A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

Hi! A couple of weeks back I decided to record myself playing flute. OMG!!

The result was a rude awakening. Saying the playback was like a death rattle would be too kind. I am the World’s Worst Fluter.

Oy vey. Unfortunately for my readers I am also unforgivably stubborn & will not go gently into the night. I want to pick the brains of any willing subjects who wish to tell me how you record yourself.

I am improving. Though 1,000 Xs zero is still zero.

At this point I’m using Audacity on my Asus tablet w/a Sony ECM-MS907 - Stereo Condenser Microphone (from my old mini-disc recorder). At first I did not have Audacity on this tablet. Once I downloaded the software I realise why it is so popular. Now I am looking for a USB adapter for the mic. My tablet only has one 3.5mm jack which makes it difficult (impossible) to monitor myself as I’m recording.

I would appreciate hearing how any of you are set up for recording yourself. I’m hoping to use my tablet now but I also have older recording devices [Roland (Boss) BR-1600, Sony mini-disc recorder & a couple of others] which I will also be using as I get them set up. The good news is I found some old recordings we/I made several years ago (going back to my trip to Willie Week 2002). Made my day.

Cheers in advance,
Ben

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Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

I use an AKGC1000S mic, through an Audient iD14, and Studio One 2 software. Been using it for the last year or so and am very satisfied with the results.

Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

it’s better to spend less time arguing about inconsequentia on this site
and instead to spend more time with your instrument in hand.

Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

David, do you have any input on the OP?

Cheers,
Ben

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Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

I’m not much of a Fluter so I can’t help you there. Although, I noticed a considerable difference with a external 32 bit sound drive. Most computers are 16 bit audio cards. If you have a desk top you can get a internal audio drive but I prefer external cause it has knobs, jacks and audio wave lights for monitoring sound.


You didn’t specify how many bits your sound card is using so I apologize if I’m off base.

Also mess with filters to get the sound you like. Best of luck Ben

Wwf? World wrestling federation?

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Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

1. Ditch Audacity and download Reaper. Audacity is an audio editor, and while you can record and process with it that’s not really what it’s designed for, and it’s ever so clunky. You’ll find a DAW very much easier - not only can you apply and adjust FX while playing, so that you can hear what you are doing (in Audacity you have to wait while it processes the whole track, then see what it has done) but more importantly Reaper and other DAWs are non-destructive - they don’t alter the original recording, so you can always go back and try something different. With Audacity, if you hit ‘save’ it overwrites the original track and there is no going back.

2. If you are going to stick with the Sony mic you might as well stick to putting it in through the computer’s jack and soundcard, there is no advantage to using an audio interface, and one or two disadvantages (like they don’t have a 3.5mm input, so you’ll have to use an adaptor cable, and the USB interface introduces a significant delay, which can cause problems if you need to sync multiple tracks.) If you’ve got a bit of cash I’d suggest upgrading to a large capsule condenser mic, such as a Rode N2a (there are cheaper alternatives, but you get what you pay for, and the mic is the most important element in the recording chain), you will then need an audio interface - the Focusrite Scarlett range are very popular.

3. The recording environment is far more important than the equipment. You can’t get a good recording in a bad sounding room, not matter how good the kit, but you can get good recordings with very modest kit in a good room. Microphone placement is also critical, and it is worth spending quite a lot of time experimenting before you start recording for real.

4. Be aware that when you hear yourself played back it always sounds worse to you than is does to other people.

Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

Mark M said "Be aware that when you hear yourself played back it always sounds worse to you than is does to other people".
I don’t get that, if you record something the playback doesn’t lie. the sound quality might not be very good but that won’t make a difference to the overall playing of the tune.
I use "Goldwave" which does the job as I am not sharing the outcome with anyone but if I did my gaffs would still show up whoever was listening. I personally think it is a good practice tool as it can pick up on many failings in technique, flow, tone and the general feel of a tune and if its just for practice purposes who cares what the sound quality is like. I know it would be good to have brilliant sound quality but that would just accentuate mistakes!

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Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

"Be aware that when you hear yourself played back it always sounds worse to you than is does to other people". I get that, and it’s real. It’s not that the playback is lying, it’s that our perception of it is biased. It’s similar to the phenomenon where most people dislike the sound of their own voice recorded. When you’re speaking, singing, or playing an instrument, you have a different connection to it than when you listen to a recording of it. You hear your voice in your head, you feel the instrument vibrating in your hands, etc. And when you listen to a recorded facsimile of it, it is missing that connection. When someone else listens to it, they don’t miss that connection because they didn’t have it in the first place. And playing music is a very personal thing, so we are naturally our own worst critics of our playing.

