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Old 12-08-2019, 07:13 PM
Scott Whigham Scott Whigham is offline
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Default GBIR Question #1: What mic sweep cans do you use?

Iím getting back into recording (GBIR) since I took several years off while my kids were younger but am now excited to be able to devote more time. I tore down my studio long ago and now Iím building a ďmore mobile friendlyĒ setup. I have so many questions - itís been humbling trying to get back into recording! So many changes....

Question #1 - what cans do you use when sweeping mic positions to find the best sounding placement for mics on solo acoustic guitar?
  • Once I put up a mic, I then put on closed back phones and crank up headphone volume so I can hear how the mic sounds. I then proceed to move the mic until I find the best position. Sometimes it takes days bc I only have 1-2 hrs to try it out.
  • I have 2 pr of closed backs - HD380 Pro and Ultrasone 840 Pro
  • HD380s show "No, no, no - that is awful sounding. Move the mic to try again" faster than any cans I've used *but* if thereís another pair that others are having success finding mic positions with, Iíd love to hear about it.
TBH itís not going great - Iím not getting the sound I want - but thatís beside the point haha. Itís still a solid method, I think. And yes Iím taking frequent breaks. The HD380s are great at not making my ears fatigue too quickly.

So what cans if any do you use when you are trying to find the best mic position? Any other tips or tricks? Iíve been experimenting all weekend and just enjoy learning through the whole process.
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:09 PM
keith.rogers keith.rogers is offline
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First, what are you trying to record and what mic(s)/positions are you trying?

I wouldn't be checking how it sounds on the monitoring headphones, but I'd be recording and then listening back on my monitors, i.e., what I mix on.

It doesn't have to be "perfect" to get a usable track. Of course, it's nice if you get a track that requires very little tweaking, but unless you're recording a solo performance of some kind, nothing can be judged to be perfect until you've got all the tracks and working the mix. "Better is the enemy of good" is not a pointless expression - better to get something down and go to work in many cases.
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Old 12-09-2019, 05:04 AM
Scott Whigham Scott Whigham is offline
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Thanks, Keith. Iím just a hobbyist trying to record my own instrumental acoustic pieces - nothing too fancy. I think putting on closed backs and listening for the best position of the microphone is a pretty standard technique - when youíre the player and recordist, you look for whatever time saving techniques you can find and this has worked well for me in the past. Just trying to see if there are other headphones people are using for same type of thing.
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Old 12-09-2019, 10:25 AM
sdelsolray sdelsolray is offline
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When I test mic placements (I haven't done it in a while), using two mics, I set them up, measure distances, write those down and record for 15 to 30 seconds. Then I pause the recording, set up a new placement, measure, write and record on the same stereo track after the pause. If I do this six times, I have six different mic placements recorded on the same stereo track and I can simply reference any of them quickly for comparison through headphones or monitors, even a day or week later.

I found this works best for me.
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Old 12-09-2019, 10:46 AM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Whigham View Post
Iím getting back into recording...
Pretty funny that you lead off with, "... this is a technique that works for me..." and all you get back is "... don't do that."

I do something similar sometimes, only I usually move myself and the guitar around rather than the mic. So thanks for the tip about the headphones you like. :-)
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Old 12-09-2019, 01:20 PM
keith.rogers keith.rogers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Pretty funny that you lead off with, "... this is a technique that works for me..." and all you get back is "... don't do that."

I do something similar sometimes, only I usually move myself and the guitar around rather than the mic. So thanks for the tip about the headphones you like. :-)
Well, nobody said *don't* - and, just like you, we said we do something a little different. I guess we all must have missed the "don't reply unless you are answering exactly the same specific scenario."

