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Recording and Mixing Guidelines


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#1 Mantrasolo

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 09:09 AM

Here's a list of links that may aid you in your recording ventures as they have me, and continue to do so.
If you take the time to further explore some of these sites you'll find they have other topics as well, not just the ones I've linked to here.
Feel free to add other links you come across regarding recording techniques, mixing advice, mastering, stuff on topic.

Recording electric guitar

Recording acoustic guitar

Bass guitar recording tips

20 tips on recording guitars

Mixing 101

Audiomelody articles - good reads!

Guide to compression

The project studio handbook




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#2 dorio

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 09:48 AM


Most excellent infos for all esp debutants like me. Mantra I was thinking maybe when you have the time we could discuss digital recording/mixing softwares since it took me YEARS to find the right one. So in your own experience which ones were the easiest to make sense of and which ones were not?

Me I tried Cake Walk Cubase ACID Pro and some more but I could not make sense of any of them. I've recently tried with Acoustica first and Mixcraft later and it worked. I guess its all in the interface.

#3 Mantrasolo

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 10:06 AM

When I first started out I tried many different recording programs, some which I can't even remember the name of now. I tried Cubase, Abelton live, Audacity, Acid and couple of other Sony products that came with the computer. But the one that made the most sense to me, and I found easiest to use, was Cool Edit Pro. As a matter of fact, I used CEP exclusively up till some time ago when I "upgraded" to Adobe Audition (adobe accuired CEP, and released Audition based on it). But, as with you, it took me a long time to find one that I really felt comfortable with.

CEP and Audition works for me. The interface is simple, it makes sense to see how tracks record, there's not too many confusing buttons or setups. Easy edit and multitrack views, no difficult settings you need to change back and forth, etc.
I think when it comes down to it, whatever makes you feel comfortable and gets the job done without getting on your nerves is best. In the end, all the tracks will end up the same; it's just a matter of how easy it is to get it done and compile to songs that sells me.
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#4 Crawdaddy

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 10:31 AM

I too tried quite a number of different software programs to begin with when I first decided that I wanted to sus out home recording a few years back. I must say that to begin with it was all a bit confusing and it took me a while to get my head around how to go about making a start on it. The software that I found to be most user friendly to begin with was Cool Edit Pro and I used that basically to begin with to get a bit of a handle on tracking. Everything that is on my soundclick was recorded on Cool Edit Pro, pretty much because I found it the easiest to use when basically I didn't know what I was doing (and it shows on the recordings). Since then I have moved on to Cakewalks Sonar Producer Edition, which is the way I chose to go because it enables me to insert VST's which can be very useful and I was also interested in learning some things about midi. I found the learning curve on Sonar to be pretty steep, I started using it about 3 years ago and I'm still learning things about it, but I'm becoming a whole lot more familiar with it and I like what it's capable of.
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#5 Mantrasolo

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 10:42 AM

Good to see you still around, Crawdaddy.
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#6 dorio

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 10:53 AM


I will echo that sentiment: nice to see you Crawdaddy smile.gif


I tried Audition but it must have been the older versions maybe its more simple now.

Anyway there is also the issue of plugging your instruments and have them all configured so that everything works. Me I am not yet there since I record only with my acoustic which doesnt require any configuration.
.
But I was wondering how you plug your electric your keyboard ect to your pc laptop or mac, thats one step that sounds complicated to me. And speaking of edit I am about to select an external wav editor but do not know exactly what I'm doing I have not downloaded the thing yet. I dont understand this VST stuff. One step at a time.

#7 Mantrasolo

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 11:19 AM

How do you record? I wouldn't suggest recording straight into the computer unless you have a good soundcard (I don't have that good of a one); I have yet to hear an instrument that sounds good just straight plugged in like that.

There are 2 ways I go about recording instruments these days.
I use a modelling interface which I hook up my electric guitars, bass, keys, and mic for vocals. It lets me record straight into CEP or Audition with no latency. It creates a clear, direct recording of sound.
When I record acoustic, sometimes I hook a microphone to my soundcard and record the guitar from there, as to me it can create a better acoustic sound. It just depends on the song.

Before I got my amp modeller I hooked up my instruments through their respective amp, and recorded sound by micing the amps up. But it was harder to dial in the "right" signal that way, because more things have to be taken into consideration; mic placement, room reverb, the amps settings, etc.

On my soundclick, all the songs Soundclick-it and below have been recorded the "old" way. Of course, I've learned more about mixing since then, but when it comes to the sound I prefer the amp modellers sound overall. And it's less stuff to lug around when recording (no amps to move, no mic placement), less time wasted. However, just because someone doesn't have a device like that should discourage you to go the route of micing amps up. It's done all the time. I've just gotten lazy, I reckon. =)


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#8 Crawdaddy

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 12:27 PM

Cheers fella's, its good to still be around. cool.gif

If your interested in reading any books on mixing and you can get your hands on them I can highly recommend one that I've just finished reading called,

Mixing Audio - Concepts, Practices and Tools by Roey Izhaki.
This is a very informative book.

