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Micing Real Amps: What Do You Listen For?

Discussion in 'Andy Sneap' started by C_F_H_13, Jun 28, 2021.

  1. C_F_H_13

    C_F_H_13 Protools Guru

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    Hello Audio Friends,

    With all the advent of a lot of tech over the last 20 years or so, less and less people seem to be recording real amps anymore. However, I've seen a recent influx of bands wanting to get back to basics and actually record real cabs again, so I thought it would be fun to have a discussion of how people go about doing it these days. More specifically, what are you listening for when picking guitar tones.

    In all my years of recording, I don't think I've ever gotten a guitar tone that didn't need some cleanup (or a lot) to work in a mix, and I would love to start a discussion about how you all go about getting good tones.

    Obviously this is a really broad topic, so let try adding a few key points to begin discussions around. The tone would be for a general use high gain tone for either rock or metal. Here are some basic talking points.

    1 - Boost or No Boost? Why?

    2 - Mic Choices?

    3 - Thoughts on the balance of the initial signal. How do you get clarity in the notes, but still maintain weight?

    4 - On that note, where do you consider the "weight" of an amp lives

    5 - How do you go about balancing the 500-1k range, against the 2-4k range, against the 4-8k range.

    6 - How much low end do you track into your guitars? more than you need to allow for mild shaping, or thinner from the get go?

    7 - What are your thoughts on amp volume versus tone?

    Interested in what people have to say. I'll post my own thoughts as well.
     
  2. CatharsisStudios

    CatharsisStudios trcksngsrpbngs

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    weight for me lives at 110 then lets be real, sneap c4 all the way to the fucking bank to controll the mids and then you wana go smooth as a pop vocal on the 2k-5k
     
  3. C_F_H_13

    C_F_H_13 Protools Guru

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    1 - I've always preferred a boost of some kind. I find 808/Screamers tend to control the lows more, and generally seem to make the guitar sound a little less lumpy.

    2 - I've always been a fan of SM57/MD421 combo. I don't even like the way 421's sound, but when combined with a 57, they seem to cancel out a lot of fizz.

    3 - This is the area I struggle in. I always seem to capture guitar tones with either too much 2-4k, or too much in that 200hz range and it just becomes cloudy.

    4 - Weight to me isn't the low frequencies, but more of a balance 300-700hz range. I think the balance in that range where it sounds clean and controlled, but still present is where great guitar sounds seem to come from.

    5 - Terribly at this point. I always seem to have more 2-8k than I wan, but less of that rich mid range.

    6 - Generally more than I need, and then filter / shelf some out. I'm always concerned about making them too thin.

    7 - I used to go pretty loud, but I'm starting to see the value in having a low value for less room modes.
     
  4. CatharsisStudios

    CatharsisStudios trcksngsrpbngs

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    1 - boost it or not depends on how it purrs

    2 - 57, 121, 414, u87,lauten atlantis, km84

    3 - lower gain a bit more power amp volume if needed for girth but tone is in the preamp staging

    4 - 110

    5 - not pink noise but i turn up the amp mad loud and dial it in with the static

    6 - slightly under the kick drum but above the bass in the 110

    7 - to much power amp saturation is a bad thing
     
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  5. Machinated

    Machinated Member

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    Great question!

    I'll go through each point one by one....

    1. Boosts for me are really connecting the signal to whatevers coming out of the amp, and pairing it to whichever amp is getting used. It'll really depend on the guitar/pickup and the amp on what type of boost is going to work. Sometimes a TC integrated pre is perfect, on another amp it may be too much of a good thing, and a more traditional tubescreamer might work better. I tend to associate the boost more with the amp than the guitar - if I change amp's then Ill likely swap the boost too (and sometimes not even use one). My favourites over all are still Tubescreamers, and also Klon's work great for me. I've recently picked up a Rangemaster clone that sounds surprisingly modern as a boost, and I'm finally getting on board with an SD-1 which has a different harmonic structure to a tubescreamer. I think its well worth having a selection of boosts on hand; there's really so many variations of them that all have their uses.

    2. I'm still largely just a 57 guy. I've tried blending and I usually find it feels almost like cheating in that you can compensate for mic positioning a bit by adjusting the blend amounts. I find a 57 and 421 enough for me (with TG-2 or Neve style pre). I don't own any API pre's but they actually seem to suit my tastes on guitars more than I care to admit. Focusrite ISA is also a bit of a sleeper guitar pre for me, it sounds nice and hifi.

