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Old December 10th, 2014, 11:05 AM   #31
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Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Thames View Post
...
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!
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Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
...
2. find a space that really, really sounds good. Typically, a church.
...
5. setup real reference monitors outside of the recording space, in a very good listening environment. LISTEN. Place the mics for the balance of room and direct sound that gives the lifelike recording you've obsessively dedicated a considerable portion of your professional life to. This mic placement is the only "mixing" you'll do.
...
If it sounds good, it is good.
It seems you find it appropriate to ridicule those who share contrarian ideas about sound engineering. Not cool. I'm not going to respond to your points directly, other than to say that many of the posters on this thread are pro engineers who would *never* "hope and pray" they were getting what they were paid for.

That's a big part of what professionalism is. I suspect you know this from your own work.

I realize that it's accepted among some musicians that audio engineers are tin-eared know-nothings who need to be watched carefully and micro-managed; that engineers don't care if they mess up an artist's life's work. I stay away from those musicians. Life's too short.
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Old December 10th, 2014, 11:04 PM   #32
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Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

Hi Michael. It's been a while since we played with the mics at your place. I hope all is well with you. I'm not doing too much recording anymore, just a few orchestral recordings a year now. We haven't been getting to Santa Fe as much as we used to, but just today we got a letter from a friend who moved there from Tucson telling us we need to visit.

This thread has been really interesting. I'm learning a lot from it - but what I'm learning has less to do with recording the guitar than with the way people can form opinions based on a lack of data. As someone sagely commented, without the recording itself being in evidence, all we can do is speculate about why the placement was chosen and whether it was successful - however one would define "successful".
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Old December 11th, 2014, 04:32 AM   #33
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Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

The engineer is always right? Nope! He is paid at worst, to do the job under instruction - at best he is paid to contribute ideas and suggestions, but the client is always right. When the client is a musician, of any calibre, they have a preset idea of what they wish to sound like, and even if you personally hate it, if they like it - it is their opinion that counts.
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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.
With the greatest of respect - Julian Bream's opinion and yours differ, so who's opinion is the critical one? Easy answer - his! If you can't listen to it, then don't. If he likes it, then his 'vision' has been achieved. Take the money, job done, and move on.

Liking something is nice when it happens, but it's not essential. I quite like Paul Winter's recording of saxophone, Cathedral organ and pipes - done, I think somewhere in New York. It's swampy, huge and really weird. The sax has no definition, the time delays on some ranks of pipes way out and it's a bit of a mess sonically, but it really works.

Musicians don't always get it right. Produce a first CD for a trumpet player and they will hate the sound because they've never heard themselves from the front. You can try to convince them, but if you can't, then it's their choice.

We provide a service. Our contracts set out our collaboration level. Do we get a producer's credit or just an engineering one? We do our best. It is not our job to do some things.

I recorded a series of piano CDs for a specialist area - they will be replayed in dance studios, that are very lively, so the CD is totally dry - a mix of ambient techniques but in a dead room. In context it works really well. On my monitors it sounds simply awful. Context is everything!
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Old December 11th, 2014, 08:08 AM   #34
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Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

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Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
It seems you find it appropriate to ridicule those who share contrarian ideas about sound engineering. Not cool. I'm not going to respond to your points directly, other than to say that many of the posters on this thread are pro engineers who would *never* "hope and pray" they were getting what they were paid for.

That's a big part of what professionalism is. I suspect you know this from your own work.

I realize that it's accepted among some musicians that audio engineers are tin-eared know-nothings who need to be watched carefully and micro-managed; that engineers don't care if they mess up an artist's life's work. I stay away from those musicians. Life's too short.
Seth I'm sorry you feel ridiculed. It's just that every classical guitar player I know prefers recording in a controlled environment..... and I know a lot of them...... and this is my point, most professionals (not all) know or care enough to get the right sound a guitarist hears in his head. The result being a lot of guitarist become recording engineers.

Perhaps I was ridiculing those who unequivocally state that recording in a hall or church, is absolutely superior to a studio, and say this is a more "natural" sound. Also, you seem to equate getting paid with knowledge..... I wonder how many classical guitarists most "pro engineers" have experience recording compared to the piano etc. Specialization can be a good thing and from what I'm reading on this thread is seem few are specialized when it comes to recording classical guitar, which from my limited experience is one of the hardest instruments to record well given just how intimate of a sound it is compared to other solo and orchestral settings.

