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Essential Steps to Quality Recording Using a Microphone and Multitrack Recorder
MICROPHONES AND MULTITRACKS
ESSENTIAL STEPS TO QUALITY RECORDING USING A MICROPHONE AND MULTITRACK RECORDER BY JON CHAPPELL
CHAPTER 1: A DYNAMIC DUO: WHY MICS AND MULTITRACKS WORK WELL TOGETHER.4
Understanding the standard recording paradigm of a microphone and a multitrack recorder.
CHAPTER 2: STRATEGIES FOR ACHIEVING AN OPTIMAL SIGNAL..7
Mic choice and positioning, level setting, and signal routing.
CHAPTER 3: MULTIPLE MICS, MULTIPLE TRACKS..14
The challenges of multi-mic recording and multiple track management.
CHAPTER 4: SPECIAL APPLICATIONS AND TECHNIQUES..16
Specific recording applications utilizing classic setups.
CHAPTER 5: TRICKS AND TIPS.19
Some techniques the pros use to maximize their sound.
LAST NOTE: WHERE TO GO FROM HERE..21
APPENDIX A: SHURE MICROPHONES.22 APPENDIX B: TASCAM PORTASTUDIOS.23
Maybe youre an instrumentalist wanting to put down backing tracks to solo over. Or perhaps youre a
songwriter looking to flesh out some basic arrangements. Or you could be the member of an ensemble whos looking to record your group with greater flexibility than is offered by a 2-track recorder. Well, if so, welcome to Microphones and
Multitracks, a quick-start guide that will not only have
you making music with your SHURE microphone and TASCAM Portastudio, but doing it in about the time it takes you to skim through this booklet and press the Record button on your deck. Well show you how to get optimum results using some specific models of SHURE mics and TASCAM Portastudios. Though well refer to models by SHURE and TASCAM for the purposes of this guide, these techniques apply to all mics and recorders of similar specs and configurations. Some of the mic characteristics may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and some multitrack operations may be handled differently, depending on the model, but the principles presented here can be applied across any recording medium.
A DYNAMIC DUO: WHY MICS AND MULTITRACKS WORK WELL TOGETHER
A TIMELESS PARADIGM
hurt yourself, the mic, or the mixer no matter how you hook it up. Whether youre recording your cousin on the couch or Robert Plant at the Record Plant, the lessons you learn UNIVERSAL JOINTS when using a microphone and a The great thing about microphones is multitrack will carry you through your that, no matter which one you buy, you entire recording education. Through probably wont have to worry about it the years, the mic locker may grow being incompatible with your mixer. and your mixer channels may span Most microphones are designed to more turf, but youll plug into most still use the skills mixers, from UNDERSTANDING you learned from inexpensive boards THE STANDARD day one the very to the top-of-the-line RECORDING first time you stuck studio consoles. PARADIGM OF A a mic in front of a Electrically MICROPHONE AND A trembling vocalist speaking, any MULTITRACK (which may even dynamic mic can RECORDER. have been you). go into any mic Even the best engineers in the input of any mixer. You might have to world start a recording session by use an adapter or transformer, though, placing a solitary mic in front of an depending on the jack configuration of instrument (usually its a kick drum), the mixer. Condenser mics require a and they listen, listen, listen. Great special power supply (explained later recording is not so much about in the chapter). acquiring and mastering great If you start with any quality technology, its about great music and dynamic mic, such as the SM57, having ears good enough to bend SM58, or their Beta equivalents, and whatever existing technology is at get the matching cable, youll notice hand to conform to the sonic picture in that the mixer end, or plug, has three your head. pins. This is known as an XLR This section tells you how to hook connector. If your mixer has the up a microphone of any model to a corresponding three-hole jack, youre Portastudio. Well spare you the in business. (The TASCAM 414mkII suspense, though, right from the start and 424mkIII both include XLR essentially, its idiot-proof; you cant jacks.) Just plug the mic into the jack
(it can only go in one way), and youre all set. If, however, you look at your mixers back panel and you see only a singlehole 1/4-inch jack, like those commonly found on guitar amps (and on the Porta02MKII Ministudio and 788 Digital Portastudio which includes two transformers in the box), youll need a special kind of adapter called a line transformer. The transformer converts your three-pin mic cable to a 1/4-inch one, so that you can stick your mic right into the 1/4-inch jack on the back panel. Theres also some
FIGURE 1: A transformer looks like an adapter that converts your three-pin XLR cable to a 1/4-inch jack, but theres some electrical conversion going on, too.
electrical converting going on inside the transformer itself, but its a very basic conversion (see fig. 1). And the transformer is inexpensive. In models known as condenser mics, such as the SHURE SM81, BG4.1, and KSM32, youll need to have an external power supply or preamp to get your mic powered up before going into the mixer input. An outboard phantom power supply costs as little as $60, and once you plug your condenser into one of
Beta 57 A
BG 4. 1
FIGURE 2: Dynamic microphones: Beta 52, Beta 56, SM58, SM57 and Beta 57A. Condenser microphones: KSM32, BG 4.1 and SM81. 5
these, you then take either a 1/4-inch or three-pin output and plug into the mixer the same way as you would a dynamic. Some mics, like the SM81, have a battery compartment inside the mic shaft that allows you to insert a AA battery, so it can receive power from either the battery or an external source. The KSM32, SM81, and many other models can receive power only from an external source.
