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 Post subject: Recording 'clean' sound
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:59 am 
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I have two reasons to record flute.

One is recording my teacher play passages or whole tunes as a practice aid for memory and playing by ear. The other is that I would like to create a folder of recordings of my own playing so that over time I can listen back and assess my progress - particularly in relation to tone.

The Tascam I use to record my teacher does a job in my lesson, but doesn't really pick up the quality of her flute tone. I have an SM58 vocal mic and and Audio-Technica 2020 USB mic at home. What mic/set-up have folks here found most effective at capturing a true recording of their playing?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:40 am 
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I haven't made a serious effort to record flute but I've done a lot of recording of other instruments, and I think with a flute it's going to be extremely room-dependent. You can't really close-mic a flute, I wouldn't think, so you need to be back a few feet and then you're getting a ton of the room sound. My inept fluting sounds way better in some rooms of my house than others. I'd start by finding the place where it sounds best.

here's thread about it on Gearlsutz, the audio recording forum

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/rap-hip-hop-engineering-and-production/525900-anybody-here-recording-flute.html


And here's an article on recording flutes: https://recordingmag.com/resources/recording-info/mics-miking/recording-the-flute/

I would want to try a ribbon mic, especially with an "irish" flute


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 5:57 am 
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The SM 58 will actually do a reasonably good job if you don't want to buy another mic. In a live performance with amplification you'd want to be right up close to that mic, but the secret to a more natural recording sound if you're recording at home is to give yourself some distance -- at least two feet, maybe more, you can experiment. The farther away the more room sound you'll pick up, so it's a balancing act but you may be able to find a spot where it'll sound natural.

I have some expensive mics (Sennheiser, Earthworks, etc.) but my favourite in terms of capturing the true sound of my flute is actually the Line Audio CM-3, which is very affordable, around US $150. Designed in Sweden in a one-man shop, manufactured in China but the guy in Sweden checks and fine-tunes every one before selling them so they're good quality. They're so cheap I bought two of them and I mount them on a stereo bar in ORTF (one of the many configurations for stereo recording) and to my ear that captures the sound of my flute more faithfully than anything else I've tried. I keep them about 4 feet away, slightly above me so they don't get hit with any wind from the flute. I really dislike the sound of close-miked flutes. A stereo pair comes close to capturing the sound a human listener would hear in the room with you, but if you move your head a lot while you play a stereo recording could be distracting to listen to, especially if you use headphones.

One of them alone would work fine too, in mono. If you're recording to a computer you'll need some sort of interface. Otherwise you can record to a portable recorder -- the Sound Devices MixPre 3 would do an excellent job but is pretty expensive; there are cheaper options available from Zoom and Tascam.

Another interesting recorder to check out is the upcoming PCM-D10 from Sony. It's a newer (and less expensive) model to replace the D-100, which is a fantastic recorder. The D-10 is around $550 or so, has its own built-in mics (which should be very good) but also has XLR inputs so you can record with your own mics if you want to. It's available in Japan now and is expected to be available elsewhere starting in April.


Last edited by bradhurley on Fri Feb 22, 2019 7:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:59 am 
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I have a CM-3--its a great mic!


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:23 am 
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PB+J wrote:
I have a CM-3--its a great mic!


It really is, especially for the price. There have been a few famous blind tests against Schoeps mics that cost 10 times as much, where experienced audio engineers and musicians preferred the sound of the CM-3. It's not a miracle worker -- it's fairly noisy and you have to crank up the gain to get a good level (which is worrisome in conjunction with the relatively high noise), but for flutes and strings it performs really well and I don't think you could get a more-bang-for-your-buck bargain in any other mic.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:16 am 
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bradhurley wrote:
Otherwise you can record to a portable recorder -- the Sound Devices MixPre 3 would do an excellent job but is pretty expensive; there are cheaper options available from Zoom and Tascam.


I hope this isn't drifting the thread off topic, but I too am interested in recording lessons, my own playing, and, if I can get permission, an occasional local session. I have been thinking about getting one of the cheaper portable devices. (Right now I'm using an older iPhone.)

At least to start with, I'd be using the on-board mics. The new Sony you mention is out of my price range. Any opinions on the best portable recorder for less than $200? Or are external mics for an iOS device a good alternative?

Again, apologies if this should be another thread. I can delete and start over if the o.p. would like.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:39 am 
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JackJ wrote:

At least to start with, I'd be using the on-board mics. The new Sony you mention is out of my price range. Any opinions on the best portable recorder for less than $200? Or are external mics for an iOS device a good alternative?


You could actually use your iPhone. The Shure Mv-88 will plug into the Lightning connector (if your iPhone isn't so old that it doesn't have a Lightning connector) and is a good mic. I actually have one of these for recording tunes I want to learn at sessions and that sort of thing. I don't have an iPhone but do have an iPad and it works on that as well. It's designed to record loud music (rock and roll bands at live concerts) so it's not very sensitive, but it works pretty well for flute and is very adaptable in terms of pattern. There are a few other mics for the iPhone that are supposed to be pretty good but this one tends to get the best reviews (the other one is the Sennheiser binaural mic for iPhones, but that's more expensive and is really more for recording ambient sound).


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:46 am 
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I used my Zoom H1 recorder when I recorded my new 'F' flute, (for another forum), it worked well about 2ft away.

(Normally, at home, I'd be using my USB mic into audacity to record my playing, of other instruments.)

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:07 am 
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Helpful thread for me. I rather got off the bus back in the day of cassette recorders.
No digital chops, virtually. I want to record duets and trios with myself.
I had a Zoom once but couldn't figure out how to use it. How does one make
multi-track highish quality recordings? If this is the wrong thread, please let
me know.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:20 am 
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jim stone wrote:
How does one make
multi-track highish quality recordings? If this is the wrong thread, please let
me know.


