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#968118 - 10/17/01 02:57 AM New Fish...
Telly_dup1 Offline
Member

Registered: 10/16/01
Posts: 5
Loc: West Point,NY,UNITED STATES
I'm one of the new guys on the board,

And one of the new guys learning about the sound recording scene. I'm a senior at West Point and I had planned on going to recording school, but I think that I'd rather use my own money to buy my equipment (based on advice taken from different sources) and take the "ask, practice, and learn" route for a while. I read about studio time and the importance of it, which is almost common sense (train as you fight), so I'm hoping that I can observe producers/engineers doing their things and learning from them (any suggestions on where to go?). I don't particularly desire to be a coffee bitch (I'll keep my current job in the Army for now), I just want to learn and come up with innovative music, which is why I try and steer clear from anything but the basics. Questions I have are: what are the necessary tools needed to create songs (particularly in relation to dance/techno music)? Are there good sites to check out in order to learn the basics of music production? Do recorders usually get their sounds from "nature," and if so, what importance do different microphones play in capturing sound with the highest quality? What are the set-ups of microphones in order to get sound? Thanks, and good luck to all of the hardworkers out there. The competition is fierce and will probably get even more fierce.

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#968119 - 10/17/01 10:45 PM Re: New Fish...
Danny M Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 05/17/01
Posts: 896
Loc: Salt Lake City, UT
Quote:
(any suggestions on where to go?)


Find someone in your area who has time to show you the ropes. A knowledgeable hobbyist might be a good choice, as they are likely to have a few hours a night that they don't desperately need for business.

Quote:
Questions I have are: what are the necessary tools needed to create songs (particularly in relation to dance/techno music)?


I would venture that you could get good results (to start) with a computer based sequencer, a drum machine that you like, and a sound module that tickles your fancy.

If you want to be even more basic, you could just get Acid or Fruity Loops and see how far you can take them.

Quote:
Do recorders usually get their sounds from "nature,"


That depends entirely on the style of music you are trying to record... although I would venture that the majority of the folks on this board are doing music that requires at least some sound from "nature."

Quote:
what importance do different microphones play in capturing sound with the highest quality?


Hoooooo boy. That's a can of worms. Different microphones have a massive effect on the sounds that they are used to record. It's a pretty major subject to get into, so specific questions will help in getting you good answers.

Quote:
What are the set-ups of microphones in order to get sound?


Everyone has their own tricks and tactics, from a single microphone up to a 6+ microphone surround sound array. Again, specific questions help. (If you DO want to sit through a knowledge unload, you are welcome to ask for that too.)

Welcome to the board!

-Danny


------------------
Less is not more. More is more.
_________________________
Grace, Peace, V, and Hz,

Danny

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#968120 - 10/17/01 10:53 PM Re: New Fish...
Telly_dup1 Offline
Member

Registered: 10/16/01
Posts: 5
Loc: West Point,NY,UNITED STATES
Thanks D-man,

Unload on me about the microphone deal. Also, I already have an SP808. Right now, what I'm thinking, is simply adding a beat machine to that workstation, then changing the sound with the "multitude" of effects it offers (I've always wondered if there are more effects out there than what this machine has...).

Also, one more question. When I time stretch or tempo my sounds on the SP808, the reproduced sound is not like the original. It comes out wavy. The time stretch is not like lowering the bpm's (which allows me to keep the same sound). Is this a problem with all machines out today?

T

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#968121 - 10/17/01 11:49 PM Re: New Fish...
Danny M Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 05/17/01
Posts: 896
Loc: Salt Lake City, UT
Okay, microphones.

Part 1, Principles Of Operation

They come in several varieties, but the most basic families are dynamic and condenser. Dynamic mics work on the principle of induction and condensers work on the principles of electrostatics.

Dynamic mics split into two sub-families, moving coil and ribbon. In a moving coil microphone's capsule, the diaphragm of the mic is attached to wound wires that are suspended in a magnetic field. When sound pressure waves hit the diaphragm, the coil moves through the magnetic field and generates an AC signal. In a ribbon mic, a thin coil of wire is contained within the diaphragm itself. The diaphragm is suspended within a magnetic field, and any movement of the diaphragm naturally causes the wire coil to move through the magnetic field.

