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Discussion Starter #1
I've set up a basic recording facility in my house to do some solo recording, and also to record my SAAT quartet. There's a lot to learn about home recording, I've discovered, but I'm getting there gradually.

The solo recordings are not too bad, but the quartet recordings are tending to be a bit 'muddy', with a distinct bias towards the low frequency end of the spectrum. I can compensate by lifting the highs and reducing the lows a bit with the equalizer, but I don't really want to be applying that EQ every time as a 'master' effect.

I just wondered if anyone else is home recording their sax quartet or ensemble and getting this tendancy towards the low frequency end. Is it just the way the harmonics of 'n' saxohones played together sound, or is my recording room or my microphones causing this effect?

Any other experiences of home recording a quartet or ensemble would be very interesting and uselful, thanks.
 

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Hi Peter,

Just wonderd where you find your music from for SAAT ?
Most of the stuff that I can find is usually AATB, and no one in my sax class has a Baritone.

Cheers

Nick
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Nick. I've bought most of our arrangements from this web site:

http://www.4a4quartet.com/

and I then transpose the bari and tenor parts to tenor and alto respectively.

However, there is a brilliant saxophonist/composer/arranger called Karen Street who has published 3 books of sax quartet arrangements scored for S(A)AAT and we use these quite a lot too. You can get them here http://www.musicroom.com/se/ID_No/072828/details.html

For the transposition I use the excellent free notation application called MuseScore, ( http://musescore.org/. It's a joy to use once you've mastered its basics and I can thoroughly recommend it for all your music notation tasks. In fact I'd go so far as to say that for anyone studying music or working with music notation regularly this is an essential tool for them. It will do everything expensive packages like Sibelius will do, the difference being that MuseScore is free.

Hope this helps.
 

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I've set up a basic recording facility in my house to do some solo recording, and also to record my SAAT quartet. There's a lot to learn about home recording, I've discovered, but I'm getting there gradually.

The solo recordings are not too bad, but the quartet recordings are tending to be a bit 'muddy', with a distinct bias towards the low frequency end of the spectrum. I can compensate by lifting the highs and reducing the lows a bit with the equalizer, but I don't really want to be applying that EQ every time as a 'master' effect.

I just wondered if anyone else is home recording their sax quartet or ensemble and getting this tendancy towards the low frequency end. Is it just the way the harmonics of 'n' saxohones played together sound, or is my recording room or my microphones causing this effect?

Any other experiences of home recording a quartet or ensemble would be very interesting and uselful, thanks.
Hi Peter,

I have a project studio that I produce a range of music from, personal tracks to commercial releases. I spend a lot of time recording horns, especially saxophones and have fought with similar issues in the past.

Some things to keep in mind:

If your room has not been specifically designed for acoustics, it is very likely there are some frequency bands that are more prominent than others. Bass frequencies are the most difficult of all to attenuate as they are omnidirectional by nature and can build up very easily in your tracks. Building and strategically placing some bass traps in the room can help. Also heavy carpeting or padding on the floor in selected areas can eliminate low frequency resonance there as well.

Be aware that condenser microphones have what is referred to as "proximity effect." In it's basic form, the closer the sound source is to the microphone, the more pronounced the bass response will be. If you are very close mic-ing the horns as you record them, then you are naturally enhancing the bass frequencies.

In mixing, especially separately tracked instruments, when they are combined in a mix there will be an additive frequency effect, i.e., all those frequencies piling up together and jumping out at you. So any "extra" frequency humps you have in the basic tracks will be exacerbated by the additive effect.

The judicious use of EQ is never a bad thing. Mixing will often entail sculpting out space for each instrument to sit together as a cohesive package. If you have to do drastic sculpting then you should look at your room and/or mic technique and fix what you can there to make tracking and subsequent mixing a smoother process. But basic minor EQ tweaking for placement and blending shouldn't worry you.

As am engineering intern, I was taught that the better your sound (i.e., the better your horn, the room, the mic, the preamp, etc.) on the way in, the easier it will be to mix afterward and the less "fixing in the mix" you'll have to do.

Hope this helps.

Peace,
John


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Hi Peter,

We have got two of the Fairer Sax books, they are very good. We have just got Toy Story ( You've got a friend in me ) from 4a4quartet as you can get the bari part for tenor, its pretty good. With regard to MuseScore I allready use it, quite frankly for free its the dogs bits. I hadn't thought of transposing both bari and tenor parts, I will have to try that. As we are all late bloomers we dont want anything to taxing, but we are all enjoying playing together.

