Delaying tracks when recording large ensembles?

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kjetilhd
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Location: Norway

Delaying tracks when recording large ensembles?

Postby kjetilhd » Fri Oct 01, 2010 14:48

I am am going to record a large brass ensemble and decided to try something new...

Over the years I've done a lot of recording of large and small ensembles, but never delayed spot mics.
Typical setup is:
Main pair: A-B
Second main pair: ORTF
Spot mics: about 10 - 15 (In this case a english style brass band with lots of percussion )

Question is: Are people delaying spot mics to match the main pair and how is this done?
I have a couple of old projects on my pmx now and play with various ways of doing this. First I just use the waveform to manually allign tracks in the edit window. I hear the difference, but I haven't decided whether I like it better or not...
Second I set up a delay in the mixer according to how much I had to alligne the clips manually. I don't do these two at the same time off course.

I can think of three ways of doing this:

1) On site measure the distance from main pair to each spot mic and delay each channel in pmx before recording so that each track is recoded in time. Haven't figured out how to do this in pmx yet, but I'm working on it. Please advice if you feel like!

2) Delay each track return in the mixer before editing. How is this handled in the fade editor?

3) Manually allign tracks before editing.
Kjetil Høidal

hucksterslodge
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Re: Delaying tracks when recording large ensembles?

Postby hucksterslodge » Fri Oct 01, 2010 17:23

Hi,

I've got a few colleagues who do this on almost every session in order to compensate for the time difference between a main pair and spot mics with an orchestra or even in a small ensemble. The preferred method seems to be to implement delay in the mixer on the necessary channel strips. The simplest way of measuring the delay is by creating an impulse at the spot mic (clap your hands, smack a couple of boxes together - something distinct) and record this in Pyramix. If you then zoom in on the waveform you can then measure the number of sample that it takes for the impulse to reach the main pair by comparing the impulses in the waveform. It might seem slightly crude in its application but it is remarkably effective and is much simpler than getting out a tape measure and then trying to do the sums.

Putting the delay into the channel will only work though (I believe and do correct me folks if I'm wrong) if you're mixing in PMX. Otherwise you'll have to do it on the desk that your working on and then maybe transfer the values to PMX for later mixing sessions or to whatever it is you use to mix. Depends on your set-up really.

I'm somewhat unconvinced about how much difference it makes but I know colleagues who swear by it as a technique and they think it really 'sharpens up' a recording.

Dave

klaukholm
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Re: Delaying tracks when recording large ensembles?

Postby klaukholm » Sat Oct 02, 2010 09:57

Hi KjetilHD, I am very happy to finally se a High Definition version of me on this forum.
As for delays-
for me it depends how much the spots are in and how far away they are.
If they are in well under, I would leave them alone. In fact not delaying them auses a first arrival at the spot which can be a nice highlight.
When you really have to bring in the spot a lot, delaying becomes the preferable method.
If the distance is great then you probably need to delay either way.

Kjetil

rjas
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Re: Delaying tracks when recording large ensembles?

Postby rjas » Sun Oct 03, 2010 05:25

Hi,

I usually delay my spot mics and I find it makes a big difference, although different doesn't automatically mean better :-) I find the biggest improvements are to vocals, percussive sounds, and anything that is far enough away from the main pair for the Haas effect to be a problem (about 10 metres).

I do as Dave suggests: record a clap at the position of each of the instruments being spotted, and then zoom in on the waveform in Pyramix to measure the delay to the nearest sample. I then enter the delay into the Pyramix mixer, and if I don't feel the delay has improved the clarity or the tonal colour then I experiment with values either side of the measured value. It's amazing the difference that 1 sample can make in some situations.

There are great engineers who delay everything, and there are other great engineers who never bother. It just comes down to preference and engineering style. There is also a school of thought which says that you should over-delay all spots by 50% of the ITDG (i.e. 50% of the first early reflection). Theile and Harrit did research on this in the 80s and 90s if you want to track it down.

You mentioned that you will be recording a brass band. I have recorded rather a lot of these, and interestingly I find that this is one situation when delay is less important. To my ears, the colouration provided by non-delayed spots adds to the richness of the brass band sound. I would definitely delay the percussion spots though.

