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Live Acoustic Vocal/Chris Whitley
Old 29th January 2009
  #1
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lord_bunny's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Live Acoustic Vocal/Chris Whitley

Hey,

I'm doing a solo record for myself at my new place. I've always been a fan of Dirt Floor/Pink Moon and this is kind of my 30 minute Acoustic Guitar and Voice record.

I've decided that the material sounds best when it's performed together, unlike Pink Moon. I read that Craig Street used a Blumlein ribbon (pre-royer Speiden I think), hung from a wire in the barn Chris performed in.

The record has incredible lows on the vocal, and the considering the situation the acoustic instruments are also balanced and crisp, while his voice has little or so sibilance.

Yesterday I spent four hours with six mics in the room, trying to find something I like. I have:

414's in a Blumlein pair, into some great river pre's
P12 figure of 8 null towards acoustic, aphex 1100 pre
U87 cardioid pointing up across the bridge of acoustic, aphex 1100 pre
451's in a coincident pair into more great river pre's

I also grabbed the Little Labs IBP, and last night, although I came away unhappy, it did improve my phase relationships.

I'm not sure WHAT I'm looking for, the room is big but I find I'm moving the Blumlein pair closer and closer to me. What I love about Dirt Floor is that the vocal is VERY upfront and yet the instrument seems to have a lot of barn reflections.

Where would you guess the mic was?

Also, should I just forget the spot mics and toil away until I get the Blumlein right?

The 451's are pointing 180 degrees away from me, into the room... so I do have the option of opening them up I guess.

I live in a city without many engineers. I guess this is like asking for a virtual buddy to help me work on a car... but I thought I'd give it a shot.

Cheers,
LB
Old 29th January 2009
  #2
Lives for gear
 
nobtwiddler's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Dirt Floor an all time favorite record of mine.

Dirt Floor blew me away when it came out.
Still to this day one of my all time favorite records, ever.

I do remember reading that Dirt Floor record was recorded with one mic.
A vintage RCA ribbon I believe.
Not sure if there was a pre or if it was directly wired into the tape recorders pre amps?
The recorder was a portable tube Ampex recorder.
Old 29th January 2009 | Show parent
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
CW

Chris told me Dirt Floor was a pre-royer Speiden stereo mic. I did a tour with him and David Poe right after Dirt Floor came out. Chris told me about the recording. I can't remember what pre they used. I seem to remember him saying it was a Hardy/Jensen dual servo. But I'm not sure. He was a master at balancing his guitar to vocal ratio. Plus his playing and singing was truly inspired. One of a kind.
Old 29th January 2009 | Show parent
  #4
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lord_bunny's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Chris AND David Poe!

Apartment is still one of my favourite songs of all time. You were in good company.

Thanks for the info. What I'm finding is that my guitar is drowing me out, I'm singing soft, and strumming with my thumb. I gather I should just sing louder/strum quieter. I haven't tried any of the figerpicking stuff yet in my experiments.

Thanks for the replies.
Old 29th January 2009 | Show parent
  #5
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Chris

Chris sang LOUD when he needed to.
He had no problem acoustically singing as loud as his loud ass National Resonator guitars.
Old 29th January 2009 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Addict
 
ZEBRAAA's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
have u got anything to listen to? recorded anything. very insterested in this.

love recording accoustic and vocal (1take)
Old 29th January 2009 | Show parent
  #7
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soundbarnfool's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I'm just getting my second RCA 77DX back from Clarence Kane (reribbon, etc.) in a couple of days and I am going to try crossed figure 8's w/ acoustic and vocal. Should be real good... Maybe it'll be mic - TRP pre - V72A pre - modded LA-4's w/ just a hair of limiting - tape...

Inglewood SoundBarn
Old 29th January 2009 | Show parent
  #8
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soundbarnfool's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
fingerpicking and strumming will be completely different. you're definitely gonna have to 'mix yourself' to your mics in either case... i'd go with as few mics as possible, too. The 77dx is VERY sensitive and will pick up some room... Haven't tried the royer, etc.

Inglewood SoundBarn
Old 29th January 2009 | Show parent
  #9
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lord_bunny's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
i'm stuck with 414b-uls... it'd be cool to have some ribbons on the scene.

