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michaelcreese

How can I improve this sound?

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Have had many goes now at recording. I use BR900CD and different electric guitars. There´s an overall problem which I think is the recorder. It does a million things but I believe none of them too well. Me too, but I can live with some limitations. What is gain? I can adjust high and lo to +12/-12 db but what am I actually doing to the track? How does gain differ from volume? Frequency adjusts hi and lo too. I listen to a track while I´m adjusting and I can hear some change, but not much. Equalising just seems to take the life out of the track instead of knocking out boom and resonating treble which is what I hoped for. I use the recomended recording levels but my picking track with say an accoustic cosm is not that interesting when I play it back. What I long for really is old fashioned bass and treble knobs.

Only joy I have had in improving recording is a discovery I made by accident about my mic. Its an old sure and it was doing a slovenly job. What I discovered was that you have to point this thing at your mouth. It wont work if you just hold it up and sing into the side. It is now wonderful and I take back all I ever said against it.

Previous recordings have been so bad that they are beyond help. Maybe If I post something new and the best I can do, someone would be kind enough to comment? They ARE better than they were, I promise.

Cheers all.

Mike

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Have had many goes now at recording. I use BR900CD and different electric guitars. There´s an overall problem which I think is the recorder.

It very well could be the recorder. I tried looking up some info/tutorials of it on youtube and the sounds that I found weren't all that great. Here's one I found... Awesome guitarist, but not so great tone.

If you are looking to change the recorder out, I highly recommend computer recording vs studio in a box recording units. They are great for portability and maybe stability if you count typical computer issues. ;) But the flexibility and sound quality are far superior with computer software IMO.

I'm currently working on recording some audio clips using the onboard sound on my computer (so no expensive recording interfaces), my 10 year old Behringer mixer, and FREE effects plugins to show the kind of quality you can get without spending a lot of money.

Here is a sample of the distorted guitar tones I got using this method:

http://www.guitarforbeginners.com/tekker/Using%20Effects%20and%20Plugins%202/Medium-Heavy%20Distortion.mp3

Compare that to the distorted tone in the BR900CD video (which starts at 1:30) and you'll see why I'm such a big fan of computer recording. :clap:

Also, when I'm finished fiddling with the sounds and recording, I'll be posting all of the plugins I used as well as the preset files so everyone can load them in as starting points. All of the plugins I'm using can be found in this list of freebie effects:

http://www.guitarforbeginners.com/forum/tekkers-lessons/5735-freebie-list/

If you're interested in moving towards computer recording, I highly recommend the recording program Reaper ($60). It's an awesome program and the demo version is fully functional and never expires (so it works on the honor system). This way you can try it out for a while before committing to it. :winkthumb:

REAPER | Audio Production Without Limits

What is gain? I can adjust high and lo to +12/-12 db but what am I actually doing to the track? How does gain differ from volume?

Gain is basically the "input" volume and it determines how loud the signal is going into the unit (or the level the signal before you start adding effects in terms of computer recording). Volume is then the volume control at the output after all the effects and other processing is done. Gain is kind of a set and forget, you basically use it to get a good signal going to the rest of the processor and then the volume is what you will use for actual mixing.

Frequency adjusts hi and lo too. I listen to a track while I´m adjusting and I can hear some change, but not much. Equalising just seems to take the life out of the track instead of knocking out boom and resonating treble which is what I hoped for.

I don't know what kind of EQ that unit has, but it could have a wide bandwidth that takes to much out of the track when you lower it.

Its an old sure and it was doing a slovenly job. What I discovered was that you have to point this thing at your mouth. It wont work if you just hold it up and sing into the side.

Yeah, it sounds like your mic is a dynamic mic, which are not as sensitive as condenser mics so you really have to sing right into them to get a good sound. Also the pickup pattern probably rejects sounds that come from the side and behind (this helps in live situations to reduce feedback from the monitors placed behind and/or below the mic), so you want to sing straight into the mic. Also proximity effect (which is an increase in bass frequencies as you get closer to the mic) gives a nice full sound when you sing up close into the mic.

Hope that helps. :)

-tkr

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Thank you tkr for your considered reply. Couldnt play the distort clip, first would not connect then it played me five secs, went silent and nothing would respond so had to shut down. I think that I will begin the journey to computer recording. I have seen a programme and I like the visual thing. Dont know if its a real sound wave you can see but this prog had patterns you could nip, compress, move etc. The guy using it was experienced but still it looked and worked better than mine. I am going to finish something in the next few days. I am taking a lot of time over the recording. I have limitations on my playing ability, but I can factor that in to the result and I will do the very best I can and see what happens. I have good speakers which I play through an old bit of a cd player for amplification and I have some average/cheap headphones. Neither of these playback devices involved any financial outlay but they both seem ok to me. Do you think it best to edit via headphones or speakers? I intend to do my very best here.

