#1
Apologies if this has already been discussed here. Being a recording noobie, I found myself stuck with the results I've been getting from my Shure SM57 mic. The reviews in the press are consistently good for this microphone, many big names in recorded music seem to swear by this mic, however I wasn't able to get satisfactory results out of it.

So what am I doing wrong? Perhaps it would help if I first describe what am I doing with it. I am micing my Gibson Les Paul, which I'm playing through Peavey 30 Classic tube amp. The sound I'm getting out of that combo is drop-dead gorgeous. However, after recording it and playing it back, I am getting (much to my chagrin) a very dull, muddy, lifeless sound.

I am plugging my SM57 into the M-Audio box, and then straight into iMac running GarageBand. I'm not dicking with any EQ down the food chain, just straight into GarageBand. I've tried messing with the mic placement, to no avail.

I've been bringing this issue up with friends, acquaintances, sales people in various guitar and audio stores, etc. The feedback's been all over the map. Some experts claim that it's due to SM57 being a dynamic microphone ("you ought to upgrade to a decent condenser mic; SM57 cuts off the higher frequencies, and the recording does not 'breathe' because of that"). Some claim it's the M-Audio ("at the very least, upgrade to Apogee"). Some claim that the mic is fine, the M-Audio is fine, and that the black art of mic placement is the secret sauce.

I must admit that I'm totally bewildered and lost. Should I pony up for a better mic/sound card? Or should I pony up for a sound recording course? Or simply just continue fooling around, messing with the mic placement, relying on my ears? Is it the GarageBand that's the weak link in this chain?

Any opinions, suggestions, advice?

Thanks!
Last edited by alexbunardzic at Dec 7, 2009,
#2
The m-audio gear isnt great but its probably not whats sucking your tone.

Mic placement is key, try lots of different positions, even position it in ways you wouldn't think of, try changing the overall output level of the amp.

Angling the mic half an inch one way or the other really changes the sound, so experiment.
#3
You see condenser and dyanmic mics have their ups and down of recording the tones. Dyanmic like sm57 lacks the top end to make the prescense felt in the song, while a condenser lacks the low end which can make guitar sound light. The optimum setup is using both dyanmic and condenser mics at different distances. I use sm57 and AT2020 if im micing my amp. AT2020 generally further away from amp and offset opposite of closer dynamic mic.
But like falcor said, volume is a big thing. Youll knotice all amps have a different volume in which with will sound "fatter" but generally less desirable at lower volumes. So turn it up, get to thoose good tones.

edit: or down if your hammering the speaker lol
Last edited by nynejoe at Dec 7, 2009,
#4
Wow, I must approach this methodically in order to really see how much mic position could affect the end result. I'll follow your advice and record my amp at different volumes and mic angles.

I prefer my amp sound at larger volumes, as it breaks up really nicely (it has this really nice warm, vintage sound that literally breathes fire).

Would loudness be a problem? How do you deal with higher levels of loudness when recording?
#7
Quote by Beefmo
How close are you placing the microphone?


Fairly close. I was experimenting with moving the microphone away from the center of the speaker cone toward the edge (both left or right). However, I haven't tried shifting the angle of the microphone, or the distance.

Any advice on there?
#8
whats so funny?

Really just try it, angle it 45 degrees, inward then outward, listen what it sounds like.

You may find when lowering the volume, you might end up with a big tone once recorded. Or not, just experiment.

Just hit record, and say into the microphone your settings...volume 8, mic inner cone left etc..
then play, switch your settings differently say it again...this way you don't have to go back and forth. Then you can listen to it all and know what your setup was like... Thats just something I personally do, when recording at home sometimes.
#9
Quote by Falcor Klaatu

Just hit record, and say into the microphone your settings...volume 8, mic inner cone left etc..
then play, switch your settings differently say it again...this way you don't have to go back and forth. Then you can listen to it all and know what your setup was like... Thats just something I personally do, when recording at home sometimes.


