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Author: Subject: The best way to record oud audio at home?
Lysander
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[*] posted on 6-3-2014 at 01:43 AM
The best way to record oud audio at home?


I'm sure there was an Oud for Guitarists article on this but I can't find it now.

What's a good inexpensive mic/way to do this? I'm talking about audio only.

EDIT: I found it here

http://www.oudforguitarists.com/amplify-oud/

I do not have a lot to spend, maybe like £25 max at the moment. I am not expecting quality for this but just something better than the mic on my camera at the moment...

I don't really know the difference between dynamic and condenser mics if someone can fill me in.

This looks promising:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pyle-Pro-PDMIC78-Dynamic-Microphone/dp/B005...
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Brian Prunka
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[*] posted on 6-3-2014 at 05:19 AM


You're better off saving up a little bit and buying a halfway decent mic.
Generally you are going to want a condenser mic for recording. Dynamic mics can work well for live sound, but the condenser will give you a lot more detail to your sound (generally speaking . . . there are exceptions where a $500 dynamic mic would sound better than a $40 condenser mic ).

You need to be able to connect the mic to your computer. There are basically two options:

1) USB mics, which connect directly to your USB port and will let you record that mic directly.
For example: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=473629&a...

2) some kind of interface which connects to your computer and lets you hook up 1 or more microphones. There are inexpensive USB connectors which just work with one mic. This gives you a lot more flexibility as to the mics that you can choose and you can get different mics over time for less cost than if every mic has to have its own USB interface.
For example: http://www.guitarcenter.com/MXL-USB-Mic-Mate-Classic-104615877-i132...
or: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Alpha?device=c&network=g...

The advantage of most interfaces like the second one is that they come with decent recording software (usually) and some effects like reverb and EQ, which will help you get better-sounding results if you want to tweak the recordings.



Alternatively, you can get a high-quality portable recorder with built-in (condenser) mics, like this one:
http://www.guitarcenter.com/TASCAM-DR-08-Linear-PCM-MP3-Recorder-10...

Then you just copy the files to the computer when you're done.

There are three main kinds of mics:
• Condenser mics require electricity (called 'phantom power') and have a very sensitive element. They pick up subtle details but are more susceptible to wind noise, breath, etc.
• Dynamic mics don't require electricity and work well on louder sound sources (drums, guitar amps, brass)
• Ribbon mics require no electricity (they will be damaged if you switch on the phantom power used for condenser mics), they are very sensitive like condenser mics but pick up sounds in more directions and have a little different sound. They can easily be damaged by drums and other loud sound sources.




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DavidJE
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[*] posted on 6-3-2014 at 07:24 AM


Brian: How do you think the microphones you listed compare to something like this:

http://bluemic.com/yetipro/
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[*] posted on 6-3-2014 at 09:39 AM


Blue mics have a good reputation. I haven't tried that one but I expect it is fine . . . you can look up reviews on recording forums to get more details. If there is a non-usb version, it will likely have more/better reviews.



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[*] posted on 6-3-2014 at 09:48 AM


I have the Yeti Pro myself. I asked because I was curious as to if you thought the other mics were better options.

I like the Yeti Pro. It's far, far better than the other crappy microphone I had, my internal laptop mic, etc.. But when I made a couple of recent recordings I felt that my mid-range, old camcorder got "truer" sound. Maybe I should be applying some filters or making adjustments to the Yeti sound. Not sure. I've mostly just recorded and kept the raw sound files.
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Brian Prunka
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[*] posted on 6-3-2014 at 10:26 AM





This is supposedly the frequency response of the Yeti mic.

There is definitely a dip in the midrange and a boost in the highs.

What mode are you using? how far away are you setting it up?




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[*] posted on 6-3-2014 at 10:35 AM


I'm primarily using the omni-directional mode, and I've mostly had the mic very close...maybe 3' away. I should probably experiment with different positions and modes, although I think only the omni and stereo would apply for solo recordings.
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Brian Prunka
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[*] posted on 6-3-2014 at 10:59 AM


3 feet away? Or do you mean 3"?

For oud, about a 8 to 12 inches away is usually best in my experience. Also pointed not directly at the sound hole . . . coming from slightly above and an angle gets a more natural sound.

I would also go with stereo unless you have a really great sounding room.




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Jody Stecher
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[*] posted on 6-3-2014 at 12:37 PM


Most of any oud's sound is to be found in the midrange. I would not want to use a microphone that supresses the mids. The result would be similar to the dreaded "happy face" EQ used for DI at performances.

"Tell ya what we're gonna do, we'll take 95% of your sound and we'll squash all that and we'll boost the highs and lows. It won't sound anything like an oud. That's a horrible sound. It's deep and punchy and calms the soul and excites the heart. Who wants that? We'll give you something that sounds edgy that calms intelligence and excites impatience. It will sound like a wonderful cheap bottom-of-the line electric guitar through a crappy amp. You'll love it!!! "

why oh why does anyone go in for this? I'll never understand.
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[*] posted on 6-3-2014 at 10:17 PM


Wow, I must have been a bit off when I wrote those last couple of posts. I do NOT use the "omni directional" mode. I use the "uni directional" mode. So I use the mode that records sound in a single direction...right in front. I figured that would be the most appropriate, and it sounds better than the other modes in short tests I did.

