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Recording for EP - will I need additional gear?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by schmig, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. schmig


    Nov 30, 2008

    Apologies if this has been answered already. I have to play bass for an EP, will be expected to be of radio quality. Drums have been recorded in a warehouse somewhere lately, usual setup, many many mics, into cubase etc, recorded at 88.2 khz.

    All mixing, mastering etc will be done professionally.

    My job is to put down the bass. Rather than using up studio time/money, I'm wondering whether I can do this myself.

    I have lying around:

    - couple of passive fenders
    - one macbook with ableton, garageband, audacity etc
    - a genz benz shuttle max 6.0 with XLR direct out etc
    - one of these, so I don't wake the neighbours:

    So, what would I be missing overall, in order to capture the same type of thing that I might get at the 100/day sub-professional studio?
  2. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    That would all depend on what the studio in question has to offer in terms of gear, room, engineering skills, etc.

    Do you have experience doing this type of work? If not, you might be wise to just pay for someone experienced to do it on this release, while in the meantime you work on developing this skillset so that you can comfortably do it on the next release.
  3. Chromer


    Nov 28, 2012
    Gear-wise, you should be all set. Software... Bear with me:

    The first concern is to really, REALLY nail the performance. And for that, you ideally want to "comp" your takes.

    Comping takes (compositing together the best bits from your takes into a single track) in Ableton is torture. You can do it, but it's just not designed for it. I doubt Garage Band is much better. I haven't tried it in Audacity, but it doesn't seem well suited for it either.

    Go grab Reaper. It isn't free, but it has a free fully-functional and unrestricted trial. Comping takes is much, much better in Reaper. Look sort of like this:


    This was vocals, but it's the same deal. Four takes of the same verse, sliced into phrases, and the best phrase from each take is selected. If I don't like any of them, I record some more, hard disk space is cheap...

    "The sound and tone" is really a secondary concern. So long as it isn't noisy, far too quiet or clipped, it will be usable. Aim for peaks at around -12dB on the DAW's meters. Tone-wise, mix engineers can do magic with a clean DI signal -- whether by re-amping, going through amp sims, etc. I mean, try to get something close to how you want the tone to be, but don't obsess over it. Obsess over the performance and the groove.
  4. ^^This. Unless the studio is going to tape old-school, the engineer can probably do more with a few good dry takes right off the bass than you would believe. I used to do that a lot in my own personal project to get the "perfect" tone, but lately I've been lazy. If the engineer is cool with it, get a couple of takes at home and send them his way to see if he likes it.

  5. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    If you do it yourself, ask the studio guy/gal what format the track needs to be in, how many bits, what sample rate, etc. Figure out how you'll get it to him/her. CD? Upload? Carrier pigeon?

    Make sure whatever format you use is lossless. A high bitrate mp3 might sound ok to you but after a generation or two bouncing they all sound like the bottom end of a skunk.

    I hate comping instruments, it's much more efficient use of time if you just learn how to play the parts correctly. If you are doing this yourself at home then aim to get the track correct with the bare minimum of fixes/comps/whathaveyou. You have the time right? That's the point right? To take as long as needed to get the best feeling you can? Otherwise just go in the pro studio and punch in on every half chorus or verse and you'll be done in a half hour, it'll save you time and headaches. Comping is an awesome technique for lead vocals, not so much for bass or other rhythm tracks (in my opinion of course).

    When recording don't use and eq or compression (unless this is part of your normal sound), this is to give the oh-so-lucky engineer who receives disparate tracks from everyone in the band the options he/she needs.

    Make sure there is absolutely no unintended clipping, either before you hit the preamp, or after the preamp, or before the converters, or after the converters in the computer. None, nada. Very important. This means pay very close attention to your gain structure.

    If you are mic'ing your cabinet at home also run a DI into a separate track. And turn off your air handlers so you can get the house as quiet as possible. That also means don't set up your amp right next to your noisy as hell computer.

    Distortion, reverb, delays, effects in general: you can always add but you can't get rid of it later if you put it on the original track. Give effects their own tracks or don't use 'em. (Again, if your basic go-to sound is effect specific then go ahead and use it when tracking)

    If any of the above confuses you then have someone else do the recording for you until it doesn't confuse you anymore.

    Also, don't count out the massive benefit of recording live together as a band as much as possible but I guess that horse left the barn since you said the drums are already done. Have fun.
  6. schmig


    Nov 30, 2008
    Hi all,

    Thanks for the replies. From the perspective of audio encoding etc I should be OK, am a software engineer with a background in digital audio, so I should be able to make an OK stab at getting decent quality. Where the questions lie for me are outside the machine, i.e. will the DI on my amp and that little USB audio interface cut the mustard. I have a good buffer timewise for getting the recordings done, so if I fail to produce something good at home, I can always take it to the studio (which will likely be the bedroom of a more experienced nerd!).

    Thanks again for the info - particularly the comping software - looks interesting, will give it a look. I've done "proper" studio recordings as a session bassist (albeit a rubbish bassist) in the past and have done it in a straight take or two..this stuff is a bit more complex so the software you mention may shave a few hours off the time taken.
  7. hazmatt


    Jun 3, 2012
    san diego
    your interface can match the 88.2 sample rate of the drums, so you're fine in terms of that. i get decent sounds direct from my focusrite and markbass head, so no reason you can't with your comparable equipment. you'll want to try playing around a bit with your sound. compare running your bass direct into the focusrite's instrument input, or running xlr out from the genz benz. see which one sounds better to you as a single track, and which one sounds better to you mixed in with drums and any other instruments that are already recorded. the best bass tone for an overall mix vs by itself may sound quite a bit different to you.

    with regards to comping tracks, even knowing what i'm doing on the computer, i still usually find it faster (or at least more enjoyable) to record another take or two until i have one i am happy with and don't need to edit.
  8. Kbone_ATL


    Sep 12, 2010
    Atlanta, GA
    How much more are you going to record in the future? The investment and time you spend recording it yourself, getting the gear, etc.. might be more expensive than just going into a studio for a few hours.

    I myself have a pretty good setup at the house I can import, export, record and mix all there but on a few occasions I just walked into a studio with my bass and kept it simple.

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