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Recording soprano with classical guitar accompaniment in a church
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
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Recording soprano with classical guitar accompaniment in a church

How would you approach this in general terms: a nice church acoustic, session (not concert) with soprano singer accompanied by classical guitarist. I have a good range of condenser mics ( no ribbons)

Would you place the singer facing the guitarist, with mics between them, or in more traditional concert formation with both facing out to the 'audience', perhaps with guitar player somewhat raised on a cello riser/conductor podium ?

Thanks for any advice on how to mic this, in terms of performer blend at the session, so they are happy with their balance....and also with a view to later rebalancing of the recording (ie between players blend) later if necessary
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Would you place the singer facing the guitarist, with mics between them, or in more traditional concert formation with both facing out to the 'audience', perhaps with guitar player somewhat raised on a cello riser/conductor podium ?
I don't like the reverb used in this recording, but I'll leave this video here as an example of the aforementioned technique:



I would also ask the musicians how they prefer to make music together. The lack of eye contact in the concert formation might be uncomfortable and prevent them from doing their best.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
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i (almost) always let musicians set up the way they are comfortable with and use an appropriate technical aporoach - necessitates the readiess and ability to deal with all sorts of quirks while mixing...

i'd possibly start with (and base the mix on) single directional mics and add a closer and lower pair (or trio) plus a more distant and higher ambient pair - unless the voice is rather soft: i then would try a directional 'main' pair and ditch the close ambis. in this case, a podium might help the guitar to project a bit but imo the amount of early reflection starts becoming somewhat unnarural when going up higher on a guitar.

most likely, i'd want to shield off some of the vocals/prevent them from going too much into the guitar mic (btw: dual mics on single sources make things worse and add unwanted swings in the stereo field; m/s with a capital 'C' i like though) and hence would use an absorber/gobo somewhere between the musicians.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
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Yes this video suggests that the voice and guitar are essentially treated as discrete sources, with the expected miking for each.

There may be a central 'main pair' (the feet of a stand are visible)...but if so, it's up quite high indeed, perhaps more of an ambience-send than a functional main pair.

If that so-called main pair is indeed driving the reverb...well, they got it spectacularly wrong...and both guitar and voice seem equally cursed with its presence....maybe Warners could only afford one effect, rusted onto "Big Canyon/Cathedral" or similar pre-setting ?

Would a typical main pair have any usefulness in this context anyway, as I'd expect you'd want to use the spot pairs to bring in sufficient presence for both instruments.

It's interesting to compare this approach with the more typical piano/voice pairing, where both facing out to an audience generally yields satisfactory results.
The one shown in the video definitely affords the desired eye contact for both
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
i (almost) always let musicians set up the way they are comfortable with and use an appropriate technical aporoach - necessitates the readiess and ability to deal with all sorts of quirks while mixing...

i'd possibly start with (and base the mix on) single directional mics and add a closer and lower pair plus a more distant and higher ambient pair - unless the voice is rather soft: i then would try a directional 'main' pair and ditch the close ambis. in this case, a podium might help the guitar to project a bit but imo the amount of early reflection starts becoming somewhat unnatural when going up higher on a guitar.

most likely, i'd want to shield off some of the vocals/prevent them from going too much into the guitar mic (btw: dual mics on single sources make things worse and add unwanted swings in the stereo field) and hence would use an absorber/gobo somewhere between the musicians.
In my situation both will be on a carpeted floor so early reflections from that direction will be minimized...hence maybe some height via a riser will be helpful to give more projection on the guitar (that a hard floor would usually provide).

In the video the voice is centred by the 'close to XY' directional pair in the middle, and some character and width is provided by the wider spaced 170's. I'm sure the voice is there typically panned between 10pm and 2am ....maybe a bit wider (say 3pm 3am) for guitar ?

I agree you don't want head movements to become noticeable, but as he's looking down at the score and avoiding head turns I'd say this is safely minimized. I'd prefer not to fabricate a stereo 'reverb field' around mono spot mics if possible.

A gobo between the 2 could curtail the cross feed of the 2 sources, but could also prevent each mic from responding to the space around it....in a not-good way ?

Your idea of a downward pointing directional main pair in the middle is interesting, would you have it (say an ORTF pair) at 90* to the line between the 2 players ...so that they are both centred in its field...or parallel to that joining line (so that you'd get a more pronounced L/R spread ?

I think I'd instinctively prefer a 'wide mono' kind of sound...rather than a typical stereo with guitar on left and voice on the right, which sounds unsettling and simplistic ?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
In my situation both will be on a carpeted floor so early reflections from that direction will be minimized...hence maybe some height via a riser will be helpful to give more projection on the guitar (that a hard floor would usually provide).