Others that I haven't read yet but have on order are,

Mixing With Your Mind by Paul Stavrou.
Mastering Audio - The Art And The Science by Bob Katz
Sound FX - Unlocking The Creative Potential Of Recording Studio Effects by Alexander Case.


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#9 dorio

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 01:06 PM


These books must be well written to interest the reader. I read one that covered the subject from vinyl recording techniques mono/stereo techniques to the arrival of computers but it was stuffed with technique details I wasnt supposed to understand. I couldnt finish. We need writers who are able to simplify the subject. I hope thats what you found Crawdaddy.


To reply to Mantra: I am learning to use Total Recorder. The recent recordings I did were done with an old Acoustica version since I've discovered that it records better than the latest version its strange but true. I use a multimedia microphone which I bought the other day thats not bad but not pro either. I'll have to fix that soon. I have a small amp for my acoustic but cant plug the mic of the guitar to the pc. I have a mini Casio keyboard but its not linked to the pc either. Thats all the gear I have.

#10 Mantrasolo

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Posted 17 October 2009 - 06:02 AM

I am not familiar with Total Recorder. Does it let you multitrack, edit sound files, add effects, and so on?
The mic hooks up to the computer through an input jack, right? Or does it have an xlr connector?
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#11 dorio

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Posted 17 October 2009 - 09:20 AM


Total Recorder lets you do many things. I use it to record Internet radio and record through a mic. Basically Total Recorder records all the sounds that come through your pc. Its not for mixing and sound effects its for recording converting and much more See here. (I've got the pro editon)

The mic I use hooks up through an input jack I can only use these cauz I dont know any other way to record with the computer. I've found a way to record my voice on a track while I hear the music in the headphones from a different track. All I gotta do is to mix the two tracks and that is how I can do some backing vocals and jam with myself ahah. Yeah mixing music is fun. I should have learned earlier. What a lazy bone I've been.

Do you use Midi instruments in your music? I have noticed that some (read many) of these synthetic instruments sound so good you cant tell if its real or fake sometimes. As you saw my gear is not very impressive so I am using them synthetic instruments in many tracks. I've no drums and bass at home so thats when a program like Beatcraft is very good since I mix tracks with Mixcraft. Beatcraft has a pattern editor a sequencer a kit library a samples library ect. Its a new universe I'm discovering and its damn cool.

The Mixing 101 link (among others) is clever and really helpful. Thanks again.

#12 Mantrasolo

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 07:31 AM

If I was you, and was as serious about recording and mixing your own stuff as you seem to be, I would try and get a hold of a programs specifically made for that; either as free trials or by ... other means.

Since your microphone hooks up to your computer, you should be ok. Not saying you'll be able to put out studio quality stuff, but you can still get decent mixes done - some could even be excellent. That's the way I started out, and I think I did ok eventually =s ... it just took some time to get it where I was happy with it. That's where a sound editing program would benefit you greatly, I believe, because if you're not happy with the sound on a track, you can EQ it, compress, affect it in other ways, until you are happy with it.
QUOTE
I've found a way to record my voice on a track while I hear the music in the headphones from a different track. All I gotta do is to mix the two tracks and that is how I can do some backing vocals and jam with myself ahah.

Many programs would help you with this also, even where you don't have to make a mixdown to hear/play it back.

So when you record from now on, I would suggest reading up on mic placement and how to get the most sound into your microphone. When I recorded from my amp it was difficult to pin down a "perfect" sound (never got it perfect btw), and it took awhile to realize I had to roll back on the distortion. But I always ended up placing the microphone right upto the speaker, as close as I could. I suggest doing the same, then go from there (moving it around, back n' forth, etc.).

Midi instruments? Sure...all my drums are midi, haha. =s I am, however, working on fixing a mixer so I can record my drummer. Then a new world will open for me - mixing drums! *shudder*
I'm pretty sure many of us here use some kind of midi stuff in our songs.
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#13 Crawdaddy

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 05:42 PM

QUOTE (dorio @ Oct 17 2009, 08:06 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
These books must be well written to interest the reader. I read one that covered the subject from vinyl recording techniques mono/stereo techniques to the arrival of computers but it was stuffed with technique details I wasnt supposed to understand. I couldnt finish. We need writers who are able to simplify the subject. I hope thats what you found Crawdaddy.


I agree with you that trying to find books that are easily comprehensible can be a task. A lot of stuff can be pretty technical depending on a persons prior level of understanding. It seems for me that for every one thing that I begin to wrap my head around there's a hundred other things yet to understand. That said, the book that I mentioned having read is a worthwhile thing to take a look at. It will however take me several read throughs for the info in it to really start to gel.