Excellent advice. I'll definitely try it! Thanks.
#10
Im confused about all this business about "its a dynamic mic so it cuts high frequencies/no top end".

Im looking at the frequency response and its pretty much dead flat from G3 to like G7, and it only gets more responsive until it exits the range of electric guitar. What gives?
#11
Quote by Falcor Klaatu
The m-audio gear isnt great


False.

It is people like you that are causing all the problems in this forum.
I've bought, sold, and traded more gear than I care to admit.
#12
Quote by Brendan.Clace
False.

It is people like you that are causing all the problems in this forum.


Dude relax yourself, causing problems. I said it's not great...whats the problem with that. It's not that great, Ive used m-audio gear, its good for what it is...not great. I don't understand how I am causing problems.

Then I gave the guy some advice on mic placement, is that causing a problem too.

I get paid to do this, I come on here in my downtime because I am learning to play guitar. I get some useful advice from the other forum categories, so I give back a little in here.
#13
Quote by Falcor Klaatu
Dude relax yourself, causing problems. I said it's not great...whats the problem with that. It's not that great, Ive used m-audio gear, its good for what it is...not great. I don't understand how I am causing problems.


You are bad mouthing a company that you have very little experience with, and that is most certainly not okay in the recording industry where there are no rules for brands. Most guys on this site are using the same interface that I am using, and it has amazing preamps for a $700 interface. You have obviously never used it.
I've bought, sold, and traded more gear than I care to admit.
#14
Bad mouthing, i said it wasn't great did not mean for it to come across as bad mouthing (jeez). And sure, I actually have never used that exact one. I see you go to audio school, great, I am a grad of one myself and a working professional.

The majority of my post was about placement, since you're in school for audio, I just cant comprehend how you would think that I am giving bad advice...Almost everything I ever say in these forums are things I learned from world class engineers in professional studios.

Peace dude
#15
Quote by subzero364
Im confused about all this business about "its a dynamic mic so it cuts high frequencies/no top end".

Im looking at the frequency response and its pretty much dead flat from G3 to like G7, and it only gets more responsive until it exits the range of electric guitar. What gives?


Shure SM57 specs reveal that its range is up to 15,000 Hz. So it is incapable of recording higher frequencies harmonics which do contribute to the overall life-like reproduction of the recorded sound. Hence, no top-end.
#16
Quote by Falcor Klaatu
I just cant comprehend how you would think that I am giving bad advice...


Basically, there is no such thing as a bad advice. Any advice should be taken with a grain of salt, even if it's coming from your own mother. I am always appreciative of anyone who is taking the time to stop and give me an advice, even if it turns out that the advice is not necessarily helping me solve my problem.

I think it's silly to claim that anyone is giving bad advice around here. It's all grist for the mill, and the onus is on the person who asked for the advice to decide how to proceed.

In other words, no one's put a gun to my head and is forcing me to follow any of the advices given here. But it is very nice to enjoy the support of the group, and I am very grateful to anyone who contributes.
#17
You said it perfect alexbundardzic. That the whole point of this forum. To share ideas. Find out what works for each of us.
#18
Quote by alexbunardzic
Basically, there is no such thing as a bad advice.


If I asked you to jump off a cliff right now, would you do it?

Answer: no, because it's bad advice.
#19
From my experience, it all comes with repeated recordings.
Mine aren't even good now, but they are a hell of a lot better then when I started a half a year ago or so. I've used a 57.

Just keep experimenting with where you place the mic, room size, and how loud your amp is. My boogie sounds 10x better recorded when it's blaring at 100db then when it's at a bedroom level. Just keep doing stuff, ask for criticism, and listen to other peoples work.
Matthew 7:7 ""Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

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#20
The thing is, you can lash any number of high-end condensers, dynamics and ribbon mics at it - and isolated, you'll find that many reproduce the amp's tone more faithfully than the humble '57.
But when you put them in a full-band recording, you'll find the SM57 naturally accentuates just the right frequencies to help a guitar sit well in the mix - perhaps why it's become such a widely-used 'go to' mic in studios?


