Anyone want to critique some recordings I made? - Car Audio | DiyMobileAudio.com | Car Stereo Forum

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Old 01-31-2017   #1
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Arrow Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

I spend a ton of time thinking about the playback portion of acoustics, and realized I don't know as much about the recording side as I want to. So I bought some stuff and found some things to record. I have already decided how "successful" I was in reaching my goals for these recordings, but I'm always curious to know what other people might think.

My goal is to figure out how to capture a complete acoustic scene with realistic stage width, depth, tonality, and all those other things we enjoy in a wonderful recording. That's it really.

If you're interested in taking a listen, let me know here or over PM. I'm hesitant to post links to the recordings in public since I'm not the artist and I never mentioned I would share publicly, only with friends.

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Old 01-31-2017   #2
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

go for it, what do you have to lose.

It seems like most people don't care to actually understand reality.
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Old 01-31-2017   #3
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

I'm in for a listen.

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Old 01-31-2017   #4
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

I'm in for a listen, but posting them anonymously on YouTube will get you a TON of feedback really quickly. Just might not be educated feedback.

EDIT: There are a TON of online resources that discuss "natural" recording in all different environments, from in-room to ambient rainforest sounds. The TL;DR is: try two or 2 different types of mic methods (A/B, X/Y, ORTF, Jeklin Disk, Mid-Side, Blumlein) then pick whichever sounds "right" in your ears. A browsing of the available hand-held recorders from Zoom et. al will give a pretty good indication of the configs that work most consistently. I've had really good results with ORTF and X/Y, but depending on room and source YMMV.

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Old 01-31-2017   #5
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Victor_inox View Post
go for it, what do you have to lose.
trust

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Old 01-31-2017   #6
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 94VG30DE View Post
I'm in for a listen, but posting them anonymously on YouTube will get you a TON of feedback really quickly. Just might not be educated feedback.

EDIT: There are a TON of online resources that discuss "natural" recording in all different environments, from in-room to ambient rainforest sounds. The TL;DR is: try two or 2 different types of mic methods (A/B, X/Y, ORTF, Jeklin Disk, Mid-Side, Blumlein) then pick whichever sounds "right" in your ears. A browsing of the available hand-held recorders from Zoom et. al will give a pretty good indication of the configs that work most consistently. I've had really good results with ORTF and X/Y, but depending on room and source YMMV.
Uneducated feedback is less than useless as you point out yourself. This is why I'm posting here instead of youtube. Or facebook. Or any social media thing ever.

Mid/side, ORTF, and similar arrangements are not compatible with my omnidirectional microphones. I am left with clever setups like the Jeklin disc or Crown's SASS array. I have tried many types styles even though I expected to get mediocre results, and that's exactly what I ended up with.

On that subject though, this is my favorite tool to visualize how some of those arrangements work. I have confirmed some of the setups with my own trials.

Visualization of ORTF Stereo Microphone System mic angle 110° spacing 17 cm equivalence system - Array with two microphones Time of arrical difference mic - Stereo recording angle SRA time difference level difference mic orchestra angle degrees visua

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Old 02-02-2017   #7
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

I wouldn't consider myself qualified to give any constructive, technical feedback... But the train and the firecracker tracks especially, were awesome, IMHO!!! Thanks a lot for sharing that.

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Old 02-02-2017   #8
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

I'm sending detailed feedback via PM, if you want I can re-post in the thread as well. Short version is "this is better than anything I've done", so cool beans there. I'd love to see photos of the setup for all 4 tracks, if you have them.

As an aside, one way I've heard people refine their recording/playback technique is to record the sound of their keys jingling, then try to play that back. It's not full-spectrum, but it gives an incredibly dynamic and nuanced reproduction that it's really easy to tell if it's "right" or not. Then you just keep tweaking until you can get the keys right

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Old 02-02-2017   #9
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

DavidRam your opinion, no matter how non-technical, is always welcome.

94VG30DE thank you very much for the feedback! I have video recordings of the performances matched up to the audio that I shared with you and I'll see if I can get them somewhere you can watch sometime this weekend. I might have to try the keys thing, that's a neat idea.

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Old 02-02-2017   #10
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

I'd be really interested to listen to these and see your setup.

The "key jangle" microphone test is mainly to test transient response and to see if they overload the microphone capsule, ribbon, or its electronics. You will hear "spittiness" or kind of like small pops at the peaks. Here's a video to demonstrate (it's near the end).

+ YouTube Video
ERROR: If you can see this, then YouTube is down or you don't have Flash installed.


I have a pair of the Active version of those mics, which are the Samar Audio Designs VL37A. They are Ribbon mics and like most ribbons have a figure-8 polar pattern. I usually get the best results, or most accurate stereo image within the "room" with these in a Blumlein pair (stacked vertically and aimed at a 90° differential).

Photo of Blumlein arrangement for illustration only...



