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Mr_LV19E
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« Reply #20 on: January 02, 2010, 04:17:55 PM »

Received this in my email this morning from Acoustic Guitar Notes, thought others might be interested.  Note part 4, mic placement, contrary to what I see all the time about having the mic about  12" from the guitar.  I'm looking forward to testing it out.


Four Tips for Recording Your Guitar with Mics

When recording your guitar in your home studio, the microphone is where it all starts—the sound is never going to get any better than it does when it is captured by the mic. You can tweak it, twist it, slice it, and dice it, but the quality of the raw miked sound is essential to the final results. These tips will help you optimize your miked signals.

1. Mono Miking
One mic will give you a tight, punchy track.
Should you use one or two mics on your guitar? The answer depends on the result you want. For a driving, hard-strummed track in a band context, one mic will create a tight, punchy sound without taking up too much room in the mix.

2. Stereo Miking
Use two mics for a complete picture of your guitar.
For a solo guitar track—fingerstyle or picked—two mics will give a broader, deeper, more spacious sound, with width that fills both speakers. Two mics can also be positioned to capture a more complete “picture” of the guitar than a single mic can.

3. Multiple-Mic Solutions
Make sure your tracks are in phase.
If you’re using more than one microphone on a source, or if you’re recording more than one instrument at a time and the sound from one instrument is getting into another instrument’s mic, you could have phase issues caused by the different arrival times of the sound waves at different mics. “Out-of-phase” tracks have a hollow, empty sound when combined. Most mixers (software or hardware) include a phase switch for each channel; try it both on and off. One position will usually sound noticeably better than the other.

4. Give It Some Space
Pull your guitar mics back a few feet.
No one ever hears an acoustic guitar from a foot away—which is where we often place our microphones. As listeners, we always hear the instrument from some distance back in the room. For most instruments the sound “develops” and comes together a few feet away from the instrument. With guitar, for example, the main source of the sound may be the soundboard—though the sound quality will vary depending on the spot on the soundboard you are listening to. But vibrations from the neck, back, sides, even headstock, all contribute to the overall sound to some degree—and a close mic will never capture all that resonance. Try pulling your mics back a few feet, or use distant mics placed five or more feet away in conjunction with close mics, to really capture what your guitar sounds like. —Mitch Gallagher

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« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2010, 05:57:39 PM »

I didn't read it mentioned - but one of the really nice things about the Zooms is that they can be used both stand-alone or as a usb microphone plugged straight into your computer.  That means you can take it with you to jams, lessons, or to small gigs/parties and get extremely good recordings with a device that fits into your shirt pocket. Load the files into Audacity ( Garage Band, whatever ) and you can use the zoom to add a track or add vocals. Earbuds don't work, but open headphones can work so you hear yourself and what you've already recorded.

Its far from professional, but if the goal is to play a bit, learn a bit. and get maximum flexibility, the Zoom is not a bad choice at all - I bought the Edirol because it has some features and possibly better mics, but not being able to use it as a usb mic plugged in direct is a tremendous disadvantage -

Tad
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« Reply #22 on: January 03, 2010, 02:41:17 PM »

Home recording as mentioned can be a complicated or simple affair, but in most cases it is a lot of fun and can produce wonderful hours of relaxation and entertainment. The problem is it can also be a money pit just like guitars, always striving for better or cleaner or whatever your focus happens to be at the moment. As you've read it can be as simple as plugging a USB mic in hit record and voila a recording or you can get full on studio madness and spend thousands in mics and sound proofing etc. etc. Then there are the computer programs that can add full midi tracks and effects that could take years to master or one can choose simple free programs that get accurate recordings of just what is played. I think a great many are like me who basically want some control over the volume and tone but will rarely get into full on midi add ins and production. They make studios and professionals for that that personally I am happy to pay the hourly fee for should I want to go that route.

Your recording is only going to be as good as the initial capture of your work. It is possible to focus too much on subtle nuances of microphone qualities and characteristics but at a minimum mics should be of a decent quality and "matched" for each individual for recording. A instrument pencil mic (small pattern) and a vocal large diaphragm mic matched is going to get a much more consistent and manageable recording than 2 mis matched high dollar mics unless you know how to bring out or eliminate specific frequencies etc. which many of us may not be interested in learning or spending the time on. Good quiet pre-amps for your interface to get the signal into the computer are another area many overlook, again the better the input the better the raw signal from which to work. Working from wav. files and converting to mp3 is much easier and cleaner than going straight to mp3. Once you get the signal into the computer it will be up to you to determine how you want to manipulate it and that's where I, and I would guess many others, get overwhelmed. More is not necessarily better. In all honesty if you have a good capture many of us just want it balanced and preserved.