One downside to inserting your delays into the Pyramix mixer is that the delays are applied AFTER any crossfades in your EDL. For example, if you have an edit point near a transient, it is possible for the spot mic transient and the main pair transient to be either side of the fade. However, by the time the two signals have been through the mixer, these two different transients will be time-aligned to create a totally new transient. I'm sure this sometimes makes edits sound more "smudged". The only workaround is to insert your delays before the signals get into Pyramix (not always possible) or to mess around ungrouping clips in the EDL and nudging the spot mic clips into their time-aligned positions before crossfading. Does anyone else think it would be helpful to be able to delay audio in the EDL rather than in the mixer?

All the best,
Rich
Richard Sutcliffe

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Paulo M
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Re: Delaying tracks when recording large ensembles?

Postby Paulo M » Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:37

I´ve been trying with delays in the Sphynx 2 converter that has the mic pres option. It has a delay knob per mic channel. I did try it a couple of times but there was not great diference, although it has probably have to do with the acoustics of the space where I was recording, the type of instruments (just a piano and violin) and the distance from spot mics to main pair which was only between 5 to 7 meters. Funny enough, when recording snare with top and under mics, I can shape the sound to my taste using this technique, by aligning the two mics close or not, depending on the result wanted.
Best regards,

Paulo M

Pyramix 7.1 Masscore
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kjetilhd
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Location: Norway

Re: Delaying tracks when recording large ensembles?

Postby kjetilhd » Tue Oct 05, 2010 00:12

Thank you all for good answers!

I have played around using the VS3 delay plug-in and must admit that it makes a huge difference to the percussion especially the drumkit. I haven't started patching yet, but I assume I will run into some problems then. With the delay plug I can punch in the distance from spot to main pair in meters and that is quite convenient as I have pictures from my digital camera from the session and notes on how far the spot mics are. I usually do this in every session in case I have to go back and record repair takes. Sort of a total recall system ;-)

For the upcoming session I will record som clapping aswell to pin down the amount of delay needed.
Kjetil Høidal

avi
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Re: Delaying tracks when recording large ensembles?

Postby avi » Tue Oct 05, 2010 21:19

Hi Kjetil,
To add to good information already on this thread:

- when doing this, I too adopt the clap / woodblock / box method. I think it's the difference in the time of arrival between the source at the spot and at the main array that's important, rather than the measured distance between microphones (not that the two are necessarily all that dissimilar, though as Rich notes a small difference can make a bigger audible difference).

- Dave, I'm not sure what you mean about the delay plug-in in PMX having an effect, or otherwise, when mixing in or out of PMX. I assume if you're mixing on an external board then the VS3 plug-in for delay would affect the send from PMX, since fader level does (doesn't it?). Certainly if you used channel strip DirectOuts, Post-fade, they would include the plugins on the strip. I thought the multi-mono-mix-buss would too, but don't quote me on that...

- Rich, being able to type in a delay value to the track header rather than to the mixer is an interesting thought... One for the Suggestions thread, perhaps!


AVI
Alexander Van Ingen
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Perfect Record
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Re: Delaying tracks when recording large ensembles?

Postby Perfect Record » Wed Oct 06, 2010 04:20

It's worth auditioning adjacent spot mics where there might be significant spill. I often use delay, but I usually try to audition mics in combination to make sure I'm not making things worse.

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Paulo M
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Re: Delaying tracks when recording large ensembles?

Postby Paulo M » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:53

Rich, being able to type in a delay value to the track header rather than to the mixer is an interesting thought... One for the Suggestions thread, perhaps


Yes, interesting indeed. I guess that a field in the track header would be nice. In the background what it would do is Select all Clips(in that track) and Nudge in the amount typed in the field. But goes through Delay Comp the normal way right?
Best regards,

Paulo M

Pyramix 7.1 Masscore
VCube XE 3.1
MB5 Dual & X50 MADI
Win XP SP3
Intel Q9600/Gigabyte X48 DS5 Motherboard/ASUS 4350 Graphic card