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Bass recording sounding baaad... Help!

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by bassjack88, Jul 10, 2019.

  1. bassjack88


    Mar 12, 2012
    I'm currently trying to get into some home recording. My equipment set up is:

    Yamaha BB605/Musicman Stingray

    SM57 mic infront of Markbass MINICMD151P v2 Bass Combo

    Steinburg UR22 mk2 audio interface

    Ableton Live

    As far as I'm aware, this is all decent gear... But the recording sounds weak and muddy as hell. Any ideas welcome!
    Ellery likes this.
  2. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    There's a reason most engineers start with a DI rather than sticking a 57 in front of a combo amp.
  3. bassjack88


    Mar 12, 2012
    Tried DI. Sounds even worse.
  4. What DI did you use?

    Have you tried going directly into the interface?

    What are you using to listen to your tracks?

    Try using a high pass filter on your track to tame the muddiness.
  5. bassjack88


    Mar 12, 2012
    I've DI'd the bass into the Steinburg and I'm just using a mid-range pair a Sony headphone to listen back to the recordings (worth around 40 US dollars)
    TrevorR likes this.
  6. My $.02:

    DI straight into the interface can sound weird at first, but takes eq very well and can be easily shaped to fit in the mix.

    57 on an amp can be heavily influenced by the room, if you are in a square bedroom with low ceilings and no treatment it’ll show up in the recording.

    Are you listening to the bass tracks solo or in context? Cranking lows to get a bedroom tone that’s powerful seldom records well and definitely won’t translate to consumer headphones meant for commercially mastered audio.

    Post some samples and I’ll bet we can give more pertinent information.
    bfields, Atshen, TNCreature and 4 others like this.
  7. Which ones? The vast majority of headphones these days are designed to boost bass. This may be giving you an unrealistic representation of your track.

    This ^
    And I likes this.
  8. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Recording with a mic is tricky. Check your placement, and try to isolate the sound as much as possible. There is a ton of information online about placement, and I've seen people use moving blankets to cover the rig so you don't get room noise.
    Make sure the mic, interface, and recording level aren't clipping. Stay just below the "red."
    I have a ton of processing plugins from IK Multimedia that help me clean up the sound, but I have invested a lot of time and money in learning about them. They can be very helpful, but it is quite a rabbit hole.
    I personally am not a fan of straight DI recording. It sounds nothing like a bass actually sounds. If you are having trouble using "real" amps and cabs, you can try some amp sims and impulse responses to imitate cabs. This also takes a little getting used to, but is well worth learning about.
    BooDoggie likes this.
  9. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    Did you use input 2 and push the "HI-Z" button in? If not, try again. If so, mic placement has a huge effect. Backing the mic away a few inches should make it less muddy. The center of the speaker produces more high frequencies, the outside produces more low frequencies. If you still aren't happy, try a different bass, different strings, etc.
  10. grimjim


    Jan 26, 2014
    Chicago, Illinois
    Endorsing artist;DNA Amplification, GHS strings
    In addition to the DI, mine has a 1/4" out to the amp an xlr out and a 1/4" through both to the interface, I've always recorded with a kick drum mike, An AKG d-112 about a foot away from the cabinet last time, but the 57 should be fine as well. Mike placement is tricky as has been said. Try different locations, record a sample and see if it's better or worse. Start with it up against the screen, centered between the center of the speaker and the outer edge. back it off an inch at a time and see what happens. Then when you find the best location in and out, try moving it side to side. It's gonna take a bit of trial and error to find your sweet spot. Then I cover the whole set up with a packing blanket to get rid of room acoustics. That's my method anyway. I'm sure there's other ways to dial it in.

    Mostly use the mike channel, then the other two to behind that thicken up the track. Good luck and post a link when it's done. Don't stress over it, this is supposed to be fun.
  11. bassjack88


    Mar 12, 2012
    All good information guys, thank you! I'll do some experimenting based on what's been posted here and post some of my results.
    And I likes this.
  12. dBChad


    Aug 17, 2018
    Daytona Beach, FL
    My band is self-recording a demo also: it's been quite the learning experience! Some things that worked for me:

    1. Take the direct out. It's hard to mic a bass cab, and while an SM57 could do it, a kick drum mic would be easier to use (if you HAVE to mic a cab).

    2. High Pass. You'll be doing extensive notch filtering anyway to keep all the tracks "in their own lanes" in the mix anyways, running a high pass initially can save you a lot of time.

    3. Input level should peak at around -6dB. Turning all your recorded tracks down in the mix to where all the input peaks stay around -6dB leaves tons of headroom in the mix where you can boost each part in it's sweet spot later. Taking too hot of a signal then limiting and compressing heavily can really suck the life and dynamics out of the parts.

