Improve your recording!

Discussion in 'IGT Soundtrack - Your Band, Your Gig, Your Music' started by Keoraf, May 19, 2007.

  1. Keoraf

    Keoraf Keyboard Player

    Just wanted to start a thread for everyone who wants to share, give tips, info, etc. to all IGT-ians about the recordings we are making and finally posting overhere.
    I've noticed, the majority here are making lots of recordings and they don't care about the quality of the sound they make, its a pity guys, cause making some good music starts by making a good recording, so i think you guys should be satisfied and convinced about the recordings you made!
    I've heard alot of good guitaring and vocals aswell, but mostly the recordings are very lousy, as it could be improved alot and i think you will be more proud of your own recordings and compositions when the sound is better. I don't want to say that my recordings are very well, but i certainly try to take good care of the music i compose and a good final product as i thought you guys should do the same!
    So here are my tips:

    1. Try to make your recordings using your computer, for this purpose you will need some (good) software, i think Audacity is a good choice. I use Cubase SX 3 and Adobe Audition( and lots of VST-Plugins), for those who wants to work with these progs, just search the many torrentsites!!! If you want to make "professional" stuff and you can allow yourself a good Pc with a good soundcard with low latency( i own the M-Audio Delta 1010LT, but the M-Audio Delta Audiophile is a very good alternative), that would be a improvement for your recordings!

    2. Its necessary to make the recordings on different tracks, just to be able to mix the (many) tracks the proper way.

    3. When this is happened, try to clean up the tracks as good as possible, i mean, it has to be noise free, no clipping etc. Adobe Audtion has a good filter inbuilt, the noise reduction, and lots of other filters and effects for your instruments and vocals.

    4. After recording the instruments, the vocals has to be recorded and after that it also has to be cleaned up!

    5. Now you have to put some effects on the tracks, just to pump up the sounds, therefor Adobe Audition has some good effects inbuilt as you could download some more effects from the internet! These effects are known as VST-plugins!

    6. After doing this all you now have to mix the (many) tracks the proper way, have in mind that the final product has to be sound as good as possible, but ofcourse, obviously this is (in any case, should be)our target!!!!!

    7. The last point is, export this whole project as an wav-file and for more impovement this final wav-file has be mastered for getting the best quality, therefor you can use Adobe Audtion, to do such you'll need some good mastering effects

    So guys, this is the way i work on my composition, i hope you guys can use this information for yourself and maybe you guys can add more tips and informations!
    aeg0 and Super-Admin like this.
  2. alpha1

    alpha1 I BLUES!

    You forgot the most important point.

    Monitor the sound levels

    Most of the ppl here either make the recording so feeble, that you can't hear it, or they keep the volume levels so loud, that the soundcard starts clipping, and that produces the most horrible solid state distortion.
  3. Super-Admin

    Super-Admin Administrator Staff Member

    ^ I concur. Almost all the recordings on IGT Soundtrack have that problem.

    Also I would recommend if you are not good singer then just "hum" along through the song. Singing is not compulsory.

    Good tips Keoraf!
  4. Keoraf

    Keoraf Keyboard Player

    Hey admin, thanks for graduating my thread into a sticky:cool: !

    @ alpha1: Yes man you're right, monitoring the sound levels is a very important point aswell, i hope more IGT-ians will come with more good tips and information!
    alpha1 likes this.
  5. alpha1

    alpha1 I BLUES!

    Great thing for brining this thread up, and good that admin chose to sticky it.

    Few tips coming from my mind:

    - Dont overdo the reverb. Most n00bs like to put so much and so wet reverb that everything gets lost in the mixdown.

    - Use EQ. Please. Your microphone is not perfect. In order to make the the recording sound more like natural and real, do some EQ tweaking. But Dont overdo this.

