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Practice room playing position and recording

Steve Eddins
Posted on Saturday, March 16, 2024

I’ve been trying to record myself more regularly, lately, but it has always bothered me that I couldn’t seem to get a good quality recording in my practice room. I have tried a variety of mics and mic placements, without much luck. The recorded sound was unpleasantly harsh, and I could only hope that it wasn’t the sound other people were hearing from me at rehearsals and concerts.

About six weeks ago, though, I needed to record something for real, as part of the application process for a summer music festival. That motivated me to try again to figure out a good recording process. I got out my Zoom H4n Pro audio recorder because I had read several online reports of good results recording horn with it. I tried placing the Zoom in several different positions, but nothing worked.

Eventually, it occurred to me to consider where I was sitting in the room. I have a combination office / practice room, and I’ve been practicing in the same spot in it for at least a couple of years. Here’s a picture.

original practice position

Original practice position

I stood in the center of the room and contemplated this setup. My bell, I realized, was very close to the flat wooden side of the file cabinet, and it was pointing directly at it. The bookcase side, another flat wooden reflector, was on the other side of the chair, parallel to the file cabinet side. Maybe that’s no good? I didn’t really know, but I decided to experiment with it.

I moved the keyboard into the spot between the file cabinet and the bookshelf, and I moved my chair and stand to where the keyboard had been, as pictured:

new practice position

New practice position

With the Zoom placed on a mic stand about 8 feet in front of me and about 4 feet off the floor, I finally got a recorded sound that I felt was reasonably good. Below is one of the recordings that I sent to the summer music festival people. Honestly, I was nervous about including the recording in this post. I decided, though, that maybe it would be silly to write a music blog and never let people hear me play. 🤷‍♂️