Producing https://www.kennycarlile.com/index.php/ en Preamp Usage with Microphones https://www.kennycarlile.com/index.php/blog/2020-09-09/preamp-usage-with-microphones <span>Preamp Usage with Microphones</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>This is the second post in a series of tutorials to help my kid learn some of the more technical aspects to recording and music production. After recently buying him a PreSonus TubePRE preamp, I realized he may not know exactly how to use it.</p> <h2>What is a Microphone Preamp?</h2> <p>A microphone preamp is a signal amplifier that can boost the signal level and <em>can</em> enhance the quality of the signal by adding color, such as emphasizing certain harmonics in the source signal. That is, a preamp can add mild distortion to your signal (vocal or otherwise) to add a desirable color to the tone.</p> <p>Sometimes, the stock preamps built into an interface, such as a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, can be extremely clean. Using a preamp can add a bit of analog warmth missing from modern digital signal conversion (analog-to-digital).</p> <h2>Great! How do I use it?</h2> <p>The preamp goes between your microphone and the interface and it does not require +48v (Phantom power). You should set your interface's input to be line level, rather than instrument level, for the line coming from the preamp and +48v should be disabled on the interface. You will want to use a balanced cable, either TRS or XLR input, when connecting your preamp to the interface.</p> <p>Now you're ready to plug your microphone into the preamp. If you're using a dynamic mic, such as a Shure SM57, +48v should be disabled on your preamp. If you're a condenser mic, such as an AKG Perception 220, you'll need to enable +48v on the preamp to power the condenser microphone.</p> <p>Your preamp will generally have a drive and gain control. These may be labeled something else, such as input and output. Regardless of the naming convention, you can think of these like pre-volume and post-volume where the pre-volume impacts the distortion and the post-volume impacts the line level after the distortion has been applied.</p> <p>Your preamp may have other controls as well, such as:</p> <ul><li>Ø - phase inversion</li> <li>PAD - some decibel level of input reduction or <em>padding</em></li> <li>Low-pass filter - reduction in low frequencies, such as an 80Hz low-pass filter</li> </ul><p>If your interface has auxiliary inputs on the back, your best approach is to use a balanced TRS cable to connect your preamp to your interface. This will free up your front-mounted combination inputs (1/4" and XLR compatible Neutrik NCJ6FI-S style jacks) for other inputs to be used later.</p> <h2>So what about Gain Staging?</h2> <p>Gain staging is a tricky topic that is much larger than this article can address. In short, you need to balance your signal level with the preamps drive and gain levels <em>and</em> your interface's input level. That is, you don't want to drive one of these too hot or you may end up distorting your signal in a way you haven't intended. You'll want to carefully adjust your various gain stages in your signal path for the desired sound. Generally speaking, you'll want to get the tone coloration from your preamp's drive level and then set your other levels for the most headroom to retain signal integrity.</p> <h2>Other Uses</h2> <p>You can use a preamp for coloring a clean signal or for boosting a quiet microphone such as a ribbon mic. You can also use it to add a little analog warmth to a direct signal from bass or guitar or even synth.</p> <p><img alt="Preamp Usage with Microphones" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="dd49ef66-ad52-468c-8a15-a6f9f7b3d58a" src="/sites/kccom/files/inline-images/preamp-usage-v1.0.png" width="100%" height="auto" loading="lazy" /></p> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/index.php/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kenny</span></span> <span>Wed, 09/09/2020 - 21:29</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-files field--type-file field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Files</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><span class="file file--mime-application-pdf file--application-pdf icon-before"><span class="file-icon"><span class="icon glyphicon glyphicon-file text-primary" aria-hidden="true"></span></span><span class="file-link"><a href="https://www.kennycarlile.com/sites/kccom/files/blog/files/preamp-usage-v1.0.pdf" type="application/pdf; length=597330" title="Open file in new window" target="_blank" data-toggle="tooltip" data-placement="bottom">Preamp Usage with Microphones.PDF</a></span><span class="file-size">583.33 KB</span></span></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Category</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/blog/categories/recording-production" hreflang="en">Recording &amp; Production</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/21" hreflang="en">Guitar</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/296" hreflang="en">Bass</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/351" hreflang="en">Recording</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/356" hreflang="en">Producing</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/361" hreflang="en">Preamps</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=1411&amp;2=field_blog_comments&amp;3=comment" token="8gjYTeSE1jqruakLf8vXfLQAIlDW0Zu4SkH2NwbdDT0"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 10 Sep 2020 04:29:54 +0000 Kenny 1411 at https://www.kennycarlile.com Direct Box (DI) Usage https://www.kennycarlile.com/index.php/blog/2020-08-12/direct-box-di-usage <span>Direct Box (DI) Usage</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>I was recently talking to my kid about recording and the topic of signal flow came up. We were discussing options with regard to how to record guitar: direct into the interface with software amps and effects, through the pedalboard and then into the interface with software amps, and through the pedalboard into the amp and then mic'd and into the interface. We were talking about this in the context of recording both guitar and bass (not simultaneously). I mentioned the idea of a direct box and he said he hadn't heard of that, so I thought I'd put together a diagram to explain the use of a direct box.