THIS SECTION IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION – You can reed as much as we have written, we hope, soon we will finish this page.
SOUND QUALITY – FIRST LOOK
Sometimes there is a question about Sound Quality. What is this? We all heard about lot of things, but there is small things you probably don’t know. In this page we explain things you most likely know, but I’m sure, you find there something NEW. And the best thing, if you will know these small things, you can improve your sound quality actually for very cheap price.
Maybe you say, who cares about these small things if they improve sound quality just for about 0.5%. It’s impossible to hear the difference at all, and I will answer. Yes, you right if there arr just few of them, but if these small things are more than 100? What then? 0.5%*100=50%! And in this case the difference is huge. So, let’s go to improve these things!
To save your time, in “italic” shrift we write details with explanations, so, if you hurry, you can skip it, but for a full picture, I recommend reed all article.
For first. We work a lot with professional photography, video and sound. Actually, the sound is most complicate thing. Sound quality depends from Sound sources, acoustics, microphones capsules, proportions of microphone electric circuits, mic tubes, mic stand vibrations, sound wave pressure, cables, preamps, A/D converters. And after digital editing, the same, just in opposite way. D/A converters, preamplifiers, power amplifier, cables, acoustics, acoustic stands, etc. OK, we better get to the point, step by step.
RECOMMENDATION 1 – Microphone Stand Vibration
The Large Diaphragm capsules is very sensitive. It is able to catch almost all vibrations. Do not forget that. Speed of sound in air is about 343 meters per second, but in iron 5,120 m/s. Your microphone can capture distorted vibration from your sound source through floor and mic stand earlier and your recording will sounds not so crystal clear as is should to bee.
- For studio use – choice as heavy Microphone Stand as possible;
- Use Microphone SHOCK MOUNT to avoid kicks and low frequency vibration;
- Mount SPIKES (similar like on studio monitor stands) to your studio Microphone stand, it will avoid frequency vibration from sound source comes through floor;
- If possible, under your mic stand use heavy iron plates (10, 20kg) mounted on spikes to absorb all possible vibrations.
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RECOMMENDATION 2 – Microphone & Instrument Cables
Very important is electromagnetic emission. It came from all electrical equipment and creates background noise known as white, pink and brown noise. If you will follow few simple steps you can minimize it as low as possible.
We found very good article about cables, so for first, to understood basics, please READ it or if some problems happen with link, you can DOWNLOAD pdf.
- ALWAYS use Balanced XLR Cables;
- The Cable length must be as you need, not much longer (4 feet, 8 feet, 16 feet, 32 feet, 64 feet, 128 feet, 256 feet);
- Check Microphone Cable Conductor resistance. For good quality it will be as low as possible. But remember. For cables are many parameters, so, you need to find balance between;
- Check Microphone Cable Capacitance. (You can find it on cable technical description). The capacity must be as low as possible – less than 50 pF at 1m wire. (READ or DOWNLOAD pdf about Capacitance);
- Remember – the cable thickness or thinness not playing big role on sound quality. The most important thing is that, how good cable is made and balanced. Thick cables are only for long distances;
- Turn off ALL mobile phones, all electrical equipment you can, to minimize electromagnetic emission;
- In our studio we use 230V DC (Direct Current) instead of AC (Alternating Current) to minimize all possible electromagnetic emission and, of course, feel the better.
Ask for Password – we will give it to you for free.
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RECOMMENDATION 3 – Time of Recording “00-24?”
If you live in to the woods and if you have superb sound isolation around, you can record your music whenever you want, BUT do not forget that in cities and actually almost everywhere cars are driving, planes are flying, people walking and talking and your microphone will record all the noise that reaches it. Therefore, the best time for music recording is night time or early mornings.
- Record your music in time when most people are sleeping.
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RECOMMENDATION 4 – Microphones for Studio Recording
This is a one of the biggest question. ” What type of microphone should I use?” Around the internet is lot of recommendations and explanations, but there is no correct answer at all. You have many variations about. From mics about 10 coins till 10’000 and more. Most microphone comparison audio samples is practicality unusable, because to do it right you need to follow few steps:
For testing some equipment, all other stuff should be the best possible and JUST then you can hear the difference between. If you test mic by 1000 coins and listen it on studio monitors by 400 coins, your test will not be accurate.
- You should to use best recording equipment on the market and record on high bit-rate 192Khz 24bit lossless file format;
- Then you need simultaneously record audio samples with both of them;
- Woman’s vocal, men’s vocal, piano, solo guitar, string and wind instruments (choose all or best for your passion)- no any effects aloud;
- Make blind test – 10, 15 seconds listen record on one mic, and 10, 15 on another;
- To hear the difference you should listen samples on professional calibrated High-End studio monitors or headphones you can get.
You practically can’t use online video and audio samples because streaming quality is very low quality and even if you have professional studio monitors, you can’t hear the difference correctly.
Actually, microphone architecture is peace of Art and it’s building require unique knowledge. I’m talking about geometry of sound waves, about microphone capsule physics, about proportions of electric circuit diagram. If you will understand these principles, you will make a right decision. It’s impossible to tell in short how mics works, therefore if you would like to know it, PLEASE read this HERE (Microphone section is still under construction).
(Microphone section is still under construction)
In basics, follow simple steps to choose correct Microphone:
- Take note of! Modern day mics and mic factory’s are not the same as in oldies;
- Avoid replicas and cheap imitations;
The funniest thing is, relatively cheap stage microphones like Shure SM57, SM58 and BETA SM58A is much more better than many cheap Low-End phantom powered large-diaphragm mics. If you are beginner, I suggest start with that.
- Choice microphone by Capsule, more than 90% depends on it;
Microphone capsules is something like acoustic violins. There is option to get ordinary stuff for teaching music, is option to get concert instruments and option to get old “Stradivari Masterpieces” by millions of coins. In this section we talk about good mics and how to choice the best possible option for the budget available to you.
- Make a decision
I suggest, choice microphones by your intuition and of course, remember everything you know about. You will just know – It is The Right One. Please read about mics when we finish this character. It will definitely help you.
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RECOMMENDATION 5 – Premplifiers
Very important thing is Microphone Preamplifiers. Without them your mic will sound like barrel. Preamplifiers are interface for small chips named Opamp’s. Chips sales price is approximate 100 coins (for branded ones) or 10-15 coins from manufacturers like “Analog Devices” (like OP275) or “Texas Instrument”, but preamplifier interfaces with fiew chips cost thousands of coins. Watch HERE (expensive ones) how these chips looks. Take in to action that you can upgrade your audio components for just 10 coins with Hi-End Opamp chips (practically the same as for 100 coins) and dramatically increase sound quality. The value of built-in chips is usually under 1 coin. Read more about it HERE or download PDF (Please translate page from RU by yourself).
For example, we bought a budget headphone amplifier “Douk Audio U3” made in China for 41 coins. We replaced the stock opamp with an Analog Devices OP275 for 10 coins and we soldered an additional capacitor in parallel for opamp, so that the opamp had enough electricity. The quality of the headphone amplifier increased significantly. It currently sounds the equivalent of a 500 coins headphone amp. Using good wires, and good connectors and the sound is practically no different from the output of the RME UFX+ audio interface headphone otputs.
Take in to action, that if you use great audio interface with multiple inputs, even with 48V phantom power, it doesn’t mean that interface is provided with Opamp chips. You must carefully reed instruction to find out. For example, RME Fireface UC interface have 8x Analog inputs but just 2 of them came with Opamp’s. If you will connect your mic in to the back of this interface, it will sound not as it should.
HOW BIG IS DIFFERENCE.
The difference is huge! For example, Shure SM58 for 100 coins with great Preamp will sound much better than Hi-End Telefunken C-12 mic for 11’000 coins with entry level Preamp.
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RECOMMENDATION 6 – Headphones
When you record audio, you should know what you are recording. In to the market are hundreds of headphones and you will find lot of information about, but I tell you how to improve your headphone sound quality, therefore do not forget to calibrate them. For calibration we use Sonarworks calibration software. No, it is not a promotional article, we just find thees profs and we can tell them “Thank you!” After calibration our old SONY MDR-V6 start a new life. We were really amazed for crystal clear sound we get. HERE you can see all calibrated headphone profiles included.
There is one important thing about headphones for singers and for those who stand in front of the microphone. Funny thing – the singer sings by moving his mouth – of course, how else, but from the movements of the mouth some headphones may crack. These plastic and metal construction crackling sounds are very audible in the recordings. For example, our SONY MDR-V6 are relatively cheap and good headphones, but but they are not suitable for recordings due to cracking. Recommendations to use Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro. They will be much better.
What else we can say about. Go to the music store and choice the one : ) And again we can say for sure, quality depends from audio interface. If you want to make your headphones sound as they should, use good audio interface.
Ou, one more thing. Before you buy, remember, if you work with headphones long hours, very important is comfort. Choose big, comfortable, lightweight and with soft ear pads.
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RECOMMENDATION 7 – Audio Interfaces
There is lot of audio interfaces around. Witch one should I choose? But to understand, you should know how they works.
Audio Interface is many stuff in to the one box. Usually there is microphone preamplifiers, A/D and D/A converters, headphone amps, many nice colored lights, connection system with other expansion stuff and connection system with your computer. All these things are mixed together similar to fruit mix. More Strawberry’s in one pot, more mango’s in the other. But not the count of Strawberry’s make fruit mix delicious. Fruit Quality make a wonder! In interface – “parts Quality”. Of course, you must know, how many preamps, how many inputs, outputs you need, how you will connect to computer, driver stability, etc. In publications, owner companies talk about connectors, but not about quality: “We have 8 GREAT strawberries in our pot.” If we talk about really hi quality recordings, then you should choice best of modern day technique. In many brands cheapest ones have middle and low quality solutions inside and just TOP-END solution is professional. In our studio we choose RME, because practically all of them have clear sound quality. They have their weaknesses, but it’s acceptable.
In oldies story was different. To made, for example, a professional tape recorder, it was take many hours of human work and it cost huge. In our days, practically anyone who create a music is capable to achieve highest top of the mountain in their homes. If you want to, you can read about some Hi-End recording solutions and equipment sets we collect for relatively cheap costs.
(DAW effects (PDF) in most interfaces is totally different thing.)
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RECOMMENDATION 8 – Recording
The first question – about recording. 44.1kHz or 48kHz or maybe 96 or even 192kHz? We know that human “ear hears” only until 20kHz, but the point is not hearing. For first, you should understand that human ears perceived even 100kHz and more, but human brain can not recognize so hi frequencies. If brain can not recognize, it does not mean, the frequencies diapered. That means – they still affects the listener.
Each part of sound recording and sound reproducing devices make sense. If you will record your music on entry level microphones and listen it on computer speakers, then there is no point to record using double or quad speed clock (96 or 192 kHz), but if your goal is to record in really hi quality, then our recommendation is to record using high sample rate.
Very important for LIVE recording is BACKUP RECORDING. There is many options how you can simultaneously record on 2 different recorders like PC&PC or PC&DURec or otherwise. If any hardware or software fails, the other will continue to work.
Equally important is to make backup for your records! Please note, hard drives may refuse. 2 copies are usually sufficient, but the industry standard for 99.999% security provides for 3 copies, each stored in a different location.
MICROPHONE PLACEMENT AND RECORDING STYLE
Interesting fact about recording position is, just placing the microphone in front of the instrument change instrument acoustics. Logically thinking, that should not be the case, but in an almost magical way – it is. This difference can be well heard if you play with instrument resonator. The best solution – give a space for your instrument and place microphones a little bit further. Sometimes even some inches can improve the sound. Take into account – Microphones should be placed at the same distance from the sound source.
RECORDING WITH MANY MICROPHONES
If you will record, for example, symphonic orchestra with 27 microphones… try to master it. That is IMPOSSIBLE. Therefore many modern day engines choice to record just DIRECT SOUND with many microphones, but room acoustics use just to give a little space. Recording sound will seem transparent, but actually it will be dirty because of sinus waves from each channel are mixed mathematically and interact just in option +/-. In that way sound you get in your recorder is 1 Dimensional.
Imagine: “You sit in to the dark, dark room, where is total silence and total nothing but in to the room are many, many small holes in to the ear. These holes is microphone capsules. In to the other dimension – in to the other side of these holes are same size room with orchestra. All sound you get in your room is through these holes. Imagine – you can take these holes and put in 1 dimension in front of you. Using stereo mics you separate some holes. It is like a take all orchestra and to sit them on a two chairs.”
Sound can not be mixed mathematically. Real sound is 3 Dimensional WAVE FORM and it can be mixed just while playing – just in to the room. Maybe some day someone creates software witch allows to digitally imitate 3D room and wave form in to it, but for this moment we need to use room acoustics.
There is many situations when you just have a room you have and you must figure it out how to get best possible sound from it therefore, if the only way is to use more than one recording spot and place microphones separately, you should work with mic-source distances.
Software make sense. Each of them have slightly different algorithms, and it is important for mixing, mastering and editing. We use two types of software: AVID Pro Tools for complicate situations or Adobe Audition for simpler projects.
Good option for sound monitoring is “Spectrogram” By Visualization Software LLC”. There is 2 channel spectrum analysis. For 3D understanding there is small recommendation. Try to watch spectrum image focusing the point of view behind the monitor and allowing the eyes to see each channel separately and perceiving the image as a 3D.
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RECOMMENDATION 9 – Mastering
MASTERING ON HEADPHONES
Mastering on Hi-End headphones will give you clear sound without room distortion. It is the best way to hear all frequencies and put your tracks together, therefore our recommendation is to use really good OPEN AIR headphones. They are much more cheaper than Hi-End studio monitors. but there is one thing you can not do with headphones. And it is a sound “Stereo Picture”. On headphones you can not hear space therefore studio monitors is required, but you don’t need to get super expensive monitors.
MASTERING ON STUDIO MONITORS
To create a correct stereo image you will have enough with small, but precise near field studio monitors, like GENELEC 8040 or NEUMANN KH 120 or ADAM S2V. But for correct sound we will recommend to use Closed-Back speakers (without bass holes), like YAMAHA NS10 STUDIO.
Legendary YAMAHA NS10 STUDIO is unique speakers because of they drivers. They sound very dry and hard and there is practically impossible to listen ordinary music on these speakers. BUT! It’s not because of bad speakers, it’s because of recording and mastering style. If you will listen past time (80s, 90s) genius engineer recordings, YAMAHA will sound fantastic.
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FOLLOWING SECTION IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION
RECOMMENDATION 10 – Power Amplifiers
There are many types of power amplifiers. Type A, AB, B, C, D, E, F, G and H. You can read about it here. If you have interested in best possible quality, then choice dual mono type A.
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RECOMMENDATION 12 – Studio Monitors
OUR DAYS VERSUS PAST DAYS
Follow the genuine past and you will find the different future..
In our days you practically wont find Closed-back studio monitors. All monitors are made with bass holes. Bass hole is not for bass boost. Of course, bass is deeper and warmer but the main thing for these holes is for driver amortization – sinus alignment. If modern day music is otherwise recorded and mastered, then on speakers with “holes” it will sound good. (Try to listen this music on Yamaha NS10 and you will turn it of after 30 seconds.)
The main task for music reproducing, what includes recording, mastering and playing, is to reproduce as realistic a sound as possible. Ideally, no one should distinguish it from real performance, which is practically impossible, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to go to this direction. Different story is electromagnetically created music, like modular synths, where just artist performance makes point.
For realistic sound reproducing I clearly recommend to get vintage studio monitors and there is no compromise here.
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RECOMMENDATION 13 – Most Important Thing
Do not forget the main thing! Most important in sound recordings is Composer and Performer! Be good, be brilliant and your music will sounds grate!
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For other information please contact us.