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Izzy

Recording music...what you wish you'd known.

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I know some of you are familiar with recording music. Some may have been doing it before I was even born!

In the week I've been at it I discovered modern conveniences can be...inconvenient? When I recorded with a cheap mic to audacity it was cake, then I decided to get an audio interface. Then I realized I could make my playing sound better if I got a DAW. Boy am I sorry. The learning expirience has been torture. The jargon is intimidating. I find myself spending more time reading on the computer and watching youtube tutorials than with the guitar or the keyboard. I though it would bring me closer to my girls (instruments), I was so wrong. I don't intend on giving up that easy, so I come to you with this:

 

What do you wish you would have known about recording, what skill, what trick would have made it easier when you were starting out?

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Hola Izzy, anduve en Texas hace un mes, ya extrañaba.

 

I can relate, the first riffs I recorded using my Line 6 UX2 were super easy to record, then I upgraded to a more complex interface, more mics, better computer and different software and for months now I have been trying to lay a decent track.

 

It is frustrating but at the same time I have to keep in mind I am trying to record something more complex than I initially did. I am also torn between using 3 different softwares, I should settle on GarageBand for what I do.

 

This is one of those things that, if you keep at it all of the sudden it will all click together.

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In keeping with the topic ...as I am not recording master or even novice for that matter...I just plain suck at it......what software, technique etc would people say is the most user friendly.

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The easiest setup would be a simple USB interface for your computer, a microphone to mic your amp and Audacity software which is free and easy to use.

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I found this amazing collection of articles on another forum, all from a series of threads by a user named Yep called "Why Do My Recordings Sound Like ***?". Crazy in-depth and very helpful, covers a ton of aspects of recording in both home and studio settings.

Here you go:

Yep Threads 1

Yep Threads 2

Yep Threads 3

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I love learning so I have never had the experience you are having. I also learn by doing....so I plug the guitar in, fire up pro tools and try a bunch of stuff...I figured it all out pretty quick. Obviously I made some mistakes and had some "wtf?!?" moments but i allowed the learning time to be just that. It didn't take me away from my guitars in the end...it gave me so much more time with them. It just took a bit...

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Hi Izzy,

 

For training materials, I highly recommend David Wills' site, proaudiodvds.com. I purchased a training DVD for my Tascam recorder, to get into the functionality quickly. His training style and personality make the information very accessible. He covers the entire process in an interesting way, everything from setting levels to mastering: really good stuff.

 

There is training there for almost every device and recording application imaginable too.

 

I find that separating recording from playing altogether helps. Think of them as separate things completely. I offered to record a friends' band recently, and it was a blast! :)

 

Have fun!

 

Don

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Izzy...

 

I've got nothing but a cheapie usb interface that works with a "playback device" or... I plugged it into the line out of my inexpensive acoustic guitar amp that has separate sectors for voice and guitar.

 

For a guitar and a mike, it works well enough. Total cost? The amp was under $150, the mikes vary, but they're either very old or inexpensive. A few standard wires... a mike stand... I figure total of under $300 and the amp is one I use all the time anyway. Ain't recorded anything in a cupla years, though.

 

I use Audacity too. As long as it's recognizing the input with some of it's little "input" choices, it works pretty well if you don't overmodulate.

 

No tricks, really; just sitting in front of the computer with the amp behind me and the boom mike to the mouth.

 

'Course, I'm just a dumb old country boy; my baby bro (28 years younger) goes the other way and has very pro-level stuff but I figure mine'll do for practice and stuff and it's simple.

 

I'll back channel you too...

 

m

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Hello there...

 

I always refere to this.. The Boss Micro Br

 

 

Now I started in the working world as an assistant sound engineer (nearly 20 years ago :o :)) so I have used pro equipment and stuff like ADAT (which is like a video tape) and ive used those giant studio mixing desks..

 

And I can tell you these digital four tracks are amazing..

 

and theres a new version out now.. You can basically plug directly into it. It has some nice effects (70 of them) and real drum beats.. So its really easy to just play a part, rewind, go to the next track and record the next part etc. So most of the recording is done on that. You can mix and edit on it aswell but I ususally trasfere it to my PC and use a sequencer (cool edit pro).

 

this is the new one

 

Good luck [thumbup]

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In keeping with the topic ...as I am not recording master or even novice for that matter...I just plain suck at it......what software, technique etc would people say is the most user friendly.

I think the easiest way to record guitars and bass would be to record direct in. Using a program like amplitube for amp and effect sims and something like Cubase or Protools for tracking.

