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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  • I have recorded the first nine measure of ARIOSO by Muriel Anderson. She recorded this as a duet in 1992 on her Arioso from Paris CD and published it as a solo in 2003 as part of her Parisian Suite.

    I need to continue to experiment for best placement of both me and the microphone.  Using the photography tripod rather than the table top tripod for the microphone gives me a lot more options. At this point I am more interested in the methodology than making a final decision.

    I recorded using the native camera app as part of Windows 11 on my Lenovo laptop. I am using a SHURE MV88+ microphone with default settings. I made a separate recording for each of the three options for the exercises, and then edited them together for a single video per exercise using the free version of SHOTCUT.

    I had to use the links on my google drive because YOUTUBE got stuck for hours processing the first video.

    Exercise 1 - Sitting in the corner; Sitting with back to wall; Sitting facing wall

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NzA-EdYBIVV12YK9zUhCBV1S-1wnA1-n/view?usp=sharing

    Exercise 2 - Microphone is on a photography tripod. Microphone is first in front to the left, then in front to the right, and then behind me.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AsTNHxdl-tx7yfI3kGAFeSN8EziAXinP/view?usp=sharing

    Exercise 3 - My back is to the wall. Microphone is at music stand, then 24 inches away from music stand, and then 55 inches away from music stand.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1DVXaaHdxgPWyQ8ZwvgLwknBDcUPuNotL/view?usp=sharing

     

    Martha Kreipke

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    • Martha Kreipke Exercise 1: good sound in all three cases. I'm drawn to the second, then the third setup: Both give an airier sound than the first setup.

      Exercise 2: I like the Front-Right option.

      Exercise 3: The closest position has a lot of presence. The renditions at greater distances come across as a little thin. Maybe you need more gain to compensate for the increased distance. You do get a natural sound that picks up some room reverb of course.

      I enjoyed the piece. Good work.

      Like
    • Neil Macmillan  Thank you for taking the time to listen and to comment. And I am enjoying learning this piece.

      I have normally recorded with my back to the wall (the one withe the piano) and the microphone on the table with the laptop. I will continue to experiment  with the microphone on the tall tripod pointing towards the bridge of the guitar (exercise 2, front-right option, not too far away from guitar) to see if it is better facing the wall or having the wall behind me. 

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    • Martha Kreipke  Nice exercise  Martha and a lot of work making all these recordings. It is hard to say what would be the best position as they all sounded very good. I liked the position facing the piano wall but I also liked the medium distance of the microphone which seems to provide more depth to the music. Good work and keep experimenting until you find the sound you will be happy with. 

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      • martinTeam
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      • martin.3
      • 1 mth ago
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      Martha Kreipke Great job!
      Exercise 1:
      I can't really make out a difference in the first exercise, that happens when room is very uniform (a lot of material that absorbs acoustics, like a big couch). That being said, I think I like the 2nd position best!

      Exercise 2:
      Front is of course much better, but it's interesting to hear from the back!

      Exercise 3:

      Echoing what Neil Macmillan says, the closes position seems to give the most natural feeling!

      Like
    • martin 

      Martin -

      Thank you for your comments and for offering this TWI.

      I have a better understanding of the relationship of the position of the microphone (horizontal and vertical distance from the bridge of the guitar) as it impacts the sound of the recording as well as some options for adjusting the recording. I now plan to add sound testing to my process before recording as it could change with which guitar I use, what strings are on the guitar at the time, and the actual piece I am recording. And even though I might continue to use my one MC88+ microphone, sometimes I record into Audacity, sometimes into the camera app that is part of Windows 11, and sometimes with my iphone using the software that comes with the microphone. Lot of variables to consider. I have learned to listen for the actual sound as well as musical elements (which has been my primary focus when I have recorded). 

      This is a lot of to have learned in a single TWI. Your explanations have been very clear to me and I especially thank you for that.

