Recording your acoustic accordion
#21
(21-06-2019, 12:18 PM)mgavrilov Wrote: Well, I think i finally achieved the best sound quality that I can get with this equipment and this room, so the only thing that is left is to produce better sound with the source of the sound  Big Grin . I found that if I control the bellows with more "feeling" and generally play a little quieter the final outcome is better, the sound is less "punching", which is often a problem with all accordions.

True in some cases, but bellows control is a very important skill to master, so that you don't get the "punchiness" unless you really want it and at the levels that you want it.  


Until you get to that level, you can apply a mild form of compression to address those peaks.  Also once you get in to more advanced editing, you will see that a single file is not just a single file, but that you can control the dynamics of the song using keyframes to adjust the dynamics and make hundreds of mini adjustments so it is exactly how you "hear" it in your head... but that is a video that I will work on in a future episode.  Smile
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My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com
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#22
Looking forward to it Smile
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#23
Time for a little inspiration.  One of the current modern accordionists that I admire the most is Canadian Michael Bridge.  Not only is he a renoun world class champion, but he is also a Roland FR-8Xb and Bugari Evo owner.

There is one video in particular that I am going to share here, it is not him playing a digital accordion, but his acoustic Pigini, and as a showcase of his incredibly varied style and choice of music, he plays Michael Cohen's "Hallelujah", for him a relatively simple piece, but extremely well played..



Of value for our topic of discussion in this thread is not his playing, which is pretty much flawless, but the choices of microphones and setup.  Yes, this was 100% done in a professional studio, however, there is a lot of info to be gleamed from this video.  Of note the number of mics and their placement.

Not only 5 microphones (some hellaciously expensive), but 5 different mics in 3 different configurations... absolutely brilliant, and the results are nothing short of stunning.

I see two large diaphragm condensers likely in a mid-side format and 3 smaller diaphragm condenser mics.  Two for his right hand covering the top and bottom area and one on the bass side.  The two on the right hand to cover not so much the area and volume variances of the music but I believe more for the tonal subtleties and how each mic would capture them due to it's design and capabilities.

The bass side mic is the only mic attached to the accordion, and for two obvious reasons... the distance is fixed causing no volume variance as the bellows are opened and closed and it is precisely placed over the largest opening, giving the purest most accurate sound capture of the deeper notes.  The small condenser mics are also the closest and main mics.  The two large condenser mics are about 3 feet away, one pointing straight at the bellows and one pointing in a "figure of 8" at 90 degrees.  This is commonly known as the mic-side technique and is more for ambient and sound richness and depth than capturing the main part of the recording.

Just listening to the results in the headphones, I am looking for dents or chinks in the armor, and not finding any (not that I ever could or ever would be able to touch that level of expertise in my lifetime anyway… lol).  I think that this is why it is so inspiring to me, to see a man at the pinnacle of his passion, playing so simply and with great humbleness, his very soul bared and open to the world, captured digitally in an amazingly high quality manner.

So, can we hear his keys being pressed?  Yes, I hear the clatter of his mechanics.  Does it deter or add?  For me it is subtle enough to scream that this is an accordion, yet nowhere near enough to even come close to detracting from the music.  It adds, IMHO.  Do we hear his bellows work?  Yes, though it is VERY subtle, almost inaudible.  Is any reverb used?  None at all. Any ambience heard is from the 2 large condenser mics.  In this video context, a severely sound controlled studio, in real life I would not expect any either and adding any would I think sound blatantly artificial. It would be different if he was sitting in an auditorium, though.

Now, the critique... does one need $20,000 worth of mics to make great music?  Of course not.  Is this the only good way of micing an accordion?  Again, no, but I have to admit, it's truly clever and effective to the extreme, and it gives me some ideas for my future recordings.

I am pleased with myself for one small tiny point... my analysis of how the accordion image "should sound" in a stereo configuration almost exactly matches the thoughts and implementation of how this video was created by this sound engineer.  I always appreciate getting confirmation that I am doing some small thing right, though again... this is 100% not the only "right way" for all situations.  Smile


The video is, of course, of equal quality, but not the point of this discussion.  Maybe one day we can touch on some techniques in another thread.

