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The Listener 10th October 2016 03:02 PM

Whole album with just a pair of Sennheiser MKH40
I had a chance to borrow a pair of MKH40 mics to record a simple "solo native flute" minimalist approach album with just a pair in ORTF stereo configuration.

The preamps were from a vintage Studer broadcasting console that was used in one local broadcasting "drama" studio in the past...

Everything was very clean and smooth... the room was on a dry side, the recording fairly close - ca. 50cm... I played a little with slight change of position - moving the flutes around in tiny gestures, to cause a little movement in space... but very subtle and slow...

No EQ was used, not even high pass and no compression... Just the sound as captured by the mics... I only EQed the FX returns - SDE3000 delay and Lexicon PCM-70 hall to make space for the dry signal...

The flutes are recorded stereo, the kalimba with one mic above and the other below, phase flipped - and only here the high pass filter was used, since the attack of kalimba produces unnatural subs...

I am amazed by those mics... Need to buy a pair one day.

Here's the album: Abri | Nimetu

Deleted 9d8db46 10th October 2016 04:54 PM

Beautiful! Perfect capture, tasteful FX. May I inquire as to specifics on your FX chain? I find myself often chasing a sound just like what you achieved on Abri's Song.
Thank you for sharing this.

boojum 10th October 2016 06:39 PM

Lovely. It has a dreamy Hearts of Space sound. Tell us about the FX if you care to. kfhkh

The Listener 11th October 2016 09:41 AM

Hey, glad that you liked it!

The fx was simple - I prepared three different delays - one a bit longer - sort of "I am a delay and I play along", big dream delay, one less distinct, shorter "I am part of reverb" delay and one noticable, but short with less repetitions - for the "Abri" effect - like real bounces off the walls... and I had SDE3000 set to "time x2" and "filter" engaged that makes its delays sound darker and more "real" - like echoes that loose high end with repetitions like in real life... and that Roland just sounds so creamy anyway... I thought I was shooting myself in the foot with purchasing HW delay in this age of great plug-ins, but it works... it can have this retro vibe if you want or can be subtle and dreamy and very tasteful self-oscillations - for the psychedelic stuff - like in the last song - where I used it live and changed in real time the amount of feedback to make that trippy ending - I also use both processors live now...

I fed the signal of the delay into the reverb input. The reverb in all the songs is the same hall preset I made for Lexicon PCM70. It is a great sounding unit, maybe the mono input that spreads to stereo has some charm, too. I otherwise prefer chamber and plate algorithms, but for this purpose the hall was more suitable, especially when fed the delay signal, not the dry signal... The reverb would be much more obvious and separated from reverb if used separately... I borrowed a technique from guitar rigs that have delay and reverb pedals in chain feeding each other - much different sound than using separate fx sends...

I was going for a reverb that is a bit away from the source - like a flautist plays intimately close to you, but you feel like you are in some special weird space echoing in the background - it makes this intimate magic feeling that way...

I played each song with fx send, so I could play the effect... but I re-recorded and fine tuned in the mix... the ratio between delay and reverb mostly...

The only other thing I did to the reverb/delay in the mix was eqing some low mids and mids that built up with the dry flutes too much, and in some cases less than db high end roll off on the reverb to make it a bit darker and leaving flutes a bit "closer"... I didn't EQ the dry signal at all.

Also for those rattles and kalimba I used the same mics, only the last "live" bonus track is recorded with a single MD441N for all the instruments through TC Voicelive looper/fx and with SDE3000/PCM70 added in the mix. It is mono, with reverb in stereo... But still sounds spacey... :)

Sennheiser just did something right with all those mics...

Deleted 9d8db46 11th October 2016 12:52 PM

Thank you so much for the detailed description! You have obviously done a lot of experimenting to arrive at such a cohesive sound. And as to the mics, I read the description on their webpage, and it seems they are especially good at rejecting off axis sound, so you can use them in less than flattering acoustics. Thanks again.

terence 18th June 2021 08:47 AM

Sorry - I know this is an old post, but how did you place the mics for the stereo flute recording? Was it ORTF? It sounds wonderful. I Have a pair of MKH-40s that I plan to use in a similar way. Thanks!

The Listener 5th January 2022 04:12 PM


Originally Posted by terence (Post 15504537)
Sorry - I know this is an old post, but how did you place the mics for the stereo flute recording? Was it ORTF? It sounds wonderful. I Have a pair of MKH-40s that I plan to use in a similar way. Thanks!

Yes, ORTF and standing in the middle at some distance... not too far - like 1,5m - I had headphones on to control my position... actually, no need to control much, the small shifts from the movement made it more alive and interesting...