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Jazz - record piano in stereo or not?
Old 28th February 2008
  #31
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boojum's Avatar
Standing in the curve the high strings can be right or left depending on how you handle the recording in the mix. As for stereo vs mono, I'd record stereo and listen to it summed and as stereo and go with the one I liked better. And, that way everyone is right!
Old 28th February 2008
  #32
mal
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Mic it and pan it however you want..

if it's a piano trio then I would think stereo is apt..it's the focus after all..

if it's a big band & the piano is a supporting role then maybe you can get away with one mic but I've never done that unless you're into a retro sound....

otherwise think about the frequencies also...if you have a trumpet for instance..pan it opposite from the high piano mic...

look at the whole sound stage..
Old 29th February 2008
  #33
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jslevin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ESL View Post
Predictably, I also prefer mixing according to an audience member's perspective.
A real audience member's perspective would be, bare minimum, 20 feet away from the band before it started to sound "right" and balanced. At that distance, the audible panning would be negligible, or at least relatively minor. The real audience perspective is just making everything sound great, all mixed together.

This visual-stereo literalism has absolutely nothing to do with presenting great music with a great sound. Once you get into multitracking, fixating on matching up the physical positions of the band as recorded with the track panning is just taking you out of what you really should be focusing on, i.e., the sound. How often will your listeners even be listening in a position with good imaging anyway?

In almost every case, the mix engineer would do better to pay absolutely no mind to the original positioning, treat it like a studio production and lay out the stereo field according to purely practical considerations. Hell, mix it in mono, anything to get your head out of fake considerations and focused on what your mix actually sounds like. Those people hearing your mix? They won't have any idea what the band looked like, regardless of how you mix it.

I don't mean to be argumentative about this, but when music production isn't about the sound, and only the sound, then it ceases to be music production, it's just a fetish. And it bugs me.

JSL
Old 29th February 2008
  #34
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Consider this though:

99% of what I record is for the actual band, or at least one of the members. They all remember what the band setup was. They really like when I have everything soundscaped to their memories of the setup.

This is why I do the panning by "perspective."

Furthermore, just because we analyze perspective and such doesn't mean we aren't paying attention to the musical side of the recording!!
Old 1st March 2008
  #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corran View Post
99% of what I record is for the actual band, or at least one of the members. They all remember what the band setup was. They really like when I have everything soundscaped to their memories of the setup.
I'll say it again ... artists like things that simply sound good, not needing any explanation or caveat ... and if you are delivering that, then if you tell them it's a good idea to do it a certain way, they'll believe it. They may like it in its own right, but mostly, they like it because you like it. I mean, it's not like you tried mixing it the other way and then asked them to choose.

I think part of what folks miss about this is that when you take a bunch of mics on a bunch of instruments and then pan them in your mix, the effect is much more blunt, more artificial and less subtle and musical, than the way real sounds interact in a real space. Sometimes you can get away with it, like if you're bringing some spot mics gently into a mix where most of the signal is from ambient mics. But most of the time, you are not in any way replicating the real sound of a real space, you're doing a cheap, flimsy representation of it, like photocopying a painting.

This is a problem for any type of mix to some extent, but all the more reason to put the priority on creating a mix that functions beautifully on its own terms, sonically and musically, not as a cheap imitation of something else entirely.

Quote:
Furthermore, just because we analyze perspective and such doesn't mean we aren't paying attention to the musical side of the recording!!
I'm sorry, but I just don't think that's accurate. Mixing is not entirely zero-sum game, we all balance goals and priorities to get the best overall mix. But attention and priority given to one aspect of a mix necessarily will detract from other aspects of it.

So when you pay attention to this entirely non-musical aspect -- stage nostalgia? -- you are by definition paying less attention to other aspects -- i.e., music and sound. And we are not talking about a trivial detail here, you are organizing the entire stereo field around this idea, your whole approach to the mix follows from that initial setup. It's a diversion, and you may make good mixes despite the diversion, but if it ever produces a positive effect, it's by accident.

JSL
Old 1st March 2008
  #36
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Corran's Avatar
 

Well we'll have to agree to disagree. I like what I'm doing! And I actually did show the performers different versions with different panning.

One more point: rereading your posts, it totally sounds like your opinion is that we should just mix mono and make it sound as good as possible musically. We have to have SOME panning, and I don't want to just do what the "studios" do!!
Old 2nd March 2008
  #37
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jslevin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corran View Post
Well we'll have to agree to disagree. I like what I'm doing! And I actually did show the performers different versions with different panning.
We at least can agree that you like it!

