How to record my Melodica

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  • #4737
    AvatarMelodica-Me
    Participant

    I guess it was inevitable that I would start this post. “Best technique for recording the Melodica based on the model of the Melodica I own” For those who spend a lot of time in the studio or for those who just love to record for fun, This topic may help those new and old to the Melodica. I have been asked many times the following questions, “what microphone Did you use” , ” “where did you place the microphone and what distance” , “Did the size of the room matter” “What effects or processors are you using” and on and on. No matter if you are recording in a state of the art recording studio or on a pro tools rig in your bedroom, their are basic techniques that should apply. I started recording in the early 70’s as a musician and then as an engineer and I still wonder how the heck did they get that sound?. For those of you that record professionally keep it simple for those who don’t clearly know the terminology. For those of you that are new to recording remember there are many like you that are thinking of the same question, it’s all good. So let’s see where this goes.

    Melodica-Me
    Monsters of Melodica

    #6754
    AvatarAlan Brinton
    Participant

    I think it’s time to follow up on this, in particular for those of us who do not play professionally, don’t have access to a recording studio, and can’t afford (or are unwilling to invest in) real professional level equipment. Let’s say we just want to record for the purpose of improving our playing and informal sharing. What’s the best we can do, the best compromise within a modest budget? What do we really need, and how should we set it up? Some rules of thumb?

    #6757
    Daren BanarsëDaren Banarsë
    Keymaster

    Well, I’ve recorded a lot of melodicas, in different studios, with various microphones over the years. Some of the high end studios, like Angel, in London, use Neuman microphones, though we did also use a vintage tube mic once for recording the Clavietta.

    Interestingly enough though, my favourite melodica recordings have been made at home with much cheaper ‘dynamic’ mics. Dynamic mics are normally used for live gigging, because they’re a bit rough and ready. But their characteristics suit the melodica perfectly. They take away the shrill high end, and leave a warm punchy sound.

    As well as a suitable microphone, you need a suitable room to record in. Ideally it will be free of reflections, meaning the sound will not be coloured too much by the shape of the room. Try a room with a lot of carpet, soft furnishing and closed curtains.

    Having said that, you might have a more ‘live’ room (lots of reflections), that sounds really nice. If so, go ahead and use that. Your recording will have the sound of the room in it, as well as the sound of the instrument.

    I’ve had great professional results recording with a portable recorder called the Zoom H6 , which I placed on a sofa which I was sitting on. This is how I recorded my Irish video

    Another cheap mic that I particularly like for the melodica is the Shure SM58. Of course, you’d also need a laptop, or recording device to go with it.

    #6758
    AvatarAlan Brinton
    Participant

    Great info, Daren! I love the sound on your Irish video. If I could play like that, I’d be ordering a Zoom H6 right now. It’s still not out of the question, though.

    #6776
    AvatarMelodica-Me
    Participant

    If you already own an I-Pad, it can be fitted with gear and Apps to use as a mini recording studio. We have used these to record ideas before we actually go into the studio. Some of the of Monsters of Melodica contributors in other countries use these to record their melodica parts and send their recordings files to us to use. What is great about the I-pad mini recording studio is that you can also down load a backing track of your favorite tune and assign it to a couple of tracks and record your Melodica on a separate track and even add more Melodica tracks or other instruments to enhance your recording. Also most apps come with effects like reverb, echo and delay and with helpful effects like compressors, limiters and EQ that really help your recordings sound great. You will need a microphone and there are several available at a low cost to start with.

    For the professional, probably the most important aspect of recording a musical instrument is the pre-amplifier, microphone selection and placement of microphone, as these generally determine the tonal quality that is needed to reproduce the instruments true sound. Now that does not mean that you can’t create a different sound and use different techniques, this is up to you. As Daren mentioned, condenser, dynamic, ribbon and tube types of microphones are most commonly used. There are several other types of microphones available, even USB microphones that work well on your computer. Depending on the Melodica you are going to record, a little trial and error on the placement of the selected microphone will be required to capture its best sound.

    During the Monsters of Melodica recording we have used several types of microphones. Generally, we use “Condenser” microphones like Neumann U-87, U-67, TLM-103 and AKG 414 when used in a group section. It fits our sound the best. If there was only one microphone I could ever use, I would want it to be the Neumann U-87.

    When we record bass Melodicas we like to use dynamic microphones Like
    Sennhiezer MD421, (black) Electrovoice RE-20 and Shure SM7 (not Shown)

    We rarely use a single microphone to record all four Melodica’s at one time. On this occasion we use an old RCA ribbon microphone for a track. This was actually a lot more work as the volume level of our Melodica’s were so different, the Hammond Soprano and Hyper were actually recorded about 2 feet further back then pictured.

    Recording your performance is a fantastic way to know if you are playing the musical piece correctly or if you need to make corrections or modifications to your playing. Many times after recording, I hear things that I don’t hear when I am actually recording, mostly because I tend to concentrate on the performance and not the overall sound.

    And remember, your smart-phone can be an excellent recording device as a starting point.

    Melodica-Me
    Monsters of Melodica

    #6777
    AvatarAlan Brinton
    Participant

    Wow, thanks for all this information, Melodica-Me. I have a Mini iPad so will check out some apps. So far I’ve been using an inexpensive Samson Go-Mic on my main PC, since that’s where my Band-in-a-Box is installed, though I can screen capture the BIAB accompaniment and use it on my laptop or iPad. As you probably know, I can record as an additional track in BIAB.

    #6778
    AvatarMelodica-Me
    Participant

    Unfortunately I was unable to upload pictures. I have done this in the past but for some reason they did not load up 🙁
    Melodica-Me

    #6795
    AvatarLowboy
    Participant

    Here is an example of a recording done very low budget. I ran a Shure SM-57 directly into my Vox AC-10C1. No effects of any kind were applied. I stuck an old Zoom H2 Handy recorder right in front of the amp, one mic facing the amp and and the other mic facing the room to capture the reverb from the cathedral ceiling and hardwood floor in my living room. I think the melodica was a HM-26 or HM-32. Any reverb/delay that you hear is from the environment.

    The recording is actually a study/practice session from last week and is about 15 minutes of me jamming around solo, trying to develop expressive techniques. So you may want to jump around the recording to hear different parts rather than listen to the whole thing. Oh, and one goal of the study was also to use the amplifier tubes and my voice (and coax natural distortion from the instrument) to achieve a distorted sound.

    If you listen with headphones, you can hear that the recording is pretty detailed give the low budget setup. Far from professional, yet surprisingly useful for practice/study work.

    When I get serious about recording, I use an SM-57 mic to a Presonus RC 500 preamp with compressor and EQ, place a LWBC Harp Delay in the preamp effects loop, and bring that into my 8-track hard disk recorder.

    This recording is in .WAV file format and is big. It may take a minute or two to download and start playing.

    Recording

    Lowboy

    #6798
    AvatarAlan Brinton
    Participant

    So you are recording the amplified sound, which I suppose is to approximate what a live audience is hearing when you play through an amp.

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