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Old March 28th, 2004, 06:47 AM   #1
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How to record a mezzo going full blast.

Hi

I have to record my beloved wife doing a audition. And she is a mezzo soprano, that wants to show her full range. Meaning soundlevels from a whisper to someting lounder than a fire siren.
I have tried to use a limiter, but it does not sound right. A compressor might do the trick, but so fra I have been unable to find a cheap unit.
The AGC on my Canon XM 1 tried to cope with the sonic assault, and went into panic mode. So I borrowed a XL1s and plugged my Azden shotgun SGM-1x in. Better- but any attempt to do gainriding fails, as I can not monitor the camera audio as she just sings too loud.

I woul love any suggestions as our cats are getting nervous ticks, and our son has started to sing in a key usually reserved for bats and dog whistles. So the sooner I get this right the better.
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Old March 28th, 2004, 11:15 AM   #2
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How does a dynamic work with the XM1 or XL1? They have a lot less output. Either that or pad (attenuate) the Adzden. once you get the louder passages , the trick will be getting the softer end.
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Old March 28th, 2004, 12:25 PM   #3
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Beachteks doesn't do it

Hi

Some times it helps just to write a question down. It dawned on me that a compressor must be the answer, as it should be able to compress the dynamic range so much that i can get it on tape. A Beachtek will not help, as it is a passive unit.
But how do you use a compressor on a live recording session? I have trouble enough getting the one in Sound Forge to do anything sensible.
And does anybody know if a cheap batterypowered unit exists? So far i have only found something called a Campressor (expensive), and a lot of 19" rack units.

Thanks again for your kind help
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Old March 28th, 2004, 01:21 PM   #4
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There's the RNC Really Nice Compressor that goes for USD$199. It gets really good reviews from prorec.com (http://www.prorec.com/prorec/article...25673F001D4B40) and is recommended over at http://acapella.harmony-central.com/...hreadid=227171.
I don't think it's battery powered though.

2- What's your target format? Most systems (take into account the listening environment) won't allow huge dynamics.
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Old March 28th, 2004, 02:14 PM   #5
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Like I mentioned, try a dynamic and have your wife "work the mic". Almost touching the mic for the quiet passages and more distant for the high volume. Try it, what do you have to lose?
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Old March 28th, 2004, 03:21 PM   #6
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If she sings the quiet bits louder and the loud bits quieter, it will sound a lot better than if you try to process the recording electronically.

The alternative is to hire good quality audio equipment, which can handle her full dynamic range, and do justice to her voice. Hiring is not that expensive.

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Old March 28th, 2004, 04:25 PM   #7
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Not trying to be funny here, but a recording studio will be the best answer. But, if you still want to record a music demo start by setting the levels on the meter for the loudest part of the music. This will give you the most natural sound without distortion.

Most classical music is "not" recorded with a close mic so using room tone is important. Experiment with mic placement. Overhead will help reduce background noise. A low profile will give you more bass sound.

If you do have to close mic to reduce background noise you may need to add some echo. The less you need in effects the better.
Compression, echo, limiter can color the sound so it should only be used when needed.

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Old March 28th, 2004, 10:53 PM   #8
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Classical music is recorded in concert halls with good acoustics. Those rooms have long delays so the listener will pick up on the spaciousness of the room. For a DIY route it makes more sense to record it as dry as possible and then add some concert hall reverb (or whatever other reverb effect you want). Your recording room probably has room nodes (affects frequency response) and the close walls will give a short delay (unless you have diffusers).

I'd definitely try out bryan's suggestion of working closer to the mic for quiter passages.

2- It might help to split the signal onto two channels, with the second signal quiter than the first.
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Old March 28th, 2004, 11:32 PM   #9
 
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Having recorded a fair number of opera vocalists, I'll make the suggestion that you forget close miking techniques to start with. Look for a distance in a dry non-reverberant room, capturing at about 5 feet or further. If the room has much ambience at all, you're gonna struggle with it. Classical voices, like pianos, are very difficult to record solo and get a great sound, particularly with any but the best gear. This is one of the reasons there is a Grammy just for this category alone. If you use a compressor, it's going to take a high end comp like an Avalon, 1176, etc. Even then, you'll impart some noise.
It's gonna be difficult doing this to a camera as well, due to the lesser dynamic ability of a DV camcorder. Use a DAT if you can get one. If you want to use a software comp, then get your hands on the WAVES products. iZotope's will suffice as well, or the Sonic Timeworx. None of the Sony/Sound Forge tools are gonna quite cut it, not if you want it as accurate as possible without sounding colored.
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Old March 29th, 2004, 09:09 AM   #10
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I agree with Mr. Spotted Eagle's recommendations
(although I am no fan of the 1176's hard sound for this purpose).

