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-   -   Spend Money on Mics or Save for 'Real' Studio (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=527866)

Jack Orion 11-11-2018 11:25 AM

Spend Money on Mics or Save for 'Real' Studio
 
Hi all,

I've been thinking about recording an album of solo-instrumental pieces in a sort-of John-Fahey-esque style and I'm currently working out the logistics of this.

I've been in 'real' studios before, but I really prefer working at home or in more informal places where I'm not watching the clock - here's my latest 'demo' that I recorded with an Oktava MK012 at the 12th fret, and a Rode NT1a at the bridge



Which I think sounds ok but could be better - I 'processed' the track through some UAD Plugins (Studer A800, LA2a, EMT140 Plate Reverb, and Ampex Tape) and I think it sounds fine for a demo, but I'd like a final recording to sound better.

So I'm trying to work out where to spend my money... do I spend the money on a studio and track, mix and master in the studio or do I buy some better mics, record myself, maybe get it mixed and mastered elsewhere...

I figure for the style I want a couple of good mics (been looking at the beyer mc930) in x/y or ORFT in a decent sounding space would be fine - I could hire a hall for a few day at a low price and not have the 9-5 pressure of being in the studio for the tracking, and then spend a day or two mixing.

Or do you think I'm better off saving my money for getting a proper studio for a few days where all I have to worry about is playing and they handle all the recording duties?

Howard Emerson 11-11-2018 11:38 AM

Jack,
Listen to me, please.....

The sound quality I'm hearing coming through my iMac built in speakers sounds fine, but the REAL point is this: Your playing is really good, and the musical content is really good!

THAT, my friend, is the crux of the matter.

I have heard all manner of recording tests here on this forum, and other places. The majority of what I hear doesn't get me to listen to more than 30 seconds or so because the MUSICAL CONTENT is so weak, or non existent.

As long as YOU are the final arbiter of your ability to 'stand up to the microphones' and put your heart & soul on the line, then the hard part is done.

Make it a clean enough recording that you're able to take it to a good studio for all the editing and mastering.

How many people have listened to the most scratched up 78's just trying to glean one iota of the musicality they're hearing past those scratches?

Content is what it's all about, especially when it's just you and your guitar.

If you play it for someone who's listening for stereo balance, ambient noise, etc, etc...then you've already failed, or they're just not getting what you're doing.

Best regards,
Howard Emerson

Wengr 11-11-2018 11:39 AM

I don't think the question can be answered, without a lot of information about the space at home that you would use, your willingness to treat it, and the professional studio that you might select.
I have seen multiple professional studios where they really don't have any conception of what makes a good solo fingerstyle record.

Btw. I really like the clip. Very nice playing.

Wrighty 11-11-2018 11:46 AM

Cant answer your question based on my only listening on my IPad, but I can say that is sounds great - really nice..

runamuck 11-11-2018 12:23 PM

I agree with Howard Emerson.

GuitarsFromMars 11-11-2018 12:23 PM

This is good. The recording is acceptable. You can use what you have and get it mastered in a pro environment. Check with the mastering engineers available, and ask if there is anything missing, then get about doing it.

rick-slo 11-11-2018 12:25 PM

Sounds fine as is. Work a bit more on post recording adjustments - e.g. where to apply high pass filter, possibly some other equalization tweaks, best reverb sound you can get, etc..
There is a trace of recording gear self noise but not enough to really create a problem.

ljguitar 11-11-2018 02:04 PM

Wow Jack!

Nice song, great dynamics, and flows very well…

Now what was your question, again?




Andy Howell 11-11-2018 04:44 PM

Ben - the Beyerdynamic 930s are superb mics for the price. I use mine as a stereo pair but have experimented with using them mid side with a large condenser like your Rode. Very interesting this and might work for solo pieces.

If you decide to go down this route these mics are very natural sounding to my ears and are good on just about anything.

Jack Orion 11-11-2018 05:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Howard Emerson (Post 5887307)
Jack,
Listen to me, please.....

The sound quality I'm hearing coming through my iMac built in speakers sounds fine, but the REAL point is this: Your playing is really good, and the musical content is really good!

THAT, my friend, is the crux of the matter.

I have heard all manner of recording tests here on this forum, and other places. The majority of what I hear doesn't get me to listen to more than 30 seconds or so because the MUSICAL CONTENT is so weak, or non existent.

As long as YOU are the final arbiter of your ability to 'stand up to the microphones' and put your heart & soul on the line, then the hard part is done.

Make it a clean enough recording that you're able to take it to a good studio for all the editing and mastering.

How many people have listened to the most scratched up 78's just trying to glean one iota of the musicality they're hearing past those scratches?

Content is what it's all about, especially when it's just you and your guitar.

If you play it for someone who's listening for stereo balance, ambient noise, etc, etc...then you've already failed, or they're just not getting what you're doing.

Best regards,
Howard Emerson

Thank you Howard - this is one of my favourite posts ever! it is all about the music at the end of the day and I know that I can ignore the shortcomings of recordings if the performance and music is good.

