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Author Topic: An equalised “mix” between the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Set and… the Rode NT4  (Read 1819 times)

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Offline Gutbucket

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After reading your present post, maybe because of a my background (a BA in physics almost completed before trashing everything for the misguided choice of working in advertising :-( ) the only part that was a bit unclear for me is precisely the same passage commented by DSatz, namely that “For the purpose of our discussion, the on-axis and off-axis response of a single microphone isn't interfering with itself”… but I now understand that you want to consider the single microphone interactions as an independent variable for practical purposes
More on this later I hope

Simplify that to- "best results tend to come from quality microphones that have polar patterns which are smooth and well-behaved off-axis".  This is true for any stereo microphone recording, but especially so for taper style recording where the microphones are generally placed farther from the primary source of interest than most other types of recording, which tends to increase the proportion of sound arriving to the microphones off-axis, and it's perceptual importance.

Quote
Moreover, the attempt to be faithful/to reconstruct the soundstage is strongly genre-dependent
Only for classical music and partly Jazz/acoustics a realistic reconstruction of the live spatial image is meaningful, for rock concerts or other sources the spatial dimension is imagined/artificially created from the start, and the live version is not meant to carefully reproduce an “original” source /”studio” version.  The live performance is always artificial compared with a studio recording that is itself “artificial”, I mean constructed. this I think is well known - the point I want to make
with my maybe trivial comment is that our recordings are themselves, in a sense, creative reconstructions where we can try to place instruments/events where we prefer/hope/can strating from an already highly artificial live dimension...

In an acoustic sense its all equally real as performed. The documentarian way of looking at it (which I find to be the most common taper mindset) is attempted capture and reproduction of the soundfield present at the event "as it was".  Doesn't matter what that event was, the reality being documented is the sound in the room at the recording position. 

That's seems a simple, clear goal.  But the reality is that every recording will be significantly different than the sound at the actual event, and even considerably different from each other.  Fortunately the musical content is the primary thing, and that generally translates well regardless of how closely the experience of listening to the recording emulates the experience of being at the performance.

We are most certainly crafting auditory illusions, and the listener is a willing participant in the illusion.  I think the most important part of the entire recording and reproduction chain is the listener's willing suspension of disbelief. Even if they don't recognize it consciously, listeners want to convince themselves the recording they are listening to sounds real. Our job is to provide sufficient, good-enough cues to allow that suspension of disbelief to be engaged easier and more completely. 

I try to find an appropriate balance between "what it sounded like there" and "what sounds most enjoyable and convincing on playback", which represents a creative reconstruction, as you term it.  The use of multi-microphone arrays are an attempt to extend the sense of immersion and convincing imaging beyond the front soundstage, by getting the sound arriving from all directions as well as the front sounding as natural and convincing as possible.  It's not especially important for translating or documenting the music, yet helps translate a more convincing sense of being present at the live performance. 

Although I obviously value all these things, they are all "nice to have" rather than "need to have" aspects of a good live music recording.
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline Gutbucket

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Apologies for turning your thread into a philosophical dissertation!
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline fireonshakedwnstreet

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We are most certainly crafting auditory illusions, and the listener is a willing participant in the illusion.  I think the most important part of the entire recording and reproduction chain is the listener's willing suspension of disbelief. Even if they don't recognize it consciously, listeners want to convince themselves the recording they are listening to sounds real. Our job is to provide sufficient, good-enough cues to allow that suspension of disbelief to be engaged easier and more completely. 

I try to find an appropriate balance between "what it sounded like there" and "what sounds most enjoyable and convincing on playback", which represents a creative reconstruction, as you term it.  The use of multi-microphone arrays are an attempt to extend the sense of immersion and convincing imaging beyond the front soundstage, by getting the sound arriving from all directions as well as the front sounding as natural and convincing as possible.  It's not especially important for translating or documenting the music, yet helps translate a more convincing sense of being present at the live performance. 

Although I obviously value all these things, they are all "nice to have" rather than "need to have" aspects of a good live music recording.

