Tips for better recording sessions and projects

  • Why I would always suggest recording the stack as well as the DI is simple: you can't tell from a DI track sometimes whether a distorted section has been recorded the right way. In that sense, you are flying blind while doing the recording itself.


    Better is to record the stack or master mono/stereo as well. That way, when you listen back, you will have an idea of whether you played a part accurately. Sometimes a DI track won't be suitable for that, for example during fast playing or palm muting or complex melodies.

    Some good points. And tracks are cheap these days.

  • In my logic, recording DIs (with the exception of bass guitar) is for when you don’t know where you want to go with a track. If you have a clear idea of where you’re headed, you don’t need DIs, which is something that comes with experience. For me, I don’t have the time to spend trying out different guitar sounds after the fact. I’d rather find the sound and get the performance with that sound and move on, all with the “mixing as you go” mindset. When I first got the KPA, I dabbled with recording DIs simultaneously, but just found that I never used them, if I’d spent the time to find a suitable sound in the first place, which I always do anyway, otherwise I’m not inspired to play .

    Ultimately, when I've lived with the Kemper for a while, I'll probably get to the point where I just grab a profile and track it (though even then I'll keep a DI just in case). However, being only a week into the experience I'm not yet familiar with the sonic palette. So, this is in part an exercise to get familiar with the wealth of profiles I have at my disposal.


    I started out auditioning sounds sitting in front of the computer, guitar in lap, keyboard in hand, doing the scroll / play / scroll thing. That's fine for a handful of selections and is my preferred approach when narrowing things down as I want to see how it actually feels when playing. For listening to a large volume of profiles, however, this gets tedious in a hurry.


    What I found useful was to pick a song that wanted a certain gain level, find a profile that felt right, and track the DI. I could then put the guitar down and navigate through the Rig Manager, sorted by gain, with playback on a loop. In this way I could get the general sense of a profile in just bar or two, tap the down arrow, and be on to the next one.


    I took advantage of Black Friday to grab a lot of the Michael Britt and Top Jimi packs, and there were already hundreds in the factory profiles. That's a lot of sounds. So, I'm now evaluating the best way to organize things so that I can quickly and easily find the type of sound I'm looking for when inspiration strikes.


    Thus far auditioning from a looped DI seems to be an efficient way of auditioning everything, but it's just the first thing that came to mind. I'd love to hear how you guys go about evaluating and organizing your profiles. I'm sure there must be a few tips and tricks you've picked up with experience.

  • In my logic, recording DIs (with the exception of bass guitar) is for when you don’t know where you want to go with a track. If you have a clear idea of where you’re headed, you don’t need DIs, which is something that comes with experience. For me, I don’t have the time to spend trying out different guitar sounds after the fact. I’d rather find the sound and get the performance with that sound and move on, all with the “mixing as you go” mindset. When I first got the KPA, I dabbled with recording DIs simultaneously, but just found that I never used them, if I’d spent the time to find a suitable sound in the first place, which I always do anyway, otherwise I’m not inspired to play .


    If you know what you're doing in the studio, that makes a tonne of sense.


    For me, I when tracking, I am focused entirely on the best performance possible. Sometimes, my choice of profiles works, but other times, when I for example forget to change the profile because I was so busy doing everything myself, that DI is mighty useful to just be able to fix a problem.


    I just find it a convenient way to experiment with my tone after recording.

  • I always record DI. When I record I don't want to make decision which two profiles for riffs I want to use and a third for solo, if I need a solo. I leave that to when it's finished. It's only me so I can do whatever I want. And today we're spoiled with sounds to chose from. But whatever works differ from person to person so there's no right or wrong way. The end result is all that matters.

  • I always record DI. When I record I don't want to make decision which two profiles for riffs I want to use and a third for solo, if I need a solo. I leave that to when it's finished. It's only me so I can do whatever I want. And today we're spoiled with sounds to chose from. But whatever works differ from person to person so there's no right or wrong way. The end result is all that matters.

    Damn it, GearJocke , I miss your animated gif avatar.

  • Thanks for this post! Lots of great content. I'm just getting back into home recording , and am about to setup my studio with KPA -> Apollo twin -> Cubase. After reading the user manuals and watching tutorial videos from universal audio, I was aware of some of the tips mentioned here. I am still somewhat confused on configuring I/O settings in Cubase. I understand that I must 1st do this in the Apollo console software and then in Cubase. I'm assuming this will be straightforward after everything is setup in front of me (still waiting on computer purchase from black Friday).


    What should my console/cubase I/O settings be specifically w/ the Apollo twin for KPA spdif vs. analogue?


