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Recording, too much enhancement?


oldgeezer
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How much recording production is over production? When does using the magic of modern digital recording tools cross the line to become Millli Vanilli, the 1990 performers who weren’t?

Recording engineers were snipping out the obvious clinkers even before we went to digital. Digital gives you infinite tracks at your disposal and a large number of digital tools beyond reverb (echo) and compression (the thing that makes the TV commercials irritatingly loud.) In the projection thread on the pegbox, Michael Darnton commented on the unrealistic expectations of violin loudness because of recording technique allowing any instrument to be heard over a full orchestra. In popular music you get enhancement to the point where a live performance of the music isn’t possible.

I don’t object to multiple takes if you can afford to pay the musicians. I don’t object to a bit of snip and paste, say combining parts of several takes to get a performance that wasn’t but could have been if everything worked out just right. And I don’t object to fixing the obvious clinkers. I usually prefer carefully crafted session recordings to “live” recordings.

But when you are snipping and pasting every 10 seconds in a performance that runs 5 minutes, or over processing so it sounds like celestial instruments then you have crossed the line. It is hard to define but I have heard some much too perfect recordings with instruments that must have come from Mars.

Where do you draw the line?

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I once talked to a self-learned soundengineer. He demonstrated prerecorded violinsounds, samples if you wish, stating that this was real sound. I actually began trying to explain how far away it was from reality but soon gave it up. The same guy wanted to record a quartett one by one... shocked.giftongue.gif

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This is why when I record my own concerts on video, I put the camera in the farthest seat in the highest row.

Joe Pass (jazz guitar extraordinaire) cited that he liked hearing "room sound", and I'm no different.

Though there obviously is a distortion due to my "inferior" recording equipment, I feel that the sound is more representative of my power and projection as an audience member would feel than if I shoved a mike on stage.

I LIKE the obvious clinkers. It shows people that this is real stuff. Who of us plays in a totally soundless venue in real life? Even in my concerts, people sneeze/cough/curse - heck, I'M doing that DURING the concert!

In addition, one plays differently for a cut-and-paste job than he would in a live concert. Better people dump on me for being imperfect and REAL (as MANY Maestronetters here have) than clap their hands politely for my perfect but FAKE playing.

Believe me, I could make a "perfect" recording if I you gave me a few takes and edits here and there (and had me playing easier stuff). But that's not REAL, and it sounds like crap!

This is why I never edit.

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This is why when you make a studio recording, if you do choose to overdub you should try to play along with your previous take. It will lead you into the same kind of feel that you were using before.

You should record quartets as a group, but you should really strive for seperation between mics in the event that there is not someone like HKV who can play perfect in recording situations. You can't always go for the easier stuff.

Most people don't really mind clinkers...it's the performer that hates the clinkers. Who wants to put the work, money, and time into a recording to show that they mess up often.

That "booth in session" light, or even knowing you're being recorded will get you.

Also, it is the performers choice to use any effects. The problem comes when (especially classical players) are given freedom over their project. Some have never been in the realm of electronics and everything sounds new and cool. A little goes a real long way.

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Glenn Gould had an interesting idea about this. (Okay, one among many.) He predicted that the time would come when the raw material of a recording, divided into tracks with different mike placements, would be made available to the listener, who would create his own final mix, becoming in a way a secondary performer. Gould even went so far as to record a Skriabin sonata for the purpose with mikes ranging from an Art Tatum-like one an inch from the strings to a mike facing the back wall of the hall.

I'm not sure that I like the idea, and I wouldn't want to have my playing used for it, but it's an unusual idea and to my mind it sheds light on the often-ignored artistic role of the recording engineer.

Altgeige.

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I find the recordings of 100 years ago much closer to "real violin sound" than today's overmiked and echodistorted aberrations.

Though there's obvious distortion in yesteryear's media, at least the violin is not made to sound more powerful than it really is.

Perhaps "stereo" recordings have something to do with this.

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Ok, I’ll reply since the experts haven’t.

I’ve been told “Pickups on acoustic instruments are for live performance, use a mike for recording.” If you are going to be in a professional studio then they’ll have really big bucks microphones suitable for acoustic instruments and a recording engineer. If not, you may want to buy one. You can search on this subject here because the experts have discussed this before.

A microphone is on my shopping list of toys but not a very high priority. I think about $200 plus a $25 stand will do nicely.

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quote:

Originally posted by oldgeezer:

Ok, I’ll reply since the experts haven’t.

I’ve been told “Pickups on acoustic instruments are for live performance, use a mike for recording.” If you are going to be in a professional studio then they’ll have really big bucks microphones suitable for acoustic instruments and a recording engineer. If not, you may want to buy one. You can search on this subject here because the experts have discussed this before.

A microphone is on my shopping list of toys but not a very high priority. I think about $200 plus a $25 stand will do nicely.

Thanks! I'll search, as well.

-bonsai

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I may have to disagree with this thread on the mic issue. You need to experiment. I too think that you should use a mic. BUT, try your pick-up as well. Sometimes (this is what I do) I'll record with two tracks. One is a mic, and one is the pick-up. After recording, blend it down. you'll be really surprised at the sound differences. You can then choose how to blend it. You may like more of the super crisp of the pick-up, or maybe more of the mellow of the mic. You need to experiment. If you've not spent at least a half an hour trying out different mics, and placements, then you should never complain about what you sound like on tape.

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Hey V.Mage who isn’t a big Pink Floyd fan. Have you heard Nine Inch Nails? I don’t have much of a problem with electronic music that is electronically modified in recording. Electric guitars, electric fiddles and synthesizers are electronic instruments.

It’s the acoustic instruments that bother me most when digital magic is overdone. I appreciate Park’s comment that it is too much fascination with effects on the part of performers.

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