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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:21 pm 
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Didier - are you trying to tell me something? :lol: :lol:

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 Post subject: Sound Clip
PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 11:57 pm 
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Multiple mics?... Absolutely, it's difficult enough to record well with a stereo pair. Only skilled engineers tend to record with more than 4 microphones. Mastering all those channels on a mixing console, selecting multiple patterns, levels, phase, effects, etc. is all an art to get right. Recording with multiple mics, you're getting into ambient recording using spaced pair of omnidirectional mics 2, 4, 6, or in PianoLady's case 8 mics. If done right, capturing the natural reverberation in a large hall is the best case scenario. For home recording, this concept is useless because of the lack of natural reverberation due to the smaller size room and shorter ceilings. Besides, the cost becomes astronomical. I draw the line at a stereo pair of mics, and a good preamp.

As promised, here is a recent excerpt from Chopin's Nocturne, No. 21 without any effects. The file was converted from .wav to mp3.

Setup: (2) AKG C414B-XLS mics spaced 10in apart, 3ft from curve, 5ft high. Wide Cardiod
Avalon AD2022 Preamp
Yamaha CDR1000 CD recorder (built in 20bit A/D & Apogee UV-22 dithering)

Room: 35x14x8.5ft living room, with the dining room and foyer merging to form an "L." The piano is at vertex of the "L."

BTW - the annoying "clunk" in the beginning is the soft pedal bar. I'll have it adjusted as soon as the weather gets colder. As for the room, I am not going to buy acoustic panels until I get a larger rug first. After remodeling, I'll reevaluate the room response for any nodes. The above setup is working okay, but I'll continue experimenting with different mic placements in the meantime...


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 5:34 am 
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Nice! The Steinway sound signature is well there. Is it a New-York or a Hamburg one ? Are you preparing one recording more of this nocturne for us? It seems that it might the winner. :)


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 2:40 am 
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Merci, Didier. My piano is a 1985 New York Steinway B. It was previously owned by a Steinway technician and it has been played very lightly. I really got lucky with this piano because not all Steinway Bs sound the same. Unfortunately, Hamburg Steinways don't weather the humidity well in the northeastern part of the U.S., so it's not a good investment for us. The difference lies in the wood stock used in the two different climates. Otherwise, I had my eyes on the Hamburg 7ft 5in piano, which they don't make here.

Several years back, I played on a Feurich piano and loved it's tone and timbre - it had just the right amount of harmonic balance and euphonics. They were importing only 75 pianos a year into the U.S. at the time, but I can no longer find any in Boston. Can they still be found in Europe?

BTW - I've been hearing some nice things about the Avenson STO-2 mics. I might try out a pair instead of getting the DPAs or the Earthworks right now. Great suggestion!

Here is the Chopin Nocturne, No. 21 again in it's entirety. The piano was tuned 4 months ago.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 3:32 am 
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I thought I'd copy my reply from the other thread to be on record here as well with my opinions.

David


Hi 88man,

Just a few comments in response. First, thanks for presenting your findings. They're quite informative.

I agree with your philosophy that recording classical piano music is more effective with mics placed away from the piano. Four feet is generally considered minimum, although in my living room, I find that a distance of eight feet better ensures a fully formed and blended sound. (Close-in recording is best left for pops and jazz where great value is placed on the percussive sound of hammer on string.)

Everything I've heard is that small diaphragm condenser mics are better suited to recording piano, while large diaphragm condenser mics are more effective recording voice. So I'm surprised you recommend large diaphragm mics.

Today preamps tend to be built right into some of the recorders. For example, that is the case with my fairly new Korg MR-1000 DSD. That eliminates that problem and additional expense. Similarly phantom power has replaced external power supplies, and mixing box functions are now built into recorders as well. With the recorders on the market today, all anyone should really need to record is a fine quality recorder, external stereo mics (usually superior to on-board mics), and higher end mic cables. Anything else should already be inside the recorder.

Alas, I don't have a 2,500 sq ft living room. Wish I did!!! The entire main floor footprint of my home is 2,100 sq ft! The living room is somewhat open (through two sets of French doors) to the family room, and directly open to the dining area and foyer. Ceilings are standard 8'. Homes in my region (eastern central Maine) are built smaller than the McMansions of the Southland for better heating efficiency during our brutal winters, especially where over 80% heat by oil. So I don't have the space for a Steinway B (or preferably a Baldwin SF10). My Baldwin Model L (6'3") does fit in nicely though.

I consider my living room to be "acoustically treated", i.e., wall-to-wall carpeting and stuffed furniture. I have not experienced the "harsh sound" you refer to, while using stereo small diaphragm condenser mics with omnidirectional capsules. Although I do have cardioid capsules too, I find the sound to be richer with the omnis. I use A-B configuration, 8' distant from the piano with 12" mic separation to good effect. (The 8' distance from the piano shows once again that all rooms are different, which requires much experimentation in mic placements.) I did experiment with XY configuration and found it lacking and obviously more suited to close-in recording, which I avoid now. I admit I have not tried wide-angle cardioids, but where I don't experience that harshness you mention, I probably don't need to.

Finally, you place great emphasis on the quality of the piano, room, and equipment. The one element you neglect is the most important one of all--the pianist!

David
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 3:28 pm 
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88man - Nice recording and a quiet one even though you have captured room ambience. Must have a very quiet environment when recording.
I miss some clarity in the notes, especially in piano or pianissimo. Maybe it needs some EQ to add a touch of sparkle and definition to the treble. But that's subjective.

By the way, the first note of the LH arpeggio in bar 8 (repeats twice) should be F#, not D#. Sorry for mentioning, but I thought you would like to know.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 5:25 pm 
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[Rachfan] Indeed David, the pianist is important - dynamic shading, hard/soft playing, curved/straight finger technique, pedaling, piece, legato/staccato, etc. are all variables among different pianists and will alter the sound and the choice of equipment to some degree. I skimmed over it in my thread when talking about "musical style," and "taste"in the type of sound that one is after. That's why it's paramount to rent or borrow equipment before deciding to invest in studio-gear.

