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How in the hell do the pro's get such a larger than life sound with everything?


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My #1 goal is to try and get my music across with the best performance, and using the best gear for a nice signal chain. I am asking anyone who records hard rock guitar tones- do pro's layer a bunch with different amps, guitars, mic placement, mic preamps, and different eq settings? I need a wall of heavy but clear guitar tone.

And most important to me is vocals. I am treating my 14x16 with 9 ft ceilings with a bunch of cornings 1073 (I ordered 2 sets of 12 panels) totalling 192 square feet. I plan on using Auralex foam in areas that aren't treated by means of me constructing anything. My signal chain is as follows: a Rode NTK, and an Oktava MK-319 modded by Oktava (floating dome) for choice in vocals. I have a Really Nice Preamp, the API 2AD, and already have one of Real Traps (Ethan thanks) Portable Vocal Booth. I am really trying for pro sound. I will pay a pro to mix possibly, and definitely one to master. I'm asking all you newbies, and veterans- What would you do? My music is in the hard rock/alternative type genre. I got thousands$$$ in plugins. My room will be treated quite a bit more liberally than Nero did in his post and look at how happy he is! I am reaching for the stars when it comes to tracking everything properly- both in actual takes, great sounding signal chain, and want that old Neve fat sound for my vocals and some PHAT sounding guitars. I have an Avalon U5 for my DI. Working with 2 SM57's, the Rode NTK, and the modded Oktava MK-319.

I just don't hear much online in forums that can compete with national sounds or even Indie labels nowdays. Look at Anberlin, Thousand Foot Krutch, Nickleback, etc. I spent a ton of money, can I compete with the guidance of all you? God bless anyone who can help me in anyway to achieve my goal. I won't shop any of my songs until I am totally happy with them sonically. Sorry for the long thread, but I need your help everyone.

Ustad, I listened to the clip song you did with the semi distorted guitars. What would you do if Godsmack came in and wanted that huge guitar tone (with simple {censored}in parts), and demanded a larger than life vocal sound even though the singer has to rely on auto tune of some kind. Please advice me audio buddies! I plan on shopping my EP I record with your help and my experience, and need every bit of advice I can get. Thanks everyone:eek:

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I guess I don't understand how national singers can get a thick ass sound with one vocal track. Or maybe with a harmony, but I don't hear many doubled, or tripled tracks. Two songs come to mind where I would die to know what mic, preamp, distance to mic, and fx. One song is by Jimmy Eats World- the song Bitter Sweetness and Crossfade's "So Far Away". Anyone who can find out how either of these bands got these huge sounding single vocals and how they make guitars sound so huge and heavy in bands like Staind. A damn wall of sound. Anyone? Help me please

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Ustad, I listened to the clip song you did with the semi distorted guitars. What would you do if Godsmack came in and wanted that huge guitar tone (with simple {censored}in parts), and demanded a larger than life vocal sound even though the singer has to rely on auto tune of some kind. Please advice me audio buddies! I plan on shopping my EP I record with your help and my experience, and need every bit of advice I can get. Thanks everyone:eek:

 

I used to record hardcore bands. I say used to...I just don't seem to get 'em anymore, so it's not like I stopped wanting to record 'em!!! :D

 

Anyway, I sometimes used that technique that I told you about and that you heard. It's a monstrous sound, changing the guitars/amps so that one is dark, one is bright, and one is in between and layering them together. I've done this at times with hardcore bands, and the result was the same...really huge.

 

Did you like the guitar sound in the middle of the song? It's a rather short example, and is not hard rock, but hopefully it shows how huge you can get your sound with not much equipment.

 

http://www.elevenshadows.com/nectar/music.php and then click on "The Little Ease" on the MP3 flash player, for those who want to hear what I am talking about.

 

Here's what you need for a larger than life sound:

 

Great songs with great arrangements played by great players on great sounding equipment in a great sounding room recorded by a great engineer using great placement with great equipment and then mixed by a great mixer.

 

See how easy it is?

 

If you take any one of those "great" things out, it still might be possible to get a great sound, but it weakens your chances to do so.

 

While there's not one single thing that makes a larger-than-life sound, a fantastic arrangement certainly helps. Generally speaking, the more clutter you have in your arrangements, the harder it is to get a large sound.

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I used to record hardcore bands. I say used to...I just don't seem to get 'em anymore, so it's not like I stopped wanting to record 'em!!!
:D

Anyway, I sometimes used that technique that I told you about and that you heard. It's a monstrous sound, changing the guitars/amps so that one is dark, one is bright, and one is in between and layering them together. I've done this at times with hardcore bands, and the result was the same...really huge.


