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The Truth About Music Recording

sarumbear

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LightninBoy

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1663684256411.png


This painting sucks. In reality, a person screaming on a bridge looks nothing like that.
 

Robin L

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Guy in the 2nd video says ORTF, and if you look closely it looks like ORTF.

View attachment 232143
Good microphones I've deployed in ORTF: the outdated but delicious Neumann KM 84, the airy Schoeps Collettes and the Neumann KM 140's. The music I recorded was "Classical" music and often involved just a few musicians, a situation where ORTF is practical, even preferred. When recording orchestras, I took to using a pair of outrider cardioids and two tall stands with small diaphragm omnis behind the orchestra to capture more of the room than the ORTF pair alone.

There was a gig where I recorded a small choir using a modified Decca microphone tree, with excellent results. Also added a pair of omnis for room sound. This track is from those sessions. There are spot microphones for the instrumentalists on this song:

 
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Blumlein 88

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Good microphones I've deployed in ORTF: the outdated but delicious Neumann KM 84, the airy Schoeps Collettes and the Neumann KM 140's. The music I recorded was "Classical" music and often involved just a few musicians, a situation where ORTF is practical, even preferred. When recording orchestras, I took to using a pair of outrider cardioids and two tall stands with small diaphragm omnis behind the orchestra to capture more of the room than the ORTF pair alone.

There was a gig where I recorded a small choir using a modified Decca microphone tree, with excellent results. Also added a pair of omnis for room sound. This track is from those sessions. There are spot microphones for the instrumentalists on this song:

Very nice recording.

My current favorite microphones are some KM84 clones. I too would currently go with ORTF flanked by some wide omnis behind. Often with crossed figure 8's you get too much room sound. With cards up front and omnis flanking you can mix in the omnis to have some control over how much room sound you have. Live and learn. I've also liked results using a Jecklin disc up front, flanking omnis for room sound and a spot microphone for a center vocalist (Jecklin discs sound to me like they are weak in the center quite often).
 
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Hey OP amazing post thanks, fun read. It is incredible what a modern DAW with a few thousand dollars in plugins can do today. Essentially what it took an entire multi-million dollar studio to do not that long ago. I think the lower barrier to entry for recording and mixing music has given so many more people the opportunity to make good sounding music. If you look at a major music library like Spotify/Soundcloud/Youtube/etc its truly shocking how much (roughly post 2000's) modern music exists thanks to these breakthroughs.

I have always been partial to Audacity and Pro Tools.
 

Robin L

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Very nice recording.

My current favorite microphones are some KM84 clones. I too would currently go with ORTF flanked by some wide omnis behind. Often with crossed figure 8's you get too much room sound. With cards up front and omnis flanking you can mix in the omnis to have some control over how much room sound you have. Live and learn. I've also liked results using a Jecklin disc up front, flanking omnis for room sound and a spot microphone for a center vocalist (Jecklin discs sound to me like they are weak in the center quite often).
Warm audio WA 84s?
 

Tks

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Regardless of all the equipment in-between, the final sound you hear comes out of a pair of speakers (generally) and the whole process has been designed to create the best approximation of a stereo signal to present to the listener. Once again, it’s all an illusion, the truest form of stereo reproduction is from a binaural microphone pair and listened to on stereo headphones.
Freakin love binural recordings. Though they're not all great (some just seem like straight up lies that it's supposedly said recording, and sound more like a post-mix made to sound as such).

Wonder if rocking a sub under the desk or something would be good as a supplement to give one that chest thump feel at times, or will the sub disturb IEM or headphone drivers much if a chest thump could be felt?
 

Ricardus

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Not correct.
I don't have any numbers on this, but plenty of smaller studios and independent engineers that I know are certainly abandoning ProTools for that very reason. Big studios will always have it because it's expected.

I would be curious to see an industry poll on this.
 

sarumbear

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I don't have any numbers on this, but plenty of smaller studios and independent engineers that I know are certainly abandoning ProTools for that very reason. Big studios will always have it because it's expected.

I would be curious to see an industry poll on this.
Almost all DAW software publishers are private companies, hence there’s no solid data other than hearsay, like you are doing.

DAW market is extremely fragmented. I read a report back in 2018 (cost US$5000+) which showed market share of Avid at 14%, Abbleton at 11% and Strindberg at 9%. The remaining makes had less than 5% of the market each.

Meanwhile, I have never been to a studio for hire in the UK that doesn’t offer ProTools for mixing. If you are a musician or producer you may want to use the tool you are accustomed to but if you are a mixing engineer you will use ProTools, simply because it’s rock-solid reliability supplied by its dedicated hardware.

Labels have stopped accepting stereo only mixes from their signed artists. Some of the DAWs that has otherwise decent (5%) market share doesn’t even offer spatial audio monitoring facility nor there are Dolby Atmos plugins for them yet.

Pro audio world is different…
 

Ricardus

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Almost all DAW software publishers are private companies, hence there’s no solid data other than hearsay, like you are doing.

