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Earcatcher array: samples Condenser Microphones
Old 23rd March 2017
  #211
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whippoorwill View Post
thank you for that excellent answer.
It is amazing to be able to use LDC as a main pickup.
You can judge that once I've got some samples up (which will take some time, as I want to have edited the recordings first).

Quote:
Originally Posted by whippoorwill View Post
Two questions of ergonomics- did you set up some sort of monitor listening room?
I set up in the same room (a church) because I want to keep eye contact with the musicians and also to allow the producer to be in very direct communication with the group. So gave them headphones (Focal Spirit Pros) during playback.

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Originally Posted by whippoorwill View Post
How long did you take to refine these sounds? (how long was the checking and refining period?) - I always worry about tiring musicians out and can be overcautious, so i am curious.
I used the entire morning of the recording day to set up and get the sound right. Even told them there would be no lunch before we agreed on the final sound. There was a good reason for taking so long: I had tried to communicate in all different ways beforehand, but had only gotten very vague pointers of where they wanted to go. So I had been stressing out all on my own to think what it could be they possibly wanted. I explained that, when they arrived, and said that we needed to take more time to find our best sound. It's a group that is used to a lot of discussion, so they knew how to handle that well.
Old 23rd March 2017
  #212
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Originally Posted by wildplum View Post
he's on an ego trip, that's all. let it be.

Okay. Didn't realize ECA could also be the Ego Catcher Array. Will do like the Beatles and Let it Be.
Old 23rd March 2017
  #213
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
This sample is from Brunetti's first string quartet: we come into it halfway the first movement until the end of the movement. There are three following movements as it is a pretty long piece at over 27 minutes. We are planning a CD with the two Brunetti pieces and a piece from Spanish composer Reynoso, who has never been recorded before.
Hi,

the overall sound of these samples is quite charming and the sense of space rather beautiful. But the balance is off, and the first violin sounds as if it is in a different acoustics, whilst the cello is quite muffled and changes directivity with its dynamics.

How are they sitting? Second violin is the most underexposed of all instruments and appears to be directly behind the first. The viola is very present and seems to sit far right (which in some cases, they do). The cello moves all over the place from center-right to R.

I have always found the imaging especially difficult with string quartets, as well as getting the unique differences in timbre of each instrument, due to the way they sit and are turned, exactly right. I do not hear this in your recording to be how it should be.

Seems your array has the same challenges and issues that all other stereo techniques have.

By the way, I know Tomoe and she is a great musician and very nice person. I am sure working with all of them is a lot of fun!

Best,
Dirk
Old 24th March 2017
  #214
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Originally Posted by dtf View Post
Hi,

the overall sound of these samples is quite charming and the sense of space rather beautiful. But the balance is off, and the first violin sounds as if it is in a different acoustics, whilst the cello is quite muffled and changes directivity with its dynamics.

How are they sitting? Second violin is the most underexposed of all instruments and appears to be directly behind the first. The viola is very present and seems to sit far right (which in some cases, they do). The cello moves all over the place from center-right to R.

I have always found the imaging especially difficult with string quartets, as well as getting the unique differences in timbre of each instrument, due to the way they sit and are turned, exactly right. I do not hear this in your recording to be how it should be.

Seems your array has the same challenges and issues that all other stereo techniques have.

By the way, I know Tomoe and she is a great musician and very nice person. I am sure working with all of them is a lot of fun!

Best,
Dirk
Hi Dirk,

Don't know how you listen, but on all my systems (both speakers and headphones) it is very clear where everybody is sitting and the stereo image is very stable. I just got an email from someone who didn't know how the seating was and who had absolutely no problem telling me the correct order: "The stage image is more precise (from left to right) : 1st Violin - Viola - Cello - 2nd violin". I agree that the cello seems to move a bit depending on frequency and dynamics, but that clearly was the case in reality too. You can actually hear how it radiates different frequencies into different directions, exactly as we know it from the literature. In my latest recording (no samples here) I put the cellist on a riser, which helped getting a more focused core sound in that space. In the recording posted there was no riser available, unfortunately. However, it seems that the cello is doing exactly what the composer wanted: to be the warm fill in the room between the higher pitched instruments. Are you sure you are not misled by your expectation bias regarding seating?

