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Beethoven Sonata for Violin and Piano in a small church
Old 2 weeks ago
Here for the gear
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Beethoven Sonata for Violin and Piano in a small church

Hi, everyone.

I have been reading Gearslutz assiduously for a long time, but this is my first post. I am a self-taught amateur recordist and I do not play an instrument.

Two friends, who prefer to remain anonymous, allowed me to record them in a small church. This was the first few minutes of an hour-long program. I was able to spend a few minutes trying different microphone placements while they played. This is my first attempt at recording piano and violin.

The piano keyboard was perpendicular to the audience. The violinist stood to pianist’s right, facing about 30 degrees towards the audience, even with and about two feet from the end of the piano stool. The piano lid was open about three inches. A Schoeps CMC6 MK4 pair in ORTF, on a floor stand, was positioned at the depth of the bentside curve with the grills inside the lid opening with the left microphone pointing at the middle of the treble half of the hammers. Another Schoeps CMC6 MK4, on a stand two inches from the piano lid, was aimed directly at the violin at shoulder height at a distance of about 4 feet. I used a Sound Devices Mix-Pre II in 32 bit 96 kHz mode.

I would be grateful for any criticism.

Thank you for your time,

Bill Strong
Attached Files

Beethoven_Example_trimmed.mp3 (15.64 MB, 669 views)

Old 2 weeks ago
Lives for gear
Pianos a bit too prominent
Why not not cover both instruments on the one pair and get a natural balance ?
Old 2 weeks ago
Lives for gear

not sure whether it was tactically clever to reveal mic technique and positions right from the start in this forum...

anyway: does in your opinion the recording picture well what happened? or was the goal to get a sound bigger-than-life? how well does it compare to mixes you like or even admire?

only YOU can judge whether you achieved any of the former two goals as we haven't been around and there is nothing else to compare.
Old 2 weeks ago
Here for the gear
WBS's Avatar
Thanks very much for these comments with all points well-taken. I was obsessed with trying to be as inconspicuous as possible with the microphones. I did not realize how much larger-than-life it would be. I did try to reduce the piano more in the mix but a lot of the piano is in the violin microphone too.
Old 1 week ago
The tone of the piano is really quite good. You get a wonderful depth and warmth of tone (it's those lovely Schoeps microphones at least partly!), but I hear what I suspect might be noise reduction artefacts in the quiet moments - it could just be compression artefacts I suppose. For my taste, the the recording is in general on the dry side, but the tails we do hear suggest the church has a nice acoustic. As for the violin, we get all the bow-scratching and fingerboard noises that result from closer mic'ing, and miss some of the warmth and bloom that would result from a higher and slightly more distant placement.

As for the stereo picture, it's odd. When the piano is on its own, the whole image makes the most sense - the piano presents in both sides, even if the information isn't especially well de-correlated in terms of treble/bass information. The violin again suffers most from this arrangement, and especially for those listening on headphones (as I have just done), because almost all of its signal comes in a very 'mono' fashion from the right side.

In a duo recital situation, violinists more conventionally position themselves in front of the piano keyboard (or, from the audience's perspective, slightly to its left), so in fact, if anything, the violin might appear slightly to the left of centre, and its increased proximity to the main array give it increased focus over the piano, which projects its sound more successfully over distances for a whole load of reasons (its size, the reflective power of the lid, etc.). Obviously in a recording session context you can get away with having the violinist face the pianist, for improved communication, and mic accordingly (spaced omni arrays with stereo spots for both instruments are common).

I'm not a slave to convention by any means, but Richard King's book Recording Orchestra and Other Classical Music Ensembles has been a very useful source of knowledge for me in relation to chamber music recording (despite the title!).
Old 1 week ago
Here for the gear
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Thank you very much for your critique. It is exactly what I was hoping for. Your description is extremely helpful. I agree with all you say - especially about the nebulous piano image, the close violin sound and the placement of the violin image. I was trying to be inconspicuous. If I had it to do over I would back off about 10 feet with a stereo setup; however the mics would have to be in about the 3rd pew. This was a Sunday afternoon free public performance during which the audience was unexpectedly remarkably quiet. The air conditioner was audible. There is no noise reduction applied but I did run it through the loudness function of Izotope RX7. I think most of the piano comes through the violin mic. I mixed the piano ortf mic just to the point of being able to hear it. Thank you for suggesting Richard King’s book.
Old 6 days ago
Gear Nut

Coincidentally, I just recorded a Beethoven violin sonata in a small church. I'm posting one movement and a picture to illustrate one technique that Richard King proposes when a violinist stands off the right of the keyboard. To keep violin and piano centered in the stereo image, it was necessary to shift the microphone array to stage R, such that corner of keyboard - violinist - microphone is a straight line. The violinist bobbed and weaved quite a bit, evident in the violin 'moving' around the image somewhat.

LineAudio CM3s in NOS flanked by LineAudio OM1s at ~1m. Minor noise reduction (Izotope RX) to tame HVAC noise, ~1.5 dB treble boost on OM1, and just a touch of reverb to glue it all together.
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Beethoven Sonata for Violin and Piano in a small church-img_1035.jpg  
Attached Files
Old 2 days ago
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Thanks for posting the recording. I can appreciate the more distant balanced mellow delicate quality of the sound. For comparison I am posting the version that I did with the close mics.
Attached Files
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