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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 12:16 am 
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Location: Western Australia
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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Location: France
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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Location: France
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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Location: Western Australia
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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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 11:16 pm 
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Location: France
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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Location: Boston
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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Location: France
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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"Nobility of spirit has more to do with simplicity than ostentation, wisdom rather than wealth, commitment rather than ambition." ~Riccardo Muti


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:20 am 
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Location: France
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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"Nobility of spirit has more to do with simplicity than ostentation, wisdom rather than wealth, commitment rather than ambition." ~Riccardo Muti


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 1:53 am 
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Location: France
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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 Post subject:
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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"Nobility of spirit has more to do with simplicity than ostentation, wisdom rather than wealth, commitment rather than ambition." ~Riccardo Muti


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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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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

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


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 9:58 pm 
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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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"Nobility of spirit has more to do with simplicity than ostentation, wisdom rather than wealth, commitment rather than ambition." ~Riccardo Muti


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!

_________________
"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

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


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 Post subject: DIY Acoustic Treatment
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 11:31 pm 
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Here are samples of how basic DIY braodband absorption panels can improve the quality of home recordings. I've included samples with and without broadband absorption panels (i.e. bass traps). I only used 3 DIY panels to prove a point that one doesn't have to go crazy with acoustic treatment. I placed two 2ftx6ft 4in thick panels in the corners nearest to the piano, and one 2ftx4ft 4in panel behind me on the wall, triangulated in path of the nearest reflection from the piano-to-wall-to-mic. To simplify the implementation even further, I didn't use a ceiling panel in this test, which would require ceiling bolts. If I used more panels, the sound would improve further yielding more clarity and detail. Here are some observations, you can draw your own conclusions:

Without Absorption Panels:
-Nearby reflections from the wall leads to loss overall clarity and detail across the frequency spectrum from the lows to the highs, regardless if omni or cardiod pattern.
-The bass is uncontrolled, boomy, undamped, and lacks clarity, regardless if omni or cardiod pattern.
-The true tonality of the sound is muffled and whooly.


With Absorption Panels:
-There is an increase in overall clarity and detail across the frequency spectrum.
-The bass is well controlled, not boomy, and well defined with clarity.
-The tonality is natural and you hear the instrument and not the boxy sound of a small room.


Now, if I were to take a recording made in an untreated room, which lacks clarity, detail, and sounds muddy and boomy, and added reverb or EQ, I would be getting more hash and more undesireable artifacts. This is because reverb and EQ add their own artifacts to the sound source and seem to amplify any weaknesses in the room. Whereas, if the recording made in a treated room has enough clarity, detail, and bass control, it will take well to additional reverb or EQ in the mastering stage, and not run the risk of getting a hash result.

TEST: C-sharp minor arpeggio. Steinway B in a 35x14x8.5ft room at vertex of an L-shaped room, with an adjacent room at the other leg. Fixed position throughout test - (2) AKG C414B-XLS spaced pair 15in apart, 1ft from the curve, 5ft high, pointed toward high and low strings. Used omnidirectional and wide-cardiod pattern. NO effects added. I used the AKGs because they are the most neutral and objective mics I own, they don't alter the tone of the instrument.

Listen in the following order:
1. Omni WITHOUT Panels
2. Omni WITH Panels
3. Wide Cardiod WITHOUT Panels
4. Wide Cardiod WITH Panels

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"Nobility of spirit has more to do with simplicity than ostentation, wisdom rather than wealth, commitment rather than ambition." ~Riccardo Muti


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2009 12:27 am 
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Hi George,

In my mind:
WITH better than WITHOUT,
Wide cardioid better than omni.

Thank you very much for the demonstration,

Didier


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PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2009 1:52 am 
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Hi George,

Thanks for all of this. I listened to the samples and found that between the omni-no traps, and the wide cardiod-no traps, I liked the wide cardiod-no traps sound better. It had a fuller sound - I heard more bass. So then I compared the omni with traps and the wide cardiod with traps but really could not hear much difference between these two. Could that be right?

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

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


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2009 3:26 am 
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Hi Monica, The samples "without traps" appear to have more bass because of the uncontrolled boominess and ringing in the 80-150Hz region. It's an acoustical phenomena that affects all small rooms. Generally, the bass accumulates in the corners of the room and imparts an unnatural peaked response in that region. You sometimes here it as a one-note bass with speakers. It's as if you cranked up the bass knob. However, this doesn't translate to an accurate recording. Sure you are getting an unnatural peak in the 80-150Hz range, but at the expense of overall clarity and detail throughout the frequency spectrum. If you listen to the middle registers, the "no traps" sounds muffled and lacks clarity, whereas in the "with traps," you can make out the detail in the middle registers more clearly.

A typical room will have peaks and dips in the frequency response due to nearby reflections that may cancel or add in phase with the direct source. Ever wonder why some notes are louder and some are softer... These peaks and dips can vary as much as 20dB across the frequency spectrum. For any accurate recording, it's not ideal to have a such a varied response curve. The bass traps also work to absorb peaks and dips due to reflections, and help to flatten the frequency response by removing the tubby bass, modal ringing, comb filtering, and flutter echo.

My advice is to have a room that is damped in terms of ringing and flutter echo, and try to get the frequency response as flat as you can. Bass traps provide a great solution to solve these common acoustic problems which plague all small rooms. Have a recording that's clear and detailed. You can always add EQ to get more bass or increase the highs to add more air at the top end, or reverb later without sacrificing clarity or detail. However, there is no way to add clarity or detail to a recording if the room is boomy and has nearby reflections that are competing with the direct piano source.

The panels that I have made are the same material found in all recording studios and concert halls. They are made from OC-703 fiberglass panels. The magic number of panels seems to be 5 for my room: 2 in the corners, 2 in the rear wall, and one on top of the ceiling. However, for simplicity, I chose 3 to illustrate the point of broadband absorption.

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What you're saying about getting the most clarity in a recording that you can, and then adding reverb makes sense. I'm glad you explained that. I am curious though - are you married? And if so, what does your wife say about these large panels you are placing around the living room? Unless you have convinced her that it's okay since it's all the name of art. :)

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Pianolady wrote:
Quote:
What does your wife say about these large panels


With the intention of settling down, and fulfill the dream of having a salon for music, I bought a house with large living spaces. Within the first year, I was lucky to find a gorgeous Steinway B, but still haven't found the wife. Shouldn't everything have happened in reverse order? :P In any case, the panels are "future wife-friendly" because they match the wall color and are mounted on pedestals for easy removal.

