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Author Topic:  Recording with backing tracks
Justin Emmert

 

From:
Martinsville, VA
Post  Posted 27 Aug 2020 7:27 pm    
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Hi guys,

Just starting to play with recording with the intention of doing overdubs for artists and bands in the future. Running a MacBook Pro with Logic Pro X. Signal chain is Sarno black box, volume pedal, and some external effects pedals if needed to a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4.

I’m practicing recording to an mp3 backing track I dragged into the project. The mp3 has a very high signal output Compared to my steel and is highly compressed. The mp3 is up around 0db, while I’m keeping my steel level around -12 to -18 dB.

Any tips on helping the steel not have to compete with such a loud backing track. Tips on how to have the steel sit better in the mix. How to bring the steel to the front of the mix a bit better during a solo?
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 27 Aug 2020 9:24 pm    
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There should be a clip gain function in Logic. You can change the volume of the MP3 to help match your steel levels.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 27 Aug 2020 9:54 pm    
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I have noticed the same disparity using the Scarlett 8i6 with Ableton Lite. I think it's a combination of the DI from my amp being low as we generally operate with the pedal half shut, and the track being busy and compressed and thus louder subjectively as well as in measured decibels.

An alternative to dragging it is to record it in real time at a level you prefer.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 27 Aug 2020 10:13 pm    
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If the mp3 track is distorting at 0dB, then adjust the track input level like Bob said, until the signal cleans up. If it’s just too loud, then it’s as simple as adjusting the track fader. Also, try panning your steel slightly off to one side of stereo and your mp3 to the other.
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Jim Fogle


From:
North Carolina, Winston-Salem, USA
Post  Posted 28 Aug 2020 7:10 am    
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Ask whoever is making the backing tracks to not make them so hot.

Your thought about your recording level averaging between -12 to -18 db is right on the mark. That should make a good, clean recording.

However, you likely don't know the history behind the MP3 recording, just that the end result is a stereo track that has been processed enough for the final result to be almost clipping. It is extremely difficult to compete against a wall of sound like that and still have the sound of your steel blend in.

There's no room for your steel from a loudness standpoint. You can't compete against maximum loudness. You can't even end up in a tie as your recording will have more dynamic range (difference between the quietest and loudest sound) than the MP3 so you can't be heard in the quiet passages and will clip at the loudest passages. However there is another way that you can make work.

The idea is to discover where that wall of sound has a frequency spot where your steel fits in. Run the MP3 through a frequency spectrum analyzer to see if there is an open frequency or where activity is low so you can create one. Also run your recorded steel track through the frequency analyzer to learn the sweet spot for your steel.

A frequency analyzer displays how much activity, and how loud, each part of a sound is at a moment in time. If there is a frequency that doesn't have too much activity and isn't too loud, then that is the spot where your steel will be best heard against the rest of the MP3 sound. If all the frequencies have a lot of activity then you use equalization to carve out a spot for your steel by minimizing the sound activity at the frequency spot your steel occupies. Here is a link to Voxengo SPAN free: https://www.voxengo.com/product/span/.

Here is a link for a downloadable pdf file that shows the frequency "sweet" spot for many different types of instruments: https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/music-instrument-frequency-cheatsheet/
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Tom Dillon


From:
La Mesa, California, USA
Post  Posted 28 Aug 2020 3:31 pm    
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I've had to do the opposite recently - increase the gain of an .mp3 track I imported into Logic. Some tips:

- Adjust the gain on the .mp3 file outside of logic. I use Audacity (free) for this. There are other free tools that do this I'm sure. It's easy after you learn to do it the first time.

- Here is how to change the gain inside Logic using the Audio File Editor:
https://support.apple.com/kb/PH13153?locale=en_US

If you need to find the Audio File Editor:
https://support.apple.com/kb/PH13136?locale=en_US

But...
What I've found is that Logic doesn't let you change the gain of an imported .mp3 file. It will let you change an .aiff (Apple audio) formated file though, and that is pretty easy.

So, assuming you are stuck with the .mp3 file you're working with, I'd use Audacity to change the gain and save to a new file you can then import into Logic, or convert it to an .aiff format, import that, and adjust the gain in Logic.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 29 Aug 2020 9:05 am    
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https://youtu.be/TbZUTTYKHVM

Easy peezy ! Dealing with clip gain issues when recording on a DAW is as basic as knowing how to turn the volume up on your amp. It’s way more easy to find the volume knob on an amp though !
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Tom Dillon


From:
La Mesa, California, USA
Post  Posted 29 Aug 2020 10:05 am    
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Thanks for that tip. I didn't know about that feature.

It works on both .mp3 and .aiff files/clips. I had to turn "Flex and Follow" on before it would work.
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Tom Dillon
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 30 Aug 2020 8:49 am    
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Any or MOST, if not all DAWS allow you to highlight the entire track and use the gain function to reduce the entire track envelope. This is not a volume meter but rather a GAIN function, reducing the envelope. That being the case, you can go the other direction as well !

In Pro Tools there is a task bar menu item called Audiosuite , Gain along with other options is in the drop down menu.

For other DAWs I suspect it is something very similar.

Plus its all reversible as it should be.
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