INTRODUCING THE PLAYERS
For the purposes of this guide, well focus our discussion on specific SHURE
microphones and TASCAM Portastudios. But the principles presented here apply to any microphone and multitrack recorder, so keep this booklet handy as you navigate your way through the recording jungle. Fig. 2 shows the SHURE microphone models referred to in this guide. The TASCAM Portastudio line includes four units, starting with the budget-priced Porta02mkII Ministudio, and continuing on through the 414mkII Portastudio, the 424mkIII Portastudio, and the high-end digitally based 788 Digital Portastudio. Fig. 3 shows the Tascam Portastudio line.
Porta 02 414mkII 424mkIII 788 Digital Portastudio FIGURE 3: The Porta02 features two input strips for four channels, and four tracks; the 414mkII has four tracks, four channels, two-band EQ, and aux sends for effects processing; the 424mkIII has six channel strips, one stereo input, and four tracks with a logic-controlled transport; the 788 Digital Portastudio has eight channels, eight tracks, built-in digital effects, and 24-bit AD/DA converters. 6
STRATEGIES FOR ACHIEVING AN OPTIMAL SIGNAL
Lets look first at pickup patterns. It sounds deceptively simple, but the first A mic that listens to sound equally thing you must ask yourself is, What kind from all sides is called an omnidirectional of sound am I recording? The answer should start, obviously enough, with the mic. This is great for picking up the room instrument or vocal sound to provide part at hand, whether natural ambience. MIC CHOICE AND thats an acoustic Omni mics are also POSITIONING, LEVEL guitar, a singer, or a SETTING, AND SIGNAL very good vocal drum kit. But you ensemble mics. ROUTING. should also consider Typically, omni mics what environment you want to place the are used in rooms where there is no other sound in. Should it be up-close and activity like a tape recorder operator intimate, or ambient and from a distance? so their use for home recordists is Will the sound be loud and obvious, or somewhat limited. soft and subtle? A directional mic listens to sound only Keep in mind that any single source in a specific direction. There are many can take on a variety of personalities, types of directional mic patterns, but the and each may very well require a most common is cardioid, so named different mic, a different mixer channel because its sensitivity field is shaped setup, and a different approach to somewhat like a heart. A cardioid mic recording. For example, an acoustic picks up sound best when the source guitar can be miked with either a projects directly in line with or on axis dynamic mic, like the SM57 or Beta 57A, to its pickup. A cardioid mic will defor a meaty rock-rhythm sound, or a emphasize sound coming off axis, and condenser, such as the SM81 or reject sound coming from the rear of the KSM32, to capture the more crisp and capsule. A supercardioid mic has a delicate qualities of a fingerpicking tighter, or narrower, pickup pattern, passage. It all depends on the which is useful for close clusters of instrument, the musical application, instruments performing together, where and even the player himself. bleed can be a problem. In these situations, bleed is dramatically reduced and isolation is improved with a SELECTING A MIC: PATTERNS supercardioid mic because of its AND THEIR APPLICATIONS increased off-axis rejection. Most of the Mics are grouped according to their mics in the SHURE Beta series feature a pickup patterns and transducer types.
patterns of an omnidirectional, cardioid, and supercardioid mic.