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Smart man! :lol:

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 9:26 pm 
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I've been revising my initial thread during the course of the year to reflect changes in technology. I've included additional links and added newer gear on my first thread. I've attached 2 graphs below from thelisteningsessions.com which may help in mic and preamp selection.... Wow, over 34,000 views, I guess this thread has at least been interesting for many.

... I've been away for a while, but haven't forgotten about Piano Society. In many ways, music seems to have been on hold, other than traveling, and spending summer weekends on the Cape. I've been so busy at the office that I wish I had the time to play and record more often.

Happy New Year to all esteemed musicians at Piano Society!


Attachments:
micpregraph.jpg
micpregraph.jpg [ 143.03 KiB | Viewed 4435 times ]
mic-graph1.jpg
mic-graph1.jpg [ 145.38 KiB | Viewed 4435 times ]

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Hi George! I'm so glad you are still around. I know, this time of the year is crazy. But now the new year has begun, so hopefully things can settle down and you can get back to your piano! Happy New Year to you too!!

btw - 34,000 views is a lot! You mean "zoinks!" not "wow," don't you! :lol:

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Hi George,

happy new year to you too! I look forward to listening to you on Pianosociety!

About your opening post that you have edited, let me stress again that the pianist, the piano, the room and the mic placement are much more important that the selection of the audio gear. You say that this latter one can contribute for 5-10 % to the result: this statement implies that the recording quality could be measured and the relative measurement for two recordings would have the same value for everybody. But such a measurement, if any, is much subjective. I think that your 5-10% is much less for most people and irrelevant to them with respect to the cost of the audio gear that you are proposing: mics above 1000, up to more than 10000 €/$ a pair, preamp above 2000 €/$ (except for DAV), converter above 1000 €/$. I think even that many people might not notice the difference between a take made with 'low-end' microphones and electronics and 'high-end' ones if they could listen to both takes. I'm quite sure that most people (myself first) would not be sensitive to the quality loss encountered in a recording because of the use of low-end audio gear, provided that it is well selected and used, if they could not compare with a high-end reference.

I did a take on this evening with two pairs of mics on the same stand, Samson CO2 and Schoeps CMC6-MK21, which is in your selection and costs up to 30 times more than the Samson. The Schoeps were plugged on a DAV BG1, also in your selection, and the Samson were plugged directly on a PC audio interface to which the DAV was also connected so that both stereo tracks could be recorded on the same PC. Also I used professional cables for the Schoeps, about 10 times more expensive than the cheap ones used for the Samson.

Picture of the mics, Sanmson and Schoeps tracks here attached.

NB Neumann stopped the manufacturing of the M 50, appearing in your list, near 40 years ago. I guess that you intended to put the TLM 50 or the M 150 instead.


Attachments:
DSCF0737.JPG
DSCF0737.JPG [ 62.64 KiB | Viewed 4414 times ]
Schoeps.mp3 [6.01 MiB]
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Samson.mp3 [6.01 MiB]
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Hello Monica, and yes, "Zoinks" would be the operative word. :) I am looking to get back in the piano mode again, hopefully soon. I just downloaded the Chopin Waltz No. 16 in D-flat, just to get the fingers going again. I've always liked this piece, but never had the music. Good thing I found it on the PS site! BTW, is Paris on the horizon for this year?...


Hi Didier, absolutely, I have also stated that the pianist, piano, and space are the most important factors in any recording in my opening paragraph. This thread is intended mostly for the musician-audiophile who enjoys recording, gear, and recording technique. It's a specialty thread, and not a "most people" thread. I agree, 5% is subjective only to reinforce the fact that gear accounts for a small, but perceptible amount in a recording. For critical listening, that 5% is everything for some and could be the missing link to make a good recording into a great one. How accurately does one want to capture the sound and at what price? That is the first question. For some it's worth it, for most it's not because they may not hear the difference or care, and everybody can move on. I am not advocating that people should buy the items in the "Equipment List." It's not consumer or even a prosumer grade list. I've merely stated what professional studios use to record piano. It's up to the reader to decide if it's worth it or not based on personal preferences, finances, levels of expectations, experience, interest, etc.

One of the most important variables is mic placement. I covered that briefly as and that is an art onto itself and draws upon many aspects of which many years of experience is paramount. That's why there are recording engineers. I am still learning... As you know, EQ, reverb, or other processing is the icing on the cake as it pertains to tailoring the final sound.

If someone does record often enough and have access to a nice hall AND piano, e.g. conservatories, schools, colleges, church halls, community centers, concert halls, etc., then good gear might be an investment, as the recording chain become more relevant with a nice hall and piano. In most cases, all one has to do is to introduce yourself to management of these facilities and work out a reasonable arrangement. But, if recordings are solely delegated to the living room with 8ft ceilings and there is no attempt to treat the room acoustically, then its useless to spend more than a $300 digital recorder and $200 stereo mics. Along the way, I've suggested using a Microtrack II with a pair of small condenser mics, like Shure SM81 or KSM141. I personally use a Microtrack II and love it!

Yes, the M50 has been long discontinued as it was produced from 1951-1971 and the M150 is its current replacement - Thanks, I made a note of the M150 on the first thread. I included the M50 because it's the real deal - some studios still have and use these legendary mics because it's the tube AND transformer that makes these mics sound so legendary. The M150 lacks the transformer, and hence lacks the character of the original.

Thanks for posting the recordings - nice nocturne! To my ears, I found the Schoeps to have a slightly more open, airy sound in the highs. The mids are warmer, and the bass sounds fuller - collectively a more refined and more natural sound. The Samson CO2 sounds thinner, rough rendition, closed in - almost compressed and more clinical/digital sound. (Listened with Beyerdynamic DT-770 phones through Audigy sound card).

Have you tried the open cardiod MK22 capsule as well?...

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88man wrote:
Hello Monica, and yes, "Zoinks" would be the operative word. :) I am looking to get back in the piano mode again, hopefully soon. I just downloaded the Chopin Waltz No. 16 in D-flat, just to get the fingers going again. I've always liked this piece, but never had the music. Good thing I found it on the PS site! BTW, is Paris on the horizon for this year?...
.