 

This is how my band did the guitars for our demo, and even though I'm an analog guy I was pleased with the results. It's really simple, you plug in and tweak the sound to how you like it and hit record. I found it much easier to get a good sound with that setup than with mic'ing an amp which usually gives me a boxy, flat sound. That's because I suck at recording but I think most people that are amateurs at recording like I am would get the best results recording DI.

 

I feel like if I had the equipment I could get really good at recording, but until then it's much easier to just pay an engineer that's good at his job and has nice gear.

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I record on a multitrack tascam directly. I also record through a line6 spider jam. And lastly I use a little hand Zoom recorder an H2.

 

I transfer the tracks from the recorders (SD card) to a computer then edit.

 

With some tweaking I get excellent studio quality recorders from all three sources.

 

Note: I do not record directly into a computer. I only edit, compress, equalize, normalize etc.. using a music editor.

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My Tips

 

Keep it as simple and immediate as possible

 

Be creative - the technology you use is less important than the ideas in your head

 

There's more than one way to skin a cat so don't be afraid to try weird stuff

 

Use less distortion/overdrive on the guitars than you would live - it will sound punchier and tighter

 

Use less reverb/echo etc on the lead vocals than you think you should (unless you are going for a far away spacey vibe which can be cool - but only in small doses)

 

Don't mix through headphones. They are great for isolation while recording a track, but not good for mixing.

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Don't through headphones. They are great for isolation while recording a track, but not good for mixing.

 

a great point! Studio monitors are a must. I have Alesis M1Active 620s, not bad and not too expensive.

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One more thing. I agree I am dead in the water without a good studio monitor(s). I have even recorded directly from a monitor for samples and the results have been quite good.

 

And what surfpup said, don't be afraid to be creative.

 

One important tip, if recording say a keyboard or hard overdriven guitar from amp to recorder, turn the recorder volume (and monitor) all the way down, then turn up slowly so you don't scare the neighbors.

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I know some of you are familiar with recording music. Some may have been doing it before I was even born!

In the week I've been at it I discovered modern conveniences can be...inconvenient? When I recorded with a cheap mic to audacity it was cake, then I decided to get an audio interface. Then I realized I could make my playing sound better if I got a DAW. Boy am I sorry. The learning expirience has been torture. The jargon is intimidating. I find myself spending more time reading on the computer and watching youtube tutorials than with the guitar or the keyboard. I though it would bring me closer to my girls (instruments), I was so wrong. I don't intend on giving up that easy, so I come to you with this:

 

What do you wish you would have known about recording, what skill, what trick would have made it easier when you were starting out? I wish I had read up on how well known artists approached recording,,I started yrs ago with a simple analog 4trk cassette machine,,and now I have 24trk tascam machine that is quite easy to use,came with a instructional dvd,,not too bad.{Tascam 2488 Neo machine}

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My Tips

 

Keep it as simple and immediate as possible

 

Be creative - the technology you use is less important than the ideas in your head

 

There's more than one way to skin a cat so don't be afraid to try weird stuff

 

Use less distortion/overdrive on the guitars than you would live - it will sound punchier and tighter

 

Use less reverb/echo etc on the lead vocals than you think you should (unless you are going for a far away spacey vibe which can be cool - but only in small doses)

 

Don't mix through headphones. They are great for isolation while recording a track, but not good for mixing.

 

Awesome tips! You can watch and read all the "how to" vids and articles but sometimes we forget what it was to be a nooooooob and don't oversimplify.

Keeping it simple and remembering what you wanted to do when you started are going to be bigger challenges than I thought because when you're trying to figure out the technical stuff, the creativity and drive take a nose dive.

Markini, I will SO turn those volumes down, bet I would have made that mistake ONCE and after recovering never done it again. Thanks for saving me from a heart attack :)

I only have good headphones because I thought the speakers were not needed.

Any idea how to isolate the noise to my room on the cheap? (blankets from the walls? O.o

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Izzy...

 

Thing is with Audacity, anyway, is that you don't need the amp cranked up unless you figure you wanna have it at the point of distorting. You can mess with the input volume and test it until it's not breaking up - the sound waves you see on the thing when recording should not be hitting the top and bottom of the ribbon they're "printing out" on.

 

You can always increase volume a bit and mess with some compression, etc., etc., after you get it up there clean.

 

m

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The learning expirience has been torture. The jargon is intimidating. I find myself spending more time reading on the computer and watching youtube tutorials than with the guitar or the keyboard. I though it would bring me closer to my girls (instruments), I was so wrong. I don't intend on giving up that easy, so I come to you with this:

 

What do you wish you would have known about recording, what skill, what trick would have made it easier when you were starting out?

