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WIGGLING 'LITE' IN GUEST MODE

Help me improve my recording skills
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques  
Author Help me improve my recording skills
Zerius
Hello guys !

I've been wiggling for few years now with different synthesisers, drum machines and for the past 2 years on an eurorack system. I had tons of fun learning, playing and experimenting with all this material and now I'm feeling more and more interested in recording and mixing my stuffs.

My set up today is compose of:

- Eurorack system, my audio source
- Few pedals
- Rme fireface 400
- Mackie mixer 1202-VLZ Pro
- Midi keyboard
- KRK RP5 G3 monitors
- Daw, Ableton

What I would like to know now is how to properly record and mix in order to create my future tracks and also know everyone workflows.

If anyone could recommend me good tutos or any tips to get a better quality production with this set up. I don't really feel the lack of inspiration at the moment but I'm just a bit picky about sound quality and I would prefer speak with real people first who will knows what they are talking about before watching tons of videos.

My actual plan would be to mix and record everything in Ableton.

Any recommandations is welcomed, even the basics of basics and I would be happy to share my knowledge with everyone here as well since this post might also concern other members.
BenA718
You should check out Udemy and SkillShare for online courses. Lots of options to choose from!
BendingBus
Zerius wrote:
What I would like to know now is how to properly record and mix in order to create my future tracks...


I started recording in the late 80s. So much has changed with technology, but the fundamentals remain the same. For analog synths, a setup capable of capturing quality sound to "tape" is quite straightforward...

Ultimately the A/D converter is capturing the sound of your synth, and so you want the best one you can get. Set its input type to Line +4. Working backwards, now we simply trace the signal flow from prior stages to get quality analog sound to the converters at around 0VU (a decent VU meter is a great investment).

The eternal rule of recording is start with a great sound source, so you want to make sure the synth is solid; low noise, tuned, etc. Gain staging matters; you want to trace your path from the osc to the outputting vca and make sure you aren't overdriving any modules (unless that's what you want for a specific sound) and in the end are outputting 0VU-ish. I rarely see this mentioned, but you can take the same synth and playing, run different levels internally, and get quite different recording quality. Saturated sounds tend to get mucky in the low-mids, higher distortion, and lose dynamics...which then becomes a mixing challenge. Finally, use studio quality cables to chain the audio path; from osc to the A/D. The A/D is going to like 0VU, at least with mine the best distortion specs are hitting it with peaks around -12dbfs.

You've now got a good sounding synth, well gain staged, with quality connections, to a great sounding A/D. Bam, that's it. The place where a person could now screw this up is by inserting sub-quality stuff into the chain that doesn't really need to be there. For example, guitar pedals! This is sort of a nightmare, and why people use stuff like the Little Labs boxes, to get level/impedence from line sources, down to what pedals like, and then back up to pro levels for the A/D. Also, inserting cheap mixers and preamps can muck up the sound. Modulars can sound fantastic, world-class A/Ds are now affordable, and so you want to be careful about what you put in-between.

Once you've got good sounds captured, then we get into mixing, which is a whole different topic. But mixing goes a lot smoother when things were well recorded, so my advice would be to focus on that first.
Zerius
BenA718 wrote:
You should check out Udemy and SkillShare for online courses. Lots of options to choose from!


I'm gonna check few courses, some seems interesting !

BendingBus wrote:
Ultimately the A/D converter is capturing the sound of your synth, and so you want the best one you can get. Set its input type to Line +4. Working backwards, now we simply trace the signal flow from prior stages to get quality analog sound to the converters at around 0VU (a decent VU meter is a great investment).


When you say that you mean I should add +4 in my sound card interface input when recording ?
I'm mainly using digital oscillators so I should get a decent sound enough I think, they are less unstable compare to analog ones.
BendingBus
Zerius wrote:
When you say that you mean I should add +4 in my sound card interface input when recording?


Put on your list to review analog and digital levels (line+4, line-10, instrument, mic, VU, dbfs, etc). This stuff isn't glamorous, but it's fundamental knowledge important in today's analog/digital hybrid world. I think there is a tendency for beginners to skip the basics and go right into fun advanced topics, and then around year 15 finally go back and learn this core stuff (which has quietly been causing problems in their system for years). If I had a time machine, I'd go back and learn this stuff first.
Eichburger
BendingBus wrote:
Zerius wrote:
When you say that you mean I should add +4 in my sound card interface input when recording?


