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Earcatcher array: samples Condenser Microphones
Old 19th October 2012
  #1
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Earcatcher array: samples

Close readers of this corner of GS will remember that I invented a new type of microphone array in a dream. My first reports about it can be found here: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/8287114-post35.html. I called it Earcatcher array and the technical details are not public (yet). I am planning on testing this array in a number of different situations and post the results here in the future, whenever possible.

Hereunder is a test mix of a raw recording made with Earcatcher array and two spots (M-S stereo) on instruments, mildly mixed in. I checked out the venue the evening before, to tackle any unwanted sounds and other possible last minute problems, but unfortunately the next morning the techs of the hall had turned on the airco again and refused to turn it off, as the musicians should have asked for that two weeks in advance, when they reserved the hall. Pathetic guys, but we had all planned this recording weeks in advance and so we had to accept the rumbling noise. After all this was for a demo CD only, so no huge loss. Just a pity. This music has never been recorded before!

The Earcatcher array tends to give very wide and precisely spread stereo, which I had to take back quite a bit in order to keep the performers together, to bundle them like a flower bouquet. No EQ or occasional compression has been applied yet. Please feel free to give your comments on sound quality and tips for improvement. I am planning to at least take a few spiky peaks in the singing out of the next mix.

Enjoy!

Edit a: there is a mix b version in this post down under: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/8382706-post16.html

Edit b: the final mixes of these pieces are in this post: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/remot...ml#post8490161

Edit c: samples of an orchestra in a reverberant church, recorded with ECA and AB here: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/8708504-post60.html

Edit d: other samples with the orchestra, with AB, ECA and Blumlein: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/8718383-post90.html

Edit e: new recordings of the orchestra in the reverberant church with a double ECA setup: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/8801945-post116.html

Edit f: a new attempt of recording the orchestra in the reverberant church with a double ECA setup, after comments from Boojum and Aracu: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/8805296-post128.html
Attached Files

Accepit_ergo_Jesus_panes-test_mix.mp3 (5.77 MB, 2252 views)

Et_egressus_est-test_mix.mp3 (8.18 MB, 2020 views)

Old 20th October 2012
  #2
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Earcatcher, again, very precise and stable location information in the array. But I hear almost no "air" or sense of depth in these samples. Is this due to the array do you think or something else? What mics and preamps were used?
Old 20th October 2012
  #3
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EC - I don't know what you are doing or how but it sure seems to work. Nice.
Old 20th October 2012
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David,

There was a lot of depth in the array's "image", but too much for the taste of the musicians (they actually complained that you could hear everything happening in space with each voice and instrument), so I mixed the instruments towards the same plane that the singers are in. I also flattened the array's depth a bit. They wanted it to be like one body of sound. It was actually quite difficult to lose that much depth. For the array I used the built in preamps of the 788T and for the spots I used Forssell SMP2 on the viola da gamba and Lake People F355 on the organ (a small wooden chest organ). Mics were mostly Schoeps, although I had a Royer SF24 on the viola (in M-S at some two metres high) and I used an AT8041 ribbon as a side mic on the organ with an MK22.

I have to get used to the fact that the "reach" of the array is much bigger than I am acquainted with. It is more than two metres away from the singers and even higher from the floor, yet extremely clear and detailed. Normally I would have used omnis in the array, but because of the nasty airco I went with wide cardioids.
Old 20th October 2012
  #5
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Precise and detailed
Localisation without centreing
Well done
Old 20th October 2012
  #6
Wow, gorgeous! Patent that idea before someone steals it!
Old 21st October 2012
  #7
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If the photo in the other thread is the new array, and I see it correctly, there is a massive inverted Decca Tree in the room. Look forward to listening when the kids are in bed.
Old 21st October 2012
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richgilb View Post
If the photo in the other thread is the new array, and I see it correctly, there is a massive inverted Decca Tree in the room. Look forward to listening when the kids are in bed.
What you see in that picture is the array plus omni outriggers for additional support, as described in one of the posts there. In the samples above there was no support of outriggers, you just hear the array plus the spots on instruments.
Old 21st October 2012
  #9
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If you could just upload a higher res image, it might be possible to see what it is. I can't see what is going on, just 3 stands.
Old 21st October 2012
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richgilb View Post
If you could just upload a higher res image, it might be possible to see what it is. I can't see what is going on, just 3 stands.
I wanted to show the venue in that picture, not the array. At this time I am not going to disclose how the Earcatcher array works. But I am willing to share and discuss results made with it. What do you think of the samples posted?
Old 21st October 2012
  #11
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More lush room sound, please. Sounds precise and smooth but so much separation between the players it sounds spot micced even! Not sure if this is good or bad, but without omnis will this be possible in a later mix? It craps all over anything I could do, mind.
Old 21st October 2012
  #12
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I feel many' lush' rooms are not real any more.
Old 21st October 2012
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richgilb View Post
More lush room sound, please. Sounds precise and smooth but so much separation between the players it sounds spot micced even! Not sure if this is good or bad, but without omnis will this be possible in a later mix? It craps all over anything I could do, mind.
Goal of this recording was to make a chamber version of the songs. The hall wasn't lush at all, since it was a theatre hall with drapes and without stone. Omnis would not have helped much here, except for picking up more of the somewhat dark acoustics. Originally we had been planning on recording in another hall, bigger and with acoustically faceted stone walls, but something went wrong with the reservation. I'll try to add some artificial lushness in another mix. What you hear now is very close to what my ears heard when standing there.

We are not used to recordings that are so precise in their positioning of the sources. The Earcatcher array turns out to be painfully precise in representing the original sound as we hear things. I have to get used to be able to take it back further than with standard arrays, because it seems less bothered by diffuse field sounds. Mind you, you are listening to near-omnis at close proximity from each other! Yet you get this very precise stereo image, which is even narrowed and more flattened than the original.

I am planning on making more test recordings with the array and will report here. Stay tuned!
Old 22nd October 2012
  #14
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so you did use omnis then, but close up?
Old 22nd October 2012
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richgilb View Post
so you did use omnis then, but close up?
Read post 4 from the top.
Old 24th October 2012
  #16
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Mix b

Here's an attempt to mix the above pieces slightly differently, with more "lush" and some more depth, without making the musicians balk about too much individuality. Any better?
Attached Files
Old 24th October 2012
  #17
Gear Nut
 

Very nice, I like it more than the first mix. Well done. When I listed to the first one on headphones, it felt too close, a bit exhausting. Now it just sounds great for me.


