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Thorgrim_Honkronte
Imperius Rexxz

Joined: Sun Jan 16, 2005 4:40 pm
Posts: 2903
PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 3:53 am 
 

I’ve finally gotten around to being motivated enough to type this up, and hopefully it will help some of you out. This is knowledge that I have culminated from my personal experience as an audio engineer and the education that I’ve received in the field, as well. While many of these points I will outline are fundamentally sound, there maybe a few that are simply personal preference, so take into account your own mixing and recording styles as well.

As we all know, music is produced in a logical process. Songs are composed, lyrics are written, and notes are inked down… then comes the time to record.

Before you enter the studio (or fire up the old personal bedroom DAW… that’s Digital Audio Workstation) you have to prepare yourself. Make sure you’re well rehearsed, and you know exactly what you want to record before you do it. This isn’t nearly as important if you’re working on your own time doing your own recordings, but for those that book studio time and are paying for it, well you’ll find out how expensive things can get if you come un-prepared. So, number one thing: Get your shit in order! Make sure your equipment is in working condition, tune guitars, bring extra strings, go through a checklist of goals you want to achieve for your booked time slots, maybe even a physical list detailing what you need to do and what you need to have with you would help. I’ve seen people come to the studio or sit down to record a session at their home, even, and waste too much time by fooling around and stumbling to get their act together because they just didn’t plan beforehand.

Once you have the planning out of the way, you can get down to business. Assuming you’ll be recording with a standard rock/metal set up (that is; guitars, bass, drums and vocals… maybe a few odd instruments and/or a keyboard) this should be a rather streamlined process. The recording phase is all about flow and efficiency. If you are in a studio with multiple recording booths, you can set up your amp cabs into the isolated rooms, and if you have enough room for the drums to be miked in the larger rehearsal area, you’ll be all set to knock those out at once. Smaller studios will require that you record each instrument sequentially though, and for that you might need to do something different. Typically I would record the drums first, as those take the most time to set up and break down, and if things go badly, you can track the drums for all of your songs, and record everything else at a cheaper studio or a project studio for free. After the drums, I would track the bass, then the guitars, and finally do overdubs for vocals.

When setting up microphones or line inputs for your audio sources, you need to be careful of a few things. First you should choose a microphone that best suits what you are trying to record. A high gain guitar amp cab doesn’t need a high quality condenser microphone, nor would I recommend it due to the fragile nature of the mikes. Likewise, when recording vocals you should choose one that would give you a flat frequency response as well as be very receptive to subtleties with the incoming signal. This can all be tossed out of the window if you want a raw sound and don’t care much for higher end production, but for those who do: don’t cheap out on microphones. A good saying is that “Your end result will only be as good as your source” when it comes to audio, and it is 100% true. If you have terrible sounding equipment, you will have terrible sounding audio which will obviously result in a terrible sounding mix. Now you don’t have to splurge thousands and thousands of dollars to get a good result, but if you seriously want a good sound, keep it in mind.

A very good fundamental rule to keep in mind is the 3 to 1 ratio, for multiple microphone placements. To reduce phase cancellations between two mikes, follow the 3 to 1 rule: The distance between mikes should be at least three times the mike-to-source distance. For example, if two mikes are each 4 inches from their sound sources, the mikes should be at least 12 inches apart to prevent phase cancellations (which will result in a very nasty sound, I’ll explain what phase cancellation is in another post).

Once you are comfortable with your microphone set up, you will need to adjust the gain structure. The best thing to do is to achieve the highest possible gain without clipping when you record. Spend some time in the control booth or consulting your engineer before you start to record. Make sure you have the levels set properly, and you should be good to go.

Before you hit that record button, go over with your band mates, or if you’re alone, just double check with everything first to avoid any miss-steps. Once you’re sure all is well, you’re set! Oh, and USE A METRONOME! Being on time = VERY important.

