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Recording Harmonium & Tabla Condenser Microphones
Old 25th February 2008
  #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andy_simpson View Post
Still, the instruments are at least Indian and subject to the laws of physics which give them the basic material timbre, so the test is useful enough for my purposes.
[nitpick]Well, not really, IMHO... The sitar is ill-tuned and the playing/intonation is severely "besura" (out of tune). This particular Tabla is a tourist quality instrument and the actual sound production i.e. the strokes hardly make it sound the way a Tabla can and should sound. This will just not demonstrate the qualities of your microphones any better than if you were to strum an untuned $50 chinese guitar or press some random keys on any old upright piano (exaggerated, but you get the idea). It's meaningless from a purely technical point of view. If I record a good Sitar or Tabla with a dynamic Beyer M201, the result will simply sound a lot better (and so do many of the mono recordings on indian LPs from the sixties)... Do yourself a favour and don't publish these samples on your website for advertising purposes. Nothing against the players' efforts, and maybe they will improve in the future, but right now this is very amateurish technically and musically, and hardly fit to demonstrate a mic's quality. GIGO...

If I have an opportunity to work with indian musicians sometime this year (I might), I'd be glad to test your mics, if you were to let me have a pair for a week or two... heh

Quote:
And I'm sorry to hear about your cat. I hope he will return in due course, as is often the way with cats.
Nope, not this time. I immediately knew something had happened, because his daily routine was quite regular. And it turns out he's been run over by a f***ing car, way outside his usual territory (a lovely big pasture to play in). Why would he have to try and cross a stupid main road on a Friday morning? At least now I know what happened... Buried him in the garden today.


Quote:
I really refer to the basic operation of the instrument. I would have thought that a basic accordian offers more control of dynamics but I will look up the players you suggest.
The harmonium is hand-pumped and does allow to apply more or less air pressure, which directly translates into volume. While Ivo's basic point about the scale's inflexibility is right, it is quite amazing what can be done with this instrument - certainly not something you can learn in ten minutes (not counting the musical understanding required for appropriate accompaniment). It wasn't the british "Raj" (rule) that forced this instrument upon indian musicians, they chose to use it...

Quote:
If you consistently feel the need to use extreme proximity to achieve this, perhaps you could consider different monitoring?
No, I'm sure that's not the problem. I just don't like the sound of overambience (esp. in small rooms) on Tabla, and I appreciate some of the subtle sounds the hand produces on the drum - as well as the resonance of certain strokes, which easily gets lost at greater mic distances (e.g. on the Water Lily recordings I've heard, also earlier Nimbus CDs - the inventors of the tin can Tabla sound..). The Tabla is not an instrument that was designed to acoustically fill large rooms.


Daniel
Old 26th February 2008
  #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
[nitpick]....
If I have an opportunity to work with indian musicians sometime this year (I might), I'd be glad to test your mics, if you were to let me have a pair for a week or two... heh
Send me an email around the time.....

Quote:

Nope, not this time. I immediately knew something had happened, because his daily routine was quite regular. And it turns out he's been run over by a f***ing car, way outside his usual territory (a lovely big pasture to play in). Why would he have to try and cross a stupid main road on a Friday morning? At least now I know what happened... Buried him in the garden today.
I'm very sorry to hear that.

Quote:
The harmonium is hand-pumped and does allow to apply more or less air pressure, which directly translates into volume.
Yes, I was considering the difference in control offered by a two-armed pump in the accordian vs a single hand.

Quote:

No, I'm sure that's not the problem. I just don't like the sound of overambience (esp. in small rooms) on Tabla, and I appreciate some of the subtle sounds the hand produces on the drum - as well as the resonance of certain strokes, which easily gets lost at greater mic distances (e.g. on the Water Lily recordings I've heard, also earlier Nimbus CDs - the inventors of the tin can Tabla sound..). The Tabla is not an instrument that was designed to acoustically fill large rooms.

Daniel
Agreed, but I wouldn't disregard the monitoring question completely.

The 'envelope' of the tabla is hard for both speaker & microphone since the large initial 'excitation' can cause resonances which mask the lower-level concurent sounds - in both microphone & speaker.

I don't know what is your usual choice of monitoring but I would suggest something along the lines of Strauss or K&H where the laws of physics are more in your favour.

I've never heard a direct-radiator speaker capable of reproducing even a tourist quality tabla.....