[Wiser_guy] Great observation! I've played it both ways with the F# and D#. This piece was published years after Chopin's death and there are at least two versions of this piece - one published with the F# and another with D#. I even have two recordings which play the two notes differently. This time around I played it with the D#. Intuitively, it sounds like it should be F#, however, I haven't had the opportunity to consult a musicologist since I am very curious myself. While we're on the subject, there are other pieces by Chopin where one has to decide the authenticity of notes due to either the publishers getting it wrong or whether the manuscript was not legible in the first place. In any case, it makes for an interesting conversation piece... No pun intended.

I haven't added any EQ to highlight the treble. It's not perfect - It may also be that I had the soft pedal down in the P and PP sections of the piece which robbed the notes of their lustre? I haven't done any EQing because the room is somewhat "bright.". Also, the mic spacing may be causing phase anomalies which can cancel certain notes. Anyway, I am planning to get a larger rug, that will definitely change the room response for the better, and I'll have more flexibility in miking the piano that will take this into account.

Thanks for the feedback!


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 7:20 pm 
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88man, You should put this recording in the audition room. Your interpretation is at least better than mine. 8)

Quote:
The difference lies in the wood stock used in the two different climates. Otherwise, I had my eyes on the Hamburg 7ft 5in piano, which they don't make here.

I think this is more a marketing argument for promoting in USA the Steinways made in New York. At this time, the humidity rate is 54% in my room. It is usually above 60% in summer and I have an humidifier to maintain it above 45% in winter when the weather is cold and dry. Are your conditions in Boston so different from our ones in Brittany at the west end of France ? Your winter is colder, your summer is hotter, but what...

Quote:
Otherwise, I had my eyes on the Hamburg 7ft 5in piano, which they don't make here.

I have also an eye on the Steinway C, which can be found in France : there was a wonderful second hand one at my last visit to Hanlet, the French importer for Steinway, but which is much more seldom than the B (your one) and the D (the concert one). Steingraeber just issued on this year their 232 model. 232 means length = 2.32 m, so it is a direct competitor to the Steinway C, whose length is 2.27 m. Anyway not so reasonable with respect to my tiny house (and bank account :wink: ).

Quote:
small diaphragm condenser mics are better suited to recording piano, while large diaphragm condenser mics are more effective recording voice.

David, it's may be more complicated than that. I suspect that small diaphragms condensers are better at some distance from the piano. So in a good acoustics venue, SDs are the usual choice. But for close miking (less than 1 meter), large diaphragm condensers may produce a richer sound. So, no general rule. Just for illustration of this, I attach two Beethoven piano sonata highlights, one with a small condenser pair, one with a large condenser pair, both at the same location, 50 cm from the piano. I think that they are representative for the best sound quality that I can achieve currently. You must equalize the listening levels for fair comparison.
EDIT I removed the attached files small.mp3 and large.mp3 for saving storage capaciy on Pianosociety. PM me if you are interested in so that I can make them available to you from internet.


Last edited by Didier on Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:32 am, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 8:07 pm 
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Hi Didier,

Thanks for posting that comparison of small diaphragm and large diaphragm condenser mics. In your room and fairly close-in distance from the piano, I agree that the large diaphragm condenser mics sound less constrained and richer there. My recording distance, however, in my room is 8 feet (244 cm) from the piano. So if you're correct, then in my environment my choice of small diaphragm condenser mics is entirely appropriate. One other variable that would be useful to know though in your samples here is whether they were done with omnidirectional or cartioid capsules. Could you please clarify that too? I now use omnidirectional capsules, finding a more lush sound resulting with the mics being in A-B configuration.

David

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 8:15 pm 
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Both are cardioid, David. I added a small bit (10%) of digital reverberation to both recordings, which I prefer to the natural reverberation from my room, more present when the mikes are further from the piano.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 8:40 pm 
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Quote:
It may also be that I had the soft pedal down in the P and PP sections of the piece which robbed the notes of their lustre?

This explains it then. Obviously you know what you are doing and you already have a great setup. And by continouing the position/equipment experimentation you will get a lot better.

I hope you follow Didier's suggestion and put some of your work on the audition room. It would be nice to have quality recordings. It would be a great motivation for the all of us to try harder not only performance-wise but sound-wise also.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 9:55 pm 
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Hi Didier,

That makes sense. Cartioids are more often than not preferred for close-in recording applications. In fact, some of the better portable recorders with on-board mics in XY configuration, which is best used in close-in recordings, also come with cardioid capsules. I have some old recordings I made with the mics about 6" (12 cm or so) away from the piano case rim. At that distance I used cartioid capsules with good success.

David

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 11:35 pm 
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Generally, large condensers capture more body and air of an instrument, which could give the appearance of sounding more "musical." They typically have more color and presence peaks around 2-8khz which adds airiness to a voice or an instrument track, this may flatter some sources or add the wrong character to others.

Small condensers have better focus, faster transient response than larger condensers, which could give the appearance of sounding more "accurate." They also tend to be neutral and have a flat frequency response. Caution: My experience has been that small condensers, especially cardiod patterns, may exhibit off-axis coloration, which at close miking distances can make the piano sound like it's out of tune on certain notes. The Neumann KM184 is notorious for this.

So the debate continues: Musicality vs Accuracy. The same debate appears in audio electronics - solid state (more accurate) vs tubes (more musical). It becomes a matter of what sounds more "realistic," based on the room, piano, and style of playing. In some cases you could implement a hybrid setup where you have a combination of small and large condensers for each channel - this way you could merge musicality with accuracy and have best of both worlds. Again, you would have to experiment to find the right balance.

Thank you for the compliments.

Didier, do you have any acoustic treatment in your music room? You seem to be having better luck than I am with omnis in your room, that's why I am resorting to 'wide cardiod' for now. The Beethoven sounds nicely balanced...
... Several years back I asked Richard Lieberman, the author of "Steinway & Sons," the same question regarding the import of German Steinways into the U.S. That's what he told me about the humidity. Here in Boston the humidity varies drastically from 10% in the winter to 90% in the summer. However, marketing may play a role as you say - The New York Steinway guards itself well here from it's brother in Hamburg. C'est La Vie!


