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Recording Bass DI Volume
Old 15th February 2014
  #1
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Recording Bass DI Volume

I have an ibanez sr405 with active pickups. Its an ok bass, pickups are kinda bland and a little quiet.

I have a presonus firepod for an interface.

When i plug my bass DI into the instrument input, the signal i get from the bass is very low, can hardly even see the waves on the audio track. this is with 0 preamp gain. Battery is fresh, strings are older.

What volume should i be aiming for upon recording? Should i just go for it with 0 preamp gain and boost it later? Or should i add preamp gain to get it peaking where my guitars do (-16 to -18dbfs). Or should i blast preamp gain to get it around -3dbfs.

My bass always sounds kinda dull and im not sure how loud to record that DI track.

Im playing a "proggy" metal song in drop c so im looking for a thick rich distorted bass tone underneath. lots of smooth low end. i know that comes with reamping/amp sims/processing but...

How loud should my original DI be?
Old 15th February 2014
  #2
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skyshaver's Avatar
 

You should aim for peaks of -12dbfs and you should change your strings. If you want "brightness" and "attack" new strings are your friend. Also the output of a di is mic level, not instrument or line level, you can plug your bass straight into the instrument level jack without the di. An bass with active pickups should have a fairly high output level.
Old 16th February 2014
  #3
I used to have a Firepod and I remember its builit-in DIs being terrible. Definitely more noticeably bad than its mic-pres. I then picked up FMR RNP, and its DIs sound a whole lot nicer. You may want to look into something like that.

(My bass is an Ibanez with active pickups too BTW!)

Anyway, yeah, when recording a DI bass track with no compression/limiting, you want to have quite a bit of headroom, as it's easy for one loud note to be hugely louder and clip. I'd agree that -12dBFS peaks is a good general area to aim for, both for the Firepod and in general.
Old 16th February 2014
  #4
Also, what are you doing with the tracks? Are you gonna be re-amping them? For that kind of music you should really get a cab with some air moving, if you can.

It's definitely nice having a good DI track to work with, you can blend a re-amped track, a SansAmp'd copy of the DI, and the original DI all together to have a lot of cool tone flexibility! (Maybe even too much? I know my Ibanez has a huge range of tones available.)
Old 16th February 2014
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skyshaver View Post
You should aim for peaks of -12dbfs and you should change your strings. If you want "brightness" and "attack" new strings are your friend. Also the output of a di is mic level, not instrument or line level, you can plug your bass straight into the instrument level jack without the di. An bass with active pickups should have a fairly high output level.
he is right to be aiming for a level nearer -20, on EVERYTHING in the DAW
Old 16th February 2014
  #6
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Aisle 6's Avatar
A good DI is not expensive and will improve your tone, and you should be averaging around -18dBfs.
Old 16th February 2014
  #7
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I use a Radial Active DI on my bandmates bass (Warwick w/active pickups) and it sounds really good. Went straight into my Profire 610's instrument (combo) input and it sounded terrible. Went back to the Radial Active and it was great. Good level & lots of clarity. Then I reamp that signal with a few mics; choose a mic; and life is good. Usually ends up being a different mic for each song.
Old 16th February 2014
  #8
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skyshaver's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wwittman View Post
he is right to be aiming for a level nearer -20, on EVERYTHING in the DAW
You seriously track with peaks at -20 dbfs? Ok, there is no need to yell about it though. It's a computer, it won't explode.
Old 16th February 2014
  #9
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Aisle 6's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by skyshaver View Post
You seriously track with peaks at -20 dbfs? Ok, there is no need to yell about it though. It's a computer, it won't explode.
No it will not explode although it will allow headroom for proper gain structure and it will also, and more importantly allow for interaction with hardware/consoles outside of the box with correct gain structure. Pretty important, particularly for a hybrid or analog user.
Old 16th February 2014
  #10
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skyshaver's Avatar
 

We're talking peak, not average right? So with peaks at -20dbfs your average would be -40 to -25 without compression on most sources? I tend to assume hard peaks at about 10db louder than the average for something like bass or electric guitar so if a hard strike or string pop hits -12dbfs I'm comfortable that the average level will be between -25 and -15. I find this leaves plenty of head room for otb processing and internal compression, eq etc. I'm very aware of the issues surrounding tracking at overly hot levels into a DAW, I thought I was being plenty conservative but apparently not.
Old 16th February 2014
  #11
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IdiotManchild's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SuckaBusta View Post
8My bass always sounds kinda dull and im not sure how loud to record that DI track.

Im playing a "proggy" metal song in drop c so im looking for a thick rich distorted bass tone underneath. lots of smooth low end. i know that comes with reamping/amp sims/processing but...
Good bass tone resides primarily with the player. Amazing bassists sound amazing through a good DI. I prefer ADL or Retrospec, but Radial or Countryman will do in a pinch. Of course I throw up a mic or two also.heh

I am not familiar with your specific bass guitar, or your playing, so can't help you there.
Old 16th February 2014
  #12
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Aisle 6's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by skyshaver View Post
We're talking peak, not average right? So with peaks at -20dbfs your average would be -40 to -25 without compression on most sources? I tend to assume hard peaks at about 10db louder than the average for something like bass or electric guitar so if a hard strike or string pop hits -12dbfs I'm comfortable that the average level will be between -25 and -15. I find this leaves plenty of head room for otb processing and internal compression, eq etc. I'm very aware of the issues surrounding tracking at overly hot levels into a DAW, I thought I was being plenty conservative but apparently not.
Oh yes you are correct. He did say peaks. I was talking average level. Nice pick up.
Old 16th February 2014
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wwittman View Post
he is right to be aiming for a level nearer -20, on EVERYTHING in the DAW
I concur with this advice. That is what I do on each track (not just bass) so there is room for the track (and overall mix) to breathe with eq and compression added later.
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