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Recording a performance of gongs, frame drums, chimes, rattles etc

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Recording a performance of gongs, frame drums, chimes, rattles etc

Postby Agharta » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:40 am

I have nearly finished turning my bedroom into a space that will just be used for meditative practices which includes me improvising on a range of instruments.
I would like to record this with the option to live stream at some point.
I am aware that there is a large dynamic and frequency range as you would expect with this combination of instruments:

Gongs - 28 & 32 inches
Frame and ocean drums - from 14 - 22 inches
Chime bars - individual and sets.
Rattles and shakers
Tibetan metal bowls and crystal bowls
Other small metal and wooden percussion including a cowbell!

My subjective impressions are these:
The 22" Remo frame drum can get loud and has a strong bass.
The gongs can get very loud and have a very complex high end and sometimes they sound like feedback when using a flumi style mallet.
Some of the sounds are very quiet and I can only just hear them so the dynamic range drops to silence.

It's a bedroom and for now I am not able to make any changes to it that aren't totally reversible and easily so.
It has a carpet, curtains, a small bookshelf, a single mattress on the floor and some paintings which could be removed.
Single bedroom around 3.2 × 2.8.

My initial question relates to live steaming and whether something like the IK Multimedia ARC System 2.5 would help give me settings that can be used to correct the deficiencies of the room.
If I have understood it correctly, I would use it to test the room and then create a template that I would apply to the live stream.
Would that likely be worthwhile?
As well as that I would need a way to cater for the dynamic range so a limiter I presume?

I have a PC, an audio interface and a bunch of software including Reaper and Waves Gold so I should have the basics covered.
I do also need advice on stereo microphones and can buy extra software if required.
As for the live streaming, as I may use video I will leave that for another discussion.
Input appreciated. Thanks
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Re: Recording a performance of gongs, frame drums, chimes, rattles etc

Postby Arpangel » Thu Sep 12, 2019 10:03 am

I don't think, you'll be able to make significant improvements to the room, that don't involve major alterations, I'd concentrate on dynamics and microphones.
As has been advised a lot here in other posts, record using high resolution, like 24/96, which will give you more headroom as you need to set up a nominal level of -20dB In Reaper, keep the levels down on your mic pre's too, to avoid clipping the inputs of your interface.
I've been in a similar position, with tuned percussion, all you can really do is keep an eye on levels.
Depending on whether you need separation for your instruments, or not, I'd go for multi-miking, rather close, rather than a stereo pair on everything, you'll get a bit less room colouration with close mics, and the abillity to adjust levels later to a certain degree.
Mic choice is huge, depends on your budget, but I"d opt for good cardioids, or figure of eights, or a combination, and just experiment. If you want stereo Rode and Audio Technica make reasonable budget stereo mic's.
This is my experience, of recording in a small room, but I'm sure others will have different opinions, but you just have to play around until you get something you like!
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Re: Recording a performance of gongs, frame drums, chimes, rattles etc

Postby CS70 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 10:26 am

My $.10 - dont think so, really. You cannot simply EQ reflections away: the interference has already destroyed information in the sound wave that gets to the mic, and therefore in the recording (and bass being bass, reflections reach the mic from every angle).

One can try to super-close mike so that the direct signal/reflection ratio is as low as possible, perhaps using an omni so that the direct/reflection ratio is constant all around. And moving around til you find a half decent spot, if it exists. But there's no guarantee it will sound good - you can get lucky. And "loud bass" means "loud reflections", which bounce around quite a lot - lots of air moving and bouncing around in the room. Hi pass as much as you can without losing the punch of the instrument.

As temporary measures.. basically you need something that can absorb big wooshs of air before they reflect off the wall (the plus of bass being omnidirectional is that you don't really need to cover all the walls, just some bits as bass frequencies will ultimately bounce there and be absorbed no matter where they start from.. usually corners are good). I'd think some heavy material hanging from, say, clothes racks, that can oscillate but with lots of inertia (hence absorbing energy) and is left far enough from the wall that it dampens air both on the way towards the wall and back.

