Recording Machines with Amps

Discussions on sound production outside the synthesizer such as mixing, processing, recording, editing and mastering.
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ellaguru
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Recording Machines with Amps

Post by ellaguru » Wed Jun 11, 2014 10:02 am

hi
i'm interested of knowing if some of you could give me some advice on recording synths or samplers or drummachines passing trough amplifiers or preamps etc and mics...
my aim is to recreate a sort of studio spirit and some "real air" to recordings.
-what amps or preamps or compressor you used for it?
-what mics?
-is it worth to undust 4tracks cassettes recorders for that aim?
at least
-is it worth to to just pick what we ear via monitors with an external mic (and then mix it someway with the rest; for example with binaural microphones)?
thanks
ps
(final
-it is worth the thing knowing that with softs we can do many of this? :) )

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meatballfulton
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Re: Recording Machines with Amps

Post by meatballfulton » Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:36 pm

You are asking about the widely held belief that there is useful coloration available by routing audio though more gear. It can become ridiculous, I just saw an ad for a guitar stompbox that emulates the preamp of the old Echoplex units....not the delay itself, mind you only the preamp!

First and foremost you need to understand what you don't like about your current signal path. Then you can consider what you might wnat to add. Actually, I have gone backwards. I don't use any outboard at all...I rely 100% on what is built into my synths and DAW. I don't have any special high end mikes. I never run my synths through speakers and mike them. Etc.

Why? Because I want a nice clean path that reproduces the sound I am recording. If your source sounds like c**p, fix that before you worry about "coloration".

Ok some specific answers:

-what amps or preamps or compressor you used for it?
-what mics?
-is it worth to undust 4tracks cassettes recorders for that aim?

Cassettes add hiss, wow, flutter and reduced frequency response. The whole reason we went to digital recording was to get around those defects and I personally will never go back to tape even though that was all I had to use for 30 years. Why bother with a 4 track for this (unless you have one sitting around) since any stereo cassette machine will provide the lo-fi effect.

If you are after the much-hyped "warming" effects of tape, you need a stereo reel to reel machine that runs at 7.5 ips or better yet 15 ips. It needs to be serviced and you will need high quality tape stock ($$$$) as well. I actually own an old open reel machine and have experimented with running final mixes from the DAW onto tape and recording this back into the DAW. My opinion was it was a waste of time, it actually sounded worse than the original digital mix. Your ears may disagree.

Using tape as an effect with a DAW adds issues with latency or manually time aligning tracks :oops:

-is it worth to to just pick what we ear via monitors with an external mic (and then mix it someway with the rest; for example with binaural microphones)?

Only as a special effect in my opinion. Since the goal of monitors is to be uncolored (though none are) what's the point? Playing through a miked guitar amp, OK if you like the result.
I listened to Hatfield and the North at Rainbow. They were very wonderful and they made my heart a prisoner.

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Re: Recording Machines with Amps

Post by ellaguru » Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:58 pm

thanks for your anwers
what i was thinking is the fact that if we using only hardware, why not trying to record with hardware only?
when i'm listening to 80s or 90s electronic recording i always thought how they are very cool. I was thinking also to brillinat studio man like steve Albini, wich use mics also to recorder the "air" in the studio (but that's not elctronic music what he normally records). Well, coming from my personal past of more indie rock than electronic, sometimes those toughts come out and the curiosity begin to work :) ...
i have 2 sitting 4tracks recorders, in any case, but i never used apm for synths or samplers...
anyway , i don't have a real studio here, just a common homestudio, with no particular acoustic treatment,so...
Last edited by ellaguru on Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Recording Machines with Amps

Post by zoomtheline » Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:59 pm

^^^ definitely good things to consider.
I am the opposite though, I am after all these imperfections noises and the most fun way to get them is to use the original source which is quirky old gear. I don't like "clean".
there is no rule to get particular feels and timbres, why not just experiment with what you have and learn what combinations work for you. At the end of the day, if you like what you are hearing then it's the right way to do it.

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Re: Recording Machines with Amps

Post by edfunction » Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:05 pm

meatballfulton wrote:You are asking about the widely held belief that there is useful coloration available by routing audio though more gear. It can become ridiculous, I just saw an ad for a guitar stompbox that emulates the preamp of the old Echoplex units....not the delay itself, mind you only the preamp!


Only as a special effect in my opinion. Since the goal of monitors is to be uncolored (though none are) what's the point? Playing through a miked guitar amp, OK if you like the result.
I think the example of the echoplex preamp is telling. A lot of guitarists used to keep one of these around specifically for the preamp, it definitely has character.

While I'd agree with you to some extent, I think you're assuming that we all want cleaner recordings and wider dynamics. Tape is useful for lots of reasons but if you're going to run 2-track mixes onto tape it should be on a good machine with good tape, then the effect is likely going to be subtle. I'd argue the benefits don't justify the costs for most applications but running some individual sounds through cheap machines could impose interesting frequency and dynamics properties without squishing your mix into dirt.

Running seperate tracks or individual instruments through amps, tape, mics etc can add a whole lot especially if you want add a sense of natural space to synths etc. I think this is a good idea and I would like to do it myself but space, money etc.... Try stuff out if you have some of this gear around. It's bound to be an interesting exercise. :D

If you have a preference for clean sounds it's probably not the best way though....

