Why is a Session Calibration recording required
Because we calibrate the Symphonova Stem Production system to respond with great sensitivity to the unique way that every musician plays their instrument, and because this depends on the unique Musician’s Profile you register on our site, it is therefore essential that every possible variation arising out of separate recording sessions is accommodated.
The purpose of the Session Calibration recordings is to ensure that differences between engineers, studios, microphones, placement and a myriad of other factors are accommodated by our service. It also enables musicians to record their full profile in their home studio, ahead of an in-studio recording session with other musicians.
What is a Session Calibration recording
Similar to the Musician’s Profile, each musician must record a series of scales but it will be seen from the scores that there are some important differences which make it much easier and quicker to complete. The scores can be downloaded here for each instrument.
Once recorded, the Session Calibration recording can be applied to all sessions that are part of the entire project. However, there are some caveats, as follows:
- The Session Calibration recording is non transferable; it is uniquely associated with a single musician.
- The musician must play the same instrument used for their profile. If the musician uses a different instrument then a new profile must be recorded for that instrument.
- Once your session is set up and running, we urge you to ensure that nothing changes until you have finished all recording sessions.
Special Session Calibration Recording Tip
If for whatever reason there is a change made to the physical state of your setup that is audible at the desk, this might be problematic, but not likely to be catastrophic. Make a new Session Calibration recording, and contact us immediately.
How to create Session Calibration recordings
Important Points for Musicians
- Keep the beat!
- Set a metronome or use a suitable click-track in accordance with the tempo indication of the score. It is suggested that the metronome subdivide the tempo. For example, if the tempo is marked at 60bpm for each note of the scale, then set the metronome or click-track to 120bpm, so that the subdivisions help keep the musician closer to a steady beat.
- When a note leads into a rest (pause), ensure the note is held for its full duration and leads into the rest. Pay attention to ensure that the note is not shortened.
- Keep the dynamics!
The dynamic markings are ‘p’ and ‘f’. To understand how quiet and how loud ‘p’ and ‘f’ should be, please be guided by the following:
By ‘p’ dynamics we mean not the quietest possible dynamics (pp) but the one above it. And by ‘f’ we mean loud, but not the loudest (ff). In both cases of ‘p’ and ‘f’, it’s very important to keep even dynamics throughout the instrument’s tessitura. That is, avoid some of the notes being softer or louder, and choose a dynamic that allows the player to keep the same loudness even on difficult notes. Specific musical terms we use in the scores are as follows:
- Legato; connect the notes as smoothly as possible (molto legato)
- Senza vibrato: without any vibrato.
- When recording the ‘p’ scales, do not start any notes with an accent or a swell.
- When recording the ‘f’ scales, sustain the ‘f’; do not allow crescendi/decrescendi to seep into the playing
- Keep all dynamics uniform
Important Points for Engineers
- For each scale, there must be a maximum 10 seconds start time, i.e. musicians must have started playing within the first ten seconds of the start of the recording.
- CHECK! The dynamic range between ‘p’ and ‘f’ must be at least 12dB. If the dynamic range is less, then either the musician is not playing quietly and loudly enough, or the gain structure is not correct.
- Each scale must be uploaded as a separate .wav file
- Each scale must be correctly named. For details on our naming convention see here and download the naming convention list here.
Special Session Calibration Tip for Engineers
A profile scale must be clean and accurate, but there is some flexibility in our system. If there are a few notes out of tune, were performed with an accent, or are simply difficult (for example, the very top notes of a wind instrument, in ‘p’), then there are two options to make things easier:
- Record the scale several times to ensure the problems are covered. Then upload all the recordings, and our system will sort through the scales and select the best performance. Note: multiple files of the same scale should not have any distinction in the names. They must still be named in exactly the same way.
- Re-record and edit only the individual problematic notes.