Velkommen til Lydhjørnet!

Mitt navn er Robin Bjerke. Jeg er en freelance Studiotekniker og studioprodusent ve Urban Sound Studios i Oslo ( Her skriver jeg ned mine tanker om det å jobbe i et studio, forskjellige mikrofonteknikker og hva jeg mener om dem. Først og fremst vil jeg atdette skal bli et sted man kan ta nytte av om man er glad i lydteknikk og musikkproduksjon. Ingenting er fastsatt, det finns ingen regler. Som Joe Meek sa: If it sounds right, it is right.

My name is Robin Bjerke. I am a freelance studioproducer and engineer based at Urban Sound Studios i Oslo, Norway ( I'll be writing down my thoughts about working in a commercial studio, different studio techniques and other useful tips. Most importantly, I want this to be a resource to you people out there that love sound technology and music production. Nothing is set in stone, there are noe rules. In the words of Joe Meek: If it sounds right, it is right.

torsdag 22. april 2010

This is a preliminary version of a song I am working on for my up and coming part time solo project. It would be wonderful to hear what you guys think :)

Gå til Urørt for å finne ut mer om låta og artisten


tirsdag 20. april 2010

Brainwave: Overheads

Hi all, just a short post on some thoughts pertaining drum overheads.

I had the distinct pleasure of recording one of Norways best session drummers (in my oppinion) this weekend and we talked a bit about recoring techniques for drums.

One thing I touched upon, which is really useful and effective when recording in a great recording space is getting the overall sound from the overheads. Alot of people will EQ out all the low and mid from the overheads so that you just get the cymbals, and while this can be very effective and sometimes necessary, I feel it can be detrimental to the feel of the recording.

At the studio where I do most of my engineering, Urban Sound Studios in Oslo we have a fantastic 80sqm live room. The first thing I do when doing the sound check for drums is solo the overheads, and I know I have positioned them right when the whole kit sounds balanced, both in the stereo image and the sound between the different drums. Ideally you should be able to get a good, balanced sound from just the overheads and perhaps a kick drum microphone.

Play around with different stereo techniques as well, as each one has their own distinct stereo character.

Recording the acoustic guitar

Good day to you all!

First off I would like to apologise for not posting anything for so long! I have been busy with work and sound and all that Jazz. On a lighter, more optimistic note, I received a question to the youtube vid I released a while back about a microphone for acoustic guitar and vocals being performed simultaneously

He was wondering about recording and getting a good acoustic guitar sound. So I thought I would oblige and write this short piece.

Even though I might be stating the obvious I feel it is important to point out that everything starts at the source. Make sure you have a quality guitar, with new and played in strings and a good guitarist. There is no shame in borrowing a guitar if it will better the result of the recording.

When recording acoustic sources like a guitar the choice of microphone is quite important. The sound of an acoustic guitar is very rich and complex and each guitar has their own unique configuration of harmonics that make the sound. You should choose a microphone that accentuates the range of frequencies you wish to focus on in the recording. Most people will use a Condenser microphone due to their transient and high frequency response, but this is not necessarily a must. Dynamic microphones can produce fantastic results, and if you are as fortunate as to own or have access to a good quality ribbon microphone you can't go wrong.

The most visable and tangible part of getting a good quality recording is the microphone placement itself. Alot of people will tell you that "this is where it sounds best" etc. etc. Well... I don't want to tell you where to place your microphone because there is no real "sweet spot" that is universally shared. Everything comes into play, from the strings used, the style of playing, calibre of pick, quality and material of the guitar and not to mention the room that you are recording on.

The best piece of advice I can give in this aspect is to tell the guitarist to play, or have someone help you out if you are playing, and take a listen. Literally stick a finger in one of your ears and move your other ear around until you find roughly the sound you are looking for. You will notice how the guitars tonality changes according to where you are and how far away you are from the guitar. A common rule of thumb is that the further up the neck you go the more crispy and attacky the sound will become. Closerto the soundhole produces warmer and eventually muddy and boomy qualities. The sounding board (On the other side of the sound hole from the neck) produces some very nice, rounded tones that can be very good for a mellow sound.