Quote:
For oud, about a 8 to 12 inches away is usually best in my experience.


Ok. I did mean 3 feet. In the case of the Yeti Pro, it seems to be too harsh when it's closer. But perhaps if I adjust the gain, etc., it will be better. However...as Jody wrote:

Quote:
Tell ya what we're gonna do, we'll take 95% of your sound and we'll squash all that and we'll boost the highs and lows. It won't sound anything like an oud. That's a horrible sound. It's deep and punchy and calms the soul and excites the heart. Who wants that? We'll give you something that sounds edgy that calms intelligence and excites impatience. It will sound like a wonderful cheap bottom-of-the line electric guitar through a crappy amp. You'll love it!!!


I currently know next to nothing about microphones, recordings, and sound terminology. So I wouldn't have been able to describe it as you did above Jody. But I think you've hit the nail on the head with "deep and punchy", "calm and exciting", or like a "cheap bottom-of-the-line electric guitar". I always feel that when I use the Yeti Pro, my oud sounds more like an electric guitar than an oud. That's why I used my camcorder for the two YouTube videos...to try to get a sound that's closer to reality. It's too bad I spent a couple hundred dollars on that Blue mic...now knowing a little more than I did when I bought it!

Quote:
why oh why does anyone go in for this? I'll never understand.


So...in my case, I just didn't know any better.
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[*] posted on 6-4-2014 at 01:04 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Brian Prunka  
snip


Brian, this is very good information, thank you.

One question. This mic has an XLR out. How do I connect it to the computer? XLR to USB? XLR to 6.35mm jack?

EDIT: I have the answer I need, someone on Amazon gave the following setup:

Mic -> male-female xlr cable -> phantom power unit -> female xlr-mini jack cable -> pc

Quote: Originally posted by Lute  
USB mics then!!


ironically though, I might go for this type.

In spite of the fact that I do a bit of recording [not professionally] I do not want to be carrying around with me phantom power units, multiple leads and jacks at the moment. I want something more portable. So I will most likely get this one which will be nice for what I need to do for the moment.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Samson-Mic-Clip-USB-Microphone/dp/B001R76D4...
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Brian Prunka
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[*] posted on 6-4-2014 at 03:43 AM


That mic seems to get good reviews, and you certainly can't beat the price. Let us know how it works out.



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Brian Prunka
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[*] posted on 6-4-2014 at 04:03 AM


Quote: Originally posted by DavidJE  


Ok. I did mean 3 feet. In the case of the Yeti Pro, it seems to be too harsh when it's closer. But perhaps if I adjust the gain, etc., it will be better.

I always feel that when I use the Yeti Pro, my oud sounds more like an electric guitar than an oud. That's why I used my camcorder for the two YouTube videos...to try to get a sound that's closer to reality. It's too bad I spent a couple hundred dollars on that Blue mic...now knowing a little more than I did when I bought it!



Hey David,

This gets into the other issue with USB mics: the preamp.

See, the signal chain of the sound in this case goes:

oud
air (room)
microphone capsule
electronic components (mic circuit)
preamp
digital converter
recording device (computer)

When you buy a regular mic, you are just getting the microphone capsule and the electronic components of the mic circuit. Both of these affect the sound. On cheap mics, they are using (usually) cheap capsules and cheap components, but they have put a lot of effort in finding the components that get the best sound for the price point. There are people who will take your $100 mic and swap out components to make it perform like a $1000 mic (and they charge hundreds of dollars to do so, still not a bad deal necessarily).

But with a USB mic, they are taking the preamp (which is usually separate) and the digital converter (which may also be separate from the preamp) and putting it all into the mic housing. Both of these affect the sound, particularly the quality of the preamp. I expect that a lot of the effect you don't like is coming from the preamp.

However, the Yeti gets very good reviews and so I am not convinced that it is really so problematic. Here's what I suggest:
1) turn the gain all the way down
2) set up the mic about 12 inches away from the oud, between the soundhole and neck joint, slightly above the oud and angled downward
3) try recording, gradually turning up the gain as necessary until you have a decent signal
4) experiment with adjusting the placement of the mic to see how the sound changes—every oud is a little different

I would also try the stereo mode again . . .

The nice thing about the Yeti Pro compared to most USB mics is that you can use it as a regular mic, bypassing the USB unit. So at some point, you could try it with a different interface and see if the results are better.




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[*] posted on 6-4-2014 at 05:22 AM


Quote: Originally posted by DavidJE  

So...in my case, I just didn't know any better.


