INDIAN MUSIC FORUMS

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dshal

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hi all,
This question is specifically about fusion gigs with electronic instruments. I've become injured from lugging around loads of tablas and other equipment, I'm looking for an alternative solution. I have two big problems with fusion gigs:

1. I have to carry too many tablas and equipment with me.
2. Micing the tabla specifically in the presence of electronic instruments produces consistently disappointing results.

To address the first issue, I've tried the transtabla. It's a great instrument, but in fusion gigs there's just not enough time to change pitch, and you still need more than one tabla for a wide range of pitches.

To address the second issue I thought of doing the blasphemous thing and going electronic with wavedrum or headsonic. I went to the shop and tried them but wouldn't recommend either of them.

Does anyone have any other solution??? At this point I'm willing to consider anything!
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VNO Design

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Dshal,

Glad you like the TransTabla, and I can understand how needing to switch quickly would be impractical in a song to song scenario. All I can offer you is another piece of equipment to carry around that was specifically made to address the difficulty with micing in the presence of other instruments. The Tabladome has solved this issue for everyone I've sold one to. If you haven't already, take a closer look at it.

Best Wishes,

-David

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dshal

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for the suggestion David. It could be a great solution for micing, though I really want to reduce equipment, not add to it...

Do you have any videos of the tabladome in action?

Can it be used with the tabla on stands (or must it be used on the floor)?
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VNO Design

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Reply with quote  #4 
Yeah I know you're looking to reduce, but if you find a solution to micing Tabla in an amplified environment that does not involve adding something into the equasion, please let ME know! =)

I don't have any videos but have been meaning to make some. You really can't believe the differnce though. It's like a mini isolator. Yes it must be used on the ground. I've attempted to mount it onto the stand, but it becomes unweildy. I would need to add significant weight to the stand and not sure it would have appeal after that. The nice thing about the stand though, is it gets you OFF the ground which is a big problem in itself when trying to keep unwanted sounds out of your microphone. The floor reflects quite a bit of sound into the Tabla mic which 99% of the time is pointed downward at the Tabla heads and the floor.

Best Wishes,

-David

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Hamletsghost

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Quote:
Originally Posted by "VNO
Yeah I know you're looking to reduce, but if you find a solution to micing Tabla in an amplified environment that does not involve adding something into the equasion, please let ME know! =)
-David
Weeeeeelll David & Dshal the only thing I can suggest is get a sound engineer that knows what they're doing & a good system.
It's that simple... I don't mean to sound dissmissive but I just don't understand the problems as described on these forums. I've been reading & commenting on this problem Here for 6-7 years now & I just don't get it.
I've been involved with music since the early 70' ... Indian music of all types for over 35 years and I just don't run into these issues. NEVER.
It comes down to your engineers knowledge, preparation, mic choices, and the system.... Although I've made do at home shows with VERY basic systems when pressed into service at the last minute.
And this includes very complex fusion setups.
I'll give an example.... This year I was the engineer at a fusion show at our cultural center.
This setup included 3 main vocalists, 4 keyboards sends from 2 players, a MacBook send, bass, western jazz 6 piece drum kit, tabla, octopad, a percussion accompanist with dozens of different drums ... Bells... Shakers... You name it.
Throw on top a second computer linked with just the SMPTE time code click track & you get the idea. I did a 4 way monitor mix including in ear monitors for the vocalists and a 5th monitor setup just for 4 click track monitors placed strategically around the stage. Oh and 2 separate efx loops to keep vox separate from instruments.
The tabla player had a single bayan & 3 Dayan in 3 sizes.... I would assume for quick change tuning..
Note here dshan... Is it harder to carry these drums 2 good mics & your stand or go thru all the hassle & expense of electronics .. Isolation setups..etc etc.Ending in still questionable results hmmmmmm?
Yes it took some finesse .. A light hand... TONS of prep work on my side... An hour and a half sound check the morning of the show... But again.. NO ISSUES.. NO PROBLEMS... NO FEEDBACK.. NO ISOLATION BOOTHS.. NO DOMES... just good ol fashioned knowledge & preparation.

I just can't explain it guys .. I've heard about fusion..large group issues for years with indian instruments & I just don't run into such problems.
I can ONLY say again it must lie with the sound technicians & their prep & choices. I can't be the only tech that has figured out how to do this properly.