Condenser mics may be FET condensers, or tube condensers, or electret condensers. A condenser mic's capsule consists of a diaphragm and a backplate, with a bit of space between them. These components do nothing unless they receive an electric charge, usually called "phantom power." Phantom power is +48V DC delivered down both conductors of a mic line. When the diaphragm and backplate are charged, they become the plates of a capacitor, with the air between them as the dielectric. (Condenser is an old term for capacitor.) When sound pressure waves hit the capsule, the distance between the plates varies, causing the capacitance of the capsule to vary. This forces the diaphragm and the backplate to release or gain electrons, and thus an AC signal is created. This AC signal is, as compared to the signal from a dynamic mic, quite weak, and so the mic must include an impedance changing amplifier (the FET) to get the signal up to a usable level. This impedance changing amplifier is also powered by the phantom power on the mic line. A tube condenser uses a vacuum tube for its impedance changing amplifier, which requires more voltage than phantom power can provide. For this reason, tube mics use special power supplies designed specifically for the mic they supply electricity to. An electret condenser uses a capsule that has been permanently charged at the factory (and thus, the capsule does not need an external power source), but the impedance changing amplifier does need to be powered, so phantom power is required anyway.

NOTE: Never, ever, ever apply phantom power to a ribbon mic. The ribbon will be destroyed instantly. Moving coil dynamics are unaffected by phantom power, unless only one conductor is connected to the power source, at which point the mic will be destroyed. In general, turn off the phantom power when not using it.

So ends part 1.

-Danny

------------------
Less is not more. More is more.

This message has been edited by Danny M on 10-17-2001 at 08:55 PM
_________________________
Grace, Peace, V, and Hz,

Danny

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#968122 - 10/17/01 11:55 PM Re: New Fish...
Telly_dup1 Offline
Member

Registered: 10/16/01
Posts: 5
Loc: West Point,NY,UNITED STATES
OK,

Sound wise, how are the two? How responsive are they to sounds and how do they come out (quality)?

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#968123 - 10/18/01 12:17 AM Re: New Fish...
Danny M Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 05/17/01
Posts: 896
Loc: Salt Lake City, UT
Part 2, General Comparisons

Because of their design that requires the diaphragm to move a coil of wire (a physical object with measurable mass) to produce a signal, a moving coil dynamic mic tends to have less sensitivity to transients (short, high level peaks, like drum hits) than a condenser mic. Moving coil dynamics also don't reproduce the high frequencies of a sound as well as a condenser mic does, generally speaking. However, because of their more rugged design, a moving coil dynamic can be made to withstand sound pressure level (SPL) that is extremely high. (Like drums and screaming vocalists.) On the other hand, a ribbon mic has slightly better transient response, GENERALLY comparable frequency range, and is very, very delicate. Blowing on or dropping a ribbon mic is almost sure to destroy it, whereas a moving coil dynamic is usually a fairly hardy animal. (SM57's are nearly indestructible. They survive years of use in high school theaters. ) A moving coil dynamic will distort before it is destroyed by high SPL, whereas a ribbon mic will not. (It just dies. Don't exceed the SPL spec on a ribbon mic for any reason.)

Condenser mic's capsules can be made very delicately, since they don't have to move a relatively bulky coil of wire to produce a signal. They tend to display the best frequency range and transient response. They are, however, fairly delicate creatures. A delicate capsule is easy to hurt, whether by wind blasts, impact (especially tube mics, as the tube may burst regardless of the capsule hanging together), SPL that is too high, or dunking in hot chocolate. (Just seeing if your paying attention.) A condenser is a bit more forgiving than most ribbon mics, however.

So ends Part 2.

-Danny

------------------
Less is not more. More is more.
_________________________
Grace, Peace, V, and Hz,

Danny

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#968124 - 10/18/01 01:28 AM Re: New Fish...
Danny M Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 05/17/01
Posts: 896
Loc: Salt Lake City, UT
Part 3, Polar Patterns

A polar pattern is the shape of the area that a microphone "hears" in.

An omnidirectional mic picks up sound in a sphere around itself. (All directions.) The sound's characteristics don't change much as it moves nearer or farther from the mic, or around it. (Unlike a directional, AKA pressure gradient microphone) Most capsules (with the exception of ribbon mics) are inherently omnidirectional. Directional responses are created by having either rear phase delay ports (an acoustical labyrinth designed to decrease a mic's response to sounds from the back), or by using two capsules operating together that can have their polarities changed.

