Improving an old recording

Effects, Recipes, Interfacing with other software, etc.
Forum rules
If you require help using Audacity, please post on the forum board relevant to your operating system:
Windows
Mac OS X
GNU/Linux and Unix-like
kozikowski
Forum Staff
Posts: 69279
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 5:57 pm
Operating System: macOS 10.13 High Sierra

Re: Latest

Post by kozikowski » Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:30 pm

I think you won't be able to tell what you're doing without good speakers or top quality headphones. Or both. You got into this mess when you found that a 78 RPM record equalization sounded terrific.

I use Boston Acoustics CR6 speakers, a Crown D75 amplifier, a Hafler DH101 preamplifer and a KLH ASW10 bass cabinet.

Some of that isn't made any more. Boston changed the formulation of the CR6 and it isn't as good. Hafler hasn't been made in years. I have a fuzzy rule that if you can pick up your sound system in one hand, it's probably not enough.

I use three different headphones but I settled on Sennheiser EH150 headphones with a back up of the old standby Koss Pro4AA (which I can't wear for long periods). I also still use my Sennheiser HD414 headphones even though I know they have weak bass. They sound terrific, they're comfortable and I always check my work on something else before anything goes out the door.

Studio recording is not just a quiet room and a nice microphone.

Koz

Sam Houston
Posts: 88
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:51 am
Operating System: Please select

Re: Latest

Post by Sam Houston » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:58 pm

kozikowski wrote:I think you won't be able to tell what you're doing without good speakers or top quality headphones. Or both. You got into this mess when you found that a 78 RPM record equalization sounded terrific.
I never said I was going to go direct-in to the 8 track. And I DO have many top quality speakers as well as guitar amps, big mixing console (for stage), and a ton of other things similar. I just don't currently use much of it for recording because I've been using Audacity because it's so much easier. And, I'm not in a "mess" and I never said the "Columbia 78" EQ sounded "terrific". What I DID say was that the "Columbia 78" EQ sounded pretty good on my out-of-date Windows XP computer with it's fairly generic sound card at home. But I also said that a lot of times I would have to re-adjust when I listened on a different computer.

And Koz, like I said yesterday, I truly do appreciate all the help and advice you and Trebor have given me. But your condescending bullshit attitude is getting old fast. It would be much more helpful and useful, to me anyway, if you would just offer good down-to-Earth advice consistently. You DO give good advice but then you always have to put some smart ass statement in somewhere, which is of NO help whatsoever.

Trebor
Posts: 9896
Joined: Sat Dec 27, 2008 5:22 pm
Operating System: Windows 8 or 8.1

Re: Latest

Post by Trebor » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:50 pm

Sam Houston wrote:Ok....how about this. I have a Tascam digital 8 track. What if I use it to do the actual recording ...
The computer's built-in sound-card is the weak-link in your recording chain, they are usually designed to a budget for voice-over-internet, (e.g. skype), but their signal-to-noise ratio won't be low enough for a professional recording : it will always generte faint but noticable hiss.

The Tascam device was designed to record music so should produce less noisy , ( less hiss ), digital recordings than a typical built-in computer sound-card.
Sam Houston wrote:... here's what my setup would be. Vocal mic = SM58 and then for all the other stuff (guitars, etc) use my SM57 to mic the amp.
That's a perfectly feasible arrangement , but your voice and guitar will be coloured by the characteristics of your amplifier , if your vocal-mic and guitar went straight into the Tascam it cuts-out the amplifier (and any hiss/hum/distortion it produces) from the recording. The Tascam should have headphones output for monitoring what it is recording , or a line-out signal you can send to the amplifier if you don't like headphones.

kozikowski
Forum Staff
Posts: 69279
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 5:57 pm
Operating System: macOS 10.13 High Sierra

Re: Latest

Post by kozikowski » Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:29 am

Sorry. That happens when I go fast and don't take the time to go back and filter it all out.
Koz

kozikowski
Forum Staff
Posts: 69279
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 5:57 pm
Operating System: macOS 10.13 High Sierra

Re: Latest

Post by kozikowski » Fri Feb 07, 2014 5:31 am

I DO have many top quality speakers as well as guitar amps, big mixing console (for stage), and a ton of other things similar
Do you have a small mixer? That and a digitizer clears any quality problems in one pass. Bring out the good speakers and small amp and clear all the monitoring problems. Or pop for the headphones. We did a headphone review. I'll look for it.
Koz

kozikowski
Forum Staff
Posts: 69279
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 5:57 pm
Operating System: macOS 10.13 High Sierra

Re: Latest

Post by kozikowski » Fri Feb 07, 2014 6:23 am

This is a headphone experience list we compiled a while ago. Some good, some bad. I have a much more comprehensive review I did with a pile of headphones but I can't find the paper I scribbled it on.

-- Headphone Collection (edited)--

Sennheiser eh-150 (kozikowski) Good comfort and sound balance.
Koss Pro4AAA (kozikowski perfect sound, but heavy and impossible to wear for long periods.
Sony MDR-7506 (kozikowski) Hollywood Standard, physically perfect, but harsh sound and hard to listen for long periods.

