focusrite 2i2 and sm57 for recording guitar

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by Kmaxbrady, Feb 17, 2020.

  1. Kmaxbrady

    Kmaxbrady Tele-Meister Vendor Member

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    Hey guys quick question for you. I recently picked up a focusrite 2i2 interface and an sm57. I want to record some instrumentals on my tele through my AC15. I realize I’m working with budget equipment, but how do I get the loudest signal with the lowest noise/hiss? I’m recording jazz/blues/mellow stuff.
    Here’s what I have so far. I’m happy with the way it sounds, but it’s just too quiet.

     
  2. t-ray

    t-ray Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    I use a 57 into my old Komplete Audio 6 (which has a pretty good reputation). I crank the gain on it to about 7 or 8 out of 10, which gives a decent signal, and then use a simple gain plug-in on my DAW to bring up the signal. No noise issues at all. Nice playing!
     
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  3. Kmaxbrady

    Kmaxbrady Tele-Meister Vendor Member

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    Thanks!
     
  4. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Sounded good to me. How low is the gain going into your Daw? Unless it’s like minus seventy or something I wouldn’t worry about it. Just use the gain staging inside the Daw to bring it up to minus 16 or so on average, and that should work fine with plugins etc.

    Nice playing!

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
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  5. Kmaxbrady

    Kmaxbrady Tele-Meister Vendor Member

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    Thanks! Here’s a revealing question. When you refer to my DAW are we talking about the focusrite or garage band? Or both?
     
  6. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    GarageBand. You don’t want the signal so hot on the Focusrite that it’s hitting the red. That would be bad. But after that it gets converted to zeroes and ones and within reason things aren’t so critical. What does the signal in GarageBand show?

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
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  7. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    Another thing to consider..

    There is no normalisation option in GarageBand to increase the relative volume of a track, so they can get buried or remain low.

    I use a workaround. if you highlight a track and choose the EQ option, the gain slider on the right lets you up the whole track volume easily. It’s all digital so it does not add noise.
     
  8. Splodgeness

    Splodgeness Tele-Meister

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    sorry but not strictly true...... 2 factors (at least) come into play here....

    Firstly, the noise floor from the input signal will be amplified when the gain in the DAW is incresased, so if the original signal is low compared to the inherent noise, then amplifying the digital signal is not going to change the signal to noise ratio, ie the noise will be amplified as well as the desired signal.

    Secondly, the the digital domain is not noise free.... There is a thing called quantisation noise which is (partly) dependent on signal level. A low level signal will only use a small number of bits in the analogue to digital conversion, whereas a higher level signal uses a lot more.... Therefore a low level signal will only have a small number of digital states to represent the signal as opposed to the high level signal. ( imagine a sine wave represented in a number of steps). The difference between the analogue signal and its digital reprentation manifests itself as noise in the digital to analogue signal output. So with a low level input signal, there is more inherent noise and if this is amplified in the digital domain (ie by increasing the gain in the DAW), then this will mean increased noise in the final signal......

    So.... In order to avoid this noise, the best way is to get the highest level signal, without overloading (clipping) into the analogue to digital converters...

    Sorry for being rather long winded and a bit vague... But I hope this helps in some way.....
     
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  9. popthree

    popthree Poster Extraordinaire

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    when you say it is too quiet, are you referring to a comparison between a recording you made, and say, a professionally mastered audio recording?
     
  10. Kmaxbrady

    Kmaxbrady Tele-Meister Vendor Member

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    Yep! I mean I don't expect it to sound as good as something professionally done, but when I uploaded it to youtube I had to crank the volume all the way up to really hear it.
     
  11. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    Check the auto normalisation setting in preferences. If its on, it can make your whole export quiet.
     
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  12. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Tele-Holic

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    I'm no expert, but when I record I usually try to pump the gain on my focusrite saffire 6 to the point that it's almost as high as it can get without clipping, and then I often back off just a bit so I have some headroom. Sometimes when I start multitracking, the master track starts clipping if my individual tracks are riding the threshold of clipping. (I'm probably doing something wrong, but allowing for a bit of extra headroom seems to get me good volume without clipping.)

    There are other things mentioned here like normalization and using EQ that will definitely help.
     
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  13. popthree

    popthree Poster Extraordinaire

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    Read up on using a limiter.

    I use one on all my home brew mix downs to boost gain levels. I use a reference CD from an artist in a similar genre to get me in the ballpark, and boost to match with the limiter.
     