When using my LDC or SDC mics which are Cardioid or Hyper-Cardioid polar pattern, I tend to go with an ORTF setup....



A Mid/Side setup works really well for brass and woodwinds instruments, and it allows me to "dial in" the right amount of the room ambiance so that it sounds just like it was while I was playing the instrument in that room.

I've also been lucky enough to hear your fireworks and locomotive recordings and they were excellent so I'd love to check out these recordings as well!

bbfoto AT hotmail DOT com

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Old 02-02-2017   #11
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbfoto View Post
I'd be really interested to listen to these and see your setup.

The "key jangle" microphone test is mainly to test transient response and to see if they overload the microphone capsule, ribbon, or its electronics. You will hear "spittiness" or kind of like small pops at the peaks. Here's a video to demonstrate (it's near the end).

When using my LDC or SDC mics which are Cardioid or Hyper-Cardioid polar pattern, I tend to go with an ORTF setup....

A Mid/Side setup works really well for brass and woodwinds instruments, and it allow me to "dial in" the right amount of the room ambiance so that it sounds just like it was while I was playing the instrument in that room.
All of these points are really helpful, thanks! Come to think of it, the last time I went with an ORTF was definitely an SDC setup.

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Old 02-02-2017   #12
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

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94VG30DE thank you very much for the feedback! I have video recordings of the performances matched up to the audio that I shared with you and I'll see if I can get them somewhere you can watch sometime this weekend. I might have to try the keys thing, that's a neat idea.
With YouTube you can host videos that don't show up in searches, but only work if someone has the exact link. I've used it quite a few times to post videos for students that were too specialized for the general public.

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Old 02-02-2017   #13
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 94VG30DE View Post
With YouTube you can host videos that don't show up in searches, but only work if someone has the exact link. I've used it quite a few times to post videos for students that were too specialized for the general public.
Do you know what the limitations are concerning audio bandwidth, sample rate, and all that kind of stuff is for Youtube? I'm open to doing something like that, but if it's going to stream in a lossy codec then I'm going to be shooting myself in the foot with what I'm trying to do.

Come to think of it, I might be able to host files on my smugmug gallery. I'll look into that.

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Old 02-02-2017   #14
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbfoto View Post
I'd be really interested to listen to these and see your setup.

...(snip)...

I've also been lucky enough to hear your fireworks and locomotive recordings and they were excellent so I'd love to check out these recordings as well!
Thanks for sharing all that info! I enjoyed the video too.
You should have a link to the files in your email inbox.

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Old 02-04-2017   #15
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazzi View Post
Thanks for sharing all that info! I enjoyed the video too.
You should have a link to the files in your email inbox.
Thanks Justin! I was able to download the files with no problems. However, I'll be out of town for a few weeks and would really like to listen to these at home on my Neumann studio monitors. I really trust them to be ultra revealing, and to provide an accurate picture of the sound stage, imaging, depth, and everything else that has been captured in the recording. All I have with me at the moment are some AKG K553 PRO headphones which are great for casual listening and basic monitoring, but not so great for critical evaluation.

So I just wanted to let you know that I probably will not be able to share my thoughts right away. However, I will say that they already sound amazing on the K553 cans, so I'm really looking forward to what I hear with the Neumanns. Thanks again.

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Old 02-05-2017   #16
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

Id love a listen too.

I may not be super knowledgable or as critical a listener as others on here, but I do love a good quality recording through my (admittedly non-audiophile) headphones and the chance to learn from others.

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Old 02-05-2017   #17
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

Sure thing. I'll send you a PM with link in a moment.

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Old 03-10-2017   #18
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

Bump, for this! Haven't forgot! Hopefully I'll be checking these out soon and posting my impressions.
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Old 03-13-2017   #19
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

Jazzi-

I'd love to take a listen if you'd be willing to PM me.



Thanks,


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Old 03-13-2017   #20
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

Sure thing Steve! Link incoming...

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Old 03-15-2017   #21
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

I now have videos to share that were made during the recordings so you can put some eyes on the scene to compare with what your ears heard. I tried to send links to everyone who has asked about these, but if I missed you, let me know!

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Old 03-17-2017   #22
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

Okay, grab yourself a brewski or two, a glass of wine, or some coffee and take a seat, LOL! This is gonna take some time.


Justin, I finally was able to Listen to all of your tracks on both my studio monitors and headphones. I also gave them a listen on my main home system and one of my car setups. And it took me a good bit of time to collect my thoughts, so I apologize for the delay.

For disclosure to others reading this, I had heard Jazzi's Steam Locomotive and Fireworks tracks a few months ago and had discussed them briefly with him, in addition to the specific type of microphone setup that he is using, so I have a bit of "background" regarding those tracks.

The Akoma small Choir and Acoustic Guitar recordings are new to me, but AFAIK they are using the same mic setup. Justin is using a really great microphone technique that is similar (but a bit different) to the effect of using a Jecklin Disc. I'm sure he will chime in to describe his setup here at some point.

