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more advice on pipe organ, noise in particular Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 16th April 2019
  #1
Gear Addict
 

more advice on pipe organ, noise in particular

So, I'm still pretty new at this. I've now done three recordings of the same pipe organ in as many months. I learn a little something from each new experience, and I'm fairly happy with the sound from this latest outing... except for one thing. The noise level in the recording is somewhat frustrating. I'm nowhere near as picky about background noise as many people on these forums, but the noise in my recordings of this organ seems excessive.

I assume what I'm hearing is mostly blower noise, but I'm not sure. My attitude at first was that the blower is just part of the instrument, and so if I get a recording of the blower, that's fine because I'm capturing what really happened. But I'm not so sure. I feel like other organ recordings I listen to don't suffer from the same noise issues.

Any advice?

I've heard mixed reviews on noise reduction plug-ins. Some people rave about how wonderful they are, while others warn about artifacts. I'm running very old, base level software which limits my plug-in options severely as well. Other than noise reduction software, I don't know what options I have. I'm not sure what I could change with mics/positioning to improve things, but even if I knew, I'm not sure I'd want to compromise tone and acoustics for the sake of noise.

As long as I'm posting this recording, I'd welcome any other advice on what's good or bad, where I can stand to improve further, besides just the noise questions.

Thanks!

Old 17th April 2019
  #2
For pipe organ recording:

Get good at RX. There’s no way around it.

You can try using closer pairs or directional pairs, or directional closer pairs. Sometimes that can work, but transitioning between the pairs as the dynamic increases will be a new challenge.

The best advice is to find a Mains placement that offers that great direct/indirect balance, with as little instrument blower noise as possible. I’ve found sometimes this means having a backup concept for your mains ready to go, in case your first idea doesn’t work. I’ve had situations where omnis sound terrible and I had to fall back on using a coincident pair, when setting up I assumed the opposite would be the case.

Organ is difficult, but when you nail it, it’s great !
Old 17th April 2019
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Having specialized in the pipe organ recordings for 45 years, and the recording engineer for the Wanamaker organ in Philadelphia - the "Largest Fully Playable Pipe Organ in the World" I would like to offer my advise. From your description, it definitely sounds like your dealing with a noisy blower that is most likely not well maintained, and not well covered. It may also be the physical position of the blower, not to mention other mechanical noises and air leakage. Blower rumble noise, and mechanical mounting to the floor could also be a problem. Unfortunately, there's no way to physically isolate that those noises from your recording. Using different microphones or a different position is not going to help at all!

If you are pleased with the overall sound of the instrument and the pickup, then I would suggest trying Izopote RX noise reduction software to help reduce that background noise. You must be careful not to over process which can cause some strange artifacts. Just take your time and experiment with different settings. I'm also thinking there may also be an overall lack of maintenance on the instrument which will also contribute to these noise related problems. Pipe organ tuning and maintenance is critical when doing organ recordings!

If I can can provide any further assistance, please contact me at [email protected]

Jim at Wanamaker's
Old 17th April 2019
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

Unless it is a little "portatif" instrument, the organ is part of the building and the building is part of the neighborhood. At least you are only dealing with instrument "self-noise" (an electronics term I am applying to organ mechanics), the blower. There are many cases where the instrument/venue is in a location with a lot of environmental noise. Such as an organ in a church in downtown New York City, etc. In many cases, recording sessions are scheduled for the middle of the night and/or weekends when traffic/ambient/industrial noise would be at minimum.

Unless there are covers broken or missing, or a wind leak somewhere, you could argue that is the way the maker (and owner) agreed the instrument sound would be acceptable or they wouldn't have paid for it. Is this just a casual recording, or is it a well-funded, formal production? Is there a budget for calling in an expert to assess and repair the instrument? Is it due for tuning anyway so that a technician can check for anything abnormal? Can you put some sound-deadening blankets over the blower (remembering to check often for heat build-up and potential fire hazards.)

How much opportunity do you have for positioning the microphones? Can you move farther away from the immediate location of the blower while maintaining a good perspective of the sound of the instrument in the space? Organ recordings are frequently made with the microphones very high off the ground. Would height reduce the blower/wind noise?

