Made on our studio: Ma Mi Duo – Tango & Co. album

Last days Ma Mi Duo, Nadio MArenco (accordion) and Cristina MIrkovic (violin), made a great perfomance at our studio.

They recorded sixteen tracks from typical tango to Eastern Europe popular themes for their new album “Tango & Co.”.

I worked on tracking, mixing and mastering for all songs.

Very fine musicians and great gears done amazing work.

Enjoy their music:

 

 

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Schoeps V4 U

Recently I had the pleasure to try Schoeps V4 U a new studio vocal microphone.

It’s a very interesting gear, lightly and small with several original technical solutions.

Shoeps V4 U

Shoeps V4 U in his wooden case

Available in grey and blue color Schoeps V4 U is a FET microphone trasformerless and free of coupling capacitors with a newly designed electronics which offer a very high maximum sound pressure level (144 dBspl).

Characteristic of this microphone is the beveled collar on the 33mm capsule which cause directivity to increase steadly and smootly at high frequencies, as in a large-diaphragm microphone.

Schoeps V4 U capsule head

Schoeps V4 U capsule head (source Schoeps website)

The classic look of the V4 U is based on the CM 51/3. This microphone was manufactured from Schoeps from 1951-1953.

The V4 U is available in two sets: The “V4 SGV set” contains the microphone, a wooden case and the SGV stand clamp, the “V4 USM set” differs from the other one for the elastic suspension USM-V4 (Rycote made).


The test

I tested it with a female singer tracking, my speech and a test signal coupled with SpectraFoo Complete spectral analyzer and I used my Neumann U87ai as reference to check V4 U nuances.

I made a cluster of three microphones to compare the different sounds on the same source, all microphones were plu into a Millenia HV-3C and a DAD AX32 AD/DA converter chained with my DAW Logic Pro by Dante ethernet protocol.

Three microphones cluster

Three microphones cluster

The test was carried out in three steps comparative:

1)  Spectral responses and output level (I fixed a reference gain) of all microphones with SpectraFoo complete.

2) Comparison between Neumann U87ai (worldwide vocal reference) and Schoeps V4 U to check on a female singer and male speaker differences.

3) Comparison between Schoeps Colette MK4 and Schoeps V4 U to check differences for at first glance similar capsules.

 

Spectral response

The spectral responses of microphones are showed bottom, the first graph is about the output level where U87ai is the reference.

After I overlapped spectral response of Schoeps CMC6@MK4 on Schoeps V4 U and I checked a better performance on low end by V4 U and a identical response on mid and high frequencies.

Neumann U87ai and Schoeps V4 U comparison was very interesting, because on mid and high frequencies V4 U has a flat and extended response while on low end it’s intermediate between the other two microphones.

Tracking

Ok, after technical stuff I explain vocal tracking of  a female singer and a male speaker (myself).

All three microphones are amazing and professional gears, simply my opinion is about what I found ready to use”.

Neumann U87ai highlighted a slightly muddy sound on low end and a nastily mid-high frequency (about 3kHz); Schoeps CMC6@MK4 was smoothed on mid-high frequencies without harsh but with a lacking low end.

Schoeps V4 U captured a focused, depth and natural sound with a warm low end and it kept the same smoothed and extended high end of CMC6@MK4. Transient response was very fast.

 

Conclusions

Schoeps V4 U is a goal, it’s a very interesting alternative to vocal studio standard microphones (like Neumann, AKG, Brauner and others). It natural sound with a warm low end and a flat extended response is a powerful tool to capture vocal and acoustic instruments.

The lack of alternatives polar responses, filters and pads are a limitation for the multipurpose applications but it’s a tipical Schoeps phylosophy to maximize microphones perfomance.

 

Cheers,

Lorenzo

 


Disclaimer: I tested this gear with care, nevertheless this test is inevitably affected by my opinion and possible analyzer gear and software imprecisions.


Copyright © 2013-2014 by iuatwest. All rights Reserved.
This material has been copyrighted,  feel free to share it with others; it can be distributed via social media or pingbacks or added to websites; please do not change the original content and, provide appropriate credit by including the author’s name @ http://iuatwest.com and your readers shall not be charged by you under any circumstance.

Technical backstage: Drums miking

It’s not a didactic section (when needed I’ll link related pages on manufacturer site) but so as to explain my approach to recording.


Hi,

today I speak about my solutions to recording drums.

There isn’t a one way to recording this complex instrument indeed I tried several microphones and spots to find the better acoustic sound for single drum or cymbal and the sum of all.