Jeez, Only trying to help here. But, enjoy the rest of your Monday...
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Old 12-09-2019, 01:21 PM
Doug Young Doug Young is offline
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Another "I don't do that" :-) I don't find monitoring myself via headphones while playing and placing mics to be effective. I get better results by recording short segments and listening back over monitors. Repeat until happy. I haven't tried every headphone out there, I can see it'd be faster if it worked, but with the ones I have tried, my results have ended up being misleading. It's actually been a while since I needed to do anything more than just a quick sanity test - I've done it enough that I know where the mics need to go, with what I have. If I am testing new mics, I go thru the trial and error process again, tho.
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Old 12-09-2019, 02:29 PM
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min7b5 min7b5 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
Another "I don't do that" :-) I don't find monitoring myself via headphones while playing and placing mics to be effective. I get better results by recording short segments and listening back over monitors. Repeat until happy...
I agree. I'll do the headphone scan thing if I'm for some reason using different guitar or microphone where I need to get the quick macro lay of the land, but otherwise I'll record a bunch of five second clips in a row of the same phrase, ruler in hand, saying aloud something like, "now I'm nine inches from the neck joint, just below the fretboard.." or something like that. I might do that twenty times and then listen back through my monitors, narrow it down, and move to trying to just get a good take.
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Old 12-09-2019, 03:44 PM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
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Here's the problem with the cans method. If I'm going to use cans, I'd want to use open-back to get a truer sense of what's coming in, but open-back cans that close to the source means I'm going to not only hear the guitar through the mics, I'm going to hear the guitar in the room. And if I'm going to move far enough away from the source that I won't hear the guitar coming through the back of the cans, then I may as well be listening to my monitors.
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Old 12-09-2019, 06:20 PM
Scott Whigham Scott Whigham is offline
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Thanks all - interesting to see peopleís opinions and ideas. Iím really surprised to hear that others arenít doing this as part of their normal every day techniques.

If you were to go to a random studio to record solo instrumental, the engineer wouldnít put the mics in place, run back to the control room, hit record, then stop and listen back, only to come running back in to the live room to move the mics and repeat the process. No chance. He would simply place his ears in front of you while you played to find ďthe sweet spotĒ and place the mics there - boom. Thatís all this is, just using the closed back to prevent the bleed. You are being both engineer and player and making decisions in real time.

Itís incredibly revealing - just a shortcut to eliminate the ďclearly badĒ quicker. Itís clear and obvious even in bad closed back headphones, ďThis mic position is awful! Too XYZĒ (boomy/tinny/string noise/etc). When you start using better phones, they get a little closer to open backs.
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Old 12-10-2019, 08:25 AM
MikeBmusic MikeBmusic is offline
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Even with headphones on, you are still 'hearing' the guitar through the vibrations of the body against you.
I agree with the others - record some short clips, making note of the mic position(s).
Depending on what mic(s) you are using, there are some very standard positions that can be used as starting points that work with most guitars.
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Old 12-10-2019, 04:19 PM
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Must be tired today, it took me reading the entire thread to finally get what GBIR meant

When I at first started I would sometimes use my Senn 280 cans to get a rough idea about mic placement, but even then I would as others have suggested record and play back a short take, and monitor on my speakers .

Now days I pretty much know, what general position I like and will only experiment with distance from mic's (also by record then play back) to decide how much presence I want for the particular music I am doing .
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:13 PM
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Generally I sit with the mikes about two or three feet apart and a couple of feet out from the guitar and when sitting between the mikes I can rotate where the guitar is pointing and little to the right or left and listen through the headphones to get a tone I like. However every thing changes with the particular guitar and the particular piece being played.
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Old 12-10-2019, 07:30 PM
keith.rogers keith.rogers is offline
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Interesting thread about how we all get to where to set up to record ourselves.

I think, perhaps because of the difference in where most of us are vis-a-vis the OP, we kind of know our mics and our guitars, and we quickly go to the usual spots, and *however* we check it, determine whether that needs tweaked. I can say that most of the time these days, I just stick a mic in front of a guitar and record it. I spend no time tweaking.

Here's a recent video that literally popped up in my "you might be interested in" list on YT. The recording/producer guru here actually does stick his head down in front of the guitar and then sets mics in place. I.e., what I gather the OP is attempting to do in a single step.

https://youtu.be/1dsR03JSE0o

He does go back and check in the cans whether the mics are picking up what he wants, but he's listening to the guitar independently from being the performer (which I'd liken to listening to the recorded track), and he also is evaluating what he's hearing based on his intention for the track (which already influenced decisions about mic choice and placement, even picks!).

It's also clear that he makes placement decisions very quickly. Personally (IMO/IME), I think the "sweep" concept would get unmanageable, or even unproductive, in a multi-mic situation - the mix possibilities (mic levels, panning, et al) turn it into a combinatorial nightmare.

On another forum I had a rambling post about when the light bulb went on about the different hats we have to wear as home recorders, i.e., producer, recording engineer, and often the performer. For me, it's easier to wear one hat at a time, and I've found it's actually more efficient as time goes on.
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