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Share your best recording without plugins?
Old 10th October 2018
  #1
Gear Head
 

Share your best recording without plugins?

I'm curious to know if people are getting great results without tons of plugins. Basically, can you create a nice recording and mix just from their basic audio interface, a reasonably-treated room and the features that come built into their DAW?

If you can, please post a link to an example and what your basic setup was.

Should be fun
Old 11th October 2018
  #2
Gear Nut
 

I'm interested to hear the what people have to post here as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tobinharris View Post
Basically, can you create a nice recording and mix just from their basic audio interface
This is the reason why people spend so much on analog gear. The point of having a high quality vocal chain is to get a professional sound right out of recording. I would say the goal of most engineers is to select a vocal chain (mic/pres/optional compressors), which produces something which is ready to be put in the song with little-to-no EQ. Something that perfectly cuts through the mix directly after recording.

When engineers record people, they don't want to screw around with EQ and everything after the fact. They want that recording to sound amazing right as it hits the daw. This is precisely the reason why people use expensive analog gear. Such gear is engineered and tuned with the goal in mind to produce something that is ready-to-go right as it is captured. If you've ever heard an acapella of a major label recording artist, I would say 9 times out of 10, their vocal has had minimal processing done to it, at least, minimal with respect to the extent home artists do. That's the magic of high end gear.

Cheaper gear can achieve nice sounds too, but it generally requires far more tweaking and can be really really troublesome many times to actually get a pro sound from it, but not necessarily impossible.
Old 11th October 2018
  #3
Lives for gear
Made me think about this guy.
Recorded with one Blue Yeti USB microphone on a laptop with Audacity in a car!
Mixed with Reaper and its stock plug-ins and a compressor plug-in what came free with a audio interface. Using ATH-M50 headphones.
Fantastic!
Old 12th October 2018
  #4
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Share your best recording without plugins?
Quote:
Originally Posted by tobinharris View Post
I'm curious to know if people are getting great results without tons of plugins. Basically, can you create a nice recording and mix just from their basic audio interface, a reasonably-treated room and the features that come built into their DAW?
Quote:
Originally Posted by BT64 View Post
Made me think about this guy.
Recorded with one Blue Yeti USB microphone on a laptop with Audacity in a car!
Mixed with Reaper and its stock plug-ins
which is it?

IMO there is a world of difference between a recording "without plugins" and a recording "without tons of plugins". I never use a 'ton' of plugins, anyway. But I also have never done a serious mix in a DAW with NO plugins. It this a practical question about the minimum that you need to do decent work... or is this a proposal about a "challenge"? Recording with one hand tied behind your back?

I put considerable effort into mic and preamp selection and extensive use of analog signal processors - EQ compression etc to commit to a sound during the tracking process. But I am not a psychic. Nobody knows before they hear the bass exactly exactly exactly what the kick 'needs to be'. These things have to be tweaked in context. It's one thing to "go for" a sound and another thing to record a song that requires NO mixing. It's one thing to say: "these tracks practically mix themselves" and say "these tracks actually require zero processing to all work perfectly together."

The only thing that requires zero processing is stems - stems have already been processed.

Also I don't have a large concert hall at my disposal, so is part of the challenge to mix with no reverb?

Quote:
the features that come built into their DAW?
most DAWs come with an amazing amount of features, you have your "ton" of included plugs already. Almost all the meat-and-potatoes stuff you would need to do a nice mix. Lots of wild stuff too. I often do mixes in Pro Tools using only the stock plug-ins when I am preparing something for my students because I want them to be able to open it with nothing 'missing'. The first time I did that, I thought it was going to be really hard to 'do without' my 3rd party plugs. But it wasn't.

There are certain third-party things that I like along the lines of "problem-solvers" that speed things up, there are certain third-party things that I like along the lines of "special sauce" that spice things up. But the DAW comes with everything I NEED to do most projects in most normal styles of music. Already way more tools, choices and options than I ever had when I was working on tape.
Old 12th October 2018
  #5
Lives for gear
 
tedtan's Avatar
 

I think the OP refers to using no third party plugins. Or, maybe, no virtual instruments.

It would help us answer if the OP would clarify.
Old 12th October 2018
  #6
Quote:
Something that perfectly cuts through the mix directly after recording.
?? Doesn't make sense. How would anyone know what the mix is going to sound like in the recording stage?

You do not know what the mix is going to sound like before its mixed or before the mixing stage. So you do not know what kind of EQ all the instrument tracks will need to cut through and so on..