Part 2 – Mixing, will be posted later!
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caspian
Wanderer of the Wastes

Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 11:29 pm
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Location: Australia
PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 4:19 am 
 

One li'l thing I'll add is: KNOW YOUR SIGNAL FLOW. Problem's can be fixed logically, everything is much quicker to set up, and it's just a quicker and more enjoyable experience. A logical and well thought out signal flow= good times.

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Thorgrim_Honkronte
Imperius Rexxz

Joined: Sun Jan 16, 2005 4:40 pm
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 4:20 am 
 

caspian wrote:
One li'l thing I'll add is: KNOW YOUR SIGNAL FLOW. Problem's can be fixed logically, everything is much quicker to set up, and it's just a quicker and more enjoyable experience. A logical and well thought out signal flow= good times.


Yes! Definitely something I missed. Signal flow is VERY important, and lack of a good knowledge on such can lead to many wasted minutes and frantic behavior in the studio. Good point!
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DeathFog
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Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2003 9:20 am
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Location: Estonia
PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 6:12 pm 
 

A small tip : set up your sound in such a way, that it would require minimal processing during the mixing stage.
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NeglectedField
Onwards to Camulodunum!

Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 6:19 am
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Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 8:40 pm 
 

Small, but good tip. A pop-shield is quite important if you're using a condenser mic. An actual pop-shield as opposed to an item of clothing takes out the unneccessary high frequencies and pops, and not too much of it.
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Deaths_Design
Anti-Christian Miscreant

Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 1:32 pm
Posts: 296
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 12:25 pm 
 

Good timing on this article. I get my MBox today or Monday and I surely would've asked about all this stuff.
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intothevoid
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:35 am
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 5:03 pm 
 

Hi people ; I've started a tiny crappy acoustic bedroom project and I'm wondering how I should set up the mike (Im using Audacity) to avoid clipping when playing my guitar . Oh , and how do I reduce the saturation on my bass when I plug it straight into the computer ?
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Thorgrim_Honkronte
Imperius Rexxz

Joined: Sun Jan 16, 2005 4:40 pm
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 5:06 pm 
 

Just check your gain within Audacity and make sure it isn't going over 0 db. Typically you want it to read -3 on the VU or peak meter. Bass saturation, once again just turn down the gain, or adjust your tone knobs on the bass guitar.
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DaBuddha
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Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2005 8:30 pm
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 12:22 am 
 

When I go into the studio to record I usually do drums first, but being a one man band and all is tough when it comes to doing the drums, especially since I'm not just using a drum machine. I gotta keep all the riffs in my head, the entire structure of the song etc. It can be quite difficult sometimes but usually I get it done fine.
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Thorgrim_Honkronte
Imperius Rexxz

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 12:29 am 
 

Ever considered doing rough demos of your guitar tracks before entering a studio for drum recording? I'd definitely do that.
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bradtheimpaler
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2008 5:13 pm
Posts: 111
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2008 2:36 pm 
 

NeglectedField wrote:
Small, but good tip. A pop-shield is quite important if you're using a condenser mic. An actual pop-shield as opposed to an item of clothing takes out the unneccessary high frequencies and pops, and not too much of it.


One thing that in my experience helps even more in that situation is mic placement. There is no reason to have the sound source (usually vocalist) face the diaphragm of the mic directly. I usually have the diaphragm of the microphone three to four inches above and aim it down toward it. No pops. If the singer still tries to sing straight at it, you can set up a dummy mic like a 58 or something and tell them to sing or scream into that one. Most of the time I've found a pop filter completely unnecessary for getting rid of plosives. I'd much rather use eq to deal with high frequencies after the take than trust a pop filter to that.

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Thorgrim_Honkronte
Imperius Rexxz

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2008 2:40 pm 
 

You can't EQ out plosives, sorry. Also:

"There is no reason to have the sound source (usually vocalist) face the diaphragm of the mic directly."

What? Sure there is. Depending on the polar pattern of your mic, you will get completely different tonalities depending on where the diaphragm is positioned in relation to your sound source.
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bndgkmf
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2006 1:12 am
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Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 10:59 pm 
 

Thorgrim_Honkronte wrote:
Ever considered doing rough demos of your guitar tracks before entering a studio for drum recording? I'd definitely do that.


