Violin in a recorded mix (evaluation)

March 4, 2020, 10:13 AM · Hello!

I have recently recorded a set of tunes from my home country with my band. We have received a first sample of the mix and I have mixed feelings on the subject of violin sound and placement in the mix.

I'd like to ask members of this forum to have a listen at the mix and perhaps give me some feedback. i believe i was too involved with the music to have a clear unbiased opinion on this.

View on Vocaroo >>

I deliberately withed details on the studio setup, microphones etc... because - this might influence listener's assessment.

Thank you very much.

Replies (18)

March 4, 2020, 10:50 AM · The mix in itself sounds good to me, Tony. Nice playing! Just a small hint to work on that fourth finger vibrato :-)
Edited: March 4, 2020, 1:33 PM · @jean
Well the fourth finger is always the least obedient finger. Grrrr....
We made 3 takes of this tune and everybody else was really happy with their take, so I had to eat it up... I managed a better vibrato in other takes, but alas....

So, you do not find the violin too uneven across the strings? Or too distanced and shallow?

March 4, 2020, 1:47 PM · Nice song -- I think the violin is mixed too far back. I feel it needs to come out more to the fore.

It sounds as if you weren't all in the same acoustic space when you recorded that. From your comment it seems as if everybody was playing and recording at the same time, so possibly other instruments bled into your sound, so you can't do another take. Which is too bad, since you obviously aren't as happy with this particular take as you had been with some previous takes.

The violin's lower notes stand out more than the higher notes -- that indicates to me poor microphone placement. Perhaps you should invest in a pickup such as the Fishman, then when recording combine that sound on one track with a microphone on a second track and blend the two.

I agree with Jean that it is very nice playing! It leaves me wanting to hear more of you and your group!

March 4, 2020, 2:14 PM · @david
My thoughts exactly in poor miking and uneven sound. And yes - i have sound bleeding from other instruments... I can only redo the whole thing. Which is what I might end up doing.
And yes - this is a live studio take.

I have a pickup (David Gage realist) on my other violin, but it sounds just too artificial for this setting. If we play with a regular drum set and bass guitar, than it may pass, but double bass and cajon... require natural violin sound...

Also - for some reason - goldbrokat E stands out and I am not sure it’s in a good way.... or A does not shine enough...

March 4, 2020, 2:38 PM · I agree that the violin sounds like it is mixed too low, and also sounds a bit "dull" to me. Could be the mic choice or mic placement. The rest of the band sounds very "up front" while the violin sounds "recessed".
March 4, 2020, 4:37 PM · Not acoustically educated enough to comment on the mixing, but the violin sounds glorious - I was also wanting to hear more. Is that the enchanted violin of which you spoke?
March 4, 2020, 4:47 PM · I listened through phone (with excellent speaker) and a laptop. I'm used to these, so they are a sort of reference for me.

I don't believe that violin is mixed too low. Maybe the strings response could be more even if it was miked from a bigger distance.
Anyway, i can't hear nothing that can't be fixed in post-production, with a bit of automation along the track and maybe a bit of compression that catches the G string.

I like it.

March 5, 2020, 12:38 AM · Thank you very much for your responses.

After listening it for a bit, I am a bit more lenient towards the recording. It does sound somewhat coherent. Maybe I need to adjust my brain to listen to my band, rather than “play” the romantic ideal along in my head and notice all the discrepancies...

Yes, I think A string especially sounds strange, given how lively it is in reality. D string is notorious, but that’s plain gut. The muted feel is perhaps the result of a totally acoustically dead studio. Also, gut strings resonate a bit less, but I like the vintage vibe....

Yes that’s the violin that made me cry when I played it first. Also - I strung it with Heifetz style gut strings and goldbrokat E. I was quite afraid of the string squeaks and squawks, hissing and other unholy sounds they produce occasionally, but none of that is audible in this recording.