Experiment also with varying the distance to the guitar ad you will notice that the sound develops as the sound from different parts of the guitar meld and create their own feel. Setting up a microphone at a distance however does put some very stringent requirements to the room, and may therefore not be a viable option for a home studio.

Another thing to try out is over the shoulder, producing results very close to what the player hears. From the ground up pointing at the sounding board. Setting up a microphone behind the guitar. The possibilities are literally endless, and nohing is right unless it sounds right. The most important thing is to play around and find the sound you want.

Now that you've listened to the guitar and set up a microphone in various places but still not found the exact sound you're looking for, you might want to try finding another microphone and combining the best of many worlds.

Allow me to make a suggestion based on my experience, though it may not apply to you it serves as an example of the above.

I usually go for a large membrane condenser at around the 13th fret of the neck. About a foot or two out from the guitar and pointing straight down. I then set up another microphone, usually a small diaphragm condenser (A cigar mic) pointing towards the soudning board while being angled a tad toward the center of the guitar. You want the microphone to point towards the largest area of the soudning board at an angle of oh, say 30 degrees to the plane. When panned a little here and there in the mix this setup provides some very nice results, and gives a slight quasi stereo effect as well.

I hope this article has been helpful :) Let me know if you have any questions!

And remember, if it sounds right, it is right.

tirsdag 23. februar 2010

Hey guys,

A couple weeks ago someone asked a question about the post I wrote about a technique for recording both acoustic guitar and vocals simoultaneously. I figured that instead of writing out an explanation, I would do a video about it. Feel free to watch and enjoy! Let me know if you have any questions whatsoever and I will do my very best to answer it, either in a post, a video or both!.


søndag 21. februar 2010

Q&A: Any questions?

Hey guys,

So, I have been very busy in studio over the past weeks and haven't had time to write any new posts, mainly because I haven't taken time to come up with a decent topic. So here's what I thought I'd do.

I would like for you to write down any question you find interesting or that you want asnwered in the comment section and I will do my best to answer all the questions I receive. That should keep me busy and you satisfied! xD

Working on some youtube vids as well, so keep an eye out if you want to see Urban Sound Studios and watch me geek on about sound for 10 minutes.

Remember to post those Q's and I'll come up with some A's.

Peace and sonic love,

torsdag 28. januar 2010

The Directional Characteristics of Microphones.

In an earlier post I introduced the fundamental recording tool: The microphone. As mentioned in that post, and in a later one about a recording technique microphones have different directional characteristics. Not all microphones pick up sound equally from every direction, or as is most common, from the front.

To understand these differences it is important to understand some of the physics (Yes... everything involves physics) behind the technology. As mentioned in a previous post, sound is the movement of high and low pressure zones in air. These zones and their frequency are called waves. When two waves are added together, say by a microphone membrane into a single electrical current they can reinforce, subdue or cancel each other out entirely.

Keeping this in mind I can go ahead and introduce the four main directional characteristics found in microphones. These are: Cardioid (directional), Omni-Directional, figure-8 (or Bi-Directional) and Super-cardioid.

The cardioid pattern is by far the most common in modern day microphones. Basically every dynamic microphone has a cardioid pattern. The reason the cardioid pattern works is because of the way the housing around the membrane is constructed. It is formed in such a way that the sound takes longer to reach the rear of the membrane than to reach the front, this goes for sound approaching from the back as well.

When two identical waves hit the membrane at the same time, they will cancel each other out, because the opposing forces will be equal. When the same two waves hit with a delay of half of their period (the time between two "peaks") They will accentuate each other. The delays that the construction of the microphone create means that sounds from the front accentuate each other while sounds from the rear cancel each other out.

The above picture shows a diagram of how a cardioid microphone pics up sound from different directions. Notice that higher frequencies are more directional than low frequencies. This can be very useful in a variety of recording techniques, and is a trait that is shared by all characteristics.

