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Author Topic: "Variable Fixed-Configuration Stereo Bar" - thoughts?  (Read 2025 times)

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Offline melontracks

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Re: "Variable Fixed-Configuration Stereo Bar" - thoughts?
« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2019, 12:00:22 PM »
But the lack of a constraining tradition can also free the imagination. It prompts many people to experiment and develop their approaches based on careful listening to the results--a very real form of old-fashioned practical science. I think, for example, that Benjamin Franklin would approve.

But hobbyists are also free to care more--even primarily--about their own enjoyment of the experience of recording. And that includes some complex psychological and social factors. Some people are drawn to the status (real or imagined) of being a person who makes recordings, or who makes them in a certain way and/or with a certain type of equipment. This can lead to an odd kind of identity politics and niche-seeking.

To which all I can say is, in this world there are plenty of worse things.

--best regards

Agreed! I've seen a bit of that in the forum here over the years. Ha! People can certainly have strong opinions. For me, one of the more interesting aspects of open taping is that it lets me quantify qualitative observations to some degree...something almost impossible with stealth taping. I know that having precise configurations based on established techniques and wisdom won't magically translate to a pleasing recording, but it let's me track what worked and what didn't like a recipe. Start with something known, throw it away if it doesn't work, tweak it to your liking, changing just one variable at a time.

Having that sort of control is imperative if I'm ever going to get to where i want. I'm not very good at winging it.

To that end, I'm working up a second stereo bar. My idea with this one is that it will accommodate Gutbucket's Improved PAS positions for cardiod mics from DIN-equivalent down to 30-degree PAS angle, and on the flipside will have simple 30 - 60 - 90 - 120cm spaced brackets for A-B omnis. It's long enough that i'm designing it to fold in half for travel and storage. Here's a couple of pics of what i have mocked up so far.







I haven't yet decided whether to tack the brackets in set positions or attach them with a screw. I'm leaning toward tacking them, as it would be really hard to thread a hole in this light-gauge square tubing that I could crank a screw down hard enough to actually hold it in place

Chris


Offline Gutbucket

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Re: "Variable Fixed-Configuration Stereo Bar" - thoughts?
« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2019, 01:28:04 PM »
I know that having precise configurations based on established techniques and wisdom won't magically translate to a pleasing recording, but it let's me track what worked and what didn't like a recipe. Start with something known, throw it away if it doesn't work, tweak it to your liking, changing just one variable at a time.

Best advice I can give for undertaking this kind of Ben Franklin empirical approach while actually recording live performances is to record two microphone setups from the same position at the same time whenever possible: Your current "known good" microphone arrangement as a control, and an alternate setup you wish to compare against it.  This is really the only good way I've found to sufficiently constrain the other variables and enable a really useful listening comparison of just that single aspect under test.  If recording different setups one at a time over the course of different performances, there are simply too many other variables in play. 

Second word of advice is that for hobbyist music taping, practicality reigns over everything we do.  More often than not, we are unable do whatever we might like, which is why we find ourselves recording from further away to begin with.  A big part of solving the taping puzzle is working within the constraints of what we are allowed to do and not do, and determining what is practical within those allowances.

Cool to see your prototype bar laid out like that.  It's a great visual indication of a wide range of angle/spacing relationships which will all provide about the same resulting recording angle, yet produce different stereo aspects. It also makes it easy to visualize how pantagraph-like articulation would work for a single mounting position that could be moved outward along a fixed bar, or more ideally, how angle would change as the bar was telescoped out to increasingly wider positions.  However, even with a center break, the size of that bar may make it unwieldy and impractical.  Maybe consider making it 3 or 4 pieces, so you can leave out the wider mounting options and run it more compactly when necessary.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2019, 02:42:24 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<<

Offline heathen

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Re: "Variable Fixed-Configuration Stereo Bar" - thoughts?
« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2019, 01:29:11 PM »
If recording different setups one at a time over the course of different performances, there are simply too many other variables in play. 

This is so true and cannot be emphasized enough.
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Mics: Core Sound TetraMic | AT4031 | AT AE5100 | AT853 (C/SC) | Line Audio CM3 | Sennheiser e614 | Sennheiser MKE2 | DPA 4061 | CA-14 omni Pre: CA9200 Decks: Zoom F8 | Roland R-05

Offline melontracks

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Re: "Variable Fixed-Configuration Stereo Bar" - thoughts?
« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2019, 05:24:45 PM »
Best advice I can give for undertaking this kind of Ben Franklin empirical approach while actually recording live performances is to record two microphone setups from the same position at the same time whenever possible: Your current "known good" microphone arrangement as a control, and an alternate setup you wish to compare against it.

