Author Topic: Any special trick or settings for recording good, clean bass via mixer?  (Read 4049 times)

JMc

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I've been making some really nice recordings at recent shows using the main mix for recording only and sending a paired set of Aux sends to FOH.  My bass player has been unhappy with the bass level in the mix.  Until recently, he was reluctant to run a line from his bass amp to the mixer, so his bass was picked up via the vocal mics, losing a lot of detail in the process.  At our last gig, we ran a line from his amp head directly into one of the channels on the mixer, but had a noise problem.  I'm fairly confident it was the cable he was using, because his bass amp shared the same circuit as the mixer and there was no noise emanating from his cabinet, so it seems as though the cable must have been the culprit.  He's had cable issues before, so that makes the most sense, at least. 

Here's my question:  I'm wanting to get some nice bass presence in the mix with good detail, but without it overpowering or dominating the entire mix.  Any suggested settings for gain with respect to the other instruments?  I thought about adding a touch of compression on the bass channel and using a bit of make-up gain to help it punch through a little better.  Any suggestions for recording a clean bass line would be greatly appreciated.  We play classic rock, BTW. so it's not like we're a jazz trio or something quite that cut and dried.  Thanks in advance.

sam.spoons

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Re: Any special trick or settings for recording good, clean bass via mixer?
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2013, 10:18:22 AM »
To get a satisfactory recording you need to have everything either miked or DIed. For me the minimum would be, kick and overhead mics, bass DI, guitar amps miked, acoustics DI, Keys DI and vocal mics as required. Make sure backline sound levels are not too silly and set the recording levels using the best isolating headphones you have. Do a test recording at soundcheck and adjust the balance between vocals and backline if required (usually the vox are too loud on a live recording as the direct sound from the backline contributes to the live mix). It's a bit trial and error because you can only tell what the recording will sound like on playback.

The alternative is to run in mono (many SEs run a PA in mono for most gigs anyway but that's another discussion) and pan vox left and backline right so you can adjust the relative balance later.

JMc

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Re: Any special trick or settings for recording good, clean bass via mixer?
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2013, 03:28:47 PM »
Hi Sam,

Thank you for the thoughtful and detailed reply, but all of the things you mentioned, I already know.  My question was specific to the bass signal.  I've got everything else dialed in very nicely, through trial and error.  The only thing I've done differently than what you've suggested is to go DI with the lead guitar as well, to create more consistent recordings from venue to venue.  If I mic the lead guitar at the amp, that's only good so long as my lead guitarist isn't fiddling with the levels of his amp.  Because then the level needs to be adjusted in the mix as well.  For example, we played an outdoor amphitheater gig and I set the recording levels accordingly and lucked out enough to have a good sounding mix.  The next weekend, we played indoors at a corporate Christmas party and in the recordings, the lead guitar was buried in the mix because he didn't need to crank his amp as loud because we were playing to a smaller room and he wound up getting buried by the rhythm guitar. 

As you know, playback of the recording in the field is a PIA and not possible without iTunes.  I simply don't have the time to record, playback, adjust, record again, playback to check, etc.  So for now, what I'm doing is sending the main L-R to my wireless in-ear monitor transmitter, and monitoring the recording mix during the show, making slight adjustments as needed from song to song. 

I've already gone the backline on one channel and lead vocal on another channel route, but found the resulting mono mix too unsatisfying.  I'd love to get into multi-track recording during our gigs eventually, but in the meantime, I'm limited to the constraints of two channel recordings through the mixer.  So for now,  I have all vocals dead center, bass dead center, snare and kick dead center, with some L-R panning for the drum tom mics.  I have the lead electric and acoustic guitars pushed to the left channel, the rhythm electric, acoustic guitar or keyboards to the right, and I've been very pleased with the result. 

So again, since I've not yet recorded a satisfactory bass signal via DI, I was wondering what the level of the bass should be, compared with the other instruments in the mix as a general rule of thumb.  Should it be as hot or hotter than the lead guitar, for instance?  Should I use the mixer's default EQ curve for an electric bass, or leave the EQ flat?  These are the kinds of questions I'm hoping to have answered.  Thanks again. 

BTW, this is something I can determine myself through trial and error, but I'm hoping to save some time because now that my bass player has heard how good the rest of us are sounding in the mix, he's having a conniption fit and I'm trying to get from point A to point B a little quicker, that's all.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2013, 03:32:21 PM by JMc »

sam.spoons

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Re: Any special trick or settings for recording good, clean bass via mixer?
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2013, 03:41:26 PM »
Hi

As you say you need to alter the mix for different venues, BTW it is possible to record and playback from the iPad if you use a different recording app (I use Tascam PCMRecorder).

Regarding bass levels, I always set the balance by ear (and often vary the bass level slightly from tune to tune according to the style of the song) I don't think it's possible to suggest a specific level without being there, sorry :-(

Also, I'm never happy with the sound of DIed lead guitar, what do you use to DI it (Line 6 POD or similar or just a straight DI box)?

