Micing Basics


Studio Pass with Steve Evetts and Ben Weinman


Lesson Info

Micing Basics

Now we're going to get into goes saying we're going to get into my king and, uh we have very simple question why mike um I mean that's the essentially besides die that is the basis of recording your recording through a microphone down a wire through mike preempt uh, maybe into antique you maybe in a compressor, but, you know, it starts at the microphone that's, that's the in terms of you know, when I say start to the source with, you know, the guitar and the player well, the source in the recording chain is the mike that's where it all starts it's either die or mike that's it those your only two options basically, um, so, uh we'll get into now people talk about mike's versus am simms and today and we touched on this but there's a lot of amps. Sims uh, so like either plug ins inside of your d a w whether it's, pot farm or amplitude or I know there's a bunch of them now even waves has one called guitar, right? And then you have your then you have your stand alone units that take the plac...

e of guitar heads like ax effects or even pod pod pro hd pros, thie kemper profiling and these are all really popular now because it's there basically it's a common it's a digital recreation of kind of what we're doing the whole process that we're doing and they're great and you know I think they have their place um but to me my personal preference is that, uh there's no substitute for moving there like I mean sound itself is air moving that's how sound is transmitted its air molecules of vibrating might my voices speaking the air bala cules are vibrating that's how the sound gets transmitted and that's what a microphone this microphone is it's being moved by the sound waves, the sound, the air and the variation in the air pressure, and the sound waves moving through the air and it's vai rating, and then going through a magnet, and go and converts that into an electrical signal goes down the wire into the mic preempt so it's it's the closest thing you have to our ears, which is a moving die a friend, and then the microphone of the years to get into the into the actual until the recorder, whether it's, digital or tape machine so it's to me there's no substitute for moving the air, that to me that the am simms to me they sound close, but there to me it's like a sound in a vacuum, it doesn't really have any life, it doesn't have any thing I've never heard an am similiar that the sound you know the thing I'm always striving for is that live thing and I'm always trying to make the sound especially in in hard music or having music or whatever but it's the sound needs toe like do this it needs to jump out of the way like you say moving to jump out of the screen but jump out of the speakers and needs to be like it's it's not behind the speaker's it's in front of the speaker's it's out there it's it's moving the air in your room and it's living it's breathing it's it's its own entity and to me I never get that from the am simms I feel like they're cool and they they sound very similar it just sounds like but it's not it's just I never get that thing and that know that feeling of of they always sound like whereas the rial amp it sounds like it's out here here's the speaker the rial amp it sounds like it's out here but the amps him it sounds like it's here it sounds like it's back behind the speaker and it's almost like you're watching it on tv it's it's two d instead of three d do you find that it reacts differently to a player that I'm sure liked can I feel like they do a decent enough job now the technology has has progressed a lot to where it's responsive to the players tut they're more responsive to the players test like a real to bam and there's great things and that's why I like you could talk about this about live it's that they can be an amazing thing because but god for like convenience right I mean I don't I don't even but I understand why people dio but you're the last guitar player jeff did use them right I thought he did I thought he had an execution diesel okay um yeah they're very popular now obviously especially for people who have multiple like multiple guitar tones and sounds and effects within not only their songs with even within parts themselves um I find that I tend to it tends to go against our philosophy of committing when you have all those options regardless of your opinion of how well they simulate the tone um I feel like you tend to focus I would tend to focus less on the song writing and the performance and the emotion and energy and more on tap dancing on pedals and recreating frequency range is um and so I don't personally isn't but they are very convenient you can have it one thousand dams in a little briefcase and so for a lot of guys who are doing a lot of stuff is way more affordable logical yeah and then it makes a lot of sense and also for the live guys like especially the not so much the access that the kemper one which is a very interesting thing because that enables you teo it's a profiling at which allows you to make like take a guitar sound like say we get a guitar sound in the studio then you can take the camper and it's you run a signal it runs a signal out through the speaker we're through your through the set up that you already have in the studio and it creates an impulse response and it captures that well the ex effects do that they do that as well okay, but I wasn't sure that so you could at least for live I think it has a really great value that you could if you want to you can recreate this's the sound you got in the studio at least get a reasonable facsimile especially live it's not just you know, listening as critically so you can at least capture what you did and then have a similar sound that you didn't carry it around with you carry that around with you forever and you know, also it's for I'm sure a lot a lot of live sound guys like this is the greatest thing ever because consider and it's consistent they don't even have to have stage volume if they don't want to miss this the band's air you know especially it's like you know bands using like in your monitors like you don't have to have any sound guitar sounds on stage at all so for the live guys that you could get a