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Need your opinion and critique please.

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,661
Hi all, I've been doing so much busking recently and I'm loving it. While I've been out on the streets, I've been asked by loads of people if I have a CD available. I'd love to have one to boost my takings. The trouble I've got is that I don't like the quality or the sound of my sax when I record it. To my ears it doesn't sound like an authentic reproduction. I'd love it to sound crisp and clear but I feel it sounds muffled.
I've added a sound clip for your appraisal and HONEST opinions. If you bought a CD would you be happy with the quality that I've achieved? Again I need you to be honest and I promise I won't be asking OG to send Col round!
I would love to here the comments of as many of you as possible as this would help me no end.
Thanks in advance.

Georgia on my mind
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,932
Hi Taz,
It doesn't sound muffled to me.
I'd say 'dry' through my lap top speakers but not n a bad way.It's nice, you are probably just a few tweaks away from what you want to hear.
Now I seek similar critique with my tracks as you know, so for what its worth I'd give a touch more reverb and pull the sax down slightly.
That said I don't know what software you have. If I save a track in Garage Band it goes through a normalising process which changes what you hear before saving ever so slightly so I'm always weary of that and don't know how I can stop it.
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,661
Thanks for that Trev, I'm just using Audacity, you know me, anything for free! I'll have another play with it.
 

Clivey

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,022
hi Taz.
I think you would be better to migrate to another audio recorder at some point. Mainly so you make use of all the hundreds of really good free VST plugins like pro reverbs and compression /limiting etc.

This link.http://www.nch.com.au/mixpad/index.html

Gives you mixpad cheap I believe you used to be able to get it free There will be others that are definately free. I confess I don`t use it because I have Cubase ,but I know there are others here that do use it.

I don`t know what setup saxlicker has exactly, but as you can hear he has a very pro sound. your present setup seems to me a little bit dry for commercial tastes and I don`t think you can do to much to reach pro results etc on audacity.


I know it can be an awful prospect to have get to grips with a new piece of software Taz . but let`s face it You were always in it for the longhaul mate:mrcool

I hope nobody takes offence to me slagging Audacity I think it has it`s uses, but I don`t believe it is that useful in this instance.:(
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,661
Superb, thanks Clivey, I'll trawl the interweb, starting with your link and see what I find. I do think your right about Audacity, it has it's place. I think I'm going to give a mate a shout, he's got better mics that me too!
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,093
Hi Taz,

I know what you mean by sounding a little muffled, I think it's partly the soft attack, which is kind of in keeping with the tune... but at the same time, to my ears it is lacking a little 'presence'. I'm listening to it with two near field monitors that are unforgiving, but my room acoustics aren't ideal so it's all subjective.

I think there is a harshness to the high frequencies, it could be clipping somewhere in your signal chain. I agree with Trevor on the reverb, but your options in Audacity are a little limited, maybe do a google search for a free reverb plugin. Also a little compression would even it out a little but don't use too much or you'll loose your dynamics.

From my little recording experiments, I've discovered one thing, the sax is a pain in the butt to record so that it sounds like a sax! Hat's off to Pete and anyone else who can capture the darn thing.

Having said all that, I've found having the mic close is better as my room sounds bad, and so the less I capture of it the better. The other thing I noticed was having the mic slightly to one side... umm... how to describe this... if your playing the mic is facing you but just to the left pointing down a bit, but not down the bell. This mic position seemed to be better for me, and it balanced out the low notes. (I can post a sound clip, but I'm not sure it would help you at all)

Really not wanting to pour cold water over the whole thing, but if you do this, where do you stand when it comes to copyright?

All the best,

Chris
 

Filton

Member
Messages
243
I would agree with Saxlicker, the mix is a little too 'seperate' it sounds too much like what it is, a sax playing over a backing track. Bringing the sax down a tad and adding a touch of reverb may help to 'blend' the sound. The sax sounds a little too 'raw' which is probably due to the mic used?

