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Aug 12, 2022 - 9:22:50 AM

phb

Germany

3504 posts since 11/8/2010

I tried recording my (finger-picked bluegrass) banjo. I own a Zoom H5 recorder with the X/Y microphone it came with. I also own a tripod to mount the recorder on. When I recorded myself recently, I aimed the recorder at the head a little away from its centre towards the neck joint. The recorder picked up an awful lot of pick-noise which I assume was because one of the X/Y microphones was aiming directly at my picking hand. But of course the problem could also be my picking technique (I was hoping it wouldn't be that bad). The sound was rather dry because I was recording in my very small man-cave. I think this is good because I can always add a little reverb later on.

I now wondered whether I should perhaps have the X/Y mike aim to the ceiling to record more indirect sound and less pick noise. Perhaps with the banjo being in the X direction so that from the Y direction there will only be reflected sound.

Any suggestions? Or should I get another microphone? I don't have any ambitious goals with my recordings, just to document my playing and perhaps sometimes upload a soundfile to my BHO homepage.

Aug 12, 2022 - 10:08:48 AM
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844 posts since 12/19/2010

I loaded Dolby On (a free app in the App Store or Google Play) onto my smartphone a few days ago. Can use for audio only or video with audio. My Tascam recorder and Yeti mic are now sitting in my closet. Give it a try, it might be just the ticket. I'm like you in terms of my reasons for recording.

Aug 12, 2022 - 10:52:51 AM

Alex Z

USA

4930 posts since 12/7/2006

How far away was the microphone on the recorder from the strings?

Aug 12, 2022 - 12:36:49 PM

phb

Germany

3504 posts since 11/8/2010

quote:
Originally posted by Alex Z

How far away was the microphone on the recorder from the strings?


I think about 10 inches or so. 

Aug 12, 2022 - 12:39:07 PM
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phb

Germany

3504 posts since 11/8/2010

@jack beuthin: the engineer in me doesn't want to believe that my phone can record as well as the Zoom should be able to if used correctly... ;)

Aug 12, 2022 - 12:48:45 PM

RB-1

Netherlands

3831 posts since 6/17/2003

quote:
Originally posted by phb
quote:
Originally posted by Alex Z

How far away was the microphone on the recorder from the strings?


I think about 10 inches or so. 

 


Try 50-80 cm...

And record in mono....

How about trying this next week?

I must have some time off duty for helping you figuring this out....

Aug 12, 2022 - 1:30:34 PM

phb

Germany

3504 posts since 11/8/2010

quote:
Originally posted by RB-1

How about trying this next week?

I must have some time off duty for helping you figuring this out....


Oh, that would be great! I have to admit I haven't even checked the schedule for this year's Banjoree, it's good to know you'll be there! 

Aug 12, 2022 - 6:45:35 PM

3420 posts since 10/17/2009

Getting mic placement good is always a bit of learning curve. 

I don't think I would recommend pointing to ceiling, but by all means can try it to see how sounds. 

As mentioned, might try further distance, like perhaps 50-80 cm, perhaps a meter. It should help tame attack and capture more overall sound of banjo rather than one part; as well as little air/room ambiance; though distance and room can start to add unwanted sound and reflections. Play with different distances to find nice balance. 

For close micing might play with away from picking hand/bridge; a common postion is a little more pointed toward around 14th fret, to maybe where neck meets pot. Another is behind the bridge. Can also play with off-axis angles.

I am unfamiliar with the built in XY mics on the Zoom... might be better to just use a single mic... like classic SM57 often gets good results. Or perhaps a 2 mic set up, but more AB, one toward 14th fret, the other behind bridge. Use 3-1 rule for distance.

------------

@jack beuthin: the engineer in me doesn't want to believe that my phone can record as well as the Zoom should be able to if used correctly... ;)

Maybe? But recording on the phone itself isn't probably an issue, it's the input interface... using phone built in mic, the preamp and analog to digital converter. They make decent mics that plug into a phone, as well many interfaces can now do that... those have preamp and A/D conversion built in, sending a digital signal to phone; or computer, it's the same digital info. (the Zoom might be able to plug into phone?)

Aug 14, 2022 - 6:04:48 AM

banjopaolo

Italy

1651 posts since 11/6/2008

I would suggest you to try different placing of the zoom, I use a zoom h6 that is very similar to your h5, but I usually play clawhammer, anyway I usually place the zoom more or less at 1 meter, I also use Dpa mic connected to the zoom sometimes, and in that case I place it much more colse to the head

Edited by - banjopaolo on 08/14/2022 06:05:56

Aug 14, 2022 - 1:01:32 PM

phb

Germany

3504 posts since 11/8/2010

Hi guys, thanks for your suggestions. Today I tried to record me again, this time with the Zoom about 1 metre away from me. I found that tilting the recorder to the side so that its X/Y plane is vertical rather than horizontal made it possible to "focus" the recorder a little better and away from the pick hand. Still there seems to be quite a bit of pick noise.

Unfortunately I lost the "dry" recording during the editing process (I made my first youtube/bho video, see my comment here: banjohangout.org/topic/383608/5) so that I can only post the recording before I added the backing track to it. Using audacity I normalised the volume of the original recording, added compression and some reverb. To me the amount of pick noise in the recording is rather annoying. I also believe something is wrong with the compressor settings because there seems to be some "warble" in the sound I didn't notice before. I also add the version with the computer backing track added. The backing track seems to mask quite a bit of the problems with the recording.


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Aug 28, 2022 - 3:54:20 PM

1304 posts since 11/9/2012

I use a Zoom H6. I have found to get the best quality audio I can use the stock X/Y mics along with TWO more large condenser microphones at the same time, one mic per track. I use a total of four microphones in all just to record my banjo. I swear it sounds better than just using the stock X/Y mics. I mix all 4 tracks together on my pc for a stereo output.

Here is a recently recorded mp3 of just my banjo recorded with the 4 condenser microphones all at the same time: https://www.banjohangout.org/myhangout/media-player/audio_player2.asp?musicid=44161&archived=  VIDEO: Videos - Banjo Hangout

(Please overlook my playing, I don't play Scruggs stuff at all)

Good luck.
Terry

Aug 28, 2022 - 4:41:13 PM

3420 posts since 10/17/2009

quote:
Originally posted by phb

Using audacity I normalised the volume of the original recording, added compression and some reverb. To me the amount of pick noise in the recording is rather annoying. I also believe something is wrong with the compressor settings because there seems to be some "warble" in the sound I didn't notice before. I also add the version with the computer backing track added. The backing track seems to mask quite a bit of the problems with the recording.


Compression settings might be enhancing the noise (possibly with reverb).

Not sure that banjo needs compression. 

Also might try pointing the mic more toward neck... where meets pot or even toward 14th fret.

Could also try EQ, or de-esser to get rid of the squeaky. (that sometimes works for fiddle/bow noise).

Using plugins, might want to consider some other recording software than Audacity... as they offer non-destructive editing. Lot's of free ones.

Edited by - banjoak on 08/28/2022 16:44:42

Aug 28, 2022 - 5:47:54 PM

Joeblo

Australia

45 posts since 3/1/2021

quote:
Originally posted by jack_beuthin

I loaded Dolby On (a free app in the App Store or Google Play) onto my smartphone a few days ago. Can use for audio only or video with audio. My Tascam recorder and Yeti mic are now sitting in my closet. Give it a try, it might be just the ticket. I'm like you in terms of my reasons for recording.


Hi I just tried this Dolby On. Used it to add effects to a previously recorded phone video and it works pretty good.

Thanks for the tip,  joe

Aug 28, 2022 - 6:31:52 PM

4135 posts since 9/12/2016

having meters of some kind tells a lot--in regards to good proximity---pick noise might be eq ed out a bit -but don;t expect miracles--I don't worry about a bit of noise ,if the overall still sounds good

Aug 29, 2022 - 1:40:14 AM

phb

Germany

3504 posts since 11/8/2010

quote:
Originally posted by Toothless in Kentucky

I use a Zoom H6. I have found to get the best quality audio I can use the stock X/Y mics along with TWO more large condenser microphones at the same time, one mic per track. I use a total of four microphones in all just to record my banjo. I swear it sounds better than just using the stock X/Y mics. I mix all 4 tracks together on my pc for a stereo output.

Here is a recently recorded mp3 of just my banjo recorded with the 4 condenser microphones all at the same time: https://www.banjohangout.org/myhangout/media-player/audio_player2.asp?musicid=44161&archived=  VIDEO: Videos - Banjo Hangout

(Please overlook my playing, I don't play Scruggs stuff at all)


That does sound quite good! (And what you play sure is interesting). I ordered a Shure 57 and will see whether I can get a better recording.

How did you arrange the microphones? I'll try the Shure for close miking pointing at the neck joint as recommended and the Zoom's X/Y somewhere at the back of my (small) room.

Aug 29, 2022 - 1:48:05 AM

phb

Germany

3504 posts since 11/8/2010

quote:
Originally posted by banjoak
 

Compression settings might be enhancing the noise (possibly with reverb).

Not sure that banjo needs compression. 

You are probably right. I use compression customarily for the recordings I make at our jams and that's probably why I used it here. For the jam recordings it helps make players audible that were seated farther away from the recorder. But here it probably amplifies the pick noise.

 

Also might try pointing the mic more toward neck... where meets pot or even toward 14th fret.

I will try that with the Shure 57 I ordered.

 

Could also try EQ, or de-esser to get rid of the squeaky. (that sometimes works for fiddle/bow noise).

That's a good idea, I will try that.

 

Using plugins, might want to consider some other recording software than Audacity... as they offer non-destructive editing. Lot's of free ones.


Yes, I hadn't realised that Audacity doesn't do non-destructive editing until now. While you are running the program, you can undo changes so I assumed that Audacity project files would also store the required data for undo. I also have the impression that the effect plugins that come with Audacity aren't top quality. I will have to look around for a different program but I am limited to linux. 

Aug 29, 2022 - 2:49:58 PM
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3420 posts since 10/17/2009

For Linux, Ardour was/is pretty standard goto full DAW; I think is in most repos. I found pretty straightforward and works great. As been around a long time, has lots of user forum support. 

There are dedicated music distributions, AVL and KXStudio, they come with Ardour and some other DAWs and plugins set up in the distibution. This is what I primarily used for years.

There are others like Traction/Waveform work fine. Many folks of all platforms highly rate Reaper, though not open source, it's not very expensive (can use it in demo mode); and as cross platform, there are a lot of Reaper users to get support. Harrison Mixbus is also really good (essentially it's built off of Ardour, but with some tweaks and improvements). 

Aug 30, 2022 - 5:00:26 AM

phb

Germany

3504 posts since 11/8/2010

banjoak :

Thanks for the suggestions, I heard about Ardour and Reaper before. When I had looked around and then settled for Audacity, I only wanted something that could cut my live recordings from the jam sessions into the individual songs for newcomers to give them an idea about what we play and how we play (yuck). I'll first try Ardour and then perhaps Reaper.

I am running Ubuntu 22.04 LTS. I tried Ubuntu Studio on an older computer and found it sort of a mixed experience. The Jack setup worked better than it does now on my standard Ubuntu (for some reason I always have to restart Jack after the first start and less programs than I would have expected come with Jack support) but overall there didn't seem to be much difference compared to standard Ubuntu but some problems with packet incompatibilities between the main repositories and the Studio repos. If I install a different distribution, I would probably want a dedicated computer for that.

Aug 30, 2022 - 9:35:21 AM

4135 posts since 9/12/2016

I just used Audacity to cut songs into track from a vynal album-a slight learning curve =but not much --
The method was hit and miss found--between their cd export help section and export multiple file(first dropdown?) --then their is a toggle between export by track or some other choice --but you want by track--if you files are mono and you want stereo--you include a new blank stereo track -then it puts the mono on both sides
you visually see the songs and cut them with an included name or number

Aug 30, 2022 - 10:51:20 AM

phb

Germany

3504 posts since 11/8/2010

Yes, Audacity is pretty simple to use to cut a long recording into songs or whatever. I usually process a recording of an entire evening in an hour or so and that includes converting the cuts into mp3 files, tagging them, zipping them into archives and uploading them.

Aug 30, 2022 - 1:45:26 PM

4135 posts since 9/12/2016

quote:
Originally posted by phb

banjoak :

Thanks for the suggestions, I heard about Ardour and Reaper before. When I had looked around and then settled for Audacity, I only wanted something that could cut my live recordings from the jam sessions into the individual songs for newcomers to give them an idea about what we play and how we play.

 

I guess my suggestion got zeroed in on this statement too much---

yep audacity has meters-- one can use to ride the faders --and visual  volume adjustments  to chosen areas of the track's wave --

I never found anything helpful from compression,on the banjo --rock guitar guys are know to get alot of use  from compression for their overdrive tube amp tricks though--

I like to piddle with effects---but it seems every digital one looses the good tone a bit --even if the overall effect is great

you might be able to eq a narrow notch on the pick noise -you speak of

Aug 30, 2022 - 1:48 PM
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3420 posts since 10/17/2009

quote:
Originally posted by phb

banjoak :

Thanks for the suggestions, I heard about Ardour and Reaper before. When I had looked around and then settled for Audacity, I only wanted something that could cut my live recordings from the jam sessions into the individual songs for newcomers to give them an idea about what we play and how we play (yuck). I'll first try Ardour and then perhaps Reaper.

I am running Ubuntu 22.04 LTS. I tried Ubuntu Studio on an older computer and found it sort of a mixed experience. The Jack setup worked better than it does now on my standard Ubuntu (for some reason I always have to restart Jack after the first start and less programs than I would have expected come with Jack support) but overall there didn't seem to be much difference compared to standard Ubuntu but some problems with packet incompatibilities between the main repositories and the Studio repos. If I install a different distribution, I would probably want a dedicated computer for that.


I have Linux  and Ardour on lots of pretty old computers  (10-15 year old?), including old eepc, and imac and macbook... Linux and audio doesn't require much umph, esp most basic multitrack recording (unless getting into lots of VST plugins, instruments, FX and samples).

Ardour can work with just ALSA (and I beleive pulse audio)... but Jack is a better audio engine, most of all these audio apps/plugins are designed to work great with Jack. It does require stopping/restarting the audio engine if making core changes (like sample rate, buffer, interface)... and some running programs don't like that so might crash (most like Ardour, allow to disconnect from engine to make changes). Qjackctl or Cadence are great for routing, visual patchbay.

One thing that many distros now include as default is using pulseaudio (rather than ALSA)... mostly because of web browser/streaming support now require it. I find it can be bit buggier than just using ALSA/Jack. 

For Ubuntu or any Debian - KXStudios - is a good source repositories, apps and plugins. (they used to have a own distro, I still have installed on one machine; seems no longer available).

For dedicated Audio/video distro... many of them use a slightly tweaked RT kernel or low latency kernel (or give option). I've liked simplicity AV Linux - the newest one AV Linux MX-21, made lots of changes... esp in using MX. 

Aug 30, 2022 - 2:55:26 PM

phb

Germany

3504 posts since 11/8/2010

banjoak : I have a very old Core 2 Duo in the basement which I set up for online jamming. With the SSD it has it certainly is fast enough for audio applications. KXStudios looks very interesting. If I understand it correctly, it is much like Ubuntu Studio in that it installs on top of an existing Ubuntu installation? I might try that but I am a little hesitant because I don't want to mess up my main computer. The basement computer probably is a better candidate for testing...

Aug 30, 2022 - 5:03:40 PM
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3420 posts since 10/17/2009

quote:
Originally posted by phb

banjoak : I have a very old Core 2 Duo in the basement which I set up for online jamming. With the SSD it has it certainly is fast enough for audio applications. KXStudios looks very interesting. If I understand it correctly, it is much like Ubuntu Studio in that it installs on top of an existing Ubuntu installation? I might try that but I am a little hesitant because I don't want to mess up my main computer. The basement computer probably is a better candidate for testing...


KXStudio link is just really repository which can point Symantec (or other agent) to. Or can just get apps and plugin part individually. As well most of these, such as Ardour, are already in the Canonical repositories. These should not mess up your computer. 

I have run these just fine on Core 2 Duo... 32 bit. However, should note that some of the newer apps and kernel updates are designed for more modern computers and 64 bit; and might have issues with older. Fortunately can usually find and load the older distributions on the older machines... for most audio projects, the old stuff still works just fine.

Aug 31, 2022 - 5:20:52 PM

1304 posts since 11/9/2012

quote:
Originally posted by phb
quote:
Originally posted by Toothless in Kentucky

I use a Zoom H6. I have found to get the best quality audio I can use the stock X/Y mics along with TWO more large condenser microphones at the same time, one mic per track. I use a total of four microphones in all just to record my banjo. I swear it sounds better than just using the stock X/Y mics. I mix all 4 tracks together on my pc for a stereo output.

Here is a recently recorded mp3 of just my banjo recorded with the 4 condenser microphones all at the same time: https://www.banjohangout.org/myhangout/media-player/audio_player2.asp?musicid=44161&archived=  VIDEO: Videos - Banjo Hangout

(Please overlook my playing, I don't play Scruggs stuff at all)


That does sound quite good! (And what you play sure is interesting). I ordered a Shure 57 and will see whether I can get a better recording.

How did you arrange the microphones? I'll try the Shure for close miking pointing at the neck joint as recommended and the Zoom's X/Y somewhere at the back of my (small) room.

 


I mount all of my microphones (Including the Zoom X/Y mics) behind a small isolation shield like this:
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/81Ffp1YR+DL._AC_SY355_.jpg 

I have all the microphones within 18 inches of each other with none touching anything. The 2 large diaphragm mics are of different brands and models, and they both produce a tone that is unlike the other. I would post a picture of my setup, but I'm currently backing up my phone memory card on my p.c. In my past I used to use a SM57 for recording the feedback from my guitar amp (used for banjo). So the SM57s really go good as well. Good luck.

Thanks for your time.

Terry

Sep 1, 2022 - 12:58:12 AM
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phb

Germany

3504 posts since 11/8/2010

quote:
Originally posted by Toothless in Kentucky

I mount all of my microphones (Including the Zoom X/Y mics) behind a small isolation shield like this:
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/81Ffp1YR+DL._AC_SY355_.jpg 

The microphones are behind the shield? (Or the other way round: the shield is between the banjo and the microphones?) I guess you then mostly record indirect sound which perhaps helps reduce the pick noise.

 

I have all the microphones within 18 inches of each other with none touching anything. The 2 large diaphragm mics are of different brands and models, and they both produce a tone that is unlike the other.

Do you point them at the banjo?

 

I would post a picture of my setup

Please do when you have your phone back in a working state.

 

So the SM57s really go good as well. Good luck.

I need to find some time for some test recordings but I hope I can do that some time in the next couples of weeks (I can't play and thus record in the evenings which is when I usually have my spare time).

 

Thanks for your time.

Thank you! When I finished school, I decided I wanted to become a recording engineer but there was no defined way to get there (and hardly a practical way either, I think there is/was one major recording studio in Berlin). I registered for electrical engineering and that took me to completely different places without music before a few years ago I eventually decided to play an instrument again (now with family and full-time job). Today all this recording equipment is so cheap and high quality, it's unbelievable. I guess I have a bit of catching up to do and eventually learn what I did not learn back then...

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