Either way, the 'you need a condenser' thing is bullshit.
I hate the sheer amount of bandwagonning SM57-worship that goes on here, but for mic'ing up a guitar amp it's hard to deny that it gets good results. Your interface is absolutely fine too.


In fact, I can see little in your gear that isn't good enough to get some decent tones recorded. So I'd be leaning towards 'user error'.
It might be something as simple as bad mic plaement, a nasty sounding room (though that's less of an issue when you're close-micing with a dynamic), or even a computer error like selecting a low sample rate...

Start with the mic halfway between the centre and edge of the speaker cone, right up so it's touching the grille. Then decide what you like/don't like about the sound and make adjustments from there. It can be a trial-and-error process (especially if you can't monitor the tone live, acoustically isolated from the amp), but have patience!


Perhaps most importantly, what are you monitoring with?
Last edited by kyle62 at Dec 8, 2009,
#21
I'm getting an AT2020 soon, hope it works well. I have an Audix dynamic as well though it's not amazing could be handy for doubling up recordings.

Unfortunately I only have one mic input in my M-Audio interface, is it possible to get an adapter? The mic I have only seems to feed in the Left Channel, so if I had one that did right that'd be handy.
#22
What M audio do you have?
I have the AT2020. Got it from someone as a gift. It definalty comes in handy. Not the greatest by all means, but its pulls its weight. I often use that along with my sm57 to double the recording of my guitar. To get a fatter sound. Also use it for singing, but im no singer, so I can't help the help there ahahahha
#23
By the way, I suggest you check out Antares Microphone modeler. It can really help in emulating the EQ curve of various mics and the distance knob is effective, if you need to "fatten" your sound.
#24
Your advice is music to my ears. I keep having this nagging suspicion that there's a lot of urban myths percolating around, especially with regards to gear. You never know whether someone's claim that such-and-such a piece of gear is indeed so magical, or is it just because the person never tried anything else, or is something else the matter.

I am monitoring my resulting sound (after the fact) on a pair of British Castle Inversion speakers. I like these speakers because they add very little coloration to the sound.

Quote by kyle62
The thing is, you can lash any number of high-end condensers, dynamics and ribbon mics at it - and isolated, you'll find that many reproduce the amp's tone more faithfully than the humble '57.
But when you put them in a full-band recording, you'll find the SM57 naturally accentuates just the right frequencies to help a guitar sit well in the mix - perhaps why it's become such a widely-used 'go to' mic in studios?


Either way, the 'you need a condenser' thing is bullshit.
I hate the sheer amount of bandwagonning SM57-worship that goes on here, but for mic'ing up a guitar amp it's hard to deny that it gets good results. Your interface is absolutely fine too.


In fact, I can see little in your gear that isn't good enough to get some decent tones recorded. So I'd be leaning towards 'user error'.
It might be something as simple as bad mic plaement, a nasty sounding room (though that's less of an issue when you're close-micing with a dynamic), or even a computer error like selecting a low sample rate...

Start with the mic halfway between the centre and edge of the speaker cone, right up so it's touching the grille. Then decide what you like/don't like about the sound and make adjustments from there. It can be a trial-and-error process (especially if you can't monitor the tone live, acoustically isolated from the amp), but have patience!


Perhaps most importantly, what are you monitoring with?
#25
Quote by Beefmo
If I asked you to jump off a cliff right now, would you do it?

Answer: no, because it's bad advice.


Depends on the context. If I had a parachute strapped on my back, and you asked me to jump off the cliff, maybe that would be a good advice? Maybe I'd get the thrill of my life? So, in the end, it's not a bad advice.

