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How should I mix this fig 8 room mic?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by JakeAC5253, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. JakeAC5253

    JakeAC5253 Active Member

    I'm getting a fig 8 Cascade Fathead II in the next few days, and one of its uses in my studio will be as a room microphone for my guitar rig. I've never used room mics on guitars before, only close mics, but I want to see what it's all about. The cabinet will have dynamic mics right on the grille cloth for a close sound, and the ribbon will be somewhere behind the cabinet in some position that sounds good chosen by myself. The rhythm tracks will be doubled and panned one to a side, and the ribbon room mic will hopefully be mixed in mono with them? I can see a few ways of handling this:

    A. Mix the fig 8 in mono with the close mics, you've already chosen a nice spot for the room mic so just blend it in until happiness ensues.

    B. Flip the polarity on the fig 8 mic seeing as how it is behind the cabinet so that it will phase with the close mics and mix in mono.

    C. Mix in mono using one of the choices above, and flip the polarity on one side of the mix so that each guitars' room tone was picked up from a different side of the room mic so that it doesn't all mono out in the end.

    D. ???

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to doing this but I am pondering the questions above howdy
  2. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Personally, I wouldn't use figure 8 for a room mic. Even in mid/side. I'd prefer an omni over that. Hopefully someone more experienced will chime in.
  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    well for a distance/room mic type thing, i'd just start w/ it about 4-6ft away and hear. since your doubling the track to make stereo m/s is out to me. forget what the mics pattern is and just move it (the mic) around man. are you looking for ambiance? assault? boom? crunch.? that will help you put it in the right spot in the un-identified room. from a distant mic, i listen for re-enforcment, what makes it "bigger". what makes that close mic, sound "real"? that's what goes thru my humble mind when using a distance mic. unless i'm after ambience, which then is a question of whats the smoothest, to me. if you are over dubbing, don't hesitate to get a pair of headphones, and have the guitarist play as yu move the mic, and listen to everything. this will take 'guesswork' out of the mix. when i audition vocal mics, i usually hear the singer over the track. it makes i easier to mix, cuz you already mix.
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    all of the above. It's gonna all come down to the sound of your room, Jake.

    Ambiant miking for guitar can be great... giving a very open and energetic sound. But regardless of the mic or pattern you use, the room itself is going to play a huge part in the end results.

    Experiment with different distances, different positions... you know you're gonna anyway, right? It may help in this scenario to have a second engineer to help in moving that room mic around while you monitor, to find the sweet spot of your room. And I wouldn't discount Hueseph's suggestion that you use an omni as well. I'm not saying a fig 8 won't give you great results - it might be just what you are after, but I'd also be trying an omni and yes, even a cardioid to see what results you can obtain.

    The thing about this process is...well, it's fun. It's fun to experiment and find those certain spots in your room that may end up adding that certain nuance that is pleasing...and not just on a guitar rig either... think brass section, strings, vocal sections, drums...

    Have fun and let us know what you find out.

  5. JakeAC5253

    JakeAC5253 Active Member

    As far as what I want to gain by doing this, I guess just another link in the chain to obsess over haha. There are a few reasons actually. I have been asked before by clients to incorporate room sound into my guitar tones but it wasn't in the cards at the time. Now that is a little more feasible so now I want to go back and give it a try so I can add that to my list of abilities. I'm also producing a lot more rock these days than I have been before, so this is more pertinent than ever.

    There is a more personal reason I want to learn this and it's because of this album:

    I've read that there is room tone blended into those guitar tracks, and I love the vibe that this album carries all the way through, so if a room mic is what it takes to get that then I'm along for the ride. I've gotten very close to that exact tone just using close mics and some engineering ability:

    Avid | Mbox Mini

    Guess I'll just have to wait for the mic to arrive and then try everything and see what works best. I really want to start messing around with it now haha, but the mic won't come for three more days at least, it's been backordered for a month already :\
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I think it's a great idea.

    Anything you can do to sculpt sound, any experimenting, is a cool thing. It may not always work out the way you want it to, but it some cases, even if it doesn't, you end up with other cool sounds that you can use.

    I just finished reading "A Wizard A True Star - Todd Rundgren In The Studio" and man, that cat experimented all the time.

    Just think if those original innovators - guys like Geoff Emerick (The Beatle's engineer) hadn't stepped outside the accepted "rules" and said "okay, so what if we would do this?..." thus giving us ultra cool sounds on tracks like Tomorrow Never Knows, or the incredible tape loop textures on Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite, or the awesome low end on Paperback Writer... believe it or not, there was a time when the engineers at Abbey Road could actually be fined for adding that much low end to a recording... or, even recording above 0 db at all...

