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Blumlein... Oh yeah. ;)

It's been a long time since I set up a Blumlein pair.. I did so this morning for an acoustic guitar track I've been working on for my latest song.

In the past, I'd mostly used Mr. Blumlein's invention on orchestral stuff, small ensembles, strings, horns, etc.

The "traditional" way to set up a Blumlein Array is to use a pair of Ribbons. I don't have any - so instead I used a pair of AKG 414 EB's, both set for Fig 8, with a 150hz roll off, no pad.

The room I tracked in is 12 x 14, with a 7.5' ceiling, old wooden floors, one double pain window.
I have two 4'x4' / 6 inch deep broadband absorbers attached to the walls, with two 2'x2' (staggered wood- block design) diffusers.

I have to say, ribbon mics not withstanding, this acoustic track worked out very nicely using this array with the pair of 414's.

The results were very nice... silky, smooth and warm, with just the right amount of presence and definition, and I haven't even added EQ yet! Truthfully, I might not even have to, once I sit this within the current back-line tracks of the working mix. It sure is sounding damned good as it is right now. ;)

LOL - rediscovering this array kinda makes me want to go back and re-track a bunch of older acoustic tracks I'd already recorded,using this array ... but, I've already finished those, so as they say, C'est La Vie.

Anyway... I just thought I'd share, and perhaps spark a discussion on mic technique. Those of us who came up during the analog age can remember how important it was ( and still is) to rely on mic choice, mic placement and the use of multiple mic arrays - to get tone, depth and space. Understand that not only is the mic crucial, but so is mic positioning.

I guess I'm aiming this post at the newer engineers among us who have come up in the age of digital, relying on virtual instruments, synths, samples and loops. This type of production may be the mainstay of what you do now, but trust me.. at some point, you're probably gonna have to mic a drum kit, an amp, lead vocals or a vocal section, etc.

So if you do find yourself working a session that requires using mics on real instruments/amps, don't just "throw the mics up" randomly. Understand each mic and what their strong and weak points are. Research and comprehend phase issues when using multiple mic arrays like XY, AB-Spaced, ORTF, M-S and Blumlien. And don't ignore or put too little importance on individual mic placement as well, both direct and environmental.

You'd be surprised at what you can accomplish if you just research the subject, and simply think about it a little bit the next time you go to track real instruments.

Consider your mic choice(s) and work with their positions - before you automatically reach for the EQ or the Reverb plug. ;)





dvdhawk Thu, 05/15/2014 - 17:03
I've gotten really good results using the 414 Blumlein pair for choral ensemble / big band jazz type stuff. Love it, the stereo image is beautiful. I only have one good ribbon mic at this point, so rather than try something exotic/experimental (ill-advised) while under the gun - I stick with the known results from the pair of 414s. I will often set-up other mics such as a spaced pair and/or spot mics for soloists, but invariably let the Blumlein mains do almost all the work when it's time to mix.

RemyRAD Thu, 05/15/2014 - 19:38
Donny, I'm just curious, what dissuaded you from using MS as compared to Blumlein? More room sound? A better method of capturing the room?

For whatever reasons, I love the intimate, solid center, focal point one gets with MS. Blumlein, to me, just seems like a variation on XY? Just more room sound from the backside. And nothing really aimed directly at the source.

Since mastering the art of MS microphone techniques, I was hooked. It also gets quite interesting when you don't use matching microphones. Because it's all a game of specialized phase cancellation. And I feel stupid. I never used my Beyer M-160, middle. With a 414, figure of 8, side. Or vice versa with the M-130, Side and the 414, Mono, in cardioid, Middle. Or did I? The brain cells are crapping out. I must've? At some point in my career LOL? Maybe I tried it with the 77 DX? Geez, I am getting old. 59 in October. Oy vey.

So, I'm moving to Austin, Texas. Within another month. And I'm not going back to Washington DC nor Baltimore, again. Enough is enough.

Anyone here from Austin? Let me know? Because the truck is going with me. I think folks will want a classic top shelf control room, delivered to their door? I'll be looking to lease it out by the day, week, month, even, years. And that will be the only time I'll do housework LOL.

I think I'm going to relax a bit. Do some commercial voiceovers and narrate, some talking books?
Donna Lafontaine. (My new name)

anonymous Fri, 05/16/2014 - 03:27
I've used M-S many times before, in fact it's one of my favorite multi mic arrays. I suppose I was just looking at setting up a Blumlein because it had been so long since I had, and I wanted to experiment with a different type of sound.

The room I was tracking in has old wood flooring, so I wanted to see if perhaps this would lend to the sound, and I think it did. I certainly wouldn't track everything this way, and for that matter, I'm still a fan of mono for most things, but it gave me the results I wanted for the song I was working on at the time.




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