general advice on improving my quality?

Discussion in 'Audio Help & Tips' started by MisterE, Nov 20, 2009.

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  1. MisterE

    MisterE Look @ His Face Now!

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    first off thanks to anybody who reads all this and drops any tips or critique, i worship the toejam in your feet


    my equipment: a sterling st55 condensor mic running to a m audio firewire interface, to a PC


    its not timbo's lab, but i think thats good enough equipment to have pretty good quality, if only i knew how to mix.


    Mr. E on MySpace Music - Free Streaming MP3s, Pictures & Music Downloads

    ^examples....Peaceful Harmony, Gore, Falling, and the battle track were recorded on my set up


    my procedure: i record one layer of main vocals, one layer of overdubs, and one layer of adlibs/backround sounds.....i have the diamond wav bundle, and i usually use the "comp + presence exciter" compression setting....then i magnify and align the vocals, and thats it.....i dont adjust EQ, or add any reverb or other filters/effects


    my problem: my shit sounds dull....i hear fuckers who sound like they won a million dollar shopping spree at guitar center and get home schooled by DJ premier.....i KNOW i need to fuck with EQ more, and maybe some more layering?.....most big name artists record with at least 2-3 layers, right????? X )


    any help would be appreciated.



    ps. BONUS QUESTION: christmas is coming and i was thinking about getting a pc compatible mbox w/ protools....yay/nay? would that be a big quality boost?
    test
  2. BigT905

    BigT905 New Member

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    what i would say is maybe change your mic i dont know how good it is never used it or seen it but ur m audio is decent....

    also make sure you treat your recording room to cancel out noise and hiss so you dont have to ruin ur vocals while editing


    and just fcuk round with tracks ... try new things that u dont think would work

    and dont forget the mic presence... that always helps with lesser editing..
    test
  3. Mike Nef

    Mike Nef New Member

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    test
  4. MisterE

    MisterE Look @ His Face Now!

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    thnx big T

    yeah mike ive been rappin for like 7 years an im def happy with how polished i am....just need to learn to mix


    thanks for all the equipment suggestions, and in depth advice on mixing
    test
  5. Mr. ROUSH

    Mr. ROUSH WWW.SOUNDCLICK.COM/ROUSH

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    MisterE... got a link to anything I can listen to? I could maybe offer some suggestions if I could hear a little.. also.. are you making the beats or are you using random beats from various producers? The beat has got to be right to get good sounds.. recording to soundclick beats for example is touch and go... if the beat is already mastered before you record to it.. then it becomes much harder to get a big sounding song...

    I think this is one of the biggest problems a lot of people have.. not to mention when beats are used that just don't have great quality to begin with.. kind of limits what you can end up with...

    If you make your own, or if you have a good producer who hits you off with the tracked out mix (un-mastered) so that you can record to the beat correctly and add or remove things here and there to shape the song... that's the key.. bottom line is.. the source sound is going to determine how good the song will be.. getting your levels right is paramount.. understanding the levels will be different for each song is paramount.. setting levels correctly when recording the source will go a long way to keeping all of your tracks sounding consistent with each other.. you'll find the better you get at this.. the more effective your compressors, eq's and plugins work.. if your levels are off then try as hard as you want but your plugins won't work right and you'll never get what you're looking for..

    If your room is not tight.. try compressing to disc lightly when you're recording.. Dave Aren records Kurupt in his apt and uses a compressor going in and you would think he was in the lab...

    Mastering is the polishing touch to any song.. I don't know if you've ever done any mastering or not, but to get your song as loud as possible you have to master it.. Learning to master songs will also show you what you're doing wrong or what you're doing right in a mix.. If your mix is off then you won't be able to get the sound you want on the master.. this is where fine tuning the eq become particularly difficult.. If you only use one set of monitors then you'll find it hard to get things sounding right on other mediums.. in the car, home stereo, ipod etc... Get a set of good monitors.. this is crucial.. but also get some cheap, junky near field monitors for comparison.. get a song sounding nice and big on both sets and you'll find it will sound good on most everything..

