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M-Audio Projectmix I/o upgrade?

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M-Audio Projectmix I/o upgrade?

Postby countniente » Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:59 pm

Hi there, this is my first post on the forum but I'm a long term reader of SOS and have gleaned a lot of info from this forum over the years:)

I hope somebody can help me out with this - I have an M-Audio Projectmix which is about 10 years old now. I'm looking to record acoustic guitar in a home studio situation and recently I'm not satisfied with the quality of my recordings. I'm just wondering if I would benefit from better preamps etc or would the preamps in the Projectmix still stand up to preamps in modern mid range interfaces? I understand that mics and room reflections etc will influence the outcome but am I missing out by having such an old interface?

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks
Ger
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Re: M-Audio Projectmix I/o upgrade?

Postby siderealxxx » Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:33 am

Maybe you should clarify what mics you're using. The preamp/mic combination varies hugely.
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Re: M-Audio Projectmix I/o upgrade?

Postby countniente » Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:26 pm

Thanks for the reply, I'm using an AKG Perception mic as my main guitar recording mic and occasionally I use a Karma LDC to back it up. I realise I could improve my mics as well but I was reluctant to go down that road if I still had the issue of good mics going into poor preamps. Do you think I might see a noticeable benefit in using better mics?

Thanks again
Ger
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Re: M-Audio Projectmix I/o upgrade?

Postby siderealxxx » Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:32 pm

I think without clarifying what the problem is with the recordings it's very difficult to tell.

How do they sound to you? Which perception mic do you have? How are you miking the guitar? What's the room? How are you mixing it? Maybe post an example.

All these factors come into play. It's unlikely to be just the preamps on the projectmix (which shouldn't be too bad).
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Re: M-Audio Projectmix I/o upgrade?

Postby Matt Houghton » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:39 pm

There are better interfaces but tbh I doubt it's the weakest link in the chain.

Tell us more about the room, mic placement and what precisely you dislike about your recordings. Are you able to upload an example audio clip?
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Re: M-Audio Projectmix I/o upgrade?

Postby Tazman » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:51 pm

Hello countniente,

The mic pres on the ProjectMix I/O are, in my opinion, pretty damn good. They're not Neves or Manleys, and I really wish that they had a built-in pad for when I'm recording drums, but really I think that they do hold up very well in comparison to modern interfaces. They're not perfect, but they're pretty good.

Usually when someone is having problems with the quality of the sounds they're recording, it can be traced to, in order of importance 1) the room that they are recording in and 2) the quality of their mics. And although I hate to say it I guess 3) the instruments and musicians. Only after those three things are sorted should you start to look hard at mic preamps, mixing, etc.

So my advice for you is to first start thinking about your room. Is it boomy? Perhaps some nice bass traps in the corners will help. Muddy-midrangey? You're probably damping down the natural room reverberation too much with things like carpet, which is an acoustically poor way to do that. Try some diffusers. If you have any friends or acquaintances who know how acoustics work, try asking them for help.

Then look at your microphones. Not all good microphones are expensive. Listen hard to how each microphone sounds when it's recording a sound source. Compare and contrast the results from the mics you have, and borrow other people's mics to see how different choices in microphones change the results drastically. Use different types of mics--dynamics, condensors, ribbons if you can, and figure out what you like in each context.

In some ways, it's far more important to have a lot of choices in your microphone cabinet than it is to have all the snobby high-end microphones. Collect mics, there is almost always some context where some mic that you wouldn't expect gives the best results in some context.

And when your room is sounding great, and your microphone cabinet is full, then you can think about upgrading your mic preamps.

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Re: M-Audio Projectmix I/o upgrade?

Postby countniente » Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:26 pm

Thanks for the replies guys, I appreciate you taking the time. My room is 10ft x 18 ft, mic is placed about 12 inches from 12th fret. The room isn't treated which I realise is an issue from the outset (based on Tazman's reply this may be the fundamental flaw). I'm more used to dealing with midi so there's every chance that my playing technique is also a contributing factor. Mic is an AKG Perception 170. I typically EQ my guitar recordings using Fabfilter Pro Q to reduce rumble and some mids and occasionally to reduce some harsher highs (depending on the piece).

My difficulty is that the end result always sounds amateurish (to my ears at least), and the guitar never sounds as rounded as it does in the room. I realise this stuff is very subjective so I'll try to upload an example over the next couple of days. In a way, im glad that you feel that the preamps aren't to blame because I like the Projectmix and the thought of restructuring the studio was filling me with dread!

Thanks again for your time.
Ger
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Re: M-Audio Projectmix I/o upgrade?

Postby Tazman » Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:08 pm

mic is placed about 12 inches from 12th fret.

That's not a bad place to mic an acoustic guitar, but my favorite is lower, behind the bridge. Here, let me find someone else's diagram...

Image

The spot I'd start with (experiment with placement while someone else is playing and you're listening through headphones) is the one marked "Fullness of the body, vibrations of the strings". It doesn't always get the best sound, but it often does, and it's where I always start with an acoustic. Vary the distance of the mic from the guitar as well to find what sounds best.

I like that spot partly because it brings out a nice rounded woody sound with nice string clarity. It's not boomy like micing the sound hole, and it's not all-sparkle no body like micing the strings.

Mic is an AKG Perception 170.

I have never used that microphone so I can't comment on it directly. But it's a small diaphragm condensor, which is IMO a good first choice for micing acoustic guitar.

I typically EQ my guitar recordings using Fabfilter Pro Q to reduce rumble and some mids and occasionally to reduce some harsher highs (depending on the piece).

The hardest lesson I ever learned about EQ is to only cut, never boost. It's so damn tempting to boost with your EQ, but your audio will sound much much better if you only get rid of unwanted frequencies and don't try to add fake sparkle or boom to something. Boost eq sounds fake, and since you've mentioned it sounding amateurish, that's one possible source of the problem.

But since you're talking about reducing problems (rumble, mids, occasionally harsher highs) it's probably not the eq at fault, it's probably the room.

You say that your room isn't treated. But what is in there? Is it carpeted? What's under the carpet--cement, particle board, hardwood? Or if it's not carpeted, what is the floor? What is the ceiling--plaster, or a drop ceiling, or something else? What are the walls made from? Are there lots of curtains or soft furniture or other absorbers?

"Treatment" isn't magic, it's just things designed to change acoustic properties. And frankly, some people's idea of treatment makes for very bad sounding rooms. The people who carpet their walls? That's "treatment", but it's mistreatment.

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Re: M-Audio Projectmix I/o upgrade?

Postby countniente » Mon Feb 20, 2017 10:17 am

Thanks for the very in-depth reply Tazman. The guitar micing diagram is very helpful so cheers for that. My room is a hard-floored, plastered "cabin" that is separate to the main house, it was built specifically for music making so it has a second, internal stud wall to reduce noise escaping and entering. I have book cases for diffusion purposes (filled with SOS past issues :thumbup: ) and just a small rug near the centre to dampen things down slightly.

I spoke with a friend of mine over the weekend who knows a bit about this stuff, he reckons that the bass might be a bit uncontrolled and boomy so he's going to visit soon and advise. I'll let you know how I get on but in the meantime, thanks for all the info, it has given me a lot to work off.

Cheers
Ger
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