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Old 02-13-2018, 12:37 PM
Monsum Monsum is offline
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Default Plugins and techniques on direct-recorded guitars

What plugins and techniques do you use to process a guitar recorded through a pickup?
Here are my favourite plugins (other than obvious EQ and compression) to make guitars tracks sound better if they were not recorded with a mic.

Logic Pro X Match EQ (any other matching EQ plugin would do as well). As you know this type of EQ mimics a frequency curve of a source and impose it onto another track.
I achieved great results using this on a guitar with a LR Baggs M1 magnetic pickup, it got me very close to a mic'ed sound of the same guitar without many artefacts or sounding very processed unlike IR loaders.

Waves Manny Marroquin Triple D is a simplified dynamic EQ, I found it more effective than standard EQ to get rid of the mud of mids.
I would say a small amount of the effect applied to the middle frequencies always make a guitar sound better.

iZotope Ozone Imager (free plugin) - it make mono tracks stereo keeping the mono compatibility.
This is always a winner, in mono sounds the same with or without effect but after 'stereoizing' the track gains some more depth and appeal.

Waves Vitamin Sonic Enhancer - a multiband exciter, again it adds something which cannot be achieved by EQ alone. I usually add some very high freq. above 10KHz which to me make a top end sparkle a bit like in a mic'ed guitar.

To busy playing, strumming guitars I like to add some ambience , which is very subtle type of reverb. Its purpose is not so much placing the instrument in a room or hall but only getting rid of dryness of direct recording.
Usually you can't even tell there is some reverb applied, only when you turn to off you hear the difference.

I've been also experimenting with Impulse Response plugins. I bought some IR files from 3 Sigma Audio, these guys were able to get almost a perfect sound using IRs.
But it takes a lot of experimenting and more often than not it doesn't work as expected. It's not to say this technique doesn't work but I'd say it's a hit or miss, on some sources it works fine on many others it doesn't.

What are you favourite plugins and tracks top process direct-recorded guitars?
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Old 02-13-2018, 03:32 PM
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I almost never record with a pickup - a $10 mic will sound better than the best pickup. But I have experimented some with it. Things I've had luck with, to one degree or another:

use ToneDexter (pretty much beats anything else you can do)

Add a bit of compression and saturation - or just use the Baggs Session DI, which was designed to capture what studios were doing to "fix" a pickup.

EQ comparison - there are various programs that can compare the spectrum of two sounds and show you what EQ you need to apply to match one to the other. Comparing to a good acoustic recording and applying the appropriate EQ can go a long way - not as good as ToneDexter, but on it's way.

Blend in a mic - even if you have some reason not to use a mic, don't have a good one, have bad acoustics, etc, 10% mic blended in with a pickup signal can really help.

Use a stereo simulation - I use the one in Logic, which basically just applies an alternating EQ to each side. Works wonders on opening up a flat sounding mono anything.

Treating the pickup as the "mid" and a mic (or even another pickup) as the "side" pickup and feeding it thru an MS decoder produces a very nice stereo image - another way to simulate stereo and create a more realistic (but fake :-) sound.

Reverb - a good reverb can add some space and air.
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Old 02-13-2018, 04:15 PM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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I'm assuming we're talking about piezo pickups here. In general, DI boxes that have relatively high input impedances sound better. Upwards of 30 kHz. Also, if it's a passive DI, a big, hefty transformer will sound better than the little fellas you usually find. More thump.

Also, the piezo quack will affect the way you play, or at least it should. On strummy parts, you'll probably want to lay off the treble strings a bit more than you otherwise would.

As for EQ, you'd think there would be a way to zero in on the nasality, but I've never found it. I can make it a different kind of bad -- maybe a bad that works better for a given song -- but it's still lipstick on a pig.
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Old 02-13-2018, 05:24 PM
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...I can make it a different kind of bad...
That is one of the best lines I have ever heard.
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Old 02-13-2018, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I'm assuming we're talking about piezo pickups here. In general, DI boxes that have relatively high input impedances sound better. Upwards of 30 kHz.
I think you mean 1Mohm or greater? Impedance isn't in hertz. Also impedance mostly matters with passive pickups. If you have an active pickup, this is already addressed by the onboard preamp.

Quote:
As for EQ, you'd think there would be a way to zero in on the nasality, but I've never found it. .
That's the thing that ToneDexter solves that can't be done by normal EQ.
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Old 02-13-2018, 06:48 PM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
I think you mean 1Mohm or greater? Impedance isn't in hertz.
You're correct, it's Ohms. I shoulda typed "30K" without the "Hz," which my fingers did by themselves. :-)

Quote:
Also impedance mostly matters with passive pickups. If you have an active pickup, this is already addressed by the onboard preamp.
In my experience, even with your typical piezo + onboard preamp, higher Z is better. I'm basing my opinion on the 200-ish live radio shows I've mixed in the last 3 and half years, meaning probably >150 different folks with acoustic pickups.

Quote:
That's the thing that ToneDexter solves that can't be done by normal EQ.
I've seen and heard the demos, looking forward to actually working with one.
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Last edited by Brent Hahn; 02-13-2018 at 07:17 PM.
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Old 02-13-2018, 07:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post

In my experience, even with your typical piezo + onboard preamp, higher Z is better. I'm basing my opinion on the 200-ish live radio shows I've mixed in the last 3 and half years, meaning probably >150 different folks with acoustic pickups..
I think it's one of those "how high is high" things, and will depend on the specifics. In general, onboard preamps buffer and provide the very high input impedance piezo's need, and present a lower output impedance to the next stage. As long as that next impedance is higher than what's being output, all should be well. Since most acoustic preamps are designed with high impedances in case you use passive, maybe some manufacturers assume that's what their electronics will be going into (just a guess) and err on the high side, I don't know. Some specifically aim for low impedance, like Taylor's balanced low impedance system a while back.

