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how to capture DI (rack-gear preferred)

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Kheos, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. Kheos


    Aug 12, 2002
    About a year ago we recorde our first song in a home-studio. It ended up costing a lot and although we are happy with the recording, we're not happy at all about the mixing/mastering but as it was not such a good song anyway we decided to leave it their.
    Last week we recorded in a friends garage with just a laptop, an interface, some cables and a mic (and someone who knew what he was doing behind the buttons). Unmixed the sound is already better than last years recording so this got us thinking: why don't we all record our lines at home with similar equipment and have the guy who knew what he was doing last week mix it up and master it? This should suffice for the demo we want to release this summer.

    So I have an amp with a DI output and a laptop.
    How would I go about recording my bass lines? What will connect the two? Should I use usb cable or soundcable with 'jacks' or someting that records on a usb stick or flash/sd-card? Will the mic input of my laptop do? I was thinking something like this:
    bass->amp->DI out->DI recording device->laptop

    I prefer rack-gear as I don't want to lug a lot of pedals or devices around so if I mount it in my rack, I can transport it more easily.
  2. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    There's an art to tracking, too. Invite/hire someone who knows what he's doing to run the tracking session. That will ensure that the tracks he mixes will be competently recorded. If you pay attention, you'll also learn a lot about running a decent tracking session.

    Note: to avoid hiring a hack to wrack your tracks, pick someone whose work you have heard.
  3. singlemalt

    singlemalt Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2007
    White Salmon, WA
    I've been putting the same question out here on TB for a week or so...No real answer so far.
    From what I gather it seems like the your lap top will dictate what you do. Firewire vs usb connections.

    I've been looking at the presonus firepod 10. about $350 US at musicians friend.
    We just recorded with this setup, Firepod 10 into a windows computer, using Cubase LE.
    Excellent sound and no latency. I'll be going into a new imac, with firewire connections.

    One lesson learned the hardway: Spend all the time you need getting sound you like. We just went out of the di on my GK 1001 and the tracks where crappy sounding, thin and tons of noise from strings and frets. (Jazz bass, roundwounds, and I play pretty hard) Like it picked up all the stuff you don't hear live and missed the tone. Ended up having to go in again, and rerecord bass tracks.
    This time we went thru my epifani ul-112 cab, into two mikes, sure beta 52 (kick drum mike) and sm57. Recorded both channels to be able to mix. Tried the DI again as well, a third track, but it was useless. THe mikes were Much better! Plus, as the last tracks being put down, I had the luxury of hearing everything, Lead guitar overdubs and later tracks, keys and piano, backing vocals... added after the original. I ended up playing a lot less and sounding much stonger.

    To the OP's question, I have found a great deal of information at the "GarageDoor" a web site dedicated to garageband, but geared towards home recording in general. A library search has given me some new titles like Home recording for musicians for Dummies, and a few others.

    Meanwhile I have yet to make a buying decision, or get my bass into garage band. I'm going to do a couple more weeks of research and see what I learn.

    Good Luck!
  4. Kheos


    Aug 12, 2002

    anyone else got any input on this?
  5. Kheos


    Aug 12, 2002
  6. Specifically to singlemalt's post:

    That crappy sounding DI track is what was coming out of your bass. The same signal that was going into your amp. You could run it through an amp/cab sim, effects, EQ... I'll flip the coin on you: If you are using a DI, spend all the time you need getting sound that you like.

    There is nothing magic about using a DI. There is no magic to using a mic and an amp. What you are doing is printing that sound to the track. If you just plugged a DI in to the interface and didn't like the sound, or if you did a whole session before you listened to the playback, or decided it wasn't a sound you liked, there isn't much anyone can do about that. Sure as hell don't blame the DI!

    You can do a lot of pro quality work with a basic DI and a basic interface with good built in mic preamps. Something like the Presonus, the MOTU Ultralite, the Apogee Duet... They are all up to the task. But if you just start plugging this into that, and not putting time into making it do what you want, you are counting on luck. That's a waste of time.
  7. Alaska Bass

    Alaska Bass

    Dec 31, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    Apogee Duet is just right for this type of setting. Small, easy to use, great sound. You will get spoiled though.

    What is the computer system like you will be recording to at home?
  8. singlemalt

    singlemalt Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2007
    White Salmon, WA
    An update:

    Pulled the trigger on the factory b stock Presonus Firepod with Cubase 4 LE. (Musician's Friend, $350) I'll follow up with a review when I've spent more time with it. The firepod was used (been out and returned) but works perfectly and has the new warrenty.

    Briefly: I could not be happier. This thing synced up with my Mac, and I was into Garageband in a few minutes. No latency. Pick the input and output and you are ready to record: Throw up a drum loop and a guitar loop, and off you go. Switch effects on the fly or try them on later... This is going to be tons of fun.

    The Cubase 4 LE loaded up and runs fine. A bit of a hassle to get it registered and activated, mostly because I'm trying to learn new hardware, a new computer (my first Mac) and new software, plus I'm not that technically withit. Their support team was responsive and very patient.

    So, Cubase is going to take some time to be able to fully exploit the capabilities. It does function perfectly, and I got to use some of the effects modelers when I re recorded my bass tracks. Super cool. I love being able to program effects over the course of a track.

