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Old 02-05-2019, 02:25 PM
AgentKooper AgentKooper is offline
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Default How can I do this better next time?

I've been playing around with some new home recording equipment. I'm working with a single large diaphram condenser mic running through a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 into Garage Band on my laptop. I made the recording below combining three separate tracks: guitar and vocals, harmonica, and mandolin. It does not sound great, and I realize that the first and most obvious suggestion would be for me to learn how to play and sing better. I'm working on it! But aside from that, I wonder if anything might jump out to anyone in terms of specific steps I can take to make the recording better technically.

I'm in the early stages of learning garage band, and learning about high and low filters, eq, reverb, compression, pan, etc. But I don't have any real grasp of how to apply these techniques in a practical way.

Anyway, here's the track:



If anyone makes it all the way through and has any suggestions for me, I'm all ears (despite this recorded evidence to the contrary). No suggestion could be too basic -- I'm interested in how I can take any baby steps at all.
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Old 02-05-2019, 05:01 PM
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For someone starting out it is a pretty good recording.
The balance between elements is pretty good.
Sounds like the recording is fairly clean
And while we are all on a lifelong quest to play and sing better , what you are currently doing is fine, while it is basic it is not out of sync or bad at all and there is much you can do to improve both the recording (tracking) and mixing
For starters
The voice could be a bit more forward in the mix.
And the mix is a bit crowded in the mid frequencies (because that is the strong area of both your vocal and all the instruments)

Vocal : Now it sounds like you are saying you used a single LDC to track both vocal and guitar on the same pass (which is ok but presents some compromise) So if recording them separately is not in cards (at this time) with that in mind , what you might do is position the mic a little closer to your mouth. Obviously that is for future reference .


These things below you can try on this mix (first make a copy and try these on the copy so If need be you can go back to the original)

Also sounds like you are recording all mono tracks yes ? . So not only are the mid frequencies crowded but the center of sound field is also crowded. Panning can help here I would consider panning the mando out at 45 Left and the harmonica 45 right

The mid frequency range is where you can get some more separation and individual detail with EQ. But understand these suggestions are only possible starting places ( you must listen to what sounds good to you for more exact placements)
I would first put a high pass filter (low cut) on all the tracks, the guitar/vocal track at somewhere between 60 and 90 hz
The mando one at probably 100 to 140 hz and one on the harmonica also 100 -140

If GB has a multi band EQ with adjustable Q I would put some slight EQ cuts on all three tracks but at different frequencies
Say maybe a pretty narrow on the vocal/guitar at about 500 hz (often a problem frequency) and a bit wider Q slight cut at some where between 5 kHz to 7kHz
Then on the mando maybe a cut from 2.5 kHz to 3kHz ,,, then on the harmonica maybe 1kHz to 2kHz just
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Last edited by KevWind; 02-06-2019 at 06:41 AM.
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Old 02-05-2019, 06:47 PM
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Thanks so much for taking the time to respond with such detailed feedback. This is exactly the type of response I was hoping for!
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Old 02-06-2019, 03:30 AM
Dirk_Z Dirk_Z is offline
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Hi there,

the recording sounds good so far.

The problem lies in the seperation of the instruments (panning, and shared frequencies) , like KevWind said.

Vocals are hidden so maybe try to record the whole song without vocals and record them afterwards. Or (if you like recording it with the guitar) find a mic placement where the vocals get more prominent.

Mixing is all about giving each Instrument its own space.

After that comes personal taste like: i like this reverb and a chorus on that part, more compression on the drums and oh more cowbell please.


Can you provide the recorded files, so I might give it a try to show you what I mean :-)
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Old 02-06-2019, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Dirk_Z View Post
Hi there,

the recording sounds good so far.

The problem lies in the seperation of the instruments (panning, and shared frequencies) , like KevWind said.

Vocals are hidden so maybe try to record the whole song without vocals and record them afterwards. Or (if you like recording it with the guitar) find a mic placement where the vocals get more prominent.

Mixing is all about giving each Instrument its own space.

After that comes personal taste like: i like this reverb and a chorus on that part, more compression on the drums and oh more cowbell please.


Can you provide the recorded files, so I might give it a try to show you what I mean :-)

Hey Dirk, thanks for this. Unfortunately, I didn't think to make copies of the individual files before mixing, and I lost the original track files in the process. No big deal, I'll just redo it, but lesson learned. I'll make master copies next time. Yes, I'm definitely going to record vocal separately on the next pass. I knew I should, but I was being lazy.