Hi George. Oh, that waltz will surely get your fingers moving again! I'm surprised you found it on our site - I thought we took down all the sheet music.

Paris - no, not this year. Target date is spring or summer or fall of 2012.


Also just another thanks to you and Didier for providing so much great information about making recordings!

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Quote:
...that waltz will surely get your fingers moving again! I'm surprised you found it on our site - I thought we took down all the sheet music.


Hi Monica, I realized that I had downloaded the piece a while back into a folder and forgot about it until I came across it while cleaning out my files on the computer. I just printed yesterday. It's too bad, why did PS remove all sheet music?... I found it to be a great resource at the time. I just wish I downloaded more pieces.

Ideally, I should be practicing my Isidor Phillipe or Hanon, but at this stage, practicing technique is like going to Dullsville! Or watching paint dry! I figured, if I am going to practice any form of technique, let it be in a new piece with the little time I do have. The tricky part, as always, is the fingering - I'll sort it out. As with almost all of Chopin's posthumous works, there are so many discrepancies in various editions. This piece is no exception. I realize that this edition is different than my recordings with Agustin Anievas and Claudio Arrau. On the sheet music, there is a break in the chromatic ascending passage to the lower octave in measure No. 31. On my recordings with Agustin Anievas and Claudio Arrau, the passage on measure Nos. 30-32 are continuously ascending which I like better. I just heard Ashkenazy on the classical radio in my office play the passage in the broken manner. I still like it continuously ascending, ending on the high A-flat. That's how I'll practice it. I wonder if there is a definitive publication which shows how the early editions were noted on measure No. 31?...

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88man wrote:

Hi Monica, I realized that I had downloaded the piece a while back into a folder and forgot about it until I came across it while cleaning out my files on the computer. I just printed yesterday. It's too bad, why did PS remove all sheet music?... I found it to be a great resource at the time. I just wish I downloaded more pieces.


Oh, that explains it. :) We took down the music mainly because we were trying to conserve bandwidth. But also it was added work for us, and Robert and Chris felt that since ISMPL has just about everything we had (plus thousands more), we'll direct our visitors there, instead.

88man wrote:
Ideally, I should be practicing my Isidor Phillipe or Hanon, but at this stage, practicing technique is like going to Dullsville! Or watching paint dry! I figured, if I am going to practice any form of technique, let it be in a new piece with the little time I do have.


I hear you! I have been advocating working on technique by way of learning new pieces versus the boring Hanon exercises in my own practicing. But I will say that I found my lessons with my most recent teacher to be invaluable in terms of learning some things that I probably wouldn't have figured out on my own.

88man wrote:
The tricky part, as always, is the fingering - I'll sort it out. As with almost all of Chopin's posthumous works, there are so many discrepancies in various editions. This piece is no exception. I realize that this edition is different than my recordings with Agustin Anievas and Claudio Arrau. On the sheet music, there is a break in the chromatic ascending passage to the lower octave in measure No. 31. On my recordings with Agustin Anievas and Claudio Arrau, the passage on measure Nos. 30-32 are continuously ascending which I like better. I just heard Ashkenazy on the classical radio in my office play the passage in the broken manner. I still like it continuously ascending, ending on the high A-flat. That's how I'll practice it. I wonder if there is a definitive publication which shows how the early editions were noted on measure No. 31?...

Yes, fingering is key!!! As far as looking up that measure 31 in early editions - do you know of this site?

http://www.cfeo.org.uk/dyn/index.html

It shows the publications of Chopin's music in the very first French, German, and English editions. I think it's neat and have looked at it several times while working on the mazurkas. When you open the site, look toward the top at the tabs and you'll see "view Chopin's first editions".

And speaking of traveling, didn't you go on a safari or something like that recently?

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 1:01 pm 
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Quote:
Have you tried the open cardiod MK22 capsule as well?...


No, I did'nt get the opportunity for. It would sound like the 21 with a tighter directivity.

About the samples of my previous post, I don't think they can be perceived as being in a different league if you are not able to compare them. Even when comparing them, many people would not care about the difference. It even happens than some people expected being skilled in audio prefer the Samson to the Schoeps in this blind test.

Note that the TLM50 might be more used than the M150 for classical music, especially piano, recording. They were used for the recent live recording of the piano sonatas by Daniel Barenboim in DVD; one can see them on some images in the placement shown in the attached drawing, first experimented by Decca sound engineers.


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Thank you, Monica, what a great site of Chopin first editions... Takes one back to a much simpler time in history seeing all those front covers! However, I couldn't find that particular waltz, but I found other pieces which I've always had questions about concerning certain passages, such as in Waltz No. 7, Ballade No. 1, Prelude No. 20, etc. For some reason, the ISMPL site looked familiar, maybe I followed a link in a PS thread when initially downloading the Waltz No. 16? I can't remember now...

Great, you have 2yrs to prepare for that trip to Paris! I am sure that you'll need more than an entire thread to show all your musical discoveries... :)
And yes, my 2wk photographic safari/vacation to the Amalfi Coast in September was amazing! I sailed along the stretch of scraggy coastline from Ravello - Amalfi - Positano - Capri - Sorrento; Went hiking in Capri, and saw the Grottos; drove along the Amalfi Drive - crazy thin, winding street that's as wide as one's "driveway" with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean below AND near deadly site of oncoming traffic ahead in those mountain pass turns; Visited Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Paestum; Saw the Allied landing sites in Salerno. I also treated my parents on the trip - quality time!

--

Didier, thanks for the photo - looks like the ideal placement for that mic to balance the treble rise by keeping them away from the treble strings. The TLM50 has a rise of +2dB from 2-10kHz, with smaller peaks @ 3kHz, and 8kHz. Barenboim is a Steinway artist, so the bronze timbre would create a sound too bright if the mics were positioned in the common position near the curve of the piano. Ultimately, the mic selection would depend on the the pianist, instrument voicing, timbre, and tone, and hall. Marketing might have a say as well, since it's a DVD, the selection of mics tend to have a livelier sound for 5.1 or 7.1 Surround Sound appeal. What recording are you referring to, I am curious of the final result?...

Yes, the M150 is not common for piano. However, it still has a place in classical music - it shines as an orchestral mic when used in a Decca tree.

