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70's flashback: the Nakamichi 3 mic live recording guide Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 25th May 2016
  #1
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70's flashback: the Nakamichi 3 mic live recording guide

Those of us who owned Nakamichi recording gear (eg the portable, esteemed 550) back in the 1970's would have received this as part of the owner's manual.

It's certainly a 'novel' approach to live recording (and one Nak obviously believed in seriously, as they had 3 mic inputs on that recorder: left, blend, right) and is a sort of extremist, stretched version of the Decca Tree (minus outriggers), with a big emphasis on a central mono mic augmented by a pair of more distant, spaced 'ambient' mics to give width and bloom.

While the early pages (solo piano, singer with piano accompanist, string quartet) give advice which is plausible....though I doubt few here would adopt..by the time you get to the symphony orchestra guidance it's really stretching credibility.

Nak advocates the centre (main) 'blend' mic be placed above the woodwinds, with the stereo pair widely spaced and level with the 1st row of the audience. I can't imagine the balance one would derive from that placement ? Their dimensions seem out of whack too...as if they've never used the method and it's all guided by imagination or some arcane secret "theory" ....

I'd love to hear some 'company endorsed demo recordings' made using this method ! It's attached here for consideration and discussion.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Nakamichi 3 mic Live technique.pdf (166.7 KB, 441 views)
Old 25th May 2016
  #2
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boojum's Avatar
Interesting. It seems in almost all cases to be a spaced pair and a spot mic.
Old 25th May 2016
  #3
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Yes that's the essence of it....but as the spot mic (which the accompanying notes describe as the predominant signal carrier, the spaced pair give stereo information and 'body') can be quite distant from the pair, I wonder about the continuity between them, as a system ? In a Decca Tree the distances are relatively small and symmetrical from left to right.

In the orchestral example they are widely displaced from each other, so I'd expect big time of arrival differences between blend mic and spaced pair. In fact it's the opposite of a spot mic (which is usually blended in surreptitiously and at a low level)
Old 25th May 2016
  #4
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pkautzsch's Avatar
 

In their first orchestra example drawing, the "blend" mono mic is about where Decca's Center would be. The "stereo" mics would rather be flankers. This reminds me of the Mercury "3 M" technique (though 3 M would have all three mics above the orchestra, not in front).
Looks like someone tried to save two mics by placing the L/R mics right between Decca L/R and Decca Outriggers positions.

Interestingly, the text states that the blend mic should be "above the woodwind section" - which is NOT what's in the drawing, and which makes less sense.

What's funny too: the introduction says that you often can't use a stereo pair. Apparently, to them a stereo pair always means a *widely spaced* pair. The soloist example (either 10 meters wide or two players) is hilarious.

In the end, all of the suggestions will end up being a mono recording with stereo room - except for the "organ" and "organ with choir" setups.

Title should be: How not to succeed in live recording.
Old 27th May 2016
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pkautzsch View Post
In the end, all of the suggestions will end up being a mono recording with stereo room - except for the "organ" and "organ with choir" setups.

Title should be: How not to succeed in live recording.
Yes it seems to have been designed 'in retro'....to create a use for the 3 mic inputs on the 550 portable recorder ! It would be interesting to trace the history of the method, to find if it was all derived in-house or had outside consultancy ? I know that Nakamichi built their own research concert hall in the 1970's...I wonder if this is the result of their trials there ?

They also seem confused whether the stereo pair or the mono blend should predominate in the final stereo mix...there are alternate cases of either depending upon the application
Old 5 days ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pkautzsch View Post
What's funny too: the introduction says that you often can't use a stereo pair. Apparently, to them a stereo pair always means a *widely spaced* pair. The soloist example (either 10 meters wide or two players) is hilarious.

In the end, all of the suggestions will end up being a mono recording with stereo room - except for the "organ" and "organ with choir" setups.

Title should be: How not to succeed in live recording.
Yes, they seem to have somehow completely missed a whole panorama of stereo miking, including MS, Blumlein, the 'near coincidents', XY ......and turned their attention solely to the evils of too-widely-spaced omnis !

I wonder if their approach was ever adopted by Japanese recording companies or location outfits in the 70's and later...or simply became a home hobbyist's fixation ?
Old 5 days ago
  #7
I like the vocal quartet and piano the most. “Oh you thought you understood the formula but you were So! Wrong!”

