Recording Classical Guitar. - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

All Things Audio
Everything Audio, from acquisition to postproduction.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old December 8th, 2014, 10:42 AM   #16
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Santa Fe, NM USA
Posts: 396
Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

Jim, nice to see you again here. Hope you have been doing well! I always remember your kind help getting me going in audio.
Michael Thames is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 8th, 2014, 11:25 AM   #17
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Santa Fe, NM USA
Posts: 396
Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

I haven't read through all the posts either, but I will later. In the meantime I can offer a little of my experience. I consider my self learning the ropes but as they say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

I'm a classical guitar maker and I specialize in classical guitar videos. Years ago I recorded with a Sony PCM-d50..... but since moved up to a better set up. Although I have heard some amazing recordings with the D-50. Jim Andrada posted a comparison between a pair of Scheops and the Sony D50...... it was enlightening.

I use a Metric Halo ULN-2 and some Modified Oktavia mics from Michael Jolly, as well as his own MJE-K47H capsules.

I recorded guitar in a church as well as at home. My living room is full of carpet, however, it seems most guitarists like the sound of my living room best. I find it really hard to control a lively church environment unless you have vast experience..... a church or lively room can be too much.

I prefer to add a little reverb in post, rather than deal with a crazy room. I use Reaper as my DAW and it's cheap.... $60.00.

Here are a few videos I've done..... not perfect by a long shot, some have too much reverb, but it is what it is.
I'm learning too!

In my living room.

In a church....


Michael Thames is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 8th, 2014, 11:27 AM   #18
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Santa Fe, NM USA
Posts: 396
Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

Also here is a very helpful video from my friend Uros.

Michael Thames is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 9th, 2014, 06:09 AM   #19
Major Player
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Oxfordshire, UK
Posts: 974
Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Levin View Post
1) Why are the mics so far away from the instrument? Apparently these are some REALLY nice custom built jobs, not sure of the make. I've always thought that the further the mics, the more you have to increase gain/volume, thus increasing picking up the room noise.
The mics are not very far away - the recording engineer has placed them in the room to get the best balance between the guitar and the room in that particular acoustic, bearing in mind the music being played.

A natural room reverb is far more preferable to an artificial reverb added later.

Also, a more distant mic'ing technique will pick up far less of the playing noises you get when you close mic.

If I was recording a guitar recital I would have done similar (though I would probably have used an SDC MS rig or ORTF rig rather than that pictured - though that could be a Faulkner Array of fig-8 mics that will get the room reverb while rejecting side slap).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Levin View Post
2) Though it seems cool, recording in a large room like this, especially with the marble floors, seems less than ideal. I would think recording dry in a "dead" studio and then add some reverb, echo, whatever after the fact would be preferred. If the only choice was to record here, would I be wrong to almost tent the area with sound blankets?
Absolutely NOT - recording in a live room is the very best way to record a recital like that.

Recording in a dead room and adding artificial reverb later is a last resort when no decent room can be found and will produce an inferior recording than a natural recording in a live acoustic space.

Plus, you pick up far more fingering noises recording close.

Also - a musical instrument is not designed to be listened to close-up, you need to get further back to be able to hear it at it's best.
__________________
John Willett - Sound-Link ProAudio and Circle Sound Services
President: Fédération Internationale des Chasseurs de Sons
John Willett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 9th, 2014, 09:08 AM   #20
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Santa Fe, NM USA
Posts: 396
Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
Absolutely NOT - recording in a live room is the very best way to record a recital like that.

Recording in a dead room and adding artificial reverb later is a last resort when no decent room can be found and will produce an inferior recording than a natural recording in a live acoustic space.

Plus, you pick up far more fingering noises recording close.

Also - a musical instrument is not designed to be listened to close-up, you need to get further back to be able to hear it at it's best.
I know many professionals who would disagree with your a "absolute" statement on recording in a "live acoustic space" whatever that means. Also, yes the rule of thumb seems to be if it's a bad room put the mics closer to the guitar. However, I know many guys who put the mics 6 inches off the face of the guitar and a couple of other mics further back to capture the room ambiance. There is no "absolute" when it comes to recording a classical guitar. All the beauty on a classical guitar is in the attack detail, a good guitarist will have a very clear attack and the closer you put the mics the better up to a point of course..... so I wouldn't worry about picking up any un wanted noise with a good classical guitarist.