This is such a great discussion. I feel the exact same way. I am documenting the performance at the show, but I am definitely taking creative license to create what I feel is the most pleasing aural experience as part of the mastering process. That could be EQ, saturation, adding stereo width, etc. Limitations are obviously your own ear and monitoring, but knowing your system and listening through different systems can mitigate some of those concerns.
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Offline capnhook

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Just a short comment on this,
Gutbucket: “The spatial qualities are no substitute for clarity, which I consider to be more fundamental”
I entirely agree. Moreover, the attempt to be faithful/to reconstruct the soundstage is strongly genre-dependent
Only for classical music and partly Jazz/acoustics a realistic reconstruction of the live spatial image is meaningful, for rock concerts or other sources the spatial dimension is imagined/artificially created from the start, and the live version is not meant to carefully reproduce an “original” source /”studio” version.  The live performance is always less artificial compared with a studio recording that is itself “artificial”, I mean constructed. this I think is well known - the point I want to make
with my maybe trivial comment is that our recordings are themselves, in a sense, creative reconstructions where we can try to place instruments/events where we prefer/hope/can strating from an already highly artificial live dimension...

Fixed?
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Offline Gutbucket

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To wrap up my more philosophical contributions to this discussion, before returning to the specific questions in the original post, let me say that I very much agree with DSatz's comment that there is significant "streetlight effect" in the taper community--ignoring the weakest link in the chain while obsessively strengthening the already strong links, and that best results will generally be found with well-placed, small-diaphragm microphones that have smooth response both on- and off-axis.

Where we may differ a bit is identification of that weakest link, or more likely, how best to deal with it.  I think the weakest link in the chain for live concert tapers, and the most basic thing that differentiates our type of recording from most others, is the "well-placed" thing (recording position in the venue), and secondarily the lack of opportunity for tapers to listen through the recording chain when setting up the recording gear, allowing for important decisions and corrections to the setup prior to pressing the record button.  If I could put the microphones anywhere I wanted and adjust the microphone arrangement while listening during an extended soundcheck, I'd be much more content to rely on a simple two-channel stereo pair recording arrangement.  Unfortunately this is rarely the situation for concert tapers, and I feel these two things in combination represent our weakest link.

With regards to this forum, I find the primary value of using additional microphones and recording channels to be greater flexibility in achieving a good recording when working under those constraints - and I feel this is often not sufficiently recognized as being the fundamental difference in circumstance with this type of recording.  Also, for myself at least, the ability to consistently achieve a strong sense of "sounds like I'm right there" by way of using more complex techniques is just as strong.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2022, 12:38:20 PM by Gutbucket »
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline Gutbucket

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The key idea is to combine tracks recorded with
1) the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset (binaural)
AND
2) the Rode NT4 pointed to the source - the stage, but maybe also the PAs in really horrible boomy scenarios. Maybe as an alternative to the NT4 I would like to use two Bayer M201TG hypercardiods in X/Y configuration for more flexibility

Quote
MORE DETAIL ON THE SETUP(s) I would like to test, three versions with different SIDEs S

SETUP 1 - SIDE S is given by Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Set     
(simple and stealth, I expect less phase issues but less stereo separation)

SETUP 2 - SIDE S is given by two DPA 4060 at the ends of the longest possible telescopic arm
(more cumbersome, it needs two recorders (or something like a Zoom F6 that I do not own) and a longer arm. It could give more stereo separation but maybe it will show comb effect)

SETUP 3 - SIDE S (extended) is given by two hypercardiods (Beyerdynamic M 201 TG) at the ends of the longest possible telescopic arm
(even more bulky, it needs two recorders and heavier mics and arm, but it can be good to catch a PA in desperate reverberant cases)
                                                                                   
The FRONT MIC(s) M would be in all three cases

One hypercardioid (Beyerdynamic M 201 TG) or a shotgun (*) pointed to the source
OR                                     
(“extended” M) Two cardioids X/Y (Rode NT4) or two hypercardioids X/Y (Beyerdynamic M 201 TG) pointed to the source

If using two microphones (keeping things simple) and wanting to improve your odds of making a good recording in a difficult acoustic, I suggest first determining the location of the best recording position in the venue and setting up there if possible.  If not possible, choose the best location that is practical.  Then arrange your Beyerdynamic microphones in a stereo configuration determined by the width of the PA and stage as viewed from that position and the suggested microphone angle and spacing combination indicated on the improved PAS table linked in my signature.  You might want to run the Sennheiser Ambeo Headset separately to provide a point of comparison.

