You are here

Make recordings clean

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Make recordings clean

Postby aviorrok » Sun Jan 05, 2020 10:06 pm

Hi,
Recently I feel my records not clean enough in relation to other studios, I visited 2-3 music studios with high end gear (NEVE PREAMPS, Apollo/RME interfaces, U87 &47 mics, analog compressor and more) and the vocals and guitars sources was super clean that in the mix you only need to change the balance.

How can I make my sources better and clean without “spending a lot of money”

My gear is:
Mics: SM7B, MXL 770X, SM57,SM81
Interface: UR242
Preamp: WA273
AC guitar: Takamine GN-20
Electric guitar- Epiphone SG400
aviorrok
Regular
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:13 am

Re: Make recordings clean

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Jan 05, 2020 10:09 pm

It's not really about the gear. It's about the quality of the performance and the acoustics of the recording environment.

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 27005
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: Make recordings clean

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jan 05, 2020 10:31 pm

To me 'clean' means absence of distortion and of background noise. Any half decent audio interface and mic can do 'clean' if set up correctly in a quiet, acoustically well treated, recording space*. The 'boutique' preamps and expensive vintage mics top studios have are often used because they can introduce a colouration to the sound, whether it be a little pleasing distortion (preamps) or a certain eq curve (mics). That's not to say your kit can replicate what the top studio kit does but it's probably capable of producing very clean recordings.

* As Hugh says above
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 12174
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Make recordings clean

Postby James Perrett » Sun Jan 05, 2020 10:54 pm

I'd agree that it isn't about the gear but there are a couple of other differences not mentioned. In a professional studio the performer just has to worry about their performance and not worry about the recording while the engineer can sort out the sound without worrying about playing. If there are separate recording and control rooms the engineer can immediately hear any issues and make any necessary corrections. A studio is also likely to have more space and better room treatment.
User avatar
James Perrett
Moderator
Posts: 9195
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2001 12:00 am
Location: The wilds of Hampshire
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration. JRP Music Facebook Page

Re: Make recordings clean

Postby aviorrok » Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:03 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:It's not really about the gear. It's about the quality of the performance and the acoustics of the recording environment.

H
Also for me, but you can’t say that the high end mic is equal to simple mic in 200$ the 3000$ have a fuller sound compare to the cheaper and analog EQ is voltage change and not only db louder like plugins.
I want to hear a hit song that record with high end and more version with home gear and compare the song it’s very interesting me.
aviorrok
Regular
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:13 am

Re: Make recordings clean

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:05 pm

Quite a few hit song vocals have been recorded with an SM58.......
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 12174
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Make recordings clean

Postby aviorrok » Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:09 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:Quite a few hit song vocals have been recorded with an SM58.......
SM58 connected to NEVE 1073 and LA-2A :)
Can you share a hit song that recorded with SM58?
aviorrok
Regular
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:13 am

Re: Make recordings clean

Postby Tim Gillett » Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:11 pm

aviorrok wrote:Hi,
Recently I feel my records not clean enough in relation to other studios, I visited 2-3 music studios with high end gear (NEVE PREAMPS, Apollo/RME interfaces, U87 &47 mics, analog compressor and more) and the vocals and guitars sources was super clean that in the mix you only need to change the balance...

It may depend on what you mean by "super clean"? Can you link to a commercial track with the super clean sound you are seeking? Can you give an example of your own recordings which you consider not super clean?

Often it's not just the gear but also how it's used. For example, often in amateur recordings, the basic tools of EQ and compression are poorly used, or not used at all.

Tim
Tim Gillett
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2055
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:00 am
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Re: Make recordings clean

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:13 pm

The point is that it's not about the gear, after the performance, the room is the most important element (the closer you mic the less impact the room has but it's always there). Give this a read https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/pick-preamp
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 12174
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Make recordings clean

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:20 pm

aviorrok wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:Quite a few hit song vocals have been recorded with an SM58.......
SM58 connected to NEVE 1073 and LA-2A :)
Can you share a hit song that recorded with SM58?

I think Bono of U2 regularly recorded with an SM58 - which perhaps indicates he was recording in a very good acoustic space.... ;)

What has been said is true - a good engineer working in an acoustically treated room with excellent monitoring - so they can really hear what's happening - doesn't necessarily need esoteric gear to make an excellent (and clean) recording. They may choose a particular piece of gear for subtle colouration, but off-the-shelf interfaces generally have good-enough preamps to deliver a clean recording.

So is the space you record in acoustically treated to a professional standard?

If not, and this would apply to anyone, I would highly recommend that as a priority.

If I was setting up a studio from scratch, I'd expect to spend as much on acoustic treatment as I would on my interface/computer set-up - or my collection of microphones - which is not to say I may then expand my mic collection or start to invest in esoteric gear - though in truth, I find top-tier plug-ins mean I don't need to spend funds on external preamps/EQ etc.....

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4070
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
http://www.bickerton.co.nz

Re: Make recordings clean

Postby aviorrok » Mon Jan 06, 2020 12:09 am

Tim Gillett wrote:
aviorrok wrote:Hi,
Recently I feel my records not clean enough in relation to other studios, I visited 2-3 music studios with high end gear (NEVE PREAMPS, Apollo/RME interfaces, U87 &47 mics, analog compressor and more) and the vocals and guitars sources was super clean that in the mix you only need to change the balance...

It may depend on what you mean by "super clean"? Can you link to a commercial track with the super clean sound you are seeking? Can you give an example of your own recordings which you consider not super clean?

Often it's not just the gear but also how it's used. For example, often in amateur recordings, the basic tools of EQ and compression are poorly used, or not used at all.