CJ
Old 12th October 2018
  #7
Deleted 3cb98a6
Guest
Well...not persee the "best".
Hardly used anything except a touch of the old LA2A on vocals and base i think. Drums and guitars are all as clean as it come. Even the backslap reverb on vocals was done with an extra mic about 8 meters away.

I make it a point to keep everything as pure as possible.

YouTube
Old 12th October 2018
  #8
Deleted 3cb98a6
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
?? Doesn't make sense. How would anyone know what the mix is going to sound like in the recording stage?

You do not know what the mix is going to sound like before its mixed or before the mixing stage. So you do not know what kind of EQ all the instrument tracks will need to cut through and so on..

CJ

Sure you do. You listen to the instruments played live and you summ it all in your head. Not that difficult. Its right there and then -pre-tracking- that i know where to steer it. Mics i place based on that " Vision".
I.m getting more and more experienced in working this way, and it makes mixing a breeze.
Old 12th October 2018
  #9
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BT64 View Post
Made me think about this guy.
Recorded with one Blue Yeti USB microphone on a laptop with Audacity in a car!
Mixed with Reaper and its stock plug-ins and a compressor plug-in what came free with a audio interface. Using ATH-M50 headphones.
Fantastic!
Very cool, thanks!
Old 12th October 2018
  #10
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KhaosSignal View Post
I'm interested to hear the what people have to post here as well.

I would say the goal of most engineers is to select a vocal chain (mic/pres/optional compressors), which produces something which is ready to be put in the song with little-to-no EQ. Something that perfectly cuts through the mix directly after recording.
Thanks, I read something similar yesterday by MixerMan. Makes a lot of sense to me, albeit I'm a hobbyist.
Old 12th October 2018
  #11
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
which is it?

IMO there is a world of difference between a recording "without plugins" and a recording "without tons of plugins". I never use a 'ton' of plugins, anyway. But I also have never done a serious mix in a DAW with NO plugins. It this a practical question about the minimum that you need to do decent work... or is this a proposal about a "challenge"? Recording with one hand tied behind your back?
Thanks for the reply and yes, I could have been clearer. I suppose I was interested to hear what people were achieving with minimal external plugins, just sticking to the basics of stock compression, EQ, reverb etc.

If you watch the videos on plugin sites, they make us amateurs feel like we need to buy them all to get good results So I keep thinking, "surely people can make great mixes with minimal stuff". But I've found it hard to find any examples of where people use a stripped back setup. Hence this thread.

So yes, it's a practical question of the minimum you need to create what you think is a good quality recording. The challenge part is really to share that, so we can hear the results of a minimal setup.

Hope that makes some sense.
Old 12th October 2018
  #12
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pief View Post
Well...not persee the "best".
Hardly used anything except a touch of the old LA2A on vocals and base i think. Drums and guitars are all as clean as it come. Even the backslap reverb on vocals was done with an extra mic about 8 meters away.

I make it a point to keep everything as pure as possible.

YouTube
Awesome, thanks for sharing. That's the kind of thing I was interested to hear.

I'm not a pro, but it sounds great, and I haven't reached for the headphones yet. The vocals are very "level" and feels like there's good head-room there (I don't really know what I'm talking about haha).

Are you using a hardware LA2A or the UA plugin for Apollo?
Old 12th October 2018
  #13
Deleted 3cb98a6
Guest
La2a plugin. I think its the cakewalk version.

The band in question had quit a few reviews over the last months. More than usual reviewers went on to applaud the absence of a slick produced sound and called it things like "fresh" "open" and whatnot. Very positive in an age of overcompressed sjeit.

You chose a great topic for this thread. Really interested in hearing more bareback examples from GS members.

Thanks for the compliments b.t.w.
Old 13th October 2018
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
?? Doesn't make sense. How would anyone know what the mix is going to sound like in the recording stage?

You do not know what the mix is going to sound like before its mixed or before the mixing stage. So you do not know what kind of EQ all the instrument tracks will need to cut through and so on..

CJ
Many decent microphones and recording chains in general will produce such upfront and present material that practically no EQ tweaking at all is required to have it sit in the mix. As long as the rest of the track itself is not flooded with instruments, then there won't be a whole lot of mixing required outside of balancing the levels. Dr. Dre is known for taking this approach with 50 Cent and Eminem, with his C800G->1073->737 chain. It was said after recording through such a chain, they did absolutely nothing to the vocals because they sounded so good "flat" and fit so perfectly in the mix with practically every song on their albums - Get Rich and Die Tryin' for 50 and several of Eminems earlier albums.

