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Logic 9 Recording Level Questions + Headphone Mixes

Discussion in 'Logic 9' started by foxymoron, Apr 23, 2012.

  1. foxymoron

    foxymoron New Member

    I have a MacPro, Logic 9.7, a MOTU Traveler and some decent speakers and mics. I have some perpetual problems. Number one is finding a high enough level that will not clip, yet will allow the singer to hear his or her voice with the music without having to turn the music way down. Is a headphone amp the answer? If so, how do I get separate headphone mixes from Logic out into separate outputs on the headphone amp? If these questions reveal a lack of basic understanding, so be it. I have to ask them.
    I am also trying to understand comp tracks. It drives me insane. I've watched tutorials, I've tried to commit to using them, yet I find myself confused within 4 or 5 takes as to where things are, afraid to flatten and/or merge and just end up creating extra tracks, recording different sections several times on different tracks. At least I can understand where everything is that way. I never feel as though I know where I am when I come back to a comp track with a bunch of takes on it. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to gain more clarity and effectiveness with this tool? Thanks!
  3. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    You record with 24 Bit. No need to drive the inputs of the interface hot. Stay well below zero and enjoy stress-free recording with good results.

    A good (!) headphone amp is always an advantage because the better the sound is, the better is the performance of the singer. But the question is not only to hear the own signal but rather to hear it exactly as loud as necessary, embedded in the playback and other signals which may come from other musicians.

    Two rules:

    Recording signal loud, playback quiet:
    The singer gets very sensitive, listens and adopts to his own articulations and the exaggerated texture of his voice in the phones. Good for intimate songs and many ballades. The singer may sing a little flat (too low).

    Recording signal quiet, playback loud:
    The singer fights against the playback. He will try to get louder for two reasons. First, he wants to hear the own voice better. Second, he thinks that he must cut through the playback. Good for harder songs and more excitement. The singer may sing a little sharp (too high).

    You already see the direction we are going? A headphone amplifier is a tool, but the balance of loudness is the clue. All signals should be in perfect balance for the intended result. You don't need one amp, you need a mix. This is called the monitor mix. Some people call it "the most important mix of the day".

    Does your audio interface have a software mixer? I guess so. Then mix the incoming microphone to the playback of Logic. Send the combined signal out via the main output or through another output pair if you want to keep the mains for general work and the other pair for monitoring (which is the preferred method). And, if necessary, make a submix in Logic with exactly the sound you want for recording. This is not always the sound of your raw mix.

    There are a lot of other possibilities but I think the above will do for a while.

    Sounds as if you usually record yourself. This is what I do also and I use comp tracks in a very simple way:

    I record a long part or a whole track several times. Then I go back to the machine and use the first take because all others are crap :)

    No, not always. But although I generally like the possibility of total recall, I am more pragmatic when it comes to recording. I search for rhythmical, tonal or expressional failures, from the rest I select what I like best. And then — flatten and merge. No mercy, no whining, no hesitation. It's music, not science, the take is on tape, point. Of course I run into situations where I cannot decide which part to take. But honestly, these are never situations where I have to choose between the best and the very best. Rather the opposite is true, if I have to work half an hour with the comp of a single take, then something is wrong. I may not be in good shape or the emotions do not fit to the song. Better to throw the takes away and try again.
  4. georgelegeriii

    georgelegeriii Senior member

    I suggest getting a decent Mic Pro/Compressor/EQ, or what is commonly called a channel strip. It will allow you to get a more even level while recording using the compressor component.

    You can also get a tube pic pre to warm up the sound, and some also have de-essers, so you can eq your vocal to sound nice and airy but not biting.

    You can get something like an ART Pro Channel, and replace the tubes with better tubes, and get a pretty great system for about $600 or so, or get something like an Avalon 737, a $2200 mic pro/eq/compressor that sounds simply sublime.

    Realize that you will have to spend some time to understand HOW to use a compressor (how it works by dynamically lowering the overall level once the threshold level is reached... it was described to me as having an assistant raising and lowering the overall level with the vocalist balancing out the overall levels, exactly the thing you are asking about). Like anything, it can be overused and ruin a take, or sometimes abused to get a certain sound (like sustain on a bass guitar, or snap on a snare drum).

    I advise everyone who wants to get the best quality recording to get a decent channel strip, learn how to maximize it, and benefit from a more balanced level for your singers, as well as being able to use them in a live insert I/O from Logic to the channel and back, to use the strip as an effect or as a processor for already recorded parts, or to warm up a synth part, among a hundred other things.
  5. georgelegeriii

    georgelegeriii Senior member

    With comping, try this: do only one section at a time, and while doing things in this section, only one line at a time. So loop the same 2 bars for example, listen to the first take, second, etc. Once you have completed your first pass of all 5 takes, you should have an idea what doesn't work...

    I will also cut each line, so I can use color to keep the good takes for review as I'm going along.

    I will black out the bad takes, and eventually the good take will rise, depending on what you want. Make sure they are highlighted so that they play back... go to the next line, repeat. Once you have all 4 lines for the verse, save it by flattening. DON'T bounce, only flatten, so you can move the ends and beginnings of your regions if required.

    In order for this to work you MUST make sure each verse and chorus are there own take folders. IF you have done the entire song over and over, sop your takes are the entir length of the song, unpack the take folder to their won tracks, cut each section into their own regions (select all 5 regions that make VS 1 for example) and pack as take for just those regions. That way you can have a take for each song part, and the method I described works.

    The bugger of all this is that I could show you in about 15 minutes how to do it, but describing it, even as simply as I've hoped I've done, might not make any sense at all.


    BTW I do consulting online via iChat and could take you through it, but I do charge for my time (gotta make a living). You can PM me if you would like to take advantage of this kind of tutorials.
  6. Eli

    Eli Senior member

    Why not just cut the take folder at the sections? Why is is necessary to unpack them first? I'm sure there is a reason, I'm just curious.....

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