The way that I look at recording music kind of goes like this.
The following breakdown of recording will be quite simplified.
Say I get an idea for a song that will have 2 acoustic guitars and a vocal,

I get a creative idea/inspiration which I then scetch/rough out on an acoustic guitar. This could alter somewhat as I get in to recording it but at this stage it's just me, a guitar and an idea.

I am now ready to set about recording it on to my computer. Pretty much a lot of what I will do is going to be done in the digital domain, as opposed to analogue. My computer is set up as a Digital Audio Workstation or DAW for short (it is by no means what one would call "high end" but it works for me). The soundcard in my computer is an M-Audio Delta 66. This particular soundcard is well suited to music production as opposed to gaming. It has a breakout box connected which gives me a number of input and output options. I have a small Soundcraft compact4 mixer connected to the breakout box which I can plug mics or a DI box etc into.
On my computer hard drive I have installed Cakewalk Sonar Producer which is a Music Production Software. This software gives me what I need for recording, composing, editing, mixing, and mastering digitally on to my hard drive. The software will allow me to create any number of tracks that I might need for whatever piece I might be working on.

So now I'm ready to get my ideas onto my computer.

I plug my guitar into the (Boss) DI box which is plugged into the Soundcraft mixer or if I want I can use a microphone to record the guitar with which would also be plugged into the Soundcraft mixer.
Recording = Recording
On my computer I have opened up Sonar and have "armed" a track (say track 1) ready to record onto. All I've got to do is hit record on the software and I'm up and running, of course there are things such as sound levels going in to the computer software to consider at this point.
OK so all goes well and I complete a perfect take (not). Now I have 1 Audio track (guitar 1) recorded.
Next I want to record guitar track 2 which goes well and I complete another perfect take. So now I have 2 guitar tracks recorded onto two seperate tracks.
Same thing for the vocal take. So now I have recorded 3 different performances onto 3 seperate tracks.
If I wanted to at this point I could make edits to the tracks if need be or even re-record them.

In the tracking stage of the process I am not concernd with mixing at all. The most important thing at the tracking stage is to record clean tracks, basically looking for a high signal to noise ratio (S/N) and a performance that I'm happy with. I'm not worried about the comparative volume levels between the tracks at this point and nor worried about whether or not they are clashing with each other or cancelling out each other due to sharing similar frequencies. Once I am happy with the quality of the recordings on the seperate tracks I can then move onto to mixing.

Mixing is the stage where the aim is to mix all of the tracks together where the final product will be a composite stereo audio file which can then be sent for mastering if thats your aim. It's not really a simple process to approach in brief explanation as there could be many different things involved depending on how large the project is or style of music etc. Basically you are trying to gel the recorded tracks together with your own creative goals in mind. Each track needs its own personal space but also needs to be neighbourly with the other tracks as well. How to do this depends on such things as how sound levels are adjusted, panned, equalisers, compressors, reverbs etc are used. Each track gets its own attention, maybe it needs a lot or maybe not much at all.
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#14 dorio

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 08:28 AM

QUOTE (Mantrasolo @ Oct 18 2009, 09:01 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If I was you, and was as serious about recording and mixing your own stuff as you seem to be, I would try and get a hold of a programs specifically made for that; either as free trials or by ... other means.


Do you really think that Mixcraft cant do the job for mixing tracks? Should I download Cool Edit Pro?

As you know I started very recently and so far I progress fast in the mixing department but for recording vocals I have a problem as already stated. I've made tests with the mic but since I dont record through an amp I dont get more input. As you say with a mic plugged into the laptop I can do decent stuff but I cant do better than what I already did with the mic I have now. The best I did so far before getting another mic was to pump up the volume of a track by adding 25% or 50% or whatever was needed.

There is an interesting article on the different types of mics and their uses in "the project studio handbook" link you posted. So much more to read. Its one very interesting mine of informations.

Today I had the idea to try to record from a different source than the computer such as a reel to reel tape or a cassette deck. Chances are my voice will be heard on top of the "band" (but not too much) as it should and the guitars ect will be more audible than in my previous mix. That would be cool.

Regarding sound edits and EQ's in the article thats in the "mixing 101" link towards the end he says: "what I've tried to describe in this article was to provide an overview of some basic mixing practices that are common to all mixing styles as well as some functional tips regarding one of the most abused mixing practices - EQ." I know I've kind of abused it in a couple of mix for fun. Mixcraft has two EQ: Acoustica and the Classic. You can mess with them till you get what you want. So for some people its outrageous to try to change the tone of your track after you've already mixed it but for other people (like me) it makes sense to do experiments with the EQ to get specific effects and put the vocals or any other instrument in front. Thats what EQ's are for after all.