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Re: Recording Machines with Amps

Post by zoomtheline » Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:13 pm

Agree, If the sounds are too clean and all from the same source it "can" make mixes sound flat and uninspiring so if you are all within the box then you still end up buying plugins after plugins to help lift your sounds.
Having different elements run through different gear will certainly give your mix a more varied and alive feel.
edfunction wrote: If you have a preference for clean sounds it's probably not the best way though....
Yes, definitely. The more gear the more noise you're creating. If you want clean then get a decent pre amp/interface and go straight into your DAW or just use software. But then you're losing character.
Swings and roundabouts.

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Re: Recording Machines with Amps

Post by ellaguru » Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:42 pm

intersesting thougths guys, thanks.
what i was thinking came me in mind also due to the fact that last year i made a stage in a studio and, as i saw in other examples on the net, at the end of the mixdown the guy there told me:"now let's add some warmth" and he used to do that with some vst...i'm not against vsts, some of them work really great, but thoughts begun to work...other intersting thing: on the same studio, once happened that a band sent some guitar files; so the man on the studio used a particular techniqe to make the sound "hottier" (as he said): he trasmitted the file trough a guitar orange preamp, then another miced amp and then back to cubase trough the soundcard...so my questions about recordings with/without sofwares are there also for that; me too i don't use a mixer, all my instruments are plugged directly on the soundcard. But i think that i have to try something on the direction i said before...trying to capture what is around us while we're recording is not that bad i think...
ps
other thing i use to do is to sample, for example, synths to a boss sp303 (or other samplers:st224,mc909,sp606 etc), that gives sometimes interesting result on final mix

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Re: Recording Machines with Amps

Post by zoomtheline » Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:59 pm

A lot of people i.e. guitarists re-amp their sounds. it's just basically using an amp and a mic as an effects loop really. If you already have a instrument recorded then send it to an output, run through an amp then mic the amp up and send that back into you soundcard. Re-align your track if latency is an issue.
I do it all the time with my amps or just mic up the room from the monitors to add a different timbre. If a sound warrants it I can end up re amping, sending through various outboards, reels to get the variation in timbres I want to create a collage of sound just for 1 instrument. I can't stand a mix if everything is dry.

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Re: Recording Machines with Amps

Post by Solderman » Wed Jun 11, 2014 4:35 pm

ellaguru wrote:...other intersting thing: on the same studio, once happened that a band sent some guitar files; so the man on the studio used a particular techniqe to make the sound "hottier" (as he said): he trasmitted the file trough a guitar orange preamp, then another miced amp and then back to cubase trough the soundcard
I do this with plugins by running the track through an effects insert chain in Reaper, although the process uses quite a bit of CPU. You use an amp simulator plugin that runs serially into an impulse response plugin to simulate the mic'ed cabinet. An example of the amp would be the green channel of TSE X50 Beta, a Peavy 5150 pre-amp sim, which you can get here. Another very nice sounding one is Kuassa Vermilion, which is $40 +vat and comes with its own cabinet and mic sims.
There are lots of free cabinet impulse hosts, such as LePou Le Cab, but you need the actual WAV file for the impulse. Redwirez sells an Orange PPC 4x12 cabinet impulse for $9 on their Big Box page. I'm not aware of any Orange pre-amp sim, however.

If you skip the cabinet and only use the amp, you get more fidelity, but a grittier and distorted sound.
If you skip the amp and only use the cabinet, you can get a warm, dull sound easily. Add in about 10% wet room reverb for a little extra liveliness.

On the cabinet sim, you often need at least two impulses in series to get more spectrum range: One mic for the speaker Cap(or Cap-Edge) and one for the speaker Cone. You may also want to add in the room mic and cabinet rear. This isn't for full fidelity though. It's going to sound muddier and harsh until you find the right combination of mics, mic proximity and cabinet that work together. You likely won't get any treble above around 8khz, but it is worth experimenting with, with or without the amp.
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Re: Recording Machines with Amps

Post by ninja6485 » Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:44 pm

Even if the effect is subtle, if all of your tracks have the subtlety it will enhance the overall unity of the tracks sound together, just like the affects of mixing reverbs. Micing an amp introduces a lot of cool opportunities for variations in mic placement and room ambience, plus if you have distinctive sounding amps and mics, you get that coloration, but obviously there are things that can negatively impact the sound as well. Plug ins are cool, especially if you're working on someone else's mix and you just want to add the basic color and get it done fast ;). I would say they give you a type of saturated sound, or amp/cab/mic sound which can be really nice, but not the perfect replacement in all situations.

I use a vcr sometimes and record to cassette tape! I always loved the way things sound on VHS. It's a cool effect, and if you lived through the 90's, probably free! :lol:
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...

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Re: Recording Machines with Amps

Post by ellaguru » Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:17 pm

ninja6485 wrote:Even if the effect is subtle, if all of your tracks have the subtlety it will enhance the overall unity of the tracks sound together, just like the affects of mixing reverbs. Micing an amp introduces a lot of cool opportunities for variations in mic placement and room ambience, plus if you have distinctive sounding amps and mics, you get that coloration, but obviously there are things that can negatively impact the sound as well. Plug ins are cool, especially if you're working on someone else's mix and you just want to add the basic color and get it done fast ;). I would say they give you a type of saturated sound, or amp/cab/mic sound which can be really nice, but not the perfect replacement in all situations.

I use a vcr sometimes and record to cassette tape! I always loved the way things sound on VHS. It's a cool effect, and if you lived through the 90's, probably free! :lol:
yes that's where i'm too; i mean sometimes i record trough samplers (SPs series), old boomboxes, recorders or the 4tracks tapes i mentioned above; i've heard about this cool VHS technique too, maybe a bit similar (not the same) as Adat... anyway during the 90s i used a sony boombox and at the end of the 90s a yamaha 4tracks :)...

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