Recording to a PC

Discussion in 'Digital Audio & Recording' started by a2thak, Sep 23, 2003.

  1. a2thak

    a2thak New Member

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    Does anyone have any tips on how to make the Pc recording sound like studio quality recordings?
    Thanx
  2. Komplex

    Komplex New Member

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    You need a studio quality condenser mic, a very good soundcard, a vocal booth, and a pre-amp to power/connect your mic to the computer. With a solid setup you could get very good quality recordings. However, the best way to get that professional feel is have your songs mixed & mastered by a professional sound engineer.

    Peace
  3. johnrowley

    johnrowley Member

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    Good condenser mike, soundcard like Sb Audigy, allows vocal or guitar input, record to hard drive and play back through mixing desk. Use sequencer package like Cubase VST or Cakewalk.
  4. Jandreau

    Jandreau New Member

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    I agree, a Good condenser mike. I use a Sb Audigy card with a presonus Mp20 preamp and it sounds great. Get the free version of protools from www.digidesign.com.
  5. Dylan Morgan

    Dylan Morgan New Member

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    DO NOT GET A SOUND BLASTER.
    Creative is a commercial audio company.
    if you want an amature result with a -86db hiss underneath, then the Audigy is right for you. If you want a truely well recorded track, than you need to budget up just a little. Think about how many tracks you are going to record simultaniously. That will detirmine the cost of the card. The Delta 10/10 is an excellent card that records 10 tracks at 24/96 quality, which is an ultra high resolution capture. Get a good sound board too, and some AKG or Shure Condenser Studio mics. (I like the KSM32 for on budget projects)
  6. theainges2

    theainges2 New Member

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    Peace is right
    It's easy to get a great sound on a PC if you use a good soundcard and a good condenser mic, but the key to getting that great professional sound is getting it mastered properly. The pro's know how to manipulate the audio spectrum to ensure you get a great even sound
  7. theainges2

    theainges2 New Member

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    Peace is right
    It's easy to get a great sound on a PC if you use a good soundcard and a good condenser mic, but the key to getting that great professional sound is getting it mastered properly. The pro's know how to manipulate the audio spectrum to ensure you get a great even sound
  8. Graeme

    Graeme New Member

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    The most important thing - which nobody has mentioned - is that you need an excellent monitoring system and listening environment.

    No matter how good all the rest of the stuff is (and, surprisingly enough, much of that is not as important as you might think - a good engineer can make really rubbish equipment sound like a million dollars) it all comes to nothing if you can not properly hear what you have.

    As an extreme example, there is no way you are going to lay good tracks or make good mixes by using the pair of plastic cased loudspeakers which came bundled with your computer - no matter how much money you have spent on the rest of the system.

    What's the point in owning a U87 if the monitor system makes it sound like a telephone?
  9. Graeme

    Graeme New Member

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    I'm not sure I agree with this statement.

    Firstly, see my previous post - one reason these guys get good results is because they have systems which allow them to hear exactly what they are doing. This is often simply sorting out a mess caused by the original engineer because he couldn't hear what he was doing.

    Secondly - 'mastering' is a highly over-rated process, designed to extract good money from people who know no better. A properly mixed track should need no mastering.
  10. theainges2

    theainges2 New Member

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    Have to disagree about a good engineer making bad sounds good, if you start with crud no amount of eq or tweaking will make it sound professional. But you are right, nothing will sound good if it is only mixed through a pair of plastic monitors.
  11. theainges2

    theainges2 New Member

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    As for mastering, do you really think that record companies would spend millions each year at mastering studios if it wasn't necessary? They would be the first to skimp if it wasn't an important part of the recording process!
  12. Graeme

    Graeme New Member

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    That's not exactly what I said. I said "a good engineer can make really rubbish equipment sound like a million dollars". The same guy can make good kit sound like a billion dollars.

    The truth of the matter is that many people have (potentially) better quality equipment in their bedrooms than most studios of twenty years ago had. Nevertheless, these same studios churned out very good recordings on a daily basis. How did they do that?

    The answer's simple, they were staffed and run by people who actually knew about what they were doing and could squeeze the best possible results out of what they had.

    The original question was "Does anyone have any tips on how to make the Pc recording sound like studio quality recordings?". However, the guy missed the point, it has nothing to do with what the recordings are being made on or with - PC, tape or whatever - any relatively modern system has the potential to capture whatever you want to achieve.

    These days, with the plethora of extremely high quality equipment, available at prices which would have been totally inconceivable just a few years ago, the only real variable left is the man behind the knobs.

    The engineer is the most important component of any recording system and you get to make 'studio quality' recordings by understanding the process, not by continuously 'upgrading' equipment which is already capable of far more than is required.
  13. Graeme

    Graeme New Member

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    Why would the record company skimp - it's not their money they are spending, it's the artists! However, to answer your question we have to consider what the 'mastering' process is and does.

    Orginally, mastering was the final step between the finished studio recording and the record. Mastering was the cutting of a laquer master (usually from a tape). During that process, minor tweaks might be made, often to accomodate the limitations of the mechanical cutting system and sometimes because the cutting suite had a better monitoring system than the studio that made the recording ;) . However, it was never the intention to markedly alter what the studio had produced.

    Today, mastering has taken on a totally different meaning. Generally speaking, it's an attempt to make each recording louder than everyone elses - basically achieved by removing anything which resembles dynamics and squashing the hell out of it. (... and this is what the record companies are paying for, since they believe, rightly or wrongly, that louder records sell better). You only have to compare releases of 're-mastered' material to see this happening. There are several well-documented cases of material which has been 're-mastered' a number of times over the years and each one is 'louder' than the previous release. Compared to the original recording, there are no dynamics left.

