HELP. Recording, mixing, production-ing, etc.

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TTonyTTony Frets: 14030
This is prompted by me comparing the expertise demonstrated by some of the riffs submitted to the various "of the month" challenges, and the ineptitude of my efforts.

There are clearly some people here (quite a few) who know how to get a good sound from their recording.  And there's me.

I'm guessing some of it will be down to kit used, but that probably more of it is down to knowing how to use whatever that kit is.

I've got a basic set-up.  Guitar into iPad, and then various iPad apps to record/mix/etc.

Any decent "how to" guides out there?  Books, YT channels, whatever ... 

HELP!
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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 863
    Wow !...Thats a big question...I found the best way , other than keep doing it loads is to get feedback from others, try their ideas for production and mixing, send other people your tracks and let them remix, see what they do, some things you will like and want to understand how to do it.

    I would have to say that for me, being able to work to a click track and practice your takes lots before taking on a serious recording, too many people stick something down which is a bit rough but cant be arsed to do it again, I might do 10 or more attempts to get a guitar part right.

    Tale a look at Warren Huarts Produce like a pro Youtube vids...or Johnny Geib...some stuff is pretty heavy but there are also loads of great ideas .

    Or....just take a trip up here and well have a day recording !...simples.


    Mac Mini i7, 2.3Ghz.
    Presonus Studio One Pro.
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  • I am on the same boat Tony, I don't have proper studio monitors and assume that is part of my problem.... so it just fuels the GAS
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17439
    edited February 26
    It is a deep topic.

    In broad strokes recording a guitar signal is all about balance.
    Take a Fender/Fender or Gibson/Marshall combination and stick an SM57 in front of an amp.
    Turn the gain down and the power amp up.
    Keep the bass down too- you don't want to get in the way of the bassist.

    Guitar modelling essentially tries to do away with the speaker and microphone element.
    Results can be mixed and the more money you spend usually equals a better approximation that can be done cheaper using a real amp and a £100 microphone.

    That said, all of the guitars for the last albums have been 100% Axe FX and no one has known otherwise.

    If you are going to spend money somewhere then spend it on transducers- microphones and monitors.
    Most people don't- they sink loads of money into plugins and modelling amps.
    It is mostly a waste of time if the microphones and monitors are right.
    Acoustic treatment matters too- more than most people think or budget for.
    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 863
    I am on the same boat Tony, I don't have proper studio monitors and assume that is part of my problem.... so it just fuels the GAS
    Mmm...Maybe, most of my stuff is done on cans TBH, then a few listens on the monitors to tweak, I can usually tell in the cans what needs to happen to make it ok on monitors. 


    Mac Mini i7, 2.3Ghz.
    Presonus Studio One Pro.
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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 863
    Maybe someone can offer recording day instead of Jam day?


    Mac Mini i7, 2.3Ghz.
    Presonus Studio One Pro.
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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 11568
    Honestly, it depends what kind of quality you want to go for. If you just want basic drum and guitar tracks, the iPad approach is probably OK. If, however, you're thinking about layered guitar tracks, drums, bass etc then you might want to consider grabbing an audio interface, Reaper and a drum plugin (EZ Drummer's probably a good one).

    I happen to like Warren Huart's YouTube channel (Produce Like a Pro) for production tips. Glenn Fricker's videos are great too; they're metal-focused, sure, but most of the ideas on there are pretty good general advice.
    "Mains is ouchy if you get it up you" - Sporky
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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 14030
    spark240 said:

    Or....just take a trip up here and well have a day recording !...simples.
    Now, there's an offer - thanks!


    octatonic said:

    If you are going to spend money somewhere
    That's what I'd like to avoid.  

    Not because I'm a tight b'stard (though I may be), but more because I think that my (lack of) knowledge and understanding is more what I need to overcome rather than an absence of kit.

    I have guitar interface - not the best, but adequate.  I have iPads and MacBooks, so I have a loads of apps and GarageBand.  Again, not the best, but should be adequate.  I'm not aiming for pro-standard recording/production, just something that doesn't sound totally crap!
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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 863
    @TTony check this out....



    Mac Mini i7, 2.3Ghz.
    Presonus Studio One Pro.
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  • markvmarkv Frets: 165
    Maybe not quite what you're looking for but I found Paul White's book "The Producer's Manual" to be a really interesting guide to the topic.
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  • steamabacussteamabacus Frets: 907
    edited February 26
    I know nothing about iPads and such but I think the two most important bits (kit-wise) are where it goes in and where it comes out.

    Guitars like to see a nice high input impedance (which a proper guitar amp will have) so a decent audio interface (with a good 'high Z' input) between the guitar and iPad will probably help.

