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  #1  
Old 02-22-2011, 02:16 AM
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tbmills tbmills is offline
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Default My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

hello all,
my band has started recording some demos. we have a VERY basic setup and not a ton to invest. were a classic rock 4 piece (drums, bass, electric, organ/vocals) and therefore need to be able to capture all those sounds as good as we can.

limited selection of mics:
CAD GXL2200
Shure Beta 87A
Sennheisser e835 S

using a Presonus Firestudio project & Logic Pro 9 on a Macbook pro

mic use on drums: CAD - overhead, SHURE - snare top, SENN - inside kick tunnel (this was the best combination i found for my kit.)
we use the SHURE and a line out for bass (sounds fine), SHURE & CAD for guitar, and the CAD for vocals but it cant capture the depth of my singers voice. i know that this is the nature of the beast, but i want to see what i can do, if anything, to fix it.

my question:
what would be the best way to spend $200-300 on this setup to make the recordings sound warm, and full and improve overall sound quality?
another mic?
a different pre-amp?

ps. do you know any free logic plugins, that youve had good results with? any to stay away from?

thanks
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Old 02-24-2011, 02:34 AM
simmsdn simmsdn is offline
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbmills View Post
my question:
what would be the best way to spend $200-300 on this setup to make the recordings sound warm, and full and improve overall sound quality?
another mic?
a different pre-amp?

thanks
Try that Sennheiser on vocals.

Good mics to pick up (all at or under $100)...shop Criagslist, pawn shops, and used gear stores.

Shure SM57 (New $99, can find used from $65-80) - good for Snare drum and guitar cabs
Studio Projects B1 - real good large diaphragm condenser ($120 new, can find used for $80-90) - great for vocals and can be used as a 'room' mic for your drums (ie how John Bonham recorded drums).

save some $$$ for stands and cables, a pop filter for the condenser (keep your singer's spit out of your mic).
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Old 02-24-2011, 08:51 AM
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

i think you should save up and get a good condenser so you can just do a room recording man.

high budget: think u87

lower think nt1/2

lowest think the behringer equivilant lol
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Old 02-24-2011, 10:12 AM
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

A good investment to me would be some kind of mixing console. You obviously don't have enough inputs for the entire band anyway, so I'd plug whatever I could into a mixer that has individual buss faders (like a Mackie 1604VLZ) because then you can group instruments (and you'd have available four groups), and then send those pre-mixed signals onto the FireStudio for recording into the Mac.

For instance, you could put a couple of mics over the drums, assign those to group one. Put the bass on group two, guitars on group 3, and any vocals to group 4. Each group output would then go to an input on the FireStudio and voila! Instant four-track recording like how the Beatles did it back in the day. The analog circuitry will automatically warm-up your sound as it goes to the Mac.
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Old 02-24-2011, 10:58 AM
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

for the record: were recording track by track. no multi instrument recording...

and it has been going well, better than we expected. hopefully after its been mixed down the quality will still be there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by simmsdn View Post
Shure SM57 (New $99, can find used from $65-80) - good for Snare drum and guitar cabs
Studio Projects B1 - real good large diaphragm condenser ($120 new, can find used for $80-90) - great for vocals and can be used as a 'room' mic for your drums (ie how John Bonham recorded drums).
my brother has a 57 back home, i may get him to mail it. the 87a does a fine job as a snare top mic but i could use the 57 for the reso/snare side. the 87a tends to sound digital with too many highs were thrown at it (ie. cymbals, recorded vocals, snare wires...)
i do like the SP B1. you arent the first to mention that mic above others. if i got a cheap large diaphragm like this we could use it for vocals too... i used to own a pair of large diaphragm AT3035's for OH thinking ab how i loved the low wash of my cymbals, but instead the mic gave em a gongy bellow... i feel like small diaphragm condensers could make my cymbals sit on the top of the mix a bit more..
but then, no vocal mic..



Quote:
Originally Posted by uniin View Post
i think you should save up and get a good condenser so you can just do a room recording man.

high budget: think u87

lower think nt1/2

lowest think the behringer equivilant lol

what is an nt1/2?
and a neumann u87? thats out of my budget. relevant answers please.
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:04 PM
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
A good investment to me would be some kind of mixing console. You obviously don't have enough inputs for the entire band anyway, so I'd plug whatever I could into a mixer that has individual buss faders (like a Mackie 1604VLZ) because then you can group instruments (and you'd have available four groups), and then send those pre-mixed signals onto the FireStudio for recording into the Mac.

For instance, you could put a couple of mics over the drums, assign those to group one. Put the bass on group two, guitars on group 3, and any vocals to group 4. Each group output would then go to an input on the FireStudio and voila! Instant four-track recording like how the Beatles did it back in the day. The analog circuitry will automatically warm-up your sound as it goes to the Mac.
Bo, I've just got to disagree with you.

