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  #1  
Old 01-13-2012, 11:21 AM
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tdrake tdrake is offline
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Default "Old", older, and really old folk recordings...

After reading through Doug's recent stuff and trying to get some new tracks down etc., I put put my iPod on Bob Dylan's 1962 "first real" album: The Freewheelin Bob Dylan" as a touchstone point.

Though it was released just before I was born and although I didn't really hear it until my mid-20s, I return to it a couple times a year to remind me how much can be done with just one ragged voice and a single guitar...using technology available 48 years ago.

This made me wonder whether any of y'all know the mic-ing techniques of those old "perfectly good" recordings?

One mic on vox and one on guitar, both recorded live?

Guitar double mic-ed and then vox dubbed on?

Etc.

Also curious about other old recordings. I mean, it was Alan Lomax's field stuff that first really returned me to roots music, and in retrospect lots of really fine music was put down with very simple gear.

I think for us home-dweebs, there might be some real insight to be gleaned from understanding how techs used to get "perfectly good" recordings from this old gear.

Anyone know, or know where to look?
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Old 01-13-2012, 11:17 PM
runamuck runamuck is offline
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Write and play some stuff as brilliant as Bob Dylan's
and then your question makes sense to me.

Jim McCarthy
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by runamuck View Post
Write and play some stuff as brilliant as Bob Dylan's
and then your question makes sense to me.

Jim McCarthy
Thanks. Really helped me a lot.

td
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Old 01-15-2012, 12:18 AM
Doug Young Doug Young is offline
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A quick search turns up a few interesting things online

http://www.electricalaudio.com/phpBB...hp?f=5&t=41372

http://soundhow.com/313/bob-dylan-ti...rding-process/

http://books.google.com/books?id=c9d...niques&f=false

http://www.jamcast.co.uk/early-recording-techniques/

http://www.kdvs.org/studioa/sixties.html

http://www.gweep.net/~rocko/sufficiency/node31.html

http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=101857

http://www.downbeat.it/vintagerecordingtips.htm


Not folk, but of course the Beatle's recording techniques are well documented, too. I think one of the main things back then was that there was very little overdubbing, and often very little separation between instruments. Recording was done relatively "live" with a room that had a sound to it, as opposed to the later approach of very dry tracks of completely separated - usually overdubbed - tracks with reverb added later. Mics were mostly large diaphragms, or ribbons, and stereo was still something no one was sure what to do with.
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
A quick search turns up a few interesting things online

...

Not folk, but of course the Beatle's recording techniques are well documented, too. I think one of the main things back then was that there was very little overdubbing, and often very little separation between instruments. Recording was done relatively "live" with a room that had a sound to it, as opposed to the later approach of very dry tracks of completely separated - usually overdubbed - tracks with reverb added later. Mics were mostly large diaphragms, or ribbons, and stereo was still something no one was sure what to do with.
Oh, man, thanks for these, Doug! Exactly what I was looking for but couldn't find.

...I have some related comments but will bop on over to the previous thread and write them there...and then I'll dig into these.

Edit: a couple hours later: man, I cannot believe how you found exactly what I was looking for! Great reading. ...gotta git me some $3,000 Neumans... ...and dig out my Levi 501s...

Of course some of the mid-50s jazz recordings also really blow my mind (tho I'm no big jazz dude): such clarity, separation and depth for four or so guys playing live around a couple mics.... Inspiring.


