Author Topic: Studio Recording and Mixing  (Read 708 times)

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Offline phobkirk

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Studio Recording and Mixing
« on: March 06, 2017, 04:33:32 am »
My sons band, there are three of them, got an offer to record an EP worth of songs for free in a proper studio. The studio is at a music college, and the gear is pretty good (I'm told). The studio has booths etc... and the boys went in for their first day to record "demo" tracks, it was originally supposed to be 4, but they got through 7.

I think this project is expected to take a few months at least, the sound engineers are doing it as part of their course.

The result was pleasing, and definitely better than any other recordings we have of the band.

The result is here:

https://soundcloud.com/black-iguana/sets/black-iguana-demo

The sound is very clear and clean compared to how they sound live, with the vocals in particular much clearer than live. When my son asked about this he was told that "it was just the equipment".

My question is this... are the muddying and distortion and reverb effects of a live show something that can and is usually layered onto the tracks/instruments after they have first been recorded "clean", or should the band be looking to add more distortion/reverb etc... to the guitar in particular before it is recorded.

My son used the studio guitar amp for these demo tracks, I'm wondering if next time they should make the effort to take in his amp?

Also the bass guitar was recorded direct, without going through a bass amp, when I asked my son about this he said there wasn't a bass amp, and that is how bass gets recorded anyway - is this true?

Thanks for any input from those of you with experience in this area... exciting times!

Offline Johan217

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Re: Studio Recording and Mixing
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2017, 09:27:39 am »
My understanding is that you want the input signal to be as clean as possible. Effects (especially the ones you'd normally run through the effects floop when playing live) are added during processing. The more that is added to the input signal, the higher the risk that you will have to work against it: e.g. it is easier to add reverb while mixing than having to remove it.

Bringing your own amp to the studio is something to discuss with the engineer. Chances are their equipment is higher end than yours...
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Offline Majik

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Re: Studio Recording and Mixing
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2017, 10:12:32 am »
There are two approaches:
1. Record everything clean and apply processing within the DAW to get distortion, etc.
2. Try to get the sound you want using traditional amps/pedals and then record that, applying minimal tweaking in the DAW afterwards.

Both are valid approaches.

The view from proponents of the latter approach (which seems to include a lot of experienced professional mixers and producers) is that you shouldn't be recording until you know what sort of sound you are aiming for. Crafting that tone up front will reduce the number of decisions down the line. Also, playing an un-effected instrument will often not give the same performance nuances as playing it with, e.g. distortion.

The other thing to bear in mind is that studios are not just recording the instrument, but also the room. This is especially the case with drums. This can be applied post-production with reverb plugins, but it's not quite the same.

A lot of the view here is that you shouldn't be trying to "fix it in the mix", you should be aiming to get as close as possible to the final result in the recording. If you are having to "work against" the sound you recorded, then you messed up the recording in the first place. It then allows the mixing process to be more focused as a lot of the decisions have already been made.

Of course, that approach assumes you have a studio facility and equipment that allows you to take such an approach. Many recording projects don't have this luxury.

The book Zen and the art of Mixing is worth reading if you are interested in this sort of thing (and don't mind the bad language).

Cheers,

Keith

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Offline Cue Zephyr

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Re: Studio Recording and Mixing
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2017, 02:25:45 pm »
From what Keith stated, I do a bit of both. In my latest project I had a clean guitar tone in the amp sim rocking but felt it needed a lift at the end of the track, so decided to add an overdrive pedal in the amp sim. I had another guitar rocking at the same time which was my pedal rig into my amp. That tone didn't really change in the mixing stage.

About live sound, it's a jungle in most situations. If you can get the stage volume as low as possible and use in-ear monitoring, then make sure everything sounds good there. It's up to the front-of-house person to get it to sound good in the room. That's their job.

Stage volume is more difficult to control when you're dealing iwth wedges (monitor speakers) and acoustic drums. Plus you're relying on somebody else to control your monitor mix. I haven't had great experiences with this.

Big acts bring their own personnel for the monitor mix. Their job is to make sure that the artists can hear themselves well and that it sounds good for them. That's absolutely critical. The front-of-house person (whether their own or a third party) takes it from there.
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Production and mixing

Offline TB-AV

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Re: Studio Recording and Mixing
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2017, 03:04:47 pm »


My question is this... are the muddying and distortion and reverb effects of a live show something that can and is usually layered onto the tracks/instruments after they have first been recorded "clean", or should the band be looking to add more distortion/reverb etc... to the guitar in particular before it is recorded.

My son used the studio guitar amp for these demo tracks, I'm wondering if next time they should make the effort to take in his amp?

Also the bass guitar was recorded direct, without going through a bass amp, when I asked my son about this he said there wasn't a bass amp, and that is how bass gets recorded anyway - is this true?

Thanks for any input from those of you with experience in this area... exciting times!

BOLD
1. Why would you want to 'muddy' it up?
2. His amp .. only if it's better than what the studio has or has a specific sound that identifies a song.
3. Yes, that's true. Some will record both the DI ( Direct Insert ) and an Amp Cabinet and blend them. Almost everyone records Bass DI. Some with very nice amps and gear will go all Amp.

