Ideal microphones and mic placement for classical?

Creating a home studio for recording the classical guitar. Equipment, software and recording techniques. Amplification for live performance.
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rojarosguitar
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Re: Ideal microphones and mic placement for classical?

Post by rojarosguitar » Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:17 pm

Hybrid wrote:
Also, regarding the "stereo mic'ing" discussion. The guitar has no stereo spread to it, like a piano.
So there's no sense in trying to create one with mic spread.
The best way to utilize 2 mics might be to put one mic up higher to capture the basses, and one down lower to capture the trebles.
I use a simple coincidental pair, but i've noticed it doesnt sound much different from a single mic.
This is missing the point, IMHO. It is not an issue of 'spread' but rather of spatiality and localization. With a good stereo recording the isntruments is perceived as beeing immersed in space and having a stable localization therein. Of course you achieve this also with a mono source or with a two channel mono source combination that are positioned through panning during the mixing process, but this is different from a real stereo recording.

BTW coincident pairs have less spatiality than any other stereo array anyway, so even with a proper stereo pair used in coincident array you'd have the least difference to a mono recording.


Of course you don't need to like it or to do it that way, but just to put the right perspective onto the issue.

best
Robert

PS even with an orchestra the term 'Spread' actually means proper localization of every instrument in the sound field. And especially with big instruments like grand piano the idea of stereo spread can be quite misleading. I hear again and again piano recordings where the keyboard runs from extreme left to extreme right /now, that really is spread, LOL). This is awful. I like to hear a grand piano sitting well localized within the concert hall.
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Re: Ideal microphones and mic placement for classical?

Post by petermc61 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:44 pm

Robert

You make some excellent points about what is being achieved by a decent stereo recording. I make two other points.

Firstly, a good stereo recording will capture the sense of space or the room the recording is made in. Secondly, contrary to the assertion from another poster above, a guitar does have 'body' and should record as an instrument with size (no, not a piano but still a real instrument in real space.) It is not a point source and should not sound like one or it is s poor recording.

Regards
Peter

JohnB

Re: Ideal microphones and mic placement for classical?

Post by JohnB » Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:58 pm

I've been reading through this thread and looking at threads about microphones elsewhere - which have left me somewhat bewildered!

Are there any recommendations for "reasonably priced" microphones that work well with the classical guitar, say up to £300?

Also. would it be best to have a single microphone or a matched pair (for stereo) within that budget?

(I have a Focusrite Saffire LE pre-amp with phantom power and thought I would record to a laptop running Sound Forge.)

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Re: Ideal microphones and mic placement for classical?

Post by rojarosguitar » Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:15 am

JohnB wrote:I've been reading through this thread and looking at threads about microphones elsewhere - which have left me somewhat bewildered!

Are there any recommendations for "reasonably priced" microphones that work well with the classical guitar, say up to £300?

Also. would it be best to have a single microphone or a matched pair (for stereo) within that budget?

(I have a Focusrite Saffire LE pre-amp with phantom power and thought I would record to a laptop running Sound Forge.)
Within this price range a matched pair of Oktava MK012-1 MSP would be a very good choice (make sure to get it from a reliable source, because there are some counterfeit products on the market). Another set that comes to my mind is Rode NT5 (I don't have experience with them). There are also some Chinese brands and some of them might be actually not bad (I own a pair of sE Electronics C1R ribbons and their are excellent, bought them for 198 € !). Oktavas are more than decent, these are very good microphones (IMHO).
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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: Ideal microphones and mic placement for classical?

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:22 am

rojarosguitar wrote:Within this price range a matched pair of Oktava MK012-1 MSP would be a very good choice (make sure to get it from a reliable source, because there are some counterfeit products on the market). Another set that comes to my mind is Rode NT5 (I don't have experience with them). There are also some Chinese brands and some of them might be actually not bad (I own a pair of sE Electronics C1R ribbons and their are excellent, bought them for 198 € !). Oktavas are more than decent, these are very good microphones (IMHO).
+1, excellent advice. To complete the answers to the query, it is best to have a matched pair in order to produce a stereo recording. Mono classical guitar recordings are not nice to listen to.

