The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 All  This Thread  Reviews  Gear Database  Gear for sale     Latest  Trending
Noise while recording upright bass
Old 22nd October 2017
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Noise while recording upright bass

Greetings,

I'm having a weird issue recording an acoustic upright bass and looking for some feedback.

I've tried a couple combinations of mics and all kinds of positions, and found a few combinations that produce a tone I'm pretty happy with, so I got that far. (Mic up close and above the bridge, pointing down at it from a few inches away.)

The problem, is I'm getting a ton of extra noise along with my track. The sound of my breathing, for example, is being picked up just as loud as my bass! (I'm not breathing loud or unusual here. It wouldn't be audible to a person sitting next to me.) Along with other left-hand movements (like you can even hear the tiny "click" of my left hand pushing a string down to the fingerboard.)

It's like the mic is emphasizing all the tiny details in the room and they're coming out almost as loud as the big-ass bass cranking away up close right in the mic's "face." It's counter-intuitive because the mics I've got are cardioid, pointed at the sound I want, and a lot closer to it than the sounds I don't want - yet stuff I don't want that isn't loud and is several feet away comes through loud and clear.

It's really a problem then if I go to compress; that only seems to bring out those details. And a lot of it is in frequency ranges I want for the tone of the instrument, so EQ'ing it away isn't a good option.

Looking for any technique tips or tricks I might try that don't require new gear because it's not really in the budget at the moment... (though I see finding a specific mic that works well with my particular bass as something I'll do down the road.)

Quick backround - I'm not a total noob, produced an album in my space with my gear for my band (bluegrass-ish - banjo, guitars, fiddle, dobro etc) about a year ago that came out amazing. (Used an electric upright bass last time, though. First time w/a traditional acoustic.) Have a well treated room in my house dedicated to the task - generous coverage w/DIY fiberglass wall & ceiling panels and bass traps in corners. Smallish room, its quiet, pretty dead, effective setup.

Signal chain is Focusrite ISA One pre & a Saffire 40. Mics are a U87 clone that gets used the most, MXL 603S stereo pair, MXL 992, MXL 993, CAD KM212, and some SM57s. (Best results so far is the MXL 993 positioned close to bridge like I described above. Something like the U87 clone or the 992 makes the problem worse because they're so sensitive.) I've also got one of those mic stand vocal shield things that I'm wondering if I could rig up somewhere to help block the unwanted stuff.

Thanks!
Old 22nd October 2017
  #2
Gear Maniac
something figure-8 with a decent screen / gobo (or yr "shield" at a pinch) behind it? Aim the null at the finger board / your head.
Old 22nd October 2017
  #3
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
Or maybe mic it super close with a dynamic or something.
Old 23rd October 2017
  #4
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
Or maybe mic it super close with a dynamic or something.
Close would help. Maybe a clip-on. I dunno if a dynamic makes any real difference.
Old 23rd October 2017
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnieK View Post
something figure-8 with a decent screen / gobo (or yr "shield" at a pinch) behind it? Aim the null at the finger board / your head.
Don't have anything figure-8 unfortunately. A real U87 does but my clone is only switchable between cardioid & omni. Something fig8 (porbably a ribbon) is high on my list of things to add to my mic collection but haven't gotten there yet. Gonna try the vocal shield as a gobo idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
Or maybe mic it super close with a dynamic or something.
Tried this with an SM57, it helps the noise problem somewhat, but doesn't sound all that great overall. I'm getting some OK results blending some close SM57 with some combinations of the other mics at various spots to bring back some of the "character" and detail the SM57 isn't capturing well, but still trying to experiment.


Thanks for suggestions so far... Bout to go out on a limb and give the CAD a try. Its a dynamic kickdrum mic. Only have it as a cheapy live kick mic and never even tried in a recording situation so not hopeful, but its something I haven't tried yet.
Old 23rd October 2017
  #6
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnieK View Post
Close would help. Maybe a clip-on. I dunno if a dynamic makes any real difference.
Yeah a clip-on is what I eventually want. Hopefully something I can both use for recording and live (not keen on bothering w/a pickup on my acoustic when I already have an awesome electric upright bass thats far more convenient for live occasions when stage volume or situation wouldn't lend itself to a mic...)