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 1:12 am 
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Hi 88man,

That's a very interesting observation about the issue of close-in mic-ing with cardioid capsules adding coloration such that the piano might not sound completely in tune. This is the first time I've heard of that. It intrigues me because years ago I made numerous analog recordings using close-in cardioid patterns. Often I'd get (and still get when some people hear those old recordings now) listener comments about the piano being "out of tune", which I did not always believe was the case, although occasionally it admittedly was a problem. Where it was unexpected, I attributed it more to very minute tape speed changes, although that would seem unlikely. Other comments complain of a "swimmy", 'wobbly" or reverberation quality to the sound, which might also be part of that cardioid coloration you speak of, although that possibly being the culprit never dawned on me.

Fortunately I don't get any of that these days using my digital system, A-B mic-ing at 8' out, and my shift to omnidirectional capsules.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 10:55 am 
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Quote:
Didier, do you have any acoustic treatment in your music room?


Nothing specific but I use this mic thing for isolating acoustically the microphones from the closest wall. I don't think that it is determining. The most important thing is that I put the microphones at close distance well within the critical perimeter (the limit where the scattered sound becomes higher than the direct sound). In this case cardioid vs. omni is not a so important issue.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 6:55 pm 
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Rachfan, in the days of analog recording, the "swimmy" or "wobbly" character to the sound was caused by Wow and Flutter - slight electromechanical variations in tape speed. Any figure above 0.1% wow and flutter was discernible. It was a bigger problem with cassettes than large format reel to reel machines because of the tape speed. As you noted, digital doesn't have this anomaly and it was a huge leap for me too when switching to digital.

Didier, I have loose acoustic foam similar to the pictured set up that might work. I have some left over from speaker building.

George


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 8:26 pm 
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Hi 88man,

The final impetus for me to shift from analog to digital was when Type IV Metal cassette tape was no longer manufactured and disappeared from the shelves, leaving only the inferior Type II Chrome, and the horrible quality Type I Normal. :lol: Thanks for that insight on tape speed. It's nice to be part of the digital recording world now.

I use the Korg MS-1000 DSD. The only problem is that I always use WAV format for recording rather than the direct stream digital (DSD) option. Problem is, the format conversion programs available on the Internet that enable one to convert to MP3 for posting purposes on sites like Piano Society, 1) don't seem to even know what DSD is, and 2) have no clue as to how to convert it to MP3! Maybe that will change in the future, but in the meantime it a shame not to be able to use DSD. The reason I went with DSD was to get ahead of the technology curve. It'll sure be nice when the conversion programs catch up!

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 12:28 pm 
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Hello,

I have been keen to play some of my piano pieces on to CD and have been experimenting for several months and feel that I am making some progress. I thought maybe I can get some help in this forum. Tonight I have made a very short .wav file of my playing and wonder if I can include a link here for you to have a listen to the sound file. Are links allowed?

My room is 16 ft x 14 ft with 9ft high ceiling.
Kawai KS3F Piano , sounding very good.
Pianist, try to sound good, up to others to judge.
Microphone: SP B1 Studio Projects Cardiod Condenser Microphone
Pressure gradient transducer
Dual Selectable High Pass Filter
Dual Selectable Pad
34mm diameter capsule 3um diaphragm
TASCAM US-122L Interface Audio/MIDI USB 2.0 connected to my computer.
Microphone is on a stand about five ft high pointing vertically up to ceiling and about five ft from the front of the piano on the treble side almost in line with the C one octave from the top.
There is carpet on the floor and two large windows which have curtains hanging from near the top of the wall to the floor. My house is brick veneer. I prefer to play with the lid of the top of the piano, down.

I would like to strive for the best sound with the resources I have. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in anticipation.


Last edited by bring18 on Fri Oct 31, 2008 11:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 1:36 pm 
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Hi bring18. Welcome to the forum.

Yes, you may put up a link to your recording. Or you can put it up as an attachment. But just to warn you - the 'sound' guys are not always around the forum everyday, so it may take time to get any response. Or not....you never know around here.


p.s. Boo!

(happy Halloween :lol:)

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 10:57 pm 
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Hello pianolady,

Thanks for your reply. I will include the sound file as an attachment for the sound people to have a listen to.

I forgot to mention that the software I am using is Cubase LE. Also my piano is an upright Kawai KS-3F.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 11:39 pm 
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Hi Bring18, I recently joined this site too. :)

In getting started, you should continuously experiment with mic placement - vary mic distance, spacing, height. That alone will yield dramatic results than any gear substitution. Record the same 5 tracks, and take reference notes on any changes. Monitor with good headphones. Rules to remember (1) the distance between the mics should be 3 times the distance of the mics from the piano; (2) mic the Right Channel for bass, and the Left Channel for treble - counter-intuitive for a pianist, but makes for a more natural psychoacoustic recording.

The SP B1 is a cardiod only mic, try to get closer than 5ft from the piano for that size room, otherwise the bass will suffer due to proximity effect. Don't mic inside the piano or else you'll get off-axis coloration, especially with cardiods (that "out of tune" sound on certain notes). If you're intent on keeping the lid down, try leaving the lid open at least on the short peg and place the mics 1-2ft from the curve to start. The sound should breathe.

The dimensions of your room are squarish so you might get standing waves at multiples of 70Hz, 80Hz, and 125Hz. The main point of acoustic treatment is to minimize nearby reflections from the source - ceiling and nearest adjacent walls. The curtains and carpeting will help, but try to place absorption on the ceiling and closest walls to tame nodes if spouse doesn't mind... I don't have to worry about that one! Try placing bass traps, e.g. LENRD, at the corners to help with room nodes. A short ceiling is a big culprit in "boxy sound" recordings. But, if you can absorb much of the sound going to the ceiling, then it's like having an infinite ceiling that's not there. Try using diffusers too - it'll make your room sound larger. Who knows, once you treat your room, you might find yourself recording at full lid, unless the piano is too bright for your taste. You may ultimately have to do some EQ at some point, but focus your resources on room treatment.