Here's an experiment I did a while back with a DTar Wavelength and a variable impedance preamp. Again, just one data point, and a different pickup might have behaved differently, but in this case, the pickup was fine with all but the lowest impedance (10K). impedances in order are 1M, 10M, 10K, then 1M again, 20M, 330K



A passive pickup, like a K&K or a Barbara or an LB6, etc, start losing bass and ommph much sooner. Here's the same experiment with the K&K passively:



In any case, I'd certainly vote for having a reasonably high impedance input for any acoustic pickup. (Id also vote for using a mic if you want a decent recording sound)
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Old 02-13-2018, 08:47 PM
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Oh, I forgot I did this. Here's a set of examples of pickup recordings with different processing to try to make them sound better. You'll want to follow the link to see all 15 variations, I don't want to post 15 soundcloud players here. None sound as good as a mic, and spot checking I'm not hearing anything to write home about, but maybe you'll get some ideas from it. These are all using the K&K pickup. This was long before ToneDexter, so that isn't one of the examples.

https://soundcloud.com/doug-young/se...-a-pickup-demo
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Old 02-13-2018, 09:24 PM
DupleMeter DupleMeter is offline
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about the only thing I like the DI for is to mangle it & use it as FX ('verb, chorus/flanger or some other time based FX).

I find that the DI is usually very 2-dimensional and you need to add color to it. For that I like a few different things.

The Waves Scheps 73 is nice because it has several layers of character. The preamp section can add mild transistor based saturation or go all out & add transformer clipping. Plus the EQs are about as musical as you're going to find, and flipping it into M/S mode lets you play with the stereo imaging.

I also like the McDSP Ultimate Channel Strip. There are some very nice options there, like the MEF 1 or the S 671 for adding some weight to an otherwise uninspiring DI track.

Speaking of McDSP, the active EQs (AE400 & AE600) are fabulous dynamic EQs.

As others have mentioned copying the EQ curve from a mic'd source & applying it can be helpful. The EQ in iZotope Ozone does this very nicely. Before EQ plugins started doing this I would do it with SpectraFoo, and then copy the resultant EQ curve from SpectraFoo into my DAW EQ, band by band.

Though, like I said, I would only use the DI input for a special effect or as a reverb send. And then, only after heavily "modifying" it to give it some character & glue.
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Old 02-14-2018, 08:02 AM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
In any case, I'd certainly vote for having a reasonably high impedance input for any acoustic pickup. (Id also vote for using a mic if you want a decent recording sound)
In truth, for the show I mix the DI is mainly a backup and doesn't get heard. But the artists aren't in the live room for most of the show and have to go in and get situated and tuned during a 2-minute commercial break, and a couple of them have knocked the guitar mic akimbo in the process. On the other hand, quite a few have gone in and forgotten to plug in the guitar cable.
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Old 02-14-2018, 10:58 AM
Monsum Monsum is offline
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Thanks guys for the contribution.
I didn't make it clear why I make so much effort to improve a direct recording. I absolutely agree that any microphone does better job than a UST/SBT pickup.
I recorded guitars using a cheap(est) condenser Behringer mic and no pickup comes close to it.
But If you (like me) record our own live performances it's useful to enhance a direct signal somehow after the gig. Especially if you intend to share it online or among friends.

The other scenario it could be useful is songwriting. I don't want to waste time to setup the microphone up, my room is untreated acoustically (exaggerates some frequencies) and last not least, kids make noise.
In this situation a good direct sound is all I need.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
Oh, I forgot I did this. Here's a set of examples of pickup recordings with different processing to try to make them sound better. You'll want to follow the link to see all 15 variations, I don't want to post 15 soundcloud players here. None sound as good as a mic, and spot checking I'm not hearing anything to write home about, but maybe you'll get some ideas from it. These are all using the K&K pickup. This was long before ToneDexter, so that isn't one of the examples.
Thank you Doug for this link, very interesting comparison. There was a UAD plugin, which you demo'ed called Woodworks of which I had very high hopes, but I think it falls short.
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Old 02-14-2018, 04:50 PM
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i record only thru a mic. once recorded, i'll pick a plugin that helps it to work within the framework of the song. it could be a reverb, delay, chorus, bias amp, soundtoys tremolater amongst quite a few choices. or, could even be clean.

play music!
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Old 02-14-2018, 09:03 PM
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Thank you Doug for this link, very interesting comparison. There was a UAD plugin, which you demo'ed called Woodworks of which I had very high hopes, but I think it falls short.
I was very disappointed in that plugin... That was the best sound I could get, there were other settings that were way worse. It's possible it works better with other pickups, tho.

ToneDexter would do the job nicely, and you could reamp to handle a previously recorded guitar, assuming you have a wavemap that is suitable for the guitar in question. I imagine that could work in some cases, not in others, depending on the guitar and pickup being used.
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Old 02-14-2018, 09:49 PM
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I almost never record with a pickup - a $10 mic will sound better than the best pickup.
While I did get a not horrible sound once out of a Lyric, I just wanted to say LISTEN TO THIS ^^^.
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Old 02-15-2018, 12:11 AM
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While I did get a not horrible sound once out of a Lyric, I just wanted to say LISTEN TO THIS ^^^.
Well, he has a situation where he may not have the option, and is just trying to improve live recordings. Mics sound better for live use, too, but aren't always practical.
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