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live mic applications for gongs /bells/singing bowls


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thank you... indeed as most people use gongs for a “crash” effect, i play them a bit differently... now im wondering if its the stereo capsule picking up the low freqs or if its the mic proximity allowing the sound to blossom? time to set up again and check...

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"Secondly, you really can't capture the true nature of a brass percussion instrument unless you're at least as far from it as it's lowest produced wavelength (can you say 100s of feet?)"

 

Is that actually true? It doesn't sync up with my experience, and I'd be curious to learn the physics behind this.

 

Anyhow, to the OP.

 

Just my opinion, but your focus on spec like frequency response and bandwidth is a bit misguided.

 

Really, whatever works, works... if your zoom works, then more power to you.

 

A lot of inexpensive highly directional mics have really, really funky off axis responses. I have a senn mk416 and it sounds awful off axis, even if it's flat in front and really attenuates those funky off axis sounds. I have a schoeps CMC641 and it sounds really great in all directions but is still very directional, but it was really expensive (by my standards). Neither of those mics is what I would likely use in any live situation.

 

The 414 is a fine mic for this. In fact, about any condensor a couple of feet away would probably be fine for most engineers to get what they need to make the sound loud. I'd probably start with an SM81 and then change it if I didn't like something about how it was working

 

I don't know what the rest of the context is. If there is no ensemble having a couple of mics that are close to the instruments is probably fine. In a rock band a 421 behind the gong might be better for isolation, but who knows without being in the actual ensemble. And in other situations, who knows.

 

You gotta experiment, but it's almost always the engineer and the sound systems that are the real limits to how these things sound.

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"Secondly, you really can't capture the true nature of a brass percussion instrument unless you're at least as far from it as it's lowest produced wavelength (can you say 100s of feet?)"

 

Is that actually true? It doesn't sync up with my experience, and I'd be curious to learn the physics behind this.

 

I should have stuck with my slogan "the difference between "In Theory" and "In practice" is............"In theory, there isn't any difference"smiley-wink.

 

I guess I was speaking about "as close to absolute accuracy as possible". Of course in SR everything is a tradeoff. In theory that cymbal's LF is modulating everything above it but in practice you usually can't hear it so it's negligible. Gongs do have some low end roar that is part of their harmonic content that you won't be able to capture if mic'd closely. Again, a tradeoff. You just experiment and do what works best. That's why I thought the shotgun mic, stood off a ways (no NOT 100" :) might achieve a more accurate gong sound without much more noticeable bleed than a closer mic'd cardioid. I'd be interested to know if it works. Still Cymbals and bells ARE one of the most harmonically complex instruments around and the hardest to reproduce accurately (we won't even talk about the effects of the room :).

 

I'd say if you were going to RECORD a sample of a gong, you'd want to do it in a free field at quite a distance (and hope you get no bird or cricket chirping in your sample :).

 

To the OP. Thanks for letting me blather on about theoretical stuff. Play with it if you find a best case technique, please share it with us.

 

Cheers

 

 

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lots of good info and everyone has given me much to consider... like making sound is a lot different mind set than capturing sound... i got a good deal on a lewitt 540 ldc and a shure sm89 shotgun that has critical (for my purposes) freq response... now to find s decent pair of ldc’s or three, and i at least have an idea of why im beginning where i am... onward through the fog...

 

thank you.

v.

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Why don't you just point an MD421 at it from a couple of feet back and see what it sounds like?

 

I wouldn't use a shotgun mic because I don't want a tight, focussed, pickup for the frequencies above ~2kHz, which is basically the definition of a shotgun mic. I want to hear the entire gong shimmer.

 

By the way, both the guys using the gong I work with like to get very subtle effects out of it, although this one is only about three feet across. Think trippy psychedelia. But it's loud enough that we can hear it anywhere on stage, which is why the drum overheads work. The gong sits centered behind the drum kits. Or maybe it's the snare mics.....I never really gave it much thought beyond making sure it sounded good. Maybe I should.

 

here is a major problem... sound guys that are micing for what THEY want... in numerous poasts i point out that im using a technique that apoears to be something new... something no one has done, or at least capitalized upon... and it doesnt get picked up micing the gong like you do for everybody else because a 421 set a few feet back that works just fine for john bonhams gong style will NOT work for the completely different approach im using... a mic set at 5 feet away picks up what you hear at 5 feet away... and is in a completely different universe than what i hear at 1 foot away... and again not what is heard 20 feet away... i need to be able to work inside those distances/sound fields... a suggestion to mic as one would for a classical string quartet has opened up different mic arrangements... i want to bring selections from the up close world where i sit, to the folks in the back row... i understand from the start that these instruments produce vibrations that no sound system or mic is capable of capturing or reproducing, but i would like to get as close as i can...

 

i would also like to thank each of you for your input... im not a sound tech, my perspective is from the instrument... im just getting started on this little adventure and youve all helped me understand my challenges so much more clearly. a contact made while playing the last festival has offered, among several things, full use of a symphonic recording studio in miami... it may be time to get busy?