Try the free sound analysis through Auralex.com to get you started. That's what I am doing. You can also contact Ethan Winer of RealTraps.com as I indicated in my thread - he has some informative videos too. As for me, I am still in the process of acoustically treating my room in my new home - oriental rug, acoustic absorption, and diffusion panels. Once it's done, I'll be able to use omni mics without having to worry about bad room acoustics holding me back.

You can hear the sound I am getting, although with minimal treatment, just to get an idea of the sound with a different mic and preamp. I have a demo thread on [Auditions] "Chopin Nocturne, No. 20." It was never meant to a flawless performance, but rather a 'spur of the moment' demo of my mic-preamp... I'll post a better technical and musical recording once the room is acoustically treated. My goal is to host 'Schubertiades' and record music among fellow musicians and friends. :D


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 12:33 am 
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Ah, I see you posted an attachment while I was righting my first response... Besides I had to pass out candy at the door - unwillingly as I am a dentist by profession, and music is a hobby. :)

OK, I just listened to the piece. I am hearing the room nodes on the same frequencies that I had calculated in my first response. Based on your room dimensions they should occur at 70Hz, 80Hz, and 125Hz. I've never played this piece, but sounds like it's in E Major and the pedal notes, low E and B are 82Hz and 123Hz respectively - very close to the calculated nodes for that room! To improve the sound and treat the room, the recommendations I outlined before may be a good start.

I also realize in your follow up post that it's an upright. So, you can't mike it the same way you would a grand. Try placing the mics 3-5ft on back of the piano OR Open the lid and place 1-3ft from the top OR Open the bottom lid and mic 3-5ft away to start.

Yes! With the SP B1 mics, you can definitely improve upon the sound even though they may be on the bright side, but they're still transparent and that's a requirement for piano recording. There is a good deal of noise, most likely from the audio interface. Make sure you check input settings, mic cable, phantom power, impedence settings, gain, and power supply for any anomalies on the interface.

If you can't improve the sound from the current audio interface, try a Presonus or MOTU interface if you're intent on a computer based recording system. The threshold for good quality starts at $300. Most interfaces skimp on the analog inputs, and that's where the money is in the "sound" or "color."

BTW - If you're planning on a holiday gift, get the M-Audio Microtrack II recorder - has very good A/D converters, built in full 48V phantom power, and extreme portability - all in a self contained handheld unit for $300. You can use your current mics to it's full potential. I use one, and it's the best value IMHO.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 9:26 am 
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Hi Bring18,

your recording has a .wav extension but it seems rather being a very compressed MP3. Such an extremely low rate, about 20 kbit/s, is irrelevant for evaluating your recording set up, which looks anyway rather good.

Quote:
try to get closer than 5ft from the piano for that size room, otherwise the bass will suffer due to proximity effect.

The proximity effect is the bass reinforcement occurring when a cardioid microphone gets very close to the source (on the order of 10"). Especially of concern (or of benefit) for vocal recording.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 1:39 pm 
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Hello 88man,

Thanks. Enjoyed the candy bit and the spouse. I don't have to worry either. I like some humour but will have to try to behave myself (control myself) in these forums. Can't quite work out a dentist/pianist but I have only seen a minute part of the world and this is the Internet now. I will have a good read of what you have told me and work out what to try first. I find it difficult to understand some things but will try some basics. I only have one microphone. On reading your message, I realise I might need to have better settings on my Tascam US-122L Interface, the reason being that as much as I tried to understand it I never did. Am hoping you will be able to help there as maybe some of the settings could be improved.

There's only four settings i.e. (1) input L (for the Microphone), (2)Phantom off/on and naturally I have this on, (3) Mon mix and (4) Phones/Line Out.

Re (1) (3) and (4) I am uncertain whether I have ideal settings because I never understood them.

Input R is not used as I am only using one Microphone.

Also I do not have head phones for monitoring. Why would you have to monitor? I always listen to the track when I have recorded it. Do head phones cost much?

I did not understand you when you mentioned 5 tracks. I just do one track at a time for one piece of music.

E major was correct; Triste Coeur Composer Paul De Senneville. This was only the first almost two pages. There's another three and a bit pages to this piece.


Last edited by bring18 on Sat Nov 01, 2008 11:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 1:51 pm 
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Hello Didier,

Thanks for your help. You are correct in your assessment of the format of the file because that is what I did. I will keep the sound file in uncompressed .wav format in future. Is that the better way to have the sound file assessed?

On the point about the Microphone being 5 ft from the piano, do you mean that it is better to have the microphone around ten inches from the bass strings?


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 2:17 pm 
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No you shall not upload here wav files, because they are too big. 192 kbit/s stereo MP3, or 96 kbit/s mono MP3 for mono recording like in your case, would be nice.

No I did not mean that you shall get so close to the strings. I was just correcting a bit of confusion about what is the proximity effect, which you should not care about.


Yes I think that 1.5 m may be a little far in your case. But only testing is worth in this matter.

The most effective way to improve your recording quality, if needed, would be likely to get a second SP B1 for stereo recording. :wink:


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Hello Didier,

Have been experimenting and learning, and would like you to comment on this sound file in the attachment thanks.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 10:54 pm 
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Hello bring18,

that's much nicer. But the piano seems a little far like I would listen to it in a large room and it would be at the opposite side. I would like a little bit more presence on this kind of intimate music. I try to get that with minor processing, which I'm not skill in. Buth this is just a matter of personal taste.


Last edited by Didier on Wed Nov 19, 2008 11:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Hello Didier,

Thanks for your comments. I did notice that I should have had this sound file louder and I can do this on my audio/midi interface at the mic input volume control knob. Maybe you mean something else. I will try this piece again using a higher volume at the mic input control on the audio/midi interface. Am never sure how loud sound files should be.

