More Home Recording: Tone Frustration

I've only been involved in home recording/pc DAW for a tad over a year now. I much prefer playing live. Done that longer & it's easier for me to dial in 'that-tone'. Sitting on the 'engineer' side of the aisle is a whole different exercise in frustration.
My recording setup involves a Line-6 Toneport di into a pc running either Kristal or Reaper (learning Reaper at the speed of pain). Toneport is a great device & the L-6 Gearbox & POD Farm have been discussed in depth as to how flexible they are. Maybe that's my problem: too many choices.
I can get a beautiful bass tone using a number of sim setups. Put it in the mix and it dies a horrible death (and it is all about the mix...right?). Usually having to EQ out extremly heavy low end freq's. Boomy & muddy. Lots of good exercise in pass filters & notching troughs in the mix. Usually altering the initial tone to where it bears zero resemblance to what I liked, even after making cuts to other instruments to make room/eliminate conflict.
Now I've always played a Fender P-bass with Rotosound roundwounds. Bright & snappy. Always played using my fingers as opposed to a pick. Picks were considered 'heresy'. But...in order to grab a decent tone in a lot of recordings I found myself going back to an old Hofner bass (that I had not touched since like...1976), slapping a set of Thomastik Infeld flats on it (which I believe cost more than I paid for the instrument when I first got it...) and playing with a pick. Got that 'plucka-plucka' tone with tons of definition.
The Hofner is an easy transition from a 6-string due to the narrow neck/short scale. It is a much more...delicate istrument than the P is. Using a pick on the P was a) challenging and b) not very rewarding. So I am now in search of 'that tone' out of the P, most recently getting ready to slap a set of Thomastik flats on in place of the Rotos & playing with a pick to see where that gets me in the spectrum.
I greatly prefer just plugging into a console and letting a real engineer handle the rest But...the 'fun' is in the experience & learning, right? I am not used to leaning so heavily on the treble side of the sonic spectrum for bass input to tracks. Whole new world. Expensive one too. And I know that finding the right tone is an elusive quest.
This is almost a rant, or at leat more of a blog entry on where I am today. Naturally any suggestions would be welcome. But then again...it is my tone that I'm chasing.

Regards,

g

Hazz's picture

One thing you did not

One thing you did not mention and it is crucial, what are you using for monitors?

If they are not designed to work as a studio monitor then they, the speakers, can really throw what you are hearing way out of tune or you may end up with to much or to little db's.

Headphones are a nono but sometimes we do have to use them and figuring out the right levels is tricky.

Since you are recording direct then room acoustics are of no concern to the input. However, what you are hearing out of the monitors can really be effected and cause you to dial this and change that when you may not have to.

I have to look around but I have a few articles on my other HD about home recording, acoustics and what nots. ;) I'll try and get them up here.

Hazz

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Hazz, Monitor setup is

Hazz,

Monitor setup is thru a pair of JBL L-100 speakers driven by a Marantz 2270 (see: old stuff that was way cool in the 70's). All of the input monitoring is via headphones. I acknowledge that there is no comparison as far as sound in mixing.
Most of the mixes I do I end up running them thru every different system I can fine, from car stereo to various cd players, etc. End up trying to achieve somewhat of a balance. But I have grown accustomed to the sound of my current monitors (which are fairly flat) and can tweak accordingly. Still...have yet to find a good tone going in that doesn't need a lot of massage therapy.

g

monitors do have a big effect....

if your monitors are bass heavy it may make you go light on bass int he mix then when played back in a say a car stereo or situation not bass heavy it may sound thin and weak....

some good info on home recording at
http://homerecording.com/

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Greg
Http://www.myspace.com/kybassmaniac
Http://www.youtube.com/kybassmaniac

*and it harm none,do what thou will*

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Greg
http://www.youtube.com/user/BroknDreamsBand
Http://www.facebook.com/brokendreamsband
http://www.reverbnation.com/brokendreamsband
*and it harm none,do what thou will*

Agreed that you can't get a

Agreed that you can't get a decent mix w/o decent monitors. My 1st home recording efforts were using a set of Altec Lansing speakers w/sub. Could not mix anything due to the bottom heavy nature of those. Headphones...already covered. My current setup is pretty good. Gives a good, honest playback of the good & bad in most all freq's. Wish I could afford a set of really good near fields, but my world is based on very low $$$.

