Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Recording audio help

Hi Guys. When I’m recording on the mando I find that when I play on the upper registers I’m losing volume and tone. The sound is breaking up. Does anyone have suggestions about dealing with this – compression or EQ? I’m using Studio One 4 and playing into a Rode NT1-A condenser mic, playing through a pre-amp. Thanks.



Can you post a video of you recording so we can see your set up and you in the process of recording? With that equipment, you should not be losing volume and tone (if the mandolin is properly set up and you are playing consistently on the upper frets in the same manner as on lower frets). The sound “breaking up” suggests that there is some sort of audio overload somewhere in the system. For example, is the microphone too close to the instrument, or the gain set too high on the pre-amp? There are too many reasons this could be happening to guess without a look at what you are doing. A short video of your set up and you recording would answer lots of questions.


When I looked at what I’m actually doing it’s pretty messy. Like the plumbing in an old house. I think the problem is that I have an old Boss BR-900 in the middle of everything. I’ve been using that for quick recording and copying tracks from the computer (that can’t be converted to .wav or .mp4 files). OK, so get ready: condenser mic out into the preamp, preamp out into the Boss XLR input, Boss line out into my mixer and to the studio monitors. Then I have my Macbook headphones 1/8" output going into the Boss line in. So, effectively, the Boss is running the show, and everything I’m recording into the computer on Studio One is going through the Boss device. I hope you can follow that. I’ll try to get an audio if you need it.


So you are using the BR900 as your recording device or is it being used as the preamp/mixer? Is there a computer involved in this? If so, is the computer hooked up to everything from digital outputs on the BR900? I’m still confused (the reason I wanted to see a video of your recording setup). But if what I mentioned above is how you have your recording set up, I can see why there is noise and loss of decent tone. Is your preamp also a digital converter; in other words, can you go directly from your preamp into your computer (via USB or Firewire)? If so, take the BR900 out of the chain and try to record directly to your computer and see if that fixes the sound. Also, your computer should be able to handle nearly any type of sound file. And there are plenty of freeware software audio converters out there (check out Shareware Music Machine)

The microphone you are using with a decently quiet preamp (audio interface with phantom power) will give you a pristine audio recording with a decent recording environment and a little practice when recorded directly into a computer.


Thanks Michael I did a video but I can’t get it to upload. I got it into iCloud but can’t get the link to work here. Anyway, thanks for your patience. Yes, the BR900 is being used as a recording device – I have a separate pre-amp that is provided phantom power to the condenser mic. So the audio converter would enable me to record audio from the computer to a file that could be dragged into a track on Studio One? In that case maybe I’ll ditch the BR900 and go from preamp directly into my MacBook via the USB out in the preamp. Here’s a photo of the setup if that helps.


I’d definitely start by bypassing the BR900 (and any other pieces of hardware you can eliminate.) Cut the hardware down to the bare minimum, then methodically start adding back pieces.

Also, it could be something as simple of not being close enough to the mic. When I’m recording into my Yeti USB mic, I have to get a lot closer when playing the mando.


Do you like the Yeti?


I have the original one. It’s ok. Sound quality could be a little better, but I’ve heard the newer versions have greatly improved on that.

They’re really great for simple throw down tracks.


Hi Tim,

It looks like you are using the ART Tube MP for the microphone preamp going into the BR900 for the digital conversion then to the computer. If you can, you should purchase a simple Audio interface that will allow you to connect the microphone directly to the computer without adding noise. You are looking for something with decently high gain and headroom with a very low noise floor. Unfortunately, I do not believe the Tube MP has a direct digital output that can connect to the computer (I looked online at the specs and could not find that info). The smart money would be to borrow an audio interface from and music friend and test the waters first to make sure the BR900 is the problem. Portable digital multi-track recorders have notoriously noisy mixer sections and nasty gain distortion.

I believe that if you find a decent digital audio interface (there are a few decent ones under $100-$150), your recordings will sound much cleaner. You will not, however, find a digital audio interface under $150 that includes a true tube preamp. Borrow one if you can to see if that fixes your problem.


Hi Michael. Good advice. I’m going to act on it, Thanks again for your time and insight. Tim

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Thanks, Mark. Part of me just wants to get one and simplify things.