    - Panning. When you have two or more tracks mixed down to a song, use panning to distinguish/separate them. A listener wont be able to make out if you keep every track on same channel (usually center).
    Super-Admin likes this.
  6. sukrut

    sukrut God Guitarist

    the software i use is sony acid 5.0.... u can add programmed beats in this software and the clarity is good..
  7. elfascinating

    elfascinating risqué

    The first effect you apply should be the noise reduction! Else even the noise will get affected by the effects you apply (like reverb, amplify etc)
  8. kooldudemax

    kooldudemax New Member

    hey guyz wat do u use fr recordin...i mean simply headphone`s mic or sumthin else??????
  9. Keoraf

    Keoraf Keyboard Player

    If you want want to make good recordings then it's recommended to use quality mic's, certainly not headphone mic's!!!
    I don't have such a quality mic, cause they are real expensive, but i suggest to buy a mic for karaoke purposes, these mic's are much better then the headphone mic's and ofcourse if you can afford, then you should go for a quality mic!
  10. Life_Sans_Death

    Life_Sans_Death Acronym!

    1) It is recommended if you wish to do semi pro recording, that you drape all the walls and points where echoes can occur with heavy curtains or bed covers.

    2) Try not to sing directly into your PC microphone. And avoid breathing down its neck!

    3) As Alpha1 said, learn to EQ

    4) Avoid noises in the background like your cellphone ringing or your mom calling you for dinner. And those annoying Mouse clicks.
  11. max_payne16

    max_payne16 New Member

    Thanks you guys for all these tips....
    but i Still dont understand what a good mic is :-?
    I want to buy one ....and where will I get one ..wat do i ask for in the shop??
  12. Keoraf

    Keoraf Keyboard Player

    Hey Max_payne16, i think you should take a look here, there are more sites about microphones and how to use it, just google for it:

    I think you should go to an audio-shop (for muscians etc.) in your neighbourhood, if its a quality shop they will be able to tell you all about recordings and stuff. They should have the knowledge to inform you the proper way!
  13. maaani

    maaani New Member

    plzzzz tell me ... if i want add eco only on vocals ... well we r two members ... and when i add eco on our song ... it disturbs guitar sound.. so how i can add eco only on vocals .. how.....??? i use wavepad for recording...
  14. alpha1

    alpha1 I BLUES!

    Use a program that allows you to record multiple tracks.

    Record you guitars part on one track.
    Record your vocals on another track. Add echo to thie track only.

    Mixdown both tracks into single audio file.
    Presto, your file is ready.
  15. sayanakaharry

    sayanakaharry Forum Leader

    my two cents

    1)!Use a pop filter, buy one, or make a crude on urself with a circular rim and sponge!!

    2)use a compressor on ur vocals, tweak with the settings to arrive at the best possible parameters.

    3)as alpha said, overdone reverb sounds horrible. most reverbs have presets, and the "room" setting has low amount of rverb by default. use this, or tweak it a bit.

    4)explore ideas with pan. you can keep your vocals centered during part of the song, and for the rest, keep it panned dead right-dead left. to make one voice sound like two, make a duplicate of the vocal track, pan the two dear right and dead left. then take one of them, pitch shift it a few cents, and delay it by a few milliseconds. old trick, good trick.

    5)although individual tracks need individual attention, you final mix mite need some attention too. keep that in mind.

    6)finally, a word about effects. effets can be used in two different methods - send return, and insert. in insert, the track you are using gets "inserted" into the effects channel, therefore all the output is processed with the selecte the send return mode, all or a part of the track gets "sent" to the effects channel and then "returns" after being processed. this is more tweakable, as you can select the level of the original track to be sent to the effects channel, and can mix the original and the processed sound when it returns.
    aeg0 likes this.
  16. srakshit

    srakshit New Member

    I'll jump in with equipment help.

    1. Mics.

    The first part of the chain. You can directly connect guitars to the soundcard with cable, but then what you're recording is not what youre hearing, it's what the pickup or the amp inpu is hearing. Even electric guitars sound better when mic'd off the cabs, rather than run the guitar into your effects processor and use the simulator. Acoustics HAVE to be mic'd for good sound. You can probably directly connect keyboards and bass in a home situation, but you need mics.

    So, how do you select mics?

    Shure makes some pretty decent mics. The SM57 and 58 are a must have for any semi-serious recording attempts. If you can't spend on both, get the 57 first for instruments.

    You may not have enough for Shures. I have had excellent luck with some Ahuja mics, as long as I heed the dynamic envelopes. The Electrets are awesome for vocals, and the instrument mics are good for cabs and percussion.