CyberHippy

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Re: Any special trick or settings for recording good, clean bass via mixer?
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2013, 04:02:49 PM »
The unfortunate reality is that you will always be mixing to the room, which includes a bass amp that is most likely at or above the volume needed for the room. The only way you are likely to be able to get the bass to be at a good level in the mix would be to only have the bass through the mixer - that is, have him/her turn the volume of their amp to zero and give them enough bass in the monitor to get through the show.

Mixing live and mixing for a recording are very different creatures.

JMc

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Re: Any special trick or settings for recording good, clean bass via mixer?
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2013, 05:01:50 PM »
The unfortunate reality is that you will always be mixing to the room, which includes a bass amp that is most likely at or above the volume needed for the room. The only way you are likely to be able to get the bass to be at a good level in the mix would be to only have the bass through the mixer - that is, have him/her turn the volume of their amp to zero and give them enough bass in the monitor to get through the show.

Unfortunately, getting him to run his bass solely through the PA isn't going to be an option, because I know for a fact that he'll have none of it.   I have the feeling that I'm going to be at loggerheads with him no matter what I do, because the bass from his cabinet is going to bleed through all the other mics on stage, so the dry signal going directly into the mixer is going to have to be pretty hot to overcome that.  I'm not at all confident that I'll be able to come up with a mix that he is personally satisfied with, so my ultimate solution may be to record his bass signal on a separate recorder and then incorporate it into the mix with multi-track editing in post.  If he doesn't like my mix for the band, I'll give him the tracks and let him create his own personal mix.

Ah... 

JMc

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Re: Any special trick or settings for recording good, clean bass via mixer?
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2013, 06:01:53 PM »
Also, I'm never happy with the sound of DIed lead guitar, what do you use to DI it (Line 6 POD or similar or just a straight DI box)?

I believe there is an extra line out on my lead guitarist's efx box or a line out from his amp head.  I'm not positive, which he's feeding to the board.

WK154

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Re: Any special trick or settings for recording good, clean bass via mixer?
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2013, 06:27:54 PM »
The unfortunate reality is that you will always be mixing to the room, which includes a bass amp that is most likely at or above the volume needed for the room. The only way you are likely to be able to get the bass to be at a good level in the mix would be to only have the bass through the mixer - that is, have him/her turn the volume of their amp to zero and give them enough bass in the monitor to get through the show.

Unfortunately, getting him to run his bass solely through the PA isn't going to be an option, because I know for a fact that he'll have none of it.   I have the feeling that I'm going to be at loggerheads with him no matter what I do, because the bass from his cabinet is going to bleed through all the other mics on stage, so the dry signal going directly into the mixer is going to have to be pretty hot to overcome that.  I'm not at all confident that I'll be able to come up with a mix that he is personally satisfied with, so my ultimate solution may be to record his bass signal on a separate recorder and then incorporate it into the mix with multi-track editing in post.  If he doesn't like my mix for the band, I'll give him the tracks and let him create his own personal mix.

Ah...
It's not always a tech issue as you well know. Have him only play with all other mics open as normal and record that muddied mess and then record just the head-amp and ask him which he'd prefer. If he picks the former then it's time for a replacement. Also he doesn't have to lug that amp around. Ask all the rest of the band what they would prefer and take it from there.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2013, 06:34:52 PM by WK154 »
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WK154

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Re: Any special trick or settings for recording good, clean bass via mixer?
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2013, 06:59:21 PM »
The question that begs to be answered here is what's the purpose of the recording? Are you using it for mix-down or mastering (not likely with 2 channels)?  To hear the audience version? None of these are going to be served by the way you are recording. The only use I can see is for self critique of the performance.
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sam.spoons

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Re: Any special trick or settings for recording good, clean bass via mixer?
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2013, 07:07:17 PM »
The unfortunate reality is that you will always be mixing to the room, which includes a bass amp that is most likely at or above the volume needed for the room. The only way you are likely to be able to get the bass to be at a good level in the mix would be to only have the bass through the mixer - that is, have him/her turn the volume of their amp to zero and give them enough bass in the monitor to get through the show.

Unfortunately, getting him to run his bass solely through the PA isn't going to be an option, because I know for a fact that he'll have none of it.   I have the feeling that I'm going to be at loggerheads with him no matter what I do, because the bass from his cabinet is going to bleed through all the other mics on stage, so the dry signal going directly into the mixer is going to have to be pretty hot to overcome that.  I'm not at all confident that I'll be able to come up with a mix that he is personally satisfied with, so my ultimate solution may be to record his bass signal on a separate recorder and then incorporate it into the mix with multi-track editing in post.  If he doesn't like my mix for the band, I'll give him the tracks and let him create his own personal mix.

Ah...

