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Making "Professional" Home Recordings

Discussion in 'Useful resources' started by 88man, Oct 12, 2008.

  1. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you, Monica, what a great site of Chopin first editions... Takes one back to a much simpler time in history seeing all those front covers! However, I couldn't find that particular waltz, but I found other pieces which I've always had questions about concerning certain passages, such as in Waltz No. 7, Ballade No. 1, Prelude No. 20, etc. For some reason, the ISMPL site looked familiar, maybe I followed a link in a PS thread when initially downloading the Waltz No. 16? I can't remember now...

    Great, you have 2yrs to prepare for that trip to Paris! I am sure that you'll need more than an entire thread to show all your musical discoveries... :)
    And yes, my 2wk photographic safari/vacation to the Amalfi Coast in September was amazing! I sailed along the stretch of scraggy coastline from Ravello - Amalfi - Positano - Capri - Sorrento; Went hiking in Capri, and saw the Grottos; drove along the Amalfi Drive - crazy thin, winding street that's as wide as one's "driveway" with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean below AND near deadly site of oncoming traffic ahead in those mountain pass turns; Visited Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Paestum; Saw the Allied landing sites in Salerno. I also treated my parents on the trip - quality time!

    --

    Didier, thanks for the photo - looks like the ideal placement for that mic to balance the treble rise by keeping them away from the treble strings. The TLM50 has a rise of +2dB from 2-10kHz, with smaller peaks @ 3kHz, and 8kHz. Barenboim is a Steinway artist, so the bronze timbre would create a sound too bright if the mics were positioned in the common position near the curve of the piano. Ultimately, the mic selection would depend on the the pianist, instrument voicing, timbre, and tone, and hall. Marketing might have a say as well, since it's a DVD, the selection of mics tend to have a livelier sound for 5.1 or 7.1 Surround Sound appeal. What recording are you referring to, I am curious of the final result?...

    Yes, the M150 is not common for piano. However, it still has a place in classical music - it shines as an orchestral mic when used in a Decca tree.

    Mic preference, even in blind test is all subjective and not scientific unless you're measuring it on a FFT scope. Even then it doesn't tell you anything about the sound we perceive. Whether it's a Samson or Schoeps, it's all a matter of personal taste - what's warm to one, sounds dull to another; what's lively to one, sounds harsh to another. However, there are differences in the quality of manufacturing and design. One is made in China and the other in Germany. There are pros and cons to each. The best way to hear each mic is at a recording studio - well worth the $100 to record samples of several mics at once and then make notes on each one.

    I've never tried a Samson, so for the sake of objectivity and fairness, I just looked up the specs on your Samson CO2. It's a "cardiod" pick up pattern. Your Schoeps MK21 is a "wide cardiod." To some degree, it's comparing apples to oranges. The difference in sound between your clips that I described in an earlier post would be relevant to the respective sonic signatures of your "cardiod" and "wide cardiod" mics. That being said, your mic shoot out is actually unfair to Samson. A shoot out comparing apples to apples might be the Schoeps MK4 "cardiod" vs Samson CO2 "cardiod" mics?... Then it would be more difficult to tell them apart since they would have similar frequency responses. Personally, I think Schoeps are overpriced at $3700/pr - they are far from a bargain, n'est pas?

    At 1/3 the price of Schoeps, the MBHO (Haun) from Germany is an excellent choice for piano. Have you tried these mics?... These are handmade mics. Leave it to the German Ton Meisters! The chief engineer studied with Dr. Schoeps and draws upon many sonic attributes of the Schoeps mics - a sound that's transparent, fast, neutral in tonality, slight amount of air, and is slightly on the warm side of neutral. For my taste, it's the perfect sonic recipe to capture the sound of piano. Like Schoeps, they have a body + capsule design allowing for changes between omni, cardiod, or wide cardiod capsules. For piano, the mic body with the transformer (MBP 648) allows for a smoother response than their transformerless circuit.* I recommend these mics for someone looking for high end mics with interchangeable patterns on a budget.