I will try a couple of postproduction tricks in the studio, but If I end up re-recording all the pieces, I will record them in the hall, leading to the studio booth. The sound there was breathtaking, but it was too far away from the rest of the band.... couldn’t see or hear them. I hate recording violin with earphones on, but - Maybe this time I’ll have to do it.

Again, thank you all for the feedback. It’s really helpful and helps setting up the ”sound compass” in my head.

March 5, 2020, 4:31 AM · Aside recording in a bigger space, you can try different playing position relative to the microphone (if you use 1 only).
For example, seen that my instruments are usually set up to spread with an important projection, i rarely like the recordings where i or someone else puts the usual condenser mic in front of me, slight on the right, slightly above at 1m (sort of standard position).
In dead and small spaces i often liked more to record the violin with a mic at the left side. If in proximity, more than some high end condensers, i tend to prefer dynamic mics. Don't overlook the venerable Shure SM57, especially if paired with some sort of preamp coupling ..... :)
Edited: March 5, 2020, 8:01 AM · @Marco
Some solid advice. Thank you.
We used a ribbon and a condenser side by side, but at standard position (but much less than 1m distance). More like 0.5m. This is a mix of both mics, but only the engineer knows in what percentage.

I will talk to engineer again and see what (if anything) we can do short of redoing everything.

Anyway, the music will be freely available on the internet, so I can post links to all 9 pieces. They are all Slovenian evergreen melodies from 60's to late 80's, except for a czardasz tune which is traditional. In other words - not commonly known material and certainly not very commercial outside my country. :)

March 5, 2020, 8:38 AM · I like the type of repertoire you are talking about. I'm, myself, not a classical player at all ...... :)

Regarding mics: i tend to like ribbon mics with violin. I have a stock Cascade FatHead that i like a lot, with violin. It needs a lot of gain and a good preamp.

If your engineer mixed both mics in your track, you can see if changing the phase in one of the 2 makes some difference. If they are not in favourable phase, some frequencies can be cancelled (see the discussion on the A string).
You can try by moving the track of one of the mics a small amount of frames, to see if phase changes in a way you like more.

March 5, 2020, 6:22 PM · Some good feedback already. The drum is what bothers me most. If it were me I'd cut it right out, but I don't like drums in general.
March 6, 2020, 3:53 AM · @Marco
Good ideas, will talk about phase shifts with the engineer. We tried 2 different ribbons (something cheap and Beyerdynamic), and ended up ditching Beyerdynamic because of it's thin and anemic rendition.

This is wierd, as the last recording session (different studio) gave me excellent results with beyerdynamic (on violin solo):

(yours truly on violin and double bass)

I have a feud with this too, but not because of the cajon itself. I think the bass bloat somehow obscures the sound of kick and takes away it's depth and obscures the edge.

Somehow only accordion speaks my language here.

March 6, 2020, 8:06 AM · For unevenness across strings you can use multi-band compression.
March 6, 2020, 8:31 AM · @Tony. In fact the violin in the video is not bad at all. Not warm though. So maybe it could be a characteristic of that Beyer mic (that i never used).

In my experience, the place where you record and where the mic(s) is in relation to violin and walls and ceiling is vital.
It seems to be all a phase-related thing, in the end.........

Edited: March 6, 2020, 11:09 AM · @Marco
A good portion of that warmth in the first audio recording was probably open gut strings. The video had PI or VSTI strings. But perhaps the sterility of Beyerdynamic In the video made it even colder. I will definitely work on mike placement more next time. In fact, I am planning to do some tests this weekend....
March 7, 2020, 9:33 AM · Which Beyerdynamic was that?
March 7, 2020, 10:48 AM · M 160. It sounded phenomenal in one studio and lifeless in an other (not the exact same mic, different M 160.

So - M160 in the video, combination of (can’t remember which) ribbon and a large diaphragm condenser.

Sorry, but I had a tremendous back pain during the session, so I was on a cocktail of intravenous painkillers. Details are slightly blurry.

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