recording accordion

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alarmo
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recording accordion

Post by alarmo » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:42 pm

Quick question: when recording accordion, does anyone have any recommendations on how to avoid capturing excessive key click noises?

(Standard musician jokes about "make sure the accordion isn't being played" don't count, here.)

I've tried a few things with dynamic mics and am getting totally hit and miss results, so I thought I'd ask the collective hive-mind here...

thanks!

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Post by ??????? » Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:35 pm

If the player isn't capable of playing with a little more finesse, you have to compromise.

First of all--and this sounds obvious, but it's really true--if you have the option to try a few instruments, find the loudest accordion you can. Some are way louder than others. I had an old E. Bertini 120 bass (that I gave to a friend who was a way better accordionist than me) that was the loudest fucking accordion I've ever heard. Key clicks and other extraneous noises were drowned out in the sheer volume coming from the bellows... this thing was a screamer.

If you have a nice-sounding space, go for distance. This is really probably the best solution. In my experience, in the diffuse field (i.e. farther away), the key clicks don't call attention to themselves. Try 5-6 feet back or even more.

If you do this, first grab something with a bit of a rising response... an SDC (maybe an omni, if your room is great) and adjust from there. Like most of us, you probably don't have an old M50 laying around, but something like that would be the idea. Something bright but pleasant, to compensate for falling treble response in the diffuse field.

Failing all of that, I've noticed that most times, the key click and other extraneous sounds are mostly higher-pitched in nature and can be mitigated slightly by using a darker-sounding chain. Probably not ideal though.

Good luck.

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tonewoods
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Re: recording accordion

Post by tonewoods » Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:55 am

alarmo wrote:Quick question: when recording accordion, does anyone have any recommendations on how to avoid capturing excessive key click noises?
Ribbons all the way to crack this nut...
It's magic, really...

MoreSpaceEcho
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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:01 am

yeah, ribbons are good, distance is good, off axis can help...

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Post by @?,*???&? » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:42 am

MoreSpaceEcho wrote:yeah, ribbons are good, distance is good, off axis can help...
What this poster doesn't say is the reason why- ribbons have a darker tone overally and restricted frequency response. Going off axis changes the frequency response considerably. He could have gone farther saying put sound absorbing baffling or gobos off to either side of the player to absorb high freqency reflections from the clicking. But overall, by this logic, just roll-off the top-end over 6 kHz and get a 'duller' tone.

You should consider where in the song you are working on this thing is meant to fill space.

I just recorded one of these and used a condenser mic about 3 to 4 feet away. No problems. Having buttons on one side, major bag noise from squeezing and pulling in the middle and keys on the other, what do you expect to get? It's all noise. An accordion sample might be cleaner. Consider that you might have to address whether the thing is in tune with the track and whether you'll have to varispeed the track and/or pitch the accordion track up or down to get it in tune with the pitch center of the track you are working on.

Pump organs are similarly problematic.

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Post by ??????? » Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:00 pm

@?,*???&? wrote:ribbons have a darker tone overally and restricted frequency response.
Not inherently true, but I know where you're coming from. This often IS the case in practice, but it need not be.

Ribbons can be very extended top and bottom. This requires proper tuning of the ribbon, avoidance of excessive blast screening, and a truly suitable amount of input impedance at the preamp. It's pretty rare that even ONE of these conditions is met, much less all of them... hence ribbons' reputation for being "dark" or "band-restricted." If you had a preamp with too-low input impedance and put a linen sheet on top of a U87, it would sound "dark" too, probably.

In practice ribbons are often 'dark.' But it's not inherent in the technology. It's in the implementation.

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Post by @?,*???&? » Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:10 pm

??????? wrote:
@?,*???&? wrote:ribbons have a darker tone overally and restricted frequency response.
Not inherently true, but I know where you're coming from. This often IS the case in practice, but it need not be.
This is typical:

http://www.royerlabs.com/R-121.html

Click on 'technical data' and this is a modern ribbon mic.

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Post by ??????? » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:24 pm

@?,*???&? wrote: This is typical:

http://www.royerlabs.com/R-121.html

Click on 'technical data' and this is a modern ribbon mic.
I'm not sure what we're proving here. To the extent that frequency plots could be meaningful in gauging the subjective sound character of a microphone (dubious, at best, in my experience), and to the extent that any one microphone could serve as a representative for an entire type, the 121 looks like "a microphone" to me. Fairly flat, actually, in my opinion. Extends all the way down to at least 30Hz ?3dB, and probably to about 15-16K ?3dB. Definitely information at both extremes of audibility, such that many manufacturers would call it "20-20k." There are lots of "gold standard' condenser mics that don't measure much flatter. The vaunted M49 and the U67 in cardioid come to mind.

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tonewoods
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Post by tonewoods » Mon Jan 24, 2011 3:01 pm

@?,*???&? wrote:
What this poster doesn't say is the reason why....
I'm not the poster, but I do not know the reason why ribbons are so effective at eliminating unwanted noise...
I really don't.
Like I said, it's magic.... :wink:

The freq response on ribbons should pick up fiddle bow noise, pump organ bellows, and accordion key noise with no problem at all, but they tend not to....

It's like running your source through a coffee filter, and only the good stuff comes out the other end....
And I thank my ribbons every day for that wonderful trait of theirs...

That, and their wonderful nulls....

YMMV....

accordion squeezist
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Post by accordion squeezist » Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:42 pm

P.M. me...I'll send ya a clip. Might shed some light.

alarmo
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Post by alarmo » Mon Jan 24, 2011 7:11 pm

Thanks for all the ideas. I think I managed to get the track I was working on to happen via a combination of a comping a couple of takes (to avoid the click-iest bits), and a little bit of EQ help on the top end.

Since things were moving quickly, I just tried a few mic angles and went for it... using a ribbon on this hadn't clicked in my head (pun not intended) but I'll give that a shot first next time.

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Post by cjogo » Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:09 am

Most of our accordions have stereo outputs -- so we go direct and then use a room mic at some distance .......
whatever happened to ~ just push record......

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Post by bgrotto » Tue Feb 01, 2011 12:35 pm

I've had good luck with a ribbon or dynamic mic (aiming for something dark-ish and/or not too sensitive and/or with good off-axis response/rejection) positioned wherever it makes the instrument sound best, and if the keys are too clicky, using a bit of de-essing to tame it. Watch your compression settings to tape.

You also might try treating the instrument itself; maybe it needs some TLC to quiet it up.

The other thing to consider is the context. Clicks that seems excessive and distracting on the solo'd track might completely disappear within the full arrangement.

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Post by E.Bennett » Tue Feb 01, 2011 5:27 pm

if you can use a room sound, have the player spin around (slowly) until the click is mitigated by position. the player usually ends up with his back to the mike.

accordion squeezist
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Post by accordion squeezist » Tue Feb 01, 2011 6:47 pm

good advice. nice sound. works w/ flute, too.

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