Andy
Old 26th February 2008
  #33
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ISedlacek's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
[nitpick]
If I have an opportunity to work with indian musicians sometime this year (I might), I'd be glad to test your mics, if you were to let me have a pair for a week or two... heh
Andy is coming to my studio next week with his wondrous microphones, so I will be able to try them on my acoustic instruments and compare with Schoeps, AEA etc.
Old 26th February 2008
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andy_simpson View Post
Agreed, but I wouldn't disregard the monitoring question completely.
The 'envelope' of the tabla is hard for both speaker & microphone since the large initial 'excitation' can cause resonances which mask the lower-level concurent sounds - in both microphone & speaker.
This would apply in close-miked situations more than in setups like yours or e.g. Water Lily. Reverb will drown a good bit of that.
Monitoring is fairly irrelevant for the differences between good and bad I am referring to. I'm not so much talking about sharp transients, but some of the fairly subtle sounds of the fingers moving on the drum.

Quote:
I've never heard a direct-radiator speaker capable of reproducing even a tourist quality tabla.....
Even if this were a great instrument, one would need to have the right technique to really make it sound. Would you let a beginner play you a few samples on a Stradivari for your website...? heh

Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
Andy is coming to my studio next week with his wondrous microphones, so I will be able to try them on my acoustic instruments and compare with Schoeps, AEA etc.
Interesting... Is there a competent Tabla player around?
Old 26th February 2008
  #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post

Interesting... Is there a competent Tabla player around?
Tabla ? I did not think particularly of tabla ... Yes, there is one top class player but not very close and quite busy ... But for a general idea, I think my huge set of acoustic instruments would be quite sufficient ...
Old 26th February 2008
  #36
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Ivo post some serious samples!!!
Old 26th February 2008
  #37
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ISedlacek's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by videoteque View Post
Ivo post some serious samples!!!
I always post serious samples heh
Old 27th February 2008
  #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
This would apply in close-miked situations more than in setups like yours or e.g. Water Lily. Reverb will drown a good bit of that.
Monitoring is fairly irrelevant for the differences between good and bad I am referring to. I'm not so much talking about sharp transients, but some of the fairly subtle sounds of the fingers moving on the drum.
I see, this is more of an issue of performance space then.....

Quote:
Even if this were a great instrument, one would need to have the right technique to really make it sound. Would you let a beginner play you a few samples on a Stradivari for your website...? heh
.....hmmm.....perhaps not!

Andy
Old 27th February 2008
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andy_simpson View Post
I see, this is more of an issue of performance space then.....
No - mic placement...
Old 29th February 2008
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
No - mic placement...
Ok, I meant audience perspective of acoustic event.

You would prefer a concert to be held in a large anechoic chamber?

Maybe it would work?!

Andy
Old 29th February 2008
  #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andy_simpson View Post
You would prefer a concert to be held in a large anechoic chamber?
No. But my earlier statement that the Tabla (and Sitar etc.) were not designed to fill large halls acoustically not only has implications on recording, but also on live performance. In most concert locations beyond the size of an intimate house concert, you will need a PA for a Classical Indian Music performance, even though some people may whine that they'd prefer the "natural" sound...
Indian instruments and even singers don't project the way classical western ones do.

But while I can imagine rooms where a perfomance would be well possible without PA, I would still choose close-miking for a recording. This is simply because ears and microphones hear differently. On a recording, your ears can not relate to or deal with the ambience they same way they do in a live situation. Tabla recorded at a distance sounds unpleasantly ambient to my ears and loses fine detail. And a Sitar does not reach as far a a violin.

I was at a concert in a very reverberant church the other day, sitting on the side with no view to the orchestra and choir, I could barely see the conductor an the soloists.
Yet the sound I heard with my ears right there was about as present and direct as it will turn out to be in the recording I made. My ears (with the help of my eyes) subtracted the ambient sound from the reverberant field, so to speak. If I had placed a microphone, even a dummy head, Jecklin disc or similar contraption in the same place, the result would have sounded horrible. Have you ever compared the acoustic impression of music at great distance in a reverberant space between the way you perceive it live and a stereo recording from the same position?


Daniel

PS: Did you know tham some of the strokes on the Tabla (those with a clear pitch) have practically no fundamental, only overtones?
Old 1st March 2008
  #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
No. But my earlier statement that the Tabla (and Sitar etc.) were not designed to fill large halls acoustically not only has implications on recording, but also on live performance. In most concert locations beyond the size of an intimate house concert, you will need a PA for a Classical Indian Music performance, even though some people may whine that they'd prefer the "natural" sound...
Indian instruments and even singers don't project the way classical western ones do.
I don't necessarily disagree with you, I just like to discuss.

