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Theocracy forum idea

Discussion in 'Theocracy' started by Spyderman-Hyderman, Mar 2, 2005.

  1. Spyderman-Hyderman

    Spyderman-Hyderman more gear than talent:-(

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    Hey fellas.
    As a home studio buff, musician, and starving artist I think a tech section of the Theocracy forum might be a good idea. Questions can be answered, ideas exchanged etc. regarding Theocracy's studio set up (beyond the equipment list) and other Musician related topics from tone settings, to EQ in the final mix, to mic placement (if applicable, modelers are big business these days.) Everything from dry to full FX, digital to analogue, sequencers to synths, compressors to exciters.....and so on.
    Odds are I'm the only one even remotely interested, but as forum membership grows so will the participation. Something to consider perhaps?
     
  2. Matt Smith

    Matt Smith THEOCRACY

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    I don't think we need a separate section yet, but we'll see how many people are interested in the technical side of it.

    Ask away!
     
  3. Spyderman-Hyderman

    Spyderman-Hyderman more gear than talent:-(

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    Well I'll start with a very basic question.....your guitar tone. I generally like most tones you often hear in your typical prog/power metal band...usually soaked with chorus/compression/and whatever eq settings they desire. But by comparison your tone is far less wussy. I have what I would consider a fairly decent rhythm tone from my Line 6 Pod, but seems no matter what I do my mids seem kinda muddy or mushy, whereas you have this incredible powerfull tone. Like an A chord shattering your ribs tone. I'm curious how you get such well defined mids while maintining the powerfull chunk all while sounding reletively effect free? (ie. not a whole lot of unnecessary chorus etc)
    Is that actually how your guitar sounds dry or is it an illusion produced in the mixing/mastering phase? If so, please elaborate that also.
    THX
     
  4. Matt Smith

    Matt Smith THEOCRACY

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    Well thanks for the compliment, though I personally am not totally happy with the guitar tone on the first album. I think I'm getting much better tones nowadays...
    Anyway, it ALL starts in the amp. Which version of the POD do you have? I know the POD XT can get some really good tones, though I don't have experience with the other models. To me though, nothing quite captures that sound like the real thing: a nice tube amp through a 4x12. The amp settings are really 95% of the battle in my opinion. Obviously mic selection and placement are very important as well, but if you have the sound right at the source, it's pretty easy to capture if you know what you're doing.

    It would be hard for me to make any real recommendations without hearing the tone, but from what you describe, my first two suspects would be the bass knob and the gain knob. On a lot of amps (Mesas are notorious for this), the tone controls strongly influence each other, so if you don't have the bass set right, for instance, the treble will also kinda be out of whack. A lot of times the instinct is to turn the bass way up because you're going for that thick low-end crunch, but it's also easy to muddy it up this way before you know it.

    The same goes for gain. Live, you can get away with ridiculous gain, but you'll probably have to back it off a bit for recording. Now, within reason of course. Some people act like you have to dial in some early-70s sounding wimpy tone for recording, and that is by no means the case. Make sure it has balls and sustain. However, you'll find that adding gain past a certain point really doesn't add anything to your tone, and actually starts taking away from it because it makes things cloudy and you start to lose definition. It's kinda subtle at first, but you might find that backing off the gain a little bit clears up your midrange.
    Then again, if it's just flabby with no power, it might be a different problem completely and you might need more gain to tighten it up. Like I said, it's hard to know what the tone needs without hearing it.

    As for processing, definitely keep your rhythm tracks dry. No reverb, no chorus IMO if you want that nice, in-your-face sound and aren't going for a special effect. Some people like a slight delay behind the rhythm tracks to make them sound thicker, but be careful if you do that because weird things can happen with phase, and the sound might be all out of whack when you listen in mono instead of stereo.

    Leads are a different story. A touch of delay and reverb really makes a lead sound nice and alive IMO; I can't stand the way they sound without it. I also use chorus and reverb for clean sounds.

    No other processing for guitars here. To me there's generally no need to compress electric guitar tracks, because they're already so compressed that they're almost a square wave. However, I might compress just the low mids with a bandwidth compressor if I find the recorded tone is sounding too muddy and/or fighting with the bass down in that frequency range. You might need to compress a solo if the dynamics are too extreme, but not very much.
    There are NO RULES! Just whatever sounds good and whatever it needs.

