Week 1: Improve your Recording Skills

Join me for an exciting two-week intensive designed to enhance your recording skills, regardless of your starting point or the equipment you have at hand. Whether you're using a smartphone or a professional studio setup, this series will empower you with practical techniques and insider knowledge to achieve the best possible recordings.

What to Expect:

  • Hands-On Experiments: Each assignment includes interactive experiments that focus on different aspects of recording— from mic placement to lighting. Learn by doing, and discover how slight adjustments can make a big difference in your final result.
  • Expert Guidance: Led by Martin Zimny, the nerd behind all European tonebase productions, seasoned musician and audio-video professional, these sessions offer personalized tips and tricks tailored to the varied equipment setups of our participants.
  • Community Interaction: Share your experiences, receive feedback from peers and your instructor, and engage in a supportive community of fellow music enthusiasts and aspiring producers.

No special equipment is needed to get started; just bring your enthusiasm and whatever recording tools you have—your journey to better recording begins here!

Timeline:

  • Sign-Up : April 26th
  • Course Period: April 29th - May 10th
  • Optional check-In via Zoom: May 7th

 

Assignment Week 1

Understanding your room, understanding your Instrument, understanding the ambiance and reverberance!

Conduct these three experiment with your recording system:

  1. The Position of the Instrument within the Room
    Record yourself in three  different positions in the room, move the recording device with you and keep it stable relative to yourself
  2. The relative position of the Microphone
    Stay in one position in the room, but change the position relativ to your instrument. Keep the distance between the instrument and the microphone/smartphone the same. Choose three different mic positions.
  3. The Distance of the Microphone to the instrument
    Stay in one position in the room, keep the relative recording angle, but change the distance of the microphone three times.
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  • Hi Martin, really grateful for this course. I have a few questions beforehand. Besides, mic placement, distance and room, are we also going to talk about the technical aspects like editing and how to control and adjust inputs on an audio interface? I'd be really delighted if you cover these topics as well.

    Btw, after watching the previous recorded livestreams on recording and editing on TB, I bought an AT2020 MIC and an audio interface. I'm a bit confused about the controls on the audio interface ( mine is a knock-off of Scarlett called Audio Array). I have attached a pic. What is a hi-z knob? I'd experimented with it and the volume is louder than on the other input. Also, I want to know how to control the gain knobs.

    Like 1
    • Andre Bernier Yeah, I'd plumbed the depths of frustration and on the verge of giving up. It was like some kind divine revelation when I finally discovered the solution. 

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      • martinTeam
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      • martin.3
      • 1 mth ago
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      Nijwm Bwiswmuthiary Hi Nijwm, it looks like you've selected the wrong device in your audio setting, here is a video on how to set up an interface in Reaper! I first thought, your interface was a focusrite interface, but it looks like something different. The process is the same though in windows!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbAxNmS0zMo

      If your interface doesn't show up, you need to install the proper drivers for this particular interface! At the moment, you are using the internal microphone adapters and the internal speakers!

      Like
    • Thanks for the help Martin. My interface is a cheap knockoff of focusrite. From what I gather, the interface is a plug and play and they don't have a dedicated driver in their website (I wonder why). Ultimately, after driving myself crazy looking for solutions for two days, I might have stumbled upon one.

      Turns out, my laptop's noise cancellation feature was interfering with the signals and allowing only voice signals through. It was really strange that I could hear my daughter shouting in the background but not the guitar. Then, I disabled the noice cancellation feature and Reaper detected my interface. So, seems like problem solved, for now.

      Like
    • Carlo Martins
    • A scientist with a passion for the study of proteins
    • Carlo_Martins
    • 1 mth ago
    • Reported - view

    Hi everyone,

    At the moment, I use my smartphone for recording, but I am cautiously thinking about the next steps. Any advices for a first improvement? I am thinking that this first gear I will purchase can be further integrated into a better setup in the future, so I will not lose it. Thank you all!

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      • martinTeam
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      • martin.3
      • 1 mth ago
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      Carlo Martins Hm, tough question with so many options, also heavily depends on your budget. I usually recommend a Focusrite 2i2 for starters and a pair of Line Audio Om1 or CM3, it's a semi-professional audio setup only slightly above 200$ (without stands and cables).