    I don't know the model numbers and they aren't online, but a visit to the local PA fellow can help - I built up a try and buy relationship, so if I didn't like a mic I returned it within 24 hours. I'd end up buying on Saturday, so I got the entire weekend. The dynamic mics work better for amped/loud instruments and vocal, and the electrets do better on acoustic instruments.

    When selecting mics, a couple of things you should check for:

    1. Capsule type: Beginners mics are normally dynamic or electret. Condensor mics are more expensive, and require phantom power. Ribbon mics are very good for vocal, but are very expensive.

    Start with one or two dynamic mics ('Karaoke' mics are decent to start with for vocals) and at least one electret (will cost about 2K) for acoustic guitar, if you do voices plus one or two guitars.

    2. Polar pattern: Basically relates to the area of sound which the mic can pick up. The variations are Omnidirectional, Cardoid and Unidirectional.

    Omnis pick up sound equally from all directions. If you play in a very noisy environment, this may be bad as you will get a lot of ambient sound in the recroding. In a very quiet environment, omnis will capture a lot of ambience and will sound rich and full.

    Cardoid pick up sound from only the front and back of the mic in a 'figure-8' pattern, and are what you should be using to get a bit of ambience, and with clever positioning you can reduce unwanted noise pickup. This is specially good for acoustic guitar, when your left hand makes all sorts of unwanted finger noise on the fretboard, or if you're reading lyrics off a sheet that you need to keep turning over.

    Unis pick up sound from only the front, and though it may seem ideal for recording, it really is not - as to compress the polar pattern into a straight line a lot of reflectors are needed in front of the capsule, narrowing the frequency response severely. So they have very specialised applications such as vocal mics for large venues, and shotgun mics for ambient sound recordings.
    saurabhrocks likes this.
  17. srakshit

    srakshit New Member

    2. Mic preamp.

    Some soundcards will have a mic preamp on board, as will onboard soundcards.

    Please do not use it, it will make your recordings unusable. Unless of course you have spent so much on mics you have no money left for a preamp.

    Preamps come in many flavours and types. You get some very basic mixers with built-in preamps in local markets, those are unusable, worse than the mic preamps on low-end cards.

    The cheapest 'proper' solution (that I know of) is the Audiobuddy. This is an m-audio product, and used to retail for about 5K. You can also look out for a good used desk mixer with mic preamps for about the same amount. I personally use a Behringer mixer, and while it's not too bad, I guess I could (and will) do a lot better. Make friends with your local sound studio, it'll help.

    Some semi-pro soundcards will have mic preamps built right in. If you're in the market for a pro-audio card, look for one which does. The 1010LT from m-audio, and the Emu 0404 USB both have them (the 0404 PCI does not).

    3. Soundcards.

    To start with the sound card in your PC is fine.

    There, I said it.

    The truth is that when you start recording, the rest of your equipment is so low in quality, the recording is barely improved upon by a pro audio card.

    I started with a Sound Blaster stereo card, but it would have been just about as good as one of the new onboard solutions. Once I had 4-5 songs done, I started upgrading. Trust me, the biggest difference comes from the source - player, instrument and mic. Soundcards may affect the results by 10-15% at this stage.

    Once you have better instruments, mics and preamps, you can upgrade soundcards. Good choices to start with are the m-audio Audiophile2496, costs about 5K, and is pretty decent. If you really want to splurge, the e-mu 1616m PCI is about 35K, and has all you'll ever need to record everything in a home studio environment.

    As you can see, this is becoming expensive very quickly. We've not even talked about software and the PC itself. Assuming you are (and you should be!) using licensed software, a starter software system can actually be free - Acid Xpress and Audacity are decent enough. Then you need a nice system (not high-end, but nice) to record all of it in, enough hard disk space, and a quiet environment.

    This is why the Portastudio is such a brilliant success, it gives you 4-track recording in decent quality on a simple cassette tape, with mixdown ability. These are still available from foreign stores, don't cost much, and are so easy to use. I wish I had started with those, then I'd focus more on music than gear.
  18. srakshit

    srakshit New Member

    4. Cables

    You need cables, lots of them, to hook up everything.

    Don't skimp on these. Seriously. Bad cables are the bane of recording, and can cause crackling due to loose or frayed shields, microphonics due to high cable capacitance, and loose contacts due to rusted or inferior connectors.

    I make all my own cables.