However the playing sounds brill - have you considered hiring a studio and sound engineer for an hour or two and recording a few tracks that way? It may not be as costly as you might think, if you have a local studio that can help. There are many small studios around with practice rooms that also offer a by the hour recording and production service which could help you to get a pro-result.
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,093
I hope nobody takes offence to me slagging Audacity I think it has it`s uses, but I don`t believe it is that useful in this instance.:(
I agree, it has it's limits, but for a lot of people it's perfectly acceptable as they don't want the recording thing to get any more complicated and it's free.

If I'd not already got well established with my multitrack software, I'd seriously be looking at Reaper: http://www.cockos.com/reaper/index.php

$40 Discount Price

All the best,

Chris
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,093
However the playing sounds brill - have you considered hiring a studio and sound engineer for an hour or two and recording a few tracks that way? It may not be as costly as you might think, if you have a local studio that can help. There are many small studios around with practice rooms that also offer a by the hour recording and production service which could help you to get a pro-result.
Or do you live near a college/university with a "Sound Engineering" course? In which case it might be free!
 

Clivey

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,022
Wow. Reaper does look like one hell of a piece of kit and the price is V Good. I think it`s interface would result in me "fearing it " ;} sorry I`ll get my duffle coat and leave now Chris;}
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
I hope nobody takes offence to me slagging Audacity I think it has it`s uses, but I don`t believe it is that useful in this instance.:(
I certainly wouldn't take offense since I didn't write the program. ;}

Just the same I would like to say a few words in defense of this software.

First off, I've heard better quality recordings made using Audacity. I believe I've made better quality recordings myself using. (certainly NOT better saxophone playing though! Great work on that Taz!) :welldone

So I would suspect hardware issues first, either with the sound system of the computer, or the microphone, etc. Audacity is only going to be as good as the hardware that is used with it.

Now I'm not exactly sure about this, but wouldn't a test of Audacity be to simply load in a known high-quality mp3 file, and then have it render that same file as an mp3? If it came out with the same quality it went in, that should verify that the software is at least producing high quality mp3 files.

If the sound file looses quality then that would show that Audacity is indeed generating inferior quality mp3 files.

The other thing might be in the actual recording. What I've done in the past is play an mp3 file using RealPlayer or something like that whilst simultaneously recording the output with Audacity. No microphones used, just within the computer itself. If the sound quality deteriorates when doing that it could be a hardware issue, or a software issue.

Finally, play an mp3 music file into the microphone and then play back the recording from Audacity. If there's a major loss in sound quality I would suspect the microphone or sound card issues.

Just my thoughts for whatever they're worth.

But I've heard some really clean high-quality stuff produced by Audacity. But that can indeed be dependent on the hardware that's running this software.
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,093
The quality of the recording is indeed dependent on the hardware, specifically the quality of the mic preamps and the analogue to digital converters.

Now I'm not exactly sure about this, but wouldn't a test of Audacity be to simply load in a known high-quality mp3 file, and then have it render that same file as an mp3? If it came out with the same quality it went in, that should verify that the software is at least producing high quality mp3 files.
Using an MP3 is not a good idea for your test though, MP3's are compressed files, the software has to uncompress them to play them, and then create another compressed version of it if you ask it to output as an MP3, this process will likely degrade the audio, which ever system you use. Whether you'd hear it depends on how heavy the compression is, your ears and your sound system.

Although I've not been able to test it, I'd be fairly confident that you could take a good quality sound card/interface and hook it up to a computer running Audacity, hit record and get exactly the same quality recording if you used the same sound card/interface on the same computer running ProTools. (given the same sample rate and bit depth settings).

Where the software comes in, is in the maths it uses for fades, volume adjustments, effects processing etc. The different maths often means the mix sounds slightly different on different software.

There is also the ease of use, user interface and fancy ability to manipulate the audio which is what you pay for with more expensive software. My biggest complaint when playing around with audacity is the lack of a decent reberb effect, and the lack of buses.

