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Recording Violin in less than ideal circumstances.

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Recording Violin in less than ideal circumstances.

Postby AndyClarke » Mon Apr 01, 2013 6:51 am

Good morning happy, April to you all.

This afternoon I have a friend coming round to add some violin to one of my tracks, although this was planned some time ago we only managed to sort a date and time at quite short notice, and we only have a small time slot this afternoon. So I have no choice but to record it in my home studio which is a less than ideal space. Normally I would have taken time to find somewhere with some nice acoustics, a while ago Elf offered me use of a nice tiled space and use of his mics for another recording I have planned, but we're not going to have time to make use of that offer today.

So my studio is basically a spare bedroom in the house. The worst shape for a studio being practically a cube at about 5m up, down and across. I was thinking of using my Audio Technica AT2020 or one of my Behringer C3s but have a collection of mics including a 57 & 58 but felt that condensers would be the best.

This is the first time I've recorded a violin and I've searched the internet for tips and most things I've read say the room is the most important thing and that you should never close mic a violin. There also seems to be a lot of argument over whether a violin should be recorded mono or stereo. I personally would have thought mono and treat it the same you would a guitar. I also wondered whether there would be any benefit to double tracking it the same way I would a guitar.

To give you context, here is the track that I'm adding the violin to sans vocals. I've used a synthesised violin line as a guide. Plus the violin only appears on the opening so don't worry if you don't want to listen to the whole thing
https://soundcloud.com/the-gifted/demo-for-sos-tips

Thank you
Andy
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Re: Recording Violin in less than ideal circumstances.

Postby ConcertinaChap » Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:39 am

A couple of years back I was asked to record a fiddle tune for a short video to be used on the Somerset Tourist Information website (the video is here). Everything had to be done in a tearing hurry for some reason and I ended up recording it in the fiddler's living room - which was little better than your studio (at least as you describe it). We controlled the sound by the time honoured wheeze of draping quilts everywhere. I used a Rode NT5 mic which I had about 18 inches above the fiddle and pointing approximately down at the end of the finger board.

I've not used it but from what I've heard of it the AT2020 would be the mic to go for.

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Re: Recording Violin in less than ideal circumstances.

Postby The Elf » Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:56 am

In the context of that mix I wouldn't get too worried about the recording of the violin - a bit of ambience isn't going to do much harm here. Personally I'd get close in with an omni and add some artificial reverb.
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Re: Recording Violin in less than ideal circumstances.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Apr 01, 2013 9:18 am

The Gifted wrote:So I have no choice but to record it in my home studio which is a less than ideal space.

In this kind of situation I find it is usually best to try to remove as much of the recording environment's acoustic as possible, since that allows you to then add something more appropriate afterwards with reverb etc. So hanging duvets around the performance area to make the room sound as dead and neutral as possible is the way I'd go with this.

By all means, put some temporary 'comfort' reverb in the performers' headphones to help with pitching and tuning, as well as the overall performance, but record as dry as possible.

Close miking violins is always horrible, so don't go there. You need the mic to be at least one metre away and ideally closer to two metres to get a decent violin tone with minimal mechanical noises. Positioning the mic is a case of trial and error -- violins radiate different harmonic components in significantly different directions, adn every violin does this slightly differently, so be prepared to move the mic around to find the best overall balance.

You might find THIS article and the associated picstures of interest.

As for the mic, I prefer omnis for this kind of thing, but failing that, the flattest mic you have -- the AT2020 is the best bet from your list. recording in mono is fine -- the violin is a small instrument that has no significant width and there's no acoustic setting to capture in this particular case.

Double tracking? Well, you're probably going to record several takes anyway to get the best performance, so you'll have options afterwards to use a single track or double track it if you want... You can decide that later!

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Re: Recording Violin in less than ideal circumstances.

Postby AndyClarke » Mon Apr 01, 2013 9:30 pm

Thanks for the tips everyone, I think I managed to get a decent result.

Was a bit more rushed than I first expected as she was only able to stay for a short while so didn't have time to do many takes or play with mic positions but I think we did ok given the circumstances.

The performance(s) were quite rough but managed to get enough takes to chop and slice and stick together. Just having to use a touch of Melodyne to tidy it up as well as automate the crap out of it but it should be useable and have a much better sound than the synthesised violin I'd used at first.
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Re: Recording Violin in less than ideal circumstances.

Postby ConcertinaChap » Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:22 am

The Gifted wrote:Was a bit more rushed than I first expected

'Twas ever thus. Good result.

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