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I have bought a Marantz PMD660 recorder and two Røde NT55 microphones. Recording technology is new to me, so I’m experimenting a little. All files are recorded as WAV-files and then cropped and compressed to MP3 using Audacity software. If there is reverb added, this is done in Kristal, by means of the SIR plugin. Files are added at the top of the list, so go to the bottom of the page for earlier experiments.

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20-10-2010
Regretfully, the MP3s are off-line.
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3-9-2007
Again an experiment with another instrument, this time a 54cm 6-course renaissance lute tuned in a’.

After trying out the mics at 1m55 till 2m05 high, I ended up with basically the same setup of the last time: omni caps 50cm apart, 1m50 away and 1m65 high, but for this high instrument only pointing 75 degrees forward. There was some low rumble on the track, and the gain could have been opened a trifle more, so I have treated the track with a High Pass filter set at 75Hz, normalized till -3dB and fade in for the one second silence before the first note.
Plus Mille Regres by H. Gerle (after Josquin). Untreated 30 seconds.
Plus Mille Regres by H. Gerle (after Josquin). High Pass, normalized and fade in.
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27-8-2007
This time a recording experiment with another instrument than the usual 59cm 8-course renaissance lute: a 61/105cm archlute with single basses. The piece is a Toccata e Canzone by Frescobaldi.

I liked the setup of the last experiment: omni caps 50cm apart, 1m50 away from the lute and 1m50 high. This time I have tilted the microphones forward 15 degrees between takes, starting with pointing at the ceiling (90 degrees) untill they were level with the floor (0 degrees).
Toccata by G. Frescobaldi. Mics 90dgr. 30 seconds only.
Toccata by G. Frescobaldi. Mics 75dgr. 30 seconds only.
Toccata by G. Frescobaldi. Mics 60dgr. 30 seconds only.
Toccata by G. Frescobaldi. Mics 45dgr. 30 seconds only.
Toccata by G. Frescobaldi. Mics 30dgr. 30 seconds only.
Toccata by G. Frescobaldi. Mics 15dgr. 30 seconds only.
Toccata by G. Frescobaldi. Mics 0dgr. 30 seconds only.

This is a boomy instrument, so I think the takes with the mics pointing more downwards are better, as they emphasize the treble part. Here’s a whole take with the mics at 15 degrees.
Toccata e Canzona by G. Frescobaldi. Mics 15dgr.
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20-8-2007
Looking for a less boomy as well as a more direct sound, and wanting to find out what the distance of the mics does to the balance between high and low, I have conducted a simple experiment: omni caps at 50cm distance from each other, 1m60 high and pointing upwards. I started placing them at 50cm distance from the lute, increasing the distance by steps of 50cm till 4m50. I have been not careful enough with the gain, so there is some distortion in a number of the takes.
Prelude in d by N. Vallet. Mics at 50cm. 30 seconds only.
Prelude in d by N. Vallet. Mics at 1m. 30 seconds only.
Prelude in d by N. Vallet. Mics at 1m50. 30 seconds only.
Prelude in d by N. Vallet. Mics at 2m. 30 seconds only.
Prelude in d by N. Vallet. Mics at 2m50. 30 seconds only.
Prelude in d by N. Vallet. Mics at 3m. 30 seconds only.
Prelude in d by N. Vallet. Mics at 3m50. 30 seconds only.
Prelude in d by N. Vallet. Mics at 4m. 30 seconds only.
Prelude in d by N. Vallet. Mics at 4m50. 30 seconds only.

