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May 24, 2023 - 6:21:09 AM
3371 posts since 10/22/2007

It started by noticing the tone of the fiddle under my ear sounds essentially fine. When recorded, coming out of a speaker/monitor, the highs sound piercing. Okay, so run the signal through an equalizer. Yes, but attenuating the highs also attenuates the dynamics and nuances that make a fiddle sound like a fiddle. So I add a little reverb. Good but not. The reason for a bridge pickup instead of simply miking is feedback reduction. Sure a mike, a good mike, improves but still, piercing highs.
My technique is pretty much set in stone, but rosin can be a factor. Good rosin is aggressive. Good fresh rosin is kind of untrained until you get it played in. I've considered this. Then I remembered I used to employ a pre-amp with my pickup. I guess it boosts the signal without adding Db. EQ, and a touch of chorus/reverb, we shall see/hear. Sometimes after fooling around for several days, I'll leave it, and come back in a day. I just don't know. What do the big studios have that I don't? But I listened to some recordings where the fiddle didn't sound like a fiddle. It could have been a sax. I could see it was a fiddle but it's like they really didn't care if it sounded like a plastic fiddle. I think I'll try a large diaphragm ribbon mike in a dry room, again. Maybe GHP will read this. She gets outstanding tone.

May 24, 2023 - 6:26:55 AM
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2589 posts since 10/1/2008

A good mic, definitely. You may want to try some different "E" strings. Many fiddlers I have read on mix and match strings regularly. You may also want to try both transducer and mic and mix the signals. Sound engineering is a science / art I will never be any good at. Mic placement may be something to experiment with too. Keep digging you will find the tone you want to hear. R/

Edited by - UsuallyPickin on 05/24/2023 06:29:09

May 24, 2023 - 6:41:34 AM
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RichJ

USA

979 posts since 8/6/2013

Pardon my asking this Steve, but is the "tone" your talking about something that comes out of a fiddle or a speaker? Maybe getting off track here but this subject is kind of coincidental because I've been thinking about how a fiddle sounds when it's right under your ear compared to when it's played off the chest as I have been doing lately. To my ear, regardless of the fiddle, and I do have a few, they all sound better when not played right under my ear.

May 24, 2023 - 12:57:07 PM

3371 posts since 10/22/2007

Good question Rich. Nobody ever hears any fiddle like the one playing it. It's like hearing your own voice. That being said, there's an acoustic voice, one hears around a jam. Then there's a voice that's heard through an amp or PA, like a concert. Then there's a studio voice. Sure. It all starts with you and your fiddle. Strings, rosin, hair, personal technic, all are factors. It's enough to drive one mad. Or chase one's tail.
I look at it thus: Once the sound gets converted to a wire, it's a signal. Signals can be processed and manipulated. I rarely play without even a tiny amp. But another factor is the sound of a combo or band, or jam. The bad stuff gets glossed over. I think the hardest tone to achieve is that on an ideal recording. Another factor is if I'm too critical, or not critical enough? More later.

May 24, 2023 - 1:59:35 PM

2497 posts since 12/11/2008

For a while I was playing with a couple of fellow Bragger students. One of the students actually made her living as a violist on Hollywood movie sound-stages. Needless to say, she was one heck of a good fiddler, too. Every once in a while we'd trade fiddles for a few numbers so we could hear each other's instruments.. I tried out her viola a couple times, too. Needless to say it was a lot of fun. I also made lots of clams on the thing.

May 24, 2023 - 4:49:17 PM

3642 posts since 9/13/2009
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What do the big studios have that I don't?

The big studio.

Which includes: a good tracking room; the selection of mics (and various other gear); an engineer eho knows how to set it all up for capturing best sound. 

As far as running through bridge pickup, probably wouldn't use that for studio recording; impossible to make sound like your acoustic fiddle... doesn't make for good recording. It's just picking up the bridge, the rest of the acoustics in fiddle is mostly moot. Probably every good recording has been with a good mic set up; as is way better.