A bidirectional or figure eight microphone picks up sounds well from its front and back, but senses very little on either side. Ribbon mics are inherently bidirectional. (Imagine a piece of cloth suspended at both ends from vertical poles.)

A cardioid mic picks up sound predominantly from the front, somewhat less at the sides, and very little from the back. As a sound gets closer to the mic, the mic's response to the low frequencies increases. As a sound moves around the mic, the frequency response will change.

supercardioid, hypercardioid, and shotgun mics are more and more extreme cardioid designs. They grow progressively more and more focused in front, with high rejection at the sides and a small "tail" at the rear.

So ends Part 3.

-Danny

------------------
Less is not more. More is more.
_________________________
Grace, Peace, V, and Hz,

Danny

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#968125 - 10/18/01 03:34 PM Re: New Fish...
RobT Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 02/01/01
Posts: 1720
Loc: Charlotte,NC,UNITED STATES
I am a lurker in this particular forum (I usually hang out in the Bass Station). I gotta say... don't stop. This is gettin' good. More, more more.
_________________________
RobT

Famous Musical Quotes: "I would rather play Chiquita Banana and have my swimming pool than play Bach and starve" - Xavier Cugat

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#968126 - 10/18/01 07:48 PM Re: New Fish...
Danny M Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 05/17/01
Posts: 896
Loc: Salt Lake City, UT
Telly, if you're still listening I thought I'd hit this one before I hit microphone techniques:

Quote:
Also, one more question. When I time stretch or tempo my sounds on the SP808, the reproduced sound is not like the original. It comes out wavy. The time stretch is not like lowering the bpm's (which allows me to keep the same sound). Is this a problem with all machines out today?


If I'm thinking of this the right way... When you lower the BPM of the sequencer's playback, you are decreasing the rate at which events occur. However, each event's duration is unchanged. When you use a time stretch function, you are attempting to change the actual duration of the event.

To achieve this, the processor has to create new audio information by doing things like copying, pasting, and crossfading samples and wavecycles. It is, of course, imperfect. Humans can imagine what a sound should be like when slowed down, but the computer has only some mathematical rules to go on. Some algorithms are better than others, and non-realtime processing is usually needed for the very best results. However, even the best processors start to output wobbly audio if asked to stretch sounds very far.

A somewhat better choice is time compression. In this case, the processor removes some wave cycles/ samples/ etc. to get the desired effect. It's measurably easier to yank chunks out of a waveform than it is to create new pieces, especially if you want what's left over to sound as good as possible.

-Danny

------------------
Less is not more. More is more.
_________________________
Grace, Peace, V, and Hz,

Danny

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#968127 - 10/18/01 10:03 PM Re: New Fish...
Danny M Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 05/17/01
Posts: 896
Loc: Salt Lake City, UT
Part 4, Placement Techniques

There are as many mic placement techniques as there are engineers (just ask for a micing technique on one of the forums and see what happens.) However, there are some general guidelines:

If it sounds good, it is good.

When using multiple mics, be alert for phase problems. (Phase is a difference in arrival times between two soundwaves.) Phase problems can manifest themselves by a robbing a sound of its low end, causing it to sound like it's in a tunnel, and other similar badness.

If you don't know where the sound comes out of an instrument, do some research and find out. (For instance, a flute's sound comes mostly from around the mouthpiece, not out the end.)

Close micing is good for really isolating an instrument, or a part thereof. Close micing does suffer a bit from one of its attractions, and that is its ability to focus on a relatively small area. Most instruments emit different frequency ranges from different locations, and so you have to pick your close micing spot carefully. (You can, of course, use multiple close mics. This can cause phase problems, so be alert.)

Distant micing picks up a wider area, but is also much more prone to bleed from other instruments in a room, and suffers more from picking up room reflections and natural ambience. This isn't always a bad thing, but it is a consideration, especially when one considers that room reflections can cause phase problems. However, if it sounds good, it is good.

When using spaced mics, remember the 3:1 rule. If the mics are going to be one unit of distance away from their respective sources, then they should be at least 3 units of distance away from one another to maintain good isolation and phase relationships.