Laying down scratch guitar to a click track is probably the easiest way to do it. Sometimes when dealing with inexperienced drummers it was good to do a rough guitar track to a drum machine beat. The drummer could then play to the rough track as if he was playing in rehearsal. The best part is the track has good time as it was laid down to the click. Also, the drummer feels better about themselves for not being replaced.

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DeathFog
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Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2003 9:20 am
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:04 am 
 

My bass amp has line output, when I tried to tape the bass straight from the amp's output it ended up in overdrive-like effect even on low amp levels. Any suggestions, what is the proper way of doing a line-out recording ?

I experimented with volume levels and it seems that distortion comes from the amp, not from the tape recorder, or bass guitar.
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Winter_Sun
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 7:21 pm
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Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:38 pm 
 

DaBuddha wrote:
When I go into the studio to record I usually do drums first, but being a one man band and all is tough when it comes to doing the drums, especially since I'm not just using a drum machine. I gotta keep all the riffs in my head, the entire structure of the song etc. It can be quite difficult sometimes but usually I get it done fine.


If it was me, I'd make a demo recording at home with a drum machine and work from that as a guide track in the studio.

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Prodd
Metal newbie

Joined: Mon Mar 24, 2008 5:15 am
Posts: 147
PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 8:36 am 
 

Is this a pro thread or can I ask some questions about home recording?

Because I've never tried it and I was looking to start. Would appreciate some help. :)
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Cold_Winter_Sun
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:21 pm
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Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 2:40 pm 
 

Prodd wrote:
Is this a pro thread or can I ask some questions about home recording?

Because I've never tried it and I was looking to start. Would appreciate some help. :)


Hell, I've been recording at home for 10 years and I'm still learning - don't be afraid to ask!

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Prodd
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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2008 9:23 am 
 

Awesome! Thanks a million, I'll post in detail as soon as I can. :)
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Prodd
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PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 6:57 am 
 

I'm a bedroom guitarist; basically I play the guitar because I love it. I've been playing for around 3-4 years now, and I finally feel confident enough to go ahead and record some of my own stuff. I'm not looking at going pro or distribute my music, well maybe later(if it's good enough), but right now all I want to do is get quality recording done.

Here's where the problem is. I just don't have the equipment. I have a custom designed guitar with DiMarzio passive pups, I have a Digitech GNX1 guitar processor, and I have a computer and a laptop. I rarely use my computer; I'm hoping to get my recording done on the laptop. It has a standard onboard soundcard. I'm sure all of you have experimented recording directly from the proc to the sound card at some point of time..... and you know how it sounds weak, trebly, awful, crappy and all that shite. Some of those recordings sound like 80's radio. :grumble:

Now obviously I could get great sound if I spent some and got myself a POD XT or whatever, maybe something to go between the proc and lappy, but to be honest I'm broke as hell, plus because I'm not planning to go pro, I don't want to spend too much on making a home-recording studio.

All I'm asking is, given what I have, what is the best way to get a decent quality track recorded? And if this 'setup' is hopeless, what would I have to buy to get started? I play metal, but leads mostly. So capturing the chunkiness of riffs isn't a priority. I'll be recording a lot of acoustic guitar parts too. The guitar tone I use most, is Slash-y.

Also, what software should I use? I haven't really used recording software yet, is it very difficult? I took one look at Pro Tools and my head hurt. I don't even wanna talk about the time I saw Nuendo. :D

Please help me!! Also note that it's VERY difficult to get equipment in my country, so I'll have to get it shipped or something, if some gear is mandatory. Thanks for reading! :thumbsup:
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Prodd
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PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 7:03 am 
 

Oops, forgot to add, I have a solid state amp, a Shure PG48(i think), aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we're done.
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Cold_Winter_Sun
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Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:21 pm
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Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 3:08 pm 
 

No it's not hopeless, so don't despair - you just need a couple of bits.
A decent audio interface is a must really - and many have specific inputs to deal with the weird impedances that guitars put out. Another thing to look out for with audio interfaces is that many come bundled with all the software you need for basic recording, so you don't have to buy anything else!

