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Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby Storm08 » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:47 am

Hi all,

First of all, hello! First post on here :P

I am a drummer in a metal band and we are trying to record a 4 track EP to get ourselves out there. We need to record drums, bass, rhythm guitar, lead guitar and vocals.

The equipment I have is:

- Pro tools 8 LE
- Guitar Rig 5
- Digidesign Mbox
- Peavey PV14 Mixer
- Couple of SM58's
- Samson 8Kit Drum Mics (includes 2x C01 large diaphragm mics)
- Marshall JCM2000 TSL100 Head
- Bugera 6262 120W Head
- 2x 200W Amp Cabs

We have a practice room that isnt really sound proofed. all we have are a couple of wooden boards with acoustic foam on them (they're about 2m x 1m in size. I'm hoping to get some curtains to hang somewhere to help with acoustics.

What would be the best way to record with the things I have?? I have a bit of experience with recordings, as in, i have been teaching myself how to use pro tools and we have recorded guitars by going directly into the interface, but nothing really properly done.

Any other information you need, then ask me! :)

Thanks very much,
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby Storm08 » Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:56 pm

Btw, If there's another post that explains something like this then I apologise! please point me to it if there is! :tongue:
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby The Korff » Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:07 pm

What kind of Mbox is it? Mbox 2, Mbox Pro, etc? That's looking like the limiting factor from a recording point of view, ideally you'd have 8 or more separate mic inputs for recording channels separately.

Cheers!

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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby Storm08 » Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:22 pm

Hi Chris,

Cheers for the reply.

I'm pretty sure it's just an mbox, old one but still works fine, it's this one: http://cachepe.samedaymusic.com/media/quality,85/brand,samed...

I could still record multiple inputs by using the mixers stereo outputs and putting that into the mbox though couldn't I?
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby BJG145 » Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:28 pm

Storm08 wrote:I could still record multiple inputs by using the mixers stereo outputs and putting that into the mbox though couldn't I?

Recording drums in stereo won't get you far. To make a half-decent mix you need to get the mics on separate tracks via a multi-channel audio interface.

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb03/a ... miking.asp
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby The Elf » Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:36 pm

A common mistake beginners make is believing that a mixer is helpful, or even a necessity. Get the mixer out of the chain and use an audio interface with as many appropriate inputs as you need (hopefully your existing one meets this requirement already). Your life will be much easier as a result.

For drums this means a bare minimum of 4 mic inputs and preferably more.
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby Storm08 » Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:41 pm

In that case, shall I sell the mixer and then get an interface with 8-12 inputs??

Or shall i keep the mixer??
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby The Elf » Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:53 pm

Yes, that would be my advice - sell the mixer. Others may differ, of course... ;)
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby BJG145 » Tue Jan 08, 2013 4:09 pm

They're useful for live work, obviously. For recording my preference these days would be an integrated mixer/interface like the Presonus Studiolive range, but the good ones ain't cheap. Trying to use budget mixers in a home recording setup isn't worth the hassle.
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby Storm08 » Tue Jan 08, 2013 4:19 pm

Cheers guys! :) Ill have a look at selling it then :)

Could you point me in the right direction for a decent interface then?? I need to hook up 11/12 mis but havent got that much money atm. will have to try and sell the mixer and save up.

anyway, so say i had a new interface ready and waiting. what would be the best way to go about recording an EP? I just need and idea of where to start, eg:

- How to set up a room for recording
- what order to record each instrument in
- and any useful/basic tips you might have ;)

Sorry im asking a lot!
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby The Elf » Tue Jan 08, 2013 4:30 pm

TBH, judged by the level of questions you are asking, I would say that you and your band would be better served going into a studio with a decent producer/engineer.

If this were 'for fun', or because you aspire to becoming a recording engineer, then my answer might be different, but if you and your band want to 'get out there' with any credibility I think your time would be better spent honing your act, and your money would be better spent on getting the best recording you can achieve at this time - not acquiring (budget) recording gear and learning how to use it.

Don't be fooled into thinking that having the gear will automatically give you the results - it simply won't, I'm afraid.

I realise this may not be the answer you want, but you can lose thousands of pounds and years of your life once you get into recording.
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby Mike Stranks » Tue Jan 08, 2013 4:36 pm

Storm08: The Elf is a very well-respected member of this forum and his advice is spot-on. As he says, probably not what you'd want to hear, but he knows his stuff - big-time. In fact, if you're not a ridiculous distance from Sheffield it would be worth your while sending him a PM to see if he'd be interested in working with you on this.
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby Storm08 » Tue Jan 08, 2013 4:40 pm

I would like to learn how to produce music as well tbh. I know this isnt the best way to do it but it would be valuable experience in the long run.

