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Author Topic: Reflections PDF  (Read 14787 times)

Kendrix

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Re: Reflections PDF
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2006, 06:35:11 pm »

Good article.

One conclusion you took from this data is that the larger recording room dominates our reflections-based perception on playback and that the smaller listening room effectively gets lost in that sonic picture.   (From looking at the red and blue curves.)

However, that is not always the case- correct?
I'm thinking about when the recording space is smaller/deader than the listening space.
In this case it seems the listening room will play a major role influncing our perception of the soundfield.
In this case it seems a dry recording is best- so you avoid the room-in-a-room effect during playback.  

I also note that stereo micing presents its own issues.  If you dont get things just right then phasing can harm the sound.  If you have numerous stereo tracks you have to pan intelligently or it can all turn to mush.  

In a world of  loud guitar amps, keyboards etc. that each need their own close miced tracks (to avoid excessive bleed) how would you simultaneously record them all in stereo?  

Seems to me in practice the best we can do is pick 1-2 key sounds to try and track properly in stereo.
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Ken Favata

L_Tofastrud

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Re: Reflections PDF
« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2006, 04:47:34 pm »

Ken,

Sorry for the very delayed reply

Your observations are correct.  I’ll try to address them one at a time:

You said “In this case it seems a dry recording is best- so you avoid the room-in-a-room effect during playback.”  While your conclusion that very dry recordings would have reflections lower in level than even the driest control room is correct the problem with this is that it’s not all music that is listenable if it is very dry.  Experimental recordings have been made in anechoic rooms and they are mainly used for evaluation and research purposes.  I can think of some Lyle Lovett songs that are very dry but even they have a signature of early reflections that will reveal itself in a properly treated room.  But you are right:  Such recordings will be influenced by the listening room and becomes a part of the sonic signature of the music.  At this point it’s actually not a “control room” any more but a “music reproduction room” and this is often the case for “hi-fi” listening where speakers with dipole or even a 360 degree radiating pattern are used in an often relatively live room.  In these instances the listening room will overpower the information in the recording and create its own spaciousness, maybe with exception of large classical pieces.  This works for a lot of people but it is not an accurate representation of what was recorded and this should in my opinion never be the situation in a control room.

If you’re asking if I would rather see recordings from anechoic chambers and then have live listening rooms with 360 degree dispersion loudspeakers the answer is no.  The creative use of space and placement in recordings is a very important part of the musical whole in my opinion.  Leaving the reverb up to the listeners room would not work IMO –it wouldn’t work with headphones.

In most instances with very dry recordings reverb with or without early reflections will be added during mixing.  The issue I have with this is that whatever “early reflections” and reverb is added it’s never comparable to the real thing.  It can sometimes create a pretty good illusion (but I can’t think of more than a handful of CD’s in my collection that I would include in this group) but I haven’t heard any recording where it actually gives the same sonic image as that of an actual stereo recording.  Just move your head a little off axis and the whole soundstage collapses.  One reason for this is the relationship between early reflections and reverb isn’t like in a real room and that there are so many more correlated and uncorrelated reflections present in the real thing than in a DSP box.

It doesn’t always take much to enhance the listening experience a lot.  You say “Seems to me in practice the best we can do is pick 1-2 key sounds to try and track properly in stereo.” And I agree with this – some stereo is a lot better than none at all.  One engineer that has done this with great results is Bruce Swedien.

The problem with bleed is that there are too many mic’s Wink  Even if individual instruments are recorded it seems like the mic technique is the same as that on a stage or in a studio full of loud instruments.  I’m sure comfort and the fact that decisions about sounds can be delayed has something to do with this.  A decision has to be made about what that recording will be in the final mix if you’re to record in stereo and this requires some experience and also, I’m sure, a very comfortable relationship between everyone involved (producers, musicians and engineers).  What makes me sad is that this all seems to be possible in jazz and classical music while the music that I prefer to listen to most of the time “suffers” from microphone techniques that might be necessary on a stage but shouldn't really be needed in a studio where the situation is so much more controllable.

