A recording of a Mozart violin concerto

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Ellegaard, Aug 7, 2006.

  1. Ellegaard

    Ellegaard Active Member


    I spent the last couple of days finishing this recording of the first movement of Mozart's A-major violin concerto, No. 5 - the Allegro aperto movement. It's been recorded under not very ideal acoustic surroundings, so I added a bit of artificial reverb and EQed it slightly overall to a degree I found acceptable.

    The winds and horns never "showed up", so this is a 'strings only' version!

    Feel free to comment on it:

  2. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Hello Ellegaard; I listened to the track a few times now, and have enjoyed it quite a lot.

    I'm not sure of the MP3 compression rate you used, or how the server is delivering this to me, so I'm not going to go too deeply into any criticism or commentary based on an MP3 alone. (It sounds pretty thin and somewhat buzzy on my end, sorry to say).

    FYI: For forums and email stuff, I work at my kitchen table with a laptop, using either mini headphones or (new) an Altec Lansing eye-pod speaker system. (Which is actually quite cool, and fun to use. It's a little weird in the mid-bass - and no LOW bass at all, but it's a lot better than laptop speakers and less restrictive than earbuds). I am rarely able, time-wise, to listen to this stuff on my studio system - Lipinski L-505's with a BagEnd Infrasub Pro 12.

    All that is to say, from what I could hear, things sound like you're on the right track, but I'm concerned (even while listening with earbuds and disregarding the external speakers) about the mid-range of your stuff - it all tended to sound a little buzzy and thin; not enough low or mids. (Again, is this an artifact of MP3 processing?) Also, the solo violin sounded a bit to the right of center. Not sure (again) if this is from MP3 encoding, or if the soloist was a in a different spot than is usually the case.

    Reverb and/or room tone seemed ok, at least listening in this format. Nothing seemed too overdone in that dept. Hope that helps!
  3. Ellegaard

    Ellegaard Active Member


    Thanks a lot, that's truly appreciated!

    The MP3 compression is quite bad, and I should probably put up a better version. I'll just see what I can do! It sounds reasonably thinner than the WAV file, not surprisingly, but still I believe overall conclusions can be drawn regarding to the sound, balance and such.

    It's interesting you mention a lack of mids. I agree with you - as a matter of fact, it was exactly this area I was trying to bring up with the EQ, but I should perhaps twist the knob even harder!

    Regarding the lows - a double bass would obviously be nice, but I didn't have the opportunity to bring any up here in my apartment. I'm a little concerned about trying to bring out the celli - it's a terrible cello group, you see... (I'm playing all of them, you see!)

    I actually panned the solo violin just slightly to the left, so if it sounds like it's anywhere else (to the right hand side, for instance!), then I'll blame the MP3 compression.
  4. jazzo

    jazzo Active Member


    can you explain to us what you used to record this violin concerto? Sounds very good to me :D

  5. Ellegaard

    Ellegaard Active Member

    Thank you very much!

    It's quite simple, actually - I decided I wanted to record this movement just to have it ready in case I would need it for auditions, competitions, applications, promotions, etc. Initially I was thinking of trying to record it with a string quartet, but then I saw the opportunity of borrowing my neighbor's cello, giving me a whole arsenal of instruments for a string orchestra. So I started to record all the parts myself instead, one after one, in my bedroom, overdubbing the instruments until they sounded more or less like a group.

    The "orchestra" consists of 8 1st violins, 6 2nd violins, 4 violas and 3 celli. It was recorded to a click track, which was the only possible way of doing it unless I'd try something fancy like video taping myself conducting and play it back while recording (could be really interesting, actually!). Having the orchestra ready, I smacked on the solo part and added a little reverb.

    The microphones I used were a KEL HM-1 on all the orchestra instruments and a transformerless ADK (model TL) on the solo violin. It all went through my terrible Behringer mixer (I really need to get a decent preamp some time!) and my M-Audio FireWire 410 soundcard.
  6. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Ok, Ellegaard, I think I understand what I'm hearing now.....i'ts not just the MP3 causing this.

    First of all, I applaud your musicianship; I had no idea it was all YOU playing those parts. Well done, indeed! I thought it was some kind of ad-hoc group you were able to record on the fly.

    The problem, for starters, is probably your choice of microphone. I don't have any hands-on experience with that mic, but from what I understand, it's a very "affordable" mic that's good for a variety of things, including guitar amps and such. (I hear it's not very bright, but more of a warmer/tube-like sound, as such.) I certainly wouldn't use that mic on an orchestra alone, and i have no idea what it's like on strings.

    Now, to compound the issue, you're playing the parts one at a time, over and over again, getting the same anomalies with the same mic, in the same room, exacerbating the problem with each overdub, and subsequent build up of "not-so-good" sound and ambience pickup. It's got to get ugly, and trying to fix it with EQ is only putting a band aid on it.

    I recently did a session for a DVD-ROM video game, where there was only enough $$ for eight string players (6 violins & 2 violas) for the session. THe producer set everything up (in a stone, reverberant church) as it if was a full session, chairs for an entire chamber orchestra, with headphones for the eight players.

    With such a small group, we simply overdubbed everything in sections, everyone playing to the bed/click track, and they moved to other positions with each overdub.

    It really wasn't bad at all, as much as I was worried about buildup of sound with the same mics, etc. (I used omni's that staying the same place for all three sections, as well as 1 mic for each pair of violins, so each "take" had four closeup mics, and the pair of omni's. WHen we combined all three sections, that worked out to twelve cardioids, and six omni's. (Not bad, actually, esp when combined with the existing track they were playing along with! The only problem was intonation, since it was all keyboard - equal tempered - stuff.) The mics used were vintage KMi-84 cardioids and brand-new DPA 4006 TL Omni's.

    I think a better mic might help if you're going to continue with this sort of experimenting....
  7. Ellegaard

    Ellegaard Active Member

    My guess is there is a bunch of problems involved with this type of bedroom placebo orchestra recording, and I'm not sure if the microphone is at the top of the list. I'm rather inclined to blame the Behringer mixer - it's really not flattering to the sound. Everything that goes through those preamps sounds kind of harsh, flat, buzzing ... all in all, not very pleasing to the ear. At the top of my wish-list is, and has been for years now, without doubt a new preamp which would justify the microphones. The KEL HM-1 is, as you've correctly noticed, a very cheap microphone but unlike most cheap mics not hyped in the top. The reason why I chose it was in order to eliminate the worst computer noise (it's a small cardioid mic) and try to get a slightly warmer orchestra sound.

    The viola I'm playing is a £120 instrument that sounds more like a violin - might also have a thing to say!

    Sounds really interesting with the overdubbing project you did - a great idea with moving the musicians around, I think. That's gotta be the way to do it!

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