In your sample recording, the music is pretty uniformly loud enough to mask the blower noise. To my ear, the noise is only really noticeable/objectionable at the beginning and end of the music. I would certainly chop the head and do a quick fade up leaving only fraction of a second before the music starts. And at the end, let the reverb decay down into the ambient noise for no more than a second. Any more than that is just unnecessarily exposing the shortcomings for no good artistic reason. Some very nice organ recordings I have heard let the end reverb decay down into the ambient noise, even with traffic, bird chirps, etc. just to give some "flavor" of the setting.

Certainly if you were recording repertoire of a much softer genre, the "signal-to-noise ratio", SNR (another electronics term I apply to acoustics) would be lower, and the organ blower noise would be much more noticeable in the pianissimo passages. In that case, you can argue that you are simply delivering a faithful document of what the instrument/venue actually sounds like as the blower/wind noise is beyond your immediate control.

I would be very cautious about using post-production noise-reduction software. It is very easy to cause more damage to the recording than any benefit that may be achieved.

At least that is my rather pragmatic philosophy without knowing any more about your particular situation.

Unrelated but concerning: I am hearing reports that the fire at Notre-Dame Paris did no significant damage to the organ.
Old 17th April 2019
  #5
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
Unless it is a little "portatif" instrument, the organ is part of the building and the building is part of the neighborhood. At least you are only dealing with instrument "self-noise" (an electronics term I am applying to organ mechanics), the blower. There are many cases where the instrument/venue is in a location with a lot of environmental noise. Such as an organ in a church in downtown New York City, etc. In many cases, recording sessions are scheduled for the middle of the night and/or weekends when traffic/ambient/industrial noise would be at minimum.

Unless there are covers broken or missing, or a wind leak somewhere, you could argue that is the way the maker (and owner) agreed the instrument sound would be acceptable or they wouldn't have paid for it. Is this just a casual recording, or is it a well-funded, formal production? Is there a budget for calling in an expert to assess and repair the instrument? Is it due for tuning anyway so that a technician can check for anything abnormal? Can you put some sound-deadening blankets over the blower (remembering to check often for heat build-up and potential fire hazards.)

How much opportunity do you have for positioning the microphones? Can you move farther away from the immediate location of the blower while maintaining a good perspective of the sound of the instrument in the space? Organ recordings are frequently made with the microphones very high off the ground. Would height reduce the blower/wind noise?

In your sample recording, the music is pretty uniformly loud enough to mask the blower noise. To my ear, the noise is only really noticeable/objectionable at the beginning and end of the music. I would certainly chop the head and do a quick fade up leaving only fraction of a second before the music starts. And at the end, let the reverb decay down into the ambient noise for no more than a second. Any more than that is just unnecessarily exposing the shortcomings for no good artistic reason. Some very nice organ recordings I have heard let the end reverb decay down into the ambient noise, even with traffic, bird chirps, etc. just to give some "flavor" of the setting.

Certainly if you were recording repertoire of a much softer genre, the "signal-to-noise ratio", SNR (another electronics term I apply to acoustics) would be lower, and the organ blower noise would be much more noticeable in the pianissimo passages. In that case, you can argue that you are simply delivering a faithful document of what the instrument/venue actually sounds like as the blower/wind noise is beyond your immediate control.

I would be very cautious about using post-production noise-reduction software. It is very easy to cause more damage to the recording than any benefit that may be achieved.

At least that is my rather pragmatic philosophy without knowing any more about your particular situation.

Unrelated but concerning: I am hearing reports that the fire at Notre-Dame Paris did no significant damage to the organ.
These are very casual recordings. It's a 4x per year concert series at a local university, and they weren't being recorded at all until I started. I haven't recorded professionally for almost ten years, and I'd never had a chance to record pipe organ before, so I offered to record them at no cost, just for the fun and experience.

I don't know how long I'll keep that up, but if the tiny trickle of money I could potentially make doesn't get above a certain threshold, it's not worth the trouble of charging anything at all - if I want to do business with institutions like big schools, I need a business license, tax ID, insurance, etc. As an amateur, life is much simpler.

I know the organ was serviced just over a month ago for key action, but I have no idea if they would've automatically listened for blower issues on that same visit or not. I don't know enough about organs to know how much noise is normal, but my gut feeling is that the organ is behaving as expected.

