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Cello and Piano in a small too live room...

Discussion in 'Strings' started by Joong-In Rhee, May 26, 2020.

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

  1. Joong-In Rhee

    Joong-In Rhee Help a newby please! Active Member

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    I am recording cello and piano in a small-medium size room that is too bright and live acoustically - I can't really treat it except to put a blanket under the piano.

    What mic setup would you all recommend? I always used X-Y stereo on 2 small diaphragm cardoid mics and a large diaphram cardoid as spot mic up close (6 inches).

    Would that work or the room work against me being too live? How to tame the room - only close mics, or putting the X-Y much closer like 2 ft high and far?

    Please help me as I have to record a good cello student for his College resume next week...

    Thanks in advance and stay safe everyone.
     
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    Quick answer : It depends..
    The size of the room and shape : sometime moving the instrument will sound better in some place in the room
    Also experimenting with mics is a must.. moving them around, you may just find the perfect spot..
    Too live of a room ? you could build yourself some DIY bass trap and make them removable on the walls or stand on their own in the room (like gobos) you say you can't is your own limitation ;)
    There is so much room dependance on a good piano sound, it's hard to judge without more details and audio samples..
     
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  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

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    The key here is that it is not a recital recording, it's for a cello student's resume. I've done a lot of these exam/resume/demo recordings, and it's usual to have to compromise one way or another due to the performing acoustic. I would inject a note of realism, meaning that the cello (in this instance) has to be as well captured as possible in the acoustic, even if this is at the expense of the quality of the piano recording.

    A cello is particularly difficult in a poor acoustic, largely because its lower registers are in the frequency range that gives trouble with standing waves and other reflections. My solution is to bring out one of my DPA4099 clip-on microphones, in this case with the cello clip. I normally mount the flexible stalk lower down on the clip than shown in this video, so that the microphone does not project beyond being level with the bridge.

    The instrument mount solves a good number of the problems, but not all. It gives a clear tone that cuts through the reflection clutter off the floor and walls, but it cannot give the complete sound of the instrument when mounted that close to the f-holes. To get a fuller sound, a separate instrument mic on a floor stand is needed, usually a cardioid SDC, positioned about 2 ft away from a point a few inches above the bridge. Depending on what is on the floor (rug, carpet, bare wood), I would mount the mic low down, slightly angled upwards.

    For the piano, I like to use SDCs with omni capsules to give a better representation of the bottom octave. In addition, omnis are less position-sensitive than cardioids. I would start with them about a foot apart on a single stand with a spacer bar. It would be a matter of experiment to get a good position in that room, and also whether the pianist is playing with the lid open or closed. Assuming it's on full stick, I would begin with the microphones about 3-4 feet from the centre of the strings, and around 1 - 2 feet higher than the string level.

    Although I always put up a stereo room pair of cardioids, this would mainly give information when mixing, and probably not used in the final result, especially in a poor acoustic.

    In the mix, you would pan the microphones to taste. I usually place the student just right of centre, and the piano pair panned over to the left, avoiding the piano filling the whole width of the sound field.

    A final tweak is to delay the cello instrument-mounted microphone by a couple of milliseconds in the mix, so that the stand-mount mic conveys the attack, and the instrument-mounted microphone fills in the detail.

    As Marco (pcrecord) has said, a lot of experimentation is needed.

    Good luck!
     
  4. Joong-In Rhee

    Joong-In Rhee Help a newby please! Active Member

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    Thanks so much for the replies! They are very helpful...

    How far can I put the stand mount stereo (X-Y ?) pairs away from the cello?

    I want the stereo effect without the room acoustics.
     
  5. Joong-In Rhee

    Joong-In Rhee Help a newby please! Active Member

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    How many percentage of pan do you recommend?

    Some say 20%, some even up to 80% - I am confused...

    I am a newby to this so excuse my ignorance.
     
  6. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    You make audio adjustments with your ears. You're kind of asking how many turns of the tuner should you do at the fine tuning adjuster on the tail piece, or what precise angle should the bow be to the strings? Being very honest - you've been asking about microphones and feedback, and not understanding how it works, but in this topic we're into stereo techniques and more advanced things? You are moving too fast, before your ears have caught up.

    You have a very unsuitable room which needs sorting. You are trying to record at an advanced level. Can I drag you back.

    Look on ebay/aliexpress and search for green screen stands - you will find telescopic stands that have a cross bar, or two stands and a crossbar between them. Great for backdrops, but also great for hanging duvets, blankets and other soft materials which will tame the top end of the room down considerably. These stands are cheap and very useful. In the other topic you get feedback from speakers and don't like headphones. Sadly, headphones are a part of recording. Things WILL feedback if you use mics and speakers, and of course, mics pick up ANY sound in the room, as we are hearing on TV every day in lockdown, with feedback, echos and feedback loops that are caused by time delays. Headphones are critical, and in your space will let you move mics, spread out instruments and make decisions based on what you hear in the headphones, NOT on speakers in the room. Speaker are great for playback, they're a nightmare in a room with live mics. Panning is like a recipe - adjust to taste. There is no prescription, just other people's settings which might or probably might NOT work for you. Recording and streaming takes practice and aquired skill, not a handbook or youtube videos.
     
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  7. Joong-In Rhee

    Joong-In Rhee Help a newby please! Active Member

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    Thanks again for that lengthy words of wisdom...