DYNAMIC VS. CONDENSER
The other principal difference among mic types is whether its transducer (the element for converting sound waves to electrical ones) is a dynamic or a condenser. A dynamic mic works sort of like a speaker in reverse: A coil of wire is mounted on a diaphragm, which sits inside a magnetic field. When the diaphragm moves reacting to the sound thats hitting it the fluctuations in the magnetic field that result create a current, which runs down the wire and into the board. A dynamic is the most widely used and economical type of mic. Found on performing stages everywhere, its also used extensively in the studio. The SM57 and SM58 are two of the most popular dynamic microphones used for vocals and instruments. Dynamic mics FIGURE 4: An omnidirectional mic (top) are rugged and can handle picks up sound equally from all sides; a cardioid favors sound directly in front high SPLs (sound pressure of its capsule and rejects sound from levels), like those delivered by the rear; a supercardioid has a tighter kick drums, snare drums, and response in front and some slight response in the rear. the speakers of cranked-up guitar amplifiers. They dont pick up a tremendous amount of high-end supercardioid pickup pattern. Because detail, but this can be good, as they of these properties, cardioids and tend to reject rattles in drum hardware supercardioids also make great stage microphones, but their other qualities are and guitar-amp cabinets. A condenser mic uses a different also useful for studio work even when method for producing signals than a theres only one instrument in the room. dynamic model, and requires a All of the eight mics pictured in fig. 2 constant electrical charge in the have either cardioid or supercardioid pickup patterns. Fig. 4 shows the pickup pickup element. The mic draws this
power from an external source, such as a battery, a phantom power supply in a mixer, or an outboard mic preamp with built-in phantom power circuitry. Condenser mics are more sensitive than dynamics. This is usually a good thing in microphones (despite the quality of dynamics to reject rattles), as it yields better results in aspects such as high frequency detail and transient response. Transients are the initial attack noises of a note, and are quite short. Small diaphragms, like
those found in the SM81, have less mass and therefore require less energy to move. These diaphragms are very responsive to the small, highenergy frequencies produced by the plucked string of an acoustic guitar. For the same reason, small-diaphragm condensers work well as overhead cymbal mics. What small-diaphragm mics are less good at is capturing warmth, and responding to complex or pronounced low-end frequencies. For sounds with those qualities, youd
FIGURE 5: SHURE MIC CHART
VOCALS SM58 SM81 (with A81G Windscreen) Beta 87 KSM32 ENSEMBLE VOCALS SM81 BG4.1 KSM32 GUITAR AMP Beta 56 Beta 57A SM57 BASS AMP Beta 52 Beta 57A Beta 56 SM57 KICK DRUM Beta 52 Beta 57A SM57 SNARE DRUM Beta 57A Beta 56 SM57 TOMS Beta 57A
Beta 56 SM57 OVERHEAD SM81 BG4.1 KSM32 MALLETS SM81 BG4.1 Beta 57A KSM32 STRINGS SM81 BG4.1 KSM32 ACOUSTIC BASS Beta 52 SM81 BG4.1 KSM32 BRASS Beta 56 Beta 57A SM57 WOODWINDS SM81 BG4.1 KSM32
SAXOPHONE Beta 56 Beta 57A SM57 ACOUSTIC GUITAR SM81 BG4.1 KSM32 HARMONICA SM57 SM58 52ODX (Green Bullet) LESLIE CABINET Beta 57A Beta 56 SM57 ORCHESTRA SM81 BG4.1 KSM32 LIVE STEREO RECORDING SM81 (pair) BG4.1 (pair) KSM32 (pair) SAMPLING SM81 BG4.1 KSM32
The next step is to plug the mic into the Here are the steps to properly set the mixers input appropriate channel level controls: input, which is usually 1. Get the mic in front of the performer and have him input 1 for channel 1. perform with the dynamics and feel of the actual music On the 414mkII and youre going to record. 424mkIII, you can plug 2. Go to the individual channels controls, which are into an XLR jack. If arranged vertically, and bring up the volume fader to youve got the Porta 02 about 3/4 of the way, to the 0 dB (unity gain) point. This or 788, break out your is the optimum setting for a volume fader, and many trusty line transformer. mixers such as the 414MKII and 424MKIII provide a Be certain youre shaded area on the faceplate to show that youre in the passing audio from the zone. Do the same with the master fader, located all the mic to the mixer way to the right of the channel faders. If your monitor channel and to the system is set up correctly (headphones or speakers), you output stage. If you should hear audio. dont pass audio to the 3. If the overall level is too high or too low (that is, if proper output stage, the meters arent registering or theyre maxing out into the you wont be able to red zone constantly), adjust the trim control so that the hear your signal, record signal peaks at the meters 0 dB points. If the meters it, or both. occasionally go a little higher than that, into the red, thats To ensure that youre usually okay. Most mixers allow the signal to travel a little getting a signal at all, bit into the red before distortion occurs. look at the mixer 4. Go back to the mic position and adjust it to get the channel and make sure just right tonal quality. For example, if youre recording an your Input switch, at the acoustic guitar, try moving the mic so that its in front of top of the mixer the bridge and then the fingerboard. Listen to the results channel, is set to over headphones as you try different positions, and then Mic/Line. This tells the go back to the mixer channel to see if you need to make channel to look at the any gain adjustments. mic rather than a tape track (which youd do for mixing down). seek the aid of a larger diaphragm After its clear youve got some kind condenser, such as the KSM32. of signal, you now need to optimize Fig. 5 shows a chart of various SHURE mic models and some of their that signal, both from the perspective suggested uses. This chart should serve of the mic as well as the recorder. All merely as a guide. Youre encouraged to that means is that youre providing the experiment with all types of mics on any best possible signal level from the mic sound to get a result that sounds good that the recorder needs to see. Ideally, to your ear. the signal should be as loud as possible, but not too loud, so that it will allow for dynamic fluctuations on TO THE BOARD! the part of the performer. The optimal All right, lets say youve selected a mic signal is one that is loud enough to and wrangled a musician into keep the noise floor down (a fixed, performing in front of it so that you can low-level of noise present in all actually record some music. What now?
