recording vibraphone

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goose134
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recording vibraphone

Post by goose134 » Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:32 pm

Have a session next month with a vibe player. Looking for advice about recording this instrument. Mic placement and type of mic would be helpful. Not brands of mics, but type (as in condenser or hyper cardoid). Never run into this before so all are welcome suggestions.
I make a living as an electrician, not recording in the basement.

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Gregg Juke
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Post by Gregg Juke » Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:56 pm

I think I'd be tempted to use either sdc's or dynamics, and to mike from both the top and bottom, paying special attention to phase issues...

But here's a short article on a traditional two-mike approach: http://www.malletjazz.com/lessons/vibe_mic.html

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Post by Gregg Juke » Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:58 pm

PS-- Of course it depends(tm) on if the session is solo, or if you have to worry about bleed from a band...

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Post by djimbe » Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:20 am

maybe a little more info? performer in a room with others, or in isolation? performer with other acoustic instruments or with loud guitars?

vibes have big dynamic and frequency ranges, and a large area to cover. When in isolation in a room, I preferred at least 2 SDC spaced pair over the instrument, and hyper-cardioid was not usually my friend. Also maybe a nice big ribbon like 77DX for the room. The real resonance of the instrument seems to happen at a distance.

In a rock band context with amps in the room, I would default to a pair under the instrument, but not pointed up any of the resonator tubes. Put 'em between the banks. The low end buildup can get a little nuts under there and you loose the high end chime which always seemed to me to come more from the top of the keys.

I did one session years ago that had 17 performers in the live room, 3 of which were playing vibes. The others were a horn section, a string section, and several drummers and guitarists. It was a challenging session but came out pretty darn good.

all bets are off if the performer has a pickup for their instrument. I've played in ensemble with those things, but never recorded one...
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Post by drumsound » Tue Aug 27, 2013 1:05 pm

I find two mics are often needed to properly span the physical width of the instrument. I usually use condensers, often large once in cardioid or omni. I aim them at the space between the upper and lower manuals, where the damper bar hits.

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Post by goose134 » Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:17 pm

Good stuff so far. This will be in a large room (Thrasher Opera House in WI) with other instruments. Drums, 2 guitars, bass, and keys. I'll check out the article later tonight. :D
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:45 pm

goose134 wrote:Good stuff so far. This will be in a large room (Thrasher Opera House in WI) with other instruments. Drums, 2 guitars, bass, and keys. I'll check out the article later tonight. :D
AKG 414s, Cardioid or Hyper cardioid.

Place the stands in front of the player, well above the vibraphone, about 3-5 feet.
Place them so you get a decent "stereo" picture.
The placement of the mics needs to be carefully done, so the bleed from the other instruments does not cause trouble.

Be CAREFUL with any vibraphone noises, they will be exxagerated in the recording. Hopefully the player maintains the instrument properly, and mechanical noises from mutes will be almost inaudible.

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

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Post by GlowSounds » Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:25 pm

I would avoid any mics under the instrument. Any sound you want to capture will come off the top of the instrument. (remember- the resonators are capped on the bottom)

And as mentioned there are a lot of noisy moving parts down low. It's really hard to get a vibraphone pedal/damper system to be noise free (unless the instrument is BRAND new!)

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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:25 pm

Leave yourself lots of headroom. Vibes & glocks kick out crazy transients that will clip your converters without showing up on the meters.

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goose134
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Post by goose134 » Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:20 pm

Nick, 3 to 5 feet? That seems awfully far. Enough to cause plenty of bleed. I guess a lot depends on where he is in the room. I did read the clip and it had some good bits. I guess I'm curious about the advantage of having the mics so far away (other than the player not hitting them)
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Post by cgarges » Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:40 pm

In the right room, I like a spaced pair of omnis for vibraphone. I've also done a well-placed Coles 4038 when the range being played was smaller and that sounded really nice. Here's a photo:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid ... =3&theater

Blumlein also works well sometimes.

I find that it's usually about the attack of the instrument desired in the recording, how balanced the instrument sounds (via playing technique and individual bar volume and tone), and the mechanical noise of the instrument (does the damper pedal, felt, or rotor system make noise that you're trying to avoid?). For me, mic choice and placement depends mostly on these factors.

There's an interesting older thread here, too:
http://messageboard.tapeop.com/viewtopic.php?t=48697

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Post by drumsound » Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:14 pm

cgarges wrote:In the right room, I like a spaced pair of omnis for vibraphone. I've also done a well-placed Coles 4038 when the range being played was smaller and that sounded really nice. Here's a photo:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid ... =3&theater

Blumlein also works well sometimes.

I find that it's usually about the attack of the instrument desired in the recording, how balanced the instrument sounds (via playing technique and individual bar volume and tone), and the mechanical noise of the instrument (does the damper pedal, felt, or rotor system make noise that you're trying to avoid?). For me, mic choice and placement depends mostly on these factors.

There's an interesting older thread here, too:
http://messageboard.tapeop.com/viewtopic.php?t=48697

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC
That is the coolest looking vibraphone I've ever seen. What kind is it?

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Post by cgarges » Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:35 pm

I don't remember. A Leedy or Musser or something. Someone had left it at Inner Ear for a bit and we used it. I remember that the motor didn't work when we first turned it on and Don Zientara was able to repair it. Badass.

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goose134
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Post by goose134 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 4:59 pm

+1 on the vibes. Pretty cool rig. That looks like a pretty basic setup. I'll monkey around a bit and do some experimentation. Lots to toy with thanks to the board.
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:06 pm

goose134 wrote:Nick, 3 to 5 feet? That seems awfully far. Enough to cause plenty of bleed. I guess a lot depends on where he is in the room. I did read the clip and it had some good bits. I guess I'm curious about the advantage of having the mics so far away (other than the player not hitting them)
Because of the transients. They get crazy loud, and a superfast.
And you won't notice until mix time that you have poo poo transients on the vibes.
I miss using tape for this very reason. Tape naturally reduced those a little bit to make them bearable.

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

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