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Recording Recordings and reverb

David Dorning

Senior Member
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758
Locality
Chichester, UK
Having recently tried recording myself I have been through what I imagine is the usual process of realising just how rough my sound is. Then I discovered the reverb function and found how much it can be improved. Which brings me round to wondering just how close to reality is the microphone recording. Do I sound so much worse than the sound inside my head? Is reverb just a way to airbrush out the blemishes, or is it a valid way of getting recorded sound close to reality? I have an inexpensive microphone from Gear4Music with Cakewalk software, which offers several reverb functions from the modest “small room” (nevertheless an improvement to the recorded sound) to “Cathedral” (completely OTT). My gut feeling is that post-processing feels like a slippery slope to pretending I’m better than I really am. Views on the pros and cons of reverb anyone? Ps does anyone have the recurring experience of Cakewalk software grinding to a halt mid-take?
 

Ivan

Undecided
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Peeblesshire
Play in a field = flat sound

Play in a cathedral = reverbreverbreverb

Both are real

So reverb is as real as you want it to be
 

Ivan

Undecided
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Ps

Sorry no Cakewalk experience

And I doubt reverb will prevent you developing your technique and tone
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
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3,349
Locality
leicester
too much reverb sounds syrupy and unnatural - keep the reverb level down, in normal circumstances it's not possible to record with lots of reverb, unless you play at one end of a cathedral with the mic at the other end. Use as little as you can.
Experiment with mic position - getting a decent sound is more difficult than you'd think. Also learn how to use the compressors and EQ in Cakewalk.
If Cakewalk is grinding to a halt mid take, you could try shutting down any other software that may be running in the background which may be using up RAM and CPU resources
 

Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,872
Hi David
As you probably realise wind instruments are designed to be heard in a space. ie a room an auditorium or concert hall . So for me that's how I like to add reverb. Religious vocal music sounds better in a church, a certain Jazz Sax sound is best, or sounds more authentic in a small room or jazz club environment. Then we have everything In between.
It's really just a matter of taste. But there is a common misconception that Reverb improves a sound. Like they say you can't paint a turd. I personally never use EQ which alters the actual sound of the sax, ie. making the bottom end bigger, and sometimes it may be justified because the mic is not picking up those frequencies as they sound in the flesh. But better to get a decent mic or more appropriate mic for the job. As the more EQ you add the further you go from the real sax sound. ( unless you want to go there) but as far as adding reverb, you only change the room setting the sax is played in, not the actual sound. It's very easy to recognise what a sax will sound like in a real life situation, no matter what Reverb is added. ( within normal parameters of course )
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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14,727
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
I play outside a lot and the natural acoustics of a spot can help or hinder a performance. Playing with reverb live is different to adding it after. You can exploit it and respond to it while playing live. Adding it afterwards is a matter of taste. some pieces suit more, some less.

The most important thing I feel , is that you play, record, experiment and listen back to your efforts to develop your sound.
 

David Dorning

Senior Member
Messages
758
Locality
Chichester, UK
too much reverb sounds syrupy and unnatural - keep the reverb level down, in normal circumstances it's not possible to record with lots of reverb, unless you play at one end of a cathedral with the mic at the other end. Use as little as you can.
Experiment with mic position - getting a decent sound is more difficult than you'd think. Also learn how to use the compressors and EQ in Cakewalk.
If Cakewalk is grinding to a halt mid take, you could try shutting down any other software that may be running in the background which may be using up RAM and CPU resources

Thanks, I will experiment with mic position. I don't particularly want to use reverb as such, but having stumbled on it I got to wondering how close my recorded sound corresponds to what I am inflicting on my audience. Maybe a bit like hearing your voice on a recording and realising what goes on in your head is peculiar to you and not how others hear it. I play in a fairly small room which I suspect doesn't help the sound much and think the mic is fairly directional, so as you imply, sensitive to position. Will experiment some more. Thanks for the CPU suggestion but there's not much else going on at the time of recording and the laptop is fairly new with plenty of processing capacity. I probably need to visit the Cakewalk FAQ site.
 

