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[Recording our band] Sincere advice and feedback wanted Dynamic Microphones
Old 9th September 2011
  #1
Here for the gear
 

[Recording our band] Sincere advice and feedback wanted

Hello people!

First off, I had a look at the suggested threads... I think mine is more specific and personal.

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I'll try to keep my story as short, simple and interesting as possible.

I"m Mario from the Netherlands, 25, taken (sorry ladies), guitarist and wannabe-audio-engineer.

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About my band:
We are a Thrash metal band, playing for 2 years together but individually we all have more then 10 years of playing experience.
We have written some songs and now we want to record a CD.
To keep the costs as low as possible we want to do everything ourselves; recording, mixing, mastering and getting famous. Last one is a joke, haha. It's all hobby ;-)

I like to know from you guys if our gear and our way of thinking is good and smart enough to get a decent sounding recording.

I'm not going to talk about our instruments and amps and such… take my word for it, this is all fine. We have experimented a lot with mic-positioning and room treatment etc. and have found the settings we like.
We record in our own practice room. As of this moment we only have recorded the drums.

Ok, this is what we got:

Recorder: Boss BR-1600CD, this unit has 8 XLR (phantom powered) inputs.
Mics:
Samson drum mic-kit (kick mic, 3 tom mics and 2 OH's)
2 Shure SM57's
1 Shure KSM27
1 Behringer 4 channel mixer (that we don't use for recording)
No DI's or mic-pre's

Monitors: KRK RP8 (G1's, bought 2nd hand)

Mixing: Reaper

Soundcard: Creative X-fi extreme audio (or something)

Mastering: Ozone Izotope (we still have to buy this plugin though)


So, that's more or less the situation we're in, on to the questions!

Question 1: Do you think it is possible to make a decent sounding recording (better than the average demo) with the gear we have?
Question 2: Do we overlook some crucial things?
Question 3: We're aiming at a mid 80's style thrash sound (think Anthrax, Mega etc.) What can you recommend about double and quad tracking guitars?
Question 4: Is it advisable to use more mics on the guitars? For example the Shure KSM27, the SM57, the Samsom Kick mic and a Samson OH? You might say, this will record practically the whole spectrum of a distorted guitar, no?
Question 5: Is it better to add effects (reverb, delay, chorus) digitally, or is it better to record them? Either for guitar and vocals.
Question 6: Any other suggestions or tips?

Thanks guys!
Mario
Old 9th September 2011
  #2
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ears2thesky's Avatar
1) I'd lose the Boss and soundcard and get an interface with at least 8 preamps (preferably with ADAT in so you can add more channels later). Though I don't know your budget, something like a Mackie 1640i would give you recording functions you need and would also work as a live mixer for gigs or rehearsals.

2) You'll likey need a headphone amp for band monitoring during tracking. Plus several pairs of cans depending on how many people track at once.

3) The mic selection could be better, but it's at least a starting point. You might want a dedicated vocal mic and more '57s(or i5s).

4) I typically use two mics when recording guitar cabs. I'll also run a direct signal to it's own track for reamping or amp sims. So definitely get a DI box or two as you'll probably want one for bass, too.

5) It would probably also be a good idea to get some sort of drum replacement software so you can replace/enhance drum sounds (which might be the most difficult tracks to get sounding "professionally recorded" with your modest set-up.)

6) Absorb as much information as possible about gear and recording techniques, but don't be afraid to try everything. The worst-case scenario is that you have to do it over again.
Old 9th September 2011
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Thanks ears2thesky!

The Boss has 2 earphone outputs, monitoring during tracking is no problem.

I forgot to mention we do not track all instruments at once. Many mics can be used double. For example the 2 SM57's are used for guitar and drums. The KSM27 is a vocal only mic at the moment.

Any reasons why you'd lose the Boss? Why is it not good enough do you think?
(I share your thought and have my own ideas on that btw ;-P)
Old 9th September 2011
  #4
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mattjew24's Avatar
 

I think that setup would work perfectly fine for getting decent quality recordings.

Just spend a lot of time getting the sound right before you hit Record.