The viola (which is the instrument I suspect you don't hear so clear) tried to disappear entirely into the first violin sound, as to extend her notes. I was able to bring the viola more forward, but the player (and leader of the group) commented on the mix as is: "I hear myself more than enough". You may not agree with the artistic choices of the musicians, but I feel that they are correctly represented, based on their critical remarks. (These are all people who will be professional enough to tell me if there is anything they don't like, and I strongly invite them to do so. I have endlessly discussed the preferred shape of the soundstage and the sound and size of the room they wanted, as well as the amount of "aura" that the individual voices would need to have.)

Since you know the first violinist you will also know that she has a very particular personal sound, full of "storm and fire". I think that is captured very faithfully. And yes, she is a very nice person, just like the others of the group. We had a marvellous time doing this recording. My assistant prepared sandwiches and cooked great meals everyday and we enjoyed each other's company a lot. Everybody was inspired to bring this unknown music to life in the best possible way. It was because of this recording that the 1st violinist recommended me to her other group, to do this week's recording.
Old 24th March 2017
  #215
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtf View Post
But the balance is off, and the first violin sounds as if it is in a different acoustics, whilst the cello is quite muffled and changes directivity with its dynamics.
direct sound of the cello is completely stable here. The first violin could be a tad less highlighted, but as we all know, this isn't an easy call. It sometimes just does not work with the "politically correct" balance. The response of the acoustics seems to be embedded in the instrumentation & writing, so it appears normal to me ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dtf View Post
How are they sitting? Second violin is the most underexposed of all instruments and appears to be directly behind the first.
Obviously, the viola is between Vi1 and cello, and I do agree the imaging of this one is not so clear. I would not say the balance should be more forward, but it would have helped to have a more solid presence of the viola. I wonder in which direction he/she was playing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dtf View Post
I have always found the imaging especially difficult with string quartets, as well as getting the unique differences in timbre of each instrument, due to the way they sit and are turned, exactly right. I do not hear this in your recording to be how it should be.
Well, the easy road is put a spot on each one, and make it sound perfectly balanced. But that is not at all how a real string quartet sounds nor should sound. How do you define "how it should be"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dtf View Post
Seems your array has the same challenges and issues that all other stereo techniques have.
Indeed. Like the choice of main mics. They do what I would expect that brand to do. They seem to add a false "liveliness" and resonance to the natural sound. The mp3 obviously does not help either.

Anyway,
Old 24th March 2017
  #216
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick View Post
direct sound of the cello is completely stable here. The first violin could be a tad less highlighted, but as we all know, this isn't an easy call. It sometimes just does not work with the "politically correct" balance. The response of the acoustics seems to be embedded in the instrumentation & writing, so it appears normal to me ?



Obviously, the viola is between Vi1 and cello, and I do agree the imaging of this one is not so clear. I would not say the balance should be more forward, but it would have helped to have a more solid presence of the viola. I wonder in which direction he/she was playing.



Well, the easy road is put a spot on each one, and make it sound perfectly balanced. But that is not at all how a real string quartet sounds nor should sound. How do you define "how it should be"?



Indeed. Like the choice of main mics. They do what I would expect that brand to do. They seem to add a false "liveliness" and resonance to the natural sound. The mp3 obviously does not help either.

Anyway,
I couldn't agree more with your observations! And indeed, the WAV's sound a lot better in this case. There are parts, BTW, where the viola plays more strong and there I find it perfectly present. We have been discussing this already during the recording and clearly the player has this preference to dissolve in the total sound and be the "invisible" support of the stars of the ensemble. I find it a recommendation of his character that he is able to make his ego subordinate to the musical interpretation. Especially when you realize that he is one of the finest viola players in the genre.
Old 24th March 2017
  #217
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Well, it has been my experience that in these cases, you can easily loose 30minutes soundcheck fiddling around. first violin 10cm to the back, viola 10cm to the front, and voilá, the whole balance is completely screwed, unnatural, and the music does not function anymore. Out goes the theory that the viola (or 2nd violin) part was too soft ...