I do question anyone ability to definativly walk into a hall and choose the absolute best mic placement..... it's so subjective, with so many subtle variations of sound with different moods and effects. A "paid pro engineer" might eliminate a lot of guess work but personally I've seen a lot of pros stick mics where I wouldn't, and pull the..... step aside I know what I'm doing and you don't kinda thing.

A lot of ego is involved in hearing the color of grey...... to one person I may sound like I'm "ridiculing" but on the other hand I feel and am sensitive to the heavy handed "paid pro engineers" absolute statements...... I'm sorry there are no absolutes here.
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Old December 11th, 2014, 08:14 AM   #35
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Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

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Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
I realize that it's accepted among some musicians that audio engineers are tin-eared know-nothings who need to be watched carefully and micro-managed; that engineers don't care if they mess up an artist's life's work. I stay away from those musicians. Life's too short.
This is exactly the kind statement and ego I'm talking about...... an amazing statement, in the context of your profession. As a musician myself I would stay far away from you too!
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Old December 11th, 2014, 09:26 AM   #36
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Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

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Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
The engineer is always right? Nope! He is paid at worst, to do the job under instruction - at best he is paid to contribute ideas and suggestions, but the client is always right. When the client is a musician, of any calibre, they have a preset idea of what they wish to sound like, and even if you personally hate it, if they like it - it is their opinion that counts.


With the greatest of respect - Julian Bream's opinion and yours differ, so who's opinion is the critical one? Easy answer - his! If you can't listen to it, then don't. If he likes it, then his 'vision' has been achieved. Take the money, job done, and move on.

Liking something is nice when it happens, but it's not essential. I quite like Paul Winter's recording of saxophone, Cathedral organ and pipes - done, I think somewhere in New York. It's swampy, huge and really weird. The sax has no definition, the time delays on some ranks of pipes way out and it's a bit of a mess sonically, but it really works.

Musicians don't always get it right. Produce a first CD for a trumpet player and they will hate the sound because they've never heard themselves from the front. You can try to convince them, but if you can't, then it's their choice.

We provide a service. Our contracts set out our collaboration level. Do we get a producer's credit or just an engineering one? We do our best. It is not our job to do some things.

I recorded a series of piano CDs for a specialist area - they will be replayed in dance studios, that are very lively, so the CD is totally dry - a mix of ambient techniques but in a dead room. In context it works really well. On my monitors it sounds simply awful. Context is everything!
There are so many recordings done in the past, and movies for that matter that from our persecutive today are quite odd. I can well Imagine Julian Bream listening to that recording 20 years later and saying to himself "what in the hell was I thinking". Although it did capture a particular moment in time in the mind of a great artist, so it is what it is.

Art is very subjective and falls in and out of fashion...... even styles and interpretation of classical performances change, on a daily basis. What was cool then is not cool now and verse vicsa. Bream's playing was amazing on that CD, and I could well imagine him thinking to himself...... this church sounds fantastic to me...... I want to capture this sound and share it with the world...... only it never sounds on the recording like it sounds in your head unfortunately.

Perhaps you may or may not know this CD but, it was recorded on a very bright guitar in a very live lively church I believe the church was round.

These days the internet has made everyone into a professional, be it Protools, FCPX, etc. We can make a recording today in our living rooms that surpasses anything Segovia did in the 50's, and the bar is raised constantly.

The way I see it there is a fine line between the pro engineer, and a recording enthusiast who spends as much time on learning, and acquiring the best tools. A pro engineer is perhaps far more efficient with everyones time..... but it doesn't mean they can produce a better recording.
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Old December 11th, 2014, 09:39 AM   #37
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Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

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Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post
Hi Michael. It's been a while since we played with the mics at your place. I hope all is well with you. I'm not doing too much recording anymore, just a few orchestral recordings a year now. We haven't been getting to Santa Fe as much as we used to, but just today we got a letter from a friend who moved there from Tucson telling us we need to visit.

This thread has been really interesting. I'm learning a lot from it - but what I'm learning has less to do with recording the guitar than with the way people can form opinions based on a lack of data. As someone sagely commented, without the recording itself being in evidence, all we can do is speculate about why the placement was chosen and whether it was successful - however one would define "successful".
Ah.... sounds like a strange coincidence! Yes, if you find yourself in Santa Fe please drop by or we can do dinner.

The Sony you recommended severed me well for years, but I finally succumbed to my gear lust and moved up a little. In the last couple of days the old Schoeps bug has bitten me again.... I hate when that happens!

