Line-in recordings - how to tweak?

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Heket, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. Heket

    Heket Well-Known Member

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    I dabbled a bit in recording and would like to take some time learning how to get the right sound but I haven't a clue how to go about it. I play something in my amp, it sounds great when it comes out through the amp speaker but when I record it using the direct line in it sounds terrible. Like a fart in a blanket! It doesn't match at all with the awesome sound I was playing with a minute ago. :dunno:

    I've heard plenty of good things recorded with such devices as the Yamaha THR, Hayden Lil Mofo and Line 6 POD 2.0 so I think it's my ignorance as to what to actually do with the signal once it's recorded. Interesting thing to note about the latter (POD) - when I record without using a cab simulator I think it sounds OK, with the cabs added then it starts sounding muddy and unclear. Same goes for recording with a Bad Monkey pedal using direct out versus an amp simulated output.

    In another thread I was shown how great my raw recording can sound with an amp sim, so I'm not sure where I'm getting lost. I'm assuming that a line-in from an amp head would have a simulator in to sound as much as it can to its parent amp. The socket in the Hayden specifically says it's for recording out, as does the THR. The POD has plenty of cab sims and still sounded rough. This issue doesn't happen with mics, only the line-in functions of certain amps. Of course I could mic everything, but that's nowhere near as convenient.

    Can anyone give some pointers as to what you do after you have the recording in your DAW?

    EDIT - Speaker emulated! That's the term I was looking for, it's speaker emulated recordings that I have trouble with.
     
  2. Tobacco Worm

    Tobacco Worm Well-Known Member

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    A quick summation is that there is far too much modulation entering your recording program. In short, back off on the settings when recording as I believe that you're simply dumping too much raw signal into your DAW and overpowering it.

    Direct recording is much like speaking to someone. Up close you can speak normally and not have to yell to be heard by another. But if you yell up close to another then what you're yelling is garbled and harsh. Miking a cab is similar, but you have to option of mike placement and such to ease this effect, but when going right into the interface to the DAW it's 100% all there and if too much input is present you hear it all and then it's flat out raunchy to hear!:ohno:

    Edit: Ease off on your input gain with your recording program. It's acting like a hearing aid cranked up too much and blasting the signal in there. Use your headphones, watch the meter on your DAW's input and keep it well below max. This may help.
     
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  3. Dreamscape

    Dreamscape Active Member

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    I can totally relate to your problem Heket I can mic my tube amp just using my Zoom recorder & get great results but that has its drawbacks like the dog starts barking etc.
    But recording into PodFarm sounds ordinary, or now I use my HD300 which sounds a hell of a lot better but still nothing like what other guys/gals get.

    I have noticed a lot of the better recordings use all these different cab impulse loaders that they buy but that just goes over my head into the too hard basket.

    And yes TW I have tried using less gain when recording but still not getting the results, very frustrating...

    I wish I had someone close by to give me some tips at home with my setup.
     
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  4. Gemini75

    Gemini75 Active Member

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    The secret to a great tone, other than having a ton of cash to spend on high end amps, cabs, and boutique pedals, is tone stacking. I start with the Joyo British Sound pedal and send that direct into my Line 6 UX1. Then my chain is this,

    Line 6 Noise Gate> Line 6 Treble Boost> Line 6 Boss HM-2> Line 6 Big Muff> ReaEQ (No Mud preset)> Recabinet (IR loader)> Line 6 Vintage preamp> Line 6 compressor> Line 6 Sine Chorus.

    I then use this same chain for the right channel but add a delay at the end of the chain.

    So far I've found the only five things I really needed to pay for were 1) The Joyo pedal, 2) Recabinet, 3) POD Farm, the Line 6 UX1 interface, and some commercial T75 cab sims.

    If you're recording from the line-out from your preamp you'll definitely need an impulse loader and some good cab sims. While there are excellent free impulse loaders out there like LeCab and KeFir, I just don't think they sound as good as Recabinet does. As for the cab IRs themselves. There are tons of amzing sounding free ones out there, so don't think you need to spend any money on commercial ones. That said, I do use some commercial ones myself, but they just happen to sound great with my particular guitar.
     
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  5. Dreamscape

    Dreamscape Active Member

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    Hi Gemini75 I am fairly useless with this cab simulation guff so help me out if you would not mind.
    I went to the Recabinet website & I can download a demo version to try out before I buy.
    Sorry for the dumb questions but once I download Recabinet how do I put the files into Podfarm, just drag & drop into podfarm VST files??

