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Beginner recording classical solo violin

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Beginner recording classical solo violin

Postby marco.swe » Sun Jun 28, 2020 12:53 pm

Hello everyone,
I am totally new to audio recording and I am try to get into the subject. I will try to summarize all my struggles in a very simple way and hopefully get good advice on how to continue.

-What I need is to record classical violin solo pieces, both in recording sessions as in live performances (audio/video).
-Gears I have to use:
RECORDER: ZOOM F8n
MICs: RODE NT55 matched pair on a stereo bar (cardioid and omni capsules available)
DAW: Studio One 3 Artist

-The violinist is very skilled and the violin has a beautiful sound
-We also have the possibility to record in church
-I was thinking to try both X/Y (cardioid) and A-B (omni) mic techniques in order to learn

Now the question list :-)

1) I find the Rode NT55 a little too bright mic for the violin. Do you have any opinion and advice on that?
2) The violin has a frequency range of 196 Hz to 10 kHz (approximately). Are there advantages to use the three position High-Pass Filter (flat, 75Hz and 150Hz) directly on the mics or is better to do it in post?
3) Are there any general rules to adjust the Trim and the Fader levels before recording? How manipulating the Trim or/and the fader affect the levels and the recording?
4) Considering mic placement, how would you adjust the mic position practically? Upper and lower to change the violin tone and closer or more far away to analyze the critical distance for reverb?
5) How can I notice phase cancellation issue on A-B setup? Is it important to always keep 3-1 rule? I have seen several time 2 parallel mics 20cm apart on A-B setup more than 1m from sound source. Is this wrong?
6) Is "invert phase" something useful and when?
7) I set up the recorder so that I have: Track 1-8 + L/R (Poly WAV). This will generate a single WAV file with separate channel for each inputs (2 in my case) and a L+R mixed channel. How can I create a wide stereo image? Panning L and R? How does it works? Should I PAN the channels on pre or post? Which are the differences in working with the single channel files or with the L+R channel? Shall I also use the delay? How?
8) As I still need to learn my DAW properly, do you find is OK for me to start learning Studio One 3 Artist? Does it fits good for classical music? Are there nice plug-in for violin?
9) Is there a book or trainig material you recommend in order to start?

This is a sample of the recording I have done: https://drive.google.com/file/d/10ko...ew?usp=sharing

I normally find my recordings with a lack of fullness and warmth. Do you have any comment?

Thanks a lot for the time you will take to read and answer my doubts and give me a feedback!

/Marco
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Re: Beginner recording classical solo violin

Postby jimjazzdad » Sun Jun 28, 2020 4:44 pm

Hi Marco, and welcome! No doubt some of the regulars will chime in with good advice, but I have done a fair bit of orchestral recording as well as some violin in solo and duets. The equipment you have is more than adequate for purpose. The NT55 is an excellent mic, particularly with the omni capsules in a nice acoustic space. I always use a stereo mic set-up, unless spot mic-ing a soloist in an orchestra and I almost always leave the mic switches set flat - you can always apply a hi-pass in the DAW . I have found the trick with avoiding overly bright violin is not to get too close and not to 'hover' over the violin - the brightest sound emanates perpendicular to the sound board, so above and slightly in front of the violin is to be avoided. Because higher frequencies attenuate more rapidly at a distance, moving away from the violinist (>2 m) will make the recording less bright as well. Sometimes off to the side, pointing down the violin's neck toward the performer has worked for me as well. And the musician's technique, choice of strings, and use of rosin will all affect the sound too. The bottom line is to experiment with mic placement and be sensitive to all the other variables, including the acoustic space...stone churches can sound beautiful or the reverb time may actually muddy the sound of the violin, depending on the repertoire. As to AB mics, if they are used at 35 - 60 cm spacing (play with the spacing for best image) and panned hard right & left, I doubt you will have any discernible comb-filtering and they will sound fine unless you intend to listen in mono as well. In that case, you might want to look at near-coincident cardioid arrays like ORTF or NOS. That's my advice; its worth every bit you paid for it :D
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Re: Beginner recording classical solo violin

Postby marco.swe » Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:16 pm

Hi Jim and thank you very much for your helpful information :thumbup:

When you say trying A-B technique with "hard panning" L and R do you mean that I should pan the L channel 100% to the left and the R channel 100% to the right? Is this something I should do on my f8n recorder PFL channel setup or during mixing on the DAW in post?

Interesting what you write about high frequencies in order to reduce the violin brightness.
Don't you think that moving >2m from the source will create a too wet sound? Isn't the critical distance something I should take care of?

Do you have a method to find mic placement? For example:
move the mic higher or lower to find a good balance with high and low frequencies and move closer or more far away from the source to balance the critical distance (reverberation).

Another thing: What do you think about recording the solo violin in mono with a cardioid pattern and recording the ambient in stereo with omni?
In this case: close perspective with the mic 18"/450mm from the f holes and if possible above, looking down. The stereo mics maybe 10'/3m back, central and high.
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Re: Beginner recording classical solo violin

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:38 pm

marco.swe wrote:I am totally new to audio recording and I am try to get into the subject.

Welcome to SOS. It's a fun pastime, and a lifetime of learning!

Now the question list :-)

So many questions... So few with easy, short answers!

1) I find the Rode NT55 a little too bright mic for the violin. Do you have any opinion and advice on that?

The NT55 omni capsule is equalised for the diffuse field, meaning it will sound bright if pointed at a source in the near field. If the acoustics allow a more distant placement you will get a more neutral tonality, but if you have to work with a close mic it often helps to point it vertically, rather than directly at the source. With a source off axis you'll get a flatter, less bright sound.

2) Are there advantages to use the three position High-Pass Filter (flat, 75Hz and 150Hz) directly on the mics or is better to do it in post?

No need or reason to use them for a solo violin recording, unless you're having major problems with excessive very low frequency noise (traffic rumble, etc).

3) Are there any general rules to adjust the Trim and the Fader levels before recording? How manipulating the Trim or/and the fader affect the levels and the recording?

This is detailed in the Zoom manual, but in general you want the fader at its reference position and the trim adjusted to provide signal peaks no higher than about -10dBfs.

4) Considering mic placement, how would you adjust the mic position practically?

It's not recent science. You move it around until you find the best sound... The appropriate perspective of direct sound to reverb, the appropriate stereo image, and the desid violin tonailty.

5) How can I notice phase cancellation issue on A-B setup?

Listen in mono and assess whether the resulting sound is excessively coloured... Or not.

Is it important to always keep 3-1 rule? I have seen several time 2 parallel mics 20cm apart on A-B setup more than 1m from sound source. Is this wrong?

I think you're confused about the 3:1 rule. It's a guide to minimising spill, where you want the sound of a source in one mic, but not the other. So you try to keep the other mic at least three times further away from the source than the distance of the source to the first mic.

But in a stereo array you want both mics to hear the source, so the 3:1 rule is irrelevant, and a spacing or around 20cm between mics is not uncommon.

6) Is "invert phase" something useful and when?

Yes it's useful... But not to you in your intended recording application.

7) How can I create a wide stereo image? Panning L and R? How does it works?

How long have you got? Yes, you need to fully pan the mics hard left and right to create a stereo monitor mix in the Zoom, and again in the DAW if you use the individual tracks rather than the monitor mix when you transfer the files.

As to how wide the violin is with the room acoustic depends on the kind of stereo array you use and how far it is placed from the violin. Whole books have been written on stereo mic techniques and your best bet is to buy one and read it.

Should I PAN the channels on pre or post? Which are the differences in working with the single channel files or with the L+R channel?

You'll need to pan for the stereo monitor mix on the zoom when you're recording, otherwise you'll have no idea whether you mic technique is working. If you get it right you'll be able to use that stereo recording for your main output.

On the other hand, you'll also have access to the individual mic outputs when you transfer the files to the DAW, so you can mix things differently if you want to.

Shall I also use the delay?

No!