Mic preference, even in blind test is all subjective and not scientific unless you're measuring it on a FFT scope. Even then it doesn't tell you anything about the sound we perceive. Whether it's a Samson or Schoeps, it's all a matter of personal taste - what's warm to one, sounds dull to another; what's lively to one, sounds harsh to another. However, there are differences in the quality of manufacturing and design. One is made in China and the other in Germany. There are pros and cons to each. The best way to hear each mic is at a recording studio - well worth the $100 to record samples of several mics at once and then make notes on each one.

I've never tried a Samson, so for the sake of objectivity and fairness, I just looked up the specs on your Samson CO2. It's a "cardiod" pick up pattern. Your Schoeps MK21 is a "wide cardiod." To some degree, it's comparing apples to oranges. The difference in sound between your clips that I described in an earlier post would be relevant to the respective sonic signatures of your "cardiod" and "wide cardiod" mics. That being said, your mic shoot out is actually unfair to Samson. A shoot out comparing apples to apples might be the Schoeps MK4 "cardiod" vs Samson CO2 "cardiod" mics?... Then it would be more difficult to tell them apart since they would have similar frequency responses. Personally, I think Schoeps are overpriced at $3700/pr - they are far from a bargain, n'est pas?

At 1/3 the price of Schoeps, the MBHO (Haun) from Germany is an excellent choice for piano. Have you tried these mics?... These are handmade mics. Leave it to the German Ton Meisters! The chief engineer studied with Dr. Schoeps and draws upon many sonic attributes of the Schoeps mics - a sound that's transparent, fast, neutral in tonality, slight amount of air, and is slightly on the warm side of neutral. For my taste, it's the perfect sonic recipe to capture the sound of piano. Like Schoeps, they have a body + capsule design allowing for changes between omni, cardiod, or wide cardiod capsules. For piano, the mic body with the transformer (MBP 648) allows for a smoother response than their transformerless circuit.* I recommend these mics for someone looking for high end mics with interchangeable patterns on a budget.

http://www.mbho.de/index.htm



* Generally true for most mics as in the case of old Neumann mics (with transformer) vs new Neumann mics (transformerless). Manufacturers won't admit to it, but this change came about due to rising labor costs as it became costly to match tolerances between high quality mic transformers on a consistent basis. Also vacuum tubes were being replaced by transistors which eliminated the need for transformers. Again manufacturing cost was the issue with tubes, and the issue of component size and reliability were secondary early on. Hence the dawn of modern analog and then modern day digital recordings - that's a discussion all onto itself... Aside from the source, many recording engineers and audiophiles agree, that tubes with transformers color the sound in a way that is favorable, smooth, and musical - consistent with the natural harmonic series where even number harmonics are more emphasized; Transistor based circuitry emphasizes the odd number harmonics which don't sound as favorable or musical to our ears.

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The choice of the TLM50 in Barenboim's is likely a purely technical choice not related to any marketing consideration. I did not check but I guess that it is not even mentioned in the booklet. The microphones can be seen on some images without being on focus. The choice of the Decca placement is much suitable to a live recording because it's not obstrusive for the attendance. The DVD sound is recorded in stereo. So I guess that only this pair was used. It's far enough from the piano to get enough room sound.

You may be in confusion between the Schoeps MK41 cap, which is hypercardioid, and the MK4 cap, which is cardioid. I don't think that the wide cardioid directivity of the MK21 makes a significant difference with respect to the other ones being cardioid, and still less that it would be a drawback, in the shoot-out of which I gave the link in my previous post. Actually some very well educated ears, who demonstrated their skill in listening not only in this blind test, could pick it up as being the best one.

There is no doubt to me that the Schoeps is better than the Samson. But I think the quality difference is not determining for the kind of amateur recording that I'm doing for Pianosociety and that if I would use such well selected low-cost mics, it would not change the comments about the audio quality of my recordings, mostly determined by the quality of my piano. I put these recordings with the Samson and the Schoeps here for people could realize what is the sound improvement between a good low cost microphone and a high-end one like the ones that you listed in your first post.

I know the MBHO mics but did not test them. There are a lot such mics, intermediately priced with respect to the low end like the Samson and the high end like the Schoeps, and many of them are good choices AFAIK (AKG C480, Audio-Technica 40xx range, Beyerdynamic MC4** range, Neumann KM 1** range, Avenson, Violet Finger, Josephson C42 etc. ).


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Quote:
You may be in confusion between the Schoeps MK41 cap, which is hypercardioid, and the MK4 cap, which is cardioid.


Yes, Didier, you posted just after I made the correction.
BTW, my new DAV BG 1U mic preamp arrived Friday and it's still in the box. I can't wait to use it tonight! I'll follow up on it's sound and let you know how it compares with the Avalon AD2022 mic preamp. Time to practice, so that I can record something soon...

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The preamp impact on the sound is much less than the one from the microphone. You've got two good preamps anyway. Please post some samples for comparative listening. I've been interested in the AD2022 for a long time because it's a so beautiful machine.


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 Post subject: Two Mic Preamps Compared: Avalon AD2022 and DAV BG No.1U
PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2010 12:43 am 
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The Sonic Signitures of Two Microphone Preamplifiers:
-Avalon AD2022 Pure Class A FET Microphone Preamplifier
-DAV Broadhurst Gardens No. 1U Microphone Preamplifier


Setup: (Photos attached)

-Gain: 30dB Sample 1, 34dB Sample 2.
-Microphones: AKG C414B-XLS - Omni pattern. Spaced 18in stereo pair. Placed 3ft away between curve and tail of piano, 5.7ft high. Fixed position through all samples.
-Avalon AD2022 impedance setting: 150 ohms (selectable 50, 150, or 600 ohms)
-Recorder: Yamaha CDR1000 internal 20bit ADC and Apogee UV22 dithering to 16bit CDR
-No special effects or EQ was added.
-Sample Crops from Chopin Nocturne, Op. 48 (Sample1), Chopin Nocturne, Op. 9a (Sample2)
-Each sample group recorded non-simultaneously

Here are 2 different samples between the Avalon and DAV preamps.
Photo shows setup: mics, piano, mobile recording rack.


