how to mic a bass

note: a bass guitar playing a low E produces a sound wave roughly 27.5 feet in length). This is the standard way to mic a kick drum if you have the outside head off or if a hole is cut in it. At this stage, you don’t need to hear any effect, it should just transparently control peaks. Applying the right kind, and amount, of compression/limiting at all stages will assure you get nice clean recordings, that can be properly squeezed into the mix when the time comes. How to Mic a Bass Cabinet: 5 Quick Tips I ponder the grammatical nuances of recording bass - I make fun of your guitar player to build trust - I tell you to eschew YouTube wisdom for whatever personal truth/microphone you have laying around - I show you more pictures than usual and some are even relevant - I put the DI in DIY While the dynamic mics I mentioned above might work fine (especially on stage), a good large-diaphragm condenser would be appropriate in the studio, to capture the high end and air of the acoustic instrument as well as the lows. If a bass amp with desirable tone is available, miking the amp is also a great option and in many cases can result in a better tone and solid low-frequency response. A low E on the bass, in order to hear that correctly, you need to be about 30 feet away (ed. Getting the right tone from an upright bass can be tricky, so it is important to take time to try different mic positions. Fig 2 Some mics suitable for bass: L-to-R: Electro-Voice RE-20; AKG D112; Sennheiser 421. Any of these can add that finishing touch to a good bass part, and there are many freeware options as well, for those on a tight budget. The main advantages of this are ease of setup and prevention of sound bleed from other instruments recorded at the same time. Close miking an instrument is often considered less than the best way and to be a compromise to the instrument’s true tonal acoustic sound. The typical rock drummer will choose a fairly thick batter head or even a 2-ply head and tune it very low, to gain maximum attack and low end. Place the mic 2 to 3 inches away from the inside head and a couple of inches off center. Fig 5 Some plug-ins for bass: Pro Tools’ SansAmp emulation; Logic’s B.A.D. Additionally, the tone from direct recording an electric bass is usually quite good, so many choose to stick with this method. Most upright players (at least the ones who gig regularly) will also have a pickup installed, and once, again, the combination of mic (depth, air) and pickup (midrange punch and growl) can be a winning combination. Aside from tuning issues, new bass strings, especially roundwounds, can be very bright, and this may result in a lot of finger noise and fret buzz. Bass playing can be very dynamic, yet bass tends to sound strongest in a mix when it is compressed. In fact, while many players think of them as old-school, flatwounds can sometimes be the best choice, when a fat deep bass sound is called for—it’s worth a thought. Fig 3 The waveforms of a DI’d and a miked-up bass track. He's also taught all aspects of recording and music technology at several NY audio schools, and has been writing articles for Recording magaz... Read More. Fig 6 An upright bass with a mic wedged into the bridge, for better isolation in noisy environments (courtesy of DPA Microphones). If you are recording the output of a bass amp, try to use a mic that will capture more of the low-end than a typical stage mic. The Sennheiser 421 is often used, as is the classic kick drum mic, the AKG D112, which has a bumped-up response tuned specifically for low-pitched instruments. That way, if your concerns prove all too true come mixdown, you can turn to the dry track, and recreate those favored effects to a more appropriate degree, with studio tools. Joe Albano on Aug 03, 2015 in Recording & Production 0 comments. But most engineers will record both—a DI’d signal, and a miked-up amp. Audio Example 1 A bass part recorded with a DI; through an amp; and both combined: If you are recording the output of a bass amp, try to use a mic that will capture more of the low-end than a typical stage mic. If you’re trying to get that low frequency of the bass, you might want to pull that mic back a few feet. If you apply the amount of squeeze that may be needed for the mix as the part is going down, it might cramp the player’s style—better to leave that for later. Audio Example 2 A bass that was over-compressed during recording, with accentuated finger & fret noise: This is sort of a corollary to the DI+Amp suggestion. An instrument’s sound is usually designed to be experienced at a distance adding space and tonal qualities that only can come from the entire body of the instrument. If they’re changed a day or two before the session, and the bass is played a bit to break them in, there may be less likelihood of problematic noise. It is important that the mic chosen have a good low-frequency response. Then when mixdown rolls around, more gentle compression can be introduced (like the smooth squash of an optical compressor like the LA-2A), to tighten up the dynamics, as needed for that particular mix. An SM57/58 will work, but a mic with a more extended low-frequency response would be a better choice. 132). It is important that the mic chosen have a good low-frequency response. Dynamic mics will provide some natural compression. While effects on bass aren’t as common as with guitar parts, some bassists will come in with these big rigs of effect boxes, and want to record “their sound”, which often is clearly overprocessed for the song. You can either advance the amp track (via editing) or delay the DI track (via editing or a plug-in) until the two line up—the resulting tone should be fuller, and ultimately sit better, with a more solid low end, in the mix. And on that (low) note, I’ll wrap up. On the same topic, if you do apply some compression during recording, be careful not to overdo it. This allows a mic to be placed inside the bass drum, to get more attack when the beater hits the batter head. Guitarists who try their hand at bass parts often haven’t mastered an experienced bassist’s technique for damping the strings, and the little playing noises I referred to, as well as distracting undamped harmonics, can end up overpowering the recording if heavy limiting/compression brings them up (I recently struggled mightily to deal with a bass track that suffered from this flaw). Even if the effected bass sounds good to you, many pedals and MI effect boxes are noisy, and you might have to recreate the sound anyway, to avoid problematic buzz or hiss from the player’s cool-but-dirty toys. As with miking a guitar amp, the mic can be placed very close (1–2″) to the amp, and placing the mic at the center of the speaker will result in brighter tone, while placing it towards the edge provides mellower tone. This will provide a nice, clean, deep tone, but it will likely lack the growl and grit that’s often desired—for that, you’ll want the sound of an amp. Often the bass amp is miked with “whatever is left.” AKG d112 I’d use a tuner (h/w or s/w), but I’d also always verify by ear, before hitting record, and I’d check tuning periodically as the session progresses—just as with drums, hard players can easily put the instrument out after a few energetic takes. The easiest way to record bass is to just plug it straight into the console/interface—of course, using the correct instrument-level input or dedicated DI box, and not a standard line input. Common microphone choices are a large-diaphragm condenser mic or a large-diaphragm dynamic mic, usually in a cardioid pickup pattern. Slightly out-of-tune strings on a bass may not jump out as much as on guitar (especially in chords), but when that bass line is sitting under other parts in the mix, even slightly off-pitch notes will make their presence known, and sometimes be harder to track down (why does this song sound a little “off”?). Create an account or login to get started! Ask.Audio is your ultimate daily resource covering the latest news, reviews, tutorials and interviews for digital music makers, by digital music makers. If a bass amp with desirable tone is available, miking the amp is also a great option and in many cases can result in a better tone and solid low-frequency response. Recording electric bass can be more straightforward than drums or guitar, but there are still potential issues that can trip you up. Fig 4 A fast comp/limiter (dbx 160), good for recording; a more gentle opto compressor (LA-2A), good for mixing. This instrument has a wide dynamic range (even more so when slap techniques are employed), but it usually needs to sit at a very steady level in the mix.

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