I think i'm gonna grab the blumlein pair, and the 451's and use the 451's to feed the plate verb

i agree about self-mixing. so far in my experiment the finger-picked stuff has been well-balanced.

thanks for the thoughtful replies.

ohhh... i know many go-to places on the eq for rock record, string recording etc... but with stereo live stuff, what would you be carving out? I found 300 was a good place to do a cut, and with the 414's I found myself using the UAD pultec to boost the low end of the acoustic.

also, with the sibilance on the 414's, would you use a de-esser or a multi-band?

cheers
Old 29th January 2009 | Show parent
  #10
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aidyhall's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Man, "Dirt Floor" is one of my favourite records of all time, so this is gonna sound harsh to some of his other fans, but I don't think that it truly represents Chris Whitley as he was when he played "live". For me, the acoustic is too quiet on Dirt Floor ... if you ever saw him live, man, he attacked that thing! You don't really get all the detail and power in his playing ... it's partly a performance thing, but mainly a balance issue, I feel ...

Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful record on so many levels, but personally, I want to hear more acoustic. The vocals do sound beautiful, however ...

I'm gonna put my money where my mouth is and post a recording I did for a friend of mine called Patrick Murdoch ... he's a phenomenal player and great songwriter ... wait for the end guitar lick ...
Attached Files

Risking The Fall-EQ2.mp3 (5.78 MB, 249 views)

Old 29th January 2009 | Show parent
  #11
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lord_bunny's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by aidyhall ➑️
I'm gonna put my money where my mouth is and post a recording I did for a friend of mine called Patrick Murdoch ... he's a phenomenal player and great songwriter ... wait for the end guitar lick ...
Sounds great! How did you go about it?
Old 29th January 2009 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
LIVE

Quote:
Originally Posted by aidyhall ➑️
Man, "Dirt Floor" is one of my favourite records of all time, so this is gonna sound harsh to some of his other fans, but I don't think that it truly represents Chris Whitley as he was when he played "live". For me, the acoustic is too quiet on Dirt Floor ... if you ever saw him live, man, he attacked that thing! You don't really get all the detail and power in his playing ... it's partly a performance thing, but mainly a balance issue, I feel ...

Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful record on so many levels, but personally, I want to hear more acoustic. The vocals do sound beautiful, however ...

I'm gonna put my money where my mouth is and post a recording I did for a friend of mine called Patrick Murdoch ... he's a phenomenal player and great songwriter ... wait for the end guitar lick ...
He was amazing live. I think the Dirt Floor tour sounded better than the album too.

His guitars through the 15 watt fender with a 57 and a demeter di, his dry vocal, and the stomp board with pickup through a decent PA was really something special.
POWERFUL STUFF
Old 30th January 2009 | Show parent
  #13
Gear Addict
 
aidyhall's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Thanks for the compliment, lord bunny ...

It was pretty slutty, that recording, I recall it was a U47 on vocal, a U67 on the acoustic, and a pair of B+K omnis for the room. The 2 Neumann's went through my Vintech X81's and then through a Manley Vari-Mu, and the B+K's I don't remember the pre's (could have been Focusrite, maybe?) and no compression ...

... into 888|24 at 44.1kHz (it was a while ago, this recording) ... so, OK, maybe not so slutty ...

... but the tone is in the fingers, people ... I can play Patrick's acoustic and it doesn't sound anywhere near as good as when he plays it ...
Old 30th January 2009 | Show parent
  #14
70% Coffee, 30% Beer
 
Doc Mixwell's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
+1 for Dirt Floor and Chris! I want to continue the praise for that album, as its simply an amazing job well done on Chris's Part, as well, the recording is really excellent.

Craig Street talked about the recording/production in the "Why Audio Quality Matters" round table discussion, that Bruce provided a link to in that long winded thread. Really great stuff from the golden ear masters themselves. The video, not the thread!!!

Craig talked about the recording; He mentioned hanging/suspending a stereo ribbon microphone from the ceiling, to combat Chris stomping on the floor as he played [which comes through the recording brilliantly unscathed I might add] And Craig also talked about using a specific stereo preamplifier designed for Ribbon Microphones, made by Tim de Paravicini.