Listening to a classical guitar through a couple of mics placed two feet away is not natural either, in fact listening to a guitar through any mic is not natural.... When I place a mic two feet away and listen it is an entirely different experience than when I put my own ears two feet in front of the sound board.

Since the entire recording process is artificial anyways, I like to record in a space where I can have more control and add reverb, EQ, etc. in post, and come up with an optimal sound, rather than a natural sound as some people refer to it as.

If you have some not so good mics and a not so good pre-amp you are going to pick up some not so good sounding transients..... the more detail in the mics the better the transients translating to better tone.

Of all the guys I know and have talked to about mic placement say to put them closer to the guitar..... also, the angle you place them has a big effect as well. Personally I don't place them further than two feet often closer. In the video of Uros, he places the mics about two feet away and he has a "lively space" however knowing Uros he probably has treated his room for optimal efficiency.

Rooms or live spaces that you refer to as better often times are hard to filter out the unwanted effects, and I would also disagree that just because the reverb is "natural" it's better than post reverb..... I've heard some pretty bad "natural reverb" in live rooms.
Michael Thames is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 9th, 2014, 11:33 AM   #21
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: LOWESTOFT - UK
Posts: 2,124
Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

Many people are missing the point here. Ambient recordings capture the instrument but also the space it is playing in. Pursuing recordings of this kind of music reveal a particular sound that immerses you in the building as if you were there, and the techniques used for this recording style require space. Without going into the fine details in the majority, it is two microphones and the polar pattern and placement are the key to a successful and realistic recording. In a beautifully sounding space, then a pair of ribbons in what is now considered the old fashioned Blumlein technique can be wonderful. In other spaces, the recordist may prefer a spaced technique as in the pictures, or a coincident pair. Each has it's own way of capturing the sound and technique wars go on all the time between A/B, X/Y, M/S and then the ORTFs, Blumleins and Decca Trees. Google helps a lot here!

Sure, close miking with small microphones is much nicer looking, but needs artificial treatment to make it sound better, and most people consider it inferior to doing it for real!

In real terms an ambient recording that sounds like a commercial CD is very, very hard to achieve. The people who do it lots have their own very short list of venues and techniques that work in them. I've been doing them since the 70s, and still make mistakes. The biggest mistake is headphones. They are great as a check, but you need a pair of speakers in a nearby room to get the placement right. In those images, the mic placement for that venue could be perfect. Nothing jumps out as bad. I personally would not have used a setup like that, but if it works there, then that is fine. Eyes are good for spotting real issues, but ears are the critical thing
Paul R Johnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 9th, 2014, 11:52 AM   #22
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 3,259
Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

As I tried to make clear in my lengthy post above, this is a debate about values and aesthetics, not about best practices.

Since the beginning of multitrack recording the majority of the industries have been going down the path of a "produced" sound. In modern pop music the techniques have been refined to an amazing degree, informed not only by tech capability, but also by an evolving set of aesthetic goals.

Direct-to-stereo technique is not only still valid, but can produce some of the most natural sounding recordings of acoustic instruments and small groups that have their own "mix" and blend down perfectly.

Many have not had experience with these methods. A few of us have, and swear by them in certain circumstances. The environments and situations where these methods really shine are few, but they are out there. Anybody professionally recording orchestras should have experience across these... and perhaps soloist mics (direct micing) too.

I've heard some amazing recordings, and have made a few, too.

Things can fall apart fast in many rooms though. Natural reverbs in bad rooms shoud be avoided. But, there are a lot of terrible reverb & echo digital effects available to us, too.

And I will say that these methods are harder to learn. But they'll never be learnt by those who are happy with their close-micing. Fine. I'm glad to have a broad set of tools in the box, to pull out as appropriate, and in some circumstances, that *will* by my ORTF array or M/S mic. They *do not* come out on every job, but when they do the music comes alive in a way that close-micing doesn't produce.