The thing about the mic is interesting. I had noticed that if I was listening over speakers and recording vocal, there was no other noise than voice on the track.

Mike

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Thank you tkr for your considered reply. Couldnt play the distort clip, first would not connect then it played me five secs, went silent and nothing would respond so had to shut down.

That's odd, do you have quicktime installed on you computer? I uploaded it to the site here, so are you able to listen to mp3's other users have posed here?

I think that I will begin the journey to computer recording. I have seen a programme and I like the visual thing. Dont know if its a real sound wave you can see but this prog had patterns you could nip, compress, move etc.

Yes, editing is one of the many benefits of compute recording as it so much more advanced. Reaper has the wave forms that you can edit. Here is one of the screen shots from the Reaper website.

REAP%20SCREEN5.jpg

Do you think it best to edit via headphones or speakers? I intend to do my very best here.

Editing is fine to do with either headphones or speakers. But 'Mixing' is best to do on speakers and then check once in a while on headphones. I did a semi-short explanation of why you want to mix with speakers here:

http://www.guitarforbeginners.com/forum/tekkers-lessons/14866-computer-recording-improving-sound-quality/#hpspkr

The thing about the mic is interesting. I had noticed that if I was listening over speakers and recording vocal, there was no other noise than voice on the track.

Yeah, I've had similar occurrences. Once I forgot to turn off the window air conditioner in my drum/music room while I was recording, which is very noisy but I put my ear plugs in before I walked out the to the room so I couldn't hear that it was still on. When I listened to it back there was NO sound from the air conditioner at all. The mics had very good rejection of sounds that the mic was not directly pointed at. So it worked out very well and I ended up not having to redo the tracks. :)

-tkr

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I'll ask Tekker (or anyone) a related question here:

Are the monitors everyone talks about for mixing the same thing as the speakers that I have for my CD player but with a different name?

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Hi tkr. Yes I have quicktime. Just tried again with that clip, same thing happened. Sometimes for listening to members recordings I have to save the file and then open it. Had a dialogue with Clancy about this and when I next have a computer guy in I will get him to look at it. Very interesting piece about speakers/headphones. It brings home how much detail there is in producing a good sounding piece. The soundwave is exactly it, I like it. Have posted a piece recently and though I listened to every track in isolation to check how it sounded, when I put it all back together again, its not so good. Maybe I was a bit harsh on the BR900CD though. Thinking about what it CAN do rather than what it CANT do it seems to me that I got my 500 euros worth. It just isnt what I would buy now if I had the opportunity over again.

Carol, I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong, but I think that the monitors people use in their studios have their own amplification, like the big speaker on the computer. I use ordinary speakers connected to a cast off CD/tape/radio. When I am rich again I will buy some of those monitors, they arent half expensive.

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Are the monitors everyone talks about for mixing the same thing as the speakers that I have for my CD player but with a different name?

Carol, studio monitors are different from stereo/CD player speakers. Studio monitors are designed to be flat and neutral and let you hear what your tracks actually sound like where stereo speakers are generally not flat as they are designed to make the music sound "better" by boosting certain frequencies (for example producing more bass and/or treble frequencies). Stereo speakers are not the best for mixing because you will overcompensate for what the speakers are adding. For example, if your speakers have a big boost in the bass frequencies, you will turn the bass down on your mix, which may make your mix lack bass on another system that is not as hyped in the bass.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as "perfectly flat" studio monitors. They will all have some differences, so the important thing with any speakers is to learn the sound of them. Listen to as much music as you can on them and in different styles and listen to how professional mixes sound no your speakers. Then try to make your mixes sound similar. I will often have several professional songs loaded into my recording program (on tracks that are muted) then I will switch between them during the course of my mixing to hear how my mix compares to the professional mix.

michaelcreese, some studio monitors can have amplification built into them (these are called "active" monitors) but not all of them do. There are lots of studio monitors that require an external amp (these are called "passive" monitors). In fact the Yorkville YSM1 studio monitors that I have comes as either active (YSM1-P) or passive (I think it's just YSM1) monitors. I have the active YSM1-P monitors with the amps built in.

-tkr

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Hi tkr. Yes I have quicktime. Just tried again with that clip, same thing happened. Sometimes for listening to members recordings I have to save the file and then open it. Had a dialogue with Clancy about this and when I next have a computer guy in I will get him to look at it.

That is very strange. Hope you get it sorted out.

Downloading was what I was going to suggest trying next, have you tried that with my file? If so, did that work?

Very interesting piece about speakers/headphones. It brings home how much detail there is in producing a good sounding piece.

Yes, there is an insane amount of detail that goes into recording. I'm not even a fraction of the way there yet as the acoustics of my recording room is less than ideal.

The soundwave is exactly it, I like it. Have posted a piece recently and though I listened to every track in isolation to check how it sounded, when I put it all back together again, its not so good.

Yeah, this is one of the key elements to mixing. Making everything sound big and full by itself can often cause a disaster when you put them all together. If you have a big fat guitar sound, big bass sound, and a huge kick drum they will all be fighting each other to be heard and the end result is not pretty. So you want to give each instrument its own space to be heard. One way is to use EQ to cut certain frequencies on instrument B and then boost those same frequencies in instrument A. Thus giving instrument A its own space that instrument B isn't trying to fight for also. Most often the instruments will not sound too good by themselves when soloed, but will blend with the other instruments and sound great when in the mix.

-tkr

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Tkr, couple of questions if you would be so good. What is an audio interface, that reaper say is needed. Is it a device between say the guitar and the computer? What does it actually do and what would one cost? The private licence is the whole cost of the download? Also, there is lot on the page I just dont understand because I am not familiar with the terms or abbreviations. Can I also download comprehensive instructions for use? Dont think I would get far without them.

Mike

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Doesnt give me an option to save. Here is what happens. I click the clip and something flashes on the screen. It is too quick for me to see what it is, maybe the realplayer screen, something like that. Then I get a progress bar, you know the line with the ball in it like at the bottom of the youtube vids, in white, with a white square above it. Nothing else at all. Two seconds of music then it stops and the computer freezes and I have to unplug it. Just did it again, third time, better leave it alone now.

Mike

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Wasnt thinking well. Saved it by right hand clicking to my docs. Interestingly when I went to open with a left hand click as normal, it would not open and froze everything up again. Re starting I got it by going to my docs, right hand click and opening as mp3. Dont know what all that was about, but yes, at last, I see what you mean.

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What is an audio interface, that reaper say is needed. Is it a device between say the guitar and the computer? What does it actually do and what would one cost?

An audio interface does essentially the same thing as the sound card on your computer, it is the device between your instruments and the computer. It also goes the other way from your computer to your speakers. The difference between and audio interface adn the standard sound card on your computer, is the audio interface is designed specifically for music recording.

Audio interfaces can run anywhere from around $200 like the M-Audio Firewire Solo to several thousands of dollars (very high quality "pro" level interfaces).

I also have an M-Audio interface and it is awesome. Mine is the Profire 2626.

The private licence is the whole cost of the download?

The download is free, the "demo" version is actually the full program with a screen that reminds you to register. However, the program will never expire, so essentially it works on the honor system in that if you like it and continue to use it past 30 days the developer asks that you pay for it.

There are two licenses. The license you want is the $60 discounted license. The $225 license is if you are using Reaper to make money and making over $20,000.

REAPER | Purchase

Also, there is lot on the page I just dont understand because I am not familiar with the terms or abbreviations. Can I also download comprehensive instructions for use? Dont think I would get far without them.

Sure thing. I've made a couple Reaper tutorials for how to get started recording in Reaper and how to add effects and play your guitar through Reaper using effects (like what I did in the audio clip).

http://www.guitarforbeginners.com/forum/tekkers-lessons/19897-computer-recording-software-getting-started/

http://www.guitarforbeginners.com/forum/tekkers-lessons/13970-reaper-tutorial/

If you have any questions along the way, feel free to ask. :)

-tkr

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Many thanks. Should you ever feel like donating your brain to the more deprived in that dept. I'll av it.

Mike

Sorry Michael, I'm in front of you in the queue.

There are lots of different ways to get the sound from your instrument to your computer. Have a browse through the What is Your Set Up? forum here at GFB. Some member's have some fancy gear but others get by with more basic stuff.

I use a second hand Tascam US122 I got off ebay for about $40 US. It does me fine. It uses a USB connection so I don't need a Firewire port on my computer, although I do have one built into my laptop which I don't use. You could start doing decent recordings with something like that plus a cable to connect your guitar and nothing else - use a free internet recording gizmo like Reaper or Audacity. Buy a mic if you want to record vocals or acoustic guitar. Plus a set of earphones if you don't have speakers or want to plug them into you interface for 'silent' listening. It's not a bad idea to start off with what you have before buying expensive earphones, mics and monitors. Then you can buy better extras when you know what you would like.

You need to work out how many channels 'in' you want (very important cos your basically stuffed if you need more than 2 and you only have 2), or will want in the future, and whether you want Phantom power (for the more sensitive Condenser type mics), and whether you want Midi (for later when you get more advanced). My Tascam has all of that. I have 2 channels in, with guitar and mic ports for each channel which is all I need. Other people might need more, it depends on what your recording ambitions are.

Do a google search for PCI Audio Interfaces (also called Soundcards, pre-amps or mixers at some sites) and spend many hours researching. Or go to your local music store (after a bit of research so you know what you think you want) and see what they recommend. You don't have to buy what they recommend. Try Home Recording Review website Audio Recording | Home Digital Music Production, Studios, Software

Lots of info there, and they have a big comparison of PCI Audio Interfaces somewhere within that site.

You'll be lucky to get something as cheap as my old Tascam (really old but works fine) but you don't have to spend a fortune unless you want to. It took me 6 months at least to work out all this stuff - thanks to Tekker and others - it's seems complicated when you don't know what you want or what it all means, but you'll get the hang of the basics soon.

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Carol, sorry, as a gel you cannot use a man's brain. You would be chucking your old socks behind the sofa and clogging up the plughole in the bath in no time. It would never do.

It is a bit alarming, all the terms and so on, for example an audio interface. You say it is sometimes called a pre amp. Well I know what that is so maybe it wont be too bad when I get to it. I know there is a lot of stuff on the site, and I have read some of yours and truthfully I do find the technical stuff hard to follow. But I shall persevere and call for help and let you know how it goes.

Best wishes

Mike

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Just a minor correction here... Audio interfaces and preamps are all not actually the same thing. A preamp is an amplifier to boost the microphone's quiet signal up to a level (called "line level") that the rest of the unit can use. Many audio interfaces have preamps built into them, but the preamp is just a part of the whole audio interface.

PS. I'll put my brain up on ebay when I do my next upgrade. I've been looking at upgrading my memory. :D

-tkr

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Ha ha, I was waiting for you to clarify that for me, Tekker! I know when I was first researching and looking in stores, some people referred to what I wanted as a pre-amp which confused me for ages - I thought I might need a pre-amp and not an audio interface at all. It wasn't helped later when I asked someone if I should get a pre-amp as well as my Tascam (because I thought a pre-amp would 'do' more) and he said it was the same thing.

I wasn't certain if that was true, but decided to go with 'some people refer to audio interfaces as pre-amps' as the best way to think about it because they both bi-pass the computer's soundcard which was the main thing I was looking for.....I think. :D

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PS. I'll put my brain up on ebay when I do my next upgrade. I've been looking at upgrading my memory. :D

-tkr

We could do a swap - if you had my memory you would forget how smart you once were and live happily ever after. Meanwhile I'd be....... :yeahhh:

Ps there's no alzheimers in my family so it'd be a really good deal.

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It wasn't helped later when I asked someone if I should get a pre-amp as well as my Tascam (because I thought a pre-amp would 'do' more) and he said it was the same thing.

He may have meant that you don't need a preamp with the Tascam as it already has preamps built into it.

I wasn't certain if that was true, but decided to go with 'some people refer to audio interfaces as pre-amps' as the best way to think about it because they both bi-pass the computer's soundcard which was the main thing I was looking for.....I think. :D

A preamp by itself doesn't bypass the computer's soundcard.

The sound card (or audio interface) converts analog signals (guitar, microphone, etc) into digital signals for the computer as well as converting the digital signals back to analog for your speakers. A preamp on the other hand only makes the quite microphone signal louder, but it is still analog.

Normally if you were to plug a mic into a standard computer sound card, you would plug it into the "mic input". The sound card's mic input has a mic preamp built into it that boosts the signal of the mic. If you instead plugged the mic into a preamp unit, then you could go from the preamp into the "line input" on your sound card instead of the mic input because the output of the preamp is line level.

Hope that helps. :)

-tkr

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Enlightenment at last. That's one area of ignorance eliminated - only 10.000 to go - and they are only the one's I know about. Why is it so hard to find good basic information when you go looking for it? You don't have to answer that one, in fact you can take the day off.

Thanks Tekker.

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...Enlightenment at last. That's one area of ignorance eliminated - only 10.000 to go - and they are only the one's I know about. Why is it so hard to find good basic information when you go looking for it? You don't have to answer that one, in fact you can take the day off.

Thanks Tekker.

I don't know, Carol. I think the answer is mainly because the answers to many questions can be answered by understanding electronic signal flow. But not everyone knows electronics, so that makes so much of information so hard to digest. Info is hardly ever explained very well or in layman's terms, and not too many people are willing to try and explain.

I guess the deal is that we don't have to understand everything, just enough to know what it is that we want to accomplish!

But getting to know basic signal flow doesn't require a degree. And it's good knowledge to get to know because it can help you find our your own answers, or know where to begin to look.

TweakHeadz Lab Electronic Musician's Hangout is a really good resource. I think they explain things in easy terms very well. And they are very accurate, imo. Be sure to click on 'Guide' which opens up the excellent 'Guide to the Home and Project Studio' section.

But also google 'audio signal flow' and you'll have a years worth of reading.

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But also google 'audio signal flow' and you'll have a years worth of reading.

Thanks Steve! :dunno:

But I'll check out your links anyway.

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But getting to know basic signal flow doesn't require a degree.

Ahh man, you mean I went and got that electronics degree for nothing? :wacko:

-tkr

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