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Recording Tips and More!!

So I was thinking about other ways to help every one and to hopefully get some responses from other folks out there on better ways to record and to maybe get folks to share some tips and tricks that they have found over the years in their effort to capture the sweet spot. This gave me the idea for this posting.

On my other blog that I write usually sharing other info on a wide variety of topics I started this idea. You can find HERE  or follow the link http://markallanwolfe.wordpress.com/

I have found a LOT of info in a lot of places and thought I might share some of my ideas as well for all of you audio engineers and home enthusiast. Below you will find links and videos and I also would kindly ask that if you would like to share your thoughts and ideas please feel free to do so. Lets dig in!!

Grammy Award winning Producer/Engineer Ross Hogarth explains his critical microphone positioning technique using a Royer R-121 and Shure SM57 on a guitar cab.

Here is a great place to start if your just learning about microphones and how to use them properly and for discovering which ones to use. Find this article here, http://www.edinformatics.com/inventions_inventors/microphone.htm

I own a few of these microphones and when I found the manufacturers website I discovered it was chock full of all sorts of info and helpful links to better understanding and info on microphones and how the work. Here is one link  http://www.oktava-online.com/appl.htm

closed headphones

Closed-back headphones such as the Sennheiser HD250 (left) are more suitable for monitoring while recording than open-backed models such as the Sennheiser HD600 (below), because the former design reduces spill from the monitoring signal into the microphone.

However much you rely on a computer to provide sounds and help create arrangements, if you want to include vocals, you still need to know how to mike and record them properly in what may be a less than ideal room. We offer some tried and tested solutions…

 

A vocal recording starts at the microphone, but before even getting into the issues of mic choice and mic placement, there’s the matter of the recording location to sort out — and it goes without saying that this should be isolated as much as is possible from the physical noise generated by the computer’s fans and drives. A lot of people think they need to buy better gear to sort out a vocal issue, but when you get to the bottom of the problem, it’s often down to the room and its influence on the sound.

RVocals SEelecCased.s

Now that large-diaphragm condenser mics manufactured in the Far East (such as the SE Electronics SE1000) have become so affordable, it makes little sense to use a dynamic mic for vocal recording, even if you’re working to a strict budget.

RVocals SennHD250II.s

Closed-back headphones such as the Sennheiser HD250 (left) are more suitable for monitoring while recording than open-backed models such as the Sennheiser HD600 (below), because the former design reduces spill from the monitoring signal into the microphone.

RVocals SennHD600.s

RVocals 4.s

Positioning your singer with their back to an non-reflective surface can help avoid a boxy sound when working in a small room — a few panels of acoustic foam or a double duvet are often enough to do the trick.

You don’t You don’t need to do anything too fancy to record vocals, but the mic should be well away from any walls, and the area directly behind the singer should be non-reflective. This could be an area of foam tiles or it could be a duvet, but one point to watch out for is that, in rooms where a lot of damping material has been applied, you’ll often find that it only absorbs effectively down to around 250-300Hz. So what actually happens is that frequencies below 300Hz are allowed to predominate, making the sound seem congested or box
Set up the mic a couple of feet from the centre of the room and make a test recording using no processing at all to see if the basic tonality is OK. If it’s not, the chances are that the problem is with the room or the mic placement, so try more hanging absorbers and move the mic around relative to the walls

I will place more info on working with recording on the next issue. I also would love to have some of you share what are some great tips that you have found thru the years to make great recordings. You never know who might be influenced thru your wisdom and sharing they might have the next BEST recording out in the world.

 

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Recording Acoustic Guitar Tips

Acoustic guitar require a rather different approach from electric guitars. For example when recording an acoustic you rarely would send it thru an amp. A much more common way would be to run the signal through a DI box, Mic or both

 

One thing that makes the acoustic guitar different from the electric is the character of the sound starts with the source. It maybe plain and obvious but it is the reason why when recording the acoustic you do not throw it through an amp for it tends to sound artificial.

From the strumming, the picking of the strings, the air floating in and out of the sound hole, the type of strings even the pick all help to create the sound even the wood which is probably the most important but that is another discussion all together. It is better for you to take the time and experiment with the placements of the mic’s then trying to figure that you will fix it in the mix.

Some cool things you can do to try to capture the essence of the acoustic guitar in recording would be as follows. Start by investing in new strings! Take care to set the action and tuning right for your guitar. If you are trying to capture a great rhythm or strumming groove to make a main music bed, try using a thinner pick. If you want to capture the guitar solo or lead use a thicker pick.