Subjective Observations: (samples attached)

After compressing the .wav files to .mp3, unfortunately (or fortunately), the slight differences in seemed to vanish, even at 320kbps. I wasn't going to bother posting my findings, but for those golden eared audiophiles who care to know the differences between these 2 preamps, I am going to describe the subtle differences based on my original .wav files, which are more accurate. Didier, I really had to split hairs on this one. All my statements are relative to the comparisons to only to these mic preamps and no other comparisons can be assumed.

The Avalon AD2022 is slightly more forward in its presentation, only evidenced in larger and more complex dynamic passages. There is a little more midrange glare creating a slightly overetched sound to the bronze timbre of the Steinway. One can hear this on the opening Cm chord in sample 1. It's good on the bass notes, but may sound slightly more clinical, detailed, and analytical than the DAV. This primarily due to a faster transient response in the Avalon. This is quite an accomplishment since the unit has transformer fed inputs (which tend to slow and filter the signal). The Jensen transformers at the input seem to add more character to the sound which also contribute to slightly increased saturation across the entire frequency spectrum. The Avalon seems to stress slightly more timbre than tone.

The DAV is less forward in its presentation, making the unit sound warmer and more laid back. The sound field is more unified with all the frequency elements coming together more cohesively. There is a slight amount of syrup in the midrange, helping to sweeten the sound by diminishing the transient response. But, it never is overly done to the point where the details become smeared in any way. The highs are very silky, and slightly recessed, rendering a natural amount of compression. The DAV is a very smooth sounding unit for a transformerless design, and unrelated to this type of design, it seems to stress slightly more tone than timbre when I compared with the Avalon.


Afterthoughts:

In my room, these two different preamps, exhibited litttle differences in their sonic signatures, as they should. Both are tonally transparent, the slight timbral differences are due to their different circuitry, which is beyond the scope of this discussion. I will only add that the DAV is based on OP amp chips. The DAV was founded by Mick Hinton, chief engineer who designed the Decca mic preamps at the time when Decca's Neve preamps had to be replaced. The Decca pedigree continues in the current range of preamps. The Avalon is based on Class A FET Transistors with Jensen input transformers allowing for changing mic input impedances for different types of mics: 50, 150, 600 ohms. This loads the mic differently with each setting, in essence it alters the EQ response of the preamp, giving you additional flexibility to tailor your sound for a brighter or darker timbre, depending on your piano.

The Avalon is slightly more strident with good timbral presence. This preamp might be a good balance for a piano that has predominance of tone rather than a bright timbre, like the European pianos. It would make for an amazing vocal amp or an instrument that will be complimented with a good low midrange presence like acoustic guitar. The DAV might be more forgiving for a piano that is slightly brighter, again this is comparing it only to the Avalon. Since the DAV is more laid back and neutral, one may be able to bring the mics closer to the source, and not run the risk of harsh sounding midrange. All these slight differences can be controlled with careful EQ during the mastering stage.

Overall, one can't go wrong with either mic preamp sonically, but the DAV BG No.1U costing $2000 cheaper, presents a better value at $890 - Spend the money on mics. Which will I reach for? It will depend on the genre and mood since they're are both good. In any case, it's always good to have additional channel for vocal duets, two pianos, or ensembles.

BTW, my recent recording of Chopin Waltz No. 19 in A Minor was with the DAV BG No.1U and the AKG C414B-XLS mics in the exact location, except they were raised to a height of 6ft.


Attachments:
Recording Set Up.jpg [160.71 KiB]
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Mobile Recording Rack.jpg
Mobile Recording Rack.jpg [ 177.68 KiB | Viewed 6131 times ]
Avalon AD2022 Preamp - No EFX - Sample1.mp3 [2.13 MiB]
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DAV BG No.1U Preamp - No EFX - Sample1.mp3 [2.07 MiB]
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Avalon AD2022 Preamp - No EFX - Sample2.mp3 [3.65 MiB]
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DAV BG No.1U Preamp - No EFX - Sample2.mp3 [3.65 MiB]
Downloaded 358 times

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:22 pm 
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Hi George,


great playing that makes me keen to listen to you more often on Pianosociety. It sounds like your piano would prefer the DAV. I think that most people who are not crazy about audio gear like both of us are not going to care so much about the difference between the Avalon and the DAV. And I think that they are right as far as music only is of concern. Nonethelees I was much interested by your samples. I was expecting the Avalon being smoother.It might be closer to a Millenia than to the DAV.
Well you have got now more than required for making great recordings. Just do them for us!
Al the best,
Didier


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 3:58 am 
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Quote:
Great playing that makes me keen to listen to you more often on Pianosociety. It sounds like your piano would prefer the DAV... I was expecting the Avalon being smoother.It might be closer to a Millenia than to the DAV.


Thanks Didier. Owning a large dental practice keeps me too busy from my piano practice. The irony is that when I was a student, I had more time to practice, but couldn't afford a nice piano. Now that I have a nice piano, I don't have time to practice. It's tough to just keep up with my old pieces, let alone learn new ones. Do you find time to practice with your profession?...

Yes, the Avalon is closer to Millennia in sound. I got the DAV to expand my palate of sound apart from what the Avalon was giving me. It's nice to have a choice as there are times when the Avalon might be appropriate especially in a nice hall where you might want to regain that low midrange presence or use it with other musicians in a mix. But for 2 channel home recording environment, the DAV will see more action for classical, even though the piano is well balanced in tone and timbre.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 9:19 pm 
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Nice playing and recording 88man, really enjoyed that.

I'm trying to tweak my recording setup a bit. I just started learning about and trying to record my D early last year. Even though I've been a Pro player for over 40 years with a lot of session work background , doing/recording it yourself is a whole other experience.

I have a pair of the DPA 4011s that were going into two different front end sources--at least until last week when I sold my Cranesong Spider 8 channel pre, A/D , mixer. Right now I'm just using an Audio Upgrades/Jim Williams modded Soundcraft Delta 200 8 channel board. My recorder is the Tascam DV-RA 1000HD in which Jim Williams also modded the A/D D/A converter chips with the Analog Devices. I think it sounds great, especially for the price. :)

I'm looking at possibly getting a pre amp to patch into the Delta insert points or just go straight into the Tascam. I'm not too swift with computer recording has of yet.

I'm thinking of taking some of the Cranesong funds and investing in the Fearn VT-2. I know Didier from the Gearslutz forum and have heard a few of his wonderful offerings with the VT-2 and his great sounding Steingraeber over there.

