#1
I belong to a recording forum, with some fantastic engineers and some great hobbyists. I've done a lot of reading on that site, and have learned a lot of things.

One thing is that a lot of these lower-end brands like Nady, Naiant, CAD, etc. actually make some pretty great stuff for the not-so-experienced people out there.

I know there's a bunch of you guys on here that want to get into recording, whether it be their band, themselves, or maybe even others. So I wanted to set some things straight;


1. Isolation: No matter how good your equipment may be, how good your recording chain may be, your sound in the end will suck unless you have a good recording environment. That means you want the sound to be DRY and get absorbed, so that it does not reflect back to the mic.

A. If you have a walk-in closet, hanging clothes make good isolation. You can use it as a vocal booth with a little extra isolation pads. Some bathrooms work well also, but isolation pads will still be needed.

B. You can make your own isolation pads for fairly cheap using rigid fiberglass sheets. 2" thick for mid/high absorption, 4" for bass absorption. You can never have enough bass absorption, but you can have too much mid/high absorption. Be careful, and do research elsewhere to learn how to make them, where to place them, etc.

Suggestion: Make your own with rigid fiberglass or mineral wool (mineral wool is cheaper). a Portable Vocal Booth by RealTraps would be good as well, but only suggested if you can't make something out of your room, as the PVB will sound more trapped and won't give you the openness of an actual room.

2. X/Y technique: This may be an unfamiliar term to you, as it was to me, but it's very important. This is for use with acoustic guitars, and drum overheads. Different condensers will have different delay times, so if you do not use this technique (Or others, but this is the most common and effective), you may create an ambient effect that may or may not sound good. Take a matched pair of condensers, and aim them at the source perpendicular to each other. You can buy XY adapters for mic stands for about $20.

Suggestion: Matched pair of MXL 603/603S (Same thing). Can be had off eBay for $110 by seller "ytsur"

3. Pre-amps: Pre-amps, pre-amps, pre-amps. VERY important you have good ones. The reason for needing pre-amps is because the signal coming straight from a mic (Guitar as well) is very low and needs to be amplified before hitting the recording device.

A. Tube or not? Tube pre-amps are almost essential for acoustic guitar and vocals. They will make them much more crisp and detailed. Also works well for electric guitar amps. Tube is unnecesary for drums though, as percussion doesn't need the detail that other instruments do.

Suggestion: Tube: M-Audio DMP-3
Not tube: M-Audio Octane

4. Mics:

I've already suggested the MXL 603/603S for overheads and acoustic guitar. There isn't really much else to suggest in this price range that can accomplish the job as well.

--Condenser--
Vocals:
For vocals, a condenser is most always used. A ribbon can be as well, but it's not nearly as common. Vocals are hard to suggest a mic for, because everyone's vocals are different. Although, the RODE-NT1A and the Audio Technica AT-9000 do vocals fantastically, and seem to have versatility for different types of vocals. I can't comment on their ability to do screaming vocals.

Acoustic:
In a shootout for acoustic guitar, I found the Naiant MSH-1A to be the best in the price range when compared to an MXL990, Nady SCM900, and the MXL67g. May be good for vocals as well, but I cannot comment on that. The Audio Technica AT3035 does acoustic guitar exceptionally, if your pockets are a bit deeper. Keep in mind, stick condeners, such as the MXL603s I suggested earlier, also sound great on acoustic.

--Ribbon--
Most commonly used for guitar cabs/speakers, in harmony with a dynamic. Can also be used for vocals and acoustic, but again, I cannot comment on a particular mics ability to do either of those.

My suggestions for ribbons here are the CAD Trion-7000 and the Nady RSM-5. You may want to continue research on those 2 elsewhere.

--Dynamic--
In the recording world, all dynamics are good for are guitar cabs/speakers (in harmony with a ribbon) along with drums.

My suggestion, of course, is ol' Shure SM57. The SM57 copies found here are just as good, but they may not be as durable.

5. Software & Plugins

--Mixing--
When mixing, it is important to constantly mute and solo your tracks. The reason for this is that other tracks may interfere with your ability to EQ any one track. At the same, you may EQ a track in a way that it will not work well with others, so it is important to fiddle with it. You may mute and unmute a track several times, and some tracks may even be left muted in the final mix.