But right now I'm trying to solve this (or get as close as I can) with what I've got on hand already...
Old 23rd October 2017
  #7
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnieK View Post
Close would help. Maybe a clip-on. I dunno if a dynamic makes any real difference.
Dynamic such as SM57 wedged in the tail-piece/bridge area will pick up the bass, just the bass.
Old 23rd October 2017
  #8
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by psychonaut View Post
Don't have anything figure-8 unfortunately. A real U87 does but my clone is only switchable between cardioid & omni. Something fig8 (porbably a ribbon) is high on my list of things to add to my mic collection but haven't gotten there yet. Gonna try the vocal shield as a gobo idea.



Tried this with an SM57, it helps the noise problem somewhat, but doesn't sound all that great overall. I'm getting some OK results blending some close SM57 with some combinations of the other mics at various spots to bring back some of the "character" and detail the SM57 isn't capturing well, but still trying to experiment.


Thanks for suggestions so far... Bout to go out on a limb and give the CAD a try. Its a dynamic kickdrum mic. Only have it as a cheapy live kick mic and never even tried in a recording situation so not hopeful, but its something I haven't tried yet.
Seems the 87 style mic should do it, with placement being key.
Old 23rd October 2017
  #9
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
Dynamic such as SM57 wedged in the tail-piece/bridge area will pick up the bass, just the bass.
I've seen people do this with rubberbands and whatnot. I haven't tried wedging it in there in such a manner... I had it up quite close to the bridge on a stand and didn't like the sound at all so I put the 57 down...

But I'm realizing now looking at some pictures of people's rubber band contraptions they're pointed more at the bass top, and it definitely gets you in a lot closer than I was. So maybe I'll give this another go too. The 603 is really small & lightweight so I can probably give that a try as well.

I got a few different things lined up in front of my bass right now about to record something to A/B them all. Gonna go grab some rubberbands too while I'm at it
Old 23rd October 2017
  #10
Lives for gear
 
edva's Avatar
I think mic position, in relation to the sound of the instrument in the room, has to be a part of the problem.
Ideally, you would keep trying different positions in the room and mic locations until you find a "sweet spot" where the sound of the bass "blooms" a bit, and you don't pick up as much noise. (This process can be facilitated greatly with an assistant, especially another bass player). I know you've tried, but obviously have not found it as of yet.
I say that because something is very wrong with this:

"The problem, is I'm getting a ton of extra noise along with my track. The sound of my breathing, for example, is being picked up just as loud as my bass! (I'm not breathing loud or unusual here. It wouldn't be audible to a person sitting next to me.) Along with other left-hand movements (like you can even hear the tiny "click" of my left hand pushing a string down to the fingerboard.)

It's like the mic is emphasizing all the tiny details in the room and they're coming out almost as loud as the big-ass bass cranking away up close right in the mic's "face." It's counter-intuitive because the mics I've got are cardioid, pointed at the sound I want, and a lot closer to it than the sounds I don't want - yet stuff I don't want that isn't loud and is several feet away comes through loud and clear."

And yes, if you compress that mess it will only get worse. If the bass is playing at a normal volume, and the noises are at a soft volume, yet compete with the bass at the microphone, then something must be wrong with the room, and/or the location of the bass and player in the room, and/or the mic position.
If you are happy with your MXL, use that, but try using your omni pattern, since cardioid is giving problems. Omni has far less off axis coloration and proximity effect. After doing the best you can with room, position, and mic location of course. It may or may not be an improvement, but definitely worth a try. Perhaps check that you are being conservative with your preamp input levels also. My 2c. Good luck.
Old 23rd October 2017
  #11
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
I think mic position, in relation to the sound of the instrument in the room, has to be a part of the problem.
Ideally, you would keep trying different positions in the room and mic locations until you find a "sweet spot" where the sound of the bass "blooms" a bit, and you don't pick up as much noise. (This process can be facilitated greatly with an assistant, especially another bass player). I know you've tried, but obviously have not found it as of yet.
I say that because something is very wrong with this:

