Silly Question

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Muxlow
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Silly Question

Post by Muxlow » Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:30 pm

This will probably get laughed at, but I have to ask.

While recording some acoustic guitar last night, I found myself wondering "Why am I mic'ing the guitar from the front and perpedicular w/ a mono mic if I'm hearing it from the top and parallel with stereo ears?" I would have left it at that, but considering how different the guitar sounds on tape (thin, brittle) than in my hands (balanced, warm), it has me wondering...

So what's the simple answer to this? Too much room noise? No attack?

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Post by kayagum » Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:36 pm

It's not weird at all to put an "ear" mic - it works well for acoustic guitar and other instruments (like drums).
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Post by Rodgre » Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:38 pm

No laughing here. That's why a lot of engineers put a mic over the guitarist's shoulders. The acoustic guitar has so many spots that give a good tone that you can move the mic around for an hour and find many usable spots, but not one perfect one.

I tend to use two mics on a featured acoustic track (buried overdubs, I'll use one). I have had good results with a detailed sounding LDC over the player's shoulder along with another mic near where the neck meets the body. Over the years, I started to notice that mics further away from the guitar sounded warmer and more "real" than the close mics I was always using. I still use the "12th fret" as a starting point, but to get the tone I want, I will definitely try any spot I can.

By the way, this is also the reasoning for some engineers putting a mic just behind head position for drummers. I recall seeing a photo of either Keith Moon or Neil Peart with a PZM mic taped to their chest too! I've never tried that one, and again, that's probably why I haven't won a grammy yet.

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Post by RefD » Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:46 pm

Rodgre wrote:I recall seeing a photo of either Keith Moon or Neil Peart with a PZM mic taped to their chest too!
probly Peart.

there's a Rush track from back in the late 70s or ealy 80s where at the end of the tune, after the band has stopped, you can hear his heartbeat slamming away.
?What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears.? -- Seneca

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Kilroy
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Post by Kilroy » Mon Jan 22, 2007 8:36 pm

RefD wrote:
Rodgre wrote:I recall seeing a photo of either Keith Moon or Neil Peart with a PZM mic taped to their chest too!
probly Peart.

there's a Rush track from back in the late 70s or ealy 80s where at the end of the tune, after the band has stopped, you can hear his heartbeat slamming away.
whoa, thats crazy. Do you remember which one it was?

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Post by drumsound » Mon Jan 22, 2007 8:43 pm

Chet Atkins was know to use the ear mic for acoustic guitar for the very reason mentioned in the first post.

As for stereo acoustic I do it a lot. I like the depth it adds.

I got comments from a few people who got my demo at TapeOpCon about how good my acoustic guitar sounds are.

RefD
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Post by RefD » Mon Jan 22, 2007 9:02 pm

Kilroy wrote:
RefD wrote:
Rodgre wrote:I recall seeing a photo of either Keith Moon or Neil Peart with a PZM mic taped to their chest too!
probly Peart.

there's a Rush track from back in the late 70s or ealy 80s where at the end of the tune, after the band has stopped, you can hear his heartbeat slamming away.
whoa, thats crazy. Do you remember which one it was?
i'd have to research that and get back to you.

definitely somewhere between 'A Farewell To Kings' and 'Signals', tho.
?What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears.? -- Seneca

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Post by Professor » Mon Jan 22, 2007 10:10 pm

I think that part of this touches on the argument over whether it's best to go with audience or performer perspective on drum mixes. I personally prefer to go with audience perspective in almost all cases for almost all instruments, because I figure that I am recording the sound that the audience would hear if they were sitting in front of the player. Actually, I guess with drums my OH pair willgo over the drummer, but I'll pan it reversed so it is laid out in audience perspective. For guitar I almost always mic from the front, and definitely always in stereo,though the placement has certainly been known to wander around the instrument.
I would say that if it sounds best from where your head is then record it from there - but be cautious of the other sounds that might come from that location like breathing, singing, etc. If the tracks you're recording sound thin then you are either using the wrong mic, or you have it in the wrong place, or maybe both.
But that's easy to fix.

-Jeremy

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Re: Silly Question

Post by meblumen » Mon Jan 22, 2007 10:11 pm

The Living Fields wrote:This will probably get laughed at, but I have to ask.

While recording some acoustic guitar last night, I found myself wondering "Why am I mic'ing the guitar from the front and perpedicular w/ a mono mic if I'm hearing it from the top and parallel with stereo ears?" I would have left it at that, but considering how different the guitar sounds on tape (thin, brittle) than in my hands (balanced, warm), it has me wondering...

So what's the simple answer to this? Too much room noise? No attack?
I think you stumbled upon something very important that far too often gets glanced over. People see pictures of sessions, read mags and messageboards like this and come away with preconceived notions of specific ways they are supposed to record certain instruments. When I first started recording music there were no internet messageboards, I was pretty ignorant of any literature on the subject and didn't know many people who were doing what I was doing. So I used my head and more important my ears and put mics where I thought they would sound good with little or no regard for how they visually were setup. Now in the era of computers people are increasingly making music visually and relying less on their ears. In short, try different things, there is nothing silly about putting a mic anywhere. It might sound like shit but you learned something. Use your ears and formulate your own opinions. Rant over.

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Post by rhythm ranch » Tue Jan 23, 2007 6:46 am

Kilroy wrote:
RefD wrote:
Rodgre wrote:I recall seeing a photo of either Keith Moon or Neil Peart with a PZM mic taped to their chest too!
probly Peart.

there's a Rush track from back in the late 70s or ealy 80s where at the end of the tune, after the band has stopped, you can hear his heartbeat slamming away.
whoa, thats crazy. Do you remember which one it was?
Apparently, it was Moving Pictures:
Neil Peart wrote:Although admittedly a bit of a bluffer in rudiments, I have always loved the ominous, insistent delicacy of the distant marching snare. Once again I found a place to do some dabbling on the snare drum in the introduction to "The Camera Eye." We were looking for a dramatic, soundtrack-like feel to this one. That sort of "Mission Impossible" stuff works well.

During these sessions we were experimenting with an unusual type of microphone called a "PZM," or Pressure Zone Microphone. It only picks up direct sound--no reverberated signals. On this track and on "Vital Signs," we used it taped onto my chest! It re-created that special "drummer's perspective"; the balance and dynamics that you hear when you play. In the overall mix it's used as an overhead or ambience mic' to enhance and naturalize the complete drum mix. If any of you happened to see the video that we made for "Vital Signs," you may have noticed the great lump of metal that was growing out of my chest. That was the PZM.
Full text here.

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Re: Silly Question

Post by judecca » Sun Jan 28, 2007 12:14 am

The Living Fields wrote:.....
So what's the simple answer to this? Too much room noise? No attack?
No totally simple answer. If you have decent and low noise preamps and mics at your disposal, try and x/y stereo pair in front of the player (even up to 7' away) and at "head" level. AKG C414's have worked for me. In a decent or even a dead sounding room, I've had great results with this. All of the afformentioned technics are tested and true as well.


Ryan
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Post by Brian Brock » Sun Jan 28, 2007 12:19 pm

Are you sure the guitar sounds better from playing position? Do you think it sounds thin when someone else is playing it? I have a guitar that just blows me away when I hear someone else play it, but to my playing ears it sounds thin. So it could be your mic/technique, it could be the way the guitar sounds... but the basic physics of the guitar is intended to make sound go out, towards the audience...

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Post by Brian Brock » Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:51 pm

... which obviously is not to say that you should do anything other than record it the way it sounds best....

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