I'm under no illusion that the right gear will make it sound instantly awesome. producing music takes time and experience, along with experimenting. I'm quite level-headed, just interested in recording and producing.

We may end up going to a studio if this doesn't produce results in time.
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby Pete Kaine » Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:08 pm

The Elf wrote:
I realise this may not be the answer you want, but you can lose thousands of pounds and years of your life once you get into recording.


I think you should set that as your sig ;)

To add something constructive to the thread (who? me? never!) if you really want to hook up 12 mic's then your probably looking at something like a pair of MOTU 8pre's for around £400 each to do the job. Depending up on how long you have to get this together and produce something of note to a standard your happy with however, I'd probably say follow the Elf and go in with someone first and take notes on how they work. A few sessions with someone who understands what they are doing and can answer questions that should be able to point you in the direction of working that suits you best and dare I say may acturly save you money in the long run.
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby James Perrett » Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:14 pm

If you really want to play around with recording then maybe something like the Zoom R16 might be useful. It is an 8 input, 16 track stand alone recorder or an audio interface to your computer - depending on how you want to work. One idea would be to use it stand-alone in the practice room to record or in interfaces mode with a computer to overdub and mix.

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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby ken long » Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:18 pm

The Elf wrote:you can lose thousands of pounds and years of your life once you get into recording.

years I'll never get back... :)
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby Scramble » Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:35 pm

Seeing as how unsure you are (which is completely fair enough) I would start by going into a small local studio. Small local studios are remarkably cheap these days. This will also give you an idea of how recording works.

If you want to get into recording yourself, then you're looking at a long haul, and a lot of money. So that aim is a very different one than the desire to get a decent recording down soon and getting out there. Both are the laudable aims, unfortunately they can't both be killed with the one stone.

You're going to have to spend a lot of money anyway learning how to record and getting suitable gear, so thinking of it that way, a few hundred spent on going into a studio at this stage is no different than spending a few hundred buying some piece of gear. In fact, it may save you money in the long run as it will help you get a better idea of what you need to buy, otherwise it's very easy to waste money on buying the wrong gear.
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby Stef Andrews » Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:50 pm

I'd agree with pretty much everything said above! Where are you? I'm sure there are probably a few people on here with studios that are local (ish) to you!
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby The Elf » Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:50 pm

Storm08 wrote:I would like to learn how to produce music as well tbh. I know this isnt the best way to do it but it would be valuable experience in the long run.

I know it would seem that way, but you honestly, really don't know what you're getting into! If you want to get good experience of recording then go watch (and learn from) someone who knows how to do it - don't muddle through and hope that Youtube and Internet fora (take a look at how many postings around here are about 'Why don't my recordings sound any good?') will get you through. It takes many years to record and mix (let alone 'produce') bands competently - by then you could be on your third album and headlining festivals!

If you are a band then be a band, and be the best you can be - don't join the ranks of mediocrity that are self-recorded bands arriving every day.

Storm08 wrote:We may end up going to a studio if this doesn't produce results in time.

And by that time you could have lost the band's enthusiasm and impetus.

If I were given my own advice when I started I would have ignored it too, so I don't blame you for wanting to give it a go - I understand perfectly. But you have the chance to take the better decision - it's up to you! :D
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby BJG145 » Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:57 pm

Getting a credible drum sound for metal is difficult even with the right equipment. You're presumably planning to track things individually, and you're not set up for recording drums, so I reckon you should do those at a local studio for a start.

You might then have a go at recording the guitars and vocals yourself if you're set on the idea, and go back to the studio for another take if you're not happy with the results.

Scramble wrote:If you want to get into recording yourself, then you're looking at a long haul, and a lot of money. So that aim is a very different one than the desire to get a decent recording down soon and getting out there. Both are the laudable aims, unfortunately they can't both be killed with the one stone.


Scramble has a point though, so you need to consider what's best for the band as a whole.
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby Storm08 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:55 am

Hey guys, back again! :tongue:

Thank you very much for all the replies. I have had a bit of a think and come up with a solution that saves money, time and partial insanity! :tongue:

The time leading up to the studio (March sometime), I'll have a go/mess around with recording things with what we have. this should get us practised enough for the studio, particularly if I'm recording to a metronome.

This way we can just have band practice as normal, but i can (if wanted) record whatever we want in the process.

I spent a good amount of time (6pm - 12am) setting up the band room by putting the pc, interface and the rest in there, plus getting some carpet tiles and laying them under the drum kit. Got a couple of rugs and just gotta get some curtains now.

Im based in Aylesbury, we have a local studio called 'Runway Studios', brilliant place, get some decent sounds coming out of there.

Ill have to have a look at Zoom's stuff cause it seems like an easier solution than most for things like this.

We have recorded guitars now for a good 6 months, and they've started to sound okay. Drums dont sound too bad either, considering i dont have much experience that is.

