How To Make Your Sound Better?
In everything you do, there always a few basic things you must know before you start. Without gasoline, you’re driving lessons are pointless. In music, the major scale is the basis for all harmony and chord structure. If you do not know. you effectively hooped. In hard disc recording and GB land, GAIN STRUCTURE is the foundation upon which most of what you will learn will sit. If you do not get a good signal into your computer, you will find that your recordings will, for lack of a better term, suck. Moreover, reverb. Reverb is for sissies, but more on that later.
What is the gain?
Gain is adding amplitude (volume) to an existing signal. (Your track/tracks) Simply put, the gain is the volume of the signal, which optimized to get the best sound. Every time there is a link in the chain, the gain must adjust.
The microphone needs to connect with the correct cables so there is not an impedance miss-match. This is the first stage. From there the signal goes to a preamp in either an interface or mixer and then is routed through the audio pane of the operating system. From here, it goes into either GB or Logic or whatever software is your flavor. This little trip from the mic to GB called the SIGNAL PATH. At each stage, the gain must optimize.
That means turned up so it is loud enough for the next stage. If one gain stage is too quiet, so will the following stages. Conversely, if one stage is too loud, it can cause distortion in the following stages, or distort by itself. That is what gain is.
Let’s start with the microphone. The lowly pinhole Mic in your laptop will be the bottom of the scale, and the sky shall be the top. Dynamic mics like the one the SM 57 and the SM 58 are great live vocal mics, and the 57 is great for banjo’s and mandolins and guitar amplifiers, but they aren’t the best recording mics. A condenser or a large-diaphragm condenser is better suited for recording.
A USB mic is very simple to use and requires a power supply so conveniently provided in the USB connection. Other condensers require voltage from either an onboard battery or from phantom power which although it sounds metaphysical, is just the term for voltage provided by a mixer or interface, and supplied to the mic down the mic cable. Here are selections of mic’s that we here at iComp heartily endorse.
CLICK! The more money you spend, the better you will sound. Not sing, sound. There is a small difference here. Well, big, actually.
In order to record said dulcet tones, we must get the mic into the computer.
If you are using the pinhole mic or a USB mic, you must go into system preferences, click audio, and turn up the mic input volume to maximum. you have a small mixer, can plug directly into the back of the computer with a stereo 1/8 inch mini jack. If you hear any clipping, i.e., distortion when you monitor in GB, you will have to turn down the input level to about 75~80%. However, likely, setting it to the maximum will be fine.
The volume control
That is of utmost importance is the one that appears in the track info window. Right below the input menu, which you set to channel
1 mono. This is the actual microphone input gain and should be set to about 75~80%. ( 3/4 the way to the right.)
Now position the mic 6~12 inches away from your mouth and say something intelligent-sounding like “check, check, one-two, check.” In full voice of course, or sing it if you are self-assured and alone.
You are watching the level meter to see if you are going to be too loud. You want the meter to show a hot signal, lots of green, occasionally dipping into the yellow, but not the red.
Red is bad
You can also watch the waveform. If it was small. That not good. If the waves are touching the top or bottom, that can be bad, too. A good way to watch the waves in GB is to open the edit window and you will see it there in more detail.
We want to be as loud we can without distorting, i.e., clipping, because we want our noise floor to be as low as possible. That all the extra sound like the hiss of operation amplifiers, rf noise, machine ghost noise and the sound in your recording environment like the computer fan, the furnace, your neighbor’s dog, etc, etc. In the movies and TV, they call it wild sound, which sounds fun but really isn’t.
The noise floor is important for all the quiet spots in your recordings. If you’re recording, say, speed metal, noise floor would not be as big a deal. Nevertheless, you are sitting in front of your computer with big dreams, and you want it to sound excellent because you deserve the best. So, clamp on the cans, (headphones) and sing a track. Did the level stay just below the dreaded red zone?
Were you brilliant in your delivery, and did you capture that elusive vibe? No? Do not worry; spend a bit of time learning how loud you can record the track without distorting. This may take some time, but it is the single most important factor in capturing a good audio signal. I will give you a minute to try.
Here’s a headphone hint.
When we record vocals or acoustic sounds, we do not want the pre-recorded information to hear on our new track, so we wear headphones, and turn off our monitor speakers. The best kind of headphone to use is a closed design pair.
Foam earpieces or flow through headphones will leak far too much sound into the mic, and the track will be worthless. In-ear monitor buds are a great alternative, too.
Not only do they perform great,
However, they isolate more effectively than headphones, and your iPod will never sound better.you will look like Bono if you put on some of Elton’s’ sunglasses and do not shave.
Buds start at about 100 bucks and a decent set of cans starts around there, too. Some folks find in-ears will cause you to sing out of tune, which is contrary to why they were designed, but true. A big old set earmuff style cans for 100~200 bones will serve you ultra-fine, and cheap ones work in a pinch, too. They must cover your whole ear and not leak sound. Good ones are around $300. (Bono isn’t really so cool anyways, )
You have found the optimum level, and now everything is loud enough, but there is all this other stuff you have never heard before. Like you breathing. And some notes seem so LOUD when others are so soft. You do not remember kicking the stand every time you sang a P, so what gives.
First off, get a pop screen. The best kind the round goose necked variety that has a mesh that stops unwanted air bursts from hitting the mic. You can make your own out a coat hanger and some stockings, and feel ever so slightly naughty when you sing into mom’s support hose.
Position the screen about halfway between the mic and your face. Now, singing words like people can a pain in the pop screen, too. It is a good practice to sing slightly past the diaphragm of the mic, to help eliminate this persistent and provocative problem. Long vowels are also quite loud. You may find yourself turning your mouth away as you sing things like “(I) love you, b (A) by”. I do not really love you, because I do not know who is reading this, nor am I as enlightened, as I would like to be, for only then could I say that I truly love you, and all things in the universe, as we are all one. Alternatively, some such rot.
When you record, effects are not recorded along with the track.
Whatever effects you have on to make yourself sound cool will most likely hide all the errors you might make.
For this reason, I suggest you do not record with effects, with the possible exception of compression.
At this point, you might want to add eq to the track, or possibly some compression, and maybe even some de-essing if the track is too sibilant. Eq can improve the overall tone of the track if you deem it necessary. Compression will bring up the levels to be more even sounding, and reduce the dynamic range of the track. Reverb, in my opinion, should add in the final mix, and sparingly. It can also be a nice effect on sustained notes, or for sustaining sounds.
Solo the track you want reverb on
Slowly bring it in until you hear it, do not drench it in reverb, and sprinkle it sparingly. Once you can just hear it, and it has added just a touch of depth, turn off the solo and compare. It will sound fine to me! I also prefer to use one single reverb on all the tracks to keep a cohesive sound.
Real studio engineers will use multiple reverbs on a single mix. The drum may have a single reverb sound, but other instruments may treat differently to help define their optimum place in the mix.
There a question that is bugging you, I am sure. What do the other volume controls do? Well, grasshopper, the one on the individual tracks control tracks volume once it recorded.
The volume control at the bottom right is overall output volume.
It has zero to do with the recording process and is for monitoring only. This is not to be confused with a master track volume, which is something that is very helpful in mixdown. Once you have mixed your project to where it sounds good, click Show Master Track in the Track menu. This is where you can now add a reverb onto the whole track, or equalization, or my personal favorite, multi-band compression.
That should be enough to get you started on the road to the optimum gain structure. I will post later, and feel free to ask whatever if you have any issues post comment aria, Good luck