#1
and how not to make yours sound like it:

Intro Aka. Why did we do it?
About 6 months ago, 2 friends and myself spent 3 days in a basement recording 4 tracks that we would end up giving away as a free EP. We played in a Blink 182 Wannabe Pop Punk band known as High Cea. After lots of beer, Mountain Dew and Taco Bell, we started recording on what we thought was "Professional Gear". I would like to take the time to describe to you how we went about recording this and why it sounds the way it does (like total crap). The EP can be found either by clicking here or on the link in my sig which goes to the same exact spot. I want to count how many fails you can find in this synopsis.

The gear we used Aka. everything to fail
We recorded in my buddies basement which doesn't have good acoustics, has a heater which is on 24/7 and we typically have his little sister or mom coming in on us every 5 minutes. Interface wise, we used a Behringer Mixer running into the mic jack of my friends Macbook onto Garageband. For the drums, we used a couple of overhead nady condensers (which didn't sound too bad), a SM57 on the snare and a Shure kick drum mic (I forget which one). The bass, some sort of Peavy bass, we ran line out of the back straight into the mixer. For guitar, an Epiphone Dot Studio with a Gibson Dirty Fingers, we used my trusty Vox Valvetronix AD30 (May it rest in peace) set on the 80s UK setting with compression for the effect. The guitar amp was miced with a Shure SM58. The vocals were recorded with the SM58. For the monitors, we used some old ghetto Sony home stereo speakers

How we recorded Aka. a fail trainwreck
Typically, the average artist would record one track at a time for each instrument. We said screw that, mixed all the levels for the instruments the way we wanted it and recored drums, guitar and bass all onto the same track. After spending about an hour tweaking everything so it sounded to what we thought was "good", we started recording our songs which we wrote 5 minutes before we started recording. After recording everything to a way we liked it in about one or two takes, we started recording vocals. On the vocals, we took the time to record each verse separately mainly because neither of use could sing straight through.

How we mixed/mastered Aka. failing to do anything afterward
In the end, we only had 2 real tracks to mix. We had instrument and vocals. We actually didn't do much post processing. No EQ, no compression, no limiting, nothing was added in the end. At the end of the day, we said "hell yeah, were going to be the biggest punk band ever".

How we failed Aka. A summary of this.
Now (actually, even back then), I realize everything we did on that album lead to a crappy sounding tracks (The fact that they are remotely tolerable is nothing short of a miracle). I would now like to break everything down so that you don't make the same mistakes as I do:
1. Record in a room with decent acoustics and that doesn't have noise generating sources. Due to the very dead sound the room produced, we did a terrible job mixing on the mixer. Also, a few weeks later when I brought over my really shitty MXL 990 Condenser mic, we found out that even though the heater is 20 feet away, the 990 can still pick it up.
2. Cheap Mixer via Mic Input is a huge no no. Now does everyone see why I bash this idea everytime? Yes, it'll work but its not going to produce much in the way of good.
3. Cheap Mics aren't always the best. Though we were lucky enough to at least get a decent sound out of it, I highly suggest staying away from cheap mics since you usually don't end up with a good recording.
4. Dynamic Mic for Vocals are doable but not recommended. Some would argue that they are good sounding vocals but compared to a condenser mic in the price range of a SM58, you can get a better sound.
5. Record a separate track for each instrument. The fact that everything got recorded together didn't allow us to either A. record a track over again (which you can tell I ****ed up quite a bit on the guitar), B. mix very well post-recording and C. add any effects (Compression, EQ, Reverb, Limiting, Ect.) to the song.
6. Learn to sing. We can't (it shows) but at least try to make your singing decent. Sure, we were trying to be a super awesome punk band but you probably aren't.
7. At least do a little post processing. A little goes a long way. Take a quick look at how to master and do a little final mastering on your tracks.
8. Use decent monitors. Please spend at least a few bucks buying some decent monitors. Your mixing will benefit so much from a decent pair.

Conclusion Aka. Why I wrote this
So, I know you're probably wondering why I'm sitting here writing this. First, I'm writing it as a public apology for the crappy music I made and how I went about it. Second, I see threads constantly about "Hey, I'm doing my mic/guitar/mixer into my mic port..." or something else I've done on this recording and would like to use a reason other than "Hey, don't do that". This way, you can hear exactly why you shouldn't do it that way.

Ps. We broke up like 3 weeks after finishing recording this even though we handed about 200 CDs with this music on it out to people. Sure, its scary that it made it into the hands of 200 people but it gets scarier. People actually liked it and wanted more like it :p
Derpy Derp Derp Herp Derp
#2
Quote by lockwolf
Also, a few weeks later when I brought over my really shitty MXL 990 Condenser mic, we found out that even though the heater is 20 feet away, the 990 can still pick it up.


I read up until here. The mxl 990 imo is a great mic. I've used it for all of my music and I'm really happy with the results. Youtube isn't the best example for clarity, but here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeLcQlO4H7Y

Listening to your stuff in a sec

edit: This doesn't sound too horrible, except for the singing. I think what you meant is "we couldn't sing at all". Not that I can sing any better :P

Everything else is pretty solid...in terms of sound quality. Not bad for a first EP.
Quote by sashki
A lot of pros do that: if they play a wrong note, they'll hit it again to make it look as if it's intentional. It's called "jazz", aparently.
Last edited by mooshoepork at Jan 10, 2010,
#3
Quote by mooshoepork
I read up until here. The mxl 990 imo is a great mic. I've used it for all of my music and I'm really happy with the results.


The one thing with the MXL 990 is they can be a really good sounding mic or a really bad sounding mic. The fact that mine doesn't sound that good leaves me with a bias that they don't sound good period. If you read reviews on them, they are about half positive and half negative which is why I don't recommend them to people.

Quote by mooshoepork
This doesn't sound too horrible, except for the singing. I think what you meant is "we couldn't sing at all". Not that I can sing any better :P

Everything else is pretty solid...in terms of sound quality. Not bad for a first EP.


Heh, thanks. It came out decent in my opinion. Its just the way we went about recording it could have set up for a ton of failure with it. Its like we literally took everything you shouldn't do with recording and did it to make this decent 4 song EP. But, now that I've studied recording a little more, I've come to realize that pretty much everything we did on those recordings could have came out way worse just cuz of how we did it.
Derpy Derp Derp Herp Derp
#4
It's all good advice, that i'll take into considerations, with some minor differences

eg, get someone else, who can sing, to sing for you


I'm using a pod 2.0 into the mic input of my laptop and it doesn't sound bad, possibly because the amp i normally have it plugged into makes it sound worse, however it loses most of the gain so I have to have it around 6/7 on the volume to compensate.
Also, I'm having to use earbuds as monitors which probably doesn't help the tone sound superb haha!


When the album I'm listening to has finished I'll listen to your recording to see whether or not I'm deluded by thinking my recordings are decent.

"The mind is its own place, and in itself

Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n"

- John Milton, Paradise Lost