Meanwhile, I have never been to a studio for hire in the UK that doesn’t offer ProTools for mixing.
At the risk of making an impertinent statement, your last sentence is exactly what you accused me of doing. Few data points mean nothing.

That said, I never argued that studios werent using it, but that people are reconsidering, as they should. Because monocultures are bad.
 

Robin L

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I'm still waiting for the truth about music recording....
The truth is that the moment the sound reaches the diaphragm of the microphone, all bets are off---the microphone sufficiently distorts its input as to be dissimilar to the "live" sound. Any attempt to make it sound exactly the same as the source is going to be a failure.
 

Ricardus

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The truth is that the moment the sound reaches the diaphragm of the microphone, all bets are off---the microphone sufficiently distorts its input as to be dissimilar to the "live" sound. Any attempt to make it sound exactly the same as the source is going to be a failure.
Yes. Which is why these discussions are largely pointless. The listening chain is highly questionable. Speakers suck and our ears suck.

That said, we should do the best we can when recording. I certainly try to do the best I can for my clients.
 

Sombreuil

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Almost all DAW software publishers are private companies, hence there’s no solid data other than hearsay, like you are doing.

DAW market is extremely fragmented. I read a report back in 2018 (cost US$5000+) which showed market share of Avid at 14%, Abbleton at 11% and Strindberg at 9%. The remaining makes had less than 5% of the market each.

Meanwhile, I have never been to a studio for hire in the UK that doesn’t offer ProTools for mixing. If you are a musician or producer you may want to use the tool you are accustomed to but if you are a mixing engineer you will use ProTools, simply because it’s rock-solid reliability supplied by its dedicated hardware.
If we include home studios, I read a post in a French forum not too long ago by someone who made an unofficial survey, based on the numbers they could find (e.g. number of downloads per day for each DAW, turnover, etc), and it was very clear that FL Studio alone had more users than Cubase, Live and S1 combined, and it wasn't even close. Avid only reached professionnals, in terms of raw numbers, once again if we include home studios, they wouldn't reach 14%.
 

sarumbear

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Avid only reached professionnals, in terms of raw numbers, once again if we include home studios, they wouldn't reach 14%.

I was commenting in the spirit of what OP has posted. He was obviously talking about the professional recording market: Recording at professional recording establishments. If we include mobile DAW apps nothing listed so far reaches even a thousandth of 1%.
 

atmasphere

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It never ceases to amuse me how “High End” HiFi cables, like RCA interconnects, have become so ridiculously over-built, when all of the sound you’re hearing through them has passed through many hundreds of metres of “ordinary” shielded pair cables in a studio. Moreover, cables that have been designed by real engineers to have noise rejection and shielding to a standard that even a low level microphone signal is not compromised.
Single-ended cables get overbuilt because there's no termination standard like there is for balanced connections. Being the first manufacturer for home audio to push balanced lines, I've harped on this a lot in the last 30 some-odd years.

In a properly set up balanced line, where AES48 is being observed, ground is ignored. Ground is not ignored in single-ended (RCA) connections, which is why the two are mutually incompatible. When the ground, which is usually also the shield, is also the signal path, noise can be impinged on the cable in a variety of ways and can result in the cable having an artifact, its 'sound'. People pay a lot of money for that 'sound', not realizing that it may well not manifest in their system the way it did for someone else (perhaps a reviewer), if at all.

The 'high end cable industry' for home audio was pretty well created by Robert Fulton of FMI (Fulton Musical Industries was in Crystal, MN, a suburb of Minneapolis) back in the late 1970s. He had his Fulton Gold speaker cable which, other than its color, appeared to have a lot in common with welding cable and he had his 'interconnect cable' which was a nice looking bit of stereo cable with gold plated connectors at either end.

I found it really annoying that I could hear a difference when that cable was substituted into my system. After buying a set of them, I found it even more annoying that I could hear a cable that came stock with a Teac product that sounded even better. It was for that reason and also exposure to pro audio recorders when I was in high school orchestra that convinced me, when it came time to design a preamp, to build a balanced line preamp rather than anything single-ended. I didn't want to hear cable artifacts, just the sound, and balanced line was successfully engineered a long time ago to very successfully deal with that and ground loops. I've run balanced line in my home system ever since, and we still make that preamp.
 

Jim Shaw

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The scope of my post was limited to studio multitrack recording because that's what I'm most familiar with. Excellent details on orchestral recording from Sancus, thanks for that and also the details about the Beatles engineers from DVDog. I don't mean my posts to be the last word on anything, I just want to provide a seed for further information and discussion. When I say that the stereo image is "artificial" I'm really driving at the point that with multitrack recording, it's up to the engineer to create the psychoacoustic image and thereby the "sound stage" . even in the rare circumstance that a band will all assemble in the studio and play through a number as a band, the microphones themselves are generally mono signal sources which can then be placed in the stereo image at will.

There will always be a few who must try to prove they are smarter. Usually, they succeed only in showing their personality misalignments.
I liked your post very much. Especially as it is a 'general case' and primer approach. It is a valuable piece, and doesn't need to be turned into an academic strawman.

I don't need to hear arguments like the interminable, "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin..."
 
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