But I agree that it’s a great practice tool, and having a different perspective of your playing is a good thing, no matter how painful it can be at times…

Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

Going into the recording studio can be brutal, even if they’re using a $20,000 microphone and a roomful of advanced recording equipment.

Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

Agreed… There are only two things that seem to make it better for me. The first is time. If I record something and don’t listen to it for a month or something, I will have lost most of my "connection" to the recording and I can be a bit more objective about it. And if I listen to session recordings from years ago, I think I sound better than I do if I record something and then listen to it right away, even though I’m a better player now. The other thing that helps me tolerate recordings of myself is reverb. When we are playing, we hear the reverb of the room and the natural reverb of the instrument, but the microphones don’t pick that up as well as our ears (especially if you’re recording in an environment that is made to help isolate the instrument). So adding a little reverb can make it much more tolerable.

Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

Thanks, Tony! Appreciate the details. Since I’m recording flute I did a quick google to see if there were any hits for recording flute w/AKG 1000S mic. Boom! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yB06tYPtB94

Looking at his channel & his other videos I think your mic is a good call. Not that I’ll buy one tomorrow
but it gives me a good idea of what to aim for.

Beid, W.W.F. in my case is World’s Worst Fluter. Not that I’m claiming the title hands down. But I am
the worst flute I have heard. I’m only half joking & think I’m making progress; up rather than down.

Mark M, brilliant. I looked at Reaper and all the other information you posted. I haven’t downloaded it yet
though I may try it as soon as I can. I’m still trying a bit with Audacity for the next week & also working on
setting up a good recording environment in my house. I think you are absolutely right about that.
I was recording with other people about 15 years ago and I can tell from listening to those tracks now
when it was a good room for recording & when it wasn’t.

Fizzit, Mark M & Reverend; yeah each of you is saying something interesting about listening to yourself which I’m just beginning to sort out. I can be my own worst critic which may help when I’m striving to improve but it also means my opinion of myself is inevitably biased. These are the issues I’m hoping to find the balance.

Reverend, I think I know what you’re saying about a little bit of reverb. I get. I just never thought of adding reverb as significant to recording as it apparently is. I mean I know it is but perhaps it’s a subtle
nuance for finding nyah.

Thank y’all very much. ;

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Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

Ben—I know we tend to sound the same no matter what flute we play, but still the quality of the instrument can make a difference, and in addition, as we age we have less wind, so a flute that we could formerly fill decently may no longer work for us. What flute(s) are you using for this recording enterprise? Chet

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Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

Hello, Chet. I agree a good quality flute makes a difference. FWIW I have recorded on the flute I play at sessions
(Rob Forbes’ Delrin) but also my Hammy Practice flute w/Delrin head; also a few of my many whistles.

What I have not yet done, but am gearing up for, is to make recordings which can be compared.
My plan is actually to use my Sony mini-disc recorder, which sounds crazy; except for the fact that
as I listen to old recordings the one’s I keep going back to were done on the Sony.

Nothing is set in concrete though. I’m keeping the process fluid & don’t want to get bogged down relying strictly on retro gear. My Boss Roland 1600 mixer is definitely a dinosaur & won’t be a centerpiece in my next generation of recording. However the mini-disc (for now) may be simpler to use than either of my tablets. Tablets kind of suck; or they can.



I’m rambling. Sorry, just thinking out loud at everyone else’s expense.



Chet, I know what you’re saying. I hope to not just record on a better quality flute but also record other players on the same instrument. That’s one goal. If not flute, then whistle. In fact whistle might be better because I have played a couple of whistles owned by local players which I really liked. The point is my "recording studio" is in a state of flux. But I think the result will be worth it in the long run.

If it turns out I am the world’s worst fluter at least I’ll take a chance & hear some very good players on very good instruments & they might even let me play with them. Then I just keep tracks w/them playing + a little reverb.

Love, peace,
Ben

ps - technical question.

I mentioned that I have a Boss Roland 16 track digital CD recorder from 2003-4. This past week I re-discovered that many of my best recording were transferred to the Roland mixer. It has a usb out for writing wave files & putting them in a folder on the D: drive of my computer. That’s how I did it w/my old Dell laptop running Windows XP. The cable is standard printer type cable. But I’m getting jammed making the transfer.

If anyone knows what I might need to send the file to my tablet using Windows 8.1 I would appreciate a message if you think you can help. I have found some driver updates but I don’t know if that is the problem.

Ben

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Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

Hi Ben,

Answering your original question, for recording my fiddle, I use an old Fostex VF 160 EX 16-track digital recorder, via an AKG C1000S mic.

I only usually have one track (fiddle), and I output it to my PC running Audacity.

In Audacity, I just clean things up a bit, and even out any volume spikes in the recording, then export it to .wav or .mp3 format.