    each song has a balance that is unique and so its crucial that you give each song that unique attention... I don't know if you read any of my recording 101 thread, but there's some good points in there, you should check it out... in simple terms don't pull all of your tricks out of the bag for every song... learn to use all the tricks and when to use each trick... for example.. some songs will have reverb.. some with not.. sometimes you might use two compressors on a vocal.. sometimes just one...

    one thing I can suggest from your post is that you double the lead vocal.. literally just duplicate the lead vocal and sit it just under the original lead vocal level wise.. compress the original lightly and compress the copy a lot.. this is basically the same principle as parallel compression.. (new york style compression trick)

    Pro Tools - will it improve your quality? That depends.. the quality isn't really determined by the software DAW that you choose.. it's determined by your hardware, inteface, mic, preamp etc.. but where the DAW does matter with quality is what you can do with it.. Pro Tools is the industry standard for a reason and it will help you take a step to the next level and really start learning how to mix / engineer.. if you're not making beats then start.. get reason.. get a cheap midi keybord and a drum pad controller.. (korg padkontrol $150)

    Hope that was somewhat helpful.. if you got a link then drop it and I might be able to make more specific suggestions... hit me up here or roushy1@gmail.com good luck. pz
    test
  6. MisterE

    MisterE Look @ His Face Now!

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    ahhh man your awesome! yeah i read all of your thread and replied to it...some great stuff in there ive taken into consideration, thanks alot


    my music link is in the main post, peaceful harmony is the only recording that was done on my current set up AND room....check that out


    also the general consensus seems to be that i should be get a better preamp instead of a mic.....people are telling me that a pre should be the first step, then a mic.....heres som pre's i've been recommended


    Buy Grace Design m101 Microphone Preamp | Microphone Preamps | Musician's Friend

    PreSonus | Eureka Recording Channel | EUREKA | B&H Photo Video

    Amazon.com: FMR RNP Microphone Preamp: Musical Instruments

    Mackie Onyx 820i | Sweetwater.com

    PreSonus FireStudio Project | Sweetwater.com

    TC Electronic Konnekt 24D | Sweetwater.com

    M-Audio ProFire 610 | Sweetwater.com


    which ones do u prefer?

    my limit is technically 400 atm, but if the quality boost is substantial enough i'll save up a few more hundred for a better pre, like a chameleon or something.....i just dont know HOW big of a difference that would actually make in my sound
    test
  7. Mr. ROUSH

    Mr. ROUSH WWW.SOUNDCLICK.COM/ROUSH

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    Hey thanks, and thanks for the reply in the other thread, much appreciated.. I'm not sure how I overlooked the link right in your post.. sorry about that.. well I checked that track out and it's not bad at all.. few things..

    #1.. I personally think the mic is more important than the preamp.. A great mic that pairs well specifically with a person's voice will sound good with any decent pre-amp, and great with a pre-amp that pairs well with the particular mic.. a "great mic" could be expensive or it could be cheap.. just a matter of finding the one that works best with your voice.. that's when you find a pre-amp that pairs well with the mic.. now.. this theory is kind of interchangeable at the same time.. don't get me wrong.. a pre-amp can do wonders for your quality but the mic is where it starts, and where the source sound comes from.. a bad mic can make a great pre-amp sound terrible.. if you know you have a mic that pairs well with your vocal then you will get better results from any preamp you try.. otherwise if your mic is not a good match.. you might get a pre that is good.. hook it up.. and think it's bad because you can't get a good sound... it's a difficult balance to nail down, but it's easiest to start from the beginning of the chain and upgrade things in order..

    #2. You're on the right track aligning the vocals.. that tighten's things up a lot.. keep doing that.. take it a step further.. record 4 or five takes all the way through and make a comp track that is made up of all the best parts from each take, and then align the doubles and adlibs.. this is especially easy in pro tools fyi.. There is also a great plugin for aligning vocals.. it's called "vocalign". Makes it easier and it's a huge time saver..

