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.
supaunknown
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Homie von Recordo

Postby supaunknown » Thu Feb 26, 2009 5:20 pm

I'm having a blast recording our various bando stuff. Total basement jerb. Learning useful tidbits just about every time I sit down in front of the computer feels good. Non-linear recording and mixing seems like a combination of Tetris and Sim City - getting all the pieces in place correctly and then making them work well together for the common good - only it seems like I'm being more real-world productive than when I used to spend countless hour playing Madden Franchise!
I'm a relative noob with a LOT of learning yet to do, but things seem to be progressing well so far.
I'm using a Firepod going into my HP that has Sony Vegas.
Any help or advice you home recording experts can offer me?

Various issues/questions:

What electric guitar mic'ing methods do you use?
How about acoustic guitar? Steel string versus classical?
Do you ever record guitar direct? Preamp?
How about bass? Mic'd cab? Direct-only? Both?
Voice recording? One mic? Two? Twelve? What kinds?
Gang vocals?
How do you mix drums? Panning?
Compression? Limiting?
EQ?
What is your process for mixing songs?
What's the most amount of tracks you've had to mix down for one song?
Is there such a thing as too much non-linear self-indulgence?
Computer crash horror stories?
Nightmare bad sessions? Who cracked? Why?
Beer/bong spillage?
What's the best way to clean tears off a pop filter? How 'bout terror sweat?
HELP!

lil bunny fufu
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby lil bunny fufu » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:24 pm

Everybody's got their own take on all these kinds of things and works a little differently and defines "it" a little differently, so you're likely to get a bunch of different answers.

Don't be afraid to try everything. At least twice. And don't be afraid to fuck up.

Be willing to toss aside commonly accepted practices where they don't work for you and be willing to accept a method that gets you the results you're looking for even if the "cool kids" poo-pooh it. Stupid's stupid, but if it works it works.

Take the time to make sure you're getting the exact sound you're looking for out of the instrument(s) BEFORE you put up a mic (or just as close as you can). As far as "fixing it in the mix" goes, I've seen and heard some amazing turd shining but in the end it was still turd shining and it made the mix engineer focus their effort on making relatively unuseable material useable instead of allowing them to focus on making useable material sound great.

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.

Everybody brushes their teeth with nice minty toothpaste, bathes, puts deodorant on, and wears clean clothes. Learn it, live it, love it. No, I ain't kidding. I've got stories . . .

This can be a good resource for low-bull info (especially compared to the forums like gearslutz, etc where the S/N ratio tends to be fucked): http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/f/34/0/

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

supaunknown wrote:What electric guitar mic'ing methods do you use?
We always get the amp or speaker cabinet up off the floor a couple, three, four feet and away from any walls. The standard guitar amp mic config lately has been a Royer R121 ribbon mic with a Shure SM-57 on one side of it and an Audix D3 on the other side of it positioned such that the diaphragms in the 57 and the D3 are in the same plane as the pole pieces on the 121. These are generally placed such that they're about half-way between the center and the edge of the speaker cone, and angled slightly toward the outside of the speaker cone at a distance of 4 inches to a foot or so off the speaker. Move 'em to wherever they're puttin' out for ya.

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.

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

supaunknown wrote:How about acoustic guitar? Steel string versus classical?
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.

supaunknown wrote:Do you ever record guitar direct? Preamp?
Yes. Yes, if that's the sound we're looking for. Most of the time its either clean (like REALLY clean) parts or a truly crazy amount of fuzz.

supaunknown wrote:How about bass? Mic'd cab? Direct-only? Both?
We like to get the speaker cabinet up off the floor 3, 4 feet. We print a DI track and one or two mics each on their own track. Mics are usually one dynamic mic and one condenser, usually on a 10" speaker, usually about a third of the way out from the center of the speaker cone, but move 'em to where they're puttin' out for ya. like to get any phase issues between the DI and mic(s) sorted out before we start in on the keeper tracks.

supaunknown wrote:Voice recording? One mic? Two? Twelve? What kinds? Gang vocals?
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.

When we do multiple people, we arrange in a semi-circle around the mic such that everybody's roughly equidistant if we want everybody's voice to be relatively equal. You can move people closer or further away to "premix" the relative level of each person's voice.

supaunknown wrote:How do you mix drums? Panning?
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.

supaunknown wrote:Compression? Limiting?
Try to be in the habit of using it only to make a source sound more consistent and avoid using it to make things "sound like the radio".

supaunknown wrote:EQ?
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.

supaunknown wrote:What is your process for mixing songs?
Its not always the same, but usually it goes: get a balance in mono, apply some EQ where necessary, verify balance, pan, verify balance, apply some EQ where necessary, add some effects, verify balance, verify panning, verify EQ, are we still in love with those effects, check balance & EQ again in mono and then back in stereo.