very controlled thing because there's no there's no ble there's no crazy there's knows drums leading into the guitar mike's is no guitars leading to the drum likes it's you know it's it can be great and you could take a whole thing like the whole set up and it's it's like a thing you carry I think you know when a backpack whatever was going learn today is something that you really have to think about when you are getting into the amp simulation thing especially live because a lot of guys try to recreate what it is that the idea for most people to recreate what it is you're getting from microphones and speakers and things like that so really knowing the mechanics of this stuff really helps and trying to figure out what the best way to optimize that because those things are simulating typically not only like apria but also a power had been also speaker so on and effects too sad sometimes as well. So knowing what combination of things you should be doing in order to optimize and sound as that was close to the tenants you want is important so you have to know this stuff because I see a lot of guys who assume that they're going toe okay the guys who are really like old amps and things like that? Well, I'll show them I'm going to run my axe effects through a real guitar cabinet and to mike onto power for something like that and a lot of times that's the defeating the purpose because now you're taking digital and you're combining digital and analog in a way that's not really optimizing america's they've already simulated on some of these presets they've already simulated a power if they've already simulated a cabinet impedance makes a difference so understanding all these things when you do try to recreate those tones is very, very important so and it's also irrelevant and it's and it's again and I said it before one of the earlier segments that sound you get on those aks effects like oh this is a mason with a four twelve cabinet it was created using setups that we're using its created with riel mikes on a real cabinet and fiddling with the position and getting a position right and getting the phase right and all that so that they did that work you know for you but again it's to me it's it's good but it's not it doesn't it still doesn't feel like the real thing it za sound alike it's not it's, not the real thing it can be a great supplemental tool, you know I've done plenty of records where you know, like we're using to get great guitar sounds we work all that stuff and then maybe for the guitar solo like one one of the bands that worked with us spend symphony access amazing guitar player mike romeo up until uh maybe a couple of records go because I worked on four records of theirs and up until maybe only a couple of records go he first he would always use it a real am for the for the rhythm sounds and a lot of the extra extra charge but for solos it was his thing he went with rockman the old the old standard the tom shoulds rockman which is basically the first pod you know it's it's a solid state little am simulator but it just had this right town and I've done that plenty of times even on the problem record we israel amped but then we actually use the pot for solos but just because it was just it actually the tone for the solo it was like smooth and it really worked and in fact it zipped right fit in frequency wise based on the same thing like hearing what we're hearing because we try we were getting dialing a couple of different guitar solo tones with real am's what we were doing it and then I'm like let's just try this just let you know what let's run I actually I said I think I said let's take the pod and just run through because he was working in writing the solo idea and you needed to get it done really quick, just like I want to just work on the solo before we before we dial in the town, I'm like, ok, so I plugged in the pod and put it on loop and just let him unimportant just let him mess around, he was in there controlling, like writing the solo and just let him be, then, you know, I'm playing around with it, I'm like, I'll let me put a little lever probably put a little delay on that, you know what? That sounds pretty good and with it because there's a lot of the stuff like I would do in pre pro, that was like, you know, I'm not really recapturing that solo, and it sounds far and let's fly in and let's make it right and there's no right or wrong answer, but I think it is important to understand the character of this stuff because, like I said, if you're using when these ab simulation similares especially live and you're running something that already has canned cab simulation power have simulation, then you're running it through a power and a cabinet it's not going to sound as good as maybe if you just plug that thing direct into the pierre even though you think you're adding all this expensive garrity you know so um you know, you really do have to understand how these chains work yeah, like I said they're supplemental I think in the studio they can really be a great supplemental tool for different tones and tone variants and they're just to me there are another tool in your toolbox just like the things I talk about society so if we have one of those it's great because you know you can't stack a lot of the same sounds on top of each other and I used to always try to do that I used to force it you know, I was saying but don't force it but it's it's about contrasts a lot of times it's about you know, this sounds dark so we need a bright sound to balance it out or, you know, and then we'll you know, if you wanted to so let's get a mid range kind of frequency thing that fits in the middle of all that it's almost like a jigsaw puzzle in finding what frequencies kind of do this and make a whole you know, I mean, um make the make the whole big sound small sounds again it's the whole is greater than the sum of its parts all these little er sounds perceived when you hear them, but together they're like huge you know, you can't make every sound huge because if everything's big nothing's big, so you have to kind of keep that in mind and that's the thing about look like chess and looking five moves ahead and thinking about that knowing where that's going to sit so miking basics number one, especially