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      • martinTeam
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      • martin.3
      • 1 mth ago
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      Carlo Martins If you want to go for more professional setups, you'd be probably looking into something like an RME Babyface, which can integrate into larger setups, but it's over 700$ for the interface alone, so I wouldn't recommend that for beginners. I am still using my focusrite 2i2 to this day, although I have huge orchestral recording rigs. It's super simple to use and packs very small, so it's a fun and portable solution!

      Like 1
      • Carlo Martins
      • A scientist with a passion for the study of proteins
      • Carlo_Martins
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      martin Many thanks! All the tips are very useful! 🥇

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  • Thanks for offering this short course.  I am looking forward to learning more about this set of skills and, hopefully, developing my own.  My guitar is a 640mm Joseph Redman spruce/pau ferro.  At present, I have a Zoom H4N audio recorder, a Sony HDRCX405 camcorder, and my trusty Galaxy S24 phone.  I have some experience using Audacity for mixing, and I've done a little work in adding separately-recorded audio tracks into a video, using Adobe Encore CS6 and more recently, iMovie.  

    Despite the fact that I have worked in tech for three decades, my abilities with home recording have always been poor, and the results frustratingly bad.   My office, where I have made a small handful of recordings, is small and not well suited to different placement of equipment or of me, so I'll try the first experiments from other rooms in our house.

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      • martinTeam
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      • martin.3
      • 1 mth ago
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      John Lasseter Hi John! The Zoom H4N is a fantastic device to start with!

      With so many options to spend money on, gear recommendations, and YouTube reviews, one can often be overwhelmed knowing where to start. This course is there to get the basics right first, and then move onward and upward from there!

      Like
  • Martin

    I actually record during practice session several times per week for my own learning. But I am looking forward to improving the quality of the few videos I want to share.

    I do most of my recording on my Lenovo laptop (windows 11) and a SHURE MV88+ microphone with an extended cable. I can put the microphone on photography tripod to change the position but I usually have it on the table with the laptop. I prefer this setup to using my smartphone because I don't have to move to start the recording. 

    I am looking forward to learning from these experiments.

    Martha Kreipke

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      • martin.3
      • 1 mth ago
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      Martha Kreipke I have a similar at home, where everything is already attached and ready to go for my live streams! It's definitely not ideal for a music recording, as the microphone is a bit too far away, but for the live streams it'S super convenient to have everything ready to go!

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  • Hello Martin,

    I’m going to try using an iPad Pro to start. I’ll take the experimental route as I have not recorded video and audio. I’ll start with the iPad video and audio internal microphone. Baby steps. Now on to lesson No.1.

    Thanks for offering the instruction .

     

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      • martinTeam
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      • martin.3
      • 1 mth ago
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      Michael Carlson Exactly, everybody needs to start somehow! I did my very first recording on an old MacBook with Garageband and the internal mic! I build so many feedback loops that my ears still ring, haha!

      Like
    • Michael Carlson 

      Hello Martin,

      Haha, I hope your ears have recovered. Ok, how do I send you the videos? This is all new to me. Could you instruct me on the best way to do this? Thanks 

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      Michael Carlson Hi Michael! You can upload as an unlisted video to YouTube or Google Drive and share the link here!

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    • Carlo Martins
    • A scientist with a passion for the study of proteins
    • Carlo_Martins
    • 1 mth ago
    • Reported - view

    So, let's try to kick off with some experiments, shall we?

    I am recording the first part of Lagrima with an iphone 14 plus, in a small room, using a Yamaha CG192S with old D'Addario strings. I think this piece is interesting because we can change to ponticello for the repeat of the crescendo, then hit the high notes, and finish with the low E. Some squeaks can be heard from sliding the LH fingers, as well as nail clicking.

     

    1) giving my back to the phone, about 70 cm from the phone

    2) still close to the phone, but now facing it

    3) far from the phone (about 3 meters). I think this was the best position

    Then, I kept myself in the corner and started changing the position of the phone:

    4) targeting the arm from the front

    5) closer to the bridge

    6) turning my back to the phone

    7) closer to the bridge at a lower position (I did not find a good position for this one)

    8) closer to the bridge at a higher position (... or for this one...)

    I could not change the distance from the mic, because the room is small 😅

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      • martinTeam
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      Carlo Martins BRILLIANT! Thank you so much for taking the time to run through these experiments, I think it's a great inspiration for all participants here!

      I agree, video #3 has a beautiful natural balance, the somewhat greater distance removes some of the harshest string noises and breathing sounds! I also like the "Corner close bridge front", it as a beautiful warmth due to the stronger bass frequencies in the corner (how did you feel playing there??) and a nice directivity and intimacy of sound!

      Like 2
      • Carlo Martins
      • A scientist with a passion for the study of proteins
      • Carlo_Martins
      • 1 mth ago
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      martin Thank you for the comments and for leading us through this experiment. Yes, indeed, playing in the corner felt good. I wish I could use more than one mic and balance the sounds in that position.

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      • martinTeam
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      Carlo Martins one step at a time! :)

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      • Carlo Martins
      • A scientist with a passion for the study of proteins
      • Carlo_Martins
      • 1 mth ago
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      martin 😆

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      • Jack Stewart
      • Retired
      • Jack_Stewart
      • 1 mth ago
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      Carlo Martins This was very interesting, Carlo. The differences were all very (or mostly) noticeable though I wasn't always sure which difference I preferred. Ultimately I agree that the 3rd video was probably the best aurally, though visually my favorite was #4.🙂

      Like 1
    • Ravi
    • Ravi.1
    • 1 mth ago
    • Reported - view

    Hello Martin,

    Thanks for doing this course. I have  stereo pair mics with a focusrite scarlet 4i4.  I was hoping to get a few answers during this course regarding mic placement and distance between stereo mics in an A‐B setting.

    And  also, how to minimize recording one's breathing while playing.

    Thanks for all the help and valuable information.

    Kind regards, Ravi 

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      • 1 mth ago
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      Ravi Hi Ravi and welcome! Beautiful, you will be able to create beautiful recordings with this kind of setup! What kind of microphones do you have??
      A typical stereo setup with two cardioid microphones would be an ORTF setting. However, this was intended for larger groups in a space that doesn't have the nicest acoustics.

      The  A-B setting you have mentioned is usually done with omnidirectional microphones and has a beautiful airiness to the sound while having a true bass reproduction.

      Here are two articles of iconic guitar recording engineers who work with A-B configurations:

      https://classicalguitarmagazine.com/recording-classical-guitar-sage-advice-from-engineers-john-taylor-norbert-kraft-and-ricardo-marui/

      https://classicalguitarmagazine.com/recording/

      I gained a lot of insights through reading them!

      Like 1
      • Ravi
      • Ravi.1
      • 1 mth ago
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      martin Thank you for the articles. I have the Schoeps CMC 6 pair microphones with omni capsules. I'm a beginner at recording but would like to get better at it.

      I was mostly experimenting with the height and width of the position of the microphones.  I find the sound better a bit higher (115cm high and 60cm apart), however it seems to record a bit more of my breathing while playing. Is a farther position from the mics a solution and I'm still learning about the phase and how to deal with that. Thanks

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      • martinTeam
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      • martin.3
      • 1 mth ago
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      Ravi Wow, these are FANTASTIC microphones, I have recorded with them a lot over the course of my engineering studies. There is no real trick to get rid of breathing sounds when recording from a closer distance, which is why classical recordings are usually done in a nice acoustic space (like a concert hall or a chapel) and then mixed together with a few spot mics (to get the presence) and the main pair, which will make up around 80% of the sound quality. Since these are usually between 2-6m away -depending on the room, the instrument, and the ensemble size - breathing and other noises usually aren't a problem anymore.

      However, when being further away, you loose a lot of the details and the intimacies of a close mic. which is why we add spot mics. And this is also why a good recording is always creating which is never truly possible to listen to in a concert!

      Like
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