Jump to content
The Klipsch Audio Community
Sign in to follow this  
ILI

How to record live baroque ensembe PWK-style? Advice requested

Recommended Posts

Not sure where to put this question, so admin, feel free to move it to a more appropriate forum.

 

My wife is a cellist and she's with a local amateur baroque ensemble. Twice a year, they give a live concert. Last Sunday, they brought their 'Viva Vivaldi' concert, and the profits go to a good cause. The event was sold out and more than 250 people attended it. 

I was present during dress rehearsal with my video camera (Lumix GH3) and then later, I recorded the full concert (audio only) with a Zoom H (mark I) on a tripod. This recording is very popular now with the musicians and also with some members who could not attend due to ill health.

I'm pretty happy with the result, but hoping to get even better in the future, I would appreciate some feedback and advice, recording in true PWK-style!

 

Here is some more info about the recording settings:

  1. I recorded mp3 (256) instead of wav. Wise decision?
  2. I selected 'auto-gain' instead of setting mic's sensitivity manually (for fear of maxing out)
  3. I put the Zoom H1 in the middle aisle, half way in the hall. Would on-stage mic be better?
  4. There is  a continuous hum in the background, cause by 3 beamers projecting video on screens on stage. Filter this out or not?
  5. This was a mulfifunctional hall, with high ceiling and lots of damping, with very 'dry' accoustics. So I added 'reverb - Cathedral' in post.
  6. The man with the cough... that's me...

 

I've included some video (built-in mic) and two audio files for you to listen to. 

Video (GH3):

https://player.vimeo.com/video/374221837

Audio files (Zoom H1):

Vivaldi-Winter_parts123

Air, Bach

 

Feedback greatly appreciated!

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, ILI said:

Would on-stage mic be better?

Yes.  See figure below from John Eargle's book The Microphone Handbook, pg. 182:

 

1172946689_StringQuartet--RecordingMicrophones.JPG.c5fec5ccb1d2268df38e02a956e11a50.JPG

 

John Eargle worked for PWK during the late 50s-early 60s when Klipsch and Associates produced recordings.  Eargle later when on to a distinguished career at JBL/Harman in California after he furthered his education (I believe he had a masters in organ performance from the Eastman School and a masters in EE from Coopers Union, etc.).  His recordings are outstanding.  He won two Grammy awards as a recording engineer (Joe Williams' Nothin' but the Blues and Ruth Brown's Blues on Broadway), and had many other outstanding recordings on Delos and Reference Recordings, among other recording labels.

 

Chris

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Chris A said:

See figure below from John Eargle's book The Microphone Handbook, pg. 182:

 

Wow, I 've just discovered this is a downloadable pdf.

First look of it, this will be very useful and inspiring, but definitely challenging for my limited skills (and gear).

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chris is definitely on the right "track"!  PWK religiously used two widely spaced omni's.  This minimalist approach supported his desire to use a derived center channel at playback.  The electrical sum of left and right can be shown to be virtually identical to an actual center mic.  Attached is his philosophy in his own words.

Bulletin 570000 KT - draft 001.jpg

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After putting on my reading glasses, this is the essence of PWK RECORDING translated to my digital setup:

  1. Best quality tape --/ wav rather than mp3
  2. 2 omnidirectional mics & accent mic --/ Zoom H1 (stereo) & accent mic (both on stage) Zoom upgrade required.
  3. No one "riding the gain or tone controls" --/ no auto-gain, fixed, manual sensitivity (max dynamic range but risk of clipping)
  4. no "dial twiddling"--/ no reverb(cathedral) in post
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It turns out that 16 bits of digital word depth (CD Red Book quality) is more than sufficient to handle well-behaved music performances.  If a vocalist grabs a microphone (like Little Richard, etc.), then you'll need more than 16 bits in order to handle the microphone "bangs" without severely clipping the output for longer periods of time than you can cover up in mastering.

 

There is a difference in 96 kHz and 48 kHz (or 44.1 kHz used in CD Red Book) in terms of the sound of the decays, but it is not very pronounced unless the original performance is extremely dynamic--usually with percussion.  Otherwise 44.1 kHz/16 is more than just "good enough".

 

Chris

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I record as PWK did...and I have his notes and original hand draw diagrams. Actually rather easy to explain but you need good ears.

 

1. Two mikes, coincidental, placed where your ears want to be.

2. Highest possible resolution. 


The mikes should be omni or figure eight pattern. 

 

Beyond that, PWK...and I...always ensure the recording is in the best acoustics possible. The surrounding space is a critical part of every recording.

 

Dave

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Mallette said:

The surrounding space is a critical part of every recording.