Many of the Indian instrumentalists I met in the UK liked to perform in small concrete rooms - ie. a house, which they said was closest to what they were used to.

Quote:

But while I can imagine rooms where a perfomance would be well possible without PA, I would still choose close-miking for a recording. This is simply because ears and microphones hear differently. On a recording, your ears can not relate to or deal with the ambience they same way they do in a live situation. Tabla recorded at a distance sounds unpleasantly ambient to my ears and loses fine detail. And a Sitar does not reach as far a a violin.
Again, I don't disagree.

However, as I said before, your choice of monitor can bring the difference between the ear & the reproduction via (good) microphones closer.

The direct-radiator monitor is not great at resolving spatial image aspects, so detail is lost in any case there. You may feel somewhat differently via a set of K&H or Strauss monitors.

Probably, as you suggest indirectly, a horrible recording combined with video footage would have better perceived quality than a great recording without any visual cues....

Quote:

I was at a concert in a very reverberant church the other day, sitting on the side with no view to the orchestra and choir, I could barely see the conductor an the soloists.
Yet the sound I heard with my ears right there was about as present and direct as it will turn out to be in the recording I made. My ears (with the help of my eyes) subtracted the ambient sound from the reverberant field, so to speak. If I had placed a microphone, even a dummy head, Jecklin disc or similar contraption in the same place, the result would have sounded horrible.
Yes, visual cues are absolutely critical for concerts!

Quote:

Have you ever compared the acoustic impression of music at great distance in a reverberant space between the way you perceive it live and a stereo recording from the same position?
Yes, many times. With good microphones the difference is less than you would think but for speakers to reproduce that, you need the exact SPL & some fast speakers (as recommended above).

Quote:

PS: Did you know tham some of the strokes on the Tabla (those with a clear pitch) have practically no fundamental, only overtones?
Do you mean that the fundamental is implied (psychoacoustics)? If so, yes, this is quite common in musical instruments.

Andy
Old 2nd March 2008
  #43
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Quote:
My ears (with the help of my eyes) subtracted the ambient sound from the reverberant field, so to speak. If I had placed a microphone, even a dummy head, Jecklin disc or similar contraption in the same place, the result would have sounded horrible. Have you ever compared the acoustic impression of music at great distance in a reverberant space between the way you perceive it live and a stereo recording from the same position?
very good point d_fu. i'm all for minimalist micing, but what you say is making me rethink my stand on this.

that said, when micing too close, the amount of detail that shows up is sometimes too distracting and unnatural for me... i think the solution might to record in relatively less lively spaces from a moderate distance (4'-7'). if one is forced to record in very live spaces, i guess close micing is the way to go...

secondly, microphones are necessary evils, the way i see it. the more microphones you use, the more unnatural the recording sounds... more off axis colouration, more phase issues, more chances to screw things up at the mix. it is of course true that a good engineer will make appropriate mic and placement choices to minimize the ill effects i just mentioned, but i still hang on to my feeling that for live, acoustic music that sounds naturally balanced, the absolute minimum number of microphones should be used.

currently, my feeling is that a spaced pair of cardioid or omni microphones at the said distance, with a shotgun such as the schoeps cmit 5u in the middle to zoom in on the lead melodic instrument or voice, would be a good way to go. as all the mics would be close to each other, phase issues would be minimised, and the sound would be more natural. the shotgun would hopefully approach the intimacy that close micing yields, thereby keeping things from getting too mushy for the lead part. i think its quite ok for the accompanying instruments to lose a little detail or be just a little blurred, it would suit the music, in my opinion (have not had a chance to experiment with this approach yet).
Old 3rd March 2008
  #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audiothings View Post
.....
currently, my feeling is that a spaced pair of cardioid or omni microphones at the said distance, with a shotgun such as the schoeps cmit 5u in the middle to zoom in on the lead melodic instrument or voice, would be a good way to go. as all the mics would be close to each other, phase issues would be minimised, and the sound would be more natural. the shotgun would hopefully approach the intimacy that close micing yields, thereby keeping things from getting too mushy for the lead part. i think its quite ok for the accompanying instruments to lose a little detail or be just a little blurred, it would suit the music, in my opinion (have not had a chance to experiment with this approach yet).
That would be a novel approach.

