Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

Chat about Equipment Info
 #86657  by Counterstriker
 Mon Sep 13, 2010 3:09 pm
Hey! I've been messing around with track recording for a while just with pre recorded tracks of myself just to see what I can do. I have it down to where I feel comfortable, so yesterday I thought I'd try to do a vocal track, since everything else was easy... Well I watched some videos on youtube, read on setting the mic up for vocals, set it up in a closet with padding on the wall and recorded some vocals.. Uploaded it on my comp and ran it through Adobe Audition and I really don't like the sound of it.. It sounds way to flat.. not full enough, so I tried Eqing it and it did do a little, but still it's empty.. I was listening to some Studio Dead and listening to Jerry, Bob and Brents voice.. It doesn't sound dull, I added Reverb (I tested like 100 different reverb settings, yet none seemed realistic to me, they sounded to fake - Then I opened Sonar Home Studios (home recording software to see if I could fix it through that... Same problem..

Any idea? I will try to get an MP3 up of what I'm talking about, but does anything I'm doing not sound right that could be the problem?
 #86689  by tcsned
 Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:09 am
I agree with river rat - trying different spaces is a good idea - use your ears, if it sounds muddy in the space chances are it will sound muddy on the recording. The mic might be part of the problem. Dynamic mics like 57s and 58s are durable and reasonable for stage use but that is probably the source of your dissatisfaction with the sound. Even a cheap large diaphragm condenser will make a big difference. I've heard that the Studio Projects makes is pretty reasonable for the money (just over $100) Audio Technica AT2020 is pretty decent for the price too. It all depends on how much you have to invest. I use a AT 4050 and AKG 3000Bs which are also not super expensive ($500 and $400) and those are pretty good. If it's something you think you'll stick with I would start building you studio gear collection with a couple of good mics - a large diaphragm and a small diaphragm condense to start with. A good DA/AD converter is probably the the next thing I would get. What are you using to do your analog-->digital conversion? That could be part of the problem. If you are plugging straight into your computer's mic input that is about a $1 DA/AD converter and usually suck. There's a bunch of those out there. Not sure about the low end ones but Presonus makes a pretty good one, if you use a Mac I would go with Metric Halo. A tube preamp is a great thing to add warmth - ADA used to make a cheap one that was pretty good - then there's the nice studio ones that start at $1k. But those, while nice, are not going to make the huge difference in your product that the mics and a good DA/AD converter will IMHO. Putting a dynamic mic through a Demeter or Avalon preamp isn't going to make as big a difference as a decent mic through a decent DA/AD converter.
 #86739  by Counterstriker
 Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:39 pm
I did indeed "Come out of the closet" :p but that didn't really do anything. Still sounds very flat and plain. It's almost like it doesn't fit the instruments or it sticks out way to much..

I don't think it's the mic though - a local band I know of recorded there whole self produced EP using 5 SM 57's and it sounds great. But they don't answer emails..

I'm gonna try running it through our Mackie Mixer then to the MR-8. maybe I can fatten the sound up with that.
 #86781  by tcsned
 Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:28 am
Counterstriker wrote:I did indeed "Come out of the closet" :p but that didn't really do anything. Still sounds very flat and plain. It's almost like it doesn't fit the instruments or it sticks out way to much..

I don't think it's the mic though - a local band I know of recorded there whole self produced EP using 5 SM 57's and it sounds great. But they don't answer emails..

I'm gonna try running it through our Mackie Mixer then to the MR-8. maybe I can fatten the sound up with that.
That might help, at least it could help to identify the source of the problem - I would monitor the mic directly from your Mackie mixer first to see if you are sending a reasonable signal to the recording device. If it sounds good to you at this stage, it has to be something in the recording process and not related to the mic. I would start with a totally flat EQ first then adjust from there as needed. Also, no effects, no compression, no nothing to start.
 #86824  by Counterstriker
 Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:37 pm
Tried it it last night - I think I'm getting somewhere.. Sounds better, not too much better, but better! I'm messing with some EQ settings and finding better sounds - The effects on the Mackie are way to fake sounding.. I think Delay is the only useful one. The Reverbs are over the top.

I maybe I'll add some effects in Adobe audition - I never used compression, so I'll try that.

