What about your recordings so far do you...
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!
- 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?
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.