Meanwhile:- 45 minutes later: - I have just done this sound file again, this time with the mic still approximately above middle C but not so high (around 2 ft above the top of the piano when before it was about 3 ft above the top of the piano). The top lid was open again and a rug folded a few times, was placed over the underside of the lid. I also had used the rug on the previous sound file. This time I turned the mic control knob up a little higher on the interface.

I played the first part of the piece, then I took the rug off and played the first part of the piece again. I think I preferred the sound with the rug on. I have included the new sound file in the attachment thanks.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 12:56 pm 
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Hi bring18,

the presence is better here but there are parasitic noises which were not in the previous recording.
What I did in editing your previous recording: gain, noise gate, dynamic compression, attack sharpening. This is at best a possible improvement. But you should not care too much about that because your sound is already good enough for sharing here some music with us. Both microphone setting at 3' and 2' are possible options, among which you have to decide yourself what sounds better to you. But for comparing you have to ensure that the levels are the same. You can modify the level after recording in an audio editor like Audacity, which is a freeware.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 11:50 pm 
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Hello Didier,

Thanks again for your help. I do have Audacity and could try those adjustment. I have taken note of what you have said i.e. re keeping the same level when comparing, and will do some more experimenting and send another attachment soon. Hope you don't mind listening to another sound file and commenting.

I don't know whether a rug on the wall behind the piano and something on the ceiling above the piano will help. I could try it, and also something in the nearest two corners of the room. The piano is about six inches away from the wall. The piano tuner said that the piano is in about the best place acoustically in the room.

Does the angle that the microphone is on even make a slight difference? I read the instruction manual yesterday about the microphone, and it said to address microphone from the side (not the top of the grill) above the SP logo badge, so I have been doing this.


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Hello Didier,

I have just recorded another piece today as it was a cool afternoon. I have included just the first part of the piece for you to have a listen to. Am sorry it cuts off rather suddenly.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 6:40 pm 
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Quote:
Does the angle that the microphone is on even make a slight difference? I read the instruction manual yesterday about the microphone, and it said to address microphone from the side (not the top of the grill) above the SP logo badge, so I have been doing this.


Yes, it should make more than a slight difference! I understand now why your recording sounds so far.

As soon as I heard the first notes of your last recording, I thought 'great!'. :)
That is a pity that there are stlll these disturbing noises (produced by the action or your nails ?).

Anyway, using only one microphone seems being less a limitation than what I was anticipating. You could still improve your sound using some kind of advanced audio editing (not at all needed for sharing music with us). For example:


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 9:07 pm 
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Didier wrote:
The proximity effect is the bass reinforcement occurring when a cardioid microphone gets very close to the source (on the order of 10"). Especially of concern (or of benefit) for vocal recording.


However for acoustic recording, especially with a "pressure gradient" mic like the SP1, the proximity effect continues noticeably because bass boost continues to decrease proportionately as the distance increases until about 6ft. Bring18, do a bassy test recording by placing your mic at 1.5ft and at 8ft. You will get different bass responses at each of those distances.

This proximity phenomena does not happen with "true pressure" omnidirectional mics and they are immune to proximity effects and that's why they are popular for classical piano recordings like the DPA 4006, Schoeps MK2, Sennheiser MKH8020, Earthworks QTC, Avenson STO-2, etc. You get a much more flatter frequency response. But, you can't use them to their potential in an untreated room.

bring18 wrote:
I don't know whether a rug on the wall behind the piano and something on the ceiling above the piano will help. I could try it, and also something in the nearest two corners of the room. The piano is about six inches away from the wall. The piano tuner said that the piano is in about the best place acoustically in the room.


To get a quality recording, you have to acoustically treat the room. A rug will help for midrange and high frequencies, but will do nothing for the bass frequencies. Eliminate any nearby reflections going to the mic by placing broadband absorption panels - DIY fiberglass panels made from 2ftx4ft 2inch OC-703 and OC-705 covered with burlap - color of your choice to match the walls. The walls, corners, and ceiling closest to the mic position is where you want to start first. That's where the first reflections occur and they're harsh. After doing a lot of research online, and discovering the staggering cost to treat my entire room, I am doing this on my own without costly commercial panels. The results so far have been amazing! Better Bass definition, midrange clarity, highs are not harsh. I am not forced to mic in cardiod mode, and for the first time I can place my new omni Sennheiser MKH 8020 mics at a distance of 3-5ft from the curve of the piano and get a full and rich sound. If you're interested let me know if you want to make your own acoustic panels for the fraction of the cost of commercial panels. They're simple to make too...


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 10:24 pm 
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Hi George,

I was not expecting that the proximity effect would be significant at so large distance. For its 40 series Audio Technica gives the frequency response of the directive microphone at 12" or more on axis, which seems indicate that the proximity effect is significant only below 12" (see for instance AT4050 Specification Sheet). I guess that this is not true for all mikes.

Quote:
my new omni Sennheiser MKH 8020 mics

:shock: Congratulations! I would be much interested in some samples for comparing them with your 414s. Thanks in advance if you can do that! :)


Last edited by Didier on Sun Nov 16, 2008 7:49 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Hello Didier,

Thanks for your comments once again. I would love to hear your playing. Where can I go to hear it? I heard the first part of 88man's playing; I think it was Chopin's Nocturne No. 20. It sounded very beautiful. I only had time to listen to it up to the first one or two trills and admired the clarity of the trilling let alone the sound of the whole playing. There's something in the saying that beautiful music makes time almost stand still.

I have found a very good handyman in town who could do those panels if I can't. He's done a marvellous job painting my garage, outside of house, pergola and fence. Plus he is quick. Can you give me any more information regarding the panels and approximate cost. An Australian dollar is worth about 80% of an American dollar.

I am not good at analysing extraneous sounds. For instance I thought my pedal was making a noise and it was, so I rang the tuner. However after I had spoken to him I went to the piano again and realised that the noise that I could hear the most was the noise of hammers returning when I played chords. I just clipped my finger nails a few days ago so it shouldn't be them.