Per Lindhof
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Re: Ideal microphones and mic placement for classical?

Post by Per Lindhof » Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:50 pm

Hybrid wrote:
Per Lindhof wrote:Hi Sxedio
I have heard some very nice recordings like this one with Ana vidovic - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2a_yfT84KQ
But the Neumann she uses is seriousely expensive.

Regards
Per Lindhof
Dont know if its her, the guitar, or the mic, but that's a nasty sounding recording. :desole:
Hi Hybrid
I can easily see (well hear...) what you and also Denian mean, but I still like the recording.
First of all - she plays a nice composition very well. Secondly I like a present near field recording - even with the drawbacks of nail noice etc. (not that I enjoy it, but if that's the price then...) Basically because I like the guitar being next to me rather than listened to from the fifteenth row in a huge church or concert hall.

Admitted though, considering that the mic used in the recording is worth a very nice guitar, two nice mics and a great pre amp it should come out better.
But again - the mic just "reports" the circumstances it's placed in - we can't blame our ears what they hear.

Regards
Per Lindhof

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Re: Ideal microphones and mic placement for classical?

Post by Lawler » Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:08 pm

Per Lindhof wrote: I have heard some very nice recordings like this one with Ana vidovic - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2a_yfT84KQ
Since it was mentioned that this recording has issues.... I'd be willing to bet that the sound on that video was tweaked by the person who put it up on his channel to boost the high frequency range (and add compression). It would be very quick and easy for someone to alter the sound using ProTools, Vegas, or other apps, then re-render the video and post it up. I listened to a bit of several of his posted vids (all of various performers' videos that he's compiled) and they all sounded like that... compressed, edgy, sibilant. I wouldn't judge the mic used in the vid or anything about the performance based on the sound on brasjazz's YT channel.

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Re: Ideal microphones and mic placement for classical?

Post by Gruupi » Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:42 pm

That Ana Vidovic video seems like a good case for why every serious musician should learn the basics of recording. I've seen her live and she sounded wonderful. This video sounds to "present" in my opinion, it doesn't breathe or give a sense of space. Maybe some people are happy with that sound, but it's seems that all the work she puts into playing beautifully is not shown in it's best light here.

We spend the 10,000 hours to become masters at the guitar and next to no time when it comes to recording. A YouTube video or a CD is the way people get to know your playing and you should get the best out of it. To do that you should have have some hands on knowledge of how to record. So many people leave it entirely up to someone else, when we should be proactive in seeking what our ideal sound should be on a recording.

Of course I am to blame as much as anyone. My recordings sound dismal to me. But spending time in learning how to record, and more importantly how to listen critically, makes me very appreciative of a good sounding recording.

JohnB

Re: Ideal microphones and mic placement for classical?

Post by JohnB » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:17 pm

Denian Arcoleo wrote:
rojarosguitar wrote:Within this price range a matched pair of Oktava MK012-1 MSP would be a very good choice (make sure to get it from a reliable source, because there are some counterfeit products on the market). Another set that comes to my mind is Rode NT5 (I don't have experience with them). There are also some Chinese brands and some of them might be actually not bad (I own a pair of sE Electronics C1R ribbons and their are excellent, bought them for 198 € !). Oktavas are more than decent, these are very good microphones (IMHO).
+1, excellent advice. To complete the answers to the query, it is best to have a matched pair in order to produce a stereo recording. Mono classical guitar recordings are not nice to listen to.
Thank you both for your help. I see the Oktava microphones are available from a well established German website for 289 Euros.

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Re: Ideal microphones and mic placement for classical?

Post by rojarosguitar » Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:17 pm

Per Lindhof wrote:
Hi Hybrid
I can easily see (well hear...) what you and also Denian mean, but I still like the recording.
First of all - she plays a nice composition very well. Secondly I like a present near field recording - even with the drawbacks of nail noice etc. (not that I enjoy it, but if that's the price then...) Basically because I like the guitar being next to me rather than listened to from the fifteenth row in a huge church or concert hall.