I also listened and took my notes shown below BEFORE seeing the Videos that Justin Posted. Any comments that are from after viewing the video are noted as such, and watch for "SPOILER ALERTS" if you don't want to know the details of the videos yet!

Let's get on with it!

First of all, these are INCREDIBLE recordings! They have captured all of the essential elements of a fine recording: Wide and Even Frequency Response, Excellent Dynamics, incredible Sound Stage, Imaging, and Realism. HUGE


I did find some things that I would want to try to improve, but some of those are just a result of the Stereo Microphone Setup and special Technique that Justin is using. I'll discuss my main observations below.


1. There is a slightly Diffuse and weak Center Image and/or lack of Center Focus. There is a lack of Coherency and Focus about ~5°-10° to either side of center. It seems like a bit of weird "Phasiness" in the Center which to my ears is causing a slightly diffuse and weak center image. In addition, the Far Left and Far Right "Image" or Levels are too strong in relation to the Center.

For instance, while listening to the Steam Locomotive, as it approaches the Center from the Left, the image kind of "Jumps" to the Right side and sort of "skips" the Center. In my listening, there isn't a really smooth transition from Left, to Center, and on to the Right. This particular mic setup is hard to "get just right" in this regard...there are a lot of variables to the design and setup. Justin, does your DIY array have any ability to adjust the position of the mic capsules fore/aft in the array, or the angles of the mics?


2. Background or Unwanted Ambient Noise. This is just something we have to live with when using this type of microphone setup, and with "field recording" in general. To get the proper Sound Staging, Imaging, and Balance, the microphone array needs to be a certain distance from the source(s). A more traditional "close mic" setup in a quiet studio allows you to control the Source/Room ratio (the outdoor Ambient noises being the "room" in this case), to eliminate unwanted noise from the surrounding environment.


3. Lack of High Frequency "Air", Sparkle, or Detail. While the HF information is absolutely there, and the recording has very nice realism as is, I feel that a slight boost to the upper HF would give some "Sparkle" and detail, and add even a bit more "space" to the recording. Again, the slight lack of HF "sparkle" is due to the Distant Microphone Setup where HF information dissipates or loses energy over distance (Justin, please correct me if my theory is misguided!).


Now on to my thoughts on the individual recordings...


STEAM LOCOMOTIVE:

As mentioned above, there's a peculiar "phasiness" in the center image which seems like the center sort of "drops out" slightly, and at a certain point the Train kind of jumps from the near Left side to the near Right side of the "sound stage", without naturally transitioning through the center.

But otherwise the Stereo Imaging, Dynamics, and Realism are Off The Chain!

- The ambient sound of the nearby Birds is excellent and really cool.

- The imaging and clarity of the Train's drive linkage, the Steam "Puffs", and the linkage noises of the connections between the box cars is fantastic.

- The imaging and clarity of the Voice of the Tour Announcer as the train has passed to the right is excellent, as are the two quick and successive Whistle Blows near the end of the track.

- You can also distinctly hear and locate some of the passengers speaking as the train rolls by.

- The Ultra Low Frequencies are there in spades!

- O.M.G! The "Movement" of the Train's Steam Whistle, and especially the "Movement" of the Escaping Steam from the Whistle body is PHENOMENAL!

- The Tonality and Realism of the Train's Bell is excellent. ***Though I noticed that the Bell sort of "stayed in one place" for a while when the train was on the Left side of the microphone array, and the Bell didn't have much apparent movement in the stereo field until after the Train passed the Center and appeared to the Right of center.


A Really Outstanding Recording! Overall I felt that the microphones were too sensitive (or too loud) to the Far Left and Far Right Extremes, which seemed to "leave out the center"...Kind of like there was a Tall, 15ft-20ft Long wall just next to & parallel to the train tracks which Blocked the sound of the Train from the Center of the microphone array. Make sense?

I also would have liked a little boost to the High Frequency "Air" range. I felt that it was lacking a bit of HF "sparkle" and detail. Again, this is normal with this type of "distant" field recording as the high frequencies are dissipated over distance. See #3 above. In addition, I generally prefer a bit more upper end "sparkle" than others do (as long as it is clean, and doesn't add distortion or listening fatigue).

And I know that it would be "faking it", but I'd Love to put just a very slight touch of Reverb on the track using the Bricasti M7.

***SPOILER ALERT*** (Don't Read the Paragraph Below!)

After viewing the video, I can see why there seemed to be such a strong, Focused image to the Far Left and Far Right extremes. This is assuming that the camera is very close to the microphone position and in the same orientation perpendicular to the tracks. But seeing the Train cross directly in front of the camera and microphones only enhanced my impression of the "missing" center image, and it was strange not hearing the Bell "move with the train" on the Left side as it approached the center.



FIREWORKS TRACK:

Another Outstanding Recording!


