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  #46  
Old 01-26-2012, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by DarkestDreaming View Post
Doug, that would be very much appreciated! I've sent you a track which i recorded.. to the email that you provided at your profile. The one that is hosted at your site
Got your track, nice playing, and really a pretty good sound. Do you mind if we discuss it here where people can chime in as well?
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  #47  
Old 01-26-2012, 07:36 PM
DarkestDreaming DarkestDreaming is offline
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Not a problem, Doug. This is after all a forum where a free flow of information should be happening
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  #48  
Old 01-26-2012, 08:16 PM
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Not a problem, Doug. This is after all a forum where a free flow of information should be happening
OK, great. I'll do a mix and post some info as a follow up shortly. But, a couple of questions and comments right off the bat.

It helps to have a reference track. This is very much in the style of Antoine DuFour, so I'm assuming that's the sound you're shooting for? Do you have a track whose sound you like? He tends to have different amounts of reverb, for example. Stylistically, I thought Wapus was very close to your track, but let me know if you hear your ideal mix as being more like something else.

As far as your basic track, the biggest issue is that it's mono. With a few rare exceptions, the sound of modern fingerstyle is stereo. I'm wondering if you're thinking that the openness, etc, of finished tracks like Antoine's come from post-production? Part of it is for sure, but the biggest single difference in your track vs Antoine's sound is that he's in stereo. Recording this with 2 mics would make a huge, huge, huge difference. Did I mention huge? :-)

And of course, you've already partially mixed this. Even having the separate pickup and mic tracks would provide more options during a mix.

Your track sounds pretty good, tho, other than being mono. There are two main issues.

The 1st is a bit of hum, clearly heard in the beginning. I can knock that down or out, but I'd suggest tracing down the source. I suspect it's coming from the pickup.

The 2nd one is that the levels are rather hot. You have a lot of percussive peaks here, all hitting at 0db. Unless you did some processing to create this, I assume you just recorded too hot, and they're clearly clipping. They're so short and sharp that it's not a huge deal, you won't hear the distortion, but in general, you want to leave some headroom, at least a few db above the highest peak. You have plenty of room with 24 bits, no reason to record that loud. You can bring up the final level during the mix and mastering.
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Last edited by Doug Young; 01-26-2012 at 10:41 PM.
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  #49  
Old 01-26-2012, 09:32 PM
mcoliver77 mcoliver77 is offline
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I'm very, very new to recording at this level of detail so I really find this discussion interesting. I need to first say a big THANKS for all the information you guys have contributed! Tremendous help to a noob like me.

Doug, hope you don't mind me asking. When recording the pickup, I'm guessing plug a cable in the guitar with the other end into the recording PC? And do you recommend putting an EQ preamp in between?

Reason I ask is because I tried plugging my guitars and recording direct (use the PC's mic/line in, not really optimal I know, but I was curious. And I have yet to buy my first PC preamp interface). They all sound very...digital, trying to find a better word for it but.

When I compare that sound to the spill I was getting from another mic (H1 used as usb vocal mic), the more it sounded very different.

...the experiment and recording continues...
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  #50  
Old 01-26-2012, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by mcoliver77 View Post
Doug, hope you don't mind me asking. When recording the pickup, I'm guessing plug a cable in the guitar with the other end into the recording PC? And do you recommend putting an EQ preamp in between?
I doubt you'll get a very good sound that way. The mic or line inputs on a computer are usually below the quality threshold for decent sound, and for a pickup, it's possible that the impedance is too low to work well. Some sort of preamp for the pickup should help a lot, and almost any recording interface is likely to work better than the builtin PC inputs.
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  #51  
Old 01-26-2012, 11:13 PM
DarkestDreaming DarkestDreaming is offline
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Doug, this is in fact an excerpt of an Antoine Dufour piece called 'Reality". However, i dont think we'll use that as a reference track because he was recorded on a baritone guitar, down a 4th from what i was playing it in and he used an LR Baggs magnetic to get that sound. Let's use Wapus as a reference track

I mentioned in my email to you that i recorded it with the intention of just testing the KnK pickup out, which at the time i just purchased, so i just sent the mic/pickup blend to a mono track for convenience. That was also why i recorded it too hot, as i did a few takes on different settings and didnt want to master them all for the purpose of comparison with some external raw tracks which i thought were good recordings.

Also there was no external mic being used. If you wish, i could re-record it with the pickup and mic being two separate mono tracks (with lower levels of course), that way you can make a pseudo-stereo sound?