Could you tell me what you did to edit the sound file? I think this forum is wonderful; here I have you helping me with your patience, and even to the extent of editing my sound file. I do have Cubase LE and Audacity 1.3.5. Can you tell me precisely what you did so that I may be able to go to the same file and practise it (the editing, what you did). Which software did you use to edit the file with?

How would you explain what you did when you edited the file, and the before and after result? I listened to mine again and your edited file and can't explain the difference, except that your edited file gives better clarity and has gotten rid of some sounds we don't want to hear.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 1:25 pm 
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Hi bring18,

I used a noise gate and a tube preamp simulator to edit your recording. I used the noise gate in Wavelab and the Preamp Emulator plugin. There is also a noise gate in Audacity (Effects/Noise elimination, I am not sure about the name because I have got the French version). I do not know whether Audacity accepts plugins.
Quote:
Where can I go to hear it?

I am registered as a pianist here. There are links to my recordings on my page.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 1:30 pm 
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Hi bring18,

I used a noise gate and a tube preamp simulator to edit your recording. I used the genuine noise gate of Wavelab and the Preamp Emulator plugin. There is also a noise gate in Audacity (Effects/Noise elimination, I am not sure about the name because I have got the French version). I do not know whether Audacity accepts plugins.
Quote:
Where can I go to hear it?

I am registered as a pianist here. There are links to my recordings on my page :
Quote:
http://pianosociety.com/cms/index.php?section=1321


Cheers,

Didier


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 11:32 pm 
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Hello Didier,

Just had a listen to the Prelude and Fugue no 16 Book 2 by Bach. I enjoyed your playing and it also gave me a chance to listen to the mp3 sound file. It was interesting reading about your life story with music. You didn't get started until a fairly late stage.

I am not sure by what you mean when you say that already my music is good enough to share with you.


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Hi bring,

you should have done a mistake because I never played the Bach piece that you said...:wink:


You can access my most recent recording, which may be the one having the best sound despite (or because ?) I did not perform any audio editing, here

http://server3.pianosociety.com/new/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1476&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15

The link is in my third post in this page.


Quote:
I am not sure by what you mean when you say that already my music is good enough to share with you.

I meant that music is more important than sound: it was an invitation to submit a complete recording in the Audition room. :wink:


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 Post subject: Update on First Thread
PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 3:26 am 
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I have been updating my first thread on "Making Professional Home Recordings" from time to time. I just added more pertinent information.

I should also point out that I have since I have made my own bass traps or acoustic absorption panels for the music room. It has helped tremendously to tame acoustic anomalies which plague most smaller spaces, such as room modes, flutter echo, ringing, and comb filtering. There is more clarity and bass definition; and less muddinesss and harsh peaks in the high notes. I have consequently changed my microphone polar pattern from wide cardiod to omnidirectional. It has given a more natural tonality to the instrument. If people are interested, I can post information on how to make your own acoustic absorbtion panels at fraction of the retail cost.

Enjoy Your Recordings!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:20 am 
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Hi George,

I wonder whether I should go for some bass traps like you.
would you have some short recordings for comparison between before and after room treatment with the same microphones and same placement ?
Anyway, thank you for your advice,

Didier


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 Post subject: Bass Traps
PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:44 am 
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Quote:
I wonder whether I should go for some bass traps like you. would you have some short recordings for comparison between before and after room treatment with the same microphones and same placement ?


BASS TRAPS - ACOUSTIC PANELS FOR THE HOME STUDIO

Hi, Didier. Any small to medium size room will benefit from bass traps/Acoustic Panels. The best thing to do is to walk around the room clap your hands and speak around the area of the piano, mics, and listening position. If you can hear flutter echo, ringing, room modes then it's worth treating with bass traps. If you have nasty resonances on certain notes, loss of definition or clarity in sound, then it's also worth treating with bass traps. It also depends on fixtures in the room, wall construction, geometry, dimensions, glass, piano/mic location, and nearby reflections.

For all practical purposes to record in the home environment, bass traps function to mainly absorb sound reflected by walls, room corners, and ceiling closest to the piano and mics. It also helps to reduce unwanted room modes, ringing, comb filtering, and flutter echo, which plague all small spaces in a typical home with 8-10ft ceilings. It also alters the frequency response of the room so that the peaks and nulls are flatter across the frequency spectrum.

The best way to treat any room is with bass traps that use fiberglass panels. I am not sure what you have in France, but I highly recommend Owings-Corning 703 (OC-703) or equivalent fiberglass panels that measure 2ftx4ft. You can also use Roxul Mineral Wool, Roxul Rockboard, or Knauf Acoustical Board which are all cheaper. However, their absorption coefficients are lower for bass frequencies, so you may have to double the thickness to get the same absorption of OC-703. They all measure 2in thick. Don't bother with foam panels that you see at music outlets - they much less effective than fiberglass because they have much lower absorption coefficients.

I made my panels 4in thick, by doubling two 2in thick 2ftx4ft OC-703 fiberglass panels. I glued and screwed together a 2ftx4ft frame out of 4.5in wide pine wood and placed the fiberglass panels inside (4in total thickness). To camouflage the panels in the room, I matched the color of the acoustic panels to the color of the walls by stapling an ivory colored burlap fabric over the entire front and sides of the panels. It looks great. To cover your construction, you must use very porous fabrics; I find that burlap is very cheap and effective. You can hang them on the walls like a picture frame with wire and hooks, or make an H-frame pedestal to place on the floors. The great thing about them is they're portable, I can take them down if guests are coming over. The entire project took me a weekend to make. Your local hardware store can easily cut the wood for you, so that all you have to do is glue,screw, and staple. If you can make a picture frame, you can make your own bass traps. Each bass trap cost me $60 including everything (glue, screws, staples, burlap, wood, OC-703, pedestal, shipping, and taxes). The retail cost for each bass trap would be $325 - $375 in the U.S. The entire room cost me around $300; Retail would have cost me at least $1750.