Not so sure, but it does sound to me like they used a E.A.R 824 with the Ribbon transformer. The Recording sounds like I am in the room with him, and I can hear his soul pour out onto the tape machine. Maybe that's the reason the E.A.R 824 is 11k. For that price, it should come standard with a human soul.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #15
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lord_bunny's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I finished my little record, gonna post something tonight. That 11,000 pre must be VERY quiet. The Great River and Aphex 1100 are both fairly quiet preamps, but i'm playing quite softly on some tracks, and I have room mic's 8 ft. away and the Blumlein Pair around 3.5 ft so there is a bit of noise.

Thanks everybody for their help, I feel very confident that spending the time finding the right spot for fewer mics was more helpful than my initial instinct to throw up spot mics on my yap and guitar.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Nut
 
leary's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
excited to listen to your snippet!
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #17
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lord_bunny's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
October

So in terms of the approach I took to writing this stuff: i really wanted to get away from pop arranging and audio collage stuff. I was very scared of doing something live, but I decided I can't relly on digital editing forever and plus I love the sound of Dirt Floor so much, and 100% of that vibe is the live thing.

The writing is more than a little influenced by Pink Moon. I guess the record will be a mash-up of the two.

I have about 5 takes of each tune, and I quickly checked this one to make sure there are no glaring errors.

No plugs, faders up. Blumlein out front and an xy pair facing the opposing wall a few feet further back from the 1st pair. I reorded the blend of the two at the gain I wanted when all the faders were at unity.
Attached Files

October JAN30 Take 3.mp3 (2.07 MB, 950 views)

Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #18
Gear Nut
 
leary's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
it really sounds awesome!

how far away was the blumlein pair?

and how did you manage not to get a bass heavy right side? thatΒ΄s still my problem because of the guitarΒ΄s soundhole. just curious...
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #19
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A LaMere's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Nice sounds...
I totally dig this post.

The world misses Chris Whitley...
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #20
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lord_bunny's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
A little more about the recording.

From where I was sitting I could still scratch the grill, so I was a little more than arms-reach, as I had to leanover to do it.

Keeping the guitar in check: set up the mics, record and check where your vocal/guitar is. I had to do this and I ended up being on an angle, and more to the left than I would expect, but thats how I got my image. If you park yourself dead center it doesn't seem to work.

Not bad for a pair of humble 414b-uls's? The great river pre was a very early one that looks nothing like what they make now. It's owned by my friend Mike Stevens, who is one of the worlds best harmonica players. He said there was a transformer upgrade, loads of iron in those things. I think the gain was at 52, and the room mics were near the limit of my aphex 1100, which has 72 db of gain.

I will likely add just a tickle of compression, maybe a verb on the room mics and call it a thing.

Glad you liked it.
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Addict
 
ZEBRAAA's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
this recording sounds very nice and humble. warm too.

im still very curious how the mics would stand, you got pics of it?

in blumlein...

very nice recording. greetz and gl
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #22
Gear Nut
 
leary's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
thanx for sharing this with us!
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
themaidsroom's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
i love chris whitley
i love the song "narcotic prayer"
from the record everyone hated
i love dougie bowne
i miss nyc



be well


- jack
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #24
Lives for gear
 
rkopald's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by aidyhall ➑️
Man, "Dirt Floor" is one of my favourite records of all time, so this is gonna sound harsh to some of his other fans, but I don't think that it truly represents Chris Whitley as he was when he played "live". For me, the acoustic is too quiet on Dirt Floor ... if you ever saw him live, man, he attacked that thing! You don't really get all the detail and power in his playing ... it's partly a performance thing, but mainly a balance issue, I feel ...

Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful record on so many levels, but personally, I want to hear more acoustic. The vocals do sound beautiful, however ...

I'm gonna put my money where my mouth is and post a recording I did for a friend of mine called Patrick Murdoch ... he's a phenomenal player and great songwriter ... wait for the end guitar lick ...
Good lord, that sounds amazing. That guy's got the whole thing going. I love it.
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