when you're using multiple mike's pay attention to face, uh phase as faras hauptmann describe this in layman's terms, but phase is it's, how the waves interact with each other. So if you're saying, like a basic thing, like like a sign wave which looks like this and that's basically a representation of of a sound wave, moving the air like the air is vibrating and that's what it's doing? Ok, so if you have a second mike and it's doing the exact same thing, but because it's position differently, it's maybe it's back further so it's not arriving at the same point, it's starting doing the same thing, but but arriving there later, I drew it. So what? They basically lined up, but if it lot if it comes in later, right, the waves aren't going to line up. They're not going to all combine their wind up that what happens is they wind up canceling each other. And or if you, if you have a mike on one side of where we were making the open back, having it, and we have a fifty seven pointing out the cone and then the fifty seven pointing at the back now the speaker is doing this so it's that same wave thing, okay, so sound is pushing out this way, it's pushing forward. So the forward is pushing and it's getting to this, mike. But then when the speaker vibrates and it goes back this way, it's getting to this mike on the opposite side of it, so you need to flip the phase to get them both to have the same sound. If you if you have the phase reversed, its going to give you a very weird, thin hollow, you know, there's all sorts of ways to describe out of phase, but you would know it when you hear and I'll give examples when we get into the positioning and you'll hear what out of phase sounds like, but paying paying attention to phases is huge, and you can see it in a way you could see right and that that is a great point of why I always say, don't look, listen, because you know a group on tape. But pro tools there is a benefit way might be able to show you and see what an out of phase thing looks like or I can't even take a die in reverse and show you went out of phase and you can hear the difference in how it cancels we'll be able when you say things like I do with kick drums a lot but like when you layer I do electronic stuff all the time so I'll be learning a lot of kick drums and when you zoom in on that way if you'll see it like this and when you see the other one, it'll be going opposite canceling itself so all you gotta do is flip it or move it and bringing in phase and you can see it's one line up so they're not canceling each other out right? And you could hear it more easily and I can it's the same thing of developing that you know, playing around with phase and playing around with multiple mikes and listening it's knowing and wrecking and once you know it's just like when you how do you learn what what's red you know you eventually no you just know somebody tells you when you're a child that's red that's, right? You know and then when you see it you go read, you don't even go you don't think that's what you go read so once you know what out of face sounds like or phasing sounds like and you just learn how to recognize it and then it'll just come up you know that sounds weird maybe it's out of phase let me check the phase so it's a very important thing one mike you're not really going to deal with phasing issues obviously because it's more on mike on itself you'll get things where you're pointing on access off access and I'll show that in a minute and that's also a type of phase but that's a different that's a different thing that's more dealing with the response of the microphone and how how the wave is hitting the microphone as the as the sound is moving through the air but you know then honestly determined like how many mike's do you need? You know, uh sometimes all you need is one mike you know, you might be able to just like what we did we throw up the fifty seven on the cabinets like, you know, that sounds great, okay if you want to move on, move on but you know, you always know you have that that one mike on the cabinet awesome now let's try and beat it it's like, ok, you have that now let's try and do better it's the same thing of the control like talk about like this makes it sounds great that sounds awesome you know what let's try and beat it if we don't beat it move on just keep doing that um for heavy music a lot of times uh I tend to use more than one mike on a cabinet um lighter rock isn't necessarily as complex or just like more jangly kind of guitar sound used a lot of times one might will work great I mean multiple mike's also are fantastic but heavy music is so much denser and it's pretty important for the most part a lot of heavy music is guitar driven and it's important for the guitar toe have that kind of weight and also have that presence in the mix and be able to cut through and have that impact on I feel like generally ii have the mostly I've had the most success with multiple mike's uh on cabinets and I know plenty of people had mixed records that have been done with one mike on a cabinet and they get amazing guitar sound and it's great and it's fantastic but just saying working on what my preferences and what I've done because what what you generally get is that you know you try and getting mike that compliments uh each to mike's say a few days to makes two mikes that complement each other and one mike will basically fill in the frequency space that the other one might be lacking say is like innocent fifty seven where it's doesn't have a lot of bottom end it's very mid range focused on upper mid range focused so and that's great that's great for like presence and rock guitar and it's really great for having a for that kind of thing but sometimes you want something that fills in that so you got mid so maybe we need something with maybe a little more top and bottom to add to that and then you're getting a much fuller sound so like a fifty seven and a four twenty one is a very very similar combo very simple very common combo on dh then sometimes it could be ribbon mike, which I'll get into those in a minute but but phase is definitely big thing and make phase work for you you know it's sometimes it just like I said sometimes out of phase is great and sometimes and you