      Martha 

      Like
  • Hi everyone. It's been great to hear and see everyone's post. Some great content here for sure. I'm a little delayed in posting but here we go. I have a lot of tech that I work with. I'm actually a professional jazz guitar player but I have never formally studied classical guitar until the last 10 months. Most of my videos that I have done in the past have been going direct with an amp simulator and other things. But in the spirit of this exercise I decided to present one of the studies that I have been working with in my classical studies. I'm recording with my iPhone 15 using the Filmic app and the Shure MV88. Also I live in midtown manhattan so there may be some bleed of horns and sirens. But hopefully it won't be too bad. Cheers!

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    • Tom Dempsey Tom - With my recordings I decided that having the microphone off to the right worked best in my experimentation at this time. I think I hear that same result with your videos.  I think the sound in Room 3 was very warm but it might not be your favorite location to record.

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    • Tom Dempsey  Again, tough call as all recordings are good; however my preference would be:

       Room 2

      45 degree right

      Medium distance.

      Thanks for sharing

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    • Tom Dempsey hi Tom, I think the Room 1 has more natural reverb than room 2 and room 3. And the 45 degrees Right seems to be more sweet and has more balance than the other cases.

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      • martinTeam
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      • martin.3
      • 1 mth ago
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      Tom Dempsey Hi Tom, great to have you here! I prefer the recording room, I feel like it has a nice warmth and doesn't promote any of the harsher frequences that emphasize nail and string sounds!

      Mic Center is a bit muddy for me, I feel like that Mic 45 Degrees Right is more natural. However, the stereo image is a bit shifted to the left, I would experiment trying to really nail down the instrument in the middle! You can also do this in post production, should be possible in the filmic app to shift the audio source a bit to the right! As expected, 45 degrees is a bit thin as it's lacking most of the resonant frequences of the guitar body! 

      Long distance is softening a lot of the extra noises, but one can hear the size of the room, similar with the medium distance! If I would want to brush up the recording in post production (for example in Reaper), it's usually easier to record from a close distance.

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    • Derek
    • Derek
    • 1 mth ago
    • Reported - view

    Hi All

     

    Managed to find some time to do part of this project. I have attached 3 audio files using different mic positions. 1 close to the fingerboard, 1 about 1m away and 1 pointing to the bridge from about 30cm.

     

    Recorded direct to PC via a Behringer T1953 tube preamp into a Universal Audio Volt interface. I haven't done any processing on them. The Behringer has a High Pass Filter set at approx 80hz.

     

    My 'recording studio' is a small room built onto the back of my garage. It contains quite a bit of unwanted stuff which has nowhere else to go so that may interfere with the sound. I'll try to do some videos this afternoon trying different room positions. I'll use a different room as this room is probably too small for the different positions to make any difference!

    • Derek  Good work Derek. My preference would go with the Mic close to the fingerboard. 

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      • martinTeam
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      • martin.3
      • 1 mth ago
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      Derek Great clarity on these recordings! I like close to the bridge a lot, but that being said ... I ALWAYS like the sounds close to the bridge, it's kind of my recording philosophy, haha!

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    • Nicholas
    • Nick.3
    • 1 mth ago
    • Reported - view

    Hi everyone, 
    Here are my results, compiled also into a soundcloud playlist. 
    I used an entry level ribbon mic (SE electronics X1R) and a behringer sound interface (I was planning to use a condenser mic as well for the higher frequencies and some 'air',  but it was not availaible)
    I checked the required parameters (distance of mic, relative to guitar  position of mic at fixed distance, position of guitar in room). 

