MultitrackStudio User Forum

Nights are Forever Without You
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Author:  Drdrdaddeo [ Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:12 am ]
Post subject:  Nights are Forever Without You

After weeks of home studio work producing a high quality copy of England Dan and John Ford Coley’s, “NIGHT’s ARE FOREVER WITHOUT YOU”, the song is finally finished and uploaded to SoundCloud. It was recorded track by track over many weeks in two different home studios using MTS for iPad, a 9.7” iPad Pro, and a Presonus Audiobox iTWO digital interface. It contains lead, 2, 3, and 4 part vocal harmonies recorded direct to MTS via an APOGEE USB MiC. There are two tracks of twelve string guitar (Taylor Acoustic Electric), five tracks of 6-string guitar (all Stratocaster), 1 track of electric bass (Godin hollow body), 4 percussion tracks (click track, live Bongo drums and two tracks of percussion loops and fills (Drum Loops HD), and 1 track each of solo violin, string ensemble, and electric piano (all from SampleTank). I could never get the exact sound that I wanted on the two lead guitar tracks using my Strat direct into MTS with MTS’s built-in effects. My Les Paul would probably have sounded thicker but I would never have been able to adequately pitch bend its heavier strings.

This 24bit, 48 KHz recording is fairly large, containing 18 separate tracks (all effects are from MTS). I always use AudioShare to convert waveforms in and out of MTS into lossless .m4A files which are quite compact but high quality (final .m4a mix is only 2.5 Mb). They can be quickly up- and down-loaded to Dropbox, easily edited exactly like .wav files, and/or sent to my musical collaborater as simple text attachments (e-mail, iTunes and DropBox are not really needed). The keyboard track was originally a Midi track played from an ALESIS Q88 USB keyboard, then MIDI edited in MTS and rendered to a stereo audio file using SampleTank as an IAA instrument. The final stereo mixdown contains a bit of master compression and master limiter. NAFWY was a two man project. My partner, Dave, sang the lead and middle vocals, and I did the falsetto and low tenor vocals. Dave played bass, bongos, and both 12-string tracks. I arranged the drum tracks, played the five 6-string guitar tracks, the keyboard track, the violin track and the string ensemble track (via MIDI), and did all the editing and mixdown work. The master compression/limiter effects added in the final mix greatly clarified the sound and maximized headroom without any clipping.

Fun project that turned out pretty nicely.


Author:  moxol [ Tue Apr 30, 2019 11:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nights are Forever Without You

Excellent work, I like it very much!
It seems like very complicated recording, due to high number of tracks.

Tell me, do you record el. guitars directly to input or you use microphone to record sound from amplifier?

I read that you couldn't achieve wanted sound from guitar.

Author:  Drdrdaddeo [ Tue Apr 30, 2019 2:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nights are Forever Without You

Thank you for your interest and positive feedback. Recording guitars to MTS for iPad is generally very easy, although a bit cumbersome. Since most of the acoustic guitars my partner and I use are acoustic-electric, we generally record their pickup output voltage directly. This requires a Analog-to-Digital interface device, and there are many available. We prefer the Presonus Audiobox itwo because it can USB link to iOS, windows or Mac computers, has many useful features (like phantom voltage), and will produce 24 bit studio sound, for about $150. For use with an iPad, it is powered by a wall outlet, so there is no USB drain on the iPad (but it does not charge the iPad). I still have a cheap ($29) old 16 bit Griffin Studio Connector interface which can do most of the same things as the Presonus, but it is unreliable, finicky, noisy and outdated....but it DOES charge the ipad EVEN WHILE RECORDING. The Griffins had about a 6 month lifespan before they always crapped out, but they had a one year guarantee and were generally replaced for free. I went through a bunch of them before finally getting the Presonus (which is vastly superior).

Recording a guitar through the Presonus into MTS for ipad can be tricky at first. I initially struggled to get ANY recordable signal at all into MTS, or for that matter any sound out of the ipad headphone outputs. Several solutions slowly became obvious. First, the internal IPAD MICROPHONE MUST ALWAYS BE SWITCHED ON and given permission (via Settings) to be used in the MTS app. Even though the iPad microphone will not actually be used, the audiobox digital information obviously enters into MTS through that same circuitry. If the mic is off (or somehow not working) then you are dead in the water, even though the interface and its own headphone output are working perfectly. Second, and importantly, the guitar as a monaural instrument must be plugged into the LEFT (never right) channel of the audiobox iTwo when recording to a Mono Track in MTS. MTS mono tracks only receive data from the left channel. If you plug a guitar into the right track, no signal will be received at all by MTS (very frustrating). As an explanation, please note that if you create a STEREO audio track in MTS and then record to it from the iTwo with a guitar, the signal will appear either in the left or the right channel only, depending on which input you plugged into. Clearly the default input when using MTS mono tracks is assigned specifically to the left iTwo channel. Finally, realize that when an AD interface is USB plugged into the iPad, the ipad’s headphone jack generally no longer outputs any sound. Instead, all digital/audio information into and out of the iPad occurs via the USB link to the interface. Thus the presonus’s own headphone port is used to monitor both signal going into and out of the iPad simultaneously (with no audible latency at all). Conveniently, it has a volume mixing knob which blends both input and output signals to assist in hearing your guitar input over whatever multitrack output mix you are comfortable hearing during recording. The appearance of the visible fader recording volume level indicator in MTS assures you that you are actually receiving signal, and thus are going to record digital information. Playback of your newly recorded track can be instantaneous, either as a rough mix or a solo instrument, depending on how you assign your tracks in MTS. So what may sound complicated (because many different recorded tracks may be present at any time) is actually made quite simple by the ability to play, mute, or solo any combination of tracks as you chose during both recording and playback.

Occasionally, we record pure acoustic instruments into MTS for ipad using relatively inexpensive USB mics like the APOGEE 96k MiC, which is incredibly sensitive and acoustically amazing. It plugs directly into the lightening port of the ipad (no interface required), powers off the ipad, and does NOT interfere with MTS sound output from the ipad audio output jack. However, it is so sensitive that ambient background noises are frequently a problem (fans, a/c noise, string noise, etc.,). Used with a pop filter, I find the APOGEE is best used for vocals (at a distance of about 12 inches) in a completely silent room. However the Apogee is so sensitive that it will even pick up earphone sound from closed studio headsets, sometimes creating recording feedback loops even at modest recording levels.

One final note is with regard to guitar effects. Generally, I record guitar parts dry, and add effects after the fact using MTS’s on-board effects (and/or pre/post recording effects implemented through AudioBus 2). However, this can be very restrictive (MTS) and technically challenging (audiobus). So there is probably no great substitute for good old fashion stompboxes and mic-ed speaker cabinets in getting both line level and mic level complex guitar tones easily recorded into MTS.

All of the above are useful tips for doing high quality, home studio, track-by-track recording. Clearly there is no substitute for an authentic professional multitrack recording studio with its simultaneous multiplayer input, pre production recording/processing capabilities, and limitless post-production sound processing. But for just getting high quality, multitrack home studio recordings, I would put my ipad pro and MTS-for-iPad App against any high level computer/software combo out there.

Ken Hardy/Drdrdaddeo

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