In today's computer driven market the programs offered for home recording could have you becoming a production professional over that of just a musician trying to get a decent recording of your latest composition as a guitar player/vocalist. I have fallen into the trap of paying hundreds for an upgrade over that of an introductory offer only to be overwhelmed with having to choose between a dozen different amplifiers and hundreds of midi utilities when all I wanted was to be able to add a bit of reverb and maybe a bit of chorus easily only to find I had to make all these other choices each time just to get to those selections and they were not any better than the free program I was using in the 1st place. It's all in the route you decide to take.

A inexpensive set of matched condenser mics with a really good interface with great pre-amps and a free recording program will get you results that are going to be hard to tell the difference in over that of spending thousands on top of the line mics with advanced mixers and recording programs that have 500 page user manuals, especially  if all you want to do is record your guitar while you sing a tune and burn it all to a CD. And you'll likely have it done in half the time so you can get onto the next song. That's not to say there isn't a difference, it's just a difference that many of us would be hard pressed to pick out for simple home recording of a couple of tracks of ourselves recorded in the back bedroom we've claimed for our music room.

$500 is a reasonable amount to expect to spend for getting decent home recordings that will do you proud. A good, not great, but good, set of mics should be had for a hundred or two, and a decent interface with some quality preamps is likely to run 300/400. The free programs such as Audacity are relatively simple to learn with a little experimentation and anything else is just because you want to go there.

I found a sale on a set of MXL mics (pencil/vocal) for about 150, I did a lot of research and ended up with a M-Audio Fast Track Ultra interface with 4 high quality preamps in the 400 range, and I use the cakewalk pyro (their entry level program) recording software I purchased from the lite version that came with the M-Audio. Gives me some basic effects and extremely clean recordings and I have about $600 total tied up. I have burned hundreds of disks for friends and family that I am pretty darn happy with using this set up and have no desire to get into adding singing whales and midi tracks for full band accompaniment to my recordings at home. As I mentioned earlier, there are professional studios I can hire for that, I just want a little control over some volume and basic effects for my needs, this works dandy fine for a hack guitar player trying to get some tunes laid down.
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« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2010, 03:41:37 PM »

There is a happy medium here.

sdelsoray's recommendations are actually pretty close to reality for a modestly outfitted home STUDIO.  You can get under the $1000 line fairly easily.

The recommendation to buy a standalone recorder as a place to start is not bad advice either - but it doesn't constitute a STUDIO.

BOTH the list that sdelsoray put together as well as buying an H2/H4 like device are good things to do for the interested musician/recordist.

I've used Audacity and a mono little condenser microphone when in a pinch with a laptop (the mono condenser mic that came with a Skype headset sounded better than the built-in mic from the laptop).  However, I prefer the ease of use of my main DAW, Tracktion, over Audacity any day of the week.  Much quicker path to the end result.

I've even transfered recordings made in my .mp3 player from Sandisk, as a basis for a song; but again, I used Tracktion to mix that with tracks recorded in the home studio with better quality gear with better dynamic range etc.

The standalone recorder option is excellent for it's portability.  You have a way to record no matter where you are, no matter where the inspiration strikes.  Fits in a pocket.

However, it is quite limiting if the end goal is to make a CD with other backing tracks, comping tracks etc. 

I do know of some folks that started into recording using the standalone recorder world and they've never been able to make the transition to the computer based DAW world.  For whatever reason, they haven't been able to wrap their heads around the fact that there is much more power available to them, for free, in a DAW setup on a computer.

Here's the happy medium:

1.  Buy the H2
2.  Buy one of the lesser priced DAW software with an interface.  Here's a Mackie 8 ch mixer with USB that comes with Tracktion 3 software for $229
3.  I would monitor with some proper monitor speakers, but you can get started using headphones.  I would buy in-ear monitors for headphones as they can serve multiple purposes:  1.  When you are using the H2 by itself, as excellent headphones for .mp3 players and the like, and 3. to help you monitor your microphones as you record - as they isolate much better than over the ear phones.  Since I work for Westone, I would recommend our products without hesitation.  www.westone.com/music

Realize, that monitoring with headphones does present an unnatural monitoring situation where panning of tracks sounds 'overly panned' on headphones.  A mix on headphones will need to be panned 'too much' to get it to sound right when played back over speakers.  If you can overcome this, then you won't have trouble with phones that have a natural frequency balance (most do not).  But in order to 'overcome' this issue, you usually first have to be experienced monitoring with speakers.  This was one of sdelsoray's points that probably got glossed over due to his leading 'mediocrity' statement.