know, phases not just black and white it's not just in phase out of phase you know when you're moving a microphone you're moving things around there's you know, basically you think of a circle of three hundred sixty degrees of phase you're say you're in face so wherever you move the mic you're going to be somewhere in that spectrum of out of phase and faiz khun b um the best teach you without ever touching an actual like e que no because when you're using an e q on a mixer or even in pro tools you're changing the phase of the sound that zeke you is is and actually changing the faith cause you're changing the way form so its relation to other things you're changing the phase, but I never had a problem with like doing multiple mikes, and maybe it sounds a little weird, a little face it, but then you can move it around. You have so many different tonal variations just from the relationship of the two microphones being the phase relationship of the two microphones, and I'll show we showing that tomorrow in the segment about more sweeping the microphones around, showing how the phase affects the sound um, and and face could be great for, like, a really radical sounds especially like like I said, the like the open back cabinet and then getting the running the back and running the thing completely out of phase and like that's a very you know, a perfect example. If you go into the classic rock around like brian may of queen like that, that kind of nasal e like that kind of neza lead guitar sound that's created with phase that's all off axis mike that's not direct me not directly on the speaker, but off to the side and then combined with one that's on or one in the back because used a see thirties a lot one in the back and rum making the open back and that's like that that hollow kind of interesting very unique guitar sound so you know phase can definitely be great for that kind of radical sounds and you know there's rules you know because you want to go in the fully technical side of things there's definitely rules you know you want to be in a much in faces possible in the purely technical term you want to be a much in faces possible when you do multiple mikes but experiment move stuff around just find your voice get you know, positioning and then when you're dealing with polar pattern unlike, say, the g four fourteen which will show you in a minute a multi pattern condenser which picks up from people who don't know picks up from either from the front or it changes the the pickup response so that it picks up more from the front but rejects on the sides which is also a judge it's also same thing it's a it's doing something with phase when you're adjusting the polar pattern or any mike that's cardio the only mikes that are truly really that don't have any phase issues are omni directional mikes and for fourteen has an omni directional note but there are other ones by dynamic has one they have there's mikes that are actually on the just straight omnidirectional meaning they pick up sound from equally from all sides so even if I'm pointing to you it's picking up sound from the back just a z evenly or close to it evenly as possible um but standard most mike's like an s and fifty seven have no known what's known as a cardio oid uh thing which is a pickup response which is basically cardio because it looks the pick of response looks like ah heart can even just you know it's they basically show it like this it's almost like a like an upside down heart that's a really bad drawing on that much of a drawer maybe I need to take is there a class on drawing ok perfect um you could draw a heart come on but that's essentially it so meaning the sound is basically picking up from the front and here's the here's how the mic is pointing this is the front of the mic so the sound is picking up here and it's rejecting the sound coming from the rear and that's the response pattern a cardio me means would show that and then you have a figure eight which is picking up evenly from the front and back but not the sides and like a multi pattern condenser like the g four fourteen gives you the option of all those that actually has one other which is hypercar deride which is a modified cardio on trying to pick up on the sides equally wider fourteen oh yeah well yeah so you know those are other things that's again all playing with the phase of the microphone and that's the other things to think about and also if you were say doing like what I was talking about about like playing all in the room band playing in the room together and you had like a safe for fourteen and you know the cabinet's position in a certain way and the drum kits coming in almost like an angle where it is so you'd say ok well what am I trying to reject him trying to reject you know the drums so you kind of put it to either cardio so the drums are coming in on the back so it's it's basically just picking up the amp and not getting the drums or if the drums are coming inside you might want to go toe to a hyper cardio where it rejecting from almost like a forty five degree angle but all these things again and these are things in your palate to be able to do regardless of live situation or not in the studio the's air these air pat things you can do like because when you're it's all affecting the phase and especially when using multiple nyc's you know these are things you might want to try like flip around on the polar pattern let's see what that does is that sound cools you know is that better you know because it might be you never know, it's it's, whatever works for you and don't be afraid to experiment. Um, the other thing is, when you are trying to say, do multiple mikes and you need to flip the phase, this is a very, very simple thing say you have you could do it in pro tools, but my at my whole point is again about committing, so I'm going to take those two mikes, even if one's out of phase, and I'm going to combine them to one track. I'm not putting them two separate tracks, I'm putting him the one I'm committing, so you just haven't interface and no, my creating the interface has the basic micro is like a video to whatever there's, no phase reverse if you need to, like, change the phase and flipped the phase, you know, normally on a microphone preempt, they