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Topic: Ambient room recording< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
Olivier Offline




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Posted: Aug. 19 2014, 14:35

I'm planning to try to record ambient room sound while recording my wired electronic keyboard. I want to try to capture my breathing, swearing, things like that. Stupid idea? Recommendations? (Never bought a mic.)
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First_Excursion Offline




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Posted: Aug. 21 2014, 22:42

I like the idea. I remember at first thinking it rather novel to hear what I guess is Mike sniffing in one of my favourite parts of Tubular Bells: Pt1 at 9:40.  I couldn't imagine it being quite right without that now.
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Olivier Offline




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Posted: Aug. 22 2014, 02:05

I have a feeling it might be challenging, I'm not sure. For example the sound of the keys is not very nice at all, same thing with the stool screeching. The pedal noise is already simulated by the electronics and sounds nicer than the noise of the plastic pedal. So a mic near the mouth, like singers? That would be ridiculous and distracting. I may end up going acoustic? Anyway, will give it a try, I can start with my laptop's microphone.

Beautiful ambient noise in this Mozart vid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8e0fBlvEMQ
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Korgscrew Offline




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Posted: Aug. 23 2014, 11:44

Traditionally, the first choice for room ambience would be a stereo pair of omnidirectional condensers. The appeal of those is that they do just pick up everything equally from all round (in theory...the reality is a tiny bit more complex, but it's not necessary to go there now...), as well as having greater bass extension. In your case, though, it actually sounds like none of those attributes are really what you want! Still, if you feel like you want to give that a try, a lot of people seem to find that cheap measurement microphones like the Behringer ECM8000 do a reasonable job.

It sounds like you want to be more selective with what you record, though. That could just be a case of positioning a pair of omnis appropriately - for example, if they're up away from the keyboard, they'll pick up less of the key, pedal and stool noises relative to everything else...but they'll still pick up some of them (ultimately, any mic is likely to a tiny bit, it's just a question of getting things to a level where they're not significant).

The more appropriate option is probably to look to a more directional mic to help you be more selective about what's picked up. If you really just want breathing noises, then you could try a pair of very directional mics pointed towards your head. Directivity-wise, shotgun mics would be a possibility, though they can exhibit odd colourations when used indoors (which probably isn't going to matter, or even be noticeable, in this application), otherwise something with a hypercardioid pattern is probably going to be an easily available and potentially sensible choice (though cardioids are more common, and you might find that their wider pickup pattern is more useful for other applications). I know less about what's available in the US, things like these from Thomann would probably do the trick - http://www.thomann.de/gb/the_tbone_em700_stereoset.htm (those are cardioids, so more directional than omnis, less directional than hypercardioids or shotguns).

I'm going to throw a wildcard into the mix, though - you could put a pair of boundary mics on the keyboard. My concern with those would be picking up mechanical noise from the keyboard, and that it'd actually put them in a position where they'd be close to your squeaky stool...but the advantages would be that they're quite cheaply available (in the UK, the ones Studiospares sell under their own brand are decent value - http://www.studiospares.com/mics-co....0 - not the world's greatest mics by any stretch, but very decent value), they're unobtrusive and they avoid colourations from whatever surface they're placed on (usually you'd have the direct sound then the reflections from the surface - place a boundary mic on that same surface and there are no longer any time-delayed reflections going back into the mic, because it's right on the surface). The other issue is that you have less flexibility with positioning versus mics on stands, but on the other hand, the advantage is that you don't have any stands to trip over!

I'd say generally, recording in stereo is likely to be more appropriate than using a single mic to record mono, simply because the added width will help sit it better into the mix with the stereo piano. I also think having the mics at a bit of a distance is the way forward, putting something right up to your mouth like with a singer would capture too up-front a sound which again wouldn't sit well in the mix.

It's worth looking round for a hire place, it doesn't usually cost a lot to hire some mics (in London, you can hire a pair of Neumann KM183s for about £20 a day - which, if you hire on a Friday, often gets you them for the whole weekend), so you can always try a few things before buying. That said, when you can buy half decent Chinese condenser mics for not much more than that, perhaps the try before you buy option starts to look less attractive (if you were saying you wanted to record an acoustic piano once every six months, I'd definitely say you're best off hiring something really good...for this application, getting hold of a couple cheap condensers to fool around with will probably do the trick).
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Olivier Offline




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Posted: Aug. 23 2014, 14:44

Thanks so much!

Last time I asked here for recommendation for guitars, I ended up playing the piano like never before. So let's see if that time I end up using the computer like crazy when asking acoustic questions. I'll keep you updated.
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Olivier Offline




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Posted: Oct. 10 2014, 18:06

I'm going to try boundary mics. Asked StudioSpares how much to ship to US, waiting for an answer. For twice the price, there are these mini A-T ones (the advantage is I could return them for cheaper than to UK): http://www.audio-technica.com/cms....mit.pdf
I love how this spec is half design spec ("shall be" as in "... Nominal open-circuit output voltage shall be 12.5 mV at 1V, 1 Pascal.  ..."), half customer documentation.

Note: bought a new stool, like a drummer's: http://rocnsoc.com/new/product-line/manual-spindles
Speaking of those, I read that drummers use a Shure boundary mic too: http://www.shure.com/america....rophone
The new stool won't make the keyboard plastic keys quieter though...
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Olivier Offline




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Posted: Oct. 18 2014, 22:28

First recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kia4nlnz2q8

Keyboard and stool noises being picked up more than expected but liking them more than expected.

I placed the Audio-Technica Pro-42 mics on the shutter at the level of my face.

One concern is that the makers of my mixer and recording interface take pride in: "We use phantom-powered, balanced  microphone inputs just like the big studio mega-consoles, for  exactly the same reason: This kind of circuit is excellent at rejecting hum and noise."
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Olivier Offline




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Posted: Oct. 27 2014, 13:14

2nd hybrid recording, some vintage Vangelis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_A_cCEHycLg

Not sure if I'll find this silly a few months for now, but so far I love it. (Except for the sound of the button at the end when I shut down the bass guitar patch for the final elec piano arpeggio - forgot I had to be gentle...)
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Ericmixes Offline




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Posted: Mar. 22 2018, 19:55

Actually this is exactly how most sound banks are created. They get in a small soundproof room (Close enough to being sound proof) and then they go in and do their thing. So you're on the right track :)
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