Stepping back

As Audiophiles we constantly search for what we consider the holy grail; reproducing the sound of live music in our homes. Yet is it even possible given that most recordings don’t actually contain enough live information that helps us identify […]

Space, the final frontier frontier. These are the voyages of the Audiophile enterprise. Our lifetime mission: th hear what no man has heard before.


Many of us regularly record with the goal of capturing “you are there.” For example, I have attached a couple of tracks I recorded a couple of days ago (constructive criticism gratefully received).

Unfortunately, a lot of audiophiles do not want recordings to sound this way. Rather, they want slam, hyper-detail, etc. Artists also want their recordings to sound this way.

In this case, the recording was made in a gorgeous stone church. I brought some good monitors and played back what I was capturing for the musicians. They quickly gravitated to wanting a recording that sounded the same played back as when performed.

The downside is getting rid of the rain hitting the stained-glass windows, large trucks, and other unwanted noises.

Attached files /FileUpload/10/ (16.8 MB)Â

elk just downloading so not heard it yet but have a question - you probably recorded also room reflections (2mic setup?) as you mention the church acoustics. I would think that to have as close as possible presentation one should play it back with room without (or less) reflections ,correct?

The recording does indeed include the acoustics of the space. It does a nice job of recreating the actual experience.

I find that the better the recording the more I like a well damped room for playback. If the recording contains ambient information the room need not be “live” to add to playback and, in fact, detracts. Others feel a playback space should be quite live and want the room itself to add to the experience.

Please let me know what you think of the recording. The music is very nice in any event. :slight_smile:

Indeed the acoustics is clearly there (it’s probably a bit more pronounced as I am is used to :slight_smile: )

And i like it as I like the colourfulness and nice stage of the choir , just a pity I cannot play it louder now to here more details >:)

Wow, Elk! I love this. Especially “Golden Slumbers.” When the counterpoint started it was almost subliminal (a great performance). It took me a while to get to this because the sun has been shining and the outdoors calls. This is the way that I like to hear acoustic music recorded and you did a great job, IMHO. Natural sounding breaths (not ducked), dynamics and a great sense of ambiance. I could have gone for a bit more rain and large trucks, though. :wink:

Mind sharing mic distance, separation angle and spacing with us?

You are indeed lucky to get to do this and I hope that the performers were suitably impressed as well.


Whip out your USB’s and head over to HD Tracks if you want to hear what is wrong with “popular” recording… uh, mastering, that is… techniques. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are now released in full 192/24 resolution so you can hear the full effect of “compression till distortion” in your face. Over on LiveTracks you can hear what they sound like without so much of this. I love The Peppers. It’s a guilty pleasure, but needless to say I won’t be spending the money on these versions.

It is a gorgeous piece, one that evokes classical composition with juxtaposition of modern harmonies.

I know some object to hearing performers breathe, but one generally hears breath intake of a singer if you are close enough to hear detail. To me it is like fretboard noise of a guitar, pads on an oboe.

The mic setup is easy - once you get the position right. :slight_smile: Two omni SDCs, 15’ high, 20’ from the choir, spaced 16".

My impression is of a choir larger than the actual nine voices.

:)) I guessed at 20 or so! Are the mics parallel or angled?

Elk said: To me it is like fretboard noise of a guitar, pads on an oboe.

Yes, it’s part of the performance. It is, after all, just a “naked” group of humans putting it all out there musically.

Isn’t that the way music is supposed to be?


wglenn said: I guessed at 20 or so! Are the mics parallel or angled?

I would have also guessed a much larger group based on the sound.

I always point omni mics directly at the source even though, theoretically, they have equal frequency response in all directions.

In this case, each mic is directed half way between the middle of the group and the end of the singers on each side. (I hope this makes sense). I also angled the mics down to point directly at the singers.

This weekend I am recording full orchestra with dancers, including tap. It will be fun to hear the dancers along with the music.
In this case, each mic is directed half way between the middle of the group and the end of the singers on each side. (I hope this makes sense).

Makes sense to me. Is that pointed at the near side quarter point or crossed over and pointed at the far quarter point? If pointing an omni makes a difference then I would think that this makes a difference too.


I had it at the near side quarter.

I had no considered the alternative as you suggest. Interesting thought. It could indeed make a difference. It absolutely would make a difference with other polar patterns.

Thanks! Hope you’ll share some more…

On the continuing them of Space, the Final Frontier, I have attached a three minute recording I made last weekend of a clarinet soloist and a tap dancer (on tour with “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now!”), backed by full symphony orchestra. They are performing Gershwin’s “Walkin’ the Dog” from the movie "Shall We Dance."

I find it easy to hear the venue in the recording. Interestingly, I also hear verticality in the image on my main system. The clarinet is lower and to the right, the dancer is a level up generally in the middle (she moves) and the orchestra up and behind her. The winds, some second violin and violas are pushed back from their normal location in the front middle to middle half way back to make room for the dancer. All of this can be heard. Recording/playback is fascinating.

RMS ~ -27dB, with a Crest Factor of just shy of 27dB.

Peaks at around -6dB except for a single tap at 1:57 which peaks at -0.3dB

Attached files /FileUpload/c2/ (26 MB)Â

A much smaller FLAC version of the same recording. I should have posted this originally.

Attached files /FileUpload/52/ (13.5 MB)Â

It took me two and half minute to identify vertical alignment as described, the rest was immediately obvious, nice one, thanks :slight_smile:

At the beginning I heard clarinet lower than dancer, but orchestra seemed to be at the level of dancer, or somewhere between dancer and clarinet. Only at the end of the track (about 2:35) it sounded from higher level than dancer. But still it can also be my imagination, have to listen to it again to confirm :smiley:

The orchestra is sitting on the same stage as the dancer, but the tapping is, of course, from herf feet. My impression is the first violins (left side) are higher than the tapping. The sense of verticality seems to diminish with the other instruments that are further back.

I am always suspicious when I hear vertical separation as it makes no sense to me how this could work, and expectation bias is powerful.

Thanks for the comments!

My understanding is that height is defined from the floor (and eventually ceiling) reflections in stereo reproduction. The dancer’s steps are clearly very close to reflective surface (which would be stage in this case :slight_smile: ). But yes, expectation bias play important role too :slight_smile: