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Interesting acoustic gtr/vocal session, and some questions! Condenser Microphones
Old 13th September 2011
  #1
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jimcroisdale's Avatar
 

Interesting acoustic gtr/vocal session, and some questions!

Hi all,

A good friend of mine is a great singer and acoustic guitarist and I have offered to help him record a 5 track EP. He's folky, gritty and dynamic, and we are favouring a natural sounding, stripped back approach.

We though a bit of pre-production might be in order, to both play with mic options and also see how the songs come across when recorded.

My recording room (bedroom...) is pretty dead as I have all the usual soft furnishings, carpet and 4 large DIY basstraps.

I sat him down to record, and managed to find a chair that doesn't squeak. I set up a pair of Rode NT1's, about 4 feet apart, and three feet from him, aiming somewhere between the guitar and his face.

I also set up a '57 with a small pop filter, pointing upwards from the guitar for best rejections, and so he could sing right onto the mic.

A Rode NT2 was place about 2ft from the guitar, aiming at the neck/body join.

So I got my levels and we did a few takes before listening back. Firstly, the room sound was still evident, more on that later. Second, I was surprised how good the vocal mic sounded, and how much isolation I managed to get. The stereo room mics sounded good too, but the NT2 on guitar was pretty useless as it had a lot of vocal in it.

I twiddles with the mix for a few hours and we are quite happy with the first attempt. One thing that made a big difference was delaying the '57 by 3-4 msec, to get it more in phase with the stereo pair. Cool.

Next weekend we are going to try and get some proper tracks down. I am friends with the care taker at the local school, and he very kindly says we can use one of the halls or large classrooms (whichever sounds best) so that should help with the room sound immensely I feel. I'm also going to try the NT2 guitar mic MUCH closer to the guitar to keep the vocal out, perhaps near the bridge, so I can mix in a little attack later if required. That said, I was quite happy with the three mic setup.

In addition to that, I'm going to use a distant condenser (AKGC3000) as a further option come mixtime.

One point I wondered is that should I dampen the floor area between the stereo pair and the performer so I don't get any early reflections coming off the floor, or will this be desirable to give a more realistic sense of space?

I also feel that the stereo pair 3ft from the performer is about right and seems to get a good balance of room and music, but I wonder if this will change in a bigger, nicer room and wondered if anyone had any further opinions on this?

Clips of pre-prod and finished tracks to follow!

Cheers guys and gals,

Jim
Old 13th September 2011
  #2
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jimcroisdale's Avatar
 

I should probably add that the mics I mention are the only ones I've got (save a D112 and more 57s/58's) so I'm not really looking at mic recommendations at the moment. I know the NT1's are frowned upon, but I'm going to persevere!

All mics are going straight into my MR816x.

Various cheap and free plugs available!
Old 13th September 2011
  #3
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Scott Whigham's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimcroisdale View Post
One point I wondered is that should I dampen the floor area between the stereo pair and the performer so I don't get any early reflections coming off the floor, or will this be desirable to give a more realistic sense of space?

I also feel that the stereo pair 3ft from the performer is about right and seems to get a good balance of room and music, but I wonder if this will change in a bigger, nicer room and wondered if anyone had any further opinions on this?
I record a lot of acoustic guitar and, without having too many more details, I would say that you want those first reflections from the floor. You might like to check out this thread: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-mu...k-42-test.html. And then again it may sound better dampened by a rug. There's only one way to know...

As for 3ft back, there's no way we can help with that. It'll take 5 mins to test that and then you'll 100% know, right? That's a far more empirical way to test it IMO.
Old 13th September 2011
  #4
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Do you have other mics you can use? If you're doing it all in one take, two figure eights work best. Point one null at the guitar and one at the singer.
Old 13th September 2011
  #5
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jimcroisdale's Avatar
 

No, the condensers mentioned are the only ones I have unfortunately.
Old 28th September 2011
  #6
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jimcroisdale's Avatar
 

Well, we did the recording this weekend, and got 5 tracks down.

It's amazing what you can learn by actually doing it, rather than reading about it on gearslutz!

I set the NT1's as a stereo pair, '57 close on vox, C3000 in the distance and took a DI from the guitar's pickup.

We spent several hours getting good takes and called it a day. it was very hard to hear what was happening when I moved the mics due to only having headphones to listen on (and not very good ones at that), so a little guesswork was involved.

I put the studio back together last night, brought up the faders and had a listen. Things I found were:

1. Phasing seemed much more of an issue - possibly due to the hard floors? I couldn't get the '57 to sit with the NT1 pair, and I couldn't get the NT1's to play nicely together either, so I ended up just using the NT1 that had the best vocal/gtr balance and panning it in the middle.

2. C3000's are noisy. I had to give it a fair bit of gain and it ended up being too hissy. The ambience did sound good, but the noise ruined it.

3. The guitar pickup was a wise choice. With a little processing I can add a smidge in and use it to widen the stereo image and add a little excitement.

4. Plugin reverbs are very good - doing it in Cubase I can get the ambience sounding great!

Anyway, so much of a learning curve and a great day of recording. I'm sure we're going to be able to add a few overdubs this weekend and we'll be on our way to a great EP.

Clips will follow!!

Cheers,

Jim
Old 28th September 2011
  #7
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It doesn't surprise me to hear you could get the SM57 to sit well with your stereo pair: I find it really tough to get a vocal mic to fit in with a stereo pair if they are different types of mic (especially if the vocal mic is darker than the guitar/room mics).

I'm surprised to hear you couldn't get the N1s to "play nicely together" though. When I'm running into these sorts of problems I often find that it's the stereo pair that is the one reliable thing. It might not be the most in-your-face combination to opt for, but I normally find it's the most organic and natural-sounding.
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