Benefits of owning an amplifier for recording purposes

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by ArvindJayaram, Nov 17, 2012.

  1. Hell-o,
    I just bought a bass and gas is telling me to buy an amp or a pre-amp of some kind.

    I'm really enjoying the tones I can get out of just plugging my bass into the Hi-Z output of my recording interface and running through a VST. Some really great sounds, I'm thinking of doing a little recording so people can sound how the ESP Horizons sound.

    One of the things I noticed is that without running through a plugin, I get a volume drop when I change settings on the bass. Initially, I was wondering what was happening and someone even indicated it could be something not being earthed properly, which was why I was getting sound when both pickups were seemingly turned down.

    Running through the VST really opened up my eyes. After that, I got thinking how much cooler it would be to run this thing through an actual amplifier.

    Any reason to do so if I like the tone through the Hi-Z input and VST?

    Also, Tiny Terror Bass Amp 100-watt Combo versus Gallien-Krueger MB200 vs Eden World Tour. Opinions?

    - Jimmy Rage
  2. jobo4


    Apr 19, 2006
    Austin, TX
    With my limited experience of three "real" studio gigs I have always plugged into a house preamp which went straight to the board. In my home recording I go straight to the interface.

    Seems like if you had a vintage flip top or the like you might want to mic it. Perhaps mix that signal with one going straight to the board.

    Again my experience is limited. Maybe someone who has done more recording will chime in.
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Two separate issues. If your bass is still putting out sound when both volumes are all the way down, then there is something wrong with how it is wired. Get that fixed.

    As to using "a real amp", usually the recording output of an amp includes just the preamp section, so you only need a preamp. The rest of the amp is for driving speakers, not recording. For those that have the luxury, some people play through a full amp and speakers and then use a microphone on the speakers for the recording. But that's not where most people would start out. Most would start out with a preamp.

    Whether a "real" preamp is better than VST is up to personal taste, and depends on the specific items. It is worth trying out a variety of preamps to see if you find tones you like. There are many dozens of preamps to try out, in both pedal and rack format, at a wild range of prices.

    Try to narrow down the types of tones you want to hear, see if you can describe them or name examples, and then state your actual budget.
  4. pflash4001


    Dec 2, 2011
    Try something like a SansAmp. Those DIs are great and I've often used them at small gigs where loudness isn't necessary and I don't have to worry about having to put too much bass in the stage monitors and risking disintegrating the monitor cabs. I know lots of guys who just use a SansAmp to record.
  5. A rack mount preamp, or even a channel strip (I've used a Presonus studio channel) work great for recording. Get one with the essentials- parametric and/or graphic eq, compressor, effects loop, and an output VU meter (to help avoid overdriving your board) is a nice feature. If you ever want an amp later, it's very easy to add a power amp and cab of any size.
  6. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Guitar Acquisition Syndrome is telling you to buy an amp?
  7. levis76

    levis76 Seconds from getting ba...

    Apr 14, 2007
    Metro Detroit

    For the OP, I have recorded with just a simple DI interface to a board, a preamp to the board, and a mic'd rig to a board.

    If given a choice I would choose a clean DI signal blended with some mic'd rig to give it fullness.
  8. sloasdaylight

    sloasdaylight Banned

    Feb 4, 2009
    Tampa, Florida, US
    When I record, I always send 1 clean channel from a Di, then two Mic channels, usually one from an sm57 right near the speaker, and an Audix D6 like 4-5 feet away. Gives a really awesome set of sounds to blend and makes distortion sound great, since you can adjust the balance as you choose.
  9. Lol, sounds strange I know, an amplifier should be a staple part of a rig :D

    Then again, I kind of like the sound I get using just my computer monitors! Could be that I'm too new to bass guitar, could also be that I'm cheap and extremely wary of the perils of writing cheques that my a** can't cash :D

    I still record metal vocals with an SM58 because I know GAS is a problem and not the solution! Metal with an SM58? I figure if LOG did it, my demo can do it :ninja::ninja:

    Isn't that weird? I don't know a damn about wiring, even the simple EMG quik-connect stuff! I'm not even too sure what exactly the controls on my bass are doing. Seems like one is a main volume knob, one is a P pup knob, one is a J pup knob (not too sure whether either of these is volume or something else) and an EQ knob.

    So if I play with all knobs dimed, I get a certain sound. If I play with three dimed, I get a different sound. And with two dimed a different sound again. If I just play with the volume knob dimed, I get an altogether different sound. It's difficult to explain, but all sounds seem to fit in the realm of bass, I wish I could make some clips and I will try to do so, but I don't have a web cam and that sucks. Will have to record and do a voice over saying what's happening. Maybe paste some photographs of the control settings.

    There's no hissing or noise whatsoever, I can't for the life of me figure out what each control is. When I play through a VST (which I guess is a pre/power amp type thingie), the volume drop is less noticeable and might not even be there, could just be certain accentuated EQ characteristics are lopped off. It's a very funky sound.