One thing I notice to be a problem is, the vocals are not.. Transparent? enough. I can't find the right word. When I listen to Studio Albums I notice how the vocals flow with the instruments but when I do it, it seems the vocals simply over power or stick out. and even if I turn them low they seem to plain :/

I'm going to invest in a Studio mic really soon! Because right now all the instruments sound great mixed.

I do have a question though about Studio Recording! When recording in the studio where do you start? I usually start with my self doing some rythym guitar then get the bassist, then drums then vocals, then lead, then keys..then I will go back and redo anything that's iffy.. But is this the correct way to do it?
 #86832  by playingdead
 Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:39 pm
Drums always first ... use a loop or a drum machine ... gotta get the meter straight. Loops are easier if you're using Garage Band or Logic or something similar, because then you can lock the tempo and the measures, which makes it much easier to edit, set delay times, etc.

Typically, I'll start with a simple drum loop (it's better than a click) for way more measures than the tune will ever be, then lay down some scratch rhythm guitar, then bass, keys, redo the rhythm if I think I need to and then do the lead and vocals last. Then I'll sit down at the drums and put a natural drum part on there. I will do a scratch vocal early on if it's a complicated tune.

You have to get used to how your own voice actually sounds, then usually, it's just a simple EQ to get it sounding good. I like to add some high end to my vocal, with a little bump in the low mids. Studio mics are nice, but really, you should be able to get a good vocal sound with a 57 or a 58. You don't need to spend a ton of money on a mic for demos, that's for sure ... I have a cheapo MXL "studio" condensor and a pop filter for it, and that comes out quite well. I did splurge a little and buy a Rode XY stereo mic to record the acoustic guitar with, and it sounds good.

Things like delays, reverbs, etc., they just mask the sound of your voice ... get comfortable with your voice first, and I think you'll find that less is way more when it comes to effects in a studio recording. Maybe a little room ambience for the voice, that's it. Compression is a good thing to even it out in the mix, but it shouldn't change the character or nature of your voice, just make it work in the mix.
 #86839  by tcsned
 Thu Sep 16, 2010 7:46 am
+1 on Vic's suggestions. I usually use a simple drum loop - you can use a click track but clicks aren't as natural sounding and as easy to play to as a snare/kick pattern. The one other thing I do last after the vocals is put in guitar/keyboard fills during verses and choruses. That way they you can play off the vocal phrasing and support it rather than conflicting with it. Vic, is you Rode mic the NT4? I have one of those too - also makes a pretty decent live room mic/overhead drum mic. etc.
 #86868  by Counterstriker
 Thu Sep 16, 2010 12:43 pm
I'm not recording just myself playing, it's my whole band. I'm not a drummer so I wouldn't know but some of our songs are more technical (tempo changes, breaks..) So I would think if the drummer is playing by himself he might not remember everything, alot of the time maybe a certain lick I do or something will remind him the tempo is gonna change. That might just be because we really aren't that structured :/ We are working on it though!

Should I record us playing minus the drums, and let him listen to that so he can play along when I record him?

I started getting used to my voice for live shows but studio is so raw to me, when we play live my voice seems to "meld" to the instruments as does everyone elses" but it seems my voice is to sterile when I try studio!

Thanks for all the great info!
 #86924  by Counterstriker
 Fri Sep 17, 2010 5:04 pm
I have a pair of Samson Co2 pencil style mics - They are Condensers, I'm gonna try them out to see if my vocals are good for now but I did order A Studio Projects b3 condenser microphone! I also have a lotta old RE15 Electrovoice's, maybe I can use them for recording?


Alright so I tried it with the CO2 mics - and not a major difference.. It's still flat and plain and not natural sounding at all.. After going and effecting it u on the computer nothing.. I messed with tons of settings on the boards until I though I got one tha actually got my whole voice (through the actual PA speakers with no added Reverb, just room sound, which I though I could use effects to get) but once put through head phones sounds like shit, so I made some adjustments and recorded a little track of me just talking and then went into Adobe audition and messed around, and still.. It sounds sounds like when you hear a badlt recorded Dead soundboard tape - where it's just to flat and plain..I am going to test my friends voice and see if has the same problem.