Now, I do understand that there are creative reasons to use close mic techniques in a studio as well but it seems to me that these techniques are chosen more as a default and a habit rather than an effort to capture tone and an instruments sonic qualities *so that they fit into the musical whole that makes a song/final mix*.  In classical music there are notations as to how loud a sound should be in the “mix”- in pop/rock now it seemingly all has to be as loud as it can get.  In too many CD’s now it’s all directly on top of each other and it becomes an unlistenable mush of distortion (because of +dBFS signals).  Everything seems to be recorded at 1” and the only “soundstage” is left to right.  Not being an engineer I can’t explain what engineers do different now or where in the production chain the sound reaches these levels of horrible sound quality, but I know from what I hear (no rule without exception) that pretty much all of the CD’s I have that are good or excellent sounding are more than 5 years old.  So what is done differently? How can far superior recording equipment mean worse sound?

Next:  One of the reasons why layers of stereo sounds mushy are because there are “too many rooms” recorded when different stereo mic setups are used.  Psycho acoustically the brain simply can’t make any sense out of it because it would never occur in any natural setting.

My suggested solution would be to record stereo as few times as possible – record more instruments at once into the stereo mic: it doesn’t need to be live: re-amp all the guitar parts and/or synth parts for example.  Move amps around, play with levels and effects until you get the desired placement and room interaction.

...and don’t compress everything to the top of the digital scale.  It really kills everything that is enjoyable about sound when, seemingly every single track is compressed and limited to death before and during the mix and then one more time during the mastering.  It's not like resolution is an issue if you're down at -20dBFS but resolution and _severe_ distortion artifacts will be an issue when you approach 0dBFS.

Comments are always welcome!

Regards
Lars Tofastrud
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Kendrix

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Re: Reflections PDF
« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2006, 11:26:56 am »

Lars,

Thanks for the comprehensive and thoughtful reply.

I had never thought about the  "too many rooms at the same time" issue with multiple, spacially disparate stereo tracks being mixed together.  This is a very interesting point as it relates to confusing the sonic decoding mechanism of the brain.

Are you aware of any recordings of loud, amplified sources (such as in the pop/rock genre) that recorded in stereo as you suggest with mimimal close micing.  Are there any that also maintaining sufficient intimacy of the sounds?

The very few that come to my mind tend to sufer from a "too-distant" feel.
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Ken Favata

franman

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Re: Reflections PDF
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2007, 08:39:09 pm »

I'm surprised that none of you other guys have chimed in on Lars' stereo recording technique outlined above... This is one of his favorite "Soap Boxes".. He loves to talk about this subject and how it can (should) be implemented in pop and contemporary recordings. He has a lot of great ideas and although he is not an engineer by training, he has thought about this and done a lot of experimenting with the psycho acoustics involved in capturing and recreating "true stereo" recordings for non-classical applications... He's just foaming at the mouth to hook up with some of you guys who have the time and tools to work with him on his ideas to try and create 'better' stereo recordings. Him concept is an relatively simple one once you understand the principal... Talk to him and he'll give you the straight poop and his stereo recording concepts.. I think this reflection thread has a lot of potential not only in helping people understand the effects of early reflections in reproduction of sound (control rooms) but also how to capture and produce better stereo recordings for almost any genre... trust me, just crank him up and you'll be amazed at how much he has to say about this. At the end of the day, what we do for a living is all about making is easier and more enjoyable to produce better sounding records!! That is what it's all about (assuming you can find some decent music to record, that is!)... Enjoy!
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Nick Sevilla

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Re: Reflections PDF
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2009, 08:06:02 pm »

L_Tofastrud wrote on Tue, 05 September 2006 14:37

Below is a link to a document I started to write some time back (and haven't been able to find the time to actually finish).

http://www.fmdesign.com/support/ETC_article.pdf

It deals with our perception of recorded sounds in a listening environment.

Comments are welcome!

Regards
Lars Tofastrud


Really excellent article, Lars!

Now I can point some of my skeptical clients, when they wonder why I sometimes don't treat all the instruments in a mix with reverb nor delay...

To me, putting an effect on an individual mix element "just because" is not good. Usually I do listen to mixes as I start them, without the time-based effects, in other rooms and spaces, to determine what the "dry" recording sounds like when added in a real listening environment.

Sometimes there is enough original room along with the instrument, that adding more reverb / delay, will just cloud it up. Especially the lead or dominant instrument.

Your article just confirms what I've been doing for a while.

Thanks,

Nick
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