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Why do we deprive ourselves of space?
Old 23rd December 2011
  #1
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Deltones's Avatar
 

Why do we deprive ourselves of space?

The thought came up after reading a short-lived thread here recently about the "Nothing Else Matters" drums and after seeing this vocal booth pic in the "Show Your Studio 2011" thread:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/7346395-post974.html

versus shots of Sinatra in threads about him, like this one for example:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/48220-post14.html

Rock drummers cream their pants at the thought of sounding like The Black Album, where a big part of the drum sound came from, as per Dean Roddey in that "Nothing Else" thread:

Quote:
They had a big room, which they then put reflective panelling up all over to make it even more live. They put up a lot of mics all around the room
And yet, close miking of drums in dead rooms has being going on for decades now. And that's even discounting the amount of drum replacement going on nowadays.

We have guitar players agonizing over the minutiae of their sound every single seconds, and yet, most guitar recordings are obtained by having cabs miked right up to the grill, where it sounds like absolute **** instead of placing the mic at the spot where the guitar player was grinning from ear to ear because his sound was so awesome.

And then we have singers crammed into coffin-like space like above, and expecting Sinatra-like results. By the way Stafs, I hope you don't take offense in my using your pic as an example. You have a gorgeous setup, but that vocal booth did grab my attention.

Of course, 99% of us don't have access to awesome rooms like Sinatra, but still, why do we deprive ourselves so much of natural space by recording so close to the sound source, yet expecting sonic results from the gods? Habits? Limitations? Technical issues? Because everybody does it?
Old 23rd December 2011
  #2
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This is why I regard my Studio Traps as my most essential gear. Being able to control the sound at the mike and mike farther out using accurate figure 8 and omni pattern mikes helps make recording quick and consistently good, even in a relatively small room.

Cheers,

Otto
Old 23rd December 2011
  #3
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In this project, we learned towards the end of the sessions that all of the instruments sounded better with at least two or three times the microphone distance we first presumed.

Particularly drums.

This was surprising to me: I'm not a huge fan of the roomy "levvy breaks" sensibility, generally speaking. I love the opposite: Beatles "Come Together" and Al Green drums --- extreme, dry, raw heavily-compressed intimacy and fish-eye-lens, hyperreal perspective.

But really what you want out of sound is life, however you can get it. So you have to keep an open mind.

It really depends on the song and the vista you're pursuing.

- c
Old 23rd December 2011
  #4
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Drumsound's Avatar
Horses for courses. Plus every other factor, like money, time, clientele...
Old 23rd December 2011
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deltones View Post
why do we deprive ourselves so much of natural space by recording so close to the sound source, yet expecting sonic results from the gods? Habits? Limitations? Technical issues? Because everybody does it?
"depriving yourself" of natural space eliminates variables - the variables which (unfortunately for many of us) are some of the first that get 'compromised' in the recording process. Properly tuned rooms of a proper size are great, but not attainable for many people. If you jam an SM57 2 inches of the snare drum head, you can achieve a predictable result, in almost any room. That predictablility becomes more important at a certain point than the gamble of questionable mic placement in a questionable room.
Old 23rd December 2011
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Sonya View Post
In this project, we learned towards the end of the sessions that all of the instruments sounded better with at least two or three times the microphone distance we first presumed.

Particularly drums.
Thanks for the link. Read the WP article. Interesting project for sure.

And cheers for your thoughts on the thread subject. It's off to a good start.
Old 23rd December 2011
  #7
"Space is the place" ~ Sun Ra
Old 23rd December 2011
  #8
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This is where having a "musician's ear" helps engineers. It's not only distance but AXIS of mic placement. Listening is the key when setting up mics and if you are a one man operation it might mean wearing a set of headphones and monitering while you move a mic around. Things like bass amps take distance for their sound to bloom. Beware the trap of setting the mic straight on axis 2" from the source all the time. If you are monitering WHILE placing mics you will have predictability but you will be taking more time for setup and that unfortunately is not worth the trade off for some. Mic bleed WILL be a factor with distance also. Some guys know how to use bleed to their advantage including moving musicians around, not just mics.
Old 23rd December 2011
  #9
I realize not everyone on here is in the UK or lives in a city - but in my city a 5000 sqft building can cost you £160,000 pa in rent and business rates - that's before you build your studio inside it, or pay for any euqipment etc. On its own it is probably more than I could ever charge clients. Sooo why do I deprive myself of space? um...