The most general part of mixing is volume control. Of course, everything that comes in mixing is personal preferance, but a good way to start would be to solo your main vocal track, bring it to a comfortable volume, and work around that.

Suggestion: I've been hearing some great things about Reaper, a free multitracking program found Here. There is also a Mac version out if you look around (On that site).

--Mastering--
Mastering is a process often overlooked by those newer to the recording world, but it is essential to having a good finished product. There are 2 types of mastering; Single song, and album.

Single song mastering consists of 2 main things; Compressing and De-essing. Compression smooths out and limits frequency ranges so there are no sparks or oddities. It makes your tracks lay on top of each other easier. There are several ways to compress, but I will only suggest one: Taking an already recorded track and using a plug-in (The one I will suggest in this case is free, and is actually very nice)

De-essers are pretty straightforward. They de-ess. "S" sounds can often sound almost like a lisp when recorded, and they need to be smoothed out. This is where a de-esser comes in handy. Both a compresser and a de-esser come with my suggestion.

Suggestion: Fish Fillets, found Here. It's free, and it's a VST Plug-in. That means as long as your multitracking program supports VSTs (Reaper does), it'll work. It comes with a compressor, a de-esser, and an expander/limiter.

Album mastering consists of 2 main things: Normalizing and full song compression. Normalizing is the process of making the master volumes of each individual song similar, to go well with each other on an album. Full song compression is just that: Full song compression. Whereas compression before was applied to individual tracks, this is applied to the whole song.

Suggestion: They all work well. I usually use Wavelab.

RECORDING INSTRUMENTS:

I'm just going to give a quick run through as to how each instrument is typically recorded.

--Drums--
Drums are usually done first (Scratch guitar track may be recorded first to help drummer along)

Snares can do done top and bottom, or just top. It's personal preferance. An SM57 works well for this application.

Bass drums I have 2 suggestions for: Shure Beta 52, and Audix D-6. The Audix is geared towards more of a metal sounding bass drum, but works well for anything. I usually prefer the D-6 to the 52, but it's personal preferance. The Audix also requires less EQ to sound good.

Toms (both rack and floor) can be picked up just fine by overheads, but if you can afford mics for those as well, why not do it? You will have much more maneuverability in the mixing stage if each individual drum gets it's own mic/track. Don't be fooled by thinking allowing your overheads to pick up toms is purely a budget move, though. Plenty of professional musicians go that way. Danny Carey being one of them. The reason for this is it gives your drums more of a free, open spaced feel; but again, you won't be able to mix as precisely.

As far as a room mic, it is purely optional. If you have a good recording environment, definitely go for it, as it will help make the drums sound more lively.

You want all of your drums to be seperately tracked, and the best way to do this is with a firewire mixer, or a multi-input interface, such as a FirePod.

Suggestion: PreSonus FirePod (Also has very good built in pre-amps)

--Bass--
Next comes bass. Bass is often recorded direct. If you have a direct out from your bass amp, use that. If not, plug directly into the interface. Most multi-tracking software have pretty good emulators for bass.

--Guitar--
When recording guitar, the cab/speakers usually get miced with a ribbon and a dynamic. This will require experimenting, as there are different ways to aim your mic from the axis of the speaker. Off axis, on center, distance micing, etc. Typically, you'll have your ribbon about 2 feet away on center, and your dynamic an inch away off axis. Remember, EXPERIMENT. You could end up with 7 or 8 guitar tracks, some will be left muted in the final mix, some will be panned, and some will be left center. You want multiple tracks to sound full, but you want it to be hard to tell that it's multiple tracks.

--Vocals--
Done with a condenser, but can be done with a ribbon. Vocals are pretty straightforward. Do as many takes as you want, and leave as many tracks as you want. It's all up to you, in the end. The important part of vocals is using your limiter (refer back to fish fillets) and setting a nice threshold. This is especially important if the singer projects alot. Without a limiter, you'll end up with sudden spikes in volume whenever he/she projects. This will keep a constant volume.

Cheers everyone, let's see what you've got!

