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Homie von Recordo

Who's making noise in and around Madison? What's new in the business of making music around town? Review shows and CDs here. Please keep all hype in Hype Exchange.

Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby auntgoodness » Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:44 pm

I'm supposed to be working, but I keep reading that Mixerman stuff. Hi-larious. Thanks for the link!
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby supaunknown » Tue Mar 03, 2009 2:15 pm

lil bunny fufu wrote:Take the time to make sure you're totally in love with the sound(s) you're getting to tape / hard drive BEFORE you start recording actual takes (or at least get it as lusty as possible). Again with the "fix it in the mix" / turd shining.
Be sure to tune that damn thing one more fuckin' time before you start in on the keeper takes. And don't skimp on retuning often between takes. Trust me on this one even if you completely ignore everything else I say.

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.

Just so you have some context, we're a pretty-much standard rock band - nothing too Mastodon or Toad the Wet Sprocket.

You seem keen on your anonymity, but I wouldn't mind knowing what band you're in. 3XT?

The 121's usually a bit dark but smooth, the 57's a 57, and the D3 tends to be a bit brighter / a little more "open" at the top / less midrange buzzsaw than the 57. We usually end up using the 121 and then one of the other two, blended to taste.

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.

Sometimes it comes together better if you use less overdrive / distortion than you think you want / need.

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.

With the acoustics we have, we usually get the best results recording a DI track and then a small-diaphragm condenser mic. The mic is usually (but not always) on axis about 18 inches away from the guitar located around the 12th fret / where the neck meets the body area on a slight angle pointed toward the sound hole.

I suppose it depends on the song itself, but do you generally prefer a 'live' room or a 'dead' room for recording acoustic guitar?

We have one guy that does a lot of our vocal parts, so we try out a bunch of different mics and find a couple or three mics that sound good with his voice and with the song(s) and use the "money" mic for the main stuff, the "damn fine" mic for second tier parts, and then the "good" mic for everything else. All takes are just recorded with one mic. We use cardioid large diaphragm condensers on stands and the guy sings directly in to them with his mouth at a sufficient distance that the Plosive Ps aren't killing the takes - usually a foot, maybe a fuzz more. Using the different mics for different parts with the same voice seems to help everything lay together better in the mix. Works for us.

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.

I usually start out soloing the kit mics and getting it balanced so that it sounds like a drummer playing in a room (no or very little EQ) and then bring up everything else and nudge things up or down as needed to serve the song. I like to pan a kit from an "audience" perspective, but keep things sounding "between the amps" and not have stuff hard panned far out left or right.

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?

Do your level best plus 10% to track it so that you don't need to EQ it. Aside from that, I'm a fan of turning down offending frequencies first and then boosting whatever if I need to.

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?
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby lil bunny fufu » Tue Mar 03, 2009 5:26 pm

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."
Last edited by lil bunny fufu on Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby chainsawcurtis » Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:12 pm

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.


Because it's all subjective, I agree with everything that's been said about home-recording here, pretty much whatever it was. Use what you got. Most important your ears.

My thang, though, you would never ever listen to a guitar amp/speaker cab with your ear two inches in front of it. I mike my amp at an angle that is fairly close to where my head is when I play. In other words, up and out from the cab when I'm standing in front of it. This is what I hear and this is what I want on tape (or protools or whatever). 57-cool. I have an EV re50 omni that I use at home for miking my Blues Junior.

Plus - Mixerman - Great shit. I'm loving it. Thanks.

Quick story - It's 1979 in Ithaca, NY and I'm in a Studer 16 track tape studio getting ready to start work on an album with a buddy. We're paying $75 and hour for time so we're trying to work fast. A friend of the studio owner is wandering around on (no shit) a pair of roller blades dressed in short shorts and a tank top. He's a white guy with a fro out to here and a thousand yard stare. He's a big time local hotshit musician. I've got my bass strapped on trying to get some decent tone out of a 1967 Fender Mustang bass that I've tuned with a dropped "D" to do a reggae version of Otis Redding's "Watch the Girl Dance." He's laughing at me. "Get the fuck out of here. You're not paying for this time." I felt better after that.

Great thread, thanks.
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby juanton » Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:18 am

chainsawcurtis wrote:Quick story - It's 1979 in Ithaca, NY and I'm in a Studer 16 track tape studio getting ready to start work on an album with a buddy. We're paying $75 and hour for time so we're trying to work fast. A friend of the studio owner is wandering around on (no shit) a pair of roller blades dressed in short shorts and a tank top. He's a white guy with a fro out to here and a thousand yard stare. He's a big time local hotshit musician. I've got my bass strapped on trying to get some decent tone out of a 1967 Fender Mustang bass that I've tuned with a dropped "D" to do a reggae version of Otis Redding's "Watch the Girl Dance." He's laughing at me. "Get the fuck out of here. You're not paying for this time." I felt better after that.


