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Super micro minimalism, on steroids
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
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joelpatterson's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Super micro minimalism, on steroids

Follow this thought experiment with me, if you will.

Say I had gotten two *new* Sony PCM D100's. Say that I was impressed that in my extravagant voyeurism of all the reviews, everyone keeps coming back to "low noise" and "spectacularly accurate, nuanced capture with the onboard mics," and "192."

Say that alot of times, I am doing the same thing: some kind of acoustic instrumental ensemble on a stage. Say that my whole fishbowl theory holds that to seize and conquer such an outfit, you'd surround them with mics at an even remove, ten or twelve feet out. Say that I'm doing this now with Line Audio OM1's and AKG 414's, Grace pre's, into an Alesis HD24xr.

Say that that works fine, but say on the other hand I set up one D100 infront of the group, on the floor, and the other behind them in the air. Say I get the levels healthy-- remind me that the D100 can't clip, it's got a built in substitute-a-padded-signal dealeybop.

Tell me in real terms how much different it would be-- not necessarily in theoretical specification terms, but in "sounding like an exciting musical performance" terms?

I already know I am talking about one difference, the hundreds of pounds of gear. No more playing the *tape* deck in real time, and instead, in post, the instantaneousness of dragging and dropping wav files into the computer. Set-up and breakdown in the blink of an eye.

Surely it wouldn't work with nannygoats who want a spot on the harpsichord or a zillion other vexations... but for a rehearsed and controlled and amazing quartet, who just do a great job... hmmpfh?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson ➡️
Follow this thought experiment with me, if you will.

Say I had gotten two *new* Sony PCM D100's. Say that I was impressed that in my extravagant voyeurism of all the reviews, everyone keeps coming back to "low noise" and "spectacularly accurate, nuanced capture with the onboard mics," and "192."

Say that alot of times, I am doing the same thing: some kind of acoustic instrumental ensemble on a stage. Say that my whole fishbowl theory holds that to seize and conquer such an outfit, you'd surround them with mics at an even remove, ten or twelve feet out. Say that I'm doing this now with Line Audio OM1's and AKG 414's, Grace pre's, into an Alesis HD24xr.

Say that that works fine, but say on the other hand I set up one D100 infront of the group, on the floor, and the other behind them in the air. Say I get the levels healthy-- remind me that the D100 can't clip, it's got a built in substitute-a-padded-signal dealeybop.

Tell me in real terms how much different it would be-- not necessarily in theoretical specification terms, but in "sounding like an exciting musical performance" terms?

I already know I am talking about one difference, the hundreds of pounds of gear. No more playing the *tape* deck in real time, and instead, in post, the instantaneousness of dragging and dropping wav files into the computer. Set-up and breakdown in the blink of an eye.

Surely it wouldn't work with nannygoats who want a spot on the harpsichord or a zillion other vexations... but for a rehearsed and controlled and amazing quartet, who just do a great job... hmmpfh?
Dreaming big there.... It will sound fine, and all the finer dependent on how great the players and their instruments are, how bitchen and quiet the hall is and how polite and inaudible the audience is. Given that, the recording will be fine. Is "fine" good enough for this gig? And....I feel like the setup assumes a kind of perfect audio world that doesn't much correspond to the one I work in...hence many closer mics and so in. But do dream on and report back! The rise of the "shavers"!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Knowing Joel, he'll also likely have a camera or two roaming the scenario...so this dual-recorder output will result in the soundtrack to his 'always better than guerilla gun and run' visual document of the occasion. The viewer's eyes will therefore supply the "visual-mix-bus-glue" which melds audio and vision seamlessly and proportionally into a fun gestalt package, overcoming any shortage of spot miking !
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #4
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
....The viewer's eyes will therefore supply the "visual-mix-bus-glue" which melds audio and vision seamlessly....
This is a crucial insight which I hadn't appreciated until lately-- being an "audio first" guy and all-- of course all the editing and 'picking which take to use' is audio-centric-- as I explain to the talent involved, the audio will be the thing that's "good" or not good, the video is just what they looked like when it was happening-- but it's undeniably true that for the uninitiated viewer, it all blends, both visual and auditory sensory inputs coalesce into a whole experience, a thing that's more fully dimensional than the sum of its parts. Whoa!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Exactly Joel, and I'll contend that...opinions to the contrary...humans are not adept at multi-tasking when it comes to sensory input: if the quality of simultaneous video and audio are both sufficiently good, a small lapse in one or the other is 'filled in' by the eye/ear/brain triumvirate...and the perception-illusion persists that the complete package is indeed all pretty good and rosy, if there's no great disparity between the quality of the 2 sense modality input streams.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #6
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
über-specs of simplistic gear and minimal setup cannot compensate for the lack of options...