I didn't have time to try too many mic locations, but I can say that walking around the room I find less variation than I'd expect in that noise. It somehow feels like it's everywhere! Maybe next time I'm there, I'll ask if I can look behind the scenes to better understand where the blower is, and what the acoustic paths for blower noise are. As for mic height, I was at roughly 12' this time, which is roughly half the height of the room.

I'm glad to hear that you don't think the noise is totally unreasonable. I certainly agree that it doesn't bother me while it's playing, just start and finish. Start is easy to fix, end is trickier. Guess I just need practice!

I did find that a 90-120Hz HP dramatically reduces how objectionable the noise is to me, so I'm considering automating a HP to clean up room tone between tracks, with carefully timed, fading transitions for head and tail. First attempt was a little rough, but maybe I'll try some more and see if I can get something good out of it.
Old 17th April 2019
  #6
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

Yeah, it is probably safe to assume that if they had someone work on the instrument recently, any unusual blower/wind noise would have been noticed by the technician. So, we must accept that is how they are content with the sound/noise.

I have a couple of very tall (18 ft) light stands which I use for microphones when recording things like organs or large choirs/orchestras. It gets the mics up into a space more removed from the audience/noise for a live performance. And in the case of organs, the sound up there is very often much better than closer to the ground on ordinary stand heights.
Old 17th April 2019
  #7
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

Don't tell anyone, but I have been known to "cheat" and chop the recording off right at the point of "keys up" and then tune some artificial reverb to match the venue so that I have a noise-free "tail".
Old 17th April 2019
  #8
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
Don't tell anyone, but I have been known to "cheat" and chop the recording off right at the point of "keys up" and then tune some artificial reverb to match the venue so that I have a noise-free "tail".
Well, I won't tell anyone, but I think you just did!
Old 17th April 2019
  #9
Gear Addict
 

Thanks to all for the insights so far.

Since I don't already own RX, and it looks like the $100 version doesn't have the part that sounds most useful (the spectral one,) I don't think it's worth $300 to me until or unless I start actually making money off this stuff. I think free recordings will just be a little noisy.

I'll probably play around with selectively high passing the noise and/or chopping the ending and adding fake reverb, just to see what my options are. Ultimately, if I don't like either of those solutions, and a free recording is a little noisy, they get what they paid for!
Old 17th April 2019
  #10
Gear Nut
 
Peter Allison's Avatar
I have done about 200 recordings of organs in the north east UK, and some of our main cathedrals, the noise floor, plus any "organ" noise, like winding, can sometimes be quite loud, its just a case of "chopping and tailing" like has already been mentioned... as an aside, a good friend made a commercially available
SA-CD at a cathedral in France (DPA /Senny, and a Soundfield thrown in for good measure), and the noise threshold is all part and parcel of the disc, you either like it or not as there is not a lot you can do sadly
Old 18th April 2019
  #11
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ebeowulf17 View Post
Thanks to all for the insights so far.

Since I don't already own RX, and it looks like the $100 version doesn't have the part that sounds most useful (the spectral one,) I don't think it's worth $300 to me until or unless I start actually making money off this stuff. I think free recordings will just be a little noisy.

I'll probably play around with selectively high passing the noise and/or chopping the ending and adding fake reverb, just to see what my options are. Ultimately, if I don't like either of those solutions, and a free recording is a little noisy, they get what they paid for!
B&H had the $100 version on sale for $9.99 about a week ago on the deal of the day. I think it goes on sale like this once or twice a year. If you are really interested in the program, you might keep an eye out for the next sale.

Another option is using subtractive EQ in Reaper ($60 last time I looked for the entire program) to build and remove part of the noise floor.

Noise reduction is interesting to play around with, but I wouldn't expect miracles nor pay miracle prices based on my own experience so far. If you are being paid to clean up a recording and have developed an expertise in noise reduction, then that's a different story than when you are essentially spending your money and your own time on noise reduction.

I tend towards saying record it like it is and follow Richard Crowley's suggestions.
Old 18th April 2019
  #12
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ebeowulf17 View Post
So, I'm still pretty new at this. I've now done three recordings of the same pipe organ in as many months. I learn a little something from each new experience, and I'm fairly happy with the sound from this latest outing... except for one thing. The noise level in the recording is somewhat frustrating. I'm nowhere near as picky about background noise as many people on these forums, but the noise in my recordings of this organ seems excessive.