Also, with a quartet, you already have 5-6 opinions about who is too loud and who is too soft
Old 17th June 2017
  #218
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Two ECA's

In post https://www.gearslutz.com/board/12523288-post208.html I promised some samples made with an LDC ECA. Here is a sample made with a special combo of two ECA's: one on a stand made with two Brauner Valvet X LDC mics and one made out of Schoeps BLM's on the floor. Both are at the same distance from the players in order to avoid time differences. The BLM-ECA is a new model, specially designed for precisely picking up forward projecting instruments such as guitars, celli and double basses, while maintaining a spacious room sound. The mix below is some 50/50 of both arrays.

The piece you hear is La Mort de Marie-Antoinette from Dussek, originally written for fortepiano, here in a unique string quartet arrangement. (All gut strings.) It's roughly the first half of it, so you will not hear the guillotine come down. This excerpt is from one single take without any editing, so do not expect picture perfect playing of every note.

There is no fader riding, no compression, no EQ. It's just a simple ITB fixed level mix. Enjoy!
Attached Files

Last edited by Earcatcher; 17th June 2017 at 08:45 PM.. Reason: Addition of instrument info.
Old 17th June 2017
  #219
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
The piece you hear is La Mort de Marie-Antoinette from Dussek, originally written for fortepiano, here in a unique string quartet arrangement.
Excellent. Just gorgeous.
Old 19th June 2017
  #220
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Lovely. Thanks for posting the Dussek for our listening enjoyment. I guess the only thing better than one Ear Catcher Array is two of the of mysterious ECAs...
Old 25th June 2017
  #221
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How to capture musical inspiration?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Excellent. Just gorgeous.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjazzdad View Post
Lovely. Thanks for posting the Dussek for our listening enjoyment. I guess the only thing better than one Ear Catcher Array is two of the of mysterious ECAs...
Thanks guys! I'm happy you can appreciate the sheer listening experience. I've always intended this thread to be about the developing of a sound and you clearly understood that. Music is our love and I was hoping for some more comments on the sound aspects after over 400 listens of the file. I personally feel that I am finally getting some grip on this elusive matter, making it work for me to get very close to the sound ideal that I was looking for. When you compare this sample to the ones just before in this thread it is very interesting how the sound differs from each other. Keep in mind: the first violin and the viola are played by the same musicians in the same room, with the quartet in the same place in the room (although the viola switched position with the cello).

One of my goals was to find a fitting sound character for this music, more romantic and emotional in style than for the baroque pieces. Also, I wanted to avoid the sharpness of the first violin that was audible in the louder parts of the baroque pieces (and which was actually audible in the room as well). I knew this piece (Dussek) would be even more straining to the instruments, while the content dictated lots of dramatic depth and size. (I mean: this woman is arrested, her children separated from her, awaiting her head being sliced off in front of the mobs. That's a lot to cope with and it should find approriate translation in the playing and the recording resulting from that.) We took a lot of time to find the right sound and then recorded several takes of parts only. In the end, when we wanted to do a few full takes of the entire piece, the light from outside went down but we could not turn on the lights in the hall, as they would buzz. The musicians did not have stand lights with them, so we McGuiver'd lights from their smartphones and extra mic stands. In a pitch black hall, with no sound from outside at all they played the entire piece in the beams of the faint phone lights. It was a magical moment and I think you can actually hear that in this recording, where the story is told by the filigrain string sounds dissolving into the darkness of the night. By the way: it is not meant for a CD, but as a demo for the ensemble only. We plan on doing a video with it at a later date.