David Dorning

Senior Member
Messages
758
Locality
Chichester, UK
Hi David
As you probably realise wind instruments are designed to be heard in a space. ie a room an auditorium or concert hall . So for me that's how I like to add reverb. Religious vocal music sounds better in a church, a certain Jazz Sax sound is best, or sounds more authentic in a small room or jazz club environment. Then we have everything In between.
It's really just a matter of taste. But there is a common misconception that Reverb improves a sound. Like they say you can't paint a turd. I personally never use EQ which alters the actual sound of the sax, ie. making the bottom end bigger, and sometimes it may be justified because the mic is not picking up those frequencies as they sound in the flesh. But better to get a decent mic or more appropriate mic for the job. As the more EQ you add the further you go from the real sax sound. ( unless you want to go there) but as far as adding reverb, you only change the room setting the sax is played in, not the actual sound. It's very easy to recognise what a sax will sound like in a real life situation, no matter what Reverb is added. ( within normal parameters of course )

"You can't paint a turd" - I love it! Never heard that one before but it does sound like basic common sense.... But to be serious thanks for the advice. I realise reverb is to do with ambience rather than recorded sound, and I don't want to mess with what is picked up by the mic. My main interest is to hear my playing as it is and help me develop my sound. As in my reply to Altissimo I will experiment with mic position and maybe as you suggest look into upgrading the mic to something better fit for purpose.
 

David Dorning

Senior Member
Messages
758
Locality
Chichester, UK
The most important thing I feel , is that you play, record, experiment and listen back to your efforts to develop your sound.[/QUOTE]

Thanks Colin, that immersion is definitely what I need. If only I didn't have to work 5 days a week I could get there a whole lot faster!
 

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
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Surrey, UK
If you record close mic'd then that is good for capturing the signal but not a very representative sound of the saxophone (or voice or whatever) in a real room. A (liitle) bit of reverb helps it sound more lively and natural.

When testing out what the reverb sounds like, try listening back on speakers as well as headphones, as what sounds great on one can sound much worse on the other.

Rhys
 

Chris

Well Known
Café Supporter
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3,826
Locality
Manchester,England
If you are recording as you play along to a backing track, then the only reverb you need is enough to make the sax sound like it is in the same room as the rest of the band. Pointless the band being in a studio setting and your sax sounding like it is in the 'Albert Hall', just my take on it..:)

Chris..
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,668
Locality
Rugby UK
Please remember to just add reverb to the sax track as the backing probably already has it!
 

David Dorning

Senior Member
Messages
758
Locality
Chichester, UK
If you are recording as you play along to a backing track, then the only reverb you need is enough to make the sax sound like it is in the same room as the rest of the band. Pointless the band being in a studio setting and your sax sounding like it is in the 'Albert Hall', just my take on it..:)

Chris..

I agree Chris, and I suspect there's not much chance of me being invited to play at the Albert Hall anyway!
 

Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,872
I agree Chris, and I suspect there's not much chance of me being invited to play at the Albert Hall anyway!

Well there is nothing stopping you ( or any of us) playing in front of The Marquis of Granby, the Duke of Westminster. .........Or any of the other pubs in London Town.:sax:
 

David Dorning

Senior Member
Messages
758
Locality
Chichester, UK
Well there is nothing stopping you ( or any of us) playing in front of The Marquis of Granby, the Duke of Westminster. .........Or any of the other pubs in London Town.:sax:

And I suppose the Duke of Westminster could put a large donation into our case, it would help him spread the wealth around a bit
 

Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,872
I remember seeing an interview with him, and it came around to just how much he was worth. The cheeky interviewer then asked him for a tenner, but he just laughed.:)
 

Juju

Senior Member
Messages
287
Locality
London
There are lots of different reverbs around these days, not all of the plugins are particularly good. I like the UAD EMT 140. I'm not familiar with Cakewalk, so I don't know whether you can change the settings. Bruce Swedien suggests a predelay up to 130ms and a decay time of about 2 seconds. Check out different albums for your reference.
 

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