8) As I still need to learn my DAW properly, do you find is OK for me to start learning Studio One 3 Artist? Does it fits good for classical music?

There's not a huge difference between DAWs, really, and the best one is the one you know how to use... And acoustic music is acoustic music. It's not like you need MIDI, or loops...

Are there nice plug-in for violin?

Nice in what way? Are you thinking of the Menhuin plugin, perhaps? ;-)

9) Is there a book or trainig material you recommend in order to start?

Try these: Image
https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/new-stereo-soundbook-third-edition
Image
https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/richard-king-recording-orchestra-book

I normally find my recordings with a lack of fullness and warmth. Do you have any comment?

You can't record what's not there, so you need a full and warm sounding violin in a full and warm sounding acoustic. The way the instrument is played also makes a huge difference. After that, it comes down to mic placement, and to a lesser degree, mic choice -- but your NT55s aren't a bad option to start with. There are potentially better options, depending on preferences, but all far more expensive.
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Re: Beginner recording classical solo violin

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:06 pm

marco.swe wrote:When you say trying A-B technique with "hard panning" L and R do you mean that I should pan the L channel 100% to the left and the R channel 100% to the right?

Yes.

Is this something I should do on my f8n recorder PFL channel setup or during mixing on the DAW in post?

Your Zoom records both the outputs of the individual mics, and a stereo mix of them. So you you need to pan the mic signals to create that stereo monitor mix in the zoom -- that's what you listen to when you're recording -- by panning one mic fully left and the other fully right.

It may be that this stereo monitor mix is perfect and you can use it directly in your DAW when you up.oad the files... But you may prefer to go back to the individual mic tracks and mix from them, so you'd have to pan them in the DAW itself.

Don't you think that moving >2m from the source will create a too wet sound?

Depends on the acoustics of the room.

Most instruments radiate different frequencies in different directions, so where you place the mic relative to the instrument makes a big difference to the tonality you capture. Sometimes moving just a few inches one way or the other can have a dramatic effect, as can positing the mic at different angles.

Isn't the critical distance something I should take care of?

Of course... There are lots of interacting parameters to take care of. And compromises to be made.

Do you have a method to find mic placement?

I listen carefully... ;-)

For example:
move the mic higher or lower to find a good balance with high and low frequencies and move closer or more far away from the source to balance the critical distance (reverberation).

Yes, do that while listening carefully...

Another thing: What do you think about recording the solo violin in mono with a cardioid pattern and recording the ambient in stereo with omni?

It can be done that way. It will require three mics, of course. There are arguments for and against that approach, pros and cons... The biggest con is probably that close miking an instrument like a violin doesn't capture it's true sound well, and it over-emphasises the mechanical bowing noises.

The other issue to beware of is that if your room mics capture any direct sound from the violin (because they are too close or the room's Dc (Critical Distance) is too long), then you're into comb-filtering territory where you get unpleasant colouration between the close and distant mics. Delaying the close mic to time-align it with the distant mics can help... but it can easily end up sounding like the aural equivalent of a photoshopped image where a picture of someone has been cut out and pasted onto a different background!
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Re: Beginner recording classical solo violin

Postby Tim Gillett » Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:03 am

marco.swe wrote:
...Another thing: What do you think about recording the solo violin in mono with a cardioid pattern and recording the ambient in stereo with omni?
In this case: close perspective with the mic 18"/450mm from the f holes and if possible above, looking down. The stereo mics maybe 10'/3m back, central and high.

Sounds like a good idea to me. One mic for the instrument on one track, and mics on the venue on another two tracks. I've done it myself. It's so much safer as we avoid the risk especially of too much venue sound which we cant correct later. That includes traffic noise, audience noise during the performance, door slams, and all the unexpected things that can happen.

