3 posts

  • avatar
    103 sounds
    205 posts
    ambient music recording

    dear freesounders
    I'm trying to find informations on one experiment posted time ago here in Fs:
    il was a multiple recording in the streets of a town, eventually rendered as a web project.

    it happens that a little orchestra of friends will "sonorize" a location in open air, and I'm trying to imagine what I can do with my poor equipment and tech knowledge.
    some mics placed in various locations... one mic to record the whole soundscape from far... then maybe merging all sounds in a 5+1 track... the result could be a video and-or a web page: I'm expert about video, some skill for a web page, almost zero skill to arrange a multiple recording

    any information / suggestion is welcomed

  • avatar
    2005 sounds
    2169 posts

    Hello cajo

    What you need depends partially on what you want to do with it.

    If you want to be able to mix and master the recording you need 'independent' recordings of each instrument (meaning a close mic for each instrument). - For example, this will allow you to adjust the volume of independent instruments, if one happens to be too loud or too faint.
    You really need a multi-input device. This could be a multi-input soundcard and a pc/laptop. Some portbable recorders also offer this possibility as they have multiple inputs.

    However, sounds like you are trying to make do with the equipment you already have. Also, noting that if the end result is going to be video and/or audio to be streamed over the internet, a high quality / high fidelity setup and equipment is probably not required.
    A well placed handheld recorder, such as a Zoom H1, is likely to record a pretty natural sound and may be all that you require.
    In relation to a handheld recorder I would say:
    - make sure you have a windshield.
    - If necessary place something behind the recorder to insulate ambient sound - hard materials (stone, brick, wood) are bad as they can create sound reflections, soft materials are better (foam, blanket, etc). This may not be necessary, so you should test the recorder on the location, if possible. If some spectator noise is OK, then don't worry about this.
    - The recorder should be placed at least 1m from the ground. Mounting on a photographic tripod would be a good solution.

    If you have the 5 or 6 microphones that you would require and the mounts to place them you can try a 'mixed setup'. If you have a mixing table (or can borrow one), you can connect the mics to the mixing table and the output of the table to the handheld recorder. A pair of headphones connected to the output of the recorder will allow you to monitor what is going on.
    This option will allow you to test and adjust the location of the various mics and their volumes in the mixer. But once you are happy with the setup and you are actually recordding, you will be recording everything to a single stereo track - it will no longer be possible to split and process individual instrument tracks.

    Pros and cons
    1) separate track for each instrument
    - Allows adjustment of each microphone placement and individual instrument volumes
    - easy to post-process recordings afterwards, if needed, using a PC and a DAW or sample editor
    - Requires large number of microphones
    - Requires specialized equipment (multi-input soundcard)
    - May not result in a natural sound as each instrument is usually recorded in mono and then 'placed' in the stereo field using pan/volume/processing.
    - true stereo recording of each instrument is possible, but would require even more mics: two per instrument instead of one.
    - Instruments will bleed into each-others' mics and multiple mics can introduce unwanted phasing effects.

    2) Hand-held recorder
    - Should preserve a natural and true stereo feel of the event (pretty much what a listener on that location would experience).
    - Cheap and simple. Uses equipment you already have.
    - Limited degree of control over mic placement one mic has to capture all instruments. This has some limitations, e.g., the stereo mic will not be at the same distance from all instruments and this will make some instruments louder than others. There is no way to correct this.
    - Almost impossible to post process the recording to adjust individual instrument volumes (unless it can be reswolved with a pretty simple EQ), remove unwanted noise, etc.
    - Post-processing is pretty much limited to EQ and compression (which can actually bring up unwanted ambient noise)
    - Possible a lower quality recording (but may be enough for what you need)

    3) mixed setup: multi-microphone going into a mixer with stereo output to handheld recorder
    - Good control over mic placement.
    - Allows for pre-setup to optmimize level and position of each mic.
    - Might be possible to make adjustments during the performance (if someone is maning the mixer during the performance)
    - Requires large number of microphones
    - The recording is still to a single stereo track so post-processing is limited.

    Option 3) is a good choice if you want to experiment with multi-mic recordings and can borrow a mixer for the day.
    Make sure you have the means to power the mixer (batteries or AC) that will last the whole performance.

    If using a handheld recorder, make sure you have new batteries and at least a spare set of batteries and an empty memory card to record into (or more than one if the performance time is longer than the space on a single card).

    Happy recording !

    I want to believe.
  • avatar
    103 sounds
    205 posts

    thanks AlienXXX!
    plenty of advices, precious.
    I add one low-tech idea: a smartphone near each musician, as a cheap multi recording.

    the other field is the web - I mentioned that project seen here in FS (was it Barcelona?).
    a good way to enjoy multiple recording (one for each instrument and one total in distance) could be a web page with a map of the location (an abandoned castle) and several active points for instruments: all tracks are running in sinc but one hear only the total soundscape - when you move cursor over a point, the instrument sound will go up in volume, always in sinc with other tracks.
    sadly I'm not able to do this. I'll ask to flashplayerists...

    THANKS again!!!

    3 posts