You are here

Log in or register to post comments
Tomdabomb9
Tomdabomb9's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 5 2009 - 7:27pm
Live Sound

I was at a concert tonight, and I was wondering, "what is the best spot to stand in order to get the best sound?" I tried a number of spots; right up near the stage (too loud!), in the back,(sounded pretty good), and next to the audio mixer (also sounded pretty good). I figured if I stand close to the audio mixer, I'm hearing what he's hearing, which should be best? Correct? Or is he mixing so that it sounds good to the crowd and not himself?

I'm sure this is a pretty subjective question, but I thought I would get your input. One side note, it was a rock show, so everything was way too loud!!! What do you guys find is the sweet spot for different live performance situations?

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
Or is he mixing so that it sounds good to the crowd and not himself?

The front of house mix should be aimed at sounding good for the crowd. Of course, it's best to put the board where this is easiest to accomplish, but often the board is where it is least in the way.

Most amplified venues are excessively loud. Many people want the visceral impact of the kick drum, large toms and bass.

I keep wondering if the crowd would actually enjoy it more however if the mix was clean, balanced and just loud enough so that everything can be heard over the crowd. So much detail and musicianship is lost with overly loud, muddy mixes.

Satch
Satch's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 13 2010 - 2:55pm
Re: Live Sound

If there is a mixing board etc. involved, should we really be calling it live sound? How about rock sound instead?

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Live Sound

Merely because the musicians are playing instruments that require electricity doesn't make it any less live. An electric guitar or a B3 don't make much sound without an amp.

Satch
Satch's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 13 2010 - 2:55pm
Re: Live Sound

I can't go down that road with you, Elk - fun though it might be for a while. It may not rank as high as objective vs. subjective evaluations, but I figure the question of what constitutes "live sound" has to be in the top ten topics for endless debate to no avail.

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Live Sound

I'm a classical musician. I also am an amateur on-location recording engineer for orchestral and chamber concerts.

I recognize that there is a distinction between acoustic and electric instruments.

Is this your point? I hope you are not being this simplistic.

On the other hand, calling a live performance of music that requires amplification other than "live" is dissembling at best.

Is it less live because it requires sound reinforcement? It is less live because it isn't acoustic? The musicians are less talented and committed because they play instruments that plug-in?

You've chosen to draw the distinction. Your ducking out because someone asks you about it or challenges your conception of what constitutes live?

john curl
john curl's picture
Offline
Last seen: 11 years 4 months ago
Joined: Jan 20 2010 - 8:01am
Re: Live Sound

Elk is right, live sound is sound done in real time. Un-amplified sound is better to get the natural sound of the human voice or the acoustical musical instrument, but it is getting pretty darn rare, these days.
For example the record album: 'Live Dead' meant the Grateful Dead recorded in concert, rather than in the studio.

Jim Tavegia
Jim Tavegia's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 4:27pm
Re: Live Sound

I gave up trying to record amplifed rock bands long ago. Without compression it is very hard to capture. I prefer just to do acoustical performances.

My last recordings of a local university wind ensemble as recorded at 2496 with no compression and only 2 omni mics about 8 feet up and 8 feet apart. The room had 16 foot ceilings, 40 X 80 foot ballroom and the ensemble that included a grand piano, no performers were closer than 10 feet from the side walls and the ensemble was close to 20 feet from the back wall.

To me if I play it back at a reasonable level it sounds very much like what I heard in the hall that night. I do believe that the patrons that sat toward the middle of the hall, front row to back, had the best perspective from my recording. The omni's do not give you a pin point position of the instrumentalists, but I think it does give you the best perspective of the ensemble and the hall...the full experience.

I think that it is just easier to record a more accurate performance of small acoustical performances. I will admit that I do have some great recordings of symphonic works that I am amazed at the realistic nature of the playback. Tony Faulkner's work on K622 is a bencmark for me and what to shoot for if you are trying to capture a performance. I have also not heard any better piano recordings ( the hardest instrument to record IMHO) than the work JA does.

I do believe that if you try and make recordings it gives you a greater appreciation of how hard it is to capture a performance for others to enjoy.

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
I gave up trying to record amplifed rock bands long ago. Without compression it is very hard to capture. I prefer just to do acoustical performances.

I've recorded only a few amplified performances. These have been of either a jazz trio (B3, electric bass, drums) or of a typical rock band (two electric guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, vocalists).

In each case I recorded them just as I typically record a classical ensemble in a room I don't know: ORTF tweaked a bit to get a good stereo image. I even recorded the jazz trio with ribbons -turned out great.

You don't need to use compression on the way in, just watch your levels and make sure you have extra headroom for that errant snare hit, etc. You won't need much gain and may even need a pad.

A tiny bit of compression in post may help to give the recording a little more coherency/sheen but often the band will like the realism/rawness. (Jim, take a shot again if you get a chance to record a rock band - I bet you will do fine!)

The more I record the less I am convinced that acoustic recordings are "better" or more "accurate" for evaluating a playback system. Even with acoustic recordings it is difficult to know what is the real sound of the instruments and room; the sound is so dependent on the mics, the placement of the mics, etc.

I can easily make a Steinway Model D concert grand sound either big, powerful and warm or lively and punchy just by moving the mics.

Then there are wind instruments that sound different with each performer - even on the same instrument (I would sound quite different from Dave even if we both played the same trumpet, played the same piece and in the same style.)

Vocalists are even more different from each other and voice responds totally differently depending on how the mic is placed. Probably the least "accurate" are those recordings of alto pop female singers audiophiles love - such as Diana Krall. The way she is recorded makes her sound nothing like she would if she sang unamplified in a small club.

The trick is to know your test recordings well and how they sound on lots of different systems. This is the only way to know if a change you have made is better or just different.

Just don't fool yourself into thinking that what you now have is more "real."

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
I would sound quite different from Dave even if we both played the same trumpet, played the same piece and in the same style.

Guitarists call it "Tone" and it is the Holy Grail of sound for many players. They exchange amps and strings, instruments and pieces of instruments, tubes, drivers and cables as they constantly search for their own "Tone". In the back of their mind they all know "Tone" is in their fingers and their heads, it's in their confidence as a player. They all subconciously understand that should you get B.B. King to play on a $400 Stratocaster the sound will still be undeniably "Blues Boy" (plus 60 years of experience).

Live performance is live performance. It has nothing to do with how you record the performance since that is an entirely different subject and puffing up your street creds on this forum with your recording exploits is just posturing. Most of us have done it, it doesn't prove you know anything other than how to buy mics and recording devices. Leave it for another thread.

Live performance has as much to do with the connection between the player and the audience as it does when comparing a stage play to a TV sitcom. If the audience is spirited and the performer is skilled and talented, the performance feeds off the energy coming from the house and the experience is lifted up one level. Lifted how?

