When you record a guitar or bass, you should always record a clean DI signal in addition to your amp (or amp sim, Kemper, etc.)
There are plenty of very good reasons for recording a DI track - and just no reason not to.
In this episode we talk about the many ways your next record will possibly benefit from having DI tracks and sending those to mixing along with your amp tones:
- It will enhance your creativity
- It will allow you to focus on the music and the performance more, the stuff that matters the most
- It will make you a better guitar player
- Editing will be much easier, more effective and transparent
- The final tone (the end result) will probably be a lot better (we explain exactly how and why)
- There are a lot of creative, fun things you can do with a DI that can really bring your record to the next level (we talk about examples for this and how to do it)
TSRB Podcast 018 - How DI Tracks Can Save Your Guitar Recordings
[00:00:00] Malcom: [00:00:00] This can really be the saving grace for you not having to redo your album or these big do the guitars, because that does happen. I just had to tell people that I cannot work with what they've done, especially the easiest thing to get for them.
Benedikt: [00:00:16] Just the self recording band podcast, the show where we help you make exciting records on your own wherever you are.
DIY style. Let's go.
Hello and welcome. To the self recording band podcast. I'm your host Ben at the time. And I'm here with my cohost from stone, mastering.com. Master engineer, Malcolm Owen flood. How are you? My friend.
Malcom: [00:00:41] I'm good. I've got the whole website in there. My pre show introduction. Awesome.
Benedikt: [00:00:45] Yeah, exactly. I need to point people to that.
So because sometimes we forget to mention what you actually do and, uh, uh, it's worth mentioning because you basically transitioned to mastering more and more. Oh lately. And, um, yeah, I [00:01:00] want people's whom to hit you up because you're obviously great at what you do. And, uh, we should push that. So
Malcom: [00:01:07] come on over folks.
Yeah. Chick come visit the website or message me on Facebook and stuff. It's nice hearing from you.
Benedikt: [00:01:13] Exactly awesome. If for people who are not aware, we always record two episodes or we try to record two episodes in a row. So when we do that, like today, the second one, the banter in the beginning, it's always a little harder because we already had that in the first
Malcom: [00:01:29] one we already caught up.
We got nothing to talk about other than our topic, I guess, but I got one, I got new studio monitors installed in the, in the Austrian suite. So I'm really stoked
Benedikt: [00:01:39] right now. The, yet they are. Yep. Amazing
Malcom: [00:01:43] actually. It's awesome.
Benedikt: [00:01:45] They got more and more, more popular lately, I think because so, or I don't know, but that's, that's, uh, what I'm thinking because so many people recommend them to me.
And, um, I don't know why that is. Maybe it's just people in my circle, but, but they seem to become really [00:02:00] popular. And, uh, what was I, I'm curious, what was the. The reason you, you were going for these specifically,
Malcom: [00:02:08] just because I'm doing more, more mastering and work. I wanted to get more full range, uh, speakers.
And, uh, the studio I originally interned at was had three way speakers. Um, and I really, really loved that. I thought they just really worked for my ears really well, and I was getting the results I liked out of them. Um, up until now I was using. The Norman , which are like just regular, kind of smaller monitors.
Great, great units. I would highly recommend them, but they don't really have any subwoofer capabilities. Um, so I wanted to get something and preferably a three way system for how I like to do things, um, that gave me some more low end and just made, making those decisions easier in the mastering environment, especially.
Um, and going up just to the [00:03:00] next level of the Norman three tens. It's kind of like, I've got the same speakers in front of me just with more, it was like, I didn't have to relearn a new, a new system pretty much. It's pretty familiar to me. So it was kind of a logical next step and they just look super badass.
Yeah, they do.
Benedikt: [00:03:20] Yeah. Right on. I totally agree. With three way thing. I mean, I have, I have like midfield three way monitors as well. And um, I totally love to work on bigger speakers, even if you're sitting close to them. Uh, so yeah, it's just more headroom, more low end. It's amazing to work on speakers like that.
I don't know. Maybe I'll check them out one day because I'm S I love my Adam's still. And a lot of, and I'm mentioning that because I know that a lot of DIY people at home have the, the very popular Adam, um, speakers, like the seven X or whatever they are called. Um, they are really popular and I had the, the.
Bigger versions of them, [00:04:00] the seven, seven X, four years now, like three way version. And I really liked them and I'm so used to them, but I'm actually, I don't know why it took me so long, but I'm kind of getting a little tired of those ribbon Twitters right now. Uh, it wasn't an issue in the beginning. And I actually liked that, that quality that they have, like, they make everything sound a little harsh and a little fatiguing, but I liked that because it just, uh, they were very honest.
And, um, yeah, so I just liked how fast they are. But I don't know why, but after using them for a couple of years now, I'm starting to get a little tired of them and I've listened to some other speakers, including the Nyman's. And I really liked how they sounded. I'm a little afraid though, because they sounded so nice compared to mine.
Malcom: [00:04:46] I get that for sure. Oh, well, um, ironically, I, cause I had the smaller Normans, like I just mentioned, um, but I sold them in anticipation of these arriving, but these. We're like a week behind due to shipping delays. [00:05:00] So I had to borrow some Adams. Um, so I had the in the studio for a bout a week. Um, actually they're still sitting in the vocal booth next door to me, but I got to return those stories, Zack, uh, they, they were great.