I don't think it's wise to sum the tracks like that (with hardware) when you can already do it in the software. And summing that early on just really isn't necessary- I can understand the argument that making decisions early is a good one, but I don't think it's appropriate for recording a demo with (no offence TbMills!) limited experience. Why not keep the full multitrack setup and decide what to do with it later on when you have a better idea of your capture quality?

I know his hardware is capable of keeping up with that many tracks. I have a similar setup myself (2009 MacBook Pro, Logic 8 Studio, Line6 UX8 Interface). I also have access to a full ProTools HD rig as well at a full recording studio which I go into from time to time - there's also a comprehensive selection of analogue outboard In fact, it's easy to just do a mix entirely out of the box. And I frequently do.

I'll give you an idea of my workflow: -

i) Capture all the tracks. Keep them separate at this time
ii) Edit the tracks for any obvious mistakes (eg. timing. This is a good time to start comping!) You can go for 'cool sounds' here too if you want (provided you haven't captured any).
iii) Go through the tracks one by one, taking out the 'bad' sounds as much as possible with EQ. Compression, reverb etc can be applied here too. Best to run those through an aux into a buss.
iv) Initial mix - here you might want to run as a series of submixes. Eg. Drums, then basses, then guitars, then keyboards. Your tracks should sound fairly polished at this point. Once you're happy with the relative levels within your submixes then group the submixes and balance the groups as the master tracks. You may find that some EQ tweaks are needed to get them all to sit with each other.
v) Rinse and repeat until you're happy.

vi) Master

I actually like mixing with analogue outboard (and I'm much better at it than in the box, too) and it would really help your workflow and practice if you did some of that yourself. But it's absolutely possible to do everything I've just said in Logic, with less complication of patchbays and bantam cables. Just try and think of an analogue workflow when you're mixing - that's the best advice I can give there.

Secondly, equipment-wise, it's probably a good idea to get yourself one decent large-diaphragm condenser microphone if you can afford it.
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:31 PM
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

so far, some tracks have been captured, eq'd, some effects added, and automation (live volume control) applied. the basics... soon, though, ill be finishing step 3, moving on to your 4, 5, and 6..

Quote:
Originally Posted by mediocrefunkybeat View Post
iii) Go through the tracks one by one, taking out the 'bad' sounds as much as possible with EQ. Compression, reverb etc can be applied here too. Best to run those through an aux into a buss.

iv) Initial mix - here you might want to run as a series of submixes. Eg. Drums, then basses, then guitars, then keyboards. Your tracks should sound fairly polished at this point. Once you're happy with the relative levels within your submixes then group the submixes and balance the groups as the master tracks. You may find that some EQ tweaks are needed to get them all to sit with each other.

v) Rinse and repeat until you're happy.

vi) Master
mfb, forgive my noobage.

aux into a buss? as far as comp, reverb, etc, we havent yet strayed from the onboard plugins.

submixes? is that like all 3 of my drums tracks (kick, snare, oh) is now one submix? even all of the electric guitars panned in diff directions, is now the guitar submix? if thats correct, thats nifty. how do i do that in logic?

honestly, whatever info past the actually recording would be appreciated. i not familiar with mastering at all either. will this bring the overall volume up to "normal" cd volume levels? that had been a problem in the past.. no matter how loud it is in headphones it doesnt translate to a car stereo..

edit: mfb, what do you consider to be a decent condenser?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mediocrefunkybeat View Post
(no offence TbMills!)
none taken.
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:46 PM
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

A submix would be a group. There are fundamentally two ways of doing this in Logic.

i) You either send all of your chosen tracks (Eg. Drum tracks) to a unified (stereo) bus, making sure that they were all being sent post-fader. This would give you one fader to control each group. This is my preferred method, it mimics an analogue desk.

ii) You can actually assign individual tracks to 'groups' in Logic. Just above the track fader. This method works well, but I prefer to use the first method because it makes it easier to apply effects to the group as a unified whole, whereas track grouping encourages you to use individual inserts - which is actually harder to mix.

I set up a dummy session and the first method is depicted.

http://www.dv247.com/microphones/rod...rophone--10229

That's the NT1 that was recommended above. A solid budget choice.

