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finch
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#1
5th September 2010
Old 5th September 2010
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help me clean up my sound

hi,

I'm trying to record acoustic guitar. I have 2 rode nt5 mics hooked up into a focusrite saffire pro 24.

I've got both mics plugged in and have one mic situated infront of 12th fret (3 inches away) and the other pointing towards the bridge.

In sonar I'm recording to 1 audio track with the studio button pressed (no panning).

please listen to the clip and suggest how I can improve the sound cos right now it sounds terrible . How do I get a clear loud sound?

be kind I'm a total newbie just trying to get the ropes. thanks
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File Type: mp3 RodeMicTest.mp3 (221.2 KB, 175 views)
#2
5th September 2010
Old 5th September 2010
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Doesn't sound terrible. Actually I'd say that's a pretty good acoustic guitar sound. And it's certainly well enough recorded that it wouldn't need to go overboard EQing it.

But it's impossible to say any more without hearing a vocal, or whatever else is going to surround it. I see no point in mixing instruments in isolation.

I would say this though: I don't see much point recording two mics to one audio track. You may as well record to two: gives you more options in terms of panning and EQ and getting the sound thicker.
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5th September 2010
Old 5th September 2010
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"How do I get a clear loud sound"

There are many factors that dictate the sonic quality of a recording. While I agree with binarymilton wiith his "doesn't sound terrible" comment, it doesn't sound all that great either.

What it sounds like to me, is there are two things that you are lacking - two things that you may not be able to do anything about. 1) room 2) mic pre

If you are in your living room/bedroom/whatever, the best advice I can give you is get the mics as close as possible - 1/2" away even. Is being that close to the source desirable? No. But it will help eliminate the "room". Which, I can tell, is not acoustically "sound". Then there is the mic pre. The mic pre is the most imporatant piece of gear in the chain. Many people think that they can get a "pro" sound with a Focusrite, or Presonus, or something similiar. Many people are sadly mistaken. And then there is a lack of other things, like good compressor (even if only a slight amount) and good eq (think old hw pultec eqs - depending on which knobs you turn and how much does not only increase/decrease those respective frequencies, but helps those and other frequencies resonate, thereby giving a more "desirable" sound; that's a whole other convo).

I know you are in a tough spot; been there myself. Again, put the mics as close as possible, insert whatever compressor you have into the chain (just a little, maybe a 1.5:1 ratio) and with some eq and reverb later on, you should be ok.

Best of luck.
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5th September 2010
Old 5th September 2010
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Is it because you've compressed it to mp3 that it sounds like its missing something? Because when I record through my pro 24 dsp doing vocals it sounds fine, and I only use an £80 LDC from Red5 audio (before I discovered gearslutz).

Other than the fact that the recording sounds like its missing a lot of detail, the guitar tone sounds good and that you got a good balance between the strings sound and the boomy hole (I don't know guitar terminology, I play drums). But why are you recording 2 mics into 1 track? Surely you're just restricting your mixing capabilities.

If its not the compression (I mean mp3 compression not dynamic processing) then are you sure you've got your mics pointing the right way? God knows i've done that, couldn't figure out why there was so much reverb on my vocals. I attached what I managed to do with extreme low end gear, without any processing, one microphone. The buzzes are because of a £60 guitar (which wasn't even mine, talk about low end).
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File Type: wav Guitar demo.wav (3.01 MB, 40 views)
finch
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5th September 2010
Old 5th September 2010
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thanks for the comments.

yes jeff I'm in an untreated bedroom :(

but zombies_on_fire is right it's down to the compression!! sounds great in sonar and as soon as I export to mp3 using the "lame mp3 encoder" in sonar, I get that muddy sound. that's crazy! how do I fix this???

I was just assuming that I export to mp3 after recording. Am I missing a vital step?? not too worried about eq and effects yet just trying to nail the basics.
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5th September 2010
Old 5th September 2010
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Sounds to me like you've got some phase issues here... first of all, I would try to record both mics onto their own tracks and panning left/right. That should already get you a huge step forward. Then if it still doesn't sound right for you, all I can advise is to heavily experiment with mic placement. It is a bunch of trial and error, but placement is key here!
hope this helps

t/s

Edit: BTW wanted to add that you've actually got kind of a 70s rock sound going on here can be desirable for some... B)
finch
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5th September 2010
Old 5th September 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by souterrain View Post
Sounds to me like you've got some phase issues here... first of all, I would try to record both mics onto their own tracks and panning left/right. That should already get you a huge step forward. Then if it still doesn't sound right for you, all I can advise is to heavily experiment with mic placement. It is a bunch of trial and error, but placement is key here!
hope this helps

t/s
about recording 2 mics onto 2 separate tracks. How do I set that in sonar? When I right click audio track 1 and go to track properties I get lots of options for the inputs. see image below. I've currently got stereo asio saffire selected. This is the same for audio track 2. something tells me thats not right. How do I get mic 1 to record on track 1 and mic 2 to record on track 2? sorry if its a real stupid question. thanks
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help me clean up my sound-track-properties.jpg  
finch
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5th September 2010
Old 5th September 2010
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dudes, check out the quality difference when I export as wma! arrrh! at least I know what the problem is now just have to find a fix
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File Type: wma wma test.wma (1.97 MB, 53 views)
#9
5th September 2010
Old 5th September 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by finch View Post
thanks for the comments.]

