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Old 4 weeks ago
Lives for gear
Plush's Avatar
Aesthetics in recording has to do with one forming an idea of how one wants to present the recording--of "hearing the recording in one's mind," before the recording is made. You make your recorded pick up according to the tenets of your recording philosophy / your informed aesthetic.

This encompasses wants and desires revolving around the topics of:

1. How will you even decide what your philosophy / your aesthetic involves?
How does one arrive at a point of view?

2. how close to the player's does one want the sound to be?
3. how wide do you want the stereo picture to be?
4. how much room / hall do you want to include?
5. Do you want a hyper-realistic sound or more of an impressionist sound?
6. Do you consider your role as a documentarian (your sound is presented as if the listener is in a good seat in the hall.) Or do you consider the recording to be a separate art form, where you give your own impression of the work (of course tied to reality).
7. Do have a very excellent analog front end.
8. Does your recording philosophy revolve around players making a natural balance or do you, the engineer, make the balance?
9. How active will you be in interacting with the conductor in a collaboration to reach the goal of a great recording?
10. Who helps coach you to find your own "voice" in recording?
11. Listen to your local classical radio station to hear good variety of recordings.

Mainly it is listening to other famous and not so famous recordings that helps you find and define your preferences in sound pick up. Each recording presents the work in a different recorded perspective and with more / less emphasis on soloists, winds, brass and percussion. Try to research how the recordings that you like and prefer were made. What was the mic set up, what was the hall size and shape? One works towards imitation of something they like.

How about the importance of someone showing you proper set up? So many times I see beginning recordists set up an omni pair so narrowly spaced that they will never get a satisfying sound. Other times I observe the main pair floating so high in the clouds that the sound has no oooomph. Looking down on the ensemble without catching direct sound can be a mistake.

Work with someone more experienced than you are. Mostly watch and listen and later, on the ride home, you can ask them why they did certain things the way they did them.

Many times the recorded sound sounds too far away. There is a narrow range of distances from in front of the ensemble that leads to a satisfying sound. I often suggest monitoring the main pair in headphones as you move it around. Closer here, then farther away. Raising it up and then deciding you have gone too high.

As far as mics are concerned, always blend something close and something farther away. The ideal is to have the instruments sound as if they are not miced with a microphone.

The hall is more than 50% of the sound. Don't bust butt trying to make a poor sounding hall sound good in the recording. It will never sound good no matter what you do. Don't use omni mics in a poor sounding space. Why would you do it?

Don't record with people who can't play their instrument. Don't edit them extensively. Have standards! Many inexperienced people believe that when they make a recording they will automatically sound good. What a joke!

Try to meet the people involved in your local classical radio stations. They both give advice and give you work.
Go to weekend recording work shops. Attend some recording classes.

At first keep a real job and do the recording on the side. Then if you have the passion and guts, you can do it more often.

Always charge a professional rate and never work for free. Don't work cheaply. Do not "contribute' your time. Always take a fee.