Not sure if goal is recording or playing live.

----------

As far as using Piezo pickups, hard to put in tone, fullness, in what has been filtered out (never in signal). 

Starts checking impedence input you're plugging into; as that can filter out some of tone. Typically need pretty high impedence (maybe 5M+); that's part of what can make guitar saddle PU quacky. Then rest of chain, gain staging, clipping. EQ, makes a difference where in chain; on pedal vs board channel strip. Sometimes it's just the attack transients that are harsh, perhaps clipping; compressor can help.

I used to employ a pre-amp with my pickup. I guess it boosts the signal without adding Db.

Preamps purpose is to boost a weak signal to a useable level for the rest of chain. That said, can impart some color; filtering EQ, harmonic saturation, compression, distortion; (as pushing pre). This coloring might be good (warmth, smoothness); or bad, making it worse, (muddy to harsh).

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 05/24/2023 16:50:52

May 24, 2023 - 5:47:17 PM

3371 posts since 10/22/2007

I somehow inherited an AudioTechnica hanging choir mike. (Condenser) I think I'll team it with a large diaphragm condenser mike. This is obviously for recording. I'm pretty much stuck with the Fishman bridge pickup for live play.
Back to recording: I feel like between the two mikes and some EQ, it's gotta be better. Some of the best tone I've mustered, seems like it was from a simple smartphone mike on a video. Seems like there needs to be some air or distance in the mix. A bridge pickup, there definitely is no air involved.
Thinking about fiddle hardware. I recon I have Preludes on this fiddle. They don't last as long as Prims. It could be time for strings. I kinda wish I had some Dominants to try as well. More later. Thanks for your patience.

May 24, 2023 - 10:54:39 PM

3642 posts since 9/13/2009
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I think I'll team it with a large diaphragm condenser mike...

Just to point out not to assume a large condenser mic is necessarily better, nor best choice, just different. Not that an LDC won't work, depends on a lot of other aspects; other options might be as good or better. A lot of LDC can lack warmth, smoothness; might have a high end bump, that can be a bit bright/harsh/brittle or grainy; as well other aspects that might make issues worse. As well, SDCs might work better (flat and detailed), or maybe even Dynamic, like SM57 can work great; perhaps ribbon. Depends on instrument, room, and desired sound. Of course sometimes it's dealing with (or trying to fix) other issues, like in home recording; placement; rejection, unwanted noise, and esp poor room, untreated, small, rectangular; and reflections.

That said, most of my home recordings issues; (poor results or struggle to try fix in post)... isn't much due to not having "the" mic (or other gear). Comes down to before deciding the mic, might consider other aspects. In my experience... good recordings starts with dealing with the room. That then affects placement options of musician and mic in that room. Mic set up, distance/angle/axis is next...finding overall sweet spot; again, room issues can affect that esp whether close or distant. Those have biggest effect, toward everything after; so If can get those good, dialed in; the type of mics, (and rest gear and process down the chain) become less significant; workable or give more options (rather than simply about trying to fix or correct).

...I feel like between the two mikes and some EQ, it's gotta be better.

As far as mic placement, close/distant. Obviously close mic, takes room issues out, but can tend to sound less full, as doesn't get the entire, just small part of top; near bridge can be bright/harsh, amplify attack transients and bow noise. So becomes more critical where you point the mic (bridge, sound hole, other); and small changes in distance/angle can affect tone a lot. Movement of musician becomes issue as well. More distant room mic, smooths a lot of that... but might introduce more issues with room; esp bad reflections that affect the frequency layout; can contribute to sound thin, nasal, boomy or muddy, (not necessarily fuller). Dual mics possibly can work, but not sure fix 2 poor sounds.. (can also bring more complications). Some of this can try fix with different mic, or in post with EQ (like that 5K bow noise, or mid nasal honk); but polishing turds can be quite a chore. IMO, I would opt for trying to start with better capture from a good placement, I find about 2 feet works pretty good, but depends on fiddle, and of course room.