Sennheiser PX100 (waxcylinder)
Sennheiser HD25-1 (waxcylinder)
The t.bone HD 880 (steve) Budget headphone in Europe

AKG K-141 (billw58)
JLABS Jbuds Original Earbuds (Gale Andrews) Headphone Alternative.

Sam Houston
Posts: 88
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:51 am
Operating System: Please select

Re: Latest

Post by Sam Houston » Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:48 pm

My headphones are AKG headphones. Not too bad but not nearly as high end as yours, Koz.

As far as the big equipment, it's in a "music building" I have. My son is a musician also (bad ass metal drummer) so I bought a building (maybe 12' x 16') to put all our music equipment in and so that if I have musicians over or he does, we'd have a place to play or practice. And it's pretty cool with all that equipment in there. But, the problem is that there's no air conditioning except a little tiny window unit that doesn't help much and there's no heater except a little floor heater. So I'm saying, technically, the building isn't wired. We just have a 12 gauge extension from the house. But, I want to get it wired....when money allows. If I ever get that done then I can have ALL my big dog equipment involved, and that's what I want to get to eventually. I have recorded through the PA and stage speakers in the building and it makes a HUGE difference. In the meantime, I'm recording in the bedroom. But, until I get the building setup the way I want, since talking to you guys, I've been considering bringing a couple of big speakers and a power head out of the building and into the bedroom. I'm not too sure how happy that's gonna make my wife but.... :D :shock: .

But Koz, to answer your question, yes I do have a small mixer plus several smaller heads. But I also have the big rack loaded down with monster power amps, crossover unit, 24 channel EQ, etc but that''s WAAAAY too much. But maybe a combination of a smaller mixer or head and the 24 channel EQ and a couple other things might work for now until I can get the building setup correctly.

steve
Site Admin
Posts: 81356
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2007 11:43 am
Operating System: Linux *buntu

Re: Improving an old recording

Post by steve » Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:35 pm

I've been watching this discussion from afar.

The main problems that I've noticed:

1) "Monitoring" (trying to get the sound right) using computer speakers.
Computer speakers are almost always bad, especially laptop speakers (which have hardly any bass response).
Trying to EQ with bad speakers will make you try to compensate for the speakers, so in the case of speakers that are very bright (all "top" and no "bottom") you will automatically compensate by boosting the bass and cutting the treble. This is what you did with the "Columbia" Eq, and it sounds dreadful when played on better speakers because there is was too much bass and hardly any treble.

2) Recording with a computer microphone.
Computer microphones are generally designed for speech. They are not intended to give a "flat" (truthful) frequency response. They are designed to give intelligible speech, even when used with the (typically lousy) computer microphone input and played over low quality "voip" (such as Skype). Typically this will result in not much better than "telephone quality".

3) Recording your vocals through a guitar amp.
Guitar amps are designed to make electric guitars sound good. Even a a really expensive "acoustic" amp will colour the sound considerably.
You can get away with a lot when playing live. Often you will be playing over a lot of noise in the room. Not so when listening back to a recording in the quiet of your own home. Commercial recordings, radio, and even modern TVs have raised the expectation for clear, high quality audio, and you are not likely to get that with vocals through a guitar amp.
Vocals through an amp can be used as an "effect" to give a gritty edge to the vocal timbre, but if that is the aim then it is essential to carefully adjust the amp to give exactly the sound that you want, and then use a good microphone and good recording equipment that can reproduce that sound faithfully.


Suggestions for better quality recording.

Use the best microphone that you have for recording the vocals. If that means recording guitar and vocals separately, then do that.

Use the best mic that you have to record your guitar, or, if your amp has "line out" you could try recoding from that. Generally I prefer to mic up the cab, but worth trying both.

Avoid using the "mic in" socket on the computer. We often hear from people that can't believe how bad the "mic in" is when they have just paid thousand$ for their new laptop. Even "reasonable" quality microphone inputs on stock computers are rarer than hurricanes in Hampshire ("My Fair Lady"). For recording music it is virtually essential to upgrade the sound card. There are many ways that this can be done, from USB mics, to high quality internal sound cards, to Firewire multichannel interfaces .... If you already have a mixing desk, then a versatile and low cost option is to use a USB sound card such as a Behringer UCA 202 (there are many other brands to choose from, but I've got one of these and it works well for me, and only costs around $30). Connect the output of the mixer to the USB sound card, and plug your mic(s) into the mixer.

When you're working on your recording, particularly such things as adjusting the Eq, use the best, flattest, most "neutral" playback system that you can get. Studio monitors are ideal, but very expensive for good ones. Reasonable quality headphones are a much more cost effective option, but are rarely "neutral". If you mix with headphones, be sure to also check you mix on normal speakers.

A note about "live recording". Live recordings are frequently released commercially, but these recording are never (other than "bootlegs") recorded with microphones from front of house. There will often be some amount of "front of house" mixed in to the final recording to give a sense of place (particularly to pick up applause) but invariably the most part of the recording comes from the mixing desk - usually as a multi-track recording so that it can be remixed later in the studio.

By the way, I've enjoyed the music.

Post Reply