Mark M … now this might be a silly question, but … on some (professional) flute recordings, I hear the huff/puff/chuff from the breathing at the beginning of some bars. This is normal, of course, but sometimes it sounds really intrusive.

If the player has to be really close to the mic, would a pop shield help?

Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

Thank you, Jim. I appreciate your response. You’re the 2nd one on this thread who uses the AKG c 1000s.
Nice to get the tip that this is a good mic.

Ben

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Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

I use a C1000S as well.

Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

Ben - that’s 3 of us now who use the AKG C1000S.

I have 2 of them, but I never managed to get a good result on a stereo recording.

Over here in England, the C1000s price has stayed the same for over 20 years.

Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

@ AB. "Hi! A couple of weeks back I decided to record myself playing flute. OMG!! The result was a rude awakening. Saying the playback was like a death rattle would be too kind. I am the World’s Worst Fluter."

Replace "flute/r" with "fiddle/r" and that’s me in a nutshell.

All my sympathy to you, Mr. Ben.

Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

Darlin’. Did naebody tell yer that the Caleigh and the Session, are a totally, out of control , a Celtic "thing"?
Since when, did ,musicians have to actually play in tune, either at the Session or the Island Calleigh?:
The whole point is the musicians, are totally out of control and lead everyone else to be out of control - so we are all out of control. That’s the whole POINT of it!!

Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

Ceilidhs are pretty interesting when the accompanist is not playing in the same key as the melody player, and they’re vamping out jazz rhythms on a keyboard, amped up to the nines, that don’t have a whole lot to do with the tunes. Yeah, that’s fun.

Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

@ Jim. I’ve only just seen your question from yesterday. No, a pop shield won’t help - they help reduce popping on vocal plosives ("P" and "T" sounds), but not breath noise. An ordinary windshield can help, but the real answer lies in a combination of mike positioning and musician training. When you put a mic in front of someone they automatically want to get as close as they can and sing/play straight at it. You need to get them to back off and stay off-axis, so that they are not singing/playing straight at it, but to the side or over the top. That way their breath doesn’t hit it.

Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

Thanks for the info, Mark!

Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

I record stuff with my phone all the time and it sounds fine. If you don’t sound good recorded with the voice memo program on your phone, your problem is that you can’t play very well. That’s my problem. But all the recordings I make of everybody else sound great.

Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

Tascam US 366 interface 2 large condenser mics $200/$300. Audacity just use normalise and a bit of reverb.
Remember S in S out A Harley Davidson pulled up outside during one recording Best recording yet

Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F…’kind thoughts’

I want to offer a few words of gratitude to those in this community who chose to express your concern for
all the people who have recently been displaced from their homes, instruments, music, friends, basic
comfort & peace of mind by the ongoing spate of fires in California. We are safe in Chico, CA though
this is a reminder of just how fast anything can change.

Thank you briantheflute, Whimbrel, Reverend, Terry McGee, Gobby, Jeremy & everyone else on
thesession.org who have compassion for the community which thrives right here.

https://thesession.org/discussions/44127

Día dhaoibh! Greetings one and all!

Keep safe in the community & bring the music wherever you may go,
Ben

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Re: A rude awakening…or…the banshee’s death rattle …W.W.F.

Since I posted this topic I have been setting up a better recording environment. I recommend it for anyone thinking about recording yourself to help improve your playing.

I have recorded myself in years past though it has been several years. Also, when I started this thread,
I was not using the same system or all the same devices I used before. That turned out to be
more significant than I imagined. Ultimately I went back to how I recorded before & *the results were better*. And while that relieves some of my frustration there is obviously still room for improvement in my flute playing. At this point I believe I can make recordings which sound more like what I’m playing than the recordings
I made a month ago.

I won’t bore anyone w/the laundry list of small fixes I used to make truer recordings. Just want to say
one should not assume a recording always tells the truth. It depends! When I went back to recording on my MiniDisc player it sounded (I sounded) much more as I did 10 years ago. Also any recordings I made
on an older laptop 10+ yrs. ago, using Audacity, would have been w/Windows XP. I don’t know how much difference that makes except to say (on my tablets now) once I disabled the effects & noise suppression in the audio manager my flute (recorded) sounded more like what I hear as I’m playing.

Before I fixed a few things I could improve my playing but ‘it felt like an uphill battle’. Yet as soon as
I disabled all the sound enhancements it was much easier to get directly to the things which need improving.
I don’t want to fight technology. I prefer to use it for my benefit rather than getting stuck in a
revolving stream of workarounds.

To wrap up this thread let me say I’m not the World’s Worst Flute Player. I will continue to build & play in my recording environment. I will improve. My session mates may notice the results. Finally, cheers to all here who listened to my story & contributed to it.

Ben

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