Join Bobby Owsinski for an in-depth discussion in this video Knowing what to do if distortion occurs, part of Audio Recording Techniques.
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You're going along recording and all of a sudden something sounds distorted. What do you do? In this video I'm going to show you the steps to take to troubleshoot what's causing distortion and how to eliminate it. If something sounds distorted use these following steps to track it down. Is the microphone preamp overloading? Check to see if the red overload LED light or the meter is peeking into the red. If so, decrease the input gain or select the input pad or the pad on the mic if it has one. Is your signal path overloading in another place? If you're using a console regardless of the size or an outboard compressor, check to see if any overload LEDs are lighting or if the meters are peeking into the red.
If so, decrease the output level of the stage just before the overload. Is your DAW overloading? Once again, check to be sure that no overload LEDs are lit. This shouldn't happen if you keep your input level between -6 and -10 dB. If it does, decrease the input level on the DAW or the output level of the previous gain stage. Is your playback signal path distorting? Are you listing back in a console? If so, is one of the channels overloading? Are the monitors turned up too loud? Are there any overload lights lit anywhere in signal path? If so, decrease the level from the DAW first or turn down any input level controls in the playback signal path. Is it a mic or cable? Replace the cable first.
Is the sound cleaner? If not, try a different mic. Is it any better? Is it a cabinet ravel? Sometimes a recording picks up something that you can't hear live unless you really look for it. For instance, a buzz coming from a loose amp handle can sometimes be heard as distortion. Go out into the room and listen to the instrument and the environment closely, but be sure to have the player play the exact same part as when you heard the distortion. Sometimes the sound will only come from a single note, so while playing the same part you ensure that it can happen again so you can track it down.
- Optimizing your listening environment
- Listening to how different microphone types affect recording
- Choosing the right microphone for the right recording application
- Positioning microphones for a wide variety of recording scenarios
- Utilizing proper gain staging, preamps, and direct boxes
- Avoiding phase cancellation
- Using a compressor, equalizer, and high-pass filter during recording
- Setting up a headphone mix
- Adding the right amount of compression or equalization
- Capturing great sounds from drums, guitars, basses, keyboards, pianos, strings, and vocals
- Creating a great drum set sound
- Getting the best out of any singer
- Dealing with microphone leakage
- Utilizing a variety of stereo miking techniques
- Setting up and producing a recording session
- Creating a rough mix in any digital audio workstation (DAW)