Some newb questions...

I’m a complete newb when it comes to all this, so fire away if my questions are so dumb that I should just read up on something. I don’t know the lingo, so if I’m way off on something, that could very well be my problem (I don’t know what to read about). I’ve been playing with some junky mics and getting some recordings. I’m trying to clean some stuff up and learn the basics so they don’t sound like absolute junk. I’ve got one I’m playing with now, as good a place to start as any right?

Here’s how it’s setup:
1st track: Acoustic rhythm guitar and vocals. Pretty much exactly what you’d expect. I generally get this down first so I can get the rest of the parts based on it. Then go back and re-record if necessary, but not that far along yet on my current project. I know this isn’t the ideal way to do things… I should really practice playing with a click track…
2nd track: Drums. For this particular thing I’m just using the bass and hi-hat. I’m having problems recording with my equipment, in particular I’m peaking way too easily. I’m fully aware this might just be the limit my junky mics. I didn’t have enough cables and stuff to get far enough away (which I think would have been the best case?) so I ended up putting the mic in an enclosed wooden box and used my body as a shield of sorts. It got a lot of the peaking down and actually gave it a somewhat desired sound. Kinda going for a sluggish thudding walking feel there…
3rd track: Acoustic lead guitar. Just as it sounds. Nothing too fancy here.

So with the mentality that I’m not going to get anything up to studio level… so far I’ve gotten everything sorta kinda the way I think sounds good. I added a little reverb to the drum track, hoping to make it sound “bigger”. I put a little echo on the lead track just to give it some depth. I also went through and did noise reduction on all tracks, and fade in at the beginning/fade out at the end. I messed with the amplification here and there to get things in balance the way I thought sounded good too.

So on to the questions…

Firstly: Peaking. Am I at all in the ballpark of sane thinking if I’m under the impression that I don’t want any peaking at all? My drum track had the most, so I went through the whole thing and anywhere it peaked I used the amplify thing and went down -.5 until I quit getting the red bar in the output level visualizer. Honestly in some cases I could hear a difference (mainly just sounded less harsh), others I’m not sure if I could tell the difference but I got the red peaks to go away.

Second: Click or pop removal. I have some unwanted noise in my lead guitar track. It’s actually from the chair I was sitting on creaking. Just running through menus and trying to get rid of them I’ve been completely unsuccessful. They are in the sample I (hopefully) attached to this post. So before I go back and re-record it I figured I’d ask if it’s even in the realm of possibility to remove something like that.

Thirdly: What is the general rules for levels between tracks? Just what you think sounds good? At times I want my lead to come to the front so I up the level or whatever. It’s there something similar to the “rule of thirds” in photography?

Anyway… hopefully there’s a quick sample attached… obviously not pro quality or anything… questions/comments/concerns? I just used OGG format to reduce file size.

I’m a complete newb when it comes to all this,

So you’re not shocked if you don’t sound like Marshall Mathers/Lady GaGa right away. We have posters that are shocked and upset they can’t just press record on their iPhone.

I know this isn’t the ideal way to do things… I should really practice playing with a click track…

Practice the technique that feels natural to you. There is no stone that says you have to use a click track. If you play and your tempo wanders off to the 7-Eleven/Tesco and back, then yes, you may need some help. Up to you.

I’m trying to clean some stuff up

While you can do nice things with the filters and effects in Audacity, if you shoot something trash, the best you can hope for is clean trash.

I’m peaking way too easily.

Recording drums is a high art. In particular, newbies try to get Buddy Rich on iTunes first take in the studio. You should stop doing that. Always record everything with no peaking – ever. Peaking and red lines in Audacity is the end of the show. Recording slightly low is easily fixed with post production tools.

You can do well by recording everything clean and then apply Effect > Compressor or similar tools to tame the expression. Chris’s Compressor can be useful to make the whole recording denser and louder legally

The illustration is a perfect studio recording. You can punch it and loud it up later.

I’m fully aware this might just be the limit my junky mics.