...sounds great in sonar and as soon as I export to mp3 using the "lame mp3 encoder" in sonar, I get that muddy sound. that's crazy! how do I fix this???
Mp3 is not the best way to judge your recorded sound. If it sounds good in sonar, keep it there 'til you are done, and then mix down to whatever medium you are wanting to use for distribution purposes and judge the final mix. I think it sounds alright from here (admittedly through my laptop speakers which pretty much suck) I assume you plan to sing and mix with other instruments, what you have should work pretty well for that. Try exporting to a CD and listen to that as well, I'm guessing it would sound better. Bottom line, I wouldn't be afraid to mix with that sound. You don't want it too "full" unless it is a solo instrument because it will take up too much frequency space from the other performers. I'd like to hear a final CD quality mix before I formed a final opinion on the guitar sound.
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5th September 2010
Old 5th September 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Go Nigel Go View Post
.. I assume you plan to sing and mix with other instruments, what you have should work pretty well for that.
I plan to do vocals in the future when I decide to part money for a vocal mic. Until then I was planning on recording a few instrumentals with just acoustic guitar. rhythm and lead. should I be going about it in a different way for solo instrument?
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5th September 2010
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I've done a lot of acoustic guitar recording at home in, initially, an open untreated room - here's what helped me.

Buy a couple of moving blankets, get 3 mic stands, turn each boom so that it's at a 90 degree angle to the bottom part of the the stand - so in other words it looks like a t shape. Put the one in the middle exactly opposite the player and the other 2 angled inward slightly so you kind of have the top of a hexagon - now drape 2 moving blankets across the top of the 3 stands, you'll have to clip them in place to stop them from falling, I use large binder clips you can get at any office store, the kind you squeeze to open. So now you have a kind of a fake gobo, if the player is sitting down it should be tall enough. This will help eliminate a good bit of a bad sounding room and so will expand your mic placement possibilities.

Leave at least a foot between the moving blanket and the back of the mic. If the back of the mic is too close to the blankets, you'll get a weird muffled sound since the mic is picking up a certain amount from the rear as well. You'll have to experiment, this is way easier if you have someone playing and you're moving the mics around to hear what's happening. You can do this no problem on headphones if you have a pair you know and trust.

Once I started using the fake gobo method the sound of the acoustic recorded at home improved greatly - my problem had always been this awful dull, dark, lifeless low end woof and the blankets took care of that. I've also experimented with different coverings - I tried a velour blanket and a cotton blanket and you could definitely hear the difference, the moving blanket was the best.

In terms of your posted recording - I thought it was a tiny bit brittle and harsh in the mid range and if someone is playing hard, this is going to be a huge problem and a multiband compressor fix, so keep an eye on that. Thought the low end was fairly decent, not boomy or muddy.

As other people said, definitely record to 2 tracks, it gives you way more options. Something I try from time to time that I like is to use one mic to capture a bit more of the low end and and the other to capture a bit more of the top. That way, when you pan them in stereo you get almost the same kind of an idea as a piano, with the low end on the left and the high end on the right - BUT, they have to also share a lot of the same frequencies, they have to kind of meet in the middle so to speak, you don't want low end only on one mic and high end only on the other

As another poster said, definitely check your phase - put some kind of a plugin that has a phase flip on it, onto one of your channels so you can switch it in for a moment to check if your sound changes dramatically. If the mics are out of phase, the low end will sound louder and tighter when the phase is flipped on one of the channels, this means you need to move one of the mics. The ideal scenario is to keep moving your mics until it sounds right. The phase flip is just a check to see if stuff is positioned correctly - ideally it shouldn't be on the channel when you hit record. Again, you'll hear this clearly on a decent set of headphones

Don't be afraid to do a tiny bit of eq'ing as you record, I often end up having to dip down 280hz and 120 hz a hair but that could just be the room

Don't be afraid to go a good bit away from the guitar distance-wise, start from 6 inches and gradually move backwards and listen to what you get. In my room, the mic is typically somewhere around 10 inches away, depending on how hard the player is strumming. For easier, softer parts you can mic closer, with hard strumming you have got to move the mic back or it will be harsh, a little bit like on your posted clip. Typically I'll lift up the stand with the mic and just move it all over the guitar while listening on headphones to see what I get, this includes moving it closer and further as well. Once I've found the best spot, then I put the stand down and lock the mic in place

Your clip is decent though, you're not a million miles away, just a few little adjustments.

