Session notes.

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Session notes.

Post by Arpangel »

Not literally, but thought I’d share my experience mixing our last accordion and electronics session.
It started yesterday, and I’m just off to mix another couple of tracks.
I was asking about using ribbon mic's on accordion, in one of my posts, it worked really well, I hadn’t listened back properly, until yesterday.
Basically, the entire set-up was a MacBook Air, a Behringer UMC202, a couple of mics, and a pair of phones, I don’t think I could wish for a better sound, in this context, it’s very natural, and full, using a Beyer M-130, plugged straight into the UMC202, which TBQH, is amazing, no issues whatsoever, and, it had plenty of gain for the ribbon, the electronics were via a Beyer M-201, in front of a small Roland Guitar Cube, this approach has given the sound a great mid-range presence, which makes all of the intricate sounds of my modular really stand out, much better than going via DI, as it gives the sounds a lot more character.
Both mic’s were recorded in mono, on separate tracks in Reaper, and that’s given me plenty of scope for "fiddling" later.
But not a lot of fiddling is necessary, I’ve not needed any EQ, it sounds good as it is, all effects are on the master buss, a tiny bit of compression, stereo enhancement using a Reaper JS plug-in, and a small hall reverb using Vintage Verb, just to add a hint of space.
I’ll post a link to these tracks when we’re finished, from now on, this is going to be our preferred set-up, it seems to work well, in our not-so-perfect recording environment.
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Re: Session notes.

Post by Drew Stephenson »

There's a lot of mileage to be had in keeping things simple. :thumbup:
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Re: Session notes.

Post by shufflebeat »

blinddrew wrote: Fri Dec 03, 2021 1:25 pm There's a lot of mileage to be had in keeping things simple. :thumbup:

Yup, straight lines reach further.

Looking forward to sampling (metaphorically, not digitally) the fruits of this project.
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Re: Session notes.

Post by resistorman »

blinddrew wrote: Fri Dec 03, 2021 1:25 pm There's a lot of mileage to be had in keeping things simple. :thumbup:

+1 :thumbup:
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Re: Session notes.

Post by Arpangel »

Interesting day yesterday, that’s for sure.
My friend turned up for a listening session, he brought his accordion, as he wanted to try out a pick-up he’d just bought for it, a Microvox.
For a start, it was obvious the sound wasn’t going to be as good as using our mic's, the dynamic range wasn’t good, and it didn’t pick up all the subtle bellows noises we use in our music, also, there was this weird graininess to the sound, when it almost broke up, like tape drop-outs, very subtle, but there, the high end was very raspy too.
The whole point of trying to use it was to achieve better separation, but the pick-up acted like a microphone, and it picked up our voices very well! so it’s a bit of a waste of time really.
We’re going to try one session with it, but I’m not holding out much hope, it really does detract from the tone of the accordion too much for me,
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Re: Session notes.

Post by shufflebeat »

Those microvox boxes have been around for a long time. I hated them when they first appeared and they've got no better since.

Many years ago I experimented with some £0.20 electret elements with a mate and we got a reasonable noise out of his old box. We struggled to make it stage-useable due to feedback vulnerability (our system was awful) but the whole project was brought to a halt when he turned up with one of those. It was basically our idea put in a plastic box and slapped with a ridiculous pricetag. It sounded awful and was even worse for feedback but we had to use it because he'd paid the money.
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Re: Session notes.

Post by Arpangel »

shufflebeat wrote: Sat Dec 04, 2021 9:18 am Those microvox boxes have been around for a long time. I hated them when they first appeared and they've got no better since.

Many years ago I experimented with some £0.20 electret elements with a mate and we got a reasonable noise out of his old box. We struggled to make it stage-useable due to feedback vulnerability (our system was awful) but the whole project was brought to a halt when he turned up with one of those. It was basically our idea put in a plastic box and slapped with a ridiculous pricetag. It sounded awful and was even worse for feedback but we had to use it because he'd paid the money.

Do you know of anything better, I can recommend to my friend?
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Re: Session notes.

Post by shufflebeat »

The best separation solution I've found is to get one (or two for a big box) cardioid mics that can take a loud source and place really close. Old school live audio.

This is really just our old friends mic choice and mic placement.
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Re: Session notes.

Post by Sam Spoons »

I've seen two DPA 4099s used on various squeeze boxes to good effect, they are hypercardoid and, used close up, give a good ratio of wanted sound to room sound. Not a cheap solution though.
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Re: Session notes.

Post by Arpangel »

Sam Spoons wrote: Sat Dec 04, 2021 11:29 am I've seen two DPA 4099s used on various squeeze boxes to good effect, they are hypercardoid and, used close up, give a good ratio of wanted sound to room sound. Not a cheap solution though.

Trouble is, we’re (me especially) very happy with the previous mic set-up, it’s my friend who seems keen on using the contact mic, I’m trying to persuade him otherwise, I didn’t like the sound, at all.
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Re: Session notes.

Post by Sam Spoons »

The DPA's are conventional mics not contact transducers. Have you asked him why? Any contact mic will be a compromise compared to a conventional mic setup because it will emphasise a specific part of the instrument.
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Re: Session notes.

Post by Bob Bickerton »

In addition to the wise comments above, accordions are notorious for key noise, bellow wheezing and the like. Using contact mics can hugely increase this problem beyond what sounds natural.

I think you need to ask him what 'specifically' he doesn't like about the sound.

The DPA4099s are a good live solution, but in order to get reasonable coverage in the studio, I'd hesitate to use clip-ons. Left hand (bass) can be problematic as it moves. With this in mind I'd usually use two mics on an accordion (and always two panned hard left and right on concertina - for the benefit of Concertina Chap if he's tuning in ;) - note smiley! )

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Re: Session notes.

Post by Drew Stephenson »

My cheap plastic accordion has very noisy bellows so one thing I've been thinking about is sticking a ribbon mic side-on in front the centre of the bellows.
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Re: Session notes.

Post by Bob Bickerton »

Yep, noisy bellows really suck..........

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Re: Session notes.

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Hey Bob, is this your coat? :lol::wave:
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Re: Session notes.

Post by Arpangel »

blinddrew wrote: Sat Dec 04, 2021 9:44 pm My cheap plastic accordion has very noisy bellows so one thing I've been thinking about is sticking a ribbon mic side-on in front the centre of the bellows.

The "noise" of the accordion is an essential part of our music, the reason why the Microvox pick-up is such a failure is that it doesn’t pick-up bellows noise, or finger tapping on the instrument very well at all, it sounds really unnatural, and weak.
With our microphones it gets picked up perfectly, so that’s a major thing against using contact mic's.
My friend wants to try it on our next session, as he seems keen on improving the separation issue, but to me, it’s not a problem, we have enough separation with our latest mic set-up, the downsides of the contact mic far outweigh any increases in separation IMO.
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Re: Session notes.

Post by shufflebeat »

If memory serves, your project involves real time improvisation with real life sound sources, i.e., accordion (mic) and synth/amp (mic).

I'd have thought this is the perfect scenario where a bit of mic bleed is an artistic positive rather than a technical negative.

By God, if this is some kind of extended ankle-showing campaign to whet our appetites in anticipation of a Grand Reveal it's a bloody good one.

Kidding, no pressure. Enjoy your noodling.
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Re: Session notes.

Post by Sam Spoons »

Arpangel wrote: Mon Dec 06, 2021 9:11 am My friend wants to try it on our next session, as he seems keen on improving the separation issue, but to me, it’s not a problem, we have enough separation with our latest mic set-up, the downsides of the contact mic far outweigh any increases in separation IMO.

Do you have enough inputs to record both the pickup in addition to the usual mic setup? If so that's what I would do.
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Re: Session notes.

Post by Arpangel »

shufflebeat wrote: Mon Dec 06, 2021 9:18 am By God, if this is some kind of extended ankle-showing campaign to whet our appetites in anticipation of a Grand Reveal it's a bloody good one.

Kidding, no pressure. Enjoy your noodling.

I’ve been rumbled :D

But everything you say is more than true, about mic bleed, it does sound great, I’ve just got to let my friend use the pick-up, and as Sam says, use the mics at the same time.
We are working towards an album, and it’ll be posted as soon as it’s done.
We are making headway, trying to use the accordion in accessible but different ways, we’re not after making a noise album, we want it to be a new take on looking at electronics with the accordion, as best we can, if we can.
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