I liked the tonal balance best at 1m50, so here is a whole take at this distance:
Prelude in d by N. Vallet. Mics at 1m50cm. Whole take.
The mics this close up give a rather dry sound, so here is the same take with some reverb:
Prelude in d by N. Vallet. Mics at 1m50cm. Whole take with reverb
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13-8-2007
The different spacing of the mics did not resolve all of my problems, so I tried a baffle. I made a Jecklin Disc (a disc of sound absorbing material 35cm in diameter, with the omni mics spaced 17,5cm apart on either side of it). My aim was close enough micing for clear detail, but still retaining a stereo image. I kept the mics at the height of my ears when I am standing, about 1m60, and varied the distance between 4m, 3m and 2m50. The latter was too close, as you’ll hear. I also tried the mics facing straight ahead and angled at 45 degrees between straight up and straight ahead, as it helps to regulate the amount of reverb as well the balance between high and low. The gain was turned back a little for the takes with the mics at 3m and 2m50, but I have normalized all files to get a similar volume. Here’s 20 seconds of each setup, and finally the whole take of what I think is the best result of today’s experiments.
Summary: omni caps 17,5cm apart, Jecklin Disc in between. 1m60 high.
The Cobbler Anon. Mics 4m away at 0 degrees. 20 seconds only.
The Cobbler Anon. Mics 4m away at 45 degrees. 20 seconds only.
The Cobbler Anon. Mics 3m away at 0 degrees. 20 seconds only.
The Cobbler Anon. Mics 3m away at 45 degrees. 20 seconds only.
The Cobbler Anon. Mics 2m50 away at 0 degrees. 20 seconds only.
The Cobbler Anon. Mics 2m50 away at 45 degrees. 20 seconds only.
The Cobbler Anon. Mics 3m away at 45 degrees. Whole take.
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11-8-2007
I liked the last setup, but thought the mics might be spaced apart a little more, so I recorded Greensleeves with the mics this time at 80cm distance. The angle of 45 degrees seemed fine last time, so I have left that unchanged. I did try three different ways of sitting myself: turned 45 degrees to the left, facing the microphones and turned 45 to the right. Of all three experiments I have uploaded a short example for comparison. There is a whole take of the last setup, once untreated and once with reverb.
Summary: omni caps 80cm apart, 45 degrees angled between ceiling and straight ahead, 4m away and 1m60 high.
Greensleeves Anon. and Francis Cutting. Lute facing 45 degrees to the left. 1 minute 20 seconds only.
Greensleeves Anon. and Francis Cutting. Lute facing straight ahead. 1 minute 20 seconds only.
Greensleeves Anon. and Francis Cutting. Lute facing 45 degrees to the right. 1 minute 20 seconds only.
Greensleeves Anon. and Francis Cutting. Lute facing 45 degrees to the right. Whole take.
Greensleeves Anon. and Francis Cutting. Lute facing 45 degrees to the right. Whole take, reverb added.
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8-8-2007
The mics 1 meter apart was a bit too much, it led to a distorted stereo image with the lute coming from everywhere, so I reduced the distance to 60cm. The mics pointing upwards gave a more spacious sound, and more emphasis on the lower register of the instrument. To hear the difference between mics upward, angled at 45 degrees and straight forward I have uploaded three short clips of each setup. After that is a whole take with the mics at 45 degrees, and finally the same file with added reverb. No normalisation this time, as it sounded fine to me.
Summary: omni caps 60cm apart, 4m away and 1m60 high.
Amarilli by Giulio Caccini in my own arrangement. Mics pointing upward, 20 seconds only.
Amarilli by Giulio Caccini in my own arrangement. Mics at 45 degrees, 20 seconds only
Amarilli by Giulio Caccini in my own arrangement. Mics pointing forwards, 20 seconds only.
Amarilli by Giulio Caccini in my own arrangement. Mics at 45 degrees, whole take.
Amarilli by Giulio Caccini in my own arrangement. Mics at 45 degrees, whole take. Reverb added.
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3-8-2007
Several lessons learned from all the experiments so far. First of all, the omni caps give a more natural sound. Then, the room might not have enough natural reverb, so perhaps I had better add a little artificial reverb after all, how much, and how to tweak all the different parameters, is another matter. The mics are too close to each other, so I have made a stereo bar of 1 meter. Here is Si vous voules, recorded with the omni caps pointing to the ceiling, 1m apart, 4m away and 1m60 high, once without any treatment and once with High Pass filter at 75Hz to cut out some of the traffic (rush hour outside!), a tad of Lexicon 500 SmallChurch reverb and normalised.