Ronald
Old 24th October 2012
  #18
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sounds good to me....what did you do to it?
Old 25th October 2012
  #19
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Excellent, clean, great performance, mic sound a bit like sf-24.
Old 25th October 2012
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richgilb View Post
sounds good to me....what did you do to it?
All changes were subtle. I used a little more of the direct sound of the gamba, thus placing the gamba more forward. Also, I panned the L & R channels of the organ a little more outward. (It was spotted M-S, so I could do this without penalty.) So the organ is now "embracing" the entire sound more. At the same time I used a little more of the direct sound of the organ in order to avoid it to get too blurry. I put a tiny little bit of compression on the peaks of the voices, as to avoid them to cut into your ears at loud parts. No make-up gain was used. Originally I experimented with stereo widening/deepening effects too for this mix b, but all it did was ruin the delicate balance, so I turned that off again. Lastly I added a tiny bit of bright reverb from a small church for extra lushness and clearness.
Old 25th October 2012
  #21
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Subtle changes,but I still like the original
How far should one tweak classical post ?
Are there ethics,can we Joe Meek it ?
Old 25th October 2012
  #22
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Rolo, I agree with your questioning. I am very reluctant at adding artificiality to classical recordings (or removing all kinds of things). Ideally I would want to just record two tracks and leave it there. However, musicians expect complete bogus post production these days, as most of them are children of the Photoshop-generation, even if they are not that young anymore. As mentioned in another thread, this is a serious problem when you are a "purist" recordist. I've recently had situations where musicians asked to re-record parts of their performance in very reverberant spaces, when half of the participants had already left. They seemed to expect that you could edit out their half of the duet they were singing with with someone who had gone home, in a non-multitrack situation! I've seen this same behaviour a lot in photography where people suggest to me all the time to "use Photoshop" to correct improper visual situations, while getting it right on the spot is only a fraction of the work it would take me to "correct" things in the computer afterwards. We're living in a very virtual society these days.
Old 25th October 2012
  #23
Well but, recording and photography and processing data has always had an element of "magic" to it... but you're right, these days people think absolutely anything is possible, and nothing is impossible.
Old 25th October 2012
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
Rolo, I agree with your questioning. I am very reluctant at adding artificiality to classical recordings (or removing all kinds of things). Ideally I would want to just record two tracks and leave it there. However, musicians expect complete bogus post production these days, as most of them are children of the Photoshop-generation, even if they are not that young anymore. As mentioned in another thread, this is a serious problem when you are a "purist" recordist. I've recently had situations where musicians asked to re-record parts of their performance in very reverberant spaces, when half of the participants had already left. They seemed to expect that you could edit out their half of the duet they were singing with with someone who had gone home, in a non-multitrack situation! I've seen this same behaviour a lot in photography where people suggest to me all the time to "use Photoshop" to correct improper visual situations, while getting it right on the spot is only a fraction of the work it would take me to "correct" things in the computer afterwards. We're living in a very virtual society these days.
I don't mind doing that kind of work if they are willing to pay me $150/hr to work such "magic".
Old 25th October 2012
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
All changes were subtle. I used a little more of the direct sound of the gamba, thus placing the gamba more forward. Also, I panned the L & R channels of the organ a little more outward. (It was spotted M-S, so I could do this without penalty.) So the organ is now "embracing" the entire sound more. At the same time I used a little more of the direct sound of the organ in order to avoid it to get too blurry. I put a tiny little bit of compression on the peaks of the voices, as to avoid them to cut into your ears at loud parts. No make-up gain was used. Originally I experimented with stereo widening/deepening effects too for this mix b, but all it did was ruin the delicate balance, so I turned that off again. Lastly I added a tiny bit of bright reverb from a small church for extra lushness and clearness.
Can't help to keep wondering how this is done from an array, or are we now talking multimiking?
Old 25th October 2012
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heva View Post
Can't help to keep wondering how this is done from an array, or are we now talking multimiking?
heva, the Earcatcher array picked up the singers and about half of the organ and gamba strength. I put (fairly distant) M-S spots on the organ and the gamba, as described in post #4 above. This was done deliberately so that I would have an option to decide about the balance between singers and instruments later on.
Old 26th November 2012
  #27
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Studying the pic of your array a bell rang when you talked about increased reach-- what you have is a "phased array"-- the mics are in a plane so that they behave like an antennae array. The same idea as Tony Faulkner's 4 mic array on a single bar, plus yours has 2 point-source mics-- the SF24 Blumlein and the MS array-- both aligned in the time domain. Now I wish I hadn't sold my Schoeps fig-8! I could use my Senn Twins and SF12, but it would be rather unwieldy.

Rich
Old 26th November 2012
  #28
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The samples do sound nice and the performance is great.

However, I find the image too narrow, and the Sses are sounding unnatural. I'm not 100% sure if this is due to the mp3 compression or to some kind of double (or triple with the spots) array technique, which (if the levels are very close and the mics not close enough) you can never perfectly align.
A bit like the reason perhaps why Sennheiser discarded the Gemini project in favor of the MKH800twin mic.
Old 26th November 2012
  #29
mixmixmix
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First sample is not perfect, but real. Second feels a bit fake - digital reverb does not help. It makes it harder to hear what individual musicians are doing. To properly "evaluate" and "showcase" your array you really need a hall with amazing acoustics. Than the merits / disadvantages of a new array will be more obvious. Hopefully soon you will have an opportunity. Please post more in the future. All the best with your innovation.

Last edited by mixmixmix; 26th November 2012 at 11:17 AM.. Reason: mistake
Old 26th November 2012
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonare View Post
Studying the pic of your array a bell rang when you talked about increased reach-- what you have is a "phased array"-- the mics are in a plane so that they behave like an antennae array. The same idea as Tony Faulkner's 4 mic array on a single bar, plus yours has 2 point-source mics-- the SF24 Blumlein and the MS array-- both aligned in the time domain. Now I wish I hadn't sold my Schoeps fig-8! I could use my Senn Twins and SF12, but it would be rather unwieldy.

Rich
Quite a funny interpretation of my image! Keep guessing as this is definitely not a Faulkner(-like) array. But yes, you should not have sold your MK8's. They can be of great help in many situations.
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