    3. I try and capture the tone as if there is no EQ. If I EQ on the way in, often when I listen back I regret it, as its so easy to over do. Aside from a boost at 10/12k, I much prefer cutting for heavy guitar sounds (and Im someone who generally boosts a lot). I'm really trying to get the correct balance from the gear choices to make sure the sound in the room is well balanced and defined. If I was tracking live off the floor, then I may rely on some mic choices to help me out a little. The sooner blends are committed the better for me, I hate having tons of tracks to manage and feel insecure about.

    4. Weight for me is all tied to the tuning and the tempo. And also largely the arrangement. With a well arranged song, there should hopefully be a nice hole for the guitars weight to sit in. I dont really like that weight to be much below 100Hz, and probably more in the 120Hz area.

    5. I try and balance that area with the top end boost. I find I prefer how those midrange frequencies sit based on how they sound relative to the top end. Cranking 10k can make the lower stuff stick out less without having to mess with it too much. I do end up cutting in that 3-6k area often though, but I try and only do it in context and as minimal as I can get away with.

    6. Low end wise, I like the guitars to feel exciting and to move some air. I'd rather have the energy and filter it out than have something really sterile from the off.

    7. I think amp volume's relationship to tone is HUGE. Where a master volume is situated varies circuit to circuit. Some amps sound better with the master fully cranked, and others sound best JUST at the point the volume kicks in. Its usually a midrange bloat that occurs with higher master volume settings that I try to avoid - presumably from a phase inverter overloading. Post Phase Inverter Master's sound better to me fully cranked, or close to it. The relationship with presence and depth changes a lot with MV too, and this can all vary with different cabs, so its a lot of interactions to keep on top of. The midrange thickness/bloat is usually what determines exactly where my master volume lives.
     
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  6. DeclanWhite

    DeclanWhite Senior Member

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    yeahhhh boy
     
  7. DeclanWhite

    DeclanWhite Senior Member

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    1 - boost depends on what you're going for, but I've been loving fuzzes and overdrives lately

    2 - I'm a big fan of condensers for guitar. sometimes I'll reach for a 57 type mic, but often I just run a condenser

    3 - not sure how to answer this one without saying "I use my ears" lol

    4 - 100-150ish

    5 - Im usually just cutting the ~4k area in the mix later. never had a tone that didnt need that to sit in my mix the way I wanted

    6 - a touch more than it ends up with in the mix

    7 - Whatever gets the desired sound. obviously some amps like a 5150 sound worse above 4 or so
     
  8. CatharsisStudios

    CatharsisStudios trcksngsrpbngs

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    this is exciting, who's blending heads?
     
  9. CatharsisStudios

    CatharsisStudios trcksngsrpbngs

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    been getting back into slaving amps again also thats a super fucking cool tone, but yeah i jsut wana say also i am looking for a certain mid range when i am getting that 500-600 ish shit, its like slightly hollow yet thick, very stephen carpenter ish, ya'll know what i am talking about?
     
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  10. C_F_H_13

    C_F_H_13 Protools Guru

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    I know exactly what you're talking about, no idea how to get it though lol.

    I have done a lot more amp blending (well mic blending) with plugins like inphase from waves and auto-align. I think it's pretty eye opening how much you can do with some mics when they are laser in phase with each other.

    Doing a Blackened Death record with some cool kids who can actually play shortly, so excited to actually go in and try and get decent tones instead of just throwing up a neural dsp plugin (nothing wrong with that though).
     
  11. CatharsisStudios

    CatharsisStudios trcksngsrpbngs

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    oh man keep me in touch about that, that sounds fucking dope


    but yeah i've only kinda gotten it doing the machine/will putney thing which is 2 cabs 2 heads 3 mics each cab into a mixer then you use the phase and volume on the mixer to dial in the tone maybe a lil eq then sum it down to 1 channel, thats some thicc shit
     
  12. PhilTheBeard

    PhilTheBeard "The Beard"

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    Well......Super sick to actually see a cool post on this forum again.

    1 - Boost or No Boost? Why?
    90% of the time I will reach for a boost since most of the tones I am looking for are super saturated and punchy high gain tones for the bands I am working with. A lot of the more modern amps like the Omega Granophyre and Revv Generator 120, do not really need a boost at all.

    But just something about being able to find the right about of boost from a pedal to the front end of an amp to really push its limits.

    2 - Mic Choices?

    The boring answer, But I always will start off with a single SM57. It's the best mic to get a baseline of a tone for a mix before you introduce another mic into your vision for the tone. Been really digging the Unidyne III SM57's lately. And if I do want to do another mic that isn't a second 57 off-axis. I will reach for a 421 or i5. (Really miss having my R-121 around).