I assume what I'm hearing is mostly blower noise, but I'm not sure. My attitude at first was that the blower is just part of the instrument, and so if I get a recording of the blower, that's fine because I'm capturing what really happened. But I'm not so sure. I feel like other organ recordings I listen to don't suffer from the same noise issues.

Any advice?

I've heard mixed reviews on noise reduction plug-ins. Some people rave about how wonderful they are, while others warn about artifacts. I'm running very old, base level software which limits my plug-in options severely as well. Other than noise reduction software, I don't know what options I have. I'm not sure what I could change with mics/positioning to improve things, but even if I knew, I'm not sure I'd want to compromise tone and acoustics for the sake of noise.

As long as I'm posting this recording, I'd welcome any other advice on what's good or bad, where I can stand to improve further, besides just the noise questions.

Thanks!

Hi, I just listen to it. I think you are right, the noise is not nice. The recording however is beautiful.
You can try to measure of there is a difference in volume of the blowernoise at various heights.
Another way is if you find the place where it come from to isolate. However on this low frequenties you must use haevy sound insulation blankets as used for generators.
If you do more recordings there you can try to activate somebody who is responsible for the organ to do something about it. Nowadays there are possibilities to apply absorbent material inside the organwind channels. If you start with that from the blower into the organ you can improve a lot. And a good blower box is of course the starting point.
Old 18th April 2019
  #13
Gear Addict
 

Ebeowulf17, which organ is it? The Fuchs at PLU?
Old 18th April 2019
  #14
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dingenus View Post
Hi, I just listen to it. I think you are right, the noise is not nice. The recording however is beautiful.
You can try to measure of there is a difference in volume of the blowernoise at various heights.
Another way is if you find the place where it come from to isolate. However on this low frequenties you must use haevy sound insulation blankets as used for generators.
If you do more recordings there you can try to activate somebody who is responsible for the organ to do something about it. Nowadays there are possibilities to apply absorbent material inside the organwind channels. If you start with that from the blower into the organ you can improve a lot. And a good blower box is of course the starting point.
Thanks for the kind words on the overall sound. I'm really liking it too! It's unfortunate that the best sounding mic combo so far is also the one that reveals the most noise. As of right now, I'm willing to choose the best organ sound, even if it's a little noisier, but I do plan to experiment more with managing the noise.

I'll also discuss the noise with the organist and see what he thinks about them doing something to reduce it.

The big difference in noise pickup on this date is the addition of an omni to the mix. I'm running a coincident 3 mic MS array, with both cardioid and omni mids so I can blend to taste and vary the amount of room. This mix has the two mids balanced a little heavier on the omni side. If I drop the omni entirely, the noise is less obvious, and the low frequency portion of the noise in particular cleans up a lot, but I just don't like the room sound as much without it.
Attached Thumbnails
more advice on pipe organ, noise in particular-7ea084e0-b5f2-41d8-b00f-a9def014fa9d.jpg   more advice on pipe organ, noise in particular-0dd43adc-47cc-4e66-9d9b-eb37d99f3475.jpg   more advice on pipe organ, noise in particular-a4c01292-0b97-44f5-be2a-91e88fe02b56.jpg   more advice on pipe organ, noise in particular-e1e3243e-21b9-4837-b95c-34f00293c205.jpg   more advice on pipe organ, noise in particular-6034bd69-9bee-45e4-87c5-1742995e2658.jpg  

Old 18th April 2019
  #15
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ebeowulf17 View Post
Thanks for the kind words on the overall sound. I'm really liking it too! It's unfortunate that the best sounding mic combo so far is also the one that reveals the most noise. As of right now, I'm willing to choose the best organ sound, even if it's a little noisier, but I do plan to experiment more with managing the noise.

I'll also discuss the noise with the organist and see what he thinks about them doing something to reduce it.

