How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

Anyone have good tricks/materials to stop clipping while not muffling the sound too much? On the second register perhaps G and above it clips like mad.

I have put the recorder in between a pillow which seems ok. I tried in the pocket and is not enough by a long shot.

Re: How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

Can you not turn down the gain on the mic? Or sit further away?

Re: How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

For live performance, many players use the same technique vocalists use, backing away from the mike for the higher/louder notes and leaning in for the lower/quieter ones.

For recording, as DonaldK suggests, lower the gain or play further from the mic: set the gain as high as you can get it without clipping, then, after recording, use automation to bring up the quieter notes. It might also be worth checking whether there are particular frequency peaks that are causing the clipping; if so, they can be EQ’d out.

Edit: I was assuming you are using some form of DAW. If you are using a handheld recorder, you probably won’t have that level of adjustability - but if you are looking to make a presentable recording, you should be able to transfer the files to your computer and use one of the DAWs (e.g. Audacity, GarageBand).

Re: How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

^Meant to say "one of the *free* DAWs" (of course, you can splash out on ProTools or Logic if you prefer).

Re: How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

Depending on your setup, using a compressor can help with this. Compressors squash the dynamic range of an audio signal (meaning the difference between the quietest and loudest parts). This can be really useful for reducing clipping. But it can also alter the sound quite a bit if you’re not careful. There is the ability to add compression during the recording process (a lot of mixers have built in compression, or you could add a compressor to an effects loop), or you can apply compression during mixing of the audio after the recording has already been made. (Read more here: https://blog.landr.com/use-compression-solve-5-common-mixing-mistakes/)

I don’t know your setup, but most DAWs (including the free Audacity) include a compressor, or there are free plugins out there to do it.

Re: How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

I don’t have mic control it is a dictaphone.

Oh and backing away makes no difference, the reverb (if the is the right term) is too powerful so it is the same volume anywhere in the room really.

Looks like I will stick with various mufflers like the pillow as I have been doing; manual volume control.

Re: How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

Well there’s your problem. Dictaphones are designed to record speech for possible later transcription. They’re not designed for high quality recording and certainly not designed for recording music.

Re: How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

dictaphone - Now that’s a word I haven’t seen in a long time…

Is it tape or solid-state based?

The modern solid-state units I’ve used over the past 20 years generally have had some sort of gain setting. Maybe you could post the brand and model number here?

Re: How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

I’m with Jimi on this. A Zoom costs more than a whistle, but it’s not wild. Together with Audacity you will be flying!

Re: How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

Actually the recording quality is very high (it can record wav up to 1536kbps - I don’t know if that is true - the files to say so but regardless it is very clear), it is just that you can’t control the mic volume.

And as to the make, I think that is pointless as it is a generic chinese cheapo brand with broken english for the manual (I read it and no mic control that I remember).

And yes it is digital portable then usb plug-in one.

No way I am spending more money 🙂- not a matter of cost but I have no problems with this other than the particular issue mentioned. I can ‘work around’ this by just adding padding to muffle the sound because I am satisfied with the sound quality otherwise. I mainly just made the post to enquire what others are doing I guess or other ideas.

And I have a dictaphone rather than anything else as it is great to take to sessions and record in a stealth manner. I find it better not to tell people I am recording too so as to not make them self-conscious (it isn’t illegal to record people without their knowledge after all in a public place and is very much the ‘norm’ in the smartphone era).

It’s funny I don’t notice the clipping when I have recorded sessions (not that I remember at least, been a while!) even though there are many more instruments; maybe the added bodies absorb the sound as the room sizes are similar to my apartment’s kitchen that I record in.

Not only that I have found it a really valuable learning tool just to quickly put new tunes on it and listen to them back wherever I may go, rather than being stuck at the computer to listen back. So for record and (portable) playback it is equally valuable.

Re: How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

The recorder may have an automatic level control that’s OK for fitting the overall volume of a session but not designed to respond fast enough for transient high volumes on a single instrument. If so putting it at a distance would not help much.

I have a cheap one that just has fixed ‘low’ and ‘high’ gain settings that works fine for sessions but use a Zoom most other things.

Re: How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

Thumb up for selling it and buying a zoom too (the modern ones also function as a usb microphone if useful for zoom/online playing etc).

Dictaphones tend to be optimised for speech voice recording and clip/lose detail (sometimes on purpose) when used for instruments/different ranges than a spoken voice. All round recorders have this ability/will also work better at sessions.

I know what you mean re avoiding spending money (as there’s so much pressure everywhere to needlessly consume/purchase at the moment), but I think mid pandemic it is important to have the right things to maximise your enjoyment if music is a major hobby.

Re: How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

I still am not going to buy another piece of equipment since the solution is so simple - of just muffling it a bit. I am a great believer in DIY solutions for existing and perfectly functional equipment/possessions, especially in the current times. If the sound quality was awful all around I would certainly feel justified in a new purchase but, as I said, it is very good quality otherwise.

The thread has still been instructive to get a better idea of why it clips; as in it was not designed for music which hadn’t really crossed my mind. I also didn’t really have any idea that the ones made for music had built in auto gain adjustments, so I know now it wasn’t some error on my part or the tool I had been using.

Besides, I have a (cheap) computer mic (which I would be able to control the levels then) as well but I prefer to just ‘switch off’ totally from my computer (since I already spend such a large amount of time on it) and the computer is pretty loud as I have like 7 fans in it which would in turn cause interference to the sound quality.

Re: How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

It’s the ones designed for voice that often have the automatic level control. The ones for music have manual. If you have a smartphone there will be an app that does what you want and the microphone will probably be as good as in a cheap recorder.

Re: How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

Don’t have a smartphone 🙂

Re: How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

There is likely to be more, possibly much more compression (or AVC) on a system designed for recording speech intelligible (rather than beautifully) than on a system designed for musical instruments. A distinct possibility is that when strong AVC has turned up the volume during a quiet moment, the sharp attack of a whistle drives it into clipping before the AVC has time to turn it down again. It’s in the nature of AVC that it cannot act instantly. This is why for professional results the engineers will try to record at high resolution, ideally JUST short of clipping at the loudest moment. Compression would be applied later, and that’s a very different thing from AVC on the fly.
This could also be why your first attempts at muffling have failed. Leaving aside the effects on the frequency response, the attenuation caused by your muffler may cause the AVC to turn itself up even higher, so that although a lower volume is reaching the mic, the volume jump (some number of dB in a few tens of ms) may be entirely unchanged.
In short, your problem may have far more to do with the size and speed of the volume jump than with the absolute volume level.
Only work in the manufacturer’s electronics lab could confirm or disprove these speculations.

Re: How to stop clipping when recording whistle?

Hold on I didn’t say my attempts at muffling had failed. It stops clipping when put in between a folded pillow. The post was really mostly to get a better idea of why it was happening and since others have indicated it to be a limitation of the device rather user error or something like that I will continue to work around the issue.

I don’t think there is any kind of AVC (whatever that is); I presume it means dynamic level changing. It is a very basic device. It is just sensitive. I will carry on with the muffling but just experiment with different materials.