    One video I watched said to set Cubase "inputs at 1 stereo + 8x mono" and "outputs 1 stereo + 4x mono" then another said use " inputs at 24 mono preset" and outputs at "1 stereo +24 mono". I'm planning to solely record direct in with spdif, but am also interested in experimenting with analogue tracking as well. I thought spdif was considered stereo, so I was confused between setting the inputs to mono L/R vs. stereo as some of the videos had mentioned. Or does this all come down to personal preference and experimentation?

  • I don't have any experience with the Apollo and I also don't use spdif, so my Cubase offerings will be of limited value. What I can do is tell you a little about my own environment, and hopefully that will help you make sense of your own.


    My audio interface is a Yamaha TF5 mixer. It plugs USB into my computer, and when I bring up Cubase (be sure your interface is powered up and running before launching Cubase) it shows up in the Input and Output tabs of the audio (F4).


    Now, here's where it might get a little confusing. In my environment, Cubase pre-creates a few setups for me in both input and output. In my case, I get a mono and stereo setup, perhaps more. If I select mono, it shows the TF inputs as 32 individual inputs / outputs. Selecting Stereo operates in a similar fashion and I get 16 stereo pairs, e.g. ch 1/2, ch 3/4, etc. You can also set things up how you like and save some of your own. These are all just different ways of looking at / organizing the same inputs and outputs for the Apollo.


    My guess is that your Apollo will show up in a similar fashion. if it offers 8 inputs / outputs (just guessing here), then you could select Input stereo 1 (ch 1/2) and then plug your KPA into Apollo channels 1 & 2 mic inputs. You could accomplish the same thing using two monos.


    Now, on a new Cubase project, create a stereo (or two mono) tracks. For the Input bus, select either Stereo 1 L, Stereo 1 R, or if using mono, Mono 1, Mono 2 (I'm not in front of Cubase at the moment so these names are all approximations). Arm your audio tracks, plug your guitar into the KPA, select a profile you want, set your levels, press Record, and rock out.


    These are broad brushstrokes of course, but hopefully will help.

  • I usually open an empty project, unless I have a template ready. I then go to audio connections and create a stereo bus in the input section. Cubase maps the Apollo’s inputs, so you can select the two spdif inputs, though keep in mind the Apollo’s spdif inputs are optical, not coaxial, so you’ll need a converter box.

    After that, create a track as mono or stereo. You will then be able to select either the stereo bus, or one side of the bus in a track, depending if it’s stereo or mono. Remember, you want a mono bus when recording a DI track, that’ll be left spdif. You can also create another track with right spdif so that you get the stack sound.

  • In addition to Auto-Save and backups, if your project spans across multiple days, you should save as a new project file every single day of production.


    Example:

    2018-11-30 Band Name - Song Name

    2018-12-03 Band Name - Song Name

    etc.


    So if you hit the studio on December 10th, open the December 3rd project and save it as 2018-12-10 Band Name - Song Name before you start working on it. Too many people have had issues with corrupt project files and lost their entire work from many days, you certainly don't want to experience this, EVER. :)


    Since this list is meant for beginners ... record DI, record DI and just in case you didn't get me yet: record DI!!! Don't listen to those who tell you it's not necessary. Keep in mind, you're beginner in recording. You make mistakes, you're not yet experienced enough to take final decisions on tone. You might even need to record take by take, bit by bit.

    Especially when you want to use time based effects (like delay, reverb) in the final sound, make your "bits and pieces" and "copy & paste" edits on the DI tracks so you can reamp in one go. There's many reasons to have DI tracks, and you'll know once you wish you had recorded them. ;)

  • Well..: as a “beginner” what happens if you commit to a sound and are stuck with it?

    Who dies?

    How many sales do you lose?

    Who gets fired or dropped from a label?


    As a beginner, that’s the time to make mistakes and LEARN.


    OTOH, if you record that guitar sound that you choose in the moment , and then are forced to choose the NEXT sounds you overdub to work with those choices, then you’re actually learning how to make records.

    If you put off all your choices you’re not.


  • That’s “tough love” logic :D


    Most of us don’t do this for a living and when we set out to make an album, we don’t have knowledge that most producers and people who have been around a studio have.


    In that respect, a whole lot of experimentation is required.


    What’s especially true is that in the modern era, where you have stuff like Slate VMS to change mics after recording a voice, where you can replace drum sounds (played or programmed), where you can remap your guitar and bass and correct errors in synth playing, it would just be really criminal not to at least make sure you have all the bases covered.


    After all, we don’t do this for a living ;)