I know that most of my current issue centers on the 'production' side of the desk. I had not played much for a few years until I got ahold of this Toneport DI device. That got me back into playing more, which got me into DAW world which ...(on & on). I never had to be much of an engineer until now. So I've been living on sites (like homerecording.com...thanks Greg), reading everything I can get my hands on & trying to apply said knowledge using what I've got to play with (starting off with Kristal then moving slowly into Reaper as DAW's). Steep learning curve. Particularly when you are on the high side of mid-life.

Like I said in my previous post, this is more of a rant than anything. Getting tones that sound great standing alone is one thing. Putting them into a mix and having everything go to guano is something else. But I understand that & I have the tools at my disposal to make it all come together. It's in large part a matter of experience & knowing how & what to adjust in order to get the tone I am after. And being mainly a bass player, bass tone is critical to my ear.

The neat thing about the Toneport is t hat you can send processed, dry or a combination to a track or tracks. Then I can play all day with fx. Technique & strings 'n such have a huge affect on the initial quality of the sound. So I am still adjusting to what I need to get a solid foundation.

Regards,
g

Dave Magaro's picture

I'm not familiar with the

I'm not familiar with the equipment you are using but it's all the same principle. You sound like you are on the right track. Your high pass filter should be no lower than 50Hz and no higher than 80Hz. 60Hz is what a lot of engineers use for bass. You should have some high end in there to bring out some clarity. I'm not sure if you are compressing it or not but you should be. You'll be able to get more attack and it will enable you to bring it farther forward in the mix. It also sounds like you will yield better results from using a mike. A Sennheiser 421 is a beautiful Mike to record bass with but a Sure B-52 will do the job as well. But, if that's not possible start with just the kick drum and bass if possible. If not then the bass and just drums. Make sure they work together because that's the whole foundation to your mix. The bass and kick drum need their own space so you have to make sure they work together. The kick drum should be moving the air not the bass. When I first started mixing I wanted to feel the air moving from the bass out of the speakers like I do live. Bass doesn't move a lot of air in recordings. Try taking some commercial recordings of the same style. A-B it with your mix. Are you moving too much air in comparison? If your kick drum isn't moving enough air give it a boost at 60Hz. If the bass is too thin you can bump it up at 100Hz. Don't get to wide with you "Q". 100 Hz is your best low end frequency for boosting bass. But, it's neighbor 200Hz is a horrible sounding frequency for bass. If the bass needs more clarity 4kHz is a good frequency, but you can play around in the presence range between 1kHz-5kHz and see what suits your ears. When you bring in guitars they should work naturally with the bass. If they are getting too cluttered with the bass start rolling some low end off of the guitars. Rhythm guitars are normally recorded with a Sure SM57 tight on the grill. This adds some proximity effect which occurs around 200Hz. So, if you throw a high pass filter on the guitar around 200-250Hz that should clean that up and give the bass it's own space in that range.

That's about all I have time for at the moment. I have band practice so I have to run.

Dave

Thanks for the info Dave. g

Thanks for the info Dave.

g

wheat's picture

Thanks, Dave. Though I'm

Thanks, Dave. Though I'm pretty happy with the sound I get form the mods in the TonePort +GearBox or POD Farm combo, I've never understood EQ with the sort of precision you line out here. I'll try these out the next time I'm trying to rescue a muddy mix.

I just discovered recently that Ableton Live has these nice little "Clip Gain" faders (you click an clip to see them) that let you, essentially, rescue a track that you recorded too low. I used them on some acoustic guitar tracks I recorded last week. And, for all the world, it's like you get to go back in time and track it hotter. No added hiss, no worries.

There's also an overall track fader, of course, But, even when you've got that dialed out, you still have a way to dial in the levels of the various clips that, collectively, make up the track.

You live and learn. Live 8 came out recently. I'm still working my way through the basics of Live 6. :)

Wheat

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