Um, but I, I also have found the same thing. Um, having Adams before I had my no-man's, the ribbon just kind of got to me after a while. Um, So I changed it up and you should too. No, I'm joking. Your work is like, I wanted to just say, like, when you start talking about this, I'm like, Benny, your work is awesome.
Like you don't need to change anything. Just don't mess with a good thing. You're good.
Benedikt: [00:05:34] Yeah. Okay. Thank you. Thank you so much for that. Um, yeah, probably, but I don't know. You know how that is. Sometimes you want to just change things and, yeah, I don't know, but anyways, let's get to today's episode. Um, We are not talking about speakers.
We are talking as always about what's coming out of the speakers and a part of rock music. And what people listen to is a very important part actually is the guitar tone. [00:06:00] And there are many ways you can record a guitar, but one thing you should always consider is recording at the eye track when you record guitars.
So at the eye track, Basically means in addition to making an amplifier or using an Epsom or a capturing any sort of amp tone, you capture the signal that's coming out of your instrument directly. Like the very thing that comes out of your, that your pickups produce basically a, you capture that and record it to a separate track along with your tone.
And that is such a yeah, like a no brainer to do. And we're going to talk about why that is. So, first of all, there is something called revamping. So Malcolm, um, would you like to explain what ramping is and give a quick overview about it?
Malcom: [00:06:52] Sure. Ramping is super cool. Um, essentially because you're capturing this clean DEI signal of your [00:07:00] guitar, it means that you have this kind of like genie and a bottle of your guitar performance that you can output into any other amp down the road.
Um, Now, this is important for a few reasons, but the, the coolest benefit is that sometimes you're recording guitars really early in the production process, um, like Benny, you like to do it right after drums usually. So all you have is a drum kit and. A guitar and you're making tonal decisions for how this guitar is going to sound without all this other stuff built around it yet.
And by having this DEI, it means that you can change your mind on those tone decisions after. Um, so you might record an app when you're doing guitars, but you can now swap that out for a totally different tone by taking this DEI, thrown it into a new amp. Um, and, and record rerecording it. So we are ramping is taking that into a new app and rerecording it, um, and changing the tone to be whatever you want.
Benedikt: [00:07:59] Right. That's [00:08:00] exactly what it is. Uh, there is certain tools for it that it's not really important to know. It's just that yeah. Taking that DIY signal and treating it as if someone would be playing the guitar basically, and then sending it to an app or some, so. No, you could be like, okay, I record my dice signal.
Along with my amp or my Epsom. And then if I decide that I don't like my tone, I can just revamp it and play around with it. As long as I find something that I like while that is true. And you can't do that. Of course. And sometimes you, you might like, you might have played a really awesome take, but you're not kind of like, not quite satisfied with the tone.
And then, but you still want to use the take so you can just change the tone, which is great, but I think it is a good idea to let the mixer do it. Whoever's mixing this because guitar tone is very hard to church without context. And a great thing about having a guitar Dai is that you can send your tone [00:09:00] and your, um, vision and what, what you were listening to when you would record it to a mixer along with the GI track and.
The mixer can then make decisions based on context, everything else, the whole song, the whole arrangement, that will be much more useful than trying to come up with a tone, uh, like in the, during tracking stage, it all depends on how good the tones are that you getting. If they are already close to what the final thing will sound like, it will be easier.
But sometimes people will record really raw sounding tracks and sometimes the whole vibe might change a bit in mixing. And yeah, it's just a good idea to let the mixer do it. You can of course find your tone, but always send the clean DI along with the version that you heard when you were tracking.
It's also worth noting that you should always include the actual amp tone, by the way, or a simulation, at least, something that comes [00:10:00] close to what you want to hear on the record, because otherwise the mixer has to guess what you want. And the whole thing could end up being completely different than what you were going for.
So always send some directional info and at least a scratch track can be a sim or whatever, along with the DI. And then if it's great you can use it and if it's not great, it can easily be replaced with something in that direction, but just better.
Malcom: [00:10:27] Yeah. I personally think you should still try and get the guitar tone, right?
Yep. Um, as you go, uh, depending on your situation, if you just don't have the gear, uh, and you can't afford the gear. But you can get a good Dai then. Hell yeah. Don't like, don't let that stop you from recording. Just get a good Dai and know that you're going to put it in a trusted mixers hand. Like Benny, who's going to give you a good guitar tone in that.
Um, but in general, try and get a [00:11:00] great guitar tone recorded, um, but also have a DUI because that's not the only reason to have dies. There's a few other reasons that we'll get into. Um, I'm kind of at this crossroad where like up until. Like six months ago, I rarely died or sort of rarely ramped ever, but now I'm starting to really fall in love with it.
It's kind of changing how I think about things. So I don't know. I still spend a lot of time getting guitar tones when I do do recording. Um, but I also am way more open to the possibility of revamping later down, uh, towards mixing.
Benedikt: [00:11:34] Absolutely. I mean, if I were, to be honest, when I record, I don't do it a lot because I'm very confident with my decisions and I, I kind of build the arrangement and how everything sounds and the tones while I record.
But that comes with experience. Um, I'd highly recommend you dial in your tone. Absolutely. Just as Malcolm said, I just mentioned that, um, it is a good idea to let the mixer do it, uh, because people might think, okay, I record the, I. [00:12:00] Then after that I attracted, I find my tone and then I just sent that tone to the mixer.
So I just wanted to tell people that they also should include the DI and be open for the mixer, um, to reamp stuff because not because they shouldn't dial in the tone, but, uh, yeah, I just. Yeah. As I said, like, people could, could use the benefits of the workflow flow benefits of the Trek, but not use the full benefit that comes from sending that Deandre to the mixer.
