Clarinet sound test

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Michael Willis
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Clarinet sound test

Postby Michael Willis » Thu Jan 04, 2018 4:19 pm

I've used midi as a crutch for too many years, so I'm trying to learn about recording live audio. My eventual goal is to mix live and virtual instruments, but whereas I have done plenty of tinkering with midi and virtual instruments, I decided that this year I need to spend more time recording audio to build experience in that area.

Last night after the kids were in bed (or at least supposed to be), I tried recording a clarinet melody. After a few takes, I got one that I think sounded good enough to share: https://instaud.io/1C15

I'm using a single dynamic mic about 10cm from the instrument in an untreated room. The mic gain was turned almost all the way up on my interface. I added a small concert hall reverb, mixed about 20% wet.

Since I'm so new to this, any feedback would be really helpful. Is the instrument too close or too far from the mic? Are there any other audio filters that would be helpful, or would it be better to keep it simple for an acoustic instrument? Or is that a matter of taste? It definitely has a "close mic" sound to it, so it might be a challenge to get it to mix well with more instruments. I don't hear much noise in the recording, but I'm curious if I'm just not hearing it because I'm accustomed to the noise floor of my untreated room. Incidentally, my wife uses the other side of the room for crafts and sewing, so there are piles of textile materials, foam, batting, etc., which might actually help the room.

Additionally, I'm just starting to practice clarinet again after not doing it for about two decades, so any advice on clarinet technique would also be welcome.

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Re: Clarinet sound test

Postby folderol » Thu Jan 04, 2018 4:57 pm

Pretty good overall, but I got the feeling that I was hearing some of the room - even though you were close miced. As a suggestion, try working slightly further away from the mic, but have a duvet strung up behind you to suppress room reflections.

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Re: Clarinet sound test

Postby tseaver » Thu Jan 04, 2018 11:08 pm

I do hear some of the room, but it isn't an ugly sound.

Rather than cranking the preamp on my interface to deal with quiet dynamic mics, I've recently enjoyed using the Simply Sound SS-1 inline preamp https://simplysound.co/product/ss-1-microphone-preamp/ Like the CloudLifter, it is powered from the +48V phantom voltage). Looks like at time of posting they are still running their Christmas sale @ $49.99 (down from $74.99).

On the clarinet technique front, you'll likely want to practice other articulations (slurring, for instance), but the tone / timing sound good.
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Re: Clarinet sound test

Postby Michael Willis » Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:08 am

Thanks for the feedback. I have a new recording with a few new things that I'm trying. As recommended by folderol, I put a duvet behind me and stepped away from the mic, I think this time the distance was about 30 or 40 cm. I'm trying to get better at playing the upper register notes (conspicuously absent from my last recording) without the "grunt" that is a global plague on clarinetists. I also mixed in a sampled piano, trying to work on the eventual goal of mixing live clarinet with multiple virtual instruments. I put both sounds through a single concert hall reverb, but other than that I didn't use any audio processing.

https://instaud.io/1FeB

The composition is original. As before, any feedback is welcome, since I'm working on a new skill.

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Re: Clarinet sound test

Postby folderol » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:54 pm

I think this definitely sounds better.
What reverb are you using? It sounds like a fairly short one. One with a longer reverb time might sound better for some work - or not for others!

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Re: Clarinet sound test

Postby Michael Willis » Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:45 pm

folderol wrote:I think this definitely sounds better.
What reverb are you using? It sounds like a fairly short one. One with a longer reverb time might sound better for some work - or not for others!


Thanks. I'm using my own reverb plugin that is still under development: https://github.com/michaelwillis/dragonfly-reverb. I was afraid of overdoing the reverb, so I mixed it about 10% early reflections, 10% late reverb, and 80% dry. The late decay time was set to about 2 seconds, but with the wet levels so low, it probably seems shorter than that. I'm still learning how to use reverb effectively.

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Re: Clarinet sound test

Postby folderol » Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:09 pm

Michael Willis wrote: I'm still learning how to use reverb effectively.

Aren't we all? :lol:

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Re: Clarinet sound test

Postby Michael Willis » Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:21 pm

folderol wrote:
Michael Willis wrote: I'm still learning how to use reverb effectively.

Aren't we all? :lol:

:lol:

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Re: Clarinet sound test

Postby Michael Willis » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:15 am

Experiment 3: Mix live clarinet with three virtual instruments, include a Zynaddsubfx preset (probably made by somebody on this forum), a piano, and the pipe chimes that I sampled a few months back.

https://instaud.io/1GhF

If I keep this up, maybe eventually I'll build up enough confidence to finish a full length piece with a sweet sweet clarinet solo.

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Re: Clarinet sound test

Postby folderol » Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:16 am

Sounds good.
Oh, and that background pad sounds suspiciously familiar :lol:

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Re: Clarinet sound test

Postby Michael Willis » Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:54 am

Here's another try at live recording clarinet and arranging virtual instruments to go with it: https://instaud.io/1MhF

This time I arranged string sections, the sound I'm going for is two soloists playing clarinet and piano in the front of the stage with the strings sections panned out behind them.

As always, any feedback is welcome, this time particularly about the use of reverb and panning for stage presence and whether it sounds like the instruments are in the same "space".

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Re: Clarinet sound test

Postby folderol » Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:01 pm

Clarinet and piano fine. Strings don't sound quite right, but can't suggest why :(

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Re: Clarinet sound test

Postby finotti » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:47 pm

I cannot offer any technical comment, but I like how it sounds (and the music itself)!

The strings remind me of a Melltotron a bit at times (and places), which might not be what you were going for, but I quite like it. :-)

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Re: Clarinet sound test

Postby Michael Willis » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:34 pm

folderol wrote:Clarinet and piano fine. Strings don't sound quite right, but can't suggest why :(


Thanks for the feedback... is there any way to narrow down your opinion about the strings? Is it a matter of arrangement, or timbre, or reverb/panning? Or are you still uncertain about what seems off?

finotti wrote:I cannot offer any technical comment, but I like how it sounds (and the music itself)!


I have to admit that I've been trying to work up the gumption to mix the clarinet into a prog rock piece... not sure how it would turn out, but I'm not aware of anybody having done it before, so it would certainly be its own sound.

finotti wrote:The strings remind me of a Melltotron a bit at times (and places), which might not be what you were going for, but I quite like it. :-)


Mellotron! After watching a youtube video about how a mellotron works by using sampled audio on magnetic tapes, I guess it kind of makes sense because I am using digitally sampled strings.

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Re: Clarinet sound test

Postby folderol » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:09 pm

OK, got it... I think.
The stereo spread of the sections is too narrow - as if you have a bunch of violinists sitting one behind the other!


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