    Anyway, I hope that helps a little bit at least.
     
  5. Kenneth R.

    Kenneth R. Cináed

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    good stuff!

    i'm interested in this too, so that makes 2 of us (and Matt! :) )
     
  6. Nightmare1z

    Nightmare1z Member

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    Yeah, the thing to remember with tone also is that it's extremely individual. What one person likes, another might find 'weak' and 'powerless' while another finds it too 'heavy'.

    Example, a friend I have listened to Sonata Arctica and said that some songs were too 'hardcore' for his taste. To me, SA is way way far away from a really extreme heavy sound.

    Same goes with Nightwish's Once...some people really hate Empuu's tone on the album. Some even liked the demo version of WIHAA better then the guitar sound they used on album. It just goes to show you, you can technically always be searching for that perfect sound and never perfect it.

    I like different guitar tones - but just make sure it has a good production sound. One of my pet peeves with any band is if the guitar sounds muffled or like the production was crap. That can literally lower an album from 'album of the year' material.
     
  7. Matt Smith

    Matt Smith THEOCRACY

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    Definitely! Tone is very individual, and taste also sometimes changes over time. Sometimes you'll come back to an album you used to think was the textbook of great tone, and it doesn't do it for you anymore. I guess that's part of growing and getting better.
     
  8. Spyderman-Hyderman

    Spyderman-Hyderman more gear than talent:-(

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    The word I was looking for was "deffinition" when I described my tone as muddy. I seem to be lacking deffinition. The tone IMHO is awesome, but as the picking gets faster it kinda gets washy...(oh great another vague word)
    To answer one of your questions Matt...I'm using a Pod Pro (rackmount) but not the newer XT. :cry: I had the AMP model set to Insane...but I just tried the Brit Hi Gain on one of the 4x12 cab settings....The deffinition certainly improved. Far clearer and crisp with good edgyness. but...I degress it didn't really have a killer distortion to it like the Insane...sounded no better than a maxed out overdrive pedal....If I could find a balance between the two I'd have it, or if I was in one of those dropped C alt. metal bands this would be the sound to have.
    Oh and I'm by no means trying to "copy" his (or anyone elses) tone...I do have my own.....I'm just trying to get the clarity of Matts to apply to my mud. 1/2 way there I think

    As for Sonata Arctica (I'm seeing them April 15th) the new one Reckoning Night I both love and hate. Ecliptica remains my fave. And Nightwish is getting to be one disappointment after another. Wishmaster was the last album I really got into. Century Child and Once lacked a certain je ne c'est quoi for me anyway. That bass player (forget his name) is a bad influence I think. He sings for Tarot and he's bringing that to Nightwish too much. Rhapsody is another example of a great band who seems to have peaked on their first album and had little chance of topping it. Not that their other albums aren't also great but c'mon, they don't make me go WOW like the 1st one did. (just an opinion) some bands start off already great and have nowhere to go but level off or decline. (keep that in mind Matt with album 2......no pressure though. :D )
     
  9. Der Schriftsteller

    Der Schriftsteller Author of the Aparillion

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    I've got another sort of technical question:
    There are a lot of instruments on your first CD, for example a violin in Twist of Fate or of course the instrument in Victory Dance. First Question: Did you actually play real instruments or were they totally electronic and what was the instrument in The Victory Dance?
     
  10. Matt Smith

    Matt Smith THEOCRACY

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    No worries about album #2, trust me.

    Do you have any way to record/post an MP3 of your guitar tone? Then we could all give our opinions/suggestions more specifically. Sounds like you're getting closer, though. Don't forget the presence knob as well; that can make a big difference (though obviously it behaves way differently in every amp).

    As for the bands you mentioned, I disagree strongly about Sonata Arctica. "Reckoning Night" is the best thing they've ever done, to my ears. It was my #2 best album of last year. Disagree about Nightwish as well; I think the last two are just as strong as anything they've ever done (though Oceanborn will always be hard to beat). Once is their heaviest effort yet, for sure, and "Ghost Love Score" is incredible. I have the opposite opinion about Marco; I think he really added another dimension they were missing. But to each his own!
    I do agree about Rhapsody though; I think I just got burned out on them or something. I haven't even bothered listening to the new one. Anyway, to get this thread back on topic...