have a phaser verse that shows it right here to be able to do this kind of thing. So what do you do if you don't have that? Um, there's a couple of ways to do it on the analog side of things you, khun very quickly you can make you can either buy they make a jack, a cannon adapter that looks similar to this, even though this one is in a phase reverse, but it's basically two microphone ends and just goes you put it in between to my cables or stick it out of the back of the mike and then stick the cable on there and it's it's actually the opposite it would be the the male side of things just like the back of a no this is right now this is the right one. Yeah, this is it. Um, so a new adapter that you connect either the back of the mike or two microphone cables in between and this will actually reverse the phase of the microphone because like I said, a lot of my premiums have a phase reversed like this macky does not have phase reverse on the mic prion, so we're going to be putting stuff in here so or you can simply make your own if you're so inclined, it's a simple is if you consult if you couldn't do basic scattering it's the most simple thing in the world you take a a microphone cable, a regular microphone cable and just on one side of it I'm probably on the on the actually on the end that goes in saying to the wall um you open this up and there's three pins here's the normal here's how a normal microphone is wired on microphone cable pin one is the ground pin too is hot that's the standard except in europe but pretty much now it's all sandra pin too hot so pence who was the positive pin three's the negative so you just open it up and you literally switched the wires from pin through two to pin three now is the positive just on one side so then you're flipping the phase of the mike and it's really honestly you know anybody who could figure out you know again use the internet is a resource and show you basic satur and techniques it's nothing to what you can go to radio shack or wherever fries or wherever whatever is close to you and by a shattering iron for twenty bucks and have at it um steve there's one question online while we're talking about moving the mikes around on the cab so if you're doing multiple darnell e asked this actually do you move the micro front around on the cabinet when you're layering like multiple guitar takes of the same take or do you usually leave it in the same spot on event no I'll leave it there but then sometimes I will I mean I have been done on your records we move the mic you know like well let's move the mic over or we'll have a secondary set up with another you know saying cabinet but maybe the other speaker and then slightly different position and we'll switch to a different pair of microphones cool thanks yeah yeah so it's you know ask yourself how many makes you really need again? One might be great. I mean, I've seen I've done my mic setups for, you know, five mikes, you know, but again committing, I'm still committing. I'm still taking five mikes and blending into one track. I'm not putting it to multiple things I've I've had. I mean, you go to the extreme round. I mixed a record a few years ago for a band, uh, from overseas, there was literally to guitar tracks, just guitar left in guitar, right? That's it twenty tracks of audio. The guy had too tart cabinets for mike's on each cabinet, all going to its own track, plus a room mike plus a d I in case I wanted to revamp talk about not committing that's all for you, right? Yeah. Now, just to take care of you, right, exactly. Talk about not committing talk about hot. So who has time to go through that, get the guitar sound and commit to it? And I literally, you know, I had my assistant basically, and plus it's, like, you know, especially when you're mixing approaches like you're eating up so much, you know, computer power, tar driving like it's ridiculous, so it's, like, I literally had my my assistant, uh I said I found two mikes and I did but basically what I'm doing but I'll be doing and you know I found two of the mikes I got like that one sounds good and then I found a blend found one of them once and blended and seven which one worked with that than the best one I sound which is exactly the same thing I found the control I found the best sounding mike and then found one that worked with it I found a blend between how well how much the favour where they were and I said ok out my assistant I said alan take this this this mike this mike here's the here's the actual fator numbers here's the settings that bounce that bus that bounce that overto one track on each side and literally delete the others from the hard drive goodbye get get get me a guitar sound and that's the end of it because I know who wants those options it's just it's it's over I mean it's that that's the extreme of it but that's where we're at where people just don't commit and they're just so afraid well what if he doesn't like it's like just take a stand and just be just grab your thing just go for it if you're wrong oh well you know but so yes so more mike's when you're you know you have to again watching phase but more mike's equals uh, phase issue. So it can complicate things. So the more you do you gonna, you know, obviously, the more you you and you're going to have to just make sure you're you keep it in check, that's all and find what gets she's the sound you want and commit.

Class Description

Learn how to get perfect guitar tones in the studio during this 10-hour class on tracking guitars. In this course, Steve Evetts (Saves The Day, Suicide Silence) and special guest Ben Weinman (Dillinger Escape Plan) dive deep on everything you need to know about creating and capturing perfect guitar tones.

Getting great guitar tones is all about the details. Steve and Ben cover how to select the right guitar, strings and picks, how to choose the right head and cabinet combo, and how to get a great tone. From there, they go through the process of selecting and placing mics. Finally, they show you how to track guitars the professional way (no cutting corners— ever!) and edit the tracks so you’ve got everything you need for a flawless mix.


Joshua Rathbun

Good basic knowledge, which delves into more detailed stuff later on in the course.