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Live recording vs Separate Track Recording
Old 17th September 2021
  #1
Here for the gear
 
Live recording vs Separate Track Recording

Hi,

I've been wondering about something lately, and hopefully an audio professional could shed some light for me.

What would you say would be the difference between these two following scenario.

A - There is a flute and a clarinet in a live space, playing a duo, recorded together by a nice mic array.

B - The flute (same position, same space) plays its part alone, recorded by the same mic array. Then the clarinet play its own part on its own, recorded the same way. Both are then added together in post.

Let us say that the instrumentists are magical, and this yields no difference in term of performance. I'm interested about the difference there would or wouldn't be in the resulting audio. Is there something specific that happens when both instrument are recorded together, that doesn't when they're put together in post but recorded separately by the same audio chain?

If there is a difference, how would you describe it? I know it must be incredibly subtle, but just as incredible subtle amounts of saturation and hardware coloration can yield a warmer track, I guess any difference can change the impact of the final track.

What do you think?

Edit: I used a simple exemple with only two simple instruments, but the same question applies to a whole orchestra, if they could play their part perfectly separately, in the same recording situation. How would the result change compared to a normal full ensemble recording of the exact same performance?

Last edited by Adzic; 17th September 2021 at 09:43 PM.. Reason: Adding something
Old 18th September 2021
  #2
Same difference between a band that plays a cover and a tribute band.
Same reason why sheet readers can play but, at the same time dont know how to play.
Its music. Its really more of a feeling than a thing.
Old 18th September 2021
  #3
Here for the gear
 
Believe me I don't ignore that. I'm specifically interested about the sonic physics involved. Interpretation and 'feel' is not what I'm discussing.
Old 18th September 2021
  #4
Gear Nut
 
🎧 15 years
Each pass or layer will add "room noise", so for a quartet recorded using 4 passes you will have 4 times the noise floor.
Also musicians usually play better as an ensemble.
Old 18th September 2021 | Show parent
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adzic ➡️
Believe me I don't ignore that. I'm specifically interested about the sonic physics involved. Interpretation and 'feel' is not what I'm discussing.
You asked me what I thought.
But, i can rephrase my opinion to better suit your guided discussion, using terms of sonic physics:

The difference is all about sound pressure. And frequency distribution. A microphone capsule (a transducer) has an optimum threshold capacity to of which things will sound best. So in other words, live recordings are better because the microphone can uptake all the different sound pressures and frequency outputs of all the sources during that recording. The only restriction being the mechanics of the capsule itself . Where as when single tracking, the transducer is only exposed to X amount of SPL and frequency information of X given source, pretty restricted from its full potential. Now imagine several microphones doing the same thing to different sources and all within the same boudaries. It then becomes a complete picture. Much like, what sampling and bit rate does in the realm of digital audio.
Old 18th September 2021 | Show parent
  #6
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by coreyspencer ➡️
You asked me what I thought.
But, i can rephrase my opinion to better suit your guided discussion, using terms of sonic physics:

The difference is all about sound pressure. And frequency distribution. A microphone capsule (a transducer) has an optimum threshold capacity to of which things will sound best. So in other words, live recordings are better because the microphone can uptake all the different sound pressures and frequency outputs of all the sources during that recording. The only restriction being the mechanics of the capsule itself . Where as when single tracking, the transducer is only exposed to X amount of SPL and frequency information of X given source, pretty restricted from its full potential. Now imagine several microphones doing the same thing to different sources and all within the same boudaries. It then becomes a complete picture. Much like, what sampling and bit rate does in the realm of digital audio.
That makes sense!

I do feel that there is a balancing that happens naturally "in the air" before the capsule is even reached, and then as you mention, it behaves differently being hit by that more complex sound.

Also let's say that a trombone blasts a theme from the back of the orchestra while the piano solo, all the way in the front is playing as well.
Some of the frequencies of that trombone will be sort of covered by that of the piano, while other will cary and overpower it. But the resulting combined sound stay "balanced".

Whereas in the same situation individually recorded I guess this would translate into unpleasant frequency masking and
resonances.

It would be interesting to know if there are steps that can be taken during mixing in order to mimic the more natural blending of ensemble recording.
Old 18th September 2021
  #7
a trombone is a trombone and a piano is a piano. Just because they might be emitting the same frequencies from time to time doesnt mean that one sound will mask the other, excluding the case of SPL. And thats where balance comes in, when musicians are playing live they balance eachother. From tone to pitch to volume. When its tracked seperately, the signal is stale.
Ok so, yes there is a way to mimic a live recording, much like a conductor who directs the band. But, its pretty hands on, probably the only way do it is to mix in real time on a physical control surface a.k.a manual automation.
Then youd have to get all the sounds within the same boundaries at the same instance. So thatd require re-amping each source using seperate speakers and micing up that space, and then bam. Thats how youd mimic a live recording when everything was recorded seperate....
Old 18th September 2021
  #8
Here for the gear
 
That's pretty much what I'm doing. The reason I was asking, is that I'm interpreting a lot of classical pieces using sample libraries, and I'm looking for away to push things further. I'm always after that realistic sound. With sound libraries obviously, everything is recorded separately, and I end up having to use heavy "EQing" (amongst other things) in order to have a clean enough ensemble sound.