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  14. Mad Kiwi

    Mad Kiwi Friend of Leo's

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    Welcome to the joys of home recording!! :)

    Other than making sure your gain and input levels are as high as you can make them without clipping versus feeding back I have nothing to add except....

    Compression, Limiting, Normalisation, Mastering, Gain structure are all now on your homework list....(Gain structure first).

    Good luck and have fun. :)

    We are all (mostly) in the same boat when comparing our mixes to professionally recorded, mixed and mastered recordings.
     
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  15. kiwi blue

    kiwi blue Tele-Afflicted

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    Yes, gain structure. Unless you have a lovely Neve desk or great valve gear, you don't want to clip the hardware. If you do, you do it on purpose for the sound it makes. Keep an eye on your peaks (level spikes). It's the peaks that overload and clip.

    So on the interface you want green LEDs. Push it til it clips then bring it back til it sounds clean on peaks.

    After that it's digital and you do not want digital clipping. Again, bring it up on the channel fader til it redlines then pull it back til it sounds clean.

    The rest is mastering, which mostly means EQ, limiters and compressors on the master output. They can make a huge difference.

    Your recording sounds very good already.

    If you haven't already done so, I would also recommend reading up about signal to noise ratio.
     
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  16. Biffasmum

    Biffasmum Tele-Meister

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    I have a 2i2 and they’re good little boxes with decent pre-amps. When recording, make sure output volume is all way up on the guitar and any pedals adjusted to take into account. Angle mic towards centre of speaker and experiment with distance. 3-5cm will probably be fine. Set 2i2 to about 70% then make sure to avoid clipping at input by adjusting amp output. Recording reverb is ok if you love it, but easier to record dry and add later. That should let you lay down in DAW okay. When you mix or bounce to say mp3 there in an option to normalise which means increasing or decreasing mix out volume to stay within range. Above all else, have fun!
     
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  17. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Tele-Afflicted

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    Oh no, I don’t have “kiwi” in my user name, but rest assured I can reply next, as not only am I a kiwi, I’m also in NZ right now. :) Edit: I see an Aussie interfered with the natural order of things - typical ;)

    Anyway, I have the same interface and essentially the same mic (SM58 - same capsule). I used to use GarageBand, but now use Logic Pro.

    So, set your faders in GarageBand (your DAW, aka digital audio workstation) to zero. Only use them for mixing later.

    Set the 2i2 input level so that your signal in the DAW (the meter next to the fader) peaks at -18 or so. The amount of gain you need to dial in (on the 2i2) will depend on how loud your amp is and the distance of the mic from it (hint, stick it dead centre on the grill cloth for now), etc. I doubt you’d get anywhere near the red on the 2i2’s ring meter, unless your amp is ridiculously quiet. That’s how you set your initial level (with this gear).

    It’s that simple. This will give you a signal that isn’t clipping and when summed with other tracks, won’t overload the stereo out channel (unless you have a lot of tracks, in which case just select them all at some point during mixing and lower the lot - this will keep all the levels relative).

    Then, when you think the mix is ready, choose & apply a mastering preset that you think sounds good (google will help you find & apply these as I, um, forget how). That will bump up your bounce level, ie. your finished song’s volume. It will shape your overall tone and feel too.

    I wouldn’t recommend always doing this last step. You should at some stage learn how to ‘master’ your final Mix. But in the meantime it will help.

    Pax/
    Dean
     
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  18. LKB3rd

    LKB3rd Friend of Leo's

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    If you just record a good normal track, it won't be standard commercial volume. As others have said, any "plugin" like a compressor or eq or limiter will usually have gain controls, and this is one of the things mastering does, to raise the volume up. If you're going to use one thing, I'd go for a limiter. But if you are using compression and eq say, you can add some volume with those too.
    So, it's normal to work at lower volume as you record and mix. Just raise your system volume to hear it. Once you get your mix (even if it's just your nice playing) working how you like, you can use software to bring the volume up to a more standard level.
     
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  19. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Tele-Afflicted

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    Hi again.

    I just want to add, I've listened to your track above more than once. For your playing I mean.

    Pax/
    Dean
     
  20. cobaltu

    cobaltu Tele-Meister

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    This might seem like a silly question, but: How far away is the mic from the speaker grill; where is it pointed (on the speaker cone)?

    Dynamic mics, like the SM57, are not very sensitive, especially to things that are more than a few inches away.
     
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