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Recording Basics101 Refresher Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 4 weeks ago
Here for the gear

Recording Basics101 Refresher

Hi, I haven’t recorded anything in over 2 decades and I just found some of my gear and really need a refresher before I start this project..

I want to go for that ‘full sound’ - I know it won’t be ‘pro’ by any means with the gear I currently have, but I want it to sound half way decent.
I have forgotten much of what I learned back in the day, so any advice would be appreciated.

My gear is: zoom R8 or vs1824- I do like the zoom much better because it is less button pressing (i Plan to upgrade to the r16), but if I’ll get a better sound from the Roland, I will use that.

It’s basic rock/punk rockish- and I do like that full crisp sound that the Fat Wreck bands sound like.

I have a drum kit, a bass, and guitar for rhythm and lead.

I would really prefer the zoom for its ease and lack of multiple button pushing just to arm the track...
I guess my biggest question is about panning, eq, and tracks in general.
The drums will be tricky to mic and record on the zoom (due to its 2 simultaneous Input only- But I will figure something out)

But let’s say that I have recorded a rythym guitar, a bass line, and a lead guitar track (we will say I did this on track 1, 2, and 3)
Is it best to bounce each track so that I have two tracks of each... Then pan each of them- 1 hard left, 1 hard right on each? (To make a full stereo sound?)
Any tips on eq for these?
Or is it better to play the parts twice and then do the panning?
Leaving 1 track panned at 0 never gave me great results

If I add a vocal track, is it the same thing? Try to double it and pan each in a different direction.

For bass, I would like to achieve a punchy deep and warm sound,, I will prob go direct in to the unit with the bass and use one of the onboard effects. Any suggestions or eq ideas?

Vocals- I always liked them pushed back into the mix a little bit,, but any advice on recording vocals and basic eq settings would be appreciated.

.... Or do I leave all the tracks on their single channels and then duplicate them for the final mix- (stero pair), Panning the final mix of these two hard each way or 3/4 each way?

Drums I might have to submix them first and then patch them over (I know I’ll need the drum mix to be perfect
I don’t think I could get a decent and full sounding drum mix by using just two mics (if using the zoom)
After I get the drum mix I want, is that the same thing- Getting them onto two tracks and then panning them each way?

I know this is all pretty basic stuff that I should know- but it’s been a while, and I’ve had some pretty bad recordings in the past using these machines, and I just am looking for something that sounds halfway decent/normal...
the sound I would like to get close to as far as each instrument can be heard at this link... it’s a nofx song called The Cause


Sorry for these basic questions, but I’m in big time need of a refresher before I start this.

Any help on these recording basics would truly be appreciated! Thank you!
Old 4 weeks ago
Lives for gear

You got allot of wishing going on there but you're missing the one element no one can help you with.

Its called putting your nose to the grindstone and working your ass off to get results.
If you haven't been recording in 20 years then you're 20 years behind where you could have been. You don't make up 20 years of lost work by simply working harder either. You break it down by how many hours you put in tackling problems and making tweaks, not be buying gear and seeking short cuts for every issue you have. Once you understand the work involved is more like an athlete working out to build up his skills, then the glitter of the gear and technology stops becoming the substitute for the hard work needed.

I've been playing instruments and recording for over 50 years so I can easily see things from the long view. Luckily I been into recording longer then playing guitar so my skills in both are pretty evenly matched. Getting a formal education in music and electronics helped too. My advice to beginners is, if you been playing an instrument say 20 years, and only recording for a year, then you have a huge skill imbalance there. Some of the musical skills can be transferred, but the rest you have to learn from scratch. The question then becomes have you got the passion and desire to learn the trade properly or are you asking for others to do all your thinking for you.

Rule, one, You cant buy experience and you cant find it drifting around on the internet. You either put in the necessary hours and grind the work out the hard way or you simply haven't got what it takes to produce great recordings. Of course having great musical skills is highly essential too. You cant have one without the other.
People will freely give you plenty of advice but it will be pretty useless if you aren't in the process of doing it on your own. No one knows how well you actually are as a musician or how much skill you accumulated before giving it up for 20 years. Just the fact you did give it up for so long isn't a good sign and tells others you may again throw the towel in and waste all the advice they invested in you.

Lets accept you have developed a lasting passion. You're looking to be inspired to do great works of art. We'll leave the original music aside and see how well you measure up to matching the quality of cover music.

Pick out some songs you are able to play every instrument on the song. Next find an excellent copy of the song, convert it to a 24/44.1 or 24/48 bit wave file (whatever you typically record at) then import it to a stereo file on your DAW.

Next play each part playing along to the original song nailing every note to a T with perfect timing and also nailing the tone as close as you can get it.
I do advise you starting off with an extremely easy song to play, with 4 to 5 instruments with a singer. If the drum part is simple it helps too.
If need be tap out each drum to a separate track. You can assemble it into a full kit when mixing so long as the timing is excellent.

