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Mario Martinez

PlayClassics master file giveaway for CA members

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Hello Mario, I'd love to give the Iberia and Flameco files a serious listen!

 

Thx!

Mark

 

 

Anybody else wants to try? :)

Metrum Onyx DAC, Matrix X-SPDIF2 DDC, Snake River Boomslang Digital cable, Verastarr Nemesis USB cable;

Backert Rhumba 1.2 Preamp; Coincident M300B Frankenstein mkII SET monoblocks

Omega Super Alnico HO Monitors (Cherry finish) / Martin Logan Depth i Subwoofer

Macbook Pro (mid-2012, 2.3GHz i7, 16Gb RAM, 512Gb SSD), HQPlayer, Tidal, Roon;

Cabling by Cerious Tech (Graphene SC, Blue PCs), Verastarr (IC and PC) and Teo Audio (GC IC)

 

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... And the Drum track too please!


Metrum Onyx DAC, Matrix X-SPDIF2 DDC, Snake River Boomslang Digital cable, Verastarr Nemesis USB cable;

Backert Rhumba 1.2 Preamp; Coincident M300B Frankenstein mkII SET monoblocks

Omega Super Alnico HO Monitors (Cherry finish) / Martin Logan Depth i Subwoofer

Macbook Pro (mid-2012, 2.3GHz i7, 16Gb RAM, 512Gb SSD), HQPlayer, Tidal, Roon;

Cabling by Cerious Tech (Graphene SC, Blue PCs), Verastarr (IC and PC) and Teo Audio (GC IC)

 

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First I should make clear what I am saying below is not to criticise but to see whether Mario spots the same issues and if he does, he will find a way to improve the recording of drum solos next time.

I set out what I did.

As my MacBook Pro and its iTunes does not play flac files, I need to change the drum tracks to wav format by a software that does not change the absolute phase, the likes of XLD, Audio Inventory or MAX. At the same time I also put the flac file into the previous version of KORG for inverting the absolute phase. In both cases keeping the sampling rates at 24/96. I focussed my listening to track 1 only. For playing other tracks provided by Mario, for example, the Iberia piano solo and the tenor accompanied by piano, the gain for both channels in my system is set to -20/-20. For this drum track I need to crank it up to -7/-7.

The good points:

*the kick drum sound is solid and punchy, rivalling the best that I have, for example, the Sheffield drum record.

*the image of the whole drum set is well contained within the soundstage between the two speakers; I have heard demos portraying the drummer with a span of a giant, 15 to 16 feet across

*sound is clean, crisp and transparent

BUT

apart from the high hat (a minute into the track) being on the left (should be on the right if the drummer is facing the audience) and this few listener will care anyway,

*the high frequencies generated by the cymbals are subdued relative to the low ones made by the kick drum; the splash, shimmer and crash of the cymbals are dull in relation to real live; the hits on the dome/bell of the cymbal are better but still not realistic enough

*the snare and particularly the cymbals sound recessed in relation to the kick drum and are disproportionate in energy to the latter; in other words, too bottom heavy or top too light;

*the kick drum sound does not project or cross beyond the plane of the speakers towards the listener; in live it does

*the inverted absolute phase track improves the receding highs of cymbals as well as their relationship to the bottom generated by the kick drum but still inadequate. The inversion also pushes the kick drum sound more towards the listener, that is, more akin to live.

 

I up sampled the track to 24/192 and adjusted the DAC to the same rate. High/low relationship improves but still short of mimicking real.

 

Just a thought and I don’t know whether if the microphones are raised further up and pointed down to the cymbals, the balance with the bottom end would be much improved or not.

 

I mention these instead of keeping silent because I am confident Mario would be able to record a drum solo closer to live next time.

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As my MacBook Pro and its iTunes does not play flac files, I need to change the drum tracks to wav format by a software that does not change the absolute phase, the likes of XLD, Audio Inventory or MAX.

 

Huh? Converting FLAC to WAV shouldn't change anything at all, ever. If there's a change, the conversion software is horribly broken.

 

apart from the high hat (a minute into the track) being on the left (should be on the right if the drummer is facing the audience) and this few listener will care anyway,

 

Mario explained in an earlier post that the mikes were behind the drummer, so that positioning is expected. I wonder what the drummer's body does to the sound of the drums immediately in front of him though, especially the high frequencies.

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First I should make clear what I am saying below is not to criticise but to see whether Mario spots the same issues and if he does, he will find a way to improve the recording of drum solos next time.

I set out what I did.

