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AdamInLondon



Joined: 02/03/12
Posts: 6
Loc: UK
Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors?
      #973554 - 02/03/12 10:53 AM
Hi,
i'll put my basic question in the first paragraph below, but add some additional thoughts and info if you want to read further -

i have made a recording of solo mandolin, quite slow, that i like a lot and put a lot of effort in to create and edit, but on consideration the tone is too trebly, too cold, almost like a photograph with too sharp a resolution. A friend mentioned he thought I could perhaps 'warm it up' using compressors or limiter, perhaps of particular sorts designed for vocals. If anyone can give me some guidance on a good plug in or best suitable effect usable with logic for this, and maybe some pointers on how best I could use it for the desired result I'd be very grateful. Although a longtime musician, my recording/engineering expertise is limited.

Of course i realise i can use eq, but would specifically be interested in any thoughts on how compression / limiting could be used on an existing take to get a warmer result. My recording is clear, undistorted and free from ambient sound etc. Just to sharp and 'cold'.

Further thoughts and info - I used a very nice and expensive Rode NT2A condenser mic for this recording. This is a very accurate sounding mic, which has been producing good results for me for flute and violin, and to some extent acoustic guitar. However, I'm now realising I can add a bit more warmth and character, especially for mandolin and similar instruments such as cittern and guitar, if i include some signal from an SM57 blended into the mix. I would certainly do this if i was recording this piece again. Perhaps the supersharp and faithful results from a condenser can be just too sharp for a toppy instrument such as mandolin. Also, i'm slowly realising, i think, that these kind of condensers work best with a little more distance between the instrument and the mic...but to get the best from this i will have to improve the acoustics of the room i am recording in. Anyway, any thoughts on how i can best record mandolin, and how i can 'warm up' and existing take (which would be hard to do again!!) would be appreciated

with regards
Adam


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Bob Bickerton
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Joined: 20/12/02
Posts: 3197
Loc: Nelson, New Zealand
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: AdamInLondon]
      #973559 - 02/03/12 11:10 AM
Welcome!

Whilst compression can give the effect of warming up a track, it's main purpose is to control the dynamic range and that is something you may not wish to alter. I would use compression (if at all) to achieve any dynamic control required and then use EQ to achieve the desired warmth.

I would imagine the NT2A is the problem, which in my opinion would not fit into the 'nice' or 'expensive' category! I'd be thinking of using a nice SDC (or pair if it's a solo part) or maybe a neutral mid-sized capsule mic like the TLM193. But all this is dependent on budget! At the cheaper end of the scale would be the Rode NT5 or (if you can improve your acoustics) the NT55 which ships with a nice omni head.

Bob

--------------------
www.bickerton.co.nz


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shufflebeat



Joined: 09/12/07
Posts: 3332
Loc: Manchester, UK
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: AdamInLondon]
      #973563 - 02/03/12 11:23 AM
Hi Adam and welcome.

Sounds like you've got a good perspective on things.

Things I'd experiment with:

Mic placement, search the forum for ideas but I'd suggest pointing the mic at the soundboard behind the bridge, more wood - less string. It can sometimes sound a little dull compared to the sparkling top of before but, record it, go away and come back with a fresh ear.

What programme are you using? Cockos Reaper has a few plugins a that deal with initial transients which sound harsh and are often more of a problem than actual top end.

Mess about with the pattern settings on the mic. Figure 8 setting can sound more open and balanced.

Keep us posted.

--------------------
Onward and outward


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Darren Lynch
member


Joined: 25/02/03
Posts: 445
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: AdamInLondon]
      #973568 - 02/03/12 11:47 AM
Your using Logic?

Load up the Compressor plugin. The various models available do make significant tonal changes. The first two models (can't remember what they're called! but they are the ones not called FET, VCA and Opto) tame shrillness really well and greatly help spikey instruments sit in a mix.