The big difference in noise pickup on this date is the addition of an omni to the mix. I'm running a coincident 3 mic MS array, with both cardioid and omni mids so I can blend to taste and vary the amount of room. This mix has the two mids balanced a little heavier on the omni side. If I drop the omni entirely, the noise is less obvious, and the low frequency portion of the noise in particular cleans up a lot, but I just don't like the room sound as much without it.
After looking at those photos again, I think it might well be that bellows have been placed behind the organ. If they are not placed in a closed housing, it can produce a lot of noise.

regards
Old 19th April 2019
  #16
Gear Addict
 

So, I tried two variations on reducing the noise to more moderate levels. One just treats the beginning and end separately and leaves the middle untouched. The other also changes the sound throughout the whole piece to get better noise reduction. I could certainly live with either, but I'm still trying to decide which I prefer. I'd welcome any comments/criticism on either or both:


Old 19th April 2019
  #17
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ebeowulf17 View Post
So, I tried two variations on reducing the noise to more moderate levels. One just treats the beginning and end separately and leaves the middle untouched. The other also changes the sound throughout the whole piece to get better noise reduction. I could certainly live with either, but I'm still trying to decide which I prefer. I'd welcome any comments/criticism on either or both:


I don't hear a great deal of difference between the 2 files, but prefer mix02. I'd tend to advocate the lighter touch of NR with organ recordings, with a few caveats.

Pump or compressor noise is probably harder to reduce or eliminate in the building itself than most would believe...and maybe this accounts for why, after a few attempts, it's often abandoned as "just too hard" and/or expensive to do properly ?

When you're an audience member, an accomodation or 'selective perceptual band pass' can occur after a few minutes, whereby you become accustomed to the hiss and mentally screen it out. This doesn't happen so readily when listening at home, as you have fewer visual or other distracting factors to disable your critical listening.

For this reason, I'd advocate a tapered or sliding scale of NR...in other words, applied quite aggressively for the first minute or two, the progressively wound back over the next 2 mins or so....once the ear has become accustomed to the "quiet, low noise opening minutes" ....and is thus easily fooled that this is going to prevail as the 'steady state' for the remainder of the concert/composition.

Again, at around 90 secs before the end, wind the NR back in progressively, so that the closing dying notes and ambience are much more noise free than the preceding 45 mins !

Ahh, the humble human ear/brain....so naive, so easily fooled....

Also, as we so often observe in this forum, the mics don't hear as our ears do...and organ noise which might drop away significantly with distance from source for audience members can remain stubbornly front and centre for the mics (especially if those same mics are pushed close to the organ pipes in a misguided attempt to "extract maximum realism and detail") This is of benefit only if you insist on your organ pump noise being rendered with maximum fidelity. Going further back with mics can have numerous benefits...

Finally, while not being one to advocate a whole new method or approach simply in order to circumvent (the vents !) ....but do give some consideration to the use of boundary layer (BLM) or PZM miking, in the service of noise reduction.

Maybe there's something intrinsic to having the mic element only millimetres above a floor, wall or ceiling surface which actively discriminates against pump/blower noise ??

By way of supporting evidence I suggest you listen to heva's sample of Estampie, recorded with an inverted Superlux S502 on the stone floor....his take on the Floorcatcher (tm) approach.... Link is here (post#283) >>> Superlux s502

Audible pump/blower noise successfully minimized ....or simply not there in the church to begin with ? Heva will know for sure.....
Old 19th April 2019
  #18
Gear Addict
 

I can't help with the noise reduction here, but I spoke with the builder/maintainer of the Bethel Schneebeck organ and pointed to this thread.

The organ was damaged last year by heat/humidity problems. Quoting with permission:
"The problem is not the blower, it’s the wooden, pressurized box under the windchests (where the pipes sit and where the valves connected to the keys are) and to a lesser degree the wooden wind trunking. Last year during a winter break cold snap the chapel heating went haywire and heated to 95F for the week. The organ dried out dangerously with some leather seals between bottom boards breaking loose and some wind trunking joints opening a bit. They are putting together a plan to fix this..."

Hopefully it will get fixed, but it sounds like it may take some time.
Old 19th April 2019
  #19
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GLouie View Post
I can't help with the noise reduction here, but I spoke with the builder/maintainer of the Bethel Schneebeck organ and pointed to this thread.