Put on your list to review analog and digital levels (line+4, line-10, instrument, mic, VU, dbfs, etc). This stuff isn't glamorous, but it's fundamental knowledge important in today's analog/digital hybrid world. I think there is a tendency for beginners to skip the basics and go right into fun advanced topics, and then around year 15 finally go back and learn this core stuff (which has quietly been causing problems in their system for years). If I had a time machine, I'd go back and learn this stuff first.


Sound on Sound magazine archive is a brilliant resource for this.
joeTron
Gather your favorite recordings, digitally import them into your DAW and listen to them through your speakers. Do an A/B test : Using 2 stereo tracks, compare your pieces against your favorite recordings ( Make sure they're the same volume level !!!). Then make a list of problems and/or solutions. REPEAT.
Toowoombaus
Congratulations on taking your recording engineer chops to the next level. I agree with a lot that has been said already I would just like to add my two cents.

The most important thing in your signal chain is a high quality Mic Pre.

Focusrite ISA Two 2-Channel Mic Preamp is a good place to start if you’re going to record in stereo designed by Rupert Neve. They make a mono version too. This design came from the console he designed, there are other brands that will give you this quality as well. Do some research.
https://reverb.com/item/28311153-focusrite-isa-two-2-channel-mic-pream p

I wouldn’t go to the cheaper versions that were made stick with the ISA or RED series. Anything Neve.
Black Lion makes a good Neve copy that is a little cheaper.


Good A/D converters are super important too however you need to have a master clock connected to your interface.
Clocking errors can introduce unpleasant artifacts and harshness to your sound it’s important to make sure you have proper clocking.

Something like this: Black Lion Audio Micro Clock MKIII Wordclock Generator
https://reverb.com/item/26683457-black-lion-audio-micro-clock-mkiii-wo rdclock-generator-and-distributor

You can connect this to your interface several ways: BNC AES and RCA S/PDIF and Optical.

There are other ways and other units that can work as a master clock too.

Do it right and you will be glad you did.

Have fun and good luck!



applause applause applause
flo
My advice would be to take a step back first...:

Zerius wrote:
If anyone could recommend me good tutos or any tips to get a better quality production with this set up. I don't really feel the lack of inspiration at the moment but I'm just a bit picky about sound quality


What issues are you experiencing that you want to improve?

Toowoombaus wrote:
The most important thing in your signal chain is a high quality Mic Pre.


To record a modular synth? hmmm.....

Toowoombaus wrote:
Focusrite ISA Two 2-Channel Mic Preamp is a good place to start.


I wouldn't call that a "high quality Mic Pre".

Cheers Guinness ftw!
Toowoombaus
flo wrote:
My advice would be to take a step back first...:

Zerius wrote:
If anyone could recommend me good tutos or any tips to get a better quality production with this set up. I don't really feel the lack of inspiration at the moment but I'm just a bit picky about sound quality


What issues are you experiencing that you want to improve?

Toowoombaus wrote:
The most important thing in your signal chain is a high quality Mic Pre.


To record a modular synth? hmmm.....

Toowoombaus wrote:
Focusrite ISA Two 2-Channel Mic Preamp is a good place to start.


I wouldn't call that a "high quality Mic Pre".

Cheers Guinness ftw!


Yes to record a modular synth or anything really.
He said he wanted to improve his recording skills and that he is picky about sound.

As far as the Focusrite ISA mic pre being high quality... It's a good place to start. I didn't want to break the bank right out of the gate. cool
This one is a stripped down version but has the same mic pre from the Red series, the ISA 110 and was used in the console which George Martin had at Air Studios, they have Lundahl transformers and designed by Rupert Neve he could do a lot worse. confused

I didn't realize just how important a mic pre was until one of mine went to the shop and I tried to do a vocal session with a cheaper one. What a difference! We sent the singer home.
flo
Toowoombaus wrote:
I didn't realize just how important a mic pre was until one of mine went to the shop and I tried to do a vocal session with a cheaper one. What a difference! We sent the singer home.