Maybe a separate preamp with a little color for vocals or something would be nice.
Old 9th September 2011
  #5
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@ mattjew24

About the pre-amp. We can add that bit of color in the mixing stage I think?
What's your motivation on using a pre except the added color?
Old 10th September 2011
  #6
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jdier's Avatar
 

I do not think I would add any preamps to your set up. Adding a pre for color I think would not be money well spent.

I would tend to favor a really nice vocal mic like an SM7 over any other upgrades.

Not familiar with sampson mics.

Reaper is great. The album in my sig was mixed completely within reaper... only other effects where external compressors used during tracking.
Old 10th September 2011
  #7
Gear Head
If that boss records atleast 24-bit I would say its good to use..If your sound card cant handle more than 6 tracks for minimal decently tracked drums definately use it cause you dont really have any other practical options. (kick, snare tom, tom, tom, close room) = 6 I suggest dual overheads and room but this is minimal.
Recording
1. I would use a sm 57 over top the snare to replace or compliment the weaker samson kit mics.
2. when tracking drums Record just drums into the boss and run its master into reaper. (just to monitor)
3. In reaper create a headphone monitor channel for the drummer and guitarists to play to...while tracking drums
4. Make sure reaper is in a low latency setting (minimize plugins, decrease playback buffer or whatever it is called in reaper)
5. record scratch guitars into any inputs you have left in either through the boss or soundcard with some POS sounding metal zone pedals or something. (who cares you are going lose this stuff anyway.)
6. After you dial in drums on the boss the way you want..record drums with the scratch as many as takes to nail the parts you want.
7. Hopefully messing with the Boss multi track hasnt pissed you off at this point.
8. record individual drum tracks into reaper giving each a separate audio track (kick,snare, etc.) midi timesync the boss to the sound card if you can, otherwise just line the stuff up in reaper by looking at the overhead track(s)
9. if you have atleast 2 ins on your soundcard you wont need the boss anymore. you can record the rest to guitars bass and vocals this way.
Old 10th September 2011
  #8
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mattjew24's Avatar
 

Yeah don't get a preamp...I was not thinking clearly. You really don't need anything else.

Do what the fellow above me suggested...using the boss to record drums while also recording scratch guitars in Reaper.
Old 10th September 2011
  #9
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarioV View Post
Thanks ears2thesky!

The Boss has 2 earphone outputs, monitoring during tracking is no problem.

I forgot to mention we do not track all instruments at once. Many mics can be used double. For example the 2 SM57's are used for guitar and drums. The KSM27 is a vocal only mic at the moment.

Any reasons why you'd lose the Boss? Why is it not good enough do you think?
(I share your thought and have my own ideas on that btw ;-P)
Understand what I mentioned above is the way I would do things. Monitoring during tracking using the boss will likely be a problem if their are no scratch guitars going though the boss.

To get yourself a completely mic'd kit you might want to utilize all 8 of those boss tracks for drums. and run through the process in a similar manner.

Another option is record the drum kit with just 7 mics and record scratch rhythm guitar with the 1 remaining if that will suffice for laying drum parts.

On my first post, I assumed you would be scratching bass or a 2nd guitar as well.

Anyway, best of luck and have fun. It is definitely possible to pull off a good recording with all you have. Just use some decent headphones or speaker system to monitor, ensure all tracking and mixing is done in 24-bit or higher on that boss and in reaper; use the best possible sound isolation techniques and Keep input signals well out of peak range while tracking and I believe you will get some solid stuff with it all.
I wanna hear it too. because Im a fan of that era of thrash metal.
Put an update on here when its done.
Old 10th September 2011
  #10
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Many thanks for all replies so far!

----------
@ Portsound570
I'm not sure if the boss is 24-bit... I still haven't got any recorded material to check it. I have found this btw.:BOSS U.S. - BR-1600CD: Digital Recorder
I guess 16 bit?

We do not track with Reaper... if tracking means recording that is. We record everything with the Boss. Every time someone is done recording, say the drummer, we copy the data to a pc, make a quick mix of the drums (on the boss) and set it to 1 of the non-recording tracks. This way we have 8 tracks for every instrument to record to.

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Can somebody tell me what Scratch guitars mean? Is it just a "crappy" guitar track for the drummer to record to? If so, we have done this.