supaunknown wrote:What's the most amount of tracks you've had to mix down for one song?
We've got a few in the upper double digit range, most are between 40 and 60. We tend to have multiple mics on guitars and a couple of bass tracks. We also tend to track song sections separately for easier mixing later, like guitar verses separately from guitar choruses separately from guitar bridges, etc. Same for vocals. We find that it allows us to have more control over volume and panning, we can EQ different sections differently, and we can put different effects on different sections with less automation for all this kind of stuff. It works for the way we work.

supaunknown wrote:Is there such a thing as too much non-linear self-indulgence?
Not as long as its producing good results and everybody's still digging the process.

supaunknown wrote:Computer crash horror stories?
Yeah. Bummer. Backups rule - save early, save often. We even keep a spare copy at a different address.

supaunknown wrote:Nightmare bad sessions? Who cracked? Why?
Tons. Everybody. Reasons are legion. Those stories go well with beer.

supaunknown wrote:Beer/bong spillage?
Don't put anything spillable above anything that doesn't like getting wet.

supaunknown wrote:What's the best way to clean tears off a pop filter? How 'bout terror sweat?

Most manufacturers recommend warm water and a small amount of mild detergent (dish soap).


Good luck & have fun.

Kyle Motor
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby Kyle Motor » Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:25 am

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.

This should be rule A#1 for all recording. The sound source should sound good....or however you want it to sound. This saves the most time and future-hassles than anything else.

As for Supa's questions:

Guitars (in addition to rule A#1): Put on some headphones with good isolation, get a rough level of the amp with whatever mic you're using, and move the mic around in front of the amp while the guitarist plays the song. When the mic placement gets you the tone you want through the headphones, that's where you leave it. Then go back and tweak your level. I also usually throw another mic in the room, close to and pointed at the wall that the amp is pointed at. Mix that level in to taste.

Lately I've been using Sennheiser 421's for all guitar stuff, but also an occasional Beyer M201 which seems to bring out more jangle-treble and clarity in the mids without getting piercing. If I'm micing a "big rock cab" I'll try to do a 421 on one speaker and a condenser like an AKG 414 or a Neumann (when I have the luxury) on another. I never record guitar direct, but that's really because I never do anything that calls for that sound. Also because I love my amps.

Bass: Mic'd cab. Either an omnidirectional condenser (the cheapo CAD M179 works GREAT) or a dynamic like the 421 right on the speaker (use guitar amp method for placement). Compress it slightly on the way in. I never use a DI, but that has more to do with owning amps I love and not owning a DI more than anything else.

Voice: Find the mic that suits the singer. Some singers sound good through whatever. Some need coaxing. If you've got a bright or really sibilant singer, I like to use a dark-ish dynamic broadcast vocal mic like a Shure SM7 or an EV RE20. Condensers, especially cheap-o ones, can be murderous on bright singers. If you've got a mumbler, smack them and tell them to stop mumbling and sing. I also like to toss another mic in the room, much like I do with guitar amps so I don't have to use any artificial reverb if I don't have to (this is dependent on your room though).

Drums: It's all in the drummer, the drums, and the room. You gotta know your mics and listen to the drummer you're dealing with and proceed from there. My one rule: No AKG D112 mics. I hate that microphone. I think its the only mic I actively hate. It makes everything sound like a basketball. Stupid.

My go-to setup: SM7 on kick, Beyer 201 on snare, 421's on the toms, and lately (because I'm lucky to have access to them) a pair of Neumann U89's as overheads, set to omni and really high in the air.

Compression: Not much. I really like the old dbx 163 comps because all they have for controls is a slider that says "MORE". They sound fine and they're quick and me-proof to use, so I don't have to waste a lot of time tweaking comps. The 163's drawback is if you've got a sibilant vocal going through them, they will make it worse.

Most tracks at mixdown: 24 because I'm an analog jerk and I don't use computers.

Anytime you have any specific, semi-specific, or non-specific recording questions, go to the tapeop message board and search for it. Chances are there are already three threads on there that will answer your questions and then some. Great resource.

juanton
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby juanton » Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:26 am

lil bunny fufu wrote:
supaunknown wrote:What's the most amount of tracks you've had to mix down for one song?
We've got a few in the upper double digit range, most are between 40 and 60.


Wow, between 40 and 60? What's that like to mix, i.e. time, work flow, documentation, etc?

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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby harrissimo » Fri Feb 27, 2009 10:47 am

Home recording is fun I must admit but nothing beats just playing a funky blues on an acoustic piano.

juanton
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby juanton » Fri Feb 27, 2009 11:51 am

supaunknown wrote:What electric guitar mic'ing methods do you use?