I'm primarily a Jazz guy so I've been doing more of the close micing technique common to Jazz, but do enjoy reading the different ideas on mic placement and preamps here. Also hearing all the great talent on the forum--some serious Classical players here.

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Last edited by Dave Ferris on Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:47 am 
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Greetings Dave! I followed the link to your site and having only listened to your "Road to Boston" and "Ballad," I think you're a fantastic jazz composer and pianist! Most composers seem to reinvent the "compositional wheel" all the time, however, your music carries great soul, driving rhythm, and sounds new and fresh every time one listens to it. Let me know if your CDs are for sale?...

1. Dave, before you spend a cent, my advice is to look into acoustic treatment for your recording room. The single most improvement you can make is treating your room. You have a fantastic piano, but on the picture I saw 2 bare drywalls and a corner. Yikes! This will wreak havoc on the room's EQ response, flutter echo, comb filtering, modes, etc... All the small room acoustic phenomena that will go against making a good sounding recording. I would look into bass traps for the walls and corner, especially. Contact Ethan Winer of Realtraps or Glenn Kuras of GIK Acoustics next time you're on Gearlutz. Or you can do what I did, DIY bass traps for fraction of the cost. Let me know if you're interested on how to make camouflage acoustic panels yourself. All you need is a saw, staple gun, and drill.

2. I would invest in a room calibration software to create a real time analysis of the EQ response of your room. You can use your DPA 4011 mic for calibration purposes. Personally, I use a Behringer DEQ2496 with has an EQ and RTA to plot where my peaks and dips are in my room. The software will do a better job for you. Some rooms can vary as much as + or - 10dB, that's a range of 20dB.

3. After you treat the room, you will effectively increase the damping factor of your acoustic space and you will lose it's reverb. Don't worry, it's not the kind of reverb you want anyway.

4. Once you treat the room and examine its waterfall EQ plots, you may have to experiment with more/less bass traps and/or rearranging them to get the flattest EQ plot of your room. THEN you can apply EQ in your editing software to further tweak the room to flatten the EQ response and save it as a preset for that room.

5. To regain and even get more ambience, you can add reverb now in your editing software, dedicated reverb software like Altiverb 6, or go with hardware reverb like TC electronics 2000, 3000, 4000, or Lexicon PCM96, or Bricasti M7 and send it to your soundcard. No two reverbs sound exactly the same because each one uses a different algorithm. It will be a matter of taste.

As far as preamps go, well, I record 2 channel classical, you record multi-channel jazz. I may be comparing apples and oranges here as far as the character of sound goes. Even though we both play on Steinways, and even if you want to record 2 channel jazz at home, our ideal for the "right" timbre and tone will surely be different. This will impact your preamp choice. If you like the sound of your mics, then use them. However, it's more difficult to attribute a sonic signature to a preamp. The differences are subtle, as it's the mics that color the sound to a greater degree than a preamp. Having said that, there are some who can hear different textures in sound. Subjective appraisals in sound character also differ. For example, if the preamp has a fast transient response, one may interpret this as too forward or harsh; and another may interpret this as clear, transparent.

I don't know what your ideal "sound" is for jazz sound character, so I can't make definitive suggestions for a preamp.
Here are some potential preamp recommendations:

-DAV BG No. 1U: renders accurate timbre/tone to piano, just right amount of "syrup," slightly more laid back timbre.
-Avalon AD2022: more forward timbre, fast transients, better suited for pop, voice.
-Thermionic Culture Earlybird 1.2 - tonally transparent, lush, saturation, majestic color on piano. Rivals with VT-2.
-D.W. Fearn VT-2: lush, saturation, most love it but few say less than spectacular on piano (sounds like proximity effect). I don't own one, ask Didier.
-Presonus ADL600: smooth, slight color, saturation.
-Pendulum MDP-1 - more character


As far as recorders are concerned, we seem to be on the same path. I am also going mic-to-preamp-to-recorder. Keeps it simple, pure, and clean. I also just bought a Tascam DV-RA1000HD, but haven't had the time to record with it yet. I am very curious how the converters sound before and after Jim Williams' mods?... How expensive were Jim's mods?...

I have a NY Steinway B, and it's very full in my 35'x17'x8.5' room. I've been itching for a D more and more now... How do you like the sound of your Steinway D?...


I hope some of these ideas I've stated help. Good Luck and let me know if you have any questions. Best of luck composing! :D

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 8:11 am 
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Hi 88man-

Hey thanks so much for the kind words--greatly appreciated here. Yeah, I've been at it a very long time and continue to try and move forward everyday in all aspects.

Regarding the room acoustics--I'm very aware of the acoustics or I should say lack of in my space :)
Really for what I'm doing it's sounds pretty good. That blank space/corner you mentioned now has a floor to ceiling corner book case that acts as a fairly nice diffuser. I also have about 15 1"thick 3' X 5' fiberglass carpeted absorption panels interspersed throughout my 20 X 20 room.
Still I need more absorption/diffusion as I definitely have that wicked slap back/flutter echo thing going on with the parallel surfaces has you could probably guess.

However--With the close micing under the lid and the SDC cardioid DPA 4011s, I don't really hear much of the room--at least on the recordings I've made in the past year. I think having the higher "A" type frame ceiling (15' at the peak), coupled with the piano on hardwood floor and the other 60% of the space with low nap industrial type carpeting, help tone down the liveness of the room.

Of course the biggest battle I feel is won....the piano. I was lucky to find it barely used (9 months old) for a once in a lifetime price. It will be 4 years this May since I took delivery and I would say I wasn't really happy with the sound until around this time last year. It took a LONG time to break in and a lot of money spent on voicing, regulation and tuning. Previously I had the Yamaha S6 which was a fine piano, really perfect from a Jazz players standpoint in relation to the the action and evenness of sound. Of course it wasn't the "Steinway Sound". So getting my ears more used to that different sound took a few years. I guess I've turned into a piano snob of sorts because now the Yamahas sound a bit thin to me. My only wish is I had a larger space for the D than 20 X 20. On the other hand, the sound is not like a huge sounding D you would choose playing a Concerto on a big stage with an orchestra. The fellow I bought it from was a Jazz player like myself so he picked it out from about ten different Ds at Steinway Hall in NYC. It definitely has a darker more introspective sound. That sound actually bothered me at first being used to the clarity of the S6 but playing it everyday the past 4 years, it has blossomed VERY nicely. I can honestly say, I haven't come across any piano, with the exception of maybe one, a 9' Fazioli that belonged to dealer Rick Baldassin of Salt Lake City, that I would swap my piano for. That includes any recording studio I've been in here in town.

Back to the recording---I should just hire engineer extraordinaire Rich Breen, have my D carted onto Sony Soundstage and start carving. :lol: Seriously, like I mentioned earlier, I'm quite happy with the sound I'm getting. Maybe 75-80% happy. It's just that last little bit that you would agonize over is the hardest part. I think my key is "matching" my DPA 4011s to the best preamp and tweaking my mic placement.

If you go to the "MYspace " page and check out the solo pieces (I would post individual links here but I feel the Myspace page doesn't compress the mp3s as dramatically has the file sharing site I use) they are:

"Joy Spring"--first recording I did with the 4011s. I was blown away at how much difference really good mics made after using lesser quality, night and day. These are into a lowly Mackie 1202 VLZ mixer > Marantz CDR300 CD recorder. Not bad considering 16 bit, the inferior converters on the CD recorder and a Mackie. Again the piano and mic quality speaks volumes.

"Whisper Not"--the first recording I did with my (just sold) Cranesong Spider. This was with the Spider set @ 16/48 going SPDIF again into the Marantz. This really shows the high quality of the Cranesong.

"Falling Grace"
This was with the two Jim Williams modded pieces. The Tascam DV-Ra 1000HD and the board pres of the Soundcraft Delta 200 console.

"Taking a Chance on Love"---this is the same setup but with vocal and piano played and sung simultaneously---no overdubs.

Even though the Cranesong pres have more depth and detail, I think JW's stuff has a "sweeter" maybe more "open" sound to it. Sound is always highly subjective though. That's the reason I sold the Spider in addition to the 8 channels on the CS being overkill for my purposes.

Jim makes what he calls a Audio Upgrades 2 channel "high speed mic pre" that sells for less than half of what something like the Fearn VT-2 retails at. Im trying to work it out so I can rent the Fearn, borrow Jim's pre, maybe rent the Pendulum all on the same day to do a comparison. I would very much like to hear the Forssell SMP-2 and Earlybird 1.2 has well. It's just very hard to audition all this stuff, even in a large city like LA.

Lastly, this was made about ten days ago, actually about an hour before the buyer came by to pick up the Spider :cry: I hated to see it go, it really is a nice piece but I couldn't justify keeping it when all I needed was 2 or 3 channels.

The Spider SPDIF > the Tascam
http://www.divshare.com/download/10240059-dfe
A little bit brighter sounding

For the time being I like the idea of going direct from the pre to the 2 track recorder. This is simple as I'm a computer idiot. However someone sent me some Jazz Quartet recording with the new and much talked about Metric Halo ULN-8. I must say the group sound and piano sounded stellar in every way! It made me re-think my plan of attack here---going with a computer interface as opposed to the more intuitive analog thing. I'd have to learn about the software program, find someone to explain to me Logic 8 (whih I already have)....no fun, I'd rather be practicing.

Anyway, thanks again 88man for all the suggestions. This is a great thread here.

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2005 NY Steinway D
1997 Yamaha Gt-1 "Gran Touch"


Last edited by Dave Ferris on Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 8:38 am 
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Sorry, has I'm reading back over your post I failed to answer your question regarding the Audio Upgrades mod on the Tascam DV-RA 1000HD.

Unfortunately, I had the recorder shipped new in its box directly to Jim from the retailer. From the way Jim explained it to me, the converter chips in the Tascam, while being VERY good are not at the level of clarity of the Acoustic Devices A/D D/A chips that he uses. I asked him if this would be noticeable and he said most definitely. I thought for only the extra $250 it was well worth it. I trust Jim, no matter what one says about his sometimes aggressive and gruff demeanor on the internet, I've known him for over 20 years and he's a man of very high integrity.

On the other hand, the famous LA engineer Alan Sides, uses the stock Tascam converters to demo a lot of his high end speakers. I think there's a short interview with him on Tascam's website.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 5:38 am 
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Dave, If you're happy with micing under the lid, then the room will have less of an impact. Besides, you're using a cardiod pattern mic so you might get by. If you plan to use more bass traps, get the 4in thick kind, the 2in stuff won't cut it. Don't forget to treat the corners and crest of the A-frame areas of your ceiling.

Hey, good thing you didn't get a Fazioli. I know of cases where the Fazioli pin block has delaminated in 10years - ZOINKS! They're no where near the quality of Steinway D Either NYC or Hamburg. Yes, Steinways are like wine, their tone improves with time. Mine still continues to improve, that's why I hesitate at times whether or not I should go with a D or keep my B?... I won't get a D until I find one that will trounce it in terms of tonal quality across the entire range. A great used D is an oxymoron, as most are beat up, unless you're lucky. But new, they're asking a king's ransom! I'll have to see what I could get as a trade-in for the B?

Thanks for the info on Jim. I've come across his threads on Gearlutz. I just e-mailed Jim on Gearlutz, and see if I can reach him that way. If I am unable to upgrade the converters, I may get a Mytek or Lavry A/D converter. Either way, the Tascam will be a definite upgrade itself over my current Yamaha CDR1000 which is 20bit A/D with built in Apogee UV22 dithering to 16bit CD. However, the A/D converter has the least impact on the recording chain.

Let me know if you have any questions. Keep up the great composing!

George

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 7:41 am 
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George-

I would call Jim on the phone. He's never returned any of my emails or PMs on the GS site.
He almost always picks up the phone during normal hours of the day (Pacific time zone).
You can reach him by the # listed on his site.
http://www.audioupgrades.com/

One other piece of not so great info--- I had driven both my Soundcraft Delta console ( he was doing a routine check of the board and rebuilt the Power supply for me) and Tascam down to his place in Carlsbad on MLK Day 3 weeks ago. The Tascam was making a "clock" whine type noise on the right input channel. Jim thought it was either a loose or defective chip he installed. I spoke with him yesterday and he informed me that the company that manufactures the chips, Acoustic Devices are only manufacturing on a limited basis right now so my chips won't be shipped till March 5th :x :x
He's very upset about this but nothing he can do. So basically by the time I drive back down there to get it, I will have been without a recorder for probably close to 8 weeks.

