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Thread: Solo violin / solo viola: help needed

  1. #1
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    Question Solo violin / solo viola: help needed

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    I'm biting off more than I can chew again.

    Recently I was asked to take on a project that is a bit of a "holy grail" search. A local artist performs with a violin that can be majestic in live performance, but to date has sounded merely nice when recorded. I can't miss this opportunity but I'm a bit nervous about saying OK.

    My approach would be to experiment, promise nothing but best efforts, seek to use what I have to best advantage, and do one thing at a time. I may be working on a demo first, and then just keep at it until we find the "grail" or run out of steam. (Mangled metaphors at work).

    I have a basic complement of mics and access to some others as well; so far it's a pair of SP B1s, a C3, a pair of MXL 603s, and I can get a pair of Crown small condensers that just did wonderous work with a 7' Steinway at a concert. I can borrow an AT4055 and maybe a few other big mics. We do not have any valve mics. My preamp is a DMP3 and the recorder is pretty good - an AKAI DPS16 that will do 24 /96, two mics on a solo instrument, well. We have to find a room; I have no studio space and we will have to commandeer a small church or something.

    I've done violin / viola work before and getting decent, clean, pretty well modulated signal is not a problem.. getting make your knees weak signal is what I'm after. That hasn't happened yet and I expect it will be elusive as hell.

    I'd be grateful for any thoughts, war stories, advice and so on. Thanks!
    Fall seven times; stand up eight
    Music at https://soundcloud.com/glenn-howland-230561145

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    Here is what I would do

    If this is a concert setting--I would put the 603s in a stereo pair about 8' up and out from the player, then put the C3 in close--you will have to move it in and out to find the sweet spot. Run the 603's panned hard left and right to capture the embience and the C3 dead center.

    You might put the small condensers out also on 2 tracks of their own. Both will need tall boom stands. Put one up on the neck of the violin about 12" from the fingerboard aimed at where the fingerboard meets the instrument. Put the other behind the player over his shoulder about 18"away. Aim that one at the bridge of the instrument.

    If you run all 5 of these mics to different channels--something will sound really good!

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    Pretty much what sloop said will work. Ive gotten excellent results with the B1 and the 603's in X-Y combined. The trick is going to be finding where the rooms sweet spot is on top of finding the instruments sweet spot. For me its usually out in front about 3 feet, 4 feet from the floor for the 603's in X-Y with the B1 upside down to get the capsule as close to the 603's capsules so the phase is dead on. I also tend to sit the violinist in a folding chair in the center of the room at an angle to none of the side walls are 90 degrees to the mics or violinist. But your room maybe different.


    SoMm

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    Since you've recorded violin before, I perhaps am stating the obvious - but I have found room sound is what makes the difference in an "OK" sounding violin and a "great" sounding violin.

    I tend to place the mics 4 to 6 feet in front of the violin (obviously there are many variables) to allow the sound to develop. Get too close to the violin and you get the "harseness" of the instrument without the warmth of the room.

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    I like to mic violin in an X/Y pattern about 3 feet above the instrument, to give the player some room to breath. I put a LDC in center and another under the instrument aimed at the back.

    I mic underneath gives the warmth that sometimes gets lost when mic'ing a bright instrument. Which is what Sloop is probably pulling in from the mic he's putting behind the player.

    Blind Cowboy...
    My son once said, "Da Da, gi ji boo boo. Qhaud, da da."
    It's the most intelligent thing i've ever heard anybody say...

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    IMHO, 3 feet is OK ish for a fiddle sound, but a violin needs roooom to sound great. I've never miked a violin closer than about 12 feet, and prefer to set up a spaced pair rather than XY. I find that violin is very subject to image shifting with coincedent pairs. Best is an M/S setup in a big and fairly live room. It's ironic that the violinist is in the worst possible place to appreciate the beauty of his instrument, right next to it. All that bow scratching sounds terrible, unlike cello where I like to hear the bow . The room IS everything with tracking violin, assuming the violin AND the bow are quality.

    Cheers, RD

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    Thanks for your help - this gives me some stuff to chew on.

    In the past my "violin" tracking has all been "fiddle" tracking (with a few exceptions involving violin, viola and a string quartet) and all of it was live, meaning one take, lots of stage compromises, can't adjust mic placement if it seems a bit off, and so on.

    This time the opportunity is there to think it through in advance. I agree that picking a room is going to be a big challenge, but I don't really know what to look for, other than avoiding a cavernous space or one that is too live. There is a church in town that frequently has acoustic performances and they have always had an intimate sound. The room is not too big and is carpeted. Another place is a local theater that as presently set up has a really quiet acoustic atmosphere. It's odd because the room - an auditorium - is usually a nightmare. The production running right now has created a theater in the round kind of thing.

    I also have access to a movie theater for off hours - which has an advantage of lots of soundproofing. It also has stuff like automatic ventilation for a hundred fifty people... But maybe a small movie theater space could hold some possibilities.
    Fall seven times; stand up eight
    Music at https://soundcloud.com/glenn-howland-230561145

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    Sorry for the question that may seem obvious to you, but what is an "x-y" mic set-up? Also, what is an "M/S" set-up? I'm professional musician getting into home recordings. I am recording a lot of violin(a master of traditional Persian music) at the moment, and have been learning a lot from everything you guys have posted here so far. I do have a few more questions....

    What is an ideal mic for violin? Also, what is a great mic for under a grand for violin? I was about to order a km184, because I though it would sound good, and work well in live situations too. ANy thoughts? Sounds like some of you are fans of the Studio pProjjects mics. Anyone want to give a me a little breakdown of how they sound. The C3 in particular?

    Much thanks in advance and for all that I've already gotten out of this thread.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sloop
    If this is a concert setting--I would put the 603s in a stereo pair about 8' up and out from the player, then put the C3 in close--you will have to move it in and out to find the sweet spot. Run the 603's panned hard left and right to capture the embience and the C3 dead center.
    I just want to restate how important it is that the mics are UP above the violin. Violins and violas project upwards, and I've never been in a situation where the sweet spot wasn't a few feet higher in the air than I expected. Then again I've only recorded a viola a few times and never any violin, so YMMV.

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    Lightbulb

    Treeline, did you consider pick up instead of miking? Just a thought. Check out my tunes (#1, #2, #3) here...

    http://www.nowhereradio.com/artists/...d=2631&alid=-1

    They're all recorded by $40 Fishman Transducer pickup. Cheap violin ($20) in a bad boomy bed room.

    Quote Originally Posted by ozmorphasis
    ..I am recording a lot of violin(a master of traditional Persian music) at the moment, and have been learning a lot from everything you guys have posted here so far...
    I'd LOVE to hear those... Post your songs in the clinic, would ya...??? puhleeeezzz.....



    Jaymz
    Keep Rockin' and Rollin'...

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