 

In this case, it was a multifunctional community hall with terrible accoustics (in my language we call it 'dry' accoustics). So definitely not a concert hall or a church...

A friend musician (with rockabilly background) reacted: the advantage of recording in a 'dry' venue is that it is easy to do work (like adding reverb) in post. It is much harder the other way round (like taking away unwanted reverb). But all that, of course, is 'dial twiddling', and should be limited, if possible.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, ILI said:

A friend musician (with rockabilly background) reacted: the advantage of recording in a 'dry' venue is that it is easy to do work (like adding reverb) in post.

I can spot synthetic reverb immediately. Never heard one that didn't ruin an acoustic recording. When I record every copy is a master in that it's precisely what the mikes heard, nothing more, nothing less. 

Most of my thoughts are here at https://malletteportolio.com/digital-audio-engineering/ Thoughts on surround recording, with format adopted direct from what PWK called his 8Card, attached. 

Dave

sixcard.pdf

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Mallette said:

Most of my thoughts are here at https://malletteportolio.com/digital-audio-engineering/ Thoughts on surround recording, with format adopted direct from what PWK called his 8Card, attached. 

 

Thank you so much for this link. Going to take time to work myself through all of this. Love the music!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You’ve gotten good advice from Chris @Chris A, Jim @JRH, and Dave @Mallette I’m glad they saw and replied to your post.  

 

My only contribution is to remind you that, while you want the best possible recordings in the future, your recording is the best recording available of that performance.  The fact that those who missed the performance are able to enjoy it is tremendous, as well as the ability to enjoy it again and again.

 

If you can’t Handel success, you might end up baroque.

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/21/2019 at 12:22 PM, ILI said:

After putting on my reading glasses, this is the essence of PWK RECORDING translated to my digital setup:

  1. Best quality tape --/ wav rather than mp3
  2. 2 omnidirectional mics & accent mic --/ Zoom H1 (stereo) & accent mic (both on stage) Zoom upgrade required.

No one "riding the gain or tone controls" --/ no auto-gain, fixed, manual sensitivity (max dynamic range but risk of clipping).

         4. no "dial twiddling"--/ no reverb(cathedral) in post

 

I heard that Fine and company, when recording the Mercury 35 mm full coat 3 channel magnetic film (the polar opposite of execrable mp3) would ask the orchestra to play what they thought was the very loudest passage in the work, and set the record level so that the meters didn't quite go into the red.   They would also listen to a playback of that loud passage, to make sure they didn't hear a problem, because sometimes meters are not as good as the human ear.  They claimed "Full Dynamic Range," even though they would record at a level a little lower than normal (to avoid distortion).  This is plausible, because 35mm mag film with three tracks, each of which was wider than a stereo tape track of those days (c. 1962), had lower hiss than the tape used by most other recordists.  Modern high quality digital (WAV???) should be even better.

 

I always used that level setting technique, but would choose three maximum level samples to set it, because I doubted our ability to pick the very loudest by ear.

 

Can you transport the participants to a good sounding church or cathedral for natural reverb?  The best place I ever recorded was the Congregational Church in downtown San Francisco, but that's a little far for all of you to travel.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, garyrc said:

Can you transport the participants to a good sounding church or cathedral for natural reverb?

 

I did a recording with the same Zoom H1 some years ago, in a church in Ypres (Flanders). The accoustics were really good there. In post, I replaced the video's audio with the Zoom audio. No 'dial twiddling' was done in post. This is just the natural reverb of the church. 

(You can see the Zoom on a little tripod, in front of the musicians.)

 

 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The new generation of 32 bit float file recorders will change a lot about the way people work.  They capture the mic signal at unity gain, with the file format capable of setting the ideal volume later with no penalties.   At least, that's the idea.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, EMRR said:

The new generation of 32 bit float file recorders will change a lot about the way people work.  They capture the mic signal at unity gain, with the file format capable of setting the ideal volume later with no penalties.   At least, that's the idea.  

A bit like a raw image file in photography. Interesting concept.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last night, I had another opportunity to practice my recording skills. Again, I was seated in the public (actually to the left of the orchestra). Taking into account the information I received in this thread, I set up the Zoom H1 like this: wav (48Khz, 24 bit), level 80%, (auto level off)). Nothing was done in post, except cutting. Exported to mp3 (320) with Audacity.

 

Link to an audio extract (Vivaldi, opus 2 nr 3, Concerto for strings)

Venue: Arabeska Christmas concert in church of Serskamp (Belgium), 21/12/2019.

 

IMG_20191221_211331.thumb.jpg.1edd94a4a0c009e082b75c31b245ca47.jpg

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...