One of the songs Anna wanted on the soundtrack album is a traditional piece called John Barbour. It’s the slow song on the album, but this post isn’t about that. It’s about distance recording.

I’ve spent lots and lots and lots of time talking about room conditioning in building home/personal studios. But I’ve also talked about the many benefits of gathering as much signal (what you’re trying to record) vs. noise (airplanes, busses, motors in the distance) as possible, which is usually achieved by close-miking. Close-miking still needs room conditioning, but honestly, not as much – you simply hear less room when the instrument is up in your metaphorical face like that.

(Hey, look, see, I can learn – I spelled it “miking” even tho’ there is no K in microphone. It’s MICrophone, not MIKrophone. See also: why “No.” is a stupid abbreviation for “number.” Perhaps I should compromise and use the cyrillic letter к instead. No? No.)

But this song is one of those times when I needed distance mics. Some instruments need space for their sound to develop. That sounds like woo, but it’s not; it’s certainly not subtle in the recordings, particularly with percussion.

I’m playing Quebec-style spoons on this song, along with zouk, and… nothing else, actually. Yeah, it’s that kind of song. Slow, simple.

And full of spoons.

Mic spoons close and to prevent clipping you have to damp the input down so far that all you get is a tic noise, with no secondary tones and no character at all. But mic these from a distance, say a metre or so – with in this case, an Oкtava mк-319, lol cyrillic see what I did there – and you end up with something that sounds like what you hear in real life.

Same goes for violins, and cellos too, to a lesser degree, and others. All of which is why you need the ability to distance mic if you’re recording live instruments.

And I have it! So what in Dick Tracy was a nightmare of equalisation, compensation, suboptimal microphones, weird compromises, and labour, turned into a simple setup, with a single take, and done.

Hannibal from A-Team: I love it when a plan comes together.

So do I, Hannibal. So do I.