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Author Topic: Recording Singing bowls and gongs  (Read 3611 times)

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Offline Brian Skalinder

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Re: Recording Singing bowls and gongs
« Reply #30 on: September 30, 2016, 12:57:22 PM »
I don't have much to add in the way of specific mic configurations beyond what Gut and others have suggested.  Gut is one of the most creative people I know in terms of trying out all manner of configurations in challenging situations.  He gives good advice!

I read through the thread, but didn't see much on what, for me, is an important first question / set of questions (apologies if I scanned too quickly and missed it):  What about your recordings so far do you...
  • Hear and like?
  • Hear and not like?
  • Don't hear and don't like?
  • Don't hear and like?
Answering at least the first couple questions may help inform the approach you take when considering and trying out new configurations.  This is partly my lack of experience speaking, but not knowing answers to some of those questions results in an almost academic discussion.  Nothing wrong with that, and it certainly provides a good starting point.  And no matter what, it'll take no small amount of trial and error...which, really, will never end since the recording spaces and setup may differ from location to location.  That said, I think you'll be able to ramp up the learning / trial & error curve a bit more swiftly if you refine your configurations and techniques with the end in mind.

actually have one recording up on Sound Cloud I did at a conference where I was asked to give a lecture & then play afterwards. That was recorded with the X/Y capsules of the Zoom H6 module

It was a very noisy room and a hallway next to where I was at that led to the kitchen. I think I will try running that through RX5 to see what I can do with it. When I 1st worked on it I used Audacity.

It would be a good test piece to see what a "before & after" sounds like. Meaning what I did to "fix" this recording & what I could do now with better software.

https://soundcloud.com/the-singing-bowl-guy

I think the Sound Cloud sample sounds really nice!  I've done a fair share of recording of unamplified music in quiet spaces, primarily small choruses in churches.  In my experience, the extraneous sounds you're getting -- primarily from attendees breathing, sniffing, coughing, rustling their clothes and such -- are essentially unavoidable, no matter what you do.  And I think the noisiness in this recording is minimal!

That said, I've not played around much with RX, but I've heard some people here do amazing work.

Looks like you've posted since I started composing my reply, and have answered, at least in part, some of my questions.  Looking forward to seeing where this thread leads and hopefully hearing samples of some of the results!

Offline SacredMetal

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Re: Recording Singing bowls and gongs
« Reply #31 on: September 30, 2016, 03:05:35 PM »
I don't have much to add in the way of specific mic configurations beyond what Gut and others have suggested.  Gut is one of the most creative people I know in terms of trying out all manner of configurations in challenging situations.  He gives good advice!

I read through the thread, but didn't see much on what, for me, is an important first question / set of questions (apologies if I scanned too quickly and missed it):  What about your recordings so far do you...
  • Hear and like? Space and feel of presentation within limits of room/ mechanical or other noises
  • Hear and not like? room & mechanical noises. Trying to eliminate them is challenging like in a place I played a few times the A/c was not running then after I started they turned it on. Even with mics facing away it was over powering, almost useless recording in some parts. When that happens, "to the cutting room floor"
  • Don't hear and don't like? Quieter bowls and or bells, I would like them louder but only in context with rest of setup. Seemed a bit too low afterwards but sounded fine when I was playing. In other words capturing what I hear has been the biggest challenge. What I hear "onstage" is completely different from what they hear sometimes. This is due to proximity effect of certain bowls and gongs being nearby or within a wave partial of a harmonic. Its hard to explain because you need to be in the drivers seat & have the instruments in front & around you. Some bowls and or gongs will vibrate even if not struck directly due to resonance so a lot is going on up there with me. I have the best seat in the house all the time, sometimes I can get lost in what I am doing because it can be very intense.
  • Don't hear and like?
When I can capture the decay of a bowl or bell all the way out and the ambience of the space or other noises don't overwhelm it, then its pure magic!  :headphones:

Answering at least the first couple questions may help inform the approach you take when considering and trying out new configurations.  This is partly my lack of experience speaking, but not knowing answers to some of those questions results in an almost academic discussion.  Nothing wrong with that, and it certainly provides a good starting point.  And no matter what, it'll take no small amount of trial and error...which, really, will never end since the recording spaces and setup may differ from location to location.  That said, I think you'll be able to ramp up the learning / trial & error curve a bit more swiftly if you refine your configurations and techniques with the end in mind.

actually have one recording up on Sound Cloud I did at a conference where I was asked to give a lecture & then play afterwards. That was recorded with the X/Y capsules of the Zoom H6 module

It was a very noisy room and a hallway next to where I was at that led to the kitchen. I think I will try running that through RX5 to see what I can do with it. When I 1st worked on it I used Audacity.