Mastering is a law unto itself. Part of it is bringing the track up to level, but there's a lot more to it than that. I haven't got time to bash out an instructional there, I'm actually due for a studio tutorial in an hour or so and have to get the bus!
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Last edited by mediocrefunkybeat; 02-24-2011 at 12:51 PM. Reason: SPG
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:59 PM
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

thank you mfb. prompt, thorough. 2 thumbs up

that will definitely give me something to chew on for a day or two.. i would like to get something done relatively soon and get it online, then post it. ill wait to ask you about mastering until ive gotten my feet wet and acquainted with it, and have encountered some problems. we have high hopes for these recordings, but even if it doesnt turn out like gold, no real bother. i just want the song writing and musicianship to stand out. tone is the thing i can control the least.
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Old 02-24-2011, 01:14 PM
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

The important thing is that you enjoy it. And keep hold of the original takes! Maybe when you're more experienced you can remix them and get a better result. It just takes practice. I've been doing this since I was sixteen (that's nearly seven years) and I'm nowhere near where I'd like to be - it just takes practice.

If you ever do get a chance to mix on analogue gear, jump on it. You learn a lot very, very quickly!

EDIT: If your myspace demo of 'Georgia' is anything to go by, then your songwriting is up there with some of the best I've heard.

FURTHER EDIT: I didn't make it entirely clear in my first post. Mix the subgroups first. So, mix your drums, mix your guitars and then try to put them together. It's a similar approach to Bo's, but with the advantage that you can actually tweak the individual tracks later if you like. Usually, your first mix is actually your best one if you do it right. So try and work swiftly and not get bogged down.

Last edited by mediocrefunkybeat; 02-24-2011 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 02-25-2011, 10:46 AM
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

i mean rode nt1 or nt2

and yes the neumann is out of everyones budget... but it is my favourite microphone EVER.
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Old 02-25-2011, 01:50 PM
simmsdn simmsdn is offline
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbmills View Post
for the record: were recording track by track. no multi instrument recording...

i feel like small diaphragm condensers could make my cymbals sit on the top of the mix a bit more..
but then, no vocal mic..
Try those CAD pencil condensers (They're $60 for a pair in Musician's Friend catalog). They are surprisingly good for overheads.

I'd get that Beta87 off your snare, but if you like it...go for it. Just a personal preference.

Large diaphragm condensers will sound better if you keep them a bit further from your kit (like 10 feet away). It will keep the harshness and/or gonginess of cymbals from hitting them.
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Old 02-25-2011, 03:17 PM
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

IMHO, the cheapest way to "make the recordings sound warm, and full and improve overall sound quality" is to gain as much experience and technique as you can.

For example, do a mic shootout for vocals. Line up all three mics, as close as possible on-axis with the singer, and record into three separate tracks. Choose the mic that responds best to both the singer's voice, the room you are recording in, and the song you are recording. When you have chosen a mic, experiment with different mic locations (in the room) different mic positions (relative to the singer), preamp input levels, compressor settings, etc. Take as much time as you want, since you aren't paying time by the hour in a studio.

Take note, the above is in acquisition. Everything starts with the source. If you can learn how to capture sounds "warm and full" to start with, it can only get better in subsequent stages of the recording.
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Old 02-26-2011, 12:12 AM
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mediocrefunkybeat View Post
EDIT: If your myspace demo of 'Georgia' is anything to go by, then your songwriting is up there with some of the best I've heard.
why, thank you. our newer stuff has much better sounding tracks (esp drums & vocals) than Georgia.


Quote:
Originally Posted by simmsdn View Post
1. I'd get that Beta87 off your snare.

2. Large diaphragm condensers will sound better if you keep them a bit further from your kit (like 10 feet away). It will keep the harshness and/or gonginess of cymbals from hitting them.
1. why?
2. yea, ill try that... just, with only 3 mics on the whole kit, that condenser being close helps give my toms some character...


Quote:
Originally Posted by makinao View Post
IMHO, the cheapest way to "make the recordings sound warm, and full and improve overall sound quality" is to gain as much experience and technique as you can.

Take note, the above is in acquisition. Everything starts with the source. If you can learn how to capture sounds "warm and full" to start with, it can only get better in subsequent stages of the recording.
yea, were continuing to progress each day. curiosity, trial, and error have been our best teachers.


EDIT: ive been digging the graphic eq. it can really help bring life to a track, and fix weaknesses in the mic. push.
EDIT2: any remedies to quiet the talking between my kick and snare wires?
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Old 03-01-2011, 06:31 AM
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

I'm a firm believer in everything that has been said about quality hard ware and working with busses and sub groups in logic. That being said, sometimes we do not have access to the hardware we need for those kinds of recordings. I am a recording engineer and a lot of my work is from people who record stuff at home and just don't have the equipment to get pro sounding recordings.

Here are the essentials in my plug-in tool kit. Many fall within your budget if you watch for sales and buy one piece at a time.

1.) Auto-tune Evo. the retail price is $499. Bottom line is that every singer needs autotune in some way. Not necessarily to correct pitch, but to thicken up vibrato or perfect a run or transition from notes. When used correctly, this will allow your vocal work to be virtually perfect (pitch wise, anyway. this won't make a bad performance into a great performance as far as emotion goes). There are other great programs that do this too (wave tune, melodyne, etc) but this is my favorite so far. there are versions of auto-tune that go for as low as $100 but do not have all the features. consider those too.