Edit: forgot one step I use - before I pick up the mic and start moving it around, I kneel down sideways beside the player with one ear next to the guitar, move your ear around and you'll quickly find a ballpark starting point for good mic placement. Listen for low end boominess, listen for harshness and brittleness and listen also to where there is nice airy, top end. That was the other thing I was missing in your clip, a bit of air and openness - maybe your mic is dead on the sound source? Try the 12th fret mic slightly higher than the neck and then angled down, so it's closer to the high strings than the lower strings - this should give you some air - oops, I mean lower and angled up, sorry, I'm an upside down left handed player!
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6th September 2010
Old 6th September 2010
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Quote:
I plan to do vocals in the future when I decide to part money for a vocal mic. Until then I was planning on recording a few instrumentals with just acoustic guitar. rhythm and lead. should I be going about it in a different way for solo instrument?
My "rule of thumb" is that the lead voices get the first priority for audio spectrum. What you have sounds like a good rythm track, nice and punchy on the attack, and a bit thin in the body but with some bottom definition. That leaves those mid frequencies so that the lead voice gets room to do it's thing without getting tangled up in the guitar. You may be able to get a bit more "bigness" by panning the guitar sound slightly to one side, and putting duplicate performance (or a copy of this one with some reverb and/or delay on it) on the other side.

If you are using acoustic guitar as the lead instrument as well, you may need to get more of the mids "on tape" as it were. Without hearing the guitar live I have no idea how accurate the recording is, but if the guitar has a naturally "fuller" sound than that it may be your mics or mic placement. 12th fret is a good start for detail. You will get good balance of highs and resonance, natural fretting sounds (but not too much) and pick sounds. I usually stick a small diaphragm condenser there. The body around the bridge will tend to give you more of the "fullness" of the resonated notes. The sound hole tends to be "boomy". Too much so for my tastes, so I tend to avoid it but getting closer to it may help you in this case. I'd start by experimenting with mic placement. Maybe try one mic around where the fret board meets the sound hole or on the body, and the other three feet or so away with a little bit of extra gain. This may capture more of the resonated notes and a bit less of the high end.

You will definitely be trying to get a different sound texture for the lead voice, otherwise it will just compete with what you have. Some EQ boost in the Mids can help, but don't over do it or it will sound "unnatural" (unless that is what you are looking for, but I'm guessing it isn't). Maybe you can use another guitar that has a different voice? Maybe a Classical or just a different steel string with more body? You can also try different strings. I find that Ernie Ball Earthwoods give a fuller but less "in your face" sound. You'll lose some of that nice percussive crispness you have on the posted track though. That should keep you busy for a while along with some of the other advice offered so far!
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6th September 2010
Old 6th September 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by finch View Post
dudes, check out the quality difference when I export as wma! arrrh! at least I know what the problem is now just have to find a fix
Wow - what a difference. The .wma sounds as it should - it almost sounds like a different recording.

You know - I didn't think that you had the mics 3 inches away from the sound of the .mp3, but took your word for it. So, obviously you do, because the .wma definitely shows that the guitar is micd close.

I guess I should have looked the first time, but I see what at least part of the problem may be. Your .mp3 is at 22k - an extremely lo res. Try outputting at 320 and see what happens. A 320 .mp3 won't be that different than a .wav or .wma. There are in fact differences, but nothing that will stick out right away; they should sound really close. That said, I really don't think that the entire problem here is simply the resolution of your .mp3

Cheers.

--edit --

Hold on a sec - I just had another listen, and those ARE two different recordings - I didn't think they sounded like they were the same....did you move the mics in the wma recording, or do something else different?
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6th September 2010
Old 6th September 2010
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The music reminds me of February Stars by Foo Fighters.

I know, that was really helpful right?

-Alex
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6th September 2010
Old 6th September 2010
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Wow, you've got a lot of help about recordings here, but no-one seems to want to answer your questions about sonar. I don't use it myself, but I'd recommend scouring youtube for every bit of information about it, thats what I did with ableton, and can now do just about everything I want with it. In regards to getting a mic on each track, from the picture it looks like you want to split the stereo up, by instead of selecting stereo, use the left for the first track, and the right for the second track. This might sound confusing so I put a little diagram up for you. Whats confusing me about the picture you posted is: you said you have a pro 24, but theres only 2 analog inputs shown (1 left and right). What happened to the 2 on the back?

