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  #16  
Old 09-19-2009, 03:59 AM
rumi11 rumi11 is offline
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I just read all the way through the thread... What Doug writes is good. Also, try changing the position where the player is, where the mics stand, etc. There are better and worse spots in a room, both for the player as well as for the mics.

I've heard quite good recordings of acoustic guitars made with MXL pencils. I would use the pencil on the 14th fret, and the LD from above the soundhole.

If you want to treat the room, I would recommend fiberglass. Put it completely in packing paper, build a wooden frame around the packed fiberglass, and cover it with some nice fabric on the front.

Be highly aware that you don't touch the fiberglass, wear gloves and a mask! It's ugly, for the skin as well as for the lungs.

If you go to my website you will find some pics of such absorbers. They are better than any foam.

You might also use a thin board with holes in it in front of the fiberglass, or stripes of wood, because the sound of the room will get duller and muddier with more acoustic absorbtion (the high frequencies are absorbed first, but they are most often not the problem). Having reflective material in front of a part of the absorber lightens the sound up, while still absorbing the mid and lower frequencies. Avoid treating all the walls with foam or fiberglass.

You can start experimenting with matresses (quite effective!), carpets, curtains. Be aware that thin absorbing material only takes away the high frequencies (which is not what you want), and the further away the absorber is from the wall, the deeper the frequencies are that are absorbed.

There is a bass increase in corners, so putting absorbers into corners takes away more bass than the equal amount of absorbers mounted on walls. Again, the further away from the corner, the deeper the absorbed frequencies.

Egg carton is completely useless.

While the floor is no problem, the ceiling gives the listener a lot of information about the room size. If it's less than 3 meters (9 feet), cover it with absorbers (foam). In natural environments we always have a floor below, so we are used to that sound. But our hearing is quite sensible to the sound of reflections coming from a ceiling; we use that to determine the size (height) of the room. In a recording a high ceiling (or a ceiling made "invisible" through absorbers) gives more "air", literally. So, while a wooden floor could sometimes be preferable (although probably not for acoustic guitars), a ceiling is to be acoustically eliminated as well as possible, by either having it be more than 3 meters high, or treating it with absorbers.

Another approach to get rid of room information is diffusion: A bookcase can have a good effect, or a wooden board that is bent and hung on a wall. The longer it takes for the early reflections to come to the mics the bigger the room sounds. If they bounce around your room for a while before they finally get to the mic this will lower the "small room" impression. The worst is parallel walls and direct reflection. So avoid to place the player and the mics parallel to near walls. Apply Billard rules here.

Nathan Eldred has some good tips on his website. I forgot the name of the site, but you should find it.

You can also use stands with absorbing material, and put them behind the mics and behind the player. I use some modular stands that I can velcro foam absorbers on that I built myself. Works very well, and I can move it around, and put it away afterwards.

Have fun experimenting!

Rumi
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Last edited by rumi11; 09-19-2009 at 04:25 AM.
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  #17  
Old 09-19-2009, 04:22 AM
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One last thing: In pop songs acoustic guitars are often EQ'ed very heavily. Solo'ed they often sound more like shakers, but in the mix it sounds great. So your initial recording doesn't have to sound absolutely gorgeous on its own. Solo acoustic guitar or sparse acoustic music is a completely different task.
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  #18  
Old 09-19-2009, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumi11 View Post
Changing the guitar probably won't be the solution for your problem. Changing the mics or the mic preamps might be. But the starting point is the mic placement.
Thanks so much rumi, I think your comment reasserts that most of the quality of the recording will be from the microphone placement rather than the guitar.

I will keep experimenting with mic placement with my XML 990/991 mics. Do you think these are decent enough mics to get a semi-pro recording?