It would be a good test piece to see what a "before & after" sounds like. Meaning what I did to "fix" this recording & what I could do now with better software.

https://soundcloud.com/the-singing-bowl-guy

I think the Sound Cloud sample sounds really nice!  I've done a fair share of recording of unamplified music in quiet spaces, primarily small choruses in churches.  In my experience, the extraneous sounds you're getting -- primarily from attendees breathing, sniffing, coughing, rustling their clothes and such -- are essentially unavoidable, no matter what you do.  And I think the noisiness in this recording is minimal! Thanks, you should have heard it originally, they were pushing carts with empty water glasses and banging service doors next to me (in hall). There was a loud feedback section I took out in the beginning when we tried to mic it to the PA. Things were going fine at 1st  but we developed a runaway oscillation that we could not stop that took several seconds after the mic was cutoff to finally stop. NOW that what I called a learning experience. Most sound techs look at my setup & just cringe, so I have to get in there to help them. We have only tried to amplify it a couple times. Usually I play unamped But for larger venues, that can be a problem & is starting become one as i keep growing my audience. That will be the next challenge, but then I have to deal with a mixer and hopefully can find someone to run it. Then it changes again... maybe?!

That said, I've not played around much with RX, but I've heard some people here do amazing work. A little different from Audition but I have been told its the way to go by many. I only got the stater version for now, I plan on full suite down the road but I needed to be able to spectral paint the warts out.

Looks like you've posted since I started composing my reply, and have answered, at least in part, some of my questions.  Looking forward to seeing where this thread leads and hopefully hearing samples of some of the results!
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Offline SacredMetal

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Re: Recording Singing bowls and gongs
« Reply #32 on: September 30, 2016, 03:07:36 PM »
What a wonderful addition to the TS club! :cheers:

I've recorded Tatsuya Nakatani several times with a couple basic set ups... split ADK TL omnis spaced about 6' or a single DINa pair of DPA 4021. His style is more percussion and gong centric with a few bowl flavors mixed in, but the challenge is similar.

The rooms have varied. The audiences have been uniformly transfixed during his performances so what ever variations might occur to change the sound is all due to room effects.

We'd love to hear some of your work, now and if you adopt any of the great recommendations discussed.

You need to check out Micheal Bettine > http://www.gongtopia.com/
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Offline Ben Turnbull

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Re: Recording Singing bowls and gongs
« Reply #33 on: October 01, 2016, 12:11:52 AM »
^ Now that is some interesting material.  Very layered.  The use of vocalizations adds a texture that predominates me thinks.  Still can hear the gong work in the back ground though... at least on the few cuts I've sampled. 

Thanks for  the link!  :coolguy:
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Offline SacredMetal

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Re: Recording Singing bowls and gongs
« Reply #34 on: October 01, 2016, 12:28:16 AM »
There are a lot more of us gong players out there but few record themselves. Micheal just picked up a H6 not too long ago so he's having some fun, too  ;D
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Offline powermonkey

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Re: Recording Singing bowls and gongs
« Reply #35 on: October 02, 2016, 04:08:35 PM »
This is one of the most interesting threads I've come across on here. I love singing bowls :)
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Re: Recording Singing bowls and gongs
« Reply #36 on: October 02, 2016, 07:02:09 PM »
This is one of the most interesting threads I've come across on here. I love singing bowls :)

Well glad to be here to entertain...

Actually finding a group of peeps that didn't give me that funny look when I showed up or when I "opened my mouth" asking asking questions.

You guyz have helped me to rethink my setup not in just how I approach recording it but also in how I set my bowls and gongs up.
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Re: Recording Singing bowls and gongs
« Reply #37 on: October 03, 2016, 02:10:02 PM »
In other words capturing what I hear has been the biggest challenge. What I hear "onstage" is completely different from what they hear sometimes. This is due to proximity effect of certain bowls and gongs being nearby or within a wave partial of a harmonic. Its hard to explain because you need to be in the drivers seat & have the instruments in front & around you. Some bowls and or gongs will vibrate even if not struck directly due to resonance so a lot is going on up there with me. I have the best seat in the house all the time, sometimes I can get lost in what I am doing because it can be very intense. [/color]

This and some other suggestions make me think the idea I thought I saw mentioned of setting up cards low essentially adjacent or near your position facing the bowls might have promise.  If the gongs are behind or directly above cards they will certainly be picked up but not emphasized as they are when mics are facing them.  I suspect that would also make the gongs seem more resonant and less direct/struck. 