- Absolutely KILLER Dynamics and LOW END! Forget about the 1812 Overture, haha! We've got a New Reference!

- Spectacular Imaging! Excellent Placement and Focus of each "Pop", "Boom", and "Crackle" in Height, Width, and Distance!

- Amazing Realism and Localization of the Spectator's Voices in the sound field.

- Amazing Realism and 3D Localization of the Announcer's Voice and Music!

- I LOVE/HATE the late/delayed Reflections off of what are probably large and distant buildings, especially on the right side. But I'm surprised at how prominent they are. It's also very interesting how the Reflections appear to sound so "distorted" due to what I think is a "comb filtering" effect. At first, the reflections sounded as if they were overloading or "peaking" the microphone's capsules and clipping the levels in the recording, even though the fundamentals or the original, direct sound would have definitely done that first! So I think that it can't be clipping in the mics or recorder, and that it's a result of that "comb filtering" effect. That distorted sound does bother me and is distracting, but in a way it is Very Cool! It's also probably very accurate to what your ears would hear, so there's that!


Overall, another AMAZING recording! And although the issues with the "Center Image Focus" were less apparent here, I still didn't hear anything really "cut through" and present itself strongly at dead center. So???



AKOMA SMALL CHOIR:


- AWESOME Realism!

- Excellent Detail, *Focus, and "Space".

- You can easily locate Left to Right in space each Voice and Clap, which are also well-defined and separated in Height!

- Just amazing Realism in the Voices and Hand Claps!

- So occasionally, I hear what sound like some faint Rattles or Shakers, but they are kind of random and don't sound as if they are being played deliberately. It kind of sounds like maybe beaded bracelets or necklaces that are rattling with the movement of the Choir's hand claps or body movements? It almost sounds like water running out of a sink faucet at times, so initially I thought maybe it's a Baptism or Christening? But when I listened again it sounds more like beads or shakers, but not really played to "the beat". ???

- There is some Low Frequency Rumble in the room and some Automobile/Street noise, so I'm assuming this space is just off of a somewhat busy street? Some of the Low Rumble sounds like it may be from HVAC in the room. Again, this is hard to avoid in an uncontrolled environment and when using "field recording" techniques.


What can I say, this is another FANTASTIC recording! *I do still hear a bit of weirdness in the Center Image Focus, and also too much Prominence in the Far Left and Right sources. And the Movement of the Lead Male Vocal isn't as distinct as I "think" it should be. I can hear that he's moving around somewhat, but I can't really precisely "track" him. So I think this Center-Image weirdness is definitely affecting this track as well. It'll be interesting to see the Video.

- SPOILER ALERT!!!! (Do Not Read Below Until After Your Listening Session and Posting your Impressions! SKIP Down Two Paragraphs to My Notes on the John Butler/Ocean Acoustic Guitar Track!)


After viewing the Video, I can see exactly what I thought were random, but non-distinct shakers or rattles. Cool! Also, the placement and movement of the Lead Male Vocal and each Choir member are EXACTLY where I imagined them to be before seeing the video. NICE! This attests to the Imaging Accuracy of this setup! The Video also confirmed my suspicions regarding the Movement and Tracking of the Lead Vocal. The physical movement of the Helium Balloon in the room also confirms (I *think*) my suspicions regarding the HVAC being on.


On recordings like this, I would definitely use the microphone's or mic preamp's Low Cut filter if they are available. They are usually fixed at between 80Hz-120Hz and a 1st Order Slope. They work extremely well to minimize the unwanted Low Rumble of HVAC and other environmental or "city" noises. Otherwise I would apply this in post-processing. You obviously don't want to do this when you are trying to capture excellent Low End Detail, such as on the Steam Locomotive or Fireworks tracks, but for Vocals and often Acoustic Guitar it really helps to clean up the Low End and add detail and focus. Try applying a HPF or "Low Cut" in post and check the results! I would start somewhere around 80Hz to 100Hz.




JOHN BUTLER - OCEAN PT. 1 - ACOUSTIC GUITAR COVER (by Mikai)

Sorry, this is going to be REALLY LONG!

Okay. Not that this is a "bad" recording, (honest, Justin!) but it is my least favorite of this group. Part of it may be this kid's performance. This is obviously a very difficult song to play, and Technically, this kid has it pretty much sorted out. But I just don't feel the emotion, passion, or desire in his playing. I know more than anyone that finding a truly amazing musician or vocalist that is willing to let you record them is next to impossible unless you are a well-known engineer, so mad props to Justin for finding a willing musician as good as Mikai! He is Good! You just have to understand that John Butler is on a whole other level, a pinnacle that not many achieve in their entire lifetimes.

Maybe I should provide some background on my experience.... Acoustic guitars are very special to me, even though I'm not a Guitar Player AT ALL. However, my father and grandfather were guitarists, and my older sister studied Classical Guitar as I was growing up, and on into her university years, and she had studied with some very well-respected maestros even at a young age.