Not that I often do a lot this good set up, or good room; in most of my home recording. I'm usually noodling for fun; and just too lazy, want what's quick and easy... have to remind myself I'm not after Grammy winning end. laugh No room, mic or $$$ in gear will overcome to make my playing deficiencies to achieve that. cheeky (hmmm. maybe spend more effort in practice??)

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 05/24/2023 22:59:24

Jun 4, 2023 - 4:37:02 PM

3371 posts since 10/22/2007

Update,
New strings. (Better)
Got a Lavaleer Mike system. Initially clipped it on my chinrest. Sounds pretty good. There is an impedance issue, as it only works with the aux. input.

Jun 4, 2023 - 5:37:53 PM

3371 posts since 10/22/2007

This is a demo of a tune to serve as an example of a problem with recording.

Ashokan
Now, one simply must believe and trust that I set the levels correctly. I have two indications of levels per channel. A graphic VU meter, and a peak LED. That said, the levels sound clipped, and distorted, as if I was running levels way too high. This was not the case. This is recorded with a large diaphragm MXR990 mike. Approximately foot away from the f holes of the fiddle. The only strange thing, was the Mike wasn't squared up either directly upright nor downward. It was at a bit of an angle. I didn't hear the distortion initially, so I mixed a double track with 50% reverb, with another dry track. The reverb track was mixed down to less than half level to give a very subtle doubling. It still sounds pretty echoey too. But the distortion is the issue. I don't know where it originates?

Edited by - farmerjones on 06/04/2023 17:43:57

Jun 5, 2023 - 6:47:15 AM
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3642 posts since 9/13/2009
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The recording is indeed distorting, esp in low end; but is hard to say exactly what all is happening (some other issues as well). 

Not sure where, what stage you are reading the levels (input, device, channel, master), it can be misleading. My initial guess is has to do with  the gain is initially way to high, but then reduced it later; (gain staging). If any early part clips, it won't go away by reducing later levels.  First make sure that the source is not overpowering the mic itself. Will point out the 990 is more of SDC (17mm) though that's not important. Besides standard XLR version run through an interface; also has USB version. that said, the 990 can handle sound pressure level up to 130-137 dB, so shouldn't be problem with fiddle. (some mics like 990S; offer a -10 pad). 

If routing mic through outboard mixer, before or as an interface; make sure the initial input gain; top of channel strip is not set too high; (might be called trim; and might have a "pad" to reduce input by -10 to -20db). Then make sure the EQ and channel strip volume is not clipping the main/master. Extra note that output of the mixer is line level, and needs to be as line level input (not mic/instrument) if into a separate interface, as that can also cause clipping. 

For interface, whether direct mic input or line level from mixer.... you want to adjust the the input level knob on device to make sure the input gain (analog before digital conversion) is not clipping on that device (as well might be -10--20db pad). 

Similar in USB mic, but might need to to go to sound settings in Windows; Audio/MIDI utilities in Mac and lower the input. Some mics have separate control panel to control input (as the 990USB did for WinXP).

In the DAW software, pre fader input aim for -12db (or possibly -18) on the input channel. Err on the side of slightly less hot, it can be boosted later.

Look at the wave, if look something like this should be fine; peaks don't need to fill or go to top and bottom; if does, or have square tops, then it's clipping.

----

That's place to start. Possible that you are clipping in the DAW, pushing a channel out, or thru FX like EQ, reverb, compression adding too much gain before hits master bus. 

Jun 5, 2023 - 6:49:39 AM
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3642 posts since 9/13/2009
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FWIW, I also notices a lot of background noise; might want to deal with as well. Not sure it's related to gain/clipping; but could be... esp if the noise if from a defective cord/cable... or defect in the mic. The MXL990 does have bit of bit of self noise (20db?); but shouldn't be near that noisy. Here's a quick Ashokan with my old 990-USB.