My overall approach is based to find a good sound in and of itself with bass drum and overhead (typical shooting for jazz drums). Other spots are used to add presence and more punch.

To analyze it bit by bit I refer to rock/blues standard drums.

Bass drum or kick

In my opinion is the most hard and controversial piece to take. Actually I use dynamic AKG D112 to take bass reso with a deep low-end and condenser AKG C414 B-ULS (omnidirectional pattern and routed by 90°) positioned inner kick drum and very closed to bass batter. The latter is very good to capture kick attack without too much interference by snare and toms.

Snare drum

Normally I take both snare drumheads. For the batter I use standard Shure SM57, it points to the center of the drumhead. On the snare side I prefer vintage Sennheiser MD409 placed far away snare wired. In that position I tried also Shure Sm57 and AKG C414 B-ULS but they have harsh sound.

Snare up and bottom mike

Snare up and bottom mike

When I record standard jazz I use one Shoeps CMC6/MK4 on batter drumhead.

Toms

I started with Sennheiser MD 421 on every toms (included floor tom) but later I preferred Shure SM57 for small tom (8″ or 10″). Sometimes I use Electrovoice RE20 on floor tom.  I position microphones very closed to drumhead near the edge.

Recently I tried with condenser Schoeps CMC6/MK4 (cardiod) and I was really impressed for they fine sound.

Often I take toms reso drumhead to take deep low ending and to use it on batter drumhead tracks gate sidechain. Also it’s useful to find a eighties drums sound.

Hi-Hat

The best choice is a condenser mic. Now I use a vintage AKG C451e (cardioid), angled by 45° at the edge of hihat top, because it sound very fine with little interference from snare. I worked also with Schoeps CMC6/MK4 and AKG C300 with CK91 capsule (cardioid).

View of Hi-Hat, Snare and Tom1 microphones

View of Hi-Hat, Snare and Tom1 microphones

Overhead

My best solution is a pair of Crown PCC-160 upside down attached on ceiling live room. They are in spaced stereo array and capture a wide and airy sound image of the drums without reflections interference.

Crown PCC160 (image from web)

Crown PCC160 (image from web)

Recently I add two Schoeps CMC6/MK4 which look cymbals bottom and near toms. They add presence on mid and mid-low frequency to cymbals and toms.

Shoeps CMC6/MK4 look cymbals bottom

Shoeps CMC6/MK4 look cymbals bottom


Microphones preamplifier

I wrote about they on this post.

I use Focusrite to handle drums microphones (kick, snare and toms) and Millenia to cymbals mike.

Typical sheet is this:

List Drums channels

List Drums channels

Total ten Focusrite and four Millenia channels.

To make A/D conversion I use Focusrite AD card installed on both ISA428.

During session I change acoustic response of the live room with some reflective wood panels.

See also:

Technical backstage: microphones that I chose

Technical backstage: microphones preamplifiers

Cheers,

Lorenzo


Copyright © 2013-2014 by iuatwest. All rights Reserved.
This material has been copyrighted, feel free to share it with others; it can be distributed via social media or pingbacks or added to websites; please do not change the original content and, provide appropriate credit by including the author’s name @ http://iuatwest.com and your readers shall not be charged by you under any circumstance.

Technical backstage: my analog consolle

It’s not a didactic section (when needed I’ll link related pages on manufacturer site) but so as to explain my approach to recording.


D&R Dayner in my control room

D&R Dayner in my control room

Hi,

before talking about my analog consolle I want to expand my point of view on some questions about the summing and the mixing.

Summing

The result of summing is a single signal (electric or digital) from several sources(*), the problem is how to make it without quality drop. Obviously that signal can be mono, stereo or multichannel in order to destination.

Theorically analog or digital summing are the same, but in real world, analog gear has a non-linear response with typical distortions on second harmonics and cross-talking. Digital summing can emulate it or capture the nuances of analog gears with convolution to add “warmth” and depth to mix.

(*) example of Op-amp summing amplifieranother example

Mixing

Assumed that you used a good microphones and preamplifiers to capture several instruments, it’s probably necessarily change their timbres, levels and dynamics to make a pleasure sum. This is a basic approach to mix.

Today it’s possible work in several ways:

– Full Analog (rare)

Analog tape recorder with analog gears

– Out The Box (box is the pc) or OTB

Computer as digital recorder with analog gears like consolle and audio processor to mix

– In The Box or ITB

Computer become a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and it’s added with audio card with AD/DA converter and specific softwares.