    It doesn't take much time, plus you can be as cheap or as expensive as you like. From de-luxe WBT-style one-way Hifi interconnects to cheap-ass guitar to amp cable, I make 'em all. You just need to learn to use a soldering iron and a cutting tool, and not be colourblind and mess up the wire colours.

    5. Tools

    Huh? What tools?

    Basic tools for adjusting equipment is handy to have around. A chromatic tuner to get into tune quickly is recommended.

    A combo wire cutter-stripper and a soldering iron are essential for quick cable fixes. You don't want a busted cable to stop your session, and a spare may not be at hand.

    Some cleaning wipes are handy to wipe down equipment and hands/face, and a glass of water in case you need to wet your throat. I find that getting up from recording takes me out of 'the zone', and its difficult to come back. Unless you need to pee, then you gotta go.

    Lyrics stand. Must have, if you're singin and playing at the same time. Or you're running arund trying to remember the lyrics. Nothing like having them up in front of you. Even a clipboard on the monitor works fine.
  19. srakshit

    srakshit New Member

    General tips.

    1. Prepare thoroughly. You don't want the recording to be practice. You need to really go for performance, so ensure you prepare the lyrics, smooth out all rough spots before you hit 'Record'

    2. Don't be scared of making a few unwanted noises. Tap your feet, clap your hands, tap the guitar, whatever it takes for you to get into the groove. It's about communicating, feeling, and communicating again, so just go for it. So what if a foot tap is heard? It's in the groove. At the same time...

    3. Observe mic etiquette, it helps the recording, you as an individual, the owner of the mic, and the person who will use it next. Keep a respectable distance from the mic. Do not tap the mic or the stand, the results will not be nice.

    Performers with good mic technique will need less compression, and less compression is always better. This basically means slightly varying the mic distance depending on the passage (vocals only, acoustic instruments need to keep a reasonably constant distance) dynamics. Closer for quiet, more intimacy or underplayed aggression, and farther away for louder, farther away for screaming or crescendos. The actual differences are to the order of inches, not feet, so it's not like you need to run between two rooms.

    4. Get into the mood. Have a drink, go for a walk, dance for an hour, whatever it takes to get those creative juices flowing.

    5. Hum along if you forget the words. Seriously. A good hum or whistle will add to the performance, whereas a forgotten word will sound like a forgotten word.

    6. Have a ball. Music should be fun, so don't be scared. Give it your all, but freak out. If you enjoy yourself, your listener will too.

    7. Play to time. It's tough for a listener to tell if you hit the right chord, but very easy to tell you hit it at the wrong moment. The ear is very sensitive to time domain anomalies - so if you miss the beat, you're dead if you can't recover quickly. Use a click track in your headphones, download a visual metronome, whatever.
    CrYpTiC_angel likes this.
  20. Keoraf

    Keoraf Keyboard Player

    Almost everything you wanted to know about audio recordings and stuff!

    What is a Recording Studio?
    A Recording Studio is a number of devices that allow you to capture different "takes" of performances and assemble them into a finished audio product. It includes microphones, recorders, instruments, a mixer and audio processors. With the exception of microphones, these may come in software forms as well as hardware.

    What is a Sequencer?
    A sequencer is a computer application that allows you to record both digital audio and MIDI data and blend the sounds together in it's software mixing console. There are editing tools that let you control every aspect of the production down to very fine details. Effects and processors of high quality are increasingly being added to these applications. The modern sequencer now can fulfill many recording studio functions that were possible only in expensive studios a decade a go.

    What is a multi-track recorder
    A multi-track recorder is a recording device that allow you to record audio directly to separate tracks. Once all the tracks are added, they can be mixed down to a stereo master recording. Today's digital multi-tracks have built in effects so you can add varying amounts to each track. The major difference between a hardware multi-track recorder and a computer sequencer is that the sequencer can record and edit MIDI data and the multi-track cannot.

    What is MIDI?
    MIDI is a form of computer data that keyboards and computers can send back and forth that turn on notes. You can write musical notes on a computer screen and the data turns notes on and off on the keyboard or sound module. Likewise you can play notes on your keyboard and the computer will "record" these commands to turn on and off notes.

    The above mentioned information is from this site just take a look and you will find tons of information about almost everything has to do with audio recordings and stuff:
    saurabhrocks likes this.

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