To record Music is always a beautiful but demanding activity from several points of view. As a Musician, no matter what instrument you play, you always want to sound good or at least the best possible depending on the circumstance that you have to experience. However, when creating the ideal sound or “your” sound there are many factors that influence and that many times are not taken into account and directly affect the “audio chain”.
Here are some items that I would like to highlight and share, oriented as a Bass player but also, making the corresponding changes, can be taken into account by other instruments players.
INSTRUMENTS: the state of your instrument is quite important. As a bass player whenever I have the opportunity to record I change the strings set since I consider that the new strings give the color and definition that I need and I want to capture in the recorded audio. However, it is also important to have the instrument calibrated and clean (maybe this post can help: http://pabloelorza.com/4-tips-for-setting-up-your-bass/) and in case of using an active system, checking the batteries is always a good idea. Also the connection of plug (jacks) or anything else that can generate unwanted noises, like loose cables, etc …
DIRECT LINE / PREAMPLIFIERS / AMPLIFIERS: This item has to do with how you record the instrument. All are different ways to do it and depending on the quality of the devices that are used, the audio quality will be better or worse.
- By Direct line to an audio interface or to a console sound board is a first choice. It will depend a lot on the quality of preamplifiers that come incorporated in the devices, which vary according to the brand and quality of the same. In case this is the option, always you will be able to modify the audio via plugins, Eq, etc… in the mix session.
- By Direct line to a Preamplifier is another option but will depend on what is available both as personal equipment, as well as the studio in which you record. Some brands of Bass equipment have their Pre/DI pedals which can be used for live or for recording, among them: Aguilar, Gallien-Krueger, Sansamp, Sadowsky, among others. In studio situation, some classic preamps include: API, Avalon, Millennian, Manley, among many others.
- Recording by an amplifier miked and DI is another interesting alternative. The color of audio will be achieved according to the equipment used and its quality, next to the microphone and microphone technique used.
CABLES / PEDALS / PLUGS (DC): Other important aspects to consider are:
- The cables that we use if they are in bad condition can be the cause of unwanted noises and in turn, cause of loss of signal.
- In case of using pedals it is good to keep in mind if it is really necessary or later you can work it on post production. I mean, in many cases the appropriate sound to record influences directly with the music, but in other cases the pedals if they are not necessary can generate more problems than solutions, especially if they are of poor quality or create noises or loss of signal of the instrument .
- It is worth checking where we plug our equipment, pedals, etc … in many cases unwanted noises can be given by not having grounded the electrical installation of the studio. It is something that usually happens, especially in home studios or places less prepared.
SOUND / VERSATILITY: This item refers to the musical and conceptual part. Not all sounds are adapted to all music and in many cases the sounds we like most do not fit the recording we need to make. Being versatile and accessing to find the best possible audio, helps the final product. A tip to take into account: set the audio of the instrument within the musical context (band) and not alone, it helps to know what kind of sound / frequencies we need.
MUSICAL VOCABULARY/ TECHNIQUE: In the same way as the previous item, not all techniques are adapted to all music; and an important detail at the time of recording (at least for me) is to try to absorb the musical environment/ style of what you want to record to try to use the musical vocabulary that best corresponds.
Until the next post!