Ha ha ha.

I know pretty much everyone has to have a real funny/bad story from the studio. I love hearing these sort of stories.
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby Kyle Motor » Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:52 am

chainsawcurtis wrote:My thang, though, you would never ever listen to a guitar amp/speaker cab with your ear two inches in front of it. I mike my amp at an angle that is fairly close to where my head is when I play. In other words, up and out from the cab when I'm standing in front of it. This is what I hear and this is what I want on tape (or protools or whatever). 57-cool. I have an EV re50 omni that I use at home for miking my Blues Junior.

This is something I've gotten away from and I should probably get back into it again. I'm tracking a bunch of guitars this weekend, I'ma try some of it this way.

Also: Damn you! I've wanted one of those RE50's for a long time. I'm a big fan of omni dynamics from that era.
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby chainsawcurtis » Wed Mar 04, 2009 9:42 am

I've wanted one of those RE50's for a long time. I'm a big fan of omni dynamics from that era.


The RE50 is still being made new but mine was so old the foam was gone inside. I called up EV and talked to a guy in the tech dept. They repaired a broken ND457 and repacked and cleaned the RE50 $75 for both.

I take the 50 to gigs for live archival recordings (cassette) of the band. One side is room mike, the other side is a line off the board. Sent into the mac, eq'ed, stereo-fied and mastered, you can get pretty good live recordings.
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby supaunknown » Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:38 pm

I'm experimenting with an AKG D190E mic. It's the classic old school newsgathering mic you've seen a million times on TV. Narrow-sounding bandwidth. Trying to figure out what song(s) and what instruments/vocals it might be useful for.
Image

Pre-mastering questions:
How much headroom do I want to leave on the WAV files? The peaks just tickling the top? None peaking at all? Or do I want to leave 'em somewhat fat?
How 'bout running the whole batch off to 1/4" reel tape? I know how to set recording levels, but how much headroom do I want to leave on the mixes themselves when outputting to tape?
What form of media do mastering gurus prefer to work from?
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby supaunknown » Fri Apr 17, 2009 11:28 am

Bump for my mastering questions above.
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby lil bunny fufu » Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:05 pm

supaunknown wrote:Pre-mastering questions:
How much headroom do I want to leave on the WAV files? The peaks just tickling the top? None peaking at all? Or do I want to leave 'em somewhat fat?
Your mastering engineer can easily bump up low-volume digital mixes, but can't do much about mixes that are too hot and distorted. Check with your mastering engineer, but I'd say you probably want to keep the level on digital mixes low enough so that the highest peak maxes out at no more than -3 to 0 dB (or lower). Again, being that you're in the digital realm here, there's really no reason to flirt with the upper limits of level and risk distortion.

supaunknown wrote:How 'bout running the whole batch off to 1/4" reel tape? I know how to set recording levels, but how much headroom do I want to leave on the mixes themselves when outputting to tape?
Sorry, no idea.

supaunknown wrote:What form of media do mastering gurus prefer to work from?
In my experience, mastering engineers prefer stereo interleaved files in one of the standard higher-quality digital formats (.aif, .wav, .bwf), but its best to sort out these details with your chosen mastering engineer to ensure peace, love, and understanding.
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby chainsawcurtis » Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:17 pm

I've read that Pete Anderson (producer, guitar player for Dwight Yokum) records to protools then runs the tracks into his 16/24 whatever tape machine to "rinse" the tracks of their "digitalness" and infuse some analog feel into the recordings. Then I guess runs them back to protools for mixing. Aside from the time and ease spent recording to the computer, I'm not sure this makes sense to me. Why not just record to tape first then transfer to the computer to mix/master digitally?
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby juanton » Sat Apr 18, 2009 12:34 am

I bet Dwight's dudes only do this so they can edit while tracking. That razor blade is less efficient unless you are Steve Albini.
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby juanton » Sat Apr 18, 2009 12:36 am

supaunknown wrote:How 'bout running the whole batch off to 1/4" reel tape? I know how to set recording levels, but how much headroom do I want to leave on the mixes themselves when outputting to tape?


Talk to Kyle.
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby Kyle Motor » Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:08 am

juanton wrote:
supaunknown wrote:How 'bout running the whole batch off to 1/4" reel tape? I know how to set recording levels, but how much headroom do I want to leave on the mixes themselves when outputting to tape?


Talk to Kyle.


Eh, it depends on whether or not you want to hit the tape hard and smoosh it with some saturation. I'd prefer to go in at a lower level to leave plenty of headroom, but if it's a particularly uptempo, rockin' track sometimes it can benefit from a little tape compression, maybe even a little distortion. It's somewhat up to taste for that stuff.
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