As my MacBook Pro and its iTunes does not play flac files, I need to change the drum tracks to wav format by a software that does not change the absolute phase, the likes of XLD, Audio Inventory or MAX. At the same time I also put the flac file into the previous version of KORG for inverting the absolute phase. In both cases keeping the sampling rates at 24/96. I focussed my listening to track 1 only. For playing other tracks provided by Mario, for example, the Iberia piano solo and the tenor accompanied by piano, the gain for both channels in my system is set to -20/-20. For this drum track I need to crank it up to -7/-7.

The good points:

*the kick drum sound is solid and punchy, rivalling the best that I have, for example, the Sheffield drum record.

*the image of the whole drum set is well contained within the soundstage between the two speakers; I have heard demos portraying the drummer with a span of a giant, 15 to 16 feet across

*sound is clean, crisp and transparent

BUT

apart from the high hat (a minute into the track) being on the left (should be on the right if the drummer is facing the audience) and this few listener will care anyway,

*the high frequencies generated by the cymbals are subdued relative to the low ones made by the kick drum; the splash, shimmer and crash of the cymbals are dull in relation to real live; the hits on the dome/bell of the cymbal are better but still not realistic enough

*the snare and particularly the cymbals sound recessed in relation to the kick drum and are disproportionate in energy to the latter; in other words, too bottom heavy or top too light;

*the kick drum sound does not project or cross beyond the plane of the speakers towards the listener; in live it does

*the inverted absolute phase track improves the receding highs of cymbals as well as their relationship to the bottom generated by the kick drum but still inadequate. The inversion also pushes the kick drum sound more towards the listener, that is, more akin to live.

 

I have not yet given an attentive listen to the drum recordings but I wonder if your complaints could be partly attributed to the combined result of "distant" (I'd call it adequate) mic'ing and the acoustic character of Mario's studio.

And the fact that the drummer is playing with the mics behind him must surely be affecting tonality.

 

I don't recall reading about the height Mario has chosen for positioning his microphones.

 

R


"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira Pascoaes

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First I should make clear what I am saying below is not to criticise but to see whether Mario spots the same issues and if he does, he will find a way to improve the recording of drum solos next time.

snip...

 

For playing other tracks provided by Mario, for example, the Iberia piano solo and the tenor accompanied by piano, the gain for both channels in my system is set to -20/-20. For this drum track I need to crank it up to -7/-7.

The good points:

*the kick drum sound is solid and punchy, rivalling the best that I have, for example, the Sheffield drum record.

*the image of the whole drum set is well contained within the soundstage between the two speakers; I have heard demos portraying the drummer with a span of a giant, 15 to 16 feet across

*sound is clean, crisp and transparent

BUT

apart from the high hat (a minute into the track) being on the left (should be on the right if the drummer is facing the audience) and this few listener will care anyway,

*the high frequencies generated by the cymbals are subdued relative to the low ones made by the kick drum; the splash, shimmer and crash of the cymbals are dull in relation to real live; the hits on the dome/bell of the cymbal are better but still not realistic enough

*the snare and particularly the cymbals sound recessed in relation to the kick drum and are disproportionate in energy to the latter; in other words, too bottom heavy or top too light;

*the kick drum sound does not project or cross beyond the plane of the speakers towards the listener; in live it does

*the inverted absolute phase track improves the receding highs of cymbals as well as their relationship to the bottom generated by the kick drum but still inadequate. The inversion also pushes the kick drum sound more towards the listener, that is, more akin to live.

 

I up sampled the track to 24/192 and adjusted the DAC to the same rate. High/low relationship improves but still short of mimicking real.

 

Just a thought and I don’t know whether if the microphones are raised further up and pointed down to the cymbals, the balance with the bottom end would be much improved or not.

 

I mention these instead of keeping silent because I am confident Mario would be able to record a drum solo closer to live next time.

 

I think your description of the sound is spot on. I do think the drummer's body in between is some of what you hear. I also wonder if the lack of sheen and what I perceive as a truncated decay on the cymbals isn't due to the mikes. I don't recall if Mario told us what mikes he is using (or I missed it if he did). Many mikes will have a rolled off response off axis. For many types of music that is okay. Using ORTF the cymbals might have been off axis enough the full treble response is reduced. If I had a suggestion it would be to either move the mikes closer or move the drums out further toward the mikes.

 

This is nit picking as overall this is still a fine recording.

 

As for the volume setting difference, well drums have a very large difference between peak and average levels. These tracks have peaks around -1 db so there isn't much more you could do on the recording level without clipping. You could compress them of course. That is not in the spirit of the purist approach Mario is taking.

 

While this isn't in the purist spirit either I applied a simple 6 db per octave boost starting at 5 khz, and much of the missing sheen and perhaps half the decay of the cymbals was there. So that also makes me think that maybe the mikes are down off axis. It sounds almost as if someone tweaked up the recording level just a bit right near the 1 minute mark. Such actions are how the slippery slope away from a purist approach happens of course.