FIGURE 6: SETTING LEVELS
FIGURE 7: ANATOMY OF A MIXER CHANNEL
A. TRIM. This controls the gain level of the preamp. For keyboards and other linelevel sources, you generally keep this control at or near the minimum (all the way left). For mics, youll need to crank it further to the right. The trim knob acts as a normalizer on signals of different levels so that the faders can be used in their optimum positions.
B. INPUT SELECT. Tells the mixer channel what to listen to. The Mic/Line setting tells the channel to pass the input source (mic, keyboard, guitar, etc.); Off means that no audio passes; Tape tells the mixer to listen to the recorded tape track assigned to that channel.
C. EQ. EQ is short for equalization, or, more simply, tone control. The number of knobs and their function will vary, but a common arrangement is to have four controls: a high- and lowshelving EQ (typically voiced at 10 kHz and 100 Hz, respectively) and two midrange knobs that work in conjunction with each other. One selects the frequency, and the other proves a boost or cut at that frequency.
EFFECT 2/ TAPE CUE
E. PAN. The pan (short for panorama) control serves double duty: When tracking, or recording tracks, the pans work with the Record Function switches (on the 414mkII and 424mkIII) and direct the signal to the busses, which in turn go to tape tracks. When mixing, the pan control places the sound in the stereo field.
D. EFFECTS SENDS. If youve got some effects units at hand, like a digital reverb or digital delay, you can hook them up via the effects send and return jacks, and then control the intensity of the effect per channel via the individual effects send control. Using one unit for multiple channels is a great way to maximize a limited number of effects. For example, you could use one effects processor say, a reverb set to a live room sound and put a little on the vocal, a little more on the guitar, a lot on the snare drum, and none on the bass. On the 424mkIII, Effect 2 doubles as the Tape Cue (playback) control.
F FADER. Most of your. volume moves will be made here, after youve set the trim knob to the proper level (described above in Setting Levels). The trims, EQ, and effects sends are all pretty much set and forget, and the faders are where 90 percent of your board moves take place.
SPEAKER FRONT VIEW SPEAKER
using a channel strip of the 424mkIII, which represents a fairly standard mixerchannel configuration.
ROUTING YOUR SIGNAL TO A TAPE TRACK
Though you might be able to hear your source through an input channel, theres no guarantee its going to go to the proper tape track, unless you understand routing and busing. Bus is the term for a line that connects multiple points. For example, you can connect three mixer channels to a common tape track (which you would do when blending a sound), or connect one mixer channel to three tracks (which you might do for overdubbing to keep from unplugging and re-plugging a microphone). If this seems confusing, dont worry, it will become clear in time, and this is as complicated as it gets. TASCAM has made the routing and busing issue a whole lot clearer on the 424mkIII by including a function called Direct on its bus switches. By selecting Direct, a channel is automatically routed to its correspondingly numbered tape track. For example, placing track 3s bus switch to Direct means it will listen only to channel 3. Very handy. TIP: Channel refers to the vertical strips on the mixer section that you feed instruments into. A track is the actual stripe of tape where information gets recorded. The Porta 02, Porta 414, and Porta 424mkIII each have four tracks. The 788 has eight tracks. In the Portastudio line or any mixer-recorder combination the number of channels doesnt necessarily correspond to the number of tracks a unit has.
CLOSE MIC POSITION CLOSE MIC POSITION
AERIAL VIEW AERIAL VIEW
FIGURE 8: A front and aerial view of a dynamic mic aimed at a guitar amp speaker. This off-axis approach is a classic, and was used by Eddie Van Halen, among others.
electronic gear, especially tape-based recorders), but not so loud that theres not a little headroom to accommodate periodic bursts of a really loud sound. In practical terms, it means setting up the mic and adjusting the mixer levels correctly. Fig. 6 presents the four steps.