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Sennheiser made a binaural setup back in the 70's a Styrofoam head with a couple of ears with the mics placed at the bottom of ear canals. Sounded AWESOME with headphones ;). I'd say the only drawback is that it's tailored to who ever modeled for the ear shape. As ears and canals all vary (as does each individual's hearing), it's not EXACTLY like being there. The closer to the transducer, the more resonant surfaces and short reflections matter (think different mic bodies with the same capsule or different horn throats with the same driver). Overall though binaural is a pretty cool concept and works pretty well. Sort of a one trick pony but for the purist, it's pretty close to real.

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If I was you I'd talk to these guys: http://earthworksaudio.com

I'd guess an omni like the TC20, TC25,or TC30 would blow your mind :) . Can't get any more "open" than an omni.

Hella expensive though - $480+

You can get 90% there with a cheap reference mic like the Behringer ECM8000 - might be worth checking one of those out first to see if you'd be going in the right direction. Sixty bux LOL.

Edited by RoadRanger
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its taken longer than i had expected, but then... life... it seems the promoters are still interested despite my choice to not perform after my wifes accident, i am much better equipped this time thanks to everyones input here as well as dumb blind luck. a single lewitt lct 640 set 12” above centerline of three gongs, slightly forward of the intersection of those three centers focused downward at center of instrument. i plan on a second one, set at 90 degrees and figure eight pattern. as it stands now, everything except the upper frequencies of the two side gongs are being accurately reproduced and done so far above what is needed for art festival standards, easily within ranges to produce the results im seeking. i only need to fill a 30 foot diameter dome so im trying what i have. a single yorkville elite Ls720p, a choice of a pair of qsc k10s or k8s... im opting for the 8s due to short distances and the 8s wider dispersion angle. yamaha 12 channel is kind of overkill... at the onset, im happy... very clear, super clean through all frequencies and spls... seriously happy with the accuracy... until i pack up to leave for another week of tropical beaches and gongs, im going to try to add a bit of soarkle to the two side gongs or set up so i can easily reposition on the fly if/when i choose to switch primary instruments during the performances... ive redone the pyramid stand as wellmaking a lightweight, easily portable stand/gong transport which will allow impromptu performances anywhere in the venue...

 

sorry to dig this up but unresolved and ongoing for me... and i feel i should share what ive learned with any of you that were still interested. i seriously appreciate all posts in this thread, thank you,

v.

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its taken longer than i had expected, but then... life... it seems the promoters are still interested despite my choice to not perform after my wifes accident, i am much better equipped this time thanks to everyones input here as well as dumb blind luck. a single lewitt lct 640 set 12” above centerline of three gongs, slightly forward of the intersection of those three centers focused downward at center of instrument. i plan on a second one, set at 90 degrees and figure eight pattern. as it stands now, everything except the upper frequencies of the two side gongs are being accurately reproduced and done so far above what is needed for art festival standards, easily within ranges to produce the results im seeking. i only need to fill a 30 foot diameter dome so im trying what i have. a single yorkville elite Ls720p, a choice of a pair of qsc k10s or k8s... im opting for the 8s due to short distances and the 8s wider dispersion angle. yamaha 12 channel is kind of overkill... at the onset, im happy... very clear, super clean through all frequencies and spls... seriously happy with the accuracy... until i pack up to leave for another week of tropical beaches and gongs, im going to try to add a bit of soarkle to the two side gongs or set up so i can easily reposition on the fly if/when i choose to switch primary instruments during the performances... ive redone the pyramid stand as wellmaking a lightweight, easily portable stand/gong transport which will allow impromptu performances anywhere in the venue...

 

sorry to dig this up but unresolved and ongoing for me... and i feel i should share what ive learned with any of you that were still interested. i seriously appreciate all posts in this thread, thank you,

v.

 

:wave:

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in real world application, the system worked better than expected. some of the lower gong frequencies were reported being heard over a half mile away despite the din of numerous sound installations... (read edm blasting through pa’s.). accurate enough to reproduce the nuances and dynamic range of my proprietary hands on style.

this time i was able to fill my space and actually be heard... i had several people tell me that some of the binary pulses seemed to block out the sounds around us... planes, the crowd, the thumping bass, all you could hear in a 50 foot radius was peacefully singing gongs! once again grateful for the ideas... :)

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for real world application, the difference in less sensitive cheapo LDC and the much quieter, more sensitive lewitt may have only been several notches less gain on the board for equal spls, but increased gain on the less sensitive mic to compensate meant increasing the already difficult noise floor. all the surrounding sound, art cars blasting edm through small club pa systems, the bass frequencies from the surrounding sound camps, general noise from 3500 humans, all that is within range reverbrates/vibrates through the gong, so less gain needed and increased distance from the source instrument allowed a more accurate reproduction of the dynamic and tonal range experienced sitting at the face of the gong. both mics worked but the quieter, more sensitive mic made life noticeably easier... im going to pick up two more lewitts...