 

 

I've been recording stuff for about 37 years now, and if I had to give two tips, it would be these:

 

1. I understand your frustration with learning a more complex system, but would encourage you to continue doing so, and to so separately from the artistic process of making music. Many musicians I know buy equipment, but try to learn how it works while attempting to record their music. To me, this is like joining a band first, then announcing that you're going to learn to play. The moment when you have that artistic urge to create something is the WORST POSSIBLE time to start reading the manual and trying to figure out track routing, or how to add effects to a track. From my own experience, when you have that burning desire to lay down a track, your brain is least equipped to read technical manuals. Devote time to learning the system when you don't have any stake in the outcome. There is nothing more frustrating, IMO, than having an idea you want to record, then spending 30 minutes trying to figure out how to get sound through the system, and play it back. By the time you're recording, the inspiration has gone. You must get enough competence in the technical aspects first, or you'll eventually abandon recording in frustration.

 

2. As much broarder lessons, I'd cite a couple of thing: The first is a tip that I read more than 35 years ago in an interview with Tom Sholtz of Boston. He was talking about techniques for doing your own recordings, and said. "Keep a few well recorded LPs of music that is similar to what you are doing, and listen to them briefly every couple of hours to remind yourself what a proper balance sounds like." This is SOOO true. After a few hours of listening to a recording with double the normal amount of bass, or no top end, or a really loud kick drum, these things start to sound normal. It's good to re-calibrate your ears by comparing your mix to a good studio recording several times in an eight hour session. It's amazing how far you can get "off" a normal mix in eight hours. When I ran a small studio, we'd often finish around midnight with a playback of the multi track, and it sounded great. I'd leave everything on the board exactly where it was, and come in the next morning and listen again. The Band's reaction was usually "that can't be the same mix, it sounded way better last night." Of course it was the same mix, but now everyone's ears were fresh. The second thing I'd say is not to spend too much time working on the sound of any instrument on its own. The sound of an instrument in relation to everything else is all that matters in a mix. I've had huge battles with guitar players who tweaked their guitar to sounds good in isolation. This usually ment that they added lots of bottom end to the instrument to get a "fat full" sound, and rolled off top so it wouldn't sound "buzzy." When placed into a track the "fat full" sound in isolation sounded muddy and distant. Often if you solo instruments that sound great in a mix, they sound pretty horrible in isolation.

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@martinh - Your first tip was something I already practiced (a good tip indeed).

But the stuff you wrote in your second tip were things I had never really thought about. I had thought about the fact that instruments often sounded much different in isolation than in the mix, but you described it in a way that helped me to confirm it to myself (if that makes any sense [rolleyes] ). And the tip about listening to other stuff while recording is a great one too. I will adopt it in my future recordings.

 

Thanks for posting. [thumbup]

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I've been recording stuff for about 37 years now, and if I had to give two tips, it would be these:

 

1. I understand your frustration with learning a more complex system, but would encourage you to continue doing so, and to so separately from the artistic process of making music. The moment when you have that artistic urge to create something is the WORST POSSIBLE time to start reading the manual and trying to figure out track routing, or how to add effects to a track. From my own experience, when you have that burning desire to lay down a track, your brain is least equipped to read technical manuals. Devote time to learning the system when you don't have any stake in the outcome. There is nothing more frustrating, IMO, than having an idea you want to record, then spending 30 minutes trying to figure out how to get sound through the system, and play it back.

 

2. As much broarder lessons, I'd cite a couple of thing: The first is a tip that I read more than 35 years ago in an interview with Tom Sholtz of Boston. He was talking about techniques for doing your own recordings, and said. "Keep a few well recorded LPs of music that is similar to what you are doing, and listen to them briefly every couple of hours to remind yourself what a proper balance sounds like." The second thing I'd say is not to spend too much time working on the sound of any instrument on its own. The sound of an instrument in relation to everything else is all that matters in a mix. Often if you solo instruments that sound great in a mix, they sound pretty horrible in isolation.

 

That first tip is going to be difficult to take to heart, especilly because I learn by doing.

Maybe if I chose to cover something simple and short to experiment with...

The second double advice bit I wouldn't have thought of for years. Great stuff! Thanks.

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http://soundcloud.com/izabellizima/somber-element/s-TS4N4

 

This is the first thing I've ever recorded, did it a few minutes ago, nothing tweeked, used audacity and a 2i2 with a mic (and and impromptu pop fillter made of pantyhose and wire, oh my!).

I know it sounds rubish, but I've no idea where to go after I record besides saving.

Nice voice you have there [thumbup]

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