    As for the Twist of Fate/Victory Dance question, those are all sounds from my keyboard. The Victory Dance instrument is actually several different ones layered; I don't remember exactly what they were. I use a Roland XP-30, and the "Orchestral II" expansion card has some cool Celtic-type sounds on it. That's where those sounds came from.
     
  11. Nightmare1z

    Nightmare1z Member

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    I agree with Matt on SA and Nightwish.

    To me, Nightwish's Wishmaster is probably their worst album. Not because it has bad songs or anything, but because it is almost a clone of Oceanborn. Really, there is almost nothing new on that album. Come Cover Me sounds like it was ripped exactly from Stratovarius - I think "We Hold the Key". And then too many songs just follow the same formula that was established on Oceanborn.

    Century Child really progressed the NW sound, and I love the new direction they took with the music. Marco's singing adds another dimension to the music IMO, as listen to the chorus of Dead to the World or End of All Hope where they're both singing. It just gives it that much more power. Though I do agree though that from when I've seen them live and the DVD's I have of him, he sounds much better in the studio. I also could relate to a lot of songs on CC, and thus it still holds my #1 album for Nightwish. It's also quite possible my #1 album of any metal band - as that album just does something to me that no other band does. Once was good, but I think CC was a little bit darker and more personal for Tuomas, and you could feel it in the music. Still, I think CC and Once are great albums!

    On a side note: anyone hear Tarja's Christmas single? If you like the Finnish accent, you'll probably like these since she sings them in Finnish. Managed to get a hold of both the singles - and they're really cool songs.

    Maybe you should cover one of these for next Christmas Matt! Something new to try in singing Finnish. :)
     
  12. Spyderman-Hyderman

    Spyderman-Hyderman more gear than talent:-(

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    I'm clearly a minority in this thread...eeep.
    perhaps for clarity...The new SA is awesome musically, some of the most organized, well composed etc...but almost sounded overproduced. And Nightwish I still think is an awesome band I just find something less appealing than some earlier stuff. And the newest Rhapsody.... :erk: . Well has some good songs as usual...but I found myself pressing skip on my cd player alot.....songs drone on and on, and they hired Christopher Lee to narrate the album...gimmick. probably shouldn't take my word for anything.....I get teased for thinking Star One is FANTASTIC. o_O Pagan's Mind I like too.

    yes I'll rip a 10 sec. masterpiece and post it. maybe 2. one with my original tone and the same piece using your suggestions and you can see if I'm on the right track.
     
  13. Nightmare1z

    Nightmare1z Member

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    Rhapsody is a band that has progressed only slightly. Their first few albums were the same, PotD brought Luca playing some really fast passages and almost speed metal. Now with the new one, they boasted that it was this incredible thing but it just seems like another Rhapsody album.

    It's not bad, I'd probably give it a 7/10, but stop the narrations in the MIDDLE of the songs. With Unholy Warcry on the single, there was none. But play the album, and it just ruins the tempo of the song.

    Though there are some good songs on there, there's no one song that is a masterpiece.

    The one true gem on the album though is the start "Erian's Mystical Rhymes." (I'm not talking about the stupid guy moaning or whatever, the part that starts at ~1 minute)

    That is how orchestrated metal should sound - it's simply incredible. With the chorus, strings, then when the drums kick in. Too bad after the intro the song just becomes another Rhapsody song.

    I wouldn't tease you for thinking Star One is fantastic though, I love it too! The DVD is awesome as well.
     