Even when faced with the ol last minute sorry we're late sound check which involves me sitting & watching 20 minutes of confusion while the musicians throw their stuff on stage. Having each instrument play .. Strum .. Or pitty pat their various & sundry for a minute each asking the singers if they can hear the monitors & saying " HIT IT" . Then making adjustments on the fly during the first number. This unfortunately is the norm rather than the exception but I still have NO issues no problem.
This is Not to say I've NEVER had a bad night .. Unreasonable musicians or house.... A bad system to walk into cold,
BUT
I still minimize these occurrences with prep prep & more prep. And just a willingness to look into the small end of the funnel to see the big picture rather than the big end trying to focus on a single problem & missing the real issue.

Again I can only say.. Know your gear.... Know your expectations... Perform a REAL sound check with someone that knows how to be the fifth Beatle behind the board.

Hamletsghost 8)

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dshal

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Reply with quote  #6 
In your case it sounds like you've been doing sound for a long time and know what to do and how to do it.

I'm not a sound man and don't have much technical know how. I'm dependent on the expertise of the sound man at a given venue.

In my experience, I have occasionally come across a sound engineer that has produced great sound, but for the most part sound men say they are amazing at what they do and make big promises, but at the end of the day aren't familiar with the tabla and produce terrible results with it. When the sound man is really good then that problem goes away. But unfortunately that doesn't happen often enough.

The bottom line is that just being dependent on whoever's doing the sound doesn't produce consistent results.
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Hamletsghost

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Reply with quote  #7 
gotcha

I do understand your frustration. I have Heard these horror stories from local talent to major pandits and back again. This is why I put the blame squarely on the engineers shoulders. He is responsible to make the magic happen and provide you the talent with the knowledge & tools necessary so all you need to worry about is playing the gigue.
I personally really never make promises I just listen to what the musician wants and do my best to make it happen with whatever tools are available. That being said there are ways to ensure good results every time.
You personally don't need lots of tech knowledge you're the musician.. you just need to become familiar with what those knobs on a mixer do and get to The gigue early enough to really get your sound set. Any tech with a modicum of expertise will welcome your help and input. Even a novice at indian music will be impressed and thankful that you took the time to assist in setting your sound in the mains and monitors. Bring your best mics... Don't insult his mics just ask if we can try yours or if he has the same.
Believe me I will walk on broken glass to assist a visiting musician that has the professionalism & courtesy to show up early .. Do a proper sound check.... And work with me to make the show a success.
I really do understand your issues.. I've seen techs ruin a show because they think they have a better ear than anyone else. Maybe it's just the way I am and the guru i worked with for many years but really a tech with any knowledge of acoustic instruments should be able yo make your skins sing the way you want.
I have posted many looooong articles on sound reinforcement .. Mic choices... Performing sound checks etc here. Search my posts & if you have any questions feel free & I will do anything to assist and answer to help end your frustration.

Brian... The ghost 8)

Ps: you're right this old man been sitting behind the desk a long time, but I never stop learning or think I have all the snswers. My attitude is its just a pure joy to ensure that the show is the best possible and that the musicians leave with a big smile on their faces. It's truly my seva and honor to contribute my best to each and every gigue. B

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VNO Design

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Hamletsghost"
Quote:
Originally Posted by "VNO
Yeah I know you're looking to reduce, but if you find a solution to micing Tabla in an amplified environment that does not involve adding something into the equasion, please let ME know! =)
-David
Weeeeeelll David & Dshal the only thing I can suggest is get a sound engineer that knows what they're doing & a good system.
It's that simple... I don't mean to sound dissmissive but I just don't understand the problems as described on these forums. I've been reading & commenting on this problem Here for 6-7 years now & I just don't get it.
I've been involved with music since the early 70' ... Indian music of all types for over 35 years and I just don't run into these issues. NEVER.
It comes down to your engineers knowledge, preparation, mic choices, and the system.... Although I've made do at home shows with VERY basic systems when pressed into service at the last minute.
And this includes very complex fusion setups.
I'll give an example.... This year I was the engineer at a fusion show at our cultural center.
This setup included 3 main vocalists, 4 keyboards sends from 2 players, a MacBook send, bass, western jazz 6 piece drum kit, tabla, octopad, a percussion accompanist with dozens of different drums ... Bells... Shakers... You name it.
Throw on top a second computer linked with just the SMPTE time code click track & you get the idea. I did a 4 way monitor mix including in ear monitors for the vocalists and a 5th monitor setup just for 4 click track monitors placed strategically around the stage. Oh and 2 separate efx loops to keep vox separate from instruments.
The tabla player had a single bayan & 3 Dayan in 3 sizes.... I would assume for quick change tuning..
Note here dshan... Is it harder to carry these drums 2 good mics & your stand or go thru all the hassle & expense of electronics .. Isolation setups..etc etc.Ending in still questionable results hmmmmmm?
Yes it took some finesse .. A light hand... TONS of prep work on my side... An hour and a half sound check the morning of the show... But again.. NO ISSUES.. NO PROBLEMS... NO FEEDBACK.. NO ISOLATION BOOTHS.. NO DOMES... just good ol fashioned knowledge & preparation.