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  #19  
Old 09-19-2009, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexrkstr View Post
Do you think these are decent enough mics to get a semi-pro recording?
Of course, tho with a focus on the "semi" :-) These are meant for budget home recording. You probably won't see them in a real pro studio, but they're plenty good enough for home recording. The difference a mic makes is subtle. Check out Fran Guidry's web site and home recording blog for a bunch of comparisons and to see how small the difference is between even big price ranges. I think there have been plenty of really good sounding recordings posted here, recorded with the MXLs.

rumi had good advice on the fiberglass, I was trying to not to go there, to avoid going down a big studio construction project rathole. I have tons of fiberglass, Owens Corning 703, very dense stuff, in my recording space. My web site has a bunch of details about how I built my space. Fran has a bunch of stuff on his blog about what he's done as well. But I'd start simple before you spend all your time building a studio instead of playing. There are places you can buy soundpanels that look nice and are relatively cheap - a lot less money than a new guitar :-) if you do want to go that route. But I'd try different spots in the room, different mic placements, etc,first. You'll probably get what you want or close without a lot of work.
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  #20  
Old 09-19-2009, 02:36 PM
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Rumi, Doug - you guys are extremely helpful. I'll keep experimenting and let you know how it goes. Thanks guys!
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  #21  
Old 09-19-2009, 07:39 PM
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Or use mineral wool instead of fiberglass.
http://www.atsacoustics.com/panels
I ran an air purifier for a few days after putting up the panels and it has been fine.
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  #22  
Old 09-19-2009, 11:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
Or use mineral wool instead of fiberglass.
yeah, that's nicer stuff. And of course ATS will sell you finished panels so you don't have to deal with it at all. The last pieces I added to my studio, I used "acoustic cotton", basically recycled blue jeans or something, I think. Really wonderful to work with after fighting with fiberglass. No breathing issues at all, and it has better specs than fiberglass. More expensive, tho.
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  #23  
Old 09-23-2009, 09:55 AM
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Wow, a very timely and useful thread for me. I've been experimenting with recording, with mixed results. My classical guitar records quite well, but my Martin 000-15 has been seeming overly bright and a little thin and too percussive, and I had been wondering whether it was basically just not the best guitar for recording my sorts of music. I need to try out some of the ideas presented in this thread to alter the sound I'm getting (among other things, I think I've had the mic too close, and too far from the soundhole) - I suspect that this will allow me to get better recordings of this lovely-sounding guitar.

So, why are small condensor mics (rather than large condensor mics) generally recommended for acoustic guitar recording?

I've been using a Rode NT1-A (large condensor) but they had a deal going for a second mic for $1, so an M3 (small condensor) mic is on the way. It will be interesting to see how the results differ.


I also need to work on room acoustics, though I've also been thinking of maybe trying to do a little recording in an empty church or in the big auditorium in the music building at a local college (I definitely have the go ahead for the latter, but it is SO MUCH more cumbersome and time consuming to do this than to go down into the basement in the evening).



By the way, Doug.....

I've recently discovered your stuff on YouTube, and on your web site. I LOVE your arrangements. Simply lovely. Very melodic, yet with lots of interesting things going on - I'm feeling humbled by how much simpler my arrangements tend to be (actually, I think they might not be that much simpler but just different - anything new and novel always initially seems better than what one comes up with one's self I guess). I recently learned your Shenandoa arrangement, and just started Bring a Torch. This has been so much fun!

(sorry for sidetracking this thread)

Last edited by wcap; 09-23-2009 at 10:03 AM.
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  #24  
Old 09-23-2009, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wcap View Post
So, why are small condensor mics (rather than large condensor mics) generally recommended for acoustic guitar recording?
A couple of reasons:

1. Large diaphragm condensers have greater low-end sensitivity and can be harder for a new recordist to get a handle on. They also transduce more LF environmental noise for the same reason.
2. Small diaphragm condensers tend to have a more sparkly high-end. Of course, if you are trying to tame a bright guitar, a large diaphragm condenser could help.

