Acoustic Trio in the stereo field

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IlyaIlitch
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Acoustic Trio in the stereo field

Post by IlyaIlitch » Wed Jul 22, 2015 4:35 am

Hello,

I am going to record an instrumental trio.
Live everybody inthe same room.

-Oud
-Daf
-Double bass

The trio does not really play acoustically balanced, so basic stereo room micing with spot mics is not really achievable.

I am looking for ideas before the recording step about how to place them in the stereo field.
Who is recorded stereo or mono and how to place them in the speakers.
basic exemple could be
Oud left / percusion center / bass right (or any combination like that)
Or something like mono double bass and mono percussion centered and oud centered but recorded in stereo.

Music is arabic composition, quite close to traditional Pesrev and Saz Semaisi structure and speed that can be found in lot of middle east music.

Do you have some good recordings to recommend for me to listen and get ideas ?

Or maybe if you have enlightened opinion on that subject ?

Thank you !

kslight
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Post by kslight » Wed Jul 22, 2015 8:08 am

If it were me I would probably start by arranging the players so the bass is center, oud and daf left and right, respectively. Stereo room mics...blumlein if you can, and mono spot mics. I probably wouldn't record any of the individual instruments "stereo", but perhaps you could overdub the daf and oud, maybe with a different mic and or placement, and play around with panning. Depending on how they are used in the song, it might be appropriate for example to just have the overdub daf accent certain parts only rather than be a strict double.

IlyaIlitch
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Post by IlyaIlitch » Wed Jul 22, 2015 8:40 am

kslight wrote:If it were me I would probably start by arranging the players so the bass is center, oud and daf left and right, respectively. Stereo room mics...blumlein if you can, and mono spot mics. I probably wouldn't record any of the individual instruments "stereo", but perhaps you could overdub the daf and oud, maybe with a different mic and or placement, and play around with panning. Depending on how they are used in the song, it might be appropriate for example to just have the overdub daf accent certain parts only rather than be a strict double.
thank you very much for your answer,
I would proceed the same way (room mic) usually
But as I said, they are not acoustically balanced and don't want to.
I listened to then reahrsing. This would not work...

That is why I am looking for other ideas,
because I would have loved to proceed stereo amb mic as main mic

kslight
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Post by kslight » Wed Jul 22, 2015 9:05 am

IlyaIlitch wrote:
kslight wrote:If it were me I would probably start by arranging the players so the bass is center, oud and daf left and right, respectively. Stereo room mics...blumlein if you can, and mono spot mics. I probably wouldn't record any of the individual instruments "stereo", but perhaps you could overdub the daf and oud, maybe with a different mic and or placement, and play around with panning. Depending on how they are used in the song, it might be appropriate for example to just have the overdub daf accent certain parts only rather than be a strict double.
thank you very much for your answer,
I would proceed the same way (room mic) usually
But as I said, they are not acoustically balanced and don't want to.
I listened to then reahrsing. This would not work...

That is why I am looking for other ideas,
because I would have loved to proceed stereo amb mic as main mic
Hmm I guess I don't understand the artist specifically, but if it were traditional ethnic music I would be inclined to record it "as is" and worry less about traditional balancing ideals in the room mics?and then when you overdub maybe you could try to achieve a balance?

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Post by drumsound » Wed Jul 22, 2015 12:02 pm

What is the recording space like? Even if you only use a bit of the ambient mics, it still could be useful.

I find doing things like this that its really important to be aware of mic patterns. I'd probably put the bass in the middle and use a figure 8 mic, then have the other players in the null of it. If they are WAY off in balance, and bleed was messing with the close mics I'd like about gobos or moving them around and spreading out the ensemble.

I think music like this will fall apart if you try to track them individually. You'll have to make it work, some how. Make sure they can see each other.

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ott0bot
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Post by ott0bot » Wed Jul 22, 2015 12:28 pm

With multiple acoustic instruments the challenge and beauty is the combination of the reverberated sound and the direct tone from the source. The main trouble you will have with multiple stereo mics will be phase correlation & cancellation. If you are stereo micing each instrument you have twice the phasing problems and mono compatability issues. You'll probably end up with quite a bit of corrective eq during the mix.

I know you say they are not balanced, but maybe you can balance them by creative positioning and use the null of multiple figure 8 & hyper cardioid mics to control bleed so you can control the volume levels. Find the best spot in the room for double bass, mic string with a hyper mic- dynamic or sdc. mic the body with a figure 8. find a good point in the null and distance the 2nd instrument there. mic appropriately then do the same for other intsrument on the other side of the bass mics null. lastly set up an onmi room mic and add a fair amount of compression. then move it around the room until you find the most balanced sound from all three instruments. you can also set up gobos between the players for more separation. mic stands with packing blankets could help if you don't have any gobos.

