DUBRAVKO LAPAINE HAPPY NEWSLETTER
Hot windy news from Space and Earth




February 15, 2012

Tips and tricks for recording a 4.5 meter long didgeridoo (Guest post)

This is the first didgeridoo related post on my website that is written by a guest author. I invited my colleague Nuno Pinto de Carvalho to write something about recording long didgeridoos after hearing his song on a 4.5meter didgeridoo. I had a wish to publish Nuno’s thoughts on this subject as it could give you somewhat (slightly) different angle of approach, also probably with more accessible tools. It is an easy and enjoyable reading for a didgeridoo player, but if you have any questions, please ask below in the comments. Enjoy!
-Du

I am Nuno Pinto de Carvalho, a Portuguese multi-instrumentalist musician. I play didgeridoo for some time now, and lately I’ve been experimenting with long PVC didgeridoos. The reason for the use of PVC, instead of actual wood, is because it is easier to cut, modify and assemble. The PVC pipe also allows the air to flow quicker, giving a better response for the kick-didge technique (thanks to Du for his technique and help ;) ).
Here is a sample of the 4.5m didgeridoo sound :

(problems with the audio? listen here)

Recording

For the recording I used:

  • 2x Behringer-C4 microphones,
  • a mixing desk with USB output (for recording directly onto my computer),
  • a PC and some audio software that I will discuss later.

The best placement of the mics depends on the presence/power of the didgeridoo. For this didgeridoo I placed the mic 1 at 8-10cm from the didgeridoo opening. I used a windshield in the mic1 because of the strong air projection. (The C4-mics easily reach the peak without this protection). The mic2 was placed 50cm from the  mouthpiece, to capture the breathing and throat sounds.
Both C4 mics were connected to the mixing desk. Then, I calibrated the gain for each microphone so it never reaches the peak. The mixing desk was connected to the PC using an USB cable. Finally I recorded the song, through USB audio, using Ableton Live 8.

Mastering

In this section I will discuss the best configuration for my audio sample. I believe for other didgeridoos it may not be the same…  Each player has to try different presets for EQ and see what is best for him. I use Ableton Live 8 because it has a very good variety of compressors, equalizers and is compatible with a lot of VST-plugins, like iZotope Ozone.
First of all, I listen to the raw recording to see how it sounds. My first impression of the audio is very important, because it will “tell” me if it is well balanced and if it needs some big modifications or not. (This depends on the quality of the mics used for rec.) Remember that most people will hear your song only once. If the recording is bad they will not hear-it again, unless they are true didge lovers :D . Sometimes I use iZotope RX 2 Advanced to clean the audio of noise/glitches, before the mastering process.

Overview and EQ

I use Ozone’s paragraphic equalizer to analyze and adjust the frequencies, in order to obtain a “hot” sound. In the kick-didge technique, the low sounds are as important as the high sounds, to obtain a “punchy” kick. The dynamics of the kick is only noticeable if it can be distinguished from the rest of the drone frequency. If we only have low sounds, the kick will become too “bassy”, and the “punchy” effect is lost (in this case there is no contrast between the highs and lows).
In Live 8 we have the recording/didge track (mic1), recording/breathe track (mic2), two empty return tracks (A Return, B Return), and the master track, with no plugins attached to it.
In the two recording-tracks (mic1 and mic2) I added a simple compressor (with slow attack/release, ratio 1.5, Threshold/Ceiling level a little bellow the input), and a reverb plugin (type hall, very subtle).

Effects

The return tracks will contain the delay/reverb effects. The audio that comes from the recording-tracks (mic1 and mic2) goes to the master track and to the A&B Return tracks (and from the Return tracks to the master track also). In the A Return I added a simple delay effect, and in the B Return track I added compressor and reverb effects.

