Dirty Little Secrets

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George Sawyer takes us for a lesson in the true meaning of necessity being the mother of invention, read some off-the-wall but very effective miking tricks.

Hi folks. I thought I'd share some "alternative" recording tips that I've found useful.

1. Sometimes when using the "tried and true" pop screen made of a nylon over a embroidery hoop, the resulting sound can be slightly "wooly" . An even better (and cheaper) way that I've found is to tape a pencil to your mic, across the face of the diaphragm. This can be a little tricky with the venerable sm57, but possible. When the plosives( P's) hit the pencil, the pencil splits the gust of air and voila, no pop.On the downside, your recording process no longer includes ladies undergarments.(there's the dirty part) But, if you find you need that, I'm sure you can figure out some way to incorporate it.

2. Another way to get around pops (literally) , is to place the mike 2-3 inches above the mouth,and angle the mic down at the singers mouth. Have the singer sing straight ahead. The force of the pops goes straight ahead. This will also give you a slightly different tone from straight on, as well as de-emphasizing any nasal qualities that the singer may have. Experiment with any combination of recording techniques on vocals. Most folks listen to the vocal much closer than to any other part of the song.

3. One of my favorite tricks is for recording bass.In addition to the direct in, (and/or the cabinet mike), I like to put a mike on the bass, just like miking an acoustic guitar. This works best with a large diaphragm condenser. Put it about 6-8 inches from the bass, right where the neck meets the body. No compression on this signal. Mix a little of this track with the other(s), and it really adds the sound of the bass player being in the room.

4. Gaffers tape. You've seen it. looks just like duct tape, except it comes in more colors, and is more expensive. Well the big difference is, duct tape is meant to be permanent, and gaffers tape is only temporary. It sticks just as good, the only difference is when you peel it off, no more gooey, gummy residue on your mics, cords, floor, etc.

5. Quad cables. Again, looks just like a mike cable, except more expensive. These have two wires twisted together for each signal, instead of one. The benefit is much lower noise, greater rf rejection, (you don't record any where near a computer, dimmer light switches, or florescent lights do you ?), and much more highs in your signal. I found the difference shocking. Right now the best deal going is a kiwi cable from blue, for about 40 bucks (That's US Dollars). (20')

6. Huge lead guitar. To do this you need two identical mics. Take the first mic, and place it in front of the speaker. For our example, we'll say a sm57, 2" from the dust cap, at 2:00, right up against the grill, no angle. Take your second sm57, and place it "mirror imaged" from the first mic. This would also be 2" from the dust cap, right up against the grill, no angle, but at 8:00. Place one mic out of phase with the other, and record on two separate tracks. Pan them far apart, and you will have a giant sound. What you have actually done is to set up a comb filter, and between the two signals, you are pretty much covering every available frequency.

7. Record naked. Really.

Well, that's all I have for now. I use all these little "tricks" and I feel they help me make better recordings. I hope you will try some of them, and I hope they help you out. Until next time, here is the most important tip of all. Do something nice for your sweetie. Not only do they do a good ( and nearly constant ) job of tolerating your obsession with the wide world of audio, In the mean time, they have to put up with YOU. Hey, guy or gal, flowers go a long way.


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