OTHER CHANNEL STRIP CONTROLS
Once you have your levels set, you might want to make other adjustments to the sound, such as EQ or effects. Fig. 7 is the anatomy of a mixer channel
AUDITION YOUR SOURCE
Once you understand routing and youre certain that when you cue the
performer, the music will go to the right place go back to making the fine, subtle adjustments in mic positioning that will yield the best results. A good trick to try is varying the on/off axis position, or attitude, of a mic toward its source. Sometimes the best results are when the mic is slightly off from the direct point of the signal. When recording a trumpet, this works well by aiming at the lip of the bell and not its center. And the classic way to mic a guitar cabinet is to put an SM57 one to three inches from the grille, at the edge of the center of the dust cap, at a 60degree angle (see fig. 8). In addition to tilting the axis, try varying the distance of the mic to the source. This is sometimes called presence, because the closer a source is to the mic, the more present it seems to the listener. (Presence also has meaning with regard to EQ: the upper mid-high frequencies, roughly 24 kHz.) Position the mic and monitor the results through headphones, or, if youre
in another room, over speakers. If the recorder is in another room, or at least far away, its really handy to have an assistant make subtle positioning changes. Dont make the talent (performer) do it; you want him to focus on delivering a consistent performance. Before you actually start recording and put the musician into performer mode, it helps to line up the input to the correct track where the music will ultimately reside so that you dont have to bounce later on.
RECORD AND PLAY BACK YOUR WORK
Its time to hit that Record button! The one way to make sure youve set up things correctly is to actually record something and play it back. If all your routing is correct, and youve adjusted the monitor levels (speakers or headphones), the only thing you have to do is rewind the tape, flip the Input switch from Mic/Line to Tape, press Play, and adjust the Tape Cue control to a comfortable playback level.
MULTIPLE MICS, MULTIPLE TRACKS
placed several feet back. The two Recording one track is relatively simple, mics feed two different channels, especially after you master the each with independent EQ and levels, mechanics of mic setup, level setting, but are bussed to a single track. signal routing, and playback monitoring. If you had two different sources for Where things really get interesting is example, two guitarists playing similar when you decide to record, play back, riffs with one in the low register and the and mix multiple tracks. Once youve set up one channel, the other playing an octave higher this would be considered layering. In both procedure is the same for all other cases, two sources channels. In fact, THE CHALLENGES OF are used to you dont even need MULTI-MIC comprise the sound to change channels RECORDING AND for one track. Whats to record to different MULTIPLE TRACK interesting about tracks if you dont MANAGEMENT. layering and want to. Through blending is that bussing, you can because the channels are ganged to use the same source on the same one track, changing the level on one channel to feed, successively, tracks 2, channel or the other doesnt so much 3, and 4 (or, if youre on a 788, tracks 2 change the volume as it does the tonal through 8). There are several character. There are endless approaches to recording multiple experimental possibilities using this tracks. Lets tackle some of the most approach. You can create your own common ones. unique tonal colors this way. But it can also become quite addicting! LAYERING AND BLENDING Blending is where you take two mics and simultaneously record a single OVERDUBBING source, but from different positions. Overdubbing is the process where a One of the most common scenarios musician listens back to a previously for this approach is an electric guitar. recorded track and plays another part One mic, typically a dynamic, like an perfectly in sync with it (or as best he SM57, is placed close to the guitar can!). There are several considerations amps grille cloth (one to three inches when overdubbing. First and foremost: away), while another mic, usually a protect your previously recorded condenser mic, like a KSM32, is tracks. TASCAM facilitates this
procedure by adding a Safe setting on its Record Function switches. Use it. After taking the necessary trackprotecting precautions, try to achieve a working balance of the tape cue level and the live instrument level. This isnt as easy as it sounds, because, while you can turn up the tape track (via the Cue controls), you must try to keep the record levels of the live track consistent. Its tempting to turn down the live track in your headphones to get it to blend with the backing tracks, but dont do it! Youll throw off the delicate balance of signal-to-noise that you so carefully sought in setting your initial levels. Also, there are several places in the signal path to adjust levels, and you have to be sure youre affecting only the monitoring (listening) portion and not the recording one (the one that goes to tape). Maybe you want to record yourself singing harmony. Or playing three different acoustic guitar parts. For this procedure, youll use the same source and simply overdub by recording onto successive tracks.
The stereo miking x-y pattern.