    4. Listen back through studio headphones, cheap headphones, stereo speakers, computer speakers, car speakers, etc. It will sound different each time and give you a bigger picture of what work still needs to be done when heard on multiple sources. Was listening to the last song my band recorded; sounded good on headphones and computer speakers, but when I played it back in the car I noticed some vocal parts that were much louder than the rest. Now I know where to make adjustments.
    Ellery, waveman, brett adams and 4 others like this.
  13. BwanaDust

    BwanaDust Commercial User

    Apr 11, 2019
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Lincoln Learning Solutions - Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center
    There's your problem.
    BooDoggie and FugaziBomb like this.
  14. Turbo Sparky

    Turbo Sparky Supporting Member

    May 14, 2018
    South Eastern U.S.
    Tons of ways to do, and not to do, when self-recording/producing. Many of the previous commenters/advisors have great advice.
    My band has done:
    - Live, all-play instruments at a studio ALL cabs mic'ed into the engineers Pro-Tools; HPF box checked, and a 2:1 on compression for bass. Sweet!
    - Most recently; bass sent directly into mixer/DAW, instrument EQs centered notched/flat, raw signal sounds thin and uniform, HPF checked and 2:1 compression, then signal re-amped back through amp/cab, then signals blended; sweet.
    Another commentor stated, and I agree-for what it's worth-tracks sound different on different types of speaker systems...try to listen to tracks through as many different speakers as possible.

    YT has some decent tutorials etc. Many give the content producers angle on recording bass, some vary, but you can get a sense of what the general principles are and are not.
    IMO, for example, if you record a compressed signal, and then try to compress within the DAW, it can/will sound horrible. The initial compression can NEVER be cut/adjusted. Better to send raw then compress, unless you want to record "your" rig straight away without adjusting.
    Good luck!
    bassjack88, BOOG and dBChad like this.
  15. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    An SM57 isn't suitable for bass unless it's blended with a DI that provides the lows.

    If you want to record bass using a mic you will need a mic that is actually intended for bass. And I'm NOT talking about kick drum mics like D112 or Beta52 (unless you want extremely scooped out mids).

    Suitable mics for bass would be something like Beyerdynamic M88TG, Sennheiser MD421, E/V RE20.

    Having said that, you can't expect a combo at home to sound like an expensive tube amp in an acoustically treated studio room. Bass is very dependent on the room, even when close miking. A good iso cab can work great for bass recording at home though.

    The best approach would probably be to use a DI and fill in the mids with the mic (sm57 can work for this). Remember to adjust phase between DI/mic to avoid comb filtering and a thin, hollowed out sound.

    Also, don't put the mic too close to the speaker. Too much proximity effect = muddy. A good bass mic should provide solid lows at a distance. An SM57 would have to be placed really close to given an impression of capturing the lows, while it is really just a muddy lower mid boost from the proximity effect.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
    jj.833 and TNCreature like this.
  16. smtp4me


    Sep 30, 2013
    Philadelphia, PA
    ^^^ This. My home studio is Apple based - Mac Pro PC and Logic Pro DAW. I use an Apogee interface, and I play the bass directly into the Apogee, then use an amp sim in the DAW to get the sound I want.
    LBS-bass, BooDoggie and JRA like this.
  17. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    In addition to my previous post:

    There's a couple of suggestion about using a hpf to make the sound less muddy. I disagree. A hpf is used to make the sound less BOOMY in the sub bass area and to filter out sub-sonic frequencies to provide more headroom. A MUDDY sound has more to do with the lower mid/upper bass area IMO. You can NOT filter out lower mids using a hpf without completely ruining the sound. To reduce mud it would be better to use a notch filter in the lower mid area. Or a low shelf eq.

    But it depends on how you define "muddy" and "boomy" I guess...
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
  18. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    go direct. 'shape' in your DAW. good luck! :thumbsup:
  19. jdshimkoski


    Jun 26, 2019
    How does the bass sound in context with the rest of the mix?

    A lot of times, a solo’d track will sound like garbage but will sound great within a mix.

    Secondly, are you sure it’s the bass causing the muddiness? Make sure you use a HPF on pretty much everything in the mix (obviously with different settings based on what you are cleaning up).

    Next, use an EQ and see if you can etch out anything competing across the different tracks.

    A lot of times just that minor amount of cleanup will go miles towards a better mix.

    If you are just wanting a solo bass sound, go DI and mix it with your mic’d cab and make sure they aren’t out of phase. If they sound hollow, try flipping the phase of one of the tracks. See if it gets a fatter sound.

    Just ensure to be realistic about your expectations. Your setup will always and only sound like your setup. If you want the sound of a “pro” bass sound, find a record in which you love the bass sound, then research the equipment and the recording chain they used, and do your best to emulate it.
    bassjack88 likes this.
  20. zubrycky


    Aug 22, 2011
    I have an Yamaha NE-1 parametric pedal (A.K.A. the Nathan East signature model) and I always bring it with me to recording sessions just in case. Better safe than sorry.

    I don't use it in every recording session I do. However, when I'm sounding bad I use that pedal and voilá! The sound problem is always solved. That pedal saved my life many times. That purchase where was the best money I've ever spent.

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