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  #16  
Old 08-31-2013, 08:22 PM
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First class SDs have the potential for faster transient response and thus transient detail. That's just physics. I think you can hear that in a number of recordings. That's a general sweep type comment - there are exceptions for various reasons with various mikes, and of course in any given recording a number of factors in addition to mikes comes into play.
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  #17  
Old 08-31-2013, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Gcunplugged View Post
...
This one was done as a single take, and no effects, with a Q3HD and the built-in mics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHFCTw-Zc9M

While I think these are my best recording, and they sound decent, they aren't in the same league as some I've heard here from others.

Thanks again,
GC
Ah, I apologize for not recognizing your work.

I've used four approaches with the Q3HD.

The simplest is to try odd viewing angles, with an emphasis on mic placement first and image second. There's a blog post but you can get the idea from this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOlE7nC_DzQ

The cheesiest is the stick-on wide angle lens, which costs about $20, vignettes the corners, gives the image a bit of fish-eye, but gets your camera closer without cutting off your head: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVuuU-VeUO0

Since the Q3HD has no mic preamps we can't just plug in an external mic. So I used a pocket recorder as a powered mic and fed the headphone output into the Q3HD. And similarly I've used a preamp to connect one or two conventional mics to the Q.

Since your question was about replacing or supplementing your LD condenser it would be a lot more directly useful if we could hear a clip recorded with your current mic.

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  #18  
Old 08-31-2013, 09:37 PM
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I like to record with a LD and a SD to capture as much of the guitar as I can without relying too much on the room since my room is not treated properly.

I place the LD about a foot away pointed ruffly at the 12th fret, and the SD placed back by the strap jack pointed at the soundboard. Obviously mic placement is critical. Keeping the guitar positioned the same way is also important, I use a non swivel chair that doesn't squeak and have a visual reference where the headstock should point to. I also hold my breath.

This is my setup for intimate guitar parts, strumming is completely different
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  #19  
Old 09-01-2013, 05:08 AM
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If you ask an old recording engineer this question he'll scratch his head and think and say, "Well, it all depends." You wouldn't believe some of the arrays that have been used over the years for solo guitar. We are talking as many as six to eight mics spaced near and far and multi-tracked so that they can be combined at mix time. As has been said, back during the '60s you'd see large diaphragm condensers mostly. But as the small diaphragm condensers such as the Neumann KM-84 and AKG C-451E became available at the turn of the '70s, engineers and producers discovered that they naturally emphasized the the high end in a way that made the guitar sit nicely in a mix without a pile of EQ. Since then, the small diaphragm condenser sound has become a preference to some as one of the many sounds available.

In the '70s, the sound of the recording was just as much a signature of the players as their playing style, so players and producers seemed to choose their mics a little more creatively. I kind of miss that mindset. These days it seems like I hear more of people trying to conform to whatever everyone else is doing.

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  #20  
Old 09-01-2013, 08:01 AM
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A lot of good experienced advice already. So I will only add that it is often said the the only rule is there are not rules . But it is also said that there is no substitute for experience, both of which usually are true.

Sometimes the solution is as simple as a different set of strings or pic (if you use one) or as has already been said mic placement.

One thing to keep in mind is that when your on the journey of improving your recording sound, in order not to get caught and lost in the inexorable cyclone of innumerable variables that can and do effect the sound. For purposes of diagnosis try to eliminate as many variables as possible.
For example your OP is about mic'ing the guitar, but in the examples you linked, the sound included DI. Unfortunately that's of no help and in fact confuses the goal of determining any informed conclusion, about the difference mic'ed sound/s.

So what I am saying is the best procedure is to set up a standard repeatable overall situation where you eliminate variables . And are only changing one thing at a time, i.e. mic position ( in inches) or pic (if applicable) or position in room etc. etc. doing this will inform and make your acquiring experience more efficient.
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  #21  
Old 09-01-2013, 09:14 AM
JanVigne JanVigne is offline
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"I have a large diaphragm, and I've struggled to get decent sound from it. But, ill be the first to admit that a recording engineer I'm not! i seem to spend more time mucking with settings than actually playing ... "



Which is better; a 15" woofer? Or, a 5" woofer?