This is sort of the flip side of overdubbing. Ensemble recording means you record the way nature intended all together and at the same time. You record to multiple tracks using bussing, but you do it simultaneously. While this makes things easier from a musicians standpoint, it sometimes poses challenges from the recordists perspective. One problem is where to put all these people. If you have them all next to each other in the same room, but on three different mics going to three different channels, which go to three different tracks, you risk bleed. This is when one mic picks up the sound from another, unintended source. The result is that you
cant turn up mic 1 without also turning up the bleed from the singer on mic 2. And it may very well be that thats the precise reason youre turning up mic 1 to get the timid singer there to match lungs with the basso profundo on mic 2. You could separate the singers, but then they lose the ability to act as a unit where they listen to each other for cues, tuning, etc. In that case, you might consider a different mic one with a tighter pickup pattern. If you like your SM58, you might consider switching to a Beta 58A, which has many of the same qualities, but a tighter, supercardioid pickup pattern. For stereo recording, consider going with a pair of identicalmodel mics, such as two BG4.1s. Place them in an XY pattern (where the capsules crisscross each other at about a 135-degree angle) and position them in front of the source.
Once you have your ensemble recorded to different tracks, you might want to bounce the tracks all to one open track. Bouncing is taking several pre-recorded tracks and mixing them down to one (or two, if youre running in stereo). Bouncing allows you to reclaim those individual tracks by erasing and re-recording over them. The one caveat is that once you bounce and start recording over the original tracks, youre stuck with your bounced track mix. So make sure to audition it over several systems before you start to re-record. You must always leave an open track, so plan carefully.
SPECIAL APPLICATIONS AND TECHNIQUES
about 12 inches away. Then take a Its one thing to stumble through the larger-diaphragm condenser, like the recording process and discover all the KSM32, and place that about six inches things to do and not to do all by from the bridge. Run the mics to yourself. But why not take a couple of short-cuts and benefit from the collective separate channels and blend to taste. wisdom of people that have been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale? Electric guitars. Like vocals and their There are many classic approaches to acoustic counterparts, electric guitars miking and recording all sorts of can be greatly enhanced by recording standard them in an ambient arrangements of space, like a NOW ITS TIME TO instruments. It bathroom, garage, TAKE A LOOK AT doesnt mean you or long hallway. One SOME SPECIFIC have to follow them trick is to close-mic RECORDING to the letter, but the cabinet with a APPLICATIONS knowing what the dynamic mic, and UTILIZING CLASSIC traditional approach then take a MIKING SETUPS FOR INSTRUMENTS SUCH is certainly makes condenser and AS GUITARS AND for a good jumpingplace it several feet DRUMS. off point. back, or even way Lets examine back at the end of a some specific recording applications hall for a cathedral-like ambience. In this utilizing classic setups. case, the ambient mic takes on a much smaller role than, say, the two-mic method for an acoustic. Blend the RECORDING GUITARS ambient mic subtly. Fig. 9 shows how Acoustic guitars. If youre trying to lay the two mics should be placed, relative down a thumping rock rhythm on to the guitar amp. acoustic guitar, try using a dynamic, like the Beta 57A. It has a little more highend sizzle than an SM57, but it features MIKING A DRUM KIT a great midrange honk that higherMic choice and setup. There is no one quality condensers dont seem to favor. correct way to mic a drum kit. Some For a classic two-mic setup, take a people like to set up two mics in front of small-diaphragm condenser, like an the drummer in a nice, live room, about SM81, and point it toward the 12th fret, six feet high and ten feet back, and just
FIGURE 9: In a two-mic setup, one mic is close up on the grille cloth and the other is used to capture the distant sound of the amp as well as the room sound.
let the drummer wail. Others mic every drum, send them all to separate channels, and then hunker down for a marathon mixing session. But most strike a balance somewhere in the middle. That usually involves separate dynamic mics for the kick and snare, a condenser mic for the hihat, and two large-diaphragm condensers for the overhead mics, which pick up the toms and the cymbals. Alternatively, you can use a pair of closed-mic dynamics on the toms, if you like. Fig. 10 shows how the well appointed drum kit looks, with the mic configuration discussed above.
overheads 10:00 and 2:00. (see Fig. 10a).
USING EFFECTS SENDS EFFECTIVELY
For a true stereo sound, you must record a source with two mics and send each signal to a separate track. But that burns tracks in a hurry, so a great way to create a faux-stereo effect on singletrack-recorded instruments is to put just the effects in stereo. Use a stereo effects unit, but feed it one input from either a channel (one instrument) or the entire mix. Then return two outputs the left and right from the effects processor and patch them back into the main stereo bus. That way the reverb, delay, or chorus will shimmer with a subtle stereo effect, even if your instruments are all panned up the center. This is also a great way to ensure mono compatibility.
Panning assignments. On a drum kit miked with the above setup, set the pan controls this way for a stereo spread on mixdown (not for tracking): kick 12:00, snare 12:00, toms high to low in an 11:001:00 spread, hihat 2:00, and
BETA 52 FIGURE 10: A classic miking approach for a drum kit is two condensers for the overheads, one on the hihat, two dynamics on the toms, and one mic each for the snare and kick. A largediaphragm condenser for a room mic is optional. FIGURE 10a: Note the pan assignments on the rotary knobs just above the faders. The 414mkII will take eight inputs even though it only has six faders. Inputs 7 and 8 are on a single stereo jack and are controlled by a rotary level knob.
