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  1. #1

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    I've been thinking lately about no-fuss, no-drama recording. Usually I like to make clips where I capture the backing track to one channel, mic my cabinet and send that to digital on another channel, mix them down, all that... resulting in pretty much just "okay" clips since I don't know what I'm doing.

    So I decided to try something else. I played the same solo on my L5ces into a DVMark Micro50 with a 10" speaker cabinet. For one clip, I used my iPhone 6s just with the built-in microphone to capture the audio. The second time, I used the iRig HG microphone, which plugs into the Lightning port of the iPhone and has a gain control. I should say in passing, that gain control, though useful, is terribly set up. The light that shows overloaded input is on the OPPOSITE side of the microphone from the gain control! Plus, the gain control is a recessed thing that is very tricky to turn with any precision. On top of that, the mic-stand holder that ships with the microphone doesn't hold it securely so the microphone often just falls out onto the floor!

    Anyhow, I synchronized the two clips, then arranged to cut between them every 10 seconds, with a caption so you know what you're listening to. I think there are good and bad things to say about each microphone, but it's something to think about.

    Oh... the solo is Jimmy Raney, from vol. 20 of the Aebersold play-a-long set.


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  3. #2

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    Interesting. In many ways I prefered just the ambient mic on your iPhone.

  4. #3

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    Have you thought about doing direct out to the iphone, or is that possible? Or to another audio recording device? Neither of the methods you posted sounds particularly good, pretty much as expected, and using a mic can be problematic in many ways. A direct connection usually gives better results.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    Have you thought about doing direct out to the iphone, or is that possible? Or to another audio recording device? Neither of the methods you posted sounds particularly good, pretty much as expected, and using a mic can be problematic in many ways. A direct connection usually gives better results.
    I often do the direct out. My usual thing is iPad/Backing track from the iPad to the USB interface; then mic the cabinet and send that to the USB interface as well, separate channels, and send that to the iPhone Lightning port.

    I was specifically experimenting with a more minimalist approach, running the track and the guitar into the amp and then just recording from the speaker. To use the line out from the amp, it would still have to go to the USB interface to send it to the phone's lightning port.

    Something was different with the iRig HD mic on this recording, so I need to experiment with it a bit more.

  6. #5

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    There are so many variables when using a mic it may be more art than science, with a good chunk of luck involved. You'll probably get it sorted out, but not without trial and error.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    I've been thinking lately about no-fuss, no-drama recording. Usually I like to make clips where I capture the backing track to one channel, mic my cabinet and send that to digital on another channel, mix them down, all that... resulting in pretty much just "okay" clips since I don't know what I'm doing.

    So I decided to try something else. I played the same solo on my L5ces into a DVMark Micro50 with a 10" speaker cabinet. For one clip, I used my iPhone 6s just with the built-in microphone to capture the audio. The second time, I used the iRig HG microphone, which plugs into the Lightning port of the iPhone and has a gain control. I should say in passing, that gain control, though useful, is terribly set up. The light that shows overloaded input is on the OPPOSITE side of the microphone from the gain control! Plus, the gain control is a recessed thing that is very tricky to turn with any precision. On top of that, the mic-stand holder that ships with the microphone doesn't hold it securely so the microphone often just falls out onto the floor!

    Anyhow, I synchronized the two clips, then arranged to cut between them every 10 seconds, with a caption so you know what you're listening to. I think there are good and bad things to say about each microphone, but it's something to think about.

    Oh... the solo is Jimmy Raney, from vol. 20 of the Aebersold play-a-long set.

    I think the built-in mic sounds better, though it could use some more mid and bass content. The mic sounds muffled and distorted to me. You might be able to improve the mic sound via some combination of placement/gain staging/eq, but I don't know that mic or your software set-up to comment specifically. You also might do slightly better by having the backing track play through a different amp/speaker rather than through your guitar amp. But if you're just going for something "quick and dirty" for purposes of practicing and posting here, what you did seems fine.

    John

  8. #7

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    Built in mic sounds better to me, at least in the high end, but also seems to capture more ambient noise.