Malcom: [00:12:31] Right. There's there's one more really important thing that was kind of hidden in there is that. It's really important that you do record a DI or sorry, an amp tone as well, even if it's an amp SIM, because what you're hearing when you're recording that guitar is going to change how you play. So you want to set a tone that reflects how the part's meant to sound, because it's going to change how your hands actually play the riff.
If it's like, you know, not sorted enough, you might [00:13:00] try digging in extra hard. To get it to kind of sound distorted and, uh, you know, that could be a good thing or a bad thing, but the point is that you will play different based on the amp that you're monitoring. So do have that just so you're actually hitting the performance, how it's meant to be, because if you play the guitar, if it's meant to be like this big, heavy, aggressive, riff, and you're playing it really soft, the DI's not going to sound heavy when we ramp it later.
Um, it has to be played that way first and foremost.
Benedikt: [00:13:26] Absolutely. And you were talking about performance. That brings me to the next point. That it enables you to really focus on a performance because when you are not a hundred percent happ, in case you are not a hundred percent happy with the tone you're getting, you might think, okay, until I get to this a hundred percent, I cannot record. I need to get the tone right. And then you might spend hours or days chasing your dream guitar tone. And you could have a moment in there where you're really, really creative or in a good spot to play the guitar actually. But you can't because you cannot get the [00:14:00] tone right. And if you record the DI, it's enough to get like 80% or 90% of the tone and just record the damn DI. And then you can always think about tone afterwards or leave it to the mixer to do it. But in any way, it just enables you to really focus on the performance. Whenever you feel like playing and you don't need to get to a hundred percent, if that's something that's holding you up.
Malcom: [00:14:24] Yeah. Uh, so maybe we should talk about why else DIs are great and necessary. Um, if not essential, a big thing for me is that. You can't really add it, uh, a guitar track. I mean, you can, but what you have of like available, um, in visual kind of feedback to make your decisions on an editing is really skewed when it's an Amtrak, because there's all this extra noise in the storage and that kind of changes where you think notes start and end.
Um, so you're just kind of looking at this blob of audio. That's really hard to actually, [00:15:00] you can do it, but it's just not the ideal way where a DI is like this clean. Representation of the pic attacks, the transience and how long things are sustaining, where one note starts and where one that note ends.
Um, and it makes it much easier to add it. So for editing alone, I think DIs are told the worth having every time you recorded a guitar,
Benedikt: [00:15:22] Yeah, so true. It is such a great thing to have DIs just for that. Uh, you wouldn't believe how much longer it takes to edit, especially heavily distorted guitars when there is no DI uh, you see that you see this, this, yeah.
This blob, the square way from thing you can't really tell where, where the attacks are and everything. And with the DI, it's so easy to do that. And, um, yeah, it's also that the not only is the distortion gone, but also it has like, it is an actual representation of all the dynamics that happened during playing.
So if you use Gates or software to detect transience or [00:16:00] whatever, it's just not just the manual cutting and like the visual, like the seeing of where the transients are, but also software that react to dynamic signals coming in reacts better to DIs because there are actual dynamics in there. And, um, it's just, it's so much better to, to, to have those there, even if you don't use them for the mix at all.
If the tone is really awesome just for editing. Yes. Ma'am just
Malcom: [00:16:23] like that's most of the time that's what happens with me is the DI is just there to make editing a breeze. Um, and you know, if you need to like, see if you've got a double-dip guitar left and a right, and you need to see if they're actually tight, something sounds funky.
You're going to like, just look at it and know exactly what's going on. And if you don't have that, it's like your guests is, you can only use your ears, which is hard. Um, if we're honest, so, uh, told the set up for that. Another cool thing about DIs is that they can take way more abuse and editing. Then a guitar, um, recording, like an amp recording can, uh, like, especially with [00:17:00] stuff called elastic audio, um, elastic audio is what it's called in ProTools.
I don't know what other dollars call that, call that or if that's like a universal thing.
Benedikt: [00:17:08] Um, I think in Cubase, it's called very audio.
Malcom: [00:17:14] I think I've heard like flex time and something else that is logic logic, maybe. Yeah. Um, so essentially it's like time stretching software. Um, where you can stretch or shorten notes, um, rather than just chopping a block.
Oops, sorry. I hit my mic rather than chopping a block and moving it left and right. You can actually like change the length of notes. Um, and that's not something I do a lot of, cause it can cause artifacts, but DIs can handle that a lot better than a recorded amp sound can, especially a distorted one.
Cause the story of signals is too complex. There's too many noises going on. And it generally doesn't respond well to this elastic audio time stretching stuff where DIs seem to do a good job at it. Um, furthermore, even with just slip editing, chopping it up. DIs [00:18:00] also do better with that? And when you take one of these dyes that you've edited with elastic audio or a slip edit in, chopping it up and you ramp it.
It like erases the proof of all of those edits. Like it's weird when you ramp an edited DI, it's like all those edits disappear. Even if you can notice them in he DI, it's pretty magical. So if you have like a really bad performance, a DI might be able to sell the jet.
Benedikt: [00:18:26] Yeah, exactly. And it's also that what you said about the less complex thing.
