Sonic depth & stereo imagery using one mic

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dumbangel
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Sonic depth & stereo imagery using one mic

Post by dumbangel » Fri Jun 26, 2009 8:32 am

I've been listening to Mark Hollis solo album quite obsessively for weeks. I love the sonic realism of that recording .

Here's how it was recorded :
- the music was captured with a Neumann M49 stereo pair that was kept in the same position during the whole recording
- each instrument was recorded one by one (except for a reed section)
- each instrument was placed at various distance from the two Neumann mics to create depth (sensation that sound sources are close or far from the listener) and lateral positionning
- the level of each recorded track wasn't changed
- some EMT plate reverb was added later

I'm interested in using that process but my room kind of sucks and I'd prefer to simplify things by recording with only one mic.

How can one create a realistic stereo sound recording in mono this way? I've vaguely heard about the Haas effect. How could i simulate it in my DAW, Logic Express 8, once tracks are recorded? How about reverb ?

For more details about Mark Hollis solo album : http://users.cybercity.dk/~bcc11425/IntWWpb1198.html

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Post by dsw » Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:53 am

Using one mic won't change the fact that your room "sucks".

Find a better room. Use two mics.

OR

use one mic and experiment to see what you can get

with one mic you will have to use the pan knob to place things left or right
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Post by joninc » Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:42 am

i love that record too - the approach is really appealing too BUT i don't know if you can really hope to approximate that style or sound without a good room.

i think a large part of the reason that method of recording worked was due to the fact that it was a great room - therefore the mics were only capturing the reality of the great acoustic sound of that space and the way the sounds interacted with it (based on where they were placed in the room and how far from mics etc).

if your room were quite bright and not very diffused then condensors might be too bright in it - a pair of more neutral ribbons might work better. to my ears stereo would be a lot more intersting and not much harder than mono - but if i had to use a single mic i think i would opt for something with an omni pattern.

a few facts that i have read differently - the levels of the mics were not adjusted throughout the recording phase - that doesn't mean the recorded tracks were not changed at all at mix time. also they used very very light compression on those mics through the entire process too (pair of 1176s) - and they used a spring reverb - plate and digital delay on the mix.

http://users.cybercity.dk/~bcc11425/IntWWpb1198.html
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dsw
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Post by dsw » Fri Jun 26, 2009 12:26 pm

I heard a local jazz record once (sorry can't remember the name) that was done with two mics in a good room and they worked for a long time to get the right spacing and positioning of the players but when all was said and done they recorded the whole thing with just the stereo pair and it sounded really good. very natural. all acoustic, no amps or electric anything. the room has to sound good and you really have to work to get the player placement. then everybody has to sound good together.

I love the idea of a pair in a room and that's the only mic set-up. great concept, whether its all at once or multitracked. either way you got honest and real.

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dumbangel
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Post by dumbangel » Sun Jun 28, 2009 6:32 am

I tend to be over critical about my recording space. It's not a tiny space and it's neither dark or bright, pretty balanced. It's just not as large and balanced as some of the great recording rooms i've been. I'll try using Mid-side stereo this week with my R84 and probably a M160, but I think I could have to record with only one mic to focus the capture.

My question was more about how, once you've decided to use only one mic, you can simulate stereo and depth.

Say there are only two sounds in the virtual room I want to create, like a clarinet at 10 o'clock close to the listener, and a mandolin at 1 o'clock and further than the clarinet. I can pan each instrument accordingly, record the mandolin at a further distance from the single mic. But is there any kind of delay/reverb I can give to the right channel of my clarinet sound, and to the left channel of my mandolin to increase the stereo realism? Is that the Haas effect ?

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Post by The Scum » Sun Jun 28, 2009 8:37 am

Yes, you can use the Haas effect do do what you're talking about. It's not at all the same as using a stereo pair, but it does work.

It's not all that common traditionally, because it requires 2 channels and a delay for each signal you want to apply it to. Resources not often found in the hardware mixer world.

But those same resources are cheap in a DAW. You can pan the original to one side, then add a copy on the other side, and slip it a tiny amount (~10 ms). There are also numerous plugins that do it:
http://www.vescofx.com/vfxFreeHaas
http://mda.smartelectronix.com/

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Post by Ronan Chris Murphy » Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:59 pm

People often underestimate how big and "stereo" one really well done mono mic can sound.
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Nick Sevilla
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Re: Sonic depth & stereo imagery using one mic

Post by Nick Sevilla » Mon Jun 29, 2009 6:48 am

dumbangel wrote:I've been listening to Mark Hollis solo album quite obsessively for weeks. I love the sonic realism of that recording .

Here's how it was recorded :
- the music was captured with a Neumann M49 stereo pair that was kept in the same position during the whole recording
- each instrument was recorded one by one (except for a reed section)
- each instrument was placed at various distance from the two Neumann mics to create depth (sensation that sound sources are close or far from the listener) and lateral positionning
- the level of each recorded track wasn't changed
- some EMT plate reverb was added later

I'm interested in using that process but my room kind of sucks and I'd prefer to simplify things by recording with only one mic.

How can one create a realistic stereo sound recording in mono this way? I've vaguely heard about the Haas effect. How could i simulate it in my DAW, Logic Express 8, once tracks are recorded? How about reverb ?

For more details about Mark Hollis solo album : http://users.cybercity.dk/~bcc11425/IntWWpb1198.html
Believe it or not, this is the way most records were recorded way back when, and even mixed right to the final master vynil.

The best thing to do is in fact work with your room. Find which frequencies are exaggerated and which are not (standing waves in the <400 Hz area) and also at which frequencies you get flutter echoes (usualy the high freqs somewhere, each room is unique).

Once you find out what the problem frequencies are, you can decide to buy the correct room treatment material. You can go from fancy custom made stuff, to oriental carpets hung from the walls. It al depends on the problem frequencies.

As to the mic, and it's placement in the rooms, well, that will also take you some time to find the best place for the mic. Take your time, record a bunch of rehearsals in the room, and change things, until you find the "right" spot.

As to how to "mix" the mix is done real old school, by NOT changing the equipment's gain, but the distance of the sound source to the microphone. The best is when you record all or most of the musicians together, as they will naturally mix each other (if they're any good at it).

DO NOT USE HEADPHONES for the musicians!!!!

That will ruin their ability to mix themselves by not being able to hear themselves in the room.

Cheers
Howling at the neighbors. Hoping they have more mic cables.

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Post by bobschwenkler » Wed Jul 01, 2009 11:52 pm

I tend toward this recording style on much of what I record. Placing a stereo source in a mix often sounds so much better to me than placing a mono source. You can't make it sound the same with one mic. You might be able to get it to sound good, but not at all the same. For my taste, panned and delayed mono sources can sound ok in some cases, but you can't imitate the subtle variance that happens when you have two mics in slightly different spots.

I use stereo mic'ing all the time, and not just in good rooms. Working in a small and or crappy room just means that I can't really use the room creatively for the most part. I need to approach things with more of a "close mic" sensibility. But I still incorporate stereo mic'ing quite often even in these situations.

You might also be interested to experiment (especially on things like electric guitars or other things going through amps) with a close mic and mono room mic. Pan the close mic appropriately and pan the room mic hard opposite and bring it up to taste. You can get a great addition of spaciousness and it can work well enough even in a small or crappy room.

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