A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Posts tagged “recording

Focusrite Scarlett 6i6

focusrite-scarlett-6i6

I got a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 audio interface from a seller on Craigslist yesterday. Its the 2nd gen model, which is the new one that has ironed out some issues from the older model. The seller listed the device as being in Stratford, CT, which is about an hour away, without traffic. After emailing, I learned that its actually at his mother’s house in Mt. Vernon, NY, behind Cross County Shopping Center – about 5 mins from my house.

So, wifey and I left Bopps with her grandparents and went to see the device. We met the seller in Mt. Vernon. He was a little older than me – maybe in his late 40s or early 50s. His name is Mike and he’s originally from Queens – he had the accent too.

His mother’s place is falling apart. Its an old Victorian house, and in the snowy dark had looked intimidating from outside. Once the door opened, I could hear my wife’s mental cringe in my head. We had to go up 3 flights to a room to see the 6i6. There were boxes and junk everywhere, the handrail finish on the staircase was partially stripped, like if paint thinner had been run in odd rivulets along it, the floors were in terrible condition, and a young, blonde woman in a bathrobe with her hair wrapped in a towel walked out of a room on the 3rd floor, ran into us going upstairs and exclaimed, “What, there are more people?!”

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Hearing the bass in Amplitube & Reaper

I’ve been taking longer breaks in-between practice runs through the Hal Leonard book to let my fingertips recover. Winter has come, and with it, dry hands. One thing I’ve been doing is looking at recording and DAW software – particularly Audacity and Reaper, because I have both of those and I know I’m using neither to their potential. My curiosity about this was piqued by posts from Shel over at Soundwaves & Spraypaint, who has been looking at different DAWs for her Windows laptop and Android phone & tablet.

An issue that I’ve had since I started using Audacity in Nov 2015 is that while recording, I can’t hear myself play. It wasn’t ideal, but since I generally practice without plugging into an amp, it wasn’t a game-breaker either.

I started watching a really good video tutorial series for Reaper on YouTube from Kenny Gioia, who sounds like Christopher Walken as he guides us through the program. Lesson 5 in the series is about recording. He showed us how to have Reaper play back as we’re playing when the bass is plugged into it. Its called monitoring. I tried it out, and it worked! I even made a slight change and got rid of a tiny bit of latency I heard when testing.

So, after that, I got curious and Googled how to hear what I’m playing live in Audacity. It turns out, there was a way, and it was simple. It was a checkbox in the Preferences screen! All of this time, what I had to do is open Preferences, go to Recording and check Software Playthrough, and uncheck Overdub. I tested it out, and it worked fine.

audacity-hear-yourself-record

Audacity: Uncheck the Overdub box at the top. Check the Software Playthrough box below it. Viola!

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Black Friday / Cyber Monday 2016

Consumerism – ahem – the holiday shopping season is upon us. I don’t usually go all-in, but this year, I grabbed two things that I plan to use with my bass, even if not in a direct manner.

canon-vixia-h-f-r700-camcorder

On Black Friday, I grabbed a digital camcorder. I’ve wanted one for a while, and since attending the Metal in Strange Places conference this year with the wife, I decided to pull the trigger.

The problem I was looking to solve is this: the panelists and presenters are smart. They share interesting and enlightening information about metal that would never occur to me. Once they’ve had their say, that info is gone. Its resides somewhere between them and the memories of their audience. I hate that. I hate that once its been said, its done, and no one will be able to hear and learn from those moments again.

I videoed my wife‘s panel this year. She was part of “Looking for Metal: Rethinking Methodologies in Metal Studies” and spoke about netnographies in metal research, a new concept which are essentially online ethnographies. The quality from my little recorder wasn’t very good though, and the battery only lasts for an hour and 15 mins before needing a recharge – its not removable. I did a separate video for Maisie Kaiser, who presented “The Myth of ‘Genderblindness’ in Metal Culture“. I used her phone and it does seem to have come out better. She shared it online, and it looks and sounds good.

