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Author Topic: Is There A 'Correct' Approach To Recording Acoustic Instruments?  (Read 13067 times)

wildplum

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Re: Is There A 'Correct' Approach To Recording Acoustic Instruments?
« Reply #30 on: March 03, 2006, 04:44:57 pm »

"This thinking is less applicable to musics like Bluegrass, traditional Country, folk, Celtic, etc., that are characterized by smaller, closer audiences on a frequent basis in an intimate setting, hearing the instruments and players in all their corporeality."

I do not think this is necessarily a valid assumption in today's environment. Certainly, it is getting less valid with time.

Like Ted suggested, most of the musicians coming through my studio nowadays want to sound like they sound in the local folk house. mostly, this is without a mic, through a DI. They also think that, because they are in a studio, the should be miced. The result is- close micing.

And, as strange as it may seem, the audience wants the same thing. many, many audience goers today think that the sound of an acoustic guitar is that of a pickup through a DI out a PA system. when they hear a more "classically" recorded guitar, they say "that doesn't sound like soandso, it sounds strange".

As Klaus said, the reference point is changing. Or, perhaps more precisely, the reference is splintering. At one time, those having sufficient leisure time and money to go to a concert were a relatively small group. Today, one need only enough money to uy an Ipod to listen music. And there are all kinds of listeners in between.  

What is the proper way to record acoustic instruments? Consider want the artist wants as an end result, consider who the intended audience is and then proceed accordingly.
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Paul Tumolo

<a href="http://www.wildplum.org" target="_blank">Wildplum Recordings</a>

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DavidSpearritt

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Re: Is There A 'Correct' Approach To Recording Acoustic Instruments?
« Reply #31 on: March 03, 2006, 05:02:16 pm »

Quote:

Consider want the artist wants as an end result, consider who the intended audience is and then proceed accordingly.


Trouble is, most artists and general audience are clueless about sound. So considering their opinion seriously is not a great idea. Physics is a better guide.

Martin Kantola

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Re: Is There A 'Correct' Approach To Recording Acoustic Instruments?
« Reply #32 on: March 03, 2006, 05:09:25 pm »

DavidSpearritt wrote on Fri, 03 March 2006 22:02

Quote:

Consider want the artist wants as an end result, consider who the intended audience is and then proceed accordingly.


Trouble is, most artists and general audience are clueless about sound. So considering their opinion seriously is not a great idea. Physics is a better guide.


You know, I try as much as possible to do what I simply feel is right, not caring too much about what others might think (don't tell any of my clients, please...) Comes from doing several projects that were impossible to compare with anything else out there. The instrumentation was way too weird, but still all acoustic.

All one can do in such a case is to trust one's instincts, which I believe is the best way to go anyhow...

Martin
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maccool

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Re: Is There A 'Correct' Approach To Recording Acoustic Instruments?
« Reply #33 on: March 03, 2006, 05:34:23 pm »

wildplum wrote on Fri, 03 March 2006 21:44

... most of the musicians coming through my studio nowadays want to sound like they sound in the local folk house. mostly, this is without a mic, through a DI. They also think that, because they are in a studio, the should be miced. The result is- close micing.
many, many audience goers today think that the sound of an acoustic guitar is that of a pickup through a DI out a PA system
And, as strange as it may seem, the audience wants the same thing. . when they hear a more "classically" recorded guitar, they say "that doesn't sound like soandso, it sounds strange"...
(my italics)

Please, tell me this isn't so!  I understand the need for DI'd transducers in some situations;  sometimes they're necessary.  They're easy to use, the guitarist can move around on stage, feedback's not a problem, but most of them sound terrible, including my own!  It never occurred to me that folks acutually like and prefer the sound of a piezo transducer to that of a microphone.
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pia-no-phone

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Re: Is There A 'Correct' Approach To Recording Acoustic Instruments?
« Reply #34 on: December 25, 2010, 06:53:16 pm »

Marik wrote on Tue, 07 February 2006 16:04

I almost exclusively specialize on recording of classical piano and have been doing it for many years. I am yet to see a concert pianist who would like to hear performance with close up miking.
So many fantastic performances even of the greatest artists were ruined this way.