The mic was about 18 inches or so away. It sounded fine dry, but to match your example I added just bit of reverb. Since the mic doesn't have a high pass filter, I also applied mild high-pass filter around 120Hz, in EQ.. which is where most of the self-noise was. ( I typically roll of the bass with HPF  as fiddle doesn't need any of that low end)

 

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 06/05/2023 07:03:34

Jun 5, 2023 - 10:27:59 AM

3371 posts since 10/22/2007

Thanks for the getback George. Before I give up completely, I'm going to go back to basics. Run the mike in in dry and direct. One dry track, no doubling. I may make a trial run with an SM57 as well. This will tell me if it's the mike.
I really like my hardware (MR8 digital recorder) because, once you get used to it, it's quick to go. In the old days you had to keep a tape rolling (yes, I go back to Ampex & Magnacorder). You gotta keep the groove alive.

As far as windows daw stuff, I tried, Audacity. I've yet to find any Android app that's not a toy. If it's a good app I'll buy it, but this subscription scheme nowadays runs contrary to my ways.

Now I've got fresh strings on, and some time to play. Too hot outside. Back to the shed, as they say!

Jun 5, 2023 - 10:44:29 AM

DougD

USA

11933 posts since 12/2/2007

If you want a recording app for Android that's not a toy, take a look at Audio Evolution Mobile Studio. One time purchase price of $9.99, plus there's a trial version you can check out. It makes use of the Android "USB OTG" feature to be able to use most USB interfaces with a tablet or phone, bypassing the onboard mic and signal processing.

Jun 5, 2023 - 3:04:22 PM

3642 posts since 9/13/2009
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quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones

Thanks for the getback George. Before I give up completely, I'm going to go back to basics. Run the mike in in dry and direct. One dry track, no doubling. I may make a trial run with an SM57 as well. This will tell me if it's the mike.
I really like my hardware (MR8 digital recorder) because, once you get used to it, it's quick to go. In the old days you had to keep a tape rolling (yes, I go back to Ampex & Magnacorder). You gotta keep the groove alive.

As far as windows daw stuff, I tried, Audacity. I've yet to find any Android app that's not a toy. If it's a good app I'll buy it, but this subscription scheme nowadays runs contrary to my ways.

Now I've got fresh strings on, and some time to play. Too hot outside. Back to the shed, as they say!


trial run with an SM57 as well. This will tell me if it's the mike.

Maybe not. Keep in mind the gain staging mentioned above. (something I see folks get confused with all the time). Keeping in mind that Dynamic mics, like SM57, have very low output... compared to Condensers like 990. It is easy to have preamp/input gain set to high for latter, thus much easier distorts/clips; and comparatively might seem like dynamics won't so easily. But it's not the mic itself... just the input gain; which is what that knob (or pads) are for. 

I didn't really follow what said your set up was...  it seems using XLR mic; into an interface, or mixer, or other; and if using a computer or a phone or other.

I also started with tape, 4 track, Portastudio, and then 3440, then Fostek 8 track. DAW make many aspects way easier, cheaper... tape is really expensive, esp to just keep rolling... digital costs barely anything.  As far as recording program/app/DAW... for desktop, most any should work for basic recording though... and once get settings worked out, and get used to it, it's pretty quick to go. Most are not subscription based (might require registering, create account)... certainly lot of free/inexpensive options.

There are plenty of computer DAWs, that are non-subscription, cheap or free. Audacity works, for basic, (I still use it for quick scratchpad idea); but has some downsides; to other DAWs make certain process workflow way easier. Esp when comes to anything post, effects, EQ, reverb, and editing... in regular DAWs it's just a plugin, so doesn't affect the raw track... turn on or off, make change, change mind. As well as doing multiple takes; and then some MIDI tracks (percussion, bass, piano) can be handy. Here are what I've use and others give good reviews.

Reaper, is in many ways easiest to download and set up. It works on Win, Mac and Linux. Officially it's only $60; but has free evaluating mode which is unlimited (just click still evaluating.) A downside might be the included plug-ins are kind of limited; but once know how to install VSTs; there are a lot free. I've been trying to use it a bit more... goes between different older OS devices I use.

