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Old 19th May 2006
Lives for gear
ajfarber's Avatar

Originally Posted by mopppish
Hi, all.
So, I'm a music education student at UW-Whitewater. I also work in the university's audio labs and do some freelance recording, so I've been hit up to do some jobs on campus. Naturally, my background is mostly in recording the standard rock instruments, but I'm intrigued by the challenges and rewards of recording "proper" acoustic instruments (I'm a percussionist and bassist, BTW). So far I've done some recitals and audition CDs for folks, mostly strings or brass. Here are some concerns/issues I've noticed-
1) NOISE!!! Obviously these types of instruments and this type of music has an incredible dynamic range, so my recording levels are low in general. Once I've gotten levels up to where they need to be in the mixdown phase, I've got tons of noise. The rooms I've been recording in haven't been the quietest, but is the real need here for super quiet and sensitive (i.e. expensive) gear? I'm using a Firepod and an ibook (pretty low end, I know) with a decent assortment of mics. Is the noise floor of standard gear for this type of music just insanely low?
2) I don't know what you would call this problem. Perhaps "excessive detail"? I've noticed mostly with brass and stringed instruments that you get a lot of sound you don't necessarily want. For instance, on trombone the "blat" of the player's lips (these are very exceptional players, BTW) really comes through. On cellos and basses, you can really hear the hair "rasp" against the string. I've certainly experimented with mic positions/distances i.e. keeping brass players off axis and a decent distance from their mics. Any other advice? Even a Royer 121 will exhibit these issues. An AKG C414 sounded AWFUL on cellos. I attributed that to a bright frequency response and a "too fast" transient response. Am I in the ballpark here?
3) Might a super clean pre fed through the SPDIF of my Firepod help out? I guess that kind of ties into the first issue...
4) Any other general advice for recording string quartets or brass concertos or woodwind quintets or whatever with general, middle of the road university issue gear would be appreciated.
OK. A "Firepod" you say. Not enough gain to use the Royer as a room mic, however it will do nicely on acoustic bass or brass instruments. The 414 is a bland mic but it can work on celli if you have one per stand. Don't worry about the harshness, that's what 414s sound like. EQ it later. You can use the 414s on omni as room mics in a decca tree type setup or try them as an M/S pair.

Good Luck.