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Old June 20th, 2009, 11:37 AM   #16
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Michael,

By the way, I don't think I'd want to mount a mic on camera for what you're doing. It would be further from the guitar than I think would be optimal, and it would be extremely unlikely that your best location for sound would be in the same location as the camera.

Plus cameras are inherently kind of noisy up close and camera mounted mics can pick up a lot of unwanted clutter.
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Old June 20th, 2009, 08:39 PM   #17
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Something just occurred to me. I keep thinking that recording into the camera isn't necessarily going to give you the best result. Typically cameras are designed to record video and sound seems sort of like almost an afterthought. Scan these forums and people are always complaining about why even very expensive cameras have less than stellar pre-amps etc

And 16 bit/48k isn't really the best for music. Voice, dialogue, OK, but the demands of squeezing video into limited bandwidth always seems to dictate that sound will be sacrificed to make room for video.

Thinking about all of this, I wonder if you've ever looked at something like the Sony PCM-D50 all in one mic/recorder, or maybe one of the Zoom products.

I have the Sony and am always rather pleasantly surprised at how good the mics are at the price point. I've done a couple of brass band recordings going simultaneously into a Schoeps/Sound Devices setup and the Sony. The result is always that the high priced spread is better - but the little Sony ain't bad! Much better than you might think.

I did a demo disk for a local classical guitarist a few months back and was planning on recording both ways, but for some reason I can't remember at the moment I didn't use the Sony so I don't have a good comparison at hand, unfortunately.

One thing I did do was to have a metal adapter made up so I could mount the Sony in a shock mount on a mic stand and I think this made it much more usable.

Anyhow, just a suggestion that you might want to look into.
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Old June 20th, 2009, 10:00 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
I just looked at Michael's work, and I suspect, he's unintentionally hit the nail on the head!

This man spends his time creating musical instruments, of the kind that serious, not casual musicians like, want to buy because of what the sound and play like. The piece of music playing as background has been chosen by an expert to promote his standard - which looking at what he does is craftsman type work.

I'd now state that my best guess is that only a recording that sounded good to him, counts.

We're looking at this from a video perspective. The instrument builder is listening to it. Our choice of microphone should defer to the musician or craftsman. Nobody who dictates "Thou shall only use a super-cardioid" should be listened to. I've provided sound for classical guitarists, and in one case, the musician, Richard Durrant was playing a concert with bass guitar legend Herbie Flowers. Richard opened a bag, and pulled out a battered AKG 451 microphone. Not what I would have selected, but his call. He set it up himself and 'aimed' it at a certain point on the guitar, and adjusted it very carefully. He'd worked out where this particular guitar needed a microphone to be, and the result was excellent. You learn a lot from people like this.

I asked him how he came to this choice. Patience and my ears was the reply.
Paul, thanks for the kind words. Interesting story. Yes, a couple of weeks ago a guitarist visited to do a couple of concerts in Santa Fe and Taos. He always carries his Sohoeps with him do do live concerts with. While he was here he lent me the Schoeps to try, and that's when I saw the light.

Here is that artist Erich Avenger, playing a gig in Houston using his Sohoeps, the violinists I think if memory serves are using DPA's.
YouTube - indifference
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Old June 20th, 2009, 10:34 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post
Something just occurred to me. I keep thinking that recording into the camera isn't necessarily going to give you the best result. Typically cameras are designed to record video and sound seems sort of like almost an afterthought. Scan these forums and people are always complaining about why even very expensive cameras have less than stellar pre-amps etc

And 16 bit/48k isn't really the best for music. Voice, dialogue, OK, but the demands of squeezing video into limited bandwidth always seems to dictate that sound will be sacrificed to make room for video.

Thinking about all of this, I wonder if you've ever looked at something like the Sony PCM-D50 all in one mic/recorder, or maybe one of the Zoom products.

I have the Sony and am always rather pleasantly surprised at how good the mics are at the price point. I've done a couple of brass band recordings going simultaneously into a Schoeps/Sound Devices setup and the Sony. The result is always that the high priced spread is better - but the little Sony ain't bad! Much better than you might think.

I did a demo disk for a local classical guitarist a few months back and was planning on recording both ways, but for some reason I can't remember at the moment I didn't use the Sony so I don't have a good comparison at hand, unfortunately.

One thing I did do was to have a metal adapter made up so I could mount the Sony in a shock mount on a mic stand and I think this made it much more usable.

Anyhow, just a suggestion that you might want to look into.
Jim, very interesting. I bought the XH-A1 rather by accident. I had never owned a video camera before, I walked into the store and told the salesman I wanted a video camera that records good audio, he took the A1 out and showed me the XLR inputs, I went home and dreamt about it all night, and after the only argument I've ever had with my wife, she gave in, and I bought it the next day, having no idea what I got. I'm still in awe of this camera and learn something new everyday.

