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Over the last few years I have attended performances of opera and art song recitals which have been recorded. However the sound recordings sometimes don't match what I have heard in the hall, and I have noticed that both sustained high notes and low notes can sound off pitch on the recording but which were perfectly fine in the venue. What is going on? I wondered whether this is because fewer recording engineers have experience and training in recording such voices (I don't for sure), as the same problems do not occur with instrumentalists as these can be recorded dry. Why is it that these differences occur in the recording? What can we as recording engineers do to combat these problems?

  • This really cannot happen. Mics simply don't 'choose' pitches & decide to change them. If the recording of the voice sounds off but the instruments are in tune, then that's really how it was at the time. You could have been swept along by the performance, whereas now you have a cold hard analysis of what really happened. – Tetsujin Sep 6 at 8:56
  • No indeed, but fiddling with the EQ could cut the higher resonances? – user344211 Sep 6 at 9:05
  • No-one is ever going to be doing significant 'fiddling' on classical music; even if they did they're not going to affect the fundamental frequency of any given note. You'd be amazed at how many opera singers' pitching is … poor. – Tetsujin Sep 6 at 9:08
  • That's interesting. I wondered whether it might be because the EQ/mics/acoustic combinations could result in the loss of the overtones in the chord. So if the singer singers a note dead centre on the fundamental each time then musically the colouring would sound the same but that's not what they do, they use the overtones around the note. A singer could be slightly off the fundamental with the right overtones and the EQ/mics would over accentuate the error. I heard Simon Keenlyside sing Macbeth and in the hall it sounded fine, maybe a little pitchy but the live recording made this stand out – user344211 Sep 6 at 13:41
  • The higher chance is that room acoustics masked the note, which a closer mic doesn't. No mic is going to alter the pitch of any one component of a sound, no matter what you do to the EQ. The far higher chance is you didn't notice it live. – Tetsujin Sep 6 at 17:29

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