Some specific techniques:

Single micing works just as its name implies. One microphone is used to pick up a sound source or sources. This is particularly useful when you have few mics, few channels, few tracks, or want something to sit at one exact point in a stereo soundstage. In general, it's just a simple way to record. Pick the best mic for the job, stick it in the right place, and go.

The Spaced Pair is two mics (WELL DUH!) with some distance (whatever you want) between them. (Really. You'd never guess from the name, would you?) It is a stereo technique that relies on time and amplitude differences between the mics to create the stereo image. It can give a very wide soundstage, but it can suffer from phase problems. The 3:1 rule applies to this technique in a big way. Cardioid mics give good results.

XY (AKA Coincident Pair) is a stereo technique that involves getting the capsules of two mics as close to one another as possible without the mics being in contact. The capsules may be placed with one above the other if desired. The capsules should be aimed about 90 degrees from one another. Phase issues are generally negligible with this technique as the capsules are so close, but it relies only on amplitude cues to create a stereo soundstage. Cardioid mics are also a good choice for this technique.

Blumlein XY is almost the same setup as a standard XY, although it requires figure eight mics. The mics are placed with one capsule above the other, so that both mics' pickup patterns are as unobstructed as possible. This method can "hear" all around itself, not just to the front. This can be both good and evil.

ORTF, if I have my facts straight, was created by the Office of Radio and Television for France. (ORTF). It combines the ideas of XY and Spaced Pair, as the mics are angled away from each other 110 degrees, and the capsules are spaced 17 centimeters. A barrier of some kind between the mics can be used if desired. Strictly speaking, different angles and spacings are not ORTF. Cardioid mics should be used. ORTF is designed to mimic the way humans hear, as our ears are angled out with some space (that thing which holds your brain) between them. ORTF can, of course, run into phase problems in certain situations.

MS (Mid Side) is another stereo technique that has some special considerations. It requires a figure eight mic and a cardioid mic to start. The cardioid is placed so that it is pointing towards the sound source, and the figure eight mic is placed behind it, pointing sideways. The output of the figure eight mic is split to two channels, and one channel or the other needs to be polarity swapped. Some manufacturers and engineers refer to polarity swapping as phase swapping, so be warned. (Technically speaking, you cannot swap/ invert phase. However, a pure sine wave 180 degrees out of phase looks like it has been polarity swapped if compared to an unshifted sine wave. NOW YOU KNOW.) The cardioid is left panned to the center, and the two channels from the figure eight mic are panned left and right. You can also check how the setup sounds, and then record to only two channels. You'll just have to remember to do the splitting, swapping, and panning on mixdown. You can also use an MS decoder. MS does not work if summed to mono, is hard to set up, and easy to mess up. However, some people absolutely swear by it.

So ends Part 4.

-Danny

------------------
Less is not more. More is more.

This message has been edited by Danny M on 10-18-2001 at 07:05 PM
_________________________
Grace, Peace, V, and Hz,

Danny

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#968128 - 10/18/01 10:24 PM Re: New Fish...
Danny M Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 05/17/01
Posts: 896
Loc: Salt Lake City, UT
Thanks RobT. I aims to please.

-Danny

------------------
Less is not more. More is more.
_________________________
Grace, Peace, V, and Hz,

Danny

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#968129 - 10/19/01 05:50 AM Re: New Fish...
gense Offline
Member

Registered: 10/19/01
Posts: 1
Loc: ,,AUSTRALIA
Thanks for all the info ppl...
This is really helpful to be able to get useful info like this easily...

I am just starting my career in music and I am eager to learn as much as i can so yeah, cool.

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#968130 - 10/27/01 11:20 AM Re: New Fish...
artnoiser Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/02/00
Posts: 333
Loc: Asuncion, PARAGUAY
Hi everyone,

I thought since so many people come to these forums to gain information (including me), and since a lot of explanations take a considerably long time to post and a lot of these people work long hours, here is a website that sells a TON of books about just about every area in music.

http://www.musicbooksplus.com/

I have seen some people get frustrated by not having their questions answered (or not answered enough)...this might be one way to still find answers.

Sometimes reading a complete article, chapter or book about a subject will bring up questions which you have never thought about...when reading something, my questions have suddenly become more specific, because I already had a base of information about the subject, just had to know how to apply it...

I don't work for that webstore. It's pretty complete though...or so I think.

Juergen

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