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Old 07-03-2014, 08:11 PM   #1
Watterboy
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Close Mic cab - Question about volume

Hi all,

I am curious about volume in recording..

Lately i have been keeping the volume on my 100 watt tube amp low when i record (approx 1/10), and channel volume relatively low as well, and then on my preamp (art project series dual tube pre) i have been really cranking the level and gain. To be honest, i havent been having many issues with noise or hiss, and my tone sounds great when i monitor in my headphones, but when i render and listen in my car, my tone sounds sort of hollow and a little weak. I cant seem to get a big ass sound like some of my favorite metalcore bands (kse, bfmv, all that remains ect, please dont judge me on my music.. i have general recording inquiries here). Like I said, the noise floor hasnt been bad at all and i am tracking near -6 dbs to -10 dbs usually.

Is it possible that the current way that i am gain staging is ruining my guitar tone? When i compare my recorded tone to other bands, it sounds like my guitars are missing a lot of body, low end and aggression. You cant 'feel' the guitar so much. I usually hpf the guitars at around 85 hz, and i dont usually compress the guitar tracks.

I am also having trouble getting my entire recording to a volume comparable to commercial levels no matter how much i compress and limit. I high pass nearly all instruments, compress tracks where i can, compress the master bus and multiband compress and limit. Do you guys have a recommended walk through/tutorial for getting the level there?

I already know that i truly need good studio monitors to properly mix but i cant afford them right now.

I am a bit of a noob at it all, but ive gotten better than i used to be. I am using reaper, and basically all the plugins i use are reaper plugins.

Also- side note.. im not worried about losing tons of dynamics really. I like how loud commercial music sounds. Id really like to get to that level without hearing my limiter mooshing my music and what not.

If it helps, i can attach one of my mixes, though it is kinda embarrassing haha.
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Old 07-03-2014, 11:31 PM   #2
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Most important question; what headphones are you using that makes it sound good?
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Old 07-04-2014, 12:43 AM   #3
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Most important question; what headphones are you using that makes it sound good?


Haha- I am using Koss Pro3AA Titanium. They really arent very faithful to the actual mix, thats for sure.
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Old 07-04-2014, 01:02 AM   #4
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Quality monitors will help you get your tone into the recordings in a way that sounds good on multiple speakers. Mastering your music at home to the same levels as a multi-million dollar mastering studio with highly skilled engineers is a bigger challenge. There is a reason they get paid big bucks and it's not just about compression.
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Old 07-04-2014, 08:23 AM   #5
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Quality monitors will help you get your tone into the recordings in a way that sounds good on multiple speakers. Mastering your music at home to the same levels as a multi-million dollar mastering studio with highly skilled engineers is a bigger challenge. There is a reason they get paid big bucks and it's not just about compression.


Yea thats true. I dont expect to get as quality of a recording. But i guess my biggest question is if there would be a sizeable difference in recorded guitar tone if cranking the master and cutting the preamp way back versus cranking the preamp and cutting the master way back, and will the latter mess with my tone significantly?
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Old 07-04-2014, 09:05 AM   #6
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are you double tracking, and do you have a bass? a lot of the big sound comes from the low end, which is provided by the bass. and double tracking helps make things sound thicker.

if you are doing both of those, try turning the gain on the amp down. too much distortion can make the track sound less full, so dialing it back can help.
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Old 07-04-2014, 10:39 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by jof1029
are you double tracking, and do you have a bass? a lot of the big sound comes from the low end, which is provided by the bass. and double tracking helps make things sound thicker.

if you are doing both of those, try turning the gain on the amp down. too much distortion can make the track sound less full, so dialing it back can help.


I am double tracking- BUT, i havent put the bass in there yet. My friend is gonna do that. In the past, ive just recorded clean guitar and then downtuned an octave, but it didnt really leave me with a huge sound.

Are there any decent flat response (preferably active) studio monitors for under $300?
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Old 07-04-2014, 11:02 AM   #8
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ok... from what i gathered, ur amp is not loud enough to get the majik from your tube amp. i record with a 100watt tube amp on 3. for a wide spectrum of sounds, use 2 shure sm57s, one dead center, the other on the same speaker, directly next to the first one at a 45 degree angle... and get it as close to the speaker as humanly possible. i record to a zoom recorder, and i like the sound more without a preamp. the art makes the dynamics too squishy. another thing to think about... i record to 44.1mhz where 48mhz is where professional studios get the large volume (nearly 6db more headroom before clipping) if your capibilities are only 44.1, you cant quite get the volume u desire. there are programs to help.
without having a full mix, bass drums, guitars, there will probbly not be a great way to get a feel of what it will sound like in the end. sorry, but a tuned down guitar will just not get you there.
if you boost the eq at around.... 400-800hz, itll give u some girth. and boost a few db at 4500-5200 for some cut as well. when you use two mics like suggested, u may need to reverse the phase one one of them to prevent frequencie drops and whathaveyou.
another thing u might consider is the hughes and kettner redbox. i have the mk2, mk3, and mk5. you plug it in between the head and cab, and plug a mic cable into it. blows away all mics ive tried. around 100 bucks. the redbox 5 has alot of switches and phantom powered... joyo makes a 44$ version... ebay joyo di. its blue. sounds exactly like your cab no bullshitt.
boost your volume even if u gotta stick ur cab into a closet.
good luck...hope i helped
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:14 AM   #9
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I'd suggest, before anything, get proper monitors. That may be your problem right there. You're getting a sound in the phones that you like, so the problem must be in the mixing. You can't mix properly because you can't hear what you're mixing right now.