Edited by esldude

To paraphrase Rick James, "sighted listening is a helluva drug".

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The purpose of these drums samples is not to produce a "rock" sound.

 

We are not trying to record the drums, we are trying to record the sound of the hall. We built the acoustics of our hall to make chamber music recordings on a documentary manner. We know this hall can also be used for other things like flamenco and I am sure it would work the same for things like jazz or blues, but what happens if you go one step further and you try to record something like rock? Well, that is precisely what I am trying to find out by making these samples. One thing I am sure of is we are not going to get anything similar to the sound of commercial rock. But I thought it would be fun to try and see what happened. :)

 

We have recorded the drums the same way we record everything else. We have used the same fixed setup (stage-hall-mic) and the same fixed recording chain (from mic to master) as we always do without any dynamic range compression. The only thing that is different is the fact that we had to lower the mic gain by 24dB. So please keep in mind that what you are hearing is the sound of a rock drum set played on the stage of a chamber music hall. It is obvious that the result of this particular recording is going to be very far away from what you would expect from a regular "rock" recording.

 

I was inside the hall while the drums were being recorded and I can tell you that the sound of the recording is just as true to the sound of the hall as the sound of the piano recordings is. The balance and the tone of the recording corresponds with what the hall did with the drums. That does not mean that the sound on the recording is desirable, it just means it is "natural". But, while you might like that "natural" quality on the piano recordings, you might hate it on a drums recording.

 

I think this is an interesting experiment. I myself find the result quite "pleasant" to listen to. I think whether you like it or not depends more on what you expect from it than on what it really is. We are all used to listening to drums recorded in an extremely different way. Lots of mics very close to each drum piece with lots of compression recorded on dry environments. It is not wonder we are going to find this recording strange.

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It sounds almost as if someone tweaked up the recording level just a bit right near the 1 minute mark.

 

I can assure you nobody touched anything :)

 

That effect around the 1 minute mark is just the result of the drummer hitting harder and maybe in a slightly different sport of the membrane which produced both a higher volume with a slightly different tone. If we were editing that is probably the kind of thing that we would have edited out.

 

We are not using dynamic range compression so that makes this kind of "accidents" really hearable. The use of dynamic range compression does not just allow for a higher playback volume, it also helps mask minor volume unevenness on the instruments.

 

One interesting thing about these experiment is how it affected the drummer himself. He had never been recorded this way. He had always been recorded using multiple close mics with lots of compression. When you apply that much compression to an instrument you are making it very difficult for the performer to try to create layers of sound. It is very interesting to see how as he progressed further in the recording session he started to experiment more with this kind of layer effect. He heard the playback of each improvisation right after he played them. So my guess is he realized that there was room for that possibility and he tried to take advantage of it. You can tell that at the end of the third take (after minute 3:36) he was already experimenting quite a bit with these layer effect.

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Perhaps someone will find it interesting to compare with these drum recordings: Drums, drums, drums : High definition music | Audiophile music recordings | HD tracks by LessLoss

 

Thanks, I will give these a try.

 

I wonder why they used a pair of mics for each channel...

 

_FON1187.jpg

 

R


"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira Pascoaes

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About the decay on the drums recording:

 

The acoustics of our hall have been specifically calibrated to work with instruments such as the ones used on chamber music. The decay on our recordings is a product of this calibration process. We manipulated the hall until we got something that was usable under any chamber music circumstance.

 

Now, here we are playing rock drums. I can tell you they are loud. The fact that we had to lower the mic gain by 24dB has a great impact on the relationship of the direct and wet sound the mics pick up from the hall.

 

Yes, the drums are 24dB louder than the instruments we usually record, but those 24dB are not homogeneously distributed across the spectrum. In the other hand, when we lower the mic gain we do lower 24dB homogeneously for the whole spectrum. This is one of the main reasons why this recording sound this way in relation to the decay of cymbals and balance between cymbals and drums.

 

If we did use dynamic range compression this would not happen. DRC dynamically reduces just the part of the spectrum the has the highest power without necessarily reducing other frequencies. So applying DRC to this recording would bring out those cymbals and decay but doing that would not be "natural" any more. :)

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Mario has been kind enough in supplying much information on the recording session of the drum tracks.

I just want to say a few more words:

1. Fine that Mario and the drummer are both happy about the recorded sound as being naturally heard during the session.

2. I made my points in the post above based on personal experience on live sound of cymbals and gongs that I heard every now and then during performance in halls with seating capacity ranging from 400 to 1000. Not in comparison with other drum recordings.