In the video the voice is centred by the 'close to XY' directional pair in the middle, and some character and width is provided by the wider spaced 170's. I'm sure the voice is there typically panned between 10pm and 2am ....maybe a bit wider (say 3pm 3am) for guitar ?

I agree you don't want head movements to become noticeable, but as he's looking down at the score and avoiding head turns I'd say this is safely minimized. I'd prefer not to fabricate a stereo 'reverb field' around mono spot mics if possible.

A gobo between the 2 could curtail the cross feed of the 2 sources, but could also prevent each mic from responding to the space around it....in a not-good way ?

Your idea of a downward pointing directional main pair in the middle is interesting, would you have it (say an ORTF pair) at 90* to the line between the 2 players ...so that they are both centred in its field...or parallel to that joining line (so that you'd get a more pronounced L/R spread ?

I think I'd instinctively prefer a 'wide mono' kind of sound...rather than a typical stereo with guitar on left and voice on the right, which sounds unsettling and simplistic ?
the composition and the last sentence/your preference define things...

...and could be seen as another reason for using mono spots: they provide the core of your mono-ish mix, you don't pan them much (and you'd use pattern width just according to the movement of the musicians); the 'mains' and/or ambis provide the 'envelopment' - or you could put a m/s on each and blend in ambience and control width as wanted.

yes, i'd ask the guitar player to sit on a reflective podium then.

regarding the ortf or whatever, i tend to think of any mains first in terms of mono, meaning except for width, i want them to get me a similar sound when collapsed to mono - and be good enough that this track alone could get released! i'm using highly uncorrelated ambis to blur/widen the image (if i want to)... - if that's a hint at positioning?

oh, and of course a gobo is not intended to obstruct communication or to ruin the soundfield :-)

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 3 weeks ago at 11:37 AM.. Reason: edited
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by cabraldemello View Post
I don't like the reverb used in this recording, but I'll leave this video here as an example of the aforementioned technique:



I would also ask the musicians how they prefer to make music together. The lack of eye contact in the concert formation might be uncomfortable and prevent them from doing their best.
Yes, agreed, far too much reverb on the voice. Guitar sound very good though.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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For starters the huge sonic difference between a soprano vocal and her classical guitar accompanist, in what is probably is a highly reverberant church venue, provides a very small list of options for a great audio capture. I have found moderate FOH and recording success supporting a strong soprano with my Henderson 1936 Herringbone reproduction guitar that has a much more powerful sonic signature the the subject classical guitar with the following protocol.

1) I use two very good side addressed tube mics in card pattern (Flea 47 next & a Paluso 2247 SE) and use their placement as the primary control of the recording. The distance between the source and the mic will determine the amount of room (natural reverb) in the recording.

2) I always prefer to have performers work somewhat "off axis" for many reasons: particularly sopranos that tend to spike in high head voice passages.

It may be necessary to place the soprano facing out toward the pews with the guitar player positioned well behind her. She will not have eye contact during the performance however this will greatly reduce the vocal spill that is a certainty if she faces the much lower output of the guitar player.
Hugh
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hughshouse View Post
For starters the huge sonic difference between a soprano vocal and her classical guitar accompanist, in what is probably is a highly reverberant church venue, provides a very small list of options for a great audio capture. I have found moderate FOH and recording success supporting a strong soprano with my Henderson 1936 Herringbone reproduction guitar that has a much more powerful sonic signature the the subject classical guitar with the following protocol.

1) I use two very good side addressed tube mics in card pattern (Flea 47 next & a Paluso 2247 SE) and use their placement as the primary control of the recording. The distance between the source and the mic will determine the amount of room (natural reverb) in the recording.

2) I always prefer to have performers work somewhat "off axis" for many reasons: particularly sopranos that tend to spike in high head voice passages.

It may be necessary to place the soprano facing out toward the pews with the guitar player positioned well behind her. She will not have eye contact during the performance however this will greatly reduce the vocal spill that is a certainty if she faces the much lower output of the guitar player.
Hugh
I take your well made point regarding the great disparity of volume/intensity between singer and guitar....opposite ends of the spectrum in fact !

If the placement you outline in your final paragraph proves unworkable in terms of eye contact, a compromise could see them (initially) face to face, or side to side, shoulders touching....and then each moves sideways say 3 paces. So in order to see each other, they'd need to turn their heads sideways.

