How am I doing - help a newby...

rob aylestone

Well-known member
well - I'm guessing you already know the biggest 'spoiler' - that awful creaky guitar with all the finger noise.

I'll try to help - First thing, forget plugins and processing. You need to get the mic positions sorted. The finger noise and creaky sounds are simply because the mic was in the wrong place for that guitar - note, not every guitar, but the combination of instrument, player and microphone take quite a bit of care and skill. Did you record the two players with one mic, two mics, or what? The cello has a lovely tone, but it's a bit distant and dark.

The snag I suppose is you didn't set yourself a framework. Is this a cello performance, with guitar accompaniment, or a duet, or even a guitar piece with cello accompaniment? You need a focus. If the cello is the featured instrument and that's a melody, not a harmony, then the dark tone suites it quite well - so it needs (and this is just my opinion) to be a little more prominent, less murky and miked in a way that enhances the nice playing and decent instrument. The guitar could then be the distant (or more distant sources) and brighter, and less mechanical noises.

I'm assuming that in the room, those creaks and finger noises were not so prominent?

You have loads of processing possibilities, but I do know exciters and dynamic compression would be way, way down my list for this piece of music. Clarity, and accuracy in your mic technique would be my go to features. Right mic, right place. Of course you could have all sorts of setup problems we don't know about. For this kind of recording, you get the mics right first, and effects and processing can be used to enhance, not repair. If you record this properly you might discover, the reverb is the only thing you need.

It's not bad, but I suspect just mic position issues that you tried to sort afterwards, and that rarely works.
 

gongli

New member
Thank you Rob so much for that! It's actually me playing both instruments - dubbing the guitar afterwards, and you are right - I am an amateur on guitar...

I will be careful about the chord change noise as you said.

Also, I will experiment around with the mic placement to get the sound to be what you recommended.

I recorded the guitar with two mics - one far and high, and one really up close.

On the cello, I added one more room acoustic catching mic - so 3 total.

Any suggestions on how to do it differently to get the effect you recommended?

Thanks again!
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Too complicated, too soon. What mic choice do you have? As you are multi-tracking, separation isn't important. So lots of experimentation. The cello sounds very close miked, but increasing distance brings in more of the room. Assuming you are a fairly static cellist, and not a 'wobbler', then on a nice instrument I'd start with one microphone (a cardioid) on the high string side just above bridge height facing towards a spot halfway from the bridge to the end of the fingerboard - making sure your bow misses it. Keep the distance about 300mm/1ft to start with. If it's too warm - increase the distance just a bit. On guitars, moving towards the fret board increase treble and gives a more percussive sound, but on cellos, it just gets weak. Going towards the bridge gives more physical noise, and sounds a bit weaker. It also keeps the room component under control. I've never used two mics on a cello. To be fair, I don't know why - just not necessary.

Moving to the guitar - the thing to remember is it's NOT a stereo instrument. It has very little real width to capture, so two mics is to blend the mellower, clean sound from the sound hole area with any percussive finger technique that lacks depth, but is more percussive. You then pan them very similarly, and adjust each fader to get a sound you prefer.

Every player produces the percussive effect with their left hand, which you either want, or don't want - depends on the piece, AND how much noise you make when you play. Your noises are a picture of a light touch on the strings but still touching and the mysterious creak - no idea what that is, so you'll have to work that one out by watching yourself play, but it gets recorded and needs sorting. Is it in the other guitar track? If it's not, then maybe dump it and re-EQ the other track to add definition.

Room mics are often mentioned in books, the press and the net - but they ONLY work when the room sound is wonderful. They do nothing positive in a less than ideal room. Keep it simple as much as you can. Master the basics first - they can produce excellent recordings and add cleverness when you start to be able to predict the positives.

I'm impressed with the playing.
 

gongli

New member
Thank you so very much Rob! You must be one heck of an engineer...

Looking forward to learning more from you in the future, if you have the time (please post on my threads when ever you can).
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Nope - I'm OK enough people use me (well, before Covid) but I'm getting along, and have done it badly so many first times, so you kind of learn by messing up.

I am really absolutely solid on the fact that putting a microphone in the right place can often produce so much better results than those who buy all the smart and clever kit! I started with a reel to reel and an SM57 and a 545 in 1974 - and did pretty OK with basic kit. Now I'm old and have loads of kit - the basics have not changed. We just do the same things differently. Get your ears tuned in first before you spend any money.
 

Massive Master

www.massivemastering.com
Can't listen at the moment as I'm browsing while working (currently running a recording through the chain and gotta listen). But just commenting -- You'd probably have much more feedback in the (more appropriate for this post anyway) Mixing Clinic -- I think like 3 people watch the mastering forum with any regularity...

Don't get me wrong - I'm glad it's here... :-)
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Gogli, I gave this a listen yesterday, but stuff came up so I couldn't comment. Coming back this morning for a listen, my impressions are the same as yesterday.

I'm confused with wanting more "warmth" in it. Especially on the guitar, which I felt was on the dark, boomy side. Some of the bass notes just popped out on the monitors, and even on headphones they seemed to obscure the cello. It reminded me of times when I put the mic right in front of the soundhole. I agree with Rob that you need to play with placement to get the sound more balanced. The bad side is that this may bring out the finger squeaks more. I keep Elixers on my dreadnought because they are quiet compared to using standard Martin SP strings.

I'm curious about your monitoring setup. That could be why you think it needs to be warmer.
 

gongli

New member
Gogli, I gave this a listen yesterday, but stuff came up so I couldn't comment. Coming back this morning for a listen, my impressions are the same as yesterday.

I'm confused with wanting more "warmth" in it. Especially on the guitar, which I felt was on the dark, boomy side. Some of the bass notes just popped out on the monitors, and even on headphones they seemed to obscure the cello. It reminded me of times when I put the mic right in front of the soundhole. I agree with Rob that you need to play with placement to get the sound more balanced. The bad side is that this may bring out the finger squeaks more. I keep Elixers on my dreadnought because they are quiet compared to using standard Martin SP strings.

I'm curious about your monitoring setup. That could be why you think it needs to be warmer.

You are exactly right - I put mic right in front of the guitar soundhole! You have good ears.

I will experiment with different placement options...

Thanks for your time!
 
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