Um, sometimes, I mean, it's difficult with courts. But sometimes you need to even tune a guitar. Sometimes you need to retune a leads with leads. You can do that. Um, often like a solo or a sustained single notes or whatever, uh, they can be tuned, but it's a lot easier to do that with a clean DI then with a distorted tone that has a lot of overtones and it's just much more complex.
And, um, the tuning software will have a hard time. Detecting the notes and it gets even [00:19:00] more complicated with courts. Um, but a clean DI. Sometimes you can't even fix a cord or something as complex as that, you can fix it. You might notice some artifacts, but as Malcolm said, as soon as you ramp it, then there might be gone.
So with a DI, uh, the elastic audio and also tuning is much, much better and easier to do. Alright. So, um, let's talk about. Something that makes the whole ramping thing and the use of DIs very, very convenient and a witch. And this is something that is becoming more popular because the software got so good and that is using amp Sims.
So not really using a real tube amp or solid state app, but a plugin that emulates such an app. And back in the day, those were sounding pretty awful, but nowadays they sound really great. And apparently I found that out recently, you can get great tones out of the old ones as well. If you use great speakers or speaker simulations.
So [00:20:00] that's another thing, but abstinence can work really well. I'll use Don tons of great sounding records. And there's a couple of benefits to them that you only get when you record DI tracks, because that's how they work. You record a, a dry DI signal. The, the, the signal that comes right up out of your guitar or bass, you record that.
And in your doll, in your Iftware, you use a virtual amp. That's how it works. So you need to capture the eye for that even. So either just the eye or the eye, in addition to the amp tone. Now let's look at why amp Sims are so powerful.
Malcom: [00:20:32] Yeah. I hate that. That are good, but they are good. They've gotten to that point.
They, they just have, um, and, and it's awesome actually. Uh, but it's just kind of like a weird transition because you get used to just like, not believing that they can be. Good enough when you come up on amps and then I adopted a camper and I love it. And now it's getting to the point where I don't even need that.
Um, I mean, I still use it as my main kind of go to, but, uh, but there's, there's definitely [00:21:00] amps Sims. I can get the job done for sure. Um, so the coolest thing about amp Sims is obviously that you can just plop it on a track. And try out a hundred different combinations with the click of a button, you know, instantly there's no actual like ramping process where you have to send it out to your computer, into the app, rerecord it back into your computer, which all has to happen in real time.
Right? So it's actually quite time consuming to do a normal ramp where an amp SIM is instant. As soon as you drop the plugin on the track, it's happening. Um, and most of the amps and plugins have multiple amps inside of it. So you've got a bunch of options there. It really depends what you're using. Uh, but it it's just instant.
It's quick. It's like instant rampant, um, tons of options, you know, more like chances are that one of these amps and plugins will have more amps inside of it. Quotation Mark amps. Then you have real amps sitting in your room. Right? Most people only have [00:22:00] one guitar amp. So it's like, okay, are the chances are that this one.
PV beside me is the perfect ad for the song. Or am I going to find the perfect and for the song in the 12 options inside of this plugin, chances are that plugin is going to have one that's better, right? Maybe not, but it's, you know, the odds are just, that's just, that's the odds.
Benedikt: [00:22:19] Yeah. And sometimes. Even a little like lower quality, but having the right kind of amp or the right type, the right vibe for the song, uh, is preferable.
So it, you could, it could be that your whole chain with your amp that you have in your mic and preamp and everything you have is really amazing sounding. But if it only does one thing or a couple of things, and you need a different thing for your song going with a different SIM, that might not sound as pristine, but it's just better for what you're doing might be better than your amp.
So, yeah, there's something to be said about the, the, the, yeah. The, the choices that you have with those, with those plugins, and it's kind of having the [00:23:00] great amp collection in the computer.
Malcom: [00:23:02] Yeah. Yeah. There's definitely something to be said for having too many options, but with amps. And tone in general.
There's no perfect. One size fits all solution. So you have to have options. And it's when people are trying to do full records with just one guitar and one amp that, you know, maybe one song sounds amazing, but the next song doesn't and it's because they tried to make the same shoe fit. Right. It's it can't always work.
Um, so you have to be kind of flexible and amp Sims are easily the. The most affordable and quickest way to have flexibility in guitar
Benedikt: [00:23:39] recording. Yeah. And where you, your songs can really benefit from the flexibility's also that not only do you have, then the choices and the collection of amps, but. We always talking about how the vibe, the, the take, the energy, the performance is the most important thing.
And imagine like, even if you have a couple of real [00:24:00] amps, uh, imagine if you have like to set up all this, all these amps, all the microphones, all the different things and compare them. It's so time consuming and it's so, um, like distracting, it's distracting you from, from being created from the actual.
Recording and playing. Whereas when you have a couple of plugins or a great plugin with a lot of options in there, you can just play quickly, skip through all the amps, find a tone that you like, and it's just such a smooth, fast workflow. And it's such a creative thing to do. And that is like, where are your records can really benefit from that also?
Not, not only do you have the real, the right tones, but it's just so inspiring to just sit there. And play and not having to worry about back cables and 10 microphones and the amps and cabs and maintenance and all of that. And like, it's so it's so easy to just, and if you feel like playing you just open up the session and you start.
Malcom: [00:24:55] right,
Benedikt: [00:24:56] right. Yeah.
Malcom: [00:24:58] That's uh, that said, [00:25:00] Benny, I'm curious. What are you normally using for your amps these days? Um,
Benedikt: [00:25:06] I'm
Malcom: [00:25:07] landing on real lamps in the Kemper universe or like modeler university or, or app Sims generally.