I also had a good friend in Jr. High & High School who was an exceptional Classical Guitarist. They both have owned some amazingly-beautiful sounding guitars. They are like what a Stradivari Violin would be to a violinist, or the sound of an amazing Cello...so rich, complex, and beautiful in the Harmonics and Tonality. I literally would "sneak a play" of one of my sister's guitars while she wasn't home, and would just sit there and pluck each individual string with my ear focused on listening to the Rich Harmonics of the Strings and the amazing Resonance of the guitar's body. They amazed me. Yeah, I admit...a bit weird. I really don't know why I didn't become a guitarist since I was so enchanted with the sound? Maybe I saw how much dedication and complexity were involved in mastering it? I was a lazy kid, so it seemed much easier to learn to "play" the drums and relax in the "freedom" of improvised jazz saxophone...much less structured and technical, I thought.

Anyway, I realize that this is somewhat of an experiment for Jazzi to see what is possible with the particular Microphone Setup that he is using, and it is absolutely stunning for a lot of sources!

But, I feel that this particular type of mic technique, when used to record just a Single Guitar, really doesn't do the instrument or player justice. I really want to hear that extreme detail, the rich harmonics, and the full-bodied resonance of the guitar. There is a sense of that here, and the recording does have realism, but it's just not as Focused or in as much fine detail as I'd prefer. It didn't have the top end "air", focus, and detail that I think makes good guitar recordings great. IMO, this setup is just too Mid-centric, with a lack of intimacy.

However, if this were a Group of guitar players, this technique might make more sense to me. But I would still want to use an electric pickup within the body of the guitar to capture each guitar's individual tonality and detail, and also in order to pan their positions in the mix. ...Possibly how an Orchestra would be recorded with a DECCA TREE ARRAY, but also semi-close mic'd on each section or solo performer. (see linked photo).

To Justin's (and this technique's) credit, there actually is excellent separation and imaging between the fretboard and the bridge/strumming area, especially starting around the 2:20 mark. The guitar does sound very "real" and present. There is good detail and realism in the string "buzzes" when they appear, but they don't have that extra "air" and detail.

It's a bit strange, as in one sense the guitarist seems Closer to the microphones than he/she probably is, probably due to the overly-prominent and percussive body taps...While at the same time, the recording sounds a bit "distant" (which it obviously is with this mic setup compared to traditional studio techniques). I think that the HF roll-off contributes to this as well.

There were a few instances where I heard some type of "Crinkling" noise around the 1:36-1:38 mark, like a plastic grocery bag being disturbed, but also somewhat muted. I can't think of what it might be other than a bystander that is off-axis? Also, there were some Voices in the distant background about the 3:15 mark, and vehicles and/or airplanes in other sections.

Since it seems that the Guitarist was in a such a fixed position, I personally would have moved the mic array in closer to reduce the ambient background noise and low-end from what I think is a nearby road, and/or possibly airplanes in an overhead flight path. However, moving the microphones closer might further exaggerate the already too prominent percussive "body taps" on the guitar's body, so aiming & placement would be critical. This also might peak the input on the mic preamp, when ultimately you'd really like to have more gain for better S/N on the rest of the frequency spectrum. This is another reason why many microphones and/or mic preamps have a built-in Low-Cut switch. A Low-Cut (HPF) at about 70-100Hz would also clean up some of the environmental Low Rumble. It's actually very difficult to record good, clean, detailed Low End on an acoustic guitar without it sounding "muddy" or masking the harmonics...much like the difficulty in recording a piano.


So IMHO, this is a circumstance where two separately placed, and more closely placed microphones make more sense. Sometimes you have to throw Phase Coherency and "Real" Imaging "out the window" and opt to use individual microphones placed where they pick up the best balance of tonality and detail, while also giving you some L/R imaging to play with.

It's amazing how real modern reverb units can sound. To add some of that ambiance or "room" that a more distant-mic'd setup captures naturally, I would add just a bit of Reverb using the spectacular Bricasti M7. This is one of those "Is it Live, or is it Memorex?" type of units! Truly amazing what it can add without sounding "added". Demo here...

Acoustic Guitar Reverb - Bricasti M7 Demo Video

+ YouTube Video
ERROR: If you can see this, then YouTube is down or you don't have Flash installed.


I personally really like Ribbon microphones on Stringed Instruments, and on woodwinds and brass as well. I guess that also includes drums, and piano, too, so I guess I like Ribbon Mics on just about everything, haha! There's just something about the Realism & 3D Space they capture.

Most Ribbon mics will need a little boost in the HF area, but unlike LDC mics, ribbons usually take to EQ really well and it just keeps getting more spacious and "airy" as you boost the highs! A LDC and most SDC mics will just become spitty, sibilant, and harsh when boosting the highs more than a few dB's, and they rarely provide that 3D spaciousness that Ribbons seem to capture. I LOVE me some ribbons!