...but for sure portability, ease and speed of use, simplicity of setup etc. in some situations can be a good choice.

(i'm getting hired to handle the complex situations though)
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #7
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
über-specs of simplistic gear and minimal setup cannot compensate for the lack of options...

...but for sure portability, ease and speed of use, simplicity of setup etc. in some situations can be a good choice.

(i'm getting hired to handle the complex situations though)
I'd be interested in your dictionary definition of 'simplistic/minimalist gear'....it seems you never leave home without a NATO weapons arsenal of recording hardware ? Like deer-hunting with a surface to air missile or rocket launcher....rather than a crossbow or a rifle.

Is there any (non-PA involved) situation in which you could conceive a Sound Devices MixPre, one tall mic stand (and stereo bar) and a pair of high quality German directional mics as sufficient, necessary and complete to capture a performance ?
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #8
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
I'd be interested in your dictionary definition of 'simplistic/minimalist gear'....it seems you never leave home without a NATO weapons arsenal of recording hardware ? Like deer-hunting with a surface to air missile or rocket launcher....rather than a crossbow or a rifle.
there are good reasons why first and second strike capacity have found entry (and priority) in the doctrine, not only of the nato...

(i could recommend you some publicy available literature if interested)

Quote:
Is there any (non-PA involved) situation in which you could conceive a Sound Devices MixPre, one tall mic stand (and stereo bar) and a pair of high quality German directional mics as sufficient, necessary and complete to capture a performance ?
absolutely - however, any minimalistic technique allows you to record but what a specific pair of mics in a specific position in a specific room can capture which is not necessarily what one wants to hear in a recording (you forgot to bring along a pair of headphones btw), with the added difficulty of getting the wet/dry ratio right on location...

...while any more elaborate setup allows you to steer the recording in different directions.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #9
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joelpatterson's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
.... in different directions.
That is the essential question... will this theoretical protocol of my fevered imagination deliver such a holographic, hyper-real and dizzyingly tangible rendition of what the performance was like... that... any subsequent (necessary) adjudication in post will just be like applying a little blush on the bloom on the rose?

Will it capture a fully life-like, unarguable result? I guess we'll see, I hope so...
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #10
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson ➡️
That is the essential question... will this theoretical protocol of my fevered imagination deliver such a holographic, hyper-real and dizzyingly tangible rendition of what the performance was like... that... any subsequent (necessary) adjudication in post will just be like applying a little blush on the bloom on the rose?

Will it capture a fully life-like, unarguable result? I guess we'll see, I hope so...
based on my experience, comparisons and some theoretical reasoning, i got to the conclusion that a portrait made by just a pair of mics does hardly ever achieve the results which i seem to favour.

imo one needs to add at least a third (or better a pair or trio of) mic(s) to get favourable results which are characterized by a multitude of characteristics, the most obvious being depth...

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 3 weeks ago at 10:34 PM.. Reason: typo
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #11
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
... a portrait made by just a pair of mics does hardly ever achieve ....
Which is why I specify that there's a pair of mics in front, and also a pair of mics in back, peering over the group like a hawk or a vulture or something. The pair in front are on the floor, to stay out of the visual way.