    I love learning from all of you!
     
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  8. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    In fact - YouTube videos I suspect are 90% made by people who if they were in front of you, you'd not trust. The good ones are good because they KNOW what your problem is, and they just need you to go along with them. The worst have clearly got three hours of skill more than you have, but pretend they're expert!

    I've been doing some of these distance music videos and the audio is recorded with iPhones, not posh microphones. With a bit of EQ they can made really nice as long as they are not too reverberant. Live rooms mess up the sound so making it sound right is harder. For you - going in close with the mics makes a huge difference. Do some experiments with the piano. Record it from different positions and distances. If you replay it through even modest quality headphones, you will hear big differences. Use the one that sounds nicest and closest to your ideal. On forums like this one - people will agonise over the difference between mic A and mic B - but until you get placement right, such talk is pointless - we're talking very small improvements or differences! Your ears will steer you if you have the time to experiment.
     
  9. Joong-In Rhee

    Joong-In Rhee Help a newby please! Active Member

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    I can experiment until cow come home, so I will - thank you for that Paul!
     
  10. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    A cow that plays Cello, that outta be something... :ROFLMAO:
     
  11. Grimm

    Grimm Active Member

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    Nice to meet you all guys, I found this thread in Google. Look, I am a beatmaker from Russia (working for 4 years, aka Junkie Cat, you may find my tracks on youtube if you wish), and we are sort of developing our studio and thinking about purchasing some new instruments for the studio (cello, violin, flute). I actually do not like orchestra libs I've been working with and real instruments provide more options to play with. I've not calculated yet if that's cheaper to order instruments from amazon (delivery to Russia would cost some extra) or buy at the local store, but for now, the question is about the instruments itself. If you have worked with any of these I'd appreciate your help. Thought that I should not post a new thread for this one, because OP probably will help me
     
  12. Joong-In Rhee

    Joong-In Rhee Help a newby please! Active Member

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  13. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I play bass, but I used to be a cellist. I also have a double bass. First thing, that web site know zilch about what makes a good string instrument, and their reviews are like those done by youtubers who review a product, with no experience of others - a bit pointless. With string instruments, the critical thing is tone, or timbre. This is like acoustic guitars. The first twang tells you two things, what it sounds like and how it responds to your fingers.any woodworkers out there know how you cannot buy plywood by the look. The surface you see has been quality checked, but the layers within can have voids and knots totally invisible. Woodworkers can tap a sheet and tell if it's good or not. Ply is actually fine for budget instruments if it's decent ply. Solid wood, again like guitars, sounds better. Bridges on cheap instruments also impact the sound, but you can buy and fit better ones. Cheap instruments also have cheap strings which sound thinner and brighter. The bottom peg on a cello is important. It provides the stability for the string tension and needs to have decent clamping. Some don't! Then you have the tailpiece. Expensive cellos will have wooden ones, and cheap ones probably cast metal or plastic. They're part of the tone production so the material is important. Black wooden parts used to be ebony. Hard and long lasting wood. Now they will be white wood, stained black. The string tension cuts into them, so constant tuning wears them quickly.

    My double bass is my second double bass. Still not mega expensive, but decent ply, and with a few new bits, and strings, it sounds to my ears, nice, and it records well. A friend bought a really cheap one and while it's not horrible, it's already showing signs that worry me. Creases in the finish suggest the ply is settling, the things also appears to be louder on some notes than others which mine doesn't do. Resonances I suspect.

    The reviews on that website are totally superficial. All to do with looks.

    One thing to think about. I use Kontakt samples for my double bass parts in my music because nice though my bass is, the Kontakt ones sound better, and frankly I don't have the time to practice enough to be able to play some of the things I produce in my head.

    Last thing. A string instrument is only as good as the room it is recorded in.
     
  14. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

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    Not only are those cheap instruments horrible to play, in general they do not record well.

    Just recently, I had a fiddler (violinist) come into the studio to overdub some parts on to a track. He had not been available at the time all the others recorded their backing tracks on what was the singer's first ever studio recording. This guy was a respectable fiddler, and played in orchestras as well as ceilidh bands, but he came with his cheap gigging instrument rather than his (more expensive) orchestral one. The cheap fiddle sounded unpleasant to the ear, and sounded even worse when recorded. I spent a long time trying different microphones and positions, and combining mics and pickups. I wasn't happy, but we ran out of studio time.

    Later, in the mixdown session, I attempted to compensate for the tone, but without much luck. I eventually gave up on including the direct sound, and instead turned it into a track that was entirely ethereal effect with no dry sound in it. It wasn't quite what the singer wanted, but he accepted that the instrument was unsuitable for recording, and asked me to use the track with its effect sparingly in the mix. It really drove home both to him and to the player that there's more to an instrument than its price.

    Hmm, it's a significant variation on the original topic. We'll see how it goes, and Chris or I may split it off.
     
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  15. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to RO Grimm,

    As a drummer, I always have a fuzzy feeling when I read BeatMaker.. :ROFLMAO:

    A lot to learn and talk about here..
    Glad to count you in !
     
  16. Joong-In Rhee

    Joong-In Rhee Help a newby please! Active Member

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    I would buy it locally - this way, you can try it before buying.

    If you try, 20 factory made cellos, one or two will standout as significantly better - louder, ringing, and more pleasing tone.

    I would try as many as you can before choosing one.

    Good luck...
     
  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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