If you play any instrument, you understand how it happens even if you have never played for an audience. If you've had the experience of a great performance, you know what is happening even if you do not understand the mechanics of the performer.

How the player attacks the note and allows for its decay or mutes it for effect. How the player employs dynamics both large and small. To be simple about it you could just say "PRaT" and you would have many of the instinctual tools performers use to make a composition their own. Is the performer communicating intent with the listener, whether that listener is an audience member or another musician? That becomes a part of the "live" performance.

Can that "live" quality be enhanced or destroyed during the recording and post production stages? Certainly, if the performance is chopped into tiny segments that are pasted in place and then manipulated into something that never truly existed, then that broaches the shores of implausibility. The result might still be of significant value but it is not "live" and other lessons are there to be learned in such a recording.

Once you move beyond the basics of why you own a high quality reproduction system you (hopefully) begin to focus on those elements that are capable of replicating the "live" experience or, as some have called it, the "goosebump" experience. Excluding those elements simply due to the fact a musician uses a pick up device is absurd. You can learn just as much about a performance and a performer picking Delta Blues on a Gibson J-165EC no matter whether the amp is powered up or not. If a single switch is causing you consternation, then you should reexamine your priorities.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
I figured if I stand close to the audio mixer, I'm hearing what he's hearing, which should be best? Correct? Or is he mixing so that it sounds good to the crowd and not himself?

Standing close the the mixing board has nothing to do with the quality of the performance as anyone can plainly understand. Good sound quality can't make up for a lousy performance.

Should you stop and talk to a few board operators after the concert, you'll get a good idea how much of an art exists in the hands of the board operator as it does in the musicians's talents and desire to please. There are good operators and bad operators. More importantly, there are lazy board operators and there are operators who understand their job and how hard they need to work each night to make the overall experience better for everyone.

Boards are most often located in the cheap seats. You simply don't see a board placed in the high priced areas of the audience for good reasons that have nothing to do with sound quality. If the board operator sets levels during a sound check with an empty house and never touches them afterwards, then you will very likely have sound quality that is rather abominable. They have set their levels for something that does not exist during the actual performance and they have made serious errors in judgement in too many cases. Not all, some operators know a venue well enough to compensate for many of the unknowns which occur during a performance and not many set and forget today.

Which brings up the subject of the operator who is constantly fiddling with controls without ever leaving their seat. This might work well in a very small venue but more often than not it is highly undesirable from an audience perspective. If you're talking to those operators who have pulled off what you consider to be a top flight show, they are probably the ones who get up and wander the house during a performance. They make small incremental adjustments based on what they hear in several locations and try to balance the entire house to an acceptable level of quality. Some venues allow for good sound and some do not and most fall in between. If the board operator is experienced with a venue, they can tell you beforehand where to sit for the "best sound" in that house.

Then you just have to hope what you consider good sound coincides with the intent of the operator. We all have our own ears and what they hear and want is not always what you want. What they are paid to provide is not always what an "audiophile" considers "good sound".

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
It has nothing to do with how you record the performance since that is an entirely different subject and puffing up your street creds on this forum with your recording exploits is just posturing.

Down, boy! Somebody bite the ears off of your chocolate bunny before you got your paws on it?

Jan, you have missed the point.

I mention two instrumentalists playing the same instrument and recording techniques in support of my observation that acoustic recordings are no more "accurate" for evaluating the finer points of a playback system then a recording of electronic instruments.

There is no more absolute reference in an acoustic recording than there is in a studio recording of a rock band.

An acoustic recording may provide some additional confidence as we have an idea of what a piano should sound like but - as I point out - even this readily accessible sound varies greatly depending on how the instrument was recorded.


Quote:
Most of us have done it, it doesn't prove you know anything other than how to buy mics and recording devices.


We all wish obtaining a good recording was this simple. There would be many more excellent recordings for us to enjoy.

john curl
john curl's picture
Offline
Last seen: 11 years 4 months ago
Joined: Jan 20 2010 - 8:01am
Re: Live Sound

Jan, you have over-reacted and are not always correct. The GD mixer was in the plush seats. Get over it.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
There is no more absolute reference in an acoustic recording than there is in a studio recording of a rock band.

Elk, no one bit the ears off anything though I am beginning to suspect ears are at fault here.

Of course there are absolutes. A performer's skills and talent do not get lost in the differences between mic A and mic B. That's what I'm discussing, Elk, not whether placing a mic in the piano, two feet away from the piano or above the fifth row is relevant to the absolute sound.

I would take a bet that anyone who has more than a dozen recordings has figured out that all recordings do not sound alike. That doesn't make for a world without references.

The characteristics of a particular instrument will far outweigh the differences between most microphones that might be used to record that instrument. I would think most classical music listeners can discern the difference between piano manufacturers no matter the recording label, the recording techniques or the venue. The "sound" of particular halls is well known to most classical listeners. Same for violins and cellos along with a few other instruments well known for their quality of sound. It doesn't really matter where the mics are placed since a Bosendorfer sounds unlike any other piano I'm familiar with. How a particular performer works the instrument is not changed by the recording techniques of a competent engineer.

Same goes for electronic instruments. Why do you suppose a performer chooses a Strat over a Les Paul? If you can't detect the difference between Clapton during his stint with The Cream when he was playing Gibsons and his playing today with a Fender, then IMO you need a better system or better ears.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
Jan, you have over-reacted and are not always correct. The GD mixer was in the plush seats. Get over it.

Geeeez! this forum never changes!!!

jc, first, I'm not jj so take it down a few notches.

Second, I've read your only other post in this thread and I can't figure out what GD mixer you're talking about.

Third, I also have no f'ing idea what I'm supposed to "get over".

If you have a venue you attend with a mixer in the fifth row, good for you! It would appear even Elk knows that doesn't happen very often and a few of us realize even that doesn't ensure "good sound".

BTW, nice to meet you too, Mr. C.

john curl
john curl's picture
Offline
Last seen: 11 years 4 months ago
Joined: Jan 20 2010 - 8:01am
Re: Live Sound

The Grateful Dead always put the mixer in the middle of the auditorium, perhaps slightly closer to the stage. It was front-row center, as far as the sound system was concerned.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: Live Sound

Thank you. Yes, the Dead were one of the few groups who actually cared about sound quality during their live shows. Rather ironic for a group who also allowed the numerous bootleg tapes distriubted by authorized members of their DeadHeads groupies.

Unfortunately, their concern is not a common one with most touring groups or most venues.