  14. Spyderman-Hyderman

    Spyderman-Hyderman more gear than talent:-(

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    okay I've recorded 2 tracks of the same thing using 2 different tones. One usung the Line 6 insane and one with Brit Hi Gain...I must say they both sound okay. I don't think I captured the problem I was talking about because I was trying to keep it short. Chords sound pretty good....it's when you get into complex picking that I notice the loss in deffinition. I should have just done some slow...mid and fast tempo bits but I'm trying to save bandwidth. I also couldn't decide what to play, and rather than do any new material (way too many layers and I couldn't pick just one) I chose a riff from my demo cd back in 2000. A mediocre accomplishment at best.

    this is probably NOT how you wanted me to post them but go
    http://briefcase.yahoo.com/spy_dmx3
    and open the Theocracy guys folder and you'll find the 2 tone trials inside.
    BTW, you're judging RAW SOUND not composition. I also did NO altering of the sound....what you hear are both single quick takes as I recorded them. The only thing I did was reduce the quality from 24 bit to 16 bit and upload.
     
  15. Kenneth R.

    Kenneth R. Cináed

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    i had to listen to them many times.

    i think you're right about the style of play affecting it, because the chords both sound fine to me. in Tone1 there's a deeper darker sound which i like, but Tone2 has more upfront presence to it.

    probably need to hear the picking to know which works better
     
  16. Spyderman-Hyderman

    Spyderman-Hyderman more gear than talent:-(

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    BINGO!!!!!

    that's the deffinition problem I'm talking about.....the pick strikes are almost inaudible....so if I'm doing some speed picking run or what have you it sounds like mush or like I'm sustaining a pluck and moving my fingers.....I want the STRIKE sound.
     
  17. Matt Smith

    Matt Smith THEOCRACY

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    #2 is definitely the better of the two in my opinion; #1 is too dull. In fact, you could still add more presence to #2 to give it more, well, presence. EQ-wise, it sounded like you're on the right track. Add more presence, and maybe try turning the mids down just a bit to see if that gives you more of that well-defined single-note chunk.
    Good luck.
     
  18. Spyderman-Hyderman

    Spyderman-Hyderman more gear than talent:-(

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    Well that seems to have pretty well done it. Presence is nearly maxed....and I only backed the mid off about a hair. BUT, as a trade off I was safely able to increase the bass just a tiny bit....that gave a nice chunk when palm muting without having the 'rumble' effect. The picking strikes are back which is great, althought I'd still like that to stand out a little more. (not much though)
    THX


    oh I almost forgot....Nightmare1z, I just borrowed that Star One DVD. Liked it.... Something cought my eye though...so I paused and zoomed to see that Arjen uses a POD Pro. :D now THERE'S a tone. if i could zoom in enough I'd jot down his settings.....but odds are it'd sound wierd since the dial positions are likely not what he has saved.
     
  19. Matt Smith

    Matt Smith THEOCRACY

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    Plus, he was running it through the power section of a Mesa Dual Rectifier, which obviously helps. ;)

    But he used one of the PODs on the album as well. That was the first time I ever heard a really good POD tone.
    And yeah, that DVD is great. Russell Allen is the man!
     
  20. Spyderman-Hyderman

    Spyderman-Hyderman more gear than talent:-(

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    NEXT ITEM.
    recording vocals.
    When I did my demo in 2000 it was decent quality dispite adverse conditions. I had never done any singing before that, I just happened to draw the shortest straw if catch my drift. You can tell i was new...flat here, sharp there. I'm embarrassed everytime I let someone hear it. I'm my own worst critic I suppose, I get many compliments regardless...(may be out of pity) 5 years and some opera training later I'm far more comfortable singing....but recording vocals is still kinda baffling. Because the dynamics of the human voice are so.....well....dynamic, keeping everything in control is freakin' me out. I understand all about analogue compression etc....but I'm getting mixed messages about MONO and Stereo. to explain.
    I was told (by the guitarist I did the demo with) and I've read at a home studio tutorial site that vocals should be recorded in MONO to provide a strong centered distinguishable sound. Makse sense to me. Then I was explaining that to a co-worker/musician who records with one of the guys from Annihilator (forget which one) and he looked at me like I was nuts. "you record voice in MONO?"
    In everything else audio he seems to know his stuff, so to see his reaction about voice in MONO I was kinda stunned. I can see backing vocals/choirs in stereo but lead VOX certainly must be MONO.
    The floor's yours Matt.....what are your thoughts on the MONO/STEREO quandary? I know you did quite a bit of stereo FX ...(and some killer Panning vocally) but in general
    for VOX M or S?
     

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