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recording bass with api
Old 28th June 2005
  #1
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recording bass with api

greetings,
i am currently direct recording bass for a cd of my own songs. i am using a washburn bass with active pickups. i am using the hi z input on my api 512c into a 550 b, into a daking fet compressor. does anyone have any suggestions? especially for eq? also compression ratio, threshold, attack and release settings ?
the music is techno popish with v session drums, emu samplers, acoustic and electric guitar and male pop vocals. i want a thick sound, which takes up lots of low end .

thanks,
tf
i am getting a pretty decent sound now, but i know with this gear it could be a lot better.
Old 28th June 2005
  #2
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max cooper's Avatar
 

I run a P-Bass direct into an API 512c. I always mic an amp too (I actually use a '70's Marshall guitar amp, but whatever you use, I think a mic'd signal is pretty important when you take a bass DI.) I say experiment with different gain settings on the preamp, and take the comp and EQ out of the line when you do, so you can just hear the preamp. One of the guitars I track with (also DI + amp) has EMG 85s but I can't remember where I set the preamp...but yeah, it's different than with passive p/ups; I'll have to look. If I owned a second bass, it would have EMG's.

I used to use an outboard compressor after the preamp, an API 525 in fact. But I like the sound better with something like an 1176. I do have an API 560 EQ in there, though.

What you gotta try, if you've got a bass DI coming in is the PSP Vintage Warmer in either the 'Bass Line Track' preset, or the 'Funky Kick Drum' one. (they have a demo with timed dropouts)

When I first put that thing on the bass, I thought "oh, so this is what it's for". Truth be told, I didn't compress electric guitars, but that was before the VW. It'll definitely get you some useable low end.

Finally, try to get your hands on a BSS 133 DI ( I think that's the name...not looking at it right now ) and put it in front of the API. They're under $200 and sound great. Nice to change up the sound a bit.

As far as EQing bass, it's hard to trade exact settings, since the variables can be so different. Sometimes I actually put a little dip in at 250 to clean things up, but it's a trade off because there's nice bass stuff happening in there. I seem to always have a cut at 500, though. If I boost at all (which I try not to with bass, esp. in the low end.) it's either 1K or 2K. I find that if I cut and don't boost, I get a more solid sound. Stays balanced within the mix better. It may seem fun to boost at 125 but whenever I do, I end up having to tear the mix back down and redo the bass sound.

Other than that, just mess with it until it works. And do try the Vintage Warmer.
Old 28th June 2005
  #3
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subtractive eq...especially if you have active electronics!!! you already sound like you know at you're doing... maybe you might like the sound of the bass w/o the comp...

512c-->EQ-->DAW
Old 28th June 2005
  #4
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I'm no expert, but I find cutting the mud around 600-800 opens things up while retaining the low low. I use an api 3124 into a 1969 or cl2a thumbsup !
I agree with the Vintage Warmer plug (I've got to try those presets), I absolutely love that plug.


SIN
Old 28th June 2005
  #5
84K
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Everyone has made good points... if you want something new, the DW FEARN Pultec EQ is amazing for bass. That is the only thing I use it for on a regular basis, but it will always get tapped for that job. The Evil Twin is the sweetest thing for the bass DI.

ROCK CHAIN: the Evil Twin, Split 3 ways, Direct, B-15 with a RE20 on it (FAT), and a Marshall Plexi with a 421 (for the top/presence of the bass).

Between the B15 and the Plexi the sound is there, I only track the direct incase I decide later that I got to excited with distortion....
Old 28th June 2005
  #6
Does it really need eq? Especially on the way in. You might want to eq in the mix
but maybe you don't need to when recording.
Old 28th June 2005
  #7
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Assuming the player's chops are together and all the little stuff (new strings, setup & fresh 9 volt) has been taken care of...

I wouldn't EQ much on the way in, maybe some cut in the 150-500 range or filter off some extreme top like 10kHz & above. Compress to taste, I like enough to even things out but not so much that I'm making the tone smaller. It's also worth a shot to repatch the order of the EQ & compressor...usually I like to compress and then EQ so my EQ choices aren't driving the compression. OTOH, sometimes the EQ should drive the compression to get the desired tone. YMMV.
Old 28th June 2005
  #8
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Thickness in bass has so much to do with arrangement and how the neck of the bass is made. Some basses the open A and E sounds fat and some basses only fretted notes at least 3 or 4 frets up sound fat.

