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Recording a Jazz Quartet with a Zoom H4

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by bankerwithabass, Feb 22, 2008.


  1. I just wanted to share a problem I'm having and to get opions on what to do about it. I am trying to record a quartet including trumpet, piano, bass and drums with a zoom H4. Because the mics are fixed on the recorder, I put the recorder about 5 feet in front and off to the side of the trumpet, at about chest high level.

    But even though I have the bass turned up the recorder doesn't pick up the bass very well. I haven't tried this yet, but what if I put the mic closer to the bass amp? My only problem with this in theory is that then I won't pick up the other instruments very well.

    Does anyone have any suggestions to even out the recording levels between the instruments, short of using more microphones and a mixer?
     
  2. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    How about switching the recorder to surround mode?

    You could pick the 2 track surround and then vary the distances from the recorder. You could also use the 4 track surround and then make sure that the bass gets predominantly on one track.

    Is it possible you have the limiter on and it's responding to the louder trumpet sounds?
     
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I've found with the Edirol unit I use that the onboard mics tend to place the loudest instruments far higher in the mix than my ears do. To remedy this, I learned to place it closet to the quietest instrument, next closest to the next quietest, etc. For me this has meant to place it directly in front of the bass and reasonably close to the piano. The trumpet and drums should be facing in toward the unit, but should be placed in a physical proximity that produces the best mix. A few test tracks should help sort this out (at least it did with the Edirol). I really like the natural results that come from determining the mix by proximity, and then setting up accordingly.
     
  4. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    It can also be very interesting to get a sense of what things sound like out front. Sometimes if you are near a wall or in a corner the bass can sound really loud on stage but doesn't translate out front. You might just need to turn up or have the others play quieter.

    +1 on putting the recorder by the quieter instruments too. I recorded about 10 years of gigs on a minidisc before I got an H2. In quartet situations I always put in on 90 degree and to the piano side of the band. That way the drums are balanced against the piano a little better.

    Either way I think it is very interesting to get a sense of what the audience is hearing out front.


    side note: I save surround recording for rehearsals where everyone is set up in a circle.
     
  5. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    Here is a recording I did at a gig last week of one of my groups. It was in a wine bar. The recorder is placed on a table about 10' in front of the band. This recording does have electric piano on it but I still have it a bit off to the piano side. As you hear there are still PLENTY of drums.
     
  6. Thanks for the reply, I will have to look at the settings when I get home this evening and see if the limiter is on. I did not intentionally turn it on, but then stuff happens. As far as surround mode goes I'm not finding anything in the manual about that feature.

    We are going to get together again next week so I will play around with proximity and placement to see how I can get a better mix. I like the overall quality of what we did, it's just the bass was lost.
     
  7. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    The H4 does not have a surround mode. The H2 has 4 mics so you can put it on surround and put in the middle of a group at rehearsal.
     
  8. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    You might check that you've upgrade the OS of the H4. It's on the Zoom website and adds a few new features and more readable screen. It's possible that the limiter is part of the new feature set...I can't remember.
     
  9. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    You're right. I reviewed both at the same time and the foggy brain got them confused.

    With the H4, its two mics are pointed horizontally whereas the H2 goes vertically with either two or four mics.
     
  10. Hey a nice audio clip. Based on what I hear in that, some of my problem is my computer speakers are not reproducing a lot of bass. I may want to go back and listen to my original recording on my stereo instead of my computer.
     
  11. Thanks, I saw that they had the upgrade when I went to look for the manual to find the surround sound feature.
     
  12. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Computer speakers, especially on laptops, are really tough to get good sound for. The tunes on my MySpace link (in sig, below) were recorded with an H2 and there were enough mids (and the recorder was far enough away) that the bass came through just fine.
     
  13. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    Thanks.

    That's part of what I was thinking. I have my computer going through some nice studio monitors with a very flat response and the bass sounds fine.

    Computer speakers that have a sub tend towards exaggerated high and low end. They definitely don't have a flat response. Extreme bumps in the 'boom and sizzle' ranges. The DB is in the mids and mid lows and those are the frequencies that often get lost. If they don't have a sub things get even worse.

    You could get (if you don't already have) a nice pair of studio headphones to use with you computer. Like the big ones not the little ear buds things. Still not as good as nice speakers but better than computer speakers.
     
  14. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    I've compared my laptop's speakers (MacBook) to my M Audio monitors...the laptop loses the bass but the monitors are fine and well balanced.

    So what do our typical listeners use?
     
  15. I like the idea of a good pair of studio headphones to use until I get my music room rearranged so that I can connect my computer to my sound system and speakers.

    Thanks for all of the input this has been good!!
     
  16. I'm back with news from my new recording efforts. I recorded a sextet last night and aimed the H4 recorder right at the bass and thus at the amp as well from about 6 ft away and only about 1 1/2' high. The drums were right next to me and the horns were in front. The piano on the otherside of the drums and the guitar to my left. Everything sounded good balancewise, the bass really sounded good and was in balance with the horns and drums. The piano was a little weak, but it was an electric so I may tweak with that a little bit. I may favor the piano more and move the recorder towards it. I can't wait to try this with a "real" piano. Later in the evening I recorded with a big band and with the exception of the piano everything was balanced fairly well. It amazed me how much the horns came through with the mics pointed away from them. They really have a lot of presence.

    So balancing based on distance from the quietest instrument was the trick for me, but I'm still playing. Now of course we have to the problem of getting the music itself together. Ha.
     
  17. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Good work with your developing recording techniques. I recall that the H4 has a good low end response, but also sounds really even across the spectrum.
     
  18. Dudie

    Dudie

    Apr 26, 2004
    Sweden
  19. jonas

    jonas

    Dec 9, 2003
    Frankfurt am Main/Germany
    Kontrabass-Atelier, Lando Music (Germany)
    I use my H4 for recording a steady gig every two weeks. First, i've put the H4 onto a table in front of the bandstand. Not good: almost no bass, too much drums. Until today, I still fight against too loud drums when recording. But I now put the H4 directly in front of my bass, about 50 cm away. Which is right beside, almost beneath the grand piano we have there). It's ok, but doesn't work if a sax or singer enters the stage (too far away). It only works for piano trio, or quartet with guitarist (because guitarists can always be heard ;-) ).
    The good thing is that while using a bass amp, I mainly capture the acoustic sound of my bass this way. So as long as the overall volume doesn't get to high, I get good results with the position in front of the bass.
     
  20. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    The recorder is capturing what the listener is hearing. If you have the recorder at a reasonable distance in front of the band it is simulating the 'ears' of the listener. If the balance is that far off I'd examine the volume balance of the band of stage.

    I think the ability to 'hear' what the listener hears in one of the most valuable aspects of a recorder. Not only can you examine the balance of the group but the overall performance and the way that you fit into that overall sound.
     

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