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Recording Female Opera Help

Discussion in 'Recording' started by bigmike86, Jan 19, 2012.

  1. bigmike86

    bigmike86 Active Member

    Hello everyone, this is my first time here. I recently put together a little home set up in attempt to record my wife's opera so we could do our own tracks for her applications.

    I have a Blue Baby Bottle and PreSonus Audio box with Studio One 2 program

    I am very new to recording and am struggling with the distortion of her upper register. Where can I read or learn about the different pieces of recording that I need to know about in order to do her voice justice?

    All I have been trying to do lately is to turn down the volume so when she hits those high notes it doesnt distort, but then you can barely hear her lows.

    Any suggestions on what to do or where to go to learn about this situation? Thanks
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    hmm, My mother was a Metropolitan Opera singer, I know what you are saying and how I miss her.

    A pair of matched microphones in X-Y or ORTF placed about 6 feet out, 6 feet high will be much better for opera. If you are in a larger room you could go higher. You don't want her close to the mic(s)! Dial in your gains. Start somewhere around 6 to 10 db below clip at her loudest parts and the rest is up to her. If its still distorting at lower gain settings, something is wrong (gain settings are mismatched) or you need better gear for her.

    The better the microphones, preamps, converters the more sensitive and precise everything gets. Your recording gear is very modest but I believe you should be able to do better than this for what you have.

    Are you on a tight budget? Omni mics might be ideal.

    A second Blue Baby Bottle or.... You can also try M/S recording. Others here are more experienced in M/S technique. Someone will chime in to help..

    A mild limiter would be helpful too but I would add a second mic. You will be astonished how much better this will be.
  3. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Turn down the gain on the mic. The Blue series is not ideal for art music/opera/classical but will function if you take it easy. Move the mic back at least 3-5 feet from the singer. Angle it toward the throat/chest area. Do not let any peak on the recording get hotter than -12dB. After it is recorded you can use some light compression to get rid of peaks and then normalize the track.
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Ah, John is here. You are in good hands!
  5. bigmike86

    bigmike86 Active Member

    I am not an a really tight budget, but I would like to not spend more money on this adventure until I understand it more. I am sad to hear that the Baby Bottle might not be the best for opera, I wish I got on here before I spent that dime!

    Would I be correct in saying that once the distortion is recorded, no amount of editing can take it away? So my goal is to get the initial recording without distortion and then I can compress/play with sound levels after that?

    Thanks for the help guys
  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Can you give us an idea of the scope of what your are recording? Is this just the solo singer or are there other performers at the same time?

    Using a pair of microphones and recording in stereo gives you a much greater presence in the sound, so that is certainly the way you should be thinking. The trouble is, I don't see how the Blue Bottle fits well into that pattern, and I would not be happy trying to get results from a stereo pair of those. It may be a matter of getting a new pair of small diaphragm condenser (SDC) mics for this job. I'm sorry to say as well that, in my experience, cheap ones don't cut the mustard when it comes to capturing operatic power.

    Remy mentioned M-S recording. I use M-S a lot, often running at the same time as conventional stereo recordings, as this gives me more options when it comes to mixing. Like conventional stereo, M-S needs two microphones, but least one of them must be a figure-8 pattern. However, I think you would have to look quite carefully at the room acoustics before deciding that is the way to go. With less than ideal room acoustics, conventional stereo using tight-pattern SDCs may well give you better results.

    You can't do a great deal at this level about distortion in a recording. There are complex reconstruction methods available, but these generally work best in the case of distortion on a single track in a multi-track recording when the other tracks can "carry" the sound over the reconstruction of the distorted track.
  7. bigmike86

    bigmike86 Active Member

    Well I am not trying to have a professional recording sound here just yet. I was just trying to get help with what caused the distortion.

    I think that the baby bottle will be good for right now, we are just going to put her voice with piano recordings to make her resume CDs. The opera companies don't go solely off of these, we just need to show what she can do and that is what gets her the audition.

    So to answer that question, just recording one female voice in our apartment with headphones listening to the piano accompaniment.

    Room set up is tought right now, we have wood floors so the sound bounces everwhere. I am going to build a little makeshift studio set up once I figure out how to easily.

    So to recap, turn down the gain, have her far away from the mic, and compress afterwards?
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

  9. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    You might want to put down a nice throw rug under the mic stand and performer. I have a wool Persian rug (6'x8') that I've carried with me for many years just for that purpose, and it's served me well. Really helps on hardwood floors (or any bare floors, for that matter).
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Not far away from the mic. 3-5' from the mic. The mic should be about 5-6' feet tall and aimed at the throat and upper chest-NOT the mouth. If you were going to do this via a single mic and there is no reason particularly not to if the piano track is stereo, then a better choice would be an AT4047 or AT4060 or AKG C414XLS. Even a TLM103 would be better than the Blue Bottle. Sell the Blue to someone who is entry level pop music.

    It is not normal in the classical world to sing to backing tracks. You would probably be better served by a pair of NT55's in ORTF and a great rehearsal pianist in a decent hall.
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Well just to chime in here also. My mom & my ex were both world-class operatic coloratura & dramatic sopranos. I personally prefer a ribbon microphone for them though I've also utilized a 414 on only a single occasion where I was not able to utilize my API preamps but instead a AMEK-BC 1 which didn't have the presence of the API's. Sopranos just sound better on ribbons, period. And at only 3 feet away and low, not high up in the vertical distance. A limiter will also frequently be necessary whether external or ITB. That and a touch of short room reverb when recording in the living room. OK so sometimes I've also utilized my Neumann U-67's but I really prefer my Beyer M-160/130 and/or RCA 77 DX's. And I never record them with a stereo microphone unless the acoustical environment such as a stage, is stellar sounding to begin with. Because when you're recording them with a stereo microphone setup, every time they turn their heads and they will turn their heads, you have a drastically shifting and confusing stereo image. They need to be front and center and so Mono is the key ingredient in the mix. You can however set up a couple of microphones for the piano & for the room, provided the room is worthy. In most living rooms, it's not. And that's why God created artificial reverb algorithms. Screw those convoluted convolutions of reverberations. Give me a plate or give me death or maybe some decent software.

    Grammy & Emmy nominated for operatic vocals & operatic recordings.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  12. bigmike86

    bigmike86 Active Member

    Thank you all for the help

    Although I only understand about 25% of what you all said, I will mull it over as I keep learning more and more about recording.

    The best end state would obviously be to record live with piano, but for right now I was just trying to figure out how to best capture the voice. One step at a time, I really know nothing about recording.

    You guys are great though, thanks for the knowledge.

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