Of course bass traps are the thing for that job, and dont need to be fixed to the walls but it's a question of budget. Cylindrical bass traps are excellent and self standing (I use them) but not exactly cheap.

Gongs are less of a problem, furniture and stuff in the room diffuse and absorb high frequency. The main thing is that absorption won't be uniform (books, carpets etc will absorb certain bands more than others) so you'll still get a filtered sound at the mic. The same tricks that work for vocals will work there: cardioid mic with some heavy duvet around the gong to absorb hi-freq reflections, and the sound that gets to the mic should be relatively clean. Point the gong towards the door and leave the door open :D :D

The duvet might not look good on video however.

If you have pantnings, you can also make your own DYI broadband absorbers by layering old towels into a wooden frame and hang them in place of the paintings. It's cheap and cheerful and apparently it works, and if you cover the lot with nice textile it may look better than the duvet.
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Re: Recording a performance of gongs, frame drums, chimes, rattles etc

Postby Arpangel » Thu Sep 12, 2019 10:51 am

How about the old "rolls of loft insulation covered in material" route? For bass traps?
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Re: Recording a performance of gongs, frame drums, chimes, rattles etc

Postby CS70 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:30 am

Fun, I'm setting up an audio blog and this is one of the first things I'm writing about.

It really all depends on size, shape and materials. Loud bass waves are a little like giant surfing waves, as opposite to ripples in water for high frequencies. At 343 m/s (at 20c) speed of sound, a 80Hz sound is repeating 80 times per second (doh :) ) so the wavelength is about 4.2 meters. A 20Hz bass "note" is 17 meters! Huge stuff.

Your best bet is having traps in corners because when the wave (which at that relationship with the average wall size, it's pretty much a linear front) reaches them, it reflects "into itself"... so something in a corner has a chance to capture twice as much as on a flat wall.

Still you need to absorb it. There's lots of air moving and there's no hole in your average room even remotely comparable in size, so unlike trebles, there's little natural diffusion - just slow energy dissipation with each bounce. The louder the sound, the more energy (i.e. the taller the waterfront).

A non-resonating trap will work (like a rockwool based one) on a wider band of (low freq) absorption but will in general require much more space and thickness - the 17mt wave (or the 4m) is a lot of air! The best bass traps include both resonation-based dampening and material dampening - that's what good cylindrical traps do. They're still pretty large tough! :)
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Re: Recording a performance of gongs, frame drums, chimes, rattles etc

Postby Agharta » Thu Sep 12, 2019 4:04 pm

Thanks for the replies all, much appreciated. :thumbup:
It’s given me plenty to think about already so once I have digested it more I will post back in more detail.

I forgot to include that my voice will be part of the soundscape.
Often fairly quiet but at times it can get much larger and include a rich set of overtones.

One quick newbie question regarding microphones:
I am not looking to use more than stereo at least at first, so does that mean I am looking to buy one stereo microphone or two mono ones?

“It's a bedroom and for now I am not able to make any changes to it that aren't totally reversible and easily so.”

The one thing I can do immediately is to move a large tapestry from the dining room to the bedroom.
Any use?

Peace.
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Re: Recording a performance of gongs, frame drums, chimes, rattles etc

Postby blinddrew » Thu Sep 12, 2019 4:52 pm

Potentially, especially if you can conceal a duvet or two hanging behind it. But you might find that on its own it just takes off a load of high frequency stuff and leaves everything sounding a bit dull.
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Re: Recording a performance of gongs, frame drums, chimes, rattles etc

Postby CS70 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:04 pm

Yes tapestry won't likely have enough mass to dampen bass frequencies.

But: no harm in trying, and as you have only one instrument that produces deep bass, you can try to put a hipass filter and flatten out somewhat anything below a certain frequency.

The resonances will still ruin your deep bass, but if simply cut it that out with the HP filter and you're still be satisfied with the sound, there you are!

The result won't produce any visceral, skirt-raising, people-pushing bass from any playback system, but then again that's not your aim.. I guess?
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