We can learn from our own mistakes and the mistakes of others. Here is a recent example of live mixing of performance and venue. Listen to the quiet passages and the ending where the venue/traffic noise is obvious. But because it was already locked in there was little they could do to salvage it in post, and it looked like they had two spare channels on the interface. Such a pity as the piece was beautifully played.

https://youtu.be/qgVlcy3R0lI

BTW I'd like to access your upload but the message said the file wasnt there. An error in the link?
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Re: Beginner recording classical solo violin

Postby jimjazzdad » Mon Jun 29, 2020 11:17 am

marco.swe wrote:Hi Jim and thank you very much for your helpful information :thumbup:

When you say trying A-B technique with "hard panning" L and R do you mean that I should pan the L channel 100% to the left and the R channel 100% to the right? Is this something I should do on my f8n recorder PFL channel setup or during mixing on the DAW in post?
You can pan the mics 100% left and 100% right in the Zoom for monitoring purposes but you will have to do it your DAW as well when mixing.
Interesting what you write about high frequencies in order to reduce the violin brightness.
Don't you think that moving >2m from the source will create a too wet sound? Isn't the critical distance something I should take care of?
2 - 3 meters is not far when recording a violin...monitor the results in real time for the right blend of direct & reverberant sound.
Do you have a method to find mic placement? For example:
move the mic higher or lower to find a good balance with high and low frequencies and move closer or more far away from the source to balance the critical distance (reverberation).
See previous remark. Ideal is monitor speakers in a separate room but it can be done on headphones with practice
Another thing: What do you think about recording the solo violin in mono with a cardioid pattern and recording the ambient in stereo with omni?
In this case: close perspective with the mic 18"/450mm from the f holes and if possible above, looking down. The stereo mics maybe 10'/3m back, central and high.
From my experience, this would not be my preference but why not try it? Be aware that you may need to adjust the delay between the spot and your room mics in your DAW during the mixing
And good luck! Report back when you have recorded a session.
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Re: Beginner recording classical solo violin

Postby marco.swe » Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:08 pm

Hugh, wow ! Thanks a lot for your answer(S) :thumbup:

It is really as you say, lifetime of learning! It is so amazing that skilled people is so happy to share their knowledge and help out.

Regarding mic placement, you wrote about:
- appropriate perspective of direct sound to reverb: I guess this has to do with "critical distance" right?
-appropriate stereo image: I guess this has to do with distance between the mics, setup and angles?
-violin tonality: I know high frequencies tends to move upwards so I thought the "vertical" direction will affect the tonality for the most. You write that all direction affect tonality. Is there some sort of "general rule" regarding tonality?

I know there is not a perfect answer to this and that all parameters are connected to each other. Anyway, I was wondering if these reasoning could be of some use during mic placement.

Thanks for the 3:1 rule clarification. Is this just relevant for spilling problem then? I thought two mics aiming at the same source, but placed at different distance from it, could also generate phase cancellation. is this not relevant?

Menhuin plugin :headbang:

Thanks a lot for the books advice! Will give it a check and I will also "listen carefully" :thumbup:

@Tim: I see The link was kind of broken. Try this: https://drive.google.com/file/d/10koaa- ... sp=sharing

@Jim: how do you practically do the delay between the spot and theroom mics in the DAW during the mixing?

Thanks again to all of you! :thumbup:
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Re: Beginner recording classical solo violin

Postby Tim Gillett » Tue Jun 30, 2020 2:21 am

Thanks for the link, lovely playing.

For whatever reason the sound here is in mono.

To my taste there's too much building reverb. Reverb is normally the support act.
If you have recorded the performance and the stereo reverb on separate tracks you can always change the reverb intensity in mixing if you wish.

Compare this video.

https://youtu.be/iEBX_ouEw1I

Hahn's violin is heard in the centre, with the reverberation surrounding her from either side, as if she is standing right in front of us. It sounds convincingly natural.

I cant see a microphone in sight but this is a slick production. They may have used a mic just above the violin, and on the wide shots she may be just miming to the recording.
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Re: Beginner recording classical solo violin

Postby marco.swe » Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:08 am

Tim, "For whatever reason the sound here is in mono.". I agree with you and I actually cannot figure out why. The mics were in A-B setup 20 cm from each other on a stereo bar :roll:

Here the "raw" WAV files: https://we.tl/t-VBM2zM9w9j

Maybe some wrong settings in my f8n? I will check it today after work.