Satch
Satch's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 13 2010 - 2:55pm
Re: Live Sound

My first reaction to the intolerance and condescension you displayed in your responses to me and to Jim Tavegia was to reverse my position an enter into another exchange with you. Then, like a blessing from above, in storms Jan Vigne who, for years here, has had no equal in terms of self importance and condescension. You deserve one another. May the best man, or whatever (I always thought JV was female) win. My rather simplistic view has no place here.

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
My first reaction to the intolerance and condescension you displayed in your responses to me and to Jim Tavegia was to reverse my position an enter into another exchange with you.

I am honestly sorry if I came across as condescending, especially to Jim.

Jim is enjoying recording and my intent was to encourage him to again try recording amplified sound if he gets a chance to do so.

He is doing a great service for the students he is recording. My impression is that he was initially a bit frustrated with the results, but now is capturing more of the sound he wants. My intent was to encourage him. Recording is incredibly difficult.

With respect to your post, you may very well be drawing a distinction that I am not appreciating. Please explain a bit more what you mean and let's enter a well-reasoned discussion.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
My rather simplistic view has no place here.


Quote:
... people are crazy

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
The characteristics of a particular instrument will far outweigh the differences between most microphones that might be used to record that instrument.

Not really. Even using the same microphone in the same room one can obtain very different sounds from the same instrument. The vast majority would conclude there are two different instruments.

Going back to the piano example, one can easily make a concert grand sound punchy and bright - suitable for a pop mix - or dark and complex for an atmospheric new age mix - merely by moving the mics, let alone changing mics.

Other instruments are just as variable. The sound of a trumpet varies tremendously every 10 degrees one moves a microphone off axis. One can easily use two of the same microphones on the same instrument and have one track bitingly perfect for a gritty R&B mix and the other will blend into a warm acoustic mix.

Classical listeners can sometimes identify the sound of different pianos because there is more commonality in how these recordings are made; in mic type, placement and the type of room. We also learn from experience the sound of certain performer's recordings and, with experience, can identify this sound.

We are still often fooled however. I have heard more incorrect guesses by listeners than correct.

The problem is even greater with electric instruments. Not only do individual players change pickups, electronics, etc. they also use various effects. Then there are differences in recording techniques; DI, amp, room or a mixture. The variables are nearly endless.

For all of these reasons I posit that there are no recordings, acoustic or amplified, that truly represent reality.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
Not really. Even using the same microphone in the same room one can obtain very different sounds from the same instrument. The vast majority would conclude there are two different instruments.

Prove it. Don't just say something like that and expect to entirely disprove my statement. Prove what you just posted, Elk, because I don't believe it unless the engineer intentionally selects mics that will distort the fundamental nature of the instrument. No good engineer would do such a thing unless that were their intent in which case, yes, things will be distorted. So what?

A Bosendorfer will remain identifiable as a Bosendorfer and not the same as a Steinway or a Baldwin and a Les Paul will remain unlike a Strat or a Telecaster. That's my experience. Take the example of a guitarist who hears Albert King and wants that sound, he's first going to find himself a Flying V and not try to be AK on a Fender.

My experience and your suppositions do not match.


Quote:
Going back to the piano example, one can easily make a concert grand sound punchy and bright - suitable for a pop mix - or dark and complex for an atmospheric new age mix - merely by moving the mics, let alone changing mics.

Wow! That's a revelation, Elk! The only problem is ...


Quote:
Of course there are absolutes. A performer's skills and talent do not get lost in the differences between mic A and mic B. That's what I'm discussing, Elk, not whether placing a mic in the piano, two feet away from the piano or above the fifth row is relevant to the absolute sound.

You stated there were no "absolutes' in audio and I said there were. Certainly moving a mic provides a different "atmosphere", no one questions that. But the sound of a well known or just well loved performer and the character of their instrument are inherently there and do not change when the mic is moved or substituted.


Quote:
Classical listeners can sometimes identify the sound of different pianos because there is more commonality in how these recordings are made; in mic type, placement and the type of room.

That's kind of bullshit, isn't it? If I say "white", do you automatically say "black"?

Classical music listeners tend to indentify various piano manufacturers by hearing the real thing, often and with great knowledge. Classical music listeners will, in my experience, often be the person who investigates why a performer chooses a certain instrument over another.

You'll once again have to prove to me someone learns to identify a Strad in the vacuum of hearing it on a dozen recordings before ever hearing one in person. You just can't make these statements without any sort of proof and certainly without any sort of logic, Elk. For example, could you know "blue" just by reading about it in books but never actually seeing "blue'? I doubt it.


Quote:
The problem is even greater with electric instruments. Not only do individual players change pickups, electronics, etc. they also use various effects. Then there are differences in recording techniques; DI, amp, room or a mixture. The variables are nearly endless.

You're obfuscating, Elk. If you appreciate an artist, you know their sound, you can identify their sound and you listen as their sound evolves over the years or even decades. Say you like Clapton, you can identify Clapton throughout his entire career, through Gibson semi-solid bodies and Gibson archtops through the various incarnations of Strats he has played. You can identify Clapton in his Crossroads years when the British engineers had never been told to record the amps at "11" and through his swampy BS days with Phil Collins twidllin' knobs and you can identify him during his Unplugged years. Whether he's playing Marshalls or not, you can identify Clapton. Most performers aren't infatuated with pedals and effects, they have a few select items they rely on over and over and do very little experimentation on their recordings so suggesting pedals or studios will somehow disguise the essence of a performer's sound is rather ludicrous.

Don't obfuscate, Elk.


Quote:
For all of these reasons I posit that there are no recordings, acoustic or amplified, that truly represent reality.

Then I wonder where the hell it is you live. No absolutes does make buying hifi much simpler and far easier but that's not where most of us reside.

Tell me, Elk, have you ever researched why HP decided on "The Absolute Sound" as the title for his magazine?

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Live Sound


Quote:

Quote:
Not really. Even using the same microphone in the same room one can obtain very different sounds from the same instrument. The vast majority would conclude there are two different instruments.


Prove it.


I would be happy to and it is easy to do so. All one needs to do is to visit my studio, or any other, and ask for a demonstration.

Pop recordings typically record a piano with mics placed inside the body of the instrument, close to the strings and close to the hammers. This provides a bright, percussive sound with great articulation.

Take the same mics, move them back from the instrument 8-10 feet (on the side of the open lid) and the sound is completely different.

I can easily record a small Yamaha conservatory grand (such as a C3) and make it sound darker than a Steinway D. No EQ, post processing or room sound involved.

These techniques are used everyday in every recording studio. It's pretty magical.


Quote:
Of course there are absolutes. A performer's skills and talent do not get lost in the differences between mic A and mic B.

Of course. And this is what we most readily identify, the style of playing.

This is why we know it is Glenn Gould, whether he is playing a Steinway Model D or a Yamaha CFIIIS. He played both. They sound quite different. Yet we always know it is Gould.