-Holden
Guitars:
Fender Standard Strat
Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass
Martin DX1

Amps:
Peavey Classic 50/212

Pedal Board:
Gator 8-Bus
Boss TU-2 Tuner
Digitech Bad Monkey
Ibanez CF7 Chorus/Flanger
ISP Decimator
Dual button footswitch
Last edited by TehNez at Oct 23, 2007,
#2
This should be expanded more and stickied.
Dissonance is Bliss


Signal Chain:
Carvin CT-4
Ibanez TS-9
Carvin Quad-X
TC Electronics G-Major
Mesa/Boogie 2:90
Ear Candy BuzzBomb



Member #4 of the Carvin Club
#3
Quote by Doodleface
This should be expanded more and stickied.


+1
I've got something in my front pocket for you.
Why don't you reach down in my pocket and see what it is?
Then grab onto it, it's just for you.
Give a little squeeze and say: "How do you do?"
#6
Quote by Doodleface
This should be expanded more and stickied.


Thanks! I'll be sure to expand it later on tonight
Guitars:
Fender Standard Strat
Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass
Martin DX1

Amps:
Peavey Classic 50/212

Pedal Board:
Gator 8-Bus
Boss TU-2 Tuner
Digitech Bad Monkey
Ibanez CF7 Chorus/Flanger
ISP Decimator
Dual button footswitch
#7
Quote by Doodleface
This should be expanded more and stickied.


Agreed.
I play by my own rules. And I have one rule; There are no rules... but if there are, they're there to be broken. Even this one.


Confused? Good.

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Sigs are wastes of my precious screen space.

^ Irony

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LET ME HUMP YOU DAMMIT
#8
Not mackerel tabby at all.

I think that we need to sort all the FAQs out at some stage - we could assemble a huge "sound recording faq" by combining existing guides together and taking 2 cents from everyone.

PM a mod about stickying this for now.
#9
Quote by BrianApocalypse

we could assemble a huge "sound recording faq" by combining existing guides together and taking 2 cents from everyone.


Great idea!
Guitars:
Fender Standard Strat
Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass
Martin DX1

Amps:
Peavey Classic 50/212

Pedal Board:
Gator 8-Bus
Boss TU-2 Tuner
Digitech Bad Monkey
Ibanez CF7 Chorus/Flanger
ISP Decimator
Dual button footswitch
#11
Quote by big crouton
Could you give a link to the forum. I'd be interested in checking it out.


Mods may not like it, I'll PM it to you.
Guitars:
Fender Standard Strat
Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass
Martin DX1

Amps:
Peavey Classic 50/212

Pedal Board:
Gator 8-Bus
Boss TU-2 Tuner
Digitech Bad Monkey
Ibanez CF7 Chorus/Flanger
ISP Decimator
Dual button footswitch
#12
sticky it! (for support into stickying it.) also could i get the forum?
Guitars gear
Fender Nashville Telecaster
Vox AD30 Valvetronix
Zoom 707 multi effects
Last edited by slash=legend at Oct 21, 2007,
#13
It's not isolation, that is the most important, but making sure the room is acoustically treated properly. Having a totally dead room is not always going to work out that great, as much of the tone we hear is coming from the room. The idea is to get the source sounding great in the room. If you're guitar amp sounds great in a bathroom, why not record it in there? But I think you've got the right idea, people seem to overlook the acoustics of the room. Not just for recording, but also for mixing. Most rooms can be horrendous for reflecting the bass frequencies, which can really muddy up the bass sound, and make you're mixes really lack low end. Sometimes it's the little things that can make all the difference.
#14
There are errors in the original post that I will expand upon soon - currently i have a lot of work that needs to be done in the next few hours.
PM Me for any help you need with recording systems/tips
Quote by BrianApocalypse
Good call

Man, you should be a mod, you know everything.

#15
Just added a good amount.
Guitars:
Fender Standard Strat
Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass
Martin DX1

Amps:
Peavey Classic 50/212

Pedal Board:
Gator 8-Bus
Boss TU-2 Tuner
Digitech Bad Monkey
Ibanez CF7 Chorus/Flanger
ISP Decimator
Dual button footswitch
#16
Great article. Scan read it all and read some parts properly. Very helpful for recording newbies like me.
It's gonna be a blue day