KICK SNARE HI-HAT
OVERHEADS (via preamp w/ stereo out)
Youve done all the homework and followed the rules, right? So now its time for some fun. Here is some weird science, recording-wise, that actually works.
PUSH THE METERS YOURE USING TAPE!
In this digital world, distortion when recording is verboten. But not so in analog-land. 10 TRACKS Pushing the tape WITH 4 SOME TECHNIQUES THE means that you TRACKS PROS USE TO MAXIMIZE distort just AND ONLY 1 THEIR SOUND. enough to BOUNCE compress the Bouncing tracks tape, but not enough to make your is great, but the rule of thumb is that you preamps clip in an ugly way. Theres a really dont want to have more than one narrow window in there where that generation for any part, especially on happens, but if you find it, youll be cassette-based machines. But by sitting pretty in the sweet zone. performing a live track along with the ones youre bouncing, you can get ten tracks onto a 4-track in just seven steps, MIC THE STRINGS OF YOUR and with no track subjected to more ELECTRIC GUITAR than one generation. See fig. 11 for the If you want to get some acoustic snap road map. from your electric but dont have a split pickup configuration with a piezo and magnetic heres how you can GHOST VERB achieve the same effect. Isolate the Heres a neat trick thats subtle enough guitarist from the amp in a quiet room to turn the heads of the attentive, but and have him monitor over headphones. wont distract from the musical impact of Close mic the strings of the electric the principal signal. Start by recording, guitar with a small-diaphragm on any instrument, a melodic line onto condenser, like the SM81 or BG4.1, at a one track. Then double the line, via distance of only a few inches. You have overdubbing, by listening to the original
TRICKS AND TIPS
to be sure theres no other noise, like studio monitors or even loud breathing, because youll have to run the mic pretty hot. Run the miked signal to its own track and then mix it judiciously with the principal electric sound. Youd be surprised how this effect anemic on its own adds a whole new dimension to a guitar sound.
3 Tracks + Live = 4 Tracks Total
2 Tracks + Live = 7 Tracks Total
and playing along onto a second track. But dont play it exactly like the original. Take a few liberties with the tempo, the articulation (slide into a note instead of hitting it dead on), and maybe even the choice of a pitch or two (but do this sparingly). And instead of close miking yourself, play or sing way back from the mic, using a condenser like the SM81. You might even have a second mic pointed at a reflecting wall to capture only the ambient sound (a KSM32 is
2 Tracks + Live = 9 Tracks Total
2 Tracks + Live = 10 Tracks Total
FIGURE 11: Seven steps to bouncing ten signals to four tracks, assuming you perform live with the bounce each time.
good for that purpose). You can even run the track through a delay or reverb after that, so that it really sounds ghostly. Then, ever so carefully, mix that sound in with the original track. The result is a wrong-note reverb where the effect (its really another track disguised as an effect) is misbehaving and deviating from the original line a seeming impossibilityunless your recorder is haunted. Great for atmospheric effects.
WHERE TO GO FROM HERE
If youve gotten this far, and practiced some of the
exercises presented here and lived to tell about it youre doing great! The next step should be to purchase and master some outboard effects units, like compressors, reverbs, delays, choruses, etc. Thats what youll need to complete your technical arsenal while you save up and upgrade your existing, core equipment. You can always use more mics, too, acquiring models designed for specialized tasks. More important than acquiring and mastering gear, however, is trying to get exposed to as many recording situations as you can. Volunteer to help out friends and acquaintances who have little recording experience, but are looking to put together a demo tape. You never know when youll get another opportunity to mic a Brazilian percussion ensemble, a gamelan orchestra, or even a large chorus of singers. Record as much as you can, develop your ear for microphone qualities, and master the features of your recorder so that you can focus without distraction on your whole reason for being there: developing your ear for music.
SHURE MICROPHONES SM57: Outstanding performance and diversity of application make the SM57 the workhorse of stages and studios worldwide. SM58: Ostensibly the first choice of performers around the globe, the SM58 vocal microphone is a genuine world standard and a true audio legend. Beta 52: Optimized for use with kick drums, this supercardioid, dynamic microphone features an integral locking stand mount for fast, easy setup. Beta 56: Specifically engineered for drums and instruments, the Beta 56 dynamic microphones compact, pivoting design makes it the ideal choice. Beta 57A: Excellent for acoustic and electric instruments as well as for vocals, the extremely versatile Beta 57A dynamic microphone provides optimal warmth and presence. BG4.1: The BG4.1 condenser microphone is a top choice for instrument recording and sampling, as well as for live acoustic instruments. SM81: One of the worlds great studio condenser cardioid microphones, the SM81 provides precise, detailed sound reproduction, is excellent for studio recording, and is rugged enough for live sound reinforcement. KSM32: SHUREs KSM32 has a classic, elegant appearance and even more impressive performance provided by its extended frequency response, low self-noise, high output level, and increased dynamic range. The KSM32 has the flexibility to handle a variety of demanding sound sources, including vocals, acoustic and wind instruments, ensembles, and overhead miking for drums and percussion. In addition, it has the warmth and sensitivity necessary for superb sound reproduction in professional studio production and live sound recording.