I am a fan of using 1 mic on guitar amps. I usually do what Kyle said to do and use some ISO headphones and get the sound close to what I want. I usually use a ribbon mic, a 57, or a large diaphragm condenser. 57 up close. Ribbon a few feet back. Condenser at various distances from the amp.

supaunknown wrote:How about acoustic guitar? Steel string versus classical?


n/a

supaunknown wrote:Do you ever record guitar direct? Preamp?


Yes. I sometimes send the guitar direct into an old Akai Roberts tube mic preamp or direct into an SSL preamp. If I want, I can use my Reamp to send to out to an amp and mic that sound later.

supaunknown wrote:How about bass? Mic'd cab? Direct-only? Both?


If the bass player has a decent bass amp, I'll try to mic it up. If a bass player has crap, I'll run direct and Reamp later or throw them on the POD. I prefer mic'ing the amp though with a Heil dynamic close up or a large diaphragm condenser a couple of feet back. I usually try and do the headphone thing again. Don't even ask me about my illicit use of a bass POD. It finds it's way on a lot of recordings I do in my basement.

supaunknown wrote:Voice recording? One mic? Two? Twelve? What kinds?


One mic. Most of my mics are inexpensive and multi purpose. I use what sounds best for the singer. Most of the time it's this Karma FET thing that's pretty damn cheap and sounds great for most male vocals I run across.

supaunknown wrote:Gang vocals?


No particular method beyond experimenting with polar patterns and singer positions.

supaunknown wrote:How do you mix drums? Panning?


I air drum a ton so I usually pan them as if I am a right handed drummer air drumming. No hard panning. I have been a big fan of the Glynn Johns 3 mic method for the bulk of what I have been doing lately. I'll sometimes add tom mics and maybe a snare mic to accent the 3.

supaunknown wrote:Compression? Limiting?


Yes

supaunknown wrote:EQ?


very little, mostly low frequency roll off of certain instruments.

supaunknown wrote:What is your process for mixing songs?


Make it sound as close to the live band, well rehearsed, as possible. Listen quiet, listen loud, listen in the car, listen on a boombox, and then usually hate what I have done.

supaunknown wrote:What's the most amount of tracks you've had to mix down for one song?


maybe 24 or 25 at most. Most of my projects hover at around the 17-18 mark.

supaunknown wrote:Is there such a thing as too much non-linear self-indulgence?


No comment.

supaunknown wrote:Computer crash horror stories?


I have lost drives. I have lost many live performances at WORT due to phantom issues that never happen at home. I backup to another drive. I eventually back up to DVD.

supaunknown wrote:Nightmare bad sessions? Who cracked? Why?


Oh man, I have a story. Here's a teaser. I had someone booked for a 3 day session and I had to tell them it wasn't working out on the second day. Some folks think studios can help fix not knowing their parts. There were some pretty funny things said to me/requested of me during that session.

supaunknown wrote:Beer/bong spillage?


No comment.

supaunknown wrote:What's the best way to clean tears off a pop filter? How 'bout terror sweat?


Big Mike?

supaunknown wrote:HELP!


Just have fun.

lil bunny fufu
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby lil bunny fufu » Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:14 pm

juanton wrote:
lil bunny fufu wrote:We've got a few in the upper double digit range, most are between 40 and 60.


Wow, between 40 and 60? What's that like to mix, i.e. time, work flow, documentation, etc?


It sounds like a lot (and maybe it IS a lot for some folks), but really it just comes down to the fact that this is what we've figured out is easiest / most efficient / best results for us and the way we work.

There's a few reasons our track counts tend to be high . . .

1) We tend to record sources on separate tracks for different sections of a song, especially guitar and vocals. As an example, we'll record lead vocals like this: verse on one track, chorus on another track, bridge on a third track, etc. Sometimes we do a song with a "call and response" style lead vocal and then the "response" gets its own track(s). We tend to do backing vocals in a similar fashion. Tracking like this, its a breeze to burn up 20 or more tracks just on vocals, especially when you've got a fair bit of backing vox.

What we've found (and it may or may not "work" for other people) is that this allows us to get things like EQ, compression, panning, effects, and relative volume the way we like it quicker, easier, and with less compromising on how a track is EQ'd or compressed or whatever where there's differences in the way a verse is sung from a chorus or where you're looking to change things up a bit (effects or panning, etc) between song sections. Programmable automation in a DAW is cool and all, but we found that it can take a while to set up and then can be a bitch to adjust after compared to the way we track.

2) We record some sources with multiple inputs on multiple tracks (multiple mics on guitars, DI & mics on bass, etc).

3) We've got a PC that can run lots of tracks without trouble, so we're not limited by equipment the way a guy might be if you're working on tape or on a track-limited DAW.

4) We tend to like to layer things up a bit. We record a fair amount of backing vocals, doubled vocals, doubled guitar lines, backing rhythm guitar lines, drop-in style lead work / noodling, percussion, whatever. As it happens, we just don't do sparse very often.