Last edited by tdrake; 01-15-2012 at 02:28 PM.
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Old 01-20-2012, 11:14 AM
NJP2779 NJP2779 is offline
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There are some great modern performers who record with very sparse equipment check some early Iron and Whine, Mountain Goats, And the Tallest Man on Earth. Many categorize this as Lo-fi or indie folk. Room treatment and mic placement are important but the technique allows for mistakes, bleed though, and back ground noise to become part of the experience
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Old 01-20-2012, 11:41 AM
Rick Shepherd Rick Shepherd is offline
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Noticed in that picture, what looks like a big ashtray on a stand next to the table. Oh, the good ole days!
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Old 01-20-2012, 12:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJP2779 View Post
There are some great modern performers who record with very sparse equipment check some early Iron and Whine, Mountain Goats, And the Tallest Man on Earth. Many categorize this as Lo-fi or indie folk. Room treatment and mic placement are important but the technique allows for mistakes, bleed though, and back ground noise to become part of the experience
Appropriately, I spent y'day binging (binge-ing?) on Iron & Wine.

Of course their lo-fi stuff sounds lo-fi (while that old Columbia Dylan stuff sounds pretty high fi), but, yeah, their (his) creativity shoots right through the limited technology used to capture it.

...I gotta look up these other bands...thanks!
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Old 01-21-2012, 07:36 AM
Ty Ford Ty Ford is offline
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TDrake,

Thanks for posting the picture. They are using an RCA 77DX on vocals. I can't tell what the guitar mic is at this resolution. If you have a higher res version maybe I can tell.

I think the take-away message here is, look at the studio he's in and the acoustics it was designed to have. Not your typical rec room by any means.

Then too, mic patterns and placements in that environment were crucial; something a lot of folks today haven't had a chance to play around with. One inch here or there can make a huge difference in what you get.
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Old 01-21-2012, 09:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdrake View Post
This made me wonder whether any of y'all know the mic-ing techniques of those old "perfectly good" recordings?
I think the main thing is there aren't any fixed formulas. It's more about listening carefully and experimenting to find the best way to use the gear you have to create a sound which best fits the piece you're recording.

Maybe you could say it's like tuning a radio, except nobody knows in advance what wavelength Channel Sweet Spot is broadcasting on. You have to tune it in by ear.
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Old 01-22-2012, 10:48 AM
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Thanks for the feedback, peoples. The more I think and read about this, I think I have two choices:

1) Totally deaden my recording space and buy some better mics.

2) Sell my humble gear and buy something like a Zoom H2 for my "demo" quality stuff and accept that if I want a good sounding CD, I need to go to a qualified studio.

The second really is the wiser route, I think. ...but the first sounds more fun.

Considering that I know of three experienced, cool, local studios (or engineers) charging about $30 an hour, it's pretty hard to justify buying even a $500 mic to continue working in my terrible sounding natural space. That $500 might make me sound "better", but I doubt it would come close to that same $$ given to a qualified studio.

Additionally, I think it's good for many of us, me, at least, to keep in mind, that music thrives when it gets out of the basement and into the community -- working with a studio (or three) is yet another chance to meet and work with other musicians and music lovers, and that always opens even more doors.

Finally, there's much to be said for playing to our strengths, even when they are humble; mine will never be working with technology and I probably do well to spend my time writing and practicing for performances.

But, dang, recording is a lot of fun, too!
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Old 01-23-2012, 10:57 AM
NJP2779 NJP2779 is offline
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Yeah I am thinking the same thing. I am gonna buy an H2n and save my money. After all Johanna Newsom recorded her demos on a fisher price tape recorder and let her talent and hardwork fill in the rest
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Old 01-23-2012, 01:16 PM
RogerC RogerC is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by runamuck View Post
Write and play some stuff as brilliant as Bob Dylan's
and then your question makes sense to me.

Jim McCarthy
That is one of the most uncalled-for posts I think I've ever seen on this forum. Remember the #1 rule here? Well, you went out of your way to tread all over it.

Now back to tdrakes post...

I'm with you. I love the old-school, real sound and am glad you asked this question because people gave you (us) some great insight.

As for using a commercial studio, remember that the $30/hr is probably only to get the raw tracks laid down. It probably won't include anything extra. I may be mistaken, but unless you have really good software and REALLY good ear to do your own mixing/mastering, what you end up with will still fall short of what you're looking for, I think.
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