recording in stereo

Creating a home studio for recording the classical guitar. Equipment, software and recording techniques. Amplification for live performance.
ricstang

recording in stereo

Post by ricstang » Wed Jul 19, 2006 4:09 pm

I was just watching the John Williams Seville Concert, and I noticed that for every performance, he has 2 mics in front of him. I assume this is to get a stereo sound even though both mics must be picking up pretty much the same thing.
My question is this: would it benifit a home recording to set up 2 mics and record in stereo? Right now I only have one XLR input for my soundcard, so I would have to connect the 2 mics via a y-cable or some other adapter, but then would that defeat the purpose? Would it really sound any better or more full?
I would experiment, but currently I only have one microphone. If anyone knows about this, any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks- Ric

Azalais

Post by Azalais » Wed Jul 19, 2006 4:29 pm

It depends what quality level you are trying to record for... if it is for posting on the web... don't bother! by the time you compress the file (and drop it back to mono) to comply with size restrictions, you wouldn't gain anything. :roll: If it is for a cd, it might be worth looking into...

alter Ton

Post by alter Ton » Wed Jul 19, 2006 5:30 pm

Ricstang:
What soundcard do you have? I've never seen a soundcard with a direct XLR; all the ones I have seen require breakout cables and/or a breakout box to get XLR connectors.

Azalais

Post by Azalais » Wed Jul 19, 2006 5:44 pm

You could do it with something like a Fostex M8 (and save to compact flash or transfer via USB)... it has 2 XLR ins and/or 1/4 cable jacks. (In theory you can do 32 channels... :roll: )

ricstang

Post by ricstang » Wed Jul 19, 2006 6:48 pm

I'm using an external soundcard. It's a M Audio fast track USB unit that you can plug a mic into (XLR) and it has a USB out to go into the back of my computer. There are sensitivity and output level controls on the unit. The thing is; there is only one input, so I don't think I can ever get true stereo sound. I'm thinking about CD quality, where I don't have to compress the file and I can convert it into a 320 kbs mp3 instead of the 96 kbs limit on the forum. Right now I'm using a Shure SM-57 and I was thinking that if I combined that with a condenser mic at 2 different locations (maybe one by the bridge and one more by the neck) it would sound more full. Thanks for the help- Ric

alter Ton

Post by alter Ton » Wed Jul 19, 2006 7:05 pm

I see, just a terminology issue. I've always heard and used audio interface for what you have and soundcard for cards that plug directly onto the motherboards PCI slot.

It appears that what you have is a mono unit, so even if you used a splitter to get 2 mics into the input you would in effect be recording to a single track (mono). Now, you may get a fuller sound using two mics as you describe but you may also get undesirable artifacts as well. If acquiring another mic is not a big deal (or is something you want to do regardless) then by all means go ahead and try it. You may get good results, although your actual recorded file will still be mono. You would need an interface with two inputs to record a stereo file.

Azalais

Post by Azalais » Wed Jul 19, 2006 8:29 pm

They do make stereo plug mics for minidisc recorders (one miniplug stereo input)... with about 2 meters of separation... and they do record to L & R tracks. (I can go back and dig mine out and try it with the newer USB external SoundBlaster [Creative Audigen] "sound card" I have for my laptop... I forgot to try that! (yes it really does bypass the OEM PCI soundcard)

put your credit card in a safe place and then go see what these guys might have: http://www.microphonemadness.com/

alter Ton

Post by alter Ton » Wed Jul 19, 2006 9:07 pm

Azalais wrote:They do make stereo plug mics for minidisc recorders (one miniplug stereo input)... with about 2 meters of separation... and they do record to L & R tracks. (I can go back and dig mine out and try it with the newer USB external SoundBlaster [Creative Audigen] "sound card" I have for my laptop... I forgot to try that! (yes it really does bypass the OEM PCI soundcard)

put your credit card in a safe place and then go see what these guys might have: http://www.microphonemadness.com/
The only issue is that, except for the Sony MZ-M100, minidisc recorders use lossy compression (ATRAC) to store audio. Great for uploads and practice, but not so great if the tracks are destined for a CD.

Azalais

Post by Azalais » Wed Jul 19, 2006 9:46 pm

:oops: The MD was a beta version... a hand-me-down from my son about six years ago (I should have known that if he was willing to part with it, it was last century's technology... :roll:) It definitely does have its (size) advantages... and sounds great as long as you don't try to export the recordings... but you're right... I finally convinced myself that that generation MD was definitely not the best way to record studio quality CDs!!

If you are a conspiracy theorist... you can add this "gift" to the list of gadgets that one buys looking for a "work around"... you buy the microphones to go with the MD, then you upgrade to something that lets you use the microphones..... and on and on.... (In the meantime the new stuff makes all of the interim stuff unnecessary!) It's a vast plot to clutter your work space and distract you from practicing :wink:

Guitar Slim

Re: recording in stereo

Post by Guitar Slim » Thu Jul 20, 2006 7:09 pm

ricstang wrote:I was just watching the John Williams Seville Concert, and I noticed that for every performance, he has 2 mics in front of him. I assume this is to get a stereo sound even though both mics must be picking up pretty much the same thing.
My question is this: would it benifit a home recording to set up 2 mics and record in stereo? Right now I only have one XLR input for my soundcard, so I would have to connect the 2 mics via a y-cable or some other adapter, but then would that defeat the purpose? Would it really sound any better or more full?
I would experiment, but currently I only have one microphone. If anyone knows about this, any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks- Ric
Yes, yes and yes! You will rarely hear a modern professional recording of acoustic guitar -- solo or otherwise -- that is not recorded in stereo. Both mics are not picking up the same thing, that's actually the whole point.

Look at it this way. Mic placement is extremely important when recording acoustic guitar. If you point a mic directly at the sound hole, you will get a very different sound than if you point a mic at the neck. Stereo micing lets you record sound from multiple locations on the guitar and mix them together to get a fuller, more detailed and more accurate sound.

Combining the signal from two mics into a single, mono input may defeat the purpose. You want to record in real stereo. If you only have a single XLR input on your soundcard (or interface or whatever), your best bet is to connect the mics to two separate channels on a mixing board. Pan one channel hard left, the other hard right. Run the line-level output from the mixing board into the line-level stereo input on your soundcard. Depending on the software you use, you will need to record two separate tracks -- simultaneously of course -- one for the left channel, one for the right channel. If your software permits, you can also record to a single stereo track. Preserve the left and right panning to create a wider, more "live" sound.

Stereo micing works best with a matched pair of mics and preamps (any XLR input should have a built-in preamp). I don't do stereo micing at the moment because I only have one good mic. As soon as my budget allows, I plan to either buy a matched set of mics, or a single mic that is identical to the one I already own and start doing all of my recordings in stereo.

Do a Google search on "recording the acoustic guitar" or something similar and you should find some good information on stereo mic placement, mixing, etc.

Does this help?

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