Thursday, March 3

Hobbyist's Warm-up, Microphone Tips #2 and IMS #5


Scary stuff first!

I wanted to put a floor-plan of the house comparing where I stand and where I put the microphone for different recording sounds, but last night (after my IMS treatment #5), I was just too sore and tired! But it's definitely getting better: my neck was immediately and significantly more relaxed as I left yesterday's treatment and my right hand has pretty well been relaxed all week. Last week, my physiotherapist started working on my right forearm, and the reaction (pain and pull-back response) was much stronger than he had expected. He tried my forearms again yesterday, and the reaction almost broke off the needles in my arm! So he only did a few needles in each arm. But you know what? Since last week my right arm hawinterMountainsOboe_narrows been relaxed and this morning, my left hand is open and relaxed instead of being always tense and clenching - the first time in I don't know how many years! In fact, since the treatment, I don't even get strained from using the mouse at my computer so much! Seriously, this is the first time in maybe 20 years!

Now for the musical stuff!

As a professional software developer working a "day job" full time, my oboe practice time is short and precious. In fact, the last recording I made (2nd Recording here) was done without even doing a warm-up.... unless you consider the first "take" to be the warm-up for the second..... Outrage at the good ol' Oboe BBoard! But what can you do when you work all day and have to take care of the house and dogs at night? At least one contributor reminded me of exercises I had described myself:
  1. Breathing exercises using the staple of the reed to work on abdominal air support.
  2. Reed exercises to work on facial muscles and reed positioning.

The very competent players on the BBoard (proven with recordings of their own) consider those as actual warm-ups! A person with a full time day-job can certainly do those throughout the day: if people are allowed to take half a dozen cigarette breaks during the day, why not reed-buzzing breaks? ... urrrhhhh maybe because it's embarrassing as all Hades when passers-by or smokers catch my buzzing that strange little thing in my mouth?Embarrassed smile  Either way, the breathing exercise makes no noise, so every time I get up for coffee, lunch or the bathroom, I now walk with a staple in my lips to breathe in and out forcibly! I find that after doing it for as little as one minute, my lips have the same feeling as when I practice long-tones (sustained notes). So there must be some real benefit there. When spring comes and the weather gets warm enough to practice in my car at lunch time again, the extra time will make formal warm-ups easier. But in the meantime, with any luck, this will improve my sound and my endurance. I'll have to record some evening sessions at home to see if it does.

 Help wanted: it would be great if you left a comment of one of your own warm-up tricks!

Microphone Tips:

Today, work was slow so a nagging feeling in my mind kept getting louder: why would such an expensive microphone (recording device) add so much buzz that I have to play in another room to sound like myself? I figured, maybe the frequency sampling rate (file quality) was too high => higher frequencies are effectively what buzz is, so if I reduce the sensitivity, there should be less buzz... Turns out it was near lowest. So I jacked it at the high as it could get and put it on the computer desk to my side (mics point to me, I point away, to one side). Well, that helped! Reducing the ”gain” (recording level) also helped, but the actual sound remained about the same. Then I put it on a tripod behind me (same settings): OUPS, mega-buzz! In a nutshell, here’s what I observed (more experimenting needed):
  1. Microphone behind: more buzz, even if on a table.
  2. Microphone pointing in the same direction as oboe (e.g. both facing door): more buzz.
  3. Surround microphones with dishcloth: helps because the sides of my mics are open to pick-up reverberation from the room.
  4. Put the device to the side of the oboe and choose one of the XY formation microphones to from the pair to point directly/exactly to my oboe: much more realistic sound – no extra buzz (even without dishcloth).
  5. It is possible, but not conclusive, that my very cheap tripod transmits vibrations to the recording device, resulting in lots of buzz.

This is by no means a scientific study! I think there are just too many variables for this to be done. Recording and equipment layout becomes an art where experience is only led by knowledge and both end up building instincts on which the sound technician must rely. But in the meantime, if we share each other’s stories, we can help each other out a lot!

So go ahead: leave a comment with one of your own recording stories!

4 comments:

Maurizio said...

Hi Robin, you are great! thank you sincerely for to share your experiences :)

RobinDesHautbois said...

Thank you: we all learn from each other. We have nothing to fear and everything to gain in communicating together!

Craig Matovich said...

Robin, Not sure what mic and model you are using, but if its a full-sized model, there are fairly cheap universal shock mounts now. I use them to replace the factory originals when the shock cables stretch out and weaken.

They isolate vibrations from the mic transmitted thought the mic stand.

And those vibrations could be from vigorous foot tapping, or the washer or dryer spinning in the basement...

RobinDesHautbois said...

It's the Zoom H4n directly on a very cheap camera tripod: the screw does not secure it. The tripod is very shaky and could respond to the sound-waves. It's not as bad when I put it beside me, mic direction and position really affect the sound a lot.