After all the tracks are recorded use whatever audio tools you have to make your tracks match the Commercial recording as close as you can get it. It will never be perfect because the likelihood of you having the same instrument, amps, gear, mics and performing skills isn't very likely but this is a challenge of how close you can copy someone else's work, not how good you are at making something sound good out of thin air.

This provides you a target to aim at when mixing which after some practice you'll find is worth more then the advice from a thousand posters.

Here's the key point. Once you get a sound that really nails that cover tune, as though you were the one recording that song, you want to document every detail of your settings that got your there. Beginning with the instrument, its setup, any settings you used on an amp, the mic placement, the type of mic, the gain levels on the preamp. Get a notebook and document every setting the same way studios document the mixes of the analog mixes. They use setup charts so when they pull that reel to reel back off the shelf they can set all the mixer settings back to how they were when it was originally mixed.

You could also use modern technology here. Use a cell phone camera and take shots of your setup and knob settings then save them along with your wave files for the project when you're done. Other settings in the daw are simple. you can save all your effects as presets and then you only need to document the other settings and the things you did to achieve quality sounds.

Once you get say 25 of these done you should be amassing a good number of valuable data you can use for your own recordings. I also advise you to take the time to evaluate the work flow after each session. No one should know better then you, where you may have wasted time or created redundant work.
Example, you may have had extra bass dialed up on the guitar when it was first recorded. By the time you got done tracking and tweaked the mix you found you used two additional EQ's to make that guitar fit into that type of mix.

On the next recording, try backing the bass down on the amp, then see how much less tweaking you need when mixing. The ideal spot is none at all. If you can track something that fits into a mix perfectly and requires no additional plugins to prop it up, you've found the real magic in recording - ideal tracking tones.

Like I said, this process of refining your sound to get ideal results takes allot of hard work. there are no shortcuts here and even if someone gave them to you they'd be speaking in a foreign language to you because you need to balance the hands on skill with the technical ideas. They are symbiotic when it comes to recording, one being just as important as the other. Once those two are matched then you'd be ready to use some real artistic license. Few engineers, or even music artists ever get to that point. They may get a glimpse of it here or there which is enough to make them want to move ahead for awhile, but the people who have the skill matched with pure genius is super rare.

Those are the people you read about have been lucky enough to be considered "great" artists in their craft. How hard any individual has to work to match them varies with every person. You have volumes of pages listing people who attempt to get there by faking it of storming the gates, but their actual work never lies. As the man says, you have to pay the dues to sing them blues. Just realize the blues aren't sung in sadness they are sung in joy as a testament of overcoming adversity, not being beaten down by it. My only additional advice is the same as I've adopted from my music. When the physical effort seems to hit a dead end, it means your mind needs filling with new ideas and new perspectives. Spend the time you need reading up on areas you know you're weak in till its no longer a weakness and you'll find your ability to slug it out doing the menial boring stuff is a whole lot easier to bear.
Old 4 weeks ago
Lives for gear
Poinzy's Avatar

OP: Anything else?

If I had to address all of your queries myself, I'd charge you a pretty penny for it. You're probably just going to have to start reading. You won't find all of your answers in one place, that's for sure.
Old 4 weeks ago
Gear Addict

You may not be able to find everything in one place, but you'll find a lot of really useful advice in this thread from a Boston-based recording engineer on the Reaper forum (his user name is "Yep" and you can safely ignore all the commentary and responses from everyone else posting in that thread...just look for his posts)

Why do your recordings sound like ass? - Cockos Incorporated Forums

It's really well done.
Old 4 weeks ago
Here for the gear

I guess that was a pretty loaded question, sorry for that I got a little too excited when I was writing that

I guess simplied, I was trying to ask,,
In you’re methods- if you track a bass guitar onto one track, would you leave it on one track and then put the final mix down to two stereo tracks?
Or would you split the bass into two tracks before the final mix?

I actually went to school for all this in Ohio when we still used ADAT machines- I bought a Roland when I got back, used it a few times and hated it.
Then life got in the way,, it’s 20yrs later and I just forgot some of the basics to the final mix of it

I just ordered a zoom r16, should be here in a few days and then I’m back to figuring this all out

Thanks again for your replies! Have a good day!
Old 4 weeks ago
Here for the gear

I tend to record all inputs onto two tracks. It just sounds fuller and a bit richer. Of course that doesn’t mean it’s stereo though. For that I have to use two individually recorded tracks and pan or cut/divided one of the tracks, remove a few milliseconds and then pan.

Like some have said. Read, spend the time, play and make notes on what works for you and what doesn’t.
Old 4 weeks ago
In you’re methods- if you track a bass guitar onto one track, would you leave it on one track and then put the final mix down to two stereo tracks?
Or would you split the bass into two tracks before the final mix?
The bass is a mono instrument, so it would be recorded onto a mono track, Or if you mic the cabinet and also record the direct output, you would have 2 mono tracks But it doesn't matter, as what ever you record (one mono or 2 mono tracks with vocals, bass guitar ect ect) they should be kept like that until you are done mixing the song.

After you are done mixing it, you bounce the entire song to a stereo wave file and then master it. Or bounce it to split mono and then master it.
That's my way at least... ... ...
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