Did you like the guitar sound in the middle of the song? It's a rather short example, and is not hard rock, but hopefully it shows how huge you can get your sound with not much equipment.


http://www.elevenshadows.com/nectar/music.php
and then click on "The Little Ease" on the MP3 flash player, for those who want to hear what I am talking about.


Here's what you need for a larger than life sound:


Great songs with great arrangements played by great players on great sounding equipment in a great sounding room recorded by a great engineer using great placement with great equipment and then mixed by a great mixer.


See how easy it is?


If you take any one of those "great" things out, it still might be possible to get a great sound, but it weakens your chances to do so.


While there's not one single thing that makes a larger-than-life sound, a fantastic arrangement certainly helps. Generally speaking, the more clutter you have in your arrangements, the harder it is to get a large sound.

 

Thanks as always for your wisdom Ustad. I did in fact listen to the track "The Little Ease". On my {censored}ty computer speakers (I have a comp for online and the other dedicated only for audio. It still makes me want to hear what you can do mixing or mastering wise. I have spent literally $4000 in the past month on upgrading my studio. Most of which I never would have a {censored}in clue about if it wasn't for you all. I love this site. Nice people, with class. I'm sorry Ustad if it seemed like I doubted your ability to get great metal/hard rock tones. In fact you and Phil are the two guys on here that I have and still am considering to mix or master my project. I went to Musician's Institute in Hollywood and learned a decent amount. Since then I have been buying different gear, changing mics and mic placement, I'm now treating my who room. But someone listen to either or both the songs I mentioned and you'd make my year if you can figure out what was used. I use Limewire. Anyone open to helping another musician/engineer/producer- please download the song "So Far Away" by the band Crossfade. I love the tones they get and read about how they do almost all the work by themselves. Basically I need guitars that crush like Mudvayne , Killswitch Engage, Anberlin, and City Sleeps (all done by John Feldman. Any music buddies have AIM so we can bull{censored}? Phil, Ustad, please contact me with a rough price of either mixing or mastering. I don't want a single person to do both. I respect both of you two very much on here and hope after the detailed information I gave, you might be able to help. Check out my songs with crap gear that is no longer and has been since replaced with great gear. www.myspace.com/newlyformedmindset

That's with just the MBOX2, Fruity Loop drums, no good preamp unless you like the MBOX2's preamp. Fake drums, direct bass and guitars, with no acoustical treatment. Now I am taking care of all that. I plan on shopping my songs to various connections in the business. Any insight?

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Try this for guitars... as for vocals, let me know if you figure it out : )

 

Try miking your cab with two different mics at different distances (like a dynamic up close and a condenser a few feet back). Not only will you have the different sounds of the mics, but the spacing will cause them to be subtly unaligned (the further mic will be just barely delayed behind the closer one). Listen to them individually, and then together, and *BAM* instant huuuge guitar sound.

 

Another way to do this would be to record the same thing a few times and blend/bounce the takes together. Because each one is subtly different it will make it sound huge. Something about our ears makes those minor differences & imperfections actually preferable to everything being perfect.

 

Also remember a lot of what you hear is the whole spectrum -- it's not just the guitars making that huge sound, it's guitars + bass + whatever else. Often just adding the bass in will make your guitars sound like they've been huge-ified.

 

And you have got to use EQ to make each instrument have its own "space" in the frequency range, and compression to make each instrument stand out more. If you don't know anything about compression, definitely read up on it, because you can overuse it easily to the point that it actually hurts the sound. EQ'ing is important because you can use it to prevent instruments from interfering with each other, and to emphasize what you consider is the most pleasing part of the sound of the instrument. Minor EQ adjustments to one track can often make huge differences in the whole song by giving each sound it's own little place to live in the mix.

 

One more thing, a subtle chorus (added after the fact, for example) often gives a guitar track enough extra space to make it sound bigger.

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Crossfade's So Far Away was recorded on crap to be honest.

 

The guitars are an original Line 6 POD through the USB port into the computer. The bass is direct to a digitech effects box that wasn't really made for this application. And so were vocals.

 

AKG C3000 into this digitech fx processor.

 

I know this because I talked to them about it once so I am 100%.

 

It was remixed and remastered before it got to the world though so who knows how crappy it sounded before.

 

Life is a lot easier with great tracks to begin with but a good mix and master can really do some magic.

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Thanks as always for your wisdom Ustad. I did in fact listen to the track "The Little Ease". On my {censored}ty computer speakers (I have a comp for online and the other dedicated only for audio. It still makes me want to hear what you can do mixing or mastering wise. I have spent literally $4000 in the past month on upgrading my studio. Most of which I never would have a {censored}in clue about if it wasn't for you all. I love this site. Nice people, with class. I'm sorry Ustad if it seemed like I doubted your ability to get great metal/hard rock tones.