Mics do reflect the placement and orientation.  IMO if it should sound like what you hear at a certain position put them where you hear that sound. 

As far as bands go stage sound is often radically different than audience sound.  The directional component matters (with omnis too).  Instrumental balance is always a tough one and as you've found varies based on a number of factors.  You are essentially working with a band of many many voices...  It is a lot to sift through.  Trial and error, though your results seem good.   

The soundcloud sample sounds very nice.   
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Re: Recording Singing bowls and gongs
« Reply #38 on: October 03, 2016, 05:58:13 PM »
What about your recordings so far do you...
  • Hear and like? Space and feel of presentation within limits of room/ mechanical or other noises
  • Hear and not like? room & mechanical noises. Trying to eliminate them is challenging like in a place I played a few times the A/c was not running then after I started they turned it on. Even with mics facing away it was over powering, almost useless recording in some parts. When that happens, "to the cutting room floor"
  • Don't hear and don't like? Quieter bowls and or bells, I would like them louder but only in context with rest of setup. Seemed a bit too low afterwards but sounded fine when I was playing. In other words capturing what I hear has been the biggest challenge. What I hear "onstage" is completely different from what they hear sometimes. This is due to proximity effect of certain bowls and gongs being nearby or within a wave partial of a harmonic. Its hard to explain because you need to be in the drivers seat & have the instruments in front & around you. Some bowls and or gongs will vibrate even if not struck directly due to resonance so a lot is going on up there with me. I have the best seat in the house all the time, sometimes I can get lost in what I am doing because it can be very intense.
  • Don't hear and like?
When I can capture the decay of a bowl or bell all the way out and the ambience of the space or other noises don't overwhelm it, then its pure magic!  :headphones:

I've not played around much with RX, but I've heard some people here do amazing work. A little different from Audition but I have been told its the way to go by many. I only got the stater version for now, I plan on full suite down the road but I needed to be able to spectral paint the warts out.

Reading your responses above, two basic issues come to mind in terms of post processing the recordings- cleaning stuff you don't want (unwanted sounds) from the recordings, and making sure the stuff you do want in the recordings is heard clearly and in proper balance.

I don't want to get into the cleaning things up part now, but the tools for that grow increasingly powerful as time rolls on.  Izotope RX is a leader, but there are other softwares which are comparable.  I use Samplitude which includes similar tools and functionality in it's Cleaning and Restoration Suite, and am aware that the current version of Sound Forge does too.  There are others as well which I don't recall or know of off hand.

In regards to manipulation of the stuff you do want-  Control over signal level dynamics is fundamental, yet it's manipulation can be complex to get a handle on and can be difficult to manipulate transparently in ways which are not obvious to the listener, at least one paying attention and listening closely.  Ideally, the end listener should not be aware of any dynamics manipulation, only it's absence, at which point the difference would suddenly become obvious. 

I find it useful to think of post processing of dynamics in terms of different categories of opposing extremes which all fit under the umbrella term and to treat each separately, rather than trying to use just one or two dynamics manipulations to take care of everything.  In terms of opposing extremes, a few are: the loud events at the top of the level range versus the quiet details at the bottom of the level range, and the fast peak transients versus the longer term swells in loudness.  using separate approaches tuned appropriately to target each of those aspects separately produce better results for me.

Check out the threads here on limiting, dynamics compression, and parallel compression.  All are forms of dynamics compression, but use very different settings to target different ranges and events.  Limiting works on the "fast stuff at the loud end of things".  Redrawing peaks by hand, or adjusting volume envelopes to reduce the level of large peaks is a form of manually applied limiting.  Compression, as generally applied, or manually applied volume envelopes covering larger regions, "reduces the level of longer average time scale loud events".  Parallel compression works at the other end of the scale, bringing up the level of the softer sounds and the clarity of subtle details which would otherwise only be audible at high listening levels.  It's a "bottom-up"  approach.  A compressor set with a very low threshold, a mild ratio, and appropriate attack and release settings can act similarly to parallel compression, but the settings are key to retaining transparency.  This kind of thing can vastly improve issues dealing with some things sounding overbearing while other stuff is barely audible.  It can also bring out background noise and all kinds of low level distractions which live down there at the bottom with the desirable detail, so it goes hand in hand with cleaning up the recordings and benefits from a subtle-handed approach.

Fixing all the dynamics aspects of a recording "one problem at a time" using various approaches in combination will often be more productive than trying to apply a bunch of compression in one go.  And mastering that successfully can make cleanly capturing a more extreme dynamic range in the raw recording than you want for the finished recording an advantage rather than a problem.