    My point was - and still is - there is nothing in the modern day 'mastering' process which could not be achieved during mixdown in the studio (on the assumtion the engineer knows his job). The whole thing is a big con trick.
  14. Nazxul

    Nazxul New Member

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    hardware:
    Good soundcard (like DSP Factory), a good mic (like condensator Shure), mixingboard of good quality.

    software: sample editing/recording software like Cool Edit, SoundForge
    sequencers like Cubase or Real Logic Audio
  15. theainges2

    theainges2 New Member

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    Ok Graeme, I will agree with you that an engineer who really knows what he is doing will record and mix each instrument so that the finished product doesn't really need mastering, however the simple truth of the matter is that even in professional studios there aren't that many engineers who can do this well enough to skip the mastering process! What chance do you really think the guy who started this thread has of creating something like this at this stage in his recording career?

    Like you said, mastering exists to fix up recordings, like home recorded songs from people who are in the early stages of developing their skills, don't you agree? Everybody needs help in the early days of their chosen career, engineering is no exception.

    And yes, it is the artist's money, but considering the number of albums that don't actually sell enough units to recover the recording costs, leaving the record company to foot the bill, it is fair to say that it is the record companies have the bigger interest in the expenditure.

    Rob
  16. Graeme

    Graeme New Member

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    Actually, I'd say that the majority of engineers in professional studios all know exactly what they are doing and many of them despair when their carefully crafted product is whisked away to be mangled by a 'mastering' suite. I've had it happen to me and my heart ended up in my boots when I heard the 'finished' tracks.

    ... and, believe me, what I had to say about it was pure politeness, compared to the artist's response.

    Well, quite obviously, he's not. However, given he has reasonably good gear, decent monitoring and a working pair of ears, he has all the time in the world to experiment and practice.

    No - I don't agree at all.

    Firstly, in my view, most modern 'mastering' exists to further mangle recordings, many of which were perfectly all right before these guys got their grubby mitts on them. It's all a case of 'this record has to be louder than the competition's'. More good music has been wrecked by mastering (and, in these heady days of back catalogue, re-mastering) than by almost any other means I can think of.

    Secondly, the last thing an aspiring engineer should be doing is taking his work to someone else to fix (even assuming he could afford the outrageous prices these guys charge). That's no way to learn how to do anything. He should work on it himself, perhaps asking a more experienced engineer to come in and give him a few tips.

    Quite so - but not by sending a track to someone else to play with.

    The reason they sent the track to a mastering suite in the first place was in an attempt to turn it into a hit record (remembering the companies think louder is better). True, there is a high percentage of failures, but the money from the successes more than covers those - that's the way the business has always been run.

    For more insight into what 'mastering' is doing to good recordings, I suggest you read this article;

    http://www.prorec.com/prorec/articles.nsf/articles/8A133F52D0FD71AB86256C2E005DAF1C
  17. theainges2

    theainges2 New Member

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    Interesting article.

    We could go round and round in circles like this for days! Perhaps we better agree to disagree on the value of the mastering process. But seeing as how we probably won't, here is my latest rebuttal:

    "the problems arose in mixing or mastering"

    Even Rip Rowan doesn't immediately blame the masterer, the engineer who mixed it could have been the one who did the damage, which supports my point that engineers aren't immune to being perfect either.

    When I asked if you agreed, I was reiterating your argument that mastering was originally created to fix problems in the mixed product, such as low levels or incorrect EQing or recording creating saturation of some frequencies and too little of others.

    These common mistakes are all part of the learning process and unless our budding engineer wants to wait years until he has perfected the art of engineering he will need mastering to make his songs sound more professional.

    One thing I will say is that the engineer should always be present during mastering to make sure that the necessary process of removing anything unwanted doesn't wreck the dynamics he has captured. (maybe he could also keep an eye on the overall levels while he was at it!?!?)

    Yes, mastering studios are pushed by record company executives to produce loud records, I don't disagree that it is the current trend, but it is very unfair to label them as being totally subservient to the lord of loudness without having any other benefits to offer the finished product. There are many mastering suites who take pride in their work and one article does not prove that they are all record company "yes men" who bend over and do as they are told without questioning.

    You may find this article on balancing the wishes of record companies against doing what is right for the song and artist interesting also: http://emusician.com/ar/emusic_masters_mastering/

    It also discusses the disadvantages of having the tracking/mixing engineer do the mastering.

    And just to set the record straight, I don't have anything to do with any mastering studio, I'm just not afraid to let other professionals do their job in the necessary chain of producing quality work.

    Rob
  18. Graeme

    Graeme New Member

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    You're right - this is one of those discussions which can go round and round - and still never be resolved. I don't have a problem with that and I respect others who may not agree with me on some of the points.

    The article you linked was interesting, although I see even these guys are suffering from the companies drive for 'louder'. It's nice to see they are doing their best to resist - but, of course, the guy who writes the cheque is always in the stronger position :).

    We've moved a long way from the original question - a2thak must be wondering what hit him! - so perhaps we'll agree to differ and leave him in peace.
  19. theainges2

    theainges2 New Member

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    Sure.

    It was nice talking to someone who is passionate about their music and recording, perhaps we can find something else to disagree on later?

    Look forward to it!

    All the best
    Rob
  20. Graeme

    Graeme New Member

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    Sure - we'll probably find there are things we agree on as well :)

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