Trouble overdubbing

Already recorded tracks playback bad

I’m a newbie and I’m sure I’m doing everything wrong but I have been able to record a bunch of stuff successfully, add effects, mixdown etc.

Here’s my problem: I recorded a guitar track. Now I want to add vocals but I want to hear the guitar in headphones while I record the vocals.

The first time I tried this it more or less worked. I could hear the guitar clearly and I could hear my vocals and it all got recorded. Two problems though. First, the vocal track wasn’t synched properly with the guitar track. Second, and the worst problem, ever since that one time when it worked now the playback of the already recorded guitar track comes through completely distorted. I’ve tried changing every setting I can think of but nothing helps.

Any ideas?

Just to be clear: what I mean is that I have a guitar track recorded already. I hit record to lay down a vocal track. Then I put on the headphones and I can hear the already recorded guitar track playing back through the headphones but it is completely distorted. There is nothing wrong with the headphones.

Ok, where do we start? These problems could be caused by a number of things but don’t despair 'cos there should be some easy fixes.

First thing though, what is your system setup? In particular what is your soundcard and what is your signal chain (ie what plugs into what plugs into what)? Armed with that info help will be much more easily obtained.

Let’s have a go on the “distortion” on the guitar. (Presumably this is unwanted distortion). First up, you must make sure that no part of the input chain is clipping as you record… eg mixer, amp, soundcard. The soundcard is an easy one to spot 'cos you’ll probably see N-track’s Recording meter bouncing into the red. The others are more tricky to spot especially without knowing the signal chain.

Also, you need to make sure you are not clipping on the output too… ie that you’ve not turned something, somewhere, up too loud. Again, N-track’s metering is some help (Output meters this time though).

Now then, because it’s difficult to describe sound, it’s quite possible that what you describe as distortion is not what I think it is. What I’m wondering is if you have a buffering problem. If this is the case the guitar won’t be “fizzy” but more like “stuttery”. This would also be bourne out by the sync problem you have (tracks not lining up in time). Track whacking up the buffer settings in n-track’s Preferences.

Are you clicking on the “LIVE” button to hear your playing/singing in the headphones as you record it? There might be some issues there.

Then again, maybe some bit of kit has gone faulty. It does happen.

So, there’s a few starting points. Come back with the specs etc and I’m sure you’ll get the help you need.


Any update on this?

Just curious…

Keep knockin’! He’s in there somewhere…

Quote: (cmarshall @ Sep. 07 2007, 11:57 AM)

I'm a newbie...

Just an offering:
How's your understanding of signal-flow concerning a typical recording studio setup?
The recording software here is a model of that most typical arrangement, and if you have that together you may find you have a jump on the learning curve (correction- you will most definitely have a jump on it).

There's a good book on it, in case you need to get better hold of this, called "How to Make a Demo-Quality Recording in your Bedroom" by Peter Lawrence-Alexander (Hal Leonard, 'Tech-Master Series').
It's paper-bound, and specifically gets into signal-flow, carrying over from the analogue world to the digital.
Totally worth it, even with the dated material now.
The concepts are the same, and always will be I think.
Until a Portastudio gets relegated to the status of the old Edison Wax Cylinders!
And even then, electrons haven't changed since the Big Bang.