But it's free, so how could anyone complain?

Sorry Taz, I'll shut up now, this is about your CD and recording not the virtues of one system over another...

But can I just say one more thing... I really don't understand why people are making recordings using MP3s, MP3s are compressed files, meaning that some of the audio information has been thrown away. A modern computer system... heck, I was recording on a Windows 98 machine in 24bit 44.1kHz, so there is absolutely no reason why people can't record in at least CD quality - which is uncompressed (wav or aiff) 16bit 44.1kHz. By all means compress the output to MP3 later, that makes sense, but if you want to process the audio with a bit of reverb, compression and EQ, give the software the audio information to do the best job it can.

Okay I'll slink back to my cave now, sorry for the outburst.

All the best,

Chris
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Taz, love the way you're playing here. Recording sounds terrible on my machine. I get much better results straight into a Zoom H2. You must to sort the problems out before doing a CD. Lots of help above, sorry I have nothing to add to the suggestions above.
 

compound

Member
Messages
457
For what it's worth Taz i think it sounds great, love the tone of that Quantum if that's what your still using?To date i think that's your best recording yet. I have to admit i know nothing about recording only on a cassette recorder.
Well done mate, Rob.
 

Roy Gussman

Member
Messages
47
Hi Taz
Let me know when you release the CD as I thought it was great. If only I could play that well.
Reading all the comments so far, are all these critics experts as I dont see any of there CD's on sale.
Keep up the good work I am a fan altready.
Gusev
 

compound

Member
Messages
457
Taz, to add to my last post, allthough i dont know much about recording, when i've gone through a mixing desk with the band they put a small amount of reverb and delay on. Which sounds fine to me. Rob.
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,093
Hi Taz
Let me know when you release the CD as I thought it was great. If only I could play that well.
Reading all the comments so far, are all these critics experts as I dont see any of there CD's on sale.
Keep up the good work I am a fan altready.
Gusev
Fair point Gusev, I'll get me coat... oh, I forgot, I don't take it off these days... don't worry I know where the door is, it's still got the dent in it from last time I was thrown out.
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,661
I don't want any coat grabbing going on on my threads thanks Chris, as I value every one's comments (whether they've released CDs or not) There are some very valuable comments on here and that's exactly what I asked for. So thank you to everyone for taking the time to listen and comment.
All the points you make will be looked at, especially different hardware and the use of wav files instead of mp3s.
Time for a comparison test for myself and when I'm happy with the results, I'll throw it back to you lot to pick at. (That is meant in a good way, I genuinely appreciate your good and bad comments)
 

Filton

Member
Messages
243
Hi Taz
Let me know when you release the CD as I thought it was great. If only I could play that well.
Reading all the comments so far, are all these critics experts as I dont see any of there CD's on sale.
Keep up the good work I am a fan altready.
Gusev
I haven't actually seen any criticism's of Taz's ability? (In fact just the opposite .. . ) merely advice to help with the recording process...

Oh and by the way you HAVE seen some of my CDs on sale, just not playing sax ;}
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
But can I just say one more thing... I really don't understand why people are making recordings using MP3s, MP3s are compressed files, meaning that some of the audio information has been thrown away. A modern computer system... heck, I was recording on a Windows 98 machine in 24bit 44.1kHz, so there is absolutely no reason why people can't record in at least CD quality - which is uncompressed (wav or aiff) 16bit 44.1kHz. By all means compress the output to MP3 later, that makes sense, but if you want to process the audio with a bit of reverb, compression and EQ, give the software the audio information to do the best job it can.
I'll certainly agree with this.

The main reason for mp3 files is indeed to compress them into smaller files and make them more user friendly for things like internet downloads etc.

But if you're going to actually be creating CDs then there would be no reason to compress anything. Use the highest quality media you can get your hands on.

Absolutely. ;}
 
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