Edited by Voltan
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Hey Voltan!  I'm arriving late to the party, but your grace and guidance would me much appreciated.  I am having a difficult time miking crystal singing bowls for recording/video (not live).  Using a SDC pair but struggling with proper placement.  Too much post required to remove swell and keep sound live.  Playing on 4" x 4" platform; my 20" E bowl (2nd octave) doesn't even register.

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i think proper placement with sdc’s can work...   the right mic/room/placement/technique, all contribute as well as the artist’ attention to dynamics, personal style etc... the most success ive had has been,  first, mic the air around the instruments like you were mic’ing up a string quartet...  an a/b or your preferred stereo technique set at enough distance to allow for “bloom”...   full resonance.    lots of folks recommend their pet mics,  to my reasoning, the lower the self noise and extended frequency response the better off. there are lots of good mics, i prefer ldc’s...  “LeWitt 440 pure” specs are good guidelines...  i have two and was set to buy two more and then i discovered ASMR recording...  autonomous sensory meridian response or something is the name, what it is, is true immersive 3-D sound...  on steroids...  the separation and detail is a brain hack...   miniature mics inserted into the ear, below the level of the pinnae, allow the listener to hear using my ears. what i hear as i blend the frequencies. ive tested two sets, roland em-10’s, which have built in, in ear monitors..  and my current preference, sound professionals

ms-tfb2 master class, despite the easier fit of the rolands, i prefer the sp’s smaller size,( no need for in ear monitors) plus i feel there is a slight benefit in the deeper fit of the smaller mic to the listeners experience. both require 10v phantom power and work well with my zoom Q8, which the lowest is 12v...  both manufacturers said no problem. the rolands are $79, the sp’s are a little better than twice that money...  i have recordings done with both... same time, same day, same tools on the gongs, im happy to share a link if youre interested, but im hard pressed to hear much of a diff...  wearing preferences and maybe slight edge in handling higher spls...  maybe just my imagination...  ?  

on a side note, ive just tried recording voice and guitar with these...  i like them.  no, they probably wont replace my other mics completely, but they just may come really close...  

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On 4/14/2020 at 5:35 PM, nice keetee said:

Would PZM mics be useful? Mount on flat surface/board, try it and adjust position.

i have two crown pzms... nice ones...   ive not had much success with them, but open to ideas...  im kinda infatuated with asmr recording right now...  the detail and separation is a brain hack...  listen to the last three or four soundcloud submissions on my page.  put on your headphones, turn it up...  close your eyes and just focus on sound...   the mics are inside my ears, you are listening through my ears...  you can tell when i turn my head or shift focus...  no stands, no mic placement issues...   im going to try them for vocals and guitar...  maybe today! 

Edited by Voltan
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On 2/4/2019 at 12:49 AM, nice keetee said:

You might consider setting up an RTA microphone out where your audience is to fine tune and know what frequencies you're generating?

What size gongs you using low down? :)

the largest right now is a 54” chinese chau...  but i think the 48” is actually giving me lower frequencies, at least with the techniques im using now.  the 48 emits a pulse that is just a little over three not quite four pulses per second... you dont hear it, you feel it...  you can see the sides, frame of the gong flopping in an odd visual...  it looks “soft” kinda “floppy”?   oscillating...   and a “heavy” silence, for lack of a better term.   you hear something, but its like the tangential harmonics off a gong “chord” set up...  but you feel this pulse in your bones and hips... likes its inside you trying to get out, not the opposite...  the trick i use on the 48 doesnt play on the 54...  i warm up the frame with two of my heaviest mallets in a way that promotes lower registers, then friction applied to the perimeter of the frame with a 3” natural rubber ball on a hollow brass rod, 3/16th inch dia x 16” long with matching silicone ball on opposite end...  believe it or not, all those details make a difference in what frequency is produced. 

the frequencies im looking to capture are the ones that dont travel farther than where im sitting. think of the vibrations being two halves of of a sphere, held together by a plane of silence.  this sphere is not smooth, it is patterned, rippled or striated... think magnetic meridians around this planet... movable, in flux...  now think about the currents that flow within this flux...borealis...     some extend far from the source, others swarm close to the center, not enough energy to move too far from source... others... lower, longer waves, travel much more easily through even densely compacted matter...  i have sought to bring these subtle vibrations...  the beauty that can only be discovered in the decay of resonance close to the source...   fifteen feet away you hear the primary frequency of the instrument colored by whatever harmonics happen to be pulled out with it from a particular pattern or sequence...its beautiful... relaxing, physically and mentally healing for stress related issues.  but, my brother... 15 inches away from the center of the gong there us a symphony going on between those tones...   melodies... voices of angels...  (others description, i hear mantras...)  whales and dolphins sing...   three inches away from the center isnt even the same universe as the last one described...   but those mysterious “outer limits”, are covered up by primary tones, and even for the most part, by the noise floor itself...  its a delicate, very subtle thing...   the polar opposite of peoples first impression of gong...  oh big! loud!  mmmm. good!    and it is!  but its so much more...  in so much less...   this is why asmr recording trips my trigger... it opens a door to a universe of vibration usually obscured to those who have never properly interacted with one of these ancient teachers...  

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