If recording more than two channels with the intent of combining them later, I strongly suggest recording all channels to the same recorder.  This requires a recorder capable of recording more than two channels of course. 

It can also be done using separate recorders that are digitally clock-linked so as to remain synchronized, but that's probably not in the cards.  Technically if can also be done using two entirely unconnected recorders but honestly that's a real hassle and likely to be more trouble than its worth.  Recording to two separate recorders that are clock-linked requires more effort and complication before, during, and afterward.  You'll need to wire to recorders together, make sure they are clock linked and recording together, and afterward get the starting point of the files perfectly synchronized. To do the same using two entirely separate un-linked recorders requires somewhat less complication before and during recording, but is a lot more complicated afterward. You'd then need to not only synchronize the start of the files, but also alter them so they will play at exactly the same speed and remain synchronized throughout until the end.  Honestly, its probably not worth it in comparison to the cost of a four or six channel recorder these days, where all channels will be perfectly synchronized with each other without any effort.

Alright, lets assume you are using your Ambio binaural pair as the foundation of the recording and want to add a single Beyer hypercardioid to that to increase clarity.  First, you'll want to keep the geometric relationship between the binaural mics and the hypercardioid the same throughout the entire recording. Don't allow the microphones to move relative to each other.  If they do you are likely to hear phasing once combined.  Binaural on your head and the hypercard in a hat maybe?  Non-moving dummy head fro the binaurals?  Either way, point the hypercard directly at the loudest, clearest source, likely the closer PA speaker, and orient the binaural pair so that the the sound as heard from that position is Left/Right balanced in an auditory sense, regardless of how things appear to the eye.  Don't face everything stage-center based on what you see, face toward the apparent "acoustic-center" even if that means turning more toward the left or right.  This applies to any microphone configuration.

If you use the Rode X/Y mic in place of the single Beyer hypercard, or both Beyers in X/Y, do the same, except recording 4 channels instead of 3.  If you use the DPA omnis instead of the Senn binaural headset (on your head or spaced farther apart somehow) approach it the same way.  I think you get the picture.

Once home, transfer all the files to the computer and play around.  This is the fun and educational part. You can try whatever you want, whatever you think of.  Listen to each part alone. Get each part sounding as good as it can in isolation.  Play with various level combinations.  Try everything full range, try implementing crossovers if you want, try different equalization between each parts (which in effect acts as sort of a less domineering cross-over), try equalizing the resulting combination and how that might affect your level combinations or EQ of the parts.  And so on and so forth.  It's your baby to raise as you see fit.  Go back regularly and compare with your straight 2-channel stereo pair, or someone else's recording of the same event. Question what you are hearing and what you decide sounds best.  Take listening breaks and return with fresh ears.  Listen elsewhere.  Ask what a friend thinks.  We'll be here with advice if you want.
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline Overlay2009

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Dear Gutbucket,
I am very grateful for your detailed analysis of my suggested setups. I cannot wait to try them armed with the PAS table... and upload some sample to the group, maybe with a before and after post-production comparison...
After your pointing out so clearly the potential delay issues I could have trying to synchronize independent recordings made with unlocked stereo recorders without a common clock, I now understand that the Ambeo could be a challenge not only because of phase differences between its binaural setting and the NT4 or the two Beyer M 201, but also because  unfortunately Ambeo's Apogee AD converter section cannot connect to a multitrack recorder like the Zoom F6, because its digital output can connect only to ipad/ipod/iphone, using them as a bitbuckets through a Lightning cable...
What do you think about using a software like “PluralEyes” to quickly solve the syncho issue almost in an automated way? It is used for video with multi source audio. Have you ever used it? https://www.maxon.net/en/red-giant-complete/pluraleyes
Maybe is there a plugin for WaveLab or IZotope?

« Last Edit: April 21, 2022, 08:27:57 AM by Overlay2009 »

Offline Gutbucket

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I've not used PluralEyes myself, but am aware of how it works.  Cool stuff for aligning separate video sources. 