    http://www.mbho.de/index.htm



    * Generally true for most mics as in the case of old Neumann mics (with transformer) vs new Neumann mics (transformerless). Manufacturers won't admit to it, but this change came about due to rising labor costs as it became costly to match tolerances between high quality mic transformers on a consistent basis. Also vacuum tubes were being replaced by transistors which eliminated the need for transformers. Again manufacturing cost was the issue with tubes, and the issue of component size and reliability were secondary early on. Hence the dawn of modern analog and then modern day digital recordings - that's a discussion all onto itself... Aside from the source, many recording engineers and audiophiles agree, that tubes with transformers color the sound in a way that is favorable, smooth, and musical - consistent with the natural harmonic series where even number harmonics are more emphasized; Transistor based circuitry emphasizes the odd number harmonics which don't sound as favorable or musical to our ears.
     
  2. Didier

    Didier Member Piano Society Artist

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    The choice of the TLM50 in Barenboim's is likely a purely technical choice not related to any marketing consideration. I did not check but I guess that it is not even mentioned in the booklet. The microphones can be seen on some images without being on focus. The choice of the Decca placement is much suitable to a live recording because it's not obstrusive for the attendance. The DVD sound is recorded in stereo. So I guess that only this pair was used. It's far enough from the piano to get enough room sound.

    You may be in confusion between the Schoeps MK41 cap, which is hypercardioid, and the MK4 cap, which is cardioid. I don't think that the wide cardioid directivity of the MK21 makes a significant difference with respect to the other ones being cardioid, and still less that it would be a drawback, in the shoot-out of which I gave the link in my previous post. Actually some very well educated ears, who demonstrated their skill in listening not only in this blind test, could pick it up as being the best one.

    There is no doubt to me that the Schoeps is better than the Samson. But I think the quality difference is not determining for the kind of amateur recording that I'm doing for Pianosociety and that if I would use such well selected low-cost mics, it would not change the comments about the audio quality of my recordings, mostly determined by the quality of my piano. I put these recordings with the Samson and the Schoeps here for people could realize what is the sound improvement between a good low cost microphone and a high-end one like the ones that you listed in your first post.

    I know the MBHO mics but did not test them. There are a lot such mics, intermediately priced with respect to the low end like the Samson and the high end like the Schoeps, and many of them are good choices AFAIK (AKG C480, Audio-Technica 40xx range, Beyerdynamic MC4** range, Neumann KM 1** range, Avenson, Violet Finger, Josephson C42 etc. ).
     
  3. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes, Didier, you posted just after I made the correction.
    BTW, my new DAV BG 1U mic preamp arrived Friday and it's still in the box. I can't wait to use it tonight! I'll follow up on it's sound and let you know how it compares with the Avalon AD2022 mic preamp. Time to practice, so that I can record something soon...
     
  4. Didier

    Didier Member Piano Society Artist

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    The preamp impact on the sound is much less than the one from the microphone. You've got two good preamps anyway. Please post some samples for comparative listening. I've been interested in the AD2022 for a long time because it's a so beautiful machine.
     
  5. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Two Mic Preamps Compared: Avalon AD2022 and DAV BG No.1U

    The Sonic Signitures of Two Microphone Preamplifiers:
    -Avalon AD2022 Pure Class A FET Microphone Preamplifier
    -DAV Broadhurst Gardens No. 1U Microphone Preamplifier


    Setup: (Photos attached)

    -Gain: 30dB Sample 1, 34dB Sample 2.
    -Microphones: AKG C414B-XLS - Omni pattern. Spaced 18in stereo pair. Placed 3ft away between curve and tail of piano, 5.7ft high. Fixed position through all samples.
    -Avalon AD2022 impedance setting: 150 ohms (selectable 50, 150, or 600 ohms)
    -Recorder: Yamaha CDR1000 internal 20bit ADC and Apogee UV22 dithering to 16bit CDR
    -No special effects or EQ was added.
    -Sample Crops from Chopin Nocturne, Op. 48 (Sample1), Chopin Nocturne, Op. 9a (Sample2)
    -Each sample group recorded non-simultaneously

    Here are 2 different samples between the Avalon and DAV preamps.
    Photo shows setup: mics, piano, mobile recording rack.