The organ was damaged last year by heat/humidity problems. Quoting with permission:
"The problem is not the blower, it’s the wooden, pressurized box under the windchests (where the pipes sit and where the valves connected to the keys are) and to a lesser degree the wooden wind trunking. Last year during a winter break cold snap the chapel heating went haywire and heated to 95F for the week. The organ dried out dangerously with some leather seals between bottom boards breaking loose and some wind trunking joints opening a bit. They are putting together a plan to fix this..."

Hopefully it will get fixed, but it sounds like it may take some time.
Wow, that's great information - thanks so much! I feel better knowing that there is something unusual here, and that it's not just me somehow making an especially noisy recording.

I still really love the overall sound of the instrument, so I'll enjoy recording it any chance I get, and I look forward to the day when it's less noisy, whenever that day comes.
Old 19th April 2019
  #20
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

So they were apparently aware of the wind leaks, but not budgeted or scheduled for repair yet? You would think that organbuilding would have evolved out of using such outdated and vulnerable materials like leather.

Back in the mid-1980s I had an extensive tour of Rieger-Orgelbau in Austria where I saw that while they were still casting their lead-tin alloy (very similar to solder) sheets and forming the metal pips and machining the wood pipes using modern tools, and using very thin strips of wood for the mechanical tracker action, they were using modern metal hardware, plastic bearings, PVC sheet for the slider valves at the foot of the pipes, etc. So, in places where it would not affect the sound they were using improved methods and materials and enhancing the performance and longevity of the instrument.

Considering the cost of acquisition and maintenance of even a modest-size pipe organ, deployment of an environmental monitor (temperature, humidity, smoke) with automatic remote alert (text message, etc.) would be a very minor cost and excellent insurance.
Old 19th April 2019
  #21
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GLouie View Post
Ebeowulf17, which organ is it? The Fuchs at PLU?
Sorry I completely overlooked this message while I was responding to ones above it. I see you identified it after I posted pictures. You clearly know your way around the local organs. Thanks again for your insights.

Do you also record organs around here? Have you ever recorded this one? I'd be curious to hear how other people approach it, and what range of sounds come from the same instrument in the hands of different engineers.
Old 19th April 2019
  #22
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
So they were apparently aware of the wind leaks, but not budgeted or scheduled for repair yet? You would think that organbuilding would have evolved out of using such outdated and vulnerable materials like leather.

Back in the mid-1980s I had an extensive tour of Rieger-Orgelbau in Austria where I saw that while they were still casting their lead-tin alloy (very similar to solder) sheets and forming the metal pips and machining the wood pipes using modern tools, and using very thin strips of wood for the mechanical tracker action, they were using modern metal hardware, plastic bearings, PVC sheet for the slider valves at the foot of the pipes, etc. So, in places where it would not affect the sound they were using improved methods and materials and enhancing the performance and longevity of the instrument.

Considering the cost of acquisition and maintenance of even a modest-size pipe organ, deployment of an environmental monitor (temperature, humidity, smoke) with automatic remote alert (text message, etc.) would be a very minor cost and excellent insurance.
Monitoring with remote alert sounds like a brilliant idea. I hear about a lot of IOT ideas that sound like silly excuses to use tech just because you can, but this one would provide significant benefit in the unlikely event that something like this happens.

You can build one with Arduino or similar technology very easily for less than $50, so why not?! Obviously making a commercial grade unit with a nice enclosure, etc. would end up costing more, but still a pittance compared to the cost of repairing preventable damage.
Old 19th April 2019
  #23
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

Maybe we have a new project/product here: Pipe Organ (or any expensive installation) monitoring.
It would be rather easy and inexpensive to monitor for any number of these factors:
1) Temperature, lower limit, upper limit, rate-of-change
2) Humidity (same factors as for temp)
3) Smoke (like for the fire at Notre-Dame Paris)
4) Water (at the base of the organ in places where flooding is a potential)
5) Movement (like earthquake, etc.)
6) Motion (ultrasonic or Passive InfraRed) in the pipe chambers
7) Extended motion at the console without the power turned on (i.e. unauthorized fooling around)
8) Mains power failure (to prepare for possible environmental excursions)
9) Swell-shade position. (if you need to leave the shades closed when not operating)
10) Once-a-day "everything's OK" messages to confirm continued proper operation and link integrity.

