Remote recording classical guitar: Yes or No answers and suggestions are welcome!
For a remote rig geared towards classical guitar and other solo/duo/trio ensembles would the following setup provide good results assuming the person using the gear (myself) is competent. My goal is transparency with a touch of forgiveness since the recording locations my not always be the best.
Here is the setup:
Schoeps CMC641 Stereo Set (hyper-cardiod for the "forgiveness" factor)
True Systems P-Solo x2 (I live 3 minutes from the factory so figured I should take advantage of that.)
Apogee Duet 2 (already own and love)
MacBookPro running Pro Tools 10 (already own and love)
This setup is the creation of a guitarist, not a sound engineer, so bare that in mind when critiquing. Out of the high end mics recommended for classical guitar, I chose Schoeps because there seems to be a majority opinion that DPA mics require "the best" acoustic environments to reach their full potential.
Also, while I am fairly new to recording, I'm getting into the field with a singular focus which can sometimes blind me to other options. Is there any reason I shouldn't get a matched pair of AKG 414's instead of the Schoeps? I realize the Duet 2 is not a Symphony but it works great with my DAW and sounds incredible compared to the mic pres on my other Audio Interface.
There is no rush to make big purchasing decisions but I'm trying to get an idea of where to start looking. I'm a big fan of researching products and only buying once. My setup is purposefully limited to do only a few things so I thinking getting it right the first time isn't out of the question. Thank you for any advice you can give.
I tend away from the super directional mics for the situations you describe. I find a good set of cardiods is generally a bit more forgiving than hypers because of the issues of directionality and presence.
That being said, when I do guitar work, I will often use a set of subcardiod or omni schoeps. Makes for a beautiful sound. I have also found that even in dead rooms, an omni can really help open up an otherwise small and congested sound. An advantage of starting with Schoeps is that you can buy different capsules for a single set of bodies.
I'd probably steer away from the 414 because of the brightness of the mic. It also tends not to be a terribly refined sound. If you have the money for better mics, I'd start with that.
As for preamps, there are so many ways you can go. You can go for utmost transparency. In that world, the new Pueblo Audio pres are going to be tough to beat. There are also more traditional choices such as Grace, Millennia, True, DAV, Hardy and other similar brands. They all have their own character- which one you want will depend on your personal preference.
The other options are more of the "colored" pres. I tend to really like my A Designs Pacifica and my Vac Rac tube pres. Without a direct comparison to other pres, you would probably call them pretty transparent, perhaps a little bit of warmth, but compared to something like the Pueblo, they are very colored.
You need to ask yourself the question: "Do I want to reproduce exactly what is happening?" That in itself is a *big* question. I find that there are times that I do not want to reproduce everything *exactly.* How about the vocalist whose voice isn't 100% that day? How about the plucks and finger squeaks on a guitar? How about the bow/rosin sound of a violin? Those are questions I cannot answer or even offer advice on. It really is about personal preference.
For me, A-D converters are on the bottom of the chain. As long as you have decent conversion, you'll be fine. Bad mics and bad pres are, IMO, a much greater issue.
Maybe I should have said "clarity" rather than "transparency." I don't want every classical guitar to sound the same. For example, I have two guitars: one is incredibly powerful; the sheer volume and rich overtones create a "wall of sound" unlike any other classical I have heard. My other guitar is much less resonant but also much more precise. The fundamental pitch is strong but the overtones are weak giving the guitar a clear, focused tone. I want the mics and mic pres to capture the differences, not gloss over them.
However, you right in suggesting capturing "everything" in a performance is not ideal. Guitars are noisy which is why classical guitarists generally prefer not to be close miked. On the flip side, there are pieces which would require microphones to pick up "back side of the string" tones, intentional slides, squeaks, and buzzes. So ideally I would like quite a bit of control over what is captured.
The Schoeps are really expensive but with the separate body/capsule design the cost may even out in the end. Thank for the preamp suggestions. I should be able to try out at least two of the brands listed. I also play electric guitar so I try and relate guitar gear to recording gear; preamps being a prime example. It doesn't always work.
Do yourself a favor and try ribbon mics. Borrow them from someone and try them. You'll find them smooth, and VERY forgiving on your nail-clicks, minor ticks and other little noises. Only very high-end condenser will do what an 1/3 of a price ribbon can do.
Because of nice low end of a ribbon mic, you can put it little further (3-5 feet) away - get the acoustics of a hall too. I'm assuming you'll be recording in a small-semi small church, cause I found that big churches/halls have too much natural reverb.
I've been paying attention to various recordings and pictures of mic set-ups for them (if available). Some professional recordings have mics too far out from the source, some have it too close. I've been recorded solo few times and to my amazement very few recording engineers know what classical guitar is - they treat it just like another "acoustic" guitar (metal strings etc).
I would not use a computer to record on - I would use a dedicated recorder.
For stereo I would look at something like the SD 702 or 722 or an AETA MIXY with a pocket recorder as a "bit bucket" (Tascam DR-100 II, Marantz 661 or the Sony PCM-D50 all have digital inputs). The MIXY has a choice of digital outs on optical, wired and USB as well as analogue outputs.
The advantage of this method is that you can just grab the portable recorder for when you just want to grab a recording fast and don't want to take the rest.
Use the computer only for editing.
Gefell M300 stereo set
Sennheiser MKH 8040 stereoset
Both of these are cardioid sets and I would suggest ORTF.
I recorded a classical guitar recital in a church which was purchased by a local university. I used a pair of AKG-414s in a near coincident pair (cardiod pattern). I also setup a pair of MXL 990s for the sake of comparison, but I digress.
If memory serves, the mics were placed about 3 or 4 feet in front of the guitarist, at or slightly below his "ear level". I recorded it in Pro Tools via the mic pres on a Digi 002R. I've attached an mp3 of the raw recording, complete with all of the low frequency rumble in the room.
(Note: I suppose I could have uploaded one of his other "traditional" classical guitar pieces, but I just love Brazilian music, and this tune is not only one of my favorite pieces, but my favorite rendition as well.)
Last edited by justDoug; 28th January 2013 at 08:27 PM..
Reason: Added a "note".
With a good instrument, about any decent mic will sound fine when placed right.
I like best: Schoeps pairs, MK4 or MK2 depending on room, or Neumann TLM170. However I've also used an Oktava tube mic once, and I think my KM183s also got me good classical guitar, placed higher than one would think.