Opera is one of the most challenging
kinds of music to record. Limiters and compression are usually
regarded by Opera's technical community as a big no no.
So, you have to use gear that is transparent, "open" and capable of
great dynamic range.

Just about the only way to overcome the coloring of your sound is
to use the best of everything. Schoeps or Neumann mic,
clean compression (compression that doesn't sound like it),
and at least 24b/96khz sampling using top of the line converters.
If you can't get into a concert hall (and most can't) then you also
have to use a reverb that is top of the line.

A DV camera isn't really the right tool for professional results, but
you have to use what you've got if you cannot afford to hire a
studio that has all the tools listed above.
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Old March 29th, 2004, 09:54 AM   #11
 
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No, I wouldn't like the 1176 here either, I meant that a high end system would be needed. On the Three Tenors, I used just a hint of compression because it was going to DV. I believe it was 6:1 starting at -6dB. I used DBX Blues on it.
Absolutely, you need the best of the best for non-colored sound of opera and the dynamic range of a mezzo. It ain't gonna work trying to record this in a living room. or basement. Regardless of what gear you use.
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Old March 29th, 2004, 10:39 AM   #12
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May be I am wrong, but I have been reading this thread and I wondered if two mics or two stereo mic-sets recorded at different levels would be helpfull to edit this later in post.
may be i suggest something idot for acoustics problems, but i like to hear how bad this idea is, specially on a cam.
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Old March 29th, 2004, 10:48 AM   #13
 
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It's a good, and common idea. Problem is, you'd have a bear of a time mixing from one mic to the other. The dynamic is so pure that you'll immediately be able to detect the differences in both temporal and spatial settings. The room ambience will appear different in addition to the level difference. Were it that the voice was accompanied, it would be much easier.
As mentioned before, solo classical voice is one of the greatest challenges there is, and not a task to be managed by guesswork.
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Old March 29th, 2004, 11:54 AM   #14
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Thanks folks - I'll call in the pros

This is what you get out of saying "Yes dear" while you are absently munching on your breakfast. This little adventure has left me with deep admiration for the sound-engineers, who records classical music.
I have recorded my singing wife before with reasonable succes, but it has always been on a stage, where she was singing Mahler, jazz or something a little more normal than this bit of modern music, where she is going 0 - 110 db in 0.1 second.
She is attending a high tech course in career development for artsts. Here she is required to present a cd that represents her present abilities, Unfortunately one of the other girls is married to a recordproducer, and has done a somewhat pro job on her cd, so the rest of the class will not accept anything less. And they are grown ups!
In response to all the good advice I found a AKG D440 dynamic in my drawers. Hooked it up to my PC using a soundblaster Extigy external soundcard and used SF 7.0 in 96/24-mode to record her, mostly to give the remote friend that is a sound engineer some idea what I have bribed him into doing. And this setup was the best sounding so far. She even thought it funny to move the mic according to sound volume. And the result is - well ... better, but not very true to the real life experience. And by gosh - she is loud. It is absolutely amazing that such a small woman (165 cm - 6 ft?) can contain enough air to produce soundlevels in this magnitude. Yes - I know it is technique and training since we have been mariend for 10 years, but still ...

Anyway - Thanks again.
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Old March 29th, 2004, 12:13 PM   #15
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It is AMAZING just how loud a human voice can be. One small woman
keeping up with an entire symphony never fails to astound me,
nor that fact that even a small group of fans can blow away a
large concert sized sound system with of thousands of watts of power!
(Who heard the Beatles play at Shay Stadium . . . no one!)

We had a good friend who was a wonderful tenor. The thought of
having to ever amplify his voice was unknown until he started to
sing the Star Spangled Banner at Tiger and Redwing games.
In that situation he had to have help.
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