Friends, what are your opinions or views on this video in terms of audio quality and techniques used?
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My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com
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#24
The track is a nice job. I'd say this is 60% the performer and 40% producer though. There is a lot more work into it than mic placement. Seems overdubbed at the parts where the music swells. It sure is nicely done, they seem to have an omni set to capture his buttonclicks, most apparent in another video of the same session (Khatchaturian: Tokkata).
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#25
I feel it's almost impossible to mix the accordion to sound good. I've been struggling for years to make both the bass and the melody "close and sharp and non-disturbing and bassy". In my eyes, accordion should never have reverb at all (maybe just a little tiny bit) and it should always be close to the ears and the bass needs to sound like a real bass in intensity. Last year I finally got it "better" since I bought two JTS-CX516 mics and good earphones. Now I can control my bass in a separate channel instead of messing up everything like I have to do if using a Zoom. It's impossible to get the "close and sharp and non-disturbing and bassy" with a Zoom.
However, I still need to learn a lot more about mixing and mastering.
I can agree with the 60/40 that jozz mentioned. I contacted a guy at Fiverr who was told to be a "pro" with 20++ years of experience. The result was that he added a lot of reverb and removed the "close and sharp" feeling. Sounded more like he put a metal bucket over the speaker with reverb.
It's a real struggle. Maybe the best thing would be to use built in microphones?
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#26
Thanks for rolling this out again.
I get good results with a portable recorder called “Spire.” The built-in mics and preamps (Grace) are very good, and you can connect higher end mics, too, for more flexible placement.
One thing I’d say from my experience recording all kinds of instruments using all kinds of gear, is that mic placement is crucial to getting the sound you want. Even a few inches up or down, near or far, right or left, can really effect what the mics hear. Especially with an instrument like the accordion where you’re not really sure how the sound is projected and with the enormous variety of boxes, you should take some time to get the sound you like.
One thing I’ve thought about but haven’t tried is mixing in a cheaper contact mic placed on the instrument. It may not work at all, but knowing that one of the reasons we like playing accordions is the resonance of the instrument against the chest, I think it’s worth a try. Radio Shack used to make a really cheap one that high end recording studios used, but I think Shure makes the only inexpensive one now.
Mixing the built-in mic with a large diaphragm mic may be good, too.
Thanks for the Michael Bridge video, Jerry. I use 5 mics when I record my piano. None of them are over $1500, but nevertheless, it adds up with high end preamps, Audio converter, computer, etc. I mentioned the Spire because not many are going to want to spent $10,000 or a lot more on recording gear. And you really can make something that sounds very good with a lot less expense.
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed), Hohner 1974 Melodica (Piano 36)
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#27
Thanks for vid and keeping this thread alive... Yfffisch ive also scored a jts cx...mic, but just one as i don't really use a huge section of keyboard and use cap diaphram on bass side... Seller suggested bass mic ok for live work but didn't recommend for recording... Thanks Jerry at least i know now to place near largest opening... Before id positioned only with not knocking it off in mind so eas vecroed nesr bottom of bass strap
Right or wrong make it strong...when in doubt miss it out...
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#28
(18-10-2019, 09:16 PM)losthobos Wrote: Thanks for vid and keeping this thread alive... Yfffisch ive also scored a jts cx...mic, but just one as i don't really use a huge section of keyboard and use cap diaphram on bass side... Seller suggested bass mic ok for live work but didn't recommend for recording... Thanks Jerry at least i know now to place near largest opening... Before id positioned only with not knocking it off in mind so eas vecroed nesr bottom of bass strap

You hit upon an important point here: for live work you need a different setup than for recording!
The "Harmonik" mics I hear a lot about are supposedly excellent for live work, but quite expensive. I have always used the Microvox system which is much less expensive and it has been working very well. For the bass accordion I replaced it with an internal system from Carini which is cheap and just does the trick, and does it very well.
However, for recording I would never use these types of mics. I use a pair of AKG 214c mics and some Tascam digital recording device (that delivers phantom power to the mics) and this gives excellent sound. I mainly do multi-track recording and then mix on the computer, and I'm very happy with the resulting sound. I have also use the Tascam with its own mics, and I have used a Zoom H2. The results with the separate AKG mics is definitely better (although I wouldn't call the other results bad, just not as good). For recording a single accordion you don't want the mics too close because the bass side moves as you pull and push, but also not too far as you lose channel separation between treble and bass side.
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl
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#29
(19-10-2019, 08:13 AM)debra Wrote: For recording a single accordion you don't want the mics too close because the bass side moves as you pull and push, but also not too far as you lose channel separation between treble and bass side.

One also doesn't want to place the mics too close as it picks up all the mechanical sounds of the bass and treble mechanisms, however I also see a lot of people that place a small condenser mic taped to the top of the left hand side of the accordion, where it can specifically catch the sounds of the bass equally no matter if you are pushing and pulling wide or not.

Personally, I think a pair of properly placed mics (large condenser for dynamic range, small condenser for capturing the all important transients) is best placed *approximately* 2-3 feet away from the accordion.  


This is:
- close enough to capture the sound properly without issues concerning bellows movement
- far enough away to minimize the mechanical clatter
- close enough to introduce a touch of the room ambience (if you want it) in an acoustically untreated room without great negative effects.
- if filming, far enough away to not be intrusive in to the look of the video, if desired.

I've recently been given the gift of a pair of Neewer mics (for about $120 Canadian, nothing fantastic, but surprisingly good!), a gift from my work mates who knew I record and that I was going to be out for a couple of months.  It is interesting to see that they add nuances that a pair of $1350 sE4400a mics cannot quite catch (the transients that I mentioned above).

This Monday my Hohner Morino goes in for a complete tuning and maintenance, but when it comes back, I will experiment with a 4-5 mic setup and see what I can come up with and see how this setup all works.  Smile
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My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com
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