Tim

Yeah here’s a clean:

https://youtu.be/Y30pfWIQfoo

And here is my:
I know the mix is not good enough

https://youtu.be/J5o-izwzFrw

Bob Bickerton wrote:
aviorrok wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:Quite a few hit song vocals have been recorded with an SM58.......
SM58 connected to NEVE 1073 and LA-2A :)
Can you share a hit song that recorded with SM58?

I think Bono of U2 regularly recorded with an SM58 - which perhaps indicates he was recording in a very good acoustic space.... ;)

What has been said is true - a good engineer working in an acoustically treated room with excellent monitoring - so they can really hear what's happening - doesn't necessarily need esoteric gear to make an excellent (and clean) recording. They may choose a particular piece of gear for subtle colouration, but off-the-shelf interfaces generally have good-enough preamps to deliver a clean recording.

So is the space you record in acoustically treated to a professional standard?

If not, and this would apply to anyone, I would highly recommend that as a priority.

If I was setting up a studio from scratch, I'd expect to spend as much on acoustic treatment as I would on my interface/computer set-up - or my collection of microphones - which is not to say I may then expand my mic collection or start to invest in esoteric gear - though in truth, I find top-tier plug-ins mean I don't need to spend funds on external preamps/EQ etc.....

Bob


Yeah my room is acoustically treated by one of the best Omer Karni
aviorrok
Regular
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:13 am

Re: Make recordings clean

Postby CS70 » Mon Jan 06, 2020 12:43 am

aviorrok wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:It's not really about the gear. It's about the quality of the performance and the acoustics of the recording environment.

H
Also for me, but you can’t say that the high end mic is equal to simple mic in 200$ the 3000$ have a fuller sound compare to the cheaper and analog EQ is voltage change and not only db louder like plugins.
I want to hear a hit song that record with high end and more version with home gear and compare the song it’s very interesting me.

Hm, it's not so simple. More expensive kit is not necessarily about performance, but for example consistency of manufacturing, hand-made vs. machine production, location of manufacturing and local wages. A $200 mic can sound damn good capturing a single vocalist giving a great performance in the right space (and as other said, it's happened a gazillion times for multi-platinum records). The $3000 mic will likely have more features and sure, sometimes better performance characteristics (off-axis response, for example) but none of these may be needed at all that kind of relatively simple recording that an isolated vocal take is.

As for what you say about EQs, let's not go there at all ;-)

For the two tracks, don't think is nothing to do with noise or "clean" (hard to say with the vox balance so completely different), but simply that the song arrangements are very different, with the first one geared much more towards making the vox stand out, in modern fashion, and the mixing is obviously quite different as well.

My suggestion for your mix would be simple: cut stuff. Sounds, frequencies, instruments - cut away as much as you can. The first song is a little drums and a guitar, all mixed so that you can bring the vox loud and clear in front (way too much for me, but hey, it ain't my mix). Even in the busy part, there's space around the vox (even if when it gets busy, it's not like crazy "clean"). The vox is a little distorted which is a standard trick to get it even more in your face. Finally, raised the vox and use a hi shelf to bring the highs higher up - so that they are perceived as nearer.

Only then, if you get too much harshness and it becomes unpleasant. you may think about changes: mic position in the room, position of the vocalist, and of course - if necessary - match the mic with the vocalist. But the best mic is not necessary gonna be a uber-expensive one.
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5277
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Make recordings clean

Postby DC-Choppah » Mon Jan 06, 2020 2:00 am

aviorrok wrote:
Yeah here’s a clean:

https://youtu.be/Y30pfWIQfoo

And here is my:
I know the mix is not good enough

https://youtu.be/J5o-izwzFrw

I just hear a different arrangement and mix. There are spots in the 'clean' one with complete silence. I also hear how everything lines up on beat and crisply decays on beat too.

Your mix has reverb tails, less upfront vocals, and more going on arrangement-wise behind the vocal, sloppier entries and exits of sounds. Not in a bad way, just that you are comparing to something that has been aligned and edited to have everything locked onto boundaries.

You should tighten up your arrangement and make all the sounds come and go on the beat if that is what you are after. Sounds artificial to me, but that may be what you are after.
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1398
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Make recordings clean

Postby Tim Gillett » Mon Jan 06, 2020 2:09 am

aviorrok wrote:Yeah here’s a clean:

https://youtu.be/Y30pfWIQfoo

And here is my:
I know the mix is not good enough

https://youtu.be/J5o-izwzFrw


Thanks for the tracks. Just listening to the two vocals, the first has very little reverb/echo. The second has more reverb/echo and sounds more far away to me. Of course you may have wanted it to sound like that but I would probably reduce that vocal reverb/echo or change its character to give a more intimate voice. Perhaps the key to a cleaner sound here is less effects? Let the performance speak. Just my opinion.
Tim Gillett
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2055
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:00 am
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Re: Make recordings clean

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Jan 06, 2020 2:26 am

Listening to the two samples - I see what you mean.

There are elements of your mix that are clean but the vocals, apart from being down in the mix, certainly have a problem.

A few thoughts:

I have found that it is important to match the microphone to the vocals. That's not saying it has to be an expensive microphone by the way. Yes, you can throw up a U87 and you're likely to have a workable solution, but it may not be the best mic for that particular vocalist.

When I mix I'm working in 3 dimensions (high/low - left right - forward/back) all with an aim of creating balance and space around the individual elements, but with particular emphasis on lead vocals and any solos. The busier the mix the more challenging it is to isolate the elements.

Also, it's important to be able to 'refresh' our perspective of what we're listening to as it's so easy to very quickly get used to a sound/mix. It's very hard sometimes to be objective when mixing. Maybe there's an element of this in your mix. I know you said it was a quick mix, but I suspect there are elements of it which you are enjoying more than others.

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4070
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
http://www.bickerton.co.nz

Next