    I find it funny how people now talk about "the British sound" or "British EQ" as something special, when originally, the old guard of white lab coat-wearing engineers at those British studios were so stuffy and uptight about not breaking the rules laid down by their predecessors, and how the younger guys emerging on the scene had to fight like hell to start actually using the EQ, or trying new mic techniques, or using other alternative recording techniques - that are emulated and sought after to this very day.

    If cats like that hadn't stepped outside the norm, we'd have been left with a very generic form of rule-adhering - and very boring - engineering.

    I'm not saying that what you want to do regarding room miking is new or groundbreaking, it's not.... many people have done it. But you never need to justify why you want to try something different.

    Even if what you are after is something that has already been done, it makes no difference. Personally, I love hearing about how people use the organic way of obtaining sound - or alternate sounds - as opposed to reaching for an electronic device or sample to do the job for them.

    If we still can't have fun with this after all the years of doing it, and experiment with new (or old) techniques, then maybe it's time for us to find something else to do? ;)

    Please post audio of what you ended up doing with your room mic... and while I use room miking techniques all the time on all kinds of instruments, I for one would still be very interested to hear what you come up with. :)

  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Your stuff definitely sounds super. Though if I was using any ribbon microphone as a room microphone, it might be across the room a few feet but I would still have it on axis to the amplifier. I would never think to put it behind the amplifier? But you have to experiment because I certainly don't know your room. While it was expressed ya might want to do it with Omni directional microphones, I myself would be more inclined to grab a couple of my ribbons. They certainly wouldn't sound harsh and you might have some fun compressing the crap out of those. Just to exaggerate the room. I mean you might even want to do the opposite thing? Put that Fat Head on the guitar amplifier and use a 57 for the room microphone? Or a pair and cop some stereo ambience? Or just use the Mono ribbon room microphone and print that to a track. Then you go into the studio and you move that microphone into a completely different position and then track that to an additional channel and you get stereo ambience from a single ribbon microphone. What could be bad? You want this all to be Mono? Or do you want some space happening? You can even add a couple of milliseconds of delay time to the ambience room microphone to help change the perceivable size of the room? Then you're certainly not going to find any bargain omnidirectional ribbon microphones. And where I think only BRCA 77 DX, thanks to its acoustical labyrinths and other mechanical portions of the microphone, could deliver and omnidirectional pickup pattern but only on that DX version of the 77. The other 77's did not have any kind of adjustable polar patterns. But one of those DX's will still set you back $1500 and that's about 10 times more than your Cascade. And I think it sounds damn fine. Just don't put it behind the speaker cabinets. Stick it in front if you want and make it perpendicular aiming at the left & right walls. The dead spot of the microphone will then be facing the guitar amplifiers and it will hardly pick them up directly. So basically it's like setting up for MS stereo . And where the M, is the 57 on the guitar cabinet. And in fact, zooming in down to the sample level, you may be able to time align the ambient room microphone, facing the left and right walls, with that 57. Run those two tracks then, through an MS decode matrix and make for some really cool stereo guitar? Just make sure you time the ambient microphone to the guitar and not the guitar to the ambient microphone. Although that might work also depending on the distance between microphones, instruments and musicians? I loved to play with timing. It lets you do all sorts of cool things. Though I do remember once timing an entire band that was tracked live. And with everything working at the same exact time constant, low frequency response shot through the roof and the whole thing couldn't have sounded more bizarre. So I never bothered doing that again. I sure did waste quite a few hours doing that just to find out that I didn't get what I thought I might get? So that was a lovely exercise in futility.

    We will assimilate you. Resistance is futile.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  8. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    I hear what you're trying to get at. It's the space that's missing.

    Totally off topic. If you like Gojira, you might like Intronaut. Of course, that may be old news to you. I don't know. I just stumbled on to them recently. But, I live in a cave under a rock.