</p> <h2>So what is a direct box?</h2> <p>Direct boxes are also called a "DI" which stands for <em>direct inject</em>. According to <a href="https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/di-boxes/">Sweetwater's article on direct boxes</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>...the primary function of DI boxes is to take an unbalanced, high-impedance signal and convert it to a balanced, low-impedance signal.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>A direct box allows the signal to run over longer distances without degradation of quality (volume reduction and loss of high-end frequencies) and it also allows a guitar or bass signal (or other instrument) to be run directly into a microphone preamp or other similar signal processor.</p> <p>Most direct boxes allow for a passthrough signal (unbalanced, instrument) and an output (balanced, line-level). In addition, many direct boxes allow for a ground lift as one of the standard features. Direct boxes are powered by 48v phantom power like a condenser microphone and the line-level output runs through a balanced cable like an XLR microphone cable.</p> <p>While there are many different direct boxes on the market, the primary variations are between active and passive direct boxes. The Sweetwater article linked above does a great job of explaining the differences and why you might want one over the other.</p> <h2>Okay, what do I do with a direct box?</h2> <p>If you're on stage or in a large recording studio, you could use a direct box to take an instrument signal and run it over a long distance to a preamp while retaining the signal integrity. But, let's talk about the more interesting uses for recording and production.</p> <p>You can use a direct box to split your guitar or bass signal to record one line directly into the recording interface and one signal into the amp. You could use the amp for live monitoring, but it's a lot more common to then mic that amp and record it so you have a dry signal and an amped signal going to two separate tracks in your DAW. Let's look at a few options:</p> <h3>Completely dry guitar in parallel</h3> <ul><li>Guitar &gt; direct box: <ul><li>line output: recording interface</li> <li>passthrough: pedalboard &gt; amp &gt; microphone &gt; recording interface</li> </ul></li> </ul><p>By splitting the signal right after the guitar and recording it completely dry, you have the option to either use plugins for effects and amps or you can preserve the original recording for re-amping later (see below).</p> <h3>Guitar with effects in parallel</h3> <ul><li>Guitar &gt; pedalboard &gt; direct box: <ul><li>line output: recording interface</li> <li>passthrough: amp &gt; microphone &gt; recording interface</li> </ul></li> </ul><p>Having the direct box after the pedalboard allows you to retain the effects from your pedalboard in the recording while still being able to use software amps or re-amp your signal.</p> <h2>Re-amping your dry signal</h2> <p>Re-amping is where you take a recorded guitar signal and play it from the DAW, through a re-amp box (think of it like a reverse direct box) and back through an amp (with optional effects) to be recording again. With re-amping, you can re-record the same original dry guitar performance as many times as you need to change the tone until you get it just right on the recording.</p> <h2>Anything else?</h2> <p>There are other ways to use a direct box, but these are the most common uses. The diagram below shows the "guitar with effects in parallel" flow mentioned above, but also shows the location of the direct box (faded out) if you wanted to use the "completely dry guitar in parallel" flow.</p> <p>Also, bass is very often recorded as a dry DI signal in parallel with an amped signal. Those two signals are then mixed together, sometimes with software effects on the DI signal, to achieve the desired bass tone.</p> <p><img alt="Direct Box (DI) Usage" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="392bd673-df4f-4f35-ab49-a5930a9fee87" height="auto" src="/sites/kccom/files/inline-images/direct-box-di-usage-v1.0.png" width="100%" loading="lazy" /></p> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/index.php/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kenny</span></span> <span>Wed, 08/12/2020 - 20:36</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-files field--type-file field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Files</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><span class="file file--mime-application-pdf file--application-pdf icon-before"><span class="file-icon"><span class="icon glyphicon glyphicon-file text-primary" aria-hidden="true"></span></span><span class="file-link"><a href="https://www.kennycarlile.com/sites/kccom/files/blog/files/direct-box-di-usage-v1.0.pdf" type="application/pdf; length=686598" title="Open file in new window" target="_blank" data-toggle="tooltip" data-placement="bottom">Direct Box (DI) Usage v1.0 PDF</a></span><span class="file-size">670.51 KB</span></span></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Category</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/blog/categories/recording-production" hreflang="en">Recording &amp; Production</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/21" hreflang="en">Guitar</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/296" hreflang="en">Bass</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/103" hreflang="en">Effects Pedals</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/70" hreflang="en">Pedals</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/351" hreflang="en">Recording</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/356" hreflang="en">Producing</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=1391&amp;2=field_blog_comments&amp;3=comment" token="UtnV1zPGxrClFwrCnFr0m3IwUGkaYKbGJtTTYsWDD6c"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 13 Aug 2020 03:36:48 +0000 Kenny 1391 at https://www.kennycarlile.com