Quote:
Classical music listeners tend to indentify various piano manufacturers by hearing the real thing, often and with great knowledge. Classical music listeners will, in my experience, often be the person who investigates why a performer chooses a certain instrument over another.

It is a combination of factors. Once we know that performer X plays on a Steinway we know it is a Steinway we are hearing: we recognize X's playing, it's a Steinway because that's what X plays.

The commonality of classical recording techniques for solo piano also applies. Classical piano is typically recorded:

- using a 9 foot concert grand
- in a room made for performance or in a studio of sufficient size for performance
- using the same types of mics placed at roughly the same distance away and in the same fashion.

As a result, there is a common reference.

Change the piano and we will have an opportunity to hear the differences in pianos more readily.

I am not stating that there isn't variability in classical recordings of piano, there is. Some are drier than others, some are closer, some more distant - but overall the recording engineer is capturing a similar sound.


Quote:

Quote:
The problem is even greater with electric instruments. Not only do individual players change pickups, electronics, etc. they also use various effects. Then there are differences in recording techniques; DI, amp, room or a mixture. The variables are nearly endless.


You're obfuscating, Elk. If you appreciate an artist, you know their sound, you can identify their sound and you listen as their sound evolves over the years or even decades.


Absolutely and I would never claim otherwise.

But this is an entirely separate point than the one I am making.

We learn the performance style of our favorite performers and can easily identify them on even the cheapest transistor radio. We also learn what sounds they choose to produce.

We thus can easily recognize a specific electric guitar player.

Thus, I think that a well-known non-acoustic recording can be just as useful in judging a stereo playback system as an acoustic recording. We can learn to know a particular sound on a particular recording and know whether it is reproduced well.

However, the specific sound of recorded "electric guitar" is vastly more variable than the sound of a recorded acoustic instrument; the sound of "electric guitar" is much less absolute.

rvance
rvance's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 years 9 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2007 - 9:58am
Re: Live Sound

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Live Sound

I hope it isn't that bad.

I also hope I am expressing myself clearly. I find the interplay between performance, recording and playback fascinating.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
Take the same mics, move them back from the instrument 8-10 feet (on the side of the open lid) and the sound is completely different.

I believe you and I are disagreeing over the meaning of "completely". I have, since the start, agreed with you. Microphone placement is effective in changing the perspective towards the instrument and the atmosphere surrounding the performance. That is not the same as changing Clapton into Emmanuel or Solti into Van Sweden.

It certainly is not the same as changing a Steinway into a Yamaha.


Quote:
I can easily record a small Yamaha conservatory grand (such as a C3) and make it sound darker than a Steinway D.

And, recognizing the perspective you've taken on the recording with your microphone placement, the educated listener would easily decide it is still a Yamaha and not a Steinway. Making a Yamaha sound not like a Steinway is not the same as making a Yahama sound exactly like a Steinway. As long as those distinctions exist, there are absolutes we can reference.


Quote:


Quote:
Of course there are absolutes. A performer's skills and talent do not get lost in the differences between mic A and mic B.

Of course. And this is what we most readily identify, the style of playing.

Then you agree there are absolutes. That's not what you have previously claimed in several posts here.


Quote:
This is why we know it is Glenn Gould, whether he is playing a Steinway Model D or a Yamaha CFIIIS. He played both. They sound quite different. Yet we always know it is Gould.

And we easily detect the difference between the two instruments.

So there are absolutes.


Quote:
Once we know that performer X plays on a Steinway we know it is a Steinway we are hearing: we recognize X's playing, it's a Steinway because that's what X plays.

So there are absolutes.


Quote:
The commonality of classical recording techniques for solo piano also applies. Classical piano is typically recorded:

- using a 9 foot concert grand
- in a room made for performance or in a studio of sufficient size for performance
- using the same types of mics placed at roughly the same distance away and in the same fashion.

As a result, there is a common reference.

Which contradicts what you said earlier ...


Quote:
There is no more absolute reference in an acoustic recording ...


Quote:


Quote:
You're obfuscating, Elk. If you appreciate an artist, you know their sound, you can identify their sound and you listen as their sound evolves over the years or even decades.

Absolutely and I would never claim otherwise.

But you have ...


Quote:
There is no more absolute reference in an acoustic recording than there is in a studio recording of a rock band.


Quote:
But this is an entirely separate point than the one I am making.

We learn the performance style of our favorite performers and can easily identify them on even the cheapest transistor radio. We also learn what sounds they choose to produce.

Elk, what exactly do you think I've been saying for the last few pages? ...


Quote:
They all subconciously understand that should you get B.B. King to play on a $400 Stratocaster the sound will still be undeniably "Blues Boy" (plus 60 years of experience).


Quote:
Of course there are absolutes. A performer's skills and talent do not get lost in the differences between mic A and mic B. That's what I'm discussing, Elk, not whether placing a mic in the piano, two feet away from the piano or above the fifth row is relevant to the absolute sound.


Quote:
Say you like Clapton, you can identify Clapton throughout his entire career, through Gibson semi-solid bodies and Gibson archtops through the various incarnations of Strats he has played.

I'd forgotten how getting involved in a thread with you is like talking to someone with extreme short term memory loss.


Quote:
We thus can easily recognize a specific electric guitar player.

So there are absolutes. That is what you are now saying, right?

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 10 years 3 days ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Re: Live Sound

Two things to point out:

1) Live sound is often worse than you think, you're able to pick out cues in the live environment that you simply can't pick out in a 2-channel environment.

2) The "best point" is both subjective (and a matter of preference) as well as entirely dependent on both the sound setup and the hall. There can't be "one right answer".

As to Elk's comment that the same mic and instrument can be made to sound very different, you betcha it can.

No instrument I know of radiates uniformally, not even a triangle.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
As to Elk's comment that the same mic and instrument can be made to sound very different, you betcha it can.

Wow! there's a level of density on this forum I had completely forgotten. No one is arguing you cannot make an instrument sound "different". But you cannot make a Steinway sound like a Bosendorfer. You cannot turn a Strad into a Guarnerius.

You cannot change the character of the artist by microphone placement.

That's the point!

Awwww, go ahead, jj, tell me I'm stalking you and demand I cease and desist and apologize immediately. I've heard it all before.

I suspect jc auditions his equipment before releasing it. Possibly he can tell us just what he is auditioning for if there are no references and no absolutes.

rvance
rvance's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 years 9 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2007 - 9:58am
Re: Live Sound


Quote:

Wow! there's a level of density on this forum I had completely forgotten.

Are we talking about physics now? Or insulting someone's denseness? Or are you just guilty of obtusity?