I have a guitarist from Mexico coming on the 27th to record a series of videos and a CD, and I have been thinking of ways to acquire a pair of Schoeps within the next couple of weeks for this recording. The problem is I've bought a 5D3, and a C100 this past year, and my wife will end up wanting an equal amount of money in the form of a shopping spree..... so I end up paying double in the end.

However, once I get a new pair of Schoeps in my mind it eventually becomes a reality I'm afraid.
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Old December 11th, 2014, 12:15 PM   #38
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Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

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Originally Posted by Michael Thames View Post
...These days the internet has made everyone into a professional, be it Protools, FCPX, etc. ...
The internet must be different where you are.
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Old December 11th, 2014, 12:47 PM   #39
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Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

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Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post
Hi Michael. It's been a while since we played with the mics at your place. I hope all is well with you. I'm not doing too much recording anymore, just a few orchestral recordings a year now. We haven't been getting to Santa Fe as much as we used to, but just today we got a letter from a friend who moved there from Tucson telling us we need to visit.

This thread has been really interesting. I'm learning a lot from it - but what I'm learning has less to do with recording the guitar than with the way people can form opinions based on a lack of data. As someone sagely commented, without the recording itself being in evidence, all we can do is speculate about why the placement was chosen and whether it was successful - however one would define "successful".
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The internet must be different where you are.
It is..... you should check it out sometime.
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Old December 12th, 2014, 04:30 AM   #40
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Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

I liked the comment about listening back to old recordings. I re-discovered an old live jazz recording made in the 70s, that actually sold rather well and as I was on a percentage sales deal, it was quite lucrative. It's simply horrible when judged by today's standards.

I've had the experience of running an examination here in the UK where candidates needed a close miked recording and an ambient, direct to stereo one. The studio stuff was, on average, quite good (apart from drums - that seemed to defeat all bar the best students), while the bulk of the ambient recordings were truly dire. At the time, we had recruited some extra examiners from studios as the exam was quite new, and the studio guys had a great deal of trouble awarding any marks at all. One of the marking areas was stereo field - and in the after exam discussions it seemed that this was either mono, or mega-wide. Realism was a rare thing. Further investigation revealed the main problem was simply very unsuitable spaces - just not good sounding rooms, then poor mic placement. Very often they had tried to use 'clever' techniques and done them really badly, setting things by look rather than by sound. Decca Trees were often mentioned in the written logs, and it was very common to see them set up vertically rather than the middle mic closer to the players but at the same height. I think they figured it was 'tree' like in Christmas tree! You can see photos on the net that could be viewed this way, from the angle the pics are taken.

I suspect we've all 'cheated' at some time. I have a nice double condenser - where you can rotate the top capsule 90 degrees, and with cardioid -fig-8 - omni patterns available, it's a neat mic for all sorts of techniques, but sometimes I've also used close mics and carefully tweaked to make them sound distant and in a nice room. I still have a Yamaha DSP-1 which was a first attempt at room modelling, before their range of popular reverbs came out. It's permanently stuck on Munich Cathedral, but does that very well with 4 channel output from a stereo input - it's remarkably convincing.

Maybe we should just agree that achieving the right result is the only important factor - how we actually do it isn't really that important if it sounds good.
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Old December 12th, 2014, 05:42 AM   #41
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Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

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IMaybe we should just agree that achieving the right result is the only important factor - how we actually do it isn't really that important if it sounds good.
True words of wisdom.

A couple of years ago, my wife and I went to Thailand for a couple of months. We needed a house sitter while we were gone. My best friend helped us out. He is the only guitarist to have won both the "National fingerpicking competition" as a well as the most sought after honor in the classical guitar world the "GFA", in addition to that, he was hand picked by Segovia as one of the top 12 guitarists in the world.

He produces his own CD's. While we were gone he recorded a number of videos in my living room. Later he told me...... he really liked recording there in my living room.

Last year I recorded some videos for another guitarist in a nice church he secured for our project, after that he told me he preferred the sound of my living room over the church..... in fact a few other guitarist have told me the same thing.

I guess I lucked out on having a good sounding space. In video we have scopes to tell us when we have correct exposure RGB balance etc. In Audio it's far more subjective and abstract..... what sounds good to one guy won't sound good to another. There will always be the masses who like anything. and then there are those with a more critical ear.


Here is a video of one we did in a church "close miked" with a couple other mics further back in the hall.

Here he is in my living room recorded on a Sony D50.
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Old December 13th, 2014, 05:36 AM   #42
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Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

For me - the Bach only works because of the environment. If that was ultra close miked or recorded outside it would just not work as a musical piece at all, where as the other doesn't need the acoustic so badly.
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Old December 13th, 2014, 08:08 AM   #43
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Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

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For me - the Bach only works because of the environment. If that was ultra close miked or recorded outside it would just not work as a musical piece at all, where as the other doesn't need the acoustic so badly.
I agree! So you see why I prefer a studio or my living room for recording classical guitar. Just my 2cents for what it's worth.
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Old December 13th, 2014, 09:31 AM   #44
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Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

I'll stick my head above the parapet. :-)

It think it boils down to it being a matter of preference. For me, there's too much mechanical noise in both recordings, particularly the second one. I suppose it is really about how much one considers the sound of fingers moving about to be part of the tone of the guitar. I wouldn't thank anyone for a recording of a bassoon or bass clarinet where the keywork could be heard moving, but those close enough to a performer (beside, behind, in front of) in an ensemble can hear all sorts of sounds from instruments and their players that are not normally audible to the audience or considered desirable to record. Breathing sounds from singers in opera/oratorio/lieder are generally not a feature of recordings any more than wind and brass players breathing or brass players putting mutes in or out or emptying water keys.

Having said all that, thanks for posting all the guitar pieces I really enjoyed watching and listening to them, and some other recordings you have posted elsewhere. Your guitars are clearly superb instruments.
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Old December 13th, 2014, 10:41 AM   #45
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Re: Recording Classical Guitar.

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I liked the comment about listening back to old recordings. I re-discovered an old live jazz recording made in the 70s, that actually sold rather well and as I was on a percentage sales deal, it was quite lucrative. It's simply horrible when judged by today's standards.
There certainly are plenty of old recordings that, in their time were considered very good, that when listened to today are just horrible. But, there are still some very old recordings that were made in the 70's and 80's that in many ways are far superior to today's recordings.

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Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
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!
To bluntly answer this, yes. There are many recordings that were made that have absolutely no post production that are considered far superior to most recordings done in a studio. Sheffield Labs started to do Direct-to-Disc recordings back in 1976. Reference Recordings did a Direct-to-CD, A Gershwin Fantasia, which among recording engineers is considered one of the best musical reproductions ever created. (The direct to cd process takes the signal directly out of the mixers and creates the CD master, no post is involved.)

As for the recordings of Mr. Chapdelaine, first, truly critiquing the quality of audio recording over a YouTube video is like asking someone to critique the video quality from a YouTube sample. The level of compression is somewhat horrific and makes it nearly impossible to hear what was really captured. Also, most people would be listening over their computer speakers which would not give a good representation of the true recording. But, for me, it ultimately comes down to more than just how much detail is captured. My preference is that I hear what the artist is wanting to present, which includes very subtle subtext that can only be experience when the performance is taken into the context of their surroundings. A studio recording, no matter how much post is introduce, will always sound like a studio recording. Likewise, a recording done on location will always sound like one done on location, even if you close mic. Whether you will hear this is a matter of the listener and the level of equipment that it is being played back on. I do agree with Paul R Johnson that the Back requires the sound of the hall. The Albeniz I generally prefer it to be a little more open than what was captured but not as much as the Back. The sound for the Albeniz, however, is partly because of using the D50 to record it. I have that recorder and have used it for thousands of hours recordings but would never use it to do a serious capture of a musical performance where the music was the main focus.

Again, those are my opinions and what I prefer. To me, when capturing music the goal is to capture an experience that the musician wishes for their audience to have. If they feel that the best representation of their performance is to have it close mic'd in a studio and add tons of post processing then that is the right way to do it. If they feel that recording it from the 4th row of a huge hall and have massive amounts of reverb and echo will best represent what they want to present, well, then that is right for them. As the engineer you can elect to work with them or not. If you feel that it would be a detriment if you captured something the way that you didn't like, then don't work with them. You do have a responsibility, if you do choose to work with them, to help them understand that the end results may not be capturing what they want, but ultimately you are working for them.

But, consider this, very few engineers get hired because they will only mic one way, the way they think is best. Artists don't want to work with people like that. However, I know many artist who will only work with a handful of engineers because they are easy to work with and capture what the artist wants. That goes for if you are paid or not (hopefully though, you are being paid).
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