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first time recording - rubbish tone!

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Evolmonster, Apr 24, 2009.

  1. Evolmonster


    Dec 1, 2008
    Hiya gang

    It's my first time recording, and we had our first session last night over my mates house (home recording studio).
    We laid down the guide tracks, and I was told to plug straight into the desk.
    Listening back through headphones, the bass was totally flat. No bottom, no highs. It sounded rubbish.
    But it's only a guide track, so no worries. But, the recording guy said we'll do the same when I'm recording proper, bass plugged straight into the mixer!
    He assures me we can play with the sound on the desk. Something don't feel right though.
    Is this a normal way to do things?

  2. sir juice

    sir juice

    Sep 11, 2006
    London, England
    Where you using any kind of DI box?

    Am unbuffered tone going straight into a desk will rarely sound good.

    Does your amp have a line-out or something similar? you could easily use that as a DI.

    Also, it's worth mentioning that your experience will differ significantly in hearing low frequencies through headphones and speakers. What headphones can't do is reproduce the feel of the low notes, regardless of their frequency response. It's that kind of tingling of the body that really makes us percieve a bass as sound fat. Try listening to it on some proper moniters.

    And don't underestimate the power of amp modelling. What software are you using, the stock bass amp plugins in programs such as Logic can really fatten up the sound when mixing.

    Hope this helps.
  3. Evolmonster


    Dec 1, 2008
    We didnt use a DI box. just from my bass, straight into the mixer.
    Its a good mixer, a yamaha something or other, with something like 48 channels (Some virtual).
    I thought that I wouldnt be able to hear the actual sound that was coming through using headphones. But what worries me is, when I come to record the track properly, how am I gonna hear what the mixer is hearing?
    Can we output it to a monitor or something?

    The other problem is, the amp I have is a bit naff. Its big, but the sound isnt all that special. I use it on stage so I can hear myself, but I usually DI to the front of house and use the EQ on my bass to adjust the sound.
    Crap I know, but i'm new to all this, and havent saved up for a decent amp yet!
  4. ashtray9


    Aug 1, 2002
    Tempe Arizona
    A great singer will sound "good" straight into a board, as will a great bass. All the signal processing should be like dolling up a very pretty girl.

    Maybe you just have a pig.
  5. Evolmonster


    Dec 1, 2008
    I have an Ibanez SR520.
    Not the best bass in the world, but its got bartolini pickups and EQ.

    I have seen a behringher preamp / DI box / Tone modeller online for really cheap. Seems to be a good buy for £30!

  6. atheos


    Sep 28, 2008
    Tampere, Finland
    If the mixer has DI inputs (often labeled as "Hi-Z") then the bass will be OK through that. If not, you need a DI box. If you've always played through an amp, the DI signal will sound dull as it's completely flat and dry. Compression and EQ will sometimes do wonders although the tone should be good to start with.
  7. Beyer160


    Dec 20, 2008
    Literally plugging the bass into a 1/4" input on the board will sound pants* because you're mismatching the impedance. You need a DI of some kind, here's a little blurb about what they do and how wonderful they are-


    Even the cheapest passive DI will sound miles better than plugging into the board input. Good luck!

    *I've heard my UK friends call things "pants", but I've never used it myself. Did I use it right?
  8. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    If you don't have a DI, then maybe you can take a like out the back of your amp? If you don't have that, then you're going to have be be ok with sounding like a dookie bomb.
  9. atheos


    Sep 28, 2008
    Tampere, Finland
    Only if the board doesn't have DI inputs. Many modern mixers have built-in DI for 1 or 2 channels at least. They're mostly labeled "Hi-Z" (oh, did I just repeat myself? :ninja:).
  10. Evolmonster


    Dec 1, 2008
    I am pretty sure this board has DI inputs.
    Its a funny plug that looks like it takes an XLR, but has a hole in the middle to plug a quitar lead into.

    The mixer is new, and cost my mate close to £1000, so I am guessing it has DI.

    It is sounding more and more like I need a DI box though. If its better than just plugging directly in, I gotta get one really.
  11. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Or if the board does accept high impedance signal, make sure that it's 'set' to it. There's probably a switch or adjustment for it.
  12. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I would only say this. I have done some recording in a very high-end studio. Every time I record there I bring my gear thinking it will sound better. I end up plugging into the board. The guy knows what he's doing. The finished product sounds great every time. Ask him to hear some of his previously recorded stuff. You might be surprised. If the bass sits well in the mix on that stuff, give him a shot.
  13. MonkeyBass


    Mar 22, 2009
    Denver, CO
    This is the crux of the biscuit if you ask me. IMEO the engineer has more effect on a good sound than any equipment ever could.

    I've worked with engineers (on both sides of the mixing board) who have taken a good bass tone (or guitar tone or drum tone, whatever) and utterly destroyed it via over EQing, over compressing, etc... Use your ears. If the bass sounds like crap at the board, then you can't rescue it once it's recorded. Perhaps your mate needs some lessons in how to record.