Thanks for feedback!
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Re: Beginner recording classical solo violin

Postby Ariosto » Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:49 am

Tim Gillett wrote:Thanks for the link, lovely playing.

For whatever reason the sound here is in mono.

To my taste there's too much building reverb. Reverb is normally the support act.
If you have recorded the performance and the stereo reverb on separate tracks you can always change the reverb intensity in mixing if you wish.

Compare this video.

https://youtu.be/iEBX_ouEw1I

Hahn's violin is heard in the centre, with the reverberation surrounding her from either side, as if she is standing right in front of us. It sounds convincingly natural.

I cant see a microphone in sight but this is a slick production. They may have used a mic just above the violin, and on the wide shots she may be just miming to the recording.
Wow!! Great playing and recording. No mic in sight and yet a close recorded sound? Must be a tiny mic or two hidden somewhere. Just the right mix of room sound and direct sound, and the bow contact with the string is very clear. Hahn IS one of the outstanding players of today. There are not so many.
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Re: Beginner recording classical solo violin

Postby Tim Gillett » Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:53 am

The raw files seem fine but as mentioned by Hugh and Jimjazz, in your DAW you probably need to pan one file hard left and the other hard right for stereo . Otherwise the two will be mixed together into mono.
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Re: Beginner recording classical solo violin

Postby marco.swe » Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:55 am

I will check it later today Tim.
Thanks!
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Re: Beginner recording classical solo violin

Postby Ariosto » Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:56 am

Tim Gillett wrote:
marco.swe wrote:
...Another thing: What do you think about recording the solo violin in mono with a cardioid pattern and recording the ambient in stereo with omni?
In this case: close perspective with the mic 18"/450mm from the f holes and if possible above, looking down. The stereo mics maybe 10'/3m back, central and high.

Sounds like a good idea to me. One mic for the instrument on one track, and mics on the venue on another two tracks. I've done it myself. It's so much safer as we avoid the risk especially of too much venue sound which we cant correct later. That includes traffic noise, audience noise during the performance, door slams, and all the unexpected things that can happen.

We can learn from our own mistakes and the mistakes of others. Here is a recent example of live mixing of performance and venue. Listen to the quiet passages and the ending where the venue/traffic noise is obvious. But because it was already locked in there was little they could do to salvage it in post, and it looked like they had two spare channels on the interface. Such a pity as the piece was beautifully played.

https://youtu.be/qgVlcy3R0lI

To be honest though this recording is no worse than some commercial CD's. There is a recording I have of a famous American quartet playing the complete Beethoven quartets where you can hear lorries going past outside. The Dukes hall at the RAM is very close to the Marylebone Road and you can hear the trafic when playing on that platform and there is even more traffic now than when I was there.
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Re: Beginner recording classical solo violin

Postby Tim Gillett » Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:09 am

Tim Gillett wrote:Thanks for the link, lovely playing.

For whatever reason the sound here is in mono.

To my taste there's too much building reverb. Reverb is normally the support act.
If you have recorded the performance and the stereo reverb on separate tracks you can always change the reverb intensity in mixing if you wish.

Compare this video.

https://youtu.be/iEBX_ouEw1I

Hahn's violin is heard in the centre, with the reverberation surrounding her from either side, as if she is standing right in front of us. It sounds convincingly natural.

I cant see a microphone in sight but this is a slick production. They may have used a mic just above the violin, and on the wide shots she may be just miming to the recording.

Ariosto wrote: Wow!! Great playing and recording. No mic in sight and yet a close recorded sound? Must be a tiny mic or two hidden somewhere. Just the right mix of room sound and direct sound, and the bow contact with the string is very clear. Hahn IS one of the outstanding players of today. There are not so many.

Yes, what a tremendous player. Doesnt seem to falter in the slightest. Yes I was thinking maybe a mic on the top of the head just behind the hairline, and then the reverb possibly artificial: the lovely looking building for the looks and for the best sound (and to keep out distracting and unexpected noises), a carefully set up digital reverb.
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