Hope that helps.

IlyaIlitch
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Post by IlyaIlitch » Wed Jul 22, 2015 2:50 pm

Thank you very much all for your answers.
I found really good advice in what you said.

I am used to record small acoustic ensemble, etnic music.
I play Ottoman music myself so I am close to this music.
Usually I use Stereo mic in the room + mono spot mics.

They want a more "modern" than the traditional etnic music recording sound, wich is often roomy. (wich I love...)
They mean proximity, and produced sound, but still natural...

Since they don't play balanced and don't want to, I though I would forgot the usual room mic and go close micing.
And I have been wondering how to achieve something else than
L oud C bass R percussion...

It is thin balance issues, I am speaking bold to try to be clear.
But these thin balance issues would create problems in a stereo room micing.
Maybe I have been lost in my thoughs by there fear of the "classical music sounding" record, and what you described ottObot might just achieve what I am looking for and balance them in a stereo mic.

The room I will be recording in is this one :
http://www.musicunit.fr/page-studio-fr/studio-a
The room is large but is not very reverberant

(This will be trio live only, no overdubs)

Any comment / thoughs you have are welcomed

Thanks
Last edited by IlyaIlitch on Thu Jul 23, 2015 2:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

IlyaIlitch
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Post by IlyaIlitch » Thu Jul 23, 2015 2:04 am

ott0bot wrote: lastly set up an onmi room mic and add a fair amount of compression. then move it around the room until you find the most balanced sound from all three instruments.
Hello ottObot,
Thank you for your advices !
Can you elaborate about this protocol.
Of course I understand moving a mic to look for good balance.
Why one mic ?
Why compression ?

Thank you

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ott0bot
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Post by ott0bot » Thu Jul 23, 2015 8:08 am

IlyaIlitch wrote:
ott0bot wrote: lastly set up an onmi room mic and add a fair amount of compression. then move it around the room until you find the most balanced sound from all three instruments.
Hello ottObot,
Thank you for your advices !
Can you elaborate about this protocol.
Of course I understand moving a mic to look for good balance.
Why one mic ?
Why compression ?

Thank you
Compressing the room mic will make everything sound more balanced, the quiet stuff is louder, and the loud stuff quieter. Use a high enough to ratiio and a low enough threshold so it's still compressing the quiet sounds. Some people "crush" the toom mic on drums, but for acoustic instruments, I think a lighter touch is better or the start sounding too aggressive. theoretically once you find the right place in the room...it will give each instrument a similar amount of room sound, compression will assist.

One mic because it won't separate the instruments even further. If you have a left and a right there will usually be more of one instrument and less of another. Which might be fine if they can balance themselves a bit better. If the idea is to help balance the group, I'd think this would be an easier way to achieve it.

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Post by drumsound » Thu Jul 23, 2015 12:23 pm

I agree with oTTo, compress the room. and possibly compress it again on the mix.

Looking at that room. you might try a close mic and an "overhead" on each player to get a little more air. Be super diligent about phase relationships if you do.

IlyaIlitch
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Post by IlyaIlitch » Fri Jul 24, 2015 4:15 am

Thanks a lot,
This helps !
I will get back to this post after the recording to let know how it was setup.

IlyaIlitch
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Post by IlyaIlitch » Thu Aug 13, 2015 6:51 am

Hello,

I though that I could describe how the session was as you all took time to give advices.
Maybe this could be useful to somebody ?
There is some bad pictures... I quickly removed the faces because sometimes you don't want your face on a forum...
(Sorry for approximate English)



So First element to take in consideration is human beings?
Yes !
Some real bad tensions between the musicians on several subjects, music and not music made difficult taking more time than I took to test mic placement...
Saying ?wait a second? at some point to be able to test something quickly or adjust something was a problem as the 3 of them were quite exceeded by problems inherent to their relations and the recording process was an easy open window for getting mad at something instead of someone...
I quickly noticed that and I acted accordingly
But not the end of the world, It needed careful attention not to technically intervene at certain moment. (More than in any other recording session I mean?)

So configuration in the room...

I got the bass and the oud on one side of the room 3 or 4 meters from each other, opposite to the percussion at the other side of the room.
Leaking issue was of course produced by the percussion mainly.
Little double bass low register leaks into oud also.

Floor is wood, walls are dead, ceiling is 6 meters high.
I used carpet under everybody and I used mic stands with blanket and carpet on them as gobos.
I also used two big ampeg stack around double bass.
Leaking is very small, thank you blankets.

Musicians could see each others faces, but they could not see each others instruments and hands because of gobos.
At first they said this was a problem.
They are used to rehearse really close to each others and able to see each others hands and instruments.
After half an hour playing warming up without recording they finally saidthat it was ok just to see each other faces.
From here no problem with distances and separations between them...
?Good for me.

Daf :
I recorded a few,
if you don't know thos percussion, many kind exist.
To describe it very basic because there is numbers of different hits on this instruments, you have a high sounding hit on the rim, and a low sounding hit on center.
Depending on the tuning and on the percussion it can more or less be bright and more or less be boomy.
This one was not that bright, and not that low? hrm?
Daf players often seeks clear open high hit sound with a good low mid presence in it and deep low hit sound.

As front mic I first tried Shure KSM141, (never tried it before)
not a good choice, great response, great mic but not clear top end freq.
(Might be a great mic to tame aggressive sound (?))
Then I tried AKG 414XLII and it worked great...
Not a bright sound but clear sound.
If top end boost needed it appears that it took EQ it very well.
Also, very good low hit reproduction.

On the back of the daf,
I tried 414 too. Not interesting there... boomy boxy sound.
(this is actually how it sounded there in reality. With this particular tuning and percussion obviously)
Then I tried beyer M88, It did not catch anything interesting that I did not already have with the front mic.
Then I tried beyer M380, And I got big exaggerate low end there...
I might not use it, but that's what I was looking for if big bottom is needed during the mix.



On oud:
First I tried a schoeps CMC5 MK4,
I liked it very much, but the oud player did not.
too silky, he wanted a brighter sound... (I was sad... )
So I tried the U87ai, and that was the one.
It has the high he was looking for. But not a interesting low mids.
So I placed it to get the High mids and I used a coles 4038 with it to get the beautifull low mids.
great couple !



Double bass :
This has been very very difficult for me, and I am not confident with the sound I got?
I recorded quite a few difficult instruments, chinese Qin, turkish T?nbur, greek buzuki...etc
But double bass !! it is and always will be the most difficult to me... as low frequencies is something really difficult to record for me.
It 's the third time I record this instrument, two times as overdubs alone in a room...
more easy of course, this was the first time live in a room with other instruments.
I read lot of advices and and recording techniques but could not find the technique or mic that worked perfect to my ears in this configuration.

I needed distance, but I could not get far enough because of leaking issue.
So I could not get the balanced sound I wanted between open high mids and low frequencies.

I started moving different mics in front of the bass listening with my headphones on the head.
All of them more or less near the bridge. (except coles 4038, see pictures)
-First I tried AKG414 XLII : excluded, hard and cold, no wood, no organic.
-Second I tried TLM103 : excluded, uncontrolled low end.
-Third I tried U87ai : excluded, interesting but the high freq were too much.
-fourth I tried Charter Oak SA538b : good surprise ! fat open sound.
-Fift I tried Sony C37P: good ! Controlled low end, open sound.
-Sixth I tried Coles 4038: good! thick controlled low end.

I have finally these 3 mics recorded on bass as I could honestly not decide myself, new studio with control room in the live room, headphones on most of the time and speakers I don?t know.
this is great for communication with musician to be in the same room but this sucks for listening...

This double bass mic test was done in 20 minutes at most as there was only headphones direct decisions and no mic test recording.
I thought no gigabyte economy, and three mics were recorded for the bass, where I am sure one could have been enough?
I will see when mixing... hrm.



I did not used null point on bidirectional mics, as musicians needed to see each other, and the angle of the mic was to much change in sound. But none of rear sides of mics has been a problem.
During the recording al list.
I mix in two weeks. I will try two upload some sounds for you if interested.

3 pieces as a trio were recorded with this configuration
2 pieces as a duo (oud/bass) were recorded with same configuration, with a pair of sennheiser 8020 above the oud (1.5 meters) in order to capture oud and double bass with an ok balance between them.
2 solos (oud) were recorded, same mics but he got in the middle of the room without carpet under or around him. The 8020 pair 2 meters or so above him.
Here is the patch list :
Daf front :
414XLII -> API VP312
Daf back :
M380 -> API VP312 (I probably won't use this mic during mix, 414 gives enough bass on front)
Oud:
coles 4038 -> chandler LTD1
U87 -> Studer 903
Double Bass:
Sony C37P -> Studer 903
Charter Oak SA538b -> Studer 903
Coles 4038 -> chandler LTD1

Finally to get back to the question I had first in this thread.
Mono mics on each instruments was enough (except for the solo)
and placing them as :
Double bass 50% on the left
Oud centered
Daf 50% on the right
seems to work great with a well choosen reverb.

Thanks for reading, I hope this is usefull to somebody.
If questions I can answer.
Sound soon.
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