First of all, for a serious recording (esp. for commercial release) I would not even consider recording in a studio. The only thing to go is a concert hall with acoustics not less than beautiful, on a piano not in less than in a perfect shape, with a top technician, standing by during the whole session. Of course, there are some very good studios, but I am yet to hear a studio piano recording, which would be as emotionally involved as made in the hall.

You should understand two aspects of piano performance:

1) The brain of the experienced concert pianist works differently. S/he hears not what is coming out of the piano on the stage, but first projects the sound into a hall, and then listens to the sound coming back from THE HALL.

Take it away from the pianist and 80% of the inspiration will be gone. Of course there are some exceptions like G. Gould, but he had his own, unique way of music making, and had a completely different concept of the sound. Needless to say, he used his own piano, which was "doctored" in the way suited to his (and only his) needs and thus was perfectly suited for studio recording.

2) Piano essentially is a percussive instrument. Most of the pianists (once again, with some exceptions) strive for overcoming this very nature. They want to sing on piano and want to hear their sound round and homogenous, with perfect connection between notes and music ideas, i.e. legato playing is a fundamental concept of piano performance.

You have to help the pianist with that. Close miking results in a "tiki-tak" kind of sound, which is essentially percussive, and defeats the whole idea of legato, and ultimately the whole idea of music making and how the artist wants to hear the final result.  You still need to have a good sound definition, so a fine balance, where the sound is already not "tiki-tak", but still not too "wet", can be a challenge.

When you record, you need to find a sweet spot between the complex relation of a pianist's personality and the piano/hall/type of music, where ultimately, sound itself expresses emotional context of the music and its ideas.

For a natural sounding piano try to mike it so, that afterwards you do as little electronic processing as possible.

In less than perfect situations my first choice would be MS recorded separately as two channels, where for 'M' I'd try a cardioid Gefell M294, and for 'S' a ribbon (besides perfect fig8 pattern, it tends to be more forgiving for room flaws). Then I'd edit the recording, and then treat/EQ each channel separately during a mastering stage.  

Best regards, Mark Fuksman



-- YES, BEST DESCRIPTION I'VE EVER READ OF THE APPROACH TO CLASSICAL PIANO RECORDING ON A VERY HIGH LEVEL. EXCELLENT THROUGHOUT.
======================================
Fernando Guilhon
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compasspnt

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Re: Is There A 'Correct' Approach To Recording Acoustic Instruments?
« Reply #35 on: December 25, 2010, 07:20:45 pm »

Agreed.

I would personally have chosen different microphones in the last paragraph, but the philosophy is perfect.
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Fenris Wulf

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Re: Is There A 'Correct' Approach To Recording Acoustic Instruments?
« Reply #36 on: December 26, 2010, 07:28:54 am »

At one time it was in vogue to record classical piano with the lid removed and a pair of mics a few feet above the strings.

Here's a pop song from 1962 with an unusual (for pop) distant-miced piano sound.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8n4xA1yNbE
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Bill_Urick

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Re: Is There A 'Correct' Approach To Recording Acoustic Instruments?
« Reply #37 on: December 26, 2010, 08:46:18 am »

Listening to Fenris' post, it seems you can really hear that the piano is distant mic'd. What a great way to pre-place elements in a mix.

I remember hearing a Jimmy Smith recording through a friends "audiophile" rig and how loud the relay click was when he switched the Leslie. Loved it. Close your eyes and he was playing there in the same room.
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piedpiper

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Re: Is There A 'Correct' Approach To Recording Acoustic Instruments?
« Reply #38 on: December 26, 2010, 04:31:35 pm »

All this reminds me of a conversation I had with mastering engineer Paul Stubblebine, who picked up on my use of the aforementioned word, "naturalistic" when discussing my mastering preferences.
He very astutely made a distinction between, "natural" and "naturalistic" where the latter may well employ artificial techniques to give the impression of a natural presentation of a best of all possible worlds. IOW, do what works for you given your artistic vision.

Personally, I usually gravitate towards an elusive balance inclusive of the advantages of all relevant perspectives. For non-classical ensemble arrangements, I often like the "less confused" perspective of removing the lid on a piano with modified Crown SASSP stereo mic pointing down from 1 to 2 meters above the crook, assuming a decent room.
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Tim Britton

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