Microphone/audacity Settings For Acoustic Guitar
SubbedChris
Mar 26 2020, 10:37 AM
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Posts: 138
Joined: 6-June 10
From: Greece
Hello team!

I've purchased an AKG P120 microphone just yesterday and I have absolutely no experience regarding audio settings
for a bright acoustic tone! The reviews were really awesome and the audio quality is great for it's low price, I was really hyped about this delivery. I'm using an audio interface Line6 POD UX1 which comes with POD Farm audio software where I've selected a Noise Gate, a preamp and a compressor as I saw in a Youtube video.

Noise Gate
Attached Image

Preamp
Attached Image

Compressor
Attached Image

What's your take about what settings and equipment should I use from the software?

I've tried recording a simple sample with it and something like the below file came out, which I modified using Audacity!
I used Hard Limit to clip the trebled sound that came with the snares (I play fingerstyle), Bass and Treble to increase each
accordingly and then amplified the whole soundtrack! I think it lacks many components, not really any brightness or color in it
(still better than using my phone though)

Attached File  ParanoidBefore.wav ( 11.33MB ) Number of downloads: 29
(Before Audacity)
Attached File  ParanoidAfter.mp3 ( 407.53K ) Number of downloads: 20
(After Audacity)


I might be noticing a little hissing, maybe from the gain? The volume of the original file is pretty low. Does this have an impact if it's amplified too much? Should it be a little louder when it's recorded in the first place? Also, is it optimal to use reverb from the software or add it though Audacity?

I know I've just bought it yesterday and the whole thing needs lots LOTS of experimentation, but a little guidance alonside would be
helpful, I have to learn some things before blindly tweaking everything in the way! smile.gif

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This post has been edited by SubbedChris: Mar 26 2020, 11:17 AM
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Mertay
Mar 26 2020, 05:10 PM
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QUOTE (SubbedChris @ Mar 26 2020, 09:37 AM) *
...


Hey smile.gif first of all congrats on the mic. , I never tried it myself but looks very nice.

First about mic. placement; General advice is to position it facing 12.th fret, with a bit of distance. But this is just a starting point advice, think of mic. placement as your first eq option so spending time experimenting to learn is much valuable compared to experimenting with software.

Assuming you used enough mic. preamp gain (not letting it clip is most important), some noise is acceptable specially if you used a compressor. Use it delicately if possible, both to avoid extra noise and the risk of making it fake sounding. I usually use the compressor when listening together with vocal, this helps me decide how "steady" I want the guitar to be and try use as less as possible.

I don't have fingerstyle experience, your sound felt like a cross between an acoustic and classical guitar to me so cool if you dig that sound. EQ can be very subjective but first approach is filtering off any boomyness by reducing the low's (low-cut or low-shelf.). Then often mid.s can be reduced to attempt change the tone character of guitar but careful it might get harsh...so this is also about experimenting.

I can hear your room's natural reverb, this is the hardest to avoid when using mic.s at home. Because of that, adding a reverb fx might end-up mudding your sound so also be gentle with that.

As said, take your time with mic. placement experiments first. It can often solve things computer cannot, also if possible try different rooms in your house too. What you experience with these tests alone will be very helpful in the future.

PS; I noticed your "preamp" photo, all fx is bypassed. It's probably a "set preset" where you change the values to your liking. Start by increasing drive but also decrease volume accordingly. With the 4 eq knobs, only use the upper knobs to eq when first experimenting.

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Todd Simpson
Mar 26 2020, 09:50 PM
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Some great advice from Mertay! It really is about experimenting. Try several mic positions without using EQ/processing and see which one you like. Once you have a mic position, start adding things from your line 6 plugin one at a time, record, playback, adjust until you like it, then add one more thing. Otherwise, you have so many variables going on at once that it's tough to tell which changes are good ones.

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SubbedChris
Mar 27 2020, 10:03 PM
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Thank you guys for your suggestions!

Another thing I did, was to record completely dry without even using the software and then mixing! No Preamp, no Compressor beforehand. Something like this came out!

Royals (Unprocessed) :
Attached File  ROYALS.wav ( 7.88MB ) Number of downloads: 13


Royals (Processed) :
Attached File  RoyalsFIN2.wav ( 7.02MB ) Number of downloads: 13


What are your thoughts?

Well, I play some D2 notes, kick and snares on the guitar that are supposed to pull the soul out of the listener's body but not even close.
I'm kinda in a dilemma, because I've seen some unprocessed recordings of fingerstyle players and they sound very solid before mixing,
there's bass, unity everywhere! They're not really dry, there's something going there beforehand. Then mixing gives the final touch! I overestimated mixing, thought it can make magic happen but an initial recording has to sound good in the first place!

Guess I'll start over with the software and add some things to record first hand and then mix! It all comes to experimentation as we preached before! I have 2 questions regarding the software above.

1) What is really a preamp and how does is it different from an amp? Does it work like an EQ, bottom knobs are frequencies and upper
are for boosting these frequencies? Does drive give me gain and do I really need it for this kind of music?