Both the microphone and the loudspeaker driver represent a type of system termed "transducer". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transducer A transducer converts one form of energy into another form of energy. In any transducer there are numerous, logical reasons why the system is not perfect; why what comes in is not a perfect analog to what goes out. In this light, it might not even be your microphones which are causing your problems.

In very broad terms though, the larger the diaphragm, the more mass will exist if all other values are equal. While an "all things equal" situation never truly exists, mass will require a stronger motor built to tighter tolerances to achieve the same transient response of a smaller, less massive diaphragm. Materials will need to be made more rigid which will already result in a not all things are equal situation. Errors within the system will mean higher distortions and more noticeable frequency response deviations. Resonances within the system will normally exist within the lower frequency bands which will tend to be more noticeable as they intrude into the bandwidth where the human ear is most sensitive to these issues. High frequency response will tend to be rolled off in comparison due to the inability of the system to follow the very small input signals located in the upper frequencies. Harmonic content of a signal from a musical instrument will likely have a noticeable lack of timbral accuracy. Polar patterns will narrow in the high frequency range which, when exaggerated, could easily mean off axis response is severely compromised. Virtually no manufacturer provides specifications which would allow you to make reasoned comparisons between seemingly equal systems as you begin to look more deeply into "the sound" of a microphone or speaker driver.

For every "con" of a large diaphragm, there are equal numbers of "pros". For every "pro" of a large diaphragm, there are an equal number of "pros' for a small diaphragm. Virtually everything in audio is a series of trade offs and selecting a synergistic system is a function of making wise decisions based typically on values which are not so easily described by specifications. The one thing I've found about audio equipment is you can make just about any technology work, if you are prepared to devote sufficient amounts time, money and effort to the task. The technology might not prove to be marketable but, given those inputs, it can be made workable.

All of that is to say you must address equipment on its own terms, not on the basis of whether it is "this" or "that". You must have a concept in your head which represents the end result you desire. Looking at the issue merely in terms of "large" vs "small" is not likely to get you there. For every benefit you can attribute to "large", I can give you an equally good reason to use "small". To get yourself hung up on such broad distinctions will only have you chasing your own tail until you learn to work with each system to its best advantage. You'll find yourself on the equipment merry go 'round until you come to grips with this fact.



I think it would be beneficial if you described what "decent sound" means to you. What are you finding to be at fault in your recordings? What are you finding which is good sound? The problem here is you are using very vague words, "better" and "decent", which have no meaning to us in terms of what you are hearing.

Not being a fan of over processing recordings, I would say off the bat, one of your problems is you probably have too many ways to alter the sound and feel obligated to use them all. Your first effort should be to simplify your set up to achieve the most natural sound possible without enhancements. Then, if you feel the need, you can tweak the end result a bit. But, if your set up is lacking, your results will always be less than stupendous. The Zoom probably works "better" simply because you have fewer opportunities to muck with it.

Last edited by JanVigne; 09-01-2013 at 09:21 AM.
  #22  
Old 09-01-2013, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
…I also like SDs and usually use Schoeps CMC6/MK41s for my You Tube recordings - but the main reason is that they're easier to fit into a video shot, with sounding great being an extra. So to me, it's not "large" vs "small", it's 1) having something worth recording, 2) getting a good sound from your guitar acoustically, 3) room acoustics, 4) mic placement, 5) mic choice.
Hi Doug...

A question (not a challenge)

When I was starting to learn about recording in the early 2000s, there was confusion for me about small versus large diaphragm because what many recordists declared to be "small diaphragm" seemed positively 'tiny' and large diaphragm were speaking of 25-26mm.

My first decent mic was an AKG 414 because it seemed like a good fit for lots of situations and different sizes of instruments for vocals. Then I added some 20mm Rode (NT-3) mics because they added detail in the high end, and worked well for instruments which later needed to be mixed with vocals.

In discussions with serious recordists, 20mm diaphragm mics were by and large not discussed, or treated with a bit of disdain (not my 20mm, just that size). I eventually ended up with a better set of 20mm, and it's often still my preferred size for guitars, violins, or other mid-sized instruments.

