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Old 11-08-2019, 01:14 PM   #1
poetnprophet
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Default looking for advice: recording guitar+vox, only 2 cardoid mics

what's up Reaper-ites. I'm looking for advice, I need to record someone this weekend. She will be singing and playing acoustic guitar at the same time.

I only have 2 condensor mics, both are cardoid only. I normally only record vox, so I am a little out of my league. Hoping to achieve the best recording possible considering I will only get mono signals.

Should I just use one mic? Or should I try to capture the vox and guitar at the same time with different mics? Or should I try to capture each separately? Any advice/tips greatly appreciated.

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Old 11-08-2019, 01:47 PM   #2
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First off, I think you'll want a separate mic for each, so you can separate the tracks. That way, you can adjust levels, tonality, etc. you have a lot more handles available.

You have experience with voice, so use what you know there. the guitar may prove more difficult, especially without prior experience.

There are videos on youtube that will explain how to record acoustic guitar, probably dozens of them. For my $.02, I like to point the mic at the lower front horn of the guitar, as described by this guy -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ko6ceHqLbA

Note that I'm usually recording a single guitar part this way, as part of a full mix, not normally solo guitar with solo vocal.

Again, my $.02, I'd record both at once, then go back and do some individual takes. This way, the singer is "performing", and gets you a more energetic take, with a live feel, etc. you can do overdubs after, if you think the vocal or guitar would be better without concentrating on the singing and playing at the same time.

Good luck, I hope this is a fun project!
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Old 11-08-2019, 01:59 PM   #3
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I only have 2 condensor mics, both are cardoid only. I normally only record vox, so I am a little out of my league. Hoping to achieve the best recording possible considering I will only get mono signals.
K-Dub!

If she's accomplished aka steady enough dynamics wise, you can stereo XY those mics at bout 24-30 inches out, adjust height of the mics to set the blend between guitar and vocal - or you can use one per vox/guitar but you better test that it's going to work out first since it's going to be a trade off between separation, proximity and phase cancellation. Tbh, no matter how you do it, the success of it and/or how much of a pain it is, depends much on the performer - IOW, the more you need to mix fix/tweak ITB, the harder it's going to be.

If you use some distance and XY et al then your room needs to sound good, so that it doesn't infect the sound - I do think things like this sound better if there is enough distance for the sound to develop before hitting the mics. Lastly, when trying to isolate one mic per, figure-8 is helpful, if you can position each mic so that each fig-8's null is pointing at the source you don't want to pickup, that's as about as much rejection that is possible in this scenario. Of course the mics need to have a fig-8 pattern available.

All the song vids I did last year, were just X/Y or M/S 30" away for the most part, that little bit of distance sounds better to my ears, but the performer must be able to balance as part of the performance.
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Old 11-08-2019, 02:03 PM   #4
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The best would be to make them do it separately. People are always resistant to thart idea, but if they’re looking for the very best possible result it is the only answer. Not only will you be able to treat each instrument as best possible without compromising the sound of one to make the other work, but the performances really almost have to be better when they can focus on just one at a time. Even the best of us have to compromise one or the other when we’re trying to do both. We don’t even notice the ways that we do it, but it happens.

Ideally they would actually practice it that way before they show up. Many will complain that they can’t get the same “feel” or “groove” or whatever. For that, it can really help to record a scratch pass of both at the same time, then go back and play the separate tracks to that. It might be nice to sort of have separate mics on the scratch tracks so that you can maybe pull one or the other out as necessary, but if you really need to save time, they could just play it into their phone on their own time and you drop it into your project and go.

If they absolutely refuse, you should be able to get a decent recording with some flexibility if you’re just really careful with placement and actually listen to what the one mic is doing to the other. You won’t be able to go quite so far with individual processing, but depending on what you’re shooting for...

And that’s the thing. It actually completely depends on everything. If you’re cool with a kind of raw, documentary style recording you can just stick a mic in the right spot in the room and get what you get. If the room sounds good and the performer can actually control their own dynamics and basically mix themselves, then it can end up really nice. If you really want that hyper-real, heavily processed, “big budget” sound, the individual tracks is the only right way to go.

One of you (usually the artist) needs to decide on a clear goal of what you want out of the production and then you work together and do what you need to do to get there.


Edit - to fix a bunch of typos but also...

I meant to say that it's always the performance and the material that matters most. If it really is a great performance of a great song, then people will thank you just for capturing it at all. We don't really have cassette boomboxes anymore, but our phones are a heck of a lot better than those were. Hell, record it on one of those greeting card things. If it's worth hearing, just record it!