The thing is, you never know. But it is your responsibility to examine the advice given, and decide for yourself. Don't rely on a bunch of strangers to make the decision for you. Because if you do that, then the joke is on you.
#26
Quote by alexbunardzic
Depends on the context. If I had a parachute strapped on my back, and you asked me to jump off the cliff, maybe that would be a good advice? Maybe I'd get the thrill of my life? So, in the end, it's not a bad advice.


That was the lamest way to get out of that analogy ever.

There is such a thing is bad advice, bad advice is damaging, time consuming and wasteful, if you can't recognise that these things exist then you're living in a world of make believe. There's a lot advice that I consider to be "bad" on this board because it fits the aforementioned criteria, a lot of rookies handing out advice on things they know nothing about, whether you want to believe the world is all lovely and nice and smells of flowers is up to you, but don't expect anyone with a hint of realism to agree with some "everyones opinion is lovely" bullshit, that gets people nowhere.

If you want a job done right, get someone who knows how to do the job to get advice from or to do it for you, if you want to paint a house and don't know how to do it you could get a painter, or you could smear the walls in feces and sit in a corner grinning to yourself because "it's all good", but don't expect someone in the real world to avoid telling you it smells of shit.
#27
Hey you should post your recordings so we can detect the problem.

I'm quite shure that it is because of the mic placing. Follow Falcor Klaatu's advise regarding mic placement...

Dyanmic like sm57 lacks the top end to make the prescense felt in the song, while a condenser lacks the low end which can make guitar sound light.

Well, thats not true, condensors have more lows than dynamics, they get to capture lower frequencies than dynamics. Condensors have more detailed lows and highs while dynamics are more "mid-rangey".
#29
Quote by Tomas1808
Hey you should post your recordings so we can detect the problem.

I'm quite shure that it is because of the mic placing. Follow Falcor Klaatu's advise regarding mic placement...


Well, thats not true, condensors have more lows than dynamics, they get to capture lower frequencies than dynamics. Condensors have more detailed lows and highs while dynamics are more "mid-rangey".


hehe
#30
There may be a LOT of SM57 worship around here, mainly from me, owen and ryan, but that's for a very good reason.
If you can't get a good tone with a single SM57, you need to work on your engineering chops. Full stop.

First tip: Treat micing a cab and dialling in a tone for a miced record completely differently to how you'd treat dialling in a tone to listen to in the room. They're two totally different things. The amp may sound great in the room but it could sound terrible under the mic. I've often found that settings that sounded great under the mic sounded pretty bad in the room, don't be afraid to put the knobs in places usually percieved as weird. What matters is the end result, not preconceptions over mid knobs or something like that. So if mids at 0 sounds good (even though it's usually frowned upon) then roll with it. If it sounds good, **** IT.

Second tip: 1 inch away from the grille, where the dustcap meets the cone. Turn knobs until it sounds good. If it sounds bad move the mic a bit more towards the cone, only a little bit though If it still sounds bad try moving the mic another inch back from the cab.
#31
Hey this whole thread got me thinking about a weird thing, what are you monitoring with (through what are you listening to the playback)?

While may seem odd at first: we've established that the 57 is good, your gear is good, interface is decent, thus eliminating pretty much everything. THEREFORE, we're left with two options: either USER ERROR (no offense, we all have to learn) OR maybe you could be perceiving it as horrible sounding if your hearing it back on 5$ plastic speakers. I don't know actually, just thinking out loud here.

So...?

EDIT:

PS to everybody: can we please stop the assumptions and misconceptions about SM57s, they've proved their worth time and again. Also about the dynamics vs condenser issue; it's pretty simple, different purposes, different uses. That simple.

Also, about the SM57 "lack of top end" I would just like to point out that while YES the frequency response is up to ~ 15kHz, it doesn't really matter for guitars. You know why? Well, the guitar doesn't generate much data above that anyway so it's prefectly fine.

A very close friend of mine told me this and he recorded albums for Otis Redding so I trust him...
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Last edited by miguelito2729 at Dec 16, 2009,