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Tomorrow is another band-day and I will discuss this all! Thanks guys!
Old 10th September 2011
  #11
Moderator
 
matt thomas's Avatar
I know you won't think this is helpful, but it is probably the best advice you will get:

The best way to make a great recording on the cheap is to practice, then hire a high end studio and engineer for a day or two and track everything live. This is assuming your band can actually play and doesn't need extensive editing.

This way you could get a great recording, whereas doing it yourself, on cheap gear, with no real experience, in a non purpose built room is unlikely to sound as good.



That said, if the aim is to record yourself, go for it, it's just that it probably won't get the best possible results for your money.



Matt
Old 10th September 2011
  #12
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@ Matt

hmm... that studio + sound engineer sounds pretty expensive to me... The only thing we bought for this particular recording-session so far are the KRK monitors.

The reason we want to do it (very) low budget is that we don't want to charge a lot of money for the recorded songs... probably only 5 euro's for the whole album.
We're looking for the perfect balance between price and quality. We think it's more important that people listen to our music than making profit on the cd. That said, people's expectations needs to meet the price and vice versa

We just do it the best we can, with the stuff we have. Just like the bands in the early 80's? lol
Old 10th September 2011
  #13
Moderator
 
matt thomas's Avatar
Buying gear yourself and recording is fun, and you own the gear afterwards, but you did ask how to get a good sounding record.

The best way to do this is to hire professionals and use professional gear (and spaces).

This can be expensive, but you can cut down the expense drastically if you are the kind of band that can record live. If you can do this, you could track an entire album in a couple of days. A high end studio for this amount of time might be found for the same amount of money that you re investing in (mostly low end) gear. If you can't play well (meaning, if you don't sound like a CD when you play live) then this is probably not the way to go.

You also said that you wanted it to sound better than an average demo. But demo's these days do sound good because nearly everyone has access to gear similar to what you are talking about or better, so your demo is unlikely to be better than average. But it could still sound good, it's just that everybody else's does too.

The recording in a studio idea is not ideal, you would really be super hurried to get it done, you may have to figure out some other way of having it mixed (or they could do REALLY fast mixes in that time), but it could work for your genre, and it would be the path which leads to the best sound quality, assuming you go to a real studio, and not somebody else's project studio. You also wouldn't get stuck in that "too much time" trap.

And of course, recording it yourself is a fun project too. It has different benefits, but better sound quality is probably not among them (but hey, perhaps it could be for you, I don't know)



matt
Old 11th September 2011
  #14
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mattjew24's Avatar
 

With thrash metal you will be spending a lot of time getting sounds right. Metal guitars are arguably the MOST difficult thing to get right...someone wrote a gigantic description of the process...I'll have to locate it. The thrum of the cabinet, room, everything has to be right...it's not like cheesy rock where a live recording can easily suffice. Metal bands with cheesy recordings aren't taken seriously.

Therefore learn to do it yourself, or pay a specialized engineer...someone with metal experience. Tune your drums right, no fixing in the mix. New heads...new tubes, whatever.

Expect to add a kick drum sample to your tracks for that snap. If your drummer doesn't know how to get this sound, you're doomed.

Do drums to a click. If you play in different changing time signatures, like Mastodon or something, learn how to program tempo/time changes with Reaper and use it for a click.

Good luck....do not fear compression.
Old 12th September 2011
  #15
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@ matt thomas

Point taken about the costs of a studio and buying low end gear. That makes sense, I hadn't thought of it that way. Hmm

@ mattjew24

We recorded the drums last week and I'm struggling with it now in Reaper.
Our drummer has a lot of experience with recording his drums (and that of others) but he never mixed something on a PC.
My god, every single mic recorded (more or less) every part of the drums...

About to start a new thread on that
Old 13th September 2011
  #16
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mattjew24's Avatar
 

Yep, you need to do some extensive editing in Reaper to cut out the mic bleed...Or use a noise gate.

I am very interested to hear how the drums turned out!
Old 13th September 2011
  #17
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I'm doing the same thing at the moment. Using Reaper and the Zoom R24. We went through one all day tracking session. I spent about a week trying to mix it and finally realized that the amount of bleed made the tracks unusable. We will be tracking again Friday. What I learned was that it would have been better at the start to track one song and then try to do a quick mix. That way we would have known that our mic placement sucked. Hope it's helpful, I'll be checking back to see how it's going.
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