That title isn’t very descriptive, but what I’m asking is kind of hard to summarize. I’ve been digging into some basic tutorials and introductions for recording, but so far I haven’t come across what I need.
I’m looking to get some recordings into my DAW software. I’m working with a simple little USB interface (M-Audio Fast Track: http://www.amazon.com/M-Audio-US44010-Interface-GT-Player-Software/dp/B00061ZM2Y)
It’s a pretty humble setup, but I’d like to make the most of it.
I intend to record:
- An acoustic guitar with an onboard preamp (four band EQ)
- An acoustic bass with an onboard preamp (three band EQ, with, uh, a button marked “PHASE” and a slider marked “SHAPE.” What are those for?)
- An electric guitar (LP style; two humbuckers each with tone and volume)
- A basic dynamic mic for vocals
I’ve done a bit of recording with all of these in the past, and every time I’ve felt like I’ve been chasing myself in circles trying to get volume and tone dialed in right. The USB interface has an input level control, then the instruments have their own controls, then there are countless controls in the software. Change one, then change the other, then the other, then they’re all at weird extremes and nothing sounds right. I need to get this stuff straight.
So, my questions all sort of feed down to, what are the rule-of-thumb basic settings I should be using for all of this stuff as a baseline, and then where should I be making my tweaks? To get more specific:
- How high should the level control on the USB interface be while recording? As high as possible without clipping? Is there something I should be watching for in the DAW’s metering?
- What should I be doing with the onboard EQ for the acoustic instruments? Should I worry about dialing in the tone at all there, or should I just flatten the EQ in the middle setting and worry about that in the software? And what about the volume control? Is there a specific spot I should be setting that? And what the heck are those shape and phase controls on the bass, anyway? :(
- How about the electric guitar? Should I be thinking ahead to what I want my tone to be like and select which pickup / tone settings I want to record with based on that? Or does it make more sense to record with both pickups selected / tone knobs in the middle / volume knobs maxed out, and then carve out the tone with equalization and amp simulation controls in the software?
- The microphone is the most straightforward of the bunch, I suppose, but is there anything special I should be looking out for there?
Maybe that’s a lot to ask in a single question. If someone could even point me toward some “recording basics 101” type site that outlines the stuff I asked, I would be incredibly grateful!