So, dragging these sets into Digital Performer and aligning the stereo fields properly... the goal is to have a photorealism, three dimensional portrait of the players.

Will it "work"? Good question!
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
[. . .] never leave home without a NATO weapons arsenal of recording hardware [. . .]
Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room.
- President Merkin Muffley | Peter Sellers, Dr. Strangelove. 1964
Simplicity is regularly not without costs to my sense of aesthetics.

Here is an example that I think exposes the usual suspects. Each of the instruments sounds unequally good - but none of them sounds truly great to me. Imagine what each could have been like. It obviously took significant effort for the musicians and recordist to get as far as they did.

Would two stereo mics have been better - or two pairs? I think yes - especially with a pair carefully positioned over the drums. But the Bass is still weak [with respect to timbre, fullness and definition]. . .and the guitar is not at its best all the way through to my ears.

Given the limitation of a single stereo mic it is a very good recording - and I love it for what it is. But a more robust array of 'weapons' would have decidedly more impact on my affections.


Still, I'm glad they made it.

Ray H.

Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #13
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson ➡️
The pair in front are on the floor, to stay out of the visual way.
...which is a severe limitation in various regards, certainly in terms of the wet/reflected/ambient ratio, pattern, frequency behaviour, width etc. and possibly also to achieve our goal (and hence not recommended).
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Don't let 'em rattle or undermine your confidence in your work Joel...you've been documenting your local bands here for over a decade in authentic and peerless style....keep on keepin' on !
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
Don't let 'em rattle or undermine your confidence in your work Joel...you've been documenting your local bands here for over a decade in authentic and peerless style....keep on keepin' on !
My intention was to discuss the tradeoffs, Joel. I totally agree with studer58's sentiment.


I love your authentic and peerless style.

Ray H.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
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🎧 15 years
Thanks, guys. Just don't let Plush post anything!
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #17
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson ➡️
Thanks, guys. Just don't let Plush post anything!
I suspect for the sort of gig you're describing he'd likely fall on the 'extreme minimalist' side of the fence, advocating a live to 2 track mix of whichever mics and reverb device you have on hand...and next to no post-production back at the ranch either ? He might get a bit elitist on your mic/recorder choice....but that's Plush for ya !
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
I suspect for the sort of gig you're describing he'd likely fall on the 'extreme minimalist' side of the fence, advocating a live to 2 track mix of whichever mics and reverb device you have on hand...and next to no post-production back at the ranch either ? He might get a bit elitist on your mic/recorder choice....but that's Plush for ya !
That was the workflow in the early days of digital. There was a stereo SONY PCM 1610 or F1 and later DAT machines. It saved a lot of time. After balancing the set-up, everyone agreed upon the balance and that was it. If you record in multitrack today, at least I get requests for several remixes from the enesembles I record. It takes a lot of time, and often it does not get better and I don't get paid for it. There is another risk, a wrong placed microphone you did not catch during tracking, you cannot move with a fader.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #19
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🎧 15 years
Hey Joel,
How's things up there in your neck of the woods?

I've been asked to do a few of these minimalist type sessions, and because of that, I decided to buy some new kit that would allow me to get in and out of a gig within minutes, and basically pack everything I require in a Pelican case.
Plus I wouldn't have to make any excuses for sonics.

- Zoom F8 recorder.
Fabulous little machine, with 8 mic inputs.
Records in BWF-compatible WAV formats up to 24-bit resolution and at sample rates up to 192 kHz.
When recording files in MP3, you can choose bit rates of 128, 192, or 320 kbps.