    Oh & I use Audacity for recording.
    Cheers for any help
     
  6. Gemini75

    Gemini75 Active Member

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    First download Reaper. It's fee and is much more useful a DAW than Audacity.
    Reaper
    REAPER | Audio Production Without Limits

    POD won't let you use external IRs like Recabinet's, but that's not a problem when using Reaper. Just open a new track and start adding the VST files you make your signal chain.

    So first things first. Either run a line out from a preamp (Never run a line out from a poweramp or you'll blow everything up.) or a line out from a USB interface like a Line 6 UX1. Then open Reaper. Once you got that running you'll need to open a new track. Once you do, you can begin to add the various VST files that will make up your signal chain. If you're having trouble at this point, I'd head over to Youtube an watch a couple of beginners tutorials on how to use Reaper. Try this one,

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWCQwHUqYow[/ame]

    If you understand everything at this point let me know and I'll tell you how to use Recabinet.
     
  7. Heket

    Heket Well-Known Member

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    Wade, thank you for that informative reply. In fact, after making this post I did try reducing the volume of the line and it did start to sound better! So this leads me to a question, is it best to have a low signal to start with (so the, uhm, blue squiggly lines of audio are barely visible) and then amplify it within the DAW so the squiggly lines are as wide as the track box? LOL sorry:facepalm:. I hope you understand what I mean, otherwise next time I'll include some screenshots. Does amplifying the signal in a DAW compromise quality at all? How big are your squiggly lines when you record?

    Oh oh, wait these lines have numbers. The track box ranges from +1.0 to -1.0. To me a 'low' signal will range from 0.1 to -0.1. Is that ok?

    Gemini, you keep saying Reaper is free but I can't find a free version. You can test it for free but the site says you must buy a licence after 60 days if you want it, and I assume this means that it will cease to work after 60 days? I have no idea whether the line outs are pre-amp or power amp but I am using outputs specifically for recording so I hope I'm ok! :ohno:

    Thing is, so far it's the cab sims I don't find happy with my ears. They might sound more realistic, but I don't know, it sounds like I'm playing underwater? Is that something I have to get used to and assume it'll sound better in a multi-instrument situation? Example:

    https://soundcloud.com/anitaranig/bad-monkey-amp-vs-mixer

    That's no sim first, then using the Bad Moneky's own sim. I find this with almost any cab sim I've heard, with the exception of some of the Plexi and 4x12 sims. I like the clarity of plain recording. Playing through an amp sounds nothing like the sims!

    Now this isn't so bad when you're using something that has a raw signal that you can add cabs to later, but the amps I have with recording out functioning have their own speaker emulated output and I can't change that :( I want to be able to get that sounding better.
     
  8. Gemini75

    Gemini75 Active Member

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    @Heket: After the 60 day trial is up you'll still be able to use Reaper. When you load it you'll get a nag screen that says, "Reaper isn't free." Just hit the "still evaluating" button and you'll be able to use it.

    Don't use the amp sim out on your pedal. Just run the pedal into the Orange MT and run a line out into any USB interface. Take that signal and run that into Reaper. Add an impulse loader like Recabinet, LeCab, or KeFIR and you'll be all set.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2014
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  9. Tobacco Worm

    Tobacco Worm Well-Known Member

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    Miss Heket,
    I understand the squiggly lines of which you speak. Believe me I do not speak "computer geek speak" so it makes perfect sense to me! IF you will indulge me a moment I'll add a bit of what I've managed to discover with Audacity and recording with it.

    In your Audacity program, centered above most of the mess in the toolbar just right of center, you'll see two horizontal bars that react to your input. These are the left and right signals coming in from your recording source. Also just below the record and playback buttons are your output and input volume controls. A little speaker and microphone icon are there with a slider type control. The Input volume serves as a master volume to your recording. This helps with setting the overall input. Here's the easiest way I'm aware of to control and limit the input for a good digital recording:

