Solo flute recording project. Classical music

This thread continues what I began in this one,

in which I was already exceeding the limits of the subject to treat.

Solo flute recording project. Classical music.

This thread continues what I began in this one, in which I was already exceeding the limits of the subject to treat.

I recently bought some sE8 microphones, which I think are much better than the ones I had (a Sennheiser M80 and an AT2020).

The position of the micros is AB spaced pair. I tried ORTF but the place where I’m recording is very small and sounds worse in that position, picking up the bounce from the walls.

These recordings have been simply a test.

I hope to start the project from scratch in a few days.

This work by Román Alís, composed in Seville in 1963, will be the first time it has been recorded.

Here’s what I did with the other microphones, if you want to hear it:

Any advice is welcome :slight_smile:

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Before anyone jumps in and colors how you hear, I think a good starting point is to ask what you think! What have you noticed with the recordings using the sE8 pair compared with the old ones?

As an aside, it would be useful to know if you used the same kind of spacing/distance with the old and new pairs…

The differences I find are not enormous but important:

  • They are more sensitive. The knob on my Audient is now at 45-50%, previously it was between 65-70%.
  • The sound is cleaner, with fewer parasites and distortion.
  • It’s a little bright at the high end but it doesn’t bother, on the contrary, I think it brings harmonics.
  • Now it’s easier to get a stereo than before.
  • I think it sounds more professional…

Yes, the position and distance is the same: AB spaced around a meter and a half and almost two meters from the flute, a little higher than the position of the head.

I tried ORTF but in this space it doesn’t work, it should be a much bigger room.

The volume take was -12dBs for the strongest note of the album. Then +8dBs with the trim on the flute channel. Reverb convolution Vienna.

I agree that the sound is cleaner with less distortion. There wasn’t much distortion in the previous recordings that I could hear, but I did hear it in a few places here and there. These recordings are clean.

Seconded. The musicianship is what drives these recordings (similar to @vasakq’s recent new topic).

Being critical (I hate to be!), there is something a little unnatural and I’d put money on the recording space as the culprit. Let’s make something clear: These would make truly excellent demo tracks for you as a musician (if you even need them!). For improvement, I would honestly find a lovely church or hall that you might use at little to no cost combined with your portable rig. If it is anything like here in the PNW, approaching a church will often result in a free recording space or in exchange for a small donation to their building project or charity of their choice. If you are a likeable person (sounds like you are from all our interactions!) it can go along way. The other option, of course, is offering to play a selection of your pieces as part of one of their services. Or, put on a solo concert (or combined with friends) and use the concert plus rehearsals to patch together workable tracks for an album. I’d hope that you wouldn’t need to break the bank to record in a decent acoustic. You just need a bigger space so that you can experiment with a near-coincident pair. Down the road with a nice enough acoustic you’d try omni spaced pairs. Your use of impulse response is really natural-sounding but it won’t truly hide recording in a sub-optimal space. How high are your ceilings?

Anyhow, the main thing is make an album and enjoy doing it with whatever limitations are placed on it. Your quickly accumulating engineer knowledge combined with your awesome musicianship is already a winning product :slight_smile:

@anon60445789, you’re right one more time.
I’ve been thinking about the same thing for a few days, to find a good church and to do some tests.
Although I’ve changed the microphones, improving the sound, I still hear strange the sound of my flute. And to do something worse than what I already have is not good business… I’m determined to record at home for comfort but the result is not good. The space is very small, the ceilings are also very low, and there are some frequencies with unpleasant bounces.

There are many churches here, the problem I see is acoustic insulation. They are usually quite open to the outside and traffic noise often comes in. I would have to look for a church quite far away from the traffic and that is not so easy.

The sE8 are cardioid, I don’t have any omnidirectional microphones… :frowning:

Thank you! You are also a very nice person, as well as a very kind person and an excellent musician. :slight_smile:

Please don’t feel pressure to buy an omni pair at this stage! In a good space you can achieve truly excellent results with the sE8 pair in one of the near-coincident arrays. Just thinking about a long time in the future if you enjoy doing this sort of thing…

Furthermore it is going to be impossible for the moment, today my car had a major breakdown… :frowning:

So what configuration would you use in a church for a flute? XY? ORTF? Spaced pair?

So sorry to hear about your car :frowning:

As for configuration, it is impossible to really know without visiting the space. That said, there are some arrays that will give excellent results even if the results are not the absolute best possible (and thankfully nobody can compare after the fact!). ORTF will serve you well. You are probably aiming to fill the center 1/3 of the stereo field with your direct instrument sound with the outer portions having either the natural room ambience or any enhancements from reverb plugins. All of this is personal preference but listening to your favorite flute cds will give you the best idea of what is “normal”. Unfortunately I don’t record flute too often so there are better people around to advise if center 1/3 of stereo field is good. It certainly works for piano, guitar/lute etc. For chamber (more intimate), I use full stereo width.

You can experiment with DIN, NOS, EBS etc as well as spaced pairs of omnis. This is even before thinking about whether the flute could use a close spot as we discussed on the other classical thread.

It is very open-ended, there’s no one right answer and as stated, without experiencing the room, any judgment is meaningless. I can just give you a starting point (and others please jump in).

Ideally you have another flautist play while you walk around the space to find the “sweet spot”: a good mix of direct and ambient sound and make adjustments backwards/forwards/vertically up and down from there.

Hi @Aleph, any updates on your flute recording project(s)? It’s been a while since we conversed!

First of all, I hope you and your families are all right. We’re going through some tough times.

I’m sorry, but for various reasons I had to stop my recording project.