Last week I was recording 15th Century Spanish vespers in a stoney church. Music never recorded before, reconstructed from reminder scribbles on the back of other documents. It employed plainchant, polyphony and ancient instruments. Mindblowing music. The use of the secondary BLM-ECA turned out to work very well here too. I plan on keeping this combo for maximum flexibility in post. It was a long road to get here and I have been amazed at what can be learned about sound capture when you persist in looking beyond the known maps of recording technique.
Old 1 week ago
  #222
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An evening at the King's Ballroom

Outside it is raining heavily. People gather inside where it is warm and cosy. The thick curtains of the 19th century ballroom are closed tight. On the small stage there is a 180 years old fortepiano, throwing out the tones of some unknown Finnish chamber music from around 1800. And there is that great violin player testing the stamina of her instrument...

Here is the end of the concert, the last part of a violin sonata by Thomas Byström, recorded with an ECA of Sanken CU-44xII's and far outriggers of Schoeps BLMs. All straight into SD 788T. A simple fixed mix, with no compression or EQ in any way. Too bad it's an MP3 now, but at least you get a picture. Play it loud and enjoy!
Attached Files
Old 1 week ago
  #223
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Very nice piece of music and an excellent performance. I like the overall presence and color of your recording, piano could be a tad louder but not complaining, great job from all.
Old 1 week ago
  #224
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I would try raising the volume level slightly of the left channel, to center the overall stereo image and bring up the piano relative to the violin.
Old 1 week ago
  #225
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
Outside it is raining heavily. People gather inside where it is warm and cosy. The thick curtains of the 19th century ballroom are closed tight. On the small stage there is a 180 years old fortepiano, throwing out the tones of some unknown Finnish chamber music from around 1800. And there is that great violin player testing the stamina of her instrument...

Here is the end of the concert, the last part of a violin sonata by Thomas Byström, recorded with an ECA of Sanken CU-44xII's and far outriggers of Schoeps BLMs. All straight into SD 788T. A simple fixed mix, with no compression or EQ in any way. Too bad it's an MP3 now, but at least you get a picture. Play it loud and enjoy!
That's really interesting. The imaging is razor sharp, but it probably sounds better on speakers than my HD650s. The violin is consistently farther to the right than the fortepiano is to the left, which makes me want to turn my head to the right and "center" them. Which of course I can't do, which in turn is distracting, which probably neither of us wants.

I found the pair a little out of balance also, the fortepiano somewhat distant in comparison, and softer and less distinct.

But given all that, I'd listen to this recording's full length if I could. It's a really, really nice sound.
Old 1 week ago
  #226
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Same piece, now mixed OTB

Thanks guys! As said it was only a simple scratch mix. It was mainly set for the correct image of the solo fortepiano, because that was the major chunk of the concert. With your comments in mind I made a serious mix of just the violin sonata. Here is the same excerpt, but now mixed OTB. Spot the differences!
Attached Files
Old 1 week ago
  #227
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I've only listened to this latest sample, on Stax headphones, and it seems well balanced tonally and spatially, although the violin sounds a little too close (at least without harshness or stridency, which is often difficult to avoid with such proximity).

It's impossible to please everyone, and you could remix all day trying, but it's a good rendition of the performance...less so of the space, but maybe that was not stellar to begin with, and thus nothing significant to exploit ?

PS..I've just listened to the first sample and it's better on all criteria, the left/right imbalances don't bother me and the instruments have good dimensionality and colour, which is diluted in the latest version.
Old 1 week ago
  #228
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
I've only listened to this latest sample, on Stax headphones, and it seems well balanced tonally and spatially, although the violin sounds a little too close (at least without harshness or stridency, which is often difficult to avoid with such proximity).

It's impossible to please everyone, and you could remix all day trying, but it's a good rendition of the performance...less so of the space, but maybe that was not stellar to begin with, and thus nothing significant to exploit ?

PS..I've just listened to the first sample and it's better on all criteria, the left/right imbalances don't bother me and the instruments have good dimensionality and colour, which is diluted in the latest version.
Both mixes were made on monitors with speaker reproduction in mind. Especially the second mix is very much "in your face" on headphones. The violin was hardly able to profit of the room acoustic, as it was rather dry, especially with the audience dampening the room. For the fortepiano it was less of a problem, although it would quickly lose its sparkle one or more further steps away.

In the pieces where the fortepiano is playing solo it is much louder, probably because it is in some sort of dimmed mode in this piece. It sounds almost muted in comparison to those other ones.

For me this was just another exercise, as using the Sanken mics in an ECA was a new step. It's a privilege to be able to test mics on source material like this! I learned that this version of the ECA is extremely sensitive to where you aim it, which also results in a very clear stereo image. I find the colors and detail more neutral and natural than my Schoeps mics. This mic set has the ability to reach very deep into the intruments. It was ±1.75m away from the intruments! Looking forward to trying this version of the array in a more demanding situation, where I can also use different preamps and conversion.
Old 1 week ago
  #229
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
Thanks guys! As said it was only a simple scratch mix. It was mainly set for the correct image of the solo fortepiano, because that was the major chunk of the concert. With your comments in mind I made a serious mix of just the violin sonata. Here is the same excerpt, but now mixed OTB. Spot the differences!
That's interesting. A definite improvement. Better imaging; sounds like the violin is closer to the center, better balance. Whatever you did, it's not bothering me any more. This version is cleaner, more clear. Very nice indeed. It's like I cleaned a window that I didn't even realize was dirty.

What's that odd resonance that starts around 3:08 and runs to 3:15 or so? Sounds like something excited a natural frequency in something. Violin's music stand maybe? IDK. It comes back around 4:52-5:02, and again right at the end. Those are the "big ones" anyway.

Other that the odd anomaly, it sounds great. Quite enjoyable. And it sounds like the musicians were having fun, you can hear how they connected with each other and played off each other. Actual music making. That, is refreshing indeed.

Thanks for sharing this. Made my weekend.
Old 1 week ago
  #230
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I don't know much about classical recording but your ECA recordings are a joy to listen to. They sound very natural, unforced and evoke even the smallest lightest change in feelings. That to me is the difference between enjoyment and just listening.
Old 1 week ago
  #231
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I must say I do not really like this recording. The violin image is unstable in the first mix, and really unstable in the "corrected" mix. In the second mix the instrument is all over the place, definitely not in the center ! In the first mix it is to the right, but sometimes jumps to the left, but not with an accurate image, more like a bigger than life out of phase sound ?

I do not know what is going on, but it sounds like me as if the left side of the ECA is picking up a bad reflection more than the violin itself, and as the player moves (probably quite a lot ?) this sounds sometimes gets more prominent then the direct sound in the right side.

Tonally, 1.75m is quite close for a pianoforte, and if the ECA sounds too distant that close, than it is not a good option to use in this hall.

IMO this recording would be better with a blumlein or ms setup, something that has more reach and keeps the violin image steady, even if it means we can hear her move more accurately.
Old 1 week ago
  #232
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick View Post
I must say I do not really like this recording. The violin image is unstable in the first mix, and really unstable in the "corrected" mix. In the second mix the instrument is all over the place, definitely not in the center! In the first mix it is to the right, but sometimes jumps to the left, but not with an accurate image, more like a bigger than life out of phase sound?
It must be your listening environment. I'm listening on HD650s, and the violin is rock solid and as stable as any recording I've heard. The violin is off to the right a bit, and not centered. But it stays there. I haven't heard anything remotely considered a "jump to the left" in either recording.

Human perception is mystifying. How can two people listen to the same thing and come away with such different perceptions? Darned if I know, but we clearly have completely different perceptions of these two recordings.
Old 1 week ago
  #233
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
It must be your listening environment. I'm listening on HD650s, and the violin is rock solid and as stable as any recording I've heard.
I just checked on my HD650 as well. You are right, the image is more stable, but I can clearly hear what bothers me on loudspeakers. There is some "ghost" image on the left that is not completely correlated with the direct signal of the violin. The pianoforte on the other hand is without this ambiguity - so I wonder what is happening.