Amount of bass traps depend on room dimension, shape, and the location of piano in the room. Triangulate the nearby reflective surfaces from the piano source to the mics, and place the traps in the path of direct nearby reflections. Don't go crazy since you only need to treat the nearby reflections from the walls, corners, and ceiling that will interact with your mics. Don't worry about walls that are away from the mics. As you know, there are phase cancellations/summing, delays, etc. that can only hinder clarity and evenness of frequency response. By negating the majority of the nearby reflections going to the mics, you're picking almost an entirely direct sound from piano source to mic. You may even find yourself using true pressure omnis, like your Avenson STO-2, at a farther distance to 3-4ft and allowing the sound the "breath" and coelesce by the time it reaches the mics. Once you place the panels, you'll hear that the piano sounds more damped and not as loud as before, because you're limiting the reflections coming to your ear, and what you are hearing is the direct sound of the piano. Don't worry about the loss of "small" room ambiance, because you can always reverb on your DAW, without amplifying the anomalies that were there before treatment. You'll get a much clearer and more natural sounding reverb. Add only the panels that are necessary, you can add more if you need to, but address only the nearby reflections first - the walls and ceiling around you and the mics. If you find that the sound is too tight and damped, either move the panel(s) around or remove a panel and use the extra panel for your monitor speakers... Just like mic positions, you may find you have to move the bass traps around to for the best sound. For my room, I am using only 5 panels - 2 in the corners 4inx2ftx6ft, 2 rear wall 4inx2ftx4ft, 1 on ceiling above mics/piano 2inx2ftx4ft.

Below 50-60Hz it's very difficult to treat any room, but most of the music is above that anyway so it can only improve one's situation. You can build better bass traps for absorption in the 60Hz and 120Hz range by placing 1/4in and 1/8in plywood panels, respectively, behind the fiberglass panels, but I think it's over kill, unless you know for sure that there is a peak in the room mode for that frequency range. Before treatment in my room, I was getting a nasty peak @ 1.9kHz (very high B-flat and B-natural), loss of bass definition, and lack of clarity in the midrange. After treating with several bass traps, I get more bass definition, better clarity in the midrange, and don't hear that nasty peak @1.9kHz anymore. The sound going into the mics is more damped, tighter, and controlled across the range. Any loss in room ambiance, I can add reverb more predictably, without amplifying the nasty anomalies.

However, the best way to objectively judge is to use a simple room analysis software that's capable of generating a "waterfall" plot of frequency/time/decibels. Or, You can also use your Avensons as a measurement mic, and plot the frequency response from 100-15000Hz using a $30 SPL meter on your DAW software. That way you can see which frequencies are being affected and by how much for your room.

The next 3 weeks are very busy for me, so I unfortunately won't be practicing, playing, or recording much at all. I'll try to make some comparative recordings under controlled conditions, with and without traps soon after that.

If you want I can post pictures of the bass traps in the meantime?...

Let me know if you decide to make your own, I can give more details?...


George

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:20 am 
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Thank you George for your information. I was considering foam bass traps to put in the corners of my room. I am now envisaging fiberglass panels. :)

Currently I use the Mic Thing, a foam panel to be mounted on a mic stand, which I put behind the microphone and a cushion above the mics, put at its both ends on the the piano lid edge and on the head of the stand that bears the Mic Thing. The mics are on another mic stand very close to the piano rim, about 20 cm. The preamp gain setting is the same for both clips and there is no audio editing except for compression to mp3.
I get significant results with this setting, which you can judge yourself by listening to the two clips here included, recorded with and without Mic Thing + cushion.

But I have not yet found the clarity that I am looking for.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:07 am 
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Hi Didier, thanks for posting the audio clips. Here are some of my observations based just on the 2 clips:

With MicThing+Cushion
Clarity/Definition:--- More Detail
Focus:---------------- Characteristic of Cardiod
Soundstage:--------- Narrower, Boxy, Closed
Tonality:-------------- Nasal, Muffled
Attack/Decay:------- More Damped

Open Mic
Clarity/Definition:--- Smeared Detail in Midrange
Focus:---------------- Characteristic of Omnidirectional
Soundstage:-------- Wider, Open
Tonality:-------------- More Natural
Attack/Decay:------- Lingering Early Reflections


The differences are slight with the Mic Thing and cushion. With the MicThing+Cushion, you're gaining more detail and clarity, but at the expense of producing a narrow and closed soundstage, and with a nasal and less natural tone. The muffled tone could also result from having the cushion too close to the mics, where it becomes to restrictive for the sound. The MicThing and cushion is just a mask, no short cuts here, you really need to treat the room to minimize the undesirable effects.

What everyone should aspire toward is arriving at a "compromised balance." In other words, treat the room to gain just enough clarity, definition, and focus, WITHOUT sacrificing tonality, soundstage, and damping. It will take considerable experimentation to get right. More or less, you have what we all have - Small Room Sound! None of our rooms will ever have a natural lush, open, 3-D, spacious, or deep soundstage. From a practical standpoint, focus on improving clarity and detail by limiting the early type reflections. Once you have achieved a "compromised balance," you can add some reverb to regain additional ambiance. Most software based reverbs are not that great, including mine, because they don't sound natural and emphasize the early reflections, which makes the highs even more shrill and harsh. Convolution Reverbs are better, but still no match for the high end external units like the Bricasti M7... So, if you don't get rid of the early type reflections in your room, I find that the mids and highs become smeared and lose clarity; If you add reverb to this type of sound, it will result in a sound that is unnaturally harsh and edgy - very annoying to listen to after 30seconds!

