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Old 12-06-2014, 03:36 PM
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Default Some Large Condenser Mic Placements

I'm still trying to run a new recording setup thru it's paces to (re) learn what's where, etc, and thought I try a few mic placement experiments - always fun and instructive - to work on. Also 815C posted a nice sounding track a few days ago with a setup I'd never seen before - mics horizontal, one aimed at the ceiling, the other at the floor, so I wanted to try that out.

Here's my results. Just a short noodle with three placements: the horizontal one, Mid-Side and Spaced Pairs. I'm using a pair of Brauner VM1s into an Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt, into Logic on a Mac. There's not much processing here, a tiny touch of EQ to taste, and a bit of reverb. I tried to match levels but between differences in performance, and different percieved levels, it's far from perfectly matched. The differences in the mic placement should be evident, maybe more dramatic in headphones. These are all pretty quick and dirty, and all could be changed with even slight movement of the mics, so take them with a grain of salt, but I'd be curious what people hear in these.

Here's a soundcloud playlist:

PlayList

Or here's the direct link to the individual tracks:

Horizontal

Mid-Side

Spaced pairs
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Old 12-06-2014, 04:00 PM
runamuck runamuck is offline
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Thanks for this, Doug. Here's my take.

When quickly moving from one track to the other, the differences are interesting and my brain, I think, is fascinated, titillated even, by the difference. I wouldn't say that I have a strong preference for one over the others.

But once my ear settles into one track or another for a few seconds, it just is what it is and it quickly becomes all about the song - not the stereo field.

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Old 12-06-2014, 04:24 PM
Cue Zephyr Cue Zephyr is offline
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Great playing!! Great sound too!

May I suggest another placement? One around the 12th fret area and the other next to your right ear (over the shoulder. Pay attention that they are three times further away from each other than they are from the instrument. Pan hard left and right and see how it turns out.
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Old 12-06-2014, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Cue Zephyr View Post
Great playing!! Great sound too!

May I suggest another placement? One around the 12th fret area and the other next to your right ear (over the shoulder. Pay attention that they are three times further away from each other than they are from the instrument. Pan hard left and right and see how it turns out.
Don't worry about the 3:1 rule.
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Old 12-06-2014, 04:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cue Zephyr View Post
Great playing!! Great sound too!

May I suggest another placement? One around the 12th fret area and the other next to your right ear (over the shoulder. Pay attention that they are three times further away from each other than they are from the instrument. Pan hard left and right and see how it turns out.
I've tried that in the past, and never had any luck with it. I think I can't get it in my head how someone could have one ear in front of the guitar and one over my opposite shoulder :-) But it's worth trying again, since it keeps showing up in recommendations.
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Old 12-06-2014, 05:07 PM
Trevor B. Trevor B. is offline
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I've tried that in the past, and never had any luck with it. I think I can't get it in my head how someone could have one ear in front of the guitar and one over my opposite shoulder :-) But it's worth trying again, since it keeps showing up in recommendations.
Taking your comments about the imperfection re: matching levels into account I found the Mid-Side placement provided the best spread and depth. The spaced pair was next up and I liked the sound of the horizontal placement significantly less than the other two. That said, all three samples sounded good to me and as a newbie to home recording these kinds of demonstrations are tremendously informative and helpful. BTW - the Brauners sound wonderful!
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Old 12-06-2014, 05:38 PM
scripsit scripsit is offline
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All three samples sounded different to me, but all also sounded good.

I think I lack either the ears or the terminology to properly analyse effective microphone placement.

Kym
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Old 12-06-2014, 07:27 PM
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Taking your comments about the imperfection re: matching levels into account I found the Mid-Side placement provided the best spread and depth. The spaced pair was next up and I liked the sound of the horizontal placement significantly less than the other two. That said, all three samples sounded good to me and as a newbie to home recording these kinds of demonstrations are tremendously informative and helpful. BTW - the Brauners sound wonderful!
MS tends to have nice combination of "centered" and "focused" along with width. I usually use spaced pairs, and there's a liveliness and sense of space that I like, tho it's not as stable and "centered". The horizontal technique probably needs more experimentation. In theory, horizontal setups seem like they's be more balanced, since you're not dealing with the big imbalance in sound between the neck side and lower bout side. But in practice, I've not usually found them to work out. This approach is different, with the misc facing 180 degree apart. I'm surprised it sounds as good as it does. But when 914c recorded that way, he had an engineer who was experienced with it, and who could listen as he played. Doing it myself, I can't easily do that, and moving around big mics is hard... So I may not be getting the optimal sound from that setup.
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Old 12-06-2014, 07:29 PM
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All three samples sounded different to me, but all also sounded good.

I think I lack either the ears or the terminology to properly analyse effective microphone placement.

Kym
That's one reason I like to do these exercises every now and then. After a while, you start to recognize the different sounds. At least for solo guitar, you can often listen and make a good guess as to what kind of mic setup was used. So it's ear-training.
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Old 12-06-2014, 10:01 PM
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Man to me the horizontal placement just sounds huge. They are all nice of course, and any one would work fine for a recording. But comparing the three in sequence the horizontal sounds a bit bigger and fuller.
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Old 12-06-2014, 10:26 PM
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Man to me the horizontal placement just sounds huge. They are all nice of course, and any one would work fine for a recording. But comparing the three in sequence the horizontal sounds a bit bigger and fuller.
Well, it's certainly wide! Which is what you've been wanting. It makes sense. XY is 90% degrees, ORTF, which is wider sounding, is 110 degrees, this is 180 degrees. It does mean the mic are picking up reflections and/or very off-axis sound, so the sound probably depends a lot on the mic. Exact polar patterns and how well a mic handles off-axis seems to be a differentiator among mics, but we don't usually really exercise that aspect much for solo guitar.

Try it with your ADKs and see how it works!
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Old 12-06-2014, 11:00 PM
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Hi Doug,
Could you describe the mic location for your M-S setup? I'm curious where you place them and how far out from the guitar. When I've experimented with it I had to have them pretty close in order for the ribbon mic to pick up sound off the guitar (and not just reflections) because the guitar would be in the ribbons null if it was backed off very far. My results seemed very sensitive to placement.

I'd say I prefer your spaced pair recording, but the M-S was nice. To me, the bass in the M-S recording seemed to be centered while the rest of the spectrum had L-R separation. The spaced pair seemed to have the best overall clarity, and has a lot of interesting variation in the L-R channels.

Thanks
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Old 12-07-2014, 12:38 AM
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Originally Posted by ChuckS View Post
Hi Doug,
Could you describe the mic location for your M-S setup? I'm curious where you place them and how far out from the guitar. When I've experimented with it I had to have them pretty close in order for the ribbon mic to pick up sound off the guitar (and not just reflections) because the guitar would be in the ribbons null if it was backed off very far. My results seemed very sensitive to placement. So with this pair, I'd say the junction of the 2 mics was about at the guitar waist, so the mid mic is slightly above the guitar, the side mic is more or less in front of the soundhole.

I'd say I prefer your spaced pair recording, but the M-S was nice. To me, the bass in the M-S recording seemed to be centered while the rest of the spectrum had L-R separation. The spaced pair seemed to have the best overall clarity, and has a lot of interesting variation in the L-R channels.

Thanks
There's a photo on the soundcloud track. The mics were about 12 inches away in all examples. When I do MS, I've been placing the mid mic about even with the top of the guitar, directly in front of the soundhole, but raised. Then the mid mic is lower, which with mics this big puts it right about in front of the soundhole, but with the figure 8, the null is aimed at the soundhole, so it's not a problem.

I've found with a ribbon, that they tend to be really sensitive to placement. I recorded a track once that I just loved the sound, with an AEA R88, in MS. I know exactly where I was sitting, where the mic was, etc. I can't reproduce the sound I got on that take... Sigh.

Actually, it's interesting that I got the Brauners because I heard a track done with a stereo Brauner, either in XY or MS, and was impressed with the sound. But a stereo Brauner is really pricey, and it's a custom oder, so there's not much chance of trying one out. I came across these 2 VM1s used and figured I could do the same thing by stacking them,and I was able to test drive them before commiting. So that was the first thing I tried, several years ago. And I didn't like it, just couldn't make it work. Here recently I started messing with it again, and what do you know, this time, I like it. Don't know what I'm doing differently, but it seems pretty nice.

I like MS because the core sound seems centered. You have a good mono recording to start with. Spaced pairs ends up always fighting the imbalance of the guitar when close mic'd. But that same imbalance helps create the wider image, I guess.
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Old 12-07-2014, 02:26 AM
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All three sound nice.
But Spaced Pairs are most natural to my ears.
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:29 AM
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Originally Posted by ChuckS View Post
I'd say I prefer your spaced pair recording, but the M-S was nice. To me, the bass in the M-S recording seemed to be centered while the rest of the spectrum had L-R separation. The spaced pair seemed to have the best overall clarity, and has a lot of interesting variation in the L-R channels.
I haven't had a chance, yet, to try Alex Hilton's new A1 StereoControl plugin (it's free, VST only and only works on stereo tracks) but it seems to me that its "safe bass" control would be perfect for "centering" the bass in a spaced pair setup. I'm looking forward to trying it myself but wonder what you, Doug and Anton think about this idea...might be the best of both worlds/setups?

Phil
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