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toughest instrument to record well?
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25th June 2007
Old 25th June 2007
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toughest instrument to record well?

Thought I'd throw this one out there: I primarily record acoustic instruments/ensembles, and I have a few instruments that continually disappoint me when recording...

Piano. I am never floored with the piano sounds I come up with. In almost ANY situation. This is the instrument I find the most challenging, and least rewarding come mix time.

Anyone else have a certain instrument that they feel falls 'short' of their expectations re: the recorded sound?

BTW: feel free to advise re: getting a good piano recording, but this thread is about bitch instruments to record...
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26th June 2007
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26th June 2007
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I find that many stand up basses are difficullt to get a focused sound on. That said, I have had good results with really fine instruments but an average or lower quality bass gives me fits.
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12th July 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sutton View Post
I find that many stand up basses are difficullt to get a focused sound on. That said, I have had good results with really fine instruments but an average or lower quality bass gives me fits.
I am curious if the non-directionality of low notes might be the problem.
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12th July 2007
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Acoustic Bass

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sutton View Post
I find that many stand up basses are difficullt to get a focused sound on. That said, I have had good results with really fine instruments but an average or lower quality bass gives me fits.
I agree. In my experience I've definitely found that the quality of the bass is a huge factor in the quality of the sound. That's of course assuming that the room and the mic choice & placement are suitable. And that the player knows what he's doing.
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12th July 2007
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12th July 2007
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In a song, not an instrumental- --the human voice.......
everything else is there as support
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13th July 2007
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Upright bass in a small studio.
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I had a lot of trouble recording a baritone sax not long ago. I never did like the way it turned out but the tune sounded great.




I wonder how much of a nightmare it would be to record one of those huge pipe organs, you know like in a church?
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13th July 2007
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1. Handclaps
2. Steel Drum
3. Sitar

Kalimba used to be #1 until I figured it out.
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13th July 2007
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I agree... skin flute is pretty hard!
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bad singer
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1. Melodica. The problem is the source is so annoying sounding what are you going to do. They don't sound nice at all. I got an Apex 205 (my first ribbon) coming in the mail and maybe that will help it although maybe I can also convince the band I'm recording that that's what it really sounds like and that sound is really bad.

2. Acoustic guitar... NOT! Just figured this one out tonight. Oktava MK012 9-12 inches away, lower than the guitar, pointing up between the 12th fret and sound hole. Much better. No more LDCs on acoustics! I could really see having some better pres help out here.
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Drums with a bad drummer.
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Quote:
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bad singer

especially if they have a bad attitude
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
3. Sitar
What do you find particularly difficult about recording a sitar?
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The voice. Regardless of quality. I only hear the voice recorded right once in a blue moon. I'm still not sure how exactly to do it.

And it matters more, and its quality matters more, than everything else combined.
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Quote:
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What do you find particularly difficult about recording a sitar?
Getting a decent sound isn't difficult, I guess. They're just very peaky, so tricky in the gain-structure sense.
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I second hand claps... If it's just you at least and you're trying to make it sound big. A lot of people, that's different.
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+3 for handclaps.

And, although acoustic guitar isn't challenging, I seldom get the sound I hear in my dreams.
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I struggled with upright bass for a long time, but my m201 or nt3 suspended in the bridge of any substandard bass in any substandard room is a real eye opener.

Still having trouble with violin...
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The challenge IMO with recording acoustic guitar is that it seems the nature of the instrument is more prone to reveal the defeciencies inherent in the signal chain. And I'm not talking about poor equipment or technique... I mean just the nature of translating the sound through mics and pre's. It seems like the shortcomings of current technology is always very apparent with acoustic recording. Of course there are things about the equipment that are pleasing and at times preferred even though they're not natural- But when you want realistic, nothing ever seems to satisfy like hearing an acoustic played live. Perhaps it's because ac gtr has such a unique blend of tone which needs to be captured all at once, from the dynamics of the string attack, to it's complex natural resonances across an incredibly wide spectrum.