Low-volume, text-only cell phone accounts are quite inexpensive
Or if you were in the vicinity of free LoRa (or equivalent) coverage you could log and alert directly to the internet.
And/or use the institution's WiFi for access depending on the level of "hardening" you need for the alerts.
Old 19th April 2019
  #24
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
So they were apparently aware of the wind leaks, but not budgeted or scheduled for repair yet? You would think that organbuilding would have evolved out of using such outdated and vulnerable materials like leather.

Back in the mid-1980s I had an extensive tour of Rieger-Orgelbau in Austria where I saw that while they were still casting their lead-tin alloy (very similar to solder) sheets and forming the metal pips and machining the wood pipes using modern tools, and using very thin strips of wood for the mechanical tracker action, they were using modern metal hardware, plastic bearings, PVC sheet for the slider valves at the foot of the pipes, etc. So, in places where it would not affect the sound they were using improved methods and materials and enhancing the performance and longevity of the instrument.
For serious builders of organs in baroque style after historic models using modern materials usually is not an option.
Rieger is not specialised in historic baroque style organs, as far as I know.
Old 19th April 2019
  #25
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
I don't hear a great deal of difference between the 2 files, but prefer mix02. I'd tend to advocate the lighter touch of NR with organ recordings, with a few caveats.

Pump or compressor noise is probably harder to reduce or eliminate in the building itself than most would believe...and maybe this accounts for why, after a few attempts, it's often abandoned as "just too hard" and/or expensive to do properly ?

When you're an audience member, an accomodation or 'selective perceptual band pass' can occur after a few minutes, whereby you become accustomed to the hiss and mentally screen it out. This doesn't happen so readily when listening at home, as you have fewer visual or other distracting factors to disable your critical listening.

For this reason, I'd advocate a tapered or sliding scale of NR...in other words, applied quite aggressively for the first minute or two, the progressively wound back over the next 2 mins or so....once the ear has become accustomed to the "quiet, low noise opening minutes" ....and is thus easily fooled that this is going to prevail as the 'steady state' for the remainder of the concert/composition.

Again, at around 90 secs before the end, wind the NR back in progressively, so that the closing dying notes and ambience are much more noise free than the preceding 45 mins !

Ahh, the humble human ear/brain....so naive, so easily fooled....

Also, as we so often observe in this forum, the mics don't hear as our ears do...and organ noise which might drop away significantly with distance from source for audience members can remain stubbornly front and centre for the mics (especially if those same mics are pushed close to the organ pipes in a misguided attempt to "extract maximum realism and detail") This is of benefit only if you insist on your organ pump noise being rendered with maximum fidelity. Going further back with mics can have numerous benefits...

Finally, while not being one to advocate a whole new method or approach simply in order to circumvent (the vents !) ....but do give some consideration to the use of boundary layer (BLM) or PZM miking, in the service of noise reduction.

Maybe there's something intrinsic to having the mic element only millimetres above a floor, wall or ceiling surface which actively discriminates against pump/blower noise ??

By way of supporting evidence I suggest you listen to heva's sample of Estampie, recorded with an inverted Superlux S502 on the stone floor....his take on the Floorcatcher (tm) approach.... Link is here (post#283) >>> Superlux s502

Audible pump/blower noise successfully minimized ....or simply not there in the church to begin with ? Heva will know for sure.....
Thanks for your insights. Lots of good stuff in there.

I think I prefer mix02 as well. The difference is just the ratio of omni to cardioid for the mid mic, with 02 maintaining the high omni content I originally chose, and 03 using more cardioid than omni.

I've used a HP filter with automation at the beginning and end of both versions, so the noise at start and finish has a 120Hz HP, but the filter frequency sweeps down to 20 before engaging its bypass; before any low notes kick in, there's no filter at all (and then reverse the process more quickly at the end.) Both mixes have very similar noise content when the HP is active, but mix03 is a little cleaner when the HP is off in the middle of the piece.

However, there's a sense of more space around the low notes with the omni, so I think I'm sticking with it. It's hard to describe - both tracks have solid bass to my ears, but it seems like the omni captures more bass reverb. It's not that the bass is deeper, more like it's longer, rounder, smoother.

The PZM idea is really interesting, but probably no help in this venue. It has carpeted floors, except on stage, plus these recordings have all had audiences, so floor mics would be risky!
Old 20th April 2019
  #26
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GLouie View Post
I can't help with the noise reduction here, but I spoke with the builder/maintainer of the Bethel Schneebeck organ and pointed to this thread.

