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Post new topic Tracking with an Amp and a Mic vs DIRECT
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Author Topic:  Tracking with an Amp and a Mic vs DIRECT
Tony Prior

Charlotte NC
Post  Posted 26 Feb 2024 1:33 am    
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I recently was in a discussion regarding tracking with an AMP vs tracking Direct. I track direct and always have for one single obvious reason, I live in a home with other people. When I was active I tracked either early mornings or late nights. Tracking with an amp is great if it works for you, direct worked for me I never even bothered tracking with an amp for Steel , Electric guitars or Electric Bass. Vocals and Acoustic Instruments, yes, live with mics.

The NET discussions always led to the same place, you can't get good tones direct. Hog Wash ! LOL Laughing

If we have a reasonably good quality tube preamp and spend the time with the DAW Eq's, Reverbs, Delays and Compressors, and save the patches we like, we can indeed arrive at some very good tones. IF we need to come back to the session days or weeks later, we just dial up the same patches using the same preamp ( write this stuff down) and we are back in business. The trick here is to spend the time up front with the patches and also use the same phones. If we just sit down and expect to get something good in 5 min, it probably won't happen.

A good quality preamp on the front end makes life real easy and it also eliminates outside noises from mics or amps that decide to act up or make noise during tracking.

I don't claim to be an expert here, far from it, but I do know what works after spending hours of up front prep with patches and preamp settings,

This track is one of my favorites for tones, tracked thru a DBX 376 tube preamp, it has a 4 band para EQ bd on bd compression.The DAW is Pro Tools and I'm using several patches that were written well ahead of this tracking session. The Telecaster is also tracked direct using the Pro Tools embedded amp sim and other patches written well ahead of the session. The track was recorded over 3 or 4 days in pieces . Parts of the Steel track used a Stereo Reverb vs a mono reverb, it kinda opened up some of the parts.

When I posted this track in the discussion I was having, they all came back with " yeah that sounds pretty good " A few followed with what Pro Tools patches did you use ? I responded that I wrote them all and saved them . Tracking with an amp or direct is really fun as a player , but then we have to put on our engineer hat to get to the final product, regardless if it was tracked with an amp or direct. Laughing

here's the track in question
Emmons L-II , Fender Telecasters, B-Benders
Pro Tools 12 on WIN 7 !
jobless- but not homeless- now retired 9 years

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Jacob Yergert

Centennial, Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 26 Feb 2024 7:41 am    
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I think those who scoff at going direct or using IRs probably hasn't tried it out since 2006. There are 10,000 ways to get a killer sound that you wont even realize isn't pumping an actual speaker.

I LOVE an absolutely dimed amp in a studio (and sometimes you've got to for those REALLY high-powered amps), but if Im tracking in my basement I use a Torpedo Captor X. It just makes everything so easy for mixing, the cabs are easy to switch out, and there's tons of good stuff out there.
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Brett Lanier


Madison, TN
Post  Posted 3 Mar 2024 10:33 am     I hear ya
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Self producing has become a lot less of a headache since I got this Ox box. I can quickly swap from one amp to another, and very easily match my guitar to the sound of the track with help from the room knob. I know it's not the real thing, but I used to have a studio with all the same gear this box is emulating... and it takes a lot less time for me to start laying down parts.

ps, that's Ray Montee's old pro jr!

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Bob Hoffnar

Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 25 Mar 2024 5:01 am    
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I used to be a hard core amp only guy. Mostly because I was dealing with producers that totally screwed up my tone because they barely new what a pedalsteel was in NYC.

In the last 15 years about 75% of my recording is done at my home studio and I can get a fantastic tone direct. I still prefer micing an amp if it’s convenient mostly because it feels better. I put a ton of money into my signal chain and I use the milkman amp plug in sometimes. My direct chain is currently a Sarno Spectrum into a 500 series Neve 1073 pre and Eq >just a touch of tube compression then maybe a Pultec MEQM-5>DAW.

The current crop of IR’s and pre amps are really , really good. You can get a perfect signal going in with all the tactile response that you used to need to adjust in post.
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Ian Rae

Redditch, England
Post  Posted 25 Mar 2024 4:19 pm    
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I use the modelled outputs from a Telonics preamp,
which makes it sound like a steel guitar.
I could degrade it by including a loudspeaker and microphone and some inevitable room acoustic in the chain, but I prefer it if I don't and so does my wife.
Make sleeping dogs tell the truth!
Homebuilt keyless U12 7x5, Excel keyless U12 8x8, Williams keyless U12 7x8, Telonics rack and 15" cabs
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David Mitchell


Tyler, Texas
Post  Posted 17 Apr 2024 12:40 pm    
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I usually track my own recordings on steel direct and it's an incredibly clean sound but the recordings I have made with an amp and mic have more of that classic crying steel sound but don't mic it very close to the speaker or you will get a direct sound plus hum and hiss that comes with amps. About 6 feet away gets that real bar room honky tonk sound I have never gotten going direct. It's really apples and oranges.
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