For more information, product literature and educational booklets, call 1-800-25-SHURE or visit www.shure.com.
788 DIGITAL PORTASTUDIO PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATIONS Frequency Response....20 Hz20 kHz 1 dB Dynamic Range.....Better than 82 dB Channel Separation.....Better than 80 dB Total Harmonic Distortion.....<.01% (1 kHz tone) INPUT/OUTPUT SPECIFICATIONS Inputs A-D.....1/4 TRS Aux Input...(2) 1/4 Phone Connectors [Nominal Level 10 dBV @ 15 kOhms] Stereo Output...(2) RCA Connectors [Nominal Level 10 dBV @820 Ohms] Monitor Output....(2) RCA Connectors [Nominal Level -10dBV @820 Ohms] Aux Output...(2) 1/4 Phone Connectors [Nominal Level 10 dBV @820 Ohms] Headphone Output....1/4 TRS, 60mW per side, 30 Ohms Remote Port.....1/4 Phone, Accepts TASCAM RC-30P MIDI Ports.....(2) 5 Pin Din SCSI Port.....SCSI-2, 50 pin CASSETTE 4 TRACK Porta 02 414mkII 424mkIII Simultaneous.2 Record; 4 Play..4 Record; 4 Play..4 Record; 4 Play Record/Play Tracks Mixer Channels.4 Tape Returns..4 Mono Channels.6 Mono Channels 2 Band EQ 3 Band EQ Sweep Mid EQ (2) Aux Sends 2 Stereo Inputs (2) Aux sends 1 Stereo Input Overall..50 Hz12.5..40 Hz16 kHz 3 dB..40 Hz16 kHz 3 dB Frequency Response kHz 3 dB (without dbx) (3 3/4 ips) Overall Signal..>43 dB..>85 dB..>90 dB to Noise Ratio 1 kHz, 3% THD IHF-A weighted, A weighted, dbx on dbx on Wow/Flutter (WRMS)..<0.18%..<0.12% WRMS..<0.05% WRMS Tape Speed(s).4.76 cm/sec..9.5 cm/sec.4.76 cm/sec (1 7/8 ips) (1 7/8 ips) (3 3/4 ips) 9.5 cm/sec (3 3/4 ips) Pitch Adjustment....12%...12% Inputs.(2) 1/4 Mic/Line In..Ch 1-2..Ch 1-4 XLR Mic Pre XLR Mic Pre 1/4 Mic/Line In 1/4 Mic/Line In Ch 3-4 Ch 5-6 1/4 Mic/Line In 1/4 Mic/Line In Ch 5-8 Ch 7-8 1/4 Line In 1/4 Line In Hi Z Sub Input Guitar Line Level In RCA unbalanced Sub Input RCA unbalanced Outputs..Line Output..Monitor Outputs.Monitor Outputs RCA unbalanced RCA unbalanced RCA unbalanced Headphone Output Line Output Line Output 1/4 TRS RCA unbalanced RCA unbalanced Aux Send Outs (2) Aux Send Outs (2) 1/4 Line 1/4 Line Headphone Output Individual Track Outs 1/4 TRS RCA unbalanced Headphone Output 1/4 TRS Power Consumption..7W...11W..21W Dimensions..300x80x205 mm..367x100x247 mm.419x115x357 mm (14.5 x 4 x 9.75 in) Weight..1.5Kg..2.1Kg (4.5 lbs)...4.9Kg Fast Winding Time.120 sec. for C-60...110 sec. for C-60..120 sec. for C-60 Optional Accessories...RC-30P Punch-In Pedal.RC-30P Punch-In Pedal
Produced by two of the most-respected names in professional audio, Microphones and Multitracks is a quickstart guide that will not only have you making music with your SHURE microphone and TASCAM Portastudio, but have you doing it in the time it takes you to read this guidebook and press the Record button on your deck. Heres some of what youll learn: Proper mic selection Recording system setup How to set levels Miking techniques Multiple track recording techniques How to capture the best signal Classic recording setups Professional tricks and tips
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