– Hybrid

DAW and several analog outboards are chained by a multichannel DA/AD

Nothing of their is the best choice but each can be a better way to work into a specific situation.

I chose two solutions: ITB and OTB.

To work ITB I chose Apple Logic Pro (since 1996 – 2.5.4 version) with many plug-ins like Waves, Softube, Metric Halo, Brainworx, SPL and Abbey Roads (this last is discontinued – ouch).

Alternative DAWs available are ProTools 10 and Harrison Mixbus 2.x.

ITB mix is a cheapest way to add many times the same expensive (but virtual) compressor or reverb, to create automation for all parameters available, to edit takes, to create incredible audio effects, to add and manage virtual instruments and to add samples to substitute or sum it with original recording. At last to save and restore the project with one “click”.

But after many years I realized an innate problem in ITB mixing.

If it’s true that when I add plug-ins the relative delays (into DAW) are automatical compensated, the delay due in conseguence how to CPU works (multiplexing) affects time alignment of all channels into sum (unlike analog consolle where all signals are process in a parallel way). That phenomena is audible in complex mix with many tracks and many plug-ins and it’s highlighted with a shifting the mix to muddy sound with a depth deterioration.

Let’s be clear ITB mixing is good choice but adding plug-ins without limits can shift your sound in trouble although your high perfomance pc system. Just the same of any machinery when is overfilled.

It’s odd to note how many phase or time alignment plug-ins are maded in last years although digital recording has less problems about phase correlaction compared with vynil cutting.

To realize OTB mixing I bought a second-hand consolle, directly from eighties, D&R Dayner.

Ok, now I go to present it.


D&R Dayner

This is a tipical studio in-line consolle, with direct outs, tape returns, eight busses and eight auxiliaries.

It has 24 channels and eight effects return and I did broaded it frame to insert Euphonix MC Mix control surface, Apple keyboards and third screen of my DAW.

Dayner peculiarity is it floating busses (named subs), that is the possibility to assign any bus to any channel (along left/right assignement). Tape output and monitor section are substitute by bus signal. It’s useful to send to recorder premixed channels.

Dayner input section - above the floating subs assign

Dayner input section – above the “from floating subs” assign

Then it’s possible to work from 24 channels without busses to 16 channels and 8 busses.

They have three kinds of channels: In-Line, Split and Tape/Effects return.

In-line: it’s a basic channel, it manage mic and line input with eq, aux sends and volume. Also it manage tape return on specific input and monitor section. It’s possible invert input with tape return to mix the latter (remix switch). Bus assignement send it to tape out and monitor section without possibility to assign it to main.

Split: it’s the dedicate channel to manage floating bus on mixing with assignement to main. It haven’t tape return section. I haven’t split channel but on In-line channel I chained tape out with line-in to replicate their. In this way I can applied insert and complete eq section on bus signal and mix it.

Tape/Effects return: it has four balanced line input. They are perfect to manage extra eight channel to mix. Today I use it chained with two channel strip Focusrite ISA220 and to input stereo effects return from DAW.

I tested Dayner bandwidth with Spectrafoo and DAD AX32 at 96kHz (see test here) and the eq too.

Bandwidth and phase response measured at 96kHz

Bandwidth and phase response measured at 96kHz

I like the eq of Dayner, it works in mellow way without artifacts. It sounds great on drums and electric bass.

The eight auxiliaries are routed to DAW to applied reverb, delay or modulation effect.

I can mix from 32 channels without group to 24 channels + 8 groups (busses).

I’m very happy for my Dayner consolle, I suggest it to mix rock, blues and jazz (acoustic and electric).

Cheers,

Lorenzo


Copyright © 2013-2014 by iuatwest. All rights Reserved.
This material has been copyrighted, feel free to share it with others; it can be distributed via social media or pingbacks or added to websites; please do not change the original content and, provide appropriate credit by including the author’s name @ http://iuatwest.com and your readers shall not be charged by you under any circumstance.

Logic Pro strikes back

Hi,

another day with Logic Pro and his trouble…

I have still got problems opening logic project, despite I used AIF files…

To get it solved i changed all audiofiles names and I located them after opening the project….

At this point I had not more problems (I couldn’t believe) and I bounced (Logic worked very slow ) the project into stereo file.

Tomorrow I’ll generate (hope so) a different version of the master:

– Hi-End version (96kHz@24bit)

– Video version (48kHz@16bit)

– Cd version (44.1kHz@16bit)

– MP3 version (320kbits stereo)

Just authorized by my customer I’ll link one or more songs of this work.

…and the mix be with you  😉

Lorenzo