Quote:
One more point: rereading your posts, it totally sounds like your opinion is that we should just mix mono and make it sound as good as possible musically.
No, I didn't mean to give that impression. I was just trying to say that a real attempt to replicate the listener's point of view would not have you doing much extreme panning, perhaps not anything beyond 45 degrees. But that's not to say that I think it should be done that way. I think the panning should be dictated purely by the sonic and musical needs of the mix, and that anything else necessarily will detract from those needs and therefore from the mix itself.

As a separate subject, I think a lot of folks would do well to spend more of their mixing time monitoring in mono, at least for a while to sharpen their skills, and then checking and adjusting the mix in stereo later. If you can make it work mono, you've really made it work, and the gosh-wow effects of stereo are lost on 90% of all listeners, 99% of the time.

Quote:
We have to have SOME panning, and I don't want to just do what the "studios" do!!
I don't understand. What what are "studios" as opposed to studios, what do they do, and why wouldn't you want to do it?

JSL
Old 2nd March 2008
  #38
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boojum's Avatar
Sounds like we are back to "less is more" and I sure will endorse that. Too much "stuff" is tiring. I do little mixing, but I always try to keep it all as simple as possible. That's what works best for this pinhead.
Old 2nd March 2008
  #39
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Hey jslevin, I think our viewpoints are closer than they seem. I agree about the mono mixing. I always check mono while I'm mixing.

And sorry that statement was vague, what I meant was that I don't like following the conventions that have become standard practice, like bass centered and what have you when doing a live recording. I try to adapt to the situation.

Anyway, thanks for the opinions!

Old 2nd March 2008
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corran View Post
I don't like following the conventions that have become standard practice, like bass centered and what have you when doing a live recording. I try to adapt to the situation.

The bass in the centre is because of two things.
1- Bass players are usually set up in the middle of the band between the drums and the piano.

2- In the days of stereo phonograph records, it was bad practice to pan the bass to one side because the low frequencies would tend to launch the needle out of the grooves.

3- In some early stereo recordings, the bass IS on one side only. This is only because a stereo mixer was unavailable. One mono mixer fed on side of a 2-track machine and another fed the other side.

4-Okay, I'm rambling now, right?

Anyway, there is no right or wrong way to record and/or mix music. It either sounds good or it doesn't. I know what I like: A traditional stereo jazz recording like the old Columbia, Riverside, Blue Note, Prestige, Impulse type sound. That said, I know lots of musicians and engineers that prefer a more "produced" sound with full L-R panning on the piano and drums. Isolation booths and bass DI.
Old 2nd March 2008
  #41
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Yeah I know the reasoning behind it! I just mentioned that because I've done recordings where the bass wasn't centered, so I panned it (they were to the right while a guitar was to the left, only slightly though).

I have a couple recordings with that hard panning to the instruments, I can't stand it!! I know you aren't suggesting that or anything.

Old 2nd March 2008
  #42
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jslevin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corran View Post
Hey jslevin, I think our viewpoints are closer than they seem.
Funny how that works, isn't it?

Quote:
And sorry that statement was vague, what I meant was that I don't like following the conventions that have become standard practice, like bass centered and what have you when doing a live recording. I try to adapt to the situation.
I think that attitude is very compatible with what I've written as well. Slavish adherence to convention can also be considered a detraction from the goals of your mix. Of course in many cases convention is convention for a good reason, but that isn't always the case.

JSL
Old 2nd March 2008
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corran View Post
Yeah I know the reasoning behind it! I just mentioned that because I've done recordings where the bass wasn't centered, so I panned it (they were to the right while a guitar was to the left, only slightly though).

I have a couple recordings with that hard panning to the instruments, I can't stand it!! I know you aren't suggesting that or anything.

I wasn't suggesting panning a single instrument hard L-R like a piano or drumset in player's perspective.

However, panning mono instruments hard L-R can work well if there is plenty of "good leakage". All of the old records (pre late '60s) were hard panned because mixers didn't have pan pots. You could send a signal to channel A, channel B or A+B.

I am convinced that this works well in the all-tube (valve) analogue tape world. Whenever I have tried this with modern digital gear (Logic, Pro Tool etc...) it seems wierd. Splitting the difference with panning works much better.

