Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Practicing Recording

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, May 24, 2002.


  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    As some of you know, recording is a kind of hobby of mine, and one which will keep me occupied for many years to come. I firmly believe that recording is every bit as much an artform as playing, and I understand that no one person can expect to master either, let alone both. Having said that, I've had some interesting experiences lately that I'd like to share, and maybe some of you have done some of these same things and will have some useful information to add.

    In the past few weeks, I've updated my recording gear so that I'll have some headroom (equipment-wise) to grow into once the little one arrives and the obligatory MORATORIUM ON GEAR SPENDING takes effect. Since the new gear (new computer, mixing board, audio interface, a couple of mics, etc) arrived, I've been doing most of my practicing through various mics (run flat through the board) with headphones on. I started doing this to learn more about the characteristics of the individual mics and placement issues, but I ended up learning a whole bunch about how my bass really sounds from various vantage points out in front of me while I'm playing, and what happens to acoustic bass sound as it moves further out from the sound source.

    While I'm sure that everyone who has tried this has gotten some different results, I highly recommend doing this for educational purposes. Not only will you be able to avoid some big surprises the next time you go into the studio (by knowing what you Do and DON'T want), but you will also be able to make some adjustments in your playing that can in some small way compensate for the way your bass projects (or doesn't) in certain ranges in real live acoustic situations.

    Has anybody else tried this? I feel like a new level of understanding is beginning to open up for me because of this.
     
  2. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Most definitely. Before making up my mind on a piece of equipment, I test it in two places. I go to my church, which has a large sanctuary with decent acoustics with another bassist to listen and play. This gave me some very definite ideas on projection, and even more ideas on amplification. (Particularly what sounds good up close usually sounds bad about 20' away. The Realist is a good example of this, IMHO)

    I also go to my friend's very nice recording studio, paying him for his time to let me check out how it sounds recorded.

    Monte
     
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Sounds pretty neat.

    A couple of ideas that I might throw in as far as :

    The mic is mono and a bit more directional than your ears, so what you get through the mic doesn't necessarily reflect what people would hear out front.

    It would be a better study, as far as live performance goes, to put yourself in the room with various groups and see what the sound of different intruments subtract from your sound. Cymbals, for instance, will steal all of your highs, etc.

    Certain aspects of psycho-acoustics can't be represented with recording audio-only. You could do a little better with video and audio. Look, smell, lighting, how you're dressed, and other such things can affect how sound is perceived.

    One thing that I try to do is to practice in a bad (not really bad, but bad enough) sounding room. I figure if I can get a good sound there, then getting a good sound in a friendly room will be that much easier. Practice in a big room, too. If you practice filling a small room with sound, then you'll sound great at 5 paces and not at greater distances. What I've found is that close up my sound is breathtakingly abrasive (like when I'm recording in the studio) and sounds pretty much like I like at a distance. These tricks I've learned from being around (and spawn of) horn players. Horn players tend to practice in small rooms (at school, etc) and get a great sound in that room, but are lacking volume and presence when they get out in the real world. Also parts of the sound (upper partials, etc.) carry differently across a room, adding to the effect.
     
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Glad to hear I'm not the only one. One of the things I notice is that I have to use a slightly different pizz stroke to make certain registers carry. For up close mic practice, I use a large diaphragm condenser right in front of the bass, which is how I like to do it in the studio. I like doing this because it prepares me for the sound I'll be hearing when I record. I think that eventually I'll end up considering my LD mic and headphones as part of my "sound" as far as recording goes and simply take them along with me to the studio. I've done this once with the mic already, and the engineer simply placed his favorite mic next to mine in front of the bass and recorded both on seperate channels.

    My music/recording room (where I also practice) is about 15' x 16', and I've learned a lot by placing a reference mic (small diaphragm omni condenser) on the other side of the room and listening from a distance through the cans. While not a perfect method by any means, I have been able to learn how to project a warmer sound in my upper register this way. All in the name of education....
     
  5. AlexFeldman

    AlexFeldman

    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I've tried a slightly more painful version of this :). I once had the opportunity to mic my bass and listen as Chris suggests, and then I set up my amplifier and mic'd the cabinet. Then I switched back and forth between mic'd bass and mic'd cabinet. It's an excellent way to figure out what is really going on with your amplified sound.

    Warning: Be prepared for a little bit of disappointment.
     
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Dissappointment? How so? You mean the crappy sound coming out of my amp is really what my tone is like?
     
  7. AlexFeldman

    AlexFeldman

    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Well, if you're using that amp in a performance, and the majority of the sound is coming from the amp, then, yes, that really is what you sound like. At the moment, I mean.

    Which brings up an interesting point, which really probably belongs in the Amplification section, but... you should consider the blend between the sound coming from your bass and the sound coming from your amplifier. I always try to use more bass and as little amp as possible. Or no amp at all.

    There, I believe I've covered my rear end sufficiently. ;)