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Offline SacredMetal

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Re: Recording Singing bowls and gongs
« Reply #39 on: October 03, 2016, 07:36:29 PM »
Thank you GUTBUCKET!!!

I will be rereading your point carefully again. Yes, I am in total agreement with most of it. What I have done currently is use Audition mostly to draw out what I don't want & blend the little artifact ticks that may crop up after cleaning it up. Rather than try to analyze the entire project or large section and expect the computer to do all the work. 

I have had some horrible producing done with some of my material left in the hands of others that did not follow my vision, to the point of I just won't listen to it myself.

I prefer minimal disruption to the source, but I am not opposed to the cutting room floor if its necessary. Sometimes its needs to save something worth saving. Then I can heads or tails fade it back in and usually get it pretty good.

I think I will pick a piece to "play" with and maybe post before and after in another post & see if some of us can dissect it. I'll keep it reasonably short because most of my pieces are one continuous hour or a series of "movements" strung together. Thanks again & keep the comments coming!
« Last Edit: October 03, 2016, 09:15:22 PM by SacredMetal »
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Offline SacredMetal

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Re: Recording Singing bowls and gongs
« Reply #40 on: October 04, 2016, 12:53:24 AM »
Trying to figure out if my link to some of my setups will work... Testing

https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/t31.0-8/14500630_10208895515479066_563655313108939731_o.jpg


BTW, The pic looks off center but it isn't its actually the way the shot came out

Another setup, same space. This was my studio until about 1 month ago. I could lay out between 22-24 or so depending on gong setup.

https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/t31.0-8/14589903_10208895498278636_6955258121077127839_o.jpg

I may have some more pics of the setups. Like I said I'm testing this out so if works, I'll move the pics to stand setup(?) section

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Offline rocksuitcase

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Re: Recording Singing bowls and gongs
« Reply #41 on: October 04, 2016, 09:58:10 AM »
Trying to figure out if my link to some of my setups will work... Testing

https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/t31.0-8/14500630_10208895515479066_563655313108939731_o.jpg


BTW, The pic looks off center but it isn't its actually the way the shot came out

Another setup, same space. This was my studio until about 1 month ago. I could lay out between 22-24 or so depending on gong setup.

https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/t31.0-8/14589903_10208895498278636_6955258121077127839_o.jpg

I may have some more pics of the setups. Like I said I'm testing this out so if works, I'll move the pics to stand setup(?) section
I was able to view the two photos. I like the view of the gongs in the second photo.
It is the rig pics section. I'd say you should keep the links in this thread for the purposes of this discussion. But just for fun and to maybe get different eyes on your set-up post a few rig pics photos.
One thing I notice is that there are multiple methods for reading TS.com. I use the "show unread posts" link to the upper RT typically, but others may filter or view differently. So, posting outside of this thread may get you more eyes on the photos of your rig(s).
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Re: Recording Singing bowls and gongs
« Reply #42 on: October 04, 2016, 10:03:47 AM »
Thanks. This was a test cause the pics are actually posted up on FaceBook> Many of them get taken by others. Lastly I am not a photogenic kind of guy, so pics are always the last thing I think of meaning I'm all packed away & driving home in the van and I go "Sh*t, I forgot to take pictures again..."  :-[
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Re: Recording Singing bowls and gongs
« Reply #43 on: October 04, 2016, 10:18:06 AM »
Trying to figure out if my link to some of my setups will work... Testing

https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/t31.0-8/14500630_10208895515479066_563655313108939731_o.jpg

Just a comment on the microphone configuration in the above photo.  Not sure if it is showing them "as setup to record" or not, but when using a near-spaced configuration such as that, it's best to angle the mics so that they face outwards (pointing away from each other) rather than inwards (crossing each other in front).  That way the stereophonic level differences and stereophonic time of arrival differences complement each other rather than contradicting each other.  It is common to see coincident or near-spaced stereo setups using "end address" small diaphragm microphones with the mic bodies arranged horizontally and crossing each other because the mic body housing extends from the rear of the microphone capsule, yet the microphone capsules themselves should remain either on their "own" side or coincident with each other (in the same vertical plane) rather than on the "opposite side" peering across the axis of the other mic.
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Re: Recording Singing bowls and gongs
« Reply #44 on: October 04, 2016, 10:20:48 AM »
May I suggest a stereo pair above and behind you? Capture what you here by placing the mics in the same relative position to the instrument as your ears.

Use the Microphonic Zoom concept to adjust your stereo image and you should be golden.
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