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davie

What is your preferred method of recording bass DI?

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Hey guys,

 

I don't play bass regularly but I do record bass when I produce my own music. I would either run my bass into my audio interface's Hi-Z instrument input or I would run it through my external mic preamp (GAP pre73) using its DI mode. Nowadays I found the audio interface input method to be a bit bland sounding, even with an amp sim plugin (NI Guitar Rig). The bass would sound a lot fuller using the pre73 and can sound decent without any plugins. Lately I've been looking at dedicated bass DI boxes like the Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI, trying to figure how to improve the sound.

 

So I was wondering what your guys' methods for recording bass through DI? Like what kind of gear, ITB effect chain/plugins, etc.

Any experiences and thoughts on the equipment/methods I mentioned? Or alternatives?

 

I know that there are purists out there who insist on miking up a bass cab/amp but it might not be viable for me, especially since I am only an occasional bass player. For the time being I'm mainly looking at DI options.

 

Thanks in advance

 

:wave:

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The Tech21 Bass Driver is a good choice. Monitor at decent volume if you can to avoid playing too hard with your picking hand.

 

I usually use a profile of an Ampeg amp on my Kemper profiler, but as you mentioned that would be overkill. I'm mostly a guitarist, so it's there.

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We tried several different techniques on our last album, and ended up going straight from the DI into the board.

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Typically we recommend going direct to the board via a DI at the studio, but there are some who insist they have to 'feel' their bass in order to get the right feel...so we have done it both ways.

Mic-ing a bass amp is an art unto itself, and when pressed to do it, I prefer to use multiple mics to get a 'broader' sound...a couple of large diaphragm shock-mounted mics set back at different distances, and one 'close in' SM57 slightly off axis to the cone to put some 'punch' in it. YMMV...

 

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Update!

 

So I took the plunge and bought a Sansamp Bass Driver DI a few days ago. Been trying it out a bit. The DI sounds more "filled out" and thicker compared to interface Hi-Z input. Though my amp sim plugin Guitar Rig 5 is more flexible and has more options, the Sansamp seems to have smoother sound overall. Just started trying it out in full mixes, I'll see what I can do with it. I'll be sure to post something up once I'm done.

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One of these is far better then a Sams Amp. https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/StompLab1B--vox-stomplab-ib-bass-modeling-effects-pedal?mrkgcl=28&mrkgadid=3248788598&rkg_id=0&product_id=StompLab1B&campaigntype=shopping&campaign=aaShopping%20-%20Core%20-%20Bass&adgroup=Bass%20-%20Bass%20Guitar%20Pedals%20&%20Effects&placement=google&adpos=1o2&creative=226299461024&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5IPty4nX4AIVg7fACh1BQQ3cEAQYAiABEgKfWfD_BwE

 

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Sans amp units were good back in the day but they lack the amp modeling these units have.

You not only have the choice between heads and cabs, but you have all the other effects, EQ, Compression, Noise reduction which you typically run on bass or add when mixing to make the bass sound beefy, and beefy sounding is the word for this unit. Its extremely versatile. I can use it on a long scale like my Precision and Washburn bases, but it sounds great on my Short scale Gretsch and Hofner basses as well.

 

 

The unit has plenty of other special effects specifically voiced for bass if you want/need them too. Everything from Chorus, Reverb, Fuzz, Envelope filter for Synth voicing and and Octave. I'm not big into special effects, but the pedal does do them well without sounding cheezy. The lock on the octave tools is excellent.

 

The unit does have a stereo out if you connect a TRS to (2) TS cable. I use mine in mono 99% of the time.

 

What I like is how closely this unit nails an SVT. It sits ideally in a mix to the point where you can track the bass and that's it. you wont need to add any additional effects when mixing. This was a huge step forward for me in recording. compared to other methods I used when tracking.