    1. Set your system up to where you either have real time sound like with a monitor or headphones to listen carefully to your stuff.
    2. When ready to record, hit the Pause button on the program, then the record. This will allow you to fine tune the signal into that one channel you're recording way before you ever release the Pause to do your recording. You can adjust all your tone, OD, and effects going in here and be able to hear what's going to be recorded when you release the pause. Watch the input levels in those bars at the top and make sure that there's no going into the RED and that the peak volumes will go to the end of the box but not to the point that it becomes red at the end. Adjust you input with the Input Gain (The little microphone thingie below the recording function buttons) to insure there's not too much input that will garble the signal coming in.
    3. By doing all this I've found the easiest method is after all the input is set, do a SHORT test run by releasing the pause and play a little. Then stop and listen to it. If it's good and you're satisfied with the result, erase your test and you'll still have the setting for your master recording to follow when you're ready. The pause/record method is an easy way to set things up for recording.
    4. After laying down your track, go back and give it a listen. In your Audio Track (the bar with the controls that work those blue squiggly lines) there's a Gain and Pan control for working with the recorded track. You can boost or reduce the Gain (-/+) and the Pan (L/R) to suite your taste and balance your recorded track to blend with others that follow recorded in the same manner.
    5. Once your recorded tracks begin to take shape you can adjust them individually with the Gain and Pan controls of the individual tracks and blend them to the overall sound you want.
    6. By highlighting individual tracks (right clicking to an open spot in the Audio Track's box to the left) it will darken that box and you can go to the EFFECT bar above and pull down several options for effects that can be added to this track.
    7. The effects from the Effect bar can be added when the program is stopped and the individual track is highlighted. You may then add any of the listed effects to this one track and be able to play it back to see if the effects suits you. If not, go to the Edit bar and click it and at the top of the pull down will be the traditional Undo function. Hit that and it goes back to where it was before you added the effect and nothing in the recorded track will be effected or changed.
    8. There are other functions like the Sync-Lock Tracks and such that allow overall changes in the recording and such, but I'm not going to get into that now as it will no doubt add to some of the confusing bits I've already mentioned! :ohno:

    Now PLEASE bear in mind, I AM NOT A DIGITAL RECORDING WHIZ!!! I am, for all intent and purposes, an old TAPE guy! I know and understand recording with magnetic tape from an age well before many of you were even born. So my methods used to record in digital form is based upon my lifelong understanding of TAPE and not digital. I use what I understand to work with this system I have. I'm not an expert in this by any means. Now if you wanna talk tape and how it functions, sure I have decades of time under my belt with that system and know exactly what I'm doing there. With digital, well I'm able to make it function simply by my own trial and error method and have been able to gain some headway with it but nothing like that of David and the rest that have worked with this system far longer and with greater knowledge of how it performs.

    This is kinda a form of Digital recording in Audacity for Dummies by a Dummy, but I hope that it helps make some sense of this program. God knows I can hardly understand most anything about computers and thus I do what I can with what little I actually know... Which ain't much!:laugh2:

    Wade
     
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  10. dbb

    dbb Well-Known Member

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    I HIGHLY recommend REAPER - it's free as noted, but I'd pay the 60 bucks, it's worth every penny. It has become an up-and-comer, often the 2nd DAWS Pro Tools guys use, and there's even a download to make REAPER look a lot like PRo Tools, that's how I set mine up.

    It is a fully-functional DAWS- but it has no virtual instruments and limited effects, but there are tons of free plug-ins out there, even more if I was on PC.

    In the tape days we'd "burn in" or push the signal, but with digital the input signal should be in the middle range, just in the yellow of most meters, since you can raise any signal that is too low - but you cannot clean up a clipped signal, which happens when the "squiggly line" of the waveform gets very large.

    Wade's ideas are good too....particularly the old-fashioned method I too use of testing the audio signal a lot before recording.
     
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  11. Heket

    Heket Well-Known Member

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    Hmm interesting. I'll give Reaper a shot, I just hope it's not as daunting as Cubase.

    Wade, you do realise that today is the day that you are giving me advice on computers? :naughty: I managed to follow everything you said, apart from one thing: my bars at the top are always red, even from the background hum of single coils! I do notice there's a dark red and a light red. The 'hum' is dark red, but when I start playing something a light red bar appears with the dark red bar now jumping along with it with varying widths. Phew, this is like trying to speak a different language :D

    This afternoon I worked with my THR to try and give an idea what I mean with regards to the rawness. Now I'm not so sure whether the output is speaker emulated, can any other THR owners answer that? Anyway, here is a clip using a model I have difficulty with - Modern. How do I make something like this sound better? To me it sounds like a saw, with a really rough, raspy edge. It does NOT sound like this coming through the amp's speakers. As per advice further in the thread I kept the input gain low and amplified the signal later.

    https://soundcloud.com/anitaranig/thr-yuck

    Yeah... Ignore the hiccup in the middle, I'm not even sure how that happened. My bad luck with recording gear lately is getting annoying. I spent several hours in the past couple of weeks fixing both of my computers to accept my device and to get Audacity to record without popping, wavering etc.

    Last week I wanted to record my Squier to go in the "Mod Fever" thread to show how good it sounded now, but got so frustrated trying to get the tone right for recording with the THR that after 1.5 hours I gave up. I swear it sounds good!