If you do spend the dough on the external A/D, you might want to check out the Forssell MADC-2
http://www.forsselltech.com/products/madcpreamp.html
A few folks that do Acoustic music recording on GS give it rave reviews. One piano player I was in contact with bought both the Forssell SMP-2 pre and MADC-2. He liked the sound better than the newer Nagra VI recorder. You can also call up Fred and talk to him on the phone. Very nice guy. I think he has a 7 day trial period but he said no one has ever returned anything. :) This is one route I'm also considering myself except it's pricey, 5K for a 2 channel pre and 2 channel converter. I think for the time being I'll wait to see how much the upraded PS on the Delta helps matters.

That's one great thing about Jim's stuff. The prices are VERY reasonable for the quality you are getting.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:11 pm 
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Hi Dave, I finally called Jim and he said that he's waiting for parts, so I'll contact him again in March to have the unit upgraded. It's too bad you have to wait all this time for your recorder.

Oh yes, the Forssell SMP2 is a fantastic preamp. It's everything what the DAV does, but goes further with a even more definition and clarity. I am not so sure about the Forssell A/D converter, but I'll have to listen to it again because I was trying to tell it apart from the Lavry and Mytek at one point.

By the way, if you want an inexpensive and excellent recorder, the M-Audio Microtrack II has very good A/D converters of all the portables, and has full 48V phantom power for your condenser mics. Its S/N range is well over 100dB. For $300 it's a steal! I use it to record my parent's LPs and store it on HD or DVD-A.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:23 pm 
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Quote:
Jim makes what he calls a Audio Upgrades 2 channel "high speed mic pre" that sells for less than half of what something like the Fearn VT-2 retails at. Im trying to work it out so I can rent the Fearn, borrow Jim's pre, maybe rent the Pendulum all on the same day to do a comparison. I would very much like to hear the Forssell SMP-2 and Earlybird 1.2 has well. It's just very hard to audition all this stuff, even in a large city like LA.


Hi Dave,

Nice to read from you here! What a terrific test that you are planning here! Of course, I WANT TO LISTEN TO THE SAMPLES! :twisted: :D


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 Post subject: Re: Making "Professional" Home Recordings
PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:20 am 
Really great tip! Definetly going to implement some of these things.


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 Post subject: Re: Making "Professional" Home Recordings
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:35 am 
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Since there seems to be interest in this thread or topic, I'll share my opinions by re-posting any good recording questions that come up from other PS members in other locations within the forum...

Question: I was wondering if a pair of good 'ol SM57s would work to start out with. They are a very versatile mic that sees a lot of use on guitar amps and things.[b]

[b]Answer:
Anything will work when starting out. However, You won't be happy with a SM57 in the long run - it's not as sensitive, it has frequency peaks in the mids, and lacks air in the highs, and is deficient in the bass. The SM57 is a dynamic mic. You really should have condenser mics in your arsenal.

Dynamic and condenser mics differ in how they produce an electrical signals going into your recorder:

Dynamic mics use a diaphragm attached to a moving-coil in a magnetic field to generate a signal in the presence of sound vibration, just like a speaker working in reverse. The mass of the moving coil results in a relatively poor transient response and less sensitivity than a condenser mic. They are better suited for louder sources like in guitar amps or drums where they don't distort as much as condensers in high SPL situations.

Condenser mics have a very thin plastic diaphragm coated with gold/nickel, mounted very close to a conductive back plate, which forms a collective unit called a capacitor or condenser. A polarizing voltage feeds through the capacitor by an external power supply, e.g. Microtrack II's 48V "phantom power." Sound causes the diaphragm to vibrate: as the diaphragm moves closer to the back plate, there is an increase capacitance which results in a discharge of current, when the diaphragm moves away from the back plate, there is a decrease in the capacitance which results in a discharge of current. This cycle produces an electrical signal going to the recorder. Condensers are better suited to capture nuances, wider frequency response, and transients due to their increased sensitivity over dynamic mics.

Avoid the temptation with less expensive Chinese mics (Studio Projects, Samson, Rode, MXL, etc.). I find them to sound brittle, harsh, lack a full body bass, and are not as reliable. You don't need Neumann either. I'd save up for the U.S. made Shure KSM141. At $800, you're essentially getting a pair of omni and cardiod mics all in one package. I've looked all over... It's going to be difficult to find a pair of quality condensers that are as neutral or as classy in sound as the Shure for that price. Like I previously mentioned, these are Schoeps clones, which are standard in high end classical piano recording studios. The Schoeps omni and cardiod capsules with the amplifier body will cost $5525.

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 Post subject: Re: Making "Professional" Home Recordings
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:33 am 
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Still waiting (impatiently) on my Tascam DV-RA 1000 HD. :x

It's been 6 weeks since I dropped my stuff at Jim's home in Carlsbad.

In my frustration about 10 days ago I almost popped for the Sound Devices 702 recorder. I just had to tell myself---save your money, be patient, just go practice, you have a nice piano :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Making "Professional" Home Recordings
PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:58 pm 
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Location: Boston
Sabra-Som ST-2 and ST-4 Universal Mic Bar:

Here's a simple and inexpensive way of eliminating an extra mic stand by setting up a spaced pair of mics on one stand. It also enables one to make a recording with various mic pairs from the same location. The double mic bar costs $34.49 and the quad mic bar is $43.49. Pictured is the St-4 Quad Mic Bar with a large condenser mic and a cardiod small condensers in ORTF configuration. The mic connectors allow the spigot to move along the 12" bar and tighten down to fix their position. The AKG C414-XLS mics have a shock mount which allows it to swing out 3in on each side, so I effectively have an extended 18" spaced pair configuration.

OPTIONAL: In order to extend the mic spacing beyond 12", I bought another 3/8" 36-in aluminum hexagonal rod from Amazon.com which I'll anodize black to match the paint. http://www.amazon.com/Aluminum-6061-T6- ... B000FN1556

A similar 30" Spaced Mic bar from Grace, Schoeps, or Manfrotto, costs $500-900. The Quad mic bar cost me less than $44 total.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/2 ... phone.html
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/2 ... phone.html


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