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  #31  
Old 09-23-2009, 05:57 PM
wcap wcap is offline
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So would the approach of putting a small condenser mic near the 12th fret and a large condenser mic near the bridge that Doug talked about be an example of the spaced pair approach? It seems like this could give a bigger sound, but not exactly stereo.

Based on what little I know presently about recording (and of the advisability of not recording right over the soundhole to avoid a boomy boxy sound) it strikes me that the coincident approach might tend to be the best for getting a stereo sound with acoustic guitar?


For me. This matter of how to get a stereo sound from one guitar (in my case with one microphone) became obvious when I recorded one guitar track (happened to be a fingerstyle arrangement of Silent Night, played four times in a row) and then added a second track where I played accompaniment along with the second and third times the first guitar played the full song. Panning the main guitar left a bit, and the accompanying guitar right, gave a lovely stereo sound. But the transition from solo guitar to guitar+accompaniment, and back again sounded odd (mono to stereo to mono). And then there is the matter of the mono solo parts being centered, but that same guitar was shifted left when the accompanying guitar came in. How does one deal with that sort of thing and still have good left-right balance both for the solo and two-guitar portions?

There are multiple issues to work out here that are puzzling me.
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  #32  
Old 09-23-2009, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
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.
The problem there, Rick, is that many people listen in mono without knowing it. If you listen from the other room, for example, you're going to hear a partially phase-canceled sound. Most people play back in stereo these days, but few people sit with their heads positioned in the sweet spot between the speakers (maybe between a pair of ipod headphones....). I like the spaciousness of spaced pairs, but even there, good phase relationships always sound better to me.
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  #33  
Old 09-23-2009, 06:19 PM
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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?
You can try that, but I suspect that won't be the best sound you can get. For stereo, you generally want 2 mics that are about the same distance from the guitar.

Starting with Bob Womack's diagrams is a good idea. Spaced pairs, which Rick is talking about, is more variable, two mics anywhere, tho typically at he 12-15th fret and below the saddle somewhere, but at about the same distance from the guitar. There are endless pages on the web that describe all these common mic positions. Just dive and in start trying them.
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  #34  
Old 09-23-2009, 06:42 PM
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If you listen from the other room, for example, you're going to hear a partially phase-canceled sound.
Same thing will happen if you started out mono compatible.
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Most people play back in stereo these days, but few people sit with their heads positioned in the sweet spot between the speakers (maybe between a pair of ipod headphones....). I like the spaciousness of spaced pairs, but even there, good phase relationships always sound better to me.
Being in the sweet spot is no more an issue for spaced pair than for mono compatible, perhaps less so when out of the sweet spot as that strick mono compatible "advantage" is lost among room reflections with a spaced pair of speakers. Headphones listening converted to mono is probably the worst situation for spaced pair miking.
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  #35  
Old 09-23-2009, 07:01 PM
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Same thing will happen if you started out mono compatible.
Hmm, I guess you mean a room with lots of reflections. In that case, all bets are off. I suppose in reality nothing about the recorded sound really matters, since the playback's going to mess it all up anyway :-)

I do think that recordings of stereo guitar that are in phase have a quality that makes them stand out, at least for me. I know you're a fan of Pete Huttlinger's sound, for example. Pete's recordings are all about as in-phase as you can get without recording with a single mic. For me, at least, that's responsible for a big part of the appeal of his recorded sound. I also like Pierre Bensusan's sound, and he's about as out of phase as you can get, but it doesn't have that same tight cohesive thing that Pete and many others get.
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  #36  
Old 09-23-2009, 07:28 PM
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not to beat a dead horse but it is always a combination of mic placement and EQ. I think it is this moreso that the guitar in most cases.
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  #37  
Old 09-23-2009, 07:47 PM
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Hmm, I guess you mean a room with lots of reflections. In that case, all bets are off. I suppose in reality nothing about the recorded sound really matters, since the playback's going to mess it all up anyway :-)