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grab



Joined: 08/07/07
Posts: 2939
Loc: Cambridge, UK
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: AdamInLondon]
      #973579 - 02/03/12 12:46 PM
This might not be very helpful if you've already got the recording, but...

I went shopping for an octave mandolin a few years ago. On guitar, my favourite tone is always spruce top and rosewood back, so I was expecting my mandolin preferences to be the same. In fact though, I found this was much too shrill on mandolin, especially when amplified. Sure it'd cut through a busy session, but I didn't actually like the sound of it. And most mandos I tried had very little sustain - all "chink" and no "chime".

I ended up with a cedar-and-mahogany Paul Hathway instead. Hathway mandos seem to have a much richer tone than most others; and the cedar top is warmer than spruce too. At a loud session I drop back to rhythm, bcos I'm not audible on melody. But if it's just me on my own, or me and a small group, it's a thing of beauty.

I realise this is a bit of an "I wouldn't start from here" reply. But for future, you might want to look at an instrument that's more suited to the tone you want on the recording.

Compression will cut your transients, as will more complex equivalents like the SPL Transient Designer and its clones. If the problem is the piercing nature of mandolin as a rhythm instrument, that might help you. On the EQ front, typically the frequencies that give harshness are somewhere between 5kHz and 10kHz, so cutting these might help too.

Part of the problem could be that there's little harmonic complexity in a piercing mandolin sound, especially close-miced. You could try a tube amp sim to add some subtle ear-pleasing distortion. Maybe a little of an Enhancer/Vitalizer/Exciter or something similar might be worth a try too, although this could easily go wrong with something as highs-heavy as a mandolin.


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shufflebeat



Joined: 09/12/07
Posts: 3332
Loc: Manchester, UK
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: AdamInLondon]
      #973583 - 02/03/12 12:54 PM
Free to try:

http://www.kvraudio.com/product/transient_monster_by_stillwell_audio

--------------------
Onward and outward


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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
Posts: 4453
Loc: North Pembrokeshire
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: AdamInLondon]
      #973603 - 02/03/12 02:43 PM
Can you post the track?
What I might do is try character EQ and some frequency-selective compression.

--------------------
Next on with Pembrokeshire Intimate Gigs


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AdamInLondon



Joined: 02/03/12
Posts: 6
Loc: UK
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: grab]
      #973649 - 02/03/12 05:29 PM
Interesting comments Grab. I solely use a cedar and mahogany Paul Hathway mandolin, and have done for at least fifteen years, for precisely the reasons you state. This mandolin has a better tone, especially when it comes to the warmer end, than just about any other mandolin you would be likely to find. They are a bargain as well. I have proven to my satisfaction that these instruments actually produce a substantial bass tone, simply because it can be emphasised with eq [this wouldn't be possible if it wasn't there : ) ] They are like 'mini-bouzoukis' with an unparalleled value for chordal playing as well as melody. Another good flat top mandolin i've noticed on the market for a reasonable price is one of the models made by Oakwood up in Manchester. The only other direction i might go with mando may be a carved top, since that is an entirely different type of sound and is of interest to me, even though i'm not especially enamoured of the 'typical' f-hole bluegrass pingy mandos that our transatlantic nortamericano amigos love - it does have it's place and works well with a lot of american genres, but there are other types of carved top sound, sometimes, i am finding, used by classical musicians, or Brazilian Choro players. I can't help feeling the (to my ears) often quite metallic and thin tone of the bluegrass mando has come about through the need to cut over other instruments....i think i'm always going to be looking for a bit more warmth or body than the typical american mandolin sound. With regard to the point we are discussing, i just don't seem to have captured this warmth that the Hathway should have in spades in this particular recording for some reason. I'm quite interested to hear the NT2A 'dissed' by one respondent - certainly some recording pros really rate this mic. But yeah, it may not be the ideal mic for mando. One recommendation i've had for live recording in the studio of an ensemble is two rode NT2a s in a specific configuration ( i forget the details ) with shure sm57 on each instrument. As mentioned, sm57 seems to 'come to the rescue' in terms of giving some warmth, and without buying anything else, seems a combination of shure plus rode is a workable pair for me to experiment with for now. Only other option for now is to see what i can do with the zoom (i don't know if zoom's mics can be fed straight into logic??). I have certainly been getting some really faithful and balanced live acoustic recordings, depending, of course, on the acoustics of the venue ! I'm interested also by the comment below about possibly using selective compression within certain bandwidths.....an idea i hadn't considered. I will spend a day or so experimenting with this, but i've got a feeling i may have to face up to re-doing this take, we shall see : ) Thank you very much all of you for your responses so far.