 

Hey, there's a lot of activities on these boards. I guess with the NBA Finals over, people have more time to post? :D

 

Just to be sure, I'm totally not saying that you doubted my ability. In fact, that never crossed my mind even once. I'm just letting you know one way to accomplish that huge sound without breakin' the bank, y'know? That's my sole motivation here. Obviously, I always appreciate it if people think my recordings sound good, but it's not something I think about very much one way or the other when I'm interacting with everyone here. I'm here to learn stuff here too, y'know. :D

 

As far as the mixing and mastering stuff, I'm leaving for India in about a week, and will be gone for the entire summer, so if you need it quickly, you might want to have Phil take a crack at it.

 

Okay, gotta run!!!

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How in the hell do the pro's get such a larger than life sound with everything?

 

 

Because they know what the {censored} they are doing!!!

 

 

There is no one trick or two that is going to get you Huge Sound

 

Yes sometimes it's doubling tracks, sometimes it's distance mics, sometimes it's something else.

 

If you want somewhere to begin then start working on learning how compression and limiting really function, a pro knows compression and limiting inside and out. Sure many modern recordings use all kinds of layered tracks but there are lots of older recordings that didn't but still manage to sound huge.

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1 dash high end recording equipment.

3 cup of exsperience (actually you can be as generous as you want here).

1 cup of band that is TIGHT in their playing.

2 cups of good sounding room.

1 dash of high end sources (aka amps etc)

50 tons of sitting thier for hours tweaking EQs, compressors, reeverbs, etc till you get it just right.

 

 

Oh btw, I'm not nearly done treating my room :).

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1 dash high end recording equipment.

3 cup of exsperience (actually you can be as generous as you want here).

1 cup of band that is TIGHT in their playing.

2 cups of good sounding room.

1 dash of high end sources (aka amps etc)

50 tons of sitting thier for hours tweaking EQs, compressors, reeverbs, etc till you get it just right.



 

 

I would take another cup or two of a band that sounds good to begin with.

 

If the musicians aren't making good sounds then you are in serious trouble.

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FYI, Mudvayne and Killswitch Engage were not recorded by John Feldman. Not sure where you got that info. Anyways, there not much I can add that hasn't been said already. Like ustad mentioned, if you skimp on any part of the process, you will get to deal with it later come mix time. The bands you reference spared no expense in getting the best sound they possibly could.

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Try this for guitars... as for vocals, let me know if you figure it out : )


Try miking your cab with two different mics at different distances (like a dynamic up close and a condenser a few feet back). Not only will you have the different sounds of the mics, but the spacing will cause them to be subtly unaligned (the further mic will be just barely delayed behind the closer one). Listen to them individually, and then together, and *BAM* instant huuuge guitar sound.

 

 

Yup, this is a great way to get a nice, large sound, and is the most common method that I use to get a great sound. I use a 421 or a 57 up close, and a Lawson L251 (large diaphragm tube condenser) back about 4 feet or so. I move around the distance mic until it sounds good.

 

This method also has another great advantage, and that is that it takes a while for the sound that we hear with our ears to form. The waveforms spread out among the room. The distance mic captures some of this.

 

You can also pan these according to what's best for the song. Whether you end up hard-panning them or keeping them mono by keeping the pans exactly the same, you're still adding depth to the close-miced sound.

 

Jimmy Page used to say "distance equals depth", and this is exactly what he was referring to. He did this with guitars and Bonham's drums especially.

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50 tons of sitting thier for hours tweaking EQs, compressors, reeverbs, etc till you get it just right.

 

 

Ain't that the truth... It's getting better for me, slowly but surely. Partly I'm starting to get the first glimmerings of how to choose good complementary instrument tones and parts, so that they just sound better to begin with. I find that it doesn't take huge numbers of octupled tracks to get a nice wide, full, sound, necessarily.

 

I think it maybe has more to do with taking full advantage of the frequency space and the sound stage space, so that it's well filled, but never over-filled. Though sometimes that may just be another way of saying sit there for 50 hours tweaking, I dunno.

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One factor has been mentioned, but not stressed enough - the talent and discipline of the performers. I have read about Kurt Cobain doing dead on vocal doubling. Michael Schenker doing those guitar harmonies with every bend and shake duplicated exactly. I have read that lots of the big-sounding vocal tracks are actually four or five tracks combined, each sung almost identically to the last. I'm not a Celine Dion fan, but I imagine she worked on

"My Heart Will Go On" for months, to get that one brilliant performance.

 

Oh yeah, and there's the LA drum compression trick, too!

 

oldMatt B

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Crossfade's So Far Away was recorded on crap to be honest.


The guitars are an original Line 6 POD through the USB port into the computer. The bass is direct to a digitech effects box that wasn't really made for this application. And so were vocals.