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Upright Bass

I am primarily a bass player and have had lots of opportunities to try out different techniques. My favourite by far is a LDC wedged between the legs of the bridge pointing straight into the body. I always avoided this technique because it didn't really make much sense to me and always thought you would lose the mid and high qualities of the instrument. Anyway it's turned out to be the best in my opinion. And the added bonus is isolation because the mic is so close.

A second place for me would be an LDC about half a foot off the tip of the bridge pointing straight into the bridge. At this range though I've found it more likely to encounter the finger "clunks". This being dependent on the room and player of course.

I had also tried combinations of SDCs and LDCs but then as the bassist moves around the phase starts to cause issues.

Any while i'm on it, I was at a session where the bassist was miked up as follows: U47 -> Neve (1081 i believe), and Shoeps -> Manley. The mikes were positioned one on top of the next in line with the bridge about 6-8" away (as described above). Again I found this setup to bring out some unflattering characteristics: String clacks and finger bumps. The 47 was my favourite in this situation though.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peeder View Post
The voice. Regardless of quality. I only hear the voice recorded right once in a blue moon. I'm still not sure how exactly to do it.

And it matters more, and its quality matters more, than everything else combined.
Agreed! Also piano is fairly complex.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emkay View Post
In a song, not an instrumental- --the human voice.......
everything else is there as support
Especially an old, abused voice...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6dyslexicelephnt View Post
2. Acoustic guitar... NOT! Just figured this one out tonight. Oktava MK012 9-12 inches away, lower than the guitar, pointing up between the 12th fret and sound hole. Much better. No more LDCs on acoustics! I could really see having some better pres help out here.
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Listen to the acoustic guitar in "Been Away". The song otherwise wasn't that well recorded on my part, especially the vocals were horrible in my opinion, but I think the acoustic guitar turned out OK (and the guitartone on "I'm Dreaming"). I used three mics: Röde NT1 pointing to the hole, Röde NT5 pointing to the 12th fret and another NT5 pointing to the 3rd fret, to Yamaha MLA8. We rented a $2000 Martin, which has a wonderul tone to begin with, so we didn't need to use any EQ on any of the mics except hipass at 80hz. All mics as close as possible = so that the hands don't hit the mics.
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I'll concur that hand claps are tricky, and upright bass can be alternately frustrating/rewarding, but think that the tibetan singing bowl is probably the toughest acoustic instrument I've run across.
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27th December 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by centurymantra View Post
I'll concur that hand claps are tricky, and upright bass can be alternately frustrating/rewarding, but think that the tibetan singing bowl is probably the toughest acoustic instrument I've run across.
I guess that's why most migrate towards using that old patch on a Korg M1 instead!!!

As for handclaps: I've had success (stacking singles) with omni miced in a live room, and 1176 or 1178 to taste (fast attack/release or "all-in" mode).

Upright bass can also be difficult: I'm really digging the 4060 (w string clip) when I can manage/minimize spill - it sounds damn good, and doesn't limit the bass player from moving around...

Keep 'em coming!

Happy Holidays!!!
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1st January 2008
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HANDCLAPS! UGH!

i just had to do this for the first time not long ago. man they suck. i ended up using some ass slaps from a couple of porno flicks. worked much better.



...stop laughing. i'm serious
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1st January 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlugHead View Post

BTW: feel free to advise re: getting a good piano recording, but this thread is about bitch instruments to record...

I just did a track the other night recording a steinway. I used 4 SM57's spaced evenly accross the strings from high strings to low strings. Placed about 3 or 4 inches away from where the strings tied off to the back of the piano, and about 4 or 5 inches above the strings. Then I took my at3031 put it right over the middle of everything about 3 or more feet above the piano, to catch the piano as a whole. and then I took my AT Pro37 and put it under the piano about 1 foot away from the soundboard to catch the resonance from that. when it was all said and done and mixed together I was content with the way it sounded. mixing it all together was the trickiest part, making sure they're all balanced with each other. But this has worked for me, not sure what your setup your using is, hope that might have been of some help.

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