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: Live Sound

Rvance, I really don't know what your problems are and I really don't care. You're just another forum member to me and that's where it needs to stop - both ways. But this is the second thread where you have spent time criticizing me rather than doing what is done on an audio forum - discussing audio. So I'm beginning to wonder just why the hell you are here.

I have no idea what you motives are but you might consider doing more of what I assume you came here for and less of the other BS. I have no problems with you being here, but they could develop if you keep this up. That will become a terrible waste of people's time. If you have a problem with me, take it up with the moderators and stop wasting everyone's time here with your petty litttle crap. I'm here and you're here. The forum rules say we both have a right to be here and not be harrassed by the other. Figure it out, guy.

If I remember correctly, you play an instrument. How about discussing the topic of the thread and forgetting about me?

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 hours 5 min ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm
Re: Live Sound


Quote:

Quote:
As to Elk's comment that the same mic and instrument can be made to sound very different, you betcha it can.

Wow! there's a level of density on this forum I had completely forgotten. No one is arguing you cannot make an instrument sound "different". But you cannot make a Steinway sound like a Bosendorfer. You cannot turn a Strad into a Guarnerius.

You cannot change the character of the artist by microphone placement.

That's the point!

Awwww, go ahead, jj, tell me I'm stalking you and demand I cease and desist and apologize immediately. I've heard it all before.

I suspect jc auditions his equipment before releasing it. Possibly he can tell us just what he is auditioning for if there are no references and no absolutes.

I'm in your camp on this Jan! I wonder how many other posters play an instrument?

Satch
Satch's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 13 2010 - 2:55pm
Re: Live Sound

Elk, despite your invitation, I doubt seriously that you and I can have a productive discussion about live music.

I grew up near Chicago when the Fritz Reiner conducted the CSO and the venue was Orchestra Hall. In my teens, I climbed to the gallery seats and marveled at how all those guys could play together at all, let alone so beautifully. More amazing was how not only his music, but the squeaks from Segovia's left hand movement carried to the gallery.

In later years, Solti was there, and my subscription seats began at the right where I came to feel that I knew the contra-bass players personally. It took years to move closer to the "sweet spot," but Perlman playing Mozart sounded great from any seat. Orchestra Hall was a wonderful acoustic venue. It is gone now, replaced by a modern augmented space known as Symphony Center. I no longer subscribe. Many great recordings were made in the old space. None in the new.

When I was old enough to drink, I began to hang out at places like The London House and Rick's Cafe. I've sat six feet from the bell of Henry Red Allen's horn and fifty feet from the stool that Charlie Byrd sat on to play in the London House. I've listened happily from all such locations. I've stood at the bar to hear Bags at Ricks. I sat at a bar directly in front of a stoned Zoot Sims as he played alone in some little dive near the Holland Tunnel and nodded approvingly as did the the drummer next to me who'd just returned from a European trip with the Basie band. I've leaned on his piano for a couple of hours while Art Hodes played . I could go on, but there's no point.

I've heard some live music in my day, and I value the memories. I can't imagine how any discussion we might have would be fruitful for either one of us because our perspectives are so different. There are many ways to cook chicken, Elk. I hope you enjoy your favorites as much as I enjoy mine, different though they may be.

Lick-T
Lick-T's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: May 14 2006 - 8:04pm
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
No instrument I know of radiates uniformally, not even a triangle.

Round triangles do!

rvance
rvance's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 years 9 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2007 - 9:58am
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
Rvance, I really don't know what your problems are and I really don't care. You're just another forum member to me and that's where it needs to stop - both ways. But this is the second thread where you have spent time criticizing me rather than doing what is done on an audio forum - discussing audio. So I'm beginning to wonder just why the hell you are here.

I have no idea what you motives are but you might consider doing more of what I assume you came here for and less of the other BS. I have no problems with you being here, but they could develop if you keep this up. That will become a terrible waste of people's time. If you have a problem with me, take it up with the moderators and stop wasting everyone's time here with your petty litttle crap. I'm here and you're here. The forum rules say we both have a right to be here and not be harrassed by the other. Figure it out, guy.

This isn't life and death, Jan. Maybe if you didn't take yourself so seriously ... well, forget that.

Jim Tavegia
Jim Tavegia's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 4:27pm
Re: Live Sound

I am sorry for where this thread has headed. As for my recording endeavors I made need to clarify some things.
1. The Wind Ensemble is made up of musicians, some from the University of West Georgia, but all hold at least Master

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
... well, forget that.

Yes, please do forget that. I didn't come here to change anyone and I don't expect anyone to insist I change to suit their concept of what is serious and what is not. Precious little gets discussed concerning audio on this forum so I tend to be serious about it when the opportunity arises.

My posts are quite clearly marked as being my own. If they bother you, you can either scroll past them or use the ignore function of the forum. Should you choose the ignore function I would ask that you not duplicate the actions of a certain forum member who constantly placed others on ignore, constantly reminded them they were not worth his time to be within his view while also constantly sneaking peeks at their posts. That's so low life.

To look at something when you know beforehand it will disturb your delicate pysche is IMO crazy. I would advise you to take advantage of the forum's tools, rvance. You are not the gatekeeper here, friend, you and I are simply guests.

I assume we are now done with this conversation.

Lick-T
Lick-T's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: May 14 2006 - 8:04pm
Re: Live Sound

Sounds fantastic Jim!

Recording new works by living composers is a REAL service to the musical world. As a composer myself and someone who has premiered about 50 new works, getting records of these performances mean the difference when trying to get the next commission or grants. Also a good recording of a new work may help other ensembles get excited about the piece and perform it themselves. Recordings help worthy new works become established works.

The world doesn't really need another live recording of Beethoven quartets, but to record something new really adds to the progress and exchange of music.

Kudos!

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
I own so many recordings made with great care, performed by world class orchestras, lead by the best conductors on the planet that do not sound as good as these recordings I have made. Do I know why? NO!

This is the science, art and magic of recording. It is the recording engineer that matters most, not the equipment.

You nailed it this time. I bet you have already done this, but be sure to take careful notes of how you did it (mic placement, etc.) Many take pictures also for additional reference.

Congrats!

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
I've heard some live music in my day, and I value the memories. I can't imagine how any discussion we might have would be fruitful for either one of us because our perspectives are so different.

We may have very different perspectives. If so, this is what would make the discussion interesting.

In the last couple of weeks I attended a wonderful performance of La Boh

john curl
john curl's picture
Offline
Last seen: 11 years 4 months ago
Joined: Jan 20 2010 - 8:01am
Re: Live Sound

Dixieland, I appreciate your input, greatly. You DO have some real experience, and you notice things. Much has been said here, by others, that confuses the situation, more than it helps it.
My experience with live instruments started by playing guitar in a rock and roll band, back in 1958. Much later, attending live recitals from masters and students alike, nightly, at the music grad school that I was working at. You never really forget it, once you have heard the difference between a great Strad and other violins, etc. Microphone placement, while important, will NOT turn a Strad into a practice violin, unless you do something completely inappropriate.

