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Recording Woes

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Zombi3, Apr 15, 2006.

  1. Zombi3


    Nov 15, 2005
    Every bassist wants to get his tone just right, and when things don't record his tone properly, he tends to get pretty upset because things don't sound right. Well, that's my dilema, people.

    Here's my current setup, ahead of time.

    Bass: Fender Precision 51' reissue
    Amp: Fender Bassman 100
    Pedal: Boss ODB-3 Overdrive
    Strings: Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinky
    Picks: Dunlop Tortex and Ultex (Majority of songs played aren't well fit for finger-styles, although I do like to get 'hands on' if you will.)
    Recording program: Sony Sound Forge 8.0

    Now, I don't have a fancy mixer or whatever yet, because all my money went to everything you see above. My main way of recording is running an XLR cable out from the Bassman Amp, which is a 1/4" on the other end. That 1/4" cable meets a 1/4" to RCA plug, which is then converted to 1/4" (my sound card doesn't like a straight up 1/4" to 1/8").

    Anyways, in Sound Forge I used to be able to get pretty decent sound quality from what I had, the recording would pick up on my picking nuances and get the pick scrapes and all. But for some reason, it will no longer pick up on any of that. Instead, I get an incredibly muddy, no-tone whatsoever recording. I've tried messing with the EQs on my amp and restarting my Computer. But i'm still getting fairly cruddy quality.

    Anybody got any ideas?
  2. maby the output is really low on your amp outs thereby making the sound-card barely pick it up and has to digitally increase the volume? :confused:
  3. Is the tone that is coming from your amp alright?

    Try mixing the direct sound with a mic'ed sound. Many people do this. Personally, I just go with the mic'ed sound.
  4. Zombi3


    Nov 15, 2005
    I'll try mic'ing it, but the best mic I have is a $20 computer mic.
  5. Zombi3


    Nov 15, 2005
    Ok, I tried mic'ing it, and it still came out fairly weak. A lot of the quality is still lost, and my tone therefore still suffers.
  6. A sound card is generally a lousy audio interface. Spend a couple of bucks and get a firewire / USB interface for your machine, something like the Mackie Spike, the PreSonus Inspire or Firebox, the Alesis IO (all under $300, some come with software) or even get the Digidesign M-Box 2 which comes with ProTools LE ($449).

    Good luck!
  7. Zombi3


    Nov 15, 2005
    I don't have a lot of money sitting around to buy an better Audio interface. I use the sound card because it usually works fine and delivered a decent quality that I could record with. However, my situation still hasn't improved. Whatever it is, it's cutting most of the signal, and leaving extreme low end and some high end sound in there.


    Here's a clip of me performing the Verse bass line from Death From Above 1979's "We don't sleep at Night". The first section is with my Overdrive pedal active, and after the break the second section is without the Pedal. With both recordings, the Mids take an insane amount of loss, losing my tone from the amp and Pedal almost completely. It didn't do this before, and suddenly it's decided to act up. My setup hasn't changed since the period between when I had full tone and no tone, which is what confuses me the most.
  8. That is a nightmare scenario! Address this issue and it'll certainly improve things. First things first, get rid of all those adapters!

    For starters, you're using the "balanced line output" I assume? That's a mono balanced signal that you're feeding into an stereo unbalanced input; Everything about that is just wrong. At least ensure the level control is maxed out and the switch is set to "post" to give you the maximum chance of a good signal at the PC input. (Going from balanced to unbalanced means you instantly loose 6dB.) Then, make a cable that takes pin 2 of the XLR and feeds it directly to the tip of a 1/4" plug (and XLR pins 1&3 tied together and then to the sleeve of the 1/4" plug)

    As mentioned, sound cards bite the big one when it comes to quality, and part of this is poor input impedance. This, combined with the XLR output impedance and the disaster area that is all those cables and adapters could be causing the lack of high end and definition.

    The best thing you could do is buy a USB or firewire audio device with a balanced input on it. Short of that, a small mixer would also do the trick; It would properly process the balanced signal into an unbalanced signal.

    Or, do what a lot of us have done, buy a Zoom B2.1u and be done with it. Forget the amp and all the adapters and concentrate on the important stuff!
  9. some tricks to try:

    make sure your sound is good at the amp! change strings, use the correct gain amount, check you eq at the amp, etc.

    increase the volume coming from the line out on the amp. the recording is very very quiet.

    decrease the amount of flim flam between the amp and the soundcard.
  10. Zombi3


    Nov 15, 2005
    I doubt it's the strings, although I do have a set of Ernie Ball POWER slinky's lying around that could use some useage. As for increasing the volume coming from the line out, it's almost at max before the program renders the recording as all clips.

    I would give you an example of what kind of sound I used to get reguarding my current bass settings, but there's a little problem with that. I used to have a song I did for a demo for my experimental group's myspace, but I removed it before my old harddrive crashed and I was never able to recover it. So i'm a little S.O.L on that one.

    I do agree, the current setup is a nightmare, but it (used to) really work! Now i'm getting nothing out of my box, and I don't know what it is that's caused the change.
  11. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    It's a problem with your signal chain. No amount of different strings, tweaking, micing the amp, or whatnot is going to fix it. There is a physical electrical mismatch (an impedance mismatch, in particular) happening. There are two solutions for this: One is to buy the firewire interface+preamp setup mentioned earlier. The other is to buy a microphone preamp to plug your bass into. It won't get any better until you do one of these.

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