10. Instrument Positioning & Room Manipulations

The quest of True Stereo recording is to capture a true sense in the harmonic realism. Preserving more of the integrity to the original source than other methods can offer. The inherent advantage of this method lies in the over all coherence with respect to frequency, amplitude and time relationships. To enjoy the fullest benefits the set up of the space and instruments within them are critical. The ensemble being processed will determine what needs to be done in regard to these requirements. 

Choosing the appropriate space for a given subject in reality like any other facet comes down to common sense, and the recordist personal intent. There are endless possibilities as in all artistic endeavors, the knowledge gained through trial and error adds to the experience needed to fully comprehend how to achieve desired results.

The Room

Positioning an ensemble within a given space is often limited in workable area. There may be times when simple positioning of instruments is not enough. Of course capturing the basic sound of the ensemble in the space is the first priority. If the room is too ambient the use of damping materials (rugs, blankets, etc) could solve some of these problems. If the quality is too thin perhaps moving the ensemble closer to a room surface (solid wall) could add needed weight. If the sound is too closed down or thick pulling instruments further a way from surfaces may be the way to go. If the space is too dry adding reflective materials (hard surfaces) to liven up our subject. It is generally easier to work in more ambient spaces and add damping than to liven up a dull space. Once you have figured out a particular space you will generally find it easier to use for future endeavors.

The Instruments

The capturing of an ensemble often requires more that just simple positioning of the instruments involved and adjusting the tonal qualities within a given space. Slight movements can change the entire focus of our subject. There are times when simple shifts will not give us our desired results and manipulations of the position and space need to be made. An individual instrument within the ensemble is giving us a particular problem and drags the whole project down. You may have a great space but the one instrument just doses not fit. The use of risers and baffles can be introduced often with great results. If we consider that the plan of attack is to focus on the most transparent instrument first and work are way out from there, the use of a riser and perhaps baffles can help us achieve a good balance and spatial quality. The most penetrating instrument (loudest) may need some acoustic isolation or focus if it has to be placed further away from the ensemble. Surrounding the instrument with baffles to focus its sound waves or damping to soften its output can be achieved with the use of different baffles and materials they are made of. The riser for stringed instruments, especially acoustic bass can make the most transparent of instruments integrate into the mix.

Being creative and thinking ahead of what tools will be required to complete the task, is for the True Stereo recordist avoiding the real limitation to achieving success.

Ken Christianson, Pro Musica, Chicago

posted on: 2011/09/14
* 12. True Stereo in Perspective
* 11. Room & Boundary Effects for Playback Systems
* 10. Instrument Positioning & Room Manipulations
* 9. Choosing a Space-Acoustical Considerations
* 8. Troubleshooting True Stereo Sound
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