How To Mic A Guitar Amp | ASK A PRODUCER

Discussion in 'Studio & Stage' started by CoreyT, Feb 23, 2016.

  1. CoreyT

    CoreyT PRS Addiction

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    I am a subscriber to Gear Gods channel, as they have great reviews on gear, and the guy who does most of the demos just flat out rocks on the guitar.
    He is also an avid user of the Archon which is his main amp for many of his videos.

    This one was uploaded today.
    Les, is most of this info right on?

     
  2. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    Useful info on more treble at dust cap and bassier towards the edges.
    The explanation about distance from the cab vas pretty vague.

    Interesting, but there weren't any real recommendations, were there?

    It would have been nice for him to say to this or that environment, put your mic here at this distance and angle to get the most tonally even sound from a speaker.

    Then move this way for more bass, that way for more treble, that way for more clarity.....

    So, an interesting video of his cool robotic mic holder, but I don't know any more now than I did before watching the video.
     
  3. Michael_DK

    Michael_DK New Member

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    See, I don't agree with the "criticism" :)

    First off, I found it interesting that they select the cab first and the amp head afterwards - that speaks volumes to the importance of the cab in the overall sound.

    Apart from that, if they gave specific recommendations that would be BULL in my opinion. It would work for THAT amp at THOSE settings with THAT speaker of THAT cab with THAT mic, in THAT place in THAT room, for THIS type of riff for THIS type of song and THIS type of arrangement. And even after all these caveats, it's still a matter of taste. A tonally even sound is not a goal in and of itself. It's completely dependent on the song/style/taste.

    I also don't know anything more about mic'ing a cab after watching the video - but it's not an exact science by any stretch of the imagination, so that's to be expected :)

    It shows you (or someone else) how to vary the mic position to explore the tonal options available - which is all that's needed if you have ears and know what you're going for. If you lack the knowledge of what to go for, then you have a good base to start developing that after watching the video (i.e. experimenting).
     
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  4. Michael_DK

    Michael_DK New Member

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    Some possible additions, though:

    - Proximity effect varies with mic choice (which you will compensate for by either moving the mic or reaching the conclusion that "this mic doesn't get me where I want to be)
    - If recording a full band in the same room, sometimes reducing bleed (or making sure the bleed sounds good) can to some extent trump wanting to get the individual sounds 110% perfect (sometimes you'd reach for a different mic instead, which has better off-axis rejection)
    - Tone can vary from speaker to speaker within the same cab
    - It can be a good idea to tilt the cab slightly or raise it off the floor (or put sound absorption underneath the mic) to reduce comb filtering caused by reflections off of the floor.
    - It can be worthwhile to try out far-micing rather than close-micing, depending on musical style and recording session.
     
  5. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    I get that my post seems critical - it is. From the title of the video, I was expecting "I put it here for this, I put it there for that. I use this mic for this effect, that mic for that effect."

    Of course there is no one mic position, I'm sorry if I even implied that.

    AND I agree that it was interesting that they talked about selecting the cab first, then the head, AND that they have the artists do blind comparisons to eliminate bias and favoritism. All good and informative stuff.

    But none of that helps me know better how to mic a cab - the title of the video.

    That was the point I was making.

    When I watch an 'instructional' video, I ask myself at the end if I learned anything new. If I didn't I ask myself if a complete novice might have learned anything new.

    For the first question, yeah, I learned a new approach to cab and head selection, but nothing new about micing a cab.

    For the second question, maybe.... A novice might learn that a Sure SM57 might be a good place to start. A novice might learn that you have to experiment with position - but I really think that should be already an intuitive thought.

    So, cool video, neat stuff, new insights, neat robotic mic stand that's gotta save a lot of running back and forth...
    But it doesn't answer the question it proposes to answer.
     
  6. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Every situation is different, and every producer and engineer will do things differently as well. The information he suggests is, however, excellent general information about mic placement, and how the various positions of the mic affect the tone going into the mic. Showing how the mic can be moved and angled to do different things I think was well done.

    While different mics do different things, all mics have some degree of proximity effect, and all mics will pick up different sound at various places on the cone of the speaker. In addition, all mics need to be moved around just like the little machine moved that mic around, during a session to find the best spot for the mic. You can't just pick a spot and go there every time. It's not going to work.

    However -- if you're the only one using the studio, once you find a good spot for an amp, a mic, and really have it dialed in, and you like that, get out a measuring tape and take notes, or at least take a pic with your phone and keep it as a reference. Some guys even mark the spot on the speaker grille with a piece of tape (I don't, because I like moving mics around).

    It isn't my practice to select the cab first, I tend to think of the head and cab as a system, and certain heads sound better to me with certain cabs. But there are no rules.

    Ruger, there aren't any real suggestions beyond the ones on the video a good engineer will make. It's always a case of "let's experiment a little and see what mic sounds good for this song, and see where it sounds best in terms of placement." Remember that the guitar, and the player, and the creative direction of what's desired will influence choice of mic and placement.