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
I believe you and I are disagreeing over the meaning of "completely". I have, since the start, agreed with you. Microphone placement is effective in changing the perspective towards the instrument and the atmosphere surrounding the performance.

Mic placement changes much more than this. Placement defines the sound.

The same piano recorded the two ways I described will produce recordings that will sound as a different instrument. It is non-intuitive and surprising when one first hears it.

I'm sure all of us have noticed that the piano sound on a rock recording is very different than that for new age. The first is bright, punchy, percussive; the second, round, warm, full.

What most don't know is that this is often exactly the same piano, in the same space, but recorded with a different mic position.

Which is "real?" Which is "absolute?"

Neither.

Both represent one way of presenting a piano to the listener. We will recognize it as a piano. It's "piano-ness" is absolute, but that's it.


Quote:
It certainly is not the same as changing a Steinway into a Yamaha.

Yes and no. As I stated, one can easily record a small Yamaha conservatory grand and make it sound darker than a Steinway D. And vice versa.

Most would be hard pressed to discern which is the smaller, brighter instrument in the "real" world and which the bigger and darker.

Other great examples:

1) Recording acoustic guitar, even classical guitar, often involves multiple microphones for a solo instrument.

One mic will handle the body of the instrument for power and richness, one at perhaps the junction of the fret board and body to add higher harmonics and clarity, and one at the fret board to capture the little added harmonics and finger that mean "real" to the listener.

These multiple tracks are mixed to taste. "Absolute?" "Real?" That is for each to judge.

2) Recorded voice. Diane Krall, Jane Monheit, etc. are close mic'ed. Proximity effect adds artificial richness and bass to their voices. A mic a fraction of an inch away heightens the relative balance of lip sounds, tongue, etc. Even before compression (of which there is a lot in pop vocal recordings) this sound has little to do with how these singers actually sound if the sing in the same room with you.

We will recognize one as Diana and the other as Jane. But neither is an accurate recreation of how each sounds as they sing, unamplified.

3) Electric bass guitar. Often recorded both direct injection (plugged directly into the preamp) and a mic on the amp. The DI sound is punchy and immediate, the amp sound fuller and more developed. Mix the two together to taste. JA did this when recording Attention Screen.

It's a great sound, his recording is wonderful, but no one can claim that the bass sounds as it would to someone in the tenth row listening to the band. However, it recreates the bass in a way that emotional evokes "electric bass guitar."

This is the art of recording; to invoke in the listener and emotional response and to suspend disbelief and accept the reproduced sound as real.


Quote:
Then you agree there are absolutes.

This is an issue of semantics.

My position is that all recording is artifice. It is manipulated sound. We have a shared language of recording that we accept as real.

Thus, the best reference recordings are those you know well and have heard on many systems. These can be rock, pop, jazz, classical, amplified or not.

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
Microphone placement, while important, will NOT turn a Strad into a practice violin, unless you do something completely inappropriate.

Agreed. There are limits.

Although a talented violinist will sound wonderful on both.

Violinists often are strongly opinionated on their recorded sound. Some insist on a placement that emphasizes their tone, others on that which emphasizes less violin body and thus highlights their technique.

Freako
Freako's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: Jan 17 2010 - 8:29am
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
I gave up trying to record amplifed rock bands long ago. Without compression it is very hard to capture. I prefer just to do acoustical performances.

My last recordings of a local university wind ensemble as recorded at 2496 with no compression and only 2 omni mics about 8 feet up and 8 feet apart. The room had 16 foot ceilings, 40 X 80 foot ballroom and the ensemble that included a grand piano, no performers were closer than 10 feet from the side walls and the ensemble was close to 20 feet from the back wall.

To me if I play it back at a reasonable level it sounds very much like what I heard in the hall that night. I do believe that the patrons that sat toward the middle of the hall, front row to back, had the best perspective from my recording. The omni's do not give you a pin point position of the instrumentalists, but I think it does give you the best perspective of the ensemble and the hall...the full experience.

I think that it is just easier to record a more accurate performance of small acoustical performances. I will admit that I do have some great recordings of symphonic works that I am amazed at the realistic nature of the playback. Tony Faulkner's work on K622 is a bencmark for me and what to shoot for if you are trying to capture a performance. I have also not heard any better piano recordings ( the hardest instrument to record IMHO) than the work JA does.

I do believe that if you try and make recordings it gives you a greater appreciation of how hard it is to capture a performance for others to enjoy.

Having had the pleasure of listening to the 24/96 disc of the wind ensemble Jim mentions, I must say that he did a great job. Like he says himself, the pinpoint "view" isn't quite there, but on the other hand the live feeling is, and to a large degree. The sound of both saxes and wind is amazing, as is the room athmosphere. Audience clapping their hands sounds very accurate too.

But I can't help wondering what would be the result if 1) Jim had access to even better mics, and 2) the mics were brought a bit closer together and maybe closer to the band.

I have no first hand knowledge or experience with large band recordings. All I ever did was record 2 guitars, drums and bass with 2 Shure mics and a Ferrograph tape machine back in the 70's. But I guess Jim have made these recordings using his experience, and taking advantage of it in the best possible way. They do make really great listening experiences, and the band shows remarkable skills in their performing. Thanks for the opportunity, Jim

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
But I can't help wondering what would be the result if 1) Jim had access to even better mics, and 2) the mics were brought a bit closer together and maybe closer to the band.

I bet Jim does, too.

Spaced omnis as Jim used is one of the hardest mic setups to pull off. The interplay between the size of the ensemble, the mics' distance from it and the distance between the mics must be carefully considered.

Done well you get a wonderful sense of the room and of the blend of the ensemble.

Done poorly you get a muddle of indistinct sound bunching around the speakers with a big hole in the middle.

Jim Tavegia
Jim Tavegia's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 4:27pm
Re: Live Sound

I can tell you that there is no whole in the middle of the sound stage. You also get the sense that the grand piano is stage left, just as it is positioned. The opening quartet is to the right of center and you do get a slight sense of that perspective.

And, yes, better mics would be nice, but the dilemma is always what do you buy short of AKG 414a? Rode NT-1As, or the AKG 420's that offer a choice of 3 polar patters and are about $220 a piece, the same as the Rode's that have only 5db of self-noise. Or, the option of the Rode NT55 pencil mics with interchangable capsules.

My concern is that any of these choices are incremental improvements and I have no way of knowing if that improvement is worth the cost. Plus, if I upgrade the mics I most assuredly need to upgrade the micpre for sure to at least a pair of Grace 101's.