Quote:

Originally Posted by GuitarsFromMars (Post 5887341)
This is good. The recording is acceptable. You can use what you have and get it mastered in a pro environment. Check with the mastering engineers available, and ask if there is anything missing, them get about doing it.

Thanks - this is my thoughts as well - record clean enough, get the performance right, then ask someone with the knowledge to mix/master it

Quote:

Originally Posted by rick-slo (Post 5887344)
Sounds fine as is. Work a bit more on post recording adjustments - e.g. where to apply high pass filter, possibly some other equalization tweaks, best reverb sound you can get, etc..
There is a trace of recording gear self noise but not enough to really create a problem.

Thank you - the Oktava I borrowed was making a bit of noise which did make it on to the recording and there's a few low end thumps from doors being opened and closed next door too!

Quote:

Originally Posted by ljguitar (Post 5887420)
Wow Jack!

Nice song, great dynamics, and flows very well…

Now what was your question, again?




Heheh, thank you!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andy Howell (Post 5887542)
Ben - the Beyerdynamic 930s are superb mics for the price. I use mine as a stereo pair but have experimented with using them mid side with a large condenser like your Rode. Very interesting this and might work for solo pieces.

If you decide to go down this route these mics are very natural sounding to my ears and are good on just about anything.

Hi Andy - saw your video on the other forum and that turned me on to the beyerdynamics. My thinking is, for the sort of music I'm doing, those in an xy with a clean recording would be a good place to start from...

MikeMcKee 11-11-2018 07:55 PM

From my personal experience, I had a stereo pair of MK-012's and I now have and use exclusively a stereo pair of Beyer 930's. Absolutely love them.

Mbroady 11-11-2018 09:14 PM

Recording equipment can be a deep rabbit whole. Mics, preamps, converters....big money. All the best equipment will not make a great recording if the room is lame

You recording sounds good, so Imthink you are close. could it sound better, always. Bring it in to someone who has an ear for mixing and mastering who can take your tracks and bring them to another level.

You have a nice vibe and cool playing. I enjoyed it.

DupleMeter 11-11-2018 10:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jack Orion (Post 5887297)
Hi all,

I've been thinking about recording an album of solo-instrumental pieces in a sort-of John-Fahey-esque style and I'm currently working out the logistics of this.

I've been in 'real' studios before, but I really prefer working at home or in more informal places where I'm not watching the clock - here's my latest 'demo' that I recorded with an Oktava MK012 at the 12th fret, and a Rode NT1a at the bridge



Which I think sounds ok but could be better - I 'processed' the track through some UAD Plugins (Studer A800, LA2a, EMT140 Plate Reverb, and Ampex Tape) and I think it sounds fine for a demo, but I'd like a final recording to sound better.

So I'm trying to work out where to spend my money... do I spend the money on a studio and track, mix and master in the studio or do I buy some better mics, record myself, maybe get it mixed and mastered elsewhere...

I figure for the style I want a couple of good mics (been looking at the beyer mc930) in x/y or ORFT in a decent sounding space would be fine - I could hire a hall for a few day at a low price and not have the 9-5 pressure of being in the studio for the tracking, and then spend a day or two mixing.

Or do you think I'm better off saving my money for getting a proper studio for a few days where all I have to worry about is playing and they handle all the recording duties?

The recording sounds good. Your playing is musical & emotional...very well played. This is completely usable, IMHO, but I'm going to suggest that you spend money on a professional mix engineer. It's the middle ground that most people forget exists for them. You can record at home. Just let someone with a better space, better tools and experience do the mixing to really get the best from your tracks.

If you want to hear what can come of a recording like this one at the hands of an experienced mixer, PM me. I'd be happy to take these raw tracks & do a quick mix (por gratis, of course) to give you a sense of what you could expect. Then, when you record your album tracks, you can find someone you feel comfortable working with to get everything mixed (it absolutely doesn't have to be me).

DoryDavis 11-12-2018 04:37 AM

Recording at home, then having it mixed and mastered is the best of both worlds. What little you might gain from the acoustics in a pro studio is well offset by convenience, and the economic advantage of recording at home (you can take as long as you like).
Use effects to record if you like, but don't record the effects. Put them just in your headphones. Decent mics plus common sense recording techinques plus of course your good playing will provide the mix/master studio the raw footage to make into something really special. imho

Ty Ford 11-13-2018 09:27 AM

Sounds fine, Jack.

I'm using Audio-Technica ATH-e70 in-ears on a late model MacBopok Pro right at the moment. The ATH-e70 are relatively new for me and (I think) are a little bright. What guitar? What strings? Mine's a 19870s D28s with mediums, so not quite so bright.

I don't know what your guitar sounds like "in person." It sounds more Taylor than Martin. I think you have a fine recording FOR YOUR PURPOSES.

Nice playing, nice piece.

Yes, you can get different "colors" with different recording setups. Yes, as mentioned, during mastering, I think someone could smooth the brightness, if indeed my ATH-e70 are not lying to me.