    When I've got a good setup with a given cab or mic for a given style, I'll simply take an iPhone pic of the setup - I've posted a few of those here!

    For example, I've used my new Rode NTR ribbon mic a lot lately. Well, it sounds great in very different spots in the room and on the cab, and where I put it depends on what I'm going after. It'd be impossible to make a do-everything suggestion, on even one cab, because that will change depending on creative needs. Heck, I'll move the mic sometimes just because I'm in the mood to vary things up a bit.

    So...it's an excellent video, and about as far as one can take the subject without being so dogmatic that one doesn't take into account what a great variety there is in how to make music that sounds good - or even, that sounds raw or bad. Because it's a big world with a lot of musicians!

    Now, the whole subject of acoustics is another story, and where to put the cab to make a recording is important, too. You'll notice that this engineer miked the cab in about what looked like the middle of the room, away from the walls. He didn't just keep the cab lined up against the wall, and go from there. That's important.

    Most engineers will leave a 4x12 on the floor or on its wheels if it has them, though I like to get them onto a riser of some kind just because I'm that guy who does that.

    Again, though, there are engineers who really want the extra bass reinforcement that floor placement adds, and as long as the room's vibrations aren't making noise, it's not something I'd be critical of.

    P.S. - that model Dyna-Mount with dual axes and rotation isn't yet available, it won't be out for another month or two. I have already made an inquiry at Vintage King because this would be a superb thing for my one-man operation.
     
    #6 LSchefman, Feb 23, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2016
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  7. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    C'mon guys, don't beat me up for taking issue with the video.

    If the title had been "Some Considerations for Micing a Cab - Ask a Producer", my personal expectations would have been monsterously lower.

    As it is, I was wanting to hear things like you both put in your posts, a mix of things I knew and some good new info from someone who has been there, done that.

    The 'ask a producer' raises the expectation bar pretty high. I'm expecting some really good nuggets the average garage band recording Joe doesn't know and would probably never guess. Cool tips were there, as I posted above, but none concerning the title of the video.

    On just the subject of the question in the title here's the summary: "experiment".

    Thanks, I would never have thought of that!

    I liked the video, I like the engineer - he obviously knows what he is doing and is successful. It just went in a completely unexpected and disappointing direction for me.
     
  8. Michael_DK

    Michael_DK New Member

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    I think a consideration to keep in mind is this: Not everyone has the same level of knowledge. For people who don't know all this stuff beforehand, that video is a great instruction.

    Regardless, I think the title is exactly right - this *IS* how you go about mic'ing up a guitar amp ;-)
     
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  9. andy474x

    andy474x Knows the Drill

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    As a total novice when it comes to recording, I like my mic just off the edge of the dust cap, and about 1-2" from my grille cloth (although the latter will vary depending on the cab design). Seems like most people prefer to be a little further off-center, but I also EQ my amp sitting right in front of it, so maybe I have less high end in the first place.

    Having a home recording rig is a lot of fun, and good for one's playing. Making recordings forces a focus on playing clean and tight. And it's not that expensive to get started with a decent setup!
     
  10. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    I hope you don't feel put upon, Ruger! The problem isn't the title of the piece, it's really appropriately titled. The problem is that the expectations you had for it weren't met.

    But...truth is...that's 100% precisely how it's done! That is, in fact, "How to mic a guitar cab!" You couldn't title it anything else. In fact, there isn't much more that can be said about miking up a guitar cab, other than deciding which mic to try out on it. And of course, that's a completely different topic, and usually the best answer is, "Get the SM57!"

    However...the really big time producers aren't engineers, though many of them started out as engineers. So they'll just say, "I'm not crazy about that guitar sound, could you try something else?" or "Great, let's lay down some tracks."

    That's one producer part the video doesn't address. And there's another part:

    The very best producers in the world aren't concerned with the tone or the audio nearly as much as they are with the performance. They don't care what the engineer uses, or what gear is used, they're after capturing great performances, provided the sound quality meets their baseline. Of course, in most cases, the producer is selecting an engineer whose work he or she likes anyway, so there isn't much going on that hasn't already happened dozens of times in the past.

    This is why big time productions employ a producer, whose function it is to manage the recording process, help the artist(s) make decisions, and often interface with the label; and the engineer, who is able to concentrate on the audio and executing the ideas of the producer and artist(s) re: achieving what they want to hear.

    So...that's how THAT's done. ;)

    Small-time commercial studio dudes like me who function in the role of composer, producer, and artist can't really achieve the best possible results, but then, people only listen to our stuff for 30 seconds, and it's under dialog or a voice over 99% of the time. So we get off kind of light,
     
    #10 LSchefman, Feb 23, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2016
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  11. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    Yup, all my fault. Expected cool nuggets. Got squirt.

    NEXT!
     
  12. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Get in, loser, we’re going shopping.

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    True. Everybody has to start somewhere. I wish I had videos like this (even though I didn't really care to watch much of it) back when I was starting out.
     
