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Reality Is Overrated When It Comes to Recordings (Article from music Engineer/Producer)

Kvalsvoll

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f a sound source like a vocalist moves a little bit outside his place the sound of his voice will “ping pong” from one microphone capsule to the other (the sound suddenly moves from center to the side in the stereo field).
And this can be heard hen the singer moves around close to the mic, both tonality (frequency response) and location of the image changes.
 

Blumlein 88

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Even classic RCA 77s could do 3 patterns.
Yes, and I can find other examples. But do we need to go down this route? For every example you have there will be 10 other examples of a ribbon that is simply a figure 8 pattern. Unless there are baffles etc the natural pattern for a ribbon is figure 8. The RCA 77 has those other patterns because it has a set of rotating baffles and an acoustical labyrinth to alter the natural pattern. Early microphones made cardioids by combining an omni and ribbon inside the housing which gives you a cardioid result. They aren't made that way anymore. So unless it is an unusual example to be specified ribbons are figure 8's.
 
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Ricardus

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Yes, and I can find other examples. But do we need to go down this route? For every example you have there will be 10 other examples of a ribbon that is simply a figure 8 pattern. Unless there are baffles etc the natural pattern for a ribbon is figure 8. The RCA 77 has those other patterns because it has a set of rotating baffles and an acoustical labyrinth to alter the natural pattern. Early microphones made cardioids by combining an omni and ribbon inside the housing which gives you a cardioid result. They aren't made that way anymore. So unless it is an unusual example to be specified ribbons are figure 8's.
Only a Sith deals in absolutes, so you are now known as DARTH BLUMLEIN.
 

Soundmixer

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Perhaps you can try asking the singers to sing without a microphone. See if the singer is louder or the band is louder.
I want to take this comment seriously, but I just can't. This is ridiculous....really. You cannot record or amplify the voice without a microphone.

"Regarding recording vs live, I have to say recording is actually much better than live."

Live uses microphones and so do recordings. Live uses a mixing desk, and so do studio recordings. Which one is better is a matter of preference.

"Under normal circumstances, the sound from the instruments will drown out the vocals. This is why audio equipment is needed to amplify the voice. However, one would be hearing voice from the speakers instead."

There is no circumstance whether live or studio that a mixer would allow the instruments to drown out the vocals. In both the studio and live, you are going to hear the voice through speakers. Live it would be the house speakers, and in the studio, it would be the monitoring speakers. Not sure where you are going here.
 
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Soundmixer

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It can work any way the legal eagles WANTED it to work. They were FAKING and LYING. It was all made up. So just make it up a different way.
Actually, it can't. Union rules are union rules. The legal eagles don't define the rules, they negotiate them with the union. Once those rules are established, you can't just change them as you will.
They must not have looked at the Milli Vanilli actors in the daylight then.
A lot of people don't look very good in daylight, even some folks who look great at night. I am pretty sure the guy that manufactured them wasn't judging their looks under the worst lighting conditions possible.
 
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Kvalsvoll

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Artifacts introduced in the recording process can be distracting and sometimes destroy some of the realism. Distortion and noise from electronics can be a source of such faults.

In the Hesperion XXI from that stone church, there are several strange things happening, artifacts that are clearly audible when you turn up the volume a bit. The mic on the percussion has severe pumping, reverb is muted when there is sound from percussive intruments, and when the intruments go silent, this reverb suddenly increases in volume. A fast-acting compressor, or some sort of limiter, is used to reduce the peak amplitude, which then has this unfortunate side effect when reverb from the venue is present on the same signal. And limiting peaks also reduces realism even if it does only what was intended.
 

tuga

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Thank you, I like medieval music, and found this, which I claim for sure sounds better that the real performance in that stone church:

Now, how can that be. Better than "real".

The recording looks like it is put together from mics placed quite close to each instrument, excellent job, great dynamics, very high sense of realism and presence of the instruments, and a subtle hint of stone church acoustics.

Listening to this performance in that stone church would be very different. The hard stone walls creates a very reverberant sound field which in this case is likely to obscure the sound from the instruments rather than just adding a pleasant atmosphere.

Interesting how we value different things.
Also how our definition of realism differs.
For me realism equates to what I would/can hear live (as part of the audience, not a music player), and I would never hear what mics are capturing when they're placed close to the sound sources.
And if a performance took place in a chuch, I would want to hear the acoustic ambience of the church (so long as the balance between direct, reflected and reverb would guarantee a high degree of clarity). What is the point of recording in a church and then not use its acoustic qualities?

