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Tracking bass @ home Single-Channel Preamps
Old 29th August 2007
  #1
Gear Nut
 
rochishin's Avatar
 

Tracking bass @ home

Hi,

It seems that bass is the bastard child of recording. I've read a lot of gearslutz threads(but not all) so bear with me if this covers ground already treaded on. I've yet to read a more definitive thread on tracking bass, aside from D.I. comparisons and bass tone likes. If I've missed one I apologize ahead of time. As the title alluded to I'm trying to get together a good flexible signal chain for tracking bass at home using Logic as my DAW. Before I go into what I have in mind, is it better to eq(as in a seperate hardware eq, for tone sculpting) while recording or later in the mix?

Here goes:

U5 (I already own this)
MEQ-1NV
Distressor
Rosetta 200
Coleman Audio M3PH MK II

Any substitutions? The bass tones I'm going for range from Jamerson, Jaco to Paul Jackson, JPJ, Marcus Miller etc...a lot to ask for I know but.....

Any and all help much appreciated. Thanks
Old 29th August 2007
  #2
Lives for Jesus
 
stevep's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by rochishin View Post
Hi,

The bass tones I'm going for range from Jamerson, Jaco to Paul Jackson, JPJ, Marcus Miller etc...a lot to ask for I know but.....
Well those guys could give you "their sound" with a Pbass and any decent DI

I always say less is best when tracking bass

If the player is on the level of those guys, i ask them to give me their sound from an amp or a DI (or both) and then i will maybe run it through a 160 or the MC77 and the settings will be different for each song.

And i hit the tape harder on some songs

Then in the mix it might hit another comp or it will stay how we tracked it

As far as EQ, i wont touch it during tracking

I use custom built DIs (ICs) and am working on a Tube DI (LA2 type front end) either one will work, fine, i am happy with the IC DI.


Remember its all about the player, you can have the best signal chain in the world and still get mush

If the player is average or below,.... i will still use the same comps, but i will use my DI


Less is best thumbsup



.
Old 29th August 2007
  #3
Gear Addict
 

FWIW, an R-84 like 3 or 4 ft in front of the bass amp speaker can help a lot, specially if you record straight to digital...

But the player makes it all indeed, and more often than not, it's worth trying to have him adapt his eq settings in order to save you some bad times during the mix, even though I hate interfering with a musician's own sound concept...

Good luck,

Olivier.
Old 29th August 2007
  #4
Lives for gear
I like to have the DI signal EQ'd a little b/c it can tend to sound boxy depending on the actual bass guitar and setup. So I'd use the U5 and the EQ section of your Great River. I usually mic the cab. Lately a Manley Reference but I've had good luck with a D112, D6, or a Heil PR-30 or 40. This signal usually gets the compression. So go Great River pre into the Distressor. Now the DI track retains the dynamics but doesn't sound boxy.....the mic track is even and compressed. The mic track may use some EQ during mixdown. Blend to taste.
Old 29th August 2007
  #5
Gear Head
 

The Aguilar DI unit has been rated as exceptional for the bass guitar even when compared to di units costing $2000 i think it retails at $600 and uses a Jensen transformer, combine that with a decent bass guitar (old Fender Precision or Jazz) and track it to a 16 track 2 inch 3M or Ampex machine running at 15 ips. I reckon the bass will kill you!

just my oppinion, even though i have not heard the Aguilar D-900 just going by the reviews and users comments!
Old 29th August 2007
  #6
Lives for gear
I agree with what's said. But with my experience with recording bass ( me being a Bass player...some say..heh.), definately begins with the player and then.. a great sounding Bass! Then.. the DI sorta takes back seat to taste/preference of tubes, ic, or transformer..(YMMV)
Old 29th August 2007
  #7
Gear Nut
 
rochishin's Avatar
 

All excellent advice, thank you.