As the name implies, omni directional microphones theoretically accept sound equally from all directions. This is achieved by creating a membrane which is only accessible to sound from one side, meaning that there is no possibility for opposing waves to cancel each other out as with the cardioid pattern.

Interesting results can be gained by using omni mics because they admit a large amount of room sound. They are especially good for larger ensembles such as orchestras and choirs as they do not accentuate a specific person or instrument.

As the above diagram shows, not even the omni-directional microphones are completely omni throughout the frequency spectrum.

FIGURE-8 (Bi-directional)
Figure-8 microphones are directional both to the front and to the rear. This is achieved by haveing one, freely placed membrane. This means that sounds from the front and rear work together, while sounds coming directly from the sides, or the 90-degree axis are completely nulled out. This is the one and only directional pattern which has a 100% null point. This is exceedingly useful in many aspects of recording, and also in calibration of acoustics. When talking into the null, very little of your direct speech is recorded. The only thing recorded is the resulting room noise. Recording uses are numerous (I wrote a post on this topic a few days ago) and can make many tasks much easier.

Again, the diagram clearly demonstrates the way higher frequencies are more directional than lower frequencies.

Many modern microphones use dual membranes and through the use of these can achieve almost infinite variations of these three basic patterns. This is done by summing the signals from the different membranes in different ways, and it is in this fashion that we get the fourth general pattern. This pattern is someplace between cardioid and figure 8 as is called Super, or Hyper (depending on the degree of directionality) Cardioid. This pattern is a lot more directional than cardioid and are most commonly used in broadcast and television applications in the form of Shotgun-Microphones. These microphones use the hyper cardioid pattern whilst incorporating some mechanical modifications to all but eliminate sounds coming from the sides.

As you can see from the diagram above, the influence of a bi-directional membrane is obvious, thinning out the width of the cardioid and introducing a small peak in the rear.

So thats all for tonight. I hope the post has been interesting, both to beginners and those who have been using microphones for a while. Remember, don't hesitate to comment or send me an email if you have any questions.

tirsdag 26. januar 2010

Microphone techniques: Guitar and vocal

If you have ever tried recording a singer who plays acoustic guitar you have probably encountered this problem. Because the guitar is in such proximity to the vocal source, seeing as they are being performed by the same person, there is alot of bleed between the two channels. Getting a good separation between the different sources is often a headache in these situations, where one wishes to process the vocal and the guitar separately.

The technique I am about to write about is extremely useful in these situations, and takes advantage of microphones with a figure of eigh directional pattern (more on this in another post). Different microphones have different directional patterns, meaning they pick up sound differently from different directions. A cardioid pattern is by far the most common and means that the microphone picks up sounds coming streight on much better than sounds coming from the back. Another pattern is the figure of eight pattern. As the name impies, this means that the microphone picks up sounds from the front and back, but rejects sounds from the sides (90 degre axis). Only the figure of eight pattern has a complete nullpoint, meaning a direction where it rejects 100% of all sounds, and this can be used very efficiently for recording an acoustic guitar played by a vocalist.

We start by using two identical microphones (ideally, though it will work with different mics) and place the first one in front of the guitar, and the second one in front of the vocalists mouth. When these microphones are angled so that their 90 degree axis' point directly at the other source they will effectively "null" it out. Now, placement is very important, as the level of separation depends on how accurately you have set up the microphones.

There will allways be some bleed from the guitar or the vocal of course, because we sadly do not live in a theoretically perfect world. The guitar radiates sound over a slight area, and to a larger degree so does the vocal. So there will always be some vocal and some guitar on the respective tracks. The separation however is much easier to work with and better, clearer results can be gained.

The figure of eight pattern is also incredibly useful in other settings as well. Lets imagine a kick drum, if a microphone is placed angling up towards thetoms and cymbals, this will hlp reduce the blled on the microphone, og a hihat mic for example, angled to eliminate the snare or the cymbals.

The possibilities are endles, playa round with them, and have fun!