Cakewalk, is windows only, but has a lot of good built in plug ins; I find I like the look, layout and workflow. I also like that it integrates with it's parent BandLab  browser/phone app (can open BL projects and save/publish to BL). You do have to create a BandLab account, but no subscription (except for other music services). 

Tracktion Waveform is another free one I've used that works great; windows, mac. You also need to make an account.

Ardour, is one I used for years, as it comes with linux... I got very used to the workflow; found pretty easy and intuitive, (to me). It also works on Win/Mac... but you need to pay something for it (it's kind of you decide what want to pay).

 As well there are free/lite versions of Studio One, Ableton, Cubase... if you have registered product; IIRC can most get lite version without product.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 06/05/2023 15:07:53

Jun 5, 2023 - 3:12:36 PM

3642 posts since 9/13/2009
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

If you want a recording app for Android that's not a toy, take a look at Audio Evolution Mobile Studio. One time purchase price of $9.99, plus there's a trial version you can check out. It makes use of the Android "USB OTG" feature to be able to use most USB interfaces with a tablet or phone, bypassing the onboard mic and signal processing.


For phone or tablet. Many USB mics and interfaces can plug into these days (bypass built-in). Apps are more limited, but depends on what want to do. Like Audio Evolution Mobile Studio, not as limited as might think, they can work fine; and typically easy for beginners to use. I haven't tried Audio Evolution Mobile Studio, not sure what pro/con... but mostly looks similar to and works like BandLab or Garagaeband apps. (which are free)

BandLab  (makers of Cakewalk); is free, just make an account. It works on iOS, Android, or in a web browser (nothing to download). Countering the limitations compared to full DAW...  pretty easy to use... and offer some add features (with collaborations, bands, and social/sharing/publishing)

Cubase has app that also easy, as stand alone; or like BL/Cakewalk (or GB) can integrate with associated full DAW. IIRC is free with supported products. But as well seems to offer has free app version Music Studio Lite - Apps on Google Play

This technology seems to be getting better. That said, working on a phone might have some ease, convenience, portability; esp for beginners might be easier... but has lot's of annoying drawbacks (for me); esp small screen, and touch screen. Give me a mouse and big screen. YMMV.

Jun 5, 2023 - 5:04:45 PM

DougD

USA

11933 posts since 12/2/2007

alaskafiddler - I think Steve said he's using an MR8 recorder, which would be a Fostex I guess. They made several versions of those and not all had actual 48v. phantom power. That could be a problem with the MXL mic.

Jun 5, 2023 - 6:15:29 PM

3371 posts since 10/22/2007

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

alaskafiddler - I think Steve said he's using an MR8 recorder, which would be a Fostex I guess. They made several versions of those and not all had actual 48v. phantom power. That could be a problem with the MXL mic.


Correct. I am using a Fostex MR8. I am also using a phantom power box with the MXL990. It hasn't seemed to be a problem in the passed. I know, Blackboxs don't last forever. Mostly from dirty contacts. (The only moving parts in a blackbox) 

Y'know, I had a power surge this spring. I had to replace my Fostex MR8. I found they were discontinued, but Musicians Friend had one in excellent condition. So I pulled the trigger. So. . . . . . . .. this new unit may have dirty pots, or contacts.  Again, I want to go back to simple-simple, and see WTF. I appreciate the info on the new apps. I have the latest Samsung tablet. I haven't turned on a "computer" in months.   Thanks for the reply.   

Jun 5, 2023 - 6:28:03 PM

3642 posts since 9/13/2009
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My Fostex is an old A8

Dirty posts or bad caps can cause issues

I'm on zomm right if want of visit with yer tablet. 

