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Author Topic: Aural Reconciliation  (Read 401 times)
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pompatus
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« on: Jan 09, 2018, 05:37AM »

Lately I've been recording some unaccompanied practice sessions to evaluate different aspects of my playing and setup.  I've been recording on an iPhone 6S using the native Camera app.  I've always put sound ahead of technique in my queue of priorities, and have been told many times that I have a "great sound" and a "big sound". 

What I'm struggling to reconcile is the sound on the recording not matching what I'm perceiving from behind the bell.  Behind the bell, while playing, I'm fairly happy with what I'm hearing, but when listening to recorded playback I'm picking up so many little things I hadn't heard "live" and am generally appalled.  It's pretty discouraging.  How much, if at all, will recording equipment distort the sound?  How do you guys incorporate recording into your practice sessions?  How do you reconcile what you hear live and what you hear on recorded playback?

...and now, back to my long tones...
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timothy42b
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« Reply #1 on: Jan 09, 2018, 05:44AM »

The youtube recordings I've shared here were all done on an iPhone 5S, no additional processing.

MP3s I've shared were from an H2.

Neither sounds like behind the bell to me, but I think the sound is realistic.  Low range sounds better on the recording than to my ear, high range sounds worse, but not terribly different. 

Occasionally my laptop will default to the internal microphone instead of the H2, and the results are awful.  The first time it happened I considered giving up playing.  My singing voice is roughly the same between H2 and laptop mike, but on trombone the difference is huge.

Listening to recordings has improved my ability to hear sloppiness.  Tone is harder.   
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Tim Richardson
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« Reply #2 on: Jan 09, 2018, 06:02AM »

Because a phone has a great feature set etc etc, doesn't mean that its'  Mic' that has a flat(ish) frequency response, far from it. You may want to buy an outboard one, there will be many to choose from. And also, get an App that allows you to record without ALC or compression (if there isn't one already on the phone).

The Zoom H2 is a good buy, I'm not sure about the latest version but my older one has a few musician friendly features as well, the newer one has M/S recording which is a useful feature when recording in live rooms.
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« Reply #3 on: Jan 09, 2018, 07:37AM »

The sound quality of a given mic might not be great, but mics don't really lie either. So the mic might boost or add frequencies, and maybe compress the audio, and thus affect the tone negatively, but a mic WON'T create wonky articulations or intonation. If the sound is unsteady or wonky, the mic is letting you know.

Recording yourself is a great tool.
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« Reply #4 on: Jan 09, 2018, 07:38AM »

I agree that a cellphone mic may not be faithfully reproducing your sound. I also think that mic placement is a big part of getting sound right, however, this part of your question...

but when listening to recorded playback I'm picking up so many little things I hadn't heard "live" and am generally appalled.  It's pretty discouraging.  How much, if at all, will recording equipment distort the sound? 

... sound more like you are appalled at your performance, not the mic's audio. 

Things like bad intonation, dropping phrases, clunky articulations, sloppy legato... these are things that appall me when i record myself and listen to the playback, regardless of the sound quality the mic is producing. Things that I either didn't notice or dismissed as insignificant while I was playing live become painfully obvious on recording.

That stuff is not the mic's fault, it's you. Even a cheap mic is telling you the truth on that stuff.

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« Reply #5 on: Jan 09, 2018, 08:12AM »

...
... sound more like you are appalled at your performance, not the mic's audio. 

Things like bad intonation, dropping phrases, clunky articulations, sloppy legato... these are things that appall me when i record myself and listen to the playback, regardless of the sound quality the mic is producing. Things that I either didn't notice or dismissed as insignificant while I was playing live become painfully obvious on recording.

That stuff is not the mic's fault, it's you. Even a cheap mic is telling you the truth on that stuff.

Exactly.  Those are the very reasons for recording yourself.
Start learning to hear those things yourself so you can fix them.
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pompatus
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« Reply #6 on: Jan 09, 2018, 11:03AM »

Thanks, for the responses, guys.  It has been quite a learning experience, and I've certainly got some things to focus on.