But to get back to your point. There is no law that says bass has to be centre. It is just common practice.
Old 26th March 2008
  #44
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springer's Avatar
 

Revisiting this thread after my last 3 gigs...
1st gig - (1) UMT70S in Omni right off the strings way down by the bass strings midway between tail and curve.
2nd gig - (1) UMT70S in Card 8" in back of the hammers right over middle C
3rd gig - (2) UMT70S in Card 1 right up by the high strings, 1 down at the tail both about 2-6" off the strings

A LOT has to do with the room and loudness of reflected material, but i really have to say that close Omni is just beautiful. You are going to get bleed from drums no matter what.
Stereo effect was achieved becase the bass mic picked up a lot of the piano in all cases, so great imaging with mono piano mic panned just a little left and the bass mic rounds it out.
2 mics on piano is a little fuller but loses it's directionality a bit. Doesn't seem to be an issue with most recording I hear now are all over the map with imaging (wide pianos and wide drums - makes me think these performers have elasticman arms!!!).
Next up 2 OMNIS...
Old 25th March 2016
  #45
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Audience does NOT hear "in mono". You have two ears, positioned differently, and with differing freq. responses, so even if you are far away from a piano or a pure mono source (trumpet) you will still hear it stereo, the further away, the more stereo ambiance you perceive.

That's why I think mono always sounds "weird" because it's like listening with just one ear. And as someone pointed out if you don't know what you are doing you end up picking up "a phasey-comb filtered" sum of the sound source, whereas stereo averages better any of the inherent-to-room+instrument phaseyness at any given point, if of course you avert any phase issues between mics.

Anyway I wonder: why not record jazz (if theres no PA) with a stereo pair or a mic array of sorts like maybe a classical ensemble? What's the "convention" which says one needs to out up xxx spot mics on drums etc. ? Are there any great recs. of live/studio done this way??
Old 25th March 2016
  #46
Gear Maniac
 

I know this is an old thread... but in my opinion, the minute you start close mic'ing instruments such that, for example, the drum cymbals sound in playback like they're 3 feet from your ear (as in the original example), then all bets are off in terms of fidelity to the audience experience.

Sure, it might make sense to pan stuff generally from audience perspective because that will most benefit how you captured bleed. But ultimately we are creating (in playback of our recording) an experience that is different than what the audience experienced. So you should do what best serves the music. That is the art part of what we do.

These days I've been doing more mixing of audio that eventually goes with video. Typically I do the audio, then hand it off to the video guys. So there's always a bit of a disconnect the first time I see the video, because I've already constructed this visual according to how I've mixed, but it of course is different than what is produced. Yes, in these cases I try to mix to 'video perspective' - but what exactly is that? When there's a wide shot of the band, does it sound different then when there's a close up of the piano solo? I think all consumers of both audio and video enter a state of suspension of disbelief when consuming product. We've trained them to do so, by producing a higher-quality product (or at least different) than what they'd get had they been in the audience.
Old 25th March 2016
  #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bixby View Post
...We've trained them to do so, by producing a higher-quality product (or at least different) than what they'd get had they been in the audience.
SAKRILEGE! Shame in you! Damn you!

Better than being in the audience? Never!

You sit through smoke and coughing and itchy bums for the sake of that mystical connection to the energy of the performer and performance,
for that magik moment the sound and audience and performer are one!

How could a disc or other to be heard from your armchair possibly be better ?

Old 25th March 2016
  #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorenzop View Post
SAKRILEGE!
The "K" is a nice touch. But you could have gone up in size too. Added some bolding, italics. Something like this: SAKRILEGE!

Too much? Yeah, perhaps. Just a wee bit over the top.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorenzop View Post
How could a disc or other to be heard from your armchair possibly be better?
I used to listen to live jazz in smokey noisy crappy rooms. From bad seats. Crappy venue sound reinforcement. Eating expensive and not so good food, drinking prohibitively expensive drinks. Did that until I finally concluded that all my jazz disks heard from my armchair sounded better. And the food was better. And the drinks. And the lack of loud obnoxious drunks. And my armchair experience is way cheaper. And I could listen to Duke Ellington whenever I wanted to, even at 8:00am Monday morning. Which I've been known to do. I know, I know, don't start.

It's not like any of the greats are still with us. But they left us their best efforts. On discs. What could possibly be better?
Old 25th March 2016
  #49
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i guess that's it then

Old 25th March 2016
  #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
What could possibly be better?
Pretty much any given night in the basement at 178 7th Ave S., NYC...