I just can't explain it guys .. I've heard about fusion..large group issues for years with indian instruments & I just don't run into such problems.
I can ONLY say again it must lie with the sound technicians & their prep & choices. I can't be the only tech that has figured out how to do this properly.

Even when faced with the ol last minute sorry we're late sound check which involves me sitting & watching 20 minutes of confusion while the musicians throw their stuff on stage. Having each instrument play .. Strum .. Or pitty pat their various & sundry for a minute each asking the singers if they can hear the monitors & saying " HIT IT" . Then making adjustments on the fly during the first number. This unfortunately is the norm rather than the exception but I still have NO issues no problem.
This is Not to say I've NEVER had a bad night .. Unreasonable musicians or house.... A bad system to walk into cold,
BUT
I still minimize these occurrences with prep prep & more prep. And just a willingness to look into the small end of the funnel to see the big picture rather than the big end trying to focus on a single problem & missing the real issue.

Again I can only say.. Know your gear.... Know your expectations... Perform a REAL sound check with someone that knows how to be the fifth Beatle behind the board.

Hamletsghost 8)
Hey Hamletsghost,

Thanks for the awesome follow up!

Unfortunately you seem to know exactly what you're talking about and how to execute it! That leaves us out in the world with the other 99% of "sound engineers" who know how to mic Tabla!

What do you do, when it sounds like trash? Politely tell him/her to fix it by guiding them? When they develop an almost immediate shitty attitude to challenge it? Then try again right before the show? Then deal with it?

Let's just be honest for a second and say that a vast majority of sound people have never encountered as delicate a situation as Tabla being played on the floor, with basic mics, in a far from ideal acoustic environment, on a cramped stage, with crappy monitors. It is VERY hard to deal with.

Something like isolation (Tabladome) is not a new concept, it's a solution to kit issues as well. I suggested it, and do push it to a variety of people with these types of acoustic concerns. I've never heard anything but positive feedback.

All of us would be treated to have our sound done by someone like yourself, but since we can't we have to develop other methods of coping, or workarounds that make our life and the soundpersons life easier.

Let's see what he elects to do, and develop some further discussion around it.

Best,

-David

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Hamletsghost

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Reply with quote  #9 
Yep totally agree.

Thanks for the compliments david I will try to live up to them...
It just frosts me that your assessment is true in so many cases when it's just a simple matter of the tech listening & learning.
Tabla by far is not the most difficult instrument to amplify in any environment it just takes patience & a willingness to learn.
It took a year with a 5 voice Doo Wop group to REALLY learn how to shape a great vocal mix.
I do like the concept of your dome it really seems a great solution to issues. Going back to the original post it does seem a good solution but still another piece to carry.
I wish I was schollarly enough or connected enough to go on the road to pass on this info to the people that need it. Most of what I've kearned has been on the road... Training schools from manufacturers life jbl & Bose. Or just listening to a ton of music & learning to make it sound the way it's supposed to
Is it live or memorex
Unfortunately you usually find the well meaning amatuer, the rocknrolla without a clue, the professional" who knows better, or the dreaded volunteer.
I'm lucky to have been involved with music for my bread n butter for a long time and now find joy in volunteering (dreaded :roll: ) my time at our cultural center/temple....
Again anything I can pass on to solve these issues feel free to ask ... I am happy to assist all & sundry.

