Need some help with recording

Discussion in 'Studio & Stage' started by Elliot, Apr 10, 2018.

  1. Elliot

    Elliot Gandalf the Vintage Yellow

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    Basically the tone sounds like trash.

    I'm not using the best equipment. Blackstar HT5R combo with blackbird speaker, or whatever they call it. Senheiser E609 mic, Scarlett focusrite solo, garage band.

    The recordings have a really bright almost clipping-like quality. I'm not sure how to explain it. To me it sounds like the gain is too high on the amp or the focusrite but adjusting either or both does not do much except quieting down the recording too much. Or like I have a fuzz pedal running. The amp sounds much better in-person (to my ears).

    I tried everything, adjusting amp gain and volume, moving the mic further from the speaker, adjusting the gain on the focusrite, messing with the mastering eq on garageband. Nothing seems to improve the clipping/overdriven/fuzz quality. I'll do a clean run maybe sometime to see what it sounds like.

    Any ideas? See my unlisted sample below. Clearly the guitar is not the problem ;). But the playing might be :p



    Edit: I should clarify that my playing is very far off from the original but it seems like the recording problem is happening regardless of my playing. And the problem is primarily with gain.
     
    #1 Elliot, Apr 10, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
  2. alantig

    alantig Sassyless pants

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    Is there a switch on the Focusrite to set the line level? Something like Mic/Inst or -4/+10? Along those lines? Do the levels clip in GarageBand or on the Focusrite (not sure if either display the levels)? It does sound like an overly hot signal.
     
  3. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    Paging
    LSchefman to the recording help thread...




     
  4. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    It’s hard to tell. Could be poor gain staging in your recording chain.

    Sounds to me like you’re possibly overloading the mic preamp, and it’s distorting. Turn the input level down on the mic preamp, if that’s the case. Mic preamps only have so much headroom. You can make the signal louder in the DAW with a dynamics or volume plugin.

    It could be that you’re overloading the mic itself. Or the mic could be bad. Try different mic placement, and/or try a different mic to determine the cause.

    Could even be a crap speaker. The only way to know is to try stuff.
     
  5. Elliot

    Elliot Gandalf the Vintage Yellow

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    The only display on the focusrite is a colored ring around the gain knob. It’s green when the signal is at a good level, gets red when it’s too hot. This particular recording was a tad hot on GarageBand but it was green the whole time on the focusrite.

    Even if I turn the focusrite gain down a lot it doesn’t help much.

    The switches and knobs on the focusrite are a gain knob for the mic, a gain knob for a direct jack plug in. A button that says 48v. Not sure what this does but I tried clicking it and didn’t affect the recording. There is a switch to swap between line(mic) and inst. (direct jack in). There is a knob for the monitor. I’m assuming just for monitor/headphone volume. A switch that says direct monitor with off/on positions.
     
  6. alantig

    alantig Sassyless pants

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    That's phantom power for a condenser mic.

    Do you have another mic you can try? (Which is something Les suggested.)
     
  7. Elliot

    Elliot Gandalf the Vintage Yellow

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    Is the mic preamp the “gain” knob on the focusrite?
     
  8. Elliot

    Elliot Gandalf the Vintage Yellow

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    Unfortunately I don’t but now I’m curious because I feel like I’ve messed with nearly everything
     
  9. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Should be. Sometimes mics will reallllly overload preamps. Gain staging is important, and getting it right is a thing one learns over time. Also, sometimes sensitive preamps need a 20 dB pad with a hot mic, if your mic pre has a pad switch. Some do, some don’t.
     
  10. Elliot

    Elliot Gandalf the Vintage Yellow

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    Ok I’ll try that when I get back home. I’ll try to get the amp volume around 5 and crank the mic preamp way down and see what happens. I’ll do a clean recording as well and see if it gives me some more “data”.
     
  11. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    It’s an art. Experiment!
     
  12. Elliot

    Elliot Gandalf the Vintage Yellow

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    Alright I recorded in 3 sections on one track for you guys. 1st section is amp dirt channel volume at 4.5 with preamp(focusrite) gain at about 5. Second recording is amp at 4.5 on dirty channel, preamp dropped down to 2. Last section is clean channel, volume at 6.5, volume knob on my guitar is @ 9, tone knob is dimed, preamp still at about 2.

    https://soundcloud.com/denaliokami/recording-test-41018/s-lxFzO

    This is very quick so i didn't adjust the volume of each section and there are many mistakes in my playing. (excuse the bad playing, it usually takes me 4-9 tries to get a clean run and I wasn't using metronome here)
     
  13. Elliot

    Elliot Gandalf the Vintage Yellow

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    I still feel like I'm getting that ruddy hot, clipping noise throughout, even on the quieter parts of the clean recording.

    Again, when I'm in the room, this isn't happening. My mic isn't the best but I don't think I should be experiencing this with a working mic.
     
  14. Michael_DK

    Michael_DK New Member

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    Make sure you disable all effects in garageband, both on master channel and on the recorded track.

    How far away do you have the mic?
    Can you try recording the dirty signal with the mic say 2 feet back (if you haven't already)?

    You could even try taking a picture of the mic setup and uploading it here :)

    Can you try recording just the amp in the room with the iphone and uploading that - I mean, a good distance from the cab?

    Could you try speaking or singing loudly into the mic and recording that?

