Old 07-06-2013, 01:00 PM   #1
martifingers
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Default Recording in a space

Ok I was playing my acoustic guitar in my stairwell and thinking how cool the sound was ( bit sad I know) and realized that what gets discussed on these forums is usually all about close miking of instruments. I thought that this dated from the 60's and that The Beatles did a lot to popularize the technique. Is this true?

More importantly can anyone suggest general guidelines for setting up/ capturing more ambient style recordings?

(BTW I am aware of the fact that the guitarist is not necessarily in the best position to "hear" the sound. A friend of mine, when buying an expensive hand made instrument brought me along, not for my superior skills but simply to judge the actual sound of how the instrument projected. Worth doing if you are in a similar position...)
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Old 07-06-2013, 02:39 PM   #2
braveness23
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I am terrible at miking and have so much room for growth. I really should not even be responding...

I find it difficult to visualize what sound is doing in space so I try to think of the microphone as a camera, the instrument as the subject and surrounding surfaces as what the sound interacts with. There are so many parallels that I think its a really useful approach. Most amateurs with a camera take point and shoot snapshots without much regard for composition or thinking about how light is interacting. When you start understanding your camera and light better and you work on building a composition and you can tell a story.

What kind of story are you trying to tell with the song or your sound? Find the position where you would put a camera and try putting your mic there.

One legendary song that that really has a story and a visual attached to the sound is Led Zeppelin - When the Levee Breaks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_the_Levee_Breaks

Quote:
ccording to Led Zeppelin guitarist and producer Jimmy Page, the song's structure "was a riff that I'd been working on, but Bonzo's drum sound really makes a difference on that point."[5] The famous drum performance was recorded by engineer Andy Johns by placing Bonham and a new Ludwig drumkit at the bottom of a stairwell at Headley Grange, and recording it using two Beyerdynamic M160 microphones at the top, giving the distinctive resonant but slightly muffled sound.[6][7] Page later explained:


We were playing in one room in a house with a recording truck, and a drum kit was duly set up in the main hallway, which is a three storey hall with a staircase going up on the inside of it. And when John Bonham went out to play the kit in the hall, I went "Oh, wait a minute, we gotta do this!" Curiously enough, that's just a stereo mic that's up the stairs on the second floor of this building, and that was his natural balance.[8]


Back in the Rolling Stones' mobile studio, Johns compressed the drum sound through two channels and added echo through guitarist Page's Binson echo unit.[4] The performance was made on a brand new drum kit that had only just been delivered from the factory.[4]
Watch this segment from 'It Might Get Loud' to hear a little bt of the story from Jimmy Page

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWI9bMe7gHE

Dunno if that will help...
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Old 07-06-2013, 03:06 PM   #3
Tod
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martifingers View Post
Ok I was playing my acoustic guitar in my stairwell and thinking how cool the sound was ( bit sad I know) and realized that what gets discussed on these forums is usually all about close miking of instruments. I thought that this dated from the 60's and that The Beatles did a lot to popularize the technique. Is this true?
I'm from the 60s and I don't remember anything in particular about stairwells. Heh heh, it's about the same situation as recording in the bathroom. Back in those day's lot's of things were tried. Keep in mind we didn't have all the reverb resources we have today.

Quote:
More importantly can anyone suggest general guidelines for setting up/ capturing more ambient style recordings?
Unfortunately this requires a large enough room (not necessarily big, just big enough) with the proper acoustics so the sound can breath. Of course close micing can help in bad situations but if you've got a decent room, that's the real ticket.

The mics you use are also very important, if you've got a decent room you can even make a couple of SM57s sound pretty good but not near as good as a couple of decent condensers.
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Old 07-06-2013, 03:56 PM   #4
BenK-msx
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For more obscure micing I found wandering about with my zoom portable recorder with headphones on, either in realtime or doing quick 5 sec takes and immediate playback an easier way of finding a spot that has the right sound - as i would be there all day otherwise particularly if setting up for one with usual cabled mic/stands/test recordings/running back and forth etc. Which inevitably meant i didn't bother to try.

At least gets you in the ballpark for placing best mics. A real acoustic ( of a space) is very authentic on the ear and if sounds ok to start with and requires little post treatment, all the better. Presuming the performance is worth hearing.. Another canoworms..

I would add that stereo micing is beneficial in roomier situations as the sense of space and the sound of the source is naturally that much more convincing.
I'd prob play safe and have a main stereo mic setup at a reasonable distance then a little spot mic close to mix in if need be, & perhaps a 3rd miles away, or in a corner as a treatable 'blend for colour' option.

Thinking about it I'd kind of approach it similarly to as you would a kit piece of a drumkit, there the 'convincing' resulting sound is often a mixture of spot mic, overhead and room mic. Same kind of thing. Each mic on own can sound a bit pants but when blended, sounds like what humans expect.

Last edited by BenK-msx; 07-06-2013 at 04:23 PM.
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Old 07-07-2013, 01:29 AM   #5
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I played around with pointing a stereo pair facing in the same direction as me, over my right and left shoulders. Read about it somewhere and provided your room isn`t too awful sounding, it does provide a surprisingly good representation of what is going on in the room, rather than "point mic at guitar"

I was using a pair of the Karma silver bullets, so nothing too esoteric/expensive needed to try it.
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Old 07-07-2013, 03:48 AM   #6
martifingers
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Many thanks for the replies. Plenty of stuff to experiment with.

The techie stuff is clearly important and I also think braveness23 had the right idea about asking what kind of story is being told. The same question should be asked I guess of all recordings.

The last demo we did of one of the bands I am in, was in a very large studio but all we did was DI or close mic the amps etc. I now wonder if that was a wasted opportunity (although if you have ever worked with 5 other impatient musicians who just want to play music and not faff about with mic positions etc. you will appreciate why I went with the easy option!)

Historic examples like the Zep anecdote show a possible different direction though (and of course Paul Simon did amazing stuff with Roy Halee like on The Boxer and elsewhere).
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Old 07-07-2013, 03:57 AM   #7
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“There we were with all these mic cables, my drums, and a set of headphones,” says Blaine. “When the chorus came around — the ‘lie-la-lie’ bit — Roy had me come down on my snare drum as hard as I could. In that hallway, right next to this open elevator shaft, it sounded like a cannon shot! Which was just the kind of sound we were after.”

http://www.bmi.com/news/entry/takes_...kels_the_boxer
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