Audiophiles talk a lot about being there vs. having the musicians in one's room.
For me Classical music recordings should aim for the former – they should recreate the sound heard by the audience – and that includes not only the ambience cues but also an adequate timbral and location of sources to create a soundscape that resembles what one would have experience. In my listening experience of both live and recorded that cannot be achieve with close-, multi-mic'ing.
To add insult to injury wide-dispersion speakers seem to have become fashionable (for the effects they produce in terms of soundstage with studio-produced music) but they are innapropriate in my view for Classical, particularly for those of us with smaller rooms and no early-reflection treatment.
 

tuga

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In the article in the original post of this thread, the author talked about a minimalist recording series called OneMic Series made by the recording engineer John Cuniberti. In his recordings, it's easy to hear the benefits of the single-point recordings as long as I can see the musicians, it sounds pretty natural in the way that the sounds from the different instruments are not masking each other when all "the pieces fall in place" distance-wise to each other. BUT if I shut my eyes and just listen to the sound the problems and what is missed are pretty clear to me, it sounds a little too washed out and distant. Well, it sounds pretty good anyway... :)

In my view "realism" only really makes sense when recording Classical music, perhaps also acoustic Jazz and Traditional music.
Not only that but I find minimally mic'ed "work" better in most cases to my ears (excepet perhaps for very large ensembles and acoustically challenging rooms – but why record in such rooms?).

Perhaps hi-fi listeners are so used to the close-mic'ed artificality that they can't do without the exaggerated presence and detail, the mechanical noises of instruments of the breathing of the singer...
 

goat76

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And this can be heard hen the singer moves around close to the mic, both tonality (frequency response) and location of the image changes.
That's right, but the specific problem I talked about that can happen when a vocalist is moving when the recording is made with the Blumlein technique. The "ping pong" effect can be extreme.

You can hear the effect in the following OneMic recording. But in this case, it's most likely made on purpose when the main singer is stepping aside from the phantom center just for the chorus (that's probably why she wears the headphones to hear where she needs to stand for this effect to occur). But this can easily happen unintentionally if a singer or a moving instrument moves outside the point where the sound will be dominated by one of the microphone capsules.

 

Blumlein 88

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That's right, but the specific problem I talked about that can happen when a vocalist is moving when the recording is made with the Blumlein technique. The "ping pong" effect can be extreme.

You can hear the effect in the following OneMic recording. But in this case, it's most likely made on purpose when the main singer is stepping aside from the phantom center just for the chorus (that's probably why she wears the headphones to hear where she needs to stand for this effect to occur). But this can easily happen unintentionally if a singer or a moving instrument moves outside the point where the sound will be dominated by one of the microphone capsules.

Yes, when I've recorded this way I learned it was best to put down a big X with gaffer's tape. It marks where I do and don't want people going. You can move one step and jump from far one side to the other far side which is quite disturbing when listening to a recording. You don't want them in the side lobes.
 
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MattHooper

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That's right, but the specific problem I talked about that can happen when a vocalist is moving when the recording is made with the Blumlein technique. The "ping pong" effect can be extreme.

You can hear the effect in the following OneMic recording. But in this case, it's most likely made on purpose when the main singer is stepping aside from the phantom center just for the chorus (that's probably why she wears the headphones to hear where she needs to stand for this effect to occur). But this can easily happen unintentionally if a singer or a moving instrument moves outside the point where the sound will be dominated by one of the microphone capsules.


Interesting. I like the singers; really nice voices together.

But sonically it has that "dead" limpid sound and lack of energy that I associate with so many audiophile recordings. (Even the acoustic guitars lack upper frequency presence and sparkle etc).
 

Kvalsvoll

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Interesting how we value different things.
Also how our definition of realism differs.
For me realism equates to what I would/can hear live (as part of the audience, not a music player), and I would never hear what mics are capturing when they're placed close to the sound sources.
And if a performance took place in a chuch, I would want to hear the acoustic ambience of the church (so long as the balance between direct, reflected and reverb would guarantee a high degree of clarity). What is the point of recording in a church and then not use its acoustic qualities?

Audiophiles talk a lot about being there vs. having the musicians in one's room.
For me Classical music recordings should aim for the former – they should recreate the sound heard by the audience – and that includes not only the ambience cues but also an adequate timbral and location of sources to create a soundscape that resembles what one would have experience. In my listening experience of both live and recorded that cannot be achieve with close-, multi-mic'ing.
To add insult to injury wide-dispersion speakers seem to have become fashionable (for the effects they produce in terms of soundstage with studio-produced music) but they are innapropriate in my view for Classical, particularly for those of us with smaller rooms and no early-reflection treatment.
I can enjoy both. But the reproduction of the sound as heard in the audience is more difficult to achieve. There is a reference - the original event, to compare with. If it is accepted that the reproduction is meant to be different, it is only required to have realistic renderings of the instruments.

The typical wide-with-collapsing pattern speakers can never make you believe there are real instruments playing. And it only gets worse in less than ideal acoustic surroundings, like you point out. If you listen quite close to the speakers, dead center and do not move your head, and fix at least some of the worst issues with aocustics, they can provide like a small window into the recorded event. That is it.
 
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