  13. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Funny thing is I learned something in that video - namely, how frickin' cool is that Dyna-mount if you're working without an assistant in a studio, and you're all strapped into your guitar, with your cable and headphone cord, and all that, and you can't move around easily...with this thing, you can reposition the mic just with your device?

    I am SO totally getting one. What a great studio tool!

    It will save me so much pain in the butt getting up, taking the guitar off, finding a spot for the cans, walking to the mic, moving it an inch, then putting the guitar and cans back on, then getting up again...rinse and repeat, ad infinitum.

    Though I do sometimes use a looper on my H9 to allow me to position the mic with cans on, it's still at least one round trip to the mic without the guitar, etc. Very easy to lose the vibe of what I'm doing.

    You mean there's something that will keep me sitting on my butt by the DAW controls without having to do all that? Sign me up!
     
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  14. CoreyT

    CoreyT PRS Addiction

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    Les, that is a cool tool.
    Any idea on what it might retail for?
     
  15. Michael_DK

    Michael_DK New Member

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    I'm betting you could build one with a LEGO mindstorms kit :)

    But that might actually be even more expensive. Not least of all in work time :)


    I'm wondering about one thing, though... That robot thingy obviously swivels around its mount in the base, so when angling the mic, it ALSO changes the location of the capsule. I would have thought that ideally you retain the position and just rotate around an axis which intersects the actual capsule inside the mic.

    Anybody have any thoughts on this?
     
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  16. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    OK, the cynic in me is saying that the video above is really a sneaky pre-placement AD for the really, really cool dynamount mic stand.

    I say that because according to their website, they won't even be in distribution until next month:

    "DynaMounts will become available through major online retailers starting in March, 2016."

    Kevin Antreassian in the video doesn't appear in the KickStarter donor list on the company site, but he talks as though he has had the mount for a while....

    Yeah, I want one, not because I need one - I certainly do not, it is just a way cool piece of gear.

    So, I'm amending my criticism of the video from "it fails to give real nuggets on actually micing a cab" to "clever, clever ad video for gear I want but don't really need."
     
    #16 rugerpc, Feb 24, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
  17. CoreyT

    CoreyT PRS Addiction

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    Me too, I do not need it, but it sure would look good on my floor :D
    It just has a warp factor 10 on the coolness scale.
     
  18. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Vintage King says there will be several models; one will be a simple x-axis where the mic moves but doesn't swivel. One will be X and Y axes, without a swivel, one will be X-axis only with a swivel, and one will be X-Y axes with swivel.

    I was interested in the one with all the gizmo options, and I think it'll be around $750. The other ones are less expensive, but for me, if the point is to be able to position a mic, you never know where it's going to sound best until you start moving the mic around. Ideally, you want both to be able to move it from side to side, and further from the speaker/closer to the speaker. The swivel is probably something I could live without, but why would I not want to be able to experiment with that, too?
     
  19. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Yup. You use one of those spring mic clips, or an elastic shock mount like the Sabra-SOM, that can hold the mic at the capsule - however, you have to remember that the capsule of most mics has vents on the side that are there for acoustical reasons, so you don't want to block them.

    However, the capsule is located a bit back from the grille of the mic anyway, so if you're not blocking the acoustical vents on a mic, you can still keep the diaphragm inside the capsule in position as it rotates on its axis, with the right mount. Here's my SM57 in the Sabra-SOM mount. Keep in mind that the diaphragm of the 57 is behind the grille vents, right around where I have the front edge of the mount, so when I rotate the mic, its axis remains pretty much the same; I could get the whole mount's attachment point closer to the axis with its adjustment thumbscrews; it disassembles without tools, so I could put the font mount on the other side of the mounting bar, thus putting the diaphragm in the exact axis of the mount itself, but it isn't necessary for this application. However, the two other Sabra-SOMs I have are in fact set up that way for very precise stereo miking techniques.

    [​IMG]

    I use the Sabra-SOM for some of the more sophisticated stereo miking techniques that require a mic bar with a protractor and very precise positioning of the capsules, so I can put the capsules in exactly the right spot. The elastic bands on it allow the mic itself to be placed in the mount right up to the capsule, if that's needed.

    However, it isn't really necessary for the amp-miking application, since what you're supposed to do is set the mic's position by ear. You can just keep moving it X, Y. Swivel, until you get the sweet spot happening. No rocket science needed.
     
    #19 LSchefman, Feb 24, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
  20. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Yup. It's a clever way to get the word out on a product, though it's possible I suppose that the demo guy was simply a beta tester for the product.

    Honestly, though, I though there were some real nuggets for someone who isn't familiar with the way the mic position and angle could change the sound.

    The unfortunate part of the video for me was that the guitar tone they chose to mic was a metal tone that didn't have as much dynamic range and frequency response as other guitar tones that would have shown mic positioning differences at a greater advantage.

    Note - I'm not saying it was a bad tone, just not as dynamic or wide-ranging a tone, where mic position would make an even larger difference.
     

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