Your CM6-MK41 is a 20mm which you are obviously calling small diaphragm. I find the tone from 20mm mics versus an equivilent 10-12mm mic more robust with adequate detail in the high end for me (which may have to do with 65 year old ears). Some of the very small diaphragm mics seem a bit sterile for my ears.

All of this to ask, if you were forced to record guitars for a year with either a matched set/pair or two mics of differing size of your choosing, what do you think you might choose? I'm talking style, and size of diaphragm, not brand.


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  #23  
Old 09-01-2013, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by ljguitar View Post


When I was starting to learn about recording in the early 2000s, there was confusion for me about small versus large diaphragm because what many recordists declared to be "small diaphragm" seemed positively 'tiny' and large diaphragm were speaking of 25-26mm.



Agreed, "Large" vs "Small" sounds like there are only two choices, when really, there are lots of capsule sizes. There are even hybrids, like the AT5040 that combines 4 "smallish" (relatively) capsules to form one gigantic capsule, which they tout as a feature - having the best of both. But I think most people would call small pencil mics like the Schoeps, KM184s, etc "small", and mics like my Brauner VM1s, U89s, etc "large"

Quote:
All of this to ask, if you were forced to record guitars for a year with either a matched set/pair or two mics of differing size of your choosing, what do you think you might choose?
I honestly never even think in terms of diaphram size, I just go by how my results sound. The differences between most decent mics is so small, it hardly matters, for solo guitar, I can make a bigger change in sound by moving the mic an inch, or moving my hand an inch, than by switching mics. If I had to do all recording on one set of mics, I'd probably stick with a set of small cardiods, like the Schoeps CMC6/MK4s, or KM184s - mostly for practical reasons. They're easy to setup, easy to carry around - I can put them in a gig bag or my pocket, don't require an external power supply like my Brauners, don't require a massive weighted stand, don't get in the way of a video, etc. I'd prefer a pair of the same mics, not necessarily factory certified as "matched", but again because it just makes placement a little easier - XY with one LD and one SD just looks "wrong" :-), even if the sound is fine.

I find it hard to defend mic choices one way or another. When I first tried the Schoeps mics, I called them "boring". These days I'd probably say "neutral", and mean it in a good way. I have had people tell me that recordings I make with the Brauners sound more "like a finished recording" without any processing, and I sort of agree with that. At the same time, when I've set both up in a reasonably fair comparison with spaced pairs, I know I'd be unlikely to consistently identify which is which in a blind test. Bigger differences usually show up with other placement patterns. With setups like XY/MS/ORTF, the larger mics are harder to get as close together as the Schoeps. So I suspect any differences I hear there has more to do with the different mic placement than things like capsule size, tho capsule size (and body size) plays a role in why I can't get the LD mics any closer together!.

Of course, everyone's trying to discuss the OP's specific question, while in this case, I'd say it's mostly irrelevant - the biggest improvement he could make is to use a pair of mics (any kind), close-mic, and/or do something about room acoustics. Capsule size isn't going to make any significant difference compared to more pressing issues.
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  #24  
Old 09-01-2013, 06:47 PM
Gcunplugged Gcunplugged is offline
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OK, I'm restating my goal, and that is to achieve a clean sounding recorded acoustic guitar, primarily played finger style.

My secondary goal is to do so without breaking the bank. Third is to do so without spending more time learning to record, than practicing my playing. Like most of us, finding sufficient practice time is challenging. On the other hand, I realize that you guys didn't get to where you are overnight, and it will take time.

Lastly, I don't tend to want to solve this issue by throwing money at it, or going crazy trying to add every possible effect. On the contrary, I prefer to KIS (keep it simple) and thus my purchase of the Q3HD.

Taking advice from this thread, I broke out the pair of dynamic mics I had on hand, rigged up (an ugly) stand, piped them through a mixer, and into the Q3HD. In my opinion, that is already better than anything I've done previously. Tomorrow I'm headed to the store in hopes of finding something that will allow better placement of the mics. Maybe a drum mic stand per Doug's advice.