B 8)

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dshal

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Reply with quote  #10 
So I was looking at Ghost's previous posts and saw the thread about micing and the suggestion to use a 2 mic setup with a 57 on the daya and an electo voice or sesnnheiser.

Are you recommending buying one of those mics for the baya (or is it something that most venues already have as standard)?

The 2 mic thing is an issue for me... For classical stuff I am really happy with one mic. I get the tones I want and I'm a happy chappy. No problems there. In fusion situations, most soundmen insist on 2 mics. Inevitably they a-l-w-a-y-s mess up the balance between baya and daya. At sound check, to remedy the situation they just seem to change things in my monitor and leave the rest of the mix as is. So my preference is to insist on one mic thereby removing the soundman's ability to destroy my sound! But then again is the problem of getting the sound out in the mix with only one mic.

Also, what do you recommend for EQ levels for a one-mic situation?
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proxmire

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Reply with quote  #11 
I disagree that tabla is the most difficult to amplify in a live or studio setting. Drum kit is by far more difficult, or try getting the natural aura of a sitar or especially sarangi on a recording. I have never heard a recording that accurately captures what instruments with sympathetic strings sound like in person. Thankfully these instruments if tuned and played correctly will sound very good (not necessarily accurate) no matter what, but you really have to have one of those baffle mics (the ones shaped like a human head with two mics where the ears are) to get anywhere near the same image and aura with these instruments, and only in the studio. Live is almost impossible because live sound is almost always in mono. With tabla you need two mics at most, and very little processing, so it's not relatively that difficult to capture IMO.

In the studio, I recommend the two mic solution, as I said in another thread one dynamic (57 is the best I have heard on tabla, but I have heard of success with an EV RE-20 or others) pointed in between the drums to get the tabla and closed baya, then another condenser pointed at the syahi or center of baya to capture the open bass.

I agree that sound guys usually do not know how the tabla is supposed to sound, and using two mics that aren't balanced well will mess up the sound and cause the player to compensate. For this, a stereo mic can work, because they are already balanced by matching the levels, but I don't like miking stereo. Ultimately the easiest solution which is actually very good live is to just use a single 57 in between the drums, and using a low shelf EQ to compensate for the low frequency roloff. Since the roloff begins at around 200 hz, a shelf curve at around 180-200 hz boosted about 6-8 db should do the trick, and most mixing boards will have some sort of low shelf.

I think the main appeal of the 57 is that it acts as a soft compressor for the transients of drums (meaning you can have an overall higher sound level without clipping), while having that nice high frequency bump that is very flattering to tabla and other percussion. I don't recommend using an actual compressor on the tabla itself, or maybe perhaps just a little bit or a limiter to catch the highest peaks, but it may be necessary in a live situation with many instruments.

Attached Images
gif Shure_SM57_freqResp.gif (5.74 KB, 1 views)

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Hamletsghost

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Reply with quote  #12 
GREAT ANALOGY PROXMIRE

Soft compressor how cool.....
This is why the 57 was the drummers choice forever... Until different manufacturers came up with dedicated drum mics...

dshal... I would be very surprised if 99 % of the venues that supply sound wouldn't have a bunch of 57's in their stash. The EV will be very rare find indeed unless you run into a well supplied house (or me :roll: )
the Sennheiser not at all UNLESS you're in a larger venue ie:
A university theater .... Venue like ours.... Better top flight venues say a medium concert hall that has touring acts of all types on a regular basis.
Your regular temple hall.... Rented ballroom etc... Never...you'll be lucky if they don't have the old 3 for a hundred box set mics.

Yes the price of mics are dear.. Although 57' can be found very reasonable used, on sale new for 100 isn't bad.. The ev you may find a deal on. The Sennheiser well I see no used and 300 was the cheapest I've seen in the last few years.
Here's my take... You have spent I'm sure good money on your tabla, stands, etc why hold back on descent mics? It is a lifetime investment, & can end much hassle & frustration. Why go thru that? You're only concern should be having a great time performing, its why you do it in the first place no?
I've got some 57' that gotta be close to 40 years old. My Sennheisers are mid 80' vintage & have been used extensively on the road....
If the hall has good mics setup upon arrival leave yours in the bag... If not you've got a great pair ready to go.
Make sure whatever mics you choose you have good sturdy stands.
Mic technique for aiming ... shaping.... Etc. will be my next post.
... Gonna be off the forum a couple days (gigue this weekend) so I will follow up soon..
I will address a number of scenarios for you so you can pick & choose what best suits your needs.

