Classical self-recording

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by David Phillips, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. David Phillips

    David Phillips Active Member

    Feb 28, 2012

    I am a classical singer (baritone-bass) and was looking to do myself some demos. I have a basic knowledge of recording and would only want to use a simple setup consisting of what I could get my hands on. Here is what I was thinking:

    ____ME______ PIANO____

    _SM58 SM57 ____SM58__
    __/ _____\ ___ ___ \ ___
    _/ _______\ _______\ __

    Hopefully that will have come out alright... Anyway I was thinking 2 58s for a stereo recording and then a 57 focused on myself at an equal distance (between 1 and 1.5 meters) in case vocal levels do need adjusting. This does not have to be amazing but it just needs to be enough. I would be recording in a church (shouldn't cost too much to hire out) and would be using the 2 58s on a Y mic adapter cable and the 57 on a USB sound card all hooked into my laptop, unless I can borrow a mini mixing desk. This is just what I have deduced may work from browsing the internet. Feel free to tell me if I am completely wrong.

    Remember - this does not have to sound fully professional but I still want it to be good (am borrowing the mics)

    Any good advice would be phenomenal.

    Many thanks,

  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Apr 19, 2006
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    I can't tell whether your diagram is a clever perspective view or whether it's trying to depict something too subtle for me to understand! Anyway, the usual position for a singer with piano accompaniment is for the piano keyboard to be to the audience left of the singer and the length of the instrument to be behind. That means the singer is standing in front of the narrower part of the piano.

    Now the microphones. A "Y mic adapter cable" is a no-no. If your USB sound card (what model is it?) has only two microphone channels, use just the two 58s as an X-Y stereo pair in front of the singer and piano. With the piano lid on either full or half stick, you should be able to find a balance between the piano and the voice, depending on the power of your voice and how heavy your accompanist's technique is. The microphone and soloist positioning will definitely require some experiment in floor position, and there is also the microphone height to work with.

    If this is a vocal demo CD you are recording, you need to show off the voice a bit more than if it were a straight recital. Remember that the venue acoustics play a big part in the recorded sound, so you may opt for a mic position that is slightly closer to the singer, giving an more immediate sound to the voice, leaving the piano more in the venue acoustic.

    Using SM57s/58s in this way will give a good sound, but they will need considerably more gain on the audio interface than they would for a close-miked rock vocal. Depending on the model of your interface, you may be running at or near full gain with correspondingly increased pre-amp noise levels. I would give it a try and see how you get on. If this arrangement does not look viable, there are alternatives we can suggest, but it almost certainly is going to involve spending some money.
  3. David Phillips

    David Phillips Active Member

    Feb 28, 2012
    Thanks for that info. I guess I will have to see if I can get hold of a mini recording desk from somewhere. I don't think I will be using a grand piano unless I try a different venue that the one I had in mind. Admittedly this would give a much better sound.

    As for the "spending money" option... NAAAHH! :)
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    So I'm guessing that you are talking about a demo/audition recording, and we have a church with an upright piano and a "USB soundcard" with two inputs. First, record in mono. Good enough for Caruso; good enough for you. Use a 58 for vocals, 12" in front of your face. I'd experiment with the piano, but over the pianist's right shoulder sometimes works well. The 57 would be good, but a 58 would be fine as well. Use the 3/1 rule: make sure the distance between the mics is at least three times the maximum distance between each mic and its primary source.
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