    Subjective Observations: (samples attached)

    After compressing the .wav files to .mp3, unfortunately (or fortunately), the slight differences in seemed to vanish, even at 320kbps. I wasn't going to bother posting my findings, but for those golden eared audiophiles who care to know the differences between these 2 preamps, I am going to describe the subtle differences based on my original .wav files, which are more accurate. Didier, I really had to split hairs on this one. All my statements are relative to the comparisons to only to these mic preamps and no other comparisons can be assumed.

    The Avalon AD2022 is slightly more forward in its presentation, only evidenced in larger and more complex dynamic passages. There is a little more midrange glare creating a slightly overetched sound to the bronze timbre of the Steinway. One can hear this on the opening Cm chord in sample 1. It's good on the bass notes, but may sound slightly more clinical, detailed, and analytical than the DAV. This primarily due to a faster transient response in the Avalon. This is quite an accomplishment since the unit has transformer fed inputs (which tend to slow and filter the signal). The Jensen transformers at the input seem to add more character to the sound which also contribute to slightly increased saturation across the entire frequency spectrum. The Avalon seems to stress slightly more timbre than tone.

    The DAV is less forward in its presentation, making the unit sound warmer and more laid back. The sound field is more unified with all the frequency elements coming together more cohesively. There is a slight amount of syrup in the midrange, helping to sweeten the sound by diminishing the transient response. But, it never is overly done to the point where the details become smeared in any way. The highs are very silky, and slightly recessed, rendering a natural amount of compression. The DAV is a very smooth sounding unit for a transformerless design, and unrelated to this type of design, it seems to stress slightly more tone than timbre when I compared with the Avalon.


    Afterthoughts:

    In my room, these two different preamps, exhibited litttle differences in their sonic signatures, as they should. Both are tonally transparent, the slight timbral differences are due to their different circuitry, which is beyond the scope of this discussion. I will only add that the DAV is based on OP amp chips. The DAV was founded by Mick Hinton, chief engineer who designed the Decca mic preamps at the time when Decca's Neve preamps had to be replaced. The Decca pedigree continues in the current range of preamps. The Avalon is based on Class A FET Transistors with Jensen input transformers allowing for changing mic input impedances for different types of mics: 50, 150, 600 ohms. This loads the mic differently with each setting, in essence it alters the EQ response of the preamp, giving you additional flexibility to tailor your sound for a brighter or darker timbre, depending on your piano.

    The Avalon is slightly more strident with good timbral presence. This preamp might be a good balance for a piano that has predominance of tone rather than a bright timbre, like the European pianos. It would make for an amazing vocal amp or an instrument that will be complimented with a good low midrange presence like acoustic guitar. The DAV might be more forgiving for a piano that is slightly brighter, again this is comparing it only to the Avalon. Since the DAV is more laid back and neutral, one may be able to bring the mics closer to the source, and not run the risk of harsh sounding midrange. All these slight differences can be controlled with careful EQ during the mastering stage.

    Overall, one can't go wrong with either mic preamp sonically, but the DAV BG No.1U costing $2000 cheaper, presents a better value at $890 - Spend the money on mics. Which will I reach for? It will depend on the genre and mood since they're are both good. In any case, it's always good to have additional channel for vocal duets, two pianos, or ensembles.

    BTW, my recent recording of Chopin Waltz No. 19 in A Minor was with the DAV BG No.1U and the AKG C414B-XLS mics in the exact location, except they were raised to a height of 6ft.
     
  6. Didier

    Didier Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi George,


    great playing that makes me keen to listen to you more often on Pianosociety. It sounds like your piano would prefer the DAV. I think that most people who are not crazy about audio gear like both of us are not going to care so much about the difference between the Avalon and the DAV. And I think that they are right as far as music only is of concern. Nonethelees I was much interested by your samples. I was expecting the Avalon being smoother.It might be closer to a Millenia than to the DAV.
    Well you have got now more than required for making great recordings. Just do them for us!
    Al the best,
    Didier
     
  7. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks Didier. Owning a large dental practice keeps me too busy from my piano practice. The irony is that when I was a student, I had more time to practice, but couldn't afford a nice piano. Now that I have a nice piano, I don't have time to practice. It's tough to just keep up with my old pieces, let alone learn new ones. Do you find time to practice with your profession?...