I have much to think about and will come to some decisions after the recording session on the 13th.

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Live Sound

Cool! It sounds like you got it just right. Well done!

Buying more/better equipment is always tempting. Microphones in particular become an addiction.

I find that placement and type of mic to have the greatest importance. Of course, higher quality mics sound better, as do better pres and ADCs, but the return on investment is not what one might initially expect.

It really is best to put one's energy into learning and making the best recordings you can with what you have.

That being said, most would agree that small diaphragm condensers are the best overall for orchestral and chamber music recording.

Omni capsules have the best overall sound and capture the room.

Cardiods are great when you don't know the room (or it does not have good sound) and when you want more precise imaging and or more reach. As an example, my latest big project was recording Beethoven's Ninth. I used SDCs with cardioid capsules as my main pair. I wanted as much clarity as I could get and needed to reach to get back all the way to the choir.

The Rode NT-5s are a good choice for affordable mics. Consider a pair of Oktava M012 with omni caps at the same price point (wonderful mics for the money, even better when modded by Michael Joly ~$100.00). Naiant has amazing mics for the money.

(BTW, many of us do not care for the sound of the latest 414, the older ones sound much better. I also don't think they are the best choice for your application, great vocal mics and for other things other than large acoustic ensembles.)

I hope j_j and NCDrawl chime in. They will have even better ideas and advice.

struts
struts's picture
Offline
Last seen: 11 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Feb 1 2007 - 12:02pm
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
In the last couple of weeks I attended a wonderful performance of La Boh
Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
Was it aything like this?


Absolutely!

Two solid hours of incredible variety. Young band with serious chops (two guitars, bass, drums). They started out in a raw funk groove, transitioned into hard backbeat rock (replete with power metal chords and simultaneous screaming guitar solos), straight ahead blues, hints of alt-country, swinging vamps. It was gritty, in your face, loud. Very different from past appearances I have attended.

Get this: "Hold On, I'm Comin", sung by Booker and playing guitar, with rap breaks by the drummer (this guy has amazing chops), and an extended solo by Booker singing along with his guitar, George Benson style.

Another highlight, "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" - again sung by Booker, on guitar and riffing on Cropper's original guitar lines.

A good selection of cuts from "Potato Hole." A screaming version of "Hang 'em High." Excellent versions of "Green Onions,", Time is Tight," etc.

Multiple encores, including an incredible blues sung by Booker (I can't remember the name of the song! driving me nuts).

Booker never phones in his performance. The guy really plays, ever time.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: Live Sound

Ok, now I remember how you do this, Elk.

You say something which is clearly inaccurate - "there are no absolutes" - which I prove wrong - "there are absolutes" - and then you backtrack on your first statement - "there are absolutes but those don't count in my world" - and afterwards you spend lots of time and words repeating how your world is different than anyone else's world and even though what you said is clearly not true you can find ways to make it appear you really know less about the subject than your intial incorrect statement would lead anyone to believe.


Quote:
Mic placement changes much more than this. Placement defines the sound.

The same piano recorded the two ways I described will produce recordings that will sound as a different instrument.

"Placement defines the sound".

How much more inconclusive could you have made that statement? How much less instructive could you have made that statement?

The same instrument recorded with near and distant mic placement will still sound as the same instrument in a "different" acoustic. The actual sound of an instrument with various microphone placements is part of the education many audiophiles and music lovers learn because they want to know these things. That is intuitive! Pleeeeeease get over the rest, Elk.

If I hear a Guarnerius recorded up close and then a similar instrument recorded at a distance, I tend to go, "Oh, that's how the acoustic of that space sounds." I don't tend to go, "Oh, that Guarnerius has just becone a practice violin."

Maybe you really do find this mic placement stuff to be overly fascinating to the point you can no longer distinguish certain instruments, Elk, but I am placing my bets most music lovers do not share your fascination with the technology and the abstractions you find "cool". Possibly you are no further advanced in your thinking about all of this than frequency balance but I tend to think a few of us have moved beyond that level of ... uh, "sophistication?".

What you have just stated is no different than claiming you can make a Yamaha not sound like a Steinway. You're going in circles and not saying anything but you keep saying nothing over and over again.


Quote:
I'm sure all of us have noticed that the piano sound on a rock recording is very different than that for new age. The first is bright, punchy, percussive; the second, round, warm, full.

What most don't know is that this is often exactly the same piano, in the same space, but recorded with a different mic position.

You continue to make these silly-assed sweeping statements that are not provable. "Most" don't know?!

"Most" don't care! I really can't remember the last time I wondered whether the piano Little Richard was playing was a Steinway or a Bosenborfer.

I've already given you the fact an engineer can intentionally distort the sound of an instrument and I'll give you that many pop recordings have few standards - no great concession that.

However, your initial statement to which I took exception was, "There is no more absolute reference in an acoustic recording than there is in a studio recording of a rock band."

And you're now about to concede in the next few quotations that is not true just as I have already shown you have already contradicted yourself on several occasions.


Quote:
Which is "real?" Which is "absolute?"

Neither.

No, both are "real". That is "intuitive" as you like to say. People do understand microphone placement, Elk. This is not some Philosopher's Stone secret you hold. They understand microphone placement simply because all recordings do not sound alike and they have been exposed to the visual and acoustic experience of seeing and hearing performers in differnt settings. They get it! They might not have any idea how many mics get used on a drum kit or what type of mic gets used or how many channels are used in a pop recording master board but they get the basic concept. Well educated listeners tend to know even more than the average iPod listener.

Don't try to pass this "most people" garbage off when you simply made up the statement once again hoping I would fall in line and go, "Oh, Elk, you are soooooo smart, why didn't I understand the same manufactured silliness you can come up with?"


Quote:


Quote:
It certainly is not the same as changing a Steinway into a Yamaha.

Yes and no. As I stated, one can easily record a small Yamaha conservatory grand and make it sound darker than a Steinway D. And vice versa.

OK, if I repeat the obvious rebuttal to this bit of sillines again, will you continue to repeat this silliness yet again? This BS is getting old, Elk. Say something new. Say something true.

You've already admitted there are absolutes. Why not just let it go that you misspoke?


Quote:
Most would be hard pressed to discern which is the smaller, brighter instrument in the "real" world and which the bigger and darker.

You just couldn't, could ya? More of this "most" BS!

Geeeeez, Elk!


Quote:
Other great examples:

They're not great examples, they're just more obfuscation on your part.


Quote:


Quote:
Then you agree there are absolutes.

This is an issue of semantics.

No.

No.

No.

Absolutes do not deal in semantics. That's intuitive! That's why they are "absolutes"!

If there are absolutes, then you are wrong in your initial statement. There clearly are absolutes, therefore ...

