The Blumlein microphone technique

September 6, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

13 comments on “The Blumlein microphone technique”

  1. Hi Paul,
    Thanks for explaining your preferred technics of capturing the sound of musical instruments – especially the piano. I find the absolute majority of piano recording having the profound characteristics of to close distance – it sounds as if I had my head nearly into the piano, which I don’t! Ectually many other instruments, and voices, are in my opinion also recorded too close a distance.

    How do you prevent that, and I’m sure you try as you a seeking the natural sound of the instrument?

    Best regards,
    Steen5

    1. I completely agree. Most recording perspectives are a bit to close. That is why my own preference is for speakers with a relatively flat frequency response at 1 meter distance. The frequency response will then be tilted at 6 or 7 meters giving a sense of distance.

    2. That’s a tough one and one I am not convinced can be agreed upon. On the one hand, you want to be close to get all the nuance and sound so that your speakers act as if they were the piano.

      On the other hand, you want to capture the room.

      I do both. Reasonably close with the piano and then add back the room.

      Perfect? No.

  2. many guitar players like a line out and mic’d cab combo also – gives a well-rounded sound.This reminds me of Cookie’s interview regarding piano micing

  3. Really, three different positions for the recording microphones and thus mixing signals with three different time delays resulting in a smeared sound? Listening to those time-smeared piano recordings in a nearfield set-up sounds most unnatural in my set-up. Obviously it requires a lot of set-up-effort in creating benign room reflections for far field listening for getting an acceptable sound in the listening room? Why not simply using a dummy head? Or have you ever recorded what the piano player is hearing?

  4. Excellent video. When I record live shows which are typically amplified (sound coming out of speaker stacks) I’ve been told to use ORTF (mics angled 110° and 17cm apart at the capsules), but I never understood why I wouldn’t just point the mics directly at the speaker stacks? The flattest response of the mics is on-axis, not off at some angle ~30° to 40°. In other words the mics end up pointed beyond the sides of the speakers. Seems counter intuitive. Oh, and what is so “magical” about that 17cm distance? Thanks.

  5. A little off-topic but would certainly relate to future ‘micing’ strategies. How large an ensemble would Octave Records be prepared to record – in the classical realm, for example, – a string/piano quartet, an octet, a chamber orchestra, a ‘full’ orchestra?

      1. Yep everyone knows to survive in business you need to aim high. Unless Octave Records is just going to be a hobby. They have much higher potential. There’s much they can accomplish like picking up where Mobile Fidelity left off. I’m not willing to pay 500.00 for a Gold CD or LP on eBay cut from the original tape because it’s out of print. Why not try and ink some of the big music stars too with fresh new recordings boasting some of the best new recording technology? We want hits! 🙂

        1. I’m sure OR would if they could.
          Cookie Marenco has been at this a lot longer than Paul has & I don’t know of one major artist who has recorded with Blue Coast Records yet.
          I think that unless a major artist really feels that their current recording people aren’t doing their music justice, that they’re going to look at small, boutique recording studios like Blue Coast, Octave Records, etc.
          There are some very well respected ‘independent’ recording studios like ‘Stockfisch Records’ & the like that have been around longer that studios like Octave have to compete with for popular artists.
          Time will tell if having the best can actually pull in the talent…

  6. Yeah it’s not easy but you have to be proactive and hope some big artist gives you a break. Got to just make them an offer they cannot refuse even if you take a loss. Money talks. Send them copies of what you have been doing. Send them a PS Audio stereo system….lol. Tell them audiophiles are waiting to buy them up. If it goes gold or platinum you have a name on it that will propel you further. Guess I’m just dreaming for PS Audio. Change the name to Dream Records. 🙂

    1. According to Paul, OR are already making a loss…even without trying to pull in major artists at this point in time.
      It’s gonna be a slow slog for OR to get eventual major recognition as far as I can see.

      Due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday, the Ascot Hi-Fi show in the UK, where Paul, Terri & maybe three other PS Audio staff members were going to debut the PS Audio BHK-600 amps along with the aspen FR30 floorstanders, has been cancelled.
      Talk about bad timing 🙁

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