    Yes, the Avalon is closer to Millennia in sound. I got the DAV to expand my palate of sound apart from what the Avalon was giving me. It's nice to have a choice as there are times when the Avalon might be appropriate especially in a nice hall where you might want to regain that low midrange presence or use it with other musicians in a mix. But for 2 channel home recording environment, the DAV will see more action for classical, even though the piano is well balanced in tone and timbre.
     
  8. Dave Ferris

    Dave Ferris New Member

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    Nice playing and recording 88man, really enjoyed that.

    I'm trying to tweak my recording setup a bit. I just started learning about and trying to record my D early last year. Even though I've been a Pro player for over 40 years with a lot of session work background , doing/recording it yourself is a whole other experience.

    I have a pair of the DPA 4011s that were going into two different front end sources--at least until last week when I sold my Cranesong Spider 8 channel pre, A/D , mixer. Right now I'm just using an Audio Upgrades/Jim Williams modded Soundcraft Delta 200 8 channel board. My recorder is the Tascam DV-RA 1000HD in which Jim Williams also modded the A/D D/A converter chips with the Analog Devices. I think it sounds great, especially for the price. :)

    I'm looking at possibly getting a pre amp to patch into the Delta insert points or just go straight into the Tascam. I'm not too swift with computer recording has of yet.

    I'm thinking of taking some of the Cranesong funds and investing in the Fearn VT-2. I know Didier from the Gearslutz forum and have heard a few of his wonderful offerings with the VT-2 and his great sounding Steingraeber over there.

    I'm primarily a Jazz guy so I've been doing more of the close micing technique common to Jazz, but do enjoy reading the different ideas on mic placement and preamps here. Also hearing all the great talent on the forum--some serious Classical players here.
     
  9. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Greetings Dave! I followed the link to your site and having only listened to your "Road to Boston" and "Ballad," I think you're a fantastic jazz composer and pianist! Most composers seem to reinvent the "compositional wheel" all the time, however, your music carries great soul, driving rhythm, and sounds new and fresh every time one listens to it. Let me know if your CDs are for sale?...

    1. Dave, before you spend a cent, my advice is to look into acoustic treatment for your recording room. The single most improvement you can make is treating your room. You have a fantastic piano, but on the picture I saw 2 bare drywalls and a corner. Yikes! This will wreak havoc on the room's EQ response, flutter echo, comb filtering, modes, etc... All the small room acoustic phenomena that will go against making a good sounding recording. I would look into bass traps for the walls and corner, especially. Contact Ethan Winer of Realtraps or Glenn Kuras of GIK Acoustics next time you're on Gearlutz. Or you can do what I did, DIY bass traps for fraction of the cost. Let me know if you're interested on how to make camouflage acoustic panels yourself. All you need is a saw, staple gun, and drill.

    2. I would invest in a room calibration software to create a real time analysis of the EQ response of your room. You can use your DPA 4011 mic for calibration purposes. Personally, I use a Behringer DEQ2496 with has an EQ and RTA to plot where my peaks and dips are in my room. The software will do a better job for you. Some rooms can vary as much as + or - 10dB, that's a range of 20dB.

    3. After you treat the room, you will effectively increase the damping factor of your acoustic space and you will lose it's reverb. Don't worry, it's not the kind of reverb you want anyway.

    4. Once you treat the room and examine its waterfall EQ plots, you may have to experiment with more/less bass traps and/or rearranging them to get the flattest EQ plot of your room. THEN you can apply EQ in your editing software to further tweak the room to flatten the EQ response and save it as a preset for that room.