Then there is the pick or finger. You can kill thickness with a funny angle on your pick. You can create thickness with muting the playing slightly too. Think Paul McCartney on "All You Need Is Love".

I think asking the gear for thick is taking the player/instrument for granted.

But generally I like slow attack and release with really light compression, 2:1. I also like a duller bass tone equalized with a high shelf EQ rather than a bright bass to start.
Old 28th June 2005
  #9
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lucey's Avatar
lately we track a good player like this:

any bass -> B15 -> D4, or 57 -> 512b - > TT CL1-b (1db or so) -> 2" tape

no DI, no eq



at mixing: Eq with an API (fat) or Avedis E15 (cleaner) -> mult -> parallel comp with a Purple 76.

i like to leave the eq for mixing as it will need to be eq'd then anyway and with the right mic you should not need to eq going in. the 1db comp at tracking is just subtle enough to smoothe the playing while adding a little finger action ...and the parallel comp at mixing gets slammed for rock bass
Old 28th June 2005
  #10
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Like the folks above have said, try to get the tone happening with the Bass itself, don't mess with the EQ too much on the way in, or you may find you've painted yourself into a corner.

That said, come mix time I usually need to cut some low mids (anywhere from 100-500Hz) to give some space back to the drums. For compression, stick to slowish attack times, or you might find that it'll pump on low frequencies as it tracks the wave.

Oh, and don't foget to try the polarity switch...bass is one of those instruments where it sounds different in one polarity versus the other.

If you don't have a mic'd cab to blend in, you might want to take your DI track, mult it, then treat the highs and lows seperately. If you have a crossover, use it, if not, just set up some complementary EQ's (ie low pass on one signal, high pass on the other), then feed those two signals into their respective processing (you might want to compress the high frequencies with faster settings to get control over fret slapping, pick noise, etc, while ).

Have fun

Kris
Old 28th June 2005
  #11
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Lucey,

He was asking how to get a better sound with the equipment he has, not how you get a good bass sound. B15s are nice for a vintage sounding bass tone but thats about it IMO - definitely not SVT or Matamp territory in terms of low end grith.

For DI bass tracking, which is what he asked about, if you cant get a solid sound WITHOUT COMPRESSION OR EQ, you should take another look at your source and recording chain.

I can get an amazingly huge DI sound just cranking the low end EQ on my jazz bass and plugging it into my DI (Radial JDV) into the Line in on my 473 and into the DAW.

50 hz is a good place give a subtle boost, I prefer a warm, gradually rolled off top end, but again, I use very little EQ when mixing because IT SOUNDS GOOD GOING IN.

The bass itself, set up, playing technique, using the built in EQ etc... is VERY crucial in getting a good tone!!!

For compression, you only want a few db on the loudest notes, fast attack, medium release.

Old 28th June 2005
  #12
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lucey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdog
Lucey,

He was asking how to get a better sound with the equipment he has, not how you get a good bass sound.
of course youre right

it's just so impossible to give such advise i skipped right on to my own excitment with a recent session.

Quote:
B15s are nice for a vintage sounding bass tone but thats about it IMO - definitely not SVT or Matamp territory in terms of low end grith.
actually B15 the reissue, with good tubes and a D4/API 512b (not c) is HUGE on the low end... especially to 2" at 15 ips with the built in 30hz +2db bump!


an API DI is also very fat, but then you end up cutting alot more in the low mids
Old 29th June 2005
  #13
Gear Nut
I believe the hi-z input on the API's bypasses the input transformer. I have always preferred to use a Countryman DI then send it to the mic input of the API. To my ears it imparts a certain thickness on bass that I prefer over going directly into the hi-z input.
Old 29th June 2005
  #14
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hi guys,
thanks for all the excellent responses. i have read them carefully several times.
the strings on the bass are about 2 months old. i was going to change them a few days ago , but a guitar teacher i know told me most bassists don't like to use newer strings on their bass. any thoughts on newer or older strings?
it's a no brainer on guitar, but what about bass?
thanks again,
regards,
bill
Old 29th June 2005
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuckj
I have always preferred to use a Countryman DI then send it to the mic input of the API. To my ears it imparts a certain thickness on bass that I prefer over going directly into the hi-z input.
Yes, and keeps the quality control in check!!
Old 29th June 2005
  #16
Dot
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Kill the active pick-ups or [ I agree ] use a DI like the Countryman Type 85 and go through the preamp.