A POD is also good way to go because you get loads of tones without having to use an amp, and to be honest a lot of amps only sound good when you crank them up - which is not not good for your neighbours! I've not looked at the Line6 Toneport, but that might be a cheaper option. Anybody else used one?

In terms of hardware / software, all I used on this http://www.myspace.com/coldwintersunband was my POD2, and a half-decent condenser mike for the vocals (plus I've collected gigs of drum samples over the years!). Cubase handled the audio, sequencing & 75% of fx. The synth 'bits' were free plugins such as Crystal and Tapeworm.
There was some outboard processing, but from a recording standpoint that's all I used.

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Prodd
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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 2:47 pm 
 

Alright, thanks a million. I'll go hunting for an audio interface then. I played a POD XT Live today and was just blown away by the things you can do on it. Damn, and it looks so industrial. Faaaaaaaak, I think I must have it!
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Wra1th1s
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Location: Indonesia
PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 9:56 am 
 

What do you guys think on recording 'live'? Not as in recording a concert but 'live...in the studio.' I recorded a song like that once and I thought it came out okay. Just click my band name for a listen. Is it better to record professionally i.e. separately for each instruments?
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rexxz
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 11:08 am 
 

Depends on the studio. If you have isolation booths for amps then you can absolutely record all instruments at once. You don't want to get too much bleed though, so if you don't have those then I wouldn't do it, personally.

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godofgomorrah
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Apr 26, 2008 5:07 pm
Posts: 57
Location: Netherlands
PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 5:17 am 
 

i was wondering how you record stuff.. just on to the computer using a program such as audacity? or is it necessary to get a multitrack recorder? if so which one would you recommend?

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rexxz
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 11:48 am 
 

I prefer hard disc recording, so on the computer yes. Personally I have a DAW here either using Cubase or Pro tools, depending on what my mood is.

You will only need a MTR if you plan on doing recording multiple things simultaneously.

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Masked_Jackal
Metalhead

Joined: Sat May 12, 2007 9:06 am
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 12:10 pm 
 

I am planning on buying some recording software but have some dilemmas...

I am very comfortable on Pro Tools right now and have no problems using it, but I would like to check out some of the other professional programs out there. Is there any interface that is compatible with both Pro Tools and Cubase or is Pro Tools strictly Digidesign hardware?

Money isn't a really big issue, but I don't want to blow a hole in my wallet.

Another possible option (being that I work on a Mac) I found is Ardour: http://ardour.org/

It seems like a bit to install but it's completely free and looks really cool. Has anyone used it before?

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Agonizer
Metal newbie

Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2004 3:57 am
Posts: 49
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 11:52 pm 
 

As far as digital workstations go, I can say with 100% certainty that just because Fostex is cheap - and a lot of us (myself included) are broke - doesn't mean it's good. As a matter of fact, they're cheaply made, hence the reason why they're so inexpensive. Not to mention that the company has probably THE worst customer service in the industry. If you can, grab something that's got a name behind it, like Tascam for instance. Ebay is a perfect place for something like this, particularly for an older model that functions just as well, but might not have state of the art features built in. I would suggest getting something with a usb port though, so that you can easily sync up to the computer or laptop and then do your mixing and editing from there. There's my two cents (for what it's worth). Great thread I've learned quite a bit, cheers!

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Prominence
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Apr 16, 2006 4:36 pm
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Location: Canada
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 10:46 pm 
 

I'd also like to add this:
Try to always make sure your cables ARE NOT CROSSING EACH OTHER. The electro-magnetic interference from the cables can cause some distortion in the end result of the sound if the cables are crossing each other. Taping them down is always a good idea.

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misanthrolord
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 4:31 pm
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:59 am 
 

intothevoid wrote:
Hi people ; I've started a tiny crappy acoustic bedroom project and I'm wondering how I should set up the mike (Im using Audacity) to avoid clipping when playing my guitar . Oh , and how do I reduce the saturation on my bass when I plug it straight into the computer ?


