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Singer plus piano
Old 7th January 2019
  #1
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🎧 5 years
Singer plus piano

So singers who play instruments are something I endlessly think about. Here are some notes so that they might help someone or that someone might help me.

The singing jazz/folk pianist (grand piano) is one of the hardest things I can think of to record in some ways, as there are no easy solutions to frame it up neatly with one or two mics (especially when attempting to balance voice/piano/room/stereo image in a single pair with centred voice), except maybe a m/s figure 8 pair of ribbons - has anyone tried this?

It seems to require 3 mics minimum, however I like a voice in stereo, so 4 is what I try for. Within stereo pairs on voice I prefer M/S figure 8 or close spaced pairs when there is an instrument present because m/s anything else at close range will present instruments as boxy when compared to the above.

I'd like to try XY wide cards on voice in this setting.

With grand piano the best sounds I have gotten have been blumlein or (close) spaced omnis at the tail, never m/s. The tonality of straight cardioids is often a bit lacking on piano compared to omnis, 8's and wide cards.

How does anyone else approach this difficult pairing?

P.S. Let's pretend during this thread that we live in a universe where overdubbing one on top of the other is immoral.
Old 7th January 2019
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Remoteness's Avatar
 
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Good old fashioned multi-track recording would do this scenario justice.
Old 7th January 2019
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For jazz, stereo pair on the piano, a single mic on the vocal, and reverb and maybe delay in mix, depending on the song.
Old 7th January 2019
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Does your preference for stereo on vox arise from trying to record a singer who moves around a lot while playing? If so, maybe a wide cardioid or even a baffled omni might work. Certainly Tim's suggestion is the norm. I tend to think multi-tracking a singing jazz pianist spoils the groove, or is, as you suggest, immoral . But if you must mic the vocal in stereo, I agree MS is viable...but what pattern on the M? I would think fig 8 or omni would be problematic with bleed from the piano. Please post some clips if you end up experimenting with the approaches discussed.
Old 7th January 2019 | Show parent
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i would certainly NOT use m/s or wide x/y on a singer sitting at a piano 'cause i'd want lots of rear rejection from the vocal mic; i'd use a cardioid or wide cardioid (or hypercardioid if the mic is angled in from a side) - or do you have to use two mics as s/he move around a lot? i'd still rather use a single directional sdc with hardly any off axis coloration (but probaly use compression a bit more).

i'm mostly put two spaced tlm170's in (wide) cardioid on the piano, mounted on two manfrotto clamps inside the piano. and yes, c414b-uls have also been working well for many years...
Old 7th January 2019
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I would also avoid two mics on the vocals. It will just add more piano in the piano/vocal ratio on the vocal mic, and this will not be helpful. I would also avoid large diaphragm mics on the vocals. I would look for a dynamic mic that sounds “right” on the vocalist, perhaps Beyer ribbons or even a 58 if it sound good on the vocalist. Avoid, barriers between the vocal mic and the piano since whatever comes in the back side of the vocal mic will have terrible, woofy sounding piano leakage. There is one exception to this. We have a lead lined piano cover that allows you to considerably isolate the piano mics with the lid up on the piano. It surprisingly achieves this isolation in a fairly broadband way. I am told these are no longer made. Mic the piano with whatever mics get you the appropriate sound on the piano with the caveat of perhaps getting a bit tighter than you might normally, and always use mics with the best off access response that you have access too. Nulls on figure of 8 ribbons have also worked inside the piano to reject the vocals. AVOID CLOSING THE LID at all. It just makes the piano sound ****ty, and if it’s just piano/vocal, you shouldn’t need too. It is a super pet peeve of mine when I see piano vocal only singer songwriter pieces on tv with the lid closed!!! What a shame! I have had to do it once or twice while recording at the Fitzgerald Theater between Prairie Home show using their piano setup, and while I achieved a comparable piano sound to other lid down recordings that I have heard once I hacked out all of the low mid sonic crap, this setup never compares to what one can achieve with the lid up if you are not worried about other loud instruments on a loud stage.