Bob
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Last edited by Bob Womack; 09-23-2009 at 10:41 AM.
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  #25  
Old 09-23-2009, 01:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wcap View Post
...So, why are small condensor mics (rather than large condensor mics) generally recommended for acoustic guitar recording? ...
Typically, small condenser mics tend to have a smoother, more accurate frequency response as well as better off-axis response and their placement isn't as critcal. A small diaphragm microphone is less sensitive to slight changes in angle or placement as compared to large diaphragm mics.
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  #26  
Old 09-23-2009, 02:08 PM
wcap wcap is offline
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Thanks for the mic info. The Rode NT1-A came with a little pamphlet with a few suggestions for mic placement. For acoustic guitar it said that a lot of folks like to have a small condensor mic up close (near the 12th fret) and a large condensor mic farther away to capture other aspects of the sound. Then the two signals are mixed to get the desired result.

This now makes sense in light of the explanations of small and large condensor mics above.

It sounds like when my $1 M3 small condensor mic (special promotional deal with the purchase of the NT1-A) arrives it might become more of a workhorse for acoustic guitar recording than the NT1-A that I actually chose and bought!

Thanks.
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  #27  
Old 09-23-2009, 03:01 PM
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Well, that's one approach, mostly if you want a mono sound, with a bit of room ambience. That assumes that the room sound the further away mic picks up is good. Hard to know till you try. Also, this gives you mono (probably won't sound good with two mics in stereo at different distances from the guitar), which is fine for mixing with other tracks, if the guitar is just one of many instruments, or isn't the main instrument. If you want a bigger sound, and one more suitable for solo use, or where the guitar is the featured instrument, try both mics at about the same distance from the guitar. Small diaphragm where the neck meets the body and the large down around the bridge is one common setup for stereo.

In the end, there are no rules, you have nearly an infinite number of locations for mics in a 3-D space around your guitar. You just try as many places as you can until you get something you like. It really helps to have a reference, some recording of guitar that you like, and then try to find a mic position that sounds like that. If it doesn't, try to figure out why, and move things around. it's a game of "getting warmer", "nope,colde', 'ok, warmer now', until you get in the ballpark you want
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  #28  
Old 09-23-2009, 04:01 PM
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......If you want a bigger sound, and one more suitable for solo use, or where the guitar is the featured instrument, try both mics at about the same distance from the guitar. Small diaphragm where the neck meets the body and the large down around the bridge is one common setup for stereo.......
I'm assuming that for a stereo sound you would then pan one track a little bit to the left, and the other a bit to the right?

Before recently rediscovering the Acoustic Guitar Forum, I hung out sometimes at the Telecaster forum (TDPRI.com) - still do sometimes too. There are a lot of very nice helpful people over there, though most of them play different kinds of music and guitars than me. There is a recording subforum that I especially like. When I asked over there how to get a stereo sound when recording a solo guitar one of the suggestions was to duplicate a track, shift it a few milliseconds, and pan left and right. This works, sort of, but I find the purity and lovely tone of the guitar sound is degraded. An honest to goodness stereo recording the way you have described seems much more desirable.

Now I just have to wait for my second mic to arrive!

Thanks for the tips.
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  #29  
Old 09-23-2009, 04:58 PM
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Typically you want to create a stereo image by using some sort of array ot two microphones. There all sorts of arrays: Coincident - the heads of the two mics overlap. You probably want a matched pair of mics or two of the same model. A typical array is the X-Y 90' pair.
Near Coincident - the heads may be spaced a bit but the distance and anglel are calculated to give a nice sound and a decend mono compatibility. This option often yields a wider soundstage than the coincident pair but you want to find an array, such as the ORTF system (110' and 7" apart), that will yield predictible results. You probably want a matched pair of mics or two of the same model.



Spaced Pair - The mics may be set up as a cohesive spaced array or placed for two different sounds and then panned as desired.

I've listed them from the most mono-compatible to the least mono compatible. Why do you need mono compatibility in this high-tech world? Well, for instance, YouTube LoDef is mono. If your two channels of stereo don't combine well to mono, you often get mush. This is especially true of the business of making two tracks and slipping one out of phase with the other.

Bob
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  #30  
Old 09-23-2009, 05:11 PM
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For solo guitar recording I have given up on worrying about mono compatibility. If someone wants to listen in mono then they get what they deserve. There is a depth and fullness of sound you can get from spaced pairs you just can't get in coincident recording, at least in my recording space anyway.
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