  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member


    can you tell us what your guitar rig is? ie, head/stack, combo, speaker size, etc?
  10. JakeAC5253

    JakeAC5253 Active Member

    Right now I use an early 90's Peavey 5150 with Russian Winged C power tubes and a slew of overdrive and distortion pedals. Some fun ones I have are: Maxon OD820, Maxon OD808, MXR GTOD, BOSS SD-1, Vintage Japan made BOSS HM-2 (bit of a collectors piece for me), BOSS MT-2, and all of these are used for different sounds and responses when I need them. I currently own two speaker cabinets which can be seen in my avatar. They are a Mesa Boogie oversized Recto 4x12 with V30s and a Splawn standard sized 4x12 with T75s. They actually sound great blended, though they're more difficult to time align because they have different transient response characteristics. New amps in the not so distant future, I'm thinking maybe a Marshall and an old Fender would be nice. The mics I use are SM57, Audix i5, Heil PR20, and the Cascade Fathead 2 which is on its way, I have a couple of each of the dynamics for different miking styles. I have a corner of my studio treated with about 2' (yes that's feet not inches) thick of Roxul and OC703 for guitar reamping and that's where the cabinet is.

    Remy, the technique you describe of using split M/S with ribbon off axis and back a few feet is my first preference and the way that I would like to do it. Unfortunately due to the fact that my rig is setup to fire directly into the aforementioned treatment, then it's not really applicable to me and I need to mic from the back of the cabinet :\ I'm not even convinced that this will sound any good with my rig, but I didn't just buy the fathead for this purpose, so it'll find use.

    I've heard Intronaut, they're cool, a little more stoner influenced than I normally like, but still good. This isn't the first time they were recommended to me, maybe I was listening to the wrong stuff. Any recommendations on an album to pickup?
  11. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    Jake, you posted an excellent example of what you're shooting for in terms of what a room mic can do for your mix. Any time I've decided to actually use a room mic I've squashed the heck out of it with a compressor on the way in and usually have the mic sitting way up close to the ceiling aimed at a "sweet spot" or sometimes even aimed at the ceiling itself if I can identify a particularly reflective place. There are a number of ways to accomplish what you're going for, no doubt you'll nail it.

    Another thing I love to do is emulate this effect ITB with Sends to Aux channels, each (3) Aux channel setup with an EQ plug to focus only on Lows High's and Mid's. One channel for each part of the spectrum. After the EQ in each channel is an inserted comp plug, followed by a Reverb plug. The resulting blended effect is nothing short of fantastic. It's a concept developed by one of the original Motown producers, he called it "the exciting compressor" or something close to that. Takes a while to setup in your DAW but again, the results create a whole new ballgame for you.
  12. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    If you want lots of room aim the null at the amp, try different positions. If you want to control the direct/reflected balance aim a lobe at the amp and move the closer/farther and try different lateral positions.

    I have to admit I'd be tempted to mix it like a side channel (duplicate track, invert one, pan apart) but without the mid, to come out the rear of a surround system. More likely I'd aim a lobe at the amp and fool around with time alignment and polarity.
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    The reason I was asking about your rig, Jake... was to offer the possibility of miking the back of the amp as well, if you had an open backed model.

    Here's another thing to try...

    pick a reflective surface in the room... could be drywall, wood, glass... and face the mic at the reflective surface.

    You might need to to tweak the alignment a little in post, but it might give you a texture you hadn't considered. Yeah, usually, as engineers we like to stay away from reflective surfaces, but in this case, it might serve you well. Knowing the rules before you break them helps to break them with style... LOL

    Also, you may want to try aiming the mic at a surface that is diffused/staggered.

    In one of my old studios, which had at one time been a warehouse, there was a brick wall behind what ended up being the drum riser/room... the way the brick had originally been stacked was very uneven, with the edges of the brick and mortar sticking out on some sections as far as 3 inches...There was no "set" pattern to it, it just was what it was. I don't know whether the original bricklayer was drunk that day back in 1922, or if they just had a bunch of odd shaped pieces, but it worked to my advantage as it acted as a diffuser wall.

    Often, I would aim a mic (usually a 414 in cardioid, with a roll off of 75hz) at that surface while tracking drums (this was in addition to an overhead array), and for whatever reason (one of our resident acoustics experts could tell us why mathematically, I'm sure) the sonics were very cool coming off of that surface... nice top end, silky, smooth, with an open/ambient sound that livened things up nicely without being hollow or "ringy" sounding...I wouldn't mix it in with the other mics very hot, but I would tuck it in under the primary mics, just enough to hear, and it added a nice ambiance on things like HH, ride cymbal - and even the whole kit.

    So, if you have any diffused surfaces, either intentional, or unintentional ( maybe a book shelf shelf or something), try aiming the mic at that surface. Start with cardioid, and try other patterns like Omni and 8 as well. Salt and pepper to taste. LOL

    Just thought I'd throw this idea in the mix for fun.


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