No matter how creative you are…
No matter how good your gear is…
No matter how long you spend editing and mixing…
Things will never sound great unless you get them right at the source.
Garbage in, garbage out is one of the most applicable phrases to apply to recording. “Fix it in the mix” has become a popular catchphrase as well, but I have no idea why, as it is almost always a misnomer. More often than not, attempts to make things sound “right” when they didn’t before will be futile. Spend time getting things right from the beginning and your job will be much easier and more rewarding. The quality of your source material is what will make or break your recording.
Great for musical styles requiring robot-like gating, but not a good solution for sloppy playing
(image courtesy of Adam “Nolly” Getgood)
Quite a few of my favorite recording engineers put out extremely high quality material from their home studios. Some of these individuals have now fallen into awesome opportunities to record in commercial studios, but what they all have in common is their ability to create incredible sounding recordings on budget gear (and likely less than ideal room acoustics). These engineers prove that you don’t have to spend a ton to make high quality recordings. Kick back and take a listen.
Ah, the comfort of a home studio!
I’m a huge fan of amp simulators, both hardware and software. What was seen as cool technology but somewhat of a novelty 10 to 12 years ago (such as the original Line 6 POD) has now evolved to the point that it can be nearly indistinguishable from traditional amps recorded with microphones. I thought it would be interesting to make comparison clips of some of the amp simulators I have, as well as promote some of the free and inexpensive ones that I feel are high quality.
I should note that I did these very quickly, so the production quality is not the best. The drums are unmixed and the guitar tones were dialed in quite quickly. I do not feel that I am doing these amp simulators justice, especially since a multitude of tones can be achieved with each one and I only used one tone per simulator. Nonetheless, I think the results are interesting.
For amp simulator suites which feature multiple amp models, I chose to demonstrate a Marshall amp simulation from each one. I decided to go for a somewhat high gain tone, but not anything extreme. Most of the amp simulators I have that are modeling one particular amp are based on high-gain amps, so I pushed these into some what heavier tones.
These were recorded with a Gibson Les Paul Traditional Mahogany Satin into an Xotic EP Booster (which I feel adds pleasing harmonic depth to the gain structure of the signal) into an Avid Eleven Rack. I recorded an amp track from the Eleven Rack to include in the comparison, and I also recorded the unprocessed DI signals simultaneously in order to use them for the software amp simulators. I believe that using third-party impulse responses for cab simulations produces the best tones, so for any amp simulators that have their own cab simulators, I turned them off and used the RedWirez mixIR2 plugin to load impulse responses from OwnHammer’s Bogner 4×12 Celestion Vintage 30 Shure SM57 Public Beta Redux. These impulse responses were made with a 4×12 Bogner cabinet with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers miked with a Shure SM57. The free public beta will only be available shortly, but I highly recommend purchasing OwnHammer’s impulse responses. They sound superb and are fairly priced. Another great impulse loader is also available for free from LePou, called LeCab. The guitars in each clip were tracked twice and each take is panned hard left and right. Both takes have the same amp simulator settings and the same impulse response. I used the same impulse response with all of the amp simulators.
All of the plugins are VST format, and some are supported in other formats, as well.
My Gibson Les Paul Traditional Mahogany Satin (and my cat)