I would wonder about phase issues with this approach, which might arise from onboard hardware filters. If it were me I would do my filtering linear-phase in software after the event.

I have often wondered about building myself some parabolic microphones for such a task but the scale of the job always puts me off.

Andy
Old 13th March 2008
  #45
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Slightly OT but since the topic of Rahman came up.I dont understand why folks in India think that he's the best thing since pu$$y.He is certainly good but nowhere near the US producers.A good percentage of Bollywood/Kollywood music is plagarised from Western,Japanese,Arabic & Turkish songs.
I recently made a comment on youtube on how his vocals were Autotuned to hell.A throng of people cussed me to hell(including threats).I hope people listen to more genres and give credit where it is due.Ignorance is bliss

Check this out itwofs.com - chronicles of plagiarism in indian film music
Old 13th March 2008
  #46
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Quote:
I dont understand why folks in India think that he's the best thing since pu$$y.
you've got to understand where it was before, and where it is, after he showed up. while your point is not without reason, context is something you've not accounted for. my earlier post would have made it clear that there are things about what he does that don't impress me, but it cannot be taken away from him that he taught the whole industry to think differently.

Old 24th April 2008
  #47
so glad to find such experts on our music

Im recording the best sounding mrdangist ine the world IMO.
see look
YouTube - Guruji TVG - Art of Mrdangam
he's 75 and never been properly recorded
What do guys recommend for mrdidngam?

I already have
wagner u47, akg414 (old), sm7b, se gemini, audix 05, sm57
and:
V72, V76, Great river,
into:
Prisim Orpheus


I was gonna get two md421's. But after this thread im considering the km84 or the new one by mercenary audio.

please advise on best mic and pre

thanx
ss

and, is there anywhere to hire an amazing violin in south india. the musicians there have dubious instruments sometimes
Old 24th April 2008
  #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundseeker View Post
so glad to find such experts on our music

and, is there anywhere to hire an amazing violin in south india. the musicians there have dubious instruments sometimes
Are you based in India ?
Old 24th April 2008
  #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundseeker View Post
What do guys recommend for mrdidngam?
Mri(n)dangam...
Don't know the Wagner, I'd probably reach for two 414s.

Not sure I personally like his sound so much. Kinda prefer the more traditional sound, e.g. here...

While we're at it, see these three kids performing south indian classical music...
Old 24th April 2008
  #50
Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
Are you based in India ?
no, uk, but i been studying music there for five years and now i teach vocal at bhavan in london. ill be recording in india next month.


d-fu

ha ha. yeah his sound has been rather controversial. he introduced the stand to give greater resonance, the nylon rope to do the same and also to tune each side independently, and accoustic gum to make the left more user friendly. before any event he spends atleast 4hrs with his hired hand meticulously tuning the instrument. to me it sounds a lot like palghat mani iyer who was hailed as the all time great. they were the only two who could play a full octave on the bottom end. further my Guruji Tvg can play any note from any raga.

the wagner is just like a u47 but a tad brighter. how about one 414 and one md421 on the bottom end? would that be a wierd combination in terms of spill or phase? and would it be worth trying se reflexion fliters 20cms or so from the mike to stop backward reflecions?

also guys,
Id prefer to use the mridangist's house rather than drag him into a studio. he would be more comfy that way. The marble floors and large square rooms are real boomy. Do you think i can get away with draping duvets from the walls and rolling carpet over the floor. and maybe getting him to sit and play on a firm futon style bed.
Old 24th April 2008
  #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundseeker View Post
Id prefer to use the mridangist's house rather than drag him into a studio. he would be more comfy that way. .
Oh my ... But then it will be accompanied by an orchestra of cars, riskshas, buses, banana wallahs, street vendors, market speakers, neighbors, street workers etc. etc.heh (apart from probably very unsuitable acoustics)
Old 24th April 2008
  #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundseeker View Post
they were the only two who could play a full octave on the bottom end. further my Guruji Tvg can play any note from any raga.
Gimmicks... Trying to do some Zakir Hussain on the Mridangam?

Quote:
how about one 414 and one md421 on the bottom end? would that be a wierd combination in terms of spill or phase?
Don't think so... What kind of 414 have you got? One or two?

Quote:
Id prefer to use the mridangist's house rather than drag him into a studio. he would be more comfy that way. The marble floors and large square rooms are real boomy. Do you think i can get away with draping duvets from the walls and rolling carpet over the floor. and maybe getting him to sit and play on a firm futon style bed.
I wouldn't adivse that... Record him in a decent room, if possible.

