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

Your Own Recordings

Discussion in 'Recordings [DB]' started by Marc Decho, Aug 2, 2005.


  1. Hey All, wasn't really sure where to put this one, but here it goes, just wondering if any of you have had the same funny experience as me,.... I virtually can't stand the tone of my recorded bass on anything.....well that's not entirely true...I can't use the word "hate" sometimes it's alright but it's always missing something..ya know?...(I generally use a great wide diaphragm condenser, w/tube preamp into digital multitrack or cakewalk) overall the tone comes out too thin and very dry for my liking and not at all accurate of my live playing... after much farting around...the tone I like the best out of anything i've ever done is on my teeny weeny dinky tape recorder, it's worth all of 5 bucks, you feed it audio cassettes and the tone comes out very round very full, dirty as hell but it's great (think early dirty Mingus), every little harmonic comes out bright and lots of sustain....I just leave the piece of crap sitting on the floor and it picks all this stuff up....man soon enough all my crazy expensive gear will be sold for more audio cassettes !!!
     
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    No, quite the opposite, I like the way my bass sounds. I've been to 3 different studios in Brooklyn and done a lot of recording with my minidisc and it all comes out pretty much the way I hear it from sitting on top of it.

    Or hearing it from out front - Ray's played my bass and last week a bud of Dave's stopped by our session and I got to sit across from it. And damn, don't it sound nice...
     
  3. good stuff.....now that you mention it....my drummer and I did a couple of tracks about a year ago with just the minidisc and I remember thinking...damn! minidisc's are the way to go.....great sounding....totally agree when another bass player picks up me ol' plywood...I sit right in front of it and she sounds gorgeous as can be......

    I gots to get to Brooklyn!
     
  4. larry

    larry Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    Florida
    Do you like how your bass sounds when you are alone in a room?
     
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Do you mean with or without the bass?

    :)
     
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I like the sound I'm getting these days a lot, but then I like my bass a lot. For a long time, I only liked my recorded sound when I worked with a particular engineer, or when I used idiotproof kludge like an SM58 into a minidisc. I can offer a few insights about what changed that for me:

    1)The real obvious but often overlooked thing question is "do you really know an like what your bass sounds like acoustically"? Your ears, hands, axe, strings, and setup are always the first step in the signal chain.

    2) If you're dealing with digital recording, you have to really understand what you're doing in terms of how analog translates into digital. That means understanding a lot about levels, proximity, mic placement, gain structure, and parametric EQ. I spend quite a bit of time "practicing recording" these days as part of my regular practice routine (see the "how do you learn tunes thread). Once you find your basic sound, it becomes a lot more plug and play.

    3) When you're going into a minidisc or cassette recorder, you have a really simple signal chain, so all you have to do is find the sweet spot for the mic, set the level, and there it is, warts and all.

    4) Do you understand the gain structure of your entire "highfallutin'" recording rig? This is the most common culprit for thinness save a thin acoustic sound. If you'd post the elements of you chain, there are quite a few recording buffs around who would likely be more than happy to chime in and help you track down the weak link.

    For instance, the best "at home" bass sound I've gotten so far was on the duo cut "My Foolish Heart" on my site. For that, the chain was LaScala/Dominants -->M Audio Solaris (LDC set to omni) about 18" away from and above the bridge in a sound treated room -->M Audio Tampa pre --> MOTU 1224 --> Digital Performer 4, input peaking at about -6 db; then rolled off everything below 60 hz. Each step, if not just right, could have whacked the whole thing out. Good luck!
     
  7. for sure I thoroughly enjoy the sound of my bass alone in a room ;)
     
  8. Hey thanks for the info Chris... "Art Decho" just so happens to be the title of my first disc... ;) get it get it huh huh...ok sorry got carried away ...

    1)The real obvious but often overlooked thing question is "do you really know an like what your bass sounds like acoustically"? Your ears, hands, axe, strings, and setup are always the first step in the signal chain.

    most definately I really do like the sound of my bass as is...

    2) If you're dealing with digital recording, you have to really understand what you're doing in terms of how analog translates into digital. That means understanding a lot about levels, proximity, mic placement, gain structure, and parametric EQ. I spend quite a bit of time "practicing recording" these days as part of my regular practice routine (see the "how do you learn tunes thread). Once you find your basic sound, it becomes a lot more plug and play.

    I do as well, I tend to record pretty much everything that I practice (except for boring stuff) all my improv's are recorded so that I can write the ideas down after the fact....i'm always farting around with mic placement, EQ, n' all that jazz...perhaps i'm just leaning towards using tape rather then digital.

    4) Do you understand the gain structure of your entire "highfallutin'" recording rig? This is the most common culprit for thinness save a thin acoustic sound. If you'd post the elements of you chain, there are quite a few recording buffs around who would likely be more than happy to chime in and help you track down the weak link.

