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Microphone Month 3

Down and Dirty

Q: I just laid down a great solo on my synth, but I’m not happy with the way it sounds. It seems too clean for the track it’s being playing on. Is there anything I can do to change the sound but without having to re-record the whole instrumental line?

A: Actually, there is! But the answer depends on what you’re recording to – if you’re using a DAW, then the easy way to dirty-up a clean recording is to use a distortion or amp modeling plug-in.

If you’re not using a DAW or you don’t have a suitable plug-in, then you could try re-amping. The idea is to play the clean recorded track back through an overdriven amplifier, then record the harder-edged, distorted tone back into a new track. Depending on your rig, you may need an interface box, such as the X-Amp from Radial, which will ensure that the levels and impedances are correct when you feed the line-level output of your recorder/mixer into an instrument amp.

One other option is to mix down the track using hardware-based distortion, such as from a stompbox, through the insert point of that mixer channel.

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