I plug the guitar, in your case the Mic, into a preamp that plugs into the ASIO device....

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frozenaeons
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Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2006 3:54 pm
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Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2008 11:50 am 
 

Yesterday I recorded a few riffs to send to the drummer of my band and with both of the programs I've used (reaper and audacity) the audio is messed up. The first ten seconds will be incredibly loud and then the volume will decrease immensely. Any suggestions on how to fix this?
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TheUglySoldier
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Location: Australia
PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:02 pm 
 

I think the best method of recording is to do a recording of everyone playing together, first. This is especially important if you all work off different cues from each other.

Once this is done, the drummer goes in and plays along to this recording, keeping to it's beat. Then the bass, guitar, vocals, etc are all done individually as well.

The original "live" track is removed and the individual tracks are now mixed.

But that's just my opinion, and I don't have a great deal of experience or knowledge of this type of thing on a more-than amatur level.

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caspian
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Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 11:29 pm
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 8:06 am 
 

frozenaeons wrote:
Yesterday I recorded a few riffs to send to the drummer of my band and with both of the programs I've used (reaper and audacity) the audio is messed up. The first ten seconds will be incredibly loud and then the volume will decrease immensely. Any suggestions on how to fix this?


just make sure you keep the microphone in the correct place? Aside from some strange hardware gremlins I can't see there being any other problem.
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Grimmenfrost
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 4:40 pm
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Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:04 pm 
 

Alright, I have a Fender Stratocaster, a laptop with Mixcraft 4 and SpectraSonic Atmosphere installed on it, a Tascam US-144 digital interface, and a DigiTech RP50 effects processor...

It's not much, but I know there's a way to get decent quality recordings from those above, so I ask you: How would you go about recording, if you were given the same equipment? I am in desperate need for useful help.
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caspian
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Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 11:29 pm
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:11 am 
 

wait, do you have a microphone?
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Grimmenfrost
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 6:30 pm 
 

caspian wrote:
wait, do you have a microphone?


Nada.

I'm low on money, at the moment, so I'm trying to do collect opinions to see what the best and most common method would be for recording with very little equipment, without it sounding like complete garbage.
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caspian
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:46 am 
 

if you just want to put down ideas onto the computer so you don't forget them, then just buy a webcam mike for now -certainly you won't get amazing quality, but it's super cheap and it's good enough for rough demos.
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Masked_Jackal
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Joined: Sat May 12, 2007 9:06 am
Posts: 647
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 11:47 am 
 

Can't you just DI your guitar straight into the US-144? It's got two inputs that can be switched to Hi-Z.

http://www.tascam.com/details;9,15,70,16.html

Edit: wait, do you have the actual US-144 box or just the software that comes with it?

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Grimmenfrost
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 4:40 pm
Posts: 335
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 11:55 am 
 

Masked_Jackal wrote:
Can't you just DI your guitar straight into the US-144? It's got two inputs that can be switched to Hi-Z.

http://www.tascam.com/details;9,15,70,16.html


I did this, but when I record, the guitar is overpower by background hiss and the distortion makes chord changes barely noticable. I tried adjusting the input volumes and EQ in Mixcraft, but nothing has made it better or worse. Yes, I do have the actual US-144 box.

Caspian wrote:
if you just want to put down ideas onto the computer so you don't forget them, then just buy a webcam mike for now -certainly you won't get amazing quality, but it's super cheap and it's good enough for rough demos.


I have a laptop with a built in microphone and webcam and it's absolute trash. No matter how much I adjust the microphone volume, the guitar is still silent as can be.

I'm just going to wait until I get my Mackie mixer back from a bud and borrow some money for a few microphones.
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Masked_Jackal
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 3:40 pm 
 

I'd give it one more thorough go-over before you go and buy some mics.

Check all the controls on your guitar, the Tascam, make sure your cable is working and check if the Hi-Z is switched on (it's only on one of the two channels, so you might have had it plugged in the wrong one).

It sucks dropping money on something you don't necessarily need.

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