Admitted though, considering that the mic used in the recording is worth a very nice guitar, two nice mics and a great pre amp it should come out better.
But again - the mic just "reports" the circumstances it's placed in - we can't blame our ears what they hear.

Regards
Per Lindhof
Hi Per, I might have misunderstood your remark about the mic ... but this Neumann is a stereo mic, meaning two mics in one body... It's certainly one of the finest mics lf this kind.

As to near field recording: it's drawbacks are not only the nail and fingering noises but also an unnatural sound as not even the player hears it, not to speak of any other listener. Even the player gets more reflected sound.
But pf course, I don't want to argue with taste....

IMHO every instrument needs space to unfold so that sound and space gets integrated in direct sound and reflections. If that wasn't the case we would strive to record in an anechoic chamber - I think nobody would like that.
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Re: Ideal microphones and mic placement for classical?

Post by attila57 » Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:59 pm

Hello Guys,

Thanks for all your advice! I can see, the topic still hot and evokes some fierce arguments.
From the practical point of view, I'm now still experimenting and testing with the Rode NT2000's, and I can tell, that their tone is much brighter (in the same setup) than that of the K2 tubes'.
They actually complement each other very nicely.
I think some guitars disadvantageous tone (in a particular setuo) can be improved with the clever choice of mics.

Yes, for proper stereo I need an identical pair, but with tricky use and mixing of more channels (like 4 for three mics), you can do a lot.

Attila
Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy...

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Re: Ideal microphones and mic placement for classical?

Post by Per Lindhof » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:52 pm

rojarosguitar wrote:
Per Lindhof wrote:
Hi Hybrid
I can easily see (well hear...) what you and also Denian mean, but I still like the recording.
First of all - she plays a nice composition very well. Secondly I like a present near field recording - even with the drawbacks of nail noice etc. (not that I enjoy it, but if that's the price then...) Basically because I like the guitar being next to me rather than listened to from the fifteenth row in a huge church or concert hall.

Admitted though, considering that the mic used in the recording is worth a very nice guitar, two nice mics and a great pre amp it should come out better.
But again - the mic just "reports" the circumstances it's placed in - we can't blame our ears what they hear.

Regards
Per Lindhof
Hi Per, I might have misunderstood your remark about the mic ... but this Neumann is a stereo mic, meaning two mics in one body... It's certainly one of the finest mics lf this kind.

As to near field recording: it's drawbacks are not only the nail and fingering noises but also an unnatural sound as not even the player hears it, not to speak of any other listener. Even the player gets more reflected sound.
But pf course, I don't want to argue with taste....

IMHO every instrument needs space to unfold so that sound and space gets integrated in direct sound and reflections. If that wasn't the case we would strive to record in an anechoic chamber - I think nobody would like that.
Hi Robert
Yes, the Neumann is a high level stereo mic. I wouldn't mind trying it out this weekend :-)

The definition "near field" is quite unspecific. Some acoustic guitars are recorded 20 cm from the guitar - which I consider "no" field, as there isn't a field at all, it's all strings and undefined guitar body response. To me near field is like if the player and listener are sitting opposite to each other with something like one or two (maybe three) metres between them. When I listen to myself playing I'm actually less than 40 cm from the guitar - but this is listening, not recording.
The case is that ears and microphones are completely different and I guess that we can't compare listening and recording distances.

As for taste my preferred listening situation is the old fashioned way - live together with the musician. And if we analysed such a situation breathing, nail sound small mistakes etc. would be a natural part of it.
On a recording we sometimes seek a perfection that is unnatural and I have never ever heard a recording I would prefere over the sound of a real guitar played well in the real world.
To be honest, to me, the best recordings are the ones I consider "least poor".
But without recordings we would miss a lot of lovely music.

Regards
Per Lindhof

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Re: Ideal microphones and mic placement for classical?