Si vous voules from the Wickhambrook Lute MS.
Si vous voules from the Wickhambrook Lute MS. High Pass filter 75 Hz, Lexicon 500 SmallChurch reverb and normalised.
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23-7-2007
Another experiment with artificial reverb. I’ve recorded O nata lux by Thomas Tallis twice in the same setup, putting the mics fairly close for a clean lute sound, once with cardio caps and once with omni caps. (The gain had to be turned down for the omni caps.) I did record in the large room, not my dry study, to have a feeling of some natural reverb when I was playing. Next I’ve added the same, liberal, amount of reverb to both files. I’ve uploaded all four files for comparison.
Summary: NOS setup, 2m away and 1m15 high.
O nata lux by Thomas Tallis in my own arrangement. Cardio caps, no reverb.
O nata lux by Thomas Tallis in my own arrangement. Cardio caps, reverb.
O nata lux by Thomas Tallis in my own arrangement. Omni caps, no reverb.
O nata lux by Thomas Tallis in my own arrangement. Omni caps, reverb.
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17-7-2007
So far the omni caps gave the most natural sound, but there is still not enough natural reverb to my liking. I tried placing the mics still further away, even pointed them to the wall at the back of the room, away from me. Also, I’ve turned facing 45 degrees left, playing into wooden bookshelves. I was facing 45 degrees right, playing into a wall. I find a little more warmth in my sound this way.
Summary: omni caps with High Pass at 75Hz at 90 degrees angle, heads 30cm apart, 8m away and 2m30 high, facing the back wall. My chair is still on a small carpet, the rest of the room has a hard bare floor.
Allemande Mr. Zuilekom by Constantijn Huygens in my own arrangement for renaissance lute.
The same file with SIR-reverb added:
Allemande Mr. Zuilekom by Constantijn Huygens in my own arrangement for renaissance lute.
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14-7-2007
I liked the natural reverb, but missed clarity, so I tried the same setup, but this time with the cardio caps: NOS-configuration, 75Hz High Pass filter, about 6m from the lute and 2m30 from the ground.
Susanna from the Wickhambrook Lute MS.
The same file after some SIR-reverb was added:
Susanna from the Wickhambrook Lute MS.
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10-7-2007
Trying to find a natural reverb, I went back to the living room and omni caps, 90 degrees angle and 30cm distance, 75Hz High Pass filter, about 6m from the lute and 2m30 from the ground.
Pavyne by Peter Philips.
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9-7-2007
An experiment with reverb. Microphones in NOS-configuration, using the cardioide capsules, about 1m from the lute and about 0m80 from the ground I my very dry study.
Tarletones riserrectione by John Dowland.
The same file with SIR reverb added:
Tarletones riserrectione by John Dowland.
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6-7-2007
Microphones in NOS-configuration, using the cardioide capsules, about 4m from the lute and about 1m70 from the ground. I’ve put a blanket on the floor in front of me in an attempt to take some of the sharpness in the high register away.
Dolorosa Pavan by Richard Allison.
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5-7-2007
Microphones in NOS-configuration, using the cardioide capsules, about 4m50 from the lute and about 1m70 from the ground. I could have opened the gain more.
Pavana Lachrimae by John Dowland.
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3-7-2007
Microphones in AB-configuration, 2 meters away from me, 1m70 high (about where my ears are when I’m standing). Using the omni-directional capsules and with the High-Pass Filters at 75 Hz cut to remove some of the rumble in the background.
Galiarde to delighte by John Johnson from the Wickhambrook Lute MS.
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3-7-2007
Microphones in XY-configuration, using the cardioide capsules, about 1 meter from the lute and about 1 meter from the ground.
Pavan by John Dowland from the Wickhambrook Lute MS.
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3-7-2007
Microphones in XY-configuration, using the cardioide capsules, about 20cm from the top of the lute.
Galiarde of Clarkes by Anthony Holborne from the Wickhambrook Lute MS.

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