Reminds me of recipe books made to accompany appliances. “Tomato smoothies!” “ jello bread!” “Grapefruit seed rice!”.
Old 5 days ago
  #8
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surflounge's Avatar
Hope the omni's behave without phase interference
Attached Thumbnails
70's flashback: the Nakamichi 3 mic live recording guide-jazztrio.jpg  
Old 4 days ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by king2070lplaya View Post
I like the vocal quartet and piano the most. “Oh you thought you understood the formula but you were So! Wrong!”

Reminds me of recipe books made to accompany appliances. “Tomato smoothies!” “ jello bread!” “Grapefruit seed rice!”.
Yes it's odd that Japan, quite innovative in several fields, made next to no additions to the theory and practice of stereo recording...until perhaps the advent of quadrophonic playback for LP's in the mid 70's and the Hamasaki Square array for surround recording.

The Nak 3 mic system seems like a poorly matured 'philosophy' aimed at legitimising their 3>2 input mixer (incorporated into a few of their top line cassette decks of the era)... all the while ignoring phasing problems and the existence of very workable coincident and near coincident miking methods being used extensively in the west since a decade or two earlier.

An object lesson in "how not to reinvent the wheel"...
Old 4 days ago
  #10
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Thumbs up

I have a 550.

In the day I used the blend mic input as a mono mic input for doing interviews for local radio.

I never actually used all three together - it was either a stereo recording in the L and R channels, or a mono mic for interviews in the "centre" channel (which recorded on both tracks).

Not used it in years, but I still have it.
Old 4 days ago
  #11
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I bought a Nak 1000 xl machine from a BA pilot who use it to record music in the Middle East
It cost me 80 quid, I never used the mic amps (it also originally came with 3 x AKG 451 )
I sold it later for 800 quid...
It was a lovely device, but the recording dogma made no sense, as did many Japanese marketing decisions of the 80s.
Old 4 days ago
  #12
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emrr's Avatar
I see reference to concert tapers having used Naks with the 3 input setup, I wonder if there are a bunch of Grateful Dead audience tapes following one of these methods.
Old 4 days ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emrr View Post
I see reference to concert tapers having used Naks with the 3 input setup, I wonder if there are a bunch of Grateful Dead audience tapes following one of these methods.
Very likely indeed...a Google search of the audience tapes from that era ('75 onwards) will reveal all !

The 550 had a shoulder strap and was quite weighty, but you'd get a complete Dead concert on a chamber full of D alkaline cells (and maybe another changeover set as backups....rechargeables didn't exist then), and speed stability was fine. Dolby B and a bunch of blank TDK-SA C-90 chrome bias tapes and you were good to go
Old 4 days ago
  #14
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Studer the nicad was invented by Neumann in 1941 for use in UBoats...
NiCad was the standard after lead acid in Broadcast.
Old 4 days ago
  #15
Gear Addict
 

NiCad batteries were used in Nuemann tube mic power supply as voltage reference. (Before zener diode) Surprisingly, they were still working after 50 years.

Nakamichi also made a 3 mic input preamp that has a seperate matching power supply. Same setup as the 550 deck. Middle mic input is hardwired to both left and right channels. No panning. That setup worked really well for remote work.
Old 4 days ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
Studer the nicad was invented by Neumann in 1941 for use in UBoats...
NiCad was the standard after lead acid in Broadcast.
I don't recall NiCad's being available until the 80's, at least for consumer powering, and not in standard AA, C or D sizes...maybe pro/ broadcast was better served for rechargeables, and most likely in non-standard shapes ?
Old 4 days ago
  #17
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Nagra always had NiCad D cells as an option from the 60s
Old 3 days ago
  #18
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Very likely indeed...a Google search of the audience tapes from that era ('75 onwards) will reveal all !

The 550 had a shoulder strap and was quite weighty, but you'd get a complete Dead concert on a chamber full of D alkaline cells (and maybe another changeover set as backups....rechargeables didn't exist then), and speed stability was fine. Dolby B and a bunch of blank TDK-SA C-90 chrome bias tapes and you were good to go
The 550 also had an internal Dolby line-up tone generator, so you could acurately (and easily) set the correct Dolby level for the tape you were using.
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