Remember, life without music would Bb

Cheers

Nick
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Jon for some useful hints and tips.

I record the quartet mid/side with the quartet sat in a semi-circle and the mics in the centre, about where the compas point would be, about 6 feet off the ground and angled down at around 45 degrees on their boom. I record onto a stereo track mid left, side right and then insert the Voxengo MSED encoder/decoder into the track to decode and it does a pretty good job without having to tweak the mid/side balance too much. I've also tried recording to two separate mono tracks, mid to one side to the other then sending them to an fx track with the decoder in. The results are much the same as the stereo track recording so I stick with that.

I think the room has got a lot to do with the low end prominence. The room is 15ft long, 12 feet wide, 8ft high with a heavy carpet on the floor and heavy drapes across one end. It's my study, so the walls are lined with book shelves full of books. I suggested to my dear wife that I play around with some egg boxes glues to the walls and ceiling in strategic places, but that got very short shrift I'm afraid.

Anyway, thanks again for your advice and help. I'll cetrtainly look into the things you point out........and keep trying to make a breakthrough with the egg boxes!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi Nick,

Another source of quartet music I use is a cappella choir scores. I heard a ladies' a cappella choir singing last year and the music really hit me as being ideal for sax quartet. So I've arranged quite a few numbers for us from choir scores, my favourite of which is the Lennon/McCrartney song 'In My Life'. If you PM me with your email address I happliy email you the Musescore file so that you can judge it for yourself.

I'm a late bloomer too. I picked up a sax again only 6 years ago after not touching one for 35 years. I'm pushing the biblical 3 score + 10 now, and music plays a big part in my life these days which is great. Like you we just enjoy making music together and we get a great kick out of entertaining people with our music. We've done a few wedding receptions and garden parties, and with Christmas coming up I'm dusting off all the Christmas stuff right now. Have you looked at Lennie Niehaus's Christmas Jazz Medley - it's a beauty !!
 

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I am just finishing a couple of quartet recordings for the SOTW Xmas album (if they are good enough?!!); My question is how to mix volume wise, by trial & error they have ended up with bari, tenor alto then sop in increasing volume - is this roughly correct??

Any other tips regarding mixing would be greatly appreciated!


I also use 4a4 Quartet who are excellent, you may like to look at Ralph Martin's site also, he has quite a few free downloads also!:

http://www.ryuza.com/downloads.htm
 

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Discussion Starter #9
My question is how to mix volume wise
I'm no expert as my op demonstrates, but I'm not sure what you mean. Personally I aim for track and master vu meter readings that average around 0 to -18 dB and which obviously do not go into the red at any point in the recording, in fact they shouldn't even get close. But that's usually the easy bit, it's just a matter of doing good pre recording sound checks and getting the mic levels right, and of course their positioning too. Again, personally, once I've set the mic levels I leave them alone and don't 'ride' them during recording. The difficult bit for me is the business of applying suitable effects such as EQ, compression and occasionally reverb to 'lift' the recording without it's being obvious that you've done it. I've come to the conclusion that this is an art, and one which I am not going to master any time soon!!!

Perhaps if you could describe your mic set up for your quartet recordings, how many, what type and where you're putting them, and say what sort of recording station you're using then folks might be a bit better placed to advise.
 

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The difficult bit for me is the business of applying suitable effects such as EQ, compression and occasionally reverb to 'lift' the recording without it's being obvious that you've done it. I've come to the conclusion that this is an art, and one which I am not going to master any time soon!!!

Perhaps if you could describe your mic set up for your quartet recordings, how many, what type and where you're putting them, and say what sort of recording station you're using then folks might be a bit better placed to advise.
thanks for you reply...

To expand as suggested, the 4 instruments are recorded individually, dry, using an NT2A via a USB interface into Mixcraft, although this is perhaps not that important, just need advice on the relative volumes & any other tips folks might have?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I think you should set the mic level to give the same vu meter level for each instrument, though it's not critical because you can just balance them out on the track sliders when you've got all four instruments recorded together. At the end of the day you just use your ears and listen to it, preferably through a pair of good monitor speakers.

Mixcraft has a pretty active forum, and it may be worth while popping in there to see what other Mixcraft DAW users do in your situation, and there will be others doing it, you can count on that !!
 

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What software & microphones are you using? I would personally use protools HD with a condensor mic (omnidirectional setting). Also little things like getting the tenor to stand farther away / soprano closer to the mic can make a big difference. For an ensemble you dont want them standing too close - maybe 1-2 meters in my experience. If all this fails you could just overdub it?
 
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