    For instance, the best "at home" bass sound I've gotten so far was on the duo cut "My Foolish Heart" on my site. For that, the chain was LaScala/Dominants -->M Audio Solaris (LDC set to omni) about 18" away from and above the bridge in a sound treated room -->M Audio Tampa pre --> MOTU 1224 --> Digital Performer 4, input peaking at about -6 db; then rolled off everything below 60 hz. Each step, if not just right, could have whacked the whole thing out. Good luck![/QUOTE]

    sure it's pretty much Pirastro Obligatos + Audio-Technica AT3035 Cardioid Condenser Microphone (at various distances) + ART tube preamp (which has numerous settings w/compression and w/o +EQ which I fart around with, however compression is kept to a bare minimum or none at all) jammed into Roland SP-808 zipdisc digital recorder, however the last few weeks i've been overriding the Roland and simply putting the pre-amp into an old Tascam 4 track (these ol' things sound surprisingly great!) and the tone comes out alot warmer and beefier just not as much detail, my problem right now seems to be getting a sound that's either a little too thin or a little too beefy....i'm positive there's much better gear I could be using, but this is what i've got to work with at the moment
     
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    ART - sounds to me like if your mic--> pre signal chain settings are the same and the results simply sound better on the Tascam than the Roland, it could be a couple of things:

    1) How do you set your input levels on the Roland? Do you have an input monitoring meter of some sort that lets you know how hot your signal is? For the longest time on DP I got a funny sound until I found the optimal setting. Also, do you have a "trim" plugin on the Roland to bring the signal up once it's in the hard drive?

    2) The converters on the Roland could just be cruddy. I've always been amazed how good basic "Bb" Sony and Yamaha converters on their minidisc/standalone CD burner decks are as compared to other brands. Maybe the Roland converters are just wonky (no idea, just guessing)? The Tascam, on the other hand, doesn't have to convert anything, so you're getting a warm saturated analog sound.

    At the office at the U., I get a surprisingly good sound with a cheap MXL990 mic going through an ART Tube MP into a cheap Sony burner, so the only possible differences I can see are the input levels and the converters. Hopefully, Larry and Wil will chime in, since they're pretty up on this stuff as well.
     
  10. thanks for the input Chris.....I used to be up on all this kind of stuff a few years ago, I studied and received a degree in Audio Engineering back in 97, but even back then (just 8 years ago) we were pretty much using 21/2 inch tape on the grandaddy of them all the Studer 24 track, everything I ever recorded back at the studio sounded fantastic...mind you I pretty much only used extensively the Studer for all my projects (why wouldn't I !) it would be nice to hear what some of the cats who are into this stuff now have to say... however i'm sure the Roland is the problem...there is a trim knob where I can set levels ..it doesn't seem to do a great job of getting a good beefy signal..again it's either too low or to the point of distorting (due to the dynamics of the bass or my classical guitar)

    Marc
     
  11. larry

    larry Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    Florida
    Chris gave you excellent info, as usual. Does the Roland have any kind of built-in preamp? I have a Tascam 788 for portable recording needs (6 tracks at a time, 24-bit uncompressed sound quality, not bad at all). It is really finicky about the input level. Each track has a gain knob that you would think could be left at line level when you are using an external preamp. I can certainly get a proper signal leaving it at line level and adjusting gain on the external preamp. However, it sounds really thin unless I turn it up about 25%. At that point, the signal sounds great, but quickly starts to distort if I go much past.
     
  12. bullmoose

    bullmoose

    Jun 15, 2001
    Edinburgh, UK
    Hi Marc,

    I'm no expert but have done quite a bit of recording both at home (since my 1st 4-track) & also in a number of studios.

    I can think of 3 key aspects to this - capturing the sound, getting the analogue signal into a recorder and the medium the signal is stored on.

    In reverse order - for the Roland have you got the data rates set as high as possible (44.1kHz @ 16bit)? A lower sample rate will give you a 'thinner' sound in my experience. Also, the Roland uses digital compression which although suposedly 'lossless' is ignoring some of the raw data. I can tell a CD from an MP3 on my HiFi....
    A well maintained cassette 4 track can still sound lovely if you get a good signal to tape and will be more natural sounding than a thin signal to digital. Obviously you get more dynamic range and natural compression on your 2" studio tape than on a cassette but just because it's old technology doesn't mean it doesn't cut it. (If you aren't doing any submixing and you like the sound of the 4-track - stick with that and then record the line level output to digital if you want to manipulate in software for example).

    In terms of getting the signal into the recording device, the Rolands A/D converters aren't great by today's standards and won't give you much headroom i.e. to avoid distortion you'll need to have a lower average input signal than you'll get away with on the Tascam. Also digital distortion is unacceptable whereas mild analogue distortion can just sound warm. If you were looking to upgrade your studio, you could do worse than get a small digital mixer with good A/D converters and send the signal over optical into the Roland.
    My crazy idea though - use the Tascam as an input mixer and compressor (i.e. the tape) but simultaneously send the output line level signal to the Roland! Sounds whack but there's an excellent pro studio I know that does just that by sending the outputs of the 2" tape machine to the hard disk recorder - analogue warmth but the advantages of digital for post-production.