In the meantime, here is a post of the raw recording

http://gc-unplugged.com/music/DynMic...raw-public.mp4

And here is a post, after adding reverb, and then mastering it with the Zoom Handyshare software using preset options.

http://gc-unplugged.com/music/DynMic...red-public.mp4

Tomorrow, more work with the mic placement, and will also try to bring the recording levels up more. The "mastering" presets attempted to bring the volume level up too much, compensating for the weak input signal. Another minor shortcoming of the Zoom is that you can't see the meters while recording.

Anyway, I feel like I made progress today, and will continue to incorporate advice found here as time and budget allow.
GC
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Old 09-01-2013, 07:15 PM
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Much better! I'd work on mic placement a bit, the sound is pretty thin, I'd think you could get more body than that. Your levels are also very low, shoot for around -6db on peaks. On the mix/master, at least as this track is, I'd go for more lows and mids, cutting highs, less reverb (but much of that is a mater of personal taste). But you're on your way for sure.

You don't have to break the bank to record. One of the Zoom audio recorders will do a nice job with the built-in mics. And there are all kinds of mics in the $200 range that should be fine. Many people here like the ADK's. I don't have any experience personally with those, but I've been happy with the Audio-Technica line, in part because you can pretty much pick your price point, anywhere from $100 each to many thousands each, and they all work well.
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  #26  
Old 09-01-2013, 08:42 PM
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thanks Doug, thats a lot of good info
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  #27  
Old 09-01-2013, 09:03 PM
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…I feel like I made progress today, and will continue to incorporate advice found here as time and budget allow.
GC
Hi GC...

I think the Zoom H2n and H4n are good starting units for learning to record audio. They are self contained and have decent enough mics to achieve quite good results. They can be mounted on a mic stand, set on a table, and/or mounted on a standard camera tripod (my personal favorite stands with these types of recorders)..

The H2n has 5 mic settings and is a single track, and the H4n is multi-track capable, and has XLR/¼" inputs plus phantom power should you decide to add external mics later. And both/either can be used as a USB mic when hooked to a computer.

In addition, the H2n or H4n can be used to record audio separately from the video and they can be joined later for a better final result.

I liked your new recording, and have nothing to add to Doug's remarks. I'm anxious to follow your progress.

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  #28  
Old 09-02-2013, 05:01 AM
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Hi all. I'm not very experienced, and don't have much to offer on this discussion except from a relatively new perspective on the hand held field recorders. I have a DR5 and zoom H2n. I can't speak to the audio quality, but will say for other folks new to recording, there is no better way to learn mike placement than to plug earphones into one of the portable mics and just move it around someone playing guitar (or yourself)

I learned more (truly learned and understood, not just read in a book and memorize) about mic placement and how it affects the recorded product in just 1/2 hour playing with the zoom, than I did in hours of reading books and manuals.

I suppose you could accomplish the same with a regular mic and phones coming from a board or computer, but the handheld recorders just make it so easy to experiment with moving around and hearing instant feedback. Well, you know what I mean.
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Old 09-02-2013, 08:22 AM
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Sorry if I duplicate a response form someone else, but a lot depends on which LD you're talking about. Acoustical transparency of the capsule itself is at the heart of it. If the headgrille traps high frequencies within the capsule and they create standing waves at high frequencies, the sound capture is compromised. More transparent headgrilles allow the escape of this HF energy. That in itself solves a lot of problems. How transparent must the headgrille be then becomes the point.
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Old 09-02-2013, 08:51 AM
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Unfortunately, all I can use for the first recording is a headset in order to get enough volume. For me, this leaves a lot of information unanswered. However, I don't understand your mic placement as I see it in the video. The mic on your right would appear to be aimed at the lower bout of the guitar while your left hand mic looks as though it is meant to be on axis to the soundhole. If that is correct, what's your logic behind that set up? What is the polar pattern of the mics you are using?

