zombre 2010-08-05 - 4:09pm

Quest for Recording Fidelity

Eds, posted a something REALLY awesome on EQ. So, I decided to get off my WOW playin' ass and get crackin'. I can level that Druid later...
So, I find myself at the point where I absolutely HATE the sound of the stuff I record coming out of my speakers. And it's all because of me. Sad. I can't even blame anyone else...
Although I'm a 'schooled' musician, and I have lots of playing experience, it doesn't mean I'm qualified to spout off my own music, and to be honest so much of it has been 'plug and play' 'record and post' kind of thing that I've missed a lot, and I mean a LOT of details. That's not to say my recordings suck (Some do/did), but they could be a LOT better.
EQ is one of those things. Usually I don't EQ anything. Why? 'Cause I don't really understand the impact my changes on one thing will have on everything else, which will of course lead to more tweaking which I really don't have the patience for.
Compression/reverb, hell any plugin can get nasty and have a LOT of effects on the overall mix which can be nasty. 
Routing... I get confused easily, so I always take the lazy way out, but dammit I'm gonna change my ways!
So Anyways, lemme tell you about some of my discoveries/observations and I'll post links and more things here as I go:
1)Some of my gear sucks, some doesn't. I have the inate ability to make it all sound like crap, it's as easy as 1-2-3, lol. But really, if you think about it, my computer (Imac w/Snow Leopard) my Axe-FX, and my recording app (Logic Studio) with all of it's glorious plugins and my interface pretty much DUST what the Beatles had to work with. I mean, imagine they had an Axe-FX Ultra to play with? Pitch correction? Time stretch? Holy fuck it would be scary. What don't I have? Well their mics were/are MUCH better than mine, and all that cool tube gear, and of course... the room. Not to mention that they're the fucking Beatles.
It means I/we need 2 things. Imagination and vision. I think that like Eds says, we're too often trying to 'transmute' the tone of our stuff when we should really just be trying to 'capture' it's essence. Let it be I guess, eh?
2)So I have to capture my stuff as it is. This means that, like Eds says, I need to HEAR it as it really is. Here's my situation. Logic interfaces with a PresonusFirestudio Project (Not the best, not the worst...) and outputs to a pair of Roland DS7 Bi-amp monitors. I noticed (Quite a while ago actually) that my mixes seem to be a bit muddy and overgained when I listen to 'em on MY system, and then when I bounce it down as an mp3, and just listen to it through the computer speakers, I get some very, very different results. Panning in particular. Why? Well I just learned that the presonus has 2 outputs 1-2 that are sort of, 'mains' I guess. There IS no way to control the feed to be all L, or all R, or any of the subtleties in between direct to monitors. Piss me off. So again, I'm not hearing my stuff the way it is. Anything going in is mixed so horribly that it sounds quite different from what it actually is. Hell, my room hasn't had TIME to influence anything yet. I'm doing a great job of limiting my signal flow just by going from interface to monitors. Not that it's the monitors fault, they were bloody awesome when I first got them, but alas times and other gear have changed somewhat.
I Noticed I had another piece of junk gear in my arsenal that I hadn't used in quite a while. A Behringer 2442fx mixer. Again, not the best BUT.... I've gotten to thinking maybe outputs 1-2 from the Presonus should go to the mixer, where I can then control what happens panning-wise etc etc, and then hopefully my pans, etc will actually show up when I monitor them. oooo I can also route all of my stuff to where I want it nice and neatly. yeah, yeah Behringer flavour, but it's worth a try...
3)I use too much bass, too much gain and not enough talent in my guitar playing. I have no clue about tone. There I said it... I'll post some ideas about how I'm gonna rectify this...I have no excuses for this particular issue, really. I have several great guitar amps (Marshall, wooo!), lots of plugins, a Line6 Podxt, a FAS Axe FX-Ultra. You'd think I'd be better with the stuff at my disposal. OK, I'll get on it...
4)I think I'm a bassist because I have one, and I like playing it. I have some chops, too be sure. But... Sadly, my lines don't fit in the mix, and nor do they add anything to my music. Mediocre and tired. Yipes! I have work to do! Sadly, I think I'm definitely one of the better artists on Icompositions.com in this area, at least that shit's my own, and at least it's there...
5)Drums. Well, again I need work on this. I'm getting better as a player, but my drums themselves are not so good, and the room in which I record is even worse. (Unfinished basement w/ concrete floor). My microphones aren't bad, I have an AKG D112 for my kick and an SM57 that I like for the snare. Overheads, well I'm looking at a complete Earthworks set that will be completely useless without a good kit and a good room. Workin' on it, and I'll keep you posted. Midi drums, well I use Logic, or Betamonkey Drumloops, but those aren't NEARLY as much fun as the real deal...
6)Vocals: I don't have a great vocal mic, worse than that, I'm not a great singer. My room colors the vocals. I know it always will, and even when I make changes to my space and get a really killer vocal mic, I will probably still not dig it. Practice, and approach. This means rehearsal. More rehearsal, and then some more rehearsal. Pitch, tone and timing. I am pretty much ready to abandon any preconceived ideas I have plug-in and fx-wise in regards to vocals. Seriously, I think my stuff sounds like Dogshit and I'm tired of it! lol
7) The room. Frick, I've used this same space for YEARS! lol It's not only depressing to be in, but I fight my washer and dryer for sonic supremacy here. I have pockets where bass and treble swirl. I need to fixy methinks... Now since I wasn't too sure how long I was going to be in this house, I held off making any changes down there, but something's gotta give... I'll tell ya my ideas as I go and post some pictures as it evolves.
Anyone watch 'Real Housewives of Atlanta'? Kim's 'Tardy To The Party' single was #4 on Itunes. And she has NO talent. Or does she? 
The people helping her produce it sure do. But it still pisses me off. So, special thanks to Eds and Kim for getting me inspired.

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