I wanted to record all of it though. I spent a while looking at different ways to do this and spoke with Nelson Varas-Diaz, a metal video documentarian who produced “The Distorted Island: Heavy Metal and Community in Puerto Rico” and “The Metal Islands: Culture, History and Politics in Caribbean Heavy Metal Music“. He suggested a DSLR camera, which we have, but research led me to rule it out. DSLRs can record video, but in order to avoid paying some kind of increase for their sales due to reclassification, they’re limited to 10-minute videos, which simply won’t work for panels that last more than an hour, and audience questions.

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Amplitube 4 bass amps & some home recording thoughts

Here’s a video that shows a bunch of bass amp options available in Amplitube 4. This is from one of the paid versions, so it has quite a bit.

Amplitube 4, BASS AMPS, HQ Audio ! Ampeg, GK, Fender and others

Also, here’s a short thread on Talkbass that discusses going ampless for people who play mainly at home. A lot of it goes into recording options, but I found this particular advice/formula from Digitalman in response #2 good to know:

The products I mention are almost irrelevant. You just need a DAW, an interface, and an amp modeler that all work together and are Mac compatible/versions.

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Amplitube 4

So, last night, I came across some info about Amplitube 4 when I was looking at ways to record bass. I’ve been using the Rocksmith cable and was curious if there were other ways that weren’t pricey that would also allow me to hear what I’m playing as I play it. Right now, with the Rocksmith cable and Audacity, I play “unplugged” on my electric. I know that this affects technique on bass. I press the strings really hard, and I’m sure it affects my speed as well as other things.

Amplitube looked interesting. Its a “real time guitar and bass multi effects processor” according to the IK Multimedia website. I saw that the company makes a bunch of different types of software for musicians, has been doing so since the 90s, and also manufactures various input devices that allow guitars and basses to be plugged into computers, tablets, smartphones and maybe even other devices.

I also noticed that Amplitube has a “free” version available for Mac and PC, so this evening I grabbed it. Its called the Amplitube Custom Shop.

amplitube-1

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Alternatives to SoundCloud

So, I recently started recording exercises from the Hal Leonard book and random practice exercises I’m working on. Some of these are shared on the blog via SoundCloud. I started looking at it more closely though and I think there’s a limited shelf-life there for people like me.

SoundCloud has a 3 hour limit for uploads for free accounts. Its not 3 hours per month or per year. Its 3 hours in total. This means that if I keep blogging and sharing, I’ll eventually run out of “space” on SoundCloud. I can upgrade to a Pro account, which carries a monthly/yearly fee and doubles the time allotment. I can also upgrade to a Pro Unlimited account and have an unlimited upload capacity, but this also costs money.

I was looking for free options that I can use in the long term. As much as I enjoy SoundCloud, I don’t want to hit a wall where I’m unable to use it to share my progress or just share exercises. Youtube is the first alternative that comes to mind. Its free and there’s no limit to how much you can share there. However, I don’t want to share audio files using large video windows. I like SoundCloud’s option to embed a short audio player.

We can already upload audio to Youtube. It would be nice if they eventually added the option to share audio with a smaller player. I think it would actually dominate the landscape, as Youtube is the largest provider of audio and video files on the internet. We’ll see if they go in that direction at some point.

Another alternative that looks promising to me is Audiomack. Its similar to SoundCloud, but is a newer and somewhat smaller service (6M users vs 250M). The upside to it that really got my attention was that all users – even free accounts – have access to unlimited uploads and playbacks. So, in a way, it does what SoundCloud does, but with the delivery capacity of Youtube.

It sounds like a great match, but I haven’t actually tried it yet. For bloggers like myself, there’s another benefit: It integrates with WordPress, like Youtube and SoundCloud do.

So, after I try it out, I’ll report back. Criticisms that I’ve read basically say its not as friendly as SoundCloud. Development supposedly went overboard with feature-bloat, which is the opposite of SoundCloud, and it makes it harder to use, but I’ll have to see. I don’t plan on promoting myself or monetizing my practice recordings. If uploading an MP3, adding info about it and sharing it aren’t too complex, I’ll probably turn to it in the long run.


Recording Electric and Bass Guitar

TCM’s Home Music Studio Tips and Information: Part 9 – Recording Electric and Bass Guitar

Tips for recording electric guitars and basses. The bass part starts about halfway through. By TCM Music Group. This is part 9 of a bigger series. It says more will be discussed about compression and how it impacts bass recording at a later time.