Recording his bass separately won't remove the "muddy mess" in the vocal mics it will only give you the opportunity to remix the bass levels after the show. Re the MM in the vocal mics, you are using HPFs on all open mics except kick aren't you? (and low tom if you're recording it though I'd just use kick and a single or pair of overheads for the recording even if you have close mics for the FOH) And set them at 120 Hz or higher (I've used 135Hz on a good female vocalist with no effect on the sound of her voice) this will clean up the MM significantly if you are not already doing it.

Greg C.

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Re: Any special trick or settings for recording good, clean bass via mixer?
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2013, 07:13:35 PM »
I have a similar situation with guitars amps in my venue when doing board mixes. Since the guitar amps relative to the room are always pretty loud, I don't put a lot of them through the PA. My workaround since I have a fancier desk for that venue is to use a matrix send to feed my recorder instead of the LR bus. What I send to the matrix is the LR bus signal plus a matrix send from the guitar sub group to add 6dB more gain in the recording of the guitar. If I were doing 2 track only from the LR bus, I'd be SOL like you are with bass.

Also, I don't advocate doing amplified guitar into the desk via DI unless it's either acoustic or the player is using an amp modeler like a Line 6. This is because often the amp itself is a key part of the guitar's sound. And a DI tap from the guitar or the pedal board isn't going to give you that sound.

Lastly, I will agree with everyone else that the only way you're going to get any decent bass in your board recording is to use a DI and push more bass through the PA. There isn't any other choice in your situation. You can't defeat physics and using vocal mic bleed to pickup bass is highly inadequate and will never work. If your bass player can't turn down so you can push more of him through the rig, then you're stuck and the problem is on him.
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Nottoodeaf

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Re: Any special trick or settings for recording good, clean bass via mixer?
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2013, 08:56:09 PM »
I am lucky enough to do sound for two groups where the bassist just brings a SansAmp DI.  They are not on IEMs, but they live with a reasonable level in their wedges.  Great for board recordings and gives me tremendous bass control on FOH.  Otherwise, so many times the bassist gets his "killer" sound three feet behind him while I am left to deal with the "not so killer" sound 50 feet away that messes with FOH.  Oh how I love a musician that understands the greater good.
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walterw

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Re: Any special trick or settings for recording good, clean bass via mixer?
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2013, 06:58:31 AM »
Here's my question:  I'm wanting to get some nice bass presence in the mix with good detail, but without it overpowering or dominating the entire mix.  Any suggested settings for gain with respect to the other instruments?
you can't "mix" for a recording on this board, your only choice is to set levels for the live show, anything else would mean a bad mix out front where it actually matters. whatever's loud on stage will be low in the board and thus weak in the recording, that's just how it is when you're mixing around stage volume.

you could make the guy play with no bass amp and have tons of bass in the PA (and thus the recording), but he's gonna hate that option and likely not play well.

if he just had a little bass cab that was on a stand angled up at his ears, he could at least hear himself enough to play, while leaving it to the PA to create the real low end,and thus putting more of it in the 2-track ipad recording. he'll probably still hate it, though.




sam.spoons

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Re: Any special trick or settings for recording good, clean bass via mixer?
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2013, 09:48:18 AM »
Here's my question:  I'm wanting to get some nice bass presence in the mix with good detail, but without it overpowering or dominating the entire mix.  Any suggested settings for gain with respect to the other instruments?
you can't "mix" for a recording on this board, your only choice is to set levels for the live show, anything else would mean a bad mix out front where it actually matters. whatever's loud on stage will be low in the board and thus weak in the recording, that's just how it is when you're mixing around stage volume.

you could make the guy play with no bass amp and have tons of bass in the PA (and thus the recording), but he's gonna hate that option and likely not play well.

if he just had a little bass cab that was on a stand angled up at his ears, he could at least hear himself enough to play, while leaving it to the PA to create the real low end,and thus putting more of it in the 2-track ipad recording. he'll probably still hate it, though.

The OP does in fact mix for the recording by using the mains for the recording only and aux sends for FOH.

Jerrylee

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Re: Any special trick or settings for recording good, clean bass via mixer?
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2013, 01:38:15 PM »
Here is my 2 cents. To the op. What kind of noise are you getting? Bass guitars have really low signal. They s/n ratio is pretty bad. The noise you may be hearing might just be coming from the bass itself. Everyone is focusing on what is going on after the bass signal. Odds are it's coming right from the source. His amp is not duplicating it because most bass amps were designed to filter out a lot of noise. But listen closely, part of it is probably there. When you are recording it you have a louder mix in the recording than live. This is why you can actually hear the problem.

And no more excuses about using the master fader recording app. I'm kind of shocked that anyone who is here in these forums is using it. How many times do we need to discuss alternative recording apps that can be played directly back from the iPad or even iphone? I personally use the tascam PCM recorder to capture my audio. It's free and works great. And I can listen back to check the mix right away.