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Author Topic: Advice? Recording sounds great on headphones, crap on stereo  (Read 1198 times)

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Offline Unitmonster

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Advice? Recording sounds great on headphones, crap on stereo
« on: January 31, 2020, 11:00:12 PM »
First post in a long time here. I recorded a duo last night at a very small venue. Mics were hung from the ceiling in ortf configuration (sub-cardioid caps).

Came home and listened on my sony cans and sounds good considering the sound in the venue. Yay! Spent the evening editing and tracking, still sounds good on my cans.

Finally play things back on my home stereo to enjoy the fruits of the labour and it sounds horrible! Same stereo i've had for years (B&W 702 speakers), so nothing weird there, but the vocals which were prominent on my headphones are totally lost in the mix and muddy. I know the Sony monitors are very flat and might therefore downplay the bass, but I've never had a case this extreme.

Needless to say, I'm feeling frustrated about the prospect of having to start over again.

Any suggestions on why this might have happened?

Thanks!

ps. here's a link to a track if it helps. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1yxmzWailvXswJd2zLrAERvu9zhhVx1eO
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Offline fandelive

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Re: Advice? Recording sounds great on headphones, crap on stereo
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2020, 07:18:34 AM »
I'm not a specialist but ORTF with sub cards, you're probably missing alot of what happened in the center.
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Offline DATBRAD

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Re: Advice? Recording sounds great on headphones, crap on stereo
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2020, 12:17:01 PM »
I didn't listen to the sample, but I can tell you I've run into this many times over the course of my taping career. ORTF is designed to replicate a first person listening experience like what we would hear if physically inserted into the position of the recording. It does this by using a combination of spacing and lack of linear off axis frequency response with the wide pattern angle to match the approximate inter-channel time differences of an average person's head, combined with the effect of the front half of the head shadowing sound from the opposite side of each ear. The 110* angle and 17cm near coincidence produces an effect similar to the binaural dummy head or baffled omni pair. The phase differences that make an ORTF recording sound the most realistic through headphones can result in poor sound through spaced loudpeakers. I know it's counter intuitive, but stereo recordings need to be mono compatible to play best through loudspeakers without phase cancellations of certain frequencies based on the width of the speaker placement, listening room acoustics, etc. Alternatives.....well, XY is great for a stereo pair of speakers, but the image can sound too centered with headphones. DIN uses the same 90* angle for intensity differences, but adds just enough spacing to sound good with headphones as well as speakers. I find DIN works better at a long distance and XY when on the stage. Try that next time and see if that doesn't fix the problem you hear with ORTF.
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Offline Unitmonster

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Re: Advice? Recording sounds great on headphones, crap on stereo
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2020, 02:00:22 PM »
Thanks for the insights! Yeah, i figured that the sub-card mic pattern would avoid too much of a 'hole' in the soundstage but somehow the vocals literally disappear on spaced loudspeakers. Live and learn i guess! Next time i'll try x/y.
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Offline morst

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Re: Advice? Recording sounds great on headphones, crap on stereo
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2020, 02:14:30 PM »
Thanks for the insights! Yeah, i figured that the sub-card mic pattern would avoid too much of a 'hole' in the soundstage but somehow the vocals literally disappear on spaced loudspeakers. Live and learn i guess! Next time i'll try x/y.
You could try inverting the absolute polarity of one channel? Perhaps the modified mics were wired backwards? (oops sorry wrong thread, but are the mics and cables wired identically? ARE YOUR SPEAKERS WIRED THE SAME?)


Also I thought ORTF was designed for Cardioid caps... not that you can't do whatever you like!?
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Offline DSatz

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Re: Advice? Recording sounds great on headphones, crap on stereo
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2020, 08:34:19 PM »
Headphones separate the left and right playback channels absolutely, and eliminate (bypass) the reverberance of the listening room. If you record from a position where there's excessive reverberation, your headphones may tell you that the balance is perfect. Likewise, if you choose microphones that are overly broad in their pickup patterns, and/or if you place them too close together, and/or if you angle them too narrowly apart from one another, the sound over headphones may be pleasant indeed, but the recording can very easily sound washed out and "meh" over loudspeakers.

You need to choose and place your microphones so that the sound, as heard through headphones, is too clear, too present, and "too stereo", so that it will sound good over loudspeakers. It takes a lot of practice to translate between the two realms; you will make some big mistakes along the way unless you're spectacularly lucky. I would honestly say that it took me years to learn what does and what doesn't carry over from headphones to loudspeakers--and still I get it wrong sometimes, and feel disappointed. It's a risky business no matter what.

