Recording a single guitar for a big sound (ZZ Top, Bonamassa, etc)

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Barcslay, Feb 18, 2014.

  1. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    My post was a response to Freddy who said it won't do a thing. I will do something, it's do the same thing as moving the fader on a single track up 3 dB. That in itself may lead some to believe it is somehow better (Gee, the guitar got bigger!...no, it just got louder!!) which is nonsense :D

    Regarding digital recording, there is nothing wrong with recording peaks at
    -6dBfs or even at -1 IF you have a great interface and meters that you can trust. Most meters on cheaper interfaces can't be trusted at all. -1dBfs doesn't sound any worse or better than -14 dBfs. If it sounds bad at those levels it's a function of the analog frontend of the interface being distorted, it has nothing to do with digital. If you use a high-end console or interface you should be able to record clean all the way up to zero, I know I do on a Euphonix S5.
    check the specs. If your maximum inputlevel is +24dBu and you're referenced at -20dBfs then you can record all the way up the scale with an analog referencelevel of +4dBu. If your max inputlevel is +16dBu and you're referenced at -12dBfs you can go all the way. If you're running a -10dBv consumer recorder that can handle +1.5dBu and you're referenced at -12dBfs then you can go all the way to zero dBfs as well.I'm not saying you should but you can. I use a hi quality field mixer often and I set the very good sounding limiter to +17 VU. That way the highest peaks hitting the analog frontend of the recorder will stay just below 0dBfs in the digital domain and it sounds clean, no problem, regardless of what the source is.
     
  2. Username1

    Username1 Senior Member

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    my bad
     
  3. LenPaul

    LenPaul Premium Member

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    In the DAW world doesn't this depend on the pan law setting?
    Besides that, a good percentage of digital recordists record a single input onto a stereo track in the daw,
    you might think that would mess things up a bit too.
     
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  4. Tidewater

    Tidewater Senior Member

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    Yes on the panning laws. The question wasn't to make it louder. The question was make it sound great. Great sound, good mic, right spot, gentle treatment.

    And don't limit on tracking. If you don't have a great analog compressor don't do anything but aim for -12 peak or soak the hell out of the mix pair when you get there.
     
  5. LenPaul

    LenPaul Premium Member

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    That demonstration Freddy posted is the way I would do it & have been doing it since the analogue days, the recording levels & outboard gear in the chain is a whole different topic that could be debated for eons.
    But I get what you are saying.
     
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  6. Tidewater

    Tidewater Senior Member

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    The levels and everything else matters. We aren't printing to GP9.

    I'm a record producer, and not an internet one. Just sayin'..
     

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  7. LenPaul

    LenPaul Premium Member

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    Noted. I've been to the Juno awards 3 times, that doesn"t mean squat, cause I didn't win anything.:)
     
  8. Tidewater

    Tidewater Senior Member

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    :)

    4th time is the charm.
     
  9. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    the pan law would affect how much louder 2 identical hard-panned tracks are vs a single centerpanned one, I assumed a -3dB pan law which is what most analog consoles use. As far as recording a single input to a stereo track, why would anyone do this?
    Anyway, not trying to argue, just adding to Freddy's post.
     
  10. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    I've been trying to get a straight answer on this subject for quite some time. Folks say "don't record at levels that would melt the tape" or stuff like that. The rational is that the plug in's are designed with analog operating levels in mind and anything close to 0dBfs is too hot. When you look at the specs of that classic analog gear you'll find that it can operate just fine at levels +20dB above nominal. good analog gear usually has tons of headroom so why would we assume that in a DAW referenced at -14dBfs we shouldn't record higher than -12 which is equivalent +6dBu (or +12dBu if referenced at -20dBfs). I don't remember the numbers but an 1176 can run at +8dBu nominal with close to 18 dB of headroom.
    It doesn't make sense unless the analog front end of the AD converter can't handle the levels that would convert to higher digital levels and the DA converter can't output them w/o distortion. That happens all the time. I've seen gear speced at -10dBv nominal with a maximum inputlevel of +1.5dBu, that's roughly 10 dB of headroom so you better record super conservatively because most sources need more headroom than that.
    I believe THAT is the reason why one shouldn't record at levels close to 0dBfs. But if your analog frontend can handle it, then you can record hot.

    I would love to hear some opinions on this because I could be overlooking something.
     
  11. LenPaul

    LenPaul Premium Member

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    I don't think there is a definitive answer to digital record level, some say -12db or even lower. while others say as hot as can be without clipping.
    With 32 bit floating point in daws , many engineers say it makes no difference what levels you record at, the only thing that matters is the level on the master buss when you go to bounce out your mix. I've seen some pretty good mixes done with a lot of faders well up into the red & the engineer could care less.
    Of course the individual tracks were recorded with no clipping, but the levels they were recorded at are not as significant as they were in the analogue domain.
     