    #3. I think your setback is the beats.. your vocals are mixed well to the beat your using, but remember you can only get it as good as the beat already is. This is easily the #1 problem most home recording cats run into.. be picky with the quality of the beat you use.. it's best to get it tracked out and un-mastered if possible.. that way you can apply some mastering once you lay down the vocals and mix everything together.. problem is this.. once you start to lay down vocals.. most of the time you have to go back and change things in the beat in order for the vocals to get the space they need in the frequency spectrum.. add compression here.. little eq there.. lower the level on something, etc.. when the beat is already made and you can't go back and make those adjustments.. often times it becomes impossible to get "that sound".. I highly, highly recommend to get into making your own beats.. only true remedy to this problem... source sound is everything..

    #4. I think even more now after listening that you would benefit some from stepping out your compression a little more.. maybe use two compressors each set at half of the normal amount of compression that you would apply.. basically two compressors working together to reach the amount you want, don't have to work as hard as one doing it alone.. I would encourage you to try parallel compression also.. You might also try this.. instead of compressing the doubles and adlibs indivicually.. send them all to an aux track and compress them together.. this keeps them relevant to each other but separate from the lead at the same time..


    As far as the pre-amps you mentioned.. be careful taking any recommendations.. remember that the one that works well for the next guy.. might not work well at all for you.. I bought a eureka last year and took it back a month later because I sounded terrible on it.. my sweetwater rep uses one and says he loves it.. so it just depends.. you'll want to favor the advice of other artists that sound similar to you and are getting the sound you want.. that being said.. grace pre-amps are highly recommended and seem to work well for a pretty wide range of styles and voices.. I can't really comment on many of the others you listed.. haven't used them myself.. I currently have a focusrite ISA 220.. it's really clean and sounds great with most midrange vocals.. If you wanted the #1 most universally great sounding pre-amp be prepared to drop about $4000 for the manley vox box.. that's the one I'm after.. be a long time before I have it though..

    Hope that is helpfull to some degree.. don't forget the interface.. if there is any step that I would consider out of order it would be the interface.. if your interface isn't decent.. could be that any mic/preamp combo won't sound quite right.. It's a never ending battle really.. best of luck.. hit me up if you have any more questions.. pz.
    test
  8. MisterE

    MisterE Look @ His Face Now!

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    man Jeff needs to put you on payroll, thanks for taking the time to break things down like u have



    hmmm i'll shop for some mics i guess....the problem is i dont really know anybody with a similar voice as mine to ask about theyre equipment....none of my friends sound similar at least...and i have NO idea what kind of mics would work with me



    also, i think i have some serious mixing issues......i know i could sound better if i knew wtf i was doing with compression and eqing and what not, so lemme break down what i do and hopefully u can provide some more awesome insight

    i have the diamond wavs bundle, and i apply the compression + presence exciter preset, and thats IT for compression.....no adjusting any knobs or levels or anything, i dunno how to tweak anything....with the eq, i hear people talking about "rolling off" and boosting certain amounts of "khz".....when im in multi track in audition, i just click the EQ tab on the left side of the track and adjust to where it sounds ok...maybe +5 or -3, whatever works....i usually cut the lows, and boost the mids and highs.....im sure theres better, more in depth eqing available, but i dunno where in audition


    also de-essing, and limiting im told are very important....but i dont know how to adjust either of these either


    any more advice would be appreciated man
    test
  9. Mr. ROUSH

    Mr. ROUSH WWW.SOUNDCLICK.COM/ROUSH

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    lol.. no doubt! You're welcome.. glad to help..

    Mic's are a tough buy no doubt.. the best thing to do is try them out.. call around to music stores and see if any of them will set you up to try several.. or you can get studio time to do this.. it will pay off large and cut out the guessing.. if you don't have that luxury.. do lot's of reading.. look up mic comparisons on youtube and google etc.. might take a long time but you'll narrow it down.. Try recording simultaneously with a condenser and a dynamic mic.. another little trick I was taught.. works great..