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AdamInLondon



Joined: 02/03/12
Posts: 6
Loc: UK
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #973650 - 02/03/12 05:31 PM
Thanks for this one Guy Johnson


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turbodave



Joined: 25/04/08
Posts: 2437
Loc: derbyshire uk
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: AdamInLondon]
      #973667 - 02/03/12 06:51 PM
Adam, would you use paragraphs in future as reading your previous post almost made me puke!...not due to the contents but to the hypnotic effect of the font/lack of space. Cheers Dave

--------------------
My head hurts!


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AdamInLondon



Joined: 02/03/12
Posts: 6
Loc: UK
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: turbodave]
      #973672 - 02/03/12 07:28 PM
yah ok, i am a superfast stream of thought touch typist and i get carried away sometimes


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AdamInLondon



Joined: 02/03/12
Posts: 6
Loc: UK
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: Bob Bickerton]
      #973675 - 02/03/12 07:37 PM
Thanks for the mic recommendations (and for dissing my poshest mic) : ) I guess 'expensive' is a relative to budget.


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shufflebeat



Joined: 09/12/07
Posts: 3332
Loc: Manchester, UK
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: AdamInLondon]
      #973689 - 02/03/12 08:27 PM
Quote AdamInLondon:

Thanks for the mic recommendations (and for dissing my poshest mic) : ) I guess 'expensive' is a relative to budget.




There's absolutely nothing wrong with the nt2. Like any other mic it can be used well or otherwise, including for your mandolin.

--------------------
Onward and outward


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Persuazion



Joined: 29/10/05
Posts: 1630
Loc: Scotland
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: shufflebeat]
      #973698 - 02/03/12 09:32 PM
Quote shufflebeat:

Quote AdamInLondon:

Thanks for the mic recommendations (and for dissing my poshest mic) : ) I guess 'expensive' is a relative to budget.




There's absolutely nothing wrong with the nt2. Like any other mic it can be used well or otherwise, including for your mandolin.




I agree actually... But I do mean the original NT2. Much prefer the sound of those to the 2A. My first mic a good many years ago... Sold it when I moved up to 'better' things keep seeing them on ebay at daft prices but never get round to picking another one up. Absolutely nothing wrong with 'budget' mics if they sound good!

--------------------
http://www.loverslanestudios.co.uk


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Bob Bickerton
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Joined: 20/12/02
Posts: 3197
Loc: Nelson, New Zealand
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: AdamInLondon]
      #973702 - 02/03/12 09:45 PM
Quote AdamInLondon:

Thanks for the mic recommendations (and for dissing my poshest mic) : ) I guess 'expensive' is a relative to budget.




Apologies for that and as you say it's all relative!

I've only used one a few times and thought the top end was hard sounding rather than smooth, which is what you're describing in your post - hence my observation. But mic positioning is critical and one trick you could try is to use the mic off-axis (by which i mean rotating the mic so its pointing 45 degrees away fromthe instrument) as this will attenuate higher frequencies, or at least should do. Unfortunately Rode only publish polar patterns up to 4kHz, but this should help.

Whilst the sm57 wouldn't be my favorite mic either, it may well prove to be the solution for you and would not have the same extended high end as the NT2a.