- Zoom Optional mic capsules, which plug into recorder via a special plug on the rear of unit, occupies channels 1 & 2 when in use!
MSH-6 Mid / Side Capsule
SGH-6 Shotgun capsule
SSH-6 Stereo Shotgun Capsule
XYH-5 Shock Mounted Stereo XY Capsule (I own this)
XYH-6 Adjustable Stereo XY Capsule

ECM-3 meter Extension cable to place mic away from Recorder
ECM-6 meter Extension cable to place mic away from Recorder

I usually record using the XY Zoom mic, for something, and then depending on what else I need to capture, the room, soloists, etc. I have 6 free channels.
Always record the 8 channels as multitrack, and also make a stereo live mix and print that as well.
If I can get enough isolation at the venue, then the stereo mix usually comes out great, and that's what's used as the final.
But I've got the isolated files just in case.


Records to 2 cards for backup.
Just plug in phones, (or speakers) and you're on your way.
ALSO CAN BE USED AS An INTERFACE!

The unit, and all the cables, headphones, extra mics, all fit in a Pelican 1510 case.
Everything but stands..
The recordings I've done with it are fabulous.

Something to think about.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #20
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You can do truly staggeringly good recordings with two microphones on stage (although sometimes a third mike as a spot can make all the difference).... as long as there is no PA.

Once there is sound reinforcement the game changes completely because the PA is producing a lot of sound and although the sound facing the audience might be great, the sound in other directions is usually bad.

I spend my life trying to convince performers in small rooms with polite audiences that they don't really need PA. Occasionally I am even successful in that.
--scott
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #21
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joelpatterson's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nobtwiddler ➡️
...
How's things up there in your neck of the woods?

....
Well... now that you ask...

I finally secured both D100's, and so my scheme has evolved (thanks to the mystical (but extremely reliable) voices that speak to me from somewhere out there in the beyond... they appear as ideas popping randomly into my head, but the timing and specificity reassure me they're not just idle musings, but actual instructions... some people may question this, some may know exactly what I'm talking about) thanks to a summer series at an exalted local theater... so the voices tell me, "ease into this, mon amour.... bring your whole rack of everything AND set up the Sony's... and so at mixdown, see how it all seems. Roger wilco!"

At the last one... an avant garde violin/cello/piano/etc. thingeemabooberbob, I put one D100 on a shrimpy little stand, out infront of everyone stage center... and damn! It had it all! Maybe a little on the crispy side? But for the very start, a shimmering single violin note, so high as to be almost beyond the range of human hearing, the mix was just the stereo D100 output, then as the other instruments joined in I added in the other three stereo mic sets, and honestly that added a more "level-headed, standardly hearty mid-range and spatially revealing" sensation, well geez surprise it's a whole Jeep Grand Cherokee-full of totally state-of-the-art gear so I would HOPE so...

... but I think I am onto something. As the summer unfolds, I may become more brave. Perhaps at the last one I'll waltz in with just a satchel in hand... never once wondering, "where did I get this crazy dream???"
Old 2 weeks ago
  #22
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🎧 15 years
Yeah baby.
It amazes me how much can be done today with so little!
And still achieve the sonic results we're after.

As we get older it should get easier, lighter, quicker, etc, etc.
Haha


Paul
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #23
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joelpatterson's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nobtwiddler ➡️
...
As we get older it should get easier, lighter, quicker, etc, etc.



Paul
* emphasis added

THAT'S the part that BOGGLES MY MIND! I mean-- yeah, physiologically, I always understood that "comprende, amigo, this stuff is not going to get any lighter as the years fly by but you are!" but I never dreamed that it could actually come true!

Here is the first few minutes of the above referenced evening... by the 30 second mark, we are fully into the whole schmeeliogop, but tell me where it changes? Without looking at it, can I?
Attached Files

D100 test.mp3 (5.26 MB, 664 views)

Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #24
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jwh1192's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson ➡️
* emphasis added

THAT'S the part that BOGGLES MY MIND! I mean-- yeah, physiologically, I always understood that "comprende, amigo, this stuff is not going to get any lighter as the years fly by but you are!" but I never dreamed that it could actually come true!

