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I can't get a good sound direct!

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by capofirstfret, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. A little background.

    I have an interdisciplinary degree in Applied Music and Audio Engineering. I definitely spent the majority of my time in college in the music department and basically considered myself a music major. Having said that, I did a lot of recording and audio engineering and even worked as an audio engineer for a blues club of some repute.

    In all that time and all those records, I have *yet* to get a bass sound by going direct that I am happy with! I am never content with the sound of a bass recording unless the amp is mic'd. What am I doing wrong? Anyone else have this problem? I've tried different DI boxes, pre-amps, compressors, tube buffers, etc until I just can't come up with anything else.

    It's an easy enough fix honestly, and that's just to go ahead and mic the amp. I've actually lately been using (I may get crucified for saying this) a VHT Special 6 Combo for recording bass sounds! 6 watts, 10" speaker, and it sounds amazing when recorded.

    Anyone got a secret to direct bass recording that I may have overlooked?
  2. MglMatador


    May 5, 2010
    What about the sound did you feel lacking?

    I find it depends mainly on the style of music. I've done tons of Jazz recordings direct that blended well, as the sound was mostly clean with a clear fundamental (and was relatively low in the mix). However for aggressive rock sounds I've always found I needed at least a preamp (like the Sansamp RBI) to get something that doesn't get killed in the mix. For dense mixes the mike'd cab fits better as you get a natural low pass filter running through a cab.
  3. It's really hard to explain what it is I felt was lacking, it just was. I didn't feel like I could get it to sit as well in the mix, and it sounds just generally dull regardless of what I attempt with EQ, buffers, pres, etc.

    I don't really play aggressive music. I play blues, jazz, blues/rock, folk stuff, a bit of R&B. I like the bass to be nice and fat just like I'm sure many folks do. I seem to be able to pull that off through small guitar combos. I've also recorded bass using my Fender Super Reverb a couple of times and had decent results that way. There's just some kind of magic to me about the sound of a bass through an actual speaker.
  4. pbass2


    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    I think the combo of a DI signal and a guitar amp on bass is killer, especially for rock. I still prefer the DI there for the bottom and "weight", but a guitar amp can give you such nice mids and highs to mix in, and "air" from the speaker, in fact I prefer small amps like you describe using. But I ALWAYS have the DI there, through a nice mic pre. If I was only mic'ing an amp then I'd lean towards a decent tube bass combo with a 15" or 12".
  5. cableguy

    cableguy Supporting Member

    Jun 4, 2009
    North Bend, WA
    I've always had good luck with the Tech 21 stuff however I know they are not for everyone. I haven't used one but based on your styles you may look at a Tone Hammer DI. I've heard great things about them and plan on getting one myself in the future.
  6. pbass2


    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Oh yeah, don't rule out trying amp sim plug-ins! I use the IK Multimedia Ampeg SVX religiously. I compose for TV and have to get good sounds super fast that I can also change at the drop of a hat, and that plug-in is truly a godsend:

    Ampeg SVX
  7. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    Were the bass players any good ?
    You know the old saying: "Sh** in / Sh** out"

    If you made lots of recordings with that much different bass players and haven't got a good direct sound yet , I would add another old saying : " Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder"

    For me it's the total opposite, I always find that a monitor adds a lot of EQ'ing , can be good , can be bad
    IME & IMHO , 100% of the time , miking a monitor will make you loose clean low end.
    In a recording , this is very often a very big NO-NO.

    There is so much tools and ways to align phase in modern DAW , why not doin' both ?.:bassist:

  8. Well a lot of times the bassist is me but not always. I tend to work with quality musicians but I will admit I've recorded a few less savory types who's playing and tone I just couldn't handle. I have done both in the past and in some situations that definitely works.

    I'm pretty ok with continuing to mic things the way I've been doing. I was mostly curious if I was alone in not being able to find a good direct sound and if I was, then obviously it was operator error and I need to go back to the drawing board on figuring out what I'm doing. :)
  9. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    +1 on Ampeg SVX

    Take some of the direct bass tracks and experiment with VST

    Amplitube and the Custom shop you can demo any amp, effects, cabinet for a couple of days. Fender, Orange, Trace, Acoustic, GK - many choices.

    Voxengo Boogex is free and quite good. There's a good set of free cabinet impulses also.
  10. spigmu


    Mar 25, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I wouldn't say operator error necessarily, but a bass DI'd usually wants more in the way of the sauce and juice (compression, eq,) than an amped track. A DI alone for me is always a good starting point but never the DI alone, and I'm not referring to blending with an amped track. Find the sweet spot on a good compressor/limiter and eq to taste, all on the way in, and then it comes to life, for me.

    OTOH, maybe you just don't favor a DI sound? : ) Very possible that even what someone else likes as a great DI sound doesn't float your boat at all. What happens if you sit in at a session where it's not your project, and a different bassist and engineer, and you can just sit back and hear what they're arriving at? I'd be curious what you'd think about a bass sound that you could be removed from the process of attaining, and just sit back and check out. Again, maybe you've found your bass sound and that's that? : )

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