I do think that recordings of stereo guitar that are in phase have a quality that makes them stand out, at least for me. I know you're a fan of Pete Huttlinger's sound, for example. Pete's recordings are all about as in-phase as you can get without recording with a single mic. For me, at least, that's responsible for a big part of the appeal of his recorded sound. I also like Pierre Bensusan's sound, and he's about as out of phase as you can get, but it doesn't have that same tight cohesive thing that Pete and many others get.
and Pete records with a big wide spaced pair of mikes and I agree the recordings sound good. If coincident miking sounded good it would be a non-issue - record XY - but usually it does not sound that great comparatively.
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  #38  
Old 09-23-2009, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
and Pete records with a big wide spaced pair of mikes and I agree the recordings sound good. If coincident miking sounded good it would be a non-issue - record XY - but usually it does not sound that great comparatively.
Somehow, Pete's unusual setup ends up producing a sound that is very X/Y both to my ears and to phase and pan meters. But I think we're agreeing, spaced pairs in-phase sounds really nice, the best of both worlds.
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  #39  
Old 09-23-2009, 09:28 PM
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Somehow, Pete's unusual setup ends up producing a sound that is very X/Y both to my ears and to phase and pan meters. But I think we're agreeing, spaced pairs in-phase sounds really nice, the best of both worlds.
I am guessing he pans right and left mikes a little towards the middle in the DAW which is why it reads so well in phase on a phase meter.
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  #40  
Old 09-23-2009, 09:57 PM
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I am guessing he pans right and left mikes a little towards the middle in the DAW which is why it reads so well in phase on a phase meter.
I don't know what he does, but I can get the same effect from his mic setup leaving both mics panned hard right and left. I'm not enamored with the sound when I use that setup, but somehow it does produce a very tight X/Y-like pattern, even tho the mics are not coincident.
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  #41  
Old 09-29-2009, 03:53 PM
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Lot of good advice here.

I've been "home recording" for the past few years with the MXL 990/991 pair. My experience is, if I'm recording an acoustic in a mix with drums and bass, I use the pencil 991 at the 14th fret aimed 45degrees to the soundlhole about 4 inches away. And, yes, rosewood guitars have too many harmonics and can muddy up the mix. I use an inexpensive mahogany guitar (maple would be good) for those and cut all the frequencies below 400 out of the guitar recording. Play around with the EQ, it makes a huge difference how the acoustic guitar is EQ'd in a mix. You don't want the bass of the acoustic competing with the bass drum or the bass, EQ it out.

For recording with out drums and bass the large diaphram picks up a wider spectrum of sounds and harmonics. This is where a rosewood will provide a "fuller" sound than the mahogany (I'm REALLY generalizing here) and an expensive guitar can really shine.

The further away the mic is from the source the more the "room" becomes a factor which unfortunately is how LDC sound best.

That 990 LDC is really sensitive, it seems to pick up a lot of low end noise in my house that I need to EQ out.
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  #42  
Old 09-29-2009, 04:26 PM
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Lot of good advice here.

I've been "home recording" for the past few years with the MXL 990/991 pair. My experience is, if I'm recording an acoustic in a mix with drums and bass, I use the pencil 991 at the 14th fret aimed 45degrees to the soundlhole about 4 inches away. And, yes, rosewood guitars have too many harmonics and can muddy up the mix. I use an inexpensive mahogany guitar (maple would be good) for those and cut all the frequencies below 400 out of the guitar recording. Play around with the EQ, it makes a huge difference how the acoustic guitar is EQ'd in a mix. You don't want the bass of the acoustic competing with the bass drum or the bass, EQ it out.

For recording with out drums and bass the large diaphram picks up a wider spectrum of sounds and harmonics. This is where a rosewood will provide a "fuller" sound than the mahogany (I'm REALLY generalizing here) and an expensive guitar can really shine.

The further away the mic is from the source the more the "room" becomes a factor which unfortunately is how LDC sound best.

That 990 LDC is really sensitive, it seems to pick up a lot of low end noise in my house that I need to EQ out.
Very accurate summary valleyguy. I just bought an MXL 603S to do an X-Y setup with my guitar. I am hoping that the 603s pairs up nicely with my 991 pencil and give that nice full sound.

I also record with a mahogany to cut through the mix...

I am considering a Shure SM57 for my VOx amp but I already have an AT dynamic vocal mic that will probably do the same thing...
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  #43  
Old 10-21-2009, 10:10 PM
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So, why are small condensor mics (rather than large condensor mics) generally recommended for acoustic guitar recording?
I wouldn't call this a rule, although I know that you hear that statement quite often. It depends on the sound you want to achieve. An SDC (small diaphragm condenser) will give you a more pronounced sound, probably a little smaller and more defined. An LDC (large diaphragm condenser) usually gives you a bigger sound that is smoother and rounder. I often use an LDC (often Neumann U 47) with an omni SDC (DPA) right in the same spot, and then I blend to taste. That gives me a wide variety of sounds.

