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Topic Title: a weekend question about recording
Topic Summary: massive Off Topic but I bet you know
Created On: 01 March 2013 10:16 AM
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 01 March 2013 10:16 AM
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Zs

Posts: 2629
Joined: 20 July 2006

Hello, this is one of those off topic ish questions. I have just backed-off from a load of stuff on google that looks complicated.

I need one thing and would like one more.

Since making the leap from rythm to lead, I need to record some basic strumming for my guitar practice at home because I struggle to keep up with the tempo on some tracks. So I would like to slow them down while I learn them. I usually play along by plugging the iPod into the amp so both guitar and iPod come through the amp. Basic, but works for simple practice.

I'll give you some examples so that you know what I'm on about; I've been working on the guitar solo in the middle of the Beatles track called 'something' and their track called 'I feel fine'. Also Sweet Home Alabama. All three a little bit too fast for my novice fingers.

Then, just to throw an extra into the list. I'd like to be able to record the strummy bit with the solo over the top so that I can take it to my lesson. Whenever I sit down in that room I'm rubbish. I do much better at home.

Also need to sort out a bit of earth hum on the new amp but we've covered that before....cue TT and a bit of tinfoil .

We used to have some keen sound engineers on here. You still there? It looks very do-able but I got lost in techno babble and it started to look like such a mission.

I asked at the theatre this week. Fella went into overdrive for me and came up with a solution. Err, I don't quite need that level of sophistication but his enthusiasm was fun.

Wrong forum I know, but have you seen the real sound forums? Wow. They'll have me lining the walls with sheepskin and mud before you know it.

Zs
 01 March 2013 10:37 AM
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OMS

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Playing my guitar and Building castles in the sun and Singing "Fun, Fun, Fun"



OMS

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 01 March 2013 11:59 AM
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rocknroll

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I understand what you are trying to do and the answer is quite simple, what you are trying to achieve is not new and various methods have been used forever, the most popular method was the midi file of the backing track and most midi players had a tempo control so you could practice at your rate, midi files are still plentiful and the 'old skool' still swear by them.

Here are a couple of methods to help, play your sound file through a computer using one of the many music programs out there that have tempo control and loads of other options such as Soundforge, Mixmeister etc;

Go to the second hand hi-fi shops and pick up a minidisc or CD player recorder that has tempo control on it, Sony used to do these in abundance, if you could get hold of a DAT player that would be a bonus.

Probably the most cost effective solution would be to buy a small DJ desk that has tempo control on it and site this between your IPod and amp, a lot of DJ desks have IPod input now but you can always buy a lead to do this if it didnt.

Getting rid of earth hum is an exercise of trial and error, it is often worth investing in a DI box on the input side with an earth lift facility.

regards

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"Take nothing but a picture,
leave nothing but footprints!"
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"Oh! The drama of it all."
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"You can throw all the philosophy you like at the problem, but at the end of the day it's just basic electrical theory!"
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Edited: 01 March 2013 at 12:13 PM by rocknroll
 01 March 2013 04:45 PM
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Paradigm

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If you have a Mac, get Garage band or if you are feeling a bit flush, Logic.

Guitar Pro is great for practising but not so good for recording.

Haven't tried any of the programs Rocky mentions above but I am sure they are much of a muchness.

Nick

PS edited to add, if you do go down the PC route, be careful of latency issues if your processor isn't up to coping with the workload, its an absolute pain in the proverbial as it won't play in real time and therefore becomes useless for recording.

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 02 March 2013 11:04 AM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
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Simplist, and totally free, program is Audacity from sourceforge.net This will let you record any number of parts and play them back together, it also has a tool for changing tempo without changing pitch (and vice versa!). When you change tempo it does add a certain "metallic" quality to the sound, but it's fine for practising. I've been using it for years and can't recommend highly enough.

Let us know how you get on!

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 02 March 2013 01:58 PM
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Zs

Posts: 2629
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Thank you R&R and Andy. Just what I needed to guide me. I like the sound of the audacity because you make it sound easy. Wasted hours the other night lost in various web sites, which was great but not very productive. I could spend a fortune given half a chance.

I did not know you were here. The mods transferred this thread, good call.

I too am in the Les Paul camp. A standard 2008 (chambered body) as the mid life crisis present to myself last summer. I saw your discussion on here about pick-ups which I read with interest. When it came time to have mine set up I was recommended to a guitar tech and took it to him. He dropped quite a few decent names and works on We will Rock you so I entrusted the baby to him. He did a cracking job, I thought it was good when I bought it but it came back with the action lowered to perfection and the bounciness of the pick-ups adjusted. I wouldn't dare do it myself like you do. An odd chap, I was a bit nervous leaving it with him. Yes, I had the scratch plate put on.