End of sermon.
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« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2010, 05:35:33 PM »

"Mediocre" was a poor choice of word.  "Incomplete" would be a better choice.  I believe a pair of nearfield monitors is essential to any home studio.  Headphones, even the great ones, project an artificial soundstage (when compared to subsequent listening through speakers).  Computer speakers are lame.  Home stereo speakers are colored because they do not provide a flat response.

As to needing to spend about $1,000, the following list explains why (assuming the application is to record solo guitar, or vocal/guitar and assuming you already have a competent computer and a room):

1)  Interface (2 channels) - $250;
2)  2 condenser mics - $200
3)  Nearfield monitors - $250
4)  Headphones - $50
5)  Table, quiet chair - $100
6)  Cabling - $100
7)  Two boom mic stands - $50
8)  Software (most is assumed to be free, but there's always something needed) - $50

And that's for rock bottom budget gear.

Yes, a Zoom H2 would combine the interface and mics, but mic placement limitations and the self noise of the H2 are two strong strikes against it, leading to eventually replacement of the H2 (assuming the user develops more interest in recording).

The OP stated:
Quote
"I would, however, like to eventually have my own personal recording studio (small scale) to record full length, full band projects."

The above list would not be adequate for recording full band projects, particularly if drums were involved.
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« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2010, 06:14:03 AM »

"Mediocre" was a poor choice of word.  "Incomplete" would be a better choice.  I believe a pair of nearfield monitors is essential to any home studio.  Headphones, even the great ones, project an artificial soundstage (when compared to subsequent listening through speakers).  Computer speakers are lame.  Home stereo speakers are colored because they do not provide a flat response.

As to needing to spend about $1,000, the following list explains why (assuming the application is to record solo guitar, or vocal/guitar and assuming you already have a competent computer and a room):

1)  Interface (2 channels) - $250;
2)  2 condenser mics - $200
3)  Nearfield monitors - $250
4)  Headphones - $50
5)  Table, quiet chair - $100
6)  Cabling - $100
7)  Two boom mic stands - $50
8)  Software (most is assumed to be free, but there's always something needed) - $50

And that's for rock bottom budget gear.

Yes, a Zoom H2 would combine the interface and mics, but mic placement limitations and the self noise of the H2 are two strong strikes against it, leading to eventually replacement of the H2 (assuming the user develops more interest in recording).

The OP stated:
The above list would not be adequate for recording full band projects, particularly if drums were involved.


sdlesoray, I would almost agree entirely with your list except you can get started with one mic, one mic stand, cabling for one mic, etc.   I agree with your comment about recording a whole band - certainly your list would not be adequate for a live recording of a band, but you can get by recording one instrument at a time, even drums.  Several 2-mic techniques for recording drums - many don't work in rooms with low ceilings, but there's good YouTube videos on how to set two mics to get good stereo imaging on a drum kit with just two mics.   One that I often refer to is the 'Recorderman' technique where one measures distance from the kick beater/head interface point and center of the snare out to two different mic locations that are equidistant from both of those points.  You'll get dead-nuts correct phasing with that method for the kick and snare, and you can even pan the two mics and still maintain a centered sound on kick/snare.

http://www.hometracked.com/2007/05/12/recorderman-overhead-drum-mic-technique/

The problem with the video in the link is that they needed to do a better job locking down the one mic stand - it's moving around way too much!

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« Reply #26 on: January 12, 2010, 08:42:05 PM »

I picked up a Boss BR1600 for $450.00 from EBay and a Marshall mic, including spider holder and cord from MF for $50.00. A guitar and a guitar cord and you're in pretty high cotton.
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« Reply #27 on: January 24, 2010, 07:06:28 PM »

Put your money into the interface (possibly with included DAW software) and a pair of GOOD mics (they're getting better and more reasonably priced), then experiment with where you place the mics (there's some very good advice in TapeOp magazine for recordists of every stripe).

Then, most importantly, put your heart into your songs. Good recordings are, above all, good performances.

Good luck
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« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2010, 09:20:16 PM »

So, I finally bought my recording equipment. I know it's not the best out there, but it was within my budget and I think it's a good starting point for a beginner, IMO. Here it is:

Behringer Podcast Studio package:

All cables included
Behringer FG202 24bit/96kbs Audio Interface
Behringer Xeynox 8 channel mixer
Behringer C1 condenser mic
Live (by Abelton) DAW (I've also downloaded audacity to test it out)

M-Audio Studio Mic Package:

2 mic boom stands
2 XLR cables
MXL 990 condensers mic
MXL 991 condenser mic
M-Audio Studio Pro 3 Reference Monitors

I aslo bought an external hard drive to help support the large files I'll be working with. (500 gb)

All of this was $488 through musicians friend.
Now I'm looking for sound dampening Ideas. You can also post your replies HERE.
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