Some will tell you that real music occurs when there's an audience. That there's a link between performer and audience that enhances the music. As a sometimes performer I think that's true, music can come more from the heart and less from the intellect when I'm playing to an audience. Maybe I'm not a very good musician.

But, music is more than technique, and so is sound recording. The recordist's choices limit or open the sound, and sometimes direct micing goes the wrong direction. This is art. And science.
__________________
30 years of pro media production. Vegas user since 1.0. Webcaster since 1997. Freelancer since 2000. College instructor since 2001.
Seth Bloombaum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 9th, 2014, 12:16 PM   #23
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Santa Fe, NM USA
Posts: 396
Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
As I tried to make clear in my lengthy post above, this is a debate about values and aesthetics, not about best practices.

Since the beginning of multitrack recording the majority of the industries have been going down the path of a "produced" sound. In modern pop music the techniques have been refined to an amazing degree, informed not only by tech capability, but also by an evolving set of aesthetic goals.

Direct-to-stereo technique is not only still valid, but can produce some of the most natural sounding recordings of acoustic instruments and small groups that have their own "mix" and blend down perfectly.

Many have not had experience with these methods. A few of us have, and swear by them in certain circumstances. The environments and situations where these methods really shine are few, but they are out there. Anybody professionally recording orchestras should have experience across these... and perhaps soloist mics (direct micing) too.

I've heard some amazing recordings, and have made a few, too.

Things can fall apart fast in many rooms though. Natural reverbs in bad rooms shoud be avoided. But, there are a lot of terrible reverb & echo digital effects available to us, too.

And I will say that these methods are harder to learn. But they'll never be learnt by those who are happy with their close-micing. Fine. I'm glad to have a broad set of tools in the box, to pull out as appropriate, and in some circumstances, that *will* by my ORTF array or M/S mic. They *do not* come out on every job, but when they do the music comes alive in a way that close-micing doesn't produce.

Some will tell you that real music occurs when there's an audience. That there's a link between performer and audience that enhances the music. As a sometimes performer I think that's true, music can come more from the heart and less from the intellect when I'm playing to an audience. Maybe I'm not a very good musician.

But, music is more than technique, and so is sound recording. The recordist's choices limit or open the sound, and sometimes direct micing goes the wrong direction. This is art. And science.
I've been on a number of forums discussing this very subject. What I find to be the problem with most audio engineers, is their lack of specialization in recording a classical guitar...... they think they can approach it in the same manner as an orchestra, or piano etc. Often times they don't understand what to listen for. The classical guitar has some challenges other instruments don't have, that's probably the reason that most guitarists I know have decided to learn the trade, and record on their own and by pass the "professional".

I think if I hear one more person say with complete authority a recording in a "live" environment is better than in a controlled situation I going to be ill!
Michael Thames is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 9th, 2014, 12:27 PM   #24
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: LOWESTOFT - UK
Posts: 2,124
Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

In fact - this extends to PA too. I worked for a classical guitarist, who played a guitar that was unfinished - because he did not like the change to the sound that the lacquer and polish caused - so when the luthier who made it handed it to him and he liked it - that was where the build finished. It wasn't quite loud enough for the bigger venues he was playing - not the usual mainstream places, but studio theatres and carpeted and curtained spaces. He had an AKG 451, and a JBL plastic powered speaker, and that was how it was amplified. I was convinced I could do better - but he liked the sound, and that was it. No good at all for a recording, but in the room, it gave him what he wanted.

Natural acoustic recording I agree is soon much harder than typical studio stuff.
Paul R Johnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 9th, 2014, 03:35 PM   #25
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 3,259
Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Thames View Post
...the problem with most audio engineers, is their lack of specialization in recording a classical guitar...... they think they can approach it in the same manner as an orchestra, or piano etc. Often times they don't understand what to listen for....
That you've developed an approach that satisfies you an conforms to the aesthetic you and others are pursuing is great. It's not wrong at all, in my view.