I have often thought the ultimate “big budget” way to do this now is to use a nice sounding Yamaha disclavier grand with hi-Rez midi. Record a midi file and then re-record the piano from the midi file with the real piano back in the studio replacing the live piano track. You could then fine tune time alignment and such to perfection. I wonder if the Elton Johns and Billy Joels have ever gone this route?
Have fun!
Cameron
Old 7th January 2019
  #7
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To clarify, I find that the time delay between vocal mic and piano mics, and piano mics and vocal mic is not what gets you, it’s the off access leakage especially piano into vocal mic that will kill you.
Old 7th January 2019
  #8
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by whippoorwill ➡️
So singers who play instruments are something I endlessly think about. Here are some notes so that they might help someone or that someone might help me.

The singing jazz/folk pianist (grand piano) is one of the hardest things I can think of to record in some ways, as there are no easy solutions to frame it up neatly with one or two mics (especially when attempting to balance voice/piano/room/stereo image in a single pair with centred voice), except maybe a m/s figure 8 pair of ribbons - has anyone tried this?
Since we're in an ideal universe, I'll just ramble a bit...perhaps ruffle a few feathers too.....

Depends how much experimentation time and latitude you're allowed, or allow yourself. Seem like everytime I pose this 'luxury' (which isn't really...) the typical session or concert setting throws back somewhere between 0 and 30 mins.

Which is a joke, right..... isn't it ?

Anyways, if you can take off the piano lid, there's a good start.... right off the bat. Because then you've converted the the piano from a sideways facing horn-radiator into an upright facing percussion instrument: a better tuned tympani** drum, if you will.

Whenever the steam goes out of a multi-mic vs purist stereo miking argument, or a 'does cable matter ?' one, or 'Apple vs PC is best'...you'll sometimes see the protagonists return to gnawing over the old bone of 'should you mic the piano from the player perspective, or the seated concert audience one ?

In support of the latter, I've seen occasional suggestions to put a shoulder-width spaced paced pair of omni mics about a foot above/behind the head of the player....so the mics would be hearing a pretty close facsimile of the sound the pianist hears.

To extend this further, you could now narrow the mic spacing, push the mics forward (and lower) ...so they're level with the top of the music stand on the piano (and also around nose height of the player)....and record away. With the lid gone, you have no French horn effect of cavernation/cavitation within an enclosed space, no need to project out to a non-existent audience (everything becomes intimate and close-range, and the voice has a chance against the mighty pianoforte.)

Now you'd balance voice and piano simply by moving the spaced pair either closer to the singer's head, or further out above the hammers.

I guess you could do the same with Blumlein (watch out for those tricky rear anti-phase quadrants though....) or Tony Faulkner's original phased array (8" spaced parallel fig 8's) to replace the omni pair. But, what about image shift when the singer moves their head even slightly from side to side ....still somewhat problematical, no ?

In my estimation this would give you a pretty good stereo representation of both piano and voice, using only 2 mics. Move the mic bar fore and aft between singer's nose and piano hammers until you get the balance you desire. For sure, 3 mics is the norm....but this is a viable way of using only a pair.

You'll notice the scenario you have posited for us to chew over laconically here is the very beast that engages fear in the heart of the typical recordist: LEAKAGE !! The inability to balance 2 inputs (instrument/voice)... because of the off-axis nastiness of each into the other. The method I've outlined embraces, welcomes leakage....doesn't try to fight it at all. The balance/mix is in the relative distance between voice to mic pair and piano to mic pair....move the bar until happy...then record

Fire-prevention materials now removed...feel free to flame away til your heart's content.... lol !

** tympani is the plural form....so what is a single kettle drum called (apart from 'a kettle drum') ? Everywhere I look the singular form seems have been appropriated by the cochlea or eustachian tube etc....really peeving me off that there's no universally recognized word for a single drum.....they're not inseparably conjoined Siamese twins or triplets....approaching singularity is a tough gig. Tympano is the closest I can guess at....

Last edited by studer58; 7th January 2019 at 04:12 PM..
Old 7th January 2019
  #9
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Another solution: Spitfire Audio — Hans Zimmer Piano

(just kidding, but you have to admit it's pretty convincing)
Old 7th January 2019 | Show parent
  #10
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by bradh ➡️
Another solution: Spitfire Audio — Hans Zimmer Piano

(just kidding, but you have to admit it's pretty convincing)
Love that close-up photo 2/3 down the page....reminiscent of one of those Attenborough documentaries, with numerous ravenous vultures pecking away at the exposed ribcage of a huge newly-deceased savannah-dwelling herbivore, after the lions have departed !