The organ was damaged last year by heat/humidity problems. Quoting with permission:
"The problem is not the blower, it’s the wooden, pressurized box under the windchests (where the pipes sit and where the valves connected to the keys are) and to a lesser degree the wooden wind trunking. Last year during a winter break cold snap the chapel heating went haywire and heated to 95F for the week. The organ dried out dangerously with some leather seals between bottom boards breaking loose and some wind trunking joints opening a bit. They are putting together a plan to fix this..."

Hopefully it will get fixed, but it sounds like it may take some time.
Oops, that's not good, hope the damage is easily accessible and no wood is torn so the windchests don't have to be removed from the organ and repaired in the workshop. That is really expensive work. More attention to the climatic conditions is apparently needed.
Old 20th April 2019
  #27
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
So they were apparently aware of the wind leaks, but not budgeted or scheduled for repair yet? You would think that organbuilding would have evolved out of using such outdated and vulnerable materials like leather.

Back in the mid-1980s I had an extensive tour of Rieger-Orgelbau in Austria where I saw that while they were still casting their lead-tin alloy (very similar to solder) sheets and forming the metal pips and machining the wood pipes using modern tools, and using very thin strips of wood for the mechanical tracker action, they were using modern metal hardware, plastic bearings, PVC sheet for the slider valves at the foot of the pipes, etc. So, in places where it would not affect the sound they were using improved methods and materials and enhancing the performance and longevity of the instrument.

Considering the cost of acquisition and maintenance of even a modest-size pipe organ, deployment of an environmental monitor (temperature, humidity, smoke) with automatic remote alert (text message, etc.) would be a very minor cost and excellent insurance.

Hi, here in the Netherlands we have seen all the problems that the modern times brought to us in organ building. The pvc and perspex is allready gone as not decent enough. Some materials cause environmental problems. Slider valves are here top quality oak with felt rings. The felt rings remain good for at least 30 years and are then replaced in case of major maintenance.

The leather that used to be used was tanned differently and sometimes lasted for more than a century. All kinds of new environmental regulations caused problems from the 1970s onwards. As a result, many repairs were needed with regard to organ leather from the 1990s. The same happened with the tin-lead mixtures of the heads of the read stops. They became too pure, too few contaminants, which resulted in an increased sensitivity to lead corrosion. My, and with me many others, final conclusion is that the old organ makers (16-19th century) usually used better materials than we do/did in modern times.

However, the biggest problem for pipe organs is modern heating. The hot air heating in particular has caused an incredible amount of damage. A specialist (can't get his name for a moment) in that area compared it to the 2nd World War. He said that modern heating systems have destroyed more pipeorgans since the 1950s than all bombing in World War II.

Your advice for an environmental monitor has struck me from the heart. That must be done in any space with musical instruments. If I come to a problem instrument for advice the first question is what kind of problems there are, the second whether they monitor temperature and humidity.
Old 20th April 2019
  #28
Gear Addict
 

I have not recorded this organ, but happen to know the builder who has made many such instruments locally and nationally:
Welcome to Paul Fritts and Company.
Make an appointment and drop by the shop. They also pour their own sheet metal for pipes. If you want the real deal organ, you use traditional materials with very rare exceptions.

I am no organ expert and am only doing archival recordings at the UW, where there is not much fussing except what I want to do. For organs, I start with a pair of omnis on tall stands, aimed towards the higher pitched pipe area, and maybe about 1/3 the way down the room. This usually works fine for archivals. Because organs are recorded with a lot of room sound, the noises are always a problem for recordists, but the organists typically aren't concerned.

The damage on this organ sounds significant, expensive and time consuming. My guess is the university will consider an environmental monitor now, but we all know the mysteries of church and school budgets and repair schedules.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ebeowulf17 View Post
Sorry I completely overlooked this message while I was responding to ones above it. I see you identified it after I posted pictures. You clearly know your way around the local organs. Thanks again for your insights.

Do you also record organs around here? Have you ever recorded this one? I'd be curious to hear how other people approach it, and what range of sounds come from the same instrument in the hands of different engineers.
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