I agree 100% about the player being the most important part of the chain. You're only as strong as your weakest link, right (I know cliche but). I realize that no one will sound like those. It was more for a reference. It's best, as you guys have said to stay out of the players way. But to be diplomatic, not all are created equal. That's also why I thought about eqing the signal on the way in, in addition to the players own "blend". I've read hear too about the aguilar D.I. Sounds like another one to add to my list of "try then buy" stuff. If only I were loaded. I mean in addition to being drunk(insert your favourite smiley).

Has anyone tried that Sigma Sound D.I. box. It refers to a "philly" sound on their website. Oh no, I've just started another D.I. thread. I will mike the amp/ca as well but, right now I'm trying get the D.I. right.

Is there a thread that that has everyones favorite bass signal chain? If not could you guys tell me yours? As you guys can attest to anything and everything can happen while recording so having contingency plans(i.e. eqing, limiting etc...). But in general I agree; "Less is Best".

Thanks so much guys for your input. It will all be taken to heart. Please don't hesitate to add anything else that you may have forgotten or stumble across. Everything is greatly appreciated.
Old 29th August 2007
  #8
Lives for gear
 
filthyrich's Avatar
 

I have

I have a DBX 160X and a 163X. The 160 is about 200 bucks on ebay and the 163 can be bought for about 50-100. Both track bass very very well in my opinion. I don't have much high end to compare to.

I usually leave off the eq until later..but I'm a wimp. The DI and EQ on my Chameleon Labs 7602 sounds great and so do my SCA A-12 preamps. It's a toss up. The 7602 has a DI and EQ..so I often find myself using it. However...the A-12 kicks ass.

Was this just about a comp and eq?

Oh yeah. I forgot. The Sansamp Tech21 bass driver is an amazing and flexible DI. I highly recommend it. I use it for every bass player that comes through..unless they are dumb.
Old 29th August 2007
  #9
Gear Nut
 
rochishin's Avatar
 

no, no, not just about compressors and equalization, but about signal chains likes and dislikes hopefully. This subject is the one I seem to search the most for but can find very little on. Other forums that I have visited usually have musicians talking about what they like/prefer in a live gig sense, not necessarily what sounds good during recording. Also, what sounds they prefer and are married to does not always do well in the mix, right?

I think I'm in the minority here, but I tried the sansamp box and it seemed quite noisy. I'm not ruling out user error, but if I can't make something sound good right off I usually switch to something else. I don't see the point in trying to make a Honda a Ferrari (that ones for all the fast & furious types). I'm not refering to the sanamp specifically, just in general.

"I use it for every bass player that comes through..unless they are dumb." Isn't that a prerequisite? Before anyone rounds up the lynch mob, I'm a play a little bass too. It's quite small really. The bass I mean, anyways..............
Old 29th August 2007
  #10
Gear Nut
 
rochishin's Avatar
 

One moment your on top the next you can't be found anywhere..........
Old 30th August 2007
  #11
Lives for gear
Also, a DI I think is underrated is the Grooves Tube " Ditto". If you find one used, grab it! Sounds great on Bass...... I still don't know why GC "blowed" these out a $99.00!.... I wasn't thinking, I should've grabbed more than one at that time.......
Old 30th August 2007
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
TheGetDown's Avatar
 

**** when did that sale happpen!!!! ^
Old 30th August 2007
  #13
Lives for Jesus
 
stevep's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mightyecho View Post
The Aguilar DI unit has been rated as exceptional for the bass guitar even when compared to di units costing $2000 i think it retails at $600 and uses a Jensen transformer, combine that with a decent bass guitar (old Fender Precision or Jazz) and track it to a 16 track 2 inch 3M or Ampex machine running at 15 ips. I reckon the bass will kill you!

just my oppinion, even though i have not heard the Aguilar D-900 just going by the reviews and users comments!
Please dont comment on gear you haven't used !


The Aguilar i tracked with in a recent session was Horrible ! distortion that could NOT be cleaned up no matter where the knobs were set
This one could be defective but i doubt it

Horrid unit trying to get the "tube sound" ... they over did it big time!



.
Old 30th August 2007
  #14
Lives for gear
[QUOTE=TheGetDown;1467408]**** when did that sale happpen!!!! ^[/QUOTE This happened about a year or so ago! I still "kick myself' ( mind wise)..), when I think about not getting the (4) I had the chance at getting!...... You know how the mind thinks tho' " Must be something wrong with it, since they are selling them at that price!) Had the one I have since then and it hasn't giving me a bit of trouble.....
Old 31st August 2007
  #15
Gear Nut
 
Jaguar Dreams's Avatar
 

bass

Work with the eq on the bass first. On a P-Bass, it's not so important, but if you have an active bass like a Warwick, the tone controls will make a ton of difference. Chances are high the bass player has not set them to avoid things like unwanted finger noise that you as the engineer care about.

Recording DI + mic'd signal is pretty standard. For rock bass, I personally really prefer including the mic'd signal. Other styles, not as important. But really, the bass needs to be loud for mic'ing it to make sense, so if you're at home it might not make sense.

Ampeg SVX plugin. It's great and actually pretty much does what it's touted to do. Download the trial and give it a run on your DI signal.

Another thought: check out Michael Brauer's guest forum archive. He gives some good tips for mixing bass that you might find useful.

-Jaguar
Old 31st August 2007
  #16
Gear Nut
 
rochishin's Avatar
 

I'm going to check out Michael Brauer's thread when I'm done typing this post.

Ya, being at home sort of limits how loud I can go and for how long. All good advice though. I never really dug the ampeg svx sound, again I think I may in the minority on this one. Not sure exactly why, just didn't.

I figured having an external eq in the chain would make up for the differences in the basses that different players brought. You know maybe they might want a slightly different sound yet like the way a caertain bass plays/feel. Obviously if the tone difference is quite drastic then a change of instrument is in order. But, for subtle changes I thought an eq might help, in essence taking the place of the amp when D.I'ing.

Thanks Jaguar.
Old 31st August 2007
  #17
Lives for gear
 

I would say track the bass through a DI and a gritty guitar amp (10 inch speakers can be very sexy for recording bass) at the same time . Don't add bottom! Don't use a DBX 160x...it won't help. Either track with a high end compressor or just use compression when mixing...most importantly get a good performance...and don't carve out all the mids!
Old 31st August 2007
  #18
Lives for gear
The bass doesn't have to be loud unless it's tube and you're trying to coax a particular sound from it. If it's solid state it's better low so you don't get room nulls and peaks in your mic. Especially if you're at home. Just not too low. You do want to hear the amp do its thing. Turn up your amp and listen to see if some notes are blatantly louder than others and you'll see what I mean. You want to avoid that with your volume....here's also why the comp is on the mic track.
Old 31st August 2007
  #19
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
For the last year or two I've been taking the DI signal from the bass through either a TAB-funkenwerk V-71 [if I'm looking for "balls"] or a Martech MSS-10 [if I'm looking for "uber clarity"] and running the signal back into the control room.

From there it's compressed with a Purple Audio MC-77 with the return split. One side of the return goes to the recorder, the other side goes to a Littlelabs "IBP" with the reamp line sent back to the bass amp through a Littlelabs "STD".

The amp [usually my '68 SVT... but sometimes it's this little Radio Shack piece of **** Michael Wagener gave me] is mic'ed [it varies to anything from a 421 to an R-122V to an MT Gefell UM-75] which is then run through a pre [which also varies... the Thermionic Culture "Earlybird" is a fave as is the Chandler TG-2 unless they're being used for something else in which case it'll be a Great River or a Pendulum "Quartet II"].

From there I balance the levels and tweeze the IBP until the DI and Mic signals feel really well "locked" and hang with the vibe of the song in a manner that is clear and distinct without taking up too much mix real estate.

It doesn't take as long to set up as it may sound from this description and the results I've been able to achieve have been pleasing me to the bone as most of my stuff is really based around how the bass is able to glue the song together.