Benedikt: [00:25:13] Um, I started with real amps only then I, and I still have a couple of those. And I also have, I'm lucky to have, um, a lot of friends in bands that were, can borrow amps, a specific app, if any of them.
And I have a lot of options there. Um, so I had an in theory, I have all the real options. Um, but to be honest for the last, I dunno, Cool. Dozens of productions. Actually, I haven't used a real episode. I have used the camper a lot that you love, but I eventually sold it because I like using plugins. Now I really do a progress or real am sometimes still the real amps, but lately mostly plugins actually.
And I love the yes, steel [00:26:00] tone up, which is kind of similar to the camper in plugin form. So. That one's really great. Great. And then I ha I have a lot of amps to be honest. So I have kind of a collection there. I have all the, almost all the newer DSP stuff I have, um, SDL tonality plugins. I have to tone up, um, a couple of other things, the plugin Alliance, um, uh BrainWorks Amsterdam's and yeah, so I really love those.
And the main thing for me was when I made the switch was when I noticed how little. The difference of the amp sometimes is and how small that is and how big the difference is that a cab actually makes we've talked about that already in the, on the podcast. But when I, once I found out that some of the amp Sims that I didn't like before suddenly sounded really awesome if I use the great AR or sometimes I set up a real cabin microphones and just send them through power into the cab that I do, I do that sometimes.
And that can [00:27:00] improve almost any Epsom so drastically. And once I found out that that's the case, I really did bother setting up real amps anymore. I can't, but I, I do the shootouts and the plugins are good enough.
Malcom: [00:27:14] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the, I was same way started on real lamps and then I got a camper I'm still just grossly in love with that thing.
It like instantly made. All the guitarists. I was recording with sound a lot better. Yeah. Um, and I just, yeah. Having the right tone option at the right time. Um, I love that thing. I'm still more in, in that than I am on, uh, on plugins, but, you know, I haven't really gone too far into the IRR game. So based on your advice, I'm gonna kind of delve into that.
Even when you, what the Kemper cause you on the Kemper, you can turn the caps off and you should, uh, Oh, yeah, you should
Benedikt: [00:27:53] have to say that the camper they did, they got the most of it, so right. And they [00:28:00] got it. Like, it's an amazing box, but there's one thing they got totally wrong and the many people making profiles as well.
And those are the caps. I think, I don't know why that is, but just try it, try the camper with a third party. I R and see and hear the difference. It's like, A world of difference. So do that.
Malcom: [00:28:20] Okay. I will. Yeah. If anybody wants to kind of hear more about this stuff that we're talking about, we covered it pretty in depth in episode five, which was the five most important parts of a great guitar tone
Benedikt: [00:28:30] to get back to the topic here.
What I was talking about when I said I use plugins instead of real amps, most, um, most of the time I was talking about mixing or ramping before mixing, because there's a difference to me when I actually re record someone or when I did record more. In those cases, I still love real amps and that's just Oriel caps at least because some people play just play differently when they stand in front of a cab.
And when they interact with the cab, when there's like the feedback [00:29:00] coming back and there's actual air that's being moved. And so. For tracking, I like the combination of a real amp and a DI, but that doesn't mean that I can't replace that amp later on with a SIM or enhanced it with a SIM or combined different things.
So in mixing plugins, when I'm tracking a real amp is great because it just feels different. And I don't know, I. That there's just one more option because then I have the real thing. I have a DI I can add ipsums I can replace the real thing. So I have all these three things and that's what I prefer. So,
Malcom: [00:29:37] yeah.
Cool. Yeah, I'm, I'm pretty close. Uh, normally I'll have a DI my camper and an app going when I've got a band in the studio, that's like, just cover all of it. Um, you know, cause everybody wants to use their amp. They brought their amp and they're like, this is my tone. And then, you know, 90 times or 90% of the time, it's not the ramp that ends up making the cut, but we tried [00:30:00] Xander and they're used to play into it, like you said.
Right. So sometimes they monitor that and it's great. Um, One more super power for both amps sims and reamping, even into real amps, or modelers, or a Kemper is that by reamping, you have the ability to process the DI signal using your plugins and your software in your DAW, which is really awesome because you can do some really crazy things to the signal before it hits the amp.
Or the amp sim or the modeler, whatever it is hitting. And that's what I'm really falling in love with. It's this ability to like clip things or EQ the signal before it even hits the amp and really shape it. You can change the dynamics of the DI signal in really, really powerful ways because software plugins, I mean, that's how most songs are being mixed nowadays. It's with this software.
So you can do some really powerful things that are a lot harder to do with just going straight into an [00:31:00] amp from your guitar. So I'm loving that. That's getting me really great results when I'm doing any mixing these days.
Benedikt: [00:31:06] Yeah. I mean, think about it. That's what what's been done for a long time with pedals in front of an emperor.
Right. But you are, when you're doing, when you recording the DI track and you have it in your door, you can do what people love to do with pedals, but you're not limited to the pedals. And that's the great thing, but you can always send it out in through your favorite pedal chain, but you can also use plugins that.
Shit where chances are, they are much more powerful than the standard guitar pedals, and you can get really creative here or more precise. You can do a similar thing that a pedal does, but just better or more precise. So absolutely agreed. Love that. Especially the clipping can be awesome. Like it's basically what people did with tube screamers.
