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Author Topic: weakest link - mic or preamp?  (Read 1857 times)
expatCanuck
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« on: July 17, 2006, 12:40:03 PM »

Greetings.
To record, I'm using an audio technica AT2020 to a M-Audio MobilePre soundcard into the USB of my PC.
The mic is shock mounted.

The sound is alright (you can hear it on my web site), but not as crisp/airy as I'd like.

Was wondering if the mic or the preamp was the weaker link.  Or both?

Thoughts?

 - Richard
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« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2006, 12:48:23 PM »

I've used this mic and its wonderful.So I'd have to say its your preamp.
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ronmac
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2006, 12:57:14 PM »

It would be hard to upgrade one without the other and notice a significant increase in performance. IMHO the following factors have the most impact on the quality of a recorded performance, in order of importance:

1) The player
2) The room
3) The experience of the recording engineer
4) The instrument
5) The recording equipment (mics, preamps, media used)
6) The size of the lava lamp

The biggest challenge for most home recordists is #2. Experiment recording in different locations around your home and you may find a spot that is much better than others.

The best equipment in the world is still going to yield a sub-par recording in a bad room. An experienced professional will know how to make the most of what there is to work with. Daniel Lanois has made amazing records using a few SM57s and SM58s in great rooms.
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Ron

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« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2006, 03:37:29 PM »

How are you positioning the mic when you record?  That might have a lot to do with your sound.
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Trent in WA
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« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2006, 03:39:06 PM »



The best equipment in the world is still going to yield a sub-par recording in a bad room. An experienced professional will know how to make the most of what there is to work with. Daniel Lanois has made amazing records using a few SM57s and SM58s in great rooms.

Ron, which ones?  I knew he was good, but that's good.
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ronmac
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« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2006, 03:48:37 PM »

Ron, which ones?  I knew he was good, but that's good.

Here is a quote from Daniel Lanois in an article about his recording equipment:

Quote
You don't necessarily need expensive mikes. I've always recorded
Bono's vocals through a Shure SM-58 or 58 Beta. Some of the best guitar
recordings are done with inexpensive dynamic mikes. I almost always use a
Beyer 88 or Shure 57 or 58, though if you want a really pure vocal or
acoustic recording, you might have to go with a great tube mike.
Sometimes technical limitations just mean you have to be resourceful, and
resourcefulness never goes out of fashion. We were going to record Achtung
Baby in a house outside Dublin using Edge's big Neve console, but they
couldn't get it ready in time, so we recorded most of it through a cheap
Soundcraft console - basically a P.A. board. We did use some external Neve
preamps, but the board itself sounded great. Remember, energy and ideas
override technology. If you have the technology, use it. But if you
haven't got the cash, don't worry.
[/size]
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Ron

djsonovox
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« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2006, 06:57:38 PM »

Yeah, SN-58's are and 57's are great. ONE STONY EVENING by Crosby and Nash was mic'ed with just two 57's! So there you go.

But I'd not trade my three AKG C3000 mics for them!

Doug J
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expatCanuck
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« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2006, 07:55:33 PM »

Thanks to all for your comments.
Since I'm both the player and the (inexperienced) engineer,
and the instruments aren't going to change, I s'pose
I'll play with mic and room positioning.



And get a lava lamp.

 - Richard
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onetubetone
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« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2006, 08:17:44 PM »

I certainly hear what you're talking about in your recordings, they are a little flat sounding.  First off, I second what the others have said... but one thing you might want to consider is a little post-recording effects.  A little bit of subtle EQ can add some shimmer to your guitar, maybe a bit more compression and verb on the vocals.  And of course, professional mastering would add a lot, but that can be pretty expensive.

But again, first try and get the sound you're looking for with mic positioning.  Do you mic your guitar in strereo?  For a just guitar/vocals performance, I think this a must, because you want some stereo spread, and it's certainly not going to come from the vocals.  My personal preferences is the ORTF setup, which uses two mics, arranged like this:

with the guitar 6 inches to 2 feet from the center of the two mics.
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Jackwr
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« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2006, 01:37:02 AM »

But again, first try and get the sound you're looking for with mic positioning.  Do you mic your guitar in strereo?  For a just guitar/vocals performance, I think this a must, because you want some stereo spread, and it's certainly not going to come from the vocals.  My personal preferences is the ORTF setup, which uses two mics, arranged like this:

with the guitar 6 inches to 2 feet from the center of the two mics.
Interesting. By the look of the mics in the diagram the the business end of the mics are the side closest to the arrow and the soundhole would be about where the 17cm is written. Seems 180 out to me. By the pic I locate my guitar at the ORTF, 1 above and one below the neck, about mid way between the soundhole and the end of the upper bout. Shure SM57 on the treble side, Electrovoice N/D 468 on the bass. Almost sounds lifelike.
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Jack

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ronmac
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« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2006, 01:44:46 AM »

Jack, the orientation you are describing is known as "x/y" and yields a more focused (narrower stereo image) sound than the ortf array.
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Ron

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« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2006, 12:00:38 AM »

Ron,

Sorry I'm not real familiar with all the specs and speaks. IBM repair for just under 30 years, I just don't have it in me to persue knowledge in a new field, and let it still be a fun release. Please bear with me, and thanks for taking the time to spoon feed me!

I hit my x/y set up by moving the mics and listening. This is where it sounded best to me. Does that mean positioning ORTF is more for stereo separation, sacrificing sound and x/y is more for sound sacrificing separation. If true, in multitrack recording (mics fully independent), it would seem to me that you would want to record x/y then handle the stereo separation at mix down with the pan pots. :huh:
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Jack

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« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2006, 12:51:10 AM »

Mic positioning is an art unto itself. There are many reason for using different techniques and they are best described here:

http://www.dpamicrophones.com/page.php?PID=131

Most common stereo configs for acoustic guitar are xy, ortf and spaced pair.

 
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« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2006, 04:02:17 PM »

To clarify the ORTF picture, the capsules of the mics are the fat ends of the cartoons, NOT the narrow ends.  I position my soundhole about 12" from the 17cm label on the diagram.  For my guitar, I find I get the most natural sound from this setup and still some stereo seperation.  But there are no cut and dry rules to mic positioning... whatever sounds good, works.
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Jackwr
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« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2006, 08:52:52 PM »

Thanks guys, My biggest road block is the room, which may be why x/y sounds better for me.
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Jack

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Denis
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« Reply #15 on: July 19, 2006, 10:20:39 PM »

I've used this mic and its wonderful.So I'd have to say its your preamp.

I've got one too and they sound great and are unbelievably affordable as well.
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rockstar_not
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« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2006, 07:44:54 PM »

First thing to do:

Put away the 2nd mic.  Experiment with microphone placement with one mic to start out.


Crispness should have very little to do with mono vs. stereo micing.  Leave that out of the picture for now.  Just get good at making a mono recording to start out with.

Depending on the song, I'll mic my Larry either around 12" out from the sound hole, or go to the 12th fret about 6 " away from the fretboard with the capsule pointed towards the soundhole.  First config gives more low end.  2nd spot seems more 'detailed' for finger picking.

Also make sure that you don't have lot's of reflective surfaces around.  I actually record in front of this beast:


usually sitting down.

I have heard a quote about mics and pre-amps that goes something like this:

A crummy pre-amp will make any mike sound bad.  A good pre-amp can make even crummy mics sound interesting at the least.

-Scott

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