Sound is perception, what occurs after the wiggling of our eardrum and that which occurs in our mind. The process of recording and listening involves a perception of what you want before you can go out trying to locate it. And the sound of headsets is quite different than the sound of speakers in a room. Unless you intend only to listen to the recordings over headsets, you must make your final selections based on the sound of speakers. Are you after a very tightly focused sound which would suggest a single instrument within a defined space? Or, a rather spacious, airy, not well defined sense of a huge guitar floating in between the speakers? Would you say you have a very clear idea of what sonic qualities you are after? Or, just something "better" than what you have already achieved?



IMO learning to make a good recording is akin to learning to make a good marinara sauce. It is the skillful blending of the simplest ingredients which make the whole enjoyable. Mismanage just one of the few ingredients and you'll tip the result over into a less than tasty dish.

Your second recording contains too much random noise, the result I would guess of boosting the level after the recording process. Just to be sure you understand, when you are doing any A-B comparisons between audio samples or products, you must be wary of level changes. It's well documented that even a 0.5dB change in level will result in the louder sample being considered superior - even when the two samples are identical in every other way. To say your second version is the higher quality products is not possible. However, string noise has been increased along with the random noise of the electronics. For me, the string noise is very distracting.

I would say -6dB on peaks is still too low for your peak level. Digital has a nasty habit of not overloading gracefully, however, I would aim for the highest recording level possible - even if it means a slight bit of compression being applied in the process. Experimentation is your best asset in this regard. But I would aim for just the infrequent flash of peak levels on transient peaks being shown on your recording device. If you have some soft compression you can apply, I'm not a fan of compression but, I would use just a touch in this instance.

The portable recorders are quite good as learning tools. Very good in fact! An afternoon spent just playing with placement of the protable will - or should - teach you a considerable amount about mic placement and its effects on sound quality. You can make a very high quality recording if you understand the strong points of the recorder and its built in mics. Simpler is in many cases better here since you must work intelligently with the raw ingredients to turn out a tasty dish. I assume, however, you want to go beyond what the portable recorders can offer. I'm not sure why necessarilly, the mic patterns provided by the portables should give good results on a single instrument.

If, however, you wish to use outboard mics and equipment, then I would suggest you; first, have that sound in your head you wish to recreate. If you have no sound in your head, then you're just grabbing stuff off the shelf to throw into the sauce. There are tutorials in the archives which give you an illustration of what you can expect from the various mic set ups commonly used for guitar. I would read those and form some ideas - what is the most appealing on paper to you. Then I would take your mics and first set them up to duplicate the pattern of your portable recorder. As mentioned earlier, this will give you a baseline from which to work. Compare the results of a recording made with your portable to the quality of a recording made with your mics set up to, as close as possible, duplicate the pattern of the portable. Determine what changes occur when you simply substitute your mics for those of the portable. Make some quick notes - what an illustrator would call a twenty to thirty second "gesture drawing" - of the good and bad points of this comparison. Set the recording aside as your reference point from which you can experiment. Return to this recording often as you proceed.

Next comes the afternoon of just moving mics and setting levels. You can, of course, just keep moving things around until you stumble upon a set up you like. That approach, however, does nothing to tell you why you prefer that set up. I would take the approach of moving the mic, recording, then listening and again taking your quick impressions down on paper with detailed notes of the set up. Compare various recording levels with a preferred set up. Always, repeat, always, detail just exactly how and where you have mics and levels set. Each move or change in the basic set up should provide some insight into what you've done. If you find a set up you prefer, go back and use your notes to make certain you can duplicate the result or whether it was just a fluke of luck or a change in your playing which influenced your opinion. Remember; louder will always be perceived as better. Make careful level comparisons when performing this exercise.

Once you have a basic set up you like, play around moving your mics by inches and then half inches. If you've done your homework, you should see the logic in this last step.

In some ways a single instrument is one of the more difficult things to record well. Yet, on the other hand, there are only so many variables you can create with one instrument. But you cannot learn how to record by reading an article or a forum post. It must come from hands on experience. Only you know what sound qualities you desire in your recording. I would suggest they be as simple and as natural as possible. An afternoon spent moving mics - after you're established that your mics can at least turn out the same quality as the portable - is the only way to learn the ins and outs of recording for yourself.
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