I'm relieved to hear about the midi instruments. I think synthetic drums and bass seem to do the job if you cut them well. However I will buy a violin and a mandolin as well as some other instruments for its the sounds made by us that make a mix interesting. I wish you'll have fun recording your drummer by the way.


QUOTE (Crawdaddy @ Oct 19 2009, 07:12 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (dorio @ Oct 17 2009, 08:06 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
These books must be well written to interest the reader. I read one that covered the subject from vinyl recording techniques mono/stereo techniques to the arrival of computers but it was stuffed with technique details I wasnt supposed to understand. I couldnt finish. We need writers who are able to simplify the subject. I hope thats what you found Crawdaddy.


I agree with you that trying to find books that are easily comprehensible can be a task. A lot of stuff can be pretty technical depending on a persons prior level of understanding. It seems for me that for every one thing that I begin to wrap my head around there's a hundred other things yet to understand. That said, the book that I mentioned having read is a worthwhile thing to take a look at. It will however take me several read throughs for the info in it to really start to gel.


As I said my biggest impediment so far is the ability to record my voice properly. When I started to mix one of the first thing I've noticed is that there are several ways to record and mix tracks. Not that I didnt suspect. Its all according to the music genre you're into. You can always invent your own style as defined by you. About mastering well I know next to nothing about it but would deem it as something you do once you learned to record and mix what we shall call decent stuff. Correct me if I'm wrong. As I see it at present there are three very important things needed for anyone who want to record and mix their own stuff in a decent audible way. The first thing is a certain dedication to what you're doing. Gotta love your music in order to spend so much time mixing it. The second thing is a reasonable understanding of the tools you're using. (As you mentioned above you found a book that helps you understand better but it'll take several readings for the info in it to really start to get in.) The third thing is obviously a decent gear to record your music. The more instruments amps and mics you have the better. But then again the third thing is not that important anymore (except for the mics/guitars quality which are a must) since you can be a minimalist like me. Its really as we wish it to be. Which is great. Props on that description on how you do it.

#15 Mantrasolo

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 07:09 PM

I'm not at all familiar with Mixcraft - it might do the job, or atleast do the things you are looking for. I am reluctant to try other programs anymore I guess. I've kinda settled.... =/
I think you should try it out and see how you feel about it. I don't wanna shun you away from something that you might like.

What is the exact nature of the problem when you try to record vocals? Are they not loud enough? Too much static? Something else?




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#16 dorio

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Posted 20 October 2009 - 04:24 AM


What CEP version have you got Mantra? Just downloaded the 2.0 trial version. There's a lot of cool features but compared with the latest Mixcraft the CEP 2.0 interface looks "ancient" to me. I've not tried to mix yet.

About the mic well no matter how I record I dont get enough volume so I suppose its simply because of the mic itself. I'll get one (I mean a good one) by the end of the week it seems.

#17 Mantrasolo

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Posted 20 October 2009 - 05:52 AM

It was the 2.0 version I used before I went to Audition. Audition's interface looks very similar to it.
Regarding the mic, I assume you already checked and adjusted the microphone volume on the computer too, right?
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#18 dorio

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Posted 20 October 2009 - 06:59 AM

QUOTE (Mantrasolo @ Oct 20 2009, 07:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It was the 2.0 version I used before I went to Audition. Audition's interface looks very similar to it.

I like the look of CEP "ancient" doesnt mean bad. I will make tests with the mic later. But Mixcraft is damn good for what I want to do and I've not even made sense of half of what it does. There's an endless supply of loops you can download from the mixing board. I begin to be familiar with it all. I suspect that once you get hooked to Mixcraft there ain't no turning back. Yeah its that good.

QUOTE (Mantrasolo @ Oct 20 2009, 07:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Regarding the mic, I assume you already checked and adjusted the microphone volume on the computer too, right?

Ah ah that's classic but (sadly) its not the problem (it would be too easy). The volume on my pc can be changed from three places: 1) Windows 2) Total Recorder (since I have it installed permanently) and 3) the volume of the program I record with ie Mixcraft. If one of these is too low or muted it cant record. What bugs me with this mic is I could record the guitar on a single track loud enough but for the voice I've gotta scream to be heard on top.

#19 Mantrasolo

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 05:36 AM

How's the recordings going so far, Dorio?
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#20 dorio

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 06:34 AM


Got many projects (perhaps too many) but its pretty cool. Had to make a little break because I'm still waiting for some equipment to record and to be honest I was tired (eh I'm old). I'm actually working on a couple of tracks a friend sent me. I'm also composing a song based on an acoustic guitar loop. I dont know what it'll sound like yet. Also I'm trying to make sense of "Beatcraft". Thanks for asking. What about you Mant? Any project for Mantrasolo?


We can't say this forum is very busy at the moment right?



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