I would advise people to choose headphones that have the smallest amount of pleasant coloration and the greatest amount of isolation that you can find. The headphones that I consider good for monitoring are never among the popular types for enjoyable listening. Also, in almost 50 years of recording I've switched headphone types only twice. Both times, it was months before I could use the new headphones as an adequate guide to mike placement. And there are still some times when I force myself to override what I hear--generally to push in for a little more clarity, and/or to open up the angle between closely-spaced microphones for greater spaciousness, because those are the qualities that headphones will tell you that your recording already has, when it doesn't.

--best regards
« Last Edit: February 05, 2020, 07:11:51 PM by DSatz »
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Offline jerryfreak

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Re: Advice? Recording sounds great on headphones, crap on stereo
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2020, 08:52:10 PM »
well said

and a good argument for mastering on monitors vs phones
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Re: Advice? Recording sounds great on headphones, crap on stereo
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2020, 08:58:06 PM »
I'll be one of the only ones to say this but...

"Mastering" your recording is a waste of time.  Presenting the raw tape is best, IMO.  Everyone listens to music differently, and on different systems.  What sounds good to you on yours may sound like junk on another's.  I say let the end user tweak the recording to their taste.

If you want to tweak your tapes for yourself, do so in a manner that sounds good on the system you listen to most.  Mastering with cans, then listening via stereo is just guess-work.  Master through your stereo, and then you'll know exactly what it will sound like when you play it back via the same stereo.

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Re: Advice? Recording sounds great on headphones, crap on stereo
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2020, 10:31:01 PM »
"Mastering" your recording is a waste of time.  Presenting the raw tape is best, IMO.  Everyone listens to music differently, and on different systems.  What sounds good to you on yours may sound like junk on another's.  I say let the end user tweak the recording to their taste.
I would love to discuss this but I think it deserves its own thread. My short take is that it depends what you mean by mastering. I don't EQ & I don't compress because I think end users can do that themselves. I do gain + limit to achieve optimum levels in post (so listeners are not overly surprised by volume changes if they choose to shuffle the tracks), and sometimes I eliminate or lower clapping sounds. But if you mean making spectral decisions based on pro-sumer monitoring gear? Yeah. Avoid.


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Offline jerryfreak

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Re: Advice? Recording sounds great on headphones, crap on stereo
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2020, 12:04:13 AM »
depends on the source. i master my stack tapes, that’s about it. usually just a LF roll off. and yes i use real monitors. to each his own

TBH, i used to be firmly in the '"absolutely no processing camp", to the point of lambasting seeders who would remaster others' work. this was prevalent in the early days of GD etreeing, and i always felt that it was an abomination to alter that archival recording with whatever dated processing techniques were available at the time

That really boils down my top reasons for not "re"mastering
1. sound is subjective
2. the source material might not be yours to begin with, and reworking it is presumptious
3. whatever digital technique you are using will likely be dated

that said, when i make a  >:D stack tape of an artist that isnt commonly collected or traded, it comes down to one factor only... how good can i make that particular recording sound. Who is the audience? generally most people will be listening to it on earbuds, in cars, or other less-than-ideal setups. Usually they lack the skills, ability or desire to do basic EQ

it is my work, so i feel free to take the liberty to rolloff bass, limit, or heck even rebalance the music if needed, Considering the old adage 'getting something removed from the internet is like getting pee out of a swimming pool', you pretty much have one shot to put the best product out there. Id rather 'master' it myself than put something out there that begs someone else of unknown intent and ability to 'remaster' it. no recording is worth jack if someone puts it on and finds the extended bass from your omni recording so objectionable that they immediately turn it off

bulk spectral processing aside, as morst alluded to, imo 'mastering' includes de clap, woo, scream, whistle, etc. which might fall under the umbrella of 'editing' depending on your philosophy. maybe considered to be largely 'non destructive', but certainly is not the 'raw' tape

and of course i keep raw recordings of everything i do as separate files in their native sample/bitrates. its futureproof, if only for *my* future purposes. have tons and tons of cassette transfers from back int eh day that im glad are as raw as they are. the de-hiss techniques we have now are way superior and only getting better

« Last Edit: February 02, 2020, 01:08:20 PM by jerryfreak »
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Offline Perry

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Re: Advice? Recording sounds great on headphones, crap on stereo
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2020, 02:21:11 PM »
Thanks for the insights! Yeah, i figured that the sub-card mic pattern would avoid too much of a 'hole' in the soundstage but somehow the vocals literally disappear on spaced loudspeakers. Live and learn i guess! Next time i'll try x/y.
I've made the same mistake and was able to fix it (for the most part) using Audition's automatic phase correction tool. It put the vocals and other elements right back in the center where they belong.
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Re: Advice? Recording sounds great on headphones, crap on stereo
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2020, 02:23:35 PM »
First post in a long time here. I recorded a duo last night at a very small venue. Mics were hung from the ceiling in ortf configuration (sub-cardioid caps).