 

I too have a Sans amp for bass plus a dozen other methods including various pieces of rack gear I'd utilize when tracking. Some of it got me close and others required all kinds of tweaks when mixing to get a convincing bass tone. bass went from being one of the toughest to one of the easiest instruments to mix and I never have any issues with the bass pushing the right frequencies. I can pretty much take any of the recordings I've made in the past 5 years throw them on a CD and you don't have to touch the bass levels.

 

I do like allot of bottom end by the way. The unit's preamp gain can be tweaked to produce big plush bass tones without unwanted distortion with its bottom end and its 4 way EQ allows you to dial out oddball resonances which emphasizing the others you do want. Between that, and the head/cab choices . The unit can produce everything from the lightest upright bass tones to the heaviest rock you'll ever need without producing unwanted mud. you can switch from Line level to amp levels too which changes the color and gain so you can feed the input of a bass amp and make it sound excellent too.

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I have old UK made Ashdown ABM 500c 4x10 bass amp.

 

It has a DI out.

The head part is like this.

 

Sometimes I mic it too.

 

 

 

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I always DI'd out of the back of my Mesa Walkabout head, but I also recorded a straight DI signal, pre-amplifier. At this point, having a Tech 21 Character Series VT bass, I use that, and also a dry signal. Years ago, I DI'd and mic'd the cab for mixing. I want 2 signals, one of which is straight signal. You can reamp or run through a Sim, etc.

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When I record bands I still use a line from an amp. I've also used my newer Ampeg Portaflex head for recording direct. You can run that head without a cab for that purpose. I have a couple of other heads that have DI's built in too.

 

To be honest, an amp modeler unit sounds better than an amp head or a miced cab. Amps are typically a one trick pony you adjust it for the one good tone it produces and simply deal with its shortcomings. Modelers have gotten so good now. When you can choose from 30 different amp heads and a dozen different cabs it gives you the flexibility to tweak the sound that's ideal for a particular bass. Add to that, the cabinet emulation has improved from simple EQ tricks to using actual digital cabinet impulses and its tough not to love the sounds you get.

 

Like I said, I'll record an amp when I have a live drummer and bassist recording. I typically have to work my ass off making it sound decent however. That and the bleed over typically captured by the drum mics makes for allot of extra work and results which aren't nearly as good.

 

One trick I do use now when recording from an amps like out is to add a cab emulator between the head and recorder. https://www.ebay.com/p/Aroma-Asr-3-Shaper-Cabinet-Simulator-Single-Electric-Guitar-Effect-Pedal-Y2z7/943518206?iid=223066467514&chn=ps This helps to emulate a miced cab and tames allot of the unwanted resonances. The one I have is essentially made for guitar but I do get acceptable bass cab tones from it too. I been waiting for them to make a cab emulator specifically for bass but haven't seen one yet. Having 8X10" - 2X15" - 18x10" cab selections is much better then 4X12 and smaller speakers. I use the 4X10 and get a pretty decent sound on bass happening.

 

Note, this shouldn't be used off a speaker output. Its for Instrument or line levels only.

 

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Several years ago I bought a low end Yamaha bass with P and J pickups. A very good bass player friend of mine was over and played it through an old SF Fender Champ and, although it was not very loud, it sounded fantastic. My thought was that if I can't get anything put of it I can't blame the bass.

 

My preferred method now it to record direct with the Sans Amp Bass Driver DI and take the parallel output from the DI into the Champ with a mic on it to a second track. I'll blend the two tracks or use just one in the mix.

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I usually use a Groove Tubes Brick tube preamp when running bass direct. Sometimes I'll use a Tech 21 SansAmp VT Bass, and other times I'll take a DI from the player's amp, depending on what they're using and whether I think it sounds good or not. As far as plugins, I use all kinds of different things, depending on what we're going for... I really don't have a single "go to" setup for that.

 

FWIW, most of the time I like to mic the bass amp as well as go direct, and I print each to a separate track.

 

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