Let this be the end of it, Elk.

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Live Sound

Jan asserts: The same instrument recorded with near and distant mic placement will still sound as the same instrument in a "different" acoustic.

No. In fact, in a dry room there will be little, if any, sense of the acoustic - yet the instrument will sound significantly different between nearfield and distant mic placement. I have already described a number of these very specifically.

And this is only one aspect of acoustic recording that changes the sound. We haven't even considered the differences in microphones; transducer types and polar patterns and how each greatly influences the sound which is captured.

None of these differences are subtle. A trumpet recorded through a ribbon mic has an entirely different sound (warm, dark, rich) as recorded by a large diaphragm condenser (bright, lively) even when both mics have essentially the same frequency response. Both types of mics are commonly used on modern acoustic recordings.

So what does the trumpet player actually sound like when he played the piece? We don't know.

What you have just stated is no different than claiming you can make a Yamaha not sound like a Steinway.

I completely comfortable that I can.

But this is not the issue.

Yamaha grand pianos are typically brighter than Steinways. By mic placement alone, just a matter of a yard or so difference, one can easily make the Steinway sound much brighter than the Yamaha. Many will confuse which is which based upon this basic sound character of the recording.

Does this turn a Yamaha into a Steinway? Of course not.

There are other differences as well between the instruments that are not effected by mic placement.

For example, Yamaha pianos have an extremely precise action which some feel is over damped. As a result it is harder to play a true legato on a Yamaha than on a Steinway. The offset is that it easier to play extremely cleanly.

If one knows these differences well, and the two pianos are played by the same individual with similar technique, you may be able to discern which is which based on this other factor alone.

I've already given you the fact an engineer can intentionally distort the sound of an instrument and I'll give you that many pop recordings have few standards - no great concession that.

But again this is not the issue.

The same piano can sound bright punchy or warm and full merely because of mic placement- no EQ, no compression, no distortion, no lack of standards.

However, your initial statement to which I took exception was, "There is no more absolute reference in an acoustic recording than there is in a studio recording of a rock band."

Which is indeed the case - as I have repeatedly explained. The specific sound of an acoustic recording is based solely on the discretion of the people making it. It may because it is the most flattering, or the most detailed, or the most powerful or something else.

As a result, recorded sound is not "absolute." It is from being a perfect uncolored recreation of the original event.

This matters to us as audiophiles as we are listening for even smaller differences. We dissect sound. Accordingly, we need to truly understand what it is we are listening to so that we can effectively use our chosen "reference" recordings.

It is also why it is just as valid to rely on recordings of electronic instruments that the listener knows well in judging a sound system.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: Live Sound


Quote:
So what does the trumpet player actually sound like when he played the piece? We don't know.

Yes, we probably do. Particularly, if we are familiar with the sound of an actual trumpet. Particularly, if we are familiar with the sound of an actual trumpet in a real space. Most especially as we become familiar with the sound of a trumpet as a performer utilizes a microphone. Even more so if we are familiar with a particular performer.

You are making this far more convoluted than it needs to be.


Quote:
What you have just stated is no different than claiming you can make a Yamaha not sound like a Steinway ...

But this is not the issue.

On that we can agree.


Quote:
Many will confuse which is which based upon this basic sound character of the recording.

Many will confuse a frog with the tree. We're talking an educated observer here, Elk.


Quote:
There are other differences as well between the instruments that are not effected by mic placement.

And we call those what?

hint: "absolutes".


Quote:
If one knows these differences well, and the two pianos are played by the same individual with similar technique, you may be able to discern which is which based on this other factor alone.

If one knows the differences well, what would that be called?

hint: look above


Quote:
The same piano can sound bright punchy or warm and full merely because of mic placement- no EQ, no compression, no distortion, no lack of standards.

Just checking, now you're arguing there are standards?


Quote:
The specific sound of an acoustic recording is based solely on the discretion of the people making it. It may because it is the most flattering, or the most detailed, or the most powerful or something else.

How about this approach? You have to have an absolute before you can distort the absolute? You can't turn grapes into wine until you have grapes.

I know the Meyerson here in Dallas rather well. I also know Powell Hall in St. Louis. Both symphonies are what you would call second tier and as such they are constantly changing recording contracts. I also know the performance style of the DSO under several conductors and despite the constantly changing labels and engineers there is no way any talented producer would turn the sound of the DSO in the Meyerson into the sound of Powell Hall. I am unaware of good engineers and producers who choose a venue and then intentionally distort the character of the venue. I'm sure you'll have an exception but they don't exist in my experience.

And so I don't know what you are driving at with that statement. The sound of the performer, the sound of the venue, the sound of an instrument become absolutes to the educated listener. Even without attending a performance in a symphony hall a listener knows what a grand space is, what a human voice sounds like, how that voice is enveloped by space or lack of space. Nothing you are discussing deals with anything other than moving microphones. You are oblivious to any other quality which could be called an absolute.

A well educated listener understands the pacing and timing, the communication between performer and listener. We know the major to minor pentatonic shifts of a player we have listened to for years and we know B.B. King is going to play single note runs within "B.B.'s box". We know Albert King is going to be able to pull off three step bends. These are absolutes that do not change with microphone placement.

Now, would you kindly leave microphone placement somewhere other than your next post?!


Quote:
As a result, recorded sound is not "absolute."

Of course sound is an absolute. It might not be for you, Elk, but for most of us, sound is absolute. We have an instinctual knowledge of "sound". We know things about sound and we draw conclusions day to day and moment to moment from what we perceive as sound. That's how our hearing works. To deny it is simply denying the truth.


Quote:
It is from being a perfect uncolored recreation of the original event.

OK, I have no idea what that means.


Quote:
This matters to us as audiophiles as we are listening for even smaller differences. We dissect sound. Accordingly, we need to truly understand what it is we are listening to so that we can effectively use our chosen "reference" recordings.

References become absolutes. That's why they are references. Turning an idea on its head doesn't alter that. Even with a reference that has no origin in the real world we have references and we have absolutes. Kitaro is Kitaro and Eno is Eno. We know the artist and that becomes our absolute. Ignoring everything other than mic placement is only continuing this thread needlessly.


Quote:
It is also why it is just as valid to rely on recordings of electronic instruments that the listener knows well in judging a sound system.

I agreed to that pages ago. You do remember me mentioning the Strats and LP's, don't you? You do remember me mentioning B.B. King would sound like B.B. King on a far less expensive solid body, don't you?

I don't know what you remember, Elk. We always get to this point when I try to discuss something with you. You babble on for a few pages and finally I have to stop and ask, just what is it you're trying to say?

I'm saying there are plenty of abslutes that have nothing to do with mic placement. You seem to be saying the same, at times and now - just not when you first began.

Pages

  • X