  12. Tidewater

    Tidewater Senior Member

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  13. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    2 issues here, analog clipping at the I/O and digital clipping.
    floating point processing gives you the ability to have clean "overs" inside the box and that is good insurance although it shouldn't happen in the first place, IMO.
    Analog clipping is a function of the analog I/O (AD and DA converters) as well as shifts in true peak levels at the output due to oversampling and data compression.

    What does this all mean? IMO, if you use "affordable" home-recording gear, by all means, keep the levels at a safe margin because you can't trust your meters and you won't have the analog headroom to record hot tracks, BUT if you're remixing a Protools session done in a pro studio and the raw files are "hot" don't assume that they were recorded wrong, if the I/O was up to the job then there is no issue.
    Would love to hear Freddy or John chime in.
     
  14. Tidewater

    Tidewater Senior Member

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    There is no reason to hit the machine that hard. You end up soaking the mix bus at the end, firstly.

    You could track at -30 or less and take advantage of dynamics because there isn't the noise floor. It's really simple. Try it. You'll love it.
     
  15. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    I've heard all that before, no need to track hot, you've got 24 bit =144dB dynamic range, etc. I understand it perfectly but what I don't understand is why anyone thinks that a digital level of close to 0dBfs is supposed to sound bad, harsh, tinny and what not. It's not the level that's the problem, it's how it was captured and how it is converted back to analog. I can assure you that 0dBfs on our S5 sounds great, no problem. Is it good practice? No, but IMO it's even worse to under-record everything as many pres don't sound their best when dialed in too conservatively. It's a bit like that Warren Buffet statement "Diversification is protection against ignorance. It makes little sense if you know what you are doing.'', one could say "recording at low levels is protection against ignorance regarding one's gear's distortion specs."
    the best scenario is when you have clever preamp/converters like the API A2D which lets you deal with digital levels independently from what's happening in the analog domain. Hit it as hard as you want and use the digital trim to get the ITB levels you want.
     
  16. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    I get all that. I track at conservative levels for the same reasons that many do. It keeps me from having to run faders at lower levels during the mix and it offers protection if there's no outboard gear available. But my point was that it's wrong to assume that just because a level is hot in the digital domain it must be sounding bad. -1dBfs sounds the same as -20dBfs if all else is equal (distortion first and foremost)
    BTW, in certain situations you might think that you're tracking at safe peaklevels and, boom, out of nowhere you're getting close to zero due to some unexpected audio event.

    maybe one should look at interfaces the same way that one used to look at audio consoles. Engineers used to refer to certain consoles as "louder" than others even though they all ran at the same operating level. The difference was the amount of headroom available at every stage. You could run a Harrison extremely hot w/o clipping and then contain the masterbus enough to keep peaklevels in check but have a really loud output signal. Same with tapemachines. Some had wimpy electronics that couldn't be hit hard (I think it's really funny how Fostex MTRs are now being used that way to get "THAT" sound) while others had solid front ends that allowed for lot's of creative tweaking.
    Interfaces and DAWs are the same way, with good I/Oa and floating point processing you can run it up all the way. Maybe you shouldn't but you could.
    Again, I'd welcome input because as I write this I'm well aware that I might be overlooking something. I'm only speaking from experience, not from a 100% solid engineering position.
     
  17. Tidewater

    Tidewater Senior Member

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    It's not my priority to continue on the subject. I offered my experienced professional advice on a guitar forum where most guys are using garage band with an Mbox then got trapped into a one-sided debate about my own experience.

    Enough
     
  18. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    Haha, you did offer this advice did you not?

    By itself it does not make for good advice, IMHO unless your foregone conclusion is that everyone here's a novice using audacity and a 99 cent soundcard. Why can't we discuss this a bit more in depth? Who's debating your experience? And why so dismissive about this section of the forum?
     
  19. Roger G Lewis

    Roger G Lewis Senior Member

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    Great Sound cool song too.:dude::dude:
     
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  20. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    I track conservatively even though most of my analogue front end equipment has boatloads of headroom.

    I just took a look at my input levels for that video I put up a few posts back....guitars are averaging somewhere around -15dBFS.

    I have never noticed any degredation of sound even if I go to 0dBFS with my analogue front end...it still has plenty of gas left.

    But the reason I track on the conservative side is not because of the argument presented here....it's much simpler and more practical as far as I'm concerned.
    It's because I want resolution on my faders! If you track really hot then your faders sit very low during mixdown....it's harder to move a fader half a db when it's sitting at -30 for example... when the fader lives closer to unity it's much easier!

    Oh and BTW....it's happy new interface day for me ...yeah!

    I just upgraded from my $0.99 soundcard to this....:D

    [​IMG]

    Now I need to upgrade from garage band. :naughty:
     
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