where exactly are you micing your cab from?

 

And where is your CPU in proximity to the mic?

 

Do all of this BEFORE you trade out preamp tubes.

 

To check the status of your preamp tube...just a quick and dirty way...tap on the dials (esp. eqs and gain/vol.) of your amp. Is there a "ping" kind of sound? If so, your tube has become microphonic and should be replaced. If not then the tube is probably just fine.

 

When was the last time you changed the battery in the bass?

 

...just some tips to troubleshoot this.

 

Max

...it's not the arrow, it's the Indian.
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Alright, I thank you all so much for your responses to my problem. I can see that there is much to be learned from you all on these forums. I will try to respond to most of your questions in this reply.

 

In response to Moe Mosarrat:

I am recording both direct and live. Our producer requested that if we mic the amp we record a direct feed as well.

 

in response to Bumpcity:

I took a listen to your recordings they sound pretty nice. Which SVP did you use. Also, I have had my head since January. It went straight into an ATA road case and never goes anywhere without it. I baby my gear like a mother hen.

 

In response to getz76:

I was only using one 4x10 when I was recording. I was just listing all the gear I had in the previous posts. I was using an sm57 because that was what I used at previous studios and have never had a problem with them. If I was rich I would go out and buy thousands of dollars worth of gear but I have only been recording for six months so my arsenal is still somewhat small. I had never thought of nudging the tracks! I'll try that when my new tubes get here. Thanks

 

in response to Max Valentino:

I have already tried direct to the firebox. This method has no obnoxious sounds, just bad tone in my opinion. i have already tried a new battery. I have cehcked all cables and mics on other applications and they work fine. I am miking the cab about two and a half feet back. The mic is pointing directly towards the lower left speaker just off of the center of the cone. The mic is about 50 feet away from the computer in another room.

 

Thanks everyone for the help. When I get the news tubes in I'll let you know how it goes.

CALEB

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Originally posted by CalebBuck:

In response to getz76:

I was using an sm57 because that was what I used at previous studios and have never had a problem with them. If I was rich I would go out and buy thousands of dollars worth of gear but I have only been recording for six months so my arsenal is still somewhat small.

There is nothing wrong with the SM57. It is a good mic. I have 4 of them. Probably not the best mic to get a bass tone without a DI, though. You don't have to spend tons of money, though... I picked up my Electrovoice RE-20 used for less than $200, and it is my favorite bass and bass drum mic by far. Easy enough to get a usuable bass tone without a DI with such a mic if used properly.

 

Originally posted by CalebBuck:

I had never thought of nudging the tracks!

It can make a difference, especially if the mic is far enough away from the speaker to make the delay significant.
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