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Old 11-08-2019, 02:24 PM   #5
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The best would be to make them do it separately.

I meant to say that it's always the performance and the material that matters most. If it really is a great performance of a great song, then people will thank you just for capturing it at all. We don't really have cassette boomboxes anymore, but our phones are a heck of a lot better than those were. Hell, record it on one of those greeting card things. If it's worth hearing, just record it!
If mic'd well and played well, it will sound better not separated as most things will take care of themselves - that unfortunately is rarely the case so do what we gotta do. I totally get the sonic CYA part but it can be nearly impossible to get the same feel/emotion doing them separately - I never believed this until I started doing it myself - it's really that they are being a bit of a drummer, where everything cues off of everything else, from within their body vs playback if that makes sense. Depends on the person though.
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Old 11-08-2019, 02:32 PM   #6
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...but it can be nearly impossible to get the same feel/emotion doing them separately...
It won't be "the same", it'll be better. I believe this specifically because I do it myself. The only thing stopping you is you. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it's really just laziness and sloppiness. If you can't play or sing with all of the feel and emotion that you want, you need to practice.
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Old 11-08-2019, 02:43 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ashcat_lt View Post
It won't be "the same", it'll be better. I believe this specifically because I do it myself. The only thing stopping you is you. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it's really just laziness and sloppiness. If you can't play or sing with all of the feel and emotion that you want, you need to practice.
I hasn't shit to do with lazy or sloppy.

I will agree it's the same as a drummer playing kick/hat/snare separate takes which sometimes occurs. There's nothing about being lazy, I did it without playing/singing at the same time for 25 years - but when I started recording them at the same time, there is a difference worth noting and worth recording - Both have their place, but in some situations the latter is the better one regardless - I do know it isn't worth arguing over.
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Old 11-08-2019, 02:51 PM   #8
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I do know it isn't worth arguing over.
No, and while it will and do state my position strongly and firmly every chance I get, when it comes to actual clients it would be "suggest and encourage" rather than "insist and complain".
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Old 11-08-2019, 02:52 PM   #9
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and do state my position strongly and firmly every chance I get
That makes two of us. Take care.
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Old 11-08-2019, 03:01 PM   #10
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a drummer playing kick/hat/snare separate takes which sometimes occurs.
I did that once with a project on 8-Track analog tape just because I wanted to see what the drums would sound like with 100% isolation between the individual parts. Sampled drums had not yet hit the scene, but I found I disliked the vacuum with real drums and tape as much as I dislike it with sampled drums.

When Superior Drummer came out and I could have and control bleed between various mics on the virtual drumkit, I loved how much more real they sounded than previous sampled drums because of that imperfection of bleed and snare buzz when you hit the toms. No longer sounding like they were played in a vacuum.
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Old 11-08-2019, 03:08 PM   #11
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I think it is more used (albeit still rarely) by playing everything but the cymbals, then overdubbing the cymbals FWIW.
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Old 11-08-2019, 03:11 PM   #12
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It won't be "the same", it'll be better. I believe this specifically because I do it myself.
I agree. It's much easier to sing with "emotion" if you don't have to do two things at once.
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Old 11-08-2019, 03:26 PM   #13
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keeped this thread for future reference! thanks !
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Old 11-08-2019, 03:27 PM   #14
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Old 11-08-2019, 03:38 PM   #15
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The blend between parts is better when done together, just like a drumkit played all at once sounds better than pieced together.

Outdoor acoustics can be cool too.



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Old 11-08-2019, 03:40 PM   #16
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Man I forgot about Molly! Crap, sorry OP, I forgot what thread we were in! Either way, singing and playing as well with as much and sometime more emotion at the same time is no different than being able to play drums, and if a drummer can do it... (jk really).

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Old 11-08-2019, 03:49 PM   #17
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Man I forgot about Molly! Crap, sorry OP, I forgot what thread we were in! Either way, singing and playing as well with as much and sometime more emotion at the same time is no different than being able to play drums, and if a drummer can do it... (jk really).
Hehe, Molly has that clawhammer stuff down too!

Edit: Another reason to record both guitar and vox at the same time is that it's too easy to play the arrangement incorrectly. Even with seasoned pros I've engineered I've had cases where they record a great acoustic track, then start dubbing the vocals and realize they fucked up the arrangement and end up having to re-record the whole initial take.
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Old 11-08-2019, 04:04 PM   #18
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We're not getting any comparison there, though. It's really not the same thing as playing drums, and it's not even really the same as playing with a band in a room. It's more like playing drums and singing at the same time, but if you let your drummer do that you've got bigger problems.


I'm sure all these examples are just peachy, but I'm not seeing any direct comparisons. The same performer playing the same songs using the two different techniques.


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Edit: Another reason to record both guitar and vox at the same time is that it's too easy to play the arrangement incorrectly. Even with seasoned pros I've engineered I've had cases where they record a great acoustic track, then start dubbing the vocals and realize they fucked up the arrangement and end up having to re-record the whole initial take.
Well, that's just silly. But also another good reason to do the scratch track first.
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Old 11-08-2019, 04:11 PM   #19
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We're not getting any comparison there, though. It's really not the same thing as playing drums
Not sure why you would think that, it certainly feels much the same when I need to coordinate my two hands with my voice as it does when coordinating my two hands and my foot. My comparison was only to show that it's a myth that no one can be as emotional and compelling without multi-tracking or whatever it is everyone is worried about.

Both exist, both have their pros and cons, pick one... If the person is great at singing and playing at the same time, let them do that, it will sound great. It's up to the engineer to capture it and not fuck it up ITB trying to micromanage every little detail.
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Old 11-08-2019, 04:14 PM   #20
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Well, a lot of it boils down to whether or not the person who will be performing is capable of playing and singing at the same time.

If not, then a scratch track with vocals followed by a real track of just guitar followed by a real track with just the vocals would be the way to approach it.

And I've both played drums and sung vocals in pretty much every band I've been in since 1972 or so.
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Old 11-08-2019, 04:25 PM   #21
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Well, a lot of it boils down to whether or not the person who will be performing is capable of playing and singing at the same time.
Yea, that was assumed to be the case when it brought it up. Sorry poet, didn't mean to derail.
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Old 11-08-2019, 04:27 PM   #22
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I have been in this situation many hundreds of times.
Things I have learned:
Every singer / performer is different.
The song / arrangement and how loud the performance is has bearing on end result.
When an artist performs mostly live, without much studio experience, they generally play a little too hard and loud as they are used to projecting.

95% of the time, I record the performance live - until we get the ultimate take, with the mics positioned for best result (and usually a DI for poss blending back in.)
At this point, I can then double track the guitar, until it is perfectly locked in with the live take.
Then we can double track the vocal.

So we end up with a great live performance / vibe, and choice to use the live tracking, or the overdubbed voc & guitar.
Best of both worlds.
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Old 11-08-2019, 04:30 PM   #23
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you all are great! thanks for all the suggestions. She's a relatively new client so I 'm not sure how she'll perform in terms of quality. But, I do believe that performing and recording both together is the way to go in terms of performance quality. I'll definitely test and listen once or thrice to get the best sound. At the same time, I believe recording quality will be better if separated. So there'll definitely be trial and error, and maybe a combo of both techniques.

Couple have mentioned room sound...I'm also torn here. My booth is pretty darn small, and dead. Great for vocals, not so for instruments. So I guess I'd really need to bring the performance into the mix room.

The session is Sunday, I'll let you know how it goes! thanks again!
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Old 11-08-2019, 04:33 PM   #24
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K-Dub!

you can stereo XY those mics at bout 24-30 inches out, adjust height of the mics to set the blend between guitar and vocal
thank you for chiming in, karbo! I forgot to mention, the two mics are entirely different. How much does that matter in an XY situation? Both are condensor, but very different mics.
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Old 11-08-2019, 04:37 PM   #25
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Let us know how it goes!

The only point I wanted to make about separate micing is there is terribly little wiggle room for adjustment between the two because each source is going to be in the unwanted mics. To fix that, you end up having to mic way too close (IMHO), I'll buffer that with that I've seen it done very well but I still think that even then, what was going into the mics was good enough that little more than a tiny amount of wiggle room was needed. It's amazing how much better gear sounds based on who's sending what through it.

As far as differing mics, sounds like a bad idea at first but depends really on how different they are tbh so it's worth testing. Give it a try and do what works best, nothing here I'm saying is guaranteed, every session/player/situation is different. If they are good at multi tracking, it's also worth a try.
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Old 11-08-2019, 05:14 PM   #26
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Mismatched mics can sometimes work just fine in x/y, but it's touchy. Differences in the midrange and even low end can help give you a bit more "stereoness" from what is actually more like a mono source, but if the top end is really way off, and you pan them opposite by much, it can start to feel like one ear is in a whole different room, and not very natural. The only way to know for sure is to try it. If nothing else, you pick one of the two, or don't pan them out.


Another option - better if you had more space - would be to put one mic relatively close and another further away or even pointing the opposite direction for ambience.


Honestly, one of my favorite singer/songer recordings that I've ever gotten was just an EV635a about 3 feet in front of the performer, but we were going for a kind of vintage/documentary/warts-and-all thing. And there were a LOT of warts. That dude is not really the best guitarist to begin with, so it might not have helped much to track separately anyway...
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Old 11-08-2019, 05:36 PM   #27
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Interesting thread... here's another example, this time 2 player/singers, 2 guitars and 2 mics. Sounds just fine to me.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBcr4LMF3mc

As noted the skill of the musicians is key I think.
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Old 11-08-2019, 05:38 PM   #28
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Hehe, I almost posted Josh Turner, that dude is good from what I've seen.
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Old 11-09-2019, 04:40 AM   #29
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Given the number of performers that is indeed a bit weird!
Reina is also someone to watch - her regular collaborator Toni Lindgren is a fine guitarist too. Here's another 1 mic set-up that works...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3izyjCbxgQ

I happened to meet them last year when they did a UK tour and was very impressed by their music and their personalities.
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Old 11-09-2019, 05:40 AM   #30
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what's up Reaper-ites. I'm looking for advice, I need to record someone this weekend. She will be singing and playing acoustic guitar at the same time.

I only have 2 condensor mics, both are cardoid only. I normally only record vox, so I am a little out of my league. Hoping to achieve the best recording possible considering I will only get mono signals.

Should I just use one mic? Or should I try to capture the vox and guitar at the same time with different mics? Or should I try to capture each separately? Any advice/tips greatly appreciated.

cheers,
dave
Do you have a guitar?

Best thing to do is give a few different methods a go yourself. See how bleed/different rooms/mic configurations work out. Best not to save the experimenting for when the client shows up!
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Old 11-09-2019, 02:52 PM   #31
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Do you have a guitar?

Best thing to do is give a few different methods a go yourself. See how bleed/different rooms/mic configurations work out. Best not to save the experimenting for when the client shows up!
I don't have one, haha. Otherwise yes I'd certainly do that. Plus: I let her know that she'd be stepping into unknown territory. I mean, not totally unknown, I have recorded guitar by itself but she seemed to be intent on performing both, that was the main reason for the question.

The session is actually tuesday, not Sunday. duher
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Old 11-09-2019, 03:25 PM   #32
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Recording a singer songwriter guitar & voice is best done recorded as live - no contest.

It's harder for the engineer and for the performer as he/she has to perform a very good take, which may take a while but you have a chance of capturing something akin to a performance, with (impossible to mimic after the fact) subtle interplay between voice and guitar.


starting out doing each seperately is an engineering outcome based approach not a musical outcome approach imo. Tried all ways and getting it done the hard way is the stand out.

I recorded myself this way even tho it was bloody hard and took e.g 30+ full length takes to get something I liked, but once captured it had a value far higher than a guitar part plus a vocal part.

As others mentioned, start live then overdub or replace once you have captured something of value is a good compromise.

I used a ribbon on voice positioned to minimize guitar bleed and then a m/s arrangement on guitar.
With 2 cardioid the x/y at a distance idea (set higher to get more voice balance for example) would be v natural. Could blend in a small touch of tweaked pickup if guitar has pickups .

Edit: forgot to mention one of my tracks was just ribbon close for vocal and a distant cardiode and that worked nicely too for a more roomy vibe.

As it's topic relevant and not at all for blatant self promotion here's a result
https://youtu.be/vycqXD2fDi4

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Old 11-10-2019, 09:31 AM   #33
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Recording a singer songwriter guitar & voice is best done recorded as live - no contest.

It's harder for the engineer and for the performer as he/she has to perform a very good take, which may take a while but you have a chance of capturing something akin to a performance, with (impossible to mimic after the fact) subtle interplay between voice and guitar.


starting out doing each seperately is an engineering outcome based approach not a musical outcome approach imo. Tried all ways and getting it done the hard way is the stand out.

I recorded myself this way even tho it was bloody hard and took e.g 30+ full length takes to get something I liked, but once captured it had a value far higher than a guitar part plus a vocal part.

As others mentioned, start live then overdub or replace once you have captured something of value is a good compromise.

I used a ribbon on voice positioned to minimize guitar bleed and then a m/s arrangement on guitar.
With 2 cardioid the x/y at a distance idea (set higher to get more voice balance for example) would be v natural. Could blend in a small touch of tweaked pickup if guitar has pickups .

Edit: forgot to mention one of my tracks was just ribbon close for vocal and a distant cardiode and that worked nicely too for a more roomy vibe.

As it's topic relevant and not at all for blatant self promotion here's a result
https://youtu.be/vycqXD2fDi4
That sounds nice, Ben! Thanks for sharing.
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