The track was not mixed at all. I sent it to you right as i recorded it but i did take a lot of time tweaking the KnK preamp so that it was as balanced as possible going into the recording. Also, the hum was in fact a table fan blowing at me... i wasn't really recording it with the intention of making a proper track, just testing out the pickup so i sorta not bothered, plus it was really hot XD

Last edited by DarkestDreaming; 01-26-2012 at 11:17 PM. Reason: left out a point
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  #52  
Old 01-27-2012, 12:34 AM
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Originally Posted by DarkestDreaming View Post
However, i dont think we'll use that as a reference track because he was recorded on a baritone guitar,
yeah, that will likely have a very different sound, but I'll check it out.

Quote:
The track was not mixed at all.
Well, that's a "mix" happening at your preamp level. I was assuming you were using an external mic, tho. That's quite a good sound for a direct pickup recording. I'd say don't bother with redoing it, what you really need to do to get some real mics into the process - just separating the pickup sources out isn't likely to be that much help compared to what you have. Did Antoine really record this tune *just* with a magnetic pickup? Listening to it, it seems unlikely, there's a lot of stereo going on there. I could believe it's at least one external mic and a mag, more likely 2+ the pickup.

In any case, so what we're really doing here is mixing a pickup recording, which is a pretty big handicap compared to the sounds you're trying to mimic. I know I've beat this horse to the point of death, but I assume the real question behind your original post was "how do I get a sound that's like what I hear on modern fingerstyle recordings?". And the answer invariably is "start with a good stereo micing technique". That's how it's done. You'll never match the sounds you hear on 99% of contemporary solo fingerstyle recordings with a pickup or even a single mic.

I'll make a stab at a mix of this and post it shortly, but I don't think it will really achieve what you want, because we're starting from the wrong point - a pickup.
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  #53  
Old 01-27-2012, 12:36 AM
DarkestDreaming DarkestDreaming is offline
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the KnK system is actually a contact pickup and an internal electret condenser mic. Does that count?

Also when my friend asked him how he recorded this tune (the youtube version):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQlyHbu0zz4

he mentioned that it was only his knk trinity, so it was kinda one of the reasons i bought that system
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  #54  
Old 01-27-2012, 01:01 AM
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Originally Posted by DarkestDreaming View Post
the KnK system is actually a contact pickup and an internal electret condenser mic. Does that count?
Yes, I'm familiar with the system - I use a K&K with a much upgraded mic myself. It in no way is a match for external studio mics. If you want the sound people get on fingerstyle records, you need mics. Seriously. If you want an "ok home pickup recording", to hear yourself and improve your playing, share with a few friends, etc, a pickup will probably do. But if you want to sound like the pros, you need mics.

Quote:

Also when my friend asked him how he recorded this tune (the youtube version):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQlyHbu0zz4

he mentioned that it was only his knk trinity, so it was kinda one of the reasons i bought that system
The K&K is a very nice pickup for live use. Recording, less so. Antoine may very well use one for his you tube videos, tho you can clearly see a large condenser mic in the shadow in this video. Maybe it's turned off, but this does not sound like a pickup-only recording to me, tho it certainly has a lot of pickup sound in there.

Honest, if you want a good recording of an acoustic guitar, use external mics! It's not even a matter of opinion.
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  #55  
Old 01-27-2012, 01:20 AM
DarkestDreaming DarkestDreaming is offline
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Even if it is a pair of Rode NT-5s in an untreated room? I'm hesitant because i've heard a lot of crappy recordings done in that manner... and something better than the above scenario will cost me a small fortune. How much do you think is a good budget to allocate for a good home recording with acoustic guitar, factoring only mics and room treatment.
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  #56  
Old 01-27-2012, 01:31 AM
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OK, here's a mix. This isn't really what I expected to do, I didn't realize you were trying to record with just a pickup. Please, try mics! It will change your whole perspective. I'd be glad to help out again if you try using mics and need some help figuring it out. Meanwhile here's the best I could do with the mono pickup recording:

Here's your original:

Original Mono pickup recording

And here's my attempt at a mix:

Mix

I'll save the project, so if you want to know details about settings, I'm happy to provide them. But basically. I used iZotope RX to reduce the hum, and also cut off the beginning blank space so you don't hear what's left of the noise. I used a limiter on the track, set to just trigger on the percussive peaks. This reduced them by about 6 db, without touching any of the non-percussive parts, which then lets me raise the overall volume of the track. I used Logic's stereo simulator to add a little bit of fake stereo. That's debatable, but I think it's a little better than the mono. This plugin works by EQing each side differently, producing differences that your ears hear as sort of stereo. I added little midrange boost to warm the track up, about 3db centered at 18Hz. I added a generous amount of short "room reverb", with a reverb time of 0.8 seconds - this adds some space and again sort of substitutes for being mono, adding some width, and then a tiny bit of longer reverb, about 3 seconds. Top it all off with the Ozone maximer compressor to bring up the overall punch.