Anyway, my monitoring chain + environment is regarded by many as much more precise than the HD650, so I trust what I hear on my speakers to be far more relevant to other playback systems than a decent headphone.
Old 1 week ago
  #234
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On AKG271 headphones I hear that what Yannick decribes too.
Violin in the second mix sounds closer, louder and with that annomaly of the kind of feeling when reflected sound comes loudly back to the mics.
Still I love the recording, color of the instruments and use of acoustics.
Great another ECA approach.
Old 1 week ago
  #235
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick View Post
I just checked on my HD650 as well. You are right, the image is more stable, but I can clearly hear what bothers me on loudspeakers. There is some "ghost" image on the left that is not completely correlated with the direct signal of the violin. The pianoforte on the other hand is without this ambiguity - so I wonder what is happening.
Can you tell me approximately where in the posted file you're hearing this phenomenon? I'd like to try to hear it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick View Post
Anyway, my monitoring chain + environment is regarded by many as much more precise than the HD650, so I trust what I hear on my speakers to be far more relevant to other playback systems than a decent headphone.
Wish I was there. Unfortunately, my HD 650s are my reference for now. Sigh...
Old 1 week ago
  #236
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Can you tell me approximately where in the posted file you're hearing this phenomenon? I'd like to try to hear it.


Wish I was there. Unfortunately, my HD 650s are my reference for now. Sigh...
Well, it is happening a lot, so no point in giving the timings ...
Don't worry, the HD650 is just fine. But there are just some things one (and certainly myself, I am not at all a good headphone listener, I could never make a decent mix on headphones) cannot check on cans.

Maybe one could argue that is a flaw of loudspeaker playback, but that is still the preferred method to listen to classical recordings.
Old 6 days ago
  #237
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I'm afraid I too find these recordings a bit harsh, some instruments a little too close and with some confusion in the imaging. My first thought is "not a natural ensemble sound". A bit hyped perhaps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick View Post
Maybe one could argue that is a flaw of loudspeaker playback, but that is still the preferred method to listen to classical recordings.
Absolutely.
Old 6 days ago
  #238
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Thank you all for the conversation. As always I like to futz around and try different approaches. I have taken in all the critiques and feathers and digested them. Here is another try of the same part.

As for the strange "ghosting" effect: it seems that the violin reflects (partly) in the piano body and against the lid under certain angles of the player and in louder parts. She was near the end of the tail of the fortepiano, just overlapping the piano sound body length. The violin player is pretty "mobile" too, so some differences occur, especially since the wall on her side was closer than I liked.

As for perceived harshness: the violin player likes a very expressive sound and will use the entire scale of her instrument, from velvety whispering to painful stridency. The piano tuner asked for more sparkle of the fortepiano sound (when I asked his opinion on the recorded character of the instrument during setup), so I went closer than I would normally do. We even rotated the instrument a bit in order to pick up more of the high overtones. None of us were happy with the podium though. We all would have preferred if the organisation had put the musicians on the floor. But what can you do when you walk in and it is all set up like that while nobody knew?

For those who like this latest mix: PM me if you want to hear both violin sonatas that were played that evening in their entirety. You will get a high resolution file then. Limited time offer only.
Attached Files
Old 6 days ago
  #239
Earcatcher has stated that (referring to his postings of differing mic set ups): “After all, this is not a mic shootout, but a comparison between recording techniques.” (post #69 )

This is fine. However, to my mind, the crucial comparison of recording techniques is between the ECA and AB pair of similar mics (similar to those used in the ECA) spaced at 15.5cm.

Why is the above the crucial comparison? In several posts (e.g. ), Earcatcher has stated that the ECA involves two mics (usually omni, but he has also used wide cards and even pure cards) spaced at 15.5 cm (e.g., see post #60 , though occasionally the spacing has been slightly wider). Hence, the above comparison would show how the ECA compares, sound-wise, to a similar AB pair with closer than usual spacing.

As an aside, I note that another comparison that seems to suggest itself is the ECA with a Jecklin disk (mics each spaced about 7cm from the disc). However, Earcatcher has stated that (https://www.gearslutz.com/board/8303712-post9.html). Also, in post #76 , he compared the ECA with AB omnis spaced at 62cm, both pairs on a single stand; presumably, there was no Jecklin-like device between the pair used for the ECA as this would have somewhat compromised the 62cm AB pair.
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n8tron / Music Computers
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