I had thought of that. For example, I'll be taping a standard rock ensemble at the Echoplex on June 6. That place is an oddly-wide hall that holds just under 800 people. I thought I'd set up with a wide omni a-b pair and a pair of cards in the appropriate Improved PAS arrangement on this new bar. I understand that I probably won't be able to make a matrix recording using these two inputs, but the two independent should be okay. This Sunday i'll be taping a singer-songwriter at McCabe's Guitar shop (small, standard rectangular room with maybe 100 seats) and was thinking of doing something similar. I think it'll be just two guys with vocals for both, one with a guitar, one with a fiddle. In each case i'd be doing something completely new to me, but i'd get two tests for the price of one. In both cases, i'll try to get a line out from the board if i can, as well.

Maybe consider making it 3 or 4 pieces, so you can leave out the wider mounting options and run it more compactly when necessary.

I had thought of that. The total length of the broken down bar is almost exactly the same length as my Photek stand when it's completely collapsed, so i was figuring i'd just strap it to that. I'll definitely be hitting it with some flat black spray paint. I'm a little concerned that venues might think it's a little obtrusive, it's so long. Ha!

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: "Variable Fixed-Configuration Stereo Bar" - thoughts?
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2019, 06:06:52 PM »
Right. A bigger constraint is what the venue will allow and what you can do without aggravating them, the band and support people (sound and light guys), and other patrons, rather than what you are able to carry and setup.

You can use the two recording comparison technique to immediately compare the qualities of your first recordings, but where it really becomes valuable is by leaving one of the setups unchanged on future recordings.  The unchanged setup becomes the standard against which subsequent changes are judged.  That's important because the unchanged setup will sound somewhat different each time based on all the other variables.  Only after confirming over time that an alternate setup is consistently closer to what you want should you make that on the standard against which other changes are judged.  Of course you don't have to do it that way, but it provides the control which makes this kind of comparative approach especially valuable.

Since you have to start somewhere, given the setup you have pictured, I'd suggest starting with DIN (20 cm / 90-degrees) as your standard, as it is something of a standard near-spaced configuration for tapers (even though its not an official German DIN standard).   And it's a relatively narrow spaced setup so you can run it anywhere you can raise a microphone stand.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2019, 06:11:24 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<<

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: "Variable Fixed-Configuration Stereo Bar" - thoughts?
« Reply #20 on: May 20, 2019, 08:59:14 PM »
Hmmm: I would have said that you were right and that your taper friend was wrong. As you pointed out, the angular width of the sound sources is often relatively small in the type of recording that we're talking about. But narrowing the angle between microphones in a coincident or closely-spaced pair doesn't increase the proportion of direct sound in the recording by very much. To a much greater extent, rather, it makes the two channels of the recording much more similar to one another than they were before--which pushes the recording toward mono.

A more appropriate response, if it's possible, might be to put more distance between the microphones, to use microphones with greater directivity (if you're not using supercardioids already), and/or to use microphones with a moderate upper-midrange elevation.

Exactly these ingredients in combination..

Let me try and clarify why I came to understand how my taper friend was correct in a vitally important way, at least with respect to something more fundamental than what I was trying to explain to him at the time.  Apologies in advance for what may be a long post.  I acknowledge my susceptibility to identity politics / niche-seeking to the same degree as anyone else here at TS, although I try to I approach it as more of a high level gestalt engineering exercise applied to this unusual type of hobbyist music recording.  A type of recording which has not been rigorously explored in the same way more typical professional methods of recording have.  And because of that I especially value alternate points of view on any of this!

My current understanding is that both my friend and myself were correct, albeit about different things, and he was getting at something more fundamental with regards to recording a PA amplified band from an audience position than I.  My realization that followed was about determining the appropriate hierarchy for prioritizing these things and addressing them in a logical order. 

There is no substitute for an appropriate recording position, yet we can still seek to make the best of a compromised situation.  The questions are: To what degree can we compensate at all?  What is the most important thing to optimize?  What can we actually do about it?  Then, having identified and addressed the most important aspect, what's the next most important aspect and what can be done to improve that without messing up the more-essential thing?

A pair of microphones is only able to sample the sound field which exists at that location.  As such, a recording made from an acoustically distant location cannot escape being dominated by reverberant far-field sound, regardless of the microphone technique used.  Unless we can mix in a feed from the SBD, which is the addition of content from microphones placed close to the source(s), we are more or less stuck with the basic sound balance present at the distant recording position. 

In such a situation it is advantageous to arrange things so as to get the sound of interest as clear and proximate as possible.  It's difficult to enjoy a recording when one can't make out the lyrics or hear the musical phrases clearly.  Those things are more important than good stereo aspects.  A clear mono recording is more enjoyable than an otherwise unintelligible stereo recording*.  Clarity and proximity are more fundamentally important than stereo aspects.

Let's start by reducing the problem to making a mono recording using a single microphone and recording channel.  A microphone with a moderate upper-midrange elevation helps with clarity when recording at a distance, so let's start with that.  Next what pickup pattern is appropriate?  Say I choose a highly directional microphone like a quality supercardioid which, on average, favors sound arriving from the direction in which I point it over all other directions. In which direction should I point it?  Will I hear a difference if the single directional microphone is pointed away from the stage and towards the back wall, towards a side wall, or toward the stage and PA sources?  Its pretty self-evident that I want to point the microphone in the direction of the sound source regardless of my distance from it. That helps because even though the level of sound arriving from any direction is essentially the same as any other due to the distant recording position, the quality of sound arriving from the direction of the source will be somewhat more clear than that arriving from other directions.  Not necessarily by very much (a consequence of being far away), yet enough to make pointing the microphone toward the source a meaningful improvement.  If anyone really does doubts this, I can provide samples of identical supercardioid microphones pointed directly toward the stage, directly away from the stage, and directly toward the sidewalls, all made simultaneously from a distant recording location. The differences in most cases are easily audible, although sometimes not as significant as many may expect.  Otherwise I may as well use a less directional microphone that is likely to have smoother off-axis response, a more extended low frequency response, and is less susceptible to handling/wind noise like say an omni.  Which I would if I could only place the microphone close enough.

For the same reason, It's also important that the directional microphone I use have a well-behaved off-axis response that differs from it's on-axis response ideally only in level, but not significantly in frequency response.  Because again, the soundfield energy at that distant location is arriving with pretty much equal level from all directions, so the microphone really needs to sound good across all angles of arrival.

Okay, I've now addressed the most significant issue as best I can, by pointing a well behaved directional microphone at the source.  Next, how might I introduce a second microphone channel to make this into a suitable stereo configuration without overly compromising the more important thing I've just achieved?

I can add a second supercardioid facing directly toward the stage, AB spaced from the first like I would arrange a pair omnis.  This produces time of arrival stereo like a pair of omnis without compromise to the first aspect.  But because ensemble on stage fills some small angle as viewed from my distant recording location, and because the PA speakers are a major contributor of the sound and are typically placed on either side of the stage, I choose to point the Left supercardioid directly at left PA speaker and the Right supercard at the right PA speaker.  Now both microphones remain on axis with the primary sources, but now have some angle between them, as determined by the width between PA speakers and my distance from them.

Once I know that angle, I can determine the optimal spacing between the two microphones based on the collective work of Williams, Sengpiel, Wittek, etc. which has been made easier by referring to the Improved PAS table.  This is also good because any angle between microphones will reduce the need for as much spacing between them, making the setup more practical while at the same time introducing some welcome degree of of level-difference stereo in addition to time-of-arrival stereo.
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<<

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: "Variable Fixed-Configuration Stereo Bar" - thoughts?
« Reply #21 on: May 20, 2019, 09:34:09 PM »
A clear mono recording is more enjoyable than an otherwise unintelligible stereo recording*.  Clarity and proximity are more fundamentally important than stereo aspects.

* It is ironic that although the mechanics of making a stereo recording is more than twice as complex as making a mono one, and the mechanics of making a surround recording represents yet another jump in complexity beyond the simple addition of more microphones, recording channels and supporting gear, it is considerably more difficult to make a mono recording with good perceived clarity and proximity than a stereo one.  Likewise it is easier to make a surround recording with good perceived clarity and proximity than a stereo one. In each case the separation of elements to more reproduction channels provides additional cues for our ear/brain to do it's thing a little bit more like it would when exposed to the original soundfield, even though all of these reproduction methods fall far, far short of reproducing it. Thank goodness for our willing-suspension-of-disbelief that allows the illusion of spatial audio reproduction to work at all.

It's easy to jump to stereo and disregard mono, yet better stereo can be built atop a solid foundation also able to support mono.  When thinking about the hierarchy of what is most important for good stereo I think it's helpful to start with the mono recording situation even if one never plans to actually record that way.
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<<

 

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