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Old February 3rd, 2014, 03:52 PM   #1
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Classical Concert Audio

I was just called on to do a Kickstarter video. I told them I was not an audio *specialist* (and that typically there's a separate engineer on a shoot like this), but that I'd be willing to get them something decent/web-ready as far as audio. They don't have the funding to hire an audio specialist, so there were happy to have me do it, knowing that I could get them a good looking video. I used the best mics I have for this purpose: a pair of Shure KSM137/SL Condenser Mics on a high stand.

I would love your feedback, both for how you think the music audio quality is and how it (could have been) or could be improved in post. Thank you!


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Old February 3rd, 2014, 04:19 PM   #2
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Re: Classical Concert Audio

I think you are getting nice sounds. The only thing I would say is to try and get the mics closer to the source to eliminate some of the room sound.

Maybe a boom over the violin and a mic or two inside the piano. Then mix in a touch of a room mic so it does not sound so direct since you can see they are in an open room. That is how I would approch it.
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Old February 3rd, 2014, 05:03 PM   #3
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Re: Classical Concert Audio

For classical music of this type, close miking would, in my opinion, be wrong. The string sound you have captured has decent body - perhaps even a little too much in the mid range, but the distance to the piano is too much. I suspect that all you've done is get the centre axis wrong, so you've kind of relegated the piano to accompaniment - which in these compositions, it isn't. In fact I'm of the opinion that very often the piano is the focus instrument. Fortepiano's as a period instrument are also quieter than a modern Pianoforte - so have a thinner sound anyway. Looking at the video, you seem to have selected a much narrower microphone angle than is usual. 90 degrees is pretty typical, so both microphones favour the violin. I would have brought the microphone further towards the camera so that the piano and violin were similar distances to the mics and made sure one mic favoured the piano and the other the violin, I'd have been happy with 60-90 degrees of angle, but would have crossed them, so the diaphragms are as close as possible. The recording seems to be rather beefy in the mid range, with not a lot up top - and your Shure mics are normally quite bright. For this kind of thing, a pair of sealed headphones and then hand hold the mic pair, moving them around while they are playing until the balance sits well would have been how I'd have done it.

You could close mic, and then try to recreate the live sound, but very few classical pieces are recorded like this because it sounds modern, and too clean. I suspect the fortepiano sounds a bit too distant because it actually is, coupled with probably being off-axis to the mics, being in the cardioid roll off part of the pattern.

The thing with recording classical piano, which I do quite often (actually another session tomorrow) is that the piano is actually a stereo instrument itself - having real width. So this works ok when it's not the focus instrument - but when you really need to hear it with clarity lots of experimentation is needed.

For classical piano, I use one of these mostly, but an X/Y pair of cardioids does a similar job.
http://www.eastanglianradio.com/wpim...1bd02c8_06.png
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Old February 3rd, 2014, 05:15 PM   #4
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Re: Classical Concert Audio

Two thoughts - she mentions an engineer who would be doing the recording - he REALLY should at least be in on the "mix", but preferably have been involved in laying the tracks, as that would be more reflective of the final product of the campaign.

Second, to my ear, the piano sounded a bit distant, and the violin sounded a tad "hot" in the mix. Again, I'd have suggested that the audio guy be present, to duplicate whatever "ambience" was desired - "room" may or may not be desirable, and close or far mic positioning makes a HUGE difference in the recording quality. Moving a mic a foot or two and angling it differently is part of the "dark art" of audio engineering!

Of course it sounds like they plan to do the actual recording in a "proper" acoustical venue with a seasoned expert at the helm of the audio... you've done well with what you had and where you were... but I think the final project, which is after all an AUDIO project, might have benefitted from more emphasis on the audio (not your fault, budgets and all!).

The video was fine, I'd just re-record or remix the actual "music track" a bit, if it would better represent the project. I'm not familiar enough with the period instruments or the intended ambient mix thereof to know if I'm barking up the right tree or not, but these are observations from someone who has done time in the studio and live audio here and there!
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Old February 3rd, 2014, 05:46 PM   #5
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Re: Classical Concert Audio

Thanks so much, all, for the helpful feedback.

Just to clarify (Dave): no audio engineer for was ever going to be involved for this kickstarter. For the album, YES, most definitely!

The fortepiano was definitely more muted sounding than the violin (even in person), and yet Paul, I definitely think you're right that the angling could have been better even still.

Very helpful all.
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Old February 3rd, 2014, 06:54 PM   #6
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Re: Classical Concert Audio

I think of these crowd funding things as "proof of concept" - so perhaps they don't have to be of the same quality as the finished product... but when the finished product will be an audio recording, it just seemed to make some sense... then again, I'm guessing part of the budget is to hire the pro audio guy!
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Old February 3rd, 2014, 07:04 PM   #7
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Re: Classical Concert Audio

Yes, I think it's something like a $20,000 target (recording studio and such). The video is only intended to tap into the community in Boston here who know these period music performers well. Boston has a great early music scene and I have no doubt they'll get it.

Regardless of all that, thank you again for the feedback on how to do more with very little in terms of audio equipment.
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Old February 3rd, 2014, 10:00 PM   #8
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Re: Classical Concert Audio

I'm sure it will hit the market, I'd be tempted just because I enjoy music in general! That's where crowd funding can open up a MUCH larger market - I'm sure there are people out there beyond the "local" audience.

Sometime when you get the chance, have a play with your equipment as Paul suggested - distance and angle make a surprising amount of difference in the resulting signal you have to work with. Mics of course are also another part of the sound, but just messing with placement can pull off a lot!
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Old February 4th, 2014, 10:42 AM   #9
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Re: Classical Concert Audio

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
Sometime when you get the chance, have a play with your equipment as Paul suggested - distance and angle make a surprising amount of difference in the resulting signal you have to work with. Mics of course are also another part of the sound, but just messing with placement can pull off a lot!
Yes, definitely -- and am looking forward to it! That's what prompted this thread -- and the hope to have more time to do so before the next (very last minute) job comes up!
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