The studio is indeed giving you...
1. Better gear, better acoustics, better control over all aspects of the sonic realm.
2. More options to dial in just what is needed, more or less total instruments. IOW, a 4 piece band could play what a 6 piece band could do.
3. An experienced engineer which is like another musician that sort of 'plays the whole band' in a way. S/he basically keeps them all sounding good.
4. But some of that gear they get access to in college is really good and then rooms often have loads of money spent on them.

Just forge the room for a moment which might have been designed by a pro and cost as much as a house, a single channel of nice gear for one guitar might be....

Amp $2K, Mic $2K, PreAmp $2K, Compressor $2K, AD converter.. .we'll just say $250 per channel.

There is other stuff but it's --very very-- easy to have a chain of $10K from the time the signal leave a guitar to the recording track. Most of that gear either sounds really good ( "like a record" ) of has a level of clarity that it's like pulling curtains back off the sound. Imagine a sunny day with a shear white curtain at your window. Lets say that's a good piece of normal gear. Now pull the curtain back. Whole new level of clarity, now wash the windows, yet another level. Now walk outside... that's as real as it gets and that would be like live in a treated studio. Now imagine having complete control over the sunshine and weather.

So the bottom line is....... NO... don't walk into a studio and tell them how to do their job. They already know and most are song writer musicians. You could suggest... 'hey we have X amp that I like the sound of' 'how do you think that would work out?' Se what they say, they may say, sure, bring it in. Just don;t bring a flaky amp, out of tune guitar with old strings, etc to a studio unless you want to buy time to have it fixed. ... and since you are getting this free, ask first. It's their house and most are very knowledgeable and protective of it.

They want to help you be your best, not have you reinvent the wheel that they have been using for how every many years they have been developing their art.
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Offline Scooter Trash

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Re: Studio Recording and Mixing
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2017, 06:15:49 pm »

My question is this... are the muddying and distortion and reverb effects of a live show something that can and is usually layered onto the tracks/instruments after they have first been recorded "clean", or should the band be looking to add more distortion/reverb etc... to the guitar in particular before it is recorded.


Often in the studio, the song is played live at first - sometimes with musicians in different rooms, and each mic/instrument gets recorded/tracked. The drums often get tracked in a room dedicated to the drums so that their mics don't pick up bleed from other instruments. Headphones are used to monitor the other instruments. Then, the individual instruments often get re-tracked using the originally-recorded drums as a rhythm track. When the guitars get recorded, sometimes both the amp, and a dry DI signal are recorded. Then, if the guitar effects need to be changed, the DI track from the guitar can be re-amped with the appropriate effects. But sometimes the guitar effects from the amp and pedals are used. One of the problems with doing it that way is that if you go back to do over-dubs/punch-ins everything has to be done with the exact same settings, and in the same room with the mics and amp in the same location. It's not uncommon to do it that way.... but after the effects are recorded, they're set in stone. After the guitar is recorded, EQ and compression may be used in the DAW or on the mixing console. Get your guitar and amp sounding the way you and the producer want it to sound before recording anything.

Quote
Also the bass guitar was recorded direct, without going through a bass amp, when I asked my son about this he said there wasn't a bass amp, and that is how bass gets recorded anyway - is this true?

Sometimes, but not always. Depending on the song, sometimes bass is recorded with just DI. Sometimes a DI bass track is recorded and then a bass AMP simulator VI is used. Sometimes re-amping is done through a bass amp after tracking with a DI. And sometimes both a DI track and bass amp track are recorded and blended in the mix. 

I would talk to the producer and mix engineer in advance and ask which methods they prefer to use.
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Offline phobkirk

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Re: Studio Recording and Mixing
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2017, 10:39:08 pm »
Gee I love this forum.

Thanks everyone for your input, it gives me an insight into a whole new very complex world.

Will (big guitar little dude) started with Justin's youtube lessons almost 7 years ago, he has come a long way in that time. When anyone asks me about starting their kid off on the guitar journey, I always recommend Justin's lessons - it is a great thing Justin has created.

Thanks again to the experts on this forum willing to share their experience.

Offline phobkirk

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Re: Studio Recording and Mixing
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2017, 05:36:16 am »
For anyone interested in the end result of the project here it is:

https://open.spotify.com/artist/59QCMq8Sfe5WhIaM90orU0

The end result, lacked a lot of the energy of the band in live performance, but I think to capture that is why you pay the big $$$ for experienced highly skilled sound engineers !

Offline DavidP

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Re: Studio Recording and Mixing
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2017, 05:43:23 am »
For anyone interested in the end result of the project here it is:

https://open.spotify.com/artist/59QCMq8Sfe5WhIaM90orU0

The end result, lacked a lot of the energy of the band in live performance, but I think to capture that is why you pay the big $$$ for experienced highly skilled sound engineers !
Congratulations.  Fabulous.

Not that I can listen...we don't have Spotify here in SA.

Offline phobkirk

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Re: Studio Recording and Mixing
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2017, 12:03:01 pm »
What about band camp?
http://blackiguana.bandcamp.com/album/black-iguana-ep

The project is self recording and mixing, got a stack drum
Mics, an audio interface (Roland studio capture) and a student copy of
Pro Tools, mostly 2nd band. Now we trying to teach ourselves the basics... it might take
a while!

 

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