Peace.
Old 31st August 2007
  #20
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rochishin View Post
Hi,
U5 (I already own this)
MEQ-1NV
Distressor
Rosetta 200
Coleman Audio M3PH MK II

Any substitutions? The bass tones I'm going for range from Jamerson, Jaco to Paul Jackson, JPJ, Marcus Miller etc...a lot to ask for I know but.....

Any and all help much appreciated. Thanks
Seriously, with a good/great player, take an old ampeg fliptop or similar amp...but they are the best....put a decent large dynamic in front...something like an RE20, SM7, M88, etc....that should be it, but I always take a DI just in case. It's nice to have a clean DI signal to bring in under the amp sound in case you don't have enough punch. Less than perfect rooms get a bit washy sometimes.

later,

m
Old 31st August 2007
  #21
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rochishin View Post
no, no, not just about compressors and equalization, but about signal chains likes and dislikes hopefully. This subject is the one I seem to search the most for but can find very little on. Other forums that I have visited usually have musicians talking about what they like/prefer in a live gig sense, not necessarily what sounds good during recording. Also, what sounds they prefer and are married to does not always do well in the mix, right?

I think I'm in the minority here, but I tried the sansamp box and it seemed quite noisy. I'm not ruling out user error, but if I can't make something sound good right off I usually switch to something else. I don't see the point in trying to make a Honda a Ferrari (that ones for all the fast & furious types). I'm not refering to the sanamp specifically, just in general.

"I use it for every bass player that comes through..unless they are dumb." Isn't that a prerequisite? Before anyone rounds up the lynch mob, I'm a play a little bass too. It's quite small really. The bass I mean, anyways..............
My chain...typically pbass into a DI box, one going to a regular Countryman or other DI to recorder. The other goes to the fliptop, then mic'd with an RE20. The mic goes to my pre, then usually a 160xt limiter. That's it. As long as we're giving preferences, an API or Neve type pre sound really stellar with bass. But that's so obvious, right?

later,

m
Old 31st August 2007
  #22
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher View Post
The amp [usually my '68 SVT... but sometimes it's this little Radio Shack piece of **** Michael Wagener gave me]
Oooohhh... really? heh

What kind of sound are you after when you use that one?

I didn't know Radio Shack made a bass amp, or I'd already own one..


For a DI, I still like my Tech 21 Bass driver.

If I want it HUGE, sometimes I try the instrument input on the Vipre.
Old 31st August 2007
  #23
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
The Radio Shack piece of **** is like maybe a 5 watt squalid state amp with a 4" speaker and what I'm guessing is a little Piezo tweeter... I like it for "upper midrange growl" which it does pretty well.

I rarely ever use it when tracking, but when I do it's usually the only amp that is in isolation as it doesn't get very loud and the bleed is a bitch. It's an amazing "re-amp" amp [it's most usual use] and the best part is that I can actually use it during the day as my tracking room doubles as the Mercenary warehouse [in other words... 110db SPL of SVT is out of the question].

If you check out the "Team Omen" song from the CAPE project at "The Womb" forums CAPE V -- Team Omen - The Womb that little sucker is all over the bass sound.

Peace.
Old 31st August 2007
  #24
Gear Nut
 
rochishin's Avatar
 

Mids, yes mids...I love mids, can't stand the scooped sound (yes I'm talking to you Fieldy).

Fletcher, excellent bass, reminds me of Pink Floyd with a bit more fuzziness(good) to it. I've read here elsewhere that the TG channel is quite good on bass, never heard it myself though.

It seems to me that Neviesh pres get the first call around these partsl. Anybody have thoughts on non-Neve based pres?

I've never heard/tried an API on bass. How is it as opposed to Neve stuff? More midrange, punch? The British sound is associated with Neve. But what is the "Philly" sound? Is there such a thing as an "East Coast, West Coast" sound? The Motown and Stax records have a particular one for sure. But that would be due to the players (from a bass perspective - Jamerson, Dunn). How much would the gear have really played? I ask this not to be contentious; just very curious. If you think it did what would thay have been using?

I just read the new Bass Player mag withe Jaco on the front. Says he recorded his parts direct through an M.C.I. desk with a touch of 1176. Awesome. Incredible, what a Phenom. Sorry, I gush but come on.......