Now, the Amp I bought with it is tubed. A Blackstar. I found it rather tinny or telephony and eventually took it to an audition room and taste-tested it against some others. I'd have expected tubes to be better and the web raves about them, but I have just bought myself a little Roland Cube 30 which I find much better, and more fun. The clean is really clean and the dirty stuff sounds less like electrical interference. So now I have two amps.....

Thereafter, 2 classicals and a Tanglewood Accoustic Electric. I rather fancy a Telecaster next.

Thank you, I am off to do some enthusiastic googling on all the suggestions. I will indeed let you know. Can't wait.

Graham, what a lovely surprise that you also play. Dark Horse.

Zs
 02 March 2013 07:19 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
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Re tube amps: a while ago I picked up a really really cheap 7w tube combo, a Fender Champ copy with a tone control. Sounded dreadful. I replaced the 6" speaker with an 8" I found lying around and it sounded slightly less dreadful. A couple of weeks ago I pulled the chassis out and plugged into my bigger cabinets (a 2 x 10" and a 1 x 15") and it sounded absolutely fantastic. So if you can drive your Blackstar into a better cab it might well be worth a try!

Re hum: I've now dismantled the chassis of the amp and repackaged it into an instrument case, it now hums like mad - and I'm supposed to be an expert on reducing noise in music systems! It happens to everybody. Just clearing a space on my workbench so I can sort it out.

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 22 March 2013 01:10 AM
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Jaqs

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I agree with Andy......Audacity is a great program.

I've been using it for years and now have all of my students using it too. Simple but effective and very user friendly.

What did you end up using? I'm just curious because I'm sure I will need to upgrade to somehting with more options very soon.
 05 May 2013 12:31 PM
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Zs

Posts: 2629
Joined: 20 July 2006

...and so do I. Thank you so much for that information Andy.

Audacity is on the laptop and I am finding some time now to go through the instructions. Finding the time being the most difficult part, it looks fairly straightforward.

My earth hum ( on the Roland Cube, not the tubed Blackstar) went on for days and I did much unscrewing of sockets and fiddling around. Then one evening I picked up the lead for the iPod, which was plugged in but with no iPod on the end of it. The hum went crazy. Now I know that it has to be unplugged from the amp and all is clear again. Methinks I was overcomplicating the issue. Just a rogue bit of cable. Where have I seen that before...nearly every day at work so shame on me.

Thank you for that. I've got the beginning of sweet home in the bag since my post but have just discovered Peter Green's 'I need you love so bad' which is an absolute must. Hopefully I'll get it transferred across to audacity tomorrow and put it through it's paces.

Yours in A major pentatonic, starting with an E shape (I think) Zs
 07 June 2013 01:38 AM
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kengreen

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Hi Fellahs,

You have ressurected an oldie here; there iks absolutely no truth in the old-wives tales about the different sounds of semiconductor and valve amps. They are two different technologies but, assuming the Designer(s) know what they are doing, there is no difference either by istrumentation or by yum\n 'eres

KEN Green.
 07 June 2013 06:09 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
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Ken,

We're not talking about beautifully designed, linear, negligible distortion amps here - we're talking about single ended class A amps with far too much distortion that sound wonderful!

In guitar amps the amp distortion can be as much part of the sound as the instrument and speaker, and I'm sure even you can't say that transistors and valves saturate in the same way!

Cheers,

Andy

(P.S. Even for a Hi-Fi amp, set up for flat response and low distortion, it would have to be a stunningly good pair of designs for the speaker drive impedances to be identical between pure transistor and valve amplifiers, so I would be very wary of disbelieving people who could detect a difference even if I couldn't.)

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 08 June 2013 11:20 AM
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kengreen

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Andy,

Does it not depend on whether you want an amp. to increase the level of your signal or on a signal-processing device as part of a synthesiser ?

Maybe I am an old square but, to me, an amplifier is a device which can perform many functions but - most definitely - should not add anything to the signal as presented to its input. I assume, of course, that you wish to remain in control ? It is possible to achieve this in the whole range from single-stage to multiple-stage,from single-ended to push-pull, balanced to unbalanced using either valves or semiconductors as the active device(s).

A properly-designed Speaker-driver - no matter its complexity - MUST be independent of the speaker driving-point impedance throughout the frequency range specified. It has nothing to do with the quality of the "well-trained ears" - even if the well-trained Brain thinks differently.

I fear that most Hi-Fi enthusiasts know not of that with which they play; an audio amp is by far the most difficult unit to design and build because of its enormous RELATIVE BANDWIDTH.


Ken
 08 June 2013 08:29 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
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Originally posted by: kengreen
Maybe I am an old square but, to me, an amplifier is a device which can perform many functions but - most definitely - should not add anything to the signal as presented to its input.