However, the 2ND YouTube Video below demonstrates one of my favorite microphone techniques for Acoustic Guitar, using Omnidirectional, Small Diaphragm measurement-type microphones (Josephson C617), which are similar in a lot of ways to what Jazzi is using. This same setup also works extremely well for Violin recordings.

The front or main microphone is aimed at a slight downwards angle towards the 14th Fret (where the neck meets the body) and this captures the overall tone and detail of the guitar. The mics are not too close, so they pick up a bit of the ambiance of the room. This is great when you actually have a good-sounding room! Otherwise the room could cause some issues.

The "over the shoulder" microphone that is pointed down and out in front of the body of the guitar provides the essence of what the Guitar Player Hears while playing the guitar, and this mic also provides some separation or L/R imaging.

It's also important to keep the microphones equidistant from the main sound source to reduce phase anomalies. In addition, a 1:3 distance ratio also works well to minimize phase issues. You can check for this by inverting the polarity of one of the microphones, and moving the other one in and out while listening for the difference in the null of the phase cancellation. Here is a good example even though it is demonstrated on an electric guitar amp (the video about Drum Phase that is Linked To at the end of the following video is also interesting).

+ YouTube Video
ERROR: If you can see this, then YouTube is down or you don't have Flash installed.


With the Acoustic Guitar, the phase between 2 or more microphones will never be perfect because the guitar's sound is emanating from a wide area off of the instrument, but you can minimize it substantially using this technique. Once you hear the maximum amount of cancellation (or very little signal on the meters) you would lock the mics in that position and then invert the polarity of the one microphone back to "normal" for the recording.

I really love the sound of the guitar below and how the microphones capture it! It also helps to have an expert player! Check out some of Robinson Earle's other Demos on the SoundPure YouTube channel. Okay, FINALLY, here is the video I've been rambling on about...

Goodall AKP-14 Koa Parlor 5528 Acoustic Guitar Demo by SoundPure Studios

+ YouTube Video
ERROR: If you can see this, then YouTube is down or you don't have Flash installed.


If you are interested, the folks at SoundPure will email you a Link to download the original, Hi-Res files of these recordings. Just tell them that you might be interested in purchasing the microphones, or the guitar, etc.


As another example, let's take a look below at John Butler's own video of his performance of this piece...

+ YouTube Video
ERROR: If you can see this, then YouTube is down or you don't have Flash installed.


...note the placement and types of microphones he is using (Pause the Video @ 0:22 seconds). The Large Diaphragm Condenser mic (a Gunter Wagner U47 LDC) is about ~12-18" away from the guitar and aimed at the point where the neck meets the body, which is normally at the 12th-14th Fret.

Many experienced recording engineers consider this the best place to mic an Acoustic Guitar in order to capture an overall accurate picture of the instrument. If you have an overly bright or "twangy" guitar, you might use Ribbon microphones in place of Large- or Small-Diaphragm Condensers to help smooth out the high end. But generally, with this mic position you get a nice balance between the fingering, the string sound from the fretboard area, and the resonance and body of the guitar as well.

Usually you want to avoid aiming the mic directly at the sound hole, as you will get a very boomy or bloated low end, which masks all of the fine detail and clear resonance. I'm sure that John Butler either spent a lot of time trying to get the exact sound that he wanted from his guitar, and/or he received some great feedback from a good engineer. Probably both!

The Small Diaphragm "Pencil" Condenser mic that Butler uses (a Neumann K84) is aimed just below the sound hole and between it and the bridge. This separate mic is used to pick up the strumming detail and percussive "body taps" and will most likely have a 100Hz-200Hz HPF applied to control the boominess. This mic will also usually be Panned mid- to far-Right and mixed-in gently (with the mic preamp level or fader) to provide a nice balance to the "main" microphone, and to give that bit of L/R imaging.

In addition, most engineers as a general rule will also use a 1st or 2nd Order 60Hz-80Hz HPF to clean up the low end on the main microphone (the U47 LDC in this case). They might also use some very selective High-Q PEQ or a gentle, broad stroke, to shape the tonality. Rarely, but sometimes the mic picks up the best overall "picture" of the guitar when placed closer to or more on-axis to the sound hole, so the engineer will "roll with it" and opt to fix the low-end boominess with HPFs, or EQ in post-processing, because otherwise it has "everything" that they want to capture. But with LDC mics that typically aren't extremely quick to react to transients, this will smear some of the fine detail that would otherwise be captured. Ideally, you try to move the microphones to the position(s) that present the best tonality, detail, and realism of the instrument. Again, this makes sense as we want the microphone's capsule to only hear the "good stuff". If the sound is overloading the capsule, or has phase anomalies, it's masking the fine detail and will be more difficult to remedy with post-processing.