    All of the above to give us some more reference points to help troubleshooting :)
     
    bodia likes this.
  15. Elliot

    Elliot Gandalf the Vintage Yellow

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    This is a lot. I may get around to it soon.

    The more I tinker, the more I think it may be the amp. At very low volumes I can definitely hear the crackling/clipping of what I would call a very overdriven tone. Even when the gain is relatively low. Now I don’t know if it’s a tube or the speaker.
     
  16. Elliot

    Elliot Gandalf the Vintage Yellow

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    So I recorded with just my voice. As loud as I could without getting vocal cord break-up ;). Not even a whisper of crackling or overdriven fuzz on the recording.

    I popped open the ol' amp to investigate and shattered my power tube within seconds. No worries. I found that both tubes were sh**ty "Ruby" brand tubes (edit: these are not the stock blackstar tubes). I hadn't heard of the brand so I did a quick google and both tubes were very inexpensive 13 bucks-ish. I ordered a tung-sol 12AX7 and an NOS 12BH7 for about 60 bucks total.

    I'll see what effects this has on the tone. I've seen a lot of A/B between the blackstar blackbird stock speaker and celestions. I think I'll eventually swap in a green back when my wife is out of town, probably, but for now, we'll see what happens after I put in new tubes.
     
    #16 Elliot, Apr 12, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
  17. Elliot

    Elliot Gandalf the Vintage Yellow

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    Found my mistake. This little red box was never meant to mic an amp. I’ve adjusted absolutely everything in the gain staging, eliminated all other variables. After I did that, I bought a second one from amazon, just to be sure.

    You just can’t get the signal chain gain down low enough to get any sort of usable recording. The line-in works great for recording guitar to your DAW but it cannot mic an amp.
     
  18. dcm_guitar

    dcm_guitar New Member

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    There should be no issue using a Scarlett as the interface for recording an amp. It should work quite well. If you've tried two and are getting the same issue it's probably not the item. Those little Scarlett units have been used thousands of times to get a clean mic signal. However, I listened to your sound samples, and I heard the artifacts your're describing.

    If you're still willing to give it a shot, let's try again from scratch and see if we can get a result that makes you happy. It's FRUSTRATING to get a piece of gear and have it not work the way you want. I know. I've been there.

    Let's start with the signal chain. Guitar into Blackstar 5HTR. So far, so good.....

    What's the mic? Can you please be fairly specific? This is important. Since earlier you mentioned you didn't know what the +48v I'm working under the assumption you're using a dynamic mic; something like a Shure SM57.

    There's a LOT of art and experimentation around placing a mic in front of a guitar cabinet. You'd be amazed at the differences in recorded tone from moving the mic just an inch from side to side and then changing the angle of the mic in relation to the speaker. Holy crap the possibilities are endless. Let's try a "tried and true" method to start and go from there..... place the mic about 1/2" away from the speaker, pointing directly at the speaker. Point the mic so it is a little off-center from the speaker cone....maybe 2" off center. Good enough for experimentation.

    Now, plug the cable into the mic and then into the interface.

    You should be able to turn your amp up to whatever level you want and your guitar to whatever level you want. Get your tone.

    Once the amp volume is set to produce the tone you want to hear we set the gain on the interface. First, make sure the switch is set to mic, since this is a mic level signal. Now turn the gain knob to about 1/4 of the way up; call it 9 o-clock on the dial. I'm assuming the interface is plugged into your computer (via USB) and you're seeing signal in your DAW (you're using Garagband?)

    What PEAK signal reading are you getting in Garageband? It should be somewhere between -18db and -12db. Yes, that low. It would be best if you keep the peaks below -10db at the hottest. You are going to NEED this headroom later when you mix.

    Adjust the gain setting on your Scarlett until your peak input readings in Garageband are in that -18db to -12db level. Because you are using a dynamic mic, you may need to turn up the gain knob quite a bit. Generally speaking, try to keep that gain knob no higher than 3/4 of the way up (3 o-clock). The lighted ring around the gain knob should NEVER light red. It should always stay green.

    Is this working? When you play it back in Garageband it will sound quiet. You'll probably think it's too quiet. If this is happening, you're moving in the right direction. You may need to turn your headphones up a lot to hear it at a "reasonable" level. This is what you want.

    If I had to guess, I'm going to guess that you're recording it too hot and getting an input signal into Garageband above (maybe even WELL above) that -12db level you want to get.

    Can you try this and let us know how it works out? If you want to talk it through on the phone, let me know. I'll send you my cell number.
     
    jxe and markd21 like this.
  19. Elliot

    Elliot Gandalf the Vintage Yellow

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    I’ll probably call you at some point and we can talk through it. I’ve tried a lot of combinations of different stuff with Les’s help, as well.

    Even with the gain at nearly zero and the gain on my amp set to 12 o’clock and the volume below 2 I get some really hot sounding recordings.

    Using a Sennheiser e609. I have a headphone jack converter on order so I can monitor directly from my focusrite. I want to hear what it’s hearing because my focusrite tells me the gain is below red, my DAW says it’s well below the 0 dB mark but the recordings sound hot as hell.

    Clean channel sounds mostly ok. Dirt channel sounds like, well, dirt.
     
  20. dcm_guitar

    dcm_guitar New Member

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    What does well below 0db mean? Again, you really want to MAX at somewhere around -12db. It's a lot below 0 dB.

    Something sounds odd. With a dynamic mic you should need a good bit of gain from the Focusrite. Having the gain down almost all the way should produce a very low signal.
     

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