Here are a couple of example if you want to hear my progress so far:

https://soundcloud.com/arnaud-derhan...ite-intermezzo

https://soundcloud.com/arnaud-derhan...-dream-scherzo

https://soundcloud.com/arnaud-derhan...wan-lake-scene


It's getting pretty acceptable, and I know I can still improve the programing and performance. But on the production side, I'm still missing that extra something that makes live recordings... well, alive. I know that classical pro-recordings are as much as possible left alone mix-wise, and all the tone is achieved at the recording stage. I find that I have to use a lot of post processing to achieve similar (not quite lol) results.

One of the reasons I could conceive of is that sample are recorded one instrument at a time. That means the room is empty, compared to all the dense human bodies in a full orchestra dampening the sound. As a result there are a lot of unbalanced resonating frequencies that I have to surgically remove.
So this is me trying to find the next steps in my workflow in order to achieve better sounding results
Old 19th September 2021
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Most of the theoretical supposition advanced in this thread is beyond my pay grade however I do have a relative opinion. Generally speaking the individual and collective performing skill of the musicians along with the nomenclature of the tracking space will determine the best recording protocol. There is an interesting video history tracing RCA's reasons for designing the huge studio "A" in Nashville, TN. Chet Atkins wanted to include string sections for some of his productions and needed to create the big studio "A" to accommodate large scale recordings. Chet was very fond of putting the "A" list of Nashville's session pickers, BU harmony along with a string section together in a very big tracking room for some of his long list of big time country and pop singers.
The OP has raised a simple question: which is better and why? We do know close micing of any source restricts a lot of valuable sonic input to any recording and for more than 60 years a decca tree and a couple of outboards are the preferred protocol for an accomplished classical music performance recording. The determining question is will a multi track capture provide an opportunity to make significant improvement in the final two mix? Other than the classical music referenced above today most all studio and live concert recording is linear with the number of performers that are individually miced requiring a multi-track protocol. Today in the real world of music creation the best session musicians are seldom if ever gathered in the fashion that was the bread and butter protocol of Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley 50 years ago. The digital revolution has created a new protocol: the top session musicians do not travel to a studio for a session: a digital stem of the session is sent to the musician's recording location for inclusion to the project.
The best example I can think of is recording a great barbershop quartet performance: the best recordings are mono with one mic and capturing the magnificent harmonics that ring off of a stellar performance. There is no way a multi track of 4 individually miced singers can equal that type of performance recording!
Hugh
Old 21st September 2021
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Record all 4 at the same time on separate tracks each musician separated from the other by a good distance (or in a different room) and all musicians monitoring through headphones so they can hear each other.

This gives you the cohesiveness of the group playing together and the recording flexibility of separate tracks with little or no bleed from other sources and has a single low noise floor.
Old 21st September 2021 | Show parent
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by OneEng ➡️
Record all 4 at the same time on separate tracks each musician separated from the other by a good distance (or in a different room) and all musicians monitoring through headphones so they can hear each other.

This gives you the cohesiveness of the group playing together and the recording flexibility of separate tracks with little or no bleed from other sources and has a single low noise floor.
Way to stay on topic OneEng. Of all the minutia to pick up on in this thread you went with that. 1800 posts on GS, are they all of such a high quality
Old 21st September 2021 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
these days, we are (somewhat) used to hear mixes which stem from recordings made far apart (in terms of time and distance)...

not my idea of making music which imo is a form of communication and interaction between artists who adjust their phrasing, intonation, timing etc to each other - and of course there's a difference in terms of sonics when recording each instrument separatly: one cannot fake spill from nearby instruments, off-axis response of mics and one cannot get rid of specific room sound or artefacts from the gear used over and over on dozens of tracks...

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 4 weeks ago at 10:49 PM..
Old 28th September 2021 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJElectricDaddy ➡️
Way to stay on topic OneEng. Of all the minutia to pick up on in this thread you went with that. 1800 posts on GS, are they all of such a high quality
148 posts on GS .... are they all as devoid of any useful information as this one?

If you are going to disagree with me, could you at least make some kind of point?

I anxiously await your next highly insightful and fact-filled reply
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 
GreenNeedle's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adzic ➡️
Hi,

I've been wondering about something lately, and hopefully an audio professional could shed some light for me.

What would you say would be the difference between these two following scenario.

A - There is a flute and a clarinet in a live space, playing a duo, recorded together by a nice mic array.

B - The flute (same position, same space) plays its part alone, recorded by the same mic array. Then the clarinet play its own part on its own, recorded the same way. Both are then added together in post.

