Robert Bigelow’s Tips on Mid-Side Mic Recording
Continuing our series of Livestream sessions at NAB 2014, we return to Robert C. Bigelow for a new discussion on mid-side microphone recording.
While hardly a new technique, many engineers shun mid-side because they don’t know how to properly execute this technique. Luckily for us, veteran sound mixer/editor Robert Bigelow does, and he was on hand to show attendees how it’s done.
Mid-side microphone recording is used primarily for capturing ambient sounds and live music. It permits a wide array of stereo field sizes, much wider than with a single stereo microphone. Mid-side lets the engineer make the stereo field as wide or as narrow as desired. Here’s how it works.
Lavalier microphones are smaller electret or dynamic mics used for public speaking, television, theater and film applications.
Fred Ginsburg is a veteran sound mixer and educator known for his work on television and film. From the Audio-Technica booth at NAB 2014, Ginsburg delivered an informative lecture on the best practices for using lavalier mics. Here is a summary of what we learned.
The Backup Plan
This is the fourth installment in guest blogger Ryan Hewitt’s series on recording. Today he discusses the value of backup plans. If you missed his last post on staying to get the job done, you can read it here.
Have you ever meticulously planned out your recording setup only to use absolutely none of the equipment you thought you’d want to use? Yeah, me too.
Ryan Hewitt, Always In Record. (Photo: Ryan Hewitt/Facebook)
Using a single mic to record a group of vocalists allows the singers to control their blend and balance more naturally than if they were recorded individually. The result can be a richer, more organic sound.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a few tips that will help you record a small vocal group as a single unit.
1. Figure 8 Pickup Pattern with Two Vocalists
Using an AT4047MP multi-pattern condenser microphone set to figure 8 will allow you to record two singers with one mic. Place a singer on each side of the mic. The front and rear half of the mic act as if there were two cardioid elements in one housing back-to-back. The balance of the vocalists can be controlled by adjusting their relative distance from the mic.
The human voice is the most complex, most dynamic instrument you will ever record. Lead vocals are the centerpiece of most tracks, though they may be the most difficult to nail in the recording process.
Below, you’ll find everything you need to know to capture vocals during the recording process.
1. Reduce Ambience and Plosives
Before you can capture the ideal vocal sound, you have to make sure that you don’t capture excessive ambience and plosives.
a. Plosives are bursts of air that can be created when singing or speaking consonants, especially p’s and b’s. Place a pop filter between the singer and mic to prevent the bursts of air from distorting the sound.
Recording voice-overs, podcasts and other types of spoken word has its own unique set of demands. However, it’s still possible to capture professional quality sound without spending a fortune. Below, Audio-Technica has a few helpful bits of advice to get you started.
1. The Microphone
For voice-over and spoken word, the most important link in the signal chain is the microphone. Try an AT2020 USB cardioid condenser microphone. This microphone not only sounds great, but the USB output allows you to bypass an audio interface and plug directly into your computer where the digital signal can be recorded and mixed using your favorite recording software.
Upright bass has a complex, dynamic sound. Its broad range of frequencies and timbres make it very tricky to capture accurately, particularly if isolation is an issue. But when you get it right, it provides richness and elegance to your track. Below you’ll find all the information you need to bring your upright bass into focus.
1. Ribbon Mic
Start with AT4080 ribbon microphone positioned about even with the bottom of the F-hole, angled just slightly toward the bridge. From here, you’ll capture both the detail from the fingers and the full low-end from the F-hole without letting the sound become too boomy.
In most forms of popular music, one of the fundamental components is the acoustic guitar. It’s a staple that can provide your track with richness and detail. With a few basic techniques, you can capture a broad range of sounds for any style when recording acoustic guitar.
1. Strummed Steel Strings
Using a small diaphragm cardioid condenser like the AT4041 is the ideal way to capture the attack and brilliance of strumming on this steel string guitar. Aim the microphone at the 14th fret and angle it toward the body to capture a balance of brightness from the strings and body from the sound hole. Moving the mic towards the neck emphasize the brightness of the guitar sound. Moving it towards the sound hole will capture more body.
There are a wide variety of Latin percussion instruments with different tonal qualities. Incorporating the right ones on the right tracks will provide tasteful accents that make your song really pop. Audio-Technica is here to help you with mic selection and placement for the most common Latin percussion instruments.
Try a pair of AT4050 multi-pattern condensers set to cardioid on the congas. Position the mics about 9″ above the outside edge of each conga. This position maximizes isolation for the widest possible stereo image.
This is the fifth installment in guest blogger Steve Lagudi’s series on Guitars & Bass in a Live Setting, and the third part of the discussion on selecting and placing mics on stage – if you missed Part 2 of his post on selecting and placing mics, you can read it here.
Steve’s ‘view from the office.’ (Photo: Steve Lagudi/Instagram)