supaunknown wrote:I'm learning this lesson slowly. I'll sit down and tell myself, "just lay down some scratch vocals or some rough idea guitar". Next thing I know I have a bunch of warbly 4-part harmonies and 3 out-of-tune guitar tracks that I'm trying to polish. A turd is still a turd.
What might work for you is to differentiate between the times when you're recording something as an aid in songwriting and the times when you're recording "product".
If you're bouncing ideas around and using recording as an aid in trying things and fleshing out some parts, its likely OK for quality to take a back seat to speed. Once you've gotten your song together and are ready to record "product", then your standards and time expectations change accordingly. Of course, this approach probably limits the amount of "scratch" material that ends up being useable for "product". "It depends"
supaunknown wrote:You seem keen on your anonymity, but I wouldn't mind knowing what band you're in. 3XT?
Any "keen on anonymity" was unintentional; sorry about that. Yes, I'm in three times thick. Unfortunately, I can't point you in the direction of any recent samples of "product"; hoping that changes before I'm a poster child for Viagra and Depends.
supaunknown wrote:I hear ya on that buzzsawiness of guitar tracks recorded using a sm57. It's certainly not a tone that fits every song. Any stuff we've recorded that has pick raking or clean reverby twang recorded with a 57 cuts through like a knife.
I tend to put both a sm57 and an MXL990 on the guitar cab generally aimed at where the center dome meets the outer cone. The 990 is much less harsh. I'll record them as separate tracks and mix to taste later.
I didn't mean to give the impression that I don't like 57s - quite the contrary. I think that, just like any other mic, they sometimes excel and other times fail miserably. I also think that a lot of "failures" can be directly attributed to things like poor performance (I kid you not - as an example, you might be suprised at how a mediocre-sounding drum kit suddenly comes alive when a drummer who really knows what they're about gets on it), poor source (maybe the guitar amp sounds like ass?), or poor deployment (like Kyle Motor said, move that thing around; different places on the cone, different distances away from the speaker, different angles).
Off the top of my head, if you're having a hard time with guitar tracks sounding a little proud in the midrange, I'd experiment with pulling the mic back from the speaker a bit and maybe changing the angle of it? I've had lots of luck "mellowing out" an unruly 57 on a guitar cabinet by putting it on say a 45 deg angle and gapping it off the cabinet a bit. Your mileage may vary.
If you're recording multiple tracks of a source that's close-mic'd with more than 1 mic, take the time to figure out where the actual diaphragm is on each mic and line the mics up so that the diaphragms are in exactly the same plane to try to eliminate phasing issues. Sometimes intentionally placing multiple mics so that their signals are out of phase can get you a sound you like and whatever works is cool, but you might have better luck getting tones you dig with them in phase.
In fact, it might be very instructive to set up a couple of different mics on a source and play with placement and listen to all the wacky shit phase can do to sounds. Lots o' fun.
Also, it can be difficult to notice when your mic or mic preamp / board input is clipping when the mic is stuffed balls-deep in a roaring distorted guitar amp. If this is happening and a mic is exposed to levels that make it distort and/or if the mic pre is distorting, chances are the distortion isn't helping achieve "good" tone to tape.
supaunknown wrote:I wish I had heard this monthes ago. I can vouch for it now. The overly distorted stuff I've recorded is almost useless because it simply sounds like muddy noise (not exactly the sound I was shooting for). I usually trust my battered ears, but screaming yet coherent electric guitar is one sound I have yet to capture the way my mind wants it.
Lots of (but not all) cool sounding distorted electric guitar on commercial recordings is doubled or tripled up - you track the same person playing the same riff multiple times, or different people playing the same riff, or same person playing same riff w/ different guitar and/or amp, etc. In these situations, the performances generally need to be bang-on in order for it to sound like one person playing one riff once.
Sometimes it works to record the guitar direct with a DI and mic the amp at the same time and blend it a bit o' the clean DI signal, depending on what you're looking for.
supaunknown wrote:I suppose it depends on the song itself, but do you generally prefer a 'live' room or a 'dead' room for recording acoustic guitar?
For me, it totally depends on the song / context. Sometimes for a livelier / more reverberant sound its better to record it "dry" and then add reverb in the mix.
supaunknown wrote:That's interesting. I'm gonna try your tiered mic method on a song that has lots of different backups. My mics are serviceable cheapos ... I'll probably tier them in this order and see how it goes: Behringer B1, Shure Beta 87a, and MXL990.
When I first started out in live event production I went through a phase where I was some kind of asshole snob bent on the importance of brand names and model numbers. I found that I was happier in doing my work and with the quality of my work once I really started paying attention to how different tools work and how they sound and how different combinations interact and paid less attention to brand names and model numbers.
We judge sounds with our ears. Don't feel like you've got to couch your mic locker as "serviceable cheapos"; if they get you what you need, they're just fine.
supaunknown wrote:Are you saying you like to pan your guitars farther out than the drums? What, say, percentage of panning for the drums do you like? And the guitars? I know, every song is different, but what are your mainstays?
Sometimes. It depends. It depends. Mainstays: If I'm individually micing up everything, I tend to pan the kick to center, snare slightly right, hat slightly outside of the snare, 1st rack tom between the snare and the hat, crash cymbal between the 1st tom and the hat, 2nd rack tom about the same "distance" from center as the 1st tom but on the right, floor tom slightly outside the floor tom, 2nd crash cymbal between the 2nd tom and the floor tom, and the ride cymbal slightly outside the floor tom. Most of the time the furthest out on either side is around 60 or 70% ish.
As far as other instruments, bass is routinely at or near center, percussion is often hard panned in stereo or dropped in mono just about anywhere, guitars are anything from mono center to hard panned to anywhere in between. Lead vocals regularly hover at or near center, sometimes stuff is doubled and hard-panned, backups are generally scattered about.
supaunknown wrote:I wish I had some sort of waveform analyzer that could tell me a specific track's dominant frequencies. It'd be nice to know where they're strong and where they're weak by the numbers. As is, sometimes I play them individually in Windows Media Player using the 'Firestorm' setting. Not sure how accurate it is but it kind of gives me a picture of what I'm listening to. My ears and monitors are merely OK.
I read some advice where it said that similar instruments should be EQ'd so that their dominant frequencies don't cancel each other out. Let's say I have a bass drum that really pops around 80Hz and my bass guitar spikes around 160Hz. The advisor would say to subtract maybe 6dB from the bass drum at 160Hz and do the same for the bass guitar at 80Hz. That way each instrument can have it's own little place in the spectrum. Hmm, looks good on paper ... does this translate well to sounding good?
Analyzers can be helpful in developing your ability to identify frequencies. You should be able to find a free analyzer plugin for your DAW that you can play with.
As far as EQing and mixing goes, I'm a fan of reading anything available from credible sources and trying anything once and being patient enough to practice enough to develop a skill - its really the only way we have to learn.
If it works for you and gives you what you want/need, then it works.
To quote Rufus from Dogma
: "I think it's better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. Life should malleable and progressive; working from idea to idea permits that. Beliefs anchor you to certain points and limit growth; new ideas can't generate. Life becomes stagnant."