Let us say that the instrumentists are magical, and this yields no difference in term of performance. I'm interested about the difference there would or wouldn't be in the resulting audio. Is there something specific that happens when both instrument are recorded together, that doesn't when they're put together in post but recorded separately by the same audio chain?

If there is a difference, how would you describe it? I know it must be incredibly subtle, but just as incredible subtle amounts of saturation and hardware coloration can yield a warmer track, I guess any difference can change the impact of the final track.

What do you think?

Edit: I used a simple exemple with only two simple instruments, but the same question applies to a whole orchestra, if they could play their part perfectly separately, in the same recording situation. How would the result change compared to a normal full ensemble recording of the exact same performance?
If you drop one marble in the bathtub full of water the water will move differently than if you drop 2 in. Same as a plate reverb, chamber, any room and any speaker.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Holy crap. Post this in the appropriate forum(s) and these replies will get destroyed by piranha.

Keep going of course, no shortage of demand for gag reel. I'm on pins and needles waiting for the right number of marbles to drop in the bathtub.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Surprising that no one mentioned this: in an ensemble, musicians respond to each other’s timing. Classical music is all about rubato, ritardandos, accelerandos. It’s not 4-on-the-floor techno. If you lose the sublety of musicians responding to each other’s irregular rhythmic ebb and flow, in real time, you’ve lost an awful lot of musicality. Can you overdub a piece part-by-part? Sure. Can you construct a truly great performance track-by-track? Uh, well let us know when that happens.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #17
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Honkermann ➡️
Surprising that no one mentioned this: in an ensemble, musicians respond to each other’s timing. Classical music is all about rubato, ritardandos, accelerandos. It’s not 4-on-the-floor techno. If you lose the sublety of musicians responding to each other’s irregular rhythmic ebb and flow, in real time, you’ve lost an awful lot of musicality. Can you overdub a piece part-by-part? Sure. Can you construct a truly great performance track-by-track? Uh, well let us know when that happens.
Thanks for your input. Don't be surprised, though, people ignored those aspect because I specifically asked them to in my original post.

Of course interpretation would change a great deal, but I'm purely interested in the physics of acoustics at play, because for my specific application of the wisdom gained here, interpretation isn't affected whatsoever.

I'm only trying to min/max the realism of my mockups, and I was investigating what more could I do towards that goal, to best get that "ensemble" sound from things that were recorded separately.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Honkermann ➡️
Surprising that no one mentioned this: in an ensemble, musicians respond to each other’s timing. Classical music is all about rubato, ritardandos, accelerandos. It’s not 4-on-the-floor techno. If you lose the sublety of musicians responding to each other’s irregular rhythmic ebb and flow, in real time, you’ve lost an awful lot of musicality. Can you overdub a piece part-by-part? Sure. Can you construct a truly great performance track-by-track? Uh, well let us know when that happens.
The ‘later participants’ have the ability to record multiple takes of ‘responses’ to the preceding material…opening the door to multiple musical interactions and interpretations. The more overdub takes are permitted, the greater the permutations of interaction possible.

What you won’t get is the alchemy and synergy of the ensemble playing together at the same time, or even x takes of them playing together with interactional differences, so there’s a qualitative difference in the alchemy process…but you could argue endlessly on the intrinsic validity of both approaches
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
The question is about the purely sonic differences between the two scenarios, not the musical difference.

If the two players stood in the same positions as they did in the first scenario, I wouldn't expect it to sound any different, except for maybe an increase in the 'roominess'. Would be an interesting experiment to see if that's true; theoretically the room's being recorded twice and each player only once, but theory and practice don't always land in the same place.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
Lives for gear
 
kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adzic ➡️
A - There is a flute and a clarinet in a live space, playing a duo, recorded together by a nice mic array.

B - The flute (same position, same space) plays its part alone, recorded by the same mic array. Then the clarinet play its own part on its own, recorded the same way. Both are then added together in post.
There was a day when, because of colorations added by the tape machine, these two would be very different. However, that day is gone, thankfully.

But there are two very important things that are still going on. First of all, determining the proper place for a single microphone pair is very difficult when the instruments are not performing together. Since the instruments are being mixed by the room, the microphones get placed in the location for the best balance. If you can't hear both together, you can't judge the best balance. You wind up having to adjust the gains for balance, and then it sounds different because when you adjust the gains you're adjusting the room sound as well as the instrument sound.

Secondly, the musicians will perform differently when they perform together. Even if they are practiced at doing it in isolation, they will always be different. This could be good or bad, depending on the music and the performers.
--scott
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #21
Lives for gear
 
GreenNeedle's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by AC2SPL ➡️
Holy crap. Post this in the appropriate forum(s) and these replies will get destroyed by piranha.

Keep going of course, no shortage of demand for gag reel. I'm on pins and needles waiting for the right number of marbles to drop in the bathtub.
You realize everyone carries plastic and phones now right? No cash for street beggars these days..
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