But remember, this thread started with JL wanting to understand more about how his nephew was recorded. We really don't have enough info from the photo to know the distance from the mics to the performer. Nothing in that picture looks wrong to me. But I've had experience with those techniques as a listener, engineer, and performer. Despite what your fellow luthiers or performers have written, it's not a wrong approach.

I'm not suggesting either approach is better. In my opinion, live-hall recording is much harder to set up and do right. It takes more mobile resources and more time, not to mention booking the right hall and working around ambient noise issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Thames View Post
...I think if I hear one more person say with complete authority a recording in a "live" environment is better than in a controlled situation I going to be ill!
Not me! Not better. Just different. And sometimes excellent. And when done well with the right material, better for me.

But where did you get the idea that anyone was suggesting recording in uncontrolled environments? Yes, a studio is much more easily controlled, but any engineer should realize that uncontrolled environments often produce unpredictable results, period. The step-by-step process I described in post #4 in this thread details a lot of what you have to do to control the environment, balance direct and indirect sound, and bring predictability to the process. It's hard, it takes time and money.

Many times sound for video must be inexpensive and fast. That too is an aesthetic as well as a sometimes irritating practicality we must accept. Are lavalier mics for dialog always wrong? Always right? Well, it depends, of course. But no one should argue that they give a natural sound, far from it.

Off my soap box. I'm interested to hear a snippet of Jonathan's nephew's recording, and also interested to hear what you'd think of it, Michael.
__________________
30 years of pro media production. Vegas user since 1.0. Webcaster since 1997. Freelancer since 2000. College instructor since 2001.
Seth Bloombaum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 9th, 2014, 04:06 PM   #26
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Chicago, Illinois USA
Posts: 660
Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

Wow!

Thanks for all this guys! Really helpful.

It's so interesting the way things are done even within the same instrument family. For instants, one of my favorite finger style guitarists, Leo Kottke, uses a custom Sunrise sound hole pickup along with a mike placed in front of the guitar on occasion.

My other favorite guitarist, Tony Rice, seems to mike his instrument at close range in the studio. Both of the above examples are steel string players which I am guessing change the whole game.

Thanks for your comments.

Jonathan
Jonathan Levin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 9th, 2014, 05:42 PM   #27
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Camas, WA, USA
Posts: 5,513
Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

One thing to keep in mind when we see close micing on a stage is that there might also be distant mics that are out of the frame.

With multiple mics, one can get phasing issues, but I think that this is mainly when the angles are very different and when the distances are not different enough. With close micing (within half a meter), one should be able to add some distant (over 4 meters away) omnis without problems. One might need to advance the timing of the far mics to keep from introducing a "bounce". Like dialog, one can record the close mic as mono. The distant mics should be stereo - or more.

This is similar to techniques used on Hollywood soundstages. Close mics allow for control as well as a clear attack and low noise. Distant mics provide a natural room sound.

Many scores are produce with (or partially with) samples. Some library producers (VSL) use a "silent stage" for a dry sound intended for use with artificial reverb effects. Others (EWQL) make a big deal out of recording in real performance venues. That second group generally offers close, mid, and distant mic versions of the samples with the intent that they be mixed to taste.

Again, this comes down to taste. When recording a dreamy piece by Debussy, mid or far mics are likely winners. If you want a crisp attack and intimate presence, the close mic is a good starting point.

There are various approaches. "Rules" give good starting places, but the key is to listen. If it sounds good, it is good. If it sounds bad, change something.

It's possible that the mic placement in the photo sounded great and met the artistic intent. I'd characterize the placement as "mid". I'd expect a natural sound right out of the box. That said, we often want guitar to have more attack and intimacy. If that had been the case, close and far mics might be my choice. But if that doesn't meet the artist's intent, it would clearly be the wrong way to go.
__________________
Jon Fairhurst
Jon Fairhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 10th, 2014, 05:46 AM   #28
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: LOWESTOFT - UK
Posts: 2,124
Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

It's really a genre choice. What does the recording need to sound like? If you see a CD of a choir, and the photo on the CD is a load of people dressed in dinner jackets, in a cathedral, with the organ proudly shining in the background, then you will be disappointed to hear a studio multitrack with up front vocals and that clarity thing having a mic in close has.