AKG C3000 into this digitech fx processor.


I know this because I talked to them about it once so I am 100%.


It was remixed and remastered before it got to the world though so who knows how crappy it sounded before.


Life is a lot easier with great tracks to begin with but a good mix and master can really do some magic.

 

 

That's amazing. I always thought the guitars sounded pretty {censored}ty and digital. Now I know why. Are you serious? They used a {censored}ty AKG3000? And what Digitech FX Processor are you refering to? Cause if that's how the singer got that thickening vocal effect, then I need to get one.

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I would take another cup or two of a band that sounds good to begin with.


If the musicians aren't making good sounds then you are in serious trouble.

 

:lol:

 

The only reason I didn't add more cups is because lets be honest you can pro tool anything to death if you have the patience! :p

 

I haven't done anything to crazy in that regard yet though (knocks on wood).

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One factor has been mentioned, but not stressed enough - the talent and discipline of the performers. I have read about Kurt Cobain doing dead on vocal doubling. Michael Schenker doing those guitar harmonies with every bend and shake duplicated exactly. I have read that lots of the big-sounding vocal tracks are actually four or five tracks combined, each sung almost identically to the last. I'm not a Celine Dion fan, but I imagine she worked on

"My Heart Will Go On" for months, to get that one brilliant performance.

 

 

You can also do an awful lot in the editing to get double tracks tight. Especially since the doubled part will often be 3 or 6 or more dB down from the main part, you can get away with a lot becasue it won't be too terribly obvious. There are some pretty high endy software tools out there I think that are explicitly designed for that kind of thing as well, right?

 

Anyway, some people are really good at it. I suck at it, but mostly it's just small timing glitches that can be corrected by editing the phrases and nudging them backward or forwards. You certainly hear many tales of wizardly mixers who slave over these things to edit every single word of doubled or tripped parts to make them perfect in many of these commercial releases. Don't know how true that is, but people always talk about it.

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The craziest thing I have ever done (as far as editing goes) is take an unusable drum track (I mean not recorded to a click no timing mess of a track) and made it usable.

 

When I posted it back when I did it, people were pretty impressed with what I had and what I got to. I don't think I have the 2 tracks anymore otherwise I would post it.

 

But yeah you can edit things to death if you have the time, money, and patience.

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That's amazing. I always thought the guitars sounded pretty {censored}ty and digital. Now I know why. Are you serious? They used a {censored}ty AKG3000? And what Digitech FX Processor are you refering to? Cause if that's how the singer got that thickening vocal effect, then I need to get one.

 

 

Dead serious and whatever the processor was it was something {censored}ty. That came straight from them. He couldn't remember exactly what it was but yeah all of that is true.

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The craziest thing I have ever done (as far as editing goes) is take an unusable drum track (I mean not recorded to a click no timing mess of a track) and made it usable.


When I posted it back when I did it, people were pretty impressed with what I had and what I got to. I don't think I have the 2 tracks anymore otherwise I would post it.


But yeah you can edit things to death if you have the time, money, and patience.

 

 

I hate doing that {censored}, and fortunately, my clients don't want me to do that.

 

I'll tell them that I'll edit things for them, but that it would be quicker and cheaper and sonically better if they simply spent a couple of minutes to re-do their part. But yeah, if someone is stupid enough and has enough money, I can make quite a lot of things sound a lot better.

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The way I get my guitar to sound big is by double tracking (if not triple/quad) the guitar and panning one hard left and the other hard right. I also mess with the EQ until I find that sweet spot where these extra harmonics come out.

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For good guitars... and like anything else, tons of mic experimentation within the room you are recording in is very important. Spend a couple of hours, or at least spend a fair amount of time doing tests on your mics and seeing how they sound and react in the given environment. Then, pick and chose your favorite sounding stuff with the player.

 

Oddly enough, I went with a Rode NTK & Apogee pres in order to get a "massive" sounding guitar. It's weird... but in the room and situation, it was what we both picked. I just didn't like the tone of the SM-57 mic. If you can get things sounding great without an EQ, do it.

 

What's equally important is the playing. Have the guitarist double up the parts, and accent riffs. For instance, doubling the first chord (an octave above, and an octave below) and letting the rest of the riff come through. Little things like this can really add to things and to the dynamic. I love doubling with octaves. A bass track perfectly complimenting the roots of each chord will really 'whomp' it out... and for super fat guitars, keeping it down to just drums/guitars/bass will really make it easier for finding that 'wall of sound.'

 

I don't really know much, but I hope this helped somewhat. I've also recorded with a professional before and these were some of the techniques we used... altho on that particular album, condensers were used for adding ambience to the guitar cabs (which is definitely the recommended method).

 

Cheers,

Phil

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