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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    Thanks for chiming in, Freddy
    Yes, fader resolution, I did allude to that :cool:

    That's a very good reason to keep the levels lower since the fader's resolution is best around unity gain.
    Nice interface,BTW. That's beautiful meter resolution:applause:
    So what do you make of the level argument as it relates to operations ITB. Does a plug in really not work/sound properly with those (supposedly) hot levels? I'm sometimes wondering if the opposite is true. -15dBfs with a -18dBfs reference at +4dBu equals +7dBu peaklevel. Does a piece of classic gear really sound best with peak levels that "low" ?
     
  2. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    I'm sure I can hear a difference in some plugins when they are hit hard. But this is something that should be easily tested. I will report back with my findings and methods of testing.
     
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  3. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    Thanks, Freddy
    Lokking forward to your report.
    One other thing I'm not entirely sure about is this: Do plug-ins automatically adjust to the DAWs reference level or do they run a fixed reference? In other words, if -+4dBu = 0 VU =-20dBfs at the interface, does this mean that -20dBfs is also equivalent of +4dBu at the insert where the plug in resides?
    If a plug in were referenced at -12dBfs =+4dBu and the DAW was encoding +4dBu as -20 dBfs then we'd be seeing really low levels at the input of the plug-in, because -20dBfs would be equivalent of -4dBu =8 dB below 0VU, correct?
     
  4. twangydave

    twangydave Senior Member

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    My DAW recommends audio tracks peaking around -12 dBFS - many of the other aspects of the programme (particularly digital processing) are designed to 'play nice' with audio at this level. That's good enough for me and I tend to stick to that.

    Re: the hard panning thing, one 'cheat' if you're stuck for time is record one take and then duplicate it. Pan hard left and right, select the smallest increment that your DAW can do and 'nudge' the second track forward or backward to taste. Just like adding a very tiny delay which provides a false double track. Not ideal but handy if you need it to bulk a track out quickly.
     
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  5. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    In the meantime, does this qualify as a big guitarsound? It's an honest question, not a rhetorical one, no pad on the back required, I'd like to know and I wouldn't be offended if it isn't but to my ears it has some of that upfront, unprocessed yet large sound and only a few choice notes are "doubletracked" or played in unison. It was done with 3 tracks, one mic (e906) right on the grill of a Carr Mercury on the 1/10watt setting and some canned reverb. I'm sure the record levels exceeded -12dBfs.:fingersx:

    [SC]https://soundcloud.com/yeti64/exerpt-j[/SC]

    anyway, the point is that you have to start with a big sounding amp and that's not about volume, the carr at 1/10 watt is so quiet you could wisper and drown it out but it sounds huge IMO.
     
  6. jpftribe

    jpftribe Senior Member

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    Cool stuff reminds me of The Cult
     
  7. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    I have found that there is very little difference in plugin headroom (emulated hardware, in my test case a waves 1176) when hit hard or soft. When I tried it with a non-emulating plugin (Waves L2 limiter) there was no difference at all.

    Furthermore, I also tested the theory that the bus will suffer if all the tracks are hot. With this test I did a mix of 12 hotly recorded tracks (all peaking at approx. -3Dbfs). I then destructively rendered each track with -20db of gain and exported a mix of those files. I then boosted the resulting mix by 20db and played it back simultaneously with the mix from the hot tracks. When I inverted the polarity the tracks completely cancelled each other out....therefore the theory that the bus cannot handle the sum of hot tracks is debunked. At least in my DAW which is Cubase 5 64 bit.

    Yes it does sound big! It's funny how in a recording situation the little amps sound big. My guess is that because they have less headroom we are hearing the output tube mojo more. Little amps have that "on the verge of blowing up" sound that I love!
     
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  8. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    The Carr amp is about 8 watts and it doesn't have a ton of headroom but I'm not sure that it is less headroom than some bigger amps. When I played those guitar tracks I wasn't paying much attention to how the amp sounded, I did this in the middle of the night at the 1/10th watt setting, but it just records really well, unlike some other small amps I've tried. One thing to remeber is that big guitars doen't equal tons of gain, usually less is more. The Carr doesn't have a mastervolume or preamp gain, just a tonestack bypass.
     
  9. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    Double post
     
  10. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    Thanks so much for doing this the right way by using the inverse polarity test. I wanted
    to do that but at home I use a Motu 8pre, hardly a piece of gear with tons of analog headroom and at work they pay me to work, not play:lol:
    So is it fair to say, as I did earlier, that it all comes down to knowing you I/O's limitations?
    If one can find out what the max inputlevel of the interface is and what the DAW's digital reference is then the real highest peaklevel possible can be calculated very easily.
     
  11. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Yes I would say that is where the real bottleneck is.
     
  12. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    Cool, now it is important to remember that most affordable interfaces have analog I/O that can't be hit very hard and in those scenarios the levels should be kept in the safe zone as in "yellow is the new red". I hope that the difference between digital levels and what was involved in capturing those levels has become more clear from this little threadjack:)
     
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