Other than that particular chain, a high quality vocal chain should cut through just about any mix with very little editing required assuming the mic is suited for the artist.
Old 13th October 2018
  #15
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
You do not know what the mix is going to sound like before its mixed...
Actually, most of the time I pretty much do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
... or before the mixing stage.
There's only a mixing stage if someone sends me a fully tracked project that I've never heard. Otherwise, it's getting mixed as it gets tracked. With a DAW it's easier and you can get fancier than with a console and tape, but it's more the same than different.
Old 14th October 2018
  #16
Lives for gear
What's the diff between "before it's mixed" and "before the mixing stage?"
Old 15th October 2018
  #17
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KhaosSignal View Post
Dr. Dre is known for taking this approach with 50 Cent and Eminem, with his C800G->1073->737 chain. It was said after recording through such a chain, they did absolutely nothing to the vocals because they sounded so good "flat" and fit so perfectly in the mix with practically every song on their albums.
Really interesting, thanks for sharing. That's an £11,000 ($14,400) vocal chain
Old 15th October 2018
  #18
I gotta say...this song I did was really very light on plugin wise. If I go back to the project each channel has the barest of treatment:

Better Me Better You by The Fish Tanks | Free Listening on SoundCloud

And I was happiest with it of anything I've done. It's simple and sounds (to me) pretty good for a home recording. I did it in Studio One 3 with pretty much all stock eq and comp. To me it just sounds like what I thought I was recording...nothing flashy, nothing complicated...just record and eq here, comp there, stereo bus level up.
Old 15th October 2018
  #19
Deleted 3cb98a6
Guest
@ hello people

Pretty damn nice. Nice song 2 ! Somehow the balance seems to lean a bit to the left but that could be my hearing problem.

I can hear some comp on snare and acoustic. But it still sounds really natural and clean.
Question: i get the feeling you done most of this with the same 2 or 3 mics. Dynamics would be my guess. Am i right?

It could use some mastering though. +1.5 at 80-100hrz?
Old 15th October 2018
  #20
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tobinharris View Post
Really interesting, thanks for sharing. That's an £11,000 ($14,400) vocal chain

True, but these days admittedly the C800G is a bit overpriced. It's definitely an excellent mic, but you can find mics that are 1/3rd of its cost with near equal detail and quality, if not exceeding it. The C800G is pricey largely because it has a built in dedicated cooling system, which allows for it to have a good signal to noise ratio, however, this difference can be somewhat inconsequential for music recording with tons of instruments going on in the background. Plenty of microphones can parallel the forwardness of the C800G without costing so much, while still being very high quality.
Old 15th October 2018
  #21
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KhaosSignal View Post
The C800G is pricey largely because it has a built in dedicated cooling system...
I'd say it's also pricy because it can be. It's a symbol. But with more practical value than, say, a $10,000 set of rims.
Old 15th October 2018
  #22
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tobinharris View Post

If you watch the videos on plugin sites, they make us amateurs feel like we need to buy them all to get good results
I would say count your blessings. Had you been in the recording business say 30 years ago, there were no plug ins or DAWs. Back then, a professional 24-track tape deck cost as much as four new Cadillacs. There were some cheaper decks, but they did not sound as good. That's not snobbery, it's a simple fact.

I don't get griping about the price of an LA-2A plug-in, considering that a hardware LA-2A costs nearly four grand and you only get one. Not 50 -100 instances if your computer can take it.

Quote:
So yes, it's a practical question of the minimum you need to create what you think is a good quality recording. The challenge part is really to share that, so we can hear the results of a minimal setup.
I believe a "good quality recording" is going to be mostly in the room/instrument/microphone/preamp and possibly compressor end of things. Get that right and your mixes will be easy with whatever plug-ins. This is where your money should go, and unfortunately, it does not go anywhere near as far. Good mics and preamps are not cheap.

Items made out of code need someone to write the code and some testing, that's just about it. Items made out of matter with moving parts and hardware circuits have materials costs, manufacturing costs, factory overhead, and distribution costs as well as the R&D that would also apply to plugs.

Quote:
make us amateurs feel like we need to buy them all to get good results
Well if the tutorial you are watching is sponsored by the plug-in company of course they are going to say that. Even the supposedly independent tutorial stuff often has a close working relationship, if not outright sponsorship of the plug-in companies. The market pushes plugins because they are cheap to make and cost hardly anything distribute. A coder writes the plug-in and then people "upload their money" and download the plugin. It's all automated. No sales staff is required. Nothing needs to be sent to a warehouse and then put on a truck. They are relatively small individual purchases that often are cheap enough to be impulse buys.