I don't think many electric guitarists would agree with you there! The Fender tweed or Marshall stack is most definitely part of the instrument, and the way a good guitarist can use the non-linearities in these to make music is an art form in itself.

I assume, of course, that you wish to remain in control ?

Oh absolutely. That's the fun, controlling the exact point on the saturation curve of the valve using your fingers on the strings of the guitar.

A properly-designed Speaker-driver - no matter its complexity - MUST be independent of the speaker driving-point impedance throughout the frequency range specified.

Have you ever looked at speaker impedance curves vs. frequency? At points they go staggeringly low. I very much doubt if anyone has yet designed an amp with output impedances so low that they can be considered negligible: and even if they did not many people are going to mount monoblock amps in their cabinets to negate the speaker impedances. It doesn't really matter - the speaker and room response will have a far, far bigger influence - but if you wanted to be really pedantic you could almost certainly A-B test any two different designs of power amp and a skilled listener could hear some difference. What you probably couldn't say is which was "right".

Anyway, I'm glad you have such touching (if slightly misplaced) faith in the competence of design engineers. If you have any CDs recorded in the late 80's or early 90's there is an extremely good chance that some of them were recorded through equipment that I designed, and trust me: it doesn't reach the heights of perfection you describe here! Partly because it wasn't technically possible, and partly because if we'd got any closer no-one could have have afforded it. And we were at the top end of the business, sadly there is not and never has been any money in high quality audio (otherwise I'd still be in it ); even with what appear to be ludicrously priced audiophile hi-fi systems the volumes are so small and hence the overheads so high that the money available for design time and component purchasing is tiny. This is why I still build equipment for myself, I can afford to spend more of my own time on it and use better quality parts - rather like home cooking vs. ready meals.

(We did design one product at the turn of the 90's which probably was as close as it was possible to get to audio perfection in a large scale mixing desk - we got to the point where no listeners could tell the difference between a channel with somewhere between 50-100 op-amps in it and a direct wire link. Sadly the Japanese economy collapsed during the design phase, and no-one else could possible have afforded it. For anyone interested, the SSL SL9000J series was the drastically cut down version of that desk - basically single ended rather than fully balanced and with FET rather than relay signal switching - not bad but nowhere near as good as it could have been.)

It's always worth remembering that the vast majority of music these days is listened to as MP3s, which messes up the sound far more than any vaguely competently designed amp will. I do like to think that for those who do care (and have better hearing than I do) that facilities exist for really good clean recording and playback of music, particularly classical music. But for most of us most of the time the sound just needs to be good enough to let the music - which I would suggest is the important bit - through.

I was going to stop there but I've just remembered something highly relevant, which is a shame because the dinner I was cooking smells like it's done, anyway here goes quickly: the SSL desks that I worked on were renowned for their clinical cleanness of sound. They swept through the market, and in the 80s / 90s any serious studio was fitted with one or several. BUT the reason they were liked was not specifically because of the sound (or lack of it), but because the layout and the automation system made them so easy to use. Many highly musical producers (including , famously, one G. Martin) much preferred the rival Neve desks with their highly distinctive sound. So there you go. Mind you, even with hindsight I still think SSL were right (cleanness and transparency were the mantra of the sadly late lamented founder, Colin Sanders), you could always add outboard equipment to get that season's sound. But I can also see the point that if you can find a piece of equipment, like my little 7W guitar amp, that gives the sound you're looking for then why not use it?

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 09 June 2013 04:11 AM
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kengreen

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Andy,

If you like what you hear then there is not an argument.

All that I offerred was that there is not a reason why valve-driven amps should sound any different to semiconductor amps. There is however the proviso that either must be designed according to its intrinsic parameters: i.e. Valves are high-impedance voltage-driven devices where semiconductors (in general) offer relatively low impedances and can be either voltage or current driven. That last leads to much more complexity of choice in the design of the previous stage.

In addition when valves are used properly they can deliver a transfer characteristic that that is reasonably linear where semiconductors are characterised by non-linear transfers that need to be corrected by use of n.f.b. Again because of phase problems at the edges of bands it is asking for trouble to feedback over more than three stages of semiconductors.

Then again to achieve a full audio-bandwidth is difficult with valves and transformers while the opposite applies with semiconductor designs where the low-impedances result in excessive bandwidth that needs to be reduced ... again by use of n.f.b. This is the cause of the once characteristic hiss associated with semiconductor amplifiers - they are eager to oscillate at frequencies above the audio realm.

But enough,

Ken Green
 23 October 2013 03:32 PM
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kettysmith

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Simplist, and totally free, program is Audacity from sourceforge.net This will let you record any number of parts and play them back together, it also has a tool for changing tempo without changing pitch (and vice versa!). When you change tempo it does add a certain "metallic" quality to the sound, but it's fine for practising. I've been using it for years and can't recommend highly enough.

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