  9. #8

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    So I have reached a very interesting conclusion!

    I have experimented with 2 microphones: a pretty high-end Bluebird "Blue" close to the cabinet, a Shure SM57 in the same position, both mic's maybe 6 feet back, and a direct line from the DVMark Micro50 XLR to the PreSonus USB interface into my iPhone 6s. I've made numerous side-by-side clips with several different guitars, with and without backing tracks. I actually don't know the specifics of the iPhone 6s audio recording, though I think it sounds pretty nice through my headphones.

    On this gear-which is not, of course, studio level, but simply hobby-player level, I see NO difference between the Bluebird and the SM57 whatsoever. I could not separate them from sound if my life depended on it. Not only that, they are also indistinguishable from just recording the direct line out. I expected the mic'd tracks to have more "life" or speaker-imparted mojo magic, but nope, no difference. Couldn't separate them if my tenure depended on it.

    I am sure that if I were recording into a high-end system, with commercial/pro level recorders, monitors, headphones, etc. I'd see differences, but for my purposes which include (a) clips to post here for general enjoyment and for study groups and (b) recordings for friends--I can see no advantage to either of these mic's or either of them over the direct line.

    So for the future, its the direct line for me, maybe a mic on the other channel for continued comparison.

    Does this sound reasonable or am I missing something?

  10. #9

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    I have used a direct line for nearly all my YouTube videos and soundcloud clips, using a mic is just too much hassle.

    Quite a lot of my clips were recorded just by plugging my 175 straight into my digital recorder, sounds ok to me once I’ve added a bit of reverb.

  11. #10

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    Hi Lawson! Iphone mic sounds really bad to me (listening on good headphones) - to much noise, no low-mid and low frequencies. The irig mic sounds much better, although there are some distorted moments.

    If you guys don't hear the difference or prefer the iPhone mic, I strongly advise you to buy new speakers / headphones or stop using your laptop speakers, sorry Phone Recording-Microphone Comparison

    I guess for Your purposes recording through direct out / line is the best solution - it's just the easiest. For critical situations such as studio recordings a microphone is the only solution. Line out is a no-go, unless You want to sound like Martin Taylor (I love his music, but his sound is pretty terrible ). The difference is bigger between tube amp and line than between SS amp and line (in the last the difference comes down to the sound of the speaker).

  12. #11

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    Good to know polar patterns;

    Phone Recording-Microphone Comparison-microphone-polar-patterns-01-jpg

    Cell phone mics are omni if I'm not mistaken. The SM57 and iRig HD are cardioid.
    The iRig and iphone mics just sound different.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzjazz
    Hi Lawson! Iphone mic sounds really bad to me (listening on good headphones) - to much noise, no low-mid and low frequencies. The irig mic sounds much better, although there are some distorted moments.

    If you guys don't hear the difference or prefer the iPhone mic, I strongly advise you to buy new speakers / headphones or stop using your laptop speakers, sorry Phone Recording-Microphone Comparison

    I guess for Your purposes recording through direct out / line is the best solution - it's just the easiest. For critical situations such as studio recordings a microphone is the only solution. Line out is a no-go, unless You want to sound like Martin Taylor (I love his music, but his sound is pretty terrible ). The difference is bigger between tube amp and line than between SS amp and line (in the last the difference comes down to the sound of the speaker).
    The iRig mic sounded a bit muffled for some reason. At least the iPhone was bright and clear, for all its other faults. An ideal sound would have been somewhere between these two extremes.

    Maybe the iRig wasn’t optimally placed for the speaker. When I tried mic’ing my amp I found a small movement in the mic placement made a huge difference to the sound. It could change from very bright to very ‘dark’ just by moving a few inches in relation to the speaker axis.

  14. #13

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    Here’s an example of the simplest possible recording setup. My 175 was plugged straight into the input of my little Korg digital recorder, with no amp, mic or emulation software involved. All that was added was some reverb using a free plugin in Audacity.