    I also added a couple of 'processed' recordings : compression and reverb added
    Some conclusions:
    - for my set-up, i prefer medium distance. 
    - long mic distance sounds nice with effects

    - playing is affected by distance of mic (for various reasons, mostly psychological) and by the acoustics of the various positioning in the room
    - adding effects post recording sounds much differently in the various recording set-ups
    - i need better room and equipment :p 
     

    Here's the link 

    https://soundcloud.com/nicholas-k-114485996/sets/tonebase-recording-guitar?si=659dcf83ae8149ac8f5163dc6530339d&utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing

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      • martinTeam
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      • martin.3
      • 1 mth ago
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      Nicholas Uuuuh, Ribbon mics are always so unique, it immediately sounds like the old Segovia recordings we love so much! !! That being said, "Room Center" is definitely over-accentuating some of the bass frequencies. I'm not sure whether I prefer Pos B or Pos C, to be honest.

      And yeah, a ribbon mic from a close distance does some magic stuff.  I never got a ribbon mic as the sound is SO unique, but yeah .... I should, haha!

      Like
  • Inspiring and insightful to follow your submissions and comments. Today I did my tests, but I find it difficult to distinguish. My room is small, under the roof, like a tent ⛺️ (foto)

    Test 1 is position in the room

    A) corner, B) back against the wall watching the length of the room, and C) centre direction width (my normal position.

    Test 2 - placement of the mics (2 C 4)

    A) Left towards guitar head, B) centre pointed at sound hole, and C) Right pointed at bridge (my normal)

    Test 3 - distance

    A) 60 cm (my normal), B) 120 cm , and C) 160 (for these I changed the gain a little.

    in test 3 I can hear the difference, but overall the sound feels somehow the same and quite soft.

    • joosje I agree with you Joosje. They all sound good. 👍

       can't really say which position is better.

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    • joosje I tried to edit the post, but, unfortunately, no way to delete the double of test 1

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      • martinTeam
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      • martin.3
      • 1 mth ago
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      joosje Hi Joosje, yeah, the location is hard to distinguish!
      Location: I think I like the 2nd position most, but all recordings sound very intimate!
      Position: Can't decide between position 1 and 3! With position 2 I find that the bass frequences are a bit boomy!
      Distance: I think either 1 or 2 is very nice! With 3, we are loosing a bit of body!

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    • Derek
    • Derek
    • 1 mth ago
    • Reported - view

    Hi Martin, Hi everyone. Following the three tests with mic placement that I posted earlier I have attached 3 videos of recordings at different room positions. The first one against the end wall of the room, the second in the corner and the third in the middle of the room. Fortunately we redecorated our bedroom a few months ago and we haven't got round to buying new wardrobes yet so it is fairly empty - just a bed in there so there is quite a bit of space for this experiment

     

    They are recorded onto my Samsung smart phone. I have used an externsl mic (Audio Technica AT3035) into a Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC 100 pre amp and from there into the TRSS socket on the phone. I'm also assuming that it actually used this mic instead of the internal one as there was no indication that it was using it. If it didn't then it probably doesn't make any difference as far as this experiment is concerned anyway.

     

    For those interested, in the previous post I forgot to mention what mics I used. It was a matched pair of Rode M5s in X-Y configuration.

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    • Derek  The recording in the middle of the room seems to sound better to my ears. Thanks for sharing

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      • martin.3
      • 1 mth ago
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      Derek Andre Bernier I think so, too!! 

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    • Jim King
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    • Jim_king
    • 1 mth ago
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    Here are my results of conducting the experiments in Assignment #1.  I also added a couple of extra experiments.  As for equipment, I used a Shure MV88+ Stereo USB Microphone plugged into an iPhone 15.  Once the videos were completed, I used DaVinci Resolve to trim the beginning and ending of each video and to convert the files to .mp4 format.  No other modifications were made to the videos.

     

    Normal Setup

    The following videos were created:
    Video 1: https://youtu.be/eiag_NNVJN8

    Video 2: https://youtu.be/dhEChEPw6zs

    Video 1 – Mic is set on my left 30 degrees, 2 feet from guitar, same height as guitar, mic aimed at 12th fret.
    Video 2 – Mic is set on my right 30 degrees, 2 feet from guitar, same height as guitar, mic aimed at the bridge.