Thus each 'instrument' is facing 180* to the other... and also displaced sideways by 2-3 metres. This will minimize mic bleed but still allow eye contact with head turns.....compared with a much larger amount of bleed if facing each other as originally proposed (and also in the video above)
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
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Seems gobo-ing would be an effective aid in this instance, with bit of time for placement and adjustment. Should be able to allow eye-to-eye, even with most of the direct line-of-sight to the guitar and its mic blocked by gobo(s). I'm assuming this is still a "session" format rather than an "audience-in-place" concert arrangement. There seem to be none in the image proffered above...
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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I'd appreciate any reflections or comments on the balance of a few samples here, from the session outlined above.

I ended up with an AB pair (45 cm) of MKH8020 around 2.5 m high between the 2 players, and angled so they both occupied the centre...rather than one left and the other right in L/R terms.

CM3 pair on the guitar and U89 on voice (fig 8, null facing the guitar)

Most of the balance here comes from the AB pair overhead.

Any thoughts on mix blend, amount of ambience, any eq-ing or dynamics control required etc...the material is rather outside my familiarity zone ?

I was able to to minimize spill between spot mics quite well, via the 'offset by 3 paces' method outlined in my previous post above. These are just sample takes, not final edits....
=============================================
Grumble/groan: when uploading sample files, the upload window clearly states that fla (ie FLAC) files are one of the many filetypes which are acceptable...yet when I attempt it, the same window says "You can't upload files of this type" !!

That's even after changing the extension from .flac to .fla .......

So....mp3 they must be, I guess....
Attached Files

Giuliani #1.mp3 (5.58 MB, 490 views)

Giuliani #5.mp3 (4.81 MB, 496 views)

Sor #1 .mp3 (2.88 MB, 437 views)

Old 1 week ago
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
I'd appreciate any reflections or comments on the balance of a few samples here, from the session outlined above.
For me it's a bit too much of the guitar, the vocal part should be in the focus and more in front in comparison to the guitar.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulrich View Post
For me it's a bit too much of the guitar, the vocal part should be in the focus and more in front in comparison to the guitar.
Thanks for your observation Ulrich, I should be able to adjust that balance. I think I need to reference some commercially recorded material to get a context background
Old 1 week ago
  #14
I feel the opposite, I think I’d like to hear either less mono voice spot, or a tiny bit more guitar spot, EQ’d to fill out it’s sound a bit more in the low end. Maybe a little of both
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by king2070lplaya View Post
I feel the opposite, I think I’d like to hear either less mono voice spot, or a tiny bit more guitar spot, EQ’d to fill out it’s sound a bit more in the low end. Maybe a little of both
Lol....nothing like finding a consensus ! I also had an EV RE50 voice spot (but muted it as the U89 gave a better character)

Maybe introducing it, and lowering the U89 level, will give some dimension to the voice, and panning in the guitar spots (plus eq) might give it a bit more solidity, without altering the voice/guitar balance hugely ?

The AB pair still figures significantly, and while I think it captures a little too much ambience, I'm learning to like it...
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post

The AB pair still figures significantly, and while I think it captures a little too much ambience, I'm learning to like it...
This is exactly the reason I don’t like the idea of “main and spots” for chamber music, where you’re expecting to create the balance with substantial spot volume on all sources. This to me seems like an arbitrary way to set up, and flawed, because as you’re working on balance, your working against perspective, meaning you likely have to place your “mains” in too ambient a position. It quickly turns into a catch-22.

If I’m going to use a main pair/array, then almost all of my sound should be coming from it, and spots are used for any balance or perspective correction that can’t be accomplished with moving the main mics, which should be very minimal. Otherwise, I’d just rather stereo spot multiple items, performers and mics placed carefully to allow the performers to see and hear each other well, to control bleed, and to allow for optimal mic placement. Then add a pair of room mics to fill in that element. The first approach is usually more of a live approach, and the second typically for studio projects.

In the latter approach described above, I’ll usually use a pair of omnis for one of the spot pairs, usually for piano, as I find having one pair of omnis in the mix helps the blend to feel a bit more natural.

In your instance, and maybe I already said this, I would have placed the omnis on the louder source as “main” spots (the singer), placed the guitar opposite, placed the CM3s on the guitar, and then used an extra card or Omni pair 10-20 feet into the room for your “room” sound. This gives me results I’m almost always very happy with for an album sound.

Last edited by king2070lplaya; 1 week ago at 05:47 AM..
Old 1 week ago
  #17
I should say, I think the sound is beautiful here, and very well balanced. If you didn’t change anything, it would be perfectly fine, and I don’t think you should make any drastic changes on our account. The things I’m describing would like like 1-2db adjustments, tops.