I'm like this little bit of saturation, a little more mid range focus, a little tighter, low end. Less Wolf Venus. You can really fine tune that stuff if you clip it or just toured it slightly in the [00:32:00] dark before you send it to the amp. So absolutely agreed. Yeah. Um, what's also great is you have that same tone, that chain that can be really complex.
You can have that everywhere if needed. So imagine if you, you know, you correct, you collaborate with your band mates or with a mixer and you come up with this really crazy a pedal. Board thing that you have only, you will have that probably like the mixer or your bandmates won't have that. And if they, um, if you want them to use the same tone or something similar, uh, it's hard to, to make that possible.
And like a mixer couldn't send the DI through a similar chain. Oftentimes. But if you have that virtual chain or an Epsom, it can be as complex as you want it to. It's much easier to make that work in a, like a collaboration setup, because it's much cheaper to just get the same plugins or share licenses if there's multiple or whatever you can do.
Um, yeah, it's, it's so easy [00:33:00] to, to work for multiple people to work on the same thing, even if it's very complex compared to having a very complex, real amp set up that you want to replicate, replicate in a different spot.
Malcom: [00:33:12] I have one more question for you. Uh, and it's what, what is your thought on drive versus what DIs?
Um, and by that, I mean, stuff like guitar, pedals being printed onto the DI track, uh, or not,
Benedikt: [00:33:28] it's a very good question. And I, I don't think there's, uh, the right solution here. I think I, the way I do it is whenever it is something that doesn't change the way. Someone performs. I recommend not putting it in the DI.
So putting it, uh, or like putting it after the debacle. So like recording, it's a separate track, but whenever it is something that has to be part of the performance or that is basically part of the performance. So sometimes [00:34:00] that's delays certain rhythmic and
Malcom: [00:34:03] yeah,
Benedikt: [00:34:03] yeah. Something like that. Um, then I will actually encourage people to just.
Print that with the DI because that's, to me, that's just, that's not so much processing like an ACU or compressors or something. That's just part of the performance for me. And if you remove that, people play differently and it's very hard to mimic that later. Yeah. So whenever I consider something, a part of the performance, I will say, record it with a DI and I'll just use it.
Malcom: [00:34:30] Yeah. Most times this can be is better just printed onto the reference amp recording. You know, cause like we said, we're trying to still dial in an appetite or a like. A reference tone. If you don't have an app or whatever, uh, and just routing your pedals only into that and keeping it clean DI is like usually the way to go.
But yeah, sometimes you do need to capture those effects. Um, you know, otherwise you're mixer. Might not [00:35:00] understand what a part's meant to be, especially if it's like a, I really like you to delay kind of thing where it's like this big rhythmic thing, like how would they know? Um, you know, so you have to send them that, or at least get a reference made, you know, record it dry and create a reference to kind of show them what's going on.
Um, which we should talk about because a lot of this is for the mixer. Um, you know, it benefits the recording band as well in that, uh, You're you're able to edit better and you have way more options. So the chances of you being able to get a good product are definitely going up. Um, but all of this really comes extra useful once it reaches your mixer.
Benedikt: [00:35:42] Yeah, sure. And A mixer has a lot of flexibility with the DI and they can not only replace the entire signal, if it's just wrong or it doesn't fit the song well. A mixer can also just enhance your tone. That is something that I love to do. Sometimes when people send me [00:36:00] a tone that is not bad, but just something's missing, like there's maybe low and missing or oftentimes it's a character thing in the mids that's just not there. Sometimes I want it to have more "hair", like more grit or whatever, or there's a hole somewhere in the spectrum that I want to fill with something, you know, something's just missing then I'll grab an amp or an amp sim oftentimes, or something really weird. Sometimes just some plugin that does "something".
And then just add it to the signal to the amp track that I got and kind of add and bring back what I think is missing. And that is really, really powerful because that way I can preserve the original character in the original tone, but I could just, yeah. Bring it to another level, make it pop more, make it more sweetie, make it have more low end or whatever.
And, um, that's, that's really cool. So I only replace it if I really [00:37:00] think it doesn't fit at all, or if I think I have a similar thing, but that's just better than I might replace it. But whenever I can. And whenever there's something about the original tone that I just like, uh, I'll keep it. And then I add whatever's missing and there's a couple of cool things you can do actually.
There's you, you can use really weird things like something like a pocket amp, these little small Marshall. Uh, amps that basically only have mid range. Like he's this tiny amp things. Uh, you could, I have some IRS that are really great. Like I use some empathy and send it through an I R that's been, that's actually been a headphone, capturing an amp or something like that, a cat or something like that.
So some, some really vibe-y weird distorted, mid range things. I really like to yeah. Tuck those in and, um, Yeah, you can do a lot of cool, cool things with a Dai that you couldn't. If there's no dye. [00:38:00] I
Malcom: [00:38:00] bet people are kind of starting to believe us by now, you know, that it it's totally worth doing. Um, especially in a self recording band set up, um, where like chances are your experience level.
Isn't huge, right? You probably aren't a professional audio engineer. If you're listening to this podcast and trying to learn. So. This can really be the saving grace for you not having to redo your album or at least redo the guitars, because that does happen. I just had to tell people that I can not work with what they've done, especially in guitars.
It's the easiest thing to get totally wrong. Both in a recording performance kind of form, like with tuning stuff, but also tonal. Like it's all the same because with a DI can fix the performance stuff, better, editing timing, and whatnot, even pitch like Benny was saying, and also correct the tone because of reamping.