The other thing is you shouldn't ever be exporting to mp3 really, unless you're just doing a quick demo to show someone. There should be a wav encoder, and you can dither to 16 bit at 44.1 (which is CD quality) which will leave you with a huge file but of near perfect quality.
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6th September 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post
"How do I get a clear loud sound"

Then there is the mic pre. The mic pre is the most imporatant piece of gear in the chain. Many people think that they can get a "pro" sound with a Focusrite, or Presonus, or something similiar. Many people are sadly mistaken.

I strongly disagree - I've had tracks played on Radio 1 and numerous other stations plus releases across europe and the UK that were all tracked with a Focusrite octopre LE before I got my nice set up!

A cheaper preamp isn't an excuse for a mucky recording! it's the LAST thing I upgraded to improve my recordings !
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6th September 2010
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wow thanks for the help and feedback everyone. I'm sure it will keep me busy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post
Hold on a sec - I just had another listen, and those ARE two different recordings - I didn't think they sounded like they were the same....did you move the mics in the wma recording, or do something else different?
actually your right. I re-recorded onto 2 tracks. and placed the mics slightly closer. I was experimenting a fair bit and forgot to mention this! but the original problem was with the compression.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zombies_on_Fire View Post
Whats confusing me about the picture you posted is: you said you have a pro 24, but theres only 2 analog inputs shown (1 left and right). What happened to the 2 on the back?
I currently don't have anything plugged into those inputs on the back.

I'm sure I'll be uploading some more samples in the future for some wise input from you guys.

If anything I hope this post helps anyone looking to get the saffire pro and rode nt5s and what they are capable of.
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6th September 2010
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I think the .wma version would work well in a lot of mixes. The attached version is something you might use in a busier mix. It has a little eq, a little compression and some tape harmonics on it.
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File Type: mp3 GS Guitar Sept6.mp3 (1.47 MB, 28 views)
#19
6th September 2010
Old 6th September 2010
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MP3 Bit rate -

you need to change the default bit rate in your SONAR MP3 encoder

I downloaded your snippet and the bit rate is 48 Kilo bits per sec... so that is why it sounds so awful

For the sake of humanity please change it to at least 192Kb/sec

Having hear dthe WMA I'd try and cut a little bit of that "warm" midrange honk just to tighten it up a little.

Obviously I am saying this re the naked gtr track on its own... May not be the right approach in the mix
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6th September 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dominic hoenig View Post
I strongly disagree - I've had tracks played on Radio 1 and numerous other stations plus releases across europe and the UK that were all tracked with a Focusrite octopre LE before I got my nice set up!

A cheaper preamp isn't an excuse for a mucky recording! it's the LAST thing I upgraded to improve my recordings !
Agreed!
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6th September 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dominic hoenig View Post
I strongly disagree - I've had tracks played on Radio 1 and numerous other stations plus releases across europe and the UK that were all tracked with a Focusrite octopre LE before I got my nice set up!

A cheaper preamp isn't an excuse for a mucky recording! it's the LAST thing I upgraded to improve my recordings !
Doesn't matter where your music has been played. I am glad for you in that regard, but if you think that a Focusrite/Presonus/Behringer/etc. can stack up to a, for example, 1073, you are sadly mistaken. There IS a difference - anyone who knows anything about audio and the recording process will agree to that.

Cheers.
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6th September 2010
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^ Also agreed.

A great preamp will help you get a great sound straight off.

There is no denying the solidity and integrity of the signal recorded through a top notch pre.

However I am always pleasantly surprised by some of the recordings I did with my old Motu 828, esp acoustic guitar.

First and foremost though... the room was OK sounding, the guitar was great sounding, and the mic was a decent condenser.
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6th September 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post
Doesn't matter where your music has been played. I am glad for you in that regard, but if you think that a Focusrite/Presonus/Behringer/etc. can stack up to a, for example, 1073, you are sadly mistaken. There IS a difference - anyone who knows anything about audio and the recording process will agree to that.

Cheers.
at no point did i deny that.

but you said it was the most important factor...

I and i'm sure many others can disagree with that.

room/instrument/player/mic placement/microphone will play much more of a factor then a mic preamp.

without all of those things the preamp isn't going to make much of a difference !

I agree preamps DO make a difference - if I didn't i've wasted a LOT of money on preamps but I wouldn't say it'd be the first thing i'd ever upgrade.
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6th September 2010
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I agree with you mostly, but look at what I said:

"The mic pre is the most imporatant piece of gear in the chain"

The room/instrument/player/mic placement are not part of the signal chain - at least not the way I was brought up. The signal chain is the mic > cable > connectors/patch box (if any) > mic pre > fx (inserted comp, eq) if any > and on.

Of course the instrument, musician, room, mic placement are very important.

But I do disagree that the mic is more important than the mic pre - in most applications.

Cheers.
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