Came home and listened on my sony cans and sounds good considering the sound in the venue. Yay! Spent the evening editing and tracking, still sounds good on my cans.

Finally play things back on my home stereo to enjoy the fruits of the labour and it sounds horrible! Same stereo i've had for years (B&W 702 speakers), so nothing weird there, but the vocals which were prominent on my headphones are totally lost in the mix and muddy. I know the Sony monitors are very flat and might therefore downplay the bass, but I've never had a case this extreme.

Needless to say, I'm feeling frustrated about the prospect of having to start over again.

Any suggestions on why this might have happened?

Thanks!

ps. here's a link to a track if it helps. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1yxmzWailvXswJd2zLrAERvu9zhhVx1eO

Hi UnicMonster.
For me, your Ortf Mic was too near from instruments.

When I have no much repetition time
to prepare, for 2-4 musicians,
(depending how the concert room)
I take the ensemble width, and for
prime installation I put my Mics in mid-front of them
at the same distance (than width),
and 3 or 4 Meters above.
Generaly, its sound great.

So I prefer recording live classicals concerts with M/S mics.
Because on PostProd I can correct the strereo spacialisation
and there is no mid whole.

Now, My recordings for Trios, Quatuor, Organ
or Symphonic Orchestra are made
with a SD-788, 2/3 Paired Mics :
1) 1 Ortf (allways)
2) 1 M/S - Blumlein (allways)
3) 2 Omni AB (sometime)

For your Audio,
I Suggest you to
create au Mid-Side File from your Stereo
then, from this mid-Side file,
make a stéreo with a lot of test
balancing more or less Side or Mid...
Maybe it would be your solution.

Excuse my english

God Bless you

Kasu64 (Biarritz, France)
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Offline jerryfreak

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Re: Advice? Recording sounds great on headphones, crap on stereo
« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2020, 03:16:32 PM »
Thanks for the insights! Yeah, i figured that the sub-card mic pattern would avoid too much of a 'hole' in the soundstage but somehow the vocals literally disappear on spaced loudspeakers. Live and learn i guess! Next time i'll try x/y.
I've made the same mistake and was able to fix it (for the most part) using Audition's automatic phase correction tool. It put the vocals and other elements right back in the center where they belong.

interesting. i wonder if phase correction could benefit most all stereo patterns
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Offline kuba e

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Re: Advice? Recording sounds great on headphones, crap on stereo
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2020, 07:56:34 PM »
I don't hear a hole in the recording. The problem is that vocal sounds distant. That is because a mics placement. Next time, you can try to place mics in different place where the vocals are more prominent. And if you are not happy with overall ratio direct/reverb sound in the recording then get closer to the source or use mics with more directional pattern. DSatz very nicely explained why it is sounding good in the headphones but it is not good enough for the speakers.

I don't own subcards. Someone who uses them could give advice. But ortf with subcards should be a good idea.  If you need more wider stereo image, setup mics with wider spacing/angle. I wouldn't choose xy for subcards, it should sound too mono.

If the pair is not directed to the acoustic center then the recording will sound more to one side. You can partially correct it by changing level of left/right channel and by delaying left/right channel. It was explained here in the forum. If you can't find it, let me know I will look for it. I don't know Audition's automatic phase correction. Probably it delays left/right channel by some value based on a calculated phase difference between these channels. Manual delay is better because you can tune it up by listening.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2020, 08:01:29 PM by kuba e »

Offline Unitmonster

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Re: Advice? Recording sounds great on headphones, crap on stereo
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2020, 10:49:13 PM »
Thanks all again for your responses! I might try this phase correction tool and see what I end up with (hopefully something similar exists for Audacity).

@kuba e, what's interesting is that the mics were hung from the ceiling, dead centre, about 10 feet back from the P.A. (also hung from ceiling) so I couldn't have gotten any more direct vocal pick-up really. I think the fact that the sound guy applied a strong slap-back reverb on the vocals is part of the issue - as it made the voice sound more distant compared to the dry mix on the guitar (the bass was not put through the P.A.).

Luckily it's a monthly show just around the corner from my house, so I can try again in a few weeks time with a different configuration to see if the results are any better!

+T all!
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