Or...papparazzi camera lenses, poking in through the busted window of a car wreck containing the body of a newly deceased celebrity.....?

Last edited by studer58; 7th January 2019 at 04:41 PM..
Old 7th January 2019 | Show parent
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roonsbane ➡️
To clarify, I find that the time delay between vocal mic and piano mics, and piano mics and vocal mic is not what gets you, it’s the off access leakage especially piano into vocal mic that will kill you.
Yes this has been my biggest issue in practice.

I've always used SDC's because that's largely what I own and its tricky to rent a lot of other stuff and slightly physically tricky to mount very heavy microphones in front of a singer playing piano.

Studer58 - A lot of great points. I like a lot of experimentation time and I do a lot of it when I can with musicians and I like to have time on the day to get things right. It helps bring musicians into the process so they can help me help them and they can also learn the vocabulary to tell me what they want, because the barber doesn't have to live with the haircut...

The one thing is that pianos are often voiced with the lid in mind, I always put the lid up max though, I hate the boxy sound otherwise.

Attached is one really quick test (so quick I was booming, it wasn't even on a stand) with sennheiser mkh30/30 figure 8 mics in m/s above the keyboard level with the singers head, no other mics and no processing. This was part of testing a bunch of churches in one day. Not perfect, but it may serve as an example of what Studer58 talked about...
Attached Files
Old 7th January 2019 | Show parent
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whippoorwill ➡️
Attached is one really quick test (so quick I was booming, it wasn't even on a stand) with sennheiser mkh30/30 figure 8 mics in m/s above the keyboard level with the singers head, no other mics and no processing. This was part of testing a bunch of churches in one day. Not perfect, but it may serve as an example of what Studer58 talked about...
Yes that's immediately very close indeed to what I was positing....and simultaneously reveals one of the method's shortcomings too ! That is, what if the voice is too close and dry, and you'd like to get a bit more distance...the only direction you can go is "into the cavern" of the piano, deeper under the lid....

Let's say you get to a spot where the voice now sounds great....but how does the piano sound ? I suspect I maybe just undermined my own thesis, advanced in my post above....and from there I'd retreat to saying 2 pairs of mics is the next best option after all ?

One way you could get more piano isolation for a vocal mic would be to rig up one of those mini-versions of the SE type vocal barriers (eg sE Electronics - Reflexion Filters(R) and to put it up where the piano's music stand lives (assuming singer doesn't require sheet music or lyrics !)....this could buy you a few more dB's of piano isolation from the voice mic. However, still the voice mic might be too close ?

Try Katie on for size, with her Rode ribbons:

YouTube

YouTube
Old 7th January 2019
  #13
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Yes! Yes! Yes! To the experimentation! I did a series of recordings a while back with an unbelievable singer songwriter culminating in two CD’s. Before deciding on the final mic setup, I would allow her to come in occasionally and just play for me while I tried many different setups. It was like a private concert where I would fine tune the setups.

Piano with no lid on it sounds like a different instrument to me. Unfortunately, it sounds a bit hollow and loses its punch. Speaking as someone who has to record conductor/pianists often. I understand that the piano down the middle of the orchestra with the lid off is the only way to make this happen, (the Pierre-Laurent Delorian fins being the strangest twist on that setup), but with the lid off, most of the piano sound goes straight up and makes for a challenge to make it sound good. Move the piano to a regular concerto position with a separate conductor and the piano sound instantly takes so much less work and sounds more correct to me.

You have got to try different setups though and I see the lid-off thing helping, especially on Jazz combo stuff.
Cameron
Old 7th January 2019
  #14
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On the making of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road DVD that comes inside the surround DVD, they quickly show a photo of a very large upside down wooden box on an arm that would lower over the open piano lid of Elton’s piano during sessions. I don’t know when and where they used it, but it existed and gets you thinking.
Old 7th January 2019 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roonsbane ➡️
On the making of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road DVD that comes inside the surround DVD, they quickly show a photo of a very large upside down wooden box on an arm that would lower over the open piano lid of Elton’s piano during sessions. I don’t know when and where they used it, but it existed and gets you thinking.
are you sure this box does not contain the telepromter which is usually to the left on the floor of elton's piano and one is not supposed to take pictures of...?
Old 7th January 2019
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Seems unlikely clearly in a recording studio. Also, in the shot it is a huge box (probably roughly 8’x 6’ x 4’) and clearly on an arm (counterbalanced) hanging out part way above the piano. It can clearly be lowered so that the upside down box can be snug against where the music stand sits.
Old 7th January 2019 | Show parent
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indeed not typically used in a studio but i've seen elton using one even if he did just a single song in a tv studio... - can't blame him: i'm sometimes having difficulties remembering just a few names of all members of band when mixing live while he's got a huge repertoire!

