Help with Bowing sounds on String Quartet

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Ehvam, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. Ehvam

    Ehvam Active Member

    Hello. First post. I've looked up this topic but haven't found what I'm looking for.
    Basically, I am recording a live performance of a string quartet playing classical at a church. In previous recordings the violist has complained that there is too much "bowing noises" in the recordings. On the second try I place the mics about five to six feet away standing height, which seem to give too much room sound, yet the complaint was "still too much bow clicks" etc.
    I am at a bit of a loss. No matter where I place the mics, it seems to me that so long as the heavy bowing is there you will capture it with the mics. PLacing the mics farther away is basically just making the quartet seem "far away" in the recordings.
    Any advice on how to approach this?
    I dont have great mics, but I do have a matched pair of Studio project pencil mics, and a few large condensor mics.
  2. natural

    natural Active Member

    While I would normally recommend condenser mics for this, perhaps using Dynamic mics might help?

    can you post a link to an example?
  3. Ehvam

    Ehvam Active Member

    How can I post it? Do I upload a mp3 to this site, or is there some free hosting site normally used here?
  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    "Bowing noise" is what makes the music happen. If the quartet leader hears it as ugly, then he/she should alter his/her playing technique until it sounds better. It's a problem of denial. Some people just don't like what they see in a mirror.

    I've recorded scores of quartets of varying playing standard in a variety of different acoustic spaces, both live (concert) and under studio conditions. Live is always challenging because of constraints in positioning of microphones. Roughly half of the quartets say things like "We didn't know we sounded like that" or "We can hear we have work to do on the intonation" or "Can you nudge those pizz passages to sound so we are all playing together?". The other half make no comment. Not one has blamed the recording.

    Can you give us your actual list of available microphones and pre-amps?
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Boz is pretty much right as usual.
    I would like to see pictures of the setup and a list of gear.
    At 6', bowing noise shouldn't be a problem. Whether it's audible or not, the sounds of the instruments should overtake the sound of the bow in most situations. (Of course, bear in mind, bow noise is louder when the music is louder and quieter when the music is quieter.)

    Are you using a stereo pair? If so, what pattern? How far in front, how far off the ground, how big of a space?

    Honestly, I don't think I've ever heard complaints about bowing noises. Afterall, at the least, the noises are lower than what the musicians hear while playing.

  6. Ehvam

    Ehvam Active Member

    Hello, thanks for all the replies. I was thinking along the same lines, but being an amatuer recordist I still wonder. I do know its his complaint about every recordist he's worked with. Its just odd, they are very good..
    My set-up is low budget, which matches what I charge, lol. I have 2 Samson CO2s, I have an Oktava MK-012, and a MXL V67. I used the CO2 with a stereo bar in an ORFF pattern about 5-6 feet from the center of the the semicircle with the mics pointed between the two performs i.e. mic pointed between the two violins and the violist and cellist. I then used the V67 and the MK as back up mics postioned to catch more "room" since thats a common complaint for them as well...
    Not the best equipment, I know. I also run either the M-audio 4channel interface, or my Mbox, depending, and record into pro-tools.
    I should note, I don't promote myself as having professional quality equipment, but I do get pretty good results for demos and college applications and recitals.. at least until now people have raved about my results as compared to what some people have been charging.
    Anyway, any advice would be extremely appreciated.
  7. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    You are using the gear that you have intelligently, and are aware of its limitations. If only all the posters in this forum worked like that!

    The leader of your quartet has an attitude problem. Take a large framed mirror with you next time you record them and hold it up to his face when he complains about hearing unmusical noises emanating from his instrument.
  8. Ehvam

    Ehvam Active Member

    LOL Boswell. The thing is I like him, he's very nice about it, in a strange way. I just think he blames me for things that don't make sense, like the clicking and cracks of when they move in thier chairs. I told him I keep noticing that the cellist- in his passionate performance, raises the cello off the ground and when it comes back down there is an audible thud.... well for some reason he thinks I should be able to position the mic to avoid that, or the creaks of the chairs.
    Well, at least he doesn't blame me for the audience noises. lol
    I'll just keep doing the best I can until he gets fed up. Mind you I barely charge gas money to the gig, its ridiculous.

    As an aside, with a budget of 800 what mic/matched pair would you recommend for recording classical music, and solo guitar (which is what I do that got me into recording to begin with)? I usually record piano/singer stuff, some quartet stuff, and my own guitar peices.

    I really appreciate the responses, I've tried to read as much as possible, but there is just soo much to take in, then theres the experience factor...How you pros get the results you do is really amazing.
  9. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Next gig, bring a sandbag and hide it inside the cello when the cellist is busy.
  10. Ehvam

    Ehvam Active Member

    LOL, Well just as an update I recorded it last night. I think it went well. I have yet to re-listen to the recording, but I'll put up samples to see what you folks think.
    Thanks again for all the help

Share This Page