[00:39:00] So it's like the easiest thing to do. It even makes your life easier because you can now record really easily by potentially even just plugging right into your interface, through the High Z. And so a guitar, one cable, and you have a professional product at the end of it after mixing.
Benedikt: [00:39:19] Absolutely great.
Yeah, that's, that's super great. And, uh, to the flexibility again, um, one thing that I don't really like is changing or making production decisions in, during revisions and recalls, or like when the mixing is actually done. But sometimes it can be necessary. And that DI track is the only way you could actually pull this off.
So you will be glad to have it. And one thing I could think of is on a production that I mixed recently, I had to do that. I came up with. A DI sound based on the directions that the bank gave me and based on their scratch tracks, I came up with not a [00:40:00] DI on an amp sound with their dyes. And I thought it was great.
It fit the mix of fit the song, but it turned out, uh, and like, it's just a matter of taste. Sometimes it turned out that the bear was going for something a little different. And that also worked. So by the way, it's, wasn't that just a matter of a fried or wrong, it's just different approaches. And so they listened to the mix, they loved everything, but they just wanted a different kind of guitar tone.
So it was very easy because I had to DI even after it was basically mixed during revisions to just recall the session, mute what I had done, the tracks that I had, um, and come up with a different tone and with the amp Sims, it's even more. It's like it's even easier and quicker because I don't have to set up a whole new guitar rig.
I just used different plugins, combine it with the original tone and there it was. And I got the, I got it. Right. So if you don't have a DI at this, like, and people were like have different expectations [00:41:00] because sometimes they send you a tone and then when they hear it in the mix, it's not what they were thought it would be.
Uh, and then you're stuck with having to redo everything just as Malcolm said,
Malcom: [00:41:08] right. Yeah. Did we miss anything?
Benedikt: [00:41:11] Uh, I don't think so. I mean, the, the whole thing, um, they, it comes down to is the garbage in garbage, in garbage out thing. That's always true with recording. So all of what we just said only makes sense.
If the dI signal you're recording is actually good and it is very easy to record it, the DI signal, but on the other hand, it can go wrong and there is multiple ways you could, you could mess this up. So an important thing to know is that any amp or MCM is limited by the quality of the DI signal, because that's what you feed it to the amp.
That's what the amp or the SIM has to process. So the quality of that signal is just critical and. There's different signals. We've also talked about that on another episode, but there is mixed signals line [00:42:00] signals, uh, and DI signals, I was like instruments, signals with difference impedances and different levels and all of that.
So first of all, you need an actual, DI signal, the actual. gnalInstruments signals. So, and an actual instrument input where you plug your guitar into it, that can capture that. So I've seen a lot of people use digital desks for recording, and sometimes they don't have a high C input. So they will pluck the guitar into a line.
And for example, that is not made for taking guitar signals. So the high end and some other stuff will be not the same. It will just sound different. It might sound harsh, it might sound quiet or loud or whatever. So it has to be an actual. Instrument input and, or a DI box that then feeds a microphone input.
One of those two things. So that's the first thing here.
Malcom: [00:42:47] Yeah. It's worth mentioning to always listen to your DI track, even if you're recording an amp as well, or you have an amp SIM on it, uh, mute that and listen to the DI and actually like. [00:43:00] Check that it sounds like a, DI, uh, you might have a buzz in there, like a grounding, electrical loop buzz that you don't notice when it's been ran through an app.
Um, there really could be anything or maybe you're, uh, you've got active pickups and the batteries are dying and you don't really notice it when you've got like a heavily distorted amp SIM on it. But once you listen to the DI, you're like, Oh, something's wrong with this? So always listen to your DI and just do a little check and make sure that it is what it is meant to be.
Benedikt: [00:43:30] Yeah, absolutely. And that also enables you to analyze your source tone. So not only that it's technically correct, and it actually is a DI signal and that there's no buzz and stuff like that, but, you will get insights on your playing. Like how consistent you play. A DI track is much less forgiving compared to an amp track.
So if you listen to the DI track and analyze how you play, you might find that you need to pick harder or that you [00:44:00] bend stuff a lot that shouldn't be bended. And so the tuning is always off, like the intonation. And also you might find that it is too dynamic and you should clip it or use a pedal or whatever, or you just get insights that you don't get as easily when you just use an amp.
So that DI track will also likely improve the way you play. If you listen to it, if they take the time to analyze it. Yeah.
Malcom: [00:44:24] It's amazing. How good DIs can sound if. It's really played well and captured, well, I'm almost want to like try and find an example that we can post or something, uh, because it can be like pretty musical, surprisingly musical if they're kick ass.
So, um, and if your DIY sounds good, your amp tone is going to kick ass.
Benedikt: [00:44:45] Absolutely. There's also another thing we, we always talk about how important strings and drum heads and all these stuff, this stuff is. And for strings, I find it easy to compare a reference track that I record in the [00:45:00] beginning of a session with really fresh strings and then compare that DI track to, um, yeah, whatever take I do a couple of hours later and I can immediately tell if the strings are start that are starting today.
And it's easier to do that with a DI for me than with a distorted amp sometimes. And once they start dying, I can change them. And I don't run into the situation where I think during recording, I think like the sounds kind of dull. This sounds weird. I'm not sure if it's still the same and you compare it and you're not sure, or something's weird, but if you have the DI and you compare it, it's crystal clear.
If the there's a loss of, um, low end definition and a high end and definition, everything. Yeah, it's really,
Malcom: [00:45:43] yeah, that's a great idea. I love that. Um, I kind of do the same thing with drums. I'll I'll record like hits of the drums, uh, at the beginning of the session. And then I can always look back and see if our like, tuning a slipped or we need to replace the skin.