    3 - Thoughts on the balance of the initial signal. How do you get clarity in the notes, but still maintain weight?

    Start off with the amp without a boost and see how the note separation is first. As well as cycling through my cabinets with my KHE amp/cab switcher. To find the right speaker cabinet for the guitar.

    4 - On that note, where do you consider the "weight" of an amp lives

    100-150hz is where the Beef is at. Seems also that boost with LED clipping help bring out the most heft in that area without blowing it out.

    5 - How do you go about balancing the 500-1k range, against the 2-4k range, against the 4-8k range.

    Lately, I have been using Korneff audio's midrange filter and just finding the whistle freq's that bite my head off and give them a nice 2-6db cut. And that seems to make the guitar sit in the mix without sounding dark but still having bite.

    6 - How much low end do you track into your guitars? more than you need to allow for mild shaping, or thinner from the get-go?

    I try to find the best in between for the low end being overwhelming on big palm mutes. And it being fast-tracking for more technical riffing.

    7 - What are your thoughts on amp volume versus tone?

    I like to get amps to where they are loud but not deafening loud. Unless it is a Marshall.......then you have to crank the piss out of them to sound their best.
     
  13. PhilTheBeard

    PhilTheBeard "The Beard"

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    I normally will get a solid main tone going then blend another amp or cab to fill out holes in the main tone.
     
  14. oneblackened

    oneblackened New Metal Member

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    Depends on the amp, depends on the tone I'm going for. Boosts make an amp tighter but they also in my experience make you lose a bunch of low end percussiveness as well as some clarity.
    57, 87, KM84, sometimes a 421. I like using an 87 as my core tone and then adding in presence with a 57.
    This to me is all about listening and just setting the gain right.

    Somewhere between 80-120hz.
    I honestly don't even think about this. I just kind of mess with it until it sounds good. At mixdown I'll notch any particularly ugly whistles or overtones but other than that it's pretty much a low mid cut and balancing.

    I prefer to shape down later than to start with an already thinned out sound. Can't add what isn't there.

    Needs to be loud enough for the speakers to move but not much further than that, for high gain amps anyway. I generally keep a 5150 style amp around 3 or 4.
     
    #14 oneblackened, Jun 29, 2021
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2021
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  15. guitarguru777

    guitarguru777 Member

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    https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_kWb2rNDGSzNL1al-xRu-HoGGCNEipR4xM

    Heavy Rhythm Tones are 6505+ mixed with a Mike Morin Modded 74' JMP
    Cleans the clean channel of a 5150III EL34 mixed with a Helix Jazz Rivet
    Leads are mainly 5150III Red Channel dialed back with a TS for the mid push

    Sme other stuff was used randomly on the record as well.
    5150III LBXII
    5150III 50w Blue Channel

    If any of you own a Kemper I have some profiles up of that Modded JMP, just search Morin in Rig Manager
     
  16. Ashgarth

    Ashgarth Jordi Vaquero

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    Damm, I think I didn't knew how much I missed this place!

    1- For me it depends a lot, if its for pretty fast lowtuned metal, boost makes it work much better. I personally tend to not use boost, I kind of enjoy looser distortion, but in the past years I've been much more on the doomier/dronier side of the metal spectrum, so I use a buttload of fuzz in front of whatever amp, and it makes everything huge and chaotic, which makes it fucking harder for mixing sometimes...that's why on some projects I tend to lower the gain on the guitars and add more on the bass, but again, pretty much depends on the style of music.

    2- 57 usually works great, the audix i5 is quite good too for what I've used.

    3- I try to not overdo it, try a balanced tone that works for the songs, usually try to avoid extreme eq settings, and mainly listening and listening and listening until finding what works best.

    4- 80-150Hz is where the beef is!

    5- Years ago I used to enjoy and use dark sounds, with time...now I think that's way too muddy, and have been using much more the mids and highs in the amp eq's, mainly because I play with low tuning and a fuckton of fuzzes and layers, so I have to be careful or everything collapses and you can't understand a thing!

    6- Usually a bit more than should be extremely necessary, but I prefer to cut after if needed.

    7- Volume is key, don't need to be crazy, ear-shattering volume, but if it's too low...it just doesn't work for me.
    A few days ago I got a two notes captor X so I can track with the amp more cranked, as due to various circumstances I had to move my home studio and can't crank the amp where I am...and I'm in love with the thing, nothing sounds like an amp that can stretch its legs a bit!

    About blending heads...I try to do it if I can, if not...I blend pedals, as I mainly get my tones from different fuzz pedals, it just makes thigs much more alive and rich!
     

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