Till then
Hamletsghost 8)

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dshal

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Reply with quote  #13 
Interesting what you said about the sm57 Proxmire. One knowledgeable musician told me a few years ago that it's better to use the sm58. He said that it has the same insides as a 57 but captures a wider radius of sound. What's your take on that?

Incidentally I've had a cheap 57 copy mic for quite a few years. It's called GLS Audio ES 57. I'm happy with it for general one mic stuff. It produces decent sound and is made very robustly.

I'm interested in what you have to say about mic placement, aiming etc...
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proxmire

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "dshal"
Interesting what you said about the sm57 Proxmire. One knowledgeable musician told me a few years ago that it's better to use the sm58. He said that it has the same insides as a 57 but captures a wider radius of sound. What's your take on that?

Incidentally I've had a cheap 57 copy mic for quite a few years. It's called GLS Audio ES 57. I'm happy with it for general one mic stuff. It produces decent sound and is made very robustly.

I'm interested in what you have to say about mic placement, aiming etc...
There's another thread I posted about miking. The SM58 is the exact same mic with a vocal screen. Same pickup pattern, frequency response, etc. You will find as much of difference between two mics of the same model than a 58/57. I have tested all kinds of mics, even super expensive ones, but most of the time these mics are made specifically for vocals or capturing an entire ensemble. I experiment with miking and processing the tabla, but I always come back to the 57, not the 58 simply because the 57 is sleeker and looks better and sounds the same. I am looking to get a transformer mod on my 57's, which extends the bass frequencies, but I have not gotten around to it.


The model and price of the mic is actually not very important, it's mostly about the frequency response and pickup pattern (omni vs cardioid vs figure 8) and the type of capsule (dynamic vs condenser vs ribbon). You can make any of them work to some degree, but dynamic/moving coil mics have a longer equilibrium time (how fast the capsule takes to get back to resting state after a transient, which if you don't know is the initial burst of sound that an instrument makes, and of which percussion have the sharpest and loudest) so what happens is that the initial transient is slightly suppressed, which acts like a very gentle compressor. This means you can turn the gain in the preamp higher without it distorting. Condensers have the fastest equilibrium time, and thus the most sensitive. This can be great for more subtle strokes, but as often happens, you have to watch the peaks or you will cause distortion unless you use compression, which is not very conducive to tabla playing. So there are tradeoffs when you mic anything, including the low rolloff. Thankfully with the 57, it does not cutoff completely until about 40 hz, which is lower than most bayas go. It has a slope after 200 hz which kills the bass unless you use a low shelf eq (which is the type most mixers and car stereos have for a bass control). The shelf eq also have a slope which matches the sm57's slope pretty well. And since we tend to hear frequencies as wide bands (low, mids, and highs), a shelf boost compensates for the 57's response.

As far as pickup patterns and placement, that is also a tradeoff. To get the best balance possible, either a single mic or a stereo mic is your best bet. But ideally the best position for a 57 is pointed straight at the source. Pointing a 57 at the tabla is going to give you about as good a sound as you can get, but only for the tabla. My miking technique is laid out in the other thread, but for convenience in live situations, I put the 57 right in between both drums, and use the shelf on a mixer to get back the bass. Check the frequency response curve of your mic, and use a shelf eq to compensate, and I am sure you will get a good sound.

Sorry to ramble, but you got me talking about two of my greatest interests, tabla and audio. This is what a normal shelf looks like whose center frequency is about 150-200 hz.

Attached Images
jpeg TechNotes_03.jpg (125.03 KB, 1 views)

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dshal

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Reply with quote  #15 
Thanks for the clarification about 57 & 58.

What do you think about using small clip on's for a live situation?

Regarding mic placement, when you say it's best to point it straight at the source, which part of the source do you mean (right in the centre, slightly offset, slightly angled?) there seem to be lots of variables involved...the angle the tabla is tilted at, the angle the mic comes in at the tabla, the direction of the mic...
I usually have my mic coming in at 45 degrees above the tabla and slightly pointed towards the baya.

I also had an idea to try running a tabla through a pitch shifter to change pitch for different songs without bringing more tablas. Do you know if that would work?
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