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Thread: Guitar Amp Sounds Great But Records Poorly

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    Guitar Amp Sounds Great But Records Poorly

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    Greetings! I have a question about recording a guitar amp, though it extends to other sound sources as well. At first listen, it may sound philosophical in nature, but I feel confident that thereís an objectively correct answerÖ

    I have three really great-sounding electric guitar amps. I record using either a 1966 Blackface Bassman or a Special Edition Vox AC15. My best-sounding amp, however, is actually an updated Bandmaster. In the room, using my ears, it sounds phenomenal. Crunchy, mid-rangey, articulate. Recorded, though, it completely loses the magic and instead sounds flat and sterile. Iíve tried a couple of different mics and techniques with it, but I havenít yet cracked the code to capture its wonderful live tone.

    The Bandmaster uses 3 10Ē speakers, which is a rather uncommon configuration. My other amps both record well and feature 12Ē speakers. My best guess is that maybe 10Ē speakers, when tracked, donít translate to my liking the way that 12Ē speakers do. Again, thatís entirely a guess.

    This got me wondering: one of the following statements has to be true of my situation. Which one is it?

    1. If a sound source (Bandmaster) sounds great to your ears, it should sound just as great recorded; you just havenít figured out how to capture it properly.

    2. Some sound sources (Bandmaster) simply donít translate as well as others when miked up. Thereís likely no magic bullet thatís going to suddenly make your Bandmaster record as well as your other two amps.

    Iím sure a lot of you veteran recording engineers have encountered analogous situations. Given my anecdotal experience, Iím leaning towards answer #2. This is the first time Iíve ever had difficulty getting a sound to translate well/accurately when miked, so Iím fascinated as to whether the shortcoming is with me, or with the Bandmaster. Thanks in advance for weighing in!

    - Daniel

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    The problem you're describing can have several causes. The cause most common to home recordists that I've seen comes from dialing in too much gain when recording crunch guitar. You didn't mention what general type of tone you're going for, so I couldn't say whether that is your problem or not.

    The best thing to do, IMO, is post one of your recordings that you don't like in the MP3 Clinic forum on the site. Describe how the recorded sound differs from what you want. Say something like, "I want to sound like AC/DC and what I get is this...." or whatever your situation is. See what responses you get.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyberdaniel82 View Post
    This got me wondering: one of the following statements has to be true of my situation. Which one is it?

    1. If a sound source (Bandmaster) sounds great to your ears, it should sound just as great recorded; you just haven’t figured out how to capture it properly.

    2. Some sound sources (Bandmaster) simply don’t translate as well as others when miked up. There’s likely no magic bullet that’s going to suddenly make your Bandmaster record as well as your other two amps.
    You have not considered all possible hypotheses:

    3. A setting that sounds great "in the room" will not necessarily sound great through the electronic ear of a microphone. Forget how it sounds in the room. Focus on getting a great sound through the mic. That may require totally different settings than you would use in the room. Those might even sound crap in the room, but that does not matter.

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    ^^^This. Microphones are not ears. They don't hear what you do and CANT. Put on headphones with a long cord and monitor on the record end of the mic. Adjust amp and microphone to get to sound as desired. Almost always WAY less drive/distortion and WAY less top and bottom will sound better through a microphone. Even a 20k mic in the room with you still wont hear what you do.
    Win 7 Ult Dell i7 4core 6700ghz 32 GB, 1,2x2, 4 Tb Barracuda HD's running Pro tools 2019 through Allen&Heath Qu-32

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    Never heard of a 3-10 Fender cabinet! I had one of the big Bandmaster ones with 2-12s (one over the other, not side-by-side, which were smaller cabinets), a 1969. Sorry, off subject, but I just looked that cabinet up, and I swear I saw my old cabinet for sale on reverb.com - $200 more than I sold it for about 10 years ago! The cloth tears in the front grill sure look familiar!

    But as others have said, experiment with mic placement and amp settings before giving up on it.
    Mike B My new album on CD Baby: Fact and Fiction
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    Hey Mods, forum is acting up again, I kept getting a 'do you want to leave this page' message and roll-y 'wait' thing happening and the post got duplicated.
    Mike B My new album on CD Baby: Fact and Fiction
    My Bandcamp site: http://mikebirchmusic.bandcamp.com

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    Thanks for replying! I'm very appreciative to the four of you for weighing in. I'll take the tips to heart and I'll be conducting an arduous series of mic selection and placement tests in search of solutions. I'll eventually post some comparative audio files and ask for feedback if I can't resolve the problem. I have a lot to learn; I didn't even know, for example, that phase problems between different speakers was a prospective concern. I'll try two-mic combinations, too, which I've only dabbled with previously.

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    Is the sound you want to record, the sound you hear with your ear in front of the speaker, about where you would place the mic? Mic placement is key, as well as getting the amp in the sweet spot of the room, if possible.

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    I would not recommend putting your ear next to the speaker.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robus View Post
    I would not recommend putting your ear next to the speaker.
    That's what I keep saying and people giving me shit for it. Lol
    For a tube amp to sound good and be in it's 'sweet spot', it's usually loud. At least loud enough where I'd want my ear to be a few feet away. But up close to the speaker? Hell no!
    No, it's much better to leave the aural beating for a mic.
    Throw up a mic, record it, move it, record it etc. Playing around will let you know the best spot and mic for your needs
    Best if you have an assistant positioning the mic while you're monitoring at your recording station.
    If you got no one....well, you'll be walking back and forth.
    It's good for you. Probably need more exercise anyway.

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