Two month old bass strings? Leave 'em on.
Old 29th June 2005
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dot
Kill the active pick-ups or [ I agree ] use a DI like the Countryman Type 85 and go through the preamp.

Two month old bass strings? Leave 'em on.

I was kind of anti-active pickups for years. I might not have actives in my only, or in every instrument, but I do like 'em now.
Old 29th June 2005
  #18
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max cooper's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chuckj
I believe the hi-z input on the API's bypasses the input transformer. I have always preferred to use a Countryman DI then send it to the mic input of the API. To my ears it imparts a certain thickness on bass that I prefer over going directly into the hi-z input.

I should have mentioned this re: the BSS 133 D.I. I meant that it should go in the mic input.
Old 29th June 2005
  #19
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I just got the REDDI in today. At first when I plugged it in, I thought it sounded good but I didn't think holy sh*t until I compared it to some other DI's around. It sounds really good on both ends of the spectrum. I didn't think there could be that drastic of a difference between DI's. I remember when I picked up the Avalon U5 I was left scratching my head and wondering why I spent so much money on a DI. I went REDDI > Neve 1066 > LA3A and what shocked me was how little eq I was using. I usually drastially shape DI's to try to them sound like something. I think I only ended up nudging one band a few dB and I was happy.
Old 30th June 2005
  #20
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Amplove's Avatar
 

Strings all depend on your style. Our bassist absolutely will NOT change his strings unless they break. He's had the same strings on one of his basses for a few years now (flatwounds). But he's going for that real soft warm fat tone ala McCartney/James Jameson.

If you wanna do the metal thing or slap-pop style, you'll definately want new strings. New ones will give you back the highs and presence.

Don't change strings because of age, change them when they don't sound like you want them to.

j.
Old 30th June 2005
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbuntz
I went REDDI > Neve 1066 > LA3A and what shocked me was how little eq I was using. I usually drastially shape DI's to try to them sound like something.
Of course, with that chain even a fart sounds gorgeous. By the way do you sell them?


...anyways, I was reading the DIs thread and ended up so confused. Difficult to decide between REDDI, Tab 71, or forget it and get a BSS 133. I’m inclined for Tab but would be nice to try them out.

Insomnio
Old 30th June 2005
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by insomnio
Of course, with that chain even a fart sounds gorgeous. By the way do you sell them?


...anyways, I was reading the DIs thread and ended up so confused. Difficult to decide between REDDI, Tab 71, or forget it and get a BSS 133. I’m inclined for Tab but would be nice to try them out.

Insomnio
Nope. Never sold a REDDI. Regardless, i've tried a lot of passive and active DI's and the difference seemed not so impressive until I tried the REDDI. I'll have to report back when I have more experience with it. The Avalon didn't seem like the $500 DI that it should. It seemed kinda like a countryman active with eq presets and shiny faceplate. I tried the Vintech X73i DI and it sounded like a joke by comparrison on bass. I still dig it as a mic pre and eq though. The true test is how it sits in the mix. The first impression was good though.
Old 30th June 2005
  #23
Old 30th June 2005
  #24
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thanks again guys,
i am still thinking about changing the strings. it is for tech popish music with bass which should be distinct, not fuzzy and warm. i pop a little and use vibrato. who would decide to change the strings if they were engineering or producing such a session?
regards,
bill
p.s. i have a whirlwind imp-2 direct box . should i use it so i can plug into the api mic input or would this be worse? again, the bass is a washburn rb 2002 with active pickups.
Old 1st July 2005
  #25
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does anyone have experience with both the BSS 133 and the countryman?
regards,
bill
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