Also, a lot of mics that are called SDC are mid-sized diaphragms in reality. The "real" SDCs are mostly omnis.

A very good and quite cheap omni SDC is the DPA 4061. But be aware that the room acoustics must be good for omnis.

As for cheap mics: Some of them have ugly highs, sound uneven, and they don't sound as "real" as a good mic. But of course you can get usable results with them. And there are some really great mics you can get for very little money.

In my experience acoustic guitar is one of the more demanding instruments for microphones, so it's worth to invest some money.
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  #44  
Old 10-21-2009, 10:50 PM
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Default Multiple Miking etc.

If you use more than one mic, and record in a less than acoustically ideal room, I wouldn't go with the real stereo setups (spaced omnis, ORTF, X/Y, Jecklin disc, M/S...). Those are mainly for distant miking. That means you get a lot of room tone.

In those settings, the two (identical) mics are placed at the same distance from the source.

In my experience spaced omnis often sound more natural (or rather: wider and more relaxed) than X/Y, but you can get phase cancellation at lower frequencies when played back mono (which might or might not be a problem).

A nice setting is Blumlein (two fig-8), or the Jecklin disc. Both are less sensitive to room acoustics than spaced omnis.

BUT, as you are recording acoustic guitar in a home studio, try the "completely different mics in the same spot" and the "various mics in different near-field spots", and see what works. Always listen to the results of your mixing in mono.

You might also want to experiment with artificial room (not reverb, just some space / early reflections) instead of more mics. There are good convolution (IR) reverbs out there on the internet. Good reverb units are Quantec, EMT, Bricasti, Roland R-880, as well as the Lexicon units 480, 960, and 300. You can find free IRs of all those units.
Don't shy away from EQing the send or the return when working with reverb units (EQing before the reverb unit doesn't sound the same as EQing after it).
Experiment with placing of the room/reverb - a stereo reverb often sounds better when the two outputs are NOT panned hard right / hard left. Even weird settings can sound great, or reverbs that are completely mono.

Also, I would try to have a strong middle in the stereo field when mixing solo acoustic guitar. A lot of solo acoustic guitar recordings lack definition - there's sound everywhere, but no source (the guitar can't be located), and often it leans to one side or the other when played back over headphones (although the meters show the same level on both channels).
Of course, this depends on where you want to go. Some tracks sound best whit a wash of reverb and chorus...

As for phase cancellation caused by different arrival times (we call it Laufzeitunterschiede in German, I don't know the correct English term), a rough rule of thumb is that the mics should be 3 times as far from each other than from the source, and you're on the safe side.

You will always have phase cancellation to some degree if you use more than one mic in not the exact same spot. It's not just about proper distances, it's also about the radiation pattern of the instrument, early reflections, etc. You always have to check it anyway, by listening in mono and checking it with the Goniometer.

And again, experiment with bigger distances. Instruments tend to have a very uneven sound if you're too close (different frequencies are radiated in different directions).

And most of all, have fun, and enjoy the music. That's what it's all about, remember?
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Last edited by rumi11; 10-21-2009 at 11:49 PM.
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  #45  
Old 10-21-2009, 11:34 PM
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A few comments after reading some of the other posts:
IMO
Stereo mic’ing on guitar can be done near field (close to the guitar) and usually is. Most solo steel string guitar recordings you hear were miked in the near field (within about 18" of the guitar). Spaced pairs may be done with completely different mikes with good results. For coincident or near coincident mic’ing similar mikes (perhaps matched pairs) are used. For recording guitar cardioid mikes are most often used. Omni mikes and further out distances may work sometimes but you need a very quite room with good acoustics. Most phase cancellation problems in spaced pairs are on the higher notes. I hear it most and phase correlation meter is furthest off around the fifth fret first string. That is where to most critically listen when spacing mikes. The low notes are relatively fine over a variety of mike positions. The three to one rule is often cited but it is really more apropos to mic’ing two separate sources with two mikes. In recording a single guitar the rule does not work out so well. There is an additional issue in that the guitar does not produce sound from a small localized area (point source) but from a broad area of surfaces which I think is at least in part why single mike recordings, in the raw state at least, do not sound very good.
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