So are you suggesting to record with the Sony then sink it up in post with the video? Interesting. I have a friend who bought a Zoom didn't like the quality and ended up getting the Sony.

I also have an Akai DR4 digital recorder and a Bluetube pre-amp, and a mixing board. Here is a recording I made with that set up. The two mics were really cheap ones like $50.00 for both, and I can't remember the brand.
YouTube - Dresden 13 string guitar tuned in Dminor. Weiss Fantasy, played by Michael Thames

I also have a pair of MXL 993. I actually like these a lot (in my relatively small microphonic universe). However, one mic has developed a horrible loud static hum that is louder than what I recorded. I started to read some reviews of these mics on the web and found other people complaining about the same thing. I'm afraid after having ruined an hour long lecture on solar energy I did for a friend, to risk using them again.

My main use for recording is to use on YouTube. At this point in my life I don't want to fit anymore ram in my brain than I have to, by learning audio production other than the basics of Soundtrack II, in FCP. I need something that complements my guitars well on YouTube without an elaborate set up.

Jim, by all means visit when you are here in Santa Fe for the Opera. Would love to get together with you.

Michael
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Old June 21st, 2009, 12:12 AM   #20
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I guess even though the destination is You Tube, if it were me I'd want the best sound I could get with a reasonable expenditure of time, money, and mental energy. Degrading it for the distribution medium is one thing, but I think one day you'll be glad you have a good recording on the shelf if you want to "repurpose"it.

My own experience (limited as it may be) and comments on this forum make me think that the Sony is a heck of a price performer. If you can get hold of one it's worth a try. If not, I can bring mine when we come to Santa Fe.
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Old June 21st, 2009, 01:34 AM   #21
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I personally don't care for large condenser mics (such as the Neumann U87) on acoustic guitar. When I've had no choice, I've used them and often had to notch out some lower frequencies... typically around 240Hz. A small diaphragm condenser is a much better choice. Experiment with the distance to the sound hole (closer = bassier).

It seems to me when I compared the overall sound quality of the XH A1 next to a DAT machine, the XH A1 digital converters did not fair as well. I would be hesitant to buy a top-of-the-line mic and expect to reap its full potential when plugged into a camcorder. Into a dedicated sound recorder, such as the Korg MR-1000 one bit recorder... sure.
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Old June 21st, 2009, 01:47 AM   #22
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The km184 is very bright on the high end... Schoeps, as you've heard make great mics for any acoustic instrument. Check out the Beyerdynamics MC930. You can buy a stereo pair for under $800. They are very flatteringly compared to the Neumann kM84.
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Old June 21st, 2009, 03:25 AM   #23
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A Few Ideas

This is going to be a little long; some of it will repeat things already said, and some will mention things out of your price range. But bear with me, what is important here is more why I suggest certain things than the specifics. You are a luthier trying to show off what looks like some superb work, and it deserves the best you can give it.

The classic (and already given) advice is to point a small condensor microphone down the neck of the guitar, positioned approximately over the neck/body intersection, pointed toward the bridge. The mic is 6 - 12 inches from the guitar. Suggested mics are Neumann KM-84 (184), AKG 451 (460), Shoepps (which I have not used). My own preference is for the KM-84, because I prefer to add any high end needed with eq, rather than from a mics response, which tends to be less smooth, and have a fixed type of boost.

But in my own case, what I actually usually do in serious work is to stereo mic the guitar, much like one would mic a piano: two coincident mics centered over the strings and split very wide, one pointed at the high strings, one at the low, VERY close (literally within an inch in some cases). This produces a very wide, huge, stunning sound. But it requires a great deal of skill in positioning, cooperation and consistency from the player, and some minor tweeks of the low end to compensate for the bass imbalance this can create. A slightly softer pick may be needed as well (if not finger picking). Width can be adjusted to leave a small hole in the middle for a vocal, if that is appropriate.

For most of the situations and guitars encountered in pop, folk, country music, etc. this works beautifully.

But you appear to be making classical guitars, flamenco guitars, etc. It is a different world, I have found. The same micing and techniques that work so nicely on other material often just sound WRONG on this type of guitar.

Every single guitar is different, and has its own sweet spots, and will like different mics and micing setups.

You may know the why of what follows, since you build them, but I just know what I hear. I suspect that because classical guitars were created before any kind of amplification existed, they are more designed to project into a room, and be heard in a room. Whatever the cause, I have often found with classical guitars that it is necessary to get the mics back a ways, and include just a little of the room (but it needs to be a good room). The sound from these guitars just does not seem to develop until you are a ways back. If you try to close mic such a guitar, you will know it right away, because it will sound unbalanced - which may be: too much bass, muddy bass, way too midrangy, harsh highs - any or all of these, it depends upon the specific instrument.