2.) McDSP Emerald pack. Or, at the very least, the ML4000 and ML1000 compressors. The ML1000 is a fantastic limiter that will allow you to achieve maximum track volume and can be as transparent as you want it to me. The ML4000 is a multi-band compressor, EQ, and gate. I'm a huge fan of this limiter. I use it on virtually every single mix. The whole pack is $800 or so, and it includes a bunch of compressors and eqs and chrome tube, which is a cool guitar simulator. Individual plug ins can go for around 200, but the bundle is a great deal considering the reverb that comes with it (called revolver) goes for $500 by its self.

3.) Chris Lord-Alge signature collegtion from Waves. Absolutely fantastic if you need easy to use plug ins that make a big difference. Using characteristics from SSL EQs and Compressors, this collection offers special plugs for vocals, acoustic instruments, drums, special effects, bass, and a heck of a lot more. Last i checked it went for 800 bucks but seriously, best investment i have made in my studio.

4.) Drumagog. I know. I'm talking about drum replacement on a drummer forum. But dont burn me at the stake just yet. Here is the deal. the music industry is a competitive market place. We dont all have thousands of dollars for drums and hardware to record them to make the raw sound perfect. Drumagog will allow you to use your own samples or ones you get from them or another source to quickly change your drum sound and turn it in to what ever you want it to be. New versions allow you to morph the sound into something else, add room sound and reverb, etc to the samples you are triggering. Really a great program. Even with fantastic recordings I will use this as a 50% blend with the raw recording tracks to give consistency to the sound of the instrument. I necessity for any studio. goes for around $250 i think, but other programs (like Sound Replacer) are available and may be less.

5.) The Renassance pack from Waves. Not sure on pricing anymore, but the Deesser, EQs, Compressors, etc that come with this package are top notch. I use them constantly on snares, overheads, guitars, and vocals.

A lot of people have told you about hardware, i thought I would share some software tips.

Please let me know if you have any questions and I will help the best I can.
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Old 03-02-2011, 12:25 AM
simmsdn simmsdn is offline
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

I'd get the Beta 87 off the snare because it's a condenser...one wrong smack from a stick and you've quite possibly blown up your mic. When you're on a budget, can't afford to kill mics.
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Old 03-04-2011, 09:42 PM
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

Just browsed through the mix rescue section of the current sound on sound mag. One this that was emphasized in there is try to get a good sound during the tracking stage as much as possible and not defer it to post processing. The sample they had was one where there was a lot of tracks (couple mics for acoustic guitar, couple mics for bass, some more for percussion, etc..). There was a part there where they said some of the tracks aren't even useable as it doesn't give some of the "space". Example was an acoustic guitar where 3 mics was used but they were all close mics. None captured the "environment". For the drum overhead, it wasn't able to capture the overall kit sound, etc..

Just some things to think about too :) .
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Old 03-07-2011, 03:52 AM
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by phfreq View Post
Just browsed through the mix rescue section of the current sound on sound mag. One this that was emphasized in there is try to get a good sound during the tracking stage as much as possible and not defer it to post processing. The sample they had was one where there was a lot of tracks (couple mics for acoustic guitar, couple mics for bass, some more for percussion, etc..). There was a part there where they said some of the tracks aren't even useable as it doesn't give some of the "space". Example was an acoustic guitar where 3 mics was used but they were all close mics. None captured the "environment". For the drum overhead, it wasn't able to capture the overall kit sound, etc..

Just some things to think about too :) .
For that reason, I close mic and 'room' mic my drums.

See attached...the "Bus 1" file is close mic'd drums, "Bus 2" are my room mics. You can tell the room mics have some natural reverb to them whereas the close mics are rather dry. When you mix the sounds together, you have something nice and full sounding.

Just a note, this is a pretty hasty track I did. Not at all a finished product. Will try to do something finished this week if anyone is interested.
Attached Files
File Type: mp3 Ludwig Test-Bus 1-1.mp3 (1.82 MB, 51 views)
File Type: mp3 Ludwig Test-Bus 2-2.mp3 (1.82 MB, 50 views)
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Old 03-08-2011, 02:14 AM
simmsdn simmsdn is offline
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Default Re: My demo recording setup: how to improve it?

Here's a song I threw together real quick. All recorded by me in my basement. Guitars and bass are going direct box into my interface. Drums are close mic'd as well as room mic'd. I'm blending those together to get what I think is a pretty good drum sound...I'm playing a little sloppy on all the instruments, but I think you get the idea of what I'm hitting on with techniques.
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File Type: mp3 Punk.mp3 (2.15 MB, 58 views)
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