But having recorded there quite a bit, and other places, I maintain a recording of an event is a different animal. Precisely because not only are we trying to capture the music performance but also the feel and vibe and everything else (the smoke, the uncomfortable chairs, everything). And it's not easy. There are so many live recordings that have been mixed such that they could have been recorded anywhere - they don't retain any sonic identity or feel of the venue. I'm not a fan of those. But I also don't think we need to be strict adherents to the "what would the audience experience", because that may not fully portray the vibe of the music. Hope that makes sense.
Old 25th March 2016
  #51
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In a perfect world we would be awash with jazz recordings like the famous Jazz at the Pawnshop. Not the best group in the world but the recording captures the vibe of the place with its music. There were great recordings from the famous Armenian church CBS had in the 30's in NY (streets, not years). But producers seem to want recordings that sound like you were in the middle of the group. I like it the way some others do: like I heard from the cheap seats in Birdland in the late 50's and early 60's. Perhaps this is because part of what I am seeking is a nostalgic time machine to take me back to those days. Who knows what we have stirred by music? Lots, and sometimes different for different folks.
Old 25th March 2016
  #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorenzop View Post
i guess that's it then

I'm just playin' witcha. Lighten up. Please.

Seriously, I agree with much of what's being said about hearing jazz (blues too) in it's native habitat. If I hadn't liked it, I wouldn't have done it.

What happened to me is that I got more interested in the music, and more annoyed at the things that kept me from hearing the music. I wanted the music more than I wanted the club experience. And I gotta say, it's much easier to hear and understand Duke Ellington's amazing timing and articulation at the piano through speakers in my listening room, where I've been known to play the same song over and over listening to the subtleties. Stuff I could never hear at the club.

I am so grateful that Jazz and Blues happened during the rise of recording technology. It's just crazy good luck that I'm able to listen to the masters of this music even though so many of them are now lost to us.
Old 25th March 2016
  #53
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spectrasound's Avatar
panning...

Whether I'm doing it live or remote, I usually have 2 mic.s on the piano, high and low...just to have better mix balance control....whichever way I'm panning it.
Old 26th March 2016
  #54
Is this all... serious? Haha I just cannot tell sometimes. When the French-Canadianish idioms start flying, memories of my childhood and panic set in

I say just listen, and listen, and listen, to what's come before, and figure out what you like. Rarely has there been an innovator who didn't start with a firm understanding of what came before.

I for one am a stereo piano kind of guy, it's just what the instrument sounds like when i'm playing it, or listening to it, or standing in front of it in person. But then just today, I was driving in the car and all of a sudden Miles' "My Funny Valentine" from Cookin' comes on, with its amazing soft-touch mono sound, and that's just, so wonderful! So if you want an effected sound like that, go for it!

Dogma is silly. Just mix the damn thing so it sounds good
Old 1 week ago
  #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fifthcircle View Post
I tend to go high-low for a couple reasons... First of all, when you look at the ensemble, the piano is usually on the left and that means the high strings as you look at it are on the left of the instrument. A fine point of imaging, but it is the way the instrument looks from the house.

Second and more importantly, the melody- especially with improvisation is usually in the right hand, towards the top of the instrument. With that side on the left, it has little to compete with sonically. Means that piano parts- especially the little solos and fills will come out more clearly without having to ride the faders. Basically lets the musicians control the sound more. For me, that allows for a more natural ensemble sound.

--Ben
Excellent insight, Ben. Thanks, I'll take that into consideration next time.
Old 1 week ago
  #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bixby View Post
Pretty much any given night in the basement at 178 7th Ave S., NYC...

But having recorded there quite a bit, and other places, I maintain a recording of an event is a different animal. Precisely because not only are we trying to capture the music performance but also the feel and vibe and everything else (the smoke, the uncomfortable chairs, everything). And it's not easy. There are so many live recordings that have been mixed such that they could have been recorded anywhere - they don't retain any sonic identity or feel of the venue. I'm not a fan of those. But I also don't think we need to be strict adherents to the "what would the audience experience", because that may not fully portray the vibe of the music. Hope that makes sense.
You're trying to capture smoke and discomfort? Is there a plugin for that?
Old 1 week ago
  #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yairisan View Post
You're trying to capture smoke and discomfort? Is there a plugin for that?
No, but you generally pan those 2 elements to the rear channels of the surround mix....
Old 1 week ago
  #58
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when i'm recording and mixing piano for cd, dvd, download or streaming these days, i almost always opt for a nice stereo field, a bit less within a big band, a bit more within other formats...

...trouble is though that when mixing live, speaker systems are often designed/set up in a way that only a relatively small part of the audience gets to hear a nice stero mix so one has to narrow the mix width on the amplification side but keep things wide on the recording side.
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