WARNING RANT AHEAD DETOUR:

Although it's a hell of a lot easier to go direct I'm starting to feel that miking the amp/cab is just as important(I"m a late bloomer). Most bass players aren't used to hearing themselves under such a microscope, unlike guitars. Here's a thought, why is bass, an instrument that when live is felt as much as it's heard relegated to headphones and a seat in the studio? Guitarists to me have a better grasp of their tone because the sound of a guitar is quite clear and generally "uncluttered". To clarify, I mean bass, live that is, has a sort of (as Jonas Hellborg puts it) "fog" about it. Therefore when heard through 'phones it must a be a jarring experience to the studio newbie. Just my thoughts.

So I guess what I"m trying to get at is this: Do you mike the cab for the musicians benefit or for the sound? Please be honest. PC answers don't count

END OF RANT PROCEED:

Again, great advice. Thank you.
Old 1st September 2007
  #25
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rochishin View Post
Hi,

It seems that bass is the bastard child of recording. I've read a lot of gearslutz threads(but not all) so bear with me if this covers ground already treaded on. I've yet to read a more definitive thread on tracking bass, aside from D.I. comparisons and bass tone likes. If I've missed one I apologize ahead of time. As the title alluded to I'm trying to get together a good flexible signal chain for tracking bass at home using Logic as my DAW. Before I go into what I have in mind, is it better to eq(as in a seperate hardware eq, for tone sculpting) while recording or later in the mix?

Here goes:

U5 (I already own this)
MEQ-1NV
Distressor
Rosetta 200
Coleman Audio M3PH MK II

Any substitutions? The bass tones I'm going for range from Jamerson, Jaco to Paul Jackson, JPJ, Marcus Miller etc...a lot to ask for I know but.....

Any and all help much appreciated. Thanks
My $0.02: I think that it's always best to track bass with as little processing as possible and focus on the performance, from (hopefully) a good player and a good, quiet instrument. I usually D.I. through one of three boxes, directly into Nuendo with the UAD Precision Limiter to catch any overzealous peaks. I'm a BIG fan of re-amping both bass and guitar takes.

For aggressive rock bass, I sometimes take the direct bass signal and run it through a guitar amp, miked with a Shure 57 and record back into Nuendo. By itself, it sounds like garbage, but when mixed under the original D.I. bass, it gives a nice edge to the sound, but I still get the thump and clarity.
Old 1st September 2007
  #26
Gear Addict
 

I like using amps but i've gotten really great results with DI Boxes or running the signal straight into a mixer. That probably sounds like blasphemy to a bass player. .

I read this article on jaco pastorious and he said he ran his board into a desk as well. funny.

INTERVIEW WITH JACO PASTORIUS by Clive Williamson
Old 1st September 2007
  #27
Lives for gear
 

"I've never heard/tried an API on bass"


....go rent an API 7600 and a TG1 set the Tg1 to stun (limit mode) , don't use the compressor on the 7600, plug directly in....see how that feels.....
Old 1st September 2007
  #28
Lives for Jesus
 
stevep's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by walth View Post
I like using amps but i've gotten really great results with DI Boxes or running the signal straight into a mixer. That probably sounds like blasphemy to a bass player. .

I read this article on jaco pastorious and he said he ran his board into a desk as well. funny.

INTERVIEW WITH JACO PASTORIUS by Clive Williamson
There is nothing wrong with plugging direct into the desk with a DI

Most of the best bass sounds are recorded that way


Keep it simple



.
Old 1st September 2007
  #29
Gear Nut
 
T-fonk's Avatar
 

Your setup is fine!
Old 1st September 2007
  #30
Gear Maniac
 

I'll still recommend Wunder PEQ1 into Cranesong STC-8... and A bit of Cranesong Spider Tape Emulation always adds a little something... A tiny little bit of 60Hz on the Wunder is generally the only EQ I go with... The STC-8 is a magic ingredient on bass... you will have seen a lot of other chains supporting this view...
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