I take it you've explored mic position whilst listening through headphones?

Bob

--------------------
www.bickerton.co.nz


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russ123



Joined: 01/10/05
Posts: 612
Loc: northwest uk
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: AdamInLondon]
      #973714 - 02/03/12 10:46 PM
I have a PH too and a rode. Seriously, try some gentle eq'ing as at amateur level, the instrument tone is full, articulate wide ranging and the mic is capable of picking it all up. If that doesn't work, re-record with multiple mic's and experiment with mic placement.


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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
Posts: 4453
Loc: North Pembrokeshire
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: turbodave]
      #973731 - 03/03/12 01:04 AM
Quote turbodave:

Adam, would you use paragraphs in future as reading your previous post almost made me puke!...not due to the contents but to the hypnotic effect of the font/lack of space. Cheers Dave




Too much for me.

--------------------
Next on with Pembrokeshire Intimate Gigs


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AdamInLondon



Joined: 02/03/12
Posts: 6
Loc: UK
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: Bob Bickerton]
      #973819 - 03/03/12 03:25 PM
Quote Bob Bickerton:

Quote AdamInLondon:

Thanks for the mic recommendations (and for dissing my poshest mic) : ) I guess 'expensive' is a relative to budget.




Apologies for that and as you say it's all relative!

I've only used one a few times and thought the top end was hard sounding rather than smooth, which is what you're describing in your post - hence my observation.

Bob




Ha ha no offence taken at all - in fact you have described the issue with this mic pretty much perfectly. I will definitely experiment with the oblique direction that you recommend.

in the mean time i've just spent an hour or two editing ..... i think i'm going to get by making the best of an *imperfect* job using eq, mainly subtractively, and some limiter.

There is only so much you can do with a take you have already created.... some of these constructive suggestions are going to help i think.


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grab



Joined: 08/07/07
Posts: 2939
Loc: Cambridge, UK
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: AdamInLondon]
      #974036 - 04/03/12 11:22 PM
Glad to find another happy Hathway owner! Thought I'd mention the instrument, bcos a lot of mandos I hear, if the owner asked "why isn't there much depth of sound?", the answer would be "bcos there isn't any coming from your instrument". Like you say, mandos for bluegrass (and to some extent Irish) are pitched to cut through - for bluegrass in particular they're as much a percussion instrument as anything else - with the resulting effect on richness.

But if you ain't getting depth of tone from a Hathway then the problem is definitely in the mic placement (or mic).


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Pangloss
new member


Joined: 11/07/01
Posts: 736
Loc: London
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: AdamInLondon]
      #974199 - 05/03/12 03:50 PM
Hi Adam,

I think most has already been said however, I'll just add this; I have an F-style J Bovier mandolin, which is admittedly a completely different beast to yours. However, I managed to get a fairly sweet sound recently with my Groove Tubes valve vocal mic. Maybe a bit of soft focus like that up at the top end would help?

Maybe even a ribbon?

--------------------
'These are my principles and if you don't like them...well, I have others' (Groucho Marx) www.ownlittleworld.net/tunes.html

Edited by Pangloss (05/03/12 03:50 PM)


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artzmusic



Joined: 20/05/11
Posts: 192
Loc: usa
Re: Can I make a mandolin take sound warmer with compressors? new [Re: AdamInLondon]
      #974208 - 05/03/12 04:15 PM
Adam et al, My brother plays mandolin and has adopted a picking method using the wide back edge of the pick instead of the pointed corner. He claims that it gives him a deeper richness of tone compared to the trebley transients of the pointy pick.

Have you found any merit to this in your experience?

BTW he has recently switched to the Bluechip pick which apparently is quite the rave among bluegrass mandolin players lately. http://www.bluechippick.net/ They make a more rounded pick as well. Tone seems to be a reason for the excitement. You'd need some serious pocket change though.

Rick


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