Since I got my end fixed... and set up I set up new live meeting for awhile anyone wants to pop in... I'm just noodling

https://us05web.zoom.us/j/89354495343?pwd=dWlLSFdrOVVyVnd4MU9XZHFtZjBiUT09

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us05web.zoom.us/j/89354495343?pwd=dWlLSFdrOVVyVnd4MU9XZHFtZjBiUT09

Meeting ID:  893 5449 5343
Passcode: 7B7YMy

Jun 5, 2023 - 8:39:37 PM

3371 posts since 10/22/2007

Shux I didn't see this until 10:38 local.

Jun 6, 2023 - 2:39:02 PM

3371 posts since 10/22/2007

Demo Waltz

Okay, one take, sloppy technique not withstanding, I think this sounds (tone-wise) pretty good. I'll say, first, it sounded absolutely horrific dry/without reverb. But again, one can't blame the fiddle or the Mike or system. The room is fine if the heat pump isn't running. The other no-no I figured out: If you monitor, monitor with headphones. Turn the monitor speakers off. I thought the bleed from the monitors wouldn't matter. It does matter. I don't like wearing headphones, but haste/laziness, makes for wasted time. If i endeavor to make something quick and dirty, i just as well make a video with a tablet or smartphone. Everyone should understand there are levels of "capture." This gets into what one wants to do and why, so another thread, another time. 

 Lastly. Note these highs are not harsh at all. These are brand new D'Adario Prelude strings. They replaced at least 5 year old Prim strings. Proves they do wear out eventually. 

Edited by - farmerjones on 06/06/2023 14:41:06

Jun 6, 2023 - 5:44:39 PM

3642 posts since 9/13/2009
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Yep sounds way better. 

Not sure if still MXL990? Condensers, lower sensitivity; and more distance (2ft vs 6inch) tend to bring more of room; which can be good or bad... if good sounding room, adds natural air, and reverb. You are getting some that room, not bad, adds a little natural reverb in the mix.  But can also add external moises, fans, pumps... but as well bad reflections (comb filtering). Dynamic like SM57, and closer micing can help take room out if problem; as well if using speaker monitoring.

One thing, I noticed, is still a bit extra noise in low end (< 160Hz); not horrible, but I find it's good to high pass that if possible; found it can really help clean up sound. Not knowing your MR8, seems to have some presets that do that going in; if not can do that in most EQ.

----------

As far as monitoring... yep a lot of folks (myself included) initially struggle with getting acclimated to playing with headphones (esp if closed and tight, can't hear the fiddle naturally). For your recording though, just solo fiddle, not sure why need to monitor? 

For multi-tracking, you do have to hear the reference. With that will also say that it is sometimes possible to record with speaker/monitor (at least for one or two tracks; and can feel more natural... with little bleed issue; but might take bit more work and understanding of acoustics; depends on the room, size, and then the room/ceiling/floor/parallel walls... diffusers. Mostly it's like playing live on stage using foldbacks. dIf not too loud, close mic, make sure the null of mic is at the speaker; figuring where hot spots are, place to avoid; rough guide generally avoid the center of parallel. There is a website that you can plug in dimensions and show likely problem spots.  [Knowing room sound and hot spots is still good to consider even with headphones. Some folks (perhaps Doug); can go into a room and hear it, what quality or issue, know where the optimum spot is; impressive.] Of course it can quickly become problematic with more tracks, bleed and noise builds up. 

So just use headphones, solves a lot of problems. Some suggestion other sue. If wanting to hear instrument more natural, some just use headphone in right ear (see this with studio string players). As well, like IEM on stage, close mic dry sounds odd.... fx like reverb can help, but many find it better to use a bit more of additional room mic, just for IEM monitoring.

Jun 9, 2023 - 5:15:37 AM
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Erockin

USA

937 posts since 9/3/2022

Somedays, I never know where to comment..lol. Speaking of tone, I played a fiddle last night made in 1891...with dominant strings (first time I've played as far as I know) with a Coda Bow (Def First Time I've used One) and now my thoughts are consumed until the end of time...lol. Wow. What a beautiful sounding instrument. I had to hand it back after a few minutes...Happy Friday!

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