    Mixing is an art and no two pieces of art are the same.. the same applies with music.. it's ok to start from a preset, but if you're not tailoring the compression and eq etc then you're not really doing any mixing.. compression and eq are easier to understand than you think.. there are lot's of breakdowns out there that explain each setting.. all compressors are basically the same.. ratio, threshold, attack, and release being the primary functions.. I'll give you a quick breakdown.. ratio is the amount of compression that is applied.. for example.. a common ratio used on vocals is 4:1 (for every 4db in the signal is compressed by 1db) Usually a ratio between 3:1 and 6:1 is good for rap vocals.. but don't use the same every time.. switch it up accordingly.. threshold.. this determines when the compressor kicks in.. if you set the threshold at -10 db.. the compressor will kick in when the signal crosses -10 db.. so on and so forth... you'll set this by watching the gain reduction meter.. you should see an average of about -3db reduction give or take.. attack and release are time based functions.. attack time is how fast compression starts on the signal.. release is how fast it lets go... for example.. drums.. drums hits are fast.. you want the compression to kick in fast and let go fast so that it's not still compressing one note when the next one hits... with vocals you want to keep a fast attack and a fast to medium release... and that's all there is to it.. tweaking the compression is key..

    eq.. man there is too much about eq to explain.. I'll touch on it but spend a lot of time reading about it.. you might consider picking up the mixing engineer's handbook.. has a lot of good eq tips.. but.. rolling off... for vocals you always roll off the low end.. which basically just means cutting out the low frequencies that the vocal doesn't use... I generally cut out everything below 60-80hz and sometimes higher.. this cuts out a lot of room noise, hiss, and hum.. it is even more important with eq not to do the same thing every time.. eq is what makes or breaks a mix... since each recording is at least slightly differnt.. each eq will be slightly different too.. it's important to set eq by ear and not just by reading suggested settings.. the same curve won't do the same exact thing to every vocal.. just depends on what each vocal is missing.. and what needs to be cut out.. don't just boost the mids and highs.. often times you might need to cut specific trouble frequencies from the mid range.. I do generally boost the lead on the high end with a shelf or a curve.. but most importantly.. turn those knobs and listen.. you'll find the sweet spot.. don't use the eq to the left of the track in Adobe.. use the parametric eq and tweek presets to get the sound you want

    Limiting.. this is a mastering technique.. it's usually at the end of the mastering chain and its basically what give the song maximum loudness.. a limiter is a compressor with a ratio of 10:1 or higher.. it boosts the volume as loud as it can be without clipping the meter and cuts the signal off at the threshold.. limiting is not something you would do to individual tracks.. just on the master.. this is where I would recommend pro tools by far over adobe.. much more mixing and mastering capability..

    de-esser... definitely use one.. if you get pro tools.. the best de esser is free.. the "massey de esser".. it sounds great and does it's job.. a de esser is also a form of compressor only it is specifically focused on the frequency where sibilance and plosives cause problems.. don't let this take the place of good mic placement and a good pop filter though.. still want to eliminate it at the source as much as possible.. the less amount of effect you have to apply the better.. it's a matter of understanding when and where something is needed and using it when it's needed..

    Youtube university man.. you can learn a lot there.. watch some videos on eq sweeps and compression etc.. it helps to have a visual.. remember to eq the background vocals somewhat differently from the lead.. you're making room in the frequency spectrum for all of them, so if you eq them all the same then you are crowding the frequencies you are boosting and possibly cutting some meat out of the vocal making it sound thin.

    always remember.. there is no universal right way to do it.. if it sounds good it is good.. that's the number one rule.. so think outside the box.. sometimes it's the unconventional methods that make certain tracks stand out... good luck.. pZ
    test
  10. MisterE

    MisterE Look @ His Face Now!

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    thank you so much man......i feel like i should mow your lawn or something....ive tried getting help on this site so many times with no luck



    you are the greatest poster on this site. i appreciate it
    test
  11. Xabiton

    Xabiton RM Veteran

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    equipment helps but its not everything. In this case the biggest thing is you need to learn how to mix your vocals. EQ will work wonders here. A touch of reverb helps also. And by mixing I don't mean throwing a bunch of waves presets on your track and calling it a day. You can get better results by just learning wtf you are doing w. them
    test
  12. Mr. ROUSH

    Mr. ROUSH WWW.SOUNDCLICK.COM/ROUSH

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    LOL.. it's winter man, my lawn is dead but thanks anyway.. think nothing of it though .. I do it because I was once the guy looking for the answers on this and many other sites. and finding little to no help... so I told myself what I learn I will share.. always glad to save someone some of the trouble I went through when I can.. best of luck to ya bruh
    test
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