    You know, thinking all of this I kinda forget about the THR editor and have been relying on my lonesome tone knob. Hmm. Next time I'll use the editor and see how I fare. Or you know what, it could be just my playing, haha. I just want it to sound like this (done with the Lead channel):

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyIVQK1AeyA"]Yamaha THR10 Guitar Amp Direct USB to Garageband Recording Sample 2 - YouTube[/ame]
     
  12. thatbastarddon

    thatbastarddon Well-Known Member

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    Track set to private?

    I'm a long time REAPER user...since around ver 0.81 or so. It can get just about as complex as you want it to, or remain very simple. I use it to record rehearsals, these days, mostly. The effects that are included with it are deep enough to keep me happy, and do a good enough job for me.
    I have a personal use license, and i am fine with paying for that. I did evaluate for a bit longer than suggested, but didn't dig in really quick, so once i decided that it was "for me" i paid up... happily. It has been a good experience here...no regrets.
     
  13. dbb

    dbb Well-Known Member

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    That's interesting, what effects included did seem pretty good, but it is a bit bare compared to most other DAWS, but that leaves the developers free to focus on making the program work better, not on the plug-ins. I already had licenses for a number of virtual instruments so I am able to use them with Reaper.

    Heket, ALL recording programs have a learning curve, not including the learning process to be a good engineer; most were no better to me than what I've used for several years now, Pro Tools - until Reaper.

    If you want to learn any new DAWS other than Pro Tools, though, Reaper is a good one to work with. I'm still learning how to do certain things, but it has tremendous power and is pretty stable too.
     
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  14. Gemini75

    Gemini75 Active Member

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    Heket, what are you using for an USB interface?
     
  15. Dreamscape

    Dreamscape Active Member

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    Thanks Gemini75 appreciate the help, I have Reaper on my 'puter but found it rather tricky to navigate compared to Audacity, I had trouble with Cubase as well & gave up on that.
    I must be a dunce when it comes to this software but will check out the youtube tutorials on Reaper soon as I get some spare time.
    Cheers everyone for your time & patience, I think Heket & me need all the help we can get to sort out the recording thing. :thumb:
     
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  16. Tobacco Worm

    Tobacco Worm Well-Known Member

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    I think Cubase was designed by an alien from the planet Zarfoid and infiltrated our planet with it just to mess us up! It's their plot to take over earth and keep us from rocking out!

    Personally, I find Audacity about as user friendly as they come. At least I can use it and that's saying a lot for me as I hate computers and will shoot them if they give me too much trouble. My "troubleshooter" for computers throws a .458" 1 ounce projectile at Mach 1.7!:laugh2:
     
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  17. Dreamscape

    Dreamscape Active Member

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    Sorted, I have Reaper up & running after checking out the youtube tutorial .
    A lot of stuff to learn as it is more complex than Audacity, probably not after using for a while.. I have just tried a quick recording with my HD300 & it sounds fine.
    Just need some spare time.

    +1 on Cubase Tobacco Worm
     
  18. Heket

    Heket Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, track is un-privated now. I thought the private setting would still give access to those who have the link. I'm pretty sure I've done that before but can't remember how now.

    I updated my THR to the new version, maybe I'll have better luck with that!

    I'll download REAPER later, you have convinced me. Something that I was unaware of is that the THR sends out two stereo signals when recording through USB, one wet, one dry. Audacity doesn't seem to recognise this? I watched a video where a Yamaha rep used Garageband and it showed up well. When he recorded something and played it back through the THR it sounded exactly the same. When I do that, it doesn't Perhaps this is telling me that Audacity is the source of my strife? I hope not, it's a great little program and I know others have used it well. Perhaps it just doesn't like using USB or speaker emulated line in? Any other Audacity users used it with those functions or just micing?
     
  19. Gemini75

    Gemini75 Active Member

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    Now that you got Reaper up and running you're practically there. What you'll now want to do is use POD to make a signal chain, but disengage the POD cab sims. Instead, stack Recabinet under POD in the chain. See pic,

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Gemini75

    Gemini75 Active Member

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    This is what my tone sounds like using my current Joyo/sim chain,
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/17738100/splawn8.mp3
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/17738100/splawn10.mp3



    When recording digitally, you want to send out a clean/strong a signal as you can. This is why a lot of home recording types use DI boxes.

    If you're using a pedal to colour your signal then you definitely don't want to be using any amp sim/emulation lines out. If you're just using a pedal to boost/push your amp into overdrive then just run the pedal into the preamp and then run a line out into your USB interface. Save the amp emulation for your impulse loader. The results will be much more pleasing to your ear, I assure you.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014
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