Thanks for the thoughts. I'm looking forward to learning how to apply all of this.
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Old 02-06-2019, 01:26 PM
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I'd suggest you get your mic closer to the sound source because there's an awful lot of room sound that's doing you no good.
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Old 02-06-2019, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by runamuck View Post
I'd suggest you get your mic closer to the sound source because there's an awful lot of room sound that's doing you no good.
Yeah, unfortunately that might be more a function of the space I'm recording in, which is probably not ideal. I thought I was right up on the microphone, within 6 inches or so, but I'll keep experimenting.
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Old 02-06-2019, 02:17 PM
runamuck runamuck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AgentKooper View Post
Yeah, unfortunately that might be more a function of the space I'm recording in, which is probably not ideal. I thought I was right up on the microphone, within 6 inches or so, but I'll keep experimenting.
To my ears, your guitar sounds more like it's 2 feet away and off axis.
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Old 02-06-2019, 04:19 PM
AgentKooper AgentKooper is offline
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Originally Posted by runamuck View Post
To my ears, your guitar sounds more like it's 2 feet away and off axis.
Actually, you're right about the guitar. I recorded vocals and guitar with the same mic, singing right into the mic, with the guitar in my lap below. I'm going to record vocals and guitar separately next time, both right next to the mic.
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Old 02-06-2019, 05:37 PM
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Does your mic have any kind of high pass filter. Also is it multi pattern? By I mean can it switch between cardiod, omni, or figure 8? Experimenting those type of adjustments can make a big difference as well.
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Old 02-06-2019, 10:13 PM
GTR1960 GTR1960 is offline
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This is ideally the way I like to work this type of recording. Get a click track/mild drum track going to keep in time. Play the guitar and vocals at the same time. This will be a scratch track, unless it comes out amazinly beautiful. As a scratch track i'll then go back and record three takes of the guitar as close to identical as I can get. I'll record three takes of all the other instruments also all playing along to the scratch track/ click track. The three takes are so you can pick the best one out of the three/ comp a good take out of the three takes.

I'll then go back and mute the scratch track, and record three to four vocal takes. I'll pick the best one, or if you know how to comp tracks, pick and choose the best parts of each take, and make one good take out of all of them.
The key to getting good vocal takes is, getting the vocal level right in your headphones/ monitors (ideally headphones). oh and good singing, and mic technique.

After I have finished all the recording, then I'll sit down and mix it together, trying to give each instrument some space in the mix, with eq, dynamics, and ambience (reverb and delays).

Recording and mixing the recordings takes a few times to get it down. mic placement is the key to everything though. Learn that and you won't have to work at getting things to sound good.
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Old 02-07-2019, 07:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AgentKooper View Post
Actually, you're right about the guitar. I recorded vocals and guitar with the same mic, singing right into the mic, with the guitar in my lap below. I'm going to record vocals and guitar separately next time, both right next to the mic.
Humm if that is case it is strange that the vocal sounds as far back in the mix as it does
So here is something you can try on this mix (if you still have the session file in GB) put a compressor on just the vocal guitar track, start with it set at 4-1 ratio with a slower attack time. Then start to play with the threshold until you see it triggering on the loudest peaks (maybe 20% of the time ) then set it slightly more . Then play with the makeup "gain" on the compressor , listen to the entire mix and see if you can hear it start to move the vocal / guitar more forward and adjust that to taste.
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Old 02-07-2019, 10:05 AM
runamuck runamuck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
Humm if that is case it is strange that the vocal sounds as far back in the mix as it does
So here is something you can try on this mix (if you still have the session file in GB) put a compressor on just the vocal guitar track, start with it set at 4-1 ratio with a slower attack time. Then start to play with the threshold until you see it triggering on the loudest peaks (maybe 20% of the time ) then set it slightly more . Then play with the makeup "gain" on the compressor , listen to the entire mix and see if you can hear it start to move the vocal / guitar more forward and adjust that to taste.
Hi Kev,

I think he's saying he used only one mic, and one take for both guitar and vocals.
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Old 02-07-2019, 12:48 PM
AgentKooper AgentKooper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
Humm if that is case it is strange that the vocal sounds as far back in the mix as it does
So here is something you can try on this mix (if you still have the session file in GB) put a compressor on just the vocal guitar track, start with it set at 4-1 ratio with a slower attack time. Then start to play with the threshold until you see it triggering on the loudest peaks (maybe 20% of the time ) then set it slightly more . Then play with the makeup "gain" on the compressor , listen to the entire mix and see if you can hear it start to move the vocal / guitar more forward and adjust that to taste.

It surprised me too. It may have been that I didn’t have the input level on my interface set high enough.

EDIT: Um, yeah, so I just realized I was singing into the wrong side of the microphone. So I've got that going for me. Oi . . .
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Last edited by AgentKooper; 02-07-2019 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 02-07-2019, 02:38 PM
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Any reason you didn't play against a drum track generated by the drummer plugin?

There are many advantages to playing in-sync with the sequencer in Garage Band not least that it gives you a more solid feel, assuming you can play along with an external tempo source.
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