In addition to the aforementioned sonic improvements I have mentioned before, adding Bass Traps in the corners will also minimize that "one-note" bass room response, which should add individual clarity in the lower bass. You may find that you won't need the MicThing and cushion, especially when you add the bass traps at the sound reflection points on the walls and ceiling. The only benefit of foam panels are that they are lighter. However, my recommendation is to NOT use foam traps, as they are more costly, less predictable, and less effective than fiberglass panels which you can make or buy.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 1:53 am 
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Hi George,

thank you for your listening and your very detailed report. I think that the drawbacks of the with take can be more easily corrected (EQ and reverb) than the ones of the without take: I don't know any plugin that would remove the early reflections of a smalll room.
I just have submitted in the audition room a new recording of Chopin's nocturne in Cis performed with the MicThing and the cushion and with such audio editing.
I look forward for listening to your own clips without and with that shall be be much useful to me in my quest for a better sound. Thanks in anticipation,
Didier


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 1:28 am 
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Bonsoir Didier. Ah, there is no plug-in that can correct for the early reflections in a small room. I don't like to use EQ too much because it also alters the harmonic balance of the instrument, and that defeats having a fine German piano in the first place. Better than EQ, absorption is the only way to "fool" the mics into believing that the early reflections aren't there in the first place. Low ceilings are the big culprits in many homes. Don't forget the ceiling in your calculations because, if the early reflections from the ceiling is absorbed and delayed; it's as if you have a very high ceiling. For Practical and aesthetic reasons, I am only placing 2in thick panels instead of 4in thick ones on the ceiling, because the fiberglass panels can get heavy. I would hate having these things fall on a Steinway. ZOINKS!

If you don't have room calibration software, in the meantime, make yourself a CD of test tones and do a frequency sweep above 60Hz with good speakers in your music room, and plot which frequencies have dips or peaks. In an untreated room, it can vary as much as 20dB! After treatment, do the same frequency sweep and plot the changes in room response. If you get your room balanced within 5-10dB, you're doing very well.

BTW - I've come to realize that many people love to crank up the reverb, which changes the timbre to an edgy, shrill, and hollow sound as if one is playing in a subway tunnel - hardly appropriate for a classical piano. The problem with reverb software is that the algorithm introduces early type reflections, and this is compounded with the early reflections coming from the room. The resulting sound lacks the attack, decay, and clarity of the original source. I listened to your Nocturne, very nicely played and with good taste - you didn't drown the piece with reverb, just right!

If you ever want to have a reference for acoustic engineering that covers fundamentals, absorption, diffusion, reverberation, studio design, spaces, materials, etc., and one that's not very complicated, here is the bible: Master Handbook of Acoustics, by F. Alton Everest.

Give me some time to post samples of before and after treatment...

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 12:53 pm 
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88man wrote:

BTW - I've come to realize that many people love to crank up the reverb, which changes the timbre to an edgy, shrill, and hollow sound as if one is playing in a subway tunnel - hardly appropriate for a classical piano. The problem with reverb software is that the algorithm introduces early type reflections, and this is compounded with the early reflections coming from the room. The resulting sound lacks the attack, decay, and clarity of the original source. I listened to your Nocturne, very nicely played and with good taste - you didn't drown the piece with reverb, just right!


Uh oh - I may be one of those who 'crank' up the reverb. I'm glad you said something about this, George. I will do some tests with this in mind next time I record.

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Quote:
I may be one of those who 'crank' up the reverb. I'm glad you said something about this, George. I will do some tests with this in mind next time I record..


Monica, it is very tempting to get carried away with reverb as we've all done it. Upon initial listening, reverb seems to conceal some undesirable effects, but always introduces other artifacts that was never present in the original recording, e.g. loss of clarity, immediacy, texture, changes in timbre, and tonality.

Music has been described as the space or "silence" between the notes. We can all appreciate that something must be happening between these notes, and my belief is that reverb is what predominantly occupies this space. It perpetuates and sustains the inherent energy in the sound over time, much like savoring a fine wine. Our psychoacoustic perception of reverb in music is alluring, hypnotic, evocative, and that is why I think most can easily get carried away in this intoxicating "elixir of sound." Recording a performance involves a 3-way union: The instrument is what makes the sound, the pianist evokes the music, and the acoustics is the communicative pathway. So reverb forms an important part in the communication of the music, and is a physical part of the acoustics that alters our perception of a recording. I feel that it's important to treat the amount and type of reverb very delicately.

How much reverb should one use? For a particular space, it will subjectively depend on the genre of music, dynamics, complexity of sound, rapidity of notes in succession, and individual taste. The characteristics of reverb includes the attack (timbre and tone of sound) and decay (tail, sustain over time). Reverb is like make up (I don't wear any, thanks) :P - it should be used sparingly to complement and highlight what's already there in the recording. In general, you should only add enough reverb so that you can barely notice it. Sometimes, none at all. You have to be careful so that the reverb tail doesn't drown the next note in succession in a faster piece, otherwise you'll get a mush of notes. When you experiment next time, you'll notice that each piece will need a slightly different amount. Depending on your software, I find the amount can lie between 5-8% of wet reverb. It should always sound realistic, and never encroach on the immediacy and clarity of the performance.

BTW - Whenever editing or adding effects to a recording, never alter the original recording - always archive the original recording onto a gold archival CD or a separate external hard drive. This way you'll you can always refer to the original whenever you change your mind over a particular edit or effect. I've learned the hard way, believe me!

As always, share your findings, as every recording is a learning experience for me too... :)

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Last edited by 88man on Sun Mar 29, 2009 12:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 12:12 am 
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Thank you so much for this information, George. I know what you mean about reverb sometimes screwing things up. I've had problems with using reverb on pieces with a lot of staccatos - the short notes sounded weird. And yes - you can get a tinny sound with the reverb also. Honestly, I don't know why I've been using reverb all the time like I do. With some pieces I play that are slow and dreamy-sounding, there is lots of pedaling going on and I really don't need the added reverb.

88man wrote:
BTW - Whenever editing or adding effects to a recording, never alter the original recording - always archive the original recording onto a gold archival CD or a separate external hard drive. This way you'll you can always refer to the original whenever you change your mind over a particular edit or effect. I've learned the hard way, believe me!

I've learned the hard way too. That was a very bad day! Been meaning to get a separate external hard drive for awhile now, but just haven't done it yet. Better put it on my list because I have a sneaky feeling that my computer is getting ready to blow. Zoinks! :x :lol:

88man wrote:
As always, share your findings, as every recording is a learning experience for me too...

I will. Thanks again for all this nice information!

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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