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Recording using K&K? Tips?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by lermgalieu, May 12, 2003.


  1. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    For my my band, we've set up a semi-permanent recording situation for rehersals. Basically, the guitar amps are seperated in other rooms, the drums are mic'd, and we all listen on headphones while we practice/record. The bass is strictly DI - just my musicman to my Raven Labs unit, straight to a digital unit via XLR for slab and my DB the same way - to the raven then 'tape'.

    I was/am getting an *exceptional* tone from the musicman this way. Deep, warm, blah blah. However, the DB was no good - I had to really back off the channel level because of the wide dynamic range of the instrument (or is it my playing ;-). However, in order to get acceptable consistent gain, I had to bring in some of the quad (I like to use just the max side through an amp).

    But this just seemed to make it super clicky sounding, and not like the instrument.

    So, I decided to bring a tube compressor into the mix through the Raven's effect loop (an ADA MB-1 with the ratio set at 4:1, tube side only, with about a +2.5 on the output gain - I actually bring this in for the musicman now a little, but bring the loop knob on the Raven fully to 'wet' for the DB). This has dramatically improved the DB levels in terms of consistency and warmth. However, the clickiness is still there, and the tone, while at a decent level, seems weaker than the electric bass - almost like it is less powered... I have the gain controls in the K&K preamp set fairly low (since they are so hot), the Raven gain for the channel fairly maxed out, and the input trim on the digital unit at about 75% (which is also where it is for the musicman). Don't get me wrong, I am getting a pretty good DB tone to tape, but I feel it could be improved. The channel level on the digital recorder is where it should be, so I feel the trim is fine where it is...

    What could be improved here without compromising the ability to play into the same channel as the electric on the recorder without changing the trim on the recorder? The 'switchover' between basses needs to be transparent, otherwise we will be in a situation where I decide to just stop bringing the DB for that band until we nail all the slab tracks and have time to retool and focus only on DB trakcs (which we are really trying to avoid).

    ANy input would be appreciated. Y'all may just say to keep experimenting...
     
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    First, I'd say that when you say, "However, the clickiness is still there, and the tone, while at a decent level, seems weaker than the electric bass - almost like it is less powered...", a warning flag goes up in my mind: DB tone is not supposed to be as "solid" as slab tone, and no matter what you do, a piezo p/u shouldn't sound as solid as a magnetic one. You may need to adjust your expectations.

    Having said that, there are a couple of things you can try. If you want any kind of natural DB sound, it's a good idea to avoid compression and use your fingers to control your dynamic level - compression tends to produce a "steroidal" DB tone to my ears. In my experience, the most useful tool in a recording situation is EQ. For example, I've found that the recorded "clickiness" on DB tone is generally found in the frequency range between 1 and 1.5Khz, so if that sound is too strong, you can dial some of it out with a decent parametric EQ set fairly narrow. Also remember that when you're setting your tone for a recording, you're actually setting dealing with two sounds at that point - the sound of your bass when soloed, and the sound of your bass in an ensemble setting. That same "click" which can be so annoying in a solo setting can be the exact thing which will allow your DB to be heard when everyone else is playing.

    Also, there's a weird kind of recording curve that relates to DB: the lower frequencies can tend to dominate when you crank the levels (often causing speakers to "bottom out"), but they don't provide punch or definition in many cases. If you have a multiband parametric to use, you could try using some sort of high pass filter to let the low mids sing out more and cut some of the mud out from underneath. I usually set mine between 60-80hz for recording, and I've found that it really gives the DB tone more presence in the mix. Last, how come you're not using a mic of any kind? (just curious)

    Good luck.
     
  3. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    I'm not using a mic because I am standing next to drums and we're trying to keep some seperation. In regards to the compression, thanks, but I think it has only helped - I see your point, but a good tube compressor at low levels can be pretty transparent. Lastly, I am not playing jazz, this is more rock oriented stuff, so I am not going for a ultra-natural tone necessarily, although I feel that the compressor hasn't made my tone artificial whatsoever, although I know it can if its the wrong compressor or too much compression.

    Let me redefine the 'clickiness' - this is actually the ultra trebly frequencies you mention Chris - when I play arco, it sounds like a baritone sax! But my theory is that once I take the quad out of the equation, this will settle down. You are right that there is a difference between the bass soloed and the bass with the band, but if anything it sounds more clicky on the playback (with the rest of the instruments) than it does soloed.

    When I say the tone isn't as solid as the slab tone, I don't expect it to *sound* like my slab, but I do expect to get a good consistent recording level, and a good tone. Not a tone like my slab, but a good DB tone. I thought that would be obvious.

    Finally, I don't want it to sound like I am rejecting what you are saying - I appreciate the response and the tips. I am trying to keep the EQ work on the digital unit to a minimum and do the mixing and mastering on the computer, so I think I will try cutting out the quad, playing with a parametric EQ a bit, and doing whatever else I can to make it sound better.
     
  4. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Well, well well. Here's what I ended up doing. I turned off the quad so I am just using the wing pup. Then I boosted the gain on the K&K preamp for the wing just a hair. I left the compressor the way it was... Then I went into the onboard EQ on the digital multitracker and cut the 'high' (i forget the freq range off hand) about halfway between level and its lowest cut (-12).

    THe resultant sound is GREAT. Arco sounds very natural and deep, and the pizz sound is great - not a 'woody' tone, but resonant and very deep, great for latin type stuff. I am pleased.

    So you see Chris, I followed your advice, and its one of the things that solved my problem!

    You know when your bandmates compliment the bass sound, its good. Usually they just don't notice.
     
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Cool, glad you found the sound you were looking for. What you are describing is a large part of the reason I chopped up the quad on my BMP and made a second Bass Max out of two of the elements. That was several years ago, and I'm still using the "Double Bass Max" as my main pickup to this day.
     
  6. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Yeah I don't need it. I had actually only turned it up to try to get more gain back in the early stages of this recording thing, and forgot to turn it off again.