    5. To regain and even get more ambience, you can add reverb now in your editing software, dedicated reverb software like Altiverb 6, or go with hardware reverb like TC electronics 2000, 3000, 4000, or Lexicon PCM96, or Bricasti M7 and send it to your soundcard. No two reverbs sound exactly the same because each one uses a different algorithm. It will be a matter of taste.

    As far as preamps go, well, I record 2 channel classical, you record multi-channel jazz. I may be comparing apples and oranges here as far as the character of sound goes. Even though we both play on Steinways, and even if you want to record 2 channel jazz at home, our ideal for the "right" timbre and tone will surely be different. This will impact your preamp choice. If you like the sound of your mics, then use them. However, it's more difficult to attribute a sonic signature to a preamp. The differences are subtle, as it's the mics that color the sound to a greater degree than a preamp. Having said that, there are some who can hear different textures in sound. Subjective appraisals in sound character also differ. For example, if the preamp has a fast transient response, one may interpret this as too forward or harsh; and another may interpret this as clear, transparent.

    I don't know what your ideal "sound" is for jazz sound character, so I can't make definitive suggestions for a preamp.
    Here are some potential preamp recommendations:

    -DAV BG No. 1U: renders accurate timbre/tone to piano, just right amount of "syrup," slightly more laid back timbre.
    -Avalon AD2022: more forward timbre, fast transients, better suited for pop, voice.
    -Thermionic Culture Earlybird 1.2 - tonally transparent, lush, saturation, majestic color on piano. Rivals with VT-2.
    -D.W. Fearn VT-2: lush, saturation, most love it but few say less than spectacular on piano (sounds like proximity effect). I don't own one, ask Didier.
    -Presonus ADL600: smooth, slight color, saturation.
    -Pendulum MDP-1 - more character


    As far as recorders are concerned, we seem to be on the same path. I am also going mic-to-preamp-to-recorder. Keeps it simple, pure, and clean. I also just bought a Tascam DV-RA1000HD, but haven't had the time to record with it yet. I am very curious how the converters sound before and after Jim Williams' mods?... How expensive were Jim's mods?...

    I have a NY Steinway B, and it's very full in my 35'x17'x8.5' room. I've been itching for a D more and more now... How do you like the sound of your Steinway D?...


    I hope some of these ideas I've stated help. Good Luck and let me know if you have any questions. Best of luck composing! :D
     
  10. Dave Ferris

    Dave Ferris New Member

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    Hi 88man-

    Hey thanks so much for the kind words--greatly appreciated here. Yeah, I've been at it a very long time and continue to try and move forward everyday in all aspects.

    Regarding the room acoustics--I'm very aware of the acoustics or I should say lack of in my space :)
    Really for what I'm doing it's sounds pretty good. That blank space/corner you mentioned now has a floor to ceiling corner book case that acts as a fairly nice diffuser. I also have about 15 1"thick 3' X 5' fiberglass carpeted absorption panels interspersed throughout my 20 X 20 room.
    Still I need more absorption/diffusion as I definitely have that wicked slap back/flutter echo thing going on with the parallel surfaces has you could probably guess.

    However--With the close micing under the lid and the SDC cardioid DPA 4011s, I don't really hear much of the room--at least on the recordings I've made in the past year. I think having the higher "A" type frame ceiling (15' at the peak), coupled with the piano on hardwood floor and the other 60% of the space with low nap industrial type carpeting, help tone down the liveness of the room.

    Of course the biggest battle I feel is won....the piano. I was lucky to find it barely used (9 months old) for a once in a lifetime price. It will be 4 years this May since I took delivery and I would say I wasn't really happy with the sound until around this time last year. It took a LONG time to break in and a lot of money spent on voicing, regulation and tuning. Previously I had the Yamaha S6 which was a fine piano, really perfect from a Jazz players standpoint in relation to the the action and evenness of sound. Of course it wasn't the "Steinway Sound". So getting my ears more used to that different sound took a few years. I guess I've turned into a piano snob of sorts because now the Yamahas sound a bit thin to me. My only wish is I had a larger space for the D than 20 X 20. On the other hand, the sound is not like a huge sounding D you would choose playing a Concerto on a big stage with an orchestra. The fellow I bought it from was a Jazz player like myself so he picked it out from about ten different Ds at Steinway Hall in NYC. It definitely has a darker more introspective sound. That sound actually bothered me at first being used to the clarity of the S6 but playing it everyday the past 4 years, it has blossomed VERY nicely. I can honestly say, I haven't come across any piano, with the exception of maybe one, a 9' Fazioli that belonged to dealer Rick Baldassin of Salt Lake City, that I would swap my piano for. That includes any recording studio I've been in here in town.