People blame mics way too soon. Unless you have communication microphones or Skype quality, you can usually do well for a long time by paying attention to…

It’s actually from the chair I was sitting on creaking.

Here’s a pro/Hollywood tip. Stop recording the chair.

I ended up putting the mic in an enclosed wooden box and used my body as a shield of sorts.

If you’re expecting me to be horrified, you have a long wait. The task is to see what sounds good to you during the recording and then do that.

It’s there something similar to the “rule of thirds” in photography?

Peak everything at -6dB and mix it down later. That should give you enough headroom to not peak even if you do get a little expressive.

Use very high quality MP3 (256 or better) and repost with more of the work. Include vocals.

Many people try to record without a studio. It usually does not go well.


You can’t fix that. She will always sound like recording in her mum’s kitchen.


The supplier couldn’t figure out why I wanted clean moving pads that matched. Note the pads on the floor.


Each wall is double padded.


Note the double moving pad on the desk. You can’t tell from the picture, but that’s a completely soundproofed conference room at work. That was half of a broadcast radio show I shot.


There’s a reason that looks like foam packing blocks on the walls.

http://transom.org/?page_id=37159
These people have a lot of good tips on how to drive a microphone. They’re approaching it from the idea of an interview, but all the basics apply.

Koz

Missed one. Grab the right-hand edge of the sound meters and pull so they’re very much bigger. You can undock them, too.

http://kozco.com/tech/audacity/AudacityPanelFull.jpg
Koz

Thanks kozikowski.

No I’m not shocked I don’t sound like my own studio. I’m not sure that’s what I’m going for either. I just want something that’s a little better than what I can do without thinking. If I get the basics I should be better than the bottom of the barrel.

I don’t think I have any peaking in the recordings themselves, but I indeed was using an app on my phone to record. I like that shoot for -6dB. Makes sense after playing around a bit. The mic itself is some no-name thing, it’s not like I handpicked it or anything. I just used what was available.

Here’s the whole thing raw, no noise reduction or editing at all really: https://soundcloud.com/sinerasis/while-my-guitar-gently-weeps-2

Keep in mind the rhythm/vocal track isn’t intended to be final. To me it sounds “muddy” for lack of better descriptive words. A “tin” sound is intentional.

To me it sounds “muddy” for lack of better descriptive words.

I think it just sounds out of balance. If I didn’t already know what the song was, I wouldn’t be able to understand half the words because they get lost behind the instruments.

I would probably split the vocal from everything else. You need the ability to filter and process vocals without affecting the instruments.

Drums may be a problem. I don’t think the mic is up to percussion. The bass drum or whatever you’re using for a bass drum is almost unrecognizable without the punch of a good recording.

I’m going to change sound systems shortly and I’ll be able to hear everything better.

This is my favorite “simple recording.” This is Josh Turner and a Zoom H2 (old version) on a stick. It sounds like he added a little reverb in there, but it’s just him.

Koz

Forget Noise Reduction. Noise Reduction attacks the background noises and the show. The object is to suppress the noise without making the show sound too bad. It’s not “click and all the noise goes away.” Unless you’re doing an a capella recording, nobody is going to notice a little background hiss.

Unless, of course the background noise is a Metro Bus starting up or the dog next door. We can’t take those out. Those are now performers in your show. See: Stop recording your chair.

Koz

Cool. As we go.

The recording has a pronounced resonance bump around 300Hz. That may be a combination of the mic and the room. I got rid of it with Effect > Equalize and designed a filter that looks like the illustration.

Now that I’m on a grownup sound system, I can tell you’re overloading the crap out of your drums. You’ll need to record them again. I can’t see any tool rescuing the drum track. After you record them safely (lower), apply Amplify > New Peak: -1 [Enter]. Then Effect > Compression and try the default settings. That should give you a clean but louder drum track, although I think where you put them in the finished track is too loud.

Now we need a vocal closer to the finished track.

Koz
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