As I said earlier, some things will give you faster or easier results. Some will give you a certain instant 'flavor' you are after, but functionally, if you have EQ, reverb, some dynamics, you have everything that the top studios had back in the day.
Old 15th October 2018
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by pief View Post
@ hello people

Pretty damn nice. Nice song 2 ! Somehow the balance seems to lean a bit to the left but that could be my hearing problem.

I can hear some comp on snare and acoustic. But it still sounds really natural and clean.
Question: i get the feeling you done most of this with the same 2 or 3 mics. Dynamics would be my guess. Am i right?

It could use some mastering though. +1.5 at 80-100hrz?
Thanks a lot. The vocal was recorded with a u87ai...so was the piano. The glockenspiel was done with a 57 and the shakers and tambourine too. There's a synth Rhodes in there and the drums are Ezdrummer. The acoustic guitar was recorded with a Shure sm81...pretty sure just a single mic...but I may have double mic'd it with the u87ai. The bass was di into a UA LA610 mkii.

Yeah, no mastering...that's just the mix. If all my stuff turned out like that though I'd be happy because to me it's just a pretty honest straight up and down recording (except for the drums and Rhodes I suppose). I remember going back to look at it once thinking I must have thrown the kitchen sink at it plugin-wise. But there's barely anything on it and then I remembered...it basically mixed itself...I barely spent any time mixing it.

It's not outstanding or anything but it was a real satisfying mix for me and my home recorder level of skill.
Old 16th October 2018
  #24
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I'd say it's also pricy because it can be. It's a symbol. But with more practical value than, say, a $10,000 set of rims.
True, but the price isn't necessarily invalid. Even though most pieces of analog equipment probably cost under a couple hundred dollars in parts for the companies to produce, what we generally are paying for is the research and engineering efforts that went into designing the device. This is true for most pieces of "equipment" of any sort in almost any industry. The materials to construct them are typically cheap, as is the labor to do so, but we're paying for the intellectual efforts that went into them.

Hell, some of these preamps we pay $2000-3000 for probably didn't cost more than $50 in parts if you were to buy all of the parts separately from the various manufacturing agencies. Circuit boards with the components put in are often incredibly cheap to actually manufacture in China.

Granted, stuff will cost more for them to construct if they source all the components from European countries and not from China, but still nowhere close to what consumers pay.
Old 16th October 2018
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by KhaosSignal View Post
True, but the price isn't necessarily invalid. Even though most pieces of analog equipment probably cost under a few hundred dollars for the companies to produce, what we generally are paying for is the research and engineering efforts that went into designing the device. This is true for most pieces of "equipment" of any sort in the industry. The materials to construct them are typically cheap, as is the labor to do so, but we're paying for the intellectual efforts that went into them.
If we are fair though some of those things were researched and developed decades ago and so should have more than recouped their initial research and dev costs. So what we are really paying for is a brand name...or quality I guess...and we trust that in all those decades the components and build quality are as they were back in the day.

At some point there has to be a limit to 'research and engineering' cost. Otherwise it'd be a perpetual money tree. And we all know that's impossible...unless you're a banker or something and harvest the labour of the little man through debt based interest compounded theft.

Old 16th October 2018
  #26
Lives for gear
You guys suck at sharing.



All hardware, computer (running Cubase) was just used for MIDI.
Old 16th October 2018
  #27
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hello people View Post
If we are fair though some of those things were researched and developed decades ago and so should have more than recouped their initial research and dev costs. So what we are really paying for is a brand name...or quality I guess...and we trust that in all those decades the components and build quality are as they were back in the day.

Well, starting a business and designing a product is about making money, not just recouping your research costs .


Quote:
Otherwise it'd be a perpetual money tree. And we all know that's impossible
Isn't that arguably the goal of any business designing a product? For it to produce revenue/profit for as long as it possibly can?
Old 16th October 2018
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by KhaosSignal View Post
Well, starting a business and designing a product is about making money, not just recouping your research costs .




Isn't that arguably the goal of any business designing a product? For it to produce revenue/profit for as long as it possibly can?
Sure, but saying the cost of a product is linked to its research and development cost well after the research and development cost has been recouped is silly. Instead, you can associate your high cost with the credibility or quality of the product. You can't keep justifying high cost on the back of research and development forever perpetually.

The cost of research and development is finite for a product that has not changed its components or make up since the definitive version.
Old 16th October 2018
  #29
Lives for gear
Blah blah blah.... how about the price of used hardware?

Still sounds better.
Old 16th October 2018
  #30
Depends who used it

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