Others here will have experience with it. However, I doubt it will work well enough for aligning audio recorded on two separate recorders for two reasons:
1) The alignment needs to be way more accurate for audio intended to be mixed together.  Consider that video frame rate is generally around 30 frames per second, while audio samples rates are 41,100 samples per second or greater.  Audio recorded on the same recorder will retain that level of accuracy across all channels.  Granted, absolute sample accurate alignment isn't necessary, but you will need to get the two within a few milliseconds of each other..
2) ..and retain that relationship throughout the recording without one source running faster than the other causing the two to "drift" apart over time.  That requires stretching the length of the faster running source or shrinking the length of the slower running source to match the other.  I don't think PluralEyes is capable of this.  It typically requires using a resampling routine in a DAW along with some math to figure out the right amount of stretch, or a specific time-stretching function that does the math for you after identifying common beginning and end points of the two files.

I use Samplitude to do it which has an Elastic Audio function that eliminates the need to do the math. I'm sure it can be done in WaveLab, and other TS'ers who use that program may describe how to do so or point to you discussion threads here about it.
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline capnhook

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 :banging head:     My experience with PluralEyes 4 has not been a good one.

Thanksgiving 2021 was when I bought and started trying to install  :o PluralEyes 4. Vaporware to me so far.

I have been trying to install it through the "MAXON" portal since November 2021.  The program launches, and after five seconds "POOF" it is gone.

I have spent many hours in the troubleshooting rabbit-hole with Doug Y and some other individuals (Tim, Rich, Micah) at ToolFarm, and have tried the four(4) new MAXON versions that they have come up with, since we started.  Today I give up.

I have decided to attempt to install it on my wife's brand new win10 laptop.  It pains me that I may not ever be able to use PluralEyes on the workstation it was intended for, but I will make an attempt to install it and OBS on the new machine, to eliminate the question of this problem being something wrong with my fios network connection (their latest hair-brained idea).

This is quite off-topic, pardon me and pm me for details on this saga if interested..
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Offline kuba e

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Thank you for the very nice posts. It's a very interesting read. I'm sorry to join in the delay. I've been away from the computer for a longer time.

To that philosophical part, I would add that what we do not know, we cannot hear. Someone has talent and is sensitive to music. But we who do not have talent do not hear a lot of things. These things do not exist from our point of view. Someone has to point it out before we can focus on it. Only when we focuses on it, it begins to exist. And even those who have a huge talent, they will make a different recordings. (that's great, there are more ways to create the same quality recordings)

The posts about the depth-dimension and spaciousness are very interesting for me. I have only few of my recordings made by microphones array and I'm just playing with it. But I would have one example that caught my ear. It is a stereo sbd matrix by Dusborne with two audience recordings. I don't know how he could sync it. But the result is great for me. The depth of recording reminds me of what Gutbucket does with his microphone arrays. It sounds very similar to me. I believe that the depth was created by mixing the two different audience recordings. The loss of clarity I had in mind is when I compare it to the pure sbd or aud. I am able to tolerate this loss of clarity. And I can imagine that a similar style of depth could be created also in an acoustic music. The question is how other people hear it.
matrix: https://archive.org/details/gd1991-06-09.128299.mtx.dusborne.flac16
sbd: https://archive.org/details/gd1991-06-09.138333.sbd.miller.flac16
aud1: https://archive.org/details/gd1991-06-09.fob.brennecke-young.GEMS.95641.flac16
aud2: https://archive.org/details/gd1991-06-09.AKG451.Darby.118811.Flac1644

« Last Edit: April 25, 2022, 09:46:19 AM by kuba e »

Offline Gutbucket

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Hi kuba e,

I just gave a listen to Playing in the Band in two recordings you linked above.  My thoughts-
The soundboard recording is a complete rendition of the stage-mic'd "direct sound", without any on-stage source missing or under-represented.  Although elements in it seem overly hard-panned, they are all in good balance with each other.  This is an example of what I'd call a complete soundboard feed, in contrast to some soundboard feeds from smaller venues where things like the guitars or other sources that were particularly loud on stage (and thus in need of less PA reinforcement in the room) and therefor often have less representation in the soundboard feed, making for something I think of as that an incomplete soundboard feed.

Although this soundboard recording is complete in the above sense, it doesn't convey any ambience or sense of the place in which the performance occurred, and contains no audience involvement at all. It is clean and clear, yet unnatural and "sterile" in comparison to what someone at the concert would have experienced.  In a way it represents only a portion of the listening experience and is lacking much of the sound and excitement of actually being at the event.