...and boxes were huge (and heavy) to shield off the screen.
Old 7th January 2019
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I just took a picture of it from the video. Ain’t no TelePrompTer! How do I upload a picture? It’s a fairly sophisticated homemade plywood box.
Old 7th January 2019
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I am aware that Elton uses a TelePrompTer, I have seen him twice front row 20 plus years ago. This is not that Elton. This is young 1975 top of his game, running on all cylinders Elton. Sitting at the piano with Bernies words on a piece of paper Elton.
Old 7th January 2019
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I found the photo upload. Here is one shot from the video. They pan across the back of him for a quick moment.
Attached Thumbnails
Singer plus piano-33a49f49-9dff-4bb5-b241-5413ef5e64e2.jpg  
Old 7th January 2019 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roonsbane ➡️
I found the photo upload. Here is one shot from the video. They pan across the back of him for a quick moment.
Wow. I'd love to hear the story on that technique. Definitely not one for a stripped-down location recording...
Old 7th January 2019 | Show parent
  #22
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Originally Posted by jimjazzdad ➡️
Wow. I'd love to hear the story on that technique. Definitely not one for a stripped-down location recording...
I recall it from the Classic Album series, I have the DVD. It was described as an inverted row-boat or dinghy type of shape, which could lowered down over the piano....simply to give maximum isolation (either to stop voice and band leakage into the piano mics, or vice versa) I don't know if the whole band played together in the live room or not....I'm guessing it would have been a typical 70's overdub scenario....get a basic bed track then overlay guitars etc and finally lead vocals.

Chateau d'Herouville (the 'Honky Chateau') outside Paris...Elton recorded 3 albums there, Yellow Brick Road was the last in1972/3. Final overdubs and mixing in Trident Studios, London. If you Google search the Chateau there's much history, and apparently it's been reopened for business in recent years. In the 70's it was used by Grateful Dead, Marc Bolan, Bowie and several others of that calibre.
Old 7th January 2019
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Any considerations of the amount of isolation that 2 sets of Rode NTR ribbon mics provide, as in the YouTube videos of post #12 above ? Seems quite sufficient to me, with a little mic angling as explained by the engineers there.
Old 7th January 2019
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The obvious solution is the real old school, use a clavichord or spinet, a chamber instrument appropriate for the size of the voice...

I think my next port of call should be ribbons, there's something so nice about having a voice in mid forward stereo to me that is really pleasant. When compared a mono voice always sounds like a thin line in the centre of the speakers, whereas an up close voice with a little side even is just so big feeling.

The one thing about the rode video, I always prefer to keep the piano mics in a stereo line with the voice, so that any vocal bleed is also centred, I know these are ribbons with a strong off axis rejection, but just a note to note..
Old 7th January 2019 | Show parent
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whippoorwill ➡️
The obvious solution is the real old school, use a clavichord or spinet, a chamber instrument appropriate for the size of the voice...
I wonder if a felt-damped piano would work as another alternative?
Old 7th January 2019 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whippoorwill ➡️
...When compared a mono voice always sounds like a thin line in the centre of the speakers, whereas an up close voice with a little side even is just so big feeling...
But isn't that what Bricasti M7 and other quality stereo reverbs are for? I admire your commitment, but I would just put a KMS 105 on the vocal and be done with it.
Old 9th January 2019 | Show parent
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjazzdad ➡️
But isn't that what Bricasti M7 and other quality stereo reverbs are for? I admire your commitment, but I would just put a KMS 105 on the vocal and be done with it.
yes, but that sounds like a really simple solution but unfortunately I'm all about the convoluted haha.