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Lol....nothing like
finding a consensus ! I also had an EV RE50 voice spot (but muted it as the U89 gave a better character)

Maybe introducing it, and lowering the U89 level, will give some dimension to the voice, and panning in the guitar spots (plus eq) might give it a bit more solidity, without altering the voice/guitar balance hugely ?

The AB pair still figures significantly, and while I think it captures a little too much ambience, I'm learning to like it...
Old 1 week ago
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by king2070lplaya View Post
In the latter approach described above, I’ll usually use a pair of omnis for one of the spot pairs, usually for piano, as I find having one pair of omnis in the mix helps the blend to feel a bit more natural.

In your instance, and maybe I already said this, I would have placed the omnis on the louder source as “main” spots (the singer), placed the guitar opposite, placed the CM3s on the guitar, and then used an extra card or Omni pair 10-20 feet into the room for your “room” sound. This gives me results I’m almost always very happy with for an album sound.
Yes I've found the Omni spot pair to work very well in many setups, especially piano as you suggest. It also pulls in enough of the surrounding space to give a sense of place and ambience....unlike a mono or XY cardioid for example. I was hoping for some sense of that by using the fig 8 pattern on the U89.

The main reason I avoided the Omni spot pair on voice here (and also with violin, clarinet, flute) is because of the tendency toward image shift as the player moves their head/body. However, the remedy for that is perhaps just to pan the Omni spots inwards, to minimize the apparent movement?

Let's see if the RE50 (which was around 8" away, and is a dynamic Omni) can pull something out of the hat here, without upsetting what's there already ?
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Yes I've found the Omni (...) pulls in enough of the surrounding space to give a sense of place and ambience....unlike a mono or XY cardioid for example. I was hoping for some sense of that by using the fig 8 pattern on the U89.

The main reason I avoided the Omni spot pair on voice here (and also with violin, clarinet, flute) is because of the tendency toward image shift as the player moves their head/body. However, the remedy for that is perhaps just to pan the Omni spots inwards, to minimize the apparent movement?

Let's see if the RE50 (which was around 8" away, and is a dynamic Omni) can pull something out of the hat here, without upsetting what's there already ?
interesting setup, mic/pattern choice... - and pretty much at the other end of what i do. from a spot, i want to get mostly direct sound, rear damping and avoid ambient sound (or bleed).

i don't see a point in using stereo spots either unless one needs to picture movements within the soundfield or pick up a very large instrument. instead of x/y, i rather use a wider pattern.

unless i need to work very fast and got no chance to establish a mix (using all the necessary tools), i'm not using omnis as spots and fig8's only in very specific situations (outside classical genre).
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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I think we just inhabit parallel musical universes deedeeyeah

Lots of omnis, minimal cardiods, avoidance of eq, external reverbs, dynamics control wherever possible tends to be my MO....only last resort correction really, and proof that I've fallen short in preparation, when I need to use them....
Old 1 week ago
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
I think we just inhabit parallel musical universes deedeeyeah

Lots of omnis, minimal cardiods, avoidance of eq, external reverbs, dynamics control wherever possible tends to be my MO....only last resort correction really, and proof that I've fallen short in preparation, when I need to use them....
we do live in different worlds (if not universes)!

spots imo necessitate the use of dynamics, eq, delay and efx (regardless of pattern) but if you can get away with 'balancing'...
Old 1 week ago
  #22
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Thanks for sharing! I think you got a great sound! From my point of view, a little more guitar wouldn't hurt.



Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
I'd appreciate any reflections or comments on the balance of a few samples here, from the session outlined above.

I ended up with an AB pair (45 cm) of MKH8020 around 2.5 m high between the 2 players, and angled so they both occupied the centre...rather than one left and the other right in L/R terms.

CM3 pair on the guitar and U89 on voice (fig 8, null facing the guitar)

Most of the balance here comes from the AB pair overhead.

Any thoughts on mix blend, amount of ambience, any eq-ing or dynamics control required etc...the material is rather outside my familiarity zone ?

I was able to to minimize spill between spot mics quite well, via the 'offset by 3 paces' method outlined in my previous post above. These are just sample takes, not final edits....
=============================================
Grumble/groan: when uploading sample files, the upload window clearly states that fla (ie FLAC) files are one of the many filetypes which are acceptable...yet when I attempt it, the same window says "You can't upload files of this type" !!

That's even after changing the extension from .flac to .fla .......

So....mp3 they must be, I guess....
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