    In the past, when I made a video, I would set up my microphone as described in Video 1.  When I compare the result with Video 2, I find the result to be similar, however, Video 2 has a slightly mellower sound.

     

    Mic Distance

    The following videos were created:
    Video 3: https://youtu.be/PBMdWtySsHQ
    Video 4: https://youtu.be/bC4ginBy42I
    Video 5: https://youtu.be/tRK5GN_Pobc

    Video 3 – Mic is set up on my right 30 degrees, 3 feet from the guitar, raised so that the mic angled down 20 degrees and aimed at the bridge.
    Video 4 – Mic is set up on my right 30 degrees, 6 feet from the guitar, raised so that the mic angled down 20 degrees and aimed at the bridge.
    Video 5 – Mic is set up on my right 30 degrees, 10 inches from the guitar, raised so that the mic angled down 20 degrees and aimed at the bridge.

    In my opinion, Video 4, where the mic is far away, the volume of the bass is comparatively low compared to the treble strings.  In Video 5, where the mic is close, the volume of the bass is loud compared to the treble strings.  In Video 3, the volume of the bass and treble strings is more in balance.  

    It would appear that distance affects the balance between bass and treble and that 3 feet (~1 metre) is a good distance for recording.

     

    Mic Placement

    The following videos were created:
    Video 6: https://youtu.be/_PNWI0mHryw
    Video 7: https://youtu.be/7OHzr50uWSM
    Video 8: https://youtu.be/ffnQBwd8z_c
    Video 9: https://youtu.be/HND7pMdI7E0

    Video 6 – Mic is directly in front of guitar at a distance of 3 feet, raised for a decline of 20 degrees, aimed at the sound hole.
    Video 7 – Mic is to my right at a 30-degree angle at a distance of 3 feet, raised for a decline of 20 degrees, aimed at the bridge.
    Video 8 – Mic is directly behind the chair and aimed at the chair.
    Video 9 – Mic is behind the chair but raised about the chair.

    In my opinion, Video 7, where the mic is to the right, the sound is fuller than the sound in Video 6, where the mic is directly in front.  Where the mic is behind the chair, Video 9, where the mic is raised above the chair the sound has more bass compared to the Video 8, where the mic is directed toward the chair.  Also, the sound in both Videos 8 and 9 sound distant compared to Video 7.

    It would appear that the mic placement so that 30-degrees to the right aimed at the bridge is the best mic location for the best sound.

     

    Room Location

    The following videos were created:
    Video 10: https://youtu.be/DEi_TXQV8_4
    Video 11: https://youtu.be/OthOanPTbcU
    Video 12: https://youtu.be/_ToO9Q8zzWY

    Video 10 – I was located as close as possible to the center of the room.  Mic was on my left at a 30-degree angle, at a distance of 3 feet, raised with an angle of 20 degrees aimed at the 12th fret.
    Video 11 – I was located in a corner of the room facing center.  Mic was on my left at a 30-degree angle, at a distance of 3 feet, raised with an angle of 20 degrees aimed at the 12th fret.
    Video 12 – I was located beside a wall.  Mic was on my left a bit off-center, at a distance of 3 feet, raised with an angle of 20 degrees aimed at the 12th fret.

    This experiment was the hardest to do as there are limited spots within the room that I could set up playing and the recording equipment.  Video 10 approximates my normal set up for recording videos.  Video 11, which was done from the corner of the room, provided a fuller sound from the guitar.  Video 12, beside the wall, also provided a fuller sound but not as much as Video 11.

    My conclusion here is that the corner, and to a lesser extent beside the wall, provides a better sound than my normal position (Video 10) but the improvement in sound does not offset the additional effort needed to setup.

     

    My overall conclusion is to use the set up where the mic is about 3 feet from the guitar, on a 30-degree angle on my right hand side and raised causing a 20 degree angle.  I believe that this is the spot that Martin spoke of in the video for this assignment.

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    • Jim King  Well Jim, great experimentation and I fully agree with all your comments. 👍

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