    That was a bit of a rant... but as a professional audio engineer I'm constantly bombarded with people that mix with their eyes ("I plugged it into the board, the board cost over $1,000, I dialed the knobs on the bass the same way I do when I play live, so why does it sound bad?") and not people that trust their ears. Or my worst pet peeve as a a bassist is "that's not a P-Bass, I want you to play a P-Bass" :scowl:

    I got to meet and talk to Alan Parsons a year or two ago and his philosophy was that the gear doesn't matter (to a certain extent of course) it's the technique of the engineer that matters.

    I also meet many people in the audio engineering field that have a cabinet full of great mics, a rack full of great EQ's and compressors, nice monitors etc etc... and their mixes are lifeless and dull.

    It's like saying that Victor Wooten, or Les Claypool are only good because they have sweet basses.

    So... anyway, I digress...
  14. anonymous101511

    anonymous101511 Guest

    Mar 5, 2001
    Dean Markley Strings, Xotic Basses, Kubicki Basses
    Hello; you may be hearing the sound of your bass for the very first time. Playing through a less than stellar amp won't tell you what your bass sounds like. Plugging straight into the board will. Direct box will most likely alter your sound further, I never use them when I can go straight into the board. Now you can certainly adjust tone on the board and I 'print' EQ when recording. Good luck with this next step!
  15. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Not sure if you're recording to a PC
    But after you put the track down, you'll have plenty of time to apply plugins or reamp and tweak the tone in the final mix.
  16. Nick Kay

    Nick Kay

    Jul 26, 2007
    Toronto, Ontario
    If it's the recording platform that I'm thinking of (ie: the Yamaha AW series), then you don't have high-impedance instrument inputs. You've got low-impedance mic inputs and you've got line inputs. You need to use a DI box going into that board, or you're going to get cardboard tone.

    Sounds like your mate doesn't know what the hell he's doing if he plugged your bass straight into a line-in and didn't realize it sounded funky.
  17. Evolmonster


    Dec 1, 2008
    The mixer we are using is the AW1600:

    My mate informs me that it has a 'Hi-Z' input, and looking at the review :
    "Input eight can double as a high-impedance instrument input, allowing guitars to be plugged straight in and processed using the internal amp- and speaker-modelling effects."

    So it looks like he may be telling the truth after all!
  18. Tell whoever it is recording you, you want to record your amp, don't take no for an answer.

    It's up to you, your recording...

    It's a pet hate of mine, Engineers who think they know best. If they did, they would be recording bands in a propper studio not a home one...
  19. Nick Kay

    Nick Kay

    Jul 26, 2007
    Toronto, Ontario
    Huh, I had no idea the 1600 had a high impedance input. I know that the 2400 doesn't. Yamaha makes some very odd feature choices sometimes. Looks like that input is 500kOhms as well, so it shouldn't be sucking the life out of your tone.

    Perhaps you're just not used to a dry, flat tone on your bass. A flatter tone usually works better in the mix, for the record. A lot of mid content will help you stand out against a wall of big, crunchy guitars. For now, I'm going to say you need to just trust your engineer and see where it goes. If the rough mix sounds trashy (ie: after you go over the guide tracks and the engineer plays with tonality and placement a little), then consider redoing it with a miked amp.

    However, you have to remember not to judge the bass tone on its own. Just like any other instrument on tape, a bass that sounds good in the mix sounds completely different from one that's pleasing to the ears in a solo context.
  20. You have several issues here, so one by one--

    the first is how to record: Direct in, or "dry" is what engineers prefer, because it gives them a clean signal to work with. However, you are probable used to the processing of amps and cabinets, so you have probably never heard your bass "as it is"- unprocessed. So you bass will sound pretty thin to you. You need to learn the sound of your bass "raw", to give yourself a point of reference. It is very hard to imagine what your bass is supposed to sound like when all you hear is the plain signal- think playing what should be a distorted bass lead with no stomp box.

    plugging in- Direct in works fine, if handled properly. A DI box isolates the signal from the board, to reduce noise, and change the signal to line in. More than likely, your board had at least an input pad or impedance switch, so the board can be matched to the bass's impedance.

    My suggestion is to record both a wet & dry signal at the same time- either mike the cabinet or take a signal off the head, then take one right off the bass.

    Here is how to do it, but let the engineer do this before you jump into his turf: Come out of the bass into a DI box that has a 1/4" phone in and out. Take the 1/4" from the out back to the amp, and use the XLR to go to the board. That's your dry signal. Then get the wet signal by either taking a preamp out or miking the cabinet. Here's a tip: The two signals will be slightly out of sync, especially if you take one off the cabinet. (Let the engineer know you are going to do this)- During the count off, with rec on, hit or pop one of your strings- the engineer can use this to line up the two signals, if they arrive at the recorder out of sync. I just use my thumb to hit the G string against the fretboard- it doesn't take much..

    The engineer can give you the wet in the cans, and have both tracks to blend, if he needs to. I have done this in a lot of sessions, and it seems to produce the best results. It takes a bit of work to get a bass track to match what you are used to hearing through your amp- it takes a really good engineer to recreate the sound, so just take one track of each and be done with it. The engineer can mix the two, or process the dry track to his heart's content, and you will have the wet track if he misses the mark....

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