    I really have to pump up the levels on my monitors in order to hear bass on any setting, though I'm always careful that it doesn't exceed clipping levels that could damage my monitors (thank God for LEDs :D)

    Trying out stuff is not an option, unfortunately, though I wish I could. Seems like online stores have gotten bigger than retail stores out here and they "stock" more stuff than the brick-and-mortar musical stores, unfortunately. Most of the equipment in those places is really sub-par to try out most of the time. :(

    ^^This. I keep thinking of using a DI preamp of some kind, or some sort of signal chain prior to my interface.

    I'm shying away from the Tech 21 bass DIs, even though I love the company's products, because I am looking for a slightly different sound (I think). A friend had a Bass Driver Deluxe and we used it on a recording, I found that it's a cool mid-scooped sound, very heavy. I was looking for something that was more "clicky" or rounded in a David Ellefson kind of way. I believe I can get that sound with just my bass into the Hi-Z, but I could be deceiving myself. Any suggestions from their stable? I was earlier thinking of the VT Bass Deluxe, but somehow got a bit disenchanted after listening to youtube clips (not the best place for sound, agreed).

    The Gallien Krueger MB200 appealed to me because it seemed more like a power amp than a preamp, as weird as that may sound, less colouration of the signal somehow on "flat" settings.

    The Orange I have no idea about. I really like what I've heard about their products, the +1 for this amp was that it had a DI and it's own speaker. Was figuring I could DI it, as well as mike the cone with yon SM58 sitting in my cupboard :)

    :scowl: Damn. Damn damn. :scowl:

    - Jimmy Rage :bassist:
  10. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Lots of metal singers use the 57 and 58. It's totally normal.
    Well honestly, there's your problem. Contact the manufacturer and ask for the instructions, or at least ask them what the knob layout is. Or take it to an experienced older bassist, or a reliable shop, and ask them. It's fine to go by ear to an extent, but when you have to post on a forum that you're having volume problems and you don't know if it's the wiring or the knobs... well, it's time to get the instructions and read them. :)
    This, I totally understand. It's a problem for many, many people. One option may be to find an online store with a decent return policy, so you can try the gear out and then exchange it if it doesn't suit you. Even if that won't work, you should still do what I suggested before:
    That way we can give you actually useful advice about what gear is worth gambling on, in your particular situation. At a minimum, post some youtube vids of bassists who have the sound you want. This was a very good start:
    So keep going with that sort of thing, help us to help you.
    I understand what you meant about "more flat, less coloration", but it's important to know for future discussion that the word "preamp" doesn't mean coloration necessarily, many different preamps are capable of that "flat" sound. And the term "power amp" means much more about its function of driving speakers than it does about lack of coloration. In other words, it will help us all if you stick with the language about more/less tone coloration when that's what you mean to say, instead of thinking pre/power amp in those ways.

    Also, the GK is a great product! :)
  11. I thought I should post these clips. This is the bass running through the VST in Cubase, but with no settings turned on. The idea was just so you could hear it. On the recordings, there doesn't seem to be much difference in volume across the clip, except when both P and J are dimed.

    The first 10 or so seconds is the P Pickup on full, J is off. The next clips in order of appearance is (2) P off, J on; (3) P and J on full; (4) P and J at half; (5) P and J pickups off (apparently), wish I could slap, it's that kind of tone.

    The whole thing runs into 1:50, apologies.

    Tell me what you think. Amp essential for a solo recording artist? I really like the tones out of the box. The artists I like are Steve Harris, David Ellefson, Frank Bello, guys like that, I suppose. I don't know how I would use a tone like theirs in my music and I'm open to experimenting!

    - Jimmy Rage
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2014
  12. Ask the folks on if it's a good mic for metal and you will get some very different advice :p

    Most people will use a condenser mic for metal in the studio as opposed to a dynamic one. The only good example I've heard of the use of an SM58 was one of the LoG albums. When I asked about it on gearslutz, they reminded me of all the studio equipment I don't have :crying:

    SM58 on stage all the way though!

    I have tried to contact ESP, but they haven't responded! I'm living in a new city, so I don't know any older bassists and I avoid music shop techs out here like the plague, almost like begging for a scratch to be put in your instrument :mad:

    Alas, there are no stores out here with such nice return policies, returns only in cases where the instrument is damaged. Most online stores will also not provide warranty on an instrument shipped overseas and returns are reserved for extreme cases of damage.

    Don't get me wrong, I *love* this bass, wicked-est sounding instrument I've heard, though in truth, I haven't been around very long! Don't plan to do any modifications, if I have to manage any volume issues, I'll use the amplifier knob like everybody else :p

    That's exactly why I cited the MB200 as one of my amplification choices, it just seems to have a very neutral character to it (imho, based on videos I've seen and forum posts I've read).

    It's also the only item on my wishlist at the moment :D

    There are no doubt amps that colour sound to a large extent as well and as you mentioned, the choice of cabs or the speakers being used can alter a sound in their own way. I understand that there isn't any "true" FRFR solution in the market. My experience with power amps is restricted to my Tech 21 Power Engine, which I use for guitar. It's pretty good though, would love to have a similar solution for bass! :bag:

    - Jimmy Rage