    Back to the recording---I should just hire engineer extraordinaire Rich Breen, have my D carted onto Sony Soundstage and start carving. :lol: Seriously, like I mentioned earlier, I'm quite happy with the sound I'm getting. Maybe 75-80% happy. It's just that last little bit that you would agonize over is the hardest part. I think my key is "matching" my DPA 4011s to the best preamp and tweaking my mic placement.

    If you go to the "MYspace " page and check out the solo pieces (I would post individual links here but I feel the Myspace page doesn't compress the mp3s as dramatically has the file sharing site I use) they are:

    "Joy Spring"--first recording I did with the 4011s. I was blown away at how much difference really good mics made after using lesser quality, night and day. These are into a lowly Mackie 1202 VLZ mixer > Marantz CDR300 CD recorder. Not bad considering 16 bit, the inferior converters on the CD recorder and a Mackie. Again the piano and mic quality speaks volumes.

    "Whisper Not"--the first recording I did with my (just sold) Cranesong Spider. This was with the Spider set @ 16/48 going SPDIF again into the Marantz. This really shows the high quality of the Cranesong.

    "Falling Grace"
    This was with the two Jim Williams modded pieces. The Tascam DV-Ra 1000HD and the board pres of the Soundcraft Delta 200 console.

    "Taking a Chance on Love"---this is the same setup but with vocal and piano played and sung simultaneously---no overdubs.

    Even though the Cranesong pres have more depth and detail, I think JW's stuff has a "sweeter" maybe more "open" sound to it. Sound is always highly subjective though. That's the reason I sold the Spider in addition to the 8 channels on the CS being overkill for my purposes.

    Jim makes what he calls a Audio Upgrades 2 channel "high speed mic pre" that sells for less than half of what something like the Fearn VT-2 retails at. Im trying to work it out so I can rent the Fearn, borrow Jim's pre, maybe rent the Pendulum all on the same day to do a comparison. I would very much like to hear the Forssell SMP-2 and Earlybird 1.2 has well. It's just very hard to audition all this stuff, even in a large city like LA.

    Lastly, this was made about ten days ago, actually about an hour before the buyer came by to pick up the Spider :cry: I hated to see it go, it really is a nice piece but I couldn't justify keeping it when all I needed was 2 or 3 channels.

    The Spider SPDIF > the Tascam
    http://www.divshare.com/download/10240059-dfe
    A little bit brighter sounding

    For the time being I like the idea of going direct from the pre to the 2 track recorder. This is simple as I'm a computer idiot. However someone sent me some Jazz Quartet recording with the new and much talked about Metric Halo ULN-8. I must say the group sound and piano sounded stellar in every way! It made me re-think my plan of attack here---going with a computer interface as opposed to the more intuitive analog thing. I'd have to learn about the software program, find someone to explain to me Logic 8 (whih I already have)....no fun, I'd rather be practicing.

    Anyway, thanks again 88man for all the suggestions. This is a great thread here.
     
  11. Dave Ferris

    Dave Ferris New Member

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    Sorry, has I'm reading back over your post I failed to answer your question regarding the Audio Upgrades mod on the Tascam DV-RA 1000HD.

    Unfortunately, I had the recorder shipped new in its box directly to Jim from the retailer. From the way Jim explained it to me, the converter chips in the Tascam, while being VERY good are not at the level of clarity of the Acoustic Devices A/D D/A chips that he uses. I asked him if this would be noticeable and he said most definitely. I thought for only the extra $250 it was well worth it. I trust Jim, no matter what one says about his sometimes aggressive and gruff demeanor on the internet, I've known him for over 20 years and he's a man of very high integrity.

