Recording and mixing of acoutsing strings

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by Skyman, Oct 26, 2003.

  1. Skyman

    Skyman Guest


    i´m involved in a (pop)music project where three solo violins have to be recorded and have to fit into the mix between a lead vocal and backround-vox. How do i record the strings best, what eq-ing sounds best? Are there other secrets to get a tight warm sound on them?


  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    I'll tell you the greatest value, very biggest, most unused, best seceret I have ever learned.

    You ready?................................

    Take the time to learn the basics of microphones, microphone application, signal flow and routing, the function and application of every major procesing device used in modern recording before you try to do your first serious or professional music recording project.

    Nobody can tell you how or what is best for you or your project. In order to get the best, you need to use the very best audio tools that you can obtain. You need to learn recording and acoustics theory, understand microphone and recording gear applications, and then gain the necessary experience applying those theories and applications before you can discover the world of "best". Best comes from a path of no shortcuts...
  3. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    You came here to ask, but you don't prrovide enough info about the end goal you seek or the gear that you have to work with. You ask what is best, but I suggest that you use this chance to learn how to find what is the best for you. Put a mic up listen to it, move it around until your get the best sound that you like. Try different mics and then learn what each one sounds like on the intstrument so that in the future you will better know which mic may of may not work best to use again. If this is a group playing then more than one mic might be required. If you need to separate the strings or anything else that is recording at the same time from each other then you have to find a way to best isolate them from one another or have them overdub one at a time. Eq is so dependant on all of the variables involved that no one can know what will be required.
  4. AudioGaff's comments may seem a little harsh, but they contain much truth. I will give you a hint that putting up a couple of condensers 3:1 a few feet back will give you a good stereo image of the whole ensemble. Add a spot mic to the soloist. David
  5. Marik

    Marik Guest

    I recorded violin a lot. In addition to other suggestions, I can add... Usually, before the recording, I insist on listening to the instrument first, then decide for myself what is the final recording should sound like, and then, according to that, decide which mics to use. The violin is like a voice--each one has its own sound, character, etc. One mic can sound fabulous on one, and not as good on another.
  6. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    Jun 9, 2003
    Skyman, welcome to AudioGaff's personal rage pit. Where no frustration goes un-vented. ON YOU! Gees Gaff, get some poontang or something. Lighten up! Give the guy a break.

    As for the violins, if your not well versed in acoustics you would PROBABLY be better off recording each instrument individually leaving you more flexibility at the mix. Small diaphragm condenser mic (or two if you want a stereo image to play with a mix) like an AKG C451, Shure SM81, Neumann KM184, or Studio projects C4. I Large Diaphragm condenser can work well also. I use them on acoustic instruments sometimes but usually when they are the upfront instrument and don't have to compete. As the others stated, experiment. Take the time to use more than one mic and mic position. See what sounds best. Make sure you listen to it in the mix also not just by its self. Often one mic will sound better when the instrument is by its self but another mic may help it fit better into the mix.
    As for EQ, as stated before each instrument and musician sounds different so it's really a matter of hearing what frequencies need adjusted to make it fit. Experiment. If you do well enough at mic choice and placement you may not need to EQ.

    Music is always a matter of taste. Many top producers have totally opposite theories on how to do things but they all get good results, so just find out what sounds good to you. Solid mics and mic preamps are a good start, then experiment till your hearts content. Don't be afraid to break the rules. They were made to be broken.
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Perhaps I am missing something but I don't read Audio Gaffs comments as rage or harsh. Actually, his response was "Audio Gaff Light" in comparison to some posts he has made. :D He simply suggest that the person asking the question, learn for themselves what works best for them. We have all gone through our period of "poke and hope" and I agree there is no short cut through this process. I think his advice was "spot on".
  8. by

    by Guest

    skyman, what equipment do you have available to use? mics, pres, ect... describe your room. how big is it, is there any acoustic treatment or not, carpet on floors, risers? "tight warm sound" may mean putting players in a closet or vocal booth, or it may not. Don't forget to experiment with this. Try close mic'ing and far mic'ing and walk around the space just listening for a sweet spot that fits in the mix. It may even be behind the players, who knows!?
  9. Skyman

    Skyman Guest

    Well. Thanks for all your replies, it was my first posting and I think I got used to the rules now...

    Maybe my question and informations were not specific enough, so I understand every response to this. So let´s go a bit deeper:

    I recorded the three Strings seperately with two KM 184, one from the front and one straight overheads the player. In the Mix they have to play different parts simultaneously, so I could not record them all together playing.

    So now the front-recorded track has more warmth, the overhead sound more crisp and precise.

    There was no time to experiment, i know that trying is the only way to reach the best sound.

    In the mix these three Strings(6 Channels) have to play around a lead vocal, but they have to be also in front like the lead vocal is. My problem is to get the right balance between panning, equalizing(they sound ok at the moment) and compressing. So perhaps someone had this problem before. There is no other analog outboard gear which i could use, the mix is now completely digital in 24/48.

  10. white swan

    white swan Guest

    Whether you want your violins warm or crispy is something only you can answer, or at least someone who has heard the musical context.

    There are certain tried and true methods of keeping other instruments from stepping on the vocals.

    One is by " ducking". This uses a compressor with a side chain. The side chain is fed by the vocal track, while the violins would be sent to the audio inputs. Set properly, the violins will then automatically have gain reduction everytime the vocal is present.

    Or, you can simply automate fader moves on your violin tracks on a phrase by phrase basis - a little more time consuming, but gives you more specific control.

    Even a slight amount of panning of the violins will give some aural seperation from a centered vocal. Definitely worth trying.

    As far as EQ, often a gentle scoop around 500Hz on your instrument tracks will create a nice space where the fundamental frequencies of the vocals can sit without fighting with the other instruments. On violins, the effectiveness of this largely will depend on what register they are playing. If the parts are all written above the staff, a scoop at 500Hz probably won't have much effect.

    Reverb,(or lack of) can be used to bring instruments forward or back in the mix. Longer decay times and/or larger simulated spaces create the illusion that the instrument (or vocal) is farther away from the listener. (Rolling off a little high end can add to this effect). Shorter decays and smaller rooms create a more close-up intimate sound.

    Finally, compression on the vocals is sopmetimes very useful in keeping the softer phrases from disappearing into the mix. You may be able to get away without compressing the violins at all. If you have a good quality compressor plug-in and know how to use it, it may be of some help to tame a few notes or phrases that leap out of the mix. But if they sound fine, leave them alone!

    Any or all of these ideas may or may not work in your specific situation. As AudioGaff and others rightly point out, your own ears and taste MUST be the final evaluator as to whether something works in your particular musical context.
  11. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Well, you now have learned a very good lesson in the need of proper pre-production. Make sure the next time and every time after, that you plan accordingly. Just because your mix is in digital 24/48 doesn't mean that you can't still use analog outboard providing you have the means and ability to do it. It you are stuck in digital, you use what you have available and try to make the best of it then living with the result. Or, take the project to someone/somewhere else that can do what needs to be done that you can't do.
  12. Preproduction is the best place to save money and work out the details that can make or break a project. Some great recommendations in this thread. David
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