  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    The iRig mic sounded a bit muffled for some reason. At least the iPhone was bright and clear, for all its other faults. An ideal sound would have been somewhere between these two extremes.
    I guess this is because the guitar-amp combination sounds exactly like that. What you hear when playing your guitar is a combination of amp sound and acoustic sound. The latter isn't captured in the recording. With the omni-directional iphone mic it has been captured a bit (but also a lot of background noise).

    The only solution I know is to record both - amp and acoustic, which I regularly do on my videos. Listen to how "dark" and not acoustic my super-acoustic Epi Triumph sounds in this video (and it's not a matter of the microphone used, it's a matter of where the microphone is):


    Listen to Jonathan Kreisberg's "One" album - his 175 sounds so sweet and so acoustic at the same time! Although I don't know for sure, I'm convinced it's a combination of acoustic microphone and amp (or maybe two amps as he plays often both Polytone and Deluxe/Princeton).

    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    Maybe the iRig wasn’t optimally placed for the speaker. When I tried mic’ing my amp I found a small movement in the mic placement made a huge difference to the sound. It could change from very bright to very ‘dark’ just by moving a few inches in relation to the speaker axis.
    That's another thing and very important. To close to the speaker isn't optimal for recording (gets easily dark), but 10-15 cm is fine to capture the "whole" sound of the speaker (depending on speaker size). The placement on the speaker axis heavily changes the sound. Also the microphone angle (it's pretty common to place a SM57 (stage standard for getting guitar amps into FOH) at a 45 degree angle to the speaker.

    So I'm still standing at the point that the iRig sounds MUCH better than the iphone, although it doesn't capture the sound most of us have in their head

  16. #15

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    For those interested- I just purchased a Shure MV-51 for my iPhone 6s to video my chord melody arrangements. I mount my iPhone on a desk tripod and go straight into the phone. The Shure provides a much clearer dynamic range ( without hissy background noise) than the built in iPhone mic and it has dual gain controls for monitoring both headphones and instrument . It actually has 4 directional modes ( one specific to guitar) and is so easy to use. Set up in minutes - no computer software needed.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    So I have reached a very interesting conclusion!

    I have experimented with 2 microphones: a pretty high-end Bluebird "Blue" close to the cabinet, a Shure SM57 in the same position, both mic's maybe 6 feet back, and a direct line from the DVMark Micro50 XLR to the PreSonus USB interface into my iPhone 6s. I've made numerous side-by-side clips with several different guitars, with and without backing tracks. I actually don't know the specifics of the iPhone 6s audio recording, though I think it sounds pretty nice through my headphones.

    On this gear-which is not, of course, studio level, but simply hobby-player level, I see NO difference between the Bluebird and the SM57 whatsoever. I could not separate them from sound if my life depended on it. Not only that, they are also indistinguishable from just recording the direct line out. I expected the mic'd tracks to have more "life" or speaker-imparted mojo magic, but nope, no difference. Couldn't separate them if my tenure depended on it.

    I am sure that if I were recording into a high-end system, with commercial/pro level recorders, monitors, headphones, etc. I'd see differences, but for my purposes which include (a) clips to post here for general enjoyment and for study groups and (b) recordings for friends--I can see no advantage to either of these mic's or either of them over the direct line.

    So for the future, its the direct line for me, maybe a mic on the other channel for continued comparison.

    Does this sound reasonable or am I missing something?
    It's not surprising to me at all that you have trouble hearing the difference between two mics, and I doubt this is because of the rest of your signal path. An SM57 is actually a really good mic that particularly excels at recording guitar amps. The Bluebird has a wider frequency response and is more sensitive, which would make a difference on a vocal or an acoustic instrument with a subtle timbre, but not really with the narrow frequency response and loud volume of a guitar amp.

    As to going direct vs mic'ing an amp, it's easy to get a bad sound mic'ing an amp (especially in a room with acoustic issues), but not so easy to get a good one. If you have an amp with a recording output (especially if it has speaker emulation), or good amp plug-ins in your DAW, it's much easier to get a good sound going direct. I sometimes record my guitar amps for the sake of experimentation and fun, but the sounds I get going direct are usually better. Whatever magic the amp offers in the actual live sound is just very difficult to capture in a recording.

    John