Well Done!

Regards,

Ty Ford

islandguitar 11-13-2018 09:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DoryDavis (Post 5887869)
Recording at home, then having it mixed and mastered is the best of both worlds. What little you might gain from the acoustics in a pro studio is well offset by convenience, and the economic advantage of recording at home (you can take as long as you like).
Use effects to record if you like, but don't record the effects. Put them just in your headphones. Decent mics plus common sense recording techinques plus of course your good playing will provide the mix/master studio the raw footage to make into something really special. imho

I have worked sending files of home recordings with a separate mix/master engineer and been very pleased.
One option:

www.mixandmastermysong.com

Matty is really excellent and responds quickly to questions. His turnaround time is also stellar. He's in California.

rick-slo 11-13-2018 11:14 AM

The main thing I have heard on before and after mastering solo guitar (at least online stuff) an increase in loudness. Not much else. Get the best recording going in.
Do some experimental post tweaking (mainly EQ and reverb) to see if you have something workable. If so, then, just maybe, send out the raw recording and see if
they can do better than you.

rockabilly69 11-13-2018 12:09 PM

Like others have said, a lot has to do with the room you record in at home. And you really don't know what you're going to get from recording in a "Pro" studio unless you actually do it. At very least you need to see if that pro has recorded the type of music that you are doing, and does he have the type of equipment/environment that will bring out the best in your playing. If it's a good place, and if you have your playing down, you could knock out quite a few songs in a short while, so the expense shouldn't be that much.

Buying high end microphones is a crap-shoot. You can go down a pretty expensive rabbit hole looking for the mics that work for you. But on the other hand, once you find what you like, you can record as many times as you like with them. You could also rent high end microphones to see if they work in your environment, either in your home, or in the hall you rent.

Funny, I went through exactly what you are going through now, and, I went so far to audition a lot of rooms to find a great natural sound for recording acoustic guitars. Now I rent a space in an historic building that sounds exactly like what I was looking for. I record a few other musicians once in a while to help pay the rent.

Jack Orion 11-14-2018 03:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ty Ford (Post 5888858)
Sounds fine, Jack.

I'm using Audio-Technica ATH-e70 in-ears on a late model MacBopok Pro right at the moment. The ATH-e70 are relatively new for me and (I think) are a little bright. What guitar? What strings? Mine's a 19870s D28s with mediums, so not quite so bright.

I don't know what your guitar sounds like "in person." It sounds more Taylor than Martin. I think you have a fine recording FOR YOUR PURPOSES.

Nice playing, nice piece.

Yes, you can get different "colors" with different recording setups. Yes, as mentioned, during mastering, I think someone could smooth the brightness, if indeed my ATH-e70 are not lying to me.

Well Done!

Regards,

Ty Ford

Hi Ty - the guitar is a Collings OM2hT with Daddario EJ16s - on this recording they were probably about 3 weeks old.

Quote:

Originally Posted by rockabilly69 (Post 5889051)
Like others have said, a lot has to do with the room you record in at home. And you really don't know what you're going to get from recording in a "Pro" studio unless you actually do it. At very least you need to see if that pro has recorded the type of music that you are doing, and does he have the type of equipment/environment that will bring out the best in your playing. If it's a good place, and if you have your playing down, you could knock out quite a few songs in a short while, so the expense shouldn't be that much.

Buying high end microphones is a crap-shoot. You can go down a pretty expensive rabbit hole looking for the mics that work for you. But on the other hand, once you find what you like, you can record as many times as you like with them. You could also rent high end microphones to see if they work in your environment, either in your home, or in the hall you rent.

Funny, I went through exactly what you are going through now, and, I went so far to audition a lot of rooms to find a great natural sound for recording acoustic guitars. Now I rent a space in an historic building that sounds exactly like what I was looking for. I record a few other musicians once in a while to help pay the rent.

That's a good idea re: renting a space - I'd really like to find somewhere that I could rent at a reasonable price in order to have a recording setup permanently set up as it's a faff having to set up and break down everytime I want to record something...

Ty Ford 11-14-2018 09:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jack Orion (Post 5889698)
Hi Ty - the guitar is a Collings OM2hT with Daddario EJ16s - on this recording they were probably about 3 weeks old.

light, medium?

Jack Orion 11-14-2018 11:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ty Ford (Post 5889887)
light, medium?

12-53, CGCFCD tuning

rockabilly69 11-14-2018 02:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jack Orion (Post 5889698)
That's a good idea re: renting a space - I'd really like to find somewhere that I could rent at a reasonable price in order to have a recording setup permanently set up as it's a faff having to set up and break down everytime I want to record something...

Here's the space I found right after moving in. What you can't see in the picture is that's a pretty big room, enough to record bands, and I have a few sound deadening panels that I move around to isolate instruments from each other. Most of all I can just walk in and push record when I'm in the mood. I always have microphones set up for me (covers on them when I'm not there), and templates set up in my computers DAW that make it really easy for me to get recording...

https://i.imgur.com/0YsU7PU.jpg


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