    Anyway - capturing the sound - the most important bit of recording.
    Where are you placing your mic & do you move around while you play?
    I've tried a few mic techniques but have always got the best results by wedging a large diaphragm capacitor between the bridge & tailpiece (using small towels etc..). True - this does slightly affect the sustain of the bass but not too much considering you're close micing. The mic pretty much sits above the f-hole (I go for the treble side) and you can angle it up and down to experiment with the best balance. The fact that you're not changing the distance between the mic and the bass gives you a bit more to play with when setting the input level. You can get a lovely sound with just the mic but I've always had best results by blending in a pickup channel too.
    The mic gives you the warmth and air, the pickup gives you the top end and finger noise - then you can blend the two according to the sound you're after.

    If you're interested, some (over 3 year old) recordings I did with my band using this technique are here:

    http://www.geckomusic.co.uk/music.htm

    - these were into an ageing Fostex 16 track with A/D converters similar to your Roland's.

    Hope this helps!

    Moose
     
  13. Chris,
    I am interested in using a minidisc recorder to record my practice sessions and possible audition pieces, so your comments on the minidisc setup peaked my interest.

    Do you have a recommendation for a particular brand of minidsc recorder and microphone setup that works well? I have been looking at minidiscs, but it appears like they are not carried by many stores and seems to be a technology that has arrived and is declining in popularity in favor of the latest technology on the market.

    Thanks in advance for any help and guidance.
    Tom
     
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Tom - the latest thing is "hard disk recorders" and "Flash recorders" like the Edirol R-1. Those will set you back about $600 before you start looking at mics. You can get a decent minidisc deck for about $150 these days. As far as brands, you can't really go wrong with Sony, and they're easy as hell to use. For mics, my current favorite is the M-Audio Solaris into an M-Audio Tampa, but that's a little pricey. I've had good results with cheap LDC mics like the Studio Projects B1, and for a cheap 2-channel preamp, the M-Audio DMP3 is hard to beat.

    If you're looking for something to keep at home in your music room, a minidesk deck and a decent mic/pre combo will set you back about $4-500, but will be solid as a rock, re-recordable, and very easy to use. If you want something to take to the gig, I'd look at some of the flash recorders and a Rode NT4 (an x/y stereo mic that can take phantom power from a battery). Those setups will run you about 1K, but they will fit in the bow pocket of your bag, sound fantastic, and upload onto your computer via USB2 in no time. If this is all too expensive, let me know and maybe I can think of some budget stuff.
     
  15. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
  16. Thanks Chris, I appreciate the info. I am primarily looking for something at home that is easy to use, gives decent recording quality and that I can play back through my home audio system without having to run it though a computer to get the playback. I have seen some minidisk portable units as well as the minidisc decks. Do you think the portable units are useful, or are there too many compromises for portability?
    Regards,
    Tom
     
  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    The portable ones SOUND fine, but I personally hate d*cking with the tiny little controls on those things, and the batteries, and hooking the cables up to your system every time. With a deck (mine is a lot like this one), you not only don't have to worry about how to power it and hook it up, but you also have a remote you can use to turn it on and off, start a new track, enter the name of a track, etc.. When I use mine, I just leave the remote on the music stand, practice until I'm ready to record, then pick it up and tell the machine to "record", all without ever setting down my bass or moving from my stool. I've found that stuff like this, while it may seem trivial, does seem to make me more likely to actually record than if I have to stop my whole practice session to set a bunch of **** up.
     
  18. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004
    Oakland
    I worked with someone who used those coresound mics into a mini-disc player. I was stunned by the sound quality for the size of the setup, but that was 1998. I'm not sure how they stack up to some newer offerings.
     
  19. Chris,
    Thanks for all your helpful suggestions. I think the Sony MD deck with the Studio Projects B1 mic and the M-Audio pre-amp sounds like a good, economic set up for the type of recording I want to do. The only other question I have is how could I transfer a recording from the MD to a more commonly used media, such as a CD disc if I wanted to send a piece for someone else to listen to? I am not sure if the direct digital out from the MD has the correct formating for burning to a CD or other more common media. Any thoughts?
    Thanks,
    Tom
     
  20. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    With an MD deck, you'll have to send an analog signal out via RCA connections to another source like a CD burner or a computer when you want to burn a CD. This is a pain if you don't have one of those lying around, but there it is.

    The machine I replaced my minidisc deck with for most uses is the Alesis Masterlink, which is a HD recorder with a built in CD burner. I didn't recommend it because of the price, but I got it for exactly the reson you mentioned. HTH.