3. The two drums “blocked” by the drummer’s body as coloured red in Mario’s latest sketch are the snare and a hanging tom. But the kick drum and the snare were both recorded with full might in the recording; only the cymbals were subdued, and further more they sound in my system as if out of relative phase with the kick drum. By the way the snare as I hear it was tuned tighter than normal.

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Last night I gave Mario's drums files a good listen and I'm playing them again at this very moment, having just returned from my kids' school Christmas party where I was sitting some 8 metres from the drum kit.

 

I think it's very obvious from listening to the recordings that the drums were being mic'ed at some distance in a reverberate room, and I can understand that those who are not familiar with the sound of "live" drums might find them "duller" and lacking in "presence", and they definitely don't sound as "exciting" as they do with the closer mic'ing and DR compression used in rock/pop recordings.

For most pop and a lot of rock, DR compression is actually beneficial because it will as Mario pointed out even-out any "mistakes" and increase the sensation of "soundstage" effect; many of these songs don't actually use dynamics as a "composition" tool anyway.

 

The drum kit produces a wide dynamic range and when hit hard (as it's being hit for the most part of these recordings) one has to increase the playback level quite a bit to reach realistic levels.

 

In my case, this has been an interesting experiment for it has revealed both the shortcomings of my speakers (limited low frequency extension and "clarity" as well as their dynamic restrictions) and the fact that my listening room is actually quite nice in regards to low frequency resonances.

 

Here are the level and spectrum plots for the third file where we can see a reasonable amount of energy as far as 18KHz:

 

ixsi1d.jpg

 

I have just finished downloading the Lessloss single drummer file and compare it to Mario's.

 

R


"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira Pascoaes

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I wonder why they used a pair of mics for each channel...

[ATTACH=CONFIG]22790[/ATTACH]

Those look suspiciously similar to Schoeps microphones as "Straus pairs": an omni and a cardiod microphone taped together to allow flexible adjustment of the polar pattern during postpro. The setup origined from the days when "wide cardiod" mics were not available and was named after the German Tonmeister Volker Straus.

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Please Mario, don't take my comments for criticism or as suggesting they needed fixing.

 

I did think the cymbals were a bit less sparkly than a live drum set from say 15 feet away. But I was not there in the hall and you obviously were.

 

My comments about a little compression and EQ were more an example of how people get on the slippery slope of trying to make it "more pleasing" or "more natural" than reality with good intentions.

 

It is interesting, that I could apply the EQ I talked about and do a 3:1 compression and get very much that punchy sparkly Rock drum sound. It still was cleaner and more pleasing than heavily manipulated recordings, and added some of the space of the hall back in. People who want that artificial effect could get it this easily. Instead conventional wisdom is don't try and record a Rock drum set with less than 8 mics close in.

 

I understand all of this was an experiment on your part, and meant no criticism of what you are doing. I am privileged that you made these available to us. Thank you for doing so.


To paraphrase Rick James, "sighted listening is a helluva drug".

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Those look suspiciously similar to Schoeps microphones as "Straus pairs": an omni and a cardiod microphone taped together to allow flexible adjustment of the polar pattern during postpro. The setup origined from the days when "wide cardiod" mics were not available and was named after the German Tonmeister Volker Straus.

 

from that page:

 

Then we set up the mics.

 

The mics were two stereo pairs of Schoeps 48V phantom powered omni microphones. The two left channel mics and the two right channel mics were set up as close to the physically same location as possible. It was our aim to get acoustically identical signals into each stereo pair. We placed a Jecklin Disk between the two mics for better stereo separation.

The secret to good sound.

 


To paraphrase Rick James, "sighted listening is a helluva drug".

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Please provide me with a code for the drums. Thanks again for your generosity, Mario.

 

+1 on both counts (request for the download code and thanks for your generosity).


One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, A+ -> microRendu -> USPCB -> ISO Regen (powered by LPS-1) -> Ghent JSSG360 USB cable -> iFi micro-iDSD -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Please Mario, don't take my comments for criticism or as suggesting they needed fixing.

 

I did think the cymbals were a bit less sparkly than a live drum set from say 15 feet away. But I was not there in the hall and you obviously were.

 

My comments about a little compression and EQ were more an example of how people get on the slippery slope of trying to make it "more pleasing" or "more natural" than reality with good intentions.

 

It is interesting, that I could apply the EQ I talked about and do a 3:1 compression and get very much that punchy sparkly Rock drum sound. It still was cleaner and more pleasing than heavily manipulated recordings, and added some of the space of the hall back in. People who want that artificial effect could get it this easily. Instead conventional wisdom is don't try and record a Rock drum set with less than 8 mics close in.

 

I understand all of this was an experiment on your part, and meant no criticism of what you are doing. I am privileged that you made these available to us. Thank you for doing so.

 

 

It is my pleasure to be able to share these with you. Really :)

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