But note - I have found a few that close miced just fine. There is no rule, except to try things until it sounds right for that instrument.

If you need to mic something back a ways - well, that says 'large diaphram condensor mic' - because that's what these mics were designed for (and they will be less noisy). I have been happy with U-87s, TLM-170s, and (though less so because of my preference for flat mics - personal taste) large diaphram AKGs.

In many ways this is like micing an orchestra, and most of the same mics and techniques can be employed, with only the slight difference that you will be closer than you would be with an orchestra (matching the smaller sound source/sound stage presented by a solo instrument). So: single omni or figure eight mic, stereo Blumlein pair, ORTF, M/S - all good, pick as appropriate to the instrument and desired space.

How far away? This is where the individual guitar really matters. I generally would start as close as a foot, then go back a foot at a time until I hit the magic point where that guitar, with that micing, in that room, sounded just right, perhaps fine tuning by inches. Where there is a nice sense of presence on the guitar, lows and highs nicely balanced, and just enough of the room to create a sense of space, that the guitar is in a real room.

What about that room? If you came to me to do this as a project ('make a demo of my guitars'), the first thing I would tell you is 'This needs to be recorded in a small concert hall'. Second choice would be a studio.

If you need to do it at home...I would suggest recording in the largest space you have available, and deadening the end of the room where the guitar will be as much as possible (all the back wall and halfway down the side walls). Steal all your wifes duvets and scatter them around, then pull down the living room curtains and put them in front of the duvets (to hide them), making something that looks to the camera something like a small stage.

If the room is narrow I might try a figure 8 pattern on the mic to null out the side walls. If it is looking good, try omni to pick up a hint of the opposite (not so deadened) space.

For what it is worth, even in fairly 'purist' situations it is common to eq guitars, add a slight amount of compression, and perhaps some reverb. The basics need to be right first though. You cannot really fix poor recording with electronics.

I know this sounds like a lot of work, my intent is just to give you some ideas to think about. If you are making $6000 guitars, I think your efforts will be well repaid.

-Mike
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Old June 21st, 2009, 03:29 AM   #24
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There are infinite ways to record a guitar. As an intern at sugar hill studios, i'd be the guy juggling around mics while the guys in the control room looked pensive. I was amazed that if we had a two different guitarists in a session that they'd want me to start over for each. It makes sense now, but at the time seemed like madness. I mean, we JUST figured out the BEST solution for recording a guitar, right? right?

Everything in the audio chain can color your sound. EVERYTHING. Change the mic, the placement, the cable, the preamp, the recorder, the bit depth... it can all color the sound, and the tough part is that depending on who you are talking to, each person will name a different part of the chain as essential. And the most frustrating is that sometimes one part of the chain can compensate for another. A really bright mic mixed with a preamp that chokes the highs can randomly be a great combination.

So, with that universal disclaimer in mind, and given that this is a video production board and not a studio recording forum, my personal vote is that you either "go long" or "go short". To "go long", i say go for the schoeps cmc641. If you are used to a crappy mic, the schoeps running straight into your camera is going to sound amazing. In the future, if you develop better ears then you can upgrade other parts of the chain without "starting over".(thats a big "if". *most* people cannot become audiophile snobs because we weren't born with those ears. If you have those ears, you likely already know it.)

The big selling point for the schoeps hypercardioid is that you can turn around and use it for dialog and interviews and it will sound fantastic. And as a video guy, I reckon recording people is going to come up much more often than guitars. Another point for the schoeps is that it will hold its value. It won't make you more attractive to most women, but if you find a woman that knows enough about mics to find you sexy because of your schoeps, then dump your wife and rush off with her.

If you aren't going to "go long", then i say "go short". Buy an oktava mk012. If you are used to a crappy mic, then the oktava straight into the xh-a1 is going to sound amazing. Heck, buy a couple with a buffet of capsules and you can do lots of experiments with pickups that few can afford to do with schoeps.

I've got an oktava mk012 and a schoeps cmc641. When properly shocked mounted, they both sound stellar for indoor dialog (and often, for music). And the thing is, *most* people cannot hear the $1700 difference. Lots of audiophiles will wet themselves when they read that, but from my firsthand experience, its true. Its the rare minority that can actually hear the difference between the two in a double blind test, and of those, fewer still that can accurately choose which mic is which and only a tiny few people on earth could hear one mic on one person and the other on a different person and accurately pick the schoeps. (oh, i know there are lots of people who *claim* they can, but i'm just saying that, in my tests... they can't.)