It may work out after all. I wasn't dissing the Yeti mic in particular as I have never had the chance to hear what it can do. My comments were about ducking the mid-range in general. Keep experimenting. Be systematic and change only one thing at a time. Recording from 3 feet away is likely to result in a peculiar recording from most microphones.
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[*] posted on 6-4-2014 at 09:40 AM


Thanks a lot guys! I'll try your suggestions and let you know how it goes.
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[*] posted on 6-4-2014 at 10:02 AM


I have a Yeti Pro. It is tremendously simple to use, and seems quite clear and authentic (there is not even the slightest hiss from it), although I don't have a higher quality condenser to compare it to. The one thing that you have to keep in mind with such a mic is computer noise. If your computer is not absolutely silent, the mic, being fairly close, will pick up the fan noise etc, and the advantages of the usb mic will be gone. I'm in the process of searching for a silent pc notebook, or perhaps an ipad (which is inherently silent), which are essentials when using a usb mic. I'd be glad to hear if any of you have found a nice, silent pc notebook or similar.
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Brian Prunka
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[*] posted on 6-4-2014 at 01:00 PM


The new MacBook pros with SSD hard drives are basically silent . . . any pc will turn on the fan occasionally if it gets hot, but I would estimate that 90% of my computer usage is dead silent.



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[*] posted on 8-17-2014 at 12:48 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Brian Prunka  
That mic seems to get good reviews, and you certainly can't beat the price. Let us know how it works out.


A bit late with the response to this, sorry.

I bought the mic and have been using it for a lot of recordings. I think the quality is very good for what it is. Here's an example.

https://sahn.bandcamp.com/track/kurd-ii-2
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[*] posted on 8-18-2014 at 03:34 AM


Hello Lysander,

The sound is clean, but it lacks of depth. It sounds good enough to appreciate the music, thanks to the ambiance of the room!

Just in case: I don't use this -> Blue Icicle but it seems to be a good option to use a pro mic and upgrade the signal chain later.

Hi jack,

I have a MacBook Air and a Mac mini with SSD, in fact the fan runs continuously. Apple has done a good job of cooling the computer on a thin stream of air and through the aluminium case, it's almost noiseless. My Mac mini sits on a stainless steel surface for even greater efficiency. I can't hear the fan on my recordings, only my bad oud playing ;)
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[*] posted on 8-18-2014 at 07:55 AM


Quote: Originally posted by David.B  
Hello Lysander,

The sound is clean, but it lacks of depth. It sounds good enough to appreciate the music, thanks to the ambiance of the room!

Just in case: I don't use this -> Blue Icicle but it seems to be a good option to use a pro mic and upgrade the signal chain later.


Very useful, thanks for that. Will be great for when I get a better mic.

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[*] posted on 8-18-2014 at 09:30 AM


Hi Lysander,

Depending on why you want to record at home, an Iriver T30 might be an acceptable alternative.

See one here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16855150070\

Or here: http://www.amazon.com/iriver-T30-512-MP3-Player/dp/B0009OOD9Q

The red model has 1 gig of memory, the silver-gray one has 512mb. Either one will do.

It's a surprisingly good little recorder, especially for single instruments. About 18 inches in front of the oud is ideal. (I'll try to upload a sound file here, but that might not work). Unfortunately the T30 is no longer in production, but they do turn up on Ebay occasionally. When they do they bid in the $20 - $60 range even now.

My 2 cents...

-Stephen

[file]32318[/file]
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[*] posted on 8-24-2014 at 06:17 AM


If you have a smartphone, either android or iPhone, you can even use it's inbuilt recording capacity, if you just want documentate your playing.
With iPhone 3 or 4 you can use Tascam iM2X stereo mic with very good result. See this: http://youtu.be/RCC932SGRmY.

And almost any handheld recorder is good enough. Zoom H2N is brilliant e.g.
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[*] posted on 7-31-2017 at 02:35 AM


Any updates in 2017 for a cheap (Less than 100$) yet satisfying recording setup for oud ?

Cheers!
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[*] posted on 8-4-2017 at 07:31 AM


https://www.zoom.co.jp/products/handy-recorder/h2n-handy-recorder

I have one these. Mine is the original Zoom H2. Very impressed with it. The link here is for the latest version of the Zoom H2.
Check out the reviews. I love it, great sound quality.




Best Wishes, Charlie
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[*] posted on 8-7-2017 at 01:57 PM


I also have a zoom H2N as Charlie uses. I am a big fan of zoom products and have been a fan of this company having a zoom mrs-4 4 track recorder for many years.

Charlie, i would be interested what settings you have tried and like. You may laugh what i do. First off, i go into the upstairs bathroom which is about 10 x 10 and has the best acoustics i have found in this new house we are in. After recording something, i transfer it to audacity and use a couple settings.
I first use 'amplify' which set the volume to the exact setting i like to use, then i use the compressor effect(again set how i like it)...and it comes out not so bad. I agree the H2N is really nice. I have been using mine on the XY setting after trying the other ones, it seems best for my 'studio' :)
Cheers, Matt.
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