Butler also says that, "The Maton 12-strings are fitted with Seymour Duncan Mag-Mic soundhole pickups (I don’t use the microphone, only the magnetic part), and Maton APMic pickups, which combine an under-saddle component with a soundhole mic". In his video above, you can see that the guitar is plugged in to utilize these. These help to capture the fundamental tone and detail of the guitar, and provide a strong center image. The other stand-mounted mics "fill in the details".

Just one more tidbit of information and I'll wrap this up...Promise!

I want to state that I realize that Mikai and Justin are not trying to perfectly duplicate Butler's performance, but as an interesting side note, Butler uses a ton of EFX and amplification even on his acoustic performances...you can see Butler using at least two Flanger pedals in his video, and the details of the entire signal chain are at the link here if you're interested:

John Butler Interview at Guitar Player



Well, that's pretty much it! A LOT to digest! It's obviously dangerous to ask for my impressions or opinions on these things, and obviously I go off quite a bit on tangents here and there, sorry!


I just want to applause Justin for spending a lot of time and energy to experiment with this, and to provide these amazing recordings for us to enjoy! I know that it took an incredible amount of time, research, and refinement, but they Really ARE Phenomenal! Thanks Dude!

These sound incredibly realistic on everything I've played them through...the home system, studio monitors, headphones, AND the car setup! I hope my opinions and statements above are received as constructive criticism and don't come across as being an overly critical ass or belittling/demeaning in any way. I am truly passionate about music and music reproduction, so at times I get more than a bit "carried away".


Thanks again, Justin! These were truly awesome to experience.


.

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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

You sir, are way more brave than I am typing such an epic on these forums considering how wonky things have been lately. Maybe you should save a copy of that post in case the post gods disappear it?

I'll start with a hearty thank you! I'm thrilled you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed making them, and I am beside myself that you were so moved as to put this much effort into your review. I'll try to answer your questions.

For anyone who has not listened on their own or not seen the videos yet, the rest of my post will be full of spoilers and I encourage you to read below only after.



Yes all of the recordings use the same microphone technique. Some of the recordings are post-processed differently, but my goal was to capture the events as closely as possible to "real" physically and use as minimal post processing as I could. The workflow in general was: add a few EQ filters to correct for the frequency response of the mic array I'm using (more on that in a bit), downsample from 192khz to 44.1khz. and from 24 bit to 16 bit (I need to learn more about this step and how to best add dithering), and then maximize volume to 0dB. Along the way I may have also added a combination of high-pass filter and noise reduction tools for the Ocean recording in particular, and could have done more of that with the Akoma recording as you mentioned.

The microphone setup is a matched pair of Earthworks QTC30 omnidirectional microphones. They are +-1dB from 6hz to 30khz and can handle up to 140dB without distortion. They are connected to a Tascam UH-7000 preamp and computer interface. I'm not sure how much more air or sparkle I could capture without adding artificial enhancements in post-processing because these will capture all the sparkle you could ever want and much more. They can also capture whale calls and icerbergs moving from what I have read haha. I have tried many techniques with them and they are amazing at what they can do, but creating a stereo image like I intended is exceptionally difficult and involves some trade-offs. The method I use for all these recordings is a home-made copy of the Crown SASS array. I first learned of it from this great ambient sound recording blog (click me), but all the images seem broken now which is a shame. You can visit this link (click me) to see images and a description.

The SASS array takes omnidirectional microphones and makes them directional by separating them a physical distance left to right (which gives you the phase relationship of a stereo image) and also adds an amount of midrange and treble shadowing between them (giving you the amplitude differences in a stereo recording). As you mentioned a few times, the stereo image is not perfect at all points from left to center to right, but it's the best I've been able to do with omnidirectional mics. The SASS array also introduces some pretty large swings in frequency response which I measured and then later built a parametric EQ preset to account for. This is best done in Ocean, but a little bit done in the others too.

I would like to experiment with a pair of directional mics using the mid-side technique, but I'm stubborn and finding a pair with the right combination of flat frequency response and low self noise makes them tremendously expensive and that will have to wait a while.

The steam train:
As is obvious after watching the video, the microphones are aimed at the tracks and the train starts a couple hundred yards to the extreme left. Only briefly does the train pass directly in front before it exits to the far right. The ambiance of the birds is my favorite part of this recording. Fundamental frequencies go as low as the mid-teens hertz so there is plenty to keep a subwoofer junkie entertained. The camera was placed with the microphones about 15-20 feet from the tracks.

The fireworks:
These were done on 4th of July in downtown San Jose at the discovery meadow park. I was standing in this parking lot (click me) looking at the morters that were firing from about 400-500 feet away across the creek. Notice the office building in the background on the right side? That is what the huge slap echos are bouncing off of (the echos do sound really bizarre but they are not clipping like you mentioned). There is some music playing from the "main stage" to the right of center and also across the creek and it is supposed to be synced to the fireworks, I think. The main crowds and attractions were over there but I wanted to get away from it to reduce the noise and capture the 'splosions more. I love the low frequency of the mortars firing in this one and the occasional response from the people nearby. The loudest cracks are clipped quite a bit but it's interesting that I don't hear it at all. I made some -15dB pads for the mic cables and tested them at another fireworks show shortly after with great success, but the overall recording was terrible because the music was right on top of me and completely overwhelming.

