1st Edition

Recording Classical Music

By Robert Toft Copyright 2020
    180 Pages
    by Focal Press

    180 Pages
    by Focal Press

    Recording Classical Music presents the fundamental principles of digitally recording and editing acoustic music in ambient spaces, focusing on stereo microphone techniques that will help musicians understand how to translate "live" environments into recorded sound.

    The book covers theory and the technical aspects of recording from sound source to delivery: the nature of soundwaves and their behavior in rooms, microphone types and the techniques of recording in stereo, proximity and phase, file types, tracking and critical listening, loudness, meters, and the post-production processes of EQ, control of dynamic range (compressors, limiters, dynamic EQ, de-essers), and reverberation (both digital reflection simulation and convolution), with some discussion of commercially available digital plugins. The final part of the book applies this knowledge to common recording situations, showcasing not only strategies for recording soloists and small ensembles, along with case studies of several recordings, but also studio techniques that can enhance or replace the capture of performances in ambient spaces, such as close miking and the addition of artificial reverberation.

    Recording Classical Music provides the tools necessary for anyone interested in classical music production to track, mix, and deliver audio recordings themselves or to supervise the work of others.

    Part 1, Fundamental Principles

    1 Soundwaves

    Enclosed Spaces

    Performance Venues

    2 Audio Chain from Sound Source to Listener

    Integrity within an Audio Chain

    Basic Concepts and Terminology

    Part 2, Production

    3 Microphone Types

    The Behavior of a Pure Diaphragm

    Condenser Microphones

    Dynamic and Ribbon Microphones

    4 Microphone Characteristics

    Frequency Response

    Directional (Polar) Patterns

    Random Energy Efficiency

    Distance Factor

    Proximity Effect


    5 Stereo Microphone Techniques

    Coincident Pairs

    Near-Coincident Arrays

    Spaced Microphones

    6 Tracking

    Critical Listening

    Setting Levels

    Room Ambience

    Part 3, Post-Production

    7 EQ – Frequency Balance

    Digital Filters

    Common Practices

    8 Control of Dynamic Range



    Dynamic EQ


    9 Reverberation

    Digital Reflection Simulation


    10 Delivery

    File Types

    Loudness and Meters

    Part 4, Common Recording Strategies

    11 Solo Piano

    Recording in Stereo

    Unfavorable Room Acoustics

    12 Soloists with Piano Accompaniment

    13 Small Ensembles

    14 Sessions

    Solo Piano

    Solo Cello

    Double Bass and Piano

    15 Studio Techniques: Re-Creating the Aural Sense of Historic Spaces





    Robert Toft teaches in the Don Wright Faculty of Music at Western University, Canada. His interests revolve around the notion of research informing practice, and he specializes in both recording practices and the history of singing. He has written five books on historically informed vocal performance and has given master classes at leading conservatories and universities in Australia, Austria, Britain, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, and the USA. Robert’s production company, Talbot Records, released its first recording in 2017. Inspired by the intensely dramatic performing styles of the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, its main series, Radically Hip, connects modern audiences to the impassioned eloquence of the past.

    "This book is packed with informed and useful information. If you need to know about how sound works, and read tons of information about how classical music is recorded in the real world, then you must read this book. Perfect for anyone interested in classical music." - Paul Baily - classical recording and post production, Re:Sound