Post by rojarosguitar » Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:35 am

Hi, Per,

Whatever the actual definition of near field might be, it implies (maybe unspoken) that the Instrument doesn't appear as small source. In 'near field' the directional characteristics of the sound radiation are very significant. So much so, that the closer the microphone is, the more selectively it pics up certain parts of the whole radiation, and what it pics up depends crucially on it's position.

I would consider the guitar players ears as definitely being in near field - that's exactly the reason why the guitar sounds so different for the player as compared to what a listener sitting in front of the instrument at the same distance would hear. The guitar radiates higher frequencies almost only forward and the middle range is also quite anisotropic.

As I wrote, anything is possible if one likes it. A relatively closed miced guitar (something like 60 cm distance from the top) can display a richness of sound that is different from what one would normally hear because one is rarely sitting that close.

I don't consider recordings a a substitute for live situations but as a aesthetic form by itself, so when I'm recording I try to find a way to capture the sound in a way that is pleasant and exciting.

Using ribbons (or ribbons supported by some other good mic) seems to be the most satisfying choice for my ears - adequate preamps assumed.
best
Robert
Music is a big continent with different landscapes and corners. Some of them I do visit frequently, some from time to time and some I know from hearsay only ...
My Youtube Channel is: TheMusicalEvents

etherline

Re: Ideal microphones and mic placement for classical?

Post by etherline » Fri Jan 31, 2014 8:32 am

Denian Arcoleo wrote:
rojarosguitar wrote:Within this price range a matched pair of Oktava MK012-1 MSP would be a very good choice (make sure to get it from a reliable source, because there are some counterfeit products on the market). Another set that comes to my mind is Rode NT5 (I don't have experience with them). There are also some Chinese brands and some of them might be actually not bad (I own a pair of sE Electronics C1R ribbons and their are excellent, bought them for 198 € !). Oktavas are more than decent, these are very good microphones (IMHO).
+1, excellent advice. To complete the answers to the query, it is best to have a matched pair in order to produce a stereo recording. Mono classical guitar recordings are not nice to listen to.
I've really enjoyed this thread and others which Robert and Per have started. It's great that there are people here who have done so much CG specific experimenting with microphones. Most other discussions on the web which start with 'classical guitar' always end up with advice about 'acoustic guitar'.

I'm currently choosing some new equipment and this has been very helpful.

One point that I did come across which I wasn't aware of before and I see hasn't been much discussed is that M/S recording can be carried out with two entirely different microphones provided the side microphone has a figure of eight pattern. There is a great article which explains mid side at the UA Audio site which I would recommend to anyone interested.

This causes me something of a quandary - I already have a decent LDC and had intended to buy either a stereo mic or a matched pair to go with the new RPQ500 preamps. However, having looked into M/S recording I am wondering if I could save myself some money and simply buy a single Coles 4038. I don't particularly like the results I have been getting from the LDC (a Neumann TLM193) and as I would have to use the Coles as the side (as the TLM193 is hypercardioid) I wouldn't imagine I would be getting much other benefit from the ribbon. However, as a possibility until I could perhaps afford an SF12 it has some attraction and might allow me to make some interesting attempts at recording in mono at least.

SDCs are out. I hate the sound of the built in ones in my Tascam DR100 (and I have experimented a great deal with position and location) and I'm reluctant to buy Schoeps or DPA or even KM184s.

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Re: Ideal microphones and mic placement for classical?

Post by rojarosguitar » Fri Jan 31, 2014 8:56 am

For ribbon mics you will need a very good preamp with tons of clean gain. Other than that nothing speaks against using a ribbon mic for sides, as ribbons are the prefect incarnation of a figure eight. You have to make sure, though, that this is a real figure eight ribbon, because there are some ribbons that do not have the same characteristic back and front.

The figure eight can be replaced BTW by two cardioids (should be matched). Then you can record onto three channels and you'll have plenty of control after the act of recording.
And it is much cheaper to have two decent SDC for the sides and a good LDC for the mid channel.

Just a thought.

best

Robert
Music is a big continent with different landscapes and corners. Some of them I do visit frequently, some from time to time and some I know from hearsay only ...
My Youtube Channel is: TheMusicalEvents

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