And the other point is that as you move from close miking to distant miking you get more of the room sound. This is awesome if and only if the room sounds awesome. So if you record in a large and acoustically sympathetic space with all the acoustic treatment you could wish for obviously you can pull the mics back. Whereas if you work in a small untreated room close mics will be about all you can do. I guess most of us live with a compromise of room size/treatment and do the best we can. But I never just place a mic and hit go - it is always placed by ear.
Old 23rd December 2011
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by windmillsound View Post
I realize not everyone on here is in the UK or lives in a city - but in my city a 5000 sqft building can cost you £160,000 pa in rent and business rates - that's before you build your studio inside it, or pay for any euqipment etc. On its own it is probably more than I could ever charge clients. Sooo why do I deprive myself of space? um...

And the other point is that as you move from close miking to distant miking you get more of the room sound. This is awesome if and only if the room sounds awesome. So if you record in a large and acoustically sympathetic space with all the acoustic treatment you could wish for obviously you can pull the mics back. Whereas if you work in a small untreated room close mics will be about all you can do. I guess most of us live with a compromise of room size/treatment and do the best we can. But I never just place a mic and hit go - it is always placed by ear.
+1
Yup
Old 23rd December 2011
  #11
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Tejan's Avatar
 

I fall into the camp that says listening is the key. Every room has limitations. If you know what you're doing, many of them can be addressed with mic and musician placement. Because I started as a musician and am transitioning into engineer, the sound of things in the room is always something I'm aware of. I also acknowledge that sound always occurs in space. As a live musician you learn to deal with less than ideal spaces and make them work-- even have charm. Live sound is my ideal. I've never seen a concert in an anechoic perfect room and I never will. I'm not sure I ever want to.

Use your nulls wisely. Let bleed be your friend. Make music that sounds as it occurs in real life -- in an imperfect space. Ymmv.
Old 23rd December 2011
  #12
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bleed must be your friend in small rooms, we had a small room for 7 years and got real good at close mic'd sessions and using the spaces around you for extra effect.

we did feel deprived of space!

then we had the fortune to build a big room a couple of years ago.

aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh space.

we got lucky with the shape / size of the room and it is a lovely live space.in
everyone around here loves this room, big drum sounds, or light and tight acoustic groups/instrumeents... for rock we just put the amps in their own rooms so we get the drums and the band still gets to jam together in same room under headphones and we get enough separation so you can really mix later.

I highly recommend space...don't deprive your self!


Old 23rd December 2011
  #13
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I could be wrong but the habit of close began roughly around the same time as the available number of tracks to record on grew from 4 via 8 to 16 or 24 and the machines sync'able and digital (read precisely repeatable) reverbs started to appear.
And physical studio space has always been very expensive, especially in Europe.

To me many old 2, 3 or 4 track recordings sound absolutely heavenly while the vast majority of 24+ track recordings tend to sound merely ok on the whole.

Music lives in the space, be it arrangement or physical recording space.

Also I have yet to hear any digital reverb sound as sublime as the elevator shaft they used for Simon&Garfunkels 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' album.


Just my two pence worth…
Old 24th December 2011
  #14
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Deltones's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by O.F.F. View Post
I could be wrong but the habit of close began roughly around the same time as the available number of tracks to record on grew from 4 via 8 to 16 or 24
Interesting. Anybody else can confirm this?
Old 24th December 2011
  #15
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As an amateur, I think it's fair to say that using space is harder than not. Using the space properly requires experience or luck (or both). I must say that over the past several years I've spent much time learning to use the room in interesting ways.

last month, I had the chance to finally record drums in my new house a (which is actually an old, tiny little house with wood floors). I used a set up with overhead mics placed in a Glyn Johns method and added a snare, kick, and a pair of room mics (blumlein, in the kitchen). What I got was amazing! Big, huge, enormous sound. Snare like an explosion. Warmth for days. Much better than when I had a small, reasonably dead room.

Same with guitars- I learned a lot from listening to Queen recordings. The older guitar sounds are made by using multiple mics, playing with the phase relationships, and adding in room sounds to boot.

So, it can go either way, but right now for me the enjoyment is in learning how to use room sounds to advantage.
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