Uh, but doing that with guitar strings, with a dis super clever.
[00:46:00] Benedikt: [00:46:00] Yeah. Do that. That's that's that's super cool. Um, and then finally, If you have a dI box or a high C input, there's a difference between, um, the stuff that like the different things that aren't available. So some interfaces have pretty good Hi-C inputs and some students of mine in the, in the self recording band Academy, they did comparisons that it shootouts with partly surprising results.
Um, so some of the interfaces seem to do pretty well. And the high C was just as good as a good DI box. And in some cases, the high C input was total garbage compared to the DI box. And it's worth doing a shoot out here. I don't know. Have you have any, like, do you have any experience with typical interfaces that people might use at home?
Like the Scarlets or whatever?
Malcom: [00:46:57] Yeah. I mean, I've used the Scarlet in the past and [00:47:00] it did the job, but, uh, it was definitely not as nice as my radial DI. Um, there was definitely a difference there, especially in like the high end, like it just didn't kind of sort of lifeless and it was almost like the dynamics were weaker in a weird way, um, with the high Z on the focus, right.
Compared to my DI, um, I'm now using an Apollo, but I still prefer my DI. Um, For my guitars, all my guitars are passive pickups. I should note, I use an active radial DI, and that's kind of like, that's my favorite. Yeah. But yeah, they, they do sound really different. Um, like I, I do have a passive radial DI as well, and it compared to my active is quite a difference when you compare them.
Benedikt: [00:47:45] Sure. But sometimes you have to go with the passive one because I'm an instrument with high output level, like a bass with active pickups or something, or even some very loud, active guitar pickups. They can overload the active DI box and then it starts to [00:48:00] slip and distort and then you need to go for a passive one with a transformer in it that just can handle, um, these high signals.
And it has a lot of headroom. So it's definitely, definitely depends on your instrument. And it's good to have an active and a passive one or the one that's suitable for your, for whatever you have and just do a comparison. I know it's hard. You can compare everyday. DI box out there with your interface, but maybe if the chance to borrow one or to get an affordable one and compare that to your interface and see if it makes a difference, just don't get the really, really cheap crappy ones.
But if I think if you get a standard. Good. DI box and compare that with your interface. One of the two options will give you decent DIs. Um, it's I need to be careful with, with saying that, because I know that some of the most popular DIs boxes aren't actually that good. So you could end up getting one.
That's not that good, but I think if you at least compare two or three options, one of those we'll probably do. [00:49:00] Yeah,
Malcom: [00:49:00] definitely. Um, and anything's better than nothing. So like I just, when I was getting started on this stuff, I always let stuff hold me back. Like, ah, I just need to like, wait until I have this one thing and it's not true.
You can definitely use the focus, right. One plugged right into it and people do. Um, and if you were sending it to a good mixer at the end of it, they're gonna make up for that difference in the ramping process. So don't worry. Just record, make music.
Benedikt: [00:49:28] Yeah. That's a nice way to put it and a great way to end this episode because making music that's, that's what it's all about.
And I think DI tracks are, have improved the workflow so much and compare like in combination with the amp Sims, especially so. It's much more about making music. If you use tools like that, and very less about complicated recording setups, as much as they are fun and as inspiring as they can be and a whole recording situation, it's really hard to beat a great DI with a collection of some of [00:50:00] plugins that you can just use and just go whenever you feel like it.
Malcom: [00:50:04] never been more affordable and fantastic. And to be recording guitars right now than right now. I'm like, this is. If you're getting into it right now, you've got it made. This is awesome.
Benedikt: [00:50:16] All right. So there's one thing that I want to tell you about, and that is an article that I wrote, and you can find that if you go to theselfrecordingband.com/ditracks, it's a pretty in depth blog post about how to actually record DI tracks.
And it talks about basically what we were talking about today, but a little more in depth than with a little more technical info. Um, especially things like why the DI box makes a difference or, um, certainly DI boxes sound different than others, like impedance stuff. And when to use a passive, one of the active ones, stuff like that, it covers three different methods of capturing, capturing a DI track.
Um, so you might want to have a look at that because if you're now convinced that. [00:51:00] But the DI trick is a cool thing to have, and that it's, uh, even, I would say almost a necessity to record it. The I track it means there's no reason not to. If you're convinced that that is the case, this article shows you how to actually go about it.
What books to choose, how to plug everything together, to make it work. So check out theselfrecordingband.com/ditracks and, uh, If that doesn't help enough as always just leave us a question, a comment, or send us an email or whatever. We're happy to help. And yeah. Excited to hear your results.
Malcom: [00:51:33] I had a shout out to Seth white.
He's a fellow that's sending me some stuff. Uh, and he listened to this podcast and he's told me that he's buying more guitar strings. So we're doing it. Betty. We're changing the world.
Benedikt: [00:51:46] We changed it then. That's amazing. That's really amazing. Yeah. Oh, wow. That is so cool. Way to go, keep buying more guitar strings, using them, taking them more often.
You might have to buy it [00:52:00] even more now that you are comparing your DI tracks and not your Amtrak's.
Malcom: [00:52:03] So, yeah. Sorry for that. Alright.
Benedikt: [00:52:09] See you next week. Thank you for listening.
Malcom: [00:52:12] See
Benedikt: [00:52:12] you guys. .
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