However, in the last few days I’ve had some time and I’ve resumed the project. I thought about buying a Zoom f6 recorder, but I also had to postpone the idea for a little later, so I’m continuing with my Audient i14 and the sE8’s.

I also tried to record in a couple of locations but it was a disaster. Constant noises (birds, cars…) made me have to give up, so in the end I’m still in my own house.

Here I leave you a link to almost half of the CD. I have also attached a loudness analysis file.

I’m trying to record at -12db, but I think the level is a bit low at the end. Some of the tracks already have about 4db added in the trim. For my personal taste it’s ok, I don’t want a too present sound for this CD, but I don’t know what you think.

I’m waiting for your advice.

Thanks :slight_smile:

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I’ve not listened yet but from a quick glance at the loudness analysis I think you might just export to -1dBFS peak and call it good. That would add another c. 3dB of gain. It looks like you might have some wide dynamic action in the Capriccio?

You could try some “transparent” parallel compression a la Bob Katz. If you don’t have the formula it’s in his mastering book. Obviously you don’t want to harm the flute sound in any way but it might give you that little bit of extra presence without going over the top (and still export to peak at -1dBFS). Also, I read in an issue of Sound-on-Sound that one of the staff used Flux Syrah on classical solo flute with excellent results. Clearly, some nuanced compression or adaptive dynamics processing can be a good thing.

One other point: you should analyze one or two other recordings of the Capriccio and see where the loudness and peak levels end up. It’s always good to be in the same ballpark as other existing well-regarded recordings.

Hi @anon60445789,

thank you for your answer.

I’ve done absolutely nothing in Capriccio, it’s exactly the same as the other tracks.
My recordings are a bit low compared to the other recordings. The problem with equalizing all the tracks to -1db is that not all of them reach the same sound level in the strongest notes, that could alter the rest of the piece, don’t you think?

I’ve been looking for information about Bob Katz’s method, but I’m not sure how to do it, nor if compression would be a good idea.

I understand that Flux Syrah would work in Antix, but I would have to install Wine for it?

I’ve done an analysis of a Sharon Bezaly cd for solo flute alone. I always liked the sonority of this CD. Attached is the analysis:

I’m not suggesting you make every track peak at -1dBFS but over the course of the entire album :slight_smile:

After selecting the session time span, in the export profile select the “Normalize” option and set the integrated loudness to -20 LUFS (typical for classical discs) and the true peak to -1 dBFS. The album will probably hit -1dBTP peak before the integrated so it will end up a bit quieter than -20 LUFS. Robin Gareus informed me that there’s absolutely no limiting happening…the export will be normalized to either loudness or true peak, whichever it hits first.

I’ve used Flux plugins via Wine successfully but you can probably use some native Linux plugins for the transparent parallel compression idea. Any decent compressor can achieve this (Martin Zuther’s Squeezer, for example). Here’s the recipe: Threshold: -50dBFS; Attack time: 1ms or less (as fast as possible); Ratio: 2:1 or 2.5:1 (Katz prefers 2.5!); Release time: medium length (250-350ms); Crest factor: Peak (vs RMS); Output level: -15 to -5dB works well for subtle compression.

Give it a go…you might be able to hit -20 LUFS without too much trouble. Note that the analysis of the Bezaly disc shows an album true peak of -0.1 dB. While this is fine for physical discs, streaming services would apply some gain reduction to get to -1 dB (or in a few cases, -2dB) true peaks.

EDIT: I should have mentioned that for the parallel compression recipe to work you need to add the compressor to a bus and do a track send: On Delay Compensation & Recommendations for Routing

I guess I didn’t do it right then… In Ardour I used a different file for each piece.

What should I do then? :astonished:

Under “time span” select “session” (i.e. from your start marker to the end marker). Create a cue file along with the WAV and then you can use something like Fre:ac to create all your other files (FLACs, MP3s etc) from the WAV/CUE combo.

Or, if you want to stay completely within Ardour, use a loudness meter like the one in x42-plugins or Klangfreund multimeter (good because you can single click to conform to a particular true peak or LUFS value after playing the whole album through). You can then export individual files as you had been doing. Just be sure to not use any subsequent normalization during export…

Maybe I didn’t make myself clear. I’ve opened a different session of Ardour for each piece.

Now I’d have to import and group all the wav files for each piece into one session…

Hmm…I think it’s good practice for classical albums to record into the same session precisely for this reason. For classical albums I’m always needing to think about gaps between movements and maintain room tone. I place both CD markers and ranges so that I can export the final CD but also quickly export single movements for clients to preview.

I’m sorry, I’m a complete beginner, I don’t know how I didn’t think of it.

Could that be a solution or would it alter the audio quality by importing the wav files and applying the normalization?

You can just import the already recorded files into a new session. If you’ve made lots of edits already, maybe export as 32-bit float files from the various sessions and import into your new “album” session. Assuming you recorded with the same gain settings on your interface you will be just fine! Adjusting the gain via a plugin or doing the normalization on wav/cue export will not affect the quality.

EDIT: So to be clear for future classical projects, create one session and record everything in that one session. Do all your edits and then use a plugin or export normalization to set the album loudness and/or peak levels. That way, any parallel compression (or other effect) is also affecting the whole album and you can make judgements about movements/piece spacings. Even though physical discs are on their way out (at a slower rate for classical!), mastering engineers will still use “CD” markers because it is a great way to think about albums as a whole. For live concerts, any editing out of applause or coughing needs to be replaced by some room tone or the effect of the concert is ruined. This is nice to do as you are editing…