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Mike Skeet on manual level tweaks for classical recordings Spatial Processor Plugins
Old 13th October 2016
  #1
Lives for gear
Mike Skeet on manual level tweaks for classical recordings

I'm aware this is not strictly a 'Remote' topic (apart from the location of the typical capture for this material), but thought it might be of interest to those who employ level adjustments for location recordings back at base.

Mike goes beyond the simple 'pull down the peaks' process, as he outlines here: the practical research file of mike skeet - paper no.8
Old 14th October 2016
  #2
The methods of level management described in this article seem quite out of date compared to what can be done with modern editing tools. I'll give a few examples of modern workflow using the Samplitude/Sequoia platform.

1) In classical music, it's often the case that just a few large transients prevent raising the overall program level. Many good limiter plug-ins exist that are capable of audibly-transparent peak reduction, provided they are not abused. But some classical engineers (me included) resist strapping a limiter across the mix bus out of worry that it will lead to some subtle degradation in quality. In Sequoia/Samplitude, I define a short range over each peak and use shift-T to split it out as a separate object with automatic crossfades. It's then a simple matter to grab the volume handle of the object and pull it down a dB or two. If the result is unconvincing, I can adjust the crossfades (very easy in Sequoia), or I can delegate the work by inserting a limiter plug-in on the transient object. The advantage of this is that the limiter is not applied to rest of the program material: it's only inserted for a second or so.

2) If a very quiet movement seems unlikely to penetrate traffic noise, I can define the complete movement as an object and raise its level with the object handle. This step-wise approach is often all that's needed. But when the composer has written a large dynamic step within a movement, reducing its size is musically suspect. Instead, one may want to do a long-term level ride prior to the dynamic change. This is easy to do using a volume automation curve, which can be defined by creating a couple of widely-spaced volume "tack points" with the mouse, and letting Sequoia/Samplitude interpolate between them. The result is a more gradual ride than I could possibly execute by hand. Automation can be done at track level, but to prevent inadvertent volume adjustments to material distant in time, I sometimes create the volume curve at object level instead.

3) Another "level management" problem is the convincing integration of spot mics, when needed. A modern DAW provides better options than we used to have. A typical problem is that a mono spot mic "sticks out" when faded up, ruining the sound stage capture by the main pair. Time alignment with the main pair can help, but I like to go further: I delay the spot behind the main pair to take advantage of the Haas effect. To further camouflage the spot, I run it through a reverb plug-in set to create just a few closely-spaced early reflections (no tail). Spreading the energy in this way allows me to use a lower fader level.

4) HVAC noise is the bane of classical recordists. It's particularly annoying to hear just before the music starts. With luck, one has captured some room tone when the blowers are off, and this can be substituted. When that's not available, I've sometimes resorted to using a spectral noise reduction tool. One hates to apply spectral gating to actual music (artifacts galore!), but it can be done with impunity prior to the down-beat. Properly adjusted, it can leave some impression of the performance space, which is preferable to having the music suddenly appear out of "digital black".

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording

Last edited by David Rick; 14th October 2016 at 05:16 PM.. Reason: fixed typo
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Nut
 
Stradivariusz's Avatar
Both are great read, thank you!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
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Roland's Avatar
I think that Mikes article is a product of the time he wrote it, the kit that he was using and his familiarity with the working practices that he was using. I knew mike quite well and had worked with him on numerous occasions and whilst he strived for the best results he felt could be achieved, he was a practical man who understood that subtle tweaks were perfectly acceptable if it delivered an overall better experience for the listener.

As David points out, there are other options these days that would achieve the same (or similar) results in a more practical way. The article appears to have been written in 2011 and I do recall discussing this subject with a Mike before or around that time.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Smile

So sad Mike is no longer with us - it still seems strange when I have to drive past Mike's house in MK when I go that way.

I do have one of Mike's papers on my website - the one I helped him with for the AES on recording Surround Sound with Height.

Mike was a practical man who hated having to write things down - so I wrote the paper and PowerPoint for him and he did the actual presentation.

The paper is HERE if anyone wants a look.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Roland's Avatar
A couple of years before he died, Mike and I discussed about a “cube” of cardioid capsules, combining some of the soundfield concept with some of the DS60 ideas. Mike got some capsules donated by Soundfield I believe that he had fashioned into a prototype. I believe he had run some proof of concept tests, but became ill shortly after and we didn’t get to discuss it properly. Having looked at the paper you and he wrote together John, did he ever mention the mic or did you ever get to hear any results he might have had?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
I remember attending a talk Mike did in Denver on surround recording techniques. Someplace I probably still have the notes I took...
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
Lives for gear
I first met Mike at Rycote at a symposium
He had a Sharp MD and had been recording trains binaurally
So had I but I was recording ordinance and wild life tracks and music
We compared notes and then got onto MS and MKH arrays, again complete agreement
He then lent me his Pearl DS for a long period for my Classical music forays
Also his PGS ribbons
He was a very generous man, typical brit eccentric, I bought his PGS from him and his MKH 80
A total gent, and an eye opener in a v conservative industry
RIP Mike.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland View Post
A couple of years before he died, Mike and I discussed about a “cube” of cardioid capsules, combining some of the soundfield concept with some of the DS60 ideas. Mike got some capsules donated by Soundfield I believe that he had fashioned into a prototype. I believe he had run some proof of concept tests, but became ill shortly after and we didn’t get to discuss it properly. Having looked at the paper you and he wrote together John, did he ever mention the mic or did you ever get to hear any results he might have had?
Yes - several times.

The capsules were made by MBHO and were the same as those on the SPS200.

Wallyburger of this forum was the one who sold Mike's microphones for him, so he may have news on the mic.

I have heard several of Mike's 3D recordings (ie: 5.0 + 4 for height) in his home. The results were excellent.

Unlike some demo recordinghs by other people, Mike recorded properly - so you were never really aware of the surroiund and height loudspeakers and were just immersed in the sound. But switching off the height loudspeakers the sound collapsed and sounded horrible in comparison - but it was still 5.0.

As he got more ill, Mike started to sell off all his stuff - I last saw him just 2-weeks before he died.

A great man and a real loss.
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