    Monitoring what comes out (so you know what whatever you're recording really sounds like) is crucial. Without going down the rabbit hole of monitors, room treatment, etc, I think the best 'bang-for-buck' for a beginner is to invest in a set of decent 'reference' headphones (open back are better for sound). You should get something pretty decent for a couple of hundred quid or so. A cheap set of closed-back cans for recording in front of a mic (so they don't bleed sound into the mic) in addition if you intend to record like that.


    In terms of knowledge and techniques - well, it's a HUGE subject with many contrasting opinions. Practice and experience is the only way really.


    Finally, I recommend doing some kind of ear training to learn how to listen (yes, seriously). This course from Belfast Queen's University is free and very good ..

    https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/critical-listening-for-studio-production

    It is run at regular intervals (sign up to be notified). To get the best out of it, get some decent headphones.
                                                                                                                                                   My 'Guitar diaries' on BandCamp
                                                                                                                                                            My Soundcloud stream

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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 11568
    edited February 26
    TTony said:
    octatonic said:

    If you are going to spend money somewhere
    That's what I'd like to avoid.  

    Not because I'm a tight b'stard (though I may be), but more because I think that my (lack of) knowledge and understanding is more what I need to overcome rather than an absence of kit.

    I have guitar interface - not the best, but adequate.  I have iPads and MacBooks, so I have a loads of apps and GarageBand.  Again, not the best, but should be adequate.  I'm not aiming for pro-standard recording/production, just something that doesn't sound totally crap!
    The thing is, Garageband kind of isolates you from the knowledge you want.

    If I were in your position (and I was, a couple of years back), I'd spend something like this, second-hand:

    Audio interface: £100 (probably a Komplete Audio 6 or similar interface with a couple of preamps)
    Active studio monitors: £120 (you might get lucky and pick up a pair of KRKs, or perhaps some passive Tannoys and a 20W T-path amp)
    Dynamic mic: £30-ish (the Superlux PRA-628 from Thomann is great new)
    Condenser mic: £60-ish (SE Electronic SE2000 on eBay)
    Reaper: £35
    EZDrummer 2: £114

    The mics are optional, but I found that an understanding of the differences between dynamic and condenser mics is pretty critical to getting a good sound even with modelling. It really is worth sticking mics in front of cabs, even if you're not at massive volumes (the Superlux is great for that, because it's super-cardioid and has excellent background noise rejection).

    To begin with, you'll be making tracks that are measurably worse than anything you produced with Garageband. However, you'll be learning, and as long as you pay attention to what you're doing you'll start to realise where GB's limitations are and why this approach is better. 
    "Mains is ouchy if you get it up you" - Sporky
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  • flying_pieflying_pie Frets: 373
    TTony said:
    This is prompted by me comparing the expertise demonstrated by some of the riffs submitted to the various "of the month" challenges, and the ineptitude of my efforts.

    There are clearly some people here (quite a few) who know how to get a good sound from their recording.  And there's me.
    I consider myself in the same boat.

    As a recording newbie with small children in the house I have to record silently and mix with headphones. I use my amp head into a Boss GT 100 into Reaper so I can use a real preamp then add cab IRs and EQ. I can also record a dry signal at the same time to experiment with virtual amps or even reamp with different amp settings at a later date. I think I'll experiment and try to get the best out of this approach for the time being. Micing up a cab is a no go for now.

    I do upload private files to soundcloud so I can listen on my car stereo and send to my bandmates to listen and give their feedback about balance.

    Bearing all that in mind, when listening to the "OTM" submissions I am drawn to the best riffs regardless of the technical limitations or proficiency.



    And I'll keep it quiet that I recorded vocals for the comp challenge using a SM58 into a Jazz Chorus emulator in my GT100...
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  • Winny_PoohWinny_Pooh Frets: 2585
    Step 1 - ditch the ipad

    Step 2 define budget and what you want to record. Acoustic, electric, vocals? drums?
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 2807
    TTony said:
    Any decent "how to" guides out there?  Books, YT channels, whatever ... 
    Paul White and Hugh Robjohns of Sound On Sound magazine 
    https://www.soundonsound.com/shop/books
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 863
    I have virtually never mic,ed a cab for guitar, I use the Kemper for electrics and a mix of DI and a pair of Rodes for acoustic, as @flying_pie said,usually the quality of melody and arrangement will often override sound quality, I also use a Radial di for Bass.


    Mac Mini i7, 2.3Ghz.
    Presonus Studio One Pro.
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  •  @Winny_Pooh said:
    Step 1 - ditch the ipad

    Nothing at all wrong with the iPad. In fact, it can be better than a computer, because you can easily bring all the iOS music apps into your recording app. Apps and plugins are a lot cheaper, too. GarageBand on the iPad is now very powerful indeed. 

    I recorded, builds, and recorded all all of these songs using GarageBand on iPad. If you’re listening, One Pussy Chiller sounds best, in mixing terms, because I mixed it after I got a pair of monitors. The others are done on headphones.

    https://soundcloud.com/mistercharlie/sets/blunt-knife-manifesto-ep

    A couple of tips. 1. Don’t record the guitar too hot. If you’re using GarageBand’s amp sims, this is especially true. You’ll get a better sound if you don’t slam the levels,up as high as you can get them.

    2. EQ your tracks so each one only occupies its own frequency space. Cut out the lowest bass on the guitar, for instance. This alone will make the mix sound open and clean. I’m a recording noob too, and these two tips made a big difference for me. 

    Also, in GarageBand, use the Drummer. It’s like having a real drummer, only better. 
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  • Also, this is a great thread on the philosophy of recording, and putting songs together:

    http://www.tdpri.com/threads/thinking-like-a-producer.807129/
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17439
    A couple of tips. 1. Don’t record the guitar too hot. If you’re using GarageBand’s amp sims, this is especially true. You’ll get a better sound if you don’t slam the levels,up as high as you can get them.

    Gainstaging is important- it should neither be too loud that it clips (or gets close to it) but neither do you want it so quiet that it disappears into the noisefloor.
    I tend to record guitars around -14dB.

    For the uninitiiated digital metering works like this- usually a signal will clip at 0dBFS.
    Anything under that won't.
    A -14dB single will be 14dB quieter than 0dBFS.
    When a signal overloads digitally it will sound very unpleasant- it isn't like an analogue circuit at all in this regard.

    I've done a bit of iPad recording- my issue with it isn't sound quality, but rather the lack of advance editing features compared to a full fat DAW.

    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback
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  • IMC1980IMC1980 Frets: 16
    Don't know if I am qualified to chip in; I still feel like a beginner myself after 3-4 years of trying to wrap my head around producing a track end to end. 

    As others have said, practice is the best way, youtube is good; reference tracks are also helpful to have on hand for sanity checks and plenty of reference speakers/headphones to test your mix versions out on. I use cheap earbuds, Audio Techinca M50x's, car stereos and monitor speakers to test out mixes. 

    I can't remember where I read it, but one thing that has stuck with me is to get it right at the source, so as I generally mic up a guitar amp/cab, I spend a bit of time getting the right sound for each guitar part from the mics before keeping a take. That way I only need to add a high pass on an EQ to guitar channels and maybe a bit of compression on the guitar bus to glue them all.

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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 14030
    Step 1 - ditch the ipad

    Step 2 define budget and what you want to record. Acoustic, electric, vocals? drums?
    @Winny_Pooh ;

    1.  Why ditch the iPad?  

    2.  I want to record electric.  My budget is minimal, mainly because I don't want to go out and buy a load of stuff only to find that I don't have the fundamental knowledge or capability of using it.  Hence I'd like to start with what I've got, and get the most out of that I can, understand the limitations of the kit, and then prioritise spending on new kit based on the constraints of what I've got.

    digitalscream said:
    If I were in your position (and I was, a couple of years back), I'd spend something like this, second-hand:

    Audio interface: £100 (probably a Komplete Audio 6 or similar interface with a couple of preamps)
    Active studio monitors: £120 (you might get lucky and pick up a pair of KRKs, or perhaps some passive Tannoys and a 20W T-path amp)
    Dynamic mic: £30-ish (the Superlux PRA-628 from Thomann is great new)
    Condenser mic: £60-ish (SE Electronic SE2000 on eBay)
    Reaper: £35
    EZDrummer 2: £114

    The mics are optional, but I found that an understanding of the differences between dynamic and condenser mics is pretty critical to getting a good sound even with modelling. It really is worth sticking mics in front of cabs, even if you're not at massive volumes (the Superlux is great for that, because it's super-cardioid and has excellent background noise rejection).

    To begin with, you'll be making tracks that are measurably worse than anything you produced with Garageband. However, you'll be learning, and as long as you pay attention to what you're doing you'll start to realise where GB's limitations are and why this approach is better.  @Digitalscream - all built around my old MacBook?  Doubt I'm going to be mic'ing cabs anytime soon though, else I'll need to get into room acoustics and sound insulation ...