If you have a computer, the easiest way is by using a DAW (digital audio workstation software) and recording your tracks into it using an audio interface: you plug your mic into the interface and the interface into the computer. You can also use a USB mic that goes directly to the computer without a separate interface...more convenient and cheaper but somewhat more limited in terms of sound quality. Recording into a DAW on a computer would be my first choice. The cheapest really good DAW that I know of is Reaper ($60); it's not very intuitive but the Reaper website has a bunch of excellent instructional videos by Kenny Gioia, an experienced recording engineer and great teacher). Reaper would be unusable for a lot of people, including me, without those videos. You can record multiple takes, pick the best one (or assemble a comp of the best parts of each take), and record as many tracks as you like. Audacity works for recording too, but it's an audio editor not a DAW: a DAW does non-destructive edits (your original audio recordings remain untouched), whereas an audio editor makes edits to your original audio files. If you make a mistake or you want to go back later and redo an edit or effect, you're out of luck -- although in Audacity's case it does offer unlimited undo and redo so you're covered there.

If you don't have a computer there are similar programs available for tablets and smartphones, and some of the portable recorders can do this as well -- the Sound Devices MixPre recorders come in an optional "M" model (or you can buy the M plugin for the standard models) that allow you to overdub and record multi-track audio without using a computer. But the screen is tiny and overdubbing is kind of awkward compared with working in a DAW on a computer.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:27 am 
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jim stone wrote:
Helpful thread for me. I rather got off the bus back in the day of cassette recorders.
No digital chops, virtually. I want to record duets and trios with myself.
I had a Zoom once but couldn't figure out how to use it. How does one make
multi-track highish quality recordings? If this is the wrong thread, please let
me know.



It's a huge topic. People spend years getting good at it. It's especially hard, in my experience, to record yourself and have it sound good. It can be done, but it's hard. Yes, you need a DAW and an interface/preamp.

In my experience--which involves some semi-professional work making soundtracks and recording bands--the starting point is a good sounding room, because close-micing a flute won't really get you a good sound.

Sorry if this is remedial. Close-micing is what it sound like, getting a mic really close to the source. The idea is to reduce "bleed" from other instruments in the room, reduce external noise, and reduce frequency infelicities that might be caused by a bad room. It's great for guitar amps, or individual drums. The mic is often just an inch or so from the sound source, and often in an acoustically dead room. You can then add ambience back in with the use of reverb and delay.

Alternatively, you record the flute in nice sounding room, with the mic a few feet away, and the mic picks up something closer to the natural sound of the flute in the room. This is hard for you to do alone, because it works best when you play the flute and an assistant moves mics around while the engineer listens and chooses the best mic and the best to place it.

Most ordinary spaces aren't good acoustically--they will have some kind of funky resonances that cause some frequencies to be loud and other relatively muted. I've actually run tests on various rooms with a mic and a test tone and it's remarkable how much the room acts in effect like bass, midrange and treble knobs on a hifi turned randomly by a 3 year old.

So if you have a patient friend who is willing to help that'd be great. I've seen engineer walk around a room clapping and singing to find the best spot to put the double bass or the guitar. You can do that. Once you find it stick with it.

This is all if your goal is really high quality. You can get perfectly decent recordings without all the fuss. Sometimes.

There's a story about the legendary Columbia studios room in NYC, where Kind of Blue and many many other classic records were recorded. It had been an armenian orthodox church, and supposedly the head of Columbia's recording division walked in, sang a few notes and said "don't touch anything! don't clean the drapes, don't move anything!"

Modern rock and pop recording doesn't need the great sounding room so much, see above, but acoustic music, music with winds and brass, and strings, you want the nice sounding room.

The great thing about modern tech is you don't need to spend a huge amount to get results they would have killed to get in 1960


Last edited by PB+J on Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:39 am 
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My experience was nice with going to a good recording studio and try different mics.
We tried 4 Mics with different price range and different logistic positions placements.
After recording I asked to sound like Brendan Mulholland "Jean's Hill" cd and the technician
did quite a fabulous job.
Got a deal of 20€ per hour and was very useful to understand about recording flute.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:49 am 
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PB+J wrote:
In my experience--which involves some semi-professional work making soundtracks and recording bands--the starting point is a good sounding room, because close-micing a flute won'r really get you a good sound.


Lots of good advice here!

I would just add that in my case, for recording traditional Irish music I take most of my inspiration from classical music recording techniques rather than pop/rock techniques. The holy grail in classical recording is a perfectly placed stereo pair of mics going into a recorder, no EQ, no reverb or other effects, just a pure-as-possible representation of what a listener in the room would hear. That's my goal with traditional music as well, especially since I want to capture the context along with the music -- most music I play and listen to is played in kitchens and living rooms, not in studios or on stages. Part of what makes traditional music alive and relevant is that context...it's not museum music, it is music that is entwined in people's daily lives. So I'm not really after pristine sound, I'm after capturing the entirety of the experience even if it means you hear people talking in the background, telephones ringing, dishes rattling, or whatever. That's what I love about Kenny Hadden's field recordings that he's posted here -- many of them include that context and to me it's just as important as the playing.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:56 am 
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Thanks, gang!


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:57 am 
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I'm by no means expert sound recorder nor flute player, but, I've watched many YouTube videos done by CutiePie and the recordings seem well done. She made a video of the recording equipment used and she does play the flute in some videos. Plus CutiePie appears to make the videos at residence rather than some commercial studio.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XA8fNj-Lzs8


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