The compressor in B Return is in side-chain mode with the didgeridoo track. Side-chain mode means that the compressor (in B Return) reads the signal coming from the didgeridoo track, but applies compression to the B Return track (i.e. reverb). Compressor configuration for reverb: high-attack, slow-release, ratio 5. The Threshold level must be right bellow the input* in the more dense parts of the audio, like the drone, compressing the reverb a lot, but, at the same time, must be a little higher than the volume low sounds, like the “mouth beats” (we want no compression here). (*compressor input: part of the sound coming from the didgeridoo track, entering in B Return, passing through the reverb plug-in, and going to the Compressor)
This way, the reverb effect is more noticeable when I’m playing with simple “mouth beats” (volume low sounds), and less noticeable when I’m doing the drone. (i.e. if the drone fills the sound, the compressor lowers the volume of the effects.)
Conclusion: the overall sound is never too saturated with effects, and the audio can “breathe” (more dynamics).
In the master track I added a new instance of iZotope Ozone for minor adjustments to the audio, and exported the normalized mastered audio in 32bit quality to wave file.

Post-Production

The post-production gives a bit of presence and power to the master recording, and also deals with some problems related to the Dithering, when converting from 32bit to 16bit audio, for CD production.
In a new session of Live, I imported the mastered 32bit audio and opened an instance of iZotope Ozone in the master track. This time I used one of the presets available in Ozone: “General Purpose Master” and modified a little (including the Dithering option).
The audio is finally ready for CD production/recording or mp3 conversion.

Thanks for reading. I hope these tips were helpful to you!

Nuno Pinto de Carvalho
www.nunopintodecarvalho.com

in Recording didgeridoo

Liked this article? Subscribe to Lapaine.com via e-mail or via RSS to receive automatic updates of NEW CONTENT!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

asd March 13, 2012 at 09:10

my comment on this is – i know how didgeridoo sounds, i play for several years by myself, and i also know every aspect of ableton live too. for me – sound is distorted. maybe its because of the lenght of the didgeridoo… but i dont think so, cause u sit near wall, and it gives some echo. or you just used grain delays, or short reverbs.

Reply

Du March 19, 2012 at 16:57

Dear asd…
interesting what you say… but I see things quite differently.
I see that each of us gives her/his own sound to didgeridoo. So many factors change the sound, and I have never seen The Book which says what is the sound of didgeridoo. So it is a shapeshifting mystery each of us interprets in her/his own way.
I like Nuno’s approach because it is reachable for many. No expensive instruments, mics, outboard effects- only basic and the sound is here. Something concrete.
I would very much like to hear the way you perceive, interpret and process the sound of didgeridoo. If you have some recording to share, you will enrich the diversity we strive for!

Thank you!

Du

Reply

Dylan Loehr March 20, 2012 at 19:12

I have been playing for over a decade and in this time I have tried many different recording techniques and environments. It is challenging to catch the true sound of the didgeridoo. I find different environments require different setups to catch a consistent sound. For indoor recordings I prefer stereo diaphragm mics at the bell end about two feet out ,and a condenser mic at the mouth end to catch in breaths and chirps. This set up seems to catch a sound closer to what I hear as the player. However when playing on larger instruments I notice a bit of delay in the time between when a note leaves my lips and when it leaves the end of the didgeridoo. When playing through amplifiers this can leave you feeling like you are playing catchup with yourself.
I agree with Du- The didgeridoo is just an empty pipe, an amplifier to you soul. No two players sound alike not even on the same instrument.

Reply

Brendan April 9, 2012 at 18:01

Hey, I was wondering if you had any information on constructing one of these as I would really like to try out using PVC. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

warm regardss,

brendan

Reply

Nuno Pinto de Carvalho April 10, 2012 at 00:12

Hey Brendan!

I saw the email you sent through the contact form in my website. I tried to answer but your email address, you’ve typed in the contact form, appears to be incorrect.
Please send an email to: nunopintodecarvalhoband@gmail.com

I took pictures of my PVC didgeridoo so you could see the mouthpiece construction and the joints of my 4.5m PVC didgeridoo. When i tried to send them to you I received the message “Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently”

Could you please send an email to me so that I can answer.

Thanks,
Nuno

Reply

chicago seo service April 10, 2014 at 07:07

I’m really inspired along with your writing talents as smartly as with the
format for your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it
yourself? Either way stay up the excellent quality
writing, it’s uncommon to see a nice weblog like this one today..

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: