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Recording bass
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roachello
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 1:51 am    Post subject: Recording bass Reply with quote

What's the best way to record bass? As in what factors are important? The way SH has been recording is that we just pretty much hang a mic in front of the bass cab (in the center). I've experimented with using a full scale bass and short scales with different pickups but can't seem to get my ideal thump thumpy bass-how-low-can-you-go sound without messing with logic and protools. Either it'll sound distorted or it won't sound loud enough. Should I buy a new mic specifically for bass? Is it the bass? The distance between the mic and the speaker? etc
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Sloan
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Always use a DI with the bass. You can mix the speaker sound in later if you want.
The Tech21 bass sansamp is highly recommended. But still always get a clean dry DI track, for cleaner low end.
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MutantParty
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DI fo sho.
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light rail coyote
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 3:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Get a mic stand so the mic is actually facing the speaker. Also if the cab has ports in the back mic those. Or if it's open back just stick a mic by the back of the speaker. a lot of low end gets wasted back there
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Wilbur
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 3:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a recording bassis\, let me throw down a few bits of potentially helpful info:

First off, DI is a lot like compression: the first time we hear it used, it's the shit, and we use more and more till everything becomes sterile. DI is a great way to record bass for sure, but don't get stuck in a "oh time to do bass, well plug him in and go" rut. Be willing to mic.
Second and most important is the mic or DI itself. If you want DI only, hunt around till you can achieve the sound you want. Don't settle for strait into a board or the amps line out if you think you can do better. Someone mentioned a Sansamp, these are great, but fairly one-dimensional...if you want nothing but an Ampeg-y sound, go for it, but you will...repeat...will get tired of it eventually. The cheaper ART and Presounus boxes do wonders.
On the mic side of things, rule #1-NO 57. EVER. Not near enough low end to do the job. Not even close. Shoot for any kick mic or beefy large diaphragm condenser you can find. Even a cheaper ones (AT2020 and the like) would be better than a 57 or 58. Lastly, getting the right blend will take time. 60 DI/40 Mic is a good starting point, but be willing to find the right balance. Caution- Too much mic and woof-y-ness will insue...not enough highs for most guys' tone, but depends on the band.

The number one rule is make sure the bass gets its due of recording effort. Crappy bass track=crappy track period.
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Wilbur
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A note on placement. Farther away=more room, less punch.
Closer to cone=more Treble.
Closer to edge=more bass, less definition.

Just re-read post, and...look into a dedicated bass mic for sure. Short list includes AKG D-112, Audix D-4/6, Sure Beta 52.
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More Cowbell
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 4:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always record D.I., then I have a raw track that I can do whatever I want with. I can run it through a sansamp and get a tone I like, or back through the original bass amp and get what I want. Basically whatever sounds best for the song. Alot of the "guitar modeling" software for CPU recording have bass settings that you can run your DI'd signal through and get a tone/sound close to what you play live...or do like sloan says and record your bass cab with a kick drum mic and DI signal and mix them together.
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mickie08
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 4:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We always used an Avaln U-5. You can pick them up used for around 350-400 (kind of pricey, but avalon gear is awesome). You go into that and into the board from that. It is just a great single channel tube preamp that sounds great with bass.
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roachello
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks!! This is all really helpful!!
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James
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wilbur wrote:
First off, DI is a lot like compression: the first time we hear it used, it's the shit, and we use more and more till everything becomes sterile.


The thing I don't like about that statement is compression doesn't become sterile. I can see where you're going with the DI bass, but compression is completely different. People do tend to over use it because it's often a faily subtle effect and people like to hear things happening. That's all part of learning how to use compressors and at no point should they ever become sterile.
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James
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A simple way to think of it is 'DI = clarity' 'Mic = warmth'. The three obvious methods to using those two are to use just one, or to use both. Using just a DI can leave you lacking low end thump, just a mic can leave you with a muddy mess, and using both doesn't always solve that problem.

I would suggest spending some time playing with mics. There are only a few ways to get a DI signal, but there are a hell of a lot of ways to get the mic'd one. Here are some things to consider

- Dynamic mics are subject to proximity effect by nature of their design (think of how they go bassy if you put your mouth right up to them) This can help or hinder you when using a mic to record bass. If your amp is kicking out lots of low end, having a dynamic next to it will make the signal too boomy. Condensor mics do not (or if they do it's very little, I can't remember to be honest) have proximity effect (you'll also see it called 'bass tip-up') so if you think that could be your problem it's worth trying a condensor.

-As someone said, try aiming the mic directly at the speaker cone. This will allow you to control the proximity effect and also other little tone factors you want. Most mics that people hang other the top of cabs have a vertically mounted diaphragm like this....



.. so apart from the fact you can't control the distance from the grill cloth, it's pretty much the same as having a mic face dead on. If you're doing it with a standard vocal mic type, where the diaphragm goes across the top, you're aiming your mic at the floor and will struggle to get the awesome tones. It might be a technique that can get you through a gig where your amp isnt loud enough but it is rarely going to be the right way to record. (Sorry if I'm talking to you like a noob there, it's just best to cover the ground in case.)

- If you're worried about condensor mics and SPL, your amp is unlikely to put out a sharp transient (unlike a snare drum, which could if loud enough break a condensor) so you'll be ok unless you're rocking Naplam Death brain rattling volumes. You can put a condensor up against the cab and you'll most likely be fine. Most condensors will handle something like 120 dB without complaining too much.

- Condensors will often have a flatter and larger frequency response. They will be able to easily pick up more low end as a result. I disagee with the comment of never using a 57. I've used lots of similar mics (Beyer M88 for example) on bass with good results. The thing to keep in mind is that proximity effect will bring up the level of low end. It might not do it perfectly evenly, but it's controllable and you won't find yourself lacking 'umph' if your amp is kicking it out to begin with. Don't feel like only certain mics are good for bass. It's true that mics designed for kick drums often work well with bass cabs, but if you want to try a different mic don't give up if it doesn't immediately give great results.

- If you have a setup that allows it, have one person in a 'control room' with a talkback mic (if your mixer or interface doesnt have this, just setup a mic in the control room as though you were going to record in there) and another in the 'live room' next to the bass cab. Have both use headphones and the person in the live room slowly move the mic around according to the directions of the one in the control room. If you don't have the headphone setup to do that, you can make an extension cable by using a guitar cable and a female to female convertor, or by cutting off one connector and soldering a female connection on. It's well worth being able to have that setup, even if it means temporarly moving some gear (say if you record in the same room your mixer is) to do it.

Damn that was long. Anyway to get to the final point...

- You can send your bass through a DI and then use the unbalanced out or whatever they call it to carry on to your amp. That way you can get a DI and an amp signal and that is what I recommend doing. It will take a few goes to get the desired sound out of each. It's a bit of an odd thing to get used to because you don't necessarily want the final product in either tone. So it's a bit like taking two alcoholic drinks you don't like and mixing them to create one you do. It's hard to know if you'll like the result until you try it (by that I mean you aren't aiming to get the exact sound you want from your cab, because you can fill in the gaps with the DI, and vice versa). Keep in mind that you want your clarity and detail from the DI, and all of the smooth low end from the cab, and you should be able to balance it well.
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Wilbur
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

James wrote:
Wilbur wrote:
First off, DI is a lot like compression: the first time we hear it used, it's the shit, and we use more and more till everything becomes sterile.


The thing I don't like about that statement is compression doesn't become sterile. I can see where you're going with the DI bass, but compression is completely different. People do tend to over use it because it's often a faily subtle effect and people like to hear things happening. That's all part of learning how to use compressors and at no point should they ever become sterile.


Ever heard a song where they used to much bus compression, or compression of any kind? Exactly. I'm not saying compression is bad. I'm saying that in the wrong hands, it becomes a weapon of mass destruction. Same with DI. If everyone thinks DI sounds "kick ass" on bass, then (in their minds) why not guitar?...or anything else for that matter? That's all I was getting at.
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JamesSmann
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

we always did a combination of both with saturday's child records. i was usually close mic'd on my cab and then also a DI was used so that you could combine the two. my bass tone on the last satchild record was fucking epic due to me using a vintage SVT amp combined with di.

for my comedy band stuff i use my gearbox plugin which has a bajillion bass amp tones and a lot of them more than enough low end thump and sound pretty effing warm as well.
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Sloan
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smash the fuck out of bass, it's naturally a pretty all over as far as levels go. Also, the softer you play, the more even/solid the track will be.
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James
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wilbur wrote:
Ever heard a song where they used to much bus compression, or compression of any kind? Exactly.


What do you mean 'exactly'? That's not sterile. That's just overcompression. Just because it sounds shit doesn't mean it's sterile.

Wilbur wrote:
If everyone thinks DI sounds "kick ass" on bass, then (in their minds) why not guitar?...or anything else for that matter? That's all I was getting at.


Because instruments are different. You don't use a pop shield to record a guitar because it's not necessary, but you'd be silly to not do it with some vocalists. Guitars and basses are designed in a similar way but tonally modern music has very different requirements of them. DI works for some scenarios and genres.
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Wilbur
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 12:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

James wrote:
Wilbur wrote:
Ever heard a song where they used to much bus compression, or compression of any kind? Exactly.


What do you mean 'exactly'? That's not sterile. That's just overcompression. Just because it sounds shit doesn't mean it's sterile.

Wilbur wrote:
If everyone thinks DI sounds "kick ass" on bass, then (in their minds) why not guitar?...or anything else for that matter? That's all I was getting at.


