Recording Direct with a REDDI

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by mattj1stc, Oct 24, 2011.


  1. mattj1stc

    mattj1stc Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2009
    Dallas, TX USA
    Overview

    I spent some time last weekend recording various sample sounds on several different basses directly through a REDDI into a board. I was trying to understand what aspects of sound were directly driven by the bass itself and how it is played vs. those that are added or enhanced by effects and amps. What I found in my sample is probably very obvious to people who have a lot of experience recording bass directly, but I found a lot of surprises compared to my actual experiences hearing these same basses being played out through amps, PAs, pedal boards, etc. I thought that I would share my experience with the community – both to see if my experience was typical, but also to provide others with my limited insights. Before going any further, this is just based on my experiences with these basses being recorded directly over a few hours in an afternoon – this is not meant to be an exhaustive or definitive study. At some point, I am planning to post some of these clips – mostly because a lot of these basses are not widely available in stores. You usually have to buy them to try them, so some clips may be useful to someone contemplating one of these instruments.

    Background

    The setup was very straightforward. The basses went into the REDDI via a Monster bass cable. A Monster cable also connected the REDDI XLR directly into a Yamaha board. I just got the REDDI, and I was very impressed with it. It was much warmer and defined compared to other DIs that I’ve used – my other DI sounds much dryer and brittle in comparison. There really aren’t any settings, other than level, on the REDDI, and I kept the settings on the REDDI and the Yamaha the same for each bass. For active basses, the EQ was set flat. On all basses, the strings were in good to great condition, meaning that the newer strings were well broken in and the older strings were not completely played out. In terms of play back, I heard the most subtleties through headphones from the board. The next most effective playback was via monitors from the board. I also burned a CD to listen to in the car and dumped the samples to my iPod. The car caught more subtleties than the iPod, but both had less definition than the board. Through computer speakers there are almost no differences – you can tell it’s a bass, but that’s about it. The basses were stock, fretted and 4 string unless otherwise noted:
    Fender Tony Franklin Fretted – stock – with DR High Beams
    Fender Tony Franklin Fretless – stock – with GHS Bright Flats
    Fender American Vintage 57 Precision – stock – with LaBella Jameson Flats
    Fender MIJ 51 Precision – stock – with GHS Precision Flats
    Lakland Skyline 55-64 (5 string) – stock – with D’Addario Nickel Rounds (heavy gauge 145-105-85-65-45)
    Rickenbacker 4001 C64S – Hipshot Bridge Mod – with D’Addario ProSteels
    MusicMan StingRay H+Piezo – stock – with DR Low Riders
    Dingwall AfterBurner II (5 string) – stock - with stock Dingwall strings
    Waterstone TP-12/32 (12 string) – stock – with stock Waterstone strings
    NS Design NXT 5 (5 string Fretless Electric Upright Bass) – stock – with stock D’Addario Contemporary strings
    Breedlove Atlas Fretless Acoustic Bass Guitar – stock – with stock D’Addario Bronze acoustic strings

    Extra Large Influence On Sound

    Unique Basses – Waterstone TP-12 (dual octave course strings) and the NS Design NXT 5 (electric upright) are always recognizable, even through computer speakers. The Waterstone actually needs more gain/drive than the REDDI provides to get the most out of the sound. The NS Design sounded great and very much like an upright, especially in Arco mode.

    Large Influence On Sound

    Pickup Type (Piezo vs. Magnetics) – the NS Design (in pizzicato mode), the Breedlove and the StingRay (in piezo only mode) sound quite similar to each other. The NS Design (pizzicato) and Breedlove are remarkably similar, even though they are very different instruments (Breedlove – ABG and NS Design – EUB), and the Breedlove is active while the NS Design is passive. The StingRay (piezo) was also very close in sound – the difference was a little bit of audible fret-buzz (StingRay) vs. fretless mwah from the other two. It seems like the type of pickup (piezo) as well as where it is placed (at the bridge) may drive the similarities in sound.