    On the di Recording disapointments. I was not running the board or the session, and I took it on faith that things were, "fine, great, ready?..." So, I learned a lesson there, and so did the engineer, who was great about having me over to recut all the tracks, on his dime. He uses Cubase 4 LE and the same firepod, so I know that this set up can get great recordings. I'll be bugging him for help, but he likes beer, and I shop at Costco...

    By the way, the DI was the one built into my GK 1001 rb, which has a pre post eq switch, and I'll be following up on that by testing the signal from that into the firepod.

    One of my main motivations for getting the firepod was to become very good at recording my bass sound, and not be in the dark about the whole process. I'll also be trying my MXR M-80 di and a few other signal chains. We had very nice results with a sure Beta-52 kick drum mike for one channel and a sm 57 for the other, to be mixed. I will also be trying an audio art compressor to get the bass signal a little more under control in front of the presonus.

    For now: I'm stoked on the firepod, Garageband will be the "training wheels" program for learning the process, (this totally understates garageband's capabilities, I'm just trying to say how easy and fun it is!) and I'll be reading the manual on Cubase! (all 96 pages) :meh:

    At this juncture: I can play with garageband, use the loops, throw in my bass, keys, guitar, drum machine or Doggiebox, mess with effects and sounds, and if I want, hear a track from itunes in the headphones with my bass. This also solved the problems with my slowly deteriorating bass rockman headphone practice set up. More capable, quieter, records, and with the effects farm: its like having thousands $$$ of pedals to play with.

    Back to the OP's question. The presonus is a rack mount, eight channel firewire interface with line level preamps, and besides the recording thing looks like it could be handy in a live setting, say as a drum submixer, or for bringing other signals into your amp. I'm going to try it for mixing drum machine and bass and perhaps vocals into my akia headrush for looping. Looking around at the used ads I think you might get one cheaper, I had a guy offer me his with Cubase for $250, but he was a bit too late.

    Hope this helps,

    Now I really should get back to remodelling that studio sized "spare bedroom". Its got water damage and the mildew and drywall dust is killing me. Even with a dust mask. Someday I hope to post the results in the show us your studio thread..Lots of work and dust to go.
  9. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    There are a few problems here. First off, if you run direct pre-eq from your amp or a DI, then what you're hearing through your amp isn't hitting 'tape' like its hitting your ears. Of course, your amp's EQ and the cab are giving you a completely colored sound. Then on top of it, depending upon where you're standing, and the room, your ears are hearing something different from what's actually coming out of your cab at cab-face distance.

    So, if you record this way, you're not getting a good replication of what you like to hear.

    Of course, if you throw up a mic, you're getting a sound closer to the cab's voice, but it may STILL not be what you're hearing, as you don't play or listen to your sound a fraction of an inch from your cab either. If you mic from a distance in a live setting, or even in an overdub situation, you get room sound and or lots of bleed. Soo...that kind of sucks too, but in a 'really sucks to listen to' kind of way.

    If you're recording direct and through headphones in a monitor situation, then you're more likely to hear a good representation of what's going to tape. Which of course, sucks for playing 'in the moment with your band'.

    My option, and the one that works best for me is the DI from the amp post EQ...then also don't be afraid to EQ the bass signal when you're mixing. That's why people EQ recordings. Also, stuff tends to be a bit sucky when you solo a track, but be sure to listen to it in the mix...you'll find a lot of the string noise, and clacky stuff actually 'disappears' and you'll sound just fine.

    First and foremost, make sure you're getting nice clean and healthy levels to tape. Make sure you're not clipping and that there's something to work with once you get past the performance aspect and to the production aspect.
  10. singlemalt

    singlemalt Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2007
    White Salmon, WA
    Yep, That's the key! Taking whatever time is needed to get what you want to the recorder, so you have something to work with when it comes time to mix and eq. I think our guy had good results with another amp DI out, with his other bass player, and thought thats how it always works. We won't do that again. Live and learn. ( its what we're here for, no?)

    Lots of methods, like a full tool box, mean you can get what you want done. Couple books I've been enjoying: Guerrilla Home Recording by Karl Coryat, for anybody on a budget. Recording Guitar and Bass by Huw Price, and Home Recording for Musicians for Dummies (seems redundant but thats the title).

    I had my doubts when my Bro passingwind said it going to be hundreds of hours getting this going, but now I THINK THAT'S NOT FAR OFF. (okay, you were right) It's a lot of trail and error and just working with the gear. A cooperative basic program like garageband gets you going pretty quick. Cubase is going to be a large time investment. '

    For my time I hope to get: good at recording, good at getting the bass sound I want onto tape, a fast and easy to use creative tool for putting ideas together. At some point it would be nice to record a project...

    Off on a kind of tangent. I recently got a dvd from netflix, Pink Floyds dark side of the moon 25th anniversary. (something like that). Just excellent. The then and now interviews and photos, the music. But even if yoe are not a fan, how bout quite a bit of footage with Alan Parsons running the original tapes and punching in and out tracks, describing recording techniques and production. A nuts and bolts discussions with Gilmour and Waters (not together) in their home studios? Talking about sounds, effects, writing, recording, and splicing tape loops. I would highly recommend this for anyone who wants to record anything.[/QUOTE]

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