Because instruments are different. You don't use a pop shield to record a guitar because it's not necessary, but you'd be silly to not do it with some vocalists. Guitars and basses are designed in a similar way but tonally modern music has very different requirements of them. DI works for some scenarios and genres.


Your right, my bad. Sorry. Didn't realize I could be crucified for a bad choice of words. Please everyone ignore the word "sterile" in my post. Your right, compression isn't sterile, but I mistakenly thought DI could be.DI is wonderful. Use it for bass all you want. Completely forget my first post.
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James
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wilbur wrote:
James wrote:
Wilbur wrote:
Ever heard a song where they used to much bus compression, or compression of any kind? Exactly.


What do you mean 'exactly'? That's not sterile. That's just overcompression. Just because it sounds shit doesn't mean it's sterile.

Wilbur wrote:
If everyone thinks DI sounds "kick ass" on bass, then (in their minds) why not guitar?...or anything else for that matter? That's all I was getting at.


Because instruments are different. You don't use a pop shield to record a guitar because it's not necessary, but you'd be silly to not do it with some vocalists. Guitars and basses are designed in a similar way but tonally modern music has very different requirements of them. DI works for some scenarios and genres.


Your right, my bad. Sorry. Didn't realize I could be crucified for a bad choice of words. Please everyone ignore the word "sterile" in my post. Your right, compression isn't sterile, but I mistakenly thought DI could be.DI is wonderful. Use it for bass all you want. Completely forget my first post.


I'm not crucifying you for your choice of words. I do, however, thinks it's worth being careful with them. A lot of people on here record music at a fairly beginner level and because of that they are easily misled. For what it's worth, I also prefer the sound of a well mic'd bass amp to a DI.
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Wilbur
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

James wrote:
Wilbur wrote:
James wrote:
Wilbur wrote:
Ever heard a song where they used to much bus compression, or compression of any kind? Exactly.


What do you mean 'exactly'? That's not sterile. That's just overcompression. Just because it sounds shit doesn't mean it's sterile.

Wilbur wrote:
If everyone thinks DI sounds "kick ass" on bass, then (in their minds) why not guitar?...or anything else for that matter? That's all I was getting at.


Because instruments are different. You don't use a pop shield to record a guitar because it's not necessary, but you'd be silly to not do it with some vocalists. Guitars and basses are designed in a similar way but tonally modern music has very different requirements of them. DI works for some scenarios and genres.


Your right, my bad. Sorry. Didn't realize I could be crucified for a bad choice of words. Please everyone ignore the word "sterile" in my post. Your right, compression isn't sterile, but I mistakenly thought DI could be.DI is wonderful. Use it for bass all you want. Completely forget my first post.


I'm not crucifying you for your choice of words. I do, however, thinks it's worth being careful with them. A lot of people on here record music at a fairly beginner level and because of that they are easily misled. For what it's worth, I also prefer the sound of a well mic'd bass amp to a DI.


Agreed I should have been more careful. Allow me to rephrase.


Don't over compress shit.

Be willing to experiment with bass signal just as much as guitar. Be creative. There are no rules, only what sounds good to you. Start out with the suggestions we have given you here, and come up with your own tricks from there.
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paul_
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For home recording, I use a DI only and subtlely employ my console's onboard compressor because I tend to get surges of "fuck yeah" when I'm not fucking up a bassline and overload my precariously set levels with my fingers' sense of self-satisfaction.

I used to mic an amp and mix it in with the DI but I only have a crap practice bass amp or a 70's marshall bass amp (i.e. a dirty sounding tube head through a guitar cabinet) and found myself only using the DI the vast majority of the time... so I cut it out and bass is the least hassle out of all other tracks recorded now.

Mixing is a different story, of course. I find that's where all the bass magic happens. As Cowbell said, if you have a good, clean raw bass track, the sky's the limit. I don't have any recordings where the bass sounds the same, even though my bass guitar only gets one sound and I DI it using the same signal path and compression setting every single time. Since the only two sounds I had on a bass prior to doing much recording with one were "pick" and "no pick", I'm putting it down to EQ, panning and interaction with other tracks. Mixing is so much fun, it's practically a video game. MAKE THE BASS SOUND NOT SO SHIT is the hardest level next to FUCK YOU DRUMS.

If you're insistent on mic-ing a cab though, I would not only DI it as well, but check out low-frequency mics like the shure beta 52 or the audix D6. Fantastic mics for bass drums and bass guitar cabinets, in my personal experience. If I got a sweet bass amp the D6 is the first mic I'd buy.
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Sloan
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

paul_ wrote:
MAKE THE BASS SOUND NOT SO SHIT is the hardest level next to FUCK YOU DRUMS.


golden
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