Audio-Technica AT3031

When you are ready to record the guitar, start by placing the microphone close to the sound hole. A small diaphragm condenser is ideal, such as Audio-Technica’s AT3031 or a studio condenser like RodenNT1-A both are excellent and fairly affordable choices and will work well in working in recording other instruments as well as vocals.

Place a mic around 16 inches or so (40cm) from the guitar, aiming it towards where the neck joins the body. It usually gets you a full bodied sound. It will capture some of the dynamics coming from the sound hole but yet will also pick up the sounds evolving else where from the guitar.

Rode NT1-A

What I would suggest is moving it around to find that sweet spot. If you move up the neck you tend to get higher frequencies lower towards the body emphasizes lower frequencies. You will want to experiment for the dynamics of the room your in, placement of the microphones, strings all the stuff just mentioned will depend on the tone you capture.

If you are able and have the finances to I would get two microphones set up. Set one up on the sound hole and another directional microphone aimed at the neck near where your hands play. You will capture separate styles and tones when balanced right will actually bring out the best.  You can also place the one microphone in front of the sound hole and another one down deep below the body of the guitar which will emphasize the deep tpnes as well. All I can say is experiment to find out what works best.

The greatest thing is nothing you will be considered strange I have set up my amp in the closet of my apartment and placed a mic in front of it, ran the chord all the way down the hall into where I was playing. I had all kinds of clothes hanging in there. The clothes acted like sound proofing in a way. A poor mans version lol. It isolated the tones and you did not hear the fret buzzing or any other oddities. I also placed an amp in my shower stall,(remember to not turn the water on!) the tile in the bathroom acted like a natural reverb of sorts.

Something I have been experimenting as of late has been combining a DI signal (from a DIRECT BOX) as well as including the several different mic placements. When you mix them all together in the mixing portion you can find a nice balance between the both to create a sonic palette that may just be what you are looking for.

I hope some of these ideas may help you out in your quest in finding that all illusive number one hit. One thing I cannot stress enough is you are only limited at times by your own imagination.  Just because some producer or famous engineer has not thought of it first does not mean it cannot work for you. The greatest thing in making music is YOU are the painter that is holding the brush on the mind of your listeners.

Acoustic guitar mic placement ideas

 

  1. Big body, big bottom. You’ll get your low-end (as well as boomy, so be careful) and a general warmth of the wood in this area well behind the bridge, but not too close to the edge. The clarity of all the notes are not as… clear… here, however, so don’t rely on it to get everything you need.  Try placing your mic off axis to decrease the proximity effect of the cardioid microphone.
  2. Twang between bridge and sound hole. Closer to higher strings for more of the brightness. The string sound here is tight and twangy. Off axis will slightly decrease the harshness, as well as pulling it further away by inches. There’s a “solid” sound to the wood as well in this area. If you lower the mic below the strings so it’s approaching the edge where the guitar starts to narrow you’ll get less string twang and more of the “tight” sounding wood tone.
  3. Sound hole balance. Angling down towards the lower strings (again, angled of off axis to help control any boom from close mic’ing). You should get a fairly balanced high to low tone here, but depending on the guitar will lose some of the high-mids.
  4. Bony Shoulders. I’m sure you’ve tapped and slapped the wood at various places on acoustic guitars. Start there to help understand what the sound will be like placing a microphone at position four. The wood is tense and there’s not a lot of space for it to resonate and release, so it’s got some tight mids and a solid woody tone. Of course, being close to the strings and neck, you’ll get a decent amount of pick attack as well.
  5. 12 fret subtle and smooth harmonics. Great place for a small diaphragm mic, angled inward to get a balanced string tone with all of the complimentary harmonics from the string vibrations at that position. If you EQ out some of the more harsh (1-3k) attach sounds, you can get some good sounds here that balance with any other mic placement on the body.
  6. “over the shoulder” as a possible microphone placement

A cool link to find some other interesting ideas as well as some test and sound samples of various other microphones and placements that you might find helpful in other areas. I do not know much about the website but I found this page to be a great resource and thought heck you might as well if you came this far your into what I am trying to share with you and your a pretty serious dude or dudet. Check it out here.

http://recordinghacks.com/2012/09/20/acoustic-guitar-tube-mic-test/

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