    On the other hand, the famous LA engineer Alan Sides, uses the stock Tascam converters to demo a lot of his high end speakers. I think there's a short interview with him on Tascam's website.
     
  12. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Dave, If you're happy with micing under the lid, then the room will have less of an impact. Besides, you're using a cardiod pattern mic so you might get by. If you plan to use more bass traps, get the 4in thick kind, the 2in stuff won't cut it. Don't forget to treat the corners and crest of the A-frame areas of your ceiling.

    Hey, good thing you didn't get a Fazioli. I know of cases where the Fazioli pin block has delaminated in 10years - ZOINKS! They're no where near the quality of Steinway D Either NYC or Hamburg. Yes, Steinways are like wine, their tone improves with time. Mine still continues to improve, that's why I hesitate at times whether or not I should go with a D or keep my B?... I won't get a D until I find one that will trounce it in terms of tonal quality across the entire range. A great used D is an oxymoron, as most are beat up, unless you're lucky. But new, they're asking a king's ransom! I'll have to see what I could get as a trade-in for the B?

    Thanks for the info on Jim. I've come across his threads on Gearlutz. I just e-mailed Jim on Gearlutz, and see if I can reach him that way. If I am unable to upgrade the converters, I may get a Mytek or Lavry A/D converter. Either way, the Tascam will be a definite upgrade itself over my current Yamaha CDR1000 which is 20bit A/D with built in Apogee UV22 dithering to 16bit CD. However, the A/D converter has the least impact on the recording chain.

    Let me know if you have any questions. Keep up the great composing!

    George
     
  13. Dave Ferris

    Dave Ferris New Member

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    George-

    I would call Jim on the phone. He's never returned any of my emails or PMs on the GS site.
    He almost always picks up the phone during normal hours of the day (Pacific time zone).
    You can reach him by the # listed on his site.
    http://www.audioupgrades.com/

    One other piece of not so great info--- I had driven both my Soundcraft Delta console ( he was doing a routine check of the board and rebuilt the Power supply for me) and Tascam down to his place in Carlsbad on MLK Day 3 weeks ago. The Tascam was making a "clock" whine type noise on the right input channel. Jim thought it was either a loose or defective chip he installed. I spoke with him yesterday and he informed me that the company that manufactures the chips, Acoustic Devices are only manufacturing on a limited basis right now so my chips won't be shipped till March 5th :x :x
    He's very upset about this but nothing he can do. So basically by the time I drive back down there to get it, I will have been without a recorder for probably close to 8 weeks.

    If you do spend the dough on the external A/D, you might want to check out the Forssell MADC-2
    http://www.forsselltech.com/products/madcpreamp.html
    A few folks that do Acoustic music recording on GS give it rave reviews. One piano player I was in contact with bought both the Forssell SMP-2 pre and MADC-2. He liked the sound better than the newer Nagra VI recorder. You can also call up Fred and talk to him on the phone. Very nice guy. I think he has a 7 day trial period but he said no one has ever returned anything. :) This is one route I'm also considering myself except it's pricey, 5K for a 2 channel pre and 2 channel converter. I think for the time being I'll wait to see how much the upraded PS on the Delta helps matters.

    That's one great thing about Jim's stuff. The prices are VERY reasonable for the quality you are getting.
     
  14. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Dave, I finally called Jim and he said that he's waiting for parts, so I'll contact him again in March to have the unit upgraded. It's too bad you have to wait all this time for your recorder.

    Oh yes, the Forssell SMP2 is a fantastic preamp. It's everything what the DAV does, but goes further with a even more definition and clarity. I am not so sure about the Forssell A/D converter, but I'll have to listen to it again because I was trying to tell it apart from the Lavry and Mytek at one point.

    By the way, if you want an inexpensive and excellent recorder, the M-Audio Microtrack II has very good A/D converters of all the portables, and has full 48V phantom power for your condenser mics. Its S/N range is well over 100dB. For $300 it's a steal! I use it to record my parent's LPs and store it on HD or DVD-A.
     
  15. Didier

    Didier Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Dave,

    Nice to read from you here! What a terrific test that you are planning here! Of course, I WANT TO LISTEN TO THE SAMPLES! :twisted: :D
     
  16. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Really great tip! Definetly going to implement some of these things.
     
  17. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Since there seems to be interest in this thread or topic, I'll share my opinions by re-posting any good recording questions that come up from other PS members in other locations within the forum...

    Question: I was wondering if a pair of good 'ol SM57s would work to start out with. They are a very versatile mic that sees a lot of use on guitar amps and things.

    Answer: Anything will work when starting out. However, You won't be happy with a SM57 in the long run - it's not as sensitive, it has frequency peaks in the mids, and lacks air in the highs, and is deficient in the bass. The SM57 is a dynamic mic. You really should have condenser mics in your arsenal.

    Dynamic and condenser mics differ in how they produce an electrical signals going into your recorder:

    Dynamic mics use a diaphragm attached to a moving-coil in a magnetic field to generate a signal in the presence of sound vibration, just like a speaker working in reverse. The mass of the moving coil results in a relatively poor transient response and less sensitivity than a condenser mic. They are better suited for louder sources like in guitar amps or drums where they don't distort as much as condensers in high SPL situations.

    Condenser mics have a very thin plastic diaphragm coated with gold/nickel, mounted very close to a conductive back plate, which forms a collective unit called a capacitor or condenser. A polarizing voltage feeds through the capacitor by an external power supply, e.g. Microtrack II's 48V "phantom power." Sound causes the diaphragm to vibrate: as the diaphragm moves closer to the back plate, there is an increase capacitance which results in a discharge of current, when the diaphragm moves away from the back plate, there is a decrease in the capacitance which results in a discharge of current. This cycle produces an electrical signal going to the recorder. Condensers are better suited to capture nuances, wider frequency response, and transients due to their increased sensitivity over dynamic mics.

    Avoid the temptation with less expensive Chinese mics (Studio Projects, Samson, Rode, MXL, etc.). I find them to sound brittle, harsh, lack a full body bass, and are not as reliable. You don't need Neumann either. I'd save up for the U.S. made Shure KSM141. At $800, you're essentially getting a pair of omni and cardiod mics all in one package. I've looked all over... It's going to be difficult to find a pair of quality condensers that are as neutral or as classy in sound as the Shure for that price. Like I previously mentioned, these are Schoeps clones, which are standard in high end classical piano recording studios. The Schoeps omni and cardiod capsules with the amplifier body will cost $5525.
     
  18. Dave Ferris

    Dave Ferris New Member

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    Still waiting (impatiently) on my Tascam DV-RA 1000 HD. :x

    It's been 6 weeks since I dropped my stuff at Jim's home in Carlsbad.

    In my frustration about 10 days ago I almost popped for the Sound Devices 702 recorder. I just had to tell myself---save your money, be patient, just go practice, you have a nice piano :wink:
     
  19. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Sabra-Som ST-2 and ST-4 Universal Mic Bar:

    Here's a simple and inexpensive way of eliminating an extra mic stand by setting up a spaced pair of mics on one stand. It also enables one to make a recording with various mic pairs from the same location. The double mic bar costs $34.49 and the quad mic bar is $43.49. Pictured is the St-4 Quad Mic Bar with a large condenser mic and a cardiod small condensers in ORTF configuration. The mic connectors allow the spigot to move along the 12" bar and tighten down to fix their position. The AKG C414-XLS mics have a shock mount which allows it to swing out 3in on each side, so I effectively have an extended 18" spaced pair configuration.

    OPTIONAL: In order to extend the mic spacing beyond 12", I bought another 3/8" 36-in aluminum hexagonal rod from Amazon.com which I'll anodize black to match the paint. http://www.amazon.com/Aluminum-6061-T6- ... B000FN1556

    A similar 30" Spaced Mic bar from Grace, Schoeps, or Manfrotto, costs $500-900. The Quad mic bar cost me less than $44 total.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/2 ... phone.html
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/2 ... phone.html
     

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