Daniel
Old 24th April 2008
  #53
Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
Gimmicks... Trying to do some Zakir Hussain on the Mridangam?



Don't think so... What kind of 414 have you got? One or two?


I wouldn't adivse that... Record him in a decent room, if possible.

Daniel

Haha, Please daniel

Zakir was just a kid when TVG used to do regular jugal bhandis with zakir's father all across america. If anything zakir impersonates TVG not the other way. and its not a gimmic when balamurali sings swara improv and asks TVG to answer the phrase before the violin gets a chance. its a mindboggling experience.


the AKG is the silver coloured mk1 from the 80s. thas good right? However, if your advising i use two, id have to get a gold coloured new one for the other end. I can borrrow one from rahmans sister.

Ill take your advice about the room. your the boss on that one dude.
Old 24th April 2008
  #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundseeker View Post
and its not a gimmic when balamurali sings swara improv and asks TVG to answer the phrase before the violin gets a chance. its a mindboggling experience.
Sorry, stuff like that bores me...
Let percussion be percussion... It's just like these silly attempts by some Santur players to play "meend" (slides) on their instrument...

Quote:
the AKG is the silver coloured mk1 from the 80s. thas good right?
Silver as in the colour of the entire mic? That would be a 414 EB, I guess.

Nothing wrong with that. Do try the 421 on the left, I'm sure it'll work. 414 might give you as much bass without having to go so close.

Quote:
Ill take your advice about the room. your the boss on that one dude.
Since you've got the gear, why not try and hire a small auditorium instead of a full studio? If this were in Delhi, I'd know where to try (for Ivo: Triveni...), but I guess you're somewhere down south...
Old 24th April 2008
  #55
**** man

i messed up. no its C414 b-uls

i meant the grill on one side is kinda silver. not gold like the new new ones. so what does that mean?? and d - you aint said nothin bout the pre's.

yea i like the auditorium idea. maybe draw the curtains? to cut the echo. and / or use the se refelxion around the mridangam to reduce bleed. hmmm. more brainstorming welcome
Old 24th April 2008
  #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundseeker View Post
i meant the grill on one side is kinda silver. not gold like the new new ones. so what does that mean??
Nothing... The B-ULs is fine, too... I've used it on Tabla with great results.

Quote:
and d - you aint said nothin bout the pre's.
No... I don't know either of these pres from personal experience, and I've never really done any comparisons with different pres, e.g. the way Ivo has...
Old 10th May 2008
  #57
Gear interested
 

unconventional tabla recording

i'm about to do my first tabla recording session, and this thread has been very helpful.

however, does anyone have any interesting/ unconventional tricks they've tried on tablas and liked? i'm recording a piece for a metal album that will just be tablas and five-string fretless electric bass (they're an interesting band), and i'm trying to figure out how to really fill out the stereo space.

room mics are one thing, but any suggestions for effecting tablas, or i suppose a fretless electric bass without muddying everything up?
Old 17th August 2008
  #58
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Tabla Techniques

In the process of recording a tabla player who also sings, while playing tabla, has anyone encountered this?
I would prefer to be able to isolate his tabla and vocals as much as possible, he wants the recording to have a "western" sound, with guitar, bass, perc, horns, etc. accompaniment.
Any suggestions?
Pete
Old 28th April 2009
  #59
Gear interested
 

Smile Mic Suggestions for Eight Tabla Players?

I have an opportunity to record eight tabla players as a group (all pretty much playing the same thing, no 'parts').
This is during their rehearsal time, but it affords me an opportunity to monkey around with different mic positions and learn.

Mics that I currently have are a pair of Busman BSC1 (SDC Avantone CK1 modded by Busman audio and provided with four caps; card, omni, hcard, wide card) and a Sony ECM 999 stereo mic. Also have access to a Rode NT2A and an SM58.

They are playing in a fairly large room (35' X 20' with 8' dropped ceiling) seated in an arcing line against a long wall, about 5' out from the wall.

Willing to spend a bit on new mics but don't think I can afford a bunch of AKG 414 at this point (say mic budget under $1k).

Able to record up to six tracks at a time (so can't put an SM57 on each player and use condensers for room for example).

Any suggestions for placement of the existing mics?
Suggestions for new mics that would be affordable and/or versatile beyond this specific use and placement for them?

Any opinions or suggestions gratefully received.

Thanks
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