If you do a side by side across multiple subjects you'll see why the schoeps rocks. It sounds good on SO many different sources. At its worst it sounds really good and at its best, incredible. In MY OPINION (again, just another opinion), if you put the schoeps at the front of the chain, then even with an "average" pre/bitrate like on a camcorder, you still end up with very tasty results. Much better than putting a mediocre mic through high end preamps and recording to mortgage-breaking recorders.

The Oktava, TO ME, at its worst, sound "pretty good" and at its best sound "damned awesome". For the price, thats an amazing range. Its not "as good", but is SO good that unless you've got "the good stuff" around, you'll think its awesome.

If you have golden ears, buy the schoeps and save up for big dollar pres and recorders. If you don't, then buy the oktava with a good shock mount and chuckle at the people that claim to have the ears.

There are valid arguments for awesome preamps and when doing lots of processing, 24bit can be awesome. I'm sticking my neck out to get chopped off by those who breathe such things. There are valid arguments for and against everything i say. As a "video guy" that has a passion for audio (and does NOT have golden ears), I can say that either the schoeps or the oktava run through a sound devices mix-pre and into *whatever camera* (including HDV with all its audio horrors), consistently gets oohs and aahs and sounds noteably better than what most people in production circles have heard.

On a related subject, one of the few "golden eared" people that i believe to really have "the ear" is dvinfo's own Ty Ford... who happens to record his classical guitar with his schoeps hypercardioid and uploads it to youtube. So, this is a fairly topical link:

YouTube - "Look Ma, I'm Flyin'"

Probably just more fuel for confusion, but hope that helps!
-a
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Old June 21st, 2009, 03:35 AM   #25
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The km184 is very bright on the high end...
Yes, this is the first time Neumann seriously annoyed me (other than maybe some of their prices!). The older KM-84s are not that way. I guess everything nowadays has to be hyped. :-(

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Old June 21st, 2009, 04:21 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Andrew Dean View Post
On a related subject, one of the few "golden eared" people that i believe to really have "the ear" is dvinfo's own Ty Ford... who happens to record his classical guitar with his schoeps hypercardioid and uploads it to youtube. So, this is a fairly topical link:

YouTube - "Look Ma, I'm Flyin'"


-a
Loving the thread. However Andrew everything you say is compromised by referring to Ty as playing a classical guitar. He is playing a "steel string acoustic", "folk guitar", or even an "acoustic guitar" but it's not a "nylon string acoustic", "classical", "spanish" guitar. They are hugely different physically, structurally, sonically and sound very different and can be played with very different techniques. Recording them is a different game too. As is the style of music often played on them.

Sorry to split hairs but it is really important to know that nylon string and steel string acoustics are worlds apart.

Sounds like a little compression and some reverb on these macbook speakers Ty. I love recording both types of acoustic guitar.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 05:39 AM   #27
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Loving the thread. However Andrew everything you say is compromised by referring to Ty as playing a classical guitar.
Ok OK ok, so i misused "classical". Despite spending 14 years training as a cellist, i still abuse the term "classical" to include romantic composers and at times even modern composers. Lowest common denominator and all that.

However, I wouldn't say that *everything* i said was compromised by the slip in nomenclature. The hyper capsule is arguably a curious choice for the guitar, but the schoeps is so transparent that as a dialog mic it does a phenomenal job recording acoustic instruments (cello sounds amazing too). You can find better mics for your guitar (even a true spanish nylon... or gut stringed), but in the context of video production, you cannot find a better mic to record *any* acoustic guitar... and also indoor boomed dialog. hehe.

But, your point is made. If I'm willing to call that a classical guitar, i'm not the right guy for this discussion so i'll shut up.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 12:53 PM   #28
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'Classical' is a perfectly acceptable description for a guitar, but it's used in the manner of contemporary v classical, with the dividing line blurred away. we can get picky with the desription when we need to, but a steel strung 6 string v classical lets the reader understand the genre of instrument. Few people realise that the commonly seen 'double bass' used for jazz is a three-quarter size instrument - very different in style to the full size version seen in the 'classical' orchestra. There's no problem using generic terms for instruments, unless you are on a forum for specialist musicians, and this isn't one.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 03:37 PM   #29
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Hey Andrew, don't go away! Let's come up with a compromise and call it a"classic" guitar. In fact Ty (and I, as well as others around here) are getting long enough in the teeth that it's probably OK to call us "classics" too.
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 01:23 PM   #30
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No offence ment. Being a one time pro guitarist and sound engineer personally I feel it is important to differentiate. Did not mean to beet you up. I'd like to try the cardiod schoeps but don't have a Schoeps one. I've got two mic's I use close on classical guitars but no time now. All the best.
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