What do i need to get good quality guitar recordings on my iMac?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by maf2k8, Dec 14, 2011.

  1. maf2k8 macrumors 6502

    Jul 14, 2009
    Ok, i am looking to record some guitar playing ( electric guitar, mainly hard rock and metal )

    Currently i have a SM57 and i am mic'ing my guitar cab. ( tube amp )

    I do have a digital modeler preamp ( GSP1101 ) but i prefer the tone of mic'ing a cab with a tube amp.

    I have the mic running into a cheap Behringer XENYX 802 mixer and then the mixer is going into my iMac ( 2010 i7 iMac ) and then outputting to my M-Audio monitors. Not sure if i connected something wrong but i can record 1 track fine, when i go to record a 2nd track ( for double tracking ) the 2nd track will record my playing PLUS the first track and gives it like a ghosting effect. I have to unplug the cable going from the OUTPUT on the iMac to the INPUT on the mixer and use headphones in order to eliminate this issue. anyways...

    I currently use Garageband and it seems to do ok. I would prefer to record 2 tracks and inputs at once, don't think garageband allows you to do that. ( would like to try 2 miss at once )

    I was curious what can give me better sounding results? I hear some say a tube preamps for the mic? I don't have much knowledge in recording gear and did some reading on Google but still up in the air. A lot of people talk about the Apogee pre map, how well does it do for capturing rock and metal guitar though? Would i be better with a tube preamp though?

    Do i then plug the preamp into my iMac?or does the preamp go into a mixer?

    Do i use the line INs and OUTs on the iMac? or would a preamp with USB be better?

    I only need something that has 1 or 2 inputs at max, i only record my guitar and thats all, ( i drop backing tracks into garageband and record and play to that ) so i don't need anything that has 1,000 inputs. I just want something that sounds good for recording rock/metal guitar with a tube amp.

    I am not sure if i need a better quality mixer or eliminate the mixer and go with a mic preamp.

    Can anyone suggest some ideas? gear?

  2. thestickman macrumors regular

    Nov 21, 2010
    Jacksonville, FL
    Look up a Line 6 UX1 USB interface. Sounds like what you are looking for.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Mic'ing the cab is the "best" way to record. You get the best sound that way, by far. But it is not so easy to do. First off you need sound isolation. The mic will pick up EVERY sound in the room. One simply way to go is to get some REALLY long cables and place the mic and cab in another room, Maybe even the bathroom down the hall. Shut all the doors.

    You can also build an isolation box. This is a sound proof box you m=pace the mic and cab into.

    This is so much hassle that some people will put up with poorer sound and use guitar amp models and direct recording. Then you just plug the guitar in the the computer's audio interface

    and YES garage band can record multiple tracks at once. What else is "stereo" but two track sound.

    Next the mixer you have is not the best mixer. it's the cheapest one on the market and sound like it too. What you need is a real audio interface like maybe the Presonus "Audio Box" or something like that. That mixer just adds noise

    One more thing. When yo double track yuo do NOT use studio monitor to listen to the first track. Use headphones. uy the kind of headphones that do NOT spill sound out into the room. Even with an isolation box, use headphones.
  4. Escher2112 macrumors member

    Jul 25, 2011
    ChrisA has got this dialed in for you.. I've been using an iso box for a couple of years and get an amazing tone.

    I also use garageband for all my recording...

    I use a Line6 X3 as my mic input - very good and clean signal. And you can also (obviously) use it as a digital modeler. As I got better and better at understanding my signal chain and how good tone is constructed - I no longer need to use the box and can use modelling for most everything.

    Believe it or not - a properly constructed model in the X3 will rival a mic'd cab and only a very trained ear can tell the difference. Notice I said *properly* built. It takes knowledge of how the amp works and what the strengths and weaknesses of the modeler are - but you can get great tone.

    You don't mention how long you have been playing, or what type of tube amp you are using, or if you are using effects in your signal chain... all of these are factors in getting a good mic'd tone as well.

    Finally, you really need a power attenuator for your amp as well - to get a really sweet tone out of it... You will have to crank the amp so loud without one that you will overload you mic... you only need 1-2 watts of output in an iso box. A Thd Hotplate or other inductive attenuator will get you there. Also, a sonic maximizer such as the BBE sonic Stomp will also help greatly with improving the tone.

    Getting there is a long road when you are searching for great recorded tone - I went through about 7 or 8 tube amps, 5-10 pedals, 3 modelers, and numerous pickup swaps in my *search*... then I sat down a studied how tone is created, and learned what I liked.... and I realized that all the gadgets can't make up for actually *knowing* how the system works. It just takes time.

    For example - here are a couple of tracks I recorded.

    First - Mic'd cab with a modified Jet City JCA20h head, 1X12 cab and a SM57 knockoff mic in my iso box... added reverb and delay with the X3.

    Jet City

    Second - A track with similar guitar tones, not exactly the same, but created in the Pod X3 direct


Share This Page