Yes, of course - for a vocal or anything with a mic or DIs. And a good one can certainly be nice for synths, but it wouldn't be the first thing to consider IMO. That's why I asked the OP to be more specific about what he feels he is lacking in sound, so that we can give more specific answers thumbs up

Cheers Guinness ftw!
flo
So, to be more specific, how are you using that Mackie Zerius? How is it all hooked up, is everything going through it, including the monitoring? If so, that's the first thing in the chain I'd improve, particularly for the monitoring.
Zerius
flo wrote:
So, to be more specific, how are you using that Mackie Zerius? How is it all hooked up, is everything going through it, including the monitoring? If so, that's the first thing in the chain I'd improve, particularly for the monitoring.


I use my mackie mixer at the end of the chain now.
I output my modular to my audio interface then process thru Ableton.
Ableton is super useful as a mixing tool. I did few recordings for fun but I need to practice more and more.
spilthyfred
Ableton rules to record and mix in. Multi tracking is always helpful. I try to keep my individual voices separate coming into Ableton, and I use the WMD Performance Mixer with DB25 to achieve that. The most important thing is proper gain-staging. There are a lot of videos on youtube about this, but basically you just want to make sure that your incoming audio isn't clipping your converter with its peak transients, and then to make sure that it isn't clipping in Ableton while you are mixing.
naturligfunktion
If I get it right, you have four inputs on your audio interface. Do you record your voices directly into that, or do you record a stereo out from your mixer? And how many voices do you have?

It is always nice to try to multi track if you're jamming and get into the zone. That can be difficult if you have more voices than inputs tho, but you shouldn't let that stop you. You just have to record more times smile

Some important tips regarding recording:

1. always try to have good levels when you record. It is a real pain to get into the zone, record but then find out that the levels are all over the place and you have to start again from scratch.

2. make a habit to record your jams (if that is you preference obviously). Nothing is worse than to have a great session and then try to recreate it but with the pressure of knowing that everything is recorded. To get around that, just record all the time. That will blur the line between jamming and recording, and it is in my opinon during the jamz all the magic happens.

3. if possible, dial down on your FX. It sound pretty badass to have everything drenched in reverb, but it can be a pain afterwards in the mixing process. It is great to record FX via aux, so keep that in mind.

4. and this is the most important point - always have fun! That will shine through in the music smile

My philosophy is that if you have a great sound at the source - e.g. a killer sequence - and you record that as simple as possible, you don't really have to mess around with it that much in the mixing process. A bit of EQ, a bit of compression and get the levels right, it will sound great. I rather think that it is more important to be comfortable when you record and mix. The easiest way to get that is to do it in a way that suits you! Don't worry to much if you have the right gear, or "how to do things right". Just get a great sound and a great feel and try to capture that.

Have fun

SlayerBadger!
BenA718
naturligfunktion wrote:


My philosophy is that if you have a great sound at the source - e.g. a killer sequence - and you record that as simple as possible, you don't really have to mess around with it that much in the mixing process. A bit of EQ, a bit of compression and get the levels right, it will sound great. I rather think that it is more important to be comfortable when you record and mix. The easiest way to get that is to do it in a way that suits you! Don't worry to much if you have the right gear, or "how to do things right". Just get a great sound and a great feel and try to capture that.

Have fun

SlayerBadger!


I totally agree with this: get it right at the source, maintain good gain structure, develop a workflow that works for you, and have fun!

Knowing how various sounds enforce or mask each other, and having strategies to exploit that, is a useful skill as well.
naturligfunktion
BenA718 wrote:
I totally agree with this: get it right at the source, maintain good gain structure, develop a workflow that works for you, and have fun!

Knowing how various sounds enforce or mask each other, and having strategies to exploit that, is a useful skill as well.

Agree! This is something that I try to lear currently, especially layering sounds.

Works particulary well on drums I have noticed
LDS
Keep in mind that it is a recursive process too. Try stuff. Find what works and what doesn't. Mix it up. Try new stuff. The aim isn't to find one right way of doing things, but an extensive palette to apply across the whole act of music making.

For example, if you sequence one track via DAW and midi, try live jamming the next one. If you started with percussion in the last mix, try starting with the vocals in the next.

Analyze the results. Rinse. Lather. And repeat with an entirely different process.
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