    Thanks to all for the various links to resources too.  I can spend some time reading & listening.
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  • Hick81Hick81 Frets: 57
    Could you try and define what you think your recordings are lacking compared to the ones you like? Maybe post a link to what you’ve done previously then it’s easier to pinpoint the issues. 
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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 14030
    Hick81 said:
    Could you try and define what you think your recordings are lacking compared to the ones you like? Maybe post a link to what you’ve done previously then it’s easier to pinpoint the issues. 
    @Hick81; my entries in the latest otM challenges didn't sound anything like how I wanted them to sound.  Compared to most of the other entries, mine are abysmal!

    http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/125783/voting-for-raw-riff-of-the-month-rrotm-33/p1

    http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/125786/voting-for-bass-riff-of-the-month-brotm-02/p1
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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 11568
    TTony said:

    If I were in your position (and I was, a couple of years back), I'd spend something like this, second-hand:

    Audio interface: £100 (probably a Komplete Audio 6 or similar interface with a couple of preamps)
    Active studio monitors: £120 (you might get lucky and pick up a pair of KRKs, or perhaps some passive Tannoys and a 20W T-path amp)
    Dynamic mic: £30-ish (the Superlux PRA-628 from Thomann is great new)
    Condenser mic: £60-ish (SE Electronic SE2000 on eBay)
    Reaper: £35
    EZDrummer 2: £114

    The mics are optional, but I found that an understanding of the differences between dynamic and condenser mics is pretty critical to getting a good sound even with modelling. It really is worth sticking mics in front of cabs, even if you're not at massive volumes (the Superlux is great for that, because it's super-cardioid and has excellent background noise rejection).

    To begin with, you'll be making tracks that are measurably worse than anything you produced with Garageband. However, you'll be learning, and as long as you pay attention to what you're doing you'll start to realise where GB's limitations are and why this approach is better. 
    @Digitalscream - all built around my old MacBook?  Doubt I'm going to be mic'ing cabs anytime soon though, else I'll need to get into room acoustics and sound insulation ... Yep, all built around any computer you have lying around (from the last decade, at least...). The beauty of Reaper is that it's not tied to any specific OS X version, so there's none of that artificial obsolescence you normally get with such things.

    As for mics and cabs...it's much easier than you think. Basically, put a mic (or two, if you're feeling brave...) in front of the cab, and then put a few blankets over the amp and the cab - that'll deaden the sound. Contrary to popular belief, you don't necessarily need to be cranking the amp to make it sound good.

    Failing that...run signal from your amp's effects send to your interface, and then use an impulse response loader plugin in the DAW track to simulate a cab. Rosen Digital's Pulse plugin is great for expedience, because it has a default IR that's pretty much a jack-of-all.

    I really would recommend using monitors rather than headphones, though.
    "Mains is ouchy if you get it up you" - Sporky
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  • IMC1980IMC1980 Frets: 16
    TTony said:
    Hick81 said:
    Could you try and define what you think your recordings are lacking compared to the ones you like? Maybe post a link to what you’ve done previously then it’s easier to pinpoint the issues. 
    @Hick81; my entries in the latest otM challenges didn't sound anything like how I wanted them to sound.  Compared to most of the other entries, mine are abysmal!

    http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/125783/voting-for-raw-riff-of-the-month-rrotm-33/p1

    http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/125786/voting-for-bass-riff-of-the-month-brotm-02/p1
    I liked the tone of your guitar clip, it is a bit bassy, but you could easily trim that off with high pass filter and maybe a low shelf or notch to tame the low end. Or turn the bass down on your amp sim, either way, with some drums and bass and another guitar playing something complementary, I think it would sit well in a track. 

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  • flying_pieflying_pie Frets: 373
    edited February 27
    @TTony I thought the tone of your ROTM entry was nice. It fitted the riff and that's the most important thing. It's easy to keep chasing an imaginary tone. 

    One thing I've been trying to do is listen in short bursts and take breaks. If you listen to the same riff for hours on end making small changes then your perception will adjust and return to what you THINK it sounds like. 

    My current approach is to have some cab sims banked and try to learn what preamp settings work best. As @IMC1980 says its easier if the original recorded sound is fine to start with. 
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  • Winny_PoohWinny_Pooh Frets: 2585
    edited February 28
    @TTony Ipads are quite limited in terms of the hardware and software you can use. 

    A basic used Windows laptop, Reaper, interface and Audix i5 will be so much more flexible and cheaper in relative terms than ipad friendly hardware. You will also have an easier/faster working environment with a keyboard, screen and mouse for recording, editing and mixing plus loads of free VSTs for effects.
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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 14030
    I can use that technology for the listening part @robinbowes, but for the recording, mixing and production-ing parts, some other tools and knowledge are going to be helpful, otherwise the hand will spend more time over the ears.
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