The BBC had a Sunday programme for years - Songs of Praise, and while some segments were recorded live , others were recorded in the studio and the artistes mimed. These studio recordings never sounded 'right'. In fairness, some buildings simply presented too many sound problems - getting the mics to the right place was vetoed by vision - for the obvious reasons, and getting it right was just too expensive for an OB, but whenever they could do it, they would take advantage of the acoustics.

Close miking with multiple mics, as we can so easily do now has any advantages, but doing it properly, to my ears at least - sounds better!
Paul R Johnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 10th, 2014, 06:59 AM   #29
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Novato, CA
Posts: 1,772
Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

I find it interesting that there is so much critique of the recording of this guitarist without the most important thing, the actual recording. I honestly couldn't tell you if the recording is good or bad. And I've seen just about all of the mic'ing techniques mentioned here and many others to record an acoustic and produce stellar results. The only thing to remember when capturing audio is that there is no one absolute best. It is the engineers job to capture what the musician feels needs to be captured. Sometimes it is hearing the subtle nuances of their fingers plucking the strings. Sometimes the venue itself is very important to capture.
__________________
Garrett Low
www.GLowMediaProductions.com
Garrett Low is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 10th, 2014, 08:56 AM   #30
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Santa Fe, NM USA
Posts: 396
Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
It's really a genre choice. What does the recording need to sound like? If you see a CD of a choir, and the photo on the CD is a load of people dressed in dinner jackets, in a cathedral, with the organ proudly shining in the background, then you will be disappointed to hear a studio multitrack with up front vocals and that clarity thing having a mic in close has.

The BBC had a Sunday programme for years - Songs of Praise, and while some segments were recorded live , others were recorded in the studio and the artistes mimed. These studio recordings never sounded 'right'. In fairness, some buildings simply presented too many sound problems - getting the mics to the right place was vetoed by vision - for the obvious reasons, and getting it right was just too expensive for an OB, but whenever they could do it, they would take advantage of the acoustics.

Close miking with multiple mics, as we can so easily do now has any advantages, but doing it properly, to my ears at least - sounds better!
Well a DVD or televised concerts are much different than a CD of music only. Yes, your eyes will get involved in interpreting sound as well, and if you happen to be a guitarist the sensory perception of touch is also a factor.

A guitarist Rafael Elizondo is coming for 10 days, and I'm recording a CD of his as well as a video of his concert. Raphael seems more interested in videos these days than a CD. It's a funny thing I think people watch videos of their favorite artist on YouTube with their iPhones with a pair of ear buds or on their laptops rather than buying a CD anymore.

To prove this hypothesis I give you the example of Beyonce. This year was the first year no artist went Platinum, but if you look at her videos the views number in the 10's of millions.

For me when I do a video of a guitarist, I want it to sound the best it can. I'm not interested in capturing reality because reality sucks when it comes to live performances. Yes, I could well imagine close miking a choir singing in a cathedral would be the wrong thing to do. On the other hand, the same approach to a classical guitar in a cathedral would be crazy. Personally, I don't like the sound of a classical guitar in a cathedral. I'm used to hearing it in my room at home, so when I hear a CD of a guitarist in a huge church it sounds foreign to my ears.

Julian Bream recorded an album of Granado's and Albeniz in his favorite church down the road from his house..... the recording is soooo bright and full of confusing reverb bouncing off every wall that I literally can't listen to it, a stark contrast to the recordings he did in the studio.

In this thread I've read where guys think a big church or such is superior to a studio recording because of the natural reverb and the lack of post mixing. Really? Do you guys who record this way never add EQ, compression, tweak the reverb or, gain, you guys just hope and pray you put the mics in the right place for that church or space and don't do any post editing of the sound, and somehow come to the conclusion this is a better thing than a studio recording...... ha ha!
Michael Thames is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:01 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network