    Pickup Location – the Jazz pickups in the Tony Franklins and the bridge pickups in the StingRay, Rickenbacker, and Dingwall are much more alike than they are different due to where they are located. There were subtle differences between each of the bridge pickups cited, but they were much more alike than different. Similarly, the pickups located in the middle/Precision spot (including the Dingwall neck pickup and the Waterstone bridge pickup) were more alike than different, but different from the true bridge pickups and the true neck pickups (Rickenbacker neck and Waterstone neck, which were also more alike each other). The minimal difference between Precision pickups is definitely different than my experience playing out through amps and effects, where the differences seem much larger.

    Tone Open vs. Tone Closed – on all basses with this feature, tone full open sounded very different and brighter than tone fully closed. Tone closed with round strings did sound similar to flats, but only on the lower notes – flats sound better on the top two strings and above the 5th fret than dialing down the tone.

    Medium Influence On Sound

    How the Bass is Played – There were some differences between pick, finger and slap, but not as dramatic as experienced when playing out. Similarly, there were differences between playing back by the bridge and up by the neck, but not as much as expected.

    Flats vs. Rounds – Some notable difference between flats and rounds, but not nearly as much as experienced when playing out. The difference between types of flats and between types of rounds was not really noticeable at all. In combination with my earlier observation on minimal differences between pickups, I had a strange experience on the 51 vs. 57 Precision. Played out, these basses are quite different – the 51 is very deep sounding yet aggressive while the 57 is much brighter and even a little more aggressive. Direct, they were very similar with the 57 being only a little brighter.

    Small Influence On Sound

    Fretted or Fretless – The fretless characteristics only really stood out on the higher notes and higher strings. Below the top 2 strings and below the 5th fret, it is not easy to notice a fretless if no vibrato is employed.

    Type of Magnetic Pickup – where a pickup is located made much more difference than what it was.

    Active or Passive – I can only take this to mean that these active basses are truly flat when set to flat.

    60 Cycle Hum and Finger Noise – Both were present, but less so than playing out or with other DIs.

    No Influence On Sound

    Body Wood, Neck Wood, Bolt-On vs. Set-Neck, vs. Neck-Through, Fingerboard Wood, Fret Type, Fret Size, Nut, Bridge, Type of Round String, Type of Flat String, Body Type (solid, hollow, semi-hollow, chambered), Tuner Type, Country of Origin, Cost, etc. didn’t seem to matter at all.

    This is not to say that there might not be some difference, but I couldn’t observe any. Then again, I was only using my ears, not a frequency analyzer, which might reveal more differences.

    This experience, and my previous ones playing out, makes me think that a lot of what drives live/experienced sound is not so much a major difference in a given bass. Instead, it may be that a small difference is enhanced and amplified by the gear after the bass in the signal chain, leading to what seems like a big difference. I’m interested to hear anyone else’s thoughts on this subject.

    Thanks,

    Matt
     
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    It's a give-and-take. On the one hand, basses make very little sound on their own--they depend hugely on the electronics to do exactly as you say, take a small range of differences and enhance them exponentially. Then it gets turned around at some point, where the signal is so munged-up by the electronics that there is a decreasing amount that the parts of the original bass even matter at all. So I see it as a bell curve. At one extreme, you might have a very refined and ultra-minimal recording chain, where small nuances in bass construction can matter, but are not "dramatic". Add some more emphasis from the electronics and you get dramatic noticeable differences, although the signal is less "pure". Then you get to the other extreme, where the electronics have taken over; an example would be a heavily-driven SVT where the cab is miked and run through the PA, with EQ/compression, etc. Great sound, but any differences in "tonewood" etc. are utterly obliterated.
     
  3. mattj1stc

    mattj1stc Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2009
    Dallas, TX USA
    Funny, because it's the middle ground that I'm trying to explore. I'm not a big fan of the domineering sound enhancements, where I could almost put any bass into the signal chain and get the same sound. However, I'm a minimalist either, although I do like the sound of the REDDI for many scenarios. That said, I think pairing the signal chain with the bass is sort of like pairing wine and food - you want them to enahnce each other.
     
  4. mc_muench

    mc_muench

    Sep 28, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    Im sorry but this doesn't pertain to your question at all...:bag:

    I saw the title of this post and my brain immediately saw "REDDI" as "reddit", I got really excited and then shortly realized it did not say "reddit". I've been on reddit much...
     
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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
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