Akoma African drumming and vocal group:
This was a great group of people but a really frustrating location to record in. I think this is the best example of what the stereo recording technique can do. I love the way the main singer's voice lights up different parts of the room as he is looking all around the room while pacing left to right in the beginning. It is clear as day which way his head is facing as he is singing. You're right there is traffic noise and air conditioner noise throughout. Many people ask if there is water running nearby but that is an instrument being shuffled that consists of many small beads woven into a net around a wooden bulb around the size of a watermelon. I don't remember the name of the instrument but it was neat. There are also many flutters from an SLR camera taking photographs because they hired a photographer to come shoot since they were also dressed in full costume for the event. This is really easy to see in the video since the flashes are in sync with the camera. I don't think I used any high-pass filter on this recording which I should have, this was the first one I made and didn't realize how to do that yet.

Ocean cover by my friend Mikai:
The song Ocean by John Butler is what inspired my buddy Mikai to play the guitar. I love the song and everything about Butler's story. Truly amazing stuff, please go learn more about his journey if you have the time.

If you're in a good mood, go give my buddy Mikai some love at his youtube video (link at the bottom of this post) or on his sound cloud (link here). He plays the guitar like I always wished I could and is an all around great guy.

This recording was done in the hills up above a city with the hopes of getting far enough away from freeways and other city noise to get a decent noise floor to work with. Unfortunately, we didn't realize there was an airport nearby and a ton of construction work on the road leading into the park that had a low frequency content that overlapped with the lowest notes being played on the guitar (83hz or so from what I remember?). I was able to high-pass most of the noise (oh how it was terrible!) but had to leave a little bit otherwise the guitar would suffer terribly. I also experimented with noise reduction filters but decided it took away from the quiet passages too much.

The guitar was only 5-6 feet from the mic array this time which is the closest of any of the recordings and this is why there is such extreme separation between the left and right of the guitar. I wanted to keep the mics close to keep the noise floor as low as possible, but also have the mics far away to keep the stereo image from blooming into such a huge size. A tough balance in that particular situation.

I enjoy all of the comments you have about mic techniques for acoustic instruments and I might try some of these next time around. I wanted to do lots of different things and record every possible combination but since my setup was portable and battery powered, there just wasn't enough time to do it all. I'll put some more time into reading and watching all the stuff you mentioned above, and thank you for all the ideas.

---

Here are links to the files. I replaced the audio track on the videos with the nice recording so everyone is welcome to have a look and a listen.

The audio files:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/svw7lnhwd...gBM2V-fTa?dl=0

Some of the video files:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/6z9ywyddj...UWr-wprua?dl=0

The Ocean video file (the audio track is slightly different from mine):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NvawbkUgi8

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Last edited by Jazzi; 03-17-2017 at 03:25 AM.. Reason: fixing some links
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bbfoto (03-17-2017)
Old 03-17-2017   #24
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbfoto
AKOMA SMALL CHOIR:


- AWESOME Realism!

- Excellent Detail, *Focus, and "Space".

- You can easily locate Left to Right in space each Voice and Clap, which are also well-defined and separated in Height!

- Just amazing Realism in the Voices and Hand Claps!

- So occasionally, I hear what sound like some faint Rattles or Shakers, but they are kind of random and don't sound as if they are being played deliberately. It kind of sounds like maybe beaded bracelets or necklaces that are rattling with the movement of the Choir's hand claps or body movements? It almost sounds like water running out of a sink faucet at times, so initially I thought maybe it's a Baptism or Christening? But when I listened again it sounds more like beads or shakers, but not really played to "the beat". ???



Funny, I said the exact same thing to Justin. Sounded like running water in a few spots and some random "noises" that I couldn't quite figure out what they were but they didn't seem intentional or part of the natural rhythm of the music. I actually said I thought maybe it was a baptism because of the water sound too

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Old 03-17-2017   #25
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Default Re: Anyone want to critique some recordings I made?

Quote:
Originally Posted by captainobvious View Post


Funny, I said the exact same thing to Justin. Sounded like running water in a few spots and some random "noises" that I couldn't quite figure out what they were but they didn't seem intentional or part of the natural rhythm of the music. I actually said I thought maybe it was a baptism because of the water sound too
Glad you posted this so I know I'm not as crazy as I thought I was, and that my ears are still somewhat capable at my ripe old age! Though maybe my prostate or kidneys aren't quite what they used to be, 'cause I swear I had to go pee like 3 times while listening to that track, haha!

Last edited by bbfoto; 03-18-2017 at 10:56 PM..
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