As far as what its like to mix, I'd say it takes us more time than some and less than others, work flow hasn't been an issue (probably mainly because we're mixing ITB), and for documentation we keep a running notes file for every song and everything's ones and zeros so we haven't really had a problem.
Last edited by lil bunny fufu on Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Walter
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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby Walter » Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:21 pm

juanton wrote:Make it sound as close to the live band, well rehearsed, as possible. Listen quiet, listen loud, listen in the car, listen on a boombox, and then usually hate what I have done.

Just have fun.



This is why I like this place. People who know something readily help you out.

Way back when, a few of us did some home recording of our band with a 4 track cassette recorder (I think it was a Roland). Anyway, being the bass player and not owning the 4 track, I was just the labor but our singer/guitar player used to drop some cheapo omni-directional mic into a pickle jar and sing directly into the jar.

Sometimes it was awesome. Sometimes not.

We always tried to mix so it sounded as good as we could get it on a car stereo and a boombox, since that's how we listened to most music at the time.

My real point is that I know nothing but like Juanton said: Have fun.

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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby charliedon'tsurf » Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:36 pm

juanton wrote:
supaunknown wrote:Nightmare bad sessions? Who cracked? Why?

Oh man, I have a story. Here's a teaser. I had someone booked for a 3 day session and I had to tell them it wasn't working out on the second day. Some folks think studios can help fix not knowing their parts. There were some pretty funny things said to me/requested of me during that session.

I have little to add in this thread because I have about as much knowledge of the technical ins and out of recording as the average musician has about selling records, marketing their band and increasing their fanbase. Which is to say very little and likely half misconceptions. <insert rim shot here and don't take it too seriously>

However, I will say for those of you who know Juanton in life that's real, it is worth having him recount this tale of musical woe. Hilarious shit. The recording studio equivalent of the Hindenburg, but with far less casualties and fire. In fact if you saved whatever horrible results of that session I should make you play it for me next time I am at your house. Just for fun.

While I'm hijacking the thread congrats to Mr. & Mrs. Juanton on the new addition to their family!

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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby supaunknown » Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:12 pm

Yeah, definitely congrats to the Juantons. Way to go.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember a little Juanton being born around the time of an MS Benefit / Suit show at the Slipper Club a few years back (?).

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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby supaunknown » Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:26 pm

Thanks for all the thoughtful responses. I read and re-read them and will try to implement many of the ideas. Really, I can't thank you guys enough. I feel more confident in the advice given by forons I've read, know, listen to, and respect.

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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby juanton » Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:00 pm

supaunknown wrote:Yeah, definitely congrats to the Juantons. Way to go.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember a little Juanton being born around the time of an MS Benefit / Suit show at the Slipper Club a few years back (?).


Thanks for the congrats folks. Yep, this is a second little Juanton. I'm hoping to catch up to George Foreman and his many Georges. Wait, no I'm not. It's actually snip time.

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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby juanton » Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:09 pm

charliedon'tsurf wrote:However, I will say for those of you who know Juanton in life that's real, it is worth having him recount this tale of musical woe. Hilarious shit. The recording studio equivalent of the Hindenburg, but with far less casualties and fire. In fact if you saved whatever horrible results of that session I should make you play it for me next time I am at your house. Just for fun.


Imagine someone bringing a rag tag crew of hired guns that have never played together beyond a rehearsal the night before over to your house and the main guy telling the drummer, who couldn't play, to play like the drummer from Crazy Horse, over and over and over until the female violin player started to cry.

I do have the recordings still. For some reason, they seem to survive all known recording storage disasters.

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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby ilikebeans » Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:25 pm

juanton wrote:Imagine someone bringing a rag tag crew of hired guns that have never played together beyond a rehearsal the night before over to your house and the main guy telling the drummer, who couldn't play, to play like the drummer from Crazy Horse, over and over and over until the female violin player started to cry.

Favorite Forum sentence/paragraph of the year so far.

[treadjack]
My god, how I love band-gone-wrong stories. (Probably 'cause it makes me feel better about my own playing/experiences.) Along those lines, since ProSoundWeb was mentioned earlier, I'm sure some here already know about The Daily Adventures of Mixerman. It's a fantastic read, although I'll warn you now-- he's only got six weeks of journal entries online, and the rest (plus how it ends) are in his book, which is currently out of print, but is apparently going to be published again this spring. Yes, I actually sprang for the book the first time around. (Disclaimer: No, I don't know anyone involved. Just found it consistently hilarious.)
[/threadjack]

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Re: Homie von Recordo

Postby juanton » Sat Feb 28, 2009 9:48 am

I read the diaries a few years back. Side splitting laughter. I think there are a few Bitch Slap type bands in every city. There is some excellent stuff in there.


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