And yes, if you compress that mess it will only get worse. If the bass is playing at a normal volume, and the noises are at a soft volume, yet compete with the bass at the microphone, then something must be wrong with the room, and/or the location of the bass and player in the room, and/or the mic position.
If you are happy with your MXL, use that, but try using your omni pattern, since cardioid is giving problems. Omni has far less off axis coloration and proximity effect. After doing the best you can with room, position, and mic location of course. It may or may not be an improvement, but definitely worth a try. Perhaps check that you are being conservative with your preamp input levels also. My 2c. Good luck.
Thanks. I did have a helper the other day to move mics around for me while I listened in headphones. This is kind of a pain in the neck by myself. The bass is obviously kinda huge and unwieldy and cant hold on to the the thing while maneuvering mics. I definitely found moving around the room changed things enormously. Even moving the bass a few inches dramatically changed the tone of things. So omni is probably worth exploring if I can get some help again.


Anyway, I've gotten the best sound yet just now by rubberbanding the 603 in and pointing it a little less than an inch away from the top between the bridge feet. I have the gain way down now of course, and that's gotten rid of most of the extra noises. I could live with this sound 100%... except I can still freekin' hear myself inhale! Apparently have a habit of taking a deep breath right as I start a phrase. It's to the point where it'd mostly be lost in the mix in most circumstances and I wouldn't care, but I'm working on something that's really sparsely arranged and my breathing does not belong there.

In the spirit of low-end, I'm about to put a painters' mask or wrap a tshirt around my face or something and try that, and I think I'll have this solved, haha.

For what its worth on the internet record... the CAD kick mic sounds surprisingly cool. It's mellow and round and bassy. It's not the tone I want for this track, but it's surprisingly usable in certain scenarios.
Old 23rd October 2017
  #12
Lives for gear
LOL, don't breath.

Seriously though, backing off the compression can help, but when I record acoustic guitars I like a lot of compression. Just try to make the room as quiet as possible and breathe quietly.
Old 23rd October 2017
  #13
Lives for gear
 

Seems like the trait of excess top end. In this case, do you need that on an upright? Roll some off?
Old 23rd October 2017
  #14
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
Seems like the trait of excess top end. In this case, do you need that on an upright? Roll some off?
I've never recorded upright bass, but I love the scraping pluck sound on guitars, and I expect I would like that on an a giant acoustic bass. Makes it cut through the mix.

But yes, on bass guitars I don't usually need the "breath noise" frequencies.
Old 23rd October 2017
  #15
Here for the gear
 

Spent a couple hours tracking and I got close to the sound I was imagining, and it's sitting good already in a rough mix. The solution to the last bit of breath noise was... wrapping a towel around my face.

Still a mystery why this was such an issue tracking bass and its never been nearly as noticeable on the other string & guitar etc tracks.

Oh well. Next up is figuring out how to best record a bowed sound so still got plenty of need to experiment, but happy for now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
Seems like the trait of excess top end. In this case, do you need that on an upright? Roll some off?
And yeah, by the way. There's a surprising amount of HF content. That's all the "information" that makes it sound like an upright instead of a bass guitar. I was glad to capture that detail, was a matter of eliminating the sound of my body rustling around and breathing such...
Old 23rd October 2017
  #16
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by psychonaut View Post
The solution to the last bit of breath noise was... wrapping a towel around my face.
Awesome!

Old 29th November 2017
  #17
Here for the gear
 

We take a dynamic Mic and wrap a wash cloth around it and wedge it under the bridge between the tail piece and the body. A condenser would work too.
Old 29th November 2017
  #18
Sock on Pop (filter)
Attached Thumbnails
Noise while recording upright bass-bassbock-1.jpg  
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump