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#2038403 - 02/24/13 11:33 AM Recording & audio file processing suggestions
BHB Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 50
Loc: Madison, WI
Help please! Recordings of my upright sound like I have the sustain pedal glued to the floor. Looking for suggestions how to improve it whether it be mic location, settings, or audio file processing tips. I've read all of the recording posts I can find, which seem to focus on grands. Starting to wonder if file processing might be the key.

Recording sample: https://www.box.com/s/8489dzhqtijhtj8p7ag9

Recorded on Zoom H2 as 44.1 khz, 24 bit WAV, standard compressor, 2 channel surround. Then normalized with Audacity free version with options to remove any DC offset and normalize maximum amplitude to -3 dB. Finally saved as MP3 - 44.1 khz sample rate, 192 kbps bitrate.

Pic of the setup: https://www.box.com/s/xvphij0xwpqw2fz69321

For the above recording, the piano lid is closed and the mic located another 2 ft back. To the right of the photo is a large sofa and another stuffed chair against a wall with a picture window with blinds & drapes. There are plenty of hard & soft objects and angles for the sound to reflect & absorb.

Pulling the piano a foot from the wall doesn't seem to help.

Thanks in advance.

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#2038416 - 02/24/13 12:15 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: BHB]
chrisbell Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/07
Posts: 1310
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Don't use the compressor. Don't record surround (only stereo).
If you open the front panel you'll get more of a sound, but also more noise from the piano.
Move the piano out from the wall at least a decimetre.

I would experient in putting the mike inside the lid and/or behind the piano.

Have a look and read here:
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/apr09/articles/uprightpianos.htm
_________________________
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#2038432 - 02/24/13 01:03 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: BHB]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2100
Do not COMPRESS, do not NORMALIZE.
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#2039054 - 02/25/13 02:21 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: BHB]
BHB Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 50
Loc: Madison, WI
Thanks chrisbell & Hakki! You saved me lots of trial & error, and likely frustration. I got much improved sound after turning off surround, compress and not running normalize. I also set the Zoom to low gain.

New - https://www.box.com/s/ho6b7g83yp3okfedaaw4

Old - https://www.box.com/s/8489dzhqtijhtj8p7ag9

I still left the recorder behind me. When I have time, I'll experiment with other recorder locations. Unfortunately all articles I see discuss placement for multiple mics, not a handheld recorder.

Thanks again.


Edited by BHB (02/25/13 02:22 PM)

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#2039069 - 02/25/13 02:43 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: BHB]
chrisbell Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/07
Posts: 1310
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Much better! Well done.
Multiple mics:handheld=same principle

your handheld is two (or four) mikes in one.
_________________________
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#2039216 - 02/25/13 06:44 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: chrisbell]
BHB Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 50
Loc: Madison, WI
Hi chrisbell,
Unless I missed some online article, they all mention separating the mikes by least several feet (one near bass and one near treble). That can't be done with a handheld. Am I missing something obvious?

Once again, thanks for the suggestions!

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#2039329 - 02/25/13 10:25 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: Hakki]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13706
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: Hakki
Do not COMPRESS, do not NORMALIZE.


Interesting! I understand not compressing the sound, but why not normalize? I realize that it's usually not necessary and can increase the noise level as well as the sound level, but I've normalized quite a few recordings and haven't noticed any problems.
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#2039332 - 02/25/13 10:42 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: Kreisler]
Nikolas Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 4997
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: Hakki
Do not COMPRESS, do not NORMALIZE.


Interesting! I understand not compressing the sound, but why not normalize? I realize that it's usually not necessary and can increase the noise level as well as the sound level, but I've normalized quite a few recordings and haven't noticed any problems.
This is a sort of a myth going around for quite some time...

In pop music, you normalize per track, so for every 3-5 minutes roughly. The same thing cannot happen for classical music, because you may be getting multiple tracks per work (a sonata, or a concerto) lasting more than 30 minutes. Or even more so you may be getting 10 different works (10 tracks) all from (supposedly) from the same recital.

The above scenario means that you cannot normalize each track, because you will be getting abnormally loud results in a slow and soft movement of a sonata, or something. Similarly you may be getting different levels for a different work in what should be the same recital (thus the same sound).

This goes to show that you could potentially normalize every work (so every 30 minutes for a long Beethoven Sonata) and not every track. But in the case of (for example), a CD set with ALL the sonatas that Beethoven worked then you're stuck with normalizing for ALL the sonatas. If you go sonata by sonata you might hit a problem, again with abnormally loud or soft results.

______________________

The whole idea is that you need to have identical treatment on your resulting tracks in classical music. In pop music everything is squashed down, but not in classical music. So you usually normalize per CD, except for the CD Sets in which case you just do a better job as an engineer... wink
_________________________
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#2039342 - 02/25/13 11:05 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: Kreisler]
Cinnamonbear Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3725
Loc: Rockford, IL
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: Hakki
Do not COMPRESS, do not NORMALIZE.


Interesting! I understand not compressing the sound, but why not normalize? I realize that it's usually not necessary and can increase the noise level as well as the sound level, but I've normalized quite a few recordings and haven't noticed any problems.


It's one of those audiophile things, K. Normalizing treats the 0s and 1s differently than using "gain" or "amplification" to increase the volume, messing with the dynamics detail especially, and some people can tell the diff.

BHB, sometimes, I take the kneeboard off the piano when recording with the mics behind me, but leave the lid down (the upright has such a big sound!), and that seems to me to be the corallary of having the lid open on a grand... It helps me get some full, clear, open sound while avoiding the hammer knock and other clacky noises that can come from an upright when having the lid open and recording from the top. In that case, consider placing your zoom in a lower position.

And so, you really need to experiment with the placement of your recording unit. Every room has a sweet spot, and depending on the level of stereo detail you are looking for, mic placement is critical. Even in the better of the two of your recordings, there was some weird stereo phasing (most notably from 3:05-3:07).

(I speak not as one who knows, but one who intuits...)

The second recording was a big improvement over the first, btw! When was the last time your piano was tuned?

--Andy
_________________________
I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.

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#2039355 - 02/25/13 11:35 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: Cinnamonbear]
Nikolas Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 4997
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: Hakki
Do not COMPRESS, do not NORMALIZE.


Interesting! I understand not compressing the sound, but why not normalize? I realize that it's usually not necessary and can increase the noise level as well as the sound level, but I've normalized quite a few recordings and haven't noticed any problems.


It's one of those audiophile things, K. Normalizing treats the 0s and 1s differently than using "gain" or "amplification" to increase the volume, messing with the dynamics detail especially, and some people can tell the diff.
Andy, are you sure about this... I've never ever heard something like this.

I'm trying to think of a reason why a normalizing process would treat the digits differently than a gain process.

In fact, I'll see if I can do a small test: I'll gain and normalize the same track to the same levels (not sure if I can gain it to the same levels) and check to see if they cancel each other, once I revert channels... If they don't then something's different, if they do, then the tracks are identical. wink but it's going to take a couple of hours at least to get into the studio...
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#2039380 - 02/26/13 12:36 AM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: Cinnamonbear]
DanS Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 470
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: Hakki
Do not COMPRESS, do not NORMALIZE.


Interesting! I understand not compressing the sound, but why not normalize? I realize that it's usually not necessary and can increase the noise level as well as the sound level, but I've normalized quite a few recordings and haven't noticed any problems.


It's one of those audiophile things, K. Normalizing treats the 0s and 1s differently than using "gain" or "amplification" to increase the volume, messing with the dynamics detail especially, and some people can tell the diff.


Not true. In a nutshell, normalizing finds the largest amplitude of a wave, then increasing the amplitude of the entire wave to make the largest amplitude 0dB (as loud as possible). It doesn't change anything about the signal, it only make the apparent volume louder, i.e., you don't have to turn up the volume as loud.
_________________________
"Most pianists are poor musicians, they dissect music into bits-and-pieces, like a roast chicken" -Debussy

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#2039599 - 02/26/13 12:28 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: DanS]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2100
Originally Posted By: DanS

Not true. In a nutshell, normalizing finds the largest amplitude of a wave, then increasing the amplitude of the entire wave to make the largest amplitude 0dB (as loud as possible). It doesn't change anything about the signal, it only make the apparent volume louder, i.e., you don't have to turn up the volume as loud.


Well not always. It depends on the software and the experience of the person using it.

For example here is an excerpt from the Audacity wiki page:

"When not to use Normalize

If multiple tracks contain intentional differences in peak levels, you should never normalize any of them. The only way to preserve the relative balance between them is to select them all as a group and amplify them, so they are all scaled up by the same amount.

For Audacity 1.3.13 and earlier this applies equally to any stereo tracks that may be selected - if one channel has an intentional higher peak than the other channel (for example a loud cymbal crash), but the overall Left/Right balance is correct, do not normalize it because that will look for the peak level in each channel and will change the stereo balance. In 1.3.14 and later you *can* normalize stereo tracks without changing their channel balance, but only if a) the stereo track is not split into Left and Right and b) "Normalize stereo channels independently" is unchecked.

If tracks with intentional peak differences have DC offset that needs correction, then you can and should use Normalize, but with "Normalize maximum amplitude to" unchecked."


If the user is experienced and knows exactly what he is doing with normalizing, then it might be OK. But for beginners my routine advice is "do not NORMALIZE". Just leave it as it is.


Edited by Hakki (02/26/13 12:28 PM)
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#2039612 - 02/26/13 12:53 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: Hakki]
DanS Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 470
It's a simple 2 track stereo recording. There's no reason not to normalize. If it were a recording using multiple mics, recorded onto different tracks, then normalizing would change the relative mix between the mics, as described in the example you provided. According to the OP, that's not the case.

As long as your not adding any signal processing after the fact, normalizing is fine.
_________________________
"Most pianists are poor musicians, they dissect music into bits-and-pieces, like a roast chicken" -Debussy

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#2039628 - 02/26/13 01:20 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: DanS]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2100
Originally Posted By: DanS
It's a simple 2 track stereo recording. There's no reason not to normalize. If it were a recording using multiple mics, recorded onto different tracks, then normalizing would change the relative mix between the mics, as described in the example you provided. According to the OP, that's not the case.

As long as your not adding any signal processing after the fact, normalizing is fine.


IF, the software is handling the stereo channels independently, then the L/R balance might be affected.

I am just saying that, is the OP aware of all these factors?

If, yes, then no problem. If not, it is better to leave it as recorded.
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#2039656 - 02/26/13 02:06 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: BHB]
DanS Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 470
Hakki
Yes, if the channels are processed independently, then you are correct. I've never heard of this before, but apparently older versions of Audacity did this. From my experience, it is not the norm.

BDB,
I took a quick look at the Audacity wiki page. As long as you're running v1.3.14 or later, and you do NOT check the "normalize stereo channels independently" then normalizing is fine.
_________________________
"Most pianists are poor musicians, they dissect music into bits-and-pieces, like a roast chicken" -Debussy

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#2039663 - 02/26/13 02:23 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: DanS]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2100
Originally Posted By: DanS
Hakki
Yes, if the channels are processed independently, then you are correct. I've never heard of this before, but apparently older versions of Audacity did this. From my experience, it is not the norm.

BDB,
I took a quick look at the Audacity wiki page. As long as you're running v1.3.14 or later, and you do NOT check the "normalize stereo channels independently" then normalizing is fine.


"In 1.3.14 and later you *can* normalize stereo tracks without changing their channel balance, but only if a) the stereo track is not split into Left and Right and b) "Normalize stereo channels independently" is unchecked."

Let's also not forget the (a) clause about the stereo channels being not split.
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#2039675 - 02/26/13 02:51 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: BHB]
DanS Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 470
So what your saying is that BHB is going to import his stereo track into Audacity, then go out of his way to split the channel into dual mono, and then normalized each track separately? I don't find that very likely. More likely you're just looking for reasons to split hairs.
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"Most pianists are poor musicians, they dissect music into bits-and-pieces, like a roast chicken" -Debussy

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#2039687 - 02/26/13 03:09 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: DanS]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2100
Originally Posted By: DanS
So what your saying is that BHB is going to import his stereo track into Audacity, then go out of his way to split the channel into dual mono, and then normalized each track separately? I don't find that very likely. More likely you're just looking for reasons to split hairs.


And why would you so strongly recommend normalizing in the first place. He is not making this recording for a radio broadcast or mastering a CD which contains several of his tracks. He is just experimenting recording his piano. He is trying to find a proper mic position. Why not let him first record just what the mics hear only?

It is has no use to him, other than bearing some unforeseen results by an inexperienced user.
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#2039692 - 02/26/13 03:25 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: DanS]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20766
Loc: Oakland
Originally Posted By: DanS
Hakki
Yes, if the channels are processed independently, then you are correct. I've never heard of this before, but apparently older versions of Audacity did this. From my experience, it is not the norm.

BDB,
I took a quick look at the Audacity wiki page. As long as you're running v1.3.14 or later, and you do NOT check the "normalize stereo channels independently" then normalizing is fine.


Not me! My stereo system consists of a Mason & Hamlin on the left and a Steinway on the right, and neither of them do Audacity!
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#2039696 - 02/26/13 03:31 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: Hakki]
DanS Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 470
Originally Posted By: Hakki
And why would you so strongly recommend normalizing in the first place. He is not making this recording for a radio broadcast or mastering a CD which contains several of his tracks. He is just experimenting recording his piano. He is trying to find a proper mic position. Why not let him first record just what the mics hear only?

It is has no use to him, other than bearing some unforeseen results by an inexperienced user.


To get rid of the extra headroom. If his recording peaks at -5 dB or so, then it's going to make a huge difference. If it peaks at -15dB or so, then it'll make a huge difference. Why add unnecessary noise from the listening system in order to boost the signal?

FWIW, I entered this conversation merely to clarify what normalizing does. In fact, I didn't even recommend it in my first post. I never "strongly recommend"ed it as you say. I twice said it "was fine" not that it must be done. Don't put words in my mouth.
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#2039704 - 02/26/13 03:43 PM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: DanS]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2100
Originally Posted By: DanS
...FWIW, I entered this conversation merely to clarify what normalizing does...


But you couldn't clarify it completely, and all I am trying to do is take it from your unclear definition to a more clear explanation for the inexperienced user.
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#2039929 - 02/27/13 12:39 AM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: DanS]
BHB Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 50
Loc: Madison, WI
The files you hear are from v1.2.4. I just download v2.0.3 just minutes ago.

BTW- I'm BHB, different from BDB. I should have looked when I chose a screen name and not pick one so similar to an existing one.


Edited by BHB (02/27/13 01:10 AM)

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#2039938 - 02/27/13 01:02 AM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: Cinnamonbear]
BHB Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 50
Loc: Madison, WI
Wow Andy! You have good ears. I amplified the whole track as the original was too quiet. But then I amplified that exact spot where you notice weird phasing even more, perhaps a bit much.

Piano was tuned last fall. The once a year it is tuned, it only requires minor adjustments. So if you are noticing things outside of that phasing, hopefully its the EBVT tuning or seasonal changes (no Dampp-Chaser yet but have whole house humidifier). Though I may need my tech to visit soon as I'm noticing some residual sounds from a few strings that don't seem to be properly dampening.

Stay safe in this storm. The roads are pretty slick up here in Madison.

Thanks,
J.J.

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#2039940 - 02/27/13 01:16 AM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: Hakki]
BHB Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 50
Loc: Madison, WI
While the OP (me) was quite good at high school and entry level college physics (almost majored in it), I'm certainly not aware of all the factors, nor do I really want to be. As I'm just getting started with recording, so I intend to keep it as simple as possible for now.

I gain more respect for sound engineers every time I record.

J.J.

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#2039952 - 02/27/13 02:05 AM Re: Recording & audio file processing suggestions [Re: Nikolas]
Cinnamonbear Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3725
Loc: Rockford, IL
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
[...] Andy, are you sure about this...


Not anymore, Nikolas! grin And, if I need to stand corrected, then I will stand corrected. All I know is, that in the past, I have had some weird results from normalizing that I have not had from using a "gain" increase (using both CoolEditPro and CuBase). It's probably operator error on my part, since I don't really know what I'm doing. But when I need to speak with authority, I do so. I am not an expert, but I play one on Piano World. Have you had a chance to experiment, yet? What did you hear?

BHB--Thanks for the well-wishes! I did some recording tonight, figuring that the snowfall would keep the traffic down (no low frequency motor hums passing by the house to be picked up by the microphones, right?...) and sure as the sun comes up in the morning, the snow plows came by when I sat down to play...

--Andy
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