2) How about compression? I know it's job is to make everything appear louder and even out louder and quiter parts of the track. But how
is that translated to the knobs "Threshold" and "Gain" above?

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This post has been edited by SubbedChris: Mar 27 2020, 10:06 PM
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Mertay
Mar 27 2020, 10:34 PM
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QUOTE (SubbedChris @ Mar 27 2020, 09:03 PM) *
...


You're on the right track, yeah all the magic is with the recording process. If I had outboard gear (very rare in homestudios cause expensive) I preferred using them in the recording chain as much as possible rather than mixing with them (after recording). First your questions;

-A preamp basically adds gain to achieve a proper recording level. But the thing is all of them adds subtle (musical) saturation as you drive them (sort of similar to a guitar amp, but onlike a guitar amp not really a tone-shaping tool but enhances the quality). They're flat in nature, you can even calibrate room acoustics with any one of them (cheap or super vintage). Gain increase can be done without such saturation technically but then it will sound small/weak.

Your preamp is the one in your soundcard, software ones basically add mild saturation on top of your soundcards preamp. Sound engineers like investing in preamps cause they enhance tone in the most simple and effective way, but as said they can get pretty expensive.

-Loudness isn't the goal of a compressor (thats limiter) but as you said evening out the dynamics is its main duty. You software comp. is vintage type so according to that;

Set threshold to the peak of your recording, the place where you think the dynamics are hitting too hard hopefully you'll hear it respond. This will decrease the output as you're basically trimming the peak of an audio, so you add output from the gain knob. The gain is there only to re-balance the output of compression is decreasing.

Your result sounded a bit boomy on the low's an a bit harsh on the highs, but I can say you enhanced it (didn't make it worse, just different). While mixing don't forget to listen like the audience too sometimes, cause sometimes you may feel everything is more hi-fi but then realize it might have gone too harsh for someone to listen for a long period of time wink.gif

Finally, I think your next step should be taming rooms acoustics cause I hear it too much. Bare wall reflect sound, you can google "diy room treatement" or "diy bass trap" as its really not expensive but does involve work.

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This post has been edited by Mertay: Mar 27 2020, 10:35 PM


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SubbedChris
Mar 28 2020, 12:18 PM
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QUOTE (Mertay @ Mar 27 2020, 09:34 PM) *
You're on the right track...


Wow, that a job, no kidding! biggrin.gif Thanks for your advice!

About the recording, you're totally right, sometimes you need to hear it after your mixing and give an objective feedback like
you're the audience. Will give more care next time, when I heard it again I noticed everything you said.

So, about the preamp, should I diss out the software's and have just a Noise Gate and a Compressor? Maybe it's too much
having two preamps (soundcard and software). So, since amp is a tone shaping tool and preamp giving volume and keeping
the same quality or enhancing it, I guess it's a good choice having a preamp instead of an amp for playing acoustic guitar?
To give perspective of what I want, here is my favorite fingerstyle player and just give a listen how awesome his kicks (hitting
body with palm) and bass notes sound

GTA Fingerstyle

About compression now, if I got it right. Here is a how a dry waveform typically is of such a track

Attached Image

These peaks are usually from the kicks and snares (thumb hitting strings) and I always use a limiter to cut them up to a certain
point. So I guess upping the Threshold knob will trim these peaks and I should put the Threshold to a certain point where I won't
notice any possible loss or clipping of valuable information?

You say it's not a volume amplifying tool, but if I put the Gain knob on the high ends, won't the ending result have a higher volume than
before using a Compressor? Or you're just saying it's not optimal and I should increase the Gain and have the output as it was before
it was trimmed? The original dry soundtrack doesn't have lots of volume, how should I increase it? The increase happened with the
compressor when I mixed it in the tracks above.

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This post has been edited by SubbedChris: Mar 28 2020, 12:22 PM
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Mertay
Mar 28 2020, 03:29 PM
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QUOTE (SubbedChris @ Mar 28 2020, 11:18 AM) *
...


Software preamp type fx often work best when inserted to multiple tracks in a mix, often these elements can sound a bit apart and these type of fx help "glue" the sound. So yeah for a solo project if you don't feel there's no obvious reason don't use them yet.

I listened to your youtube link, did you also notice sometimes it sounds like 2 players playing at the same time? I think he's using a delay or doubler sort of fx (could be a type of reverb too) to get that bigger sound but I'm not sure what. You could pm him maybe he'll help.

About the picture you shared, compressor's (specially vintage type) can't catch those super-fast peaks. Visually, they're better at bringing up the silent parts louder to an extent. The comp. you use have very few parameter and a single type sound, maybe its better if you experiment with a more modern one (often that comes free in the DAW). I can also recommend TDR Kotelnikov as freeware, might work better for you.

This; "I should increase the Gain and have the output as it was before it was trimmed?"

Golden rule always match the output when using any fx, so when you bypass the fx you'll have a better idea if you made the song better or worse by comparing.

If the final level is too low you can insert a limiter in the end of the chain. Keep in mind though with any webstream service these days (spotify, youtube...) the volume is automatically normalized so no need to try making the track as loud as possible.

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This post has been edited by Mertay: Mar 28 2020, 03:30 PM


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