Suggestions on improving this recording (Tenor + Piano)?

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by ethandepuy, Nov 24, 2009.

  1. ethandepuy

    ethandepuy Guest

    Hi guys,

    This is a recording I recently did for a friend's grad school pre-screening CD. It was recorded with 2 CAD e70's in a stereo xy configuration.

    The thing that bothers me most about this recording is that this particular tenor sings with a great deal of bright resonance (sometimes referred to as the "tenor squillo") on some vowels that is overbearing for this microphone configuration. Any suggestions (EQing or otherwise) for reducing this on the recording would be appreciated greatly!

    Looking forward to your comments!

  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    Yes, it doesn't really work. The voice is uncomfortable to listen to and the piano is in the next room.

    Are you looking for comments on what to do differently when re-recording it, or how to make the most of what you have already recorded?
  3. ethandepuy

    ethandepuy Guest

    Hi Boswell,

    I understand where you're coming from there, but I was also under the impression that the music of Stravinsky is not generally supposed to be comfortable to listen to. That's why they rioted after the premier of the Rite of Spring :D .

    I'm looking for more ways to improve on the recording that I already have. By "the piano is in the next room" do you mean that the sound of the piano is muffled and the voice overbearing? If that's the case, do you have any suggestions on how I could make the piano more present in this recording?

    The equipment in this situation was not ideal, but I will also say that this sample is a pretty accurate representation of what this singer actually sounds like (a function of your voice teacher making you sing "balls out").

    Thanks again!
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    OK, this is coming from a person who has recorded operatic vocals for the past 30+ years.

    This is what good tenors sound like, in a small ambient room. Why is it necessary to make it sound "natural", when natural doesn't cut the mustard? I recorded an audition for a now well-known tenor, 20 years ago when he was just starting out. I asked him who his favorite tenor was. He told me "Jussi Bjorling". Knowing that he died back in the mid-1950s, when I was born, I knew how many of those recordings were made. So I put him on a close proximity ribbon microphone, added some compression & artificial digital reverb. This in combination with a similar configuration for the piano. Not natural by today's standards. So, I made him sound like Bjorling. Or like a Bjorling recording from the 1940s/50s. Well, this got him lots of work & notoriety. He came to me a few years later and wanted a new demo. But this time he requested "Don't make sound like Bjorling again. Make me sound like me." So I did. He's still having a lovely career not sound like Bjorling.

    You're not here to make "natural recordings". You are here to create recordings with sonic interest. Quite frankly think most people's natural singing voices aren't all that pleasant to listen to. So you have to make them sound better than they actually sound. Which you do by not recording things, well, naturally.

    Making organic recordings with artificial degredients.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  5. ethandepuy

    ethandepuy Guest


    You bring up an excellent point. Some of my favorite recordings of tenor and piano are of Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten from the 1960's, which certainly don't sound "natural" at all by today's standards. After all, most recital halls are designed to make the recitalist sound better than they actually are. Who knows if anyone would still go to Carnegie Hall if it was a small ambient room?

    Thanks a lot!
  6. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    I think you did a nice job for just two mics. I wouldn't do it that way, myself, but of course it all depends on budget and available mics/resources, etc.

    I prefer to use a single mic on the soloist, fairly close, but not close enough to catch spittle and breath noises. I'd also put a stereo pair fairly in close on the piano, at least at half-stick, and - if budget and time warrants - a stereo omni pair on the room itself. (Overkill, possibly, but you get the most options that way).

    In post, you can dial-in all five mics according to taste.

    What I hear in your recording is some significant slap-back from the room itself, on both the voice and the piano, as well as overall honkiness of the room. This to me is the not-so-pleasant part of the recording. not nec. the singer himself. When it's a good room, it's great to capture as much of it as you can. When it's not-so-good, better to go close mic (without sounding too artificial) and add ambience and reverb later.
  7. ethandepuy

    ethandepuy Guest


    Thanks a lot for your help - I'm definitely up for trying that in future applications.

    In addition to the first mix of "Here I Stand" that I posted, I've also posted a few second mixes of tracks from the same session. I think that they are generally an improvement.

    Here are the links, if anyone is interested in checking them out!

    Stravinsky - Here I Stand (from The Rake's Progress) - Initial mix posted above
    Stravinsky - Here I Stand (from The Rake's Progress) - Second mix
    Massenet - En fermant les yeux (from Manon) - Second mix
    Mozart - O wie ängstlich (from The Abduction from the Seraglio) - Second mix

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