Here is the first few minutes of the above referenced evening... by the 30 second mark, we are fully into the whole schmeeliogop, but tell me where it changes? Without looking at it, can I?
Toss on some Headphones and Close your Eyes while listening to this piece - felt like I was there ... Cool !!!

a little help ... my mind is trying to associate the shorter transient sounds with the Visual my Mind is creating ... since we have No Picture to associate to ..

Q: are these sounds part of the Piece ??? or audience shuffling perhaps, as you mention the position of the Main Mic as out-Front of everyone and Stage Center ... but I assume this was On the Stage on the Downstage Lip !!!

and No PA system ... may I ask how large the area is ??? I hear Birds and Crickets - SFX or Real ??

and this was using the D100 at 192k ???

cheers and thx for sharing this !!! John
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #25
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2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jwh1192 ➡️
Toss on some Headphones and Close your Eyes while listening to this piece - felt like I was there ... Cool !!!

a little help ... my mind is trying to associate the shorter transient sounds with the Visual my Mind is creating ... since we have No Picture to associate to ..

Q: are these sounds part of the Piece ??? or audience shuffling perhaps, as you mention the position of the Main Mic as out-Front of everyone and Stage Center ... but I assume this was On the Stage on the Downstage Lip !!!

and No PA system ... may I ask how large the area is ??? I hear Birds and Crickets - SFX or Real ??

and this was using the D100 at 192k ???

cheers and thx for sharing this !!! John
Thanks, glad you like! I think all the rustlings are the audience trying to keep deathly quiet-- although the first timpani hit has kind of a "door slamming in the distance" feel... I went with 96/24 out of an abundance of trepidation... and the wildlife sounds are all real, the place is a giant open-air pavilion, the first time you see it you swear it can't be true... the "blue zone" in the picture is the stage... from the website: "Our new facility sits above a nineteenth-century apple orchard at the apex of over 100 acres of beautiful Hudson Valley land, at the foothills of the Berkshires. Just five acres have been developed; the rest are meadows and woodlands."
Attached Thumbnails
Super micro minimalism, on steroids-1_a_theater_night_credit_alon_koppelarticle_image.jpeg  
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #26
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jwh1192's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
thats a cool Venue !!! i see a Mix Position / that flat level concrete looking area up top of Seating .. were they using the PA for that Show ????
Old 2 weeks ago
  #27
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joelpatterson's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
I have to believe there was some version of a PA in play-- everything was mic'ed up separately from me for a livestream-- and nice arrays of speakers far and near, and a whip-smart crew on hand... But it was very subtle and perfectly executed... up on the concrete deck, I went through a few "huh, man that cello sure sounds nice and full, they must be... but you can't tell there's anything!"
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #28
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jwh1192's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
right on ... thx for the info ... sounds like a Subtle Bit of PA from as you say, a Good Crew !! Whip Smart !!
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #29
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hbphotoav's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson ➡️
I have to believe there was some version of a PA in play-- everything was mic'ed up separately from me for a livestream-- and nice arrays of speakers far and near, and a whip-smart crew on hand... But it was very subtle and perfectly executed... up on the concrete deck, I went through a few "huh, man that cello sure sounds nice and full, they must be... but you can't tell there's anything!"
I'll guess there were DPAs deployed...I can't get over how well mine "disappear" in terms of "... is that _____ mic'd...?"

Sounds like a nice gig. Cheers!

HB
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #30
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson ➡️
* emphasis added

THAT'S the part that BOGGLES MY MIND! I mean-- yeah, physiologically, I always understood that "comprende, amigo, this stuff is not going to get any lighter as the years fly by but you are!" but I never dreamed that it could actually come true!

Here is the first few minutes of the above referenced evening... by the 30 second mark, we are fully into the whole schmeeliogop, but tell me where it changes? Without looking at it, can I?
That's a fantastic-sounding capture man, it genuinely feels like being there. Gorgeous looking venue as well, and the wildlife noises in the intro actually really work with the piece.

Seems like your ideas / fever dreams are pretty on the money!
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