I think it sounds pretty nice for a pickup, but it's still a pickup.
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  #57  
Old 01-27-2012, 01:40 AM
DarkestDreaming DarkestDreaming is offline
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Awesome Doug. I'll have to wait until i get home to hear it. I don't have proper monitoring now. Thanks! Will consider the mics too
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  #58  
Old 01-27-2012, 01:43 AM
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Originally Posted by DarkestDreaming View Post
Even if it is a pair of Rode NT-5s in an untreated room? I'm hesitant because i've heard a lot of crappy recordings done in that manner... and something better than the above scenario will cost me a small fortune. How much do you think is a good budget to allocate for a good home recording with acoustic guitar, factoring only mics and room treatment.
You can do a lot on a budget. Check out the $500 total budget example I posted toward the end of my "Evolution" thread. I could get a much better sound than that with a bit more attention to details. Here's the track, so you don't have to chase it down. Zoom H4n, a pair of Audio Technica AT2020 that I paid $50 each for. No room treatment.

http://www.dougyoungguitar.com/mp3/B...ording_mix.wav

May not knock you out, but I don't think it sounds "crappy".

An example of a budget commercial recording I know of is Adam Rafferty's Christmas CD. He recorded that on a Zoom H4n with a pair of NT5s in an untreated bedroom. Even a Zoom H4n with the builtin internal mics ($299 total) will beat the sound of a pickup.
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  #59  
Old 01-27-2012, 02:03 AM
redavide redavide is offline
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Obviously, but I'll say it anyway, Doug's mix brings the original much, much closer to the sound of the Dufour clips . . .

I think what's most responsible is the increased "punch" of the percussive hits on the strings, etc. In the original, they were kind of dead -- not like a Dufour recording where those string hits and slaps sound like a drummer really whacking a snare drum. In Doug's mix, that critical part of the Dufouresque sound is a big improvement.

Also, the added reverb brings it closer to Dufour -- his percussive hits linger on for a long time . . . and now, so do DD's -- originally they kind of died out much too quickly.

Doug, can you be more specific about the reverb you used?
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  #60  
Old 01-27-2012, 02:48 AM
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Doug, can you be more specific about the reverb you used?

The short reverb was the Lexicon Native Room reverb:

http://www.lexiconpro.com/product.php?id=163

Really nice reverbs. Rick-Slo actually turned me onto these. I didn't think I needed another reverb, but I tried the the demo after he recommended it, and immediately didn't even blink at the rather outrageous price. They all just sound great. The one I used is an "Ambience" algorithm, it's just a very short room sound, so it tends to add some space to even a single mono sound. Most reverbs should have some sort of "small room" patch that you can tweak to get this effect, some just do it better than others. Another reverb that works great for this is the TC Electronic VSS3, which is designed mostly to try to reproduce real spaces, often used in movies. There are patches along the lines of "Small Living Room", "Long Hallway", "Front Car Seat", "Backyard", "Damp Basement", "Phone Booth", and so on (I made those up, but the default patches are like that), and it's all pretty realistic. It would have been a good choice for this, to add some stereo space, but due to a little computer problem, I have that card pulled right now (It's a TC Electronic Powercore effect, which requires a hardware card).

By the way, a cheap way to get a great sounding reverb, especially room sounds like this, is to find a convolution reverb and load it up with the free Bricasti samples. I used to use SIR, but I'm not sure it's free anymore. but many DAWs have a convolution reverb these days that you can load up with impulses. There are a lot available free, and the Bricasti impulses are probably as close as you can get to a $4000 reverb without spending a dime.

For the longer reverb, I used the Universal Audio Lexicon 224 emulation, a classic reverb. But it's barely in there because on both the reference tracks we talked about, Antoine's sound wasn't all that wet. I was mostly again trying to add some width and space to the mono track, so adding a small touch seemed to help a little. This reverb's pretty lively (it plays a big part in Michael Hedges' recorded sound, I believe), so it's nice for something like this where the pickup sound has so little space and animation to it. You can read about it and hear demos here:

http://www.uaudio.com/store/reverbs/lexicon-224.html
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Fingerstyle Christmas Tunes: A DADGAD Christmas
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CDs: Closing Time, Laurel Mill
Pickup tests: http://www.dougyoungguitar.com/pickuptests/

Last edited by Doug Young; 01-28-2012 at 02:36 AM.
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