I know, every track is different, and there are never going to be 'presets' as it were. But is there a good way to get a tight sounding kick? eg. like in "Scream" - Avenged Sevenfold

Im, not gonna start asking how i can make it sound like that song btw :P

Also, are there any useful, free plugins for pro tools?

I really appreciate all of the feedback and help from everyone! Thank you very much!

P.S- well that was a long message :tongue:
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby Richard Graham » Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:15 pm

The R16 is a great idea. I use one to record my band rehearsals. We play Black Sabbath songs, so a little distant from metal as we know it today but not on a completely different planet.

Keeping it hardware only while recording is far better then using a PC to do the job, at least in a rehearsal room environment.

My method is five mics on drums: cardioids on kick, snare, and middle tom, and omnis on kit left and kit right, above the left and right toms but also picking up the cymbals and hi-hat. DI the bass. Cardioid on guitar cab. Direct feed from PA line out for vocal.

I record to the R16 and use a PC to mix in Reaper.

If I were you I would experiment with triggering some drum samples off the kick and snare mics, for a more modern sound. You can do with quite easily with Reaper (use ReaGate to send a MIDI note on when opening).

If you can devote all eight inputs to the drum kit (and then overdub guitars and vocals), you could try triggering from the toms too.
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby BJG145 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:19 pm

Storm08 wrote:But is there a good way to get a tight sounding kick? eg. like in "Scream" - Avenged Sevenfold
Not if you're recording the whole kit in stereo there isn't.
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby Richie Royale » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:29 pm

ken long wrote:
The Elf wrote:you can lose thousands of pounds and years of your life once you get into recording.

years I'll never get back... :)

I don't want them back, it is the time I spend earning money in an office job I would like back. :madas:
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby Storm08 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:43 pm

I'll have a go at getting the best sound I can out of the kick then.

I tested out recording drums just now at lunch. sounds better than I though it would tbh (not blowing my own trumpet! :P). I know mixing will be a pain seeing as I only have it going to L/R mono tracks, but I can still try! :)

I just need to work on positioning the mics, tune my drums up a bit, pan each drum as best i can, and then see what i can get.

I know this seems like more work than it's worth, but i need to save money for the studio.
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby BJG145 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:06 pm

Not sure whether you're familiar with the idea of drum layering and replacement...

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/mar11/a ... -drums.htm
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov12/a ... rclass.htm

...but it features heavily in commercial tracks these days. One of the other benefits of recording drums on separate channels, quite apart from the ability to shape and blend the individual sounds, is the ability to trigger samples, which is impossible with a full mix. Just mentioning this in case you might be able to rig up a separate recording for the kick somehow for experimental purposes.
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby shufflebeat » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:17 pm

What you learn now may or may not be useful in the studio, if the engineer knows his/her stuff and room then they may have definite ideas about the process based on good and bad experience.

If I were in your position I would be asking "what can I do to make our recording experience successful?" rather than possibly getting sidetracked doing involved recordings that might not be useful. Simple stereo recordings of the whole band and a few beers and pen and paper with your engineer might be a good idea.
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby James Perrett » Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:25 pm

shufflebeat wrote:What you learn now may or may not be useful in the studio, if the engineer knows his/her stuff and room then they may have definite ideas about the process based on good and bad experience.

But a good engineer will be open to suggestions - if you find a sound you like then make a note of how you got it and tell the engineer. I've had people bring their own mics to sessions and sometimes this has prompted me to go and buy some of the same mics myself once I've tried them.

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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby shufflebeat » Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:48 pm

James Perrett wrote:
But a good engineer will be open to suggestions

Absolutely! That's what the pen and paper is for.


if you find a sound you like then make a note of how you got it and tell the engineer. I've had peoplebring their own mics to sessions and sometimes this has prompted me to go and buy some of the same mics myself once I've tried them.

James.

No disagreement. I think the OP is not an experienced home recordist, though. A rifle through his/her CD collection for templates might be more profitable.
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Re: Getting the best out of my equipment

Postby Storm08 » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:59 am

Hello again,

We have tested out the equipment/setup we have atm. although it's not ideal because we cant edit individual inputs, it still can be used for demos/giving an engineer/producer an idea of what we sound like.

I have spoken to the other members of the band and they said getting an interface would be better in the long run because we can record every week if we wanted to, and it's from the comfort of my house. so eventually we'll get an interface but over the next 2 months we'll focus on getting ready for the studio and getting the best out of what we've got.

The engineer at the studio is very good, she's open to suggestions and trying things out.

Yea, we're going to make note of mics and settings that we like the sound of. question is whether they work well together or not. I'm having a listen to different artists to see what i like about each one's sound. (I'm male for future reference :P )

What's a decent interface with the ability to connect 12 mics? I was looking at using ADAT?
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