In regard to mic/phone placement, I've been keeping my phone on the music stand so that I can get video as well, but what is considered appropriate mic placement to achieve decent quality sound?
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timothy42b
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« Reply #7 on: Jan 09, 2018, 11:12AM »

Off axis and forward of the bell, 3 - 6 feet each, might be a good starting point. 

I've recorded myself at rehearsal from a table about six feet behind me, and it picks me up well. 

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Tim Richardson
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« Reply #8 on: Jan 10, 2018, 04:23AM »

When I hear a recording of myself talking it always sounds way different than what I hear in real time.  Could it be that trombone is the same?  Maybe record a little from behind the bell to see if that sounds like what we hear when we are playing.
I agree that listening to recordings of ourselves playing is one of the most important things we can do to progress.
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« Reply #9 on: Jan 10, 2018, 05:00AM »

Thanks, for the responses, guys.  It has been quite a learning experience, and I've certainly got some things to focus on.

In regard to mic/phone placement, I've been keeping my phone on the music stand so that I can get video as well, but what is considered appropriate mic placement to achieve decent quality sound?

"Decent quality sound..."

I continue to be amazed at how we shine a lot of light on how much effort it takes to develop OUR skill sets (be it as trombonists or painters or sprinters or what-have-you) and fail to recognize the effort for OTHER skill sets, especially for those like recording engineers.  There are substantial reasons why guys like Robert Fine are still revered in the industry.

I had a friend who, at one time, worked for Columbia, recording the Philly.  We would be listening to something, and it would be far from what we'd have expected live.  He'd name a couple offending frequencies, then adjust his equalizer, and get it MUCH more reasonable in one shot. 

A recording is only a model of the "real thing."  Think of it more like a drawing.  We all have seen drawings ranging from our first stick figures to works of masters like DaVinci or Picasso.  If the goal is to recognize that the draw-er saw a human being, a stick figure with head and appropriate number of arms and legs is a reasonable model.  The more sophisticated the vision, the higher the level of artistry.  But in all cases, it requires a suspension of disbelief to mistake the model for the live 3-D situation.

Many of the small-device recordings are a lot like the stick figures.  As long as we can hear the intonation, articulation, and phrasing, it's a good enough model.

But if your focus is on tone quality, chances are a fault in tone quality will get in the way of listening to those underlying elements.  Unfortunately, tone quality starts getting into the higher levels of artistry.  Microphone distance, type, angle to horn centerline, and especially the room used all make big differences.  And you may still not get your "real" sound.  Good chance you'll get tone that won't distract you from listening to the underlying elements, but the sound behind the bell WILL be different from the sound in front, and you just can't be in both places.  AND no matter how "good" the recording, it will STILL be a model.  Just as the current setup makes your tone less pleasing than you think it should sound, a better setup could make it sound better in ways that a real listener in a real room would not identfiy as being equal.

There are some excellent recordists on this forum.  There are entire fora devoted to recording, and there are even MORE experienced recordists and sound engineers there (along with interested parties with lots of opinions and little experience... much to be taken with many grains of salt....)  If you want to get as close to your sound as possible, I recommend checking out those fora, then getting someone whose ears you trust to help you dial in your setup.

If, on the other hand, you want to improve your playing, I recommend simply getting your phone far enough away from you that you do NOT "break up" on the microphone and focus on other elements than sound quality.  Recording great sound requires the same kind of time commitment that PRODUCING great sound takes.  You get to choose where you make the time commmitment.
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« Reply #10 on: Jan 10, 2018, 05:25AM »

Boneagain, a great post of which I'm in total agreement. I was reminded of the Marshall McLuhan scene in Annie Hall.  Link below.

Also, a link explaining how to turn of the High Pass filter on later iPhones

https://youtu.be/vTSmbMm7MDg?t=1m46s

http://www.studiosixdigital.com/audio-hardware/iphone_3gs_microphone.html

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