Although, I did some tests on my own voice with my schoeps mk21 pair set as X/Y today and it's very promising. Much, much smoother than the MK21 dead on, on its own and the mono and stereo are both potentially nicer than in m/s. I know Deedeeyeah recommended that I specifically don't do that, but I'd still like to try it with an instrument, out of curiosity..

I found out that the rycote usm pop guard can slide perfectly onto a grace spacebar and you can pull the pop guard out a little on its rubber. Very compact, not exactly pretty.

The more I listen to my recent tests with mkh30/30, the more I dislike the way the figure 8 m/s interacts with the piano's stereo field and the piano sound. I did have some success with a singer with close spaced figure 8's a la faulkner, and that would solve the reversed piano issues with fig 8 m/s... Perhaps that with A-B omni on the piano to widen out the stereo field would result in a balanced image.
Old 9th January 2019 | Show parent
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whippoorwill ➡️
yes, but that sounds like a really simple solution but unfortunately I'm all about the convoluted haha..
So let's examine this thing of wanting a 'stereo recorded voice'..... If you're seated opposite a person talking, you're getting essentially a mono source (their mouth)

If you listen to spoken word on TV with a 1.0 , 2.1, 5.1 or whatever surround setup, you're typically getting that voice either out of a single speaker (rare these days) or the TV set's left and right inbuilt speakers, or the dedicated voice speaker (squawk box) located underneath the screen.

Of course you're also getting the (mono) voice reflected off nearby surfaces such as walls, floor and ceiling to give your (head spaced) ears a sense of ' stereo' ......but the source is still mono. I understand exactly what bothers you about the typical mono vocal (or any source really, could be a mono spot mic in an orchestral recording)....it's that perception of it emerging from a single point directly in front, and having no width or ' dimension' or ' body' to it ?

However, if you try to remedy this by applying traditional 'stereo' miking, it's easy to run into trouble. The least worst of these is that you'll get a very wide sense of the voice....so rather than being a point-mono-source, it's now become as wide as a piano ! At least you might be able to pan the extremities in to restore some sense of proportion to the width, to more resemble the source's dimensions ? The most worst aspect of the ' stereo voice' is the tendency of the human head (esp in concert, when using eye contact to build engagement with your audience) to move from side to side. This usually adds a nausea-inducing sway of audio image, even more noticeable with headphones/earbuds !

So I think what you're seeking in a reproduced vocal recording is not stereo per se...but ' mono with width' ? This is where Jim's suggestion of using a Bricasti or similar high calibre IR ambience/reverb can help enormously. You get the mono integrity of the single mic, combined with subtle psycho-acoustic cues (involving small panned delays and even miniscule pitch shift components, also panned) which fool the listener's ear/brain mechanism into believing they are receiving the room-treated arrival and ambience cues I mentioned in the TV scenario above. What's even better is that it's tweakable !

Yes, stereo reverb (incl IR) is smoke and mirrors....but a very credible one, when correctly applied and honed. I'd much rather the illusion created by that than the "reality of a true stereo miked human head" moving perceptibly from side to side ! Mono voice with width = good, near-coincident or spaced stereo voice = bad.

Maybe you can forge a middle path with xy miked voice, which tends to collapse width anyway...and then pan them in yet further...but I think you'll get best results with a mono voice mic plus Bricasti or similar .

Unless you can incorporate a head sized clamp attached to your Rycote pop filter, which prevents any head movements of your singer....but that tends to ' cramp their style' somewhat......

Last edited by studer58; 9th January 2019 at 04:07 AM..
Old 9th January 2019 | Show parent
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
Of course you're also getting the (mono) voice reflected off nearby surfaces such as walls, floor and ceiling to give your (head spaced) ears a sense of ' stereo' ......but the source is still mono. I understand exactly what bothers you about the typical mono vocal (or any source really, could be a mono spot mic in an orchestral recording)....it's that perception of it emerging from a single point directly in front, and having no width or ' dimension' or ' body' to it ?

Yes, stereo reverb (incl IR) is smoke and mirrors....but a very credible one, when correctly applied and honed. I'd much rather the illusion created by that than the "reality of a true stereo miked human head" moving perceptibly from side to side ! Mono voice with width = good, near-coincident or spaced stereo voice = bad.

Maybe you can forge a middle path with xy miked voice, which tends to collapse width anyway...and then pan them in yet further...but I think you'll get best results with a mono voice mic plus Bricasti or similar .
I agree with where you end up here, but not entirely on where you start. I record solo guitar in stereo, solo violin in stereo, solo horn in.. you get the point.

One issue with the voice is the recorded voice doesn't often sound like someone talking to you, it sounds like someone talking into your ear, on axis to your ear from a foot or under away, but somehow your ear is pushed around to the front of your forehead. This is an intimate sound which maybe only has a correlate in real life of secrets shared between lovers..

I like the sound of a single vocal microphone from a single loudspeaker, but it almost always comes across as less realistic and impressive to me than a stereo recording of a voice in a stereo playback system, preferably mono with width. Yannick may agree with me there. People often talk about the "pasted-in" effect of mono spots vs the realism of a wide mono stereo spot.

To this end, I often record voice in m/s with the side down lower by maybe 1-6db. XY is working for me too in my tests so far and my thinking. My theories are that this is because of the even more limited width but better coherency between microphones (because a real world fig 8 and real world card/omni/etc don't tend to match as closely as two of the same mics) and you get the almost ribbon-like roll-off at 16k (according to schoeps diagrams), combined with an lessening of the on-axis transient impact (Earcatcher talks about this sometimes). It's cheaper to angle mics I own than it is to buy new microphones or a Bricasti so I like middle paths!
Old 9th January 2019 | Show parent
  #30
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by whippoorwill ➡️
I agree with where you end up here, but not entirely on where you start. I record solo guitar in stereo, solo violin in stereo, solo horn in.. you get the point.

One issue with the voice is the recorded voice doesn't often sound like someone talking to you, it sounds like someone talking into your ear, on axis to your ear from a foot or under away, but somehow your ear is pushed around to the front of your forehead. This is an intimate sound which maybe only has a correlate in real life of secrets shared between lovers..

I like the sound of a single vocal microphone from a single loudspeaker, but it almost always comes across as less realistic and impressive to me than a stereo recording of a voice in a stereo playback system, preferably mono with width. Yannick may agree with me there. People often talk about the "pasted-in" effect of mono spots vs the realism of a wide mono stereo spot.

To this end, I often record voice in m/s with the side down lower by maybe 1-6db. XY is working for me too in my tests so far and my thinking. My theories are that this is because of the even more limited width but better coherency between microphones (because a real world fig 8 and real world card/omni/etc don't tend to match as closely as two of the same mics) and you get the almost ribbon-like roll-off at 16k (according to schoeps diagrams), combined with an lessening of the on-axis transient impact (Earcatcher talks about this sometimes). It's cheaper to angle mics I own than it is to buy new microphones or a Bricasti so I like middle paths!
We could perhaps construct a good case to state that all vocals are recorded too close...for a variety of reasons ! To minimize the reflection pickups of nearby boundaries (flutter echoes, etc)...to exploit the proximity effect and the 'intimacy' of the crooner or femme fatale/chanteuse voice, etc. Probably if all vocals were recorded at a 'correct distance' we wouldn't require pop filters ! Obviously there's a difference between concert-recorded vocals and their studio counterparts, in terms of distances involved, mics used, head movements etc

You certainly don't have to buy Bricasti hardware to get good quality convolution reverb....there are plugins that will give you a good facsimile for far less (incl. free Bricasti M7 IR impulses ! ) >> Samplicity's Bricasti M7 Impulse Response Library v1.1 - Samplicity The same page has free IR samples from Lexicon 960 and TC Electronic M6000 also

The head movement aspect needs to be addressed...with a mono mic it's down to how it performs with off axis arrivals (although a slightly turned head is likely to be still largely on axis to most cardioids) ...and if stereo miked then what is the sweet spot or stereo recording angle of the array ? A head turn is more likely to put the voice off-axis to one of the pair and on-axis to the other, and any level or tonal differences thus created are going to be audibly obvious (as side to side movement)

I can immediately see how m-s gives you great adjustment possibilities in mixdown...from pure M narrowness to 70mm Panavision CinemaScope iMax width !

I found a pretty good compromise (when having to accomodate 2 concert voices side by side) with a simple xy pair of CM3 wide cardioids, as you can see here: YouTube

You can match head movements to any anomalies in their sound, although keep in mind there was also a main AB pair above them out of shot....to anchor the overall sonic picture.
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