In the version with the audience microphones mixed in, I hear audience involvement and space around the instruments.  That sense of space is subtle, but is enough to sound more natural, less unnaturally flat and studio-like - still not exactly like what someone at the concert would hear, or even an idealized version of such, yet a significant improvement to my way of thinking.

I don't mean to be too critical, but the mixed version is not without problems.  I hear some alignment/timing issues smearing things a few minutes in, and there is not enough audience or ambience to sound really convincing to me.  However, I found the loss of clarity you mention mostly just a frequency balance issue, correctable with some EQ.  In both cases I used the built-in Winamp EQ of the embedded archive player to correct the response of some crappy in-ear headphones that I have plugged directly into this computer in addition to adjusting the recording itself as needed to sound right overall. Comparing the two resulting EQ curves, I found I had dialed in a bit more emphasis between 5k-14k in the mixed version to achieve the same apparent frequency balance, and with that the clarity between the two was similar.

In my opinion, although the version which includes the audience microphones is a big improvement, I still find myself wanting more sense of actually being at Buckeye Lake Music Center in 1991, listening to the band play there and interact with the audience from a realistic perspective within it.  As it is, I can sort of imagine myself seemingly suspended  well above the audience, heard more as a somewhat disembodied distant roar of applause in the quieter parts.

To me, achieving that sense of "as if there realism" is the challenge, the icing on the cake.  It's hard to nail.  It's hard to get a realistic audience reaction without highlighting specific audience contributions that are unwanted.  It's hard to get sufficient direct sound clarity along with a goods sense of actually being in the performance hall surrounded by other like-minded folks enjoying the experience, without drawing attention away from the music performance.  Each aspect of the recording working together to help convey a believably real experience of being present at that particular live performance, in all its "in the present moment" glory.

What is fitting by way of this example is that from the start, more so than most, The Grateful Dead were very much interested in minimizing the isolation inherent in the metaphoric 4th wall between band and audience.  What I'm advocating for in live performance music recordings feels to me like something of an extension of that same desire - reproducing the truly "live" essence of a live performance which tends to involve a lot of information flowing both ways across that invisible line of demarcation.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2022, 04:47:46 PM by Gutbucket »
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline Gutbucket

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A few other thoughts on soundboard recordings and the one above in particular-

With a complete soundboard recording such as that one, I'd be happy running just a pair of wide omnis, and/or the rear-facing microphones out in the audience.  I don't really need the microphones in the array that are trying to pickup as much direct-sound clarity as possible from the PA.  In this case the soundboard is the primary source and the audience microphones contribute what the soundboard is lacking, and can potentially provide that without as much overlap and potential conflict in that way. 

However, I almost always lean on the audience microphones more strongly than the soundboard feed most of the time, and I'm not going to forgo the microphone channels in my audience-position microphone array which focus on direct sound from the stage and PA, in part because I won't know how good the SBD feed really is until later.  I generally prefer to only use as much soundboard as necessary - most often to help clear up and reinforce the vocals, along with anything else that needs help.  One way I know I'm on the right track is when I find don't really need the soundboard feed even though I might have recorded it.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2022, 03:57:11 PM by Gutbucket »
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline Gutbucket

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^ and with that in mind, I now see that you've also linked the two AUD sources in addition to the straight SBD and the mix (matrix) of that with the two AUDs.  If I get some time over the next few days I'll give all of these a more proper listen.  One thing I want to listen for is how well the AUD sources stand on their own, how much I feel the addition of SBD to them might improve things, or if that is even needed.  In my opinion, the straight SBD definitely benefits from the addition of AUD.  It will be interesting to determine if the AUDs sound like they would benefit from some SBD or not.  If they are really good, they won't need it - and kudos to the tapers that made them.. along with everyone there, all involved in making that moment what it was.

Let me know your thoughts on these recordings.
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline kuba e

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Thank you for the review and explanation. Yes, the matrix is not aligned in many places. I guess it was a lot of work to match the three independent stereo tracks. For some reason, where it sounds good, I like this sound a lot. Thanks for the tip, I'll try to tune it with eq. Both audience recordings are good. One has a lot of direct sound, the other is a little further away. When I have more time, I'll try to choose one track to align it and try to make my own matrix to see how each resource affects. I also like less soundboard and more audience.

 

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