I used to be a proponent of dial down the gain, but am drifting from that. Sure, it has to be a consideration, but definitely not an "automatically do this" kind of thing. I've really been drifting to "get a sound you like in the room and then capture it" kind of approach. You just have to be careful, because the sound right up in front of your amp where you want to put the mic is not always the sound you're hearing when your ears are five feet above the speaker you're going to mic and the amp is blasting at your knees.

As a point of reference, I'm pretty happy with the hi-gain guitar sound I got on our cover of Bif Naked's "Love Myself Today" in my profile. Two different guitars, one take each, panned left and right. Same amp, and I believe same amp setting. The same amp setting I use for playing that song live. I think I used a Sennheiser MD421 (almost always sounds beefier than a 57 on pretty well anything you might otherwise use a 57 for) right up on the grille, going into the preamps in my Steinberg MR816.

It will surely be open to whatever subjective criticisms could be thrown at it, but it sure isn't a case of "too much gain makes your guitars small" thing. Tons of gain, and it sounds big, if nothing else.

Part of that is the bass in the mix. I EQ'ed the guitars and rolled off everything below about 150hz or so. Until I did that, they sounded muddy because they were competing with the bass. I could probably have rolled them off even higher.

For volume, on a tube amp especially, sometimes you have to "give 'er" a bit before the sound opens up. But put your ear where the mic is going to go. Is that the sound you want? If it is, great. Your next step is mic technique.

If it isn't, fix it. Listen again. Lather, rise, repeat.

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Old 07-05-2014, 08:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by axemanchris
I'd suggest, before anything, get proper monitors. That may be your problem right there. You're getting a sound in the phones that you like, so the problem must be in the mixing. You can't mix properly because you can't hear what you're mixing right now.

I used to be a proponent of dial down the gain, but am drifting from that. Sure, it has to be a consideration, but definitely not an "automatically do this" kind of thing. I've really been drifting to "get a sound you like in the room and then capture it" kind of approach. You just have to be careful, because the sound right up in front of your amp where you want to put the mic is not always the sound you're hearing when your ears are five feet above the speaker you're going to mic and the amp is blasting at your knees.

As a point of reference, I'm pretty happy with the hi-gain guitar sound I got on our cover of Bif Naked's "Love Myself Today" in my profile. Two different guitars, one take each, panned left and right. Same amp, and I believe same amp setting. The same amp setting I use for playing that song live. I think I used a Sennheiser MD421 (almost always sounds beefier than a 57 on pretty well anything you might otherwise use a 57 for) right up on the grille, going into the preamps in my Steinberg MR816.

It will surely be open to whatever subjective criticisms could be thrown at it, but it sure isn't a case of "too much gain makes your guitars small" thing. Tons of gain, and it sounds big, if nothing else.

Part of that is the bass in the mix. I EQ'ed the guitars and rolled off everything below about 150hz or so. Until I did that, they sounded muddy because they were competing with the bass. I could probably have rolled them off even higher.

For volume, on a tube amp especially, sometimes you have to "give 'er" a bit before the sound opens up. But put your ear where the mic is going to go. Is that the sound you want? If it is, great. Your next step is mic technique.

If it isn't, fix it. Listen again. Lather, rise, repeat.

CT


Maybe it would be helpful if I posted a sample mix? I definitely need studio monitors, but whenever I render at the very least I'll go for a car ride and listen to my mix a bunch of times and compare it to other songs that I like and try to determine where my issues are.

I attached an Mp3 of a trial mix Im working on. Theres some strange cackling on the guitars which I'm assuming is because I recorded so low and then boosted heavily with the interface and then Limited the crap out of the whole track to get overall volume. No big deal because Im going to redo it all anyways.

But to my ears, the guitar tone just seems very hollow. Thats the best way I can describe it. At the start of the track, its guitar only. It didnt really sound like any limiting or compression on the track really made a drastic change on the tone of the guitar. It pretty much sounds exactly the way I recorded it. There is no bass added yet.

I am recording through a GFS Greenie Classic to an Engl Powerball -> Carvin Legacy 4x12 ->Sm57 -> ART USB Dual Tube Pre -> Reaper

If anybody can listen and maybe have a reason to explain why my guitar sounds the way it does. Maybe its the room I'm recording in or something. Or maybe its all in my head and it sounds normal and I'm overreacting. IDK.

https://soundcloud.com/watt116/adderall-mix

Edit: sorry, i think the previous link i put up was broken. Hopefully this one works
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Old 07-06-2014, 02:24 PM   #11
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Your main issue is there's no bass recorded. Simple as that - a properly recorded high gain guitar shouldnt really sound huge by itself. The bass is what adds that girth. Most people don't realize this and try to make up for it by cranking lows and cutting the mids. Guitar is a mid-frequency inatrument, you need to let the bass fill in the rest.
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Old 07-06-2014, 02:45 PM   #12
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Also when chasing a recorded guitar tone, use reference tracks of guitar tone you like and do A/B comparisons to get your own sound in the game. Listening A/B on the same monitor speakers makes tone chasing easier.
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Old 07-06-2014, 04:39 PM   #13
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You need a good flat response, monitors are the best bet.

A boom box is good for checking the sound on a different source after you mis, along with your car stereo. Check your sound with ear buds also.

I know most of this has been posted already, but it's spot on info. You need a nice flat response to mix your music down properly.
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Old 07-06-2014, 09:27 PM   #14
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Thank you for all of the tips everybody. I was hoping that it was something as simple as that.. I re-recorded the guitars again, this time I turned my guitar amp master up to 5/10. The amp sounded awesome in person; the recording was a lot more focused and punchy which was nice, but it still had that almost airy quality to it. But it makes sense that the lacking of the bass guitar would be the thing that is holding the whole mix back. Thanks everybody for your responses.
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