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Sound quality - advice wanted

Discussion in 'Works in Progress' started by andrew, Apr 24, 2016.

  1. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I've recently completed a two-day studio recording session, working on a variety of operatic transcriptions and paraphrases with the intention of releasing a (second) commercial CD at the end of the process. The piano was a 1984 Steinway D, good condition and tuned directly before each day's recording, but with a slightly bright treble.

    I have numerous sound samples but will restrict it to the following and I wouldn't mind opinions on the sound.

    The recording was done with a combination of close mics (I have attached photos of their position) and room mics. As yet, their respective levels have not been played around with, nor has any noise reduction been performed. One caveat I should mention is that I have not currently got the ProTools recording files as wavs; all I have are high quality MP3s, and some low-frequency reduction was applied experimentally by the studio (with the aim of reducing extraneous pedal noise) to them prior to me receiving them.

    Sample 1: Attached, coda of Thalberg's Moses Fantasy, file splice-edited, albeit only in Audacity, from otherwise unaltered MP3s as received from recording sessions.

    Sample 2: Attached, Liszt Rienzi Fantasy, one take, no splicing, cut from longer MP3 received from recording sessions.

    Sample 3: (coda of Thalberg's Moses Fantasy - this has been splice-edited, albeit only by me in Audacity; more sophisticated tools are available in-studio). I attempted to reverse the studio bass boost, and took a few db off the high treble using the equalization tool in Audacity.

    Sample 4: https://soundcloud.com/andrew-wright-35/liszt-fantasy-on-themes-from-rienzi - one take, no splicing. EQ applied as in Sample 3.

    Sample 5: https://soundcloud.com/andrew-wright-35/jaell-reminiscences-de-norma-studio-one-take - one take, no splicing other than to remove a dodgy page-turn, very marginal EQ manipulation of the treble (down) and a little bass boost.

    I have about 450 mins of such takes to listen to.. some bits worse, some bits better, but advice on the sound quality and characteristics would be most helpful before I launch into further editing.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    And this comparative sample might also be of interest:
    The audio here was recorded with a completely separate device, a portable Tascam (using internal mics only). Personally I think the sound is better than the above samples with the dedicated mics. Very confused! Anyone got any opinions?
     
  3. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Andrew,
    Congratulations for this beautiful project ! However, I find your questions difficult to answer. First, I am not at home and I can only listen the recordings with small headphone (which can be quite misleading as compared to a good soundsystem with good Hi-Fi speakers). Second, to give you a valuable advice, it is necessary I think to listen the same music extract, with different recording technique/mixing/mastering. Finally, yes the Tascam does a very good job (I have also such a recorder), however the dynamics is generally limited.
    Regards,
     
  4. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Francois, thanks for your reply. Since I first posted in this thread, I'm now a lot more optimistic. I've sat in-studio and listened to various takes, played around with EQ levels and balance. With the appropriate settings, the sound now seems a lot more rounded and less metallic. There is a lot of work to do still, editing of course, proper selection of takes (I've got 7 1/2 hours worth of takes to choose from). But I'm considerably less worried than I was! I'll try to post a sample track soon once I have an edited version of one. Hopefully next week! Due to potential commercial implications I'm not 100% sure I can offer much in the way of formal submissions in the audition room, unfortunately - I'll have to give this some thought.
     
  5. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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  6. Vladimir Oppenheim

    Vladimir Oppenheim Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Andrew,

    I think that Sample 2 has a best recording quality when compared to others. It's more clear; the nuances of sound are better reflected. Maybe the sample 1 can be improved with an extra editing.
    Tascam is indeed not bad at all. Did you ever tried Zoom H4N? I think its recorded sound is not so thin as on other portable recorders. The depth & richness of the sound are picked up nicely.

    Best,
    Vladimir
     
  7. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks Vladimir for your opinion. Indeed I hope to improve sample one with better editing; mine was a little amateurish and studio edits will prove better. I'm now heavily engaged in the proper editing of all the above samples: I have most, but not all, edited into a draft format to which I can later apply finishing touches. Thankfully I now have had the EQ and various other things adjusted and must say I am a lot happier with the sound. The Tascam isn